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Comment: Re:I live in Montgomery County, MD... (Score 1) 784

by Insightfill (#48830731) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

My wife and I are even considering allowing our older child to take the Metro (public transit) to ballet by herself next year when she's in middle school.

A dog takes the bus to the park by itself every day, and it's a cute, human-interest story. A child does it, and everyone loses their minds.

I'm not sure if we trust the dogs more, or the dog-nappers more.

Comment: Re:My mother is an optometrist (Score 3, Interesting) 464

by Insightfill (#48720665) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

The probable best result (my guess) would be two pairs of glasses -- one set for work distances, and another set for 'normal' uses.

THIS!

I'm in my mid-40s, but just as I crossed 40 I found I had to start looking over my regular lenses to read tiny print. I also found that if I didn't get away from the screen at least once an hour, I'd start getting eyestrain and headaches. I knew what was next.

My prescription is about -5 diopters. I've got a set of prescription lenses at about -3.5, with a slightly smaller PD (pupil distance) since your eyes narrow as you look closer. The nice optometrist gave me my full prescription written down, including the PD, and I was able to mail order new glasses - with nice frames - for about $30. I can use these at the screens all day without any fatigue.

I've got a set of bifocals as well, but my current manufacturer only does those in regular index plastic, so those are pretty thick. My single-vision lenses are pretty thin, however.

Comment: Re:Broadly accessible strong AI would empower peop (Score 1) 417

by Insightfill (#48566695) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

A bad person would be more capable of doing harm when aided by an AI doing planning, co-ordination, or execution.

This sounds vaguely like the plot of the short story "A Logic Named Joe", where home computing and access terminals are commonplace, and one of them with a random error starts combining existing knowledge pieces to satisfy user requests, subverting existing safety filters. An example from the story: "How do I kill my wife and get away with it?" would normally be gated as vague, and dangerous, but in this story the "logic" determines that green shoe polish would be fatal to blondes and could be painted on a frozen TV dinner. Also available as a Baen Free Book.

Comment: Re:Privacy (Score 2) 262

by Insightfill (#48505921) Attached to: Obama Offers Funding For 50,000 Police Body Cameras

There already is a wonderful curator. It's called the courts.

In the case of red-light-cameras, the fact that they're usually run by outside companies also acts as a good buffer to blanket FOIA requests.

Since the camera footage is owned by the private company, you have no ability to FOIA "all footage of this intersection on this date". You CAN request all footage of a camera or set of cameras which resulted in tickets, however.

(As told to me by the FOIA officer of a local town.)

Comment: Re:EFF -- picking ACLU's ball and running (Score 2) 81

by Insightfill (#48333277) Attached to: EFF Hints At Lawsuit Against Verizon For Its Stealth Cookies

Good to see somebody doing, what ACLU used to do...

Generally, the ACLU does in meat-space what the EFF does in cyberspace. They have similar general goals, but the ACLU generally doesn't do as much of the computer stuff. Their current list seems to involve plenty of LGBT issues right now, for example, but these are active court cases.

Many times you don't hear about either organization as much because they get a lot of it sorted out via quick letters, especially at the smaller-scale level. A good letter from EFF or ACLU to a school district or county board, for example, usually never gets to a court level.

Sometimes they even work together, such as this Tennessee story.

Comment: Re:this would expose an enormous state secret. (Score 1) 248

by Insightfill (#47810363) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

This is the fantastic reductio ad absurdum approach I take when neocon relatives talk about war being good for the economy. I say, well, if that's the case, lets just leave out the killing, and build munitions and planes and then destroy them.

I believe that there's a paragraph in Orwell's 1984 specifically about this.

Comment: Re:Sue the bastards (Score 1) 441

by Insightfill (#47810341) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Anyway, take a look at the kind of books that are *taught* in schools:
                Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
                Macbeth by Shakespeare
                Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
                Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
                To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
                The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
                Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
                Hamlet by Shakespeare
                The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
                Lord of the Flies by William Golding

And each of these books has been banned in some district or another every year. Harry Potter, etc.

"Banned Books Week" is the last week of September in the US. Many libraries at least put up a couple of signs calling attention to it.

Comment: Re:this would expose an enormous state secret. (Score 2) 248

by Insightfill (#47784447) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

closing a 60 billion dollar a year facility would instantly land a quarter of a million americans unemployed

We've got a crapload of roads and bridges that need to be redone, and the deficit is shrinking at a staggering rate. The government has been able to borrow money at a NEGATIVE effective APR since for about six years, but has been blocked from doing so.

I say we give the 60 billion to infrastructure, which will employ a lot more than a quarter of a million people in the long run. Instead, we rely on an accounting gimmick to take money from 10 years out to pay for 10 months of the Highway Trust Fund.

Comment: Re:What's so American (Score 1) 531

Fight the local monopolies. That is the only truly important thing right now.

This is one of the places where LOCAL politics comes into play. The person who votes for/against these local monopolies is likely your neighbor who also has a full-time job somewhere else. They're easy to find, easy to approach, and often listen to their constituents.

Comment: Re:I WAS THERE. IT'S ALL TRUE. (Score 2) 250

Thanks, Pete. I lived in Geneva when this went down and it really really sucked. The post cards that came in the mail (I don't remember the Comcast ones, but the SBC ones were AWFUL - really? a guy eating a rat?) fed on people's worst fears. The kicker is that the referendum came up on an "off-year", so turnout was horribly low, old, and uninformed. I really think it would have had a better shot if it had come up during a presidential year when turnout was better.

Comment: Re:Oh my ... (Score 3, Informative) 253

I believe that the problem is that Al Franken wasn't sworn in until well after that session was well under way, Senator Ted Kennedy was missing for many votes due to his brain cancer, and Arlen Specter didn't switch sides until much much later. There were a few other Democratic Senators who were either out or "Blue Dog" and "DINOs" - the Democratic "Party" is actually more of a loose coalition. The Democrats had the seats, perhaps, but nothing more, for a total of 72 days.

(Reprinted from the last time I did this comment.)

The problem in closing Gitmo is that there have NEVER been enough people in Congress who are willing to take the political hit of letting anyone leave; witness the fact that we captured Chinese Uyghurs back in 2002, determined they weren't terrorists in 2008, and FINALLY released the last of them in 2014. These were GUYS WE KNEW WERE INNOCENT FOR SIX YEARS and still hadn't let go.

Comment: Re:If people would fight their tickets... (Score 3, Interesting) 286

Of course, the administrative fee for going to court was $125 - as much as the ticket itself. So what did I gain, except the loss of half a day?

In the City of Chicago, the court fee for arguing a parking ticket is MORE THAN THE TICKET. I learned that the hard way, when a "No Parking" sign was pointing at a hydrant, but apparently the "No Parking" zone extended another 100 feet to the next intersection. Pay $50, or go to court for $65? (These prices are from 10 years ago; I can't believe it's gotten better since then.)

Comment: Re:Vegetarian (Score 1) 291

How do you tell if someone is a vegetarian? You don't, they tell you.

Fair enough, and that's pretty funny.

Actually, there are so many cultural events tied around food that there's really no choice. Going to a wedding? Choice between chicken and beef. "Hot dog party day" at school? Hungry day at school. Group of people at work going out for lunch? Oh, great; someone picked the one place that puts "fish taco" under "vegetarian". When my wife was in the hospital with our first, the "vegetarian" option on the meal plan was a turkey sandwich... idiots.

There's a fair amount of debate that many of the Jewish food laws were intentionally created to keep them from mixing with the general population.

Comment: Re:Vegetarian (Score 1, Insightful) 291

Hate to be the one to point out the obvious... but the solution is not in changing the meat it is in reducing and/or eliminating the meat.

Slate recently had a decent article examining all of the impacts of a world that's entirely vegetarian. Interesting stuff.

(My family is vegetarian, even my kids. People stopped asking "where do you get your protein?" when they see my kids, who each were tallest in grade school. My youngest daughter was 5'6" at age 10.)

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

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