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Comment: Government Work Is for the Birds (Score 1) 186

Someone once told me it is best to avoid classified work. I've taken it a step further and try to avoid all government work. The pay isn't that great, and who wants to put up with stuff like this and government shutdowns?

I used to think it would be great to work for NASA or work on interesting classified government projects. The government has all the big expensive toys, right? Unfortunately, NASA isn't what it used to be, and now I realize classified work just a headache. I was actually a little baffled the first time I heard the phrase "good enough for government work" (as a college freshman from a professor), but now I get it.

Comment: Re:Republic Wireless, but there are other options (Score 3, Interesting) 273

by Jade_Butterfly (#46443433) Attached to: WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up

For several years now I've been paying $80 per year for 2,000 minutes with Page Plus. I usually have a few hundred minutes left over at the end of the year, and leftover minutes are retained with continuous service. I've been pretty happy.

My friends tell me that once I get a girlfriend, my low phone bills will be history. However, I've been enjoying my cheap phone service and laughing at my friends with girlfriends for years now.

Comment: Glad they waited until I was done with college... (Score 4, Insightful) 134

by Jade_Butterfly (#46413993) Attached to: College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy
The current college entrance tests make it easy to game the system, even for someone like me, who had an ultra low high school GPA. They test knowledge that is easy to learn during a few last minute cramming sessions. These changes might actually make them fair tests.

Comment: Re:We Need Legal Countermeasures (Score 1) 352

by Jade_Butterfly (#46413745) Attached to: Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

No, because people are sufficiently different from one another that they are easily distinguishable.

Then does this mean you support making it illegal to hide or alter these differences?

False statement. The people are not required to the signs. The vehicles are. And, again. while people are, in general, easily distinguishable from one another, vehicles are not. It is not uncommon for one to have several effectively identical vehicles in a single parking lot. (fun fact: the vehicles would most likely be "champagne" colored Toyotas)

Strictly speaking license plates do identify vehicles, but every license plate is associated with a person or company the vehicle is registered to. And as a practical matter, operational vehicles are always occupied by at least one person. That might change in the future with the advent of robotic cars, but it remains true for now. In nearly every case, a license plate can be traced back to the person driving the vehicle. Although not generally required to be displayed (as far as I know) vehicles still have VINs for identification, so cars are still very much identifiable without license plates.

Again, the entire purpose of a car cover is to protect the car's paint.

I understand that, but I think you would agree that not all things accomplish their purpose, especially when not used properly. And I'll bet that most car covers come with instructions stating that the car's finish should be free of dirt before covering. I've seen plenty of cars with paint damage caused by covers and bras, even though both of those things are supposed to prevent damage.

Check your local laws. A rag or towel may do just what you wish.

That might work, but I think my idea is more elegant. I'll also point out that my idea is just one example of a countermeasure. I'm sure others can come up with more elegant solutions than mine that are already legal.

That is an assumption that has no basis in fact.

I concede my assertion is a little cynical and shaky, but it's hard to deny that things the government frowns on are often outlawed. Think about radar detectors and laser jammers in some parts of the country. There isn't much reason for these things to be illegal, except that they get in the way of the government's desire to watch and control its citizenry. .

Comment: Re:We Need Legal Countermeasures (Score 1) 352

by Jade_Butterfly (#46413051) Attached to: Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Twins are quite rare. Visually identical cars are quite common.

That's true.

And the same is true of people's vehicles by adding pin striping, light covers, bumper stickers, magnetic signs, etc.

This is also true. I think we have agreed that identifying characteristics of people and vehicles can be masked and that some people and cars look similar without masking. Does this mean that you think all people should have to bear identifying signs in public? If not, why should only people in vehicles have to display such signs?

You are talking about making laws that ban certain commercial activities to make things marginally easier for some people.

What commercial activity did I talk about banning? I've only talked laws that would give people additional freedoms to protect their privacy should they choose to avail themselves of that freedom. Even if you don't see a need for it, why would you oppose gaining additional freedom? I'll take every ounce of freedom I can get. Isn't that the American way?

So, wash your car cover. But, you do know that the point car covers is to protect the finish from dirt, sunlight, being scratched by someone brushing up against it, etc., right?

Cars start collecting dirt immediately after washing. It would be hugely impractical to wash a car every time you park it. I would only use a cover outdoors if I didn't care about the car's paint, or If I did wash it immediately before covering it and planned to leave it parked for a long period of time. If not used carefully, car covers can cause more damage than they prevent, much like bras do.

Well, here is a product for you: An LCD license plate cover that is transparent when the car is on and opaque when the car is off. Fairly simple to do. But, if it fails in the opaque condition, you might get pulled over, ticketed, and/or arrested. Of course, a rag hanging over the plate would work just as well so selling it might be a problem. And, the police also use visible license plates to look for stolen vehicles and the vehicles of criminals so your product might be banned, which is also a strike against an electronic plate.

I have considered this exactly before. One problem is transparent covers are illegal in many places. I don't think these laws are heavily enforced, but I imagine enforcement would be stepped up if such devices were used to defeat the government's agenda (as you've pointed out). I have to admit, my original post was largely in jest. Although I would love to have practical and legal countermeasures against this sort of thing, there's zero chance of legalizing methods that are currently illegal. And if currently legal methods are put into widespread use, they will simply be outlawed.

Comment: Re:We Need Legal Countermeasures (Score 1) 352

by Jade_Butterfly (#46412521) Attached to: Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

This is collecting data nonintrusively, so at what point would it become illegal?

As long as private companies or individuals are just taking pictures, it should remain legal. I don't believe the government, on the other hand, should be allowed to use public funds to broadly surveil ts citizens itself or by buying this kind of data. I realize, of course, this goes on all the time, but that doesn't make it right. These are my personal thoughts, so maybe I'm just crazy.

There aren't a million people who look and dress exactly the same every single second of every day. There is one person who look like you. There are about millions of gold Toyota Camrys.

Actually, there are identical twins who do pretty much look the same. Most cars, even though they might be the same color and make, do have identifying characteristics. They have different wheels, modifications (bumper stickers, window tint, etc.), scratches, dents, etc. Let the companies collecting this data develop their technology to be able to recognize these differences. Furthermore, people are free and able to hide many of their identifying features by wearing hats, sunglasses, ski masks, or whatever.

Or, you could just invest in a car cover and put it on your car and over the license plate when you park.

You could certainly do this. However, I don't think many people will want to go to the effort. What's wrong with making it a little easier for people? Also, I wouldn't want to routinely use a cover on a car that hasn't been recently washed. Scratches from abrasive dirt on the paint are a certainty.

You mean like being able to obscure one's license plate when the vehicle isn't moving by, say, putting on a car cover? Oddly enough, that is perfectly legal in every state.

This is precisely what I'm saying, although I'm a bit skeptical this is currently legal in every jurisdiction in the U.S. I'm just suggesting a more elegant way of doing it. An electronic display could be completely automatic. When you shut the ignition switch off, the plate goes blank.

Comment: We Need Legal Countermeasures (Score 4, Interesting) 352

by Jade_Butterfly (#46411921) Attached to: Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

I don't think we need regulations that prohibit this kind of data collection by private companies or individuals (the government is a different story). Collecting data nonintrusively shouldn't be illegal, because such laws would have all sorts of nasty side effects.

Instead of restrictive regulations, we need legislation that empowers people to protect themselves from this kind of thing. For example, maybe the requirement to display a large identifying string of characters on vehicles should be rethought. We don't require people to wear identifying signs around their necks every time they venture out in the public. License plates just make this kind of data collection too easy.

If our society is unwilling to get rid of license plates entirely, perhaps we could go to electronic ones. Static plates could be replaced by electronic displays that automatically go blank when the car is parked.

Right now the playing field isn't level. Instead of leveling it by taking rights away, we should give people the ability to easily and legally protect themselves.

Or perhaps some out-of-the-box thinking would yield practical countermeasures that are already legal. Of course, then the challenge might be keeping those countermeasures from being outlawed.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval

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