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Comment: Re:News at 11.. (Score 1) 614

by jfengel (#48637745) Attached to: Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

Thanks for that. I find myself increasingly bugged by this kind of argument by misleading analogy. "X is like Y. You agree with me about Y. Therefore you must agree with me about X." It basically frames the entire argument around the differences between X and Y, rather than taking X on its own terms.

It's kind of galling, since it basically assumes that I'll agree that X is identical to Y. Therefore, either I'm stupid for not realizing that X and Y are identical, or you're stupid for not recognizing that there are meaningful differences. I'm betting it's the latter, but even without that assumption, it's hard to see how we proceed from the demonstration that at least one of the parties to the conversation is stupid.

Comment: Re:Also... (Score 1) 125

by jfengel (#48627649) Attached to: Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Nothing wrong with being wrong with confidence. Sounds like the majority of humanity the majority of the time.

Oh, it definitely sounds like the majority of humanity the majority of the time. I just don't think it's one of our more admirable traits.

In our case, it's necessary, because we evolved with mediocre brains. I'd like to see our successors do better. They aren't yet, which is what this article is pointing out. This promising system isn't ready yet. It's just not wrong for the reasons that the GGP post thought.

Comment: Re:Does Denmark... (Score 1) 187

by jfengel (#48610709) Attached to: Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography

You have to take nonbinding referenda with a grain of salt. It's easy to wave the flag and claim nationalism when you don't have to deal with the difficulties of actually running a country when you do.

I'm not saying that the Greenlanders don't genuinely want independence. I'm just saying that 75% is the high-water mark. At least 25% genuinely don't want independence, and that were it to come down to a binding vote, they could well find another 26% who get cold feet at the prospect of having to deal with the consequences.

If Denmark does indeed manage to win them trillions worth of oil, they may well decide to keep it all for themselves, and vote for that. And then the sticky wicket would be getting to a binding referendum, which the Danes would not permit easily. The easiest route to it would be to buy their independence by promising a fraction of that oil revenue.

Comment: Re:this is ridiculous (Score 1) 440

by jfengel (#48610549) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

We have an odd kind of expectation of privacy even in public places. I'm not saying we don't; I'm just pointing out that the expectation strikes me as not obvious. The Fourth Amendment calls out "their persons, houses, papers, and effects", which notably omits anything outside your immediate control.

The expectation comes from a pre-technological age, and I certainly don't fault the Fourth Amendment for failing to see how technology would change the ways in which we expect to be private even in public. But I do think it ends up calling for a recalibration of both the law and our expectations.

Ideally, I'd like to see that codified in a new amendment. Unfortunately, given that even simple, popular legislation seems impossible to pass, I can't imagine getting agreement on something with even the faintest whiff of controversy past the rather higher bar of a Constitutional amendment. So I'd be happy for a decent national conversation on the topic.

Personally, I wouldn't have thought that the law extended to an expectation of privacy on your front lawn, since you already expect your neighbors to be watching. It's interesting to see a court disagree. I wouldn't be surprised if this is overturned at a higher level, though unfortunately, at this point I've given up thinking of the Supreme Court as anything other than an ideology engine, so really just figure out which side is which and assume that it'll go that way.

Comment: Re:this is something Google does a bit better (Score 3, Informative) 594

by jfengel (#48603441) Attached to: Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

But I don't think they've fully integrated the software. Google Maps apparently gets "reports" from Waze, but they seem to otherwise still be separate. They generate different routes and different estimates.

Based on my purely anecdotal experience, I've found that Maps has smarter routing but that Waze does a better job of being current on traffic. So I use Waze when I expect traffic to be an issue (i.e. during rush times), and Maps at other times. (Maps also has a more pleasant interface. Waze's voice is especially over-talkative.)

Comment: Re:Over to you, SCOTUS (Score 1) 379

At least one set of judges, the 9th Circuit, disagreed that the previous decision applied here. The current court disagrees (unanimously) with them, and what they say goes, but the fact that it made it to the Supreme Court at all suggests that there is real disagreement about the meaning and applicability of the previous decisions.

So there's plenty of blame to go around, but it includes all nine of the current justices as well as the past ones. And the current Congress, who could easily remedy this (to popular acclaim), but the leadership won't even try.

Comment: Re:Not "ridesharing" (Score 1) 139

by jfengel (#48573963) Attached to: California Sues Uber Over Practices

I'm surprised this hasn't been put to the test already. There are about 200 accidents and 1-2 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. Uber and Lyft must be closing in on that number by now, and since they're primarily about accident-prone city driving I'd expect it to be faster.

Surely something has happened by now that would have provoked the insurance companies' ire and make them start sending out warnings, but I haven't heard about it. Am I just missing it? Or have they handled it all in house so far?

Comment: So... did he have any tested? (Score 1) 82

by jfengel (#48550621) Attached to: Book Review: Spam Nation

I've read the review, but not the book, but a key element seems to come down to "Maybe it's real, but nobody knows". It seems a fairly simple procedure for him to order some of it and have it tested, and then he'd know. Yeah, that's a legal gray area, but it would make his case a lot stronger to be able to say "Yeah, I ordered a bunch of Russian Viagra and it tested out as 75% as good as the real stuff".

I know that means taking a risk of being prosecuted, but isn't that something we commend journalists for? At least, better than making allegations about what corporate execs and government employees are thinking without evidence.

Comment: Re:Sounds more like technical short-sightedness (Score 1) 250

by jfengel (#48532737) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

I really miss my iPod Nano, the 5th generation, the last one that was really a dedicated music player rather than an iOS device. It was very small and did one thing really well, which made it perfect for running.

But eventually I got a smart phone, and since I'd be carrying it on runs anyway... it's more cumbersome to use as a player, but at least it's able to update itself without having to go through iTunes. I suspect that iOS-based Nanos can as well, but I just didn't need a separate device any more.

Comment: Re:not enough data (Score 1) 186

by jfengel (#48525747) Attached to: Pizza Hut Tests New "Subconscious Menu" That Reads Your Mind

I'd also like to see it controlled against a pepperoni pizza, which practically everybody seems to like. (Oddly, except for me. I'm just not into fermented sausages. Not into salami, either. I'll eat pepperoni pizza, but I'd rather have sausage.) Once you exclude the obvious failures (e.g. vegetarians) I bet you could get 98% approval.

If that 98% figure means that they can differentiate vegetarians from non-vegetarians just by watching their eyes with near-perfect accuracy... that actually sounds like an interesting result all by itself.

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