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Comment: Most disturbing bit (Score 2) 499

by JoshuaZ (#47877449) Attached to: Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

In her 11 August response, Barr questioned whether the special agent who conducted the investigation “can be an impartial evaluator of academic scientists, or anyone with liberal political beliefs.” As evidence, she points to a posting on a blog maintained by the agent, a veteran who served in Iraq, and his family. The item is a copy of a popular Internet meme about an incident that supposedly took place in an introductory college biology course. According to the story, a “typical liberal college professor and avowed atheist” declares his intent to prove that there is no God by giving the creator 15 minutes to strike him from the podium. A few minutes before the deadline, a Marine “just released from active duty and newly registered” walks up to the professor and knocks him out with one punch. When the professor recovers and asks for an explanation, the Marine replies, “God was busy. He sent me.”

This makes it look really like this was a single agent who was unhappy with the left-wing views she had. At minimum, it is wildly inappropriate for a government agent in such a position to have that sort of thing on their blog (aside from it being just stupid). That goes together with the statement in the article:

Attorney Joseph Kaplan, of the Washington, D.C., firm Passman & Kaplan, says that, in his experience, the most common reasons for a finding of unsuitability are lying about one’s educational background, one’s employment history, or one’s criminal record. “If OPM determines that the person has misled or provided false information,” he says, “they can be declared unfit for federal service.”

Kaplan says he’s never heard of anyone being drummed out for political activity that occurred decades ago. At the same time, he says, the government’s decision is based not on anything Barr did during the 1980s but on how she explained those activities to federal investigators after coming to work at NSF.

Together this paints a potential picture of a specific agent going after someone they didn't like due to their political views and a bureaucracy going into overdrive to protect that decision. On the other hand, it isn't like she had no connections to the third organization- she knew two of the people who were convicted of the murder and by her own description kept up a correspondence with one of them while he was in prison. But keeping up correspondence with someone in prison is not evidence by itself of any problem, and there's really been no evidence presented that she lied or attempted to mislead in any way.

The article notes that this may be due to more general post-Snowded reactions which are making these sorts of things more common. In that case, this is exactly the wrong response.

Comment: Re:Anti-competitive behavior is a big deal (Score 1) 312

by powerlord (#47810599) Attached to: Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

IIRC the last taxi medallion that was openly sold in NYC went for north of $500K. Hardly a miniscule fee.

If there were only 10,000 programmer medallions available in the USA, would you stop coding?

Try ~$1m.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/about/average_medallion_price.shtml

Granted, thats for a yellow medallion.
For an "Outer Borough Taxi" permit (all of NYC except Manhattan below 110th St on the west side and 96th St on the east side), it costs $1500 for three years (in addition to already being a licensed TLC Operator).

You're a little off in your analogy though, If you want to compare buying a taxi medallion to something in the programming world, then its equivalent to running your own Start Up. In that case financing and business models apply.

Programmers would be equivalent to the drivers that work for the TLC licensed shops (including those that hold medallions). Trust me, if you want to drive, you can, of course you might need to actually get a hack license (which Ironically you don't need to program).

Comment: Re:Insurance and a 1099 (Score 3, Insightful) 312

by powerlord (#47810335) Attached to: Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

I think its a case of German law makers thinking: If it looks like a taxi, and acts like a taxi, then it should be regulated like a taxi. Can't really fault them on this.

The bigger issue is that Uber, Lyft, etc. are trying to take advantage of the lag between what is available (Hail a taxi via an app), and what the current incumbent do now, by bypassing the current laws. This is admirable from a competition perspective, but not by sacrificing all laws to get there and compete.

Uber is notorious at this point for operating full steam ahead, against regulation, and even court rulings, to get into place. I am not surprised Germany took a dim view of their antics and slapped them.
http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/26/6067663/this-is-ubers-playbook-for-sabotaging-lyft

Some regulations are in place to protect drivers, others are in place to protect passengers. To declare yourself immune to them all is lovely, but its as effective as me declaring myself King of the Internet and demanding all my subjects to send me $5.

Adding "with the help of a mobile app" to the end of your business plan, does not suddenly make a brand new industry and to pretend otherwise is delusional (except to shareholders or venture capitalists).

Comment: Re:In Soviet Maryland (Score 4, Informative) 441

by powerlord (#47807463) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Except this is Maryland.

The police there think that being close to the capital has granted them more authority, and the people are wacko, self-entitled over-reactors to start with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

... During the period from 1962 until 1967, Cambridge was a center of Civil Rights Movement protests as blacks sought access to work and housing. They also wanted to end racial segregation of schools and other public facilities. Race-related violence erupted in Cambridge in 1963 and 1967, and forces of the Maryland National Guard were assigned to the city to assist local authorities with peace-keeping efforts.[13] The leader of the radical movement was H. Rap Brown, the Minister of Justice of The Black Panther Party,[14] and local organizer Gloria Richardson.[15] These individuals incited the local community to burn the 2nd Ward area of Cambridge, Maryland which housed most of the African American community. The local population's homes, most of which were destroyed, were rebuilt under a 1969 Public Housing Act by the then Governor, Spiro Agnew and the Federal Government. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, public segregation in Cambridge officially ended. ...

Comment: No, it wasn't. (Score 5, Insightful) 463

by raehl (#47802209) Attached to: Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

The problem is, this death was a result of systemic problems between the police and society at large, specifically the police thinking - correctly, it appears - that they're above the law.

The lack of prosecution in this case is NOT because the police are "above the law". The lack of prosecution in this case is because the law specifically allows the police to use electronic devices in the course of their duties while operating their vehicles. The same way the law allows the police to exceed the speed limit in certain cases, or allows them to park pretty much anywhere, or allows them to pull you over, or allows them to do any number of other things that a normal citizen can't do.

You may argue that it's a bad practice, but keep in mind that one person dying because officers are allowed to use electronic devices while driving doesn't necessarily mean that's bad practice any more than officers sometimes causing accidents because they can speed or run red lights in the course of their duties means those are overall bad practices either. We'd need to know how many people are hurt as a result of officers operating electronic devices while driving and compare that to how many people would be hurt if officers had to use the radio or pull over every time they needed to use electronic devices.

Regardless, there was no legal basis for criminal charges in this incident.

Comment: OK, it's a content publishing system (Score 2) 73

by slaker (#47761295) Attached to: MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released

I have a number of Plex servers. Plex also allows me to publish images, music and video online, albeit to a select group of people. Were I seeking a wider audience, I'd have the options of Vimeo or Xtube or Soundcloud or Bandcamp or Flickr to put my content online.

I also have a bunch of web servers. What's stopping me from using the dozens of web content galleries, if I'm going to be using my own disk space and bandwidth instead of Google's or Yahoo's?

Seriously, what is this doing that those things aren't?

Comment: Re:0.15 degree from a 3.7 kelvin... that's "cool" (Score 4, Informative) 39

This is extremely preliminary. It is likely that later work will be able to increase it further. And even an increase in a few degrees centigrade would have practical impacts. Moreover, the ability to make metamaterials of this sort may lead to superconductors with different ranges wherein they engage in magnetic quenching https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconducting_magnet#Magnet_quench which is important for safe and practical use of superconductors even today. It isn't uncommon for a bad quenching event to damage a particle accelerator. A particular bad example happened to the LHC back in 2008 dealing serious damage to the accelerator http://astroengine.com/2008/10/18/lhc-quench-ripped-magnets-from-concrete-floor/. Yes, this isn't immediately practical but it looks like there's a lot of potential.

SCCS, the source motel! Programs check in and never check out! -- Ken Thompson

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