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Comment: Re:Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 1) 65

by causality (#49537733) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

The USPS has been using automated systems of sorting mail for decades. It's why mail across town goes to a consolidated center (perhaps halfway across the state) first for sorting into carrier routes and has been for decades.

That Homeland Security want to capture this information - which has long been determined to accessible (the original pen-trace) isn't surprising at all.

And they only have to photograph/image the ones that the machines can't read. It's only surprising to people who drink the conservative kool-aide that government can't do anything right.

There are four things government is in a position to do better than anyone else: military defense, law enforcement, public works, and the erosion of liberty.

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

by NormalVisual (#49515895) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars
But of the people I know, $20k isn't even a tenth of their yearly "fun car money", and compared to the reoccurring cost of insurance coverage that is a sunk cost even if you are never in an accident, this method can be much much cheaper for them in the long run.

If you're making enough that you can spend $200K just on fun car stuff, then yes, it's quite likely you can self-insure and not worry about that. The vast majority of people that like to tinker with their cars aren't in that income bracket, though. As regards the $20K bond - good luck if that's all you have to pay for in a serious accident. That quite possibly won't even cover the cost of the other car if it's totalled, much less medical expenses for another party that's seriously injured.

Comment: Re:Surveillance is okay (Score 4, Informative) 254

by NormalVisual (#49502219) Attached to: The Upsides of a Surveillance Society
For all the complaints leveled at the NSA there has been no proof that they have ever used that information against it's own citizens.

From this Reuters story:

One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

"I was pissed," the prosecutor said. "Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you're trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court." The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 271

by causality (#49498253) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, the constitution does say any American citizen has free travel between areas within the US. So if I was this guy, I'd sue the federal court. Fun fact, because it's a federal issue, he's constitutionally promised a jury of at least 6 people if the suit is for more than $20. At that point, it really doesn't matter what the federal judge says, it's the jury. And since the US is a country of "letter of the law", the federal government is going to have a hell of a time defending this action when the constitution explicitly prohibits it.

Sure thing. All it will cost him is his life savings plus whatever debt he incurs.

Comment: Re:This happens about... (Score 4, Funny) 131

by NormalVisual (#49475607) Attached to: How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio
Many of us have seen what happens when that oily salesguy you'd like to to kick sells something which is complete fiction, and that it is now someone else's problem. His check clears, he gets a new car and a vacation, and everyone else is stuck building a fucking unicorn.

Scott Adams summed it up nicely.

Comment: Re:I'll bet the effect is very mild. (Score 1) 187

by NormalVisual (#49467279) Attached to: Acetaminophen Reduces Both Pain and Pleasure, Study Finds
although I always found it rather pleasant as it helps ignore pain as much as anything else.

That's pretty much what morphine does to me. It does very little to reduce the pain, but it makes me completely not care about it. That, and throw up a lot, like most narcotics do with me. For the life of me I can't understand how people get addicted to the stuff. I'd *much* rather be in pain than feeling nauseous.

Comment: Re:People with artificial lenses can already see U (Score 1) 137

by NormalVisual (#49461367) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness
I can see near-UV -- this caused some confusion in high school Chemistry class when I could see some spectrum lines that nobody else could.

Interesting that you mention that - I've never really thought I could see UV, but I have noticed that black lights and UV LEDs have a weird intense brightness that makes me squint even though the visible light isn't that bright, and I can't really perceive a different color. Germicidal lamps don't cause the same effect for me.

Comment: Re:Do the math: that is stupid! (Score 2) 421

by causality (#49412325) Attached to: Powdered Alcohol Banned In Six States

"It one of the least efficient form for transporting ethanol. "

But still more efficient that carrying the potable form which multiplies the mass by another 2.5x.

I don't think you understood what was meant by "efficient". Greater mass (the ethanol plus the absorbent material) makes it a less efficient method of transporting ethanol. This product does not produce a drink nearly as strong as regular 80-proof, 40% liquor. It's not even close. I'd carry some 151 (75.5% alcohol) and be much better off. There are lightweight non-glass containers that would be more than suitable.

Comment: Re:Astronaut-booze (Score 1) 421

by causality (#49412297) Attached to: Powdered Alcohol Banned In Six States

Yes, you point out the facts of this; namely that typical strong alcohol at 70 proof is 35% ethanol. The balance is mostly water. This product is about that ratio of ethanol to some sorbent material that appears to go into solution if you add water.

  If the legislature of those states who are alarmed just did a little homework, they would realize that this is much ado about nothing.

Did you ever consider that they already know that? These are people who jumped through so many hoops to get where they are that they just enjoy being in control, flexing their muscles, and feeling secure in their positions by using them to real effect. Frivolous shit like this is the low-hanging fruit for control freaks. The very fact that it doesn't involve anything important means that the degree of serious, committed opposition will be minimal.

The important part for this mentality: if it doesn't work, nothing is really lost and you can wait a bit then keep trying until it sticks; if or when it does work, it establishes a "useful" precedent, giving an appearance of legitimacy to the idea that yes, the state can regulate this thing, too.

This is how sociopaths think. It's about winning and winning is about strategy. Most of that comes from a good knowledge of history, what others have tried beore, which things worked and which backfired, and what one is willing to risk. The campaign promises and speeches are just part of playing the game. The problem, the disconnect, is that average people don't think this way. They keep misinterpreting the actions they're observing.

As long as that keeps happening, things are unlikely to change. It's really difficult to solve a problem you haven't even defined.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS