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Comment: Re:Two separate things here (Score 1) 482

by Pragmatix (#39213181) Attached to: Photographing Police: Deletion Is Not Forever

This thing is, they might not have a warrant but they can come into your house if they want. They can toss the place, etc. Your rights don't come into play until you go to court, where it will cost you a lot of money to excercise your rights. Disobeying a police order to disperse is the same way, you don't get to decide if the order is lawful, the police can arrest you at any time and haul you off to jail, you don't get a say until you are in front of a judge. Arguably, police need to have that power, otherwise it would quickly become impossible to do the job.

Aside from an arrest being quite punative in of itself, the biggest flaw I see is that there are really no consequences for law enforcement who heap bogus charges on people. Hence some places (florida?) where the police are increasingly arresting people for resisting arrest just for asking why they have been arrested etc.

Comment: Re:We didn't really know how things worked before (Score 1) 375

by Pragmatix (#38952891) Attached to: Little Ice Age: It Was Not the Sun

I look at it in terms of actual money versus potential money. There is an enormous amount of actual money at risk and this money is organized and concentrated. This actual money can be used today to promulgate and protect deeply entrenched interests. There is an unknown amount of potential money to be made, and it is a lot harder to spend and organize potential money than it is to spend and organize actual money.

My limited fact checking bears this theory up. Very often the skeptical pieces I find about AGW in the media are sourced from non-scientists affliated with monied interests.

Comment: Implement real e-book lending (Score 1) 150

by Pragmatix (#37937846) Attached to: Amazon Launching eBook Lending Program, Publishers Unenthusiastic
I wish they would just abandon these stupid schemes and implement a simple e-book lending model. I don't see why they can't make it so I can lend a book to a friend and have it 'locked' until the friend returns it. This wouldn't really impact publisher sales and it would give e-books the same sort of social interactive power that traditional books have.

Comment: Is it the same as housing? (Score 1) 1797

by Pragmatix (#37817258) Attached to: Ron Paul Wants To End the Federal Student Loan Program
I have often wondered if this same phenomenon is why houses cost so much more to buy than say 30 years ago. Has the rise in credit dramatically outpaced wages? Does it lead to a self perpetuating cycle which pushes up costs, and requires bigger loans? The biggest negative about federal student loans is how easily exploitable they are for the 'for profit' institutions. The drop out rate is very high, and the default rate is too, but the for profit colleges make their money regardless.

Comment: Flexibility is one of the reaons (Score 1) 382

by Pragmatix (#37495570) Attached to: US Gov't Pays IT Contractors Twice As Much As Its Own IT Workers

I have spent some time working on government contracts where I was one of many contractors sitting at the client location full time. Part of the reason that particular agency used contractors was because their HR process was very difficult to deal with. It was very hard to hire new full time employees and it was almost impossible to fire anyone. The director knew he was paying more for the contractors, but he also knew he could quickly alter his workforce if his budget changed.

As far as costs go, the full time employees were probably paid 10-15% or so less than the contractors (in terms of what the contractors took home), but they had much better benefits (not to mention job security). Most of the contractors worked for consulting companies, and they were the ones raking in the cash, not the actual contractors. In fact the agency I worked for forced everyone to go through a middle-man company if you wanted to do any work for them. The middle-man took from 10 to 20% off the top just for time entry and billing.

Don't forget that many government agencies have no real incentive to save money. If an agency improves their efficiency and slashes the budget by 10 million dollars, it just means they get less money the next year. It is why you sometimes hear about agencies going crazy at the end of the fiscal year and using up their remaining budget to buy whatever they can, regardless of need, so they can show they spent their allocated monies.

Comment: Re:For learning (Score 1) 616

by Pragmatix (#37141056) Attached to: C++ 2011 and the Return of Native Code
This reminds me of a client I had where the in-house developer was unhappy with my choice to remove his homegrown database abstraction middle-ware from a simple internal application I was tasked with enhancing. I added a ton of new features and cut down the code base by about 80%, but all I ever heard from him is "but what if we decide to switch to ORACLE?!?"

Comment: Re:Heuristic (Score 1) 394

by Pragmatix (#34017212) Attached to: Bees Beat Machines At 'Traveling Salesman' Problem

After all, when we're playing a game of baseball (right, right, I know, this is slashdot), and a ball is coming towards us, we aren't calculating in our heads the velocity, air resistance and other variables involved in catching the ball. We just reach out our arms and our brain makes its best guess based on some sort of heuristic or something to make the catch.

This is known as the gaze heuristic : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaze_heuristic

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 834

by Pragmatix (#28840333) Attached to: Are Women Getting More Beautiful?
There is a discovery channel documentary about beauty which talks about how they think symmetry is partly determined by the fetal environment. Each half of the body grows at the same time--mirror-like, so changes in nutrition or stress can impact the one side or the other. The theory they developed based on this information is that selection for symmetry is really just expressing a preference for a mate who is more likely to be in better environmental circumstances than a less symmetrical mate. If this is true, it would make sense that woman (and men) in general are more symmetrical today than they have been in history. Nutrition, disease and stress (from violence especially) are much better for larger numbers of people.

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