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Comment Re:If the black cabs have a legal monopoly... (Score 4, Insightful) 64

There have been a few recent postings on Slashdot about Uber getting in trouble because they have been caught breaking the law in various places. They always have some hysterical language, in this case calling the Mayor of London a Luddite. In the end most of the comments end up agreeing with you: just because some people like the business model doesn't mean that Uber should be breaking the law.

So why do these rants keep getting selected? There is only one reason: some of the moderators are Uber fans, and they want to keep flogging this dead horse. It's now about promoting a specific ideology, not about geek news.

This time let's talk about the failure of the selections system and institutional bias. That's the real issue here.

Comment Abuse wastes resources (Score 1) 608

All the guys (and they are all guys) who are defending the coding culture of abuse are engaging in delusional power fantasies. While they claim to be talking about getting the work done, they are actually engaged in an entirely different activity which is counterproductive to progress. Following are some of the erroneous claims and why they are false.

Technical expertise is a justification for hostile behavior. Just reading the statement shows how obviously idiotic it is. Just imagine that this was operational in other situations: your auto mechanic, pharmacist, grocery checkout clerk, all insulted you because you didn't know as much as they do about their work. This actually happens with police, where they can arbitrarily make a mountain out of a molehill, or vice versa, and this is one of the reasons we are seeing so much upheaval now that it's ending up on video.

Technical issues should be discussed using emotional language. Emotional language is the opposite of rational discussion, and it makes incorrect reasoning much more likely. Why engage in behavior that leads to less trustworthy results?

The person who prevails in an emotional argument has the best technical answer. Again, this is completely ridiculous. Sometimes there is no clear best solution. If the ultimate decision is based on the ability to prevail in an emotionally based environment, then the outcome is biased towards argument skill and away from technical issues. Clearly there is no correlation between being able to win an argument and being technically correct.

It's programming culture, get used to it. That's a circular argument that can be used to justify any bad behavior: racial discrimination, ethnic cleansing, rape, religious violence, by substituting something else for "programming". At best it could be construed as an unreasoned defense of the status quo in software development. Given how notorious software is for being late, over budget, bug ridden, incomplete or nondeliverable, stating that programming culture is OK is to set the bar really really low.

I personally have seen vast amounts of time wasted in useless argument. It's routine to see people fight over meaningless points because nobody was willing to back down. I've seen men almost come to blows. I have seen projects crippled because everyone was forced to take sides. There are times when there is actually technical agreement, but the fight continued anyway. I have wasted years of work time because of this kind of behavior during my career.

So what'sreally going on here? You have a bunch of guys who claim to be guided by technical excellence who are defending a culture guided by irrational emotional behavior that often delivers bad results.

There is an obvious answer: it's not really about the technology, it's about unbounded ego. The real goal is power and personal dominance. Coding is just an excuse.

This conclusion is supported by looking at the common attitude in the supportors of a culture of hostility. According to them, they are each and every one the best programmer in the room, they never make mistakes, they win by their coding skill and ability to browbeat their inferiors, and my implication they are respected and feared by their co-workers. Now ask yourself: how likely is that all these guys are that level of uber-geek? The only reasonable answer is that there is a lot of self delusion going on here. If the culture of hostility worked with all those manly programmers out there, one would assume that there would generally be a lot better software out in the world. Somehow that just doesn't seem to be happening.

Comment Re:TFA, TFS (Score 2) 323

Fines don't work. No one is willing to enforce an economic penalty that would endanger the future of a big company. It's considered to be too disruptive.

When this is combined with no effective personal responsibilities then nothing changes. No matter how badly management screws up at a big company, they always retire rich. There is no down side to breaking the law, because the chances of getting caught are non-existent and the penalty is getting to keep all the wealth gained by breaking the law,

Want proof? Nobody went to jail after the 2008 financial meltdown. The worst that happened to corporate criminals like Mozillo at Nationwide was that he was fined. And he didn't even have to pay that personally, it was covered by insurance paid for by his company and by corporate funds. A few years later there were scandals where international currency rates were manipulated by bank traders, the LIBOR rate was jacked around for profit and Swiss banks helped the ultra rich illegally evade taxes in Europe and the US. This was all after the 2008 screw up when the financial sector was supposed to have learned there lesson. Nothing changed at all. It's as bad as it ever was.

The only way it will change is for the wealthy and powerful to end up in jail and have all their assets seized when they break the law; i.e. the kind of penalties that big drug dealers get. Frankly that's never going to happen. Everything is so corrupt that they will be allowed to get away with whatever they want. The only other options is if there is a real revolt and they get strung up on lamp posts, but that's not going to happen either. The new peasant class (regular wage earners) are too stupid to figure out what's gong on.

Comment Re:Just makes them look even more guilty (Score 5, Insightful) 323

Stop making excuses for corporate criminals. Why do you want to let themn off the hook? You are blaming the victim (in this case everyone in the US who breaths air).

When the EPA tested the vehicles they did not assume that there would be this level of overt lying and manipulation. There have been other instances of bad behavior in the past, but these were caught in the normal course of events. This was deliberately intended to evade regulations, and VW has already admitted as much. So if management admits they were breaking the rules, how can you try and blame the EPA?

If the EPA or other government agencies did their job correctly, they would start with the assumption that the companies they deal with are run by degenerate psychopaths who will do anything, up to and including mass murder to make a buck. That certainly describes Ford and their failing key ignition switch, which by Ford's own estimate killed around 200 people. It is certain that the death toll is higher; given the money at stake, why should they stop lying now if they can get away with it? And previous to that there was Toyota and the cover-up of their sudden acceleration problem. So it's not like WV is that exceptional.

But when the regulators try and do a thorough job then business interests start squealing like stuck pigs and scream about how "ebil gomment is distroying the free interprize". Then they go out and buy a few more congress critters, and keep on lying and stealing for profit. And asshats like you are always there to cheer them on. Too bad you didn't die in a defective Ford or Toyota; it might have taught you something about how the world really works.

Comment Re:International Association of Exorcists (Score 0) 268

I wasn't originally planning on going into detail about bad behavior by the Church, but you had to go and wave the red flag. So suck this up.

The number of people executed by the Spanish Inquisition is estimated to be between 3000 and 5000.

García Cárcel estimates that the total number processed by the Inquisition throughout its history was approximately 150,000; applying the percentages of executions that appeared in the trials of 1560–1700—about 2%—the approximate total would be about 3,000 put to death. Nevertheless, it is likely that the toll was higher, keeping in mind the data provided by Dedieu and García Cárcel for the tribunals of Toledo and Valencia, respectively. It is likely that between 3,000 and 5,000 were executed.

Of course the death totals are much lower then the number of people imprisoned and tortured. Long imprisonments and confiscation of property were common. Some victims went from Inquisition cells to secular jail cells, were expelled from Spain, or placed in slavery in the Imperial galleys, which should be really be counted as a long death by torture.

In the long run it was about the persecution of Jews in Spain, even those who converted to Christianity, greed by the authorities who got most of the confiscated wealth and using anonymous denunciations to destroy enemies. And keep in mind that this was only one of the many inquisitions that occurred starting in the 12th century in Europe, and didn't end until the 19th century in Spain.

So how does that record fit in with the Church being a source of godliness in the world?

Your argument that it's OK because of other good works is completely morally corrupt. It's not acceptable under Christian theology. Did Jesus say "You're such a righteous guy in church and you do so much for the congregation, it's perfectly OK that you beat your wife and rape your children"? Because that's your position translated to a more obnoxious context.

Your argument is one of moral relativism, which is only considered legitimate by extremely liberal Christians. I'm under the impression that this kind of thinking is explicitly forbidden for Catholics.

Even the slightest examination of history shows that religious authority over peoples live inevitably results in revolting behavior. There is really not much difference when religious authority is prevalent or secular authority has ultimate control. Outsiders and the powerless are always persecuted.

The final insult is your hypocrisy. Instead of recognizing and owning up to historical failures, you make feeble excuses. Don't worry, you're not alone. All religions have massive failures when judged by their own professed standards, and they all cover them up and then lie about it. You're nothing special.

Comment Re:The algorithm isn't clever, but scales well. (Score 3, Informative) 82

The formal description of the edit distance is different from that described in the article. This is the one used in some cases of DNA or text comparison.

Insertion of a single symbol. If a = uv, then inserting the symbol x produces uxv. This can also be denoted e->x, using e to denote the empty string.

Deletion of a single symbol changes uxv to uv (x->e).

Substitution of a single symbol x for a symbol y x changes uxv to uyv (x->y).

It's not just about changing a symbol, it also includes adding and deleting symbols. That makes simple parallelization impossible.

It's not clear if the mathematical proof cited in the article is the simple one of only changing symbols, or the more complex case of symbol addition and deletion. From the article, it appears that they are talking about the simple case, which makes the more complex algorithm even more intractable.

Comment International Association of Exorcists (Score 0) 268

Don't forget the basic mission of the Church. It's not about playing nice with science. It's about good vs. evil, the force of light vs. the force of darkness.

Before you get all "religion is fine with science", you had better remember that this group exists, and that they and their predecessors have been defining religious thought for a long, long time.

International Association of Exorcists

The International Association of Exorcists is a Roman Catholic organization which was founded in 1990 by six priests including the world-famous exorcist of Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth and Father Jeremy Davies. Its statutes were approved by the Roman Catholic Church on June 13, 2014.

Although the membership is restricted and exclusive, by 2000 there were over two hundred members, who meet bi-annually in Rome. The association sends out a quarterly newsletter where members can tell of particularly interesting or difficult cases. An exorcist priest must have the permission of his bishop to join.

Within the Roman Catholic Church a priest may only do an exorcism with the express consent of his bishop or local ordinary, and only, to the extent necessary, after an examination of the patient by doctors and psychiatrists in order to determine that the affliction has no natural origin. A priest is required by canon law to be devout, knowledgeable, prudent, and possess integrity of life.

Father Amorth began the organization in the hopes of increasing the number of official exorcists worldwide and to alert more dioceses about the problem, which he believes has been ignored or suppressed by some priests and bishops. Today Father Amorth is the honorary president of AIE. His successor as president was Father Giancarlo Gramolazzo, who died in November 2010 and was succeeded in turn by Capuchin father Cipriano de Meo (born January 5, 1924), and then by Fr. Francesco Bamonte, the current president.

Comment Re:So many ways to combat this... (Score 1) 139

Do you realize that the credit card companies make money on fraudulent transactions?

Their profit is built into every transaction, legal or not. The cost of fraud is spread over the customer base, and is part of the fees paid by users and merchants. Collectively the user base pays for theft from the system, and the credit card companies make more money. That $1.8 billion in illegal billings is a profit center.

The reason that the credit card companies are rolling out smart cards in the US after all this time is that the federal regulators realized what was going on and changed the rules. The cost of fraud can no longer be passed onto users.

According to this article in Gizmodo when France made the switch from mag to smart credit cards their fraud rate dropped by 50%. The rule change is driving the technology shift. As MasterCard's Carolyn Balfany told the WSJ:

Part of the October 2015 deadline in our roadmap is what's known as the 'liability shift.' Whenever card fraud happens, we need to determine who is liable for the costs. When the liability shift happens, what will change is that if there is an incidence of card fraud, whichever party has the lesser technology will bear the liability.

The new rules mean the organization with the least secure system is the one that pays.

So if a merchant is still using the old system, they can still run a transaction with a swipe and a signature. But they will be liable for any fraudulent transactions if the customer has a chip card. And the same goes the other way; if the merchant has a new terminal, but the bank hasn't issued a chip and PIN card to the customer, the bank would be liable. Either way, liability no longer falls on the consumer.

Now if the Feds would just clean up the rest of the corrupt banking sector practices there might even be a return to capitalism in the US. Somehow I doubt it will happen.

Comment How will the History Channel cope? (Score 5, Funny) 295

The History Channel has a lock on "OMG!!! the Nazis almost won the war, what if their super secret had been built, we would all be speaking GERMAN and eating sauerkraut, OMG!!!". Of course was either only a prototype or was never built at all, but who cares, RATINGS!!!

So no Nazi atom bomb is a big dower for them.

I talked to a producer who knew some History Channel people, and she said they called it the Hitler Channel. No mater what series, if you could tie something to Hitler or the Nazis then it was a big plus. She said that when they had a series on the Spartans they compared them to Germany during WWII, and the management was thrilled.

Comment Baby in Stroller Slashed after Drone Crash (Score 1) 124

This just happened in Pasadena California on September 13th.

Baby girl in stroller slashed by shrapnel from falling drone in Pasadena

A drone fell from the sky in Pasadena, injuring an 11-month-old girl being pushed in a stroller by her mother, police said Tuesday.

The infant was struck by shrapnel when the privately owned “quadcopter” fell to the ground on Marengo Avenue near Union Street, Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra said.

“The drone shattered, sending shrapnel flying toward the child’s forehead and head and the mother’s legs,” Ibarra said.

The baby was treated at Huntington Memorial Hospital for a large contusion to her forehead and a quarter-inch laceration on the side of her head, according to the lieutenant.

Her 31-year-old mother was not injured in the 6:30 p.m. Saturday incident, Ibarra said.

Officers sent to the scene located the 24-year-old owner of the drone nearby. He said he was attending an event in front of City Hall and flying the drone overhead when he lost control of it, Ibarra said.

He went to the crash scene and remained there awaiting law enforcement to arrive, she said.

The incident was documented and a report forwarded “to the Flight Standards District Office in Van Nuys for review to determine if the operator violated federal aircraft rules forbidding careless or reckless operation of an unmanned aircraft,” Ibarra said.

Drones are inherently dangerous. At a minimum, a drone that can hover has a lot of kinetic energy in it propellers, so when it crashes you can get events like the above.

People do things with drones that they would never do with traditional RC aircraft. People don't often fly RC planes near fires or airports.

On Google Maps go to "214 E Union St Pasadena, CA 91101". That is the intersection listed in the article. It's a business neighborhood two blocks from City Hall. There's no park around. There is a grassy area at the north end of the block, but not where you should be flying anything. It's insane that a child, or anyone else for that matter, would end up in danger at that location from something flying around.

Drone flyers are in a complete state of denial about the risks involved. All the comments claiming the 'close call' figures are incorrect are completely missing the point. As soon as a drone starts flying it is a potential danger. Ignoring this fact makes the danger even greater.

It's not about technology. It's about the users. Drones are just the latest example of how self centered fools can cause real world problems when they become enamored of technology and refuse to face facts. As long as the basic attitude is "drones are safe" then the problems will only get worse. Eventually this will lead to harsh legislation and everyone will scream about government repression. But remember, when an infant in a stroller gets struck in the head after a drone crash, there are bound to be repercussions.

Neutrinos are into physicists.