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Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 181

by pseudorand (#49495491) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

Your false assumption is that doctors, chemists and physicists get things right with any greater frequency. It's not that social scientists are misusing statistics but that a large number of scientists is most disciplines simply do a poor job of quantifying things. It's a little more obvious when it happens in social science, but accurate measurement is hard or often impossible, so bad proxy measures a pervasive feature of most scientific disciplines. That's one of may reasons why most "experts" usually get it wrong.

Comment: Clear expectations, trust me to do them, feedback (Score 1) 261

I need only three things.

1) Tell me what you want done, when you want it done, and listen when I tell you what's actually realistic.

2) Trust me to do what I say I will do. Don't pay any attention to when I show up, when I leave, if I show up to meetings and if I'm paying attention to you or to my laptop when I do bother attending. Pay attention only to my results.

3) Give me feedback when I ask for it. In step 1, I'll tell you when iteration 1 will be done ready. Take a look at it when I present it to you. Give me feedback so iteration 2 will be more like what you really want. If you don't the final product will be what I want, not you want. You'll be stuck with something useless (to you) and I'll have padded my resume with all the latest skills so getting that next job that pays more will be a breeze.

Who the heck cares about coffee and ping-pong and any of that other crap.

Comment: Re:Racketeering (Score 1) 201

Repealing it would just let the real mobsters loose. The problem is a constitution that lets law enforcement pick and choose who they want to pick on.

Congress passes horrible, broad laws that the vast majority of us would strongly object to. But law enforcement mostly ignores them...except when they need to pressure someone into something. Then they can throw the book at you. Who care that lots of other people are technically breaking the same laws you're accused of. You're in their cross-hairs so the letter of the law now applies to you and you alone. And the rest of us don't care because we mostly don't even know about it.

Sure, honest and competent law enforcement offices can sometimes use this to convict a real bad guy (as is ALWAYS the case on TV). But dishonest or incompetent law enforcement use it be themselves become worse than the gangsters. Even otherwise honest and well-intention police and DAs are pressured by their superiors to get convictions. They may not be convinced by the evidence, but their boss needs something for his campaign posters so they have to get convictions or find new jobs. Law enforcement is hard. Getting anything a scientifically-minded person would actually consider proof is probably impossible in a whole lot of cases. But somehow are jails are still overflowing.

What we need is a constitutional amendment that invalidates any law for which the accused can show an inconsistent pattern of enforcement. "But everyone else does it" should be a valid defense. Congress would then have to figure out how to actually enforce and fund any law they pass. We'd all quickly become painfully aware of laws we don't like. And we could then vote out the jerks who passed them.

Comment: Re:The extrenely low pass rate... (Score 1) 145

by pseudorand (#49387837) Attached to: The End of College? Not So Fast

I took a course when I worked for the university. The professor wanted me to do a more complicated final project, but I didn't have time with a full time job and family, so I just skipped it and took a C. Doesn't mean I didn't learn everything I needed to, as evidenced by the fact that I'd aced all the other classwork (which is why I ended up with a C even though the final project was 25% of the grade).

And since when is a low pass rate necessarily a bad thing? Is it possible only the people who learn the material pass? Compare that to the total crap education we pay for, either through tuition or our tax dollars. It has the opposite problem: almost no one fails. In some (maybe many) public school districts, this is in fact the actual policy. Teachers can't give failing grades. These are the perverse intensives No Child Left Behind forced on us. The free online courses may be incentivizing students to learn though not necessarily to demonstrate their knowledge by taking the test and turning in the classwork. The "High Stakes" testing we've supposedly introduced into our school systems is only "high stakes" for teachers and schools. Students have no stake in it at all. No wonder it's so ineffective.

Comment: and secure passwords are disallowed (Score 1) 349

by pseudorand (#49373151) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

I just created my account and had to try 5 times before it accepted a randomly-generated password I created programmatically. All 5 randomly generated passwords were validated by the on-page Javascript, but upon submitting the form they were rejected with no stated reason.

The key to finally getting one accepted one selecting a very short one. 47 characters was nixed, as was 32 and a few other, shorter ones. It finally accepted what I would consider to be a not-even-close-to-long-enough password for something that could potentially have such a large negative impact on my life.

Whenever I hear the Republicans whining about how incompetent government is, I think to myself that big private companies are just as bureaucratic and incompetent. But then things like this and the initial ACA website launch happen to prove that yes, government really is even more incompetent than big business.

Comment: Re:Still photos (Score 1) 447

by Znork (#49368563) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Hopefully an autonomous system would be designed so well that no human pilot could think that. See for example NASA's Adaptive Control tech; even if that's made to assist human pilots, the fact that it can actually bring some semblance of control to a plane that has lost function and form in many ways shows what can actually be done.

And as Air France Flight 447 shows, pilots may very well do the completely wrong thing, ignoring every correct procedure intended to prevent disaster.

But the most important, and often overlooked, part of such a system would be that you cannot skimp on the electronics. With an autonomous plane, if there's a problem with frosting over on sensors, you're grounded. There's no 'but the pilot is human so he can fly blind if the autopilot fails'. It has to be 100% reliable, all the time, and with massive enough over-redundancy that the plane would essentially already have to be falling apart into pieces for the overall control systems to fail. That would of course be a significant help to human pilots as well, as it sometimes seems they're being used as an excuse to live with flawed instruments and quality deficiencies in the planes.

Comment: Re:Still photos (Score 2) 447

by Znork (#49365201) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Yeah, a better compromise is removing the pilots. If it's possible to build an autonomous car, building a completely automated plane is a simple exercise in comparison. Run it on cargo for a few years, leave an option for remote control, but frankly, between terrorists, suicidal pilots, drunk pilots and pilots doing the completely wrong thing, it's time to look for a more long term solution.

Comment: Re:Oh, *BRILLIANT* (Score 4, Interesting) 317

You can find any number of stories about people without any acting skills convincing those professionals that they are psychotic. Frankly, it's just a question of presenting the correct initial criteria, of which the first one will be 'being delivered by the police', and confirmation bias will take care of the rest. Seeing a lot of pathology simply doesn't help that much when symptoms are as vague and subject to interpretation as they are with mental illness.

Usually people seem to have a harder time convincing the professionals that they are, in fact, perfectly rational and not suffering from any serious mental illness. That will of course be an uphill battle against confirmation bias; they are, after all, in a psychiatric holding facility.

Comment: Re:I'd like to solve the puzzle please. (Score 1) 1081

by pseudorand (#49269663) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

no "everyone in the firing squad missed on purpose"

I think you're missing the point of a firing squad. It was used as a form of military execution in order to introduce some measure of due-process into an order from some commander when due process was impossible during wartime. If you're a soldier on the firing squad you can't disobey orders, even if you object in principal or for the specific situation. But everyone missing on purpose allows soldiers to dissent from the commander without having to go it alone. The commander could choose another set of soldiers, punish the dissenters, or do it himself or something, but if the entire squad missed on purpose his authority is pretty much undermined and he's more worried about preventing mutant than having the execution carried out.

I'm against the death penalty. But if we have to have it, firing squads, with the caveat of "if everyone misses, the verdict is reversed and the accused goes free", are by far the very best way to do it. Who cares if death isn't instant or painless. Who wouldn't risk a slightly more painful death (and even that's questionable) for a chance at freedom and justice.

Comment: It's NOT a scam, it's a semi-brilliant plan (Score 2, Interesting) 169

Mars One is most certainly NOT a scam.

Technology has all but eliminated the need for a growing population and over-population is human's biggest problem. We need to eliminate some people, but we still need smart, useful people. If we used criteria like geography, race, religion and ethnic origin to choose who gets eliminated, we're as likely to eliminate too many of the smart people we still need. So what criteria do we use to identify people we want to get rid if?

Mars is a cold, lifeless rock much to far away from earth to make even it's mineral content remotely economical. We are a species who can't even terraform the Gobi, Mohave or Sahara where there's an atmosphere and temperatures are (relative to Mars) reasonable. Anyone who thinks going to mars is anything other than ridiculous meets just the criteria we're looking for. And they'll voluntarily board a ship blasting off to nowhere, somewhat lessening the moral dilemma of the situation. And they're even offering to pay for the whole thing!

Brilliant plan. Or semi-brilliant, because they simply haven't selected nearly enough finalists to address the overpopulation problem. But it's a start.

Didn't Douglas Adam's predict this decades ago?

Comment: Re:We've redefined success! (Score 1) 498

by Znork (#49229701) Attached to: Mental Health Experts Seek To Block the Paths To Suicide

If I ever get the fleeting motivation to just get it over with, I certainly don't want anyone intervening, because at that point I'll know that the only thing worse than depression is ending on your deathbed at an advanced age with the biggest regret in your life being that you didn't end it a long time ago, while there still was something but a wasteland of meaninglessness to look back on. Once anhedonia has turned everything you ever used to enjoy into ash and you're a shadow of what you were, it's not like there's much left to save. Just some flesh going through the motions like some horrific parody of life.

And no, the vast majority of suicides would not ultimately be grateful if they were saved. Ultimately they'll just be dead. Either way. Like everyone else.

I'd find the arguments for suicide prevention much more convincing if the proponents weren't seemingly suffering from psychotic delusions that they're not just postponing the termination point. I get the uneasy feeling that it's more about refusing to face their own mortality than any genuine concern for how the individual will experience the rest of their existence. That they have their delusions threatened by people deciding to check out early.

It would be far more honest to simply admit that as biological beings we are, for some very logical evolutionary reasons, afflicted with a certain level of mental illness, delusions and compulsory behaviour that will make us prefer living to dying and if the depressed person will give it a chance and take some help, maybe the lower biological instincts will assert themselves and override the cold logic of reality. And we can pretend that it'll last... just... a... little... bit... more...

Comment: Re:Non Story...Not Exactly... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227329) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

The inclusion of "papers" in the fourth amendment implies the protection of privacy, not just physical possession, and is parallel to DNA. Even before photocopies and data backups, "secure", when applied to "papers", obviously refers to the risk of disclosure of information without the owner's consent more than it does to the loss of that information. After all, truly important papers could have been manually copied and stored separately even in 1776.

And did you miss the first item on the list: "persons". Our constitution recognizes our bodies themselves and most immediate physical possessions as the first and most important thing the government should respect. Getting the DNA from a database somewhere rather than collecting it from the suspect should make no difference. We should be able to expect our own government to exercise reasonable respect for our privacy and act outside of the wishes of the obvious data owner only after getting a warrant to do so.

Comment: Re:or maybe... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227217) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

But the police have a responsibility to treat you as innocent until proven guilty. If they haul you down to the station 10 times without prior notice, use their search warrant to ransack your house and destroy your property, and do so in front of TV cameras, ruining your reputation and potentially causing you great financial harm in lost job/business, who wouldn't say "screw the dead guy, I have to worry about myself first".

On TV, the police are never respectful of suspects (except the rich ones, of course). Hopefully hollywood gets that as wrong as they get the laws of physics, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 1) 449

by pseudorand (#49091071) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

> For you as the card holder however, nothing has changed in that regard: The law in the US still stipulates that credit card holders can only be liable for up to $50 (which most banks waive these days.)

Nothing has changed yet. But why would you think the banks won't target consumers once they've made merchants bend over?

Even judges and politicians understand simple technology like the magnetic strip. The banks wouldn't get away with arguing that the consumer was at fault if someone steals his credit card or credit card number because it's obvious that signatures are easily faked and never checked anyway and cards can be copied just like those old floppy disks.

But now we have this "magic" chip/paywave/etc. Your Honor, the technology ensures that the card can only be use by the authorized user. Cryptography and all that. So the "technology" protects consumers. We don't need silly, job-killing things like laws and regulations. Let's repeal these unnecessary liability limits. It will bring prices down and "economic efficiency" and that's how the Gipper woulda' wanted it. (Anyone with common sense, and economists [mutually exclusive groups] know the price bit is bunk, but..)

We technology professionals know the technology protects nothing if the POS terminal (which tells the clerk the user really has paid), the card itself (where a private key is stored), and all the algorithms and algorithm implementations (which ensure approval can't be faked) are secure. All of which the consumer has zero control over (we may have the card, but we didn't design its tamer-resistant features that erase rather than reveal the private key).

Someone duplicated my card in Mexico one time. The bank said it was a card-present transaction, but I had my card and my airline record verified that I wasn't even in Mexico when the transactions occurred. So I paid nothing. But what happens when a chip-based card is duplicated. The bank says I must be lying because their technology makes that impossible. The judge believes the bank's pin-striped-suit-wearing IBM security consultant even though everyone knows that no one who wears a suit can possible be a technology expert. And consumers are stuck with the charges.

It happened with bankruptcy in 2005. Bankruptcy is no longer a fresh start. Student loans can't be discharged and your creditors can garnish your wages for the rest of your life (since the interest rate will ensure you never pay off the loan). And what happened? Student loan rates aren't much lower, tuition is MUCH higher, and the banks lent like gangbusters to anyone with a pulse (which, at the same time, drove up prices, draining the savings of anyone who didn't borrow from into their coffers in the form of stock dividends). They obviously never expected to make the money they loaned back on the original terms. They wanted guaranteed income from the wages of everyone who defaulted, a slow and steady trickle of cash from the poorest among us (an ever larger percent of the population). After all, why should government be the only entity allowed to levy taxes?

Credit card law will change the same way. In fact, the 2005 BAPCPA was a precursor to these changes. Without it, a shift of liability to consumers would just push consumers into bankruptcy, drying up the bank's revenue stream. But now all they lack is shifting the liability to consumers. They then have not only no incentive to prevent fraud (even though, since they control the technology, they're the only ones who could), but an incentive for it to happen (undischarged debt). And incentives work.

The 2005 BAPCPA ensures we have to pay whatever debts they say we owe.
Checks are already almost a thing of the past, not accepted at many stores, so you pay with your credit card.
The shift of credit card liability and further shift of debit card liability to consumers will happen next. When it does, start using cash. And start carrying a gun to protect you now cash-laden self.

Until, if course, the courts invalidate the 2nd amendment and stores stop accepting cash (too much crime or some junk) just as they already have for checks.

Its the return of slavery in no uncertain terms. I wish they'd just invalidate the 14th amendment already so we could get on with the inevitable revolution and save everyone time. All this waiting is killing me!

Comment: Re:um, OK (Score 1) 690

by Znork (#49015679) Attached to: Free-As-In-Beer Electricity In Greece?

The economics prize is not a Nobel prize, it's a memorial prize to Nobel, instituted by the Swedish Riksbank (central bank). If economics as a science is even mature enough to have any serious prize is debtatable, considering the state of the field seems to be pretty much still arguing about whether the earth is flat or spherical (and awarding 'Nobel prizes' to members of both factions, plus the faction arguing that the earth is actually a dimension-traversing hypercube).

But then again, there's a Nobel prize for literature, so maybe they could merge the economics prize into that one.

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