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Submission + - Some people are fine with using a phone in church, but not walking on the street (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: The thing with a mobile phone is, thanks to the fact this it is mobile, it can be used — just about — anywhere. But just because something is possible, it doesn’t mean that it should be done. PewResearch conducted a survey into phone etiquette, and the findings show that people are somewhat divided about where and when it is OK to use a phone.

Some of the results are not exactly surprising. A huge majority of those questioned were not cool with the idea of using a phone in a movie theater or during a meeting (95 and 94 percent respectively). But there are also some interesting quirks in attitudes to mobiles — 4 percent of people, for instance, see no problem with using a cellphone in the middle of a church service.

Submission + - Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing. Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."

Submission + - Tired of Poop, More Cities Use DNA to Catch Dog Owners

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion’s waste.

The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It’s unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism.

Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent.

Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.

Submission + - U.S. Scientists Successfully 'Switch Off' Cancer Cells (nationalpost.com)

iONiUM writes: From the article: "For the first time, aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths." Specifically, this is done by triggering production of the protein PLEKHA7 which in turn levels off the microRNA levels in the cells. So far this has only been done in human cells in a lab.

Submission + - When Should Cops Be Allowed to Take Control of Self-Driving Cars?

HughPickens.com writes: A police officer is directing traffic in the intersection when he sees a self-driving car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. The officer gestures for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolls to a halt behind the crosswalk. This seems like a pretty plausible interaction. Human drivers are required to pull over when a police officer gestures for them to do so. It’s reasonable to expect that self-driving cars would do the same. But Will Oremus writes that while it's clear that police officers should have some power over the movements of self-driving cars, what’s less clear is where to draw the line. Should an officer be able to do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime? And what if the passenger doesn’t want the car to stop—can she override the command, or does the police officer have ultimate control?

According to a RAND Corp. report on the future of technology and law enforcement “the dark side to all of the emerging access and interconnectivity is the risk to the public’s civil rights, privacy rights, and security.” It added, “One can readily imagine abuses that might occur if, for example, capabilities to control automated vehicles and the disclosure of detailed personal information about their occupants were not tightly controlled and secured.”

Comment Re:Or they're just proxying their connections (Score 1) 224

Except that by extending the duration of copyright to absurd lengths, it starts to invalidate the whole concept of copyright. If copyright was just 5 years, rights owners would have a much stronger moral case about doing something about infringement. I don't infringe copyrights anymore (did it when I was in university, but now I have too little time to watch TV anyway and more than enough money to pay for the few things I do still watch), but on a fundamental level I have zero respect for copyright, simply because how far it has strayed from its original, quite noble origins under the influence of money-grabbing companies and the politicians they have bought to do their bidding. Now if copyright were 5 years long, I'd say that would be a reasonable amount of time that a creator can claim protection for its creation. 10 years? Bit long but acceptable. You could even cut copyright in two: commercial copyright and non-commercial copyright. Make non-commercial copyright last 10 years, make commercial copyright last 50 years. With the difference being that after 10 years people are allowed to copy your stuff, but not try to make money with it until commercial copyright ends. But the current system? I'd rather see zero copyright than the idiocy we have today.

Comment Re:Since there's no downside, why not go all out? (Score 1) 1094

If its all negative, why not abolish the minimum wage? Now to answer your question. Simply put, because there are trade-offs. Now we can argue until we are blue in the face at what level of minimum wage the outcome is best, but I think its safe to say that a level of $500 dollars an hour is sub-optimal. Also please note that even the most ardent unionist, at least as far as I know, ever argued for a $500 an hour minimum wage or even a $50 an hour minimum wage, so clearly they too are aware that there are trade-offs.

Comment Re:Econ 101? (Score 1) 1094

As an economist, I could not agree more. If the minimumwage is higher than the equilibrium price, that will cause unemployment. However, have you considered the possibility that the equilibrium price rises if wages rise? If I have a shop in LA, yes I will have to pay a higher wage to the guy helping me stock the shelves. But if at the same time, the people who frequent my shop buy more stuff, I may still need him to prevent my customers from seeing empty shelves and moving to a competitor down the street. So in effect, raising the minimum wage has increased the equilibrium price of having a guy help me stock shelves as I stand to lose more if customers go elsewhere in that circumstance. Now that still doesn't tell me whether THIS increase in the minimum wage increases unemployment or not. For example because what we also don't know is what the current equilibrium price is. You seem to assume that is lies somewhere near the current minimumwage. Why? If I look at profits for corporations, I might assume that the equilibrium wage is considerably higher than the current minimumwage. What if the equilibrium price for most labor in LA is already 14 dollars an hour or more? And the fact that millions are paid less than 14 dollars an hour just means more money in the pocket for a few business owners 2000 miles away? In that case I would expect the increase of the minimumwage to have a beneficial effect on employment. After all, it would mean a huge increase in wages for many people who live and spend locally, at the detriment of some business-owners who may live thousands of miles away, and even if they live in the area certainly will not consume every bit of their earnings locally. The increase in wages could even very well push the equilibrium price to a level higher than 15$ an hour.

Comment Re:Detection window? (Score 1) 576

I wasn't really referring to the detection thingy. I have no clue what we can or cannot detect. Mirrors would be in the invasion scenario. Considering that if they wanna invade us, there is no need to be subtle, just efficient. After all, we can discuss for ages what their advantage would be technologically, but there is one advantage which is undeniable if they are hovering over us in big-ass ships, and that is that gravity is on their side. If they can destroy us without even setting foot on the planet or ever entering our atmosphere, our near complete inability to send anything into space would doom us from the start.

Comment Re:Detection window? (Score 1) 576

Why would you want to harvest biomatter? Personally, I would be more worried about them liking the location of the planet relative to the sun. The biomatter just complicates things, it has stuff like diseases and bacteria, why would you want it? An invasion would also be illogical in my mind, wouldn't it be far cheaper to for example, install a large mirror, either between earth and the sun, reflecting all the sunlight away from earth to cool us down and kill all the microbes, or alternatively, somewhat off to a side to cook earth to kill all the pesky biomatter infecting 'their' planet. Then once all biomatter is killed off, land and install your own eco-system.

Comment Re:I like this one. (Score 1) 894

I don't hate the pope, but I do think his position here is poorly thought through. Any religion could (and in the past often has) interpret ANY criticism as blasphemy. Point out that the Catholic Church has ignored and even protected child molesters? Blasphemy! Point out that the earth revolves around the sun instead of the other way around? Blasphemy! Secondly, it is aggravating that an intelligent man is apparently still so brainwashed by his own beliefs that he actively promotes the idea that religion is in any way more important than other opinions. Religion is just an opinion. If I am allowed to criticize an opinion, I should be allowed to criticize religion, because down at the core it is nothing more than an opinion. It may be thousands of years old, it may have billions of people sharing it, but it is still just an opinion.

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