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Comment: Re:Forensic evidence should not be subjective (Score 5, Insightful) 118

Even before that, though, we need high-quality, doubly blinded trials to establish how well any of these comparison-based forensic methods actually work. Evidently, a key problem with hair comparison was that no one actually had any idea how reliable it was for "matching" a sample to a suspect. It is now obvious that the false positive rate is completely unacceptable.

We should have known this long before anyone even thought about using hair comparison evidence at trial, and the sad thing is that the experiments needed to rigorously evaluate this technique aren't even very complicated. For prosecutors, though, it is undoubtedly a lot more fun to impress juries with your scientific-sounding evidence and experts than it is to ask whether the evidence is actually reliable, and you can bet that the hair comparison "experts" were not in any hurry to show that their work was a sham.

Comment: Re:"deserves" (Score 1) 471

by binarstu (#49489121) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries

Right, every poor person is poor due to back luck, not personal decisions and life choices.

I never said that, and no reasonably intelligent person could possibly believe that. That is just as ridiculous as your original statement that "all those assembly line/Taco Bell/Walmart people saying they want a "living wage" and $15/hr, maybe you shouldn't have fucked your life up."

The reality, of course, is that some people do make appallingly bad decisions and life choices. But there are also many, many impoverished people who are stuck in circumstances that are largely beyond their control. See unimacs reply for additional thoughts on this, and here are some more references.

The vast majority of unsuccessful people career-wise are that way because they didn't do what they needed to do to get a better job.

That is a comforting sentiment for rich people, so it is no surprise that it remains such a persistent cultural myth. How about sharing some evidence with us that substantiates your belief?

Comment: Re:"deserves" (Score 1) 471

by binarstu (#49486797) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries

So, your view is that: 1) You deserve to be successful because you worked hard, went to community college, and spent time working crappy jobs; and 2) people stuck in dead-end jobs who can't make a living wage are getting what they deserve because they must have "fucked their lives up" somehow.

Please read about the fundamental attribution error and the just-world cognitive bias. In a nutshell, when a person is unsuccessful and suffers misfortune, naive observers tend to assume it is because that person "deserves it" for one reason or another. Your post seems to be a good example of this phenomenon.

Comment: Re:You are all fucking tools (Score 1) 183

by binarstu (#49215957) Attached to: Major Museums Start Banning Selfie Sticks

You are all fucking tools

I think you are confused about the meaning of the term "selfie stick". In this case, we are talking about a tool used for photography. Most people who own selfie sticks do not have sex with them. I can see how the name "selfie stick" would lead you in that direction, but if you're wanting a discussion about people fucking tools you'll need to look elsewhere.

Comment: Re:Bad idea (Score 1) 671

by binarstu (#49176139) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

The fact that Putin's Russia is also a bully does not absolve the US of it's hypocrisy and misdeeds.

Not to mention that, from Snowden's perspective, speculating how he'd be treated if he were to reveal Russian state secrets is almost totally pointless, because there is about 0 probability that he would ever be in such a situation. Does anyone seriously believe that the Russian state security apparatus would hire him for a position in which he'd be handling sensitive information? Of course not. When considering his personal welfare, the only thing he has to weigh is his current life in Russia versus what would happen to him if he were to go back to the U.S.

Comment: Re:Xfce 5 should be based on Qt. (Score 2) 91

by binarstu (#49159291) Attached to: Xfce 4.12 Released

Whoever this AC is, s/he evidently has a fill-in-the-blank comment template for bashing GTK+ that can be mindlessly reused for any software based on GTK+. Check out this AC comment from a recent story about Inkscape: Notice that most of it is almost word-for-word identical to the parent post. Just do a search and replace to change "Inkscape" to "Xfce" and you end up with today's comment.

That's why the AC ends up making such stupid satements as:

I truly wish that the Xfce devs would port from GTK+ to Qt, so that we users can use it on Windows and OS X...

Huh? Who, exactly, is wanting to run XFCE on "Windows and OS X"? As others have already pointed out, this statement is neither insightful nor relevent. XFCE is a desktop/window management system for *Linux*, and there is absolutely no reason for its developers to care one whit about how easily it could be ported to Windows.

Comment: Re:In other news (Score 2) 264

by binarstu (#49055521) Attached to: NASA: Increasing Carbon Emissions Risk Megadroughts

Thanks for the link to the PNAS paper. From what I could tell from an admittedly quick read of the article, though, it makes no claims about a "300 year drought" during the medieval period in North America. What it does say is that drought events were common during this time period, and that they often persisted for one or more decades. For example, the article says, "the 12th century medieval drought persisted with an extent and severity displayed in the worst-case decade, 1146–1155, for two decades, 1140–1159". That's not 300 years of continuous drought. Yes, the overall mean precipitation in the Southwest was lower during the medieval centuries, but that doesn't mean there was continuous drought during this time.

For what it's worth, the conclusions of the PNAS paper are pretty much in total agreement with what the researchers in the NASA study found.

Comment: Re:In other news (Score 4, Informative) 264

by binarstu (#49053809) Attached to: NASA: Increasing Carbon Emissions Risk Megadroughts

I watched the video. Pathetic. So there is no record of long droughts in the US. But it is going to get worse! I suggest you ask the Anasazi why they left their lands. Oh geez. A 300 year drought without any SUVs and with less population?

+5 insightful? What is insightful about this?

The linked Wikipedia article mentions the supposed "300 year drought" in a single sentence that ends with... wait for it... "citation needed". Nice.

If you actually bother to read TFA, you will see that the entire point is that droughts in the near future are likely to be similar to those that occured around the time the Anasazi were abandoning their villages. The researchers never claim that "there is no record of long droughts in the US". Their conclusion is that there were long droughts in the past, and we are likely to soon see them again.

Comment: Re:In other news (Score 5, Insightful) 264

by binarstu (#49053259) Attached to: NASA: Increasing Carbon Emissions Risk Megadroughts

That's an appeal to authority argument PopeRatzo.

Your parents should have read to you the fable of the Emperor's New Clothes.

And your arguments seem to be based on appealing to yourself as an authority; e.g. your claim that you "know Earth history and geology well to know that AGW is bunk".

I find PopeRatzo's appeal to legitimate expertise much more compelling.

Comment: Re:Or do something to eliminate journeys? (Score 2) 481

by binarstu (#48986103) Attached to: DOT Warns of Dystopian Future For Transportation

I absolutely agree that better city and development planning will be essential to deal with this problem. The trend of building huge residential-only developments where residents have to drive everywhere to do *anything* (work, shop, etc.) has surely created massive amounts of traffic.

However, I suspect that even if we are successful in promoting mixed-use developments so people can, in theory, live near their jobs, it will have much less impact on traffic than we would hope. For much of the 20th century, it was typical for only one person in a household to work full time. Today, though, both partners in middle- to lower-income families often must work full time just to make ends meet. Because of wage stagnation, today's two-income families actually have less discretionary income than comparable single-income families of a few generations ago. And, of course, many people want to have their own career regardless of what their partner does.

The consequence is that efforts to eliminate commuting through intelligent urban planning would probably have been far more successful in the '50s and '60s than they could be today. For many couples with two careers, it just won't be possible to live where neither person has to commute. Furthermore, couples often decide to live somewhere that is approximately equidistant between their two jobs so that neither person has to carry the full commuting burden. Thus, you still end up with two cars on the road every day, and better city planning seems unlikely to change that.

Comment: Re:Port it to Qt, please! GTK+ is awful! (Score 1) 134

by binarstu (#48953045) Attached to: Inkscape Version 0.91 Released
Thanks for that informative comment. I haven't had such terrible luck running GTK+ applications cross-platform, but you (and others) have clearly had some very bad experiences. And I readily admit that getting GTK+ to work on OSX is a pain. It really is too bad that the support isn't better. There are some good ideas in the GTK+ toolkit, and Cairo is nice for graphics work, but I agree -- developers ultimately want something that "just works".

Comment: Re:Port it to Qt, please! GTK+ is awful! (Score 1) 134

by binarstu (#48949275) Attached to: Inkscape Version 0.91 Released

The portability of GTK+ is, to put it politely, utter rubbish.

There's nothing polite about derogatory hyperbole. The portability of the Windows and OSX UI frameworks could properly be called "utter rubbish", because they're not intended to be portable at all. In contrast, GTK+ apps can and do run on both Windows and OSX, and many applications work quite well on both platforms. I don't think that can reasonably be described as "utter rubbish".

I haven't been able to ever get it working properly under OS X. It didn't even get to the point where it showed a UI, the last time I tried it.

Developing GTK+ apps on OSX is not as easy as it should be, but in my experience, at least, it's not all that difficult, either. It would be great to see this improved, though.

Comment: Encryption is only part of the solution (Score 1) 282

by binarstu (#48912179) Attached to: EFF Unveils Plan For Ending Mass Surveillance
From the summary:

The central part of the EFF's plan is: encryption, encryption, encryption.

Encryption everywhere is great. But as long as the majority of us remain willing to hand over everything about our personal lives to Facebook, Google, etc., then mass surveillance by either private entities or governments will remain ridiculously easy. To me, that seems like the really hard problem to solve. There is no way those companies will deny themselves access to their users' unencrypted data.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"