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Comment: Indeed... (Score 1) 153

by bradley13 (#49499797) Attached to: Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA

The article says, without a hint of irony: "EU citizens will feel that their data is not protected under US law". Well, of course not. US law should have absolutely no meaning for anyone outside the US. Why would an EU citizen expect US law to have any relevance at all?

What's missing from this picture is EU law. Ireland needs to stand up on its hind legs and enforce EU law. My understanding is that any data transfer to the US is forbidden, unless there is a confirming judgement from an EU court. Just like Kim Dotcom: The US wants all sorts of things, but it's the New Zealand courts that have jurisdiction.

If Ireland wants to keep all of this data center business, it had better find the courage to enforce EU law...

Comment: Nothing to do with the subject, but...overreach? (Score 1) 78

by bradley13 (#49480297) Attached to: GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners

AFAIK, the GAO was originally supposed to "investigate, at the seat of government or elsewhere, all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds". In this, they usually do a pretty decent job, and even remain reasonably apolitical. Of course, you can't build an empire while restricted to your original task.

Clearly, it's a logical extension: from accounting expertise to the evaluation of cyber-security in avionics computers. /sarc

Seriously, there really needs to be a mechanism to close down and reboot an agency from scratch every 10 or 20 years. Clear out the deadwood and refocus the agency on its actual mission.

Comment: Cherry-picked correlations (Score 5, Interesting) 148

Yet another call for racial discrimination, based on nothing much. I skimmed the paper, and looked particularly at the results sections. The authors cherry-pick the positive correlations, and ignore the negative ones.

It happens that they have a weak positive correlation for black students taught by black teachers, but the correlation for hispanics is universally negative and for asians the correlation is negative everywhere except math. Somehow, the authors forgot to mention the negative correlations in their abstract, and TFA certainly doesn't pick up on them.

Overall, the number of positive and negative correlations is very nearly equal, which leads to the suspicion that the paper represents a careful analysis of random noise.

Comment: Um...obvious? (Score 5, Insightful) 291

Ok, what am I missing? I mean, this seems obvious.

Being stoned, just like being drunk, has kind of an obvious affect on your current cognitive abilities. For both drugs, you are looking a a time-frame of hours where you cannot study or work effectively. TFA even notes that the magnitude of the effect on grades is similar.

If you drink alcohol or smoke pot on nights when you need to be studying, your grades are going to suffer. If you restrict yourself to times when you really don't have any obligations, then there won't be a problem. Young adults being, well, young adults, they may not always have the necessary self-awareness and self-discipline - hence, their grade may suffer while they are learning this life lesson.

Make sure people are aware of the effects of the drugs. Encourage self-control and self-discipline. Prohibition is, and has always been, a non-solution.

Comment: Switzerland sleazy for providing due process? (Score 1) 312

by bradley13 (#49431735) Attached to: Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized

"if we can bring sleazy amoral switzerland to heel, we can do this"

As a Swiss, I would just like to say that the story looks rather different from this side. You are presumably in the US, and have the US media's version of events. This is the wrong thread to go into many details, but let's just take a couple of highlights:

- The US likes to apply American law to citizens and companies in other countries. With sufficient political pressure, and sometimes outright extortion, it sometimes even succeeds.

- There is no particular reason why Swiss banks should provide their customer information to the US government (FATCA), though this is what they have been forced to do - quite literally via extortion. Interestingly, the Swiss government asked "so can this be bilateral - your American banks provide equivalent information to Switzerland on Swiss citizens?" The answer was basically laughter, with the explanation that doing so would be far too burdensome for US banks.

Finally, there is an almost global acceptance of something that is really odd, if only you step back and take a fresh look. Your personal finances are a private matter: you don't want your neighbor looking at your bank statement, or you employer, or indeed really anyone. So why, exactly, does the government have the right to know every detail of your financial life? In Switzerland, the government does not have insight into your personal finances and your entire personal life, and it cannot confiscate your money without a court decision.

By Swiss law, if the government wants private information about you, it must show evidence of wrongdoing and get a warrant. If it wants to take your property, it must win a court decision. Why is Switzerland "sleazy" and "amoral" for providing people with privacy and due process? Yes, our banks are now being forced to remove these protections from foreign citizens. Why is this a good thing?

Comment: Rice fields in the desert (Score 5, Insightful) 304

by bradley13 (#49431493) Attached to: Obama Says Climate Change Is Harming Americans' Health

"Most of California's problems are caused by California."

This. There are droughts, and periods with lots of rain. That's nature, and has diddly-squat to do with climate change.

As for the water problems: You do know that the Sacramento Valley is basically pretty arid, getting between 5 and 20 cm of rain per year. And yet, California has 2000 square kilometers of rice fields in this area, using 7 cubic kilometers of water per year for irrigation. Those are the back-of-the-envelope numbers I come up with based on the publicly available information. The almond groves are also reputed to use a whole lot of water, but I haven't run the number for them.

You can't solve the rainfall problems easily, but if you want to solve the water-availability problems, it's easy: let water be bought and soid like any other commodity. Raising rice in the desert while crying about a water shortage is just brain-dead stupid, and only possible because the cost of the water is kept artificially low by government regulations and subsidies.

Comment: From what I've read... (Score 4, Informative) 587

by bradley13 (#49414151) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

From what I've read, the Hugos, the SFWA, etc. have all been slowly taken over by SJWs in the past 10-15 years. Certainly, I once used the Hugos as a way of finding interesting new authors - but this hasn't been possible for several years, unless you are looking for a social-justice tract. Certainly "hard" SF has been scarce for a long time.

The "sad puppies" group is drumming up support for good writing that wouldn't otherwise get nominated, because it doesn't meet the SJW criteria. If the "sad puppies" have a political center, then it will obviously be a bit on the right, just because they by definition disagree with the SJW crowd. However, politics isn't supposed to be the point - if anything, it is (hopefully!) about removing, or at least counteracting the political filtering from the works nominated for the Hugo awards.

Some of the authors supporting the sad-puppy movement include:

  • Larry Correia
  • Vox Day
  • Peter Grant
  • Sarah Hoyt
  • Brad Torgerson
  • Michael Z. Williamson
  • John C. Wright

Comment: Bloated administration (Score 1) 121

Other commenters point out that instructors and TAs may be overwhelmed by the large number of students. Which begs the question: if you have more students, why isn't the tuition used to hire more teaching staff?

The answer is to be found in bloated administration. For most colleges and universities, there is kind of a "magic number" of 1, that being the maximum acceptable ratios of administrative staff to teaching staff. Colleges and universities with more administrators than teachers have "jumped the shark". Those with less are still focused on actually providing an education.

Stanford goes one farther. I actually downloaded and read through their latest annual report. It is impossible to determine the faculty/staff ratio from the information given. However, according to this overview of the growth of admistrative/professional staff at colleges, Stanford has seen an increase of 125% in administrators and 405% in professional (non-teaching) staff during the time that student numbers have increased by 27%. Even among US institutions that is remarkable.

Fire 4/5 of the "professional staff" and half of the "administrators" and you might be able to afford a few more professors to teach the students. What a concept!

Comment: Age control...right... (Score 1) 187

by bradley13 (#49406299) Attached to: UK's Tories Promise To Enact Age Limits For Viewing Online Porn

This is the country that has age control on alcohol-related websites. It's worse than useless. Go to any alcohol-related site in the UK, for example the Highland Park website, and you have to enter your birth date. Wow, I'll bet no 13-year-old ever thought about adding 10 years to his/her age.

All this does is annoy the actual customers; it's not actually useful. Anyway, come to think of it, isn't the government's job at all. I kind of thought (speaking as a parent) that it was the parents' job to know what the kids are doing.

Comment: Not just money (Score 1) 261

The AC who said "more money"? I don't want to work with people like that. Sure, money is important, but it doesn't make the work environment pleasant, it just motivates you to not dropkick the job out the window. I've known some very well-paid people who were profoundly unhappy with their jobs.

Assuming you have decent, halfway qualified people, the best thing you can do is respect their skills. Don't micromanage them: make sure they know what their tasks are, protect them from outside disturbances (make sure that task priorities come through you, not through some idiot stopping your people in the hallway), and let them get on with their jobs. Give good feedback, and don't forget the praise when they do something well.

Comment: Some skepticism... (Score 1) 143

I read TFA, and looked as some of the links. I have no idea what the overall situation is, and these sites certainly do not provide the information. Just as an example, I found various maps that document forest losses. Areas of the world where forest cover is increasing (most of Europe, for example) are simply shown as "no losses". In other words, they show forests that were cut down, or that burned, but they do not show newly forested areas, or forests that have recovered from burning.

With this kid of biased data, we have no idea what the overall global balance is.

Finding unbiased data turns out to be really difficult, at least, after 20 minutes or so I hadn't found anything I trusted. There were some national agencies where you could download raw data. But every organization that has put data together into some sort of overview is an organization that has a political point to make. Greenpeace always cooks the numbers to make their point. The same for logging industry sites, only they cook the numbers in the opposite direction.

The best site I found is from the World Bank, but it only goes through 2012, and doesn't provide much detail. According to the summary graph, 31.0% of the total land area of the planet was covered by forest in 2010, 30.9% in 2011, and then back up to 31.0% in 2012. Another presumably neutral site is from the UN, but their data only goes through 2010.

Does anyone have a better source that provides halfway objective information on this stuff?

Comment: TFA says it: correlation not causation (Score 1) 324

by bradley13 (#49377847) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

Even TFA says it very clearly: they find a correlation. However, the title and introduction desperately want to imply causation. However, the causation can run all sorts of ways - and the study itself does not (and, indeed, cannot) say which of these is correct. Just to name three possibilities:

- Poverty hinders brain development (what the SJWs want to hear)

- People with a genetic predisposition for poor brain development tend to be poor (definitely not what the SJWs want to hear)

- Poverty correlates to certain activities (or lack thereof, for example, little reading). The lack of those activities hinders brain development. This can mimic genetics to an extent, since behavior is passed along from parents to children. (Complicated, not news worthy, and therefore likely to be closer to the truth).

So, erase the provocative title, ignore the introduction (that tries to inspire the SJW in all of us), and the study itself is interesting. However, actually determining the causation is the critical part, and that's not done yet...

Comment: Apparently doesn't work for 1040NR (Score 1) 349

by bradley13 (#49373431) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Beautiful - take an organization that processes billions of dollars of other people's money, and add security not much better than any random web shop. I just went through the process - they ask for only one single piece of information that isn't easily available: the filing status on your last return. Of course, there aren't many choices, and you can try as many times as you want, so there's no penalty for guessing.

For laughs, they think your SSN is super secret, because the first two parts are in a password field (***-**-1234), and erase whenever there's an error. Like your SSN isn't plastered all over every document you get.

In any case, I couldn't get it to work. I file a 1040NR, and the filing status choices are slightly different - likely, that's where the problem is. Anyone with a normal 1040 manage the registration?

Comment: Total hypocrisy (Score 0) 1168

Really, it would be funny if it weren't so sad. All of the SJWs are condemning the Indiana law, because they disapprove of the motivation behind it. However, it is nearly identical to the federal law that the SJWs applauded. The only differences are theoretical motivations behind the laws. The federal law was justified, in part, on the freedom of Native Americans to practice their religion. The Indiana law is justified, in part, on the right of businesses to refuse service when doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

The actual or hypothetical motivations behind the laws are, in the end, completely irrelevant. In practice, the law can be invoked by anyone who feels that their religious freedom is being curtailed. What's important is the content, so let's look at the laws:

The federal law, enthusiastically supported by SJWs, states: “Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

The Indiana law, vehemently condemned by SJWs, states: “A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

There is no significant difference between the two. What the SJWs are objecting to are the purported motivations of the people passing the law. In short: "it's good if we do it, but bad if you do it". Pretty much textbook hypocrisy.

p.s. For those wondering why the States need their own laws, when a federal law exists: Some court case or other led to a decision that the federal law was not binding on State and local governments. This is mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the federal law.

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