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Comment: TFA says it: correlation not causation (Score 1) 322

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) 326

by bradley13 (#49373431) Attached to: Sign Up At 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) 1147

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.

Comment: Bingo: this is itself a test :-) (Score 3, Insightful) 158

by bradley13 (#49360727) Attached to: UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE

My son is applying for a computer science program at a fairly prestigious university. If you try to follow the links that ought to lead to the online application process, at least one of them is broken - it links to an internal server instead of to the public website. You can look at the URL and figure out what it ought to have been, based on other URLs on the site. Accident? Or pre-filtering their applicants?

But require IE? Worse, a Firefox emulation of IE? No, that's a different message. That's telling good applicants "you do not want to work here"...

Comment: Clinging to a hopeless theory? (Score 1) 235

by bradley13 (#49360705) Attached to: Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

The lack of evidence for dark matter is becoming kind of embarrassing to the theory. Anything that should provide direct evidence doesn't - dark matter is seemingly only necessary to explain large-scale gravitational behavior, but is not otherwise in evidence.

For me, as a layman, dark matter was never persuasive: "there's this stuff that only has an effect way out there where we need it, but has no local effect where it would screw up our nice models". Sure there is. There are other theories that seem to be at least as reasonable. For example, what if the speed of light is not a constant across all time and space? This could dramatically change the behavior of the universe on large scales. I'm no cosmologist, but I understand that there are other theories as well.

Comment: As always, it only goes one way... (Score 4, Interesting) 515

by bradley13 (#49329459) Attached to: A Bechdel Test For Programmers?

I teach computer science. No one will be surprised to hear that most of our students are men. This is a problem, at least, we are continually told that it is.

The news yesterday had a report on schools that train people to become small-animal veterinarians here in Switzerland. They happened to mention that 80% of the students are women. This is apparently fine; there is no outcry to find more male veterinary students.

My son works in professional child care, where women are something like 95% of the workforce. No one seems terribly concerned by this, even though the lack of male role models for young boys is arguably an actual, genuine problem.

Personally, I am very tired of articles like this. Why the continual one-way focus on women? Why can't we just let individuals be individuals, and do whatever they want? Ensure that there are no artificial barriers due to gender (or skin color, or hair color, or whatever), stop pushing people in directions they don't want to go, and just let people choose whatever career they want.

Comment: Logical or procedural, but it doesn't really matte (Score 4, Insightful) 177

by bradley13 (#49243115) Attached to: Preferred programming paradigm?

The whole world has come to worship at the OO alter, and it's fine for many problems, but too many school graduates don't know anything else. OO does at least encourage mediocre programmers to think about their data representation before they start coding. Of course, they get it wrong anyway.

Just look at the database schemas used by software systems in the wild. I ran across one last year where everything (and I do mean everything) was a string, and there wasn't a single foreign-key constraint in the whole database. A system before that couldn't be bothered even with first normal form - it truly stored multiple values in single database fields and parsed them out on demand. In both cases, the code was as bad as the database. I'm not sure the programmers had a paradigm. Maybe "random chaos"? Amazingly, both of those systems worked, more or less...

Given a good programmer, the paradigm doesn't much matter. Given a bad programmer, the paradigm isn't going help.

Comment: Re:Swiss bank accounts - huh? (Score 3, Informative) 389

the majority of Swiss GDP is bank fees on off shore accounts

Nice stereotype you have there, but it doesn't have a lot to do with reality.

The Swiss financial sector in total is around 11% of our GDP; of that, banks are a bit more than half. Take out domestic banking services, and offshore banking is well under 5% of our GDP. Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices are far more important, as are other industry sectors.

Comment: He's an idiot... (Score 2) 389

Writing as a Swiss, in my view there are two parts to the Swiss watch market. Apple doesn't threaten either one of them.

First, we have the market where Swatch succeeded: the inexpensive fashion accessory. $30 bucks and you had something cool to wear. Apple's products are a hell of a lot more expensive, so they aren't addressing this market.

Second, we have the really expensive Swiss watches. They are also fashion accessories, but they are almost exclusively mechanical watches. I don't see a digital watch gaining any traction among people who spend thousands and sometimes millions for what is essentially mechanical artwork.

Where Apply may succeed is among young professionals: people far enough along to have some disposable income - past the Swatch age - but not in the market to spend crazy amounts of money for a status symbol. The thing is: people in this market have already stopped wearing watches, because their smart phones show the time. Maybe Apple will get them to wear a fancy bracelet again - and maybe not. Either way, it's pretty irrelevant to the watch manufacturers.

Of course, I never have understood the Apple Koolaid. Slick marketing gets people to buy overpriced products that don't work any better than those of the competition. Why?

Comment: Desired feature: no fingerprinting (rant) (Score 2) 167

by bradley13 (#49204085) Attached to: Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser

Desired feature for any browser, failing that a plugin: Something that really restricts the information the browser sends to the server, to prevent fingerprinting. There are UI switchers and the like, but I have yet to find one that just bloody stops the browser from sending identifying information.

A website that isn't trying to be bleeding edge has no need to know my OS, my browser version, what plugins I have installed, what fonts are on my system, or indeed anything at all about my system and setup. Send me standards-compliant HTML and CSS, and let my browser worry about the representation.

It seems to me that this should be a standard setting, right next to "prohibit 3rd party cookies". Why isn't it available in (afaik) any browser at all?

Comment: EFF article on the subject of data and borders (Score 3, Informative) 340

While it is written specifically for the US, the EFF article Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices nonetheless provides a good discussion of your options in cases like this. It also discusses the various ways you can prepare your devices and data for the situation.

Comment: Re:Great cause, dumb ass cops (Score 1) 199

"Developed password-cracking software in-house"

Brilliant. Have some amateur develop it, instead of using an established product written by an expert. Great idea.

Reminds me of the time (no joke) a Secret Service agent asked me to get data off of a PC that had been used for a credit-card scam. At the time I was (iirc) a college freshman or maybe sophomore, majoring in EE, who happened to program as a hobby. At the time I felt pretty flattered - only in retrospect did I realize how crazy this was. I had full, unfettered access to the PC, there was no copy, and I was programming directly on the box I was extracting evidence from. Granted, that was a long time ago, but it serves as an anecdote to show the level of professionalism these agencies demonstrate. I'm sure they have real experts, but too often the field offices seem to be playing Keystone Cops.

So here we have some field office taking down a whole data center. They're probably pretty impressed with themselves, they get some neat toys to play with, and they get headlines for their heroic crime-fighting efforts. Who cares about the collateral damage they've done to thousands of innocent people using the file-sharing service? At first glance, this reminds me of the Mega-debacle in the US, where they also took down an entire data center with very shaky justifications.

Prediction: The whole case will fall apart. Either because it was all a mistake and there is no evidence, or because they screw up whatever evidence they do have. Nonetheless, the customers will be out their data and the data-center will be driven to bankruptcy. Nonetheless, the officers involved will receive commendations.

Comment: Airstrikes are almost useless (Score 1) 533

Unless you have an enemy with obvious logistical targets, airstrikes are pretty useless. Great, you blew up a jeep with a machine gun on it. The cost of your bomb plus the flight time of the drone is probably more than the jeep was worth. Oh, by the way, which side was that jeep on? With intermingled and fluid borders, and little direct intelligence, it's kind of hard to be sure...

Anyway, as others have pointed out, all US intervention has accomplished since 9/11 (and before, but that's a different discussion) is to make bad situations even worse. What's the saying? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result". US interventions are not working. It's time for the US to mind it's own business, and let the Middle East sort itself out.

Comment: Unenforceable laws should not be laws (Score 1) 207

by bradley13 (#49100863) Attached to: Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers

Electronic copying has made music and video copyrights almost meaningless - anybody can download just about anything. 3D printing will make patents on simple mechanical objects equally meaningless. If I need a new kitchen widget or a new plastic doohickey, why not just print one? There ought to be endless online libraries, provided by manufacturers or created by end users.

Of course, industry will fight this tooth and nail. Patenting differently-shaped measuring spoons or the plastic feet on a chair may make no sense at all - but manufacturers will never admit this. They would rather spend millions defending their worthless patents.

Comment: Mission creep (Score 1) 134

by bradley13 (#49100293) Attached to: Homeland Security Urges Lenovo Customers To Remove Superfish

Why, thank you! I had no idea you cared!

Homeland security is now an expert on computer security? Will they do as wonderful a job here as they've done at airports? Will Americans soon have to flash their national IDs at the computers before being allowed on the Internet?

What the devil is Homeland Security doing issuing such a statement? Mission creep to the nth degree...

"Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards." -- Soren F. Petersen