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Comment: Re:I live in the Netherlands (Score 1) 304

by bzipitidoo (#49158093) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
Is that really something employers should have to do? Instead, we could change our culture so that it's acceptable to be sweaty at work. It's very likely healthier not to shower every day like we do now. Or, until we can stand the thought of body odor and get over this obsessive compulsive disorder towards showering, we could build facilities ourselves, put public showers near workplaces.

Comment: Re:Horribly misleading summary (Score 1) 676

by bzipitidoo (#49109093) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
Some CS grads are shockingly narrow. Too focused on the technical details, and never get a broader education, as can happen with a BS degree rather than a BA. They can bang out C++ code with the best code monkeys, but they are confused about evolution and science itself, can't sort obvious propaganda from fact, and think they aren't being devout if they don't believe in Creationism. Ask them if they think science is just another religion, and they aren't sure. An appropriate course to clear all that up wasn't part of their curriculum. To be fair, they should have learned that in high school. But then, high school fails students on a number of subjects.

Comment: Re:its all about the $$$ (Score 2) 93

Red light cameras are a money grab. Safety is just an excuse. A former CEO of RedFlex, the contractor Chicago engaged to run their red light cameras, as well as an employee of the city of Chicago, and a few others have been indicted on corruption charges over these cameras.

First, make sure the cameras are functioning correctly. That includes stopping authorities from tinkering with them to boost violations. These devices have been very erratic, more erratic than can be explained by technical glitches.

Next, make sure that the yellow is an acceptable duration. There's an informal standard of 1 second per 10 mph of speed limit. Studies show that's not quite enough. There's also a lower limit of 3 seconds, Can't have the yellow shorter than that. The only formal standard on this is circa 1977, a rather involved formula that takes into account the slope of the approaches, as well as the speed limit. May also have something for whether there is a curve on the approach. We don't have anything more, most likely for political reasons. A few times, cities have shortened the yellow, and been caught. Now they search out badly timed lights that already have too short yellows, so they can deny that they shortened the yellow.

Getting punitive about a problem should be the last resort. Every other solution should be tried first. Even worse is making up a problem to get punitive about. There is no epidemic of red light running for the simple reason that nature may deal out a far harsher punishment to violators than a traffic ticket, and everyone understands that. You want to get your car wrecked? Break some bones? Risk death? Then run those red lights! The majority of red light violations are for missing the light by under 1 second, and nearly no violations are over 3 seconds. Punishing people over a 1 second judgment call is unfair. A few more violations are for honestly not seeing the traffic light, and sometimes that can't be entirely blamed on the driver. Years ago, I saw a traffic light a little ways west of the small downtown that was thoroughly obscured by trees (Olney, TX on state hwy 114). It was not visible at more than 20 feet, and the intersection was not in any way distinct from the dozen or so intersections on either side that didn't have traffic lights. The city should have gotten in trouble for that. Only reason I was able to stop for it is because I knew the light was there and was watching for it. Another town (Charles City IA, US 218, before the bypass was built) had 3 lights in a row, in which the 2 at the ends were on arms hanging over the street, but the middle one was on a post and was somewhat camoflaged by buildings, signs, and other lights. Of course they were mistimed so that the middle turned red at the same time the other 2 turned green. Tricky. Only a very few violations are deliberate, and even there, the driver could have good reason, like being on the way to the emergency room.

What happens when intersections are run fairly is that red light violations drop so low that cities take the camers down to save money.

Comment: Re:googling on iPad (Score 1) 237

by bzipitidoo (#49103307) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

People should send their phones back and demand they fix it or give their money back

I wish! We could bring bad actors to heel very, very quickly if we were willing to boycott. But somehow, a whole bunch of people never get word, and a whole bunch more can't be bothered to participate even if they agree. It's really amazing how much people tolerate. Lots still buy gasoline from BP, still let Bank of America invent new charges to drain their bank accounts, still suffer Comcast's dreadful cable TV service. What does it take to drive those customers away?

Comment: Re:Obvious prior art (Score 5, Interesting) 126

by bzipitidoo (#49079929) Attached to: Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth

I've come to a more nuanced view on patent trolls. They aren't themselves so evil, they are basically hackers, but of the law instead of tech. The real evil is the patent system itself, not the hackers who take advantage of it. If by their actions they persuade giants like Samsung that patent law needs major reform, then that's good. It's not their fault that patent law is such a mess, it's the fault of giant corporate backers. They're dancing delicately, trying to have it both ways, that is, little people have to ask them for their patents, but they don't have to ask little people for theirs. The bigs are the reason the scope of patent law has been expanded beyond all sense. Possibly the biggest expansion was that originally a patent was supposed to cover a working implementation. A machine that achieves the same thing through a different method was not in violation. Now patents can cover a vague concept. That kind of patent may be shot down in court, but that it was granted at all is one of the problems.

Hating a small patent troll is like shooting the messenger.

Comment: propaganda is not science (Score 1) 958

by bzipitidoo (#48965757) Attached to: Science's Biggest Failure: Everything About Diet and Fitness

Yes. No matter how much propaganda is clothed in science, it is not science. Propagandists know very well that science has a stellar reputation. All the time, they want to pass off their lies as scientific fact. These days, that works far better than claiming that the Bible says so. Science's very reputation works against it in this matter, causes it to be used more than anything else as a vehicle for lies. People have to be constantly on guard to separate lies dressed as science from real science.

The profit motive warps far too much scientific endeavor. Over and over, studies that could finger some chemical or process as harmful are squashed, suppressed before they can be carried out. Obesity is certainly a case in point. The victims have been blamed for being too lazy or gluttonous. Another convenient scapegoat is genetics, which is patently ridiculous as our grandparents weren't suffering obesity in anything like the current percentages. Other explanations were at best overlooked, which would make this one of the biggest and most incredible cases of mass blindness. More like, explanations such as that it's the food, were purposely buried. It took things like the Supersize Me movie to break the silence. Only recently are suspects such as Bisphenol A being noticed. Our cities, especially newer suburban cities, are very hostile to walking, largely for political reasons. Many people want everyone to need a car to get around. Requiring an expensive item is a great way to keep out poor riffraff, and cutting down on opportunities for exercise is just an unfortunate side effect.

People aren't fat because they choose to be that way. No one wants to live with the intense social stigma of being obese. In all the propaganda and politics being flung around, this basic fact get quickly covered up. Why then are people fat? It's because their bodies and environment drive them to eat too much and/or exercise too little, and that in turn is partly caused by disruptions of the body's endocrines, and perhaps also the body's microbiota.

Comment: Re:It'll never happen (Score 1) 333

I can think of several ways we might go extinct. Of course there is unrestrained war with weapons so powerful that they make nuclear war look like a pillow fight. There's the Terminator kind of end. There's also the possibility that there's some extremely dangerous discovery we are near to making. What if some experiment at a particle accelerator creates a miniature black hole that doesn't rapidly decay, but instead lasts long enough to devour the Earth? But I wonder most about boredom. Ennui.

If we discover intelligent extraterrestrial life, it's highly likely to be far, far more technologically advanced than we are. It's been 65 million years since the dinosaurs were wiped out, and we've been civilized for a mere 0.01% of that time. If nearby intelligent aliens exist, it's likely they already know all about us, knew about Earth millions of years ago, and just don't care to communicate.

Comment: Re:Who are you? I'm bat- er, ANON! (Score 1) 413

Let's hope that it stays safe to say things in support of due process, fairness, understanding, and moderation on such a charged subject, and that doing so is not willfully construed as favoring pedophilia. Freedom of speech, right? Some people seem awfully anxious to demonize pedophiles, to the point of mob hysteria. It looks like some of the tough talk on child molestation is out of fear, so that the mob doesn't turn on them. It's like that old SNL skit, the Church Lady, asking her guests if they hate Satan.

Pedophilia has a long history. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, one of their best, had a favorite greek boy. However, Roman Emperors were notorious for excess, and certainly don't make a good choice if one wants average people. There are still older customs. In early Iron Age battles, the winning commander might rape the losing one. Why? Maybe to demonstrate as graphically as possible that he was victorious and to humiliate the loser even more if that was possible, maybe as a severe punishment to further inspire other commanders to do all they could to win or die. The Bible is full of divine punishment for "deviant" sexual behavior, in particular the fates of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Could some instances of pedophilia be consequences of disease? For instance, there's Toxoplasma gondii. I find it amazing that a parasite can hack an animal's brain so subtly, removing the fear of cats and only cats, while largely leaving other brain functions intact. If that's possible, why not a disease that makes people have pedophilic urges?

I can't see anything wrong with using drawings of children, or blow up dolls, or whatever other harmless substitute may be available. Especially if that keeps a pedo from harming real children.

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 1) 304

by bzipitidoo (#48894321) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

It was private railroad limitations and greed that spurred the creation of the public highway system.

Now in the US, all that's left of passenger rail service is Amtrak, plus a small resurgence of local subway and light rail service in large cities. Amtrak is terrible. Very expensive, slow, late, and poor coverrage. To get from California to Texas by passenger rail, they are likely to try to route you the long way around, through Chicago.

Comment: Re:NHTSA Safety standards cock-blocks the idea (Score 2) 128

I've looked into bringing a car from Mexico to the US. Latin America has lots of models that aren't available in the US, such as the Ford Ka. Unfortunately, US safety standards thoroughly "cock block" that idea. It can be done, but it's not worth doing. A car made to Mexican safety standards, such as they are, I think can be driven in the US by Mexican owners, but can't be simply bought and driven by US citizens. A US citizen can't pop down to Mexico, buy one of these cars and just drive it back to the US and get it all properly titled and licensed. No, it has to be brought up to US safety standards, which means thousands of dollars of work to strengthen the B pillars and other areas of the passenger compartment. Then the owner might want to think about hot rodding the car a bit to compensate for all the extra weight those safety modifications added.

The big exception to safety standards is the antique car. It can be heavily modified, but so long as the owner has a title to one of the real things, he can say it counts as whatever the original car was.. A US citizen can legally drive a "T-bucket" (a highly modified Model T). It's dangerous but legal. So what many automobile experimenters do is get the shell of an antique, and stick whatever power train they want in it.

Comment: Re: It all comes down to payroll (Score 1) 271

by bzipitidoo (#48884687) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

You're looking at it wrong. Replace the corporations!

Set up solar and wind power with batteries, disconnect from the grid and fire your scumbag monopolistic electric company. Get an electric car, and destroy your Exxon Mobil credit card. Get a 3D printer and make your own household goods, including robot servants. Join with your neighbors to set up your own ISP as a public utility. Of course, freely download all your entertainment, and ram home the message to Hollywood that copyright is dead. Take a leaf from your great grandparents and have your robots grow your own vegetable garden so you can tell the grocery chain you won't need them any more either. Have the robots do "new homespun" too, and make your clothes for you, in exactly the right size and style and color you want. And put in a well and a septic system so you can tell the city to shove their endless rate hikes for sewage and water. Obtain a robot surgeon and an expert system diagnostician, and tell your doctors that their outrageous billing practices are history.

The disruption is going to be fun!

Comment: Re:Who supports it (Score 1) 60

by bzipitidoo (#48811629) Attached to: Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages

using obscure syntax and constructs to save a couple of lines, sacrificing readability and maintainability.

But that's one of the paradoxes. Saving a couple of lines reduces eye clutter. What's obscure to you may be obvious to an expert in that language. Shorter is usually better.

What makes Perl difficult to read is the same thing that brought Perl to prominence, the regular expressions. People went nuts for regular expressions, and overused them. The Camel book warns readers about that. People are used to skimming through code quickly, because so much of it really is boilerplate. But you can't quickly skim regular expressions except the trivial ones. You have to study each symbol. Miss one backslash, and the entire meaning changes. I think the other big complaint about Perl is that the language overuses sigils. Having a $ in front of every scalar variable name is tiresome for both coder and maintainer. Adds visual clutter. Smacks very much of putting the compiler writer's convenience ahead of the application programmer, a sin committed in many languages. Why couldn't they use plain names? C did that, it's not hard, just need to reserve a few words, for example, don't allow a variable to be named "if".

Comment: Re:Dear Nazis (Score 1) 177

by bzipitidoo (#48802371) Attached to: The Importance of Deleting Old Stuff

What's that saying that's used to justify spying on everyone? "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear".

You can't divorce security from ethics, because so much of security does not make everyone safer, it often makes a small group safer from the public, and that may not be in the public interest. Security against viruses is good for everyone but the few who want to use viruses to the detriment of the infected. Security against "pirates" is much more controversial, as "pirates" too often means everyone else. MS tried propaganda and strong arm tactics to pass off Windows Genuine Advantage as security for users. That was an insult to our intelligence, and a lie. Worse were Sony's music CDs with the root kit. I wonder if any of the leaked info has details about that, perhaps puts names to the people who decided make Sony's own CDs help spread viruses, including their own? With tax season around the corner, and Turbo Tax in the news again for anti-social behavior, the stunt they pulled a decade ago is worth mentioning again. Their "security" measures in their software screwed with the boot sector of their users' hard drives, risking the loss of all their users' data, in order to "protect" their software from piracy with, once again, DRM that does not work.

If you're a security expert, what do you do when you're asked to help cover something up, something that may be criminal and/or dangerous? Or, you're asked to use your knowledge to help make everyone less secure, by, for example, designing a root kit for music CDs? Blow the whistle, or follow orders? Whichever way you go could be trouble. Lose your career because no one wants to hire a whistleblower, and the government does a bad job of protecting whistleblowers, or lose your freedom when you are implicated in the cover up and sent to prison for it? Maybe you can blow the whistle without blowing your cover. No one was sure who Deep Throat was until long after Watergate. For the example of the root kit on the music CDs, you might make a judgment call. You would understand that this is a variation of DRM that will still be ineffective, the root kit is a clumsy idea, and therefore is unlikely to do much damage to the public. The outcome can only be what actually did happen, which is that the root kit was soon noticed and the only harm of significance was self inflicted harm when Sony lost much trust and was forced to recall all the infected CDs. So, your best course of action was likely some form of CYA, documents that you warned management that the root kit was a very bad idea, and that you were going ahead with it only under protest. You could still be blamed and fired of course. Maybe management will believe the root kit would have worked if not for your "treachery" in deliberately doing an incompetent job, despite any words anyone else tells them to the contrary.

Comment: Re:Where's the Beef? (Score 2) 73

Not necessarily. There's cheating to factor in. The people may have actually voted otherwise, but some incumbents abuse their power to rig the election. That's what's going on in the US. Bush should never have won the presidency. Currently, the majority of North Carolina's representatives should be Democratics, instead, most are Republicans. Republicans have been engaging in a number of tactics to tilt the vote their way. Gerrymandering is something both sides have done for decades, but in recent years the Republicans have pushed their cheats more. They make sure there aren't enough voting machines in districts that lean democratic, and they manufacture a problem with voter fraud and use that as the excuse to kick people off voter registration lists and pass these photo ID laws. They even try to intimidate voters in democratic districts with big scary warnings that cheating at the polls is a felony for which you could spend 10 years in jail. Anyone who believes that threat is not going to take a chance like that, better not to vote at all. The courts struck that one down, but there are many other tactics. Crosscheck is a big one. Voters have to jump through a bunch of hoops to be allowed to vote. Recently in Texas, a 4th choice was added for voters who want to vote straight party ticket. Used to be R, D, and Libertarian. Now there is ... Green! How did the Green party gain enough strength to do that? Perot's Reform party is not on the ballot, and he's from Texas. Answer: the Greens aren't strong enough, the Republicans put them on the ballot, figuring that would split the Democratic vote.

The worst part is that the Republicans who do this crap have very limited understanding and not much intelligence. They really seem to think it's okay for them to cheat. The end justifies the means, you know. But no one else better cheat, no sir! If they were smarter, they would understand that cheating is destructive. Instead, they behave as if "might is right" and that winning any way you can, even by cheating, is acceptable, and indeed a show of strength. The other guys were too "wimpy" to use the same "aggressive" tactics, so they deserved to lose! They've even convinced themselves that they aren't really cheating. It's how they can sound like such straight shooters even while their pants are on fire. That last is all part of their overall campaign against reality, science, and reason. For me, one of the most telling moments was the night of the 2012 election, when Romney's gang chose to believe slanted polls and propaganda that showed he was going to win, rather than the best, most unbiased polls which showed that he was losing, and then the actual results, in which he lost.

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