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Comment: Re:Consider the Alternative (Score 1) 276

by david_thornley (#49149155) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

I believe the 9/11 attackers entered the country by legitimate means, as well as the Boston Marathon bombers. One of the al-Qaida members planning to take part in the September 11 attacks remained in Germany because he was denied a visa.

Also, the majority of illegal aliens try to live peaceful and law-abiding lives, because the last thing they want is to get noticed by the legal system.

Comment: Re:Schneier's opinion isn't what it once was (Score 1) 114

by david_thornley (#49149067) Attached to: Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

I'm going to make a guess that you really don't mean it about everything being public. I could be wrong, but I'd bet you have some sort of bank account or bitcoin wallet or something, and, while you might be perfectly comfortable with us knowing everything about how you use it, you really don't want to share the access codes so we can drain your accounts and wallet and whatever.

Not everybody is in a position where they can afford full disclosure. I'm pretty open about things, but there are a few things you don't know about me and are very unlikely (I hope) to find out if you conduct a reasonably thorough investigation. Some people are in positions where they have to live something of a lie, which is uncomfortable, and I really don't want to judge them and say they deserve exposure without knowing the details. (I knew a guy who concealed his asthma from his employer because he thought it would impede his career if people knew that and not that he didn't let it slow him down.)

But, yeah, I've been warned that somebody could find out where I lived if I did such-and-such, and had to point out that there are organizations that keep track of that to allow other people to contact me in the first place.

Comment: Re:Schneier's opinion isn't what it once was (Score 1) 114

by david_thornley (#49149041) Attached to: Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

If Google were to have the idea that I have depression issues, I don't think they'd share it with others, but would use it as part of my profile to target ads to me. On the other hand, they probably would be able to make money selling that information to insurance companies and the credit rating companies, so I wouldn't count on it.

Even targeted ads can have consequences. There was a case here a while back when Target sent coupons for baby-related items to a teenaged girl who had done some searches on, and they were found by the girl's father, who had not known of the pregnancy up until then. I don't know what happened, but it can't have been emotionally comfortable.

Comment: Re:Good Points. (Score 1) 114

by david_thornley (#49148755) Attached to: Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

Biometrics have problems. The "password" is based on something I can lose (yeah, it's attached to me, but accidents happen, and I don't know how a fingerprint reader's going to react to a bad cut). (Without loss of generality, I'm going to assume fingerprints.) If used remotely, it's data going over a connection and can't be tested to see if it's a live finger. That makes it copyable, and I've only got ten fingerprints. If all of those are compromised, I can't grow another finger to get fresh fingerprints. The reader is not likely to be completely accurate, so it can be set to refuse my fingerprint sometimes or let other, similar, fingerprints work sometimes.

So, while they have advantages, they can still be lost or compromised, and there's no recovery from them.

Official certificates, I assume, are a way of associating a key pair with a real live wetware entity, or an organization of same. Given no dishonesty, this can be essentially free. Given attempts to deceive, such as me trying to associate my key pair with somebody not eminent and widely known, there's investigation costs, and you have to balance cost against certainty. Theoretically, I could be asked to come into an office with photo ID, and at that point I can get fake ID (and those can be pretty convincing), I can bribe whoever's examining my ID to let it pass, I can try to hack into the systems or communications (probably the hardest of the three), or other techniques I'm not coming up with off the top of my head.

Moreover, key pairs can be compromised, and at that time you need some sort of revocation ability, preferably one that can be easily activated by the owner under almost all circumstances, and can't be activated by the bad guy (and requiring a message signed with the key pair doesn't work here).

Comment: Re:What part of "Consent" Don't You Understand? (Score 1) 301

by david_thornley (#49142627) Attached to: Reddit Imposes Ban On Sexual Content Posted Without Permission

Sending somebody a copy of a picture doesn't mean they can do anything they want with it.

The picture is copyrighted (if taken within my lifetime). Unless there is a license of some sort saying so, the recipient is limited in what he or she can legally do with the picture.

There may be conditions on the delivery, and if the picture were solicited or the conditions agreed to they're at least morally binding. "I'll send you the pictures on the condition that you don't show them to anyone else."

There may not be a model release for commercial use, which restricts what you can do with it. Putting it on a commercially run site may or may not constitute commercial use.

In other words, having received a picture, you may not have a legal or moral right to put it on the Net in the first place. I'm not talking about anybody changing their mind, since I doubt most of those pictures came with posting permission in the first place. In many cases, the pictures were illegally acquired by hacking into somebody else's account.

I also take exception at your attitude that you shouldn't do anything in private that you wouldn't want spread on Reddit tomorrow.

Comment: Re:How about direct government support? (Score 2) 243

by david_thornley (#49142151) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

Price controls in other countries are because the countries' health care systems negotiate for the entire country, something the US government is forbidden by law from doing. No action of the US government is going to raise what other countries pay for drugs significantly. Lowering the trade barriers is going to be bitterly opposed by the same people who pay lots of money to make sure the US government doesn't negotiate drug prices, so it isn't going to happen.

What the US government could do is reduce the cost of drugs to US citizens, by dropping trade barriers or negotiating national prices. If either of those happened, the pharma companies would make a lot less money, and making new drugs would be less profitable. It wouldn't go away entirely, of course, but it wouldn't result in hundreds of millions of Europeans and Japanese paying more money to support US drug research.

Comment: Re:How about direct government support? (Score 2) 243

by david_thornley (#49142093) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

If I raised money to start a new pharma company, why do you think the government would do anything to stop me? It would take a whole lot of money, because the government insists that a new drug be shown to be somewhat effective and not too dangerous, and that's expensive nowadays, so I'd probably start trying to make generics a bit cheaper than everybody else and then go into the research business once established. I'd think this would take more money than I could raise out of Kickstarter, though.

What the government will stop you from doing is putting out drugs of unknown effect and potentially bad side effects. That's all, and that's a reasonable function for government. You can argue that you should be able to take whatever you wanted, and I'd sympathize to some extent, but I really don't think there'd be that big a market for complicated compounds that might cure you or exacerbate your illness or kill your liver or something like that.

Comment: Re:PS (Score 1) 243

by david_thornley (#49141959) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

Public research is vital for creating new drugs, but hardly sufficient. An academic researcher will be happy having found a chemical compound that has good results treating certain cancers in rats. At the end of the experiment, the rats are usually all killed.

Now, we have a compound that treats certain cancers in rats, and doesn't have overly many immediate bad effects. If you're diagnosed with that cancer, do you want to take it if there's alternatives?

Here's where the pharma companies take over. They make more tests, tests that wouldn't help an academic career but which are necessary. The companies have to work up to human testing, at which point they're likely to find that there's a severe side effect that didn't show up in the rat trials, and the drug has to be redesigned. Eventually, they have to do fairly large-scale human testing, which is expensive and time-consuming, and then they figure out how to produce it in quantity - assuming that they can come up with a chemical compound that does indeed work and doesn't have too bad side effects, because if they can't they've largely wasted a lot of applied research.

The difference between a promising laboratory drug and something known to be effective on humans without horrible side effects is pretty large, and even the basic requirements like "must be better than a placebo" and "mustn't have side effects that are too bad" are expensive to get to.

Comment: Re:Because capitalism, idiots. (Score 1) 243

by david_thornley (#49141817) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

The other thing that drives up hospital costs is that lots of people don't have decent medical insurance, or money to pay for treatment (partly because of the excessive costs), so they come to the emergency room when they have to. This is the most expensive form of care, and is typically not paid for. If the patients could see a doctor when things start to go wrong, they'd cost the system a whole lot less.

Comment: Re:Because capitalism, idiots. (Score 1) 243

by david_thornley (#49141757) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

Health care in the Nineteenth Century was very different from health care today. There were almost no specific drugs. Surgery was way behind what it is now. It may or may not have been an inexpensive system, but it was certainly extremely low quality compared to today.

What destroyed your hypothetical cheap medical care situation was that medical care started getting better and more expensive, not any sort of government action.

Comment: Re:Realistic (Score 1) 356

by david_thornley (#49141281) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

If you get a $2K subsidy for $3K solar panels, some retailers may price them at $5K. Then another retailer is going to realize that, by selling at $4.5K, he or she gets much more business at a small cut in profit per panel, and so on. The retailers in an area may colllude, explicitly or implicitly, but somebody's going to sell and ship panels from somewhere else.

What will happen is market distortion, as many more panels are sold than would be economical without subsidy. This may or may not be worth it.

"An entire fraternity of strapping Wall-Street-bound youth. Hell - this is going to be a blood bath!" -- Post Bros. Comics