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Comment The whole issue is being approached the wrong way (Score 1) 330

Here's the thing.

Conspiracy to commit murder is pretty much 99.highNines% a "bad thing" and so if people do that, we have a good reason to drag them into court, and henceforth to prison. The fact that some assholes will do this is true; the fact that we want to then isolate them from everyone is also true. This, then, is a good law, because it does not interfere with everyone else's legitimate goings-on, and it can actually protect us from those assholes -- it's just about a perfect guarantee that if people are engaged in conspiracy to commit murder, it'd be much, much better for everyone else if they are stopped.

Carrying a gun is pretty much a 99.highNines% okay thing, as in, no one is going to get hurt by that, and so if people do that, we do not have a good reason to drag them into court, and henceforth to prison. The fact that very, very rarely, some assholes with bad intent will carry guns is not a good reason to tell everyone else they cannot carry guns. Further, as anything these assholes do that is actually asshole-ish already has a law against it (including conspiracy to commit murder, as above), we already have somewhat working tools to address, punish the actuality of, and in some cases even prevent, the problem. Do we need more tools? Yes, we do, because the problem continues to arise -- we have not solved it.

So, as to appropriate and effective tools: I think it's fair to say that most young who are in a state of mind of "I want to [kill|maim] [person|list]" have been pretty severely mistreated in one way or another. Classing, bullying, shaming, beatings and so on. Reducing that is where the effort should be applied by society. Not only because those things are bad, as they certainly are, but because they are known to be significantly contributing or primarily causal factors in this kind of acting out. Which, by the way, guns are not. The act of keeping and carrying arms is not what makes a person want to use it on other people. It's the wrong behavioral target. The problem is not arms. The problem is our defective culture, specifically in how our people, most definitely including our young people, treat each other due to perceived differences. Schools pretty much ignore this stuff. I remember all of it going on at a pretty good clip in my high school, and also in the high school my kids went to decades later. When they were bullied and shamed and I went in to talk about it with the powers that be at the school, I was told the kids "just have to work it out", which is, in my opinion, the root of the problem. No, the kids don't have to work it out on their own. The authorities should be eliminating the problem in every way possible, root, stem and branch. The entire competitive landscape in schools is wrongheaded, from academia to sports to any other means of holding up A as "better" than B. That's a whole different discussion, but that does provide a good overview of the problem.

Restricting arms won't solve the problem. Two reasons: One, it isn't the problem, and two, once someone is in the state of mind that says "I'm gonna [maim|kill] alla these fuckerz", they're already well past obeying laws, and well past caring about how it is done. So say there are magically no more guns. Does that clear the deck of easy ways to [maim|kill]? No, of course it doesn't. A little sword work, some mace swinging, a well-timed exercise of driving a vehicle into a crowd, home-made explosives, any number of poisoning mechanisms, sabotaging a bus, a well-set fire... it's just not that difficult to create huge amounts of mayhem, specifically or generally, by any number of easy means, even if all guns were magicked away. That is the core matter -- not how the mayhem is created. Guns are simply the preferred tool right now. Take them out of the equation, and it is a certainty that something else will become the preferred tool. Because all such a restriction does is take away that one tool. It doesn't take away either the motivation for mayhem, or clear the field of other tools that will work just as well.

Just as with the drug war, the problem isn't the substance / tool / implementation. It is the attitude that gets the person to the point where they care less about the follow-on consequences than they do about the immediate effects and the relevant act is perceived as an attractive choice. Also just like the drug war, the attack on the tool is wrongheaded, causes completely unnecessary harm to large segments of the population who will not be the source of follow-on consequences as they haven't been driven (or aren't naturally) batshit crazy enough to seriously misuse these things, and doesn't go any distance at all towards actually solving the problem.

Having said all that, I would further say this on guns themselves, in fact on arms of any kind: The constitution, as I read it, very clearly and without equivocation says we, the citizens, are empowered to keep and carry arms without government infringement. That would include, but certainly is not limited to, keeping and carrying guns. We are far better off changing that, if indeed we want to change it, using the constitution's article 5 mechanism, amendment, than we are tossing fiat law at the problem. Because if we (by which I mean the lawmakers, the lower courts, SCOTUS, etc.) can ignore one part of the constitution because we think it's old, or inconvenient, or (cough) is "living", then we can ignore the rest just as easily, and that means we're no longer a constitutional republic, in fact we're no better than any sorry-assed banana republic. Which, yes, I admit up front appears to be an exact description of our current circumstances.

I'm not even against changing our empowerment to keep and carry arms. If no arms is how the nation really wants to roll, then okay, then let's try that and see how it works out. I'll turn in my arms -- swords, guns, slingshots, whatever -- without protest if that becomes the legitimate law of the land (which is to say, there's an amendment to the constitution that says the 2nd is null and void or otherwise no longer clearly says that the government is not allowed to infringe on my right to keep and carry arms. Supporting laws that are clearly unconstitutional is an extremely bad idea, and almost all arms laws are presently unconstitutional when they infringe on the right to keep and carry, as they typically do.)

I'm just saying that (a) forbidding arms (either as infringing, unconstitutional fiat, or as amended, legitimate law) won't solve this particular problem as the act of keeping and/or carrying arms is not the actual problem, nor the cause of the problem, and (b) we're presently going about it in a way that corrupts the link between our constitution and our government, and that has almost uniformly resulted in bad things happening to the population at large, so we shouldn't be doing that.

Comment Re:How do they define GM? (Score 1) 154

Wrong, breeding for desired characteristic is an entirely different matter than what Monsanto is doing.

So, how do you feel about selective breeding processes that include drenching the organisms in radiation or mutagenic chemicals in order to dramatically increase the mutation rate? Nearly everything in your grocery store was bred via this method, which has been in use for at least a century, because it works really well. By massively increasing the mutation rate you can get your desired characteristics orders of magnitude faster than relying on natural mutations and cross-breeding.

If you're not okay with that method, then there's not much available for you to eat.

If you are okay with that method, can you explain how insertion of single gene to produce a desired effect is worse that thousands of random mutations, all of which are completely unknown outside of the immediately-observable phenotypic effects?

The fact is that humans have been doing various degrees of genetic engineering on our food crops for millenia, and massively increased it in the last couple of centuries (once Darwin explained how it worked). The methods of the last couple of decades are refinements which, if anything, should be dramatically safer than what came before, since the changes are smaller and better-controlled.

Comment Re:Cool article... (Score 1) 95

The taxi industry is regulated for very good reasons (one being safety)

I hear this all the time, but no one ever elaborates on what the reasons are. You said safety, but didn't say what the regulations are, how they are intended to affect safety and whether or not they really do.

One regulation that does make sense is the requirement that they carry commercial insurance policies. I think Uber has addressed that part (though I know some think Uber's solution inadequate).

As far as I can tell, the rest of the regulations are just an attempt to construct a functional reputation system in a context where little information is available to riders. By making it difficult and expensive for people to become cabbies, and relatively easy for them to lose that privilege, regulations ensure that only people who are serious about making taxi service a long-term business will do it. For exaple, this prevents J. Random Serial Killer from painting his car yellow and using it to pick up victims. Unless J. Random is also very wealthy, in which case he has lots of easier options. That's just one example, but the same line of reasoning applies to many other forms of abuse.

That all makes sense in a context where riders have no way to judge cabs other than by their appearance. But smartphones and the real-time, ubiquitous access to driver reputation databases they make available change the equation. Or so it seems to me.

Can anyone articulate precisely what other problems the regulations solve, and why the "rideshare" model (yes, I know it's not really ride sharing; let's discuss substantive issues, not quibble about naming) doesn't address them as well, or better? I'd like, for once, to have a conversation about this subject that goes beyond "Uber is exploitative and law-breaking!!!" and discusses the actual underlying issues. In what way, precisely, are cab regulations a better/safer/more efficient solution than ridesharing?

Comment Re:EU Privacy (Score 1) 50

Obviously you can't invert md5, but if I hash my list, and you hash your list, and there is significant overlap, you can, to a reasonable but not 100% certainty, figure out which items on my list correspond to items on your list.

Depends on how it's done. For example, the advertiser could generate a bloom filter and provide that, rather than hashes of individual items on the list. Assuming the false positive rate was tuned correctly, you can use this method to arrange to provide very little information, while still generating the matches you want (plus some). Most advertisers wouldn't know how to tune the false positive rate appropriately, of course, but Google could tell them.

That's just off the top of my head, first glance at the problem. I suspect that there are even cleverer techniques that could be used, and while I don't know any details of how this system works, I do know Google engineers, and Google privacy design policies and procedures, and I'd be shocked if there were any obvious way to extract personally-identifiable information, in either direction.

(Disclaimer: I'm a Google engineer, but I'm speaking only for myself.)

Comment Re:RISK vs CHANCE (Score 0) 81

See, but here's the thing. While the CHANCE is low, the DEGREE OF BADNESS of an asteroid or comet impact is infinite. As in, extinction.

As CHANCE is non-zero, the RISK is infinite as well.

Therefore, we should be taking steps.

But hey, we have brown people to bomb.

Comment Re: If that's how Pokemon Int'l treats its fans... (Score 1) 208

Either that or they could litigate to prove their point, then ask for a judgment of $1 or something. That would encourage others to ask permission before using their trademarks, but show that "really it's just about asking permission, not money."

Comment Re:Safety (Score 4, Insightful) 330

no evidence that arming the victims prevents mass shootings.

What's your next guess? Read and learn.

Besides Volokh's very informative research, I'll ask if you've ever hear of a country called "Israel"? There's a reason why the Palestinian terrorists gave up on trying to shoot up shopping malls and switched to half-assed rocketry.

1 in 5 chance that a mass shooting will use weapons the killer didn't own but obtained from gun owners on site.


Why is it that when you leftards pull a number out of your ass, you always go for 20%? That's just like the bogus claim that one in five women will get raped in college.


Comment Re:Perhaps... (Score 1) 300

One more thing. Let me put this into a concrete context, perhaps that'll transfer the idea a little better.

I go to the Kindle store. I only like science fiction, books on Python. I can tell them so, or I can let them figure it out. But either way, that's what they'll show me for specials and so forth. If I enter my email, they can email me (see, no way for them to know my email otherwise unless I actually buy.) So, this, for me, would be good. I see books I want, and I never see another stupid vampire book again. They, in turn, have a customer who is more likely to buy, because (shock) they're actually showing me things I want.

But when I leave the site, all knowledge of me, goes with me. Now, when I'm visiting, say, KangaroosInFancyDresses.com, that crap does not -- can not -- follow me around.

Now, say someone visits the Kindle store using my URL. I thoughtlessly pasted it into an email to them or something, and off they go. One thing will happen, and another might. First, they get Python and science fiction suggestions for the personalized part of their advertising experience. If they buy from those suggestions, no harm done. But second, they may buy something else, such as a stupid vampire book. Later, I come back, a vampire book is presented to me, I hop to my clickable prefs, am hopefully offered the opportunity to unclick "vampire books" or whatever, and off I go.

Is this so bad? Right now, my SO and I use the same Amazon account. I like, as stated, Python and SF. She likes mysteries and cookbooks. So I see those. All the time. It's not the end of the world. What's missing here is the ability to tell Amazon that I am not her, and for our shopping experiences to be differentiated.

I suspect -- I'm just guessing -- that if the limits of how the site knew what you wanted were set the way I suggest, they'd be a lot more careful to show you what you wanted, because it's one of the only avenues left to better the targeting of their advertising.

Anyway, again, just mulling it over. Maybe it truly sucks as an idea. Your thoughts on how to get out our shared cookie/scripting nightmare are?

Comment Re:Perhaps... (Score 1) 300

The point is, it'd be a new way of operating. The site would provide copyable links to share.

No question it's more work.

But OTOH, it gets you a personalized experience.

It's not like most websites are using cookies and scripting responsibly now anyway. Certainly the ad companies aren't. Be a treat to turn all that crap off. But if, and it's a big if, I admit, you wanted the site to know your shopping habits, that's a way for them to do it without your browser having to shovel in a bunch of bandwidth eating, data-stealing crap from WeFuckCustomers, Inc.

As I said, it's just an idea. Seems like we're in need of some ideas, though.

Comment Re:Their algorithms are pathetic... (Score 1) 306

I said "competent human", not "human". There is a rather large difference. I also said "human in the loop", not "purely human". I am quite aware that the algorithms alone are better than humans alone and that they are critically needed to filter down the volume, but the combination of both is a lot better and currently the only way to reach a good outcome for the customer. 20 false positives per fraud caught is pretty bad. Please note that I had access to fraud data including full analysis in the past and have done risk analysis in the area.

And do not give me that "they do not know your life" nonsense. That is not even true in countries where strong privacy laws exist. Sure, that context is needed to distinguish between the different fraud cases (including fraud by the customer), but it is available. Just blocking the card immediately and without said review by a competent human being that also looks at what the customer has done in the past is quite expensive. Of course, most of the cost is on the customer side and for the bank it is cheap, especially when they also have cheap customer service and only short-term planning, so customers that leave for a different card provider do not factor into the bonuses of those that make the decisions.

Comment Re:the lard of hosts for fat ads (Score 1) 300

Facebook? You use Facebook and you're concerned about ads? www.facebook.com facebook.com

...problem solved.

Also, from my POV, the only "independent sites" out there don't depend on external ads. The others are, by definition, dependent. Like this one.

Never trust an operating system.