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Comment Re:F*ucking idiot (Score 3, Insightful) 518

Grow up, girl, Get a cute boyfriend to hump your brains out on a regular basis and you won't feel the need to go around with a fucking pot on your head.

You do know that while sex is enjoyable and all that, it really is not the solution to all of life's problems, and not everyone you disagree with is suffering from sexual frustrations. This is not totally unlike telling a woman to "get back in the kitchen (or bedroom)", or telling a young person to "go back to the kid's table", or telling a black person to "get back out into the fields". While it might be an effective technique to belittle others, It is dismissive, petty, rude, and does little to actually advance the discussion.

While you might like to think that you can tell what everyone's sincerely held beliefs might be - you really can't. While you might like to be the arbiter of what is important and what is not important - others are going to disagree with you. Clearly in this case, this person does sincerely believe that this issue is important to them - important enough to go through all the legal necessities to get this type of ruling.

Comment Re:Another attack on Christianity (Score 1) 518

This is just another thinly veiled attack on Christianity and other religions.

No, it is not. It is actually a very clever way to highlight the importance of the separation between church and state.

The very first part of the First Amendment is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" and, making explicit exceptions for religious attire in legislation breaks not only the spirit but also the letter of that text.

Making an exception in the law for religious reasons (like in this case, no head gear except for religious reasons) undermine that very principle ...

Not always. Sometimes the First Amendment gives grounds for challenging legislation to prove that there is a legitimate reason for "prohibiting the free exercise therof". If there is a law, regulation, or other governmental requirement that can be shown to unreasonably impact the "free exercise" of someone's religion, then the First Amendment comes into play, and the courts might correctly strike down such laws and/or do whatever other things courts can do to prevent such unreasonable impact.

Comment Re:Not a religious requirement of Pastafarianism (Score 1) 518

A similar case happened recently in Canada. The courts denied a man's right to wear a colander in a government ID photo.


The official verdict stated that nowhere in Pastafarian dogma does it say that adherents must wear a colander at all times. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

I'd love to see a reference. Of course one could easily counter that while Reformed Pastafarians do not require the colander, the Orthodox Pastafarians do. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Comment Re:Athiest Symbol (Score 1) 518

Stripped? We're talking about showing a face.
Treating people as equals trumps protection of fairy tales, er, I mean religion.

Stripped of the covering that they feel is properly modest.

Just because YOU are fine with uncovering your face for all to see does not mean that everyone is. Similarly, some people do not want everyone to see their naked chest, and many (but not all) are uncomfortable exposing their genitalia. There is no "logical" reason to keep these covered up, and there are examples of cultures where covering these body parts is no big deal.

Potentially, treating people as "equal" could mean placing equal importance on people's feelings of privacy and/or modesty, it does not necessarily mean treating everyone identically.

With all that said, I don't have any Solomonic solution to this type of situation where a person's desire to remain covered could work against a legitimate "state" desire for ease of identification. I suppose it is fortunate we don't typically identify each other by the shape of our penises or vulva, but I suppose if we did than there would not be as much of a social taboo against allowing them to be seen....

Comment Re:Years and years ago... (Score 3, Insightful) 214

I Had someone using my social security number for work once upon a time. Their company had a mandated retirement program. The IRS never complained about my taxes, even when I e-filed. One year I got a check in the mail for ~$5000 from a company I had never heard of, nor worked for.

As an expat US Citizen, maybe I should try to get some illegal immigrant in the USA to use my SSN to do some work to build up my social security credits which have not been growing while I am out of the US....

Comment Re:Oh god this ... (Score 1) 349

The solution is to randomly insert images in the x-rays that are false positives. To keep screeners alert, these false positives need to happen about 5% of the time.

That's one reason that every now and then, a bag gets sent back through the x-ray machine without being opened, despite not having any contraband in it.

The Freakonoics podcast last week talked about boredom. One of the ways to make these types of tasks more interesting, and probably improve the effectiveness is to "gameify" it. Maybe something like this would work: As each tray goes through, the screen displays the image and the screener presses a red button for "bad stuff" and a green button for "everything is ok". Each time the red button is pressed but no "bad stuff" is found in later screening, the "player" looses points. Each time the red button is pressed and "bad stuff" stuff is found in later screening, the screener gets points. Now comes the part that makes it work: since we want to deduct points (presumably a lot of points) on occasions when the screener lets "bad stuff" pass with a press of the green button, but for actual items carried by travellers we do not know who might be carrying the bad stuff so we insert known images of "bad stuff containing" trays (and maybe known images of trays with no "bad stuff"). When the screener encounters these images, they can be scored appropriately, and these known images allow for calibration of the screener's effectiveness. The system can add the "virtual trays" at a rate that keeps the screeners alert, and the penalties for flagging a "clean" tray as dirty can discourage being overly cautious.

Tie the points into some small reward like free lunch, or better yet have them contribute towards some team points totals to get the powers of competition and tribal grouping to focus attention and effectiveness would probably go up as well. Remove people from the screening job who cannot do it well enough.

If implemented, we would probably have to work hard at preventing cheating - making the virtual tray images fit into the regular images in such a way that the screener cannot tell which is which, making sure that other members of the "team" do not somehow help the screener in a way that messes the system up, etc.

To generate "no bad stuff" images for the system you would need to pack some bags with no bad stuff in it, but for "bad stuff" images you could use both bags packed with "bad stuff" in addition to images of actual traveller bags that got flagged by a screener and then were found to have "bad stuff" in them.

All of this presupposes that there is an actual desire to effectively find all the things that are prohibited. I suspect that this is not actually the case. Sure, most people are happier if they feel that knives and guns are not carried by any travellers, but "the powers that be" probably all know that the list of prohibited items is needlessly long. Actually ferreting out all of these things probably would slow things down way too much for no actual improvement in safety. To catch all of the "bad stuff" containing virtual images for example, you probably need to flag every bag that might possibly have a "bad thing" obscured by another thing - it is probably impossible to catch all of the "red" images without also flagging lots of "green" images, which would result in lots of further screening of "clean" trays.

Comment Re:If... (Score 1) 363

Oh and of course this is not 100% within your control due to different quality of teaching, but you don't want to get screwed from the ground up by being taught from a fundamentally different material than everyone else to begin with.

That does sound like a challenge.

Of course the whole idea that grades should have any importance beyond helping the instructor and sudent gain insight into progress and how to futher their learning is an issue so fundamentally mixed up within our educational systems that it twists the way we look at almost every aspect of those systems. The proper idea of "we should/should not do such-and-such because it will help/hinder students' learning" is so easly morphed into "we should/should not do such-and-such because it will help/hinder students' grades", further driving the idea that the grading is the important outcome.

But I digress....

Comment Re:If... (Score 1) 363

And the problem is? Students that can choose between the classes can now get to chose based on book price as well.

The problem is when student's can't chose between the classes and then when it comes to sitting the Exam for Maths101 they were all taught in different ways using different content. Was my teacher awesome? How do I know?

And the folks who took the course the year before or the year later will also have different experiences. So what?

Usually in places where Maths101a is taught by a different instructor than Maths101b, the evaluations are done independantly by each instructor, with nothing more in common between then then the courses taught in different years. To expect the identical experience when taking courses taught by different instructors is probably unwise.

Comment Re:Draconian family planning? (Score 1) 279


It is well documented that all you need to do to push the reproduction rate below replacement is to have comprehensive sex education and easy access to birth control.

We will probably have to move to ever more generous paid family leave policies just to keep the population stable.

So fuck off with the discredited Malthusianism.

Sure, birth rates are falling due increased urbanization and all that stuff - that is pretty clear. Are they falling fast enough to give us a max population figure that allows for the rest of the planet's ecosystem to thrive? Not so clear. Saying that we should be seriously studying the impact our population is likely to have on the planet is not really "discredited Malthusianism".

Comment Re:memory loss defence? (Score 1) 602

That's what I always wonder when I hear someone ask "Where have you been on June 26th 2005"? Fuck, I barely remember where I have been on a specific day last week!

The podcast "Serial" which revisits the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, and the 2000 conviction of Adnan Masud Syed for that murder. It is clear that a huge number of people could not recall details about the time of the murder, and that the details from people who were in the same room witnessing the same events are significantly different.

It is a very engaging series. For me at least I am left with almost no confident idea of who did it.

Clearly we should all be wearing body cams at all time.

Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 89

I'm sure Orange County residents are fine with wise use of tax money. It will cost over 30 million to install, it might save up to a million per year.

How long is that battery life?

How is this a use of tax money? A private company installing something that they think will save them money? Or maybe they are reselling electricity to their tenants and this will generate revenue. Of course I did not read the article very closely, so I could be wrong. Please correct me if I am.

Comment Re:Should Not Break from Liter Equivalent (Score 1) 278

The relationship between the kilogram and the liter was the most elegant thing in the metric system, so why break it?

This doesn't break it. Any changes to the precise value of the kilogram are going to be so small that you can safely continue to use the idea that one litre of water has a mass of one kilogram. Changing the definition of the metre from one based on the earth, to the reference piece of metal, to waveleghts of a particular type of light, to a distance light moves in one second did not change the litre-kilogram relationship because the litre-kilogram relationship in practice cannot be examined to the level of accuracy of the other relationships.

Comment Re:Still confusing. (Score 2) 278

What I don't get it, shouldn't the kilogram have been defined and redefined then as the weight of a cubic dm of water each of these times then too? Why is there an attempt to base this on Avogadro's or Plank's constant?

The difficulty at various times in the past was that the accuracy available using various deffinitions was different. If we defined the kilogram of mass as being equal to the mass of one litre of water, the uncertainties in that definition would have been much greater than the uncertainties in measuring a standard chunk of metal and replicating that. The uncertainties arries in the purity of water obtainable, the temperature, pressure, humidity effects that would come into play, the uncertainties in creating a vessel with the exactly correct volume.

If your scales are accurate to nano-grams but your standard is only accurate to micro-grams, then you have a problem.

If you are using a chunk of metal, than your standard is going to be as accurate as your scales and you only have to worry about making sure your standard is not changing over time (which is why they treated it with such care). Once you have a standard definition that can be measured as accurately as the standard physical object, then the object becomes superfluous, but before that point it is better to just use the standard physical object.

Comment Re:The kilogram is based on a chunk of metal? (Score 1) 278

The point is that the "benefit" people have from the metric system is that it's base 10. The Imperial system as used in the US is base 10 when it's actually useful to be base 10 and not base 10 the rest of the time.

The real "benefit" is that the system is used by more than 6 billion people (18%), while the US comprises only about a third of a billion people (. In an ecconomic comparison, the US GDP is about 17 Trillion, while the world GDP is around 77 Trillion (22%)

Unless you think your arguments are strong enough to convince everyone else to switch from SI to US, the argument for switching just to be like everyone else is pretty strong.

The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.