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Comment: Re:Done in movies... (Score 4, Insightful) 204

Hanging a person over a balcony with an implied threat to let them fall is quite definitely qualifies as a threat against a person's life, and that *IS* illegal. Even if no "permanent" harm was done, their actions fail on points 5, 6, 7, and 9 in The Ethics Scoreboard list of ethics fallacies.

Comment: Re:Being a less than ideal social fit... (Score 1) 333

by mark-t (#49541871) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

If a communication barrier exists because of some demographic difference between one employee and everyone else, why should a company have to tolerate what they may be able to measure as a reduced level of productivity because of it?

I'm not saying it should happen, but it *does* happen... I've been fired from jobs for simply "not fitting in" myself... why should being older or even being of a difference race somehow protect somebody from such an evaluation?

Comment: Being a less than ideal social fit... (Score 1) 333

by mark-t (#49541749) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit
... in the company culture is a wholly reasonable justification for an employer to not hire someone who is otherwise even the most qualified job applicant. While age shouldn't ever be a reason to exclude an otherwise entirely competent person, if the fact is that if the rest of the office isn't going to easily be able to relate to the person simply because this one person is so much older than they are, that can introduce a communication barrier, however unintentional it may be on everyone's part and that will impede the effectiveness of any programming team that person is put on. Generally, this kind of thing would be more likely to be determined during an initial probationary period than during an interview, however.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 398

What I know about is just how sensitive a dog's sense of smell is... and how easily they would be able to identify *exactly* where a given odor is coming from. Through positive reinforcement during training, a dog that is being trained to identify a particular scent, is conditioned to find the source of the scent, and so in the field, they would always go straight for the point where the strongest scent is coming from, because doing so was what led to the quickest rewards for the dog. If they can't find what the dog has been trained to sniff out in the very first place that the dog leads them, then either it's simply too well hidden for the officer to find, or else it's not there at all. Claiming that the dog alerted them to the presence of drugs therefore makes them look incompetent if they didn't actually find any.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 398

by mark-t (#49529231) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

If an officer searches a car and finds no drugs, the officer can say something to save face and wave the driver on.

Of course... my original point is that the officer isn't generally going to say that the dog actually alerted him to the presence of drugs somewhere in the car when they can't find any in there. If a dog is actually alerting to the presence of drugs, it will go *straight* to the location of those drugs, or if the scent is only residual, at least straight to the location of the strongest scent. If that scent is on the driver or on a wad of cash in his pocket, then the dog will alert to the driver, not the car. Remember, a dog's sense of smell is millions of times more sensitive than a human's... they exist in a sensory world that most people can probably barely imagine... and given that they would go straight for the location of the strongest scent, there wouldn't even be any extensive search, per se, beyond perhaps moving things out of the way so the officer can access some concealed location... If there are no drugs there, then that should be the end of it, where if an officer were to say that their dog alerted them to the presence of drugs in the car but they end up looking in several different places in the car, then it appears as if the officer doesn't really have a clue how to interpret what the dog is supposedly actually alerting to.

Comment: What blows me away...... (Score 1) 338

by mark-t (#49525297) Attached to: Study Confirms No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism

.... is even *IF* there were some truth to the allegation that such vaccines have a link to autism, which there isn't.... the allegation that this should be justification to *NOT* vaccinate is equivalent to saying that one would rather have their child die from a curable disease than have autism... like autism is somehow the 21st century version of what leprosy was 2000 years ago.

As someone who was diagnosed a number of years ago as autistic, I can't help but be slightly offended at the notion

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 398

All they need to say is that there *were* drugs in the car or that wad of cash has drug residue on it.

Right... but a dog is going to know exactly where anything that it smells is really coming from. The police have no business using a dog that *EVER* gives false positives, and a handler who can't manage a dog to find a given smell that has been trained to find such smells is an incompetent handler, because a dog's sense of smell can be millions of times more sensitive than a human's, and there is NO CONCEIVABLE WAY that a dog could ever fail to identify exactly where a given smell was really coming from, even if it is just residual. If it was coming from a wad of cash in the person's wallet, the dog would be alerted to it being in the person's pocket... if it was on the clothes of the person, the dog would know that it wasn't coming from the car if they were not in it. Again, if the police officer cannot interpret the actions of the dog correctly, or ever claims that their dog alerted them to drugs where they couldn't find any, then that is going to just make the handler look stupid if the dog has been properly trained, and if the dog has not been properly trained to find such scents then the police have no business using that dog in the first place.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 398

But it's not in the handler's best interests to claim that their dog alerted them to the presence of drugs when they don't actually find any because that just makes them look stupid.

None of this has any bearing at all on whether they would use dogs to try to find drugs where there are none.... that probably happens nearly as often as police might feel they have any reason whatsoever to instigate a search. I'm just saying that it's silly to think that they are going to claim that their dog smelled drugs in their car when there aren't any unless they intend to plant some there. Dogs are also well able to discern where a smell is actually coming from,so with a smell which may be on a person's body because they may have at some point recently handled such drugs, but where no such drugs are actually in the car, a trained dog would *easily* be able to identify the actual source of the scent... an officer who tries to claim that the dog smelled drugs in their car when there aren't any there is, again, only going to make both himself and the dog appear incompetent.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 2) 398

There are no statistics on how frequently dogs "alert" and the subsequent search finds no contraband.

This reasoning reminds me of how people allege that the fact that there is no real evidence that NASA tried to cover up that they "never really went to the moon" is somehow indicative of or suggests that they actually *are* covering it up. It's called circular reasoning, and it's a logical fallacy.

Have you considered that the possibilty that reason there aren't any published statistics for it is because it doesn't tend to actually happen that often in the first place?

As I said elsewhere, it is not generally going to be in the interests of even a genuinely maliciously inclined officer to allege that his dog "smelled" drugs when they hadn't actually found any, because that undermines any confidence with which anyone could reasonably claim that dogs have any reliability in this capacity in the first place... unless, as I said above, the officer were intending to plant drugs for the dog to find. A dog's sense of smell can be over a million times more sensitive than a human's, and there is no doubt whatsoever that sniffing out such things even in extremely concealed locations would be well within their sensory capability.

I do not dispute that police use dogs to attempt to find drugs on people where none are found.... that actually *does* happens a lot, and there are unfortunately plenty of published statistics to support it. But it makes almost no sense for the police to actually claim that their dog had alerted them to the presence of drugs when they don't actually find any because that just makes them look stupid, as well as like the dog needs a whole lot more training.

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 1) 398

No... but I'm betting they don't frequently claim that a dog they were using had identified that there was an actual material presence of drugs unless they actually find some. Again, what "signalling" could the poster that I responded to above have been referring to if not to signal the dog to act as though it had found some drugs?

Comment: Re:Drug dogs (Score 2) 398

I'm not questioning that the cops don't have dogs sniffing for drugs when there aren't any... that number could easily be quite high... the regularity and consistency to which I referred was with respect to how often the officer is liable to claim that a dog they have had sniff through a vehicle has smelled some drugs to how often such drugs are actually found after a search. Again, I'm not saying this doesn't ever happen.... but in reality, if it happened too often, then the police probably wouldn't be using dogs for the job in the first place At the very least, even a police officer with genuinely malicious intent wouldn't have much incentive to ever *claim* that their dog has smelled drugs when they could not actually find any drugs unless they intended to actually plant some drugs there themselves, because doing otherwise would certainly compromise the confidence that anyone would be able to place in using dogs for the job in the first place.

Anyways, the post above to which I responded suggested that a dog that finds drugs is somehow only reacting to signals being given by its controlling officer. I'm saying that a cop trying to so signal a dog to react as though it found drugs is not going to spontaneously make drugs appear in the car when there weren't any there before, unless it was planted by the officer. At this point, I can't say I'm sure what kind of signalling they were even talking about if that's not what they meant.

Comment: Re:the endgame is ironic here (Score 1) 284

by mark-t (#49521067) Attached to: Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers
Most people who think a flat tax is ideal are likely not accounting for the disparity of income that actually exists among taxpayers, and probably failing to realize that 2/3 of all taxes are actually paid for by the top 10% wage earners. The effect of a flat tax would be that while the very highest wage earners tax rates would be lowered only slightly, absolutely everyone else's rates would go up, for some very significantly... as much as nearly 4 times more tax for those who are currently in the lowest tax bracket. Deductions from a person's taxable income are offered not to help rich people get richer, even if that may be seen as a side effect by some (a notion that is not really substantiated by any evidence, and seems to run contrary to the fact that most taxes are paid by the wealthy anyways), but because they provide an immediate, or at least relatively short term, incentive for people, particularly lower wage earners, to do the things that such deductions are actually offered for.. presumably because doing such things is somehow more beneficial to society as a whole than if they were not practiced.

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