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Comment Re:Probably not a coincidence (Score 1) 214

I'm not familiar with the validation associated with the passport system, but the problem with relying on E-Verify as it is now is that it is not designed to detect identity theft. All E-Verify will do (at least the last time I looked at it) is tell you that the social security number, name, gender, birth date, match. If an illegal immigrant has stolen someone's identity and presents an employer with information that matches, then E-Verify is going to say the employee is ok.

I presume that the passport system is designed more strictly to identify your identity, so really what you are talking about is more like a national identity card? A picture ID at the least, a biometric ID card may be better. Although I've heard that will not go over so well in some quarters.

Now the government could modify the system to start flagging SSNs that get multiple uses, but that becomes problematic. What happens when a person who actually is the real person that belongs to the SSN gets flagged (and possibly denied employment or has employment delayed)? If the government starts keeping track of multiple hits on the same SSN, then the government now has "constructive knowledge" that one or more individuals are at a minimum engaging in identity theft and likely not citizens (the main reason for engaging in identity theft to obtain employment). Now the government will be expected to do something about it.

Several years ago the SSA was going to start sending out "no match" letters to employers when the SSN's didn't match the employee information provided on the W-2's. The employer was then supposed to contact the employee and give them instructions on what to do (depending on whether the employee maintained that the SSN was correct) which could include going down to the local SSA office to sort things out. That program never got off the ground.

Comment But will the cereals still smell the same? (Score 1) 163

Growing up, we only got sugary cereals like Trix and Froot Loops one week out of the year when we stayed with our grandparents during summer break. I've always imagined that all of the artificial ingredients were the source of the distinctive smell that causes the "Ratatouille moment" I experience whenever I get a whiff of a freshly opened box of Trix.

Comment Re: One disturbing bit: (Score 1) 484

It is not a matter of whether a future company's business model and technology is similar to Aereo's, if is whether it is similar enough to cable that is what is important going forward. And what this ruling effectively does is require the future technology and business models to be evaluated by the courts to see if the retransmission fees meant for cable companies should be applied. I dont think it provides any clarity for future innovators other than guidance to make their systems as unlike cable as possible to avoid "guilt by resemblance".

Submission + - Facebook decides to allow videos of beheadings in your news feed (

quantr writes: Facebook is once again allowing graphic videos of human beheadings to be posted on the social network. It's a controversial decision, and one that's likely to raise objections from some psychologists and parents who claim that children being exposed to such content can have harmful, long lasting effects. In May, the company bowed to pressure from safety advisors and began removing clips of decapitations. But according to BBC News, Facebook now says its users should have the freedom to view (and hopefully condemn) such violent content. That's the same stance Facebook originally held on the subject.
"While this video is shocking, our approach is designed to preserve people's rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live," the company said back in May, after a video — allegedly filmed somewhere in Mexico — depicted a woman being beheaded by a masked man. Facebook subsequently began removing similarly violent clips while it evaluated its policies. Apparently the company concluded that its initial approach was the right one.
That said, Facebook doesn't want its users coming across graphic images or videos while casually scrolling through their news feed. "Since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content, a spokesperson tells BBC News. Facebook also says it's reserving the right to take down beheading videos, particularly in cases where the subject matter is being glorified. If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different.

Submission + - Eureka! An Unexpected Ray Of Hope For Americans And Scientific Literacy! ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Politico reports, "A finding in a study on the relationship between science literacy and political ideology surprised the Yale professor behind it: Tea party members know more science than non-tea partiers. Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative. However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said. Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him. “I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote. “But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the tea party,” he continued." — More at the Independent Journal Review.

Submission + - Website Violates Open Source Licensing Agreement (

PoliTech writes:

The latest indication of the haphazard way in which was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.

The script in question is called DataTables, a very long and complex piece of website software used for formatting and presenting data. DataTables was developed by a British company called SpryMedia which licenses the open-source software freely to anyone who complies with the licensing agreement.

... a cursory comparison of the two scripts removes any doubt that the source for the script used at is indeed the SpryMedia script. The version even retained easily identifiable comments by the script's author ...

Comment Re:14c/kWh (Score 1) 377

They can sell it to California! I don't think they are building a lot of power plants here, and we'll definitely need some clean environmentally friendly energy to power the high speed train they are going to build. Besides PG&E and SCE get away with charging >.30/kWh to customers, so there is plenty of potential for profit there even at a wholesale cost of .14/kWh.

If you doubt they would do this, consider that California once imported (and may still be importing) clean hydroelectric power from Canada (B.C. IIRC) which in turn proceeded to burn coal to meet local power requirements.

Comment Re: This is disputed (Score 1) 380

Does it even "work" as a supplement? This article indicates at least one utility is thinking of relocating because their gas and coal plants are now/becoming unprofitable.

Comment Re:Not a software glitch--it is a glitch in the la (Score 1) 490

Or it might be an inadequate spec.

So what does the law say? I looked up Section 2701(a)(1)(A) where the two ratios are specified. 1.5:1 for tobacco use vs. non-tabacco use, and a maximum 3:1 ratio for adults. This section doesn't say anything about whether the age rating limit should be applied after or before the tobacco rating limit is applied. Someone should have thought of this when drafting the law.

You might be able to make an argument that it should work either way. Did HHS ever issue guidance on how to apply this section of the law or was it intentionally or unintentionally left vague?

Comment Not a software glitch--it is a glitch in the law (Score 1) 490

This is just the way the rules are written. The ratios between prices for policies for younger people and older people are checked after the smoking penalty is added on. The ratio cannot exceed 3x. So it is not possible to charge a much smaller penalty to younger smokers than for older smokers without breaking that rule.

It may be more of a case of unintended consequences, or legislators and bill writers that can't do math. The article says a fix will take a year, but doesn't say why. I suspect it is because either a legislative fix will be required or HHS will just rewrite the rule on it's own and has to go through the regular proposed rule-making/comment period/final rule-making rig-amoral.

Comment Re:Oh, look! Just what the economy needs! (Score 1) 600

Well, businesses now have to decide whether or not they continue with plans to provide health insurance to their employees or cancel plans if they have already signed up. The mandate is still there, it is just that without any reporting requirement in place, the government has no way of determining the penalties that apply.

Imagine you are a business owner in a highly competitive industry where payroll overhead costs are one of the major factors in the prices you charge your customers. Do you provide coverage, jacking up your prices, and risk being undercut by competitors who don't provide coverage to their employees?

One of the first things I've wondered is would it be possible for employees to file suit against their employers for not providing health insurance coverage as per the law requires. The initial report from Bloomberg indicated that the law provides flexibility for the government to determine when to start enforcing provisions in section 1513. A quick skimming of the section though indicates it goes into effect for all months after Dec. 31, 2013. I couldn't find any such flexibility. By law the mandate remains--can employers be held liable for not complying with it even though the government is not enforcing penalties? This needs to be clarified.

At the individual level: employees up until now may have been able to assume that their employer would provide coverage. Now that is up in the air, and many people who don't have coverage and might have been planning on signing up for coverage through their employer have to assume that they will either not get insurance and have to pay a penalty, or they will have to sign up for coverage through an exchange. For the later option, will they get a subsidy to help pay for coverage? No one can tell a this point.

Comment Re:And nothing was lost (Score 2) 674

Well that, and I looked at the store snack section last night, and the Hostess products are twice the price of other options available. So, if you want a Twinkie fix and the store brand is just as good (I don't know if that's the case, I don't eat Twinkies) why pay more especially with the economy being so bad right now? Same with the fruit pies, Ho-Ho's et al.

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