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Comment: Global Emergency? But What Color Code? (Score 0, Flamebait) 183

by mtrachtenberg (#47630991) Attached to: WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency

The WHO has declared an emergency? Well, that's fine, but let's do it the Murkan way. Would you prefer "Hot Pink," "Schoolbus Yellow," or "Fire Engine Red." We badly need for our top world leaders to work out the colors for our color code. What are these world leaders wasting their time on, if we don't have color-coded posters for airports?

Comment: Re:Really, We Get What We Deserve (Score 1) 144

Look at what happened with the Obamacare website to see how things actually work. Tons of time and money were spent on an important system that was developed by the usual suspects. It didn't work, and it was going to cause problems for someone important, the President. So what happened? The President called in competent people -- the people who had worked on his campaign website, not the people who work for his government. The thing got turned around in no time and started working. See -- people get what they care about.

Comment: Really, We Get What We Deserve (Score 1) 144

Gee, another $300 million down the drain on a system that doesn't work? What a shocker.

Contractors are being well-paid, government supervisors are being well-paid, I'm sure no one will be fired and I'm sure at least some folks who have contributed to the problem are getting bonuses. Just like the banks in 2008 -- there is not a shred of real accountability.

A public that allows this is getting what it pays for. It really has no reason to complain.

Comment: Televoting (Score 2) 18

by mtrachtenberg (#47449973) Attached to: Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions

I've got to admit that Televoting as described in the video doesn't strike me at first glance as a bad idea at all. I'd be interested to hear what holes can be poked in it, but I think using a human election official and engaging in live video interaction between the official and the voter, and allowing the voter to witness (via video) the ballot filled in with their choices going into a ballot box goes a long way towards addressing the complaints I have with other forms of internet voting.

Comment: Re:hope they win (Score 5, Insightful) 110

It's beyond just dumb. This is the sort of waste of public money that really should be criminal. At the very least, the CEO and his Chief of Staff should be dismissed. Call it encouragement to resign if that's the way it's done these days, but if someone getting paid $200K plus thought this was worth it, that person is not worth it.

Comment: Public money wasted (Score 3, Insightful) 110

$17,500 to polish your CEO's reputation? The CEO and the Chief of Staff should both be fired. Or, in keeping with the CEO's resume, encouraged to "resign." And suing to recover the money is likely to cost the public more than just giving up on the wasted funds. Just cut your losses, Seattle.

Comment: Re:sounds like North Korea news (Score 1) 109

by mtrachtenberg (#47432463) Attached to: Google's Experimental Newsroom Avoids Negative Headlines

All advertising supported news runs the risk of turning into "content;" that is, of existing primarily as a circus attraction to get an audience into the advertisers' tent.

In the distant past, professional integrity enabled journalists to get actual news into newspapers. Perhaps that was because the people who chose to devote their lives to journalism, even the editors and publishers, were interested in contributing to society by acting as its eyes, its ears and, on occasion, its conscience. That's always been in conflict with people who view their work as a way to raise money for themselves, and don't give it any thought beyond that. Of course, few people exist at either extreme; most of us are somewhere along the spectrum.

There's a Darwinian process taking place in journalism as elsewhere. What survives will be what attracts people -- that is going to be something that brings in enough money without rendering itself so distasteful that people with disposable income universally reject it. The fitness landscape is being altered as we speak by the increasing income inequality of our society. Magazines selling Rolexes will do well, as will newspapers that cater to the lowest common denominator that can still buy anything.

If I were you, I would not be searching for truth in ad-supported media; what you get is either "content" or propaganda the owners liked investing in. Google just sounds a bit more clever and experimental in its thinking than the rest.

Comment: Re:And Joe Schmoe wont care. (Score 3, Insightful) 364

by mtrachtenberg (#47420473) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

If you can't stand these priorities, please consider signing this: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/help-arriving-children

Please let me explain what I am thinking in distributing this petition. I believe that Americans, like people everywhere, truly want to help others. But somehow, through a combination of fear and the greed of a few people, we no longer show this value in our government's budget. Instead, we spend more than $600 billion a year to fund the world's biggest military and the companies that build weapons, while sometimes thinking we cannot afford simple humanitarian programs.

If Americans understood what we could buy for ourselves and our neighbors with just one percent of the military budget, I truly believe we'd shift our funding. One percent of our military budget could fund sixty $100,000,000 projects at home or around the world. And, with Central American kids risking their lives to travel to our borders, the need is evident.

Some of us sometimes worry that welfare programs go to "undeserving" people. This is a time when, regardless of our beliefs about whether welfare works, we can easily see that people deserve our help and support -- these are kids fleeing poverty and danger.

Groups like The Moral Majority have poisoned the word "moral" for many people I know. But true morality has nothing to do with conservative religious groups. True morality is using our wealth to help our neighbors in distress, not to further build an already oversized military. True morality is not turning our backs.

And I further feel we find our own safety in true morality. A nation that is extending its arms to help others is less likely to be attacked than a nation that demonstrates concern only that the wealthiest 0.01% of the world not pay their fair share of the bills.

Thanks for spreading the word!

Comment: Re:Internet Voting ?!! (Score 1) 30

by mtrachtenberg (#47417339) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing

If you know your legitimate vote was thrown away, you should be raising hell in more significant places than here. I'd start with the FBI and some journalism group like Pro Publica. It would be perfectly possible for a group with limited resources to get a substantial number of voters to check on whether their ballots were counted or tossed out, and they could show them to journalist witnesses before submitting them, to demonstrate that they were properly filled out.

The truth is, I don't believe you.

Comment: Internet Voting ?!! (Score 3) 30

by mtrachtenberg (#47416837) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing

Here are some questions for Professor Gilbert, regarding internet voting:

1. How will non-mathematicians know with certainty that votes have been properly received and counted?

2. If the security depends upon encryption, how will we know that encryption has not been broken by a secret agency with vast computing power? Further, how will we know that those involved in developing the encryption have not secretly offered back doors to such agencies, as has happened in the past?

3. What will a voter do if they experience an election-day denial of service attack?

4. How can we know that a vote has not been coerced if the voter votes from home (bullying spouse, etc...)?

5. What are the insurmountable difficulties with a paper-based election process that make internet voting desirable despite risks? Why is the United States no longer capable of counting cast ballots in public? It is clearly not the vast number of voters, since this is a distributed problem with a vast number of potential counters. What has become so broken among our pseudo-elites that this KISS approach is now considered so inappropriate?

Comment: 100 pounds is plenty and this is a great idea (Score 1) 363

by mtrachtenberg (#47172825) Attached to: Group Demonstrates 3,000 Km Electric Car Battery

Really, no electric car needs more than 100 pounds of this backup battery. That would be more than enough to drive for a full day. In fact, 50 pounds might be enough emergency backup for any real use case -- as described, 50 pounds would give you about 600 km of extra emergency range.

Anyone who wants to drive 12 hours a day for multiple days ought to just rent a gasoline or diesel vehicle. Electric cars are for more normal usage, in which a battery like this gives you emergency flexibility.

Comment: Re:Silicon Valley is such a strange place (Score 1) 593

Well, you might filter out a lot of people with false confidence. You'd also filter out Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Maybe you don't think that's a bad thing -- and, yes, they might make terrible employees. You might think about sharpening your analysis just a bit, though, huh?

Comment: Silicon Valley is such a strange place (Score 1) 593

It's not just Google,now, is it? Silicon Valley is a strange place, as is much of the programming "computer science" community. It's as uniform as the top of the financial industry. There's this pretense that it's one big meritocracy and, as with all lies, there's a kernel of truth to that. Smart people come up with a new idea and are able to bring in other smart people to implement it. That's the end of the meritocracy story. Then comes the larger part of the cycle. Not-very-smart people -- but people who have a lot of unjustified self-confidence and excellent salesmens' smiles -- are brought in to run things and market the "dog food" and do "strategic planning." For a few years -- it used to be a decade but it's probably a shorter time frame now -- their association with the great name their company built when it was young hides the fact that, mostly, these newcomers are spectacularly incompetent. Then, the company, founded by smart people but running on reputation, eventually disappears.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

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