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Comment: Re:One word: Cloud (Score 1) 241

I think one of the reasons people accept this is the tradition of racism in this country, for example in Texas with its death penalty cases.

What a bunch of SJW horseshit. Makes me ignore the rest of your posts.

Good. Ignore me.

I keep telling myself that it's a waste of time arguing with idiots who don't care about the facts, but I keep doing it because I have a foolish faith that if you try to reason with people, and give them facts and logic, they might occasionally learn a little bit.

People like you show me that my faith in the intelligence of humanity is misplaced.

If you stop reading my posts, and stop replying, you'll stop me from wasting a lot of time.

Comment: Re:One word: Cloud (Score 2) 241

But if you want to be scientific about it, there are lots of statistics that show that black people are more likely to be stopped by the cops

Yeah, and if you want to be scientific about that, and be honest, you'll see that cops stop a lot more people in high crime areas, and that poor urban areas tend to have lots of crime. And that some of those poor areas have a larger black population. If those areas weren't marinated in serious crime, there wouldn't be so many warrants out, stolen cars, cars full of contraband, and the rest.

I made sure to cite studies that corrected for the possibility that more blacks live in high crime areas. If you read them you'll see. For example, even though drug use is at least as high among whites, more black people get arrested, even for possession. Look at the facts. I can't say any more than that.

In Baltimore, New York, and most other urban areas, the cops and DA are under a lot of pressure to get "results," i.e., mess up somebody's life.

What? The people whose lives are messed up are those who have to live in areas like west Baltimore where local thugs make daily life miserable for everyone else who lives there or tries to run a business there. So yes, the cops are asked to "get results," because the absence of any results would make those areas completely lost to civilization, rather than just sucking generally. Would you rather that the cops were told NOT to arrest known violent gang members, serial assault and battery specialists, and the like? What would you have them do?

You really should read the Bill of Rights. A cop can't arrest "known violent gang members" unless they're committing a crime. If they're violent, arrest them. If they're not violent, leave them alone.

It's not legal for a cop to stop and frisk someone unless he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person may have committed a crime. They can't stop and frisk innocent people who are minding their own business. Fishing expeditions are illegal. That's the law.

If you read the sworn court testimony in the New York stop and frisk case, which was reported on Slashdot, you'll see that the cops were stopping and searching people who were innocent of any crime, and not even suspicious. When the people said accurately that the cops had no right to search them, the cops would often rough them up and arrest them on trumped-up charges. It was almost impossible to get the trumped-up charges dismissed, because the defendant would have to return to court repeatedly, over months, and the cops wouldn't show up. If the defendant didn't take time off from work or school and show up at court, the judge would issue a warrant for his arrest. If the cop didn't show up at court, nothing would happen to the cop.

Most of the arrests from stop and frisk were for possession of small amounts of marijuana, which weren't even a crime -- it's a violation. The cops told suspects to empty their pockets (which is illegal), because public display of marijuana is a crime. So these were "crimes" that were caused by the cops.

Yeah, I don't want cops busting people for small amounts of marijuana. That's a waste of time and money, and just messes up somebody's life. It's a numbers game that precinct commanders like to go through because under Police Commissioner Bratton, they're judged by "stats", and it's a lot easier to bust kids for pot than it is to stop real crime.

Go back to the links I cited. It's all in there. Let me know after you've read it if there's anything in there you don't understand.

Comment: Re:One word: Cloud (Score 1) 241

There are some good volunteer defenders -- I've met them, especially at The Innocence Project. The term that's usually used to describe them is "overwhelmed." But you want a just system, you can't depend on getting justice only if a volunteer happens to be available and willing. Why don't we depend on unpaid volunteer prosecutors? That would even the contest.

If you want to claim that the system is biased against blacks over whites after people are arrested, you'll need some evidence for that.

There's quite a bit of evidence. Here's what I got from a quick Google search:


The Color of Justice
This study, released by the Justice Institute in February, 2000, found that in California, African American, Latino and Asian American youth are significantly more likely to be transferred to adult court and sentenced to incarceration than white youths who commit comparable crimes. Compared to white youths, minority youths are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for a violent crime, 6.2 times more likely to wind up in adult court, and 7 times more likely to be sent to prison by adult court.

Youth Crime/Adult Time: Is Justice Served?
This study released on October 26, 2000 by Building Blocks for Youth, found that minority youth, particularly African American youth, were over-represented and received disparate treatment at several points in the process. In the 18 jurisdictions in the study, 82% of the cases that were filed in adult courts involved a minority.

And Justice for Some
This 2000 study was prepared by The National Council on Crime and Delinquency for the Building Blocks for Youth Initiative. It concludes that "African American juveniles are overrepresented with respect to their proportion in the population at every decision point" in the juvenile justice process.

Here's more:


If I wanted to get solid scientific evidence, I'd start with a law review article, maybe in Harvard Law Review or Yale Law Review.

Every system gives at least a little advantage to rich people, of course, that's what rich means after all.

You can't be perfect, but it's not "a little advantage." It's an unacceptable advantage. The money spent on defense should be equal to the money spent on prosecution, and commensurate with the costs of running the criminal justice system. If the taxpayers want to spend $500,000 to keep somebody in prison for 10 years, then those taxpayers should be willing to spend a similar amount of money to make sure the right person is convicted.

I think one of the reasons people accept this is the tradition of racism in this country, for example in Texas with its death penalty cases. The people who run society accept it when it happens to black people (and working class people) who aren't like them.

I realize no system is perfect, and I can accept the injustice of a multi-millionaire (or a cop) getting away with murder. But I can't accept the injustice of a poor man being executed for a murder he didn't commit, simply because Texas didn't want to spend as much money for a defense as they do for the prosecution.

One of the underlying problems is that the US has greater inequality than most developed countries. Poor people have disadvantages because there are more poor people here than most developed countries. You can't have a fair justice system with massive economic inequality.

Comment: Re:One word: Cloud (Score 3, Insightful) 241

That's one anecdote. I'll give you another anecdote. When I went to Stony Brook U., a bunch of guys I knew were driving in a car and got busted for pot. One guy was a working-class guy from upstate New York, first in his family to go to college, working his way through school (that's why he was selling pot). The other guys in the car were rich kids from Long Island. The working-class guy got a public defender, who told him to plead guilty, and I think he served a short sentence in jail. The rich kids' lawyers fought the charges, contested the search, and got them off. Same offense, same car.

Another important issue is how much pressure the cop and district attorney have to get "results". In Baltimore, New York, and most other urban areas, the cops and DA are under a lot of pressure to get "results," i.e., mess up somebody's life. The cops live in the suburbs, they don't care about these people. In rural Virginia, where everybody knows everybody else, the cops may be more concerned about real policing where they just protect people from real crimes and don't concern themselves with the numbers.

But if you want to be scientific about it, there are lots of statistics that show that black people are more likely to be stopped by the cops, more likely to be (illegally) searched, more likely to be prosecuted, and more likely to be sent to jail for the same offense. That came out in the New York City lawsuit against stop and frisk. Don't forget, Freddie Gray was arrested illegally. The cops had no legal reason to suspect that he committed a crime, even after they (illegally) searched him. It's not illegal to look a cop in the eye (unless maybe you're black and it's in the south).

Some of it is race, and some of it is social class. I used to think that it wasn't race, and you could explain everything with social class. But when I looked at the data, I had to admit -- social class was a lot of it, but race was a lot of it too. America is just a racist country. The sooner we face it, the better off we'll be, although the way we're going I think we'll still be racist a generation from now.

Here's a lawyer who explained it better than I can:

OPINION: Justice for all? Why hasn’t Bishop Cook who struck bicyclist Palermo been charged?
A defense attorney says justice is being mocked by the failure of city prosecutors to charge Bishop Heather Cook
Todd H. Oppenheim
January 5, 2015

(Oppenheimer, an attorney in the Public Defender's Office for 10 years, compares the treatment by the State Attorney's Office and police of the upper class criminals such as Episcopal Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook, who killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo in a drunken driving hit-and-run, with his own mostly African-American clients. Oppenheim's clients are immediately charged or jailed, while Cook was allowed to go home.)

Instead, she remains free and “lawyered up” with a veteran Towson attorney who has represented many high-profile clients for a substantial fee. My clients can’t afford an attorney of their choice, and they certainly never get the opportunity to preemptively hire an attorney.

The clients I represent never get such treatment. They are informed of their arrests – and not necessarily for what – with a bang at the front door and a swift take-down by an arrest team of officers.

My clients often sit in jail as the state’s attorney’s office sorts out the charges.

(Other examples of wealthy, connected clients who were given special privileges by the legal system.)

Comment: Re: Hahah (Score 2) 241

Perhaps prison wouldn't be appropriate for an adult either, here? There is evidence that harsher punishment is counterproductive, increasing the chance of repeat crimes.

Yes, the reason for that is that putting criminals together, and putting minor offenders together with major offenders, socializes them in the ways of crime. They teach each other how to commit crimes. They get sent away for small-time pot dealing and learn how to steal cars and burglarize buildings.

There used to be some well-run juvenile correction centers that actually did work. My friend's brother wound up in one of them. They taught him to read, they taught him a trade (carpentry).

Unfortunately most of those places have been replaced by what amounts to torture chambers run like prisons by sadistic guards. It's the fault of both Democratic and Republican conservatives. It's mostly Republicans, but I can't let Bill Clinton off the hook. http://www.theguardian.com/us-... Tax cuts have eliminated the budgets. Here's the umpteenth expose of the juvenile justice system, by the Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/... That's Rahm Emanuel's territory. At one group home, the staff was billing for "television therapy" when the kids watched movies on TV.

One of the problems is that the American people have turned mean-spirited without compassion or concern for those who are having problems, as demonstrated by some of the posts here. If these people take over, America isn't going to be a very good place to live.

Comment: Re:Hahah (Score 1) 241

He did the crime (actually several), he must do the time.

If he wants to play big boy games then he must accept big boy penalties. Fuck your PC "Oh but he's a kid with his whole life ahead of him!" bullshit, he's chosen his path, let him reap the consequences.

The former Soviet Union, China, and the US have the largest prison population in the world.

So rather than being PC you would rather that we follow the example of the former Communist countries. You have an unusual view of what makes a good society.

Comment: Re:Is this the ob luddite post of the day? (Score 2) 108

Therefore the only task of those who write software to grade essays is that the variation of the machine is no worse that the variations of the humans. There is some success in this. Edx has a module that will grade essays. As far as I know the value in this is quicker and more uniform feedback for practice essays.

Well, I'm a humanities guy and I know enough about the scientific method to understand that you don't know whether you have "success" until you test your bright idea in the real world and find out whether it actually works. And that's what MIT professor Les Perelman said in the article you're citing:

“My first and greatest objection to the research is that they did not have any valid statistical test comparing the software directly to human graders,” said Perelman, a retired director of writing and a current researcher at MIT.

As Perelman said, some computer students wrote a program that can turn out gibberish that the main robo-grading program consistently scores above the 90th percentile.

Of course humanities majors, who have generally have minimal understanding of advanced technology, hate it. This, of course, includes journalists.

The article you're citing was not written by a journalist, but by a retired MIT writing professor.

So you've gotten it wrong on both the science and the reading comprehension. No mod points for you.

This is not to say that computer graded essays are going to be as good of an assessment as human graded essays. However, it may be good enough, and better than other objective measures, such as fill in the bubble tests. In fact anything that minimizes the cost of open ended free response assessment is going to benefit anyone. Securing multiple guess test is very expensive, and the value of them are highly questionable. They tend to overestimate the value of student how have vague passive knowledge, and underestimate the value of those who have an ability to actively apply knowledge.

I am deducting another point for bad grammar.

Computer graded essays can check whether an essay complies with an algorithm, and they can take care of anything you can reduce to an algorithm. The great success of computer writing was the spell-checker. There is also a grammar-checker which I never use because it doesn't work well enough for me. There are also algorithms to check the format of literature citations, which are useful.

But (as somebody who writes for a living) the most important features of writing depend on an understanding of the content. Most important: Is it correct? As Perelman says, the robo-graders ignore whether what you say is true (or whether it even makes sense). The next thing I look at: If the author takes a controversial position, does he give both sides of the argument? This is what you may know as Neutral Point of View from Wikipedia (although writers have known about it since the ancient Greeks.) Wikipedia actually has a pretty good structure.

Let's remember the purpose of writing: A person communicating an idea to somebody else. When I read something, I'm looking for a good idea, clearly communicated. If the algorithm can't identify a good idea (and as Perelman showed, it can't), then it can't tell me whether the writing is any good. Algorithms have surprised me, but I can't imagine how an algorithm can tell me whether an idea is good.

Comment: Re:Is AI really necessary? (Score 1) 108

Maybe somebody can write a program to cheat. Try random sentences and feed them into a copy of the AI until you get a good grade.

They did that.

Flunk the robo-graders
By Les Perelman
April 30, 2014

(Computer science students at MIT and Harvard developed an application that generates gibberish that IntelliMetric, a robot essay-grading system, consistently scores above the 90th percentile. IntelliMetric scored incoherent essays as "advanced" in focus, meaning, language use and style. None of the major testing companies allows demonstrations of their robo-graders. Longer essays get higher grades, even if they make no sense.)

Typical output: “According to professor of theory of knowledge Leon Trotsky, privacy is the most fundamental report of humankind. Radiation on advocates to an orator transmits gamma rays of parsimony to implode.’’

Comment: Re:Both own half. (Score 2) 372

by nbauman (#49579125) Attached to: Who Owns Pre-Embryos?

If a majority decision can't be reached than the status-quo basically gets maintained, the things sits frozen.

I actually wrote a couple of articles about this, and I interviewed some lawyers and medical ethicists.

The general legal principle was: You can't force someone to have a child without their consent.

When you have sex, you've given your irrevocable consent.

When you donate your sperm through a legal procedure for anonymous sperm donors, you've given your irrevocable consent. That's the only way you can donate sperm without being legally responsible for the costs of bringing up the child.

When you store your sperm with the intention of being used by a specific person, you can withdraw your consent.

If my girlfriend and I decide to store my frozen sperm, or our frozen embryo, we both have to give permission to go on to the next step and get a pregnancy.

This came up in the following interesting real-life situation: A man dies unexpectedly. After death, a doctor harvests his sperm. His wife, girlfriend or parents want to use the sperm to have a grandchild. But he never gave permission. Most of the lawyers said that they couldn't legally use the sperm to produce a child and make him a father without his permission. In reality, they usually harvest the sperm, and after a few months, decide not to go through with it.

But there are a few stored embryos that couples created because they wanted to keep the option of having a child in the future, after cancer treatment or some other medical reason. When I looked at it, the law was pretty clear that both parents have to consent. Accordingly, I was interested in the New Yorker article.

Some contracts are revocable, and some are irrevocable. If I agree to work at McDonald's, that's a revocable contract. If I sell a house, that's an irrevocable contract.

In the past, courts have treated these IVF agreements as revocable contracts. According to that article, New York treats them as irrevocable contracts. Massachusetts doesn't.

Some contracts are oral, and some must be in writing. I can go to work for a restaurant based on an oral contract, but I can't sell a house based on an oral contract. The law has traditionally required written contracts when the stakes were high and people might remember things differently. That judge in Illinois seems to have decided to accept an oral contract. It sounds like she's going against established law, which isn't a good thing. It also sounds like she's making decisions based on her own personal feelings, which also isn't a good thing.

Comment: Re:It is an ad. (Score 1) 216

by nbauman (#49578409) Attached to: How Google Searches Are Promoting Genocide Denial

Free speech applies to your interactions with the government - it does not apply to a private company.

Who says that?

Free speech applies to private universities. Private universities usually have free speech, because college teachers demanded it and organized to get it.

Free speech applies to private organizations. If I join a union, I should have free speech to criticize that union.

Free speech is a right and principle. It applies everywhere. We should have free speech everywhere. We don't always have it. You only get free speech if you fight for it.

Comment: Re:It is an ad. (Score 5, Informative) 216

by nbauman (#49575429) Attached to: How Google Searches Are Promoting Genocide Denial

So Turkish nationalists are buying Google adwords. What's the problem with that? It's an exercise of free speech (for a position that I disagree with).

I have Armenian (and Greek) friends, so I know the basics. Armenians tell me about losing grandparents, aunts and uncles in 1915. This is of course the 100th anniversary. The personal tragedies are overwhelming, and if that wasn't enough, there is the further tragedy of destroying the Armenian and Greek communities and culture in Turkey, and the end of Ottoman tolerance.

I realize there's a debate over the word "genocide." The official Turkish position is, "Let the historians decide." I'm not sure what good that does them. The New York Times leans towards "genocide." http://www.nytimes.com/ref/tim... There is some symbolism here that I can't follow too well.

There is also a small, slowly growing movement among Turks to acknowledge the Armenian position. I don't know how long it will take. I'm not as optimistic as I used to be about world peace and reconciliation.

But Google isn't doing anything wrong.

Comment: Re:WTF?! (Score 1) 634

by nbauman (#49569805) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

During the cold war, a lot of American and Soviet scientists and engineers came to the conclusion that designing weapons systems that could destroy the entire world several times over was not a societal good.

Are you saying that MADD was not an effective deterrent to war?

As it turned out, MADD deterred a war.

MADD also had a small risk of leading to a war that would have killed most of humanity. We were lucky.

If the Soviet Union and the U.S. had repressed its dissidents a little more, if the hard-liners were more successful, we might have had a nuclear war.

I used to think that the enormous resources devoted to the military were a waste. Why build bombs when you could be building housing, energy production, etc., like Buckminister Fuller's vision?

I have now learned enough about game theory and evolutionary biology to know that, if everybody in the world were trustful and cooperative, anybody who adopted a strategy of cheating and exploitation would be tremendously successful. There are a lot of dangerous people out there, and we have to put a lot of resources into protecting ourselves from them.

Social progress is 2 steps forward, 1 step backwards.

I do think the cold war was a mistake, like the Chinese Cultural Revolution or the Stalin purges. What a waste. But it seems that waste is unavoidable.

Comment: Re:WTF?! (Score 1) 634

by nbauman (#49568865) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

"According to Nilsson, women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good"

ALL engineering projects are for the societal good. There's not one that isn't made for other people.

Since a lot of engineering is in the military, the overall result might not be the societal good. Some projects are made to kill other people.

During the cold war, a lot of American and Soviet scientists and engineers came to the conclusion that designing weapons systems that could destroy the entire world several times over was not a societal good.

In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences. -- R.G. Ingersoll