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Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 61 61

I didn't say that paper elections cannot be rigged. They can, and have been more often actually than there have been fair elections.

I did not even say that it's easier to rig electronic elections than paper elections. Personally, I'd expect it to be as long as you're the one calling the shots.

What is harder is simply to debunk cries of foul play. People can easily imagine what a paper election is like and how counting them (with representatives of all parties involved present) can be somewhat trusted. It is easy, on the other hand, to convince people that this is not the case with voting machines.

People don't trust what they don't understand. And trust is something a democracy needs urgently. People need to have faith in their system of government. Whether they like their current government or not, but they need to know that it was elected fairly and that it is what "the people" wanted. That's the whole problem here. Because without ... well, you see how Mexico is doing...

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 61 61

It is?

Explain this to Joe Random who just heard some populist cry foul play, claiming that they can't be audited and that the auditors are all in league with the party that won the election. Yes, it's bull. But the problem is that you CANNOT debunk it. Joe Random can't imagine how such an audit takes place. He can imagine counting paper slips, and he can see through the ruse when someone cries foul in such an environment. Any party crying foul in a paper election will be told that they should've put some monitors down if they didn't trust the ones running the show and counting the paper slips. That's (at least in my country) their right to do.

You can't do that with computer voting. Yes, someone can make an audit. But it isn't something you can easily explain to someone who has no idea of computers. He will readily believe someone who claims that it's bogus. Simply because he doesn't understand what "audit" means. He understands counting paper slips, though.

The danger is even less in the actual possibility of manipulation as it is in the possible loss of faith in the election. People are already weary of politicians and even politics to some degree (personally, I can only hope that the general apathy is more due to useless politicians rather than people genuinely not caring about democracy anymore). The very last thing we need now is that something gives them the impression that it doesn't matter jack anymore whether or not they vote because it's rigged anyway. Whether real or imagined, if someone starts beating that drum, people will follow easily.

Simply because you can't easily debunk it.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 61 61

But any party involved can (at least in my country, and pretty much all civilized countries I know of) nominate election observers that can easily identify whether everything's running correctly without any kind of special knowledge. They can easily tell whether the ballot is properly sealed, they can easily tell whether people step into the voting booth alone. They can easily find out whether the choice is free of influence. They can be present when the ballot seal is broken (actually, over here people are essentially locked in 'til the paper slips are counted, collected and sealed again, nothing going in or out in between) and when the paper slips are counted.

It's pretty hard to manipulate anything in such an environment. It's easy to see whether someone tries to manipulate results since it takes little more than eyes to detect foul play.

Comment: Re:The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 1) 61 61

You act as if that wasn't even easier with voting machines. "Whoopsie, computer crash!"

And unlike in this case, you can't even claim that they're criminally incompetent. Because, hey, computers crash, that's what they do, right? Happens to you at home, too, and you can't be blamed for that, can you?

In other words, them running out of ballots and being unable/unwilling to allow voters to vote is something people can easily identify as something not being as it should be. Manipulation gets heaps easier with voting machines.

Comment: The inherent problem with electronic voting (Score 4, Insightful) 61 61

There is one single very dangerous problem with electronic voting: Trust. People have to trust it, because they are unable to test it.

With paper and pen, it's easy. You can nominate anyone to work as an election monitor. The necessary qualification is "being able to find out where the X marks the spot" and "count". That's a skill set available to nearly everyone.

Working as an election monitor to rule out foul play with election machines requires someone to know quite a bit about computers. It's anything BUT simple to rule out foul play.

The danger here isn't even so much that manipulation can take place. And I don't even want to engage in the discussion whether or not these machines can easily be manipulated. The danger is that some populist aiming for the uneducated masses goes and cries foul play when he loses the election. And that's a danger not to some party but to the faith of the population in the whole democratic process. And that inherently is dangerous to democracy altogether.

It's not easy to debunk such claims. With paper, it's easy to go "oh please, count them yourself if you don't believe us. Here's the paper slips, and you can count, can't you?". Now try the same with election machines. Saying "you can do an audit yourself" isn't going to cut it. Why should we trust the computer experts? It's not something just anyone can do.

These machines are a danger to democracy. Nothing less.

Comment: Re:I'm retired now (Score 4, Funny) 266 266

I don't have anything nearly that bad - my worst only cost me data. A friend taught me (while I was still learning Linux) a trick, how you could play music with dd by outputting the sound to /dev/dsp. But as I said, I was still learning Linux and hadn't quite gotten all of the device names into my head, and I mixed /dev/dsp up with /dev/sda...

+ - How much did your biggest "tech" mistake cost?

NotQuiteReal writes: What is the most expensive piece of hardware you broke (I fried a $2500 disk drive once, back when 400MB was $2500) or what software bug did you let slip that caused damage? (No comment on the details — but about $20K cost to a client.)

Did you lose your job over it?

If you worked on the Mars probe that crashed, please try not to be the First Post, that would scare off too many people!

Comment: Re:Classification an Interesting Issue (Score 1) 119 119

Yeah, the world would be a so much better place if they instead grabbed guns and went on wild killing sprees.

Sadly, people don't do what you want them to do if you take away what they want to do. If you need any proof thereof, take away your child's toy in hopes that he'll instead start learning for school. He won't. If for no other reason, then out of spite.

Comment: That was the funniest part to me (Score 1) 133 133

The claim that Sweden would hand him over to the US. Were I to worry about anyone in the EU doing that, it would be the UK. The US and UK have a relationship literally called the "special relationship." They back each other on diplomatic and intelligence matters in a way rarely seen among other nations. So they would be the one I would peg to hand him over all quiet like, if anyone.

Comment: Sorry but no (Score 1) 133 133

The UK courts heard the matter, all the way to the top, and decided that it was a valid request. Your opinion on that doesn't particularly matter, only the opinion of their courts. That is how it works in any case of a nation which has an extradition treaty with another nation: The courts of the nation being asked to extradite decide if said request is allowable per the treaty. What that requires varies treaty by treaty.

In the EU, the extradition treaties are pretty strong. Countries don't have a lot of choice to say no. If a fellow EU member asks and the paperwork is all in order, you more or less have to comply. That is precisely what the British courts found in this case. They reviewed it, found it valid, he appealed, they found it valid and so on.

Doesn't matter if you don't like it, that is how the justice process works there. This was not a case that was handled in some shady back channel matter, it went through the court system properly and the rulings fell against him. That's all there is to it.

Comment: Re:Sweden's case won't really matter (Score 1) 133 133

There is one thing where the UK would have had a role even if he hadn't fled bail, in that the UK would have been the EAW "sending state". Under an EAW surrender, the sending state has certain rights and responsibilities - for example, if a request comes for extradition to a third party, it has to not only go through the receiving state's judiciary system, but also the sending state's judiciary system; the receiving state can't just hand off someone that they received under an EAW at will. Which is one of the things that makes the whole thing even more ridiculous - Assange had so much faith in Sweden's independence against the UK (such as their ban on extradition for intelligence crimes and 2006 Swedish special forces raids to shut down the US's rendition flights secretly moving through their territory) that he called it his "shield" and was applying for a residence permit there. But suddenly, practically overnight, Sweden transformed into Evil US Lackeys(TM) when he was accused of rape. So then he went to the UK where he talked about his great respect for their independence and impartiality and promised to abide by whatever rulings their judicial system made. Until he ran out of appeals, wherein the UK also turned into Evil US Lackeys(TM). Funny how he felt just fine walking around freely in both of these countries all this time, having only one of the two countries as barriers against US extradition, but adamantly fought the situation that would make them both be barriers to extradition.

Comment: Re:Competent Authorities (Score 3, Informative) 133 133

Which is, of course, false. AA has accused Assange of lesser sexual crimes, and SW has accused him of rape. There are no counts of rape against Assange concerning AA on the EAW, only three lesser counts (2x molestation and 1x unlawful sexual coersion). There is one count of rape on the EAW (count #4) concerning SW, in line with what the women have accused him of and also in line with what the Svea Court of Appeals has found probable cause for. Both women sought and retained legal representatives who have pushed the case forward for them (initially, both of them retained Claes Borgström, who was the one whose appeal got the closed portion of the investigation re-opened. More recently AA fired Claes because she thought he wasn't doing a good enough of a job with the case and was more focused on self aggrandizement; her new legal representative since started a new push to get Assange handed over to Sweden).

There's a lot more detail on these topics and more here.

The Assange-echo-chamber meme "Neither of the women involved have ever accused Assange of rape" is based on a simple distortion of a key element. SW (the one who the rape charge is concerned) didn't want to have to file charges - she only wanted to force Assange to take a STD test. She didn't want the thing to turn into a giant media circus that basically ruined her life and forced her into hiding from angry Assange fans. But there's a difference between not wanting to file charges and not accusing Assange of rape. She did accuse Assange of rape - first in conversations with her friends while coming to grips with what happened, and then went to the police station, where they told the officer on duty that they wanted advice on how to report a rape (see the statement by Linda Wassgren, the on-duty officer on the 20th). They were then interviewed separately where she described being raped, and after the interview she took a rape kit and sought a legal advocate (getting, ultimately, Claes). Since the leak of the Memoria file (a scummy act on Assange's side, I should add, as it's full of identifying personal details about his accusers and their families that have been used to harrass them - and we know it came from Assange's side because the cover page has a note to Assange's attorney telling him that it's confidential and must not be released), there have been a number of other followup interviews and investigations, and at no point have any objections from AA or SW been recorded. There is absolutely nothing in the record supporting a claim "Neither of the women involved have ever accused Assange of rape". SW has pretty much had to disappear after the event; AA went into hiding for a while but has since resumed taking part in some of the old forums that she used to; last fall she mentioned the case for the first time since the one brief statement she had given to the press after going to the police, mentioning offhand in an unrelated thread that a couple years ago she was the victim of a sex crime and that the perpetrator still hasn't been brought to justice, but rather she's still attacked by his fans for daring to report it. She didn't mention Assange by name, but it's obvious who she was referring to.

Most people who are raped don't want to file charges. They don't want the viscious attacks that come with it and want to shove the event in the past and not have to keep reliving it. A hundred times over when the accused is someone famous who has a lot of loyal fans. But claiming "not wanting to file charges" means "wasn't raped" is a massive distortion.

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.

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