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Comment: Re:Hooray for druggies! (Score 1, Interesting) 400

I have to agree with the supreme court on principal and we really do have to stand up for our rights lest we loose them. But I would have though the cops had a responsibility to do the search if they suspected an additional crime was being committed. Possibly they were suspicious only due to Mr. Rodriguez's skin color or last name, which clearly shouldn't be permitted. But it they have any other reasonable suspicion that he had drugs why shouldn't they be allowed to investigate. Especially if it's a 7-8 minute process. An hour is unreasonable, but come on, a quick, non-disruptive check seems reasonable.

Comment: Re:What's the problem? (Score 1) 208

by pseudorand (#49495491) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

Your false assumption is that doctors, chemists and physicists get things right with any greater frequency. It's not that social scientists are misusing statistics but that a large number of scientists is most disciplines simply do a poor job of quantifying things. It's a little more obvious when it happens in social science, but accurate measurement is hard or often impossible, so bad proxy measures a pervasive feature of most scientific disciplines. That's one of may reasons why most "experts" usually get it wrong.

Comment: Clear expectations, trust me to do them, feedback (Score 1) 261

I need only three things.

1) Tell me what you want done, when you want it done, and listen when I tell you what's actually realistic.

2) Trust me to do what I say I will do. Don't pay any attention to when I show up, when I leave, if I show up to meetings and if I'm paying attention to you or to my laptop when I do bother attending. Pay attention only to my results.

3) Give me feedback when I ask for it. In step 1, I'll tell you when iteration 1 will be done ready. Take a look at it when I present it to you. Give me feedback so iteration 2 will be more like what you really want. If you don't the final product will be what I want, not you want. You'll be stuck with something useless (to you) and I'll have padded my resume with all the latest skills so getting that next job that pays more will be a breeze.

Who the heck cares about coffee and ping-pong and any of that other crap.

Comment: Re:Racketeering (Score 1) 201

Repealing it would just let the real mobsters loose. The problem is a constitution that lets law enforcement pick and choose who they want to pick on.

Congress passes horrible, broad laws that the vast majority of us would strongly object to. But law enforcement mostly ignores them...except when they need to pressure someone into something. Then they can throw the book at you. Who care that lots of other people are technically breaking the same laws you're accused of. You're in their cross-hairs so the letter of the law now applies to you and you alone. And the rest of us don't care because we mostly don't even know about it.

Sure, honest and competent law enforcement offices can sometimes use this to convict a real bad guy (as is ALWAYS the case on TV). But dishonest or incompetent law enforcement use it be themselves become worse than the gangsters. Even otherwise honest and well-intention police and DAs are pressured by their superiors to get convictions. They may not be convinced by the evidence, but their boss needs something for his campaign posters so they have to get convictions or find new jobs. Law enforcement is hard. Getting anything a scientifically-minded person would actually consider proof is probably impossible in a whole lot of cases. But somehow are jails are still overflowing.

What we need is a constitutional amendment that invalidates any law for which the accused can show an inconsistent pattern of enforcement. "But everyone else does it" should be a valid defense. Congress would then have to figure out how to actually enforce and fund any law they pass. We'd all quickly become painfully aware of laws we don't like. And we could then vote out the jerks who passed them.

Comment: Re:The extrenely low pass rate... (Score 1) 145

by pseudorand (#49387837) Attached to: The End of College? Not So Fast

I took a course when I worked for the university. The professor wanted me to do a more complicated final project, but I didn't have time with a full time job and family, so I just skipped it and took a C. Doesn't mean I didn't learn everything I needed to, as evidenced by the fact that I'd aced all the other classwork (which is why I ended up with a C even though the final project was 25% of the grade).

And since when is a low pass rate necessarily a bad thing? Is it possible only the people who learn the material pass? Compare that to the total crap education we pay for, either through tuition or our tax dollars. It has the opposite problem: almost no one fails. In some (maybe many) public school districts, this is in fact the actual policy. Teachers can't give failing grades. These are the perverse intensives No Child Left Behind forced on us. The free online courses may be incentivizing students to learn though not necessarily to demonstrate their knowledge by taking the test and turning in the classwork. The "High Stakes" testing we've supposedly introduced into our school systems is only "high stakes" for teachers and schools. Students have no stake in it at all. No wonder it's so ineffective.

Comment: and secure passwords are disallowed (Score 1) 349

by pseudorand (#49373151) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

I just created my account and had to try 5 times before it accepted a randomly-generated password I created programmatically. All 5 randomly generated passwords were validated by the on-page Javascript, but upon submitting the form they were rejected with no stated reason.

The key to finally getting one accepted one selecting a very short one. 47 characters was nixed, as was 32 and a few other, shorter ones. It finally accepted what I would consider to be a not-even-close-to-long-enough password for something that could potentially have such a large negative impact on my life.

Whenever I hear the Republicans whining about how incompetent government is, I think to myself that big private companies are just as bureaucratic and incompetent. But then things like this and the initial ACA website launch happen to prove that yes, government really is even more incompetent than big business.

Comment: Re:I'd like to solve the puzzle please. (Score 1) 1081

by pseudorand (#49269663) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

no "everyone in the firing squad missed on purpose"

I think you're missing the point of a firing squad. It was used as a form of military execution in order to introduce some measure of due-process into an order from some commander when due process was impossible during wartime. If you're a soldier on the firing squad you can't disobey orders, even if you object in principal or for the specific situation. But everyone missing on purpose allows soldiers to dissent from the commander without having to go it alone. The commander could choose another set of soldiers, punish the dissenters, or do it himself or something, but if the entire squad missed on purpose his authority is pretty much undermined and he's more worried about preventing mutant than having the execution carried out.

I'm against the death penalty. But if we have to have it, firing squads, with the caveat of "if everyone misses, the verdict is reversed and the accused goes free", are by far the very best way to do it. Who cares if death isn't instant or painless. Who wouldn't risk a slightly more painful death (and even that's questionable) for a chance at freedom and justice.

Comment: It's NOT a scam, it's a semi-brilliant plan (Score 2, Interesting) 169

Mars One is most certainly NOT a scam.

Technology has all but eliminated the need for a growing population and over-population is human's biggest problem. We need to eliminate some people, but we still need smart, useful people. If we used criteria like geography, race, religion and ethnic origin to choose who gets eliminated, we're as likely to eliminate too many of the smart people we still need. So what criteria do we use to identify people we want to get rid if?

Mars is a cold, lifeless rock much to far away from earth to make even it's mineral content remotely economical. We are a species who can't even terraform the Gobi, Mohave or Sahara where there's an atmosphere and temperatures are (relative to Mars) reasonable. Anyone who thinks going to mars is anything other than ridiculous meets just the criteria we're looking for. And they'll voluntarily board a ship blasting off to nowhere, somewhat lessening the moral dilemma of the situation. And they're even offering to pay for the whole thing!

Brilliant plan. Or semi-brilliant, because they simply haven't selected nearly enough finalists to address the overpopulation problem. But it's a start.

Didn't Douglas Adam's predict this decades ago?

Comment: Re:Non Story...Not Exactly... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227329) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

The inclusion of "papers" in the fourth amendment implies the protection of privacy, not just physical possession, and is parallel to DNA. Even before photocopies and data backups, "secure", when applied to "papers", obviously refers to the risk of disclosure of information without the owner's consent more than it does to the loss of that information. After all, truly important papers could have been manually copied and stored separately even in 1776.

And did you miss the first item on the list: "persons". Our constitution recognizes our bodies themselves and most immediate physical possessions as the first and most important thing the government should respect. Getting the DNA from a database somewhere rather than collecting it from the suspect should make no difference. We should be able to expect our own government to exercise reasonable respect for our privacy and act outside of the wishes of the obvious data owner only after getting a warrant to do so.

Comment: Re:or maybe... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227217) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

But the police have a responsibility to treat you as innocent until proven guilty. If they haul you down to the station 10 times without prior notice, use their search warrant to ransack your house and destroy your property, and do so in front of TV cameras, ruining your reputation and potentially causing you great financial harm in lost job/business, who wouldn't say "screw the dead guy, I have to worry about myself first".

On TV, the police are never respectful of suspects (except the rich ones, of course). Hopefully hollywood gets that as wrong as they get the laws of physics, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 1) 449

by pseudorand (#49091071) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

> For you as the card holder however, nothing has changed in that regard: The law in the US still stipulates that credit card holders can only be liable for up to $50 (which most banks waive these days.)

Nothing has changed yet. But why would you think the banks won't target consumers once they've made merchants bend over?

Even judges and politicians understand simple technology like the magnetic strip. The banks wouldn't get away with arguing that the consumer was at fault if someone steals his credit card or credit card number because it's obvious that signatures are easily faked and never checked anyway and cards can be copied just like those old floppy disks.

But now we have this "magic" chip/paywave/etc. Your Honor, the technology ensures that the card can only be use by the authorized user. Cryptography and all that. So the "technology" protects consumers. We don't need silly, job-killing things like laws and regulations. Let's repeal these unnecessary liability limits. It will bring prices down and "economic efficiency" and that's how the Gipper woulda' wanted it. (Anyone with common sense, and economists [mutually exclusive groups] know the price bit is bunk, but..)

We technology professionals know the technology protects nothing if the POS terminal (which tells the clerk the user really has paid), the card itself (where a private key is stored), and all the algorithms and algorithm implementations (which ensure approval can't be faked) are secure. All of which the consumer has zero control over (we may have the card, but we didn't design its tamer-resistant features that erase rather than reveal the private key).

Someone duplicated my card in Mexico one time. The bank said it was a card-present transaction, but I had my card and my airline record verified that I wasn't even in Mexico when the transactions occurred. So I paid nothing. But what happens when a chip-based card is duplicated. The bank says I must be lying because their technology makes that impossible. The judge believes the bank's pin-striped-suit-wearing IBM security consultant even though everyone knows that no one who wears a suit can possible be a technology expert. And consumers are stuck with the charges.

It happened with bankruptcy in 2005. Bankruptcy is no longer a fresh start. Student loans can't be discharged and your creditors can garnish your wages for the rest of your life (since the interest rate will ensure you never pay off the loan). And what happened? Student loan rates aren't much lower, tuition is MUCH higher, and the banks lent like gangbusters to anyone with a pulse (which, at the same time, drove up prices, draining the savings of anyone who didn't borrow from into their coffers in the form of stock dividends). They obviously never expected to make the money they loaned back on the original terms. They wanted guaranteed income from the wages of everyone who defaulted, a slow and steady trickle of cash from the poorest among us (an ever larger percent of the population). After all, why should government be the only entity allowed to levy taxes?

Credit card law will change the same way. In fact, the 2005 BAPCPA was a precursor to these changes. Without it, a shift of liability to consumers would just push consumers into bankruptcy, drying up the bank's revenue stream. But now all they lack is shifting the liability to consumers. They then have not only no incentive to prevent fraud (even though, since they control the technology, they're the only ones who could), but an incentive for it to happen (undischarged debt). And incentives work.

The 2005 BAPCPA ensures we have to pay whatever debts they say we owe.
Checks are already almost a thing of the past, not accepted at many stores, so you pay with your credit card.
The shift of credit card liability and further shift of debit card liability to consumers will happen next. When it does, start using cash. And start carrying a gun to protect you now cash-laden self.

Until, if course, the courts invalidate the 2nd amendment and stores stop accepting cash (too much crime or some junk) just as they already have for checks.

Its the return of slavery in no uncertain terms. I wish they'd just invalidate the 14th amendment already so we could get on with the inevitable revolution and save everyone time. All this waiting is killing me!

Comment: Beginning of the end (Score 1) 238

by pseudorand (#48860113) Attached to: Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

This is privacy advocates' worst nightmare. Okay, nazi-style mass murder of people with certain thoughts and opinions enabled by the scarlet letter that is all the data Google keeps on all of us is privacy advocates' worst nightmare. But this is how it starts.

When Google eliminates the middle men, do you think prices go down? Only for some, and then only for a very short while until the competition is out of business. And this process is accelerated by high rates for high risk individuals. High risk for payouts that is, which is not always the same as high risk for society. For example:
* Visit a lawyer's website recently. You're more likely to sue when we underpay your claim. Let the competition have you.
* Liked something by Ron Paul on Google+? Some Google analyst thinks he found a correlation between that and higher claims. Your rates go up.

Big Data makes insurance rates in the best case arbitrary (when they misidentify factors that supposedly relate to insurance risk) and in the worst case discriminatory and a method for punishing people financially for behavior we all supposed was constitutionally protected (when they accurately identify behavior, like advocating for tax reform that actually benefits the middle-class, that those who control the few big companies with the big data don't like). Hopefully the ACA will prevent this in the health insurance market by mandating a rate based only on geography, age and smoker status. But I'm sure they can easily marginalize people who oppose their ideas using just auto, homeowners and liability insurance.

They say we should vote with our dollars. But we're obviously far outnumbered in such a battle. And the very wealthy don't so much vote with their dollars as they wage outright war with them. Imagine your homeowners and auto insurance rates quadrupling because of the places you go, websites you visit and company you keep (online and otherwise). While less explicit, the end result isn't much different than the Nazi's Nuremberg Laws or or laws limiting property ownership to white males with family histories.

Thanks for nothing, first amendment. Soon we'll have to exercise #2 instead.

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 1) 479

by pseudorand (#48859197) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

> simply by dint of their genetic makeup

"dint of their genetic makup". Really?

There you go again making broad and discriminatory assumptions about huge groups of people. And you even attribute a wild and unsubstantiated guess as to the root cause. Worse of all, you continue to propose an unsustainable with the hope that if we force people to hire based on the opposite incorrect criteria (gender=female) enough long enough, the original incorrect criteria (male=good at STEM) will loose favor.

But how about we just encourage and train women to work in STEM fields and let them get hired if they turn out to be the best candidates? I'm not opposed to gender-specific STEM programs. I'm not even opposed to my tax dollars subsidizing them. The worst case scenario there is that we waste a bit of money on ineffective programs.

In your proposal, we risk torpedoing all sorts of businesses, large and small, that make our best-in-known-history lifestyles possible.

Have a little faith in the markets. If women turn out to be as or more capable at STEM stuff, either the big guys will see it and hire women or upstart companies (some of which will be run and owned by women) will hire women cheaper, out-compete the big guys and eventually equalize both salaries and workforce gender participation rates.

If you start at the bottom (education at a young age) and make sure we have qualified female STEM labor supply, the problem will solve itself. Start at the other end and you're just spitting into the wind.

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 1) 479

by pseudorand (#48834771) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

>> ..and the opener to your third paragraph:

> Presuming that there is no fundamental gender-based inequality in skill is unwise.

> If one presumes that there is, in fact, fundamental gender-based inequality in skill,

My objection to the presumption of equality does not imply we should presume the opposite. We shouldn't presume anything about the relationship between gender and medical/legal/technical skills. We should let those skills themselves (and nothing else) determine who gets to practice them.

Hiring managers (and HR idiots) who assume men are better at something need training on how to evaluate the skills their hiring for rather than relying on poor proxy measurements like gender. (Or, more likely, that company needs a new Hiring Manager. Maybe it will be a Woman). Women who think men are better at something they truly enjoy need to be encouraged to develop their skills anyway and trained not to get in their own way.

But hiring managers shouldn't be forced to hire bad candidates due to quotas. And women who decide they genuinely prefer some traditional female occupation (yes, both Homemaker and Mother are incredibly important occupations and always have been, and I know a "legal secretary" who makes 6 figures) shouldn't be made to feel inadequate because of "women's lib".

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 0) 479

by pseudorand (#48834023) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

Your proposal begs the question that more women in those fields is beneficial.

I have no idea what doctors or lawyers were like in the 70s, but in my experience both doctors and lawyers of either gender are incompetent idiots with minimal ability to help me with anything**. Is an artificial increase in the number of women in those fields a negative contributing factor? I have no idea, but that's the risk of your strategy. Just about every other post is acknowledging that we should focus on technical skill, not gender. If that means encouraging girls to go into technical fields at a young age or even subsidizing technical education base /partially/ on gender in addition to demonstrated technical ability, let's do that.

Presuming that there is no fundamental gender-based inequality in skill is unwise. I'm not saying there is. Just that, like the example of the firewoman who wasn't strong enough to lift the fire hose example, we should work to address the societal perception bias problem without working against whatever natural factors may or may not exist. Men and women are different. And we should take advantage of those differences to most efficiently organize society, not try to pretend they don't exist.

** Granted, the human body and the mess that is the legal system are way more complicated than computers (my field of choice), so it's a bit unreasonable of me to expect the same consistent and useful results I can provide in my line of work. But still...

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