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Comment: Tax Corps Based on the CItizenship of Their Owners (Score 1) 288

by scruffy (#46421951) Attached to: How Ireland Got Apple's $9 Billion Australian Profit
Really, the "location" of these mega-corporations is a sham.

Instead, figure out (or estimate) what percentage of the shares are owned by US residents. Multiply that percentage times the corporation's profit times the corporate tax rate and that is what they should pay.

Note: Any public corporation knows who are the immediate owners, so that they can send out shareholder info. However, a shareholder might be another corporation which is owned by other corporations, etc. Hence, the need to estimate (along with following the money as much as possible).

+ - Helping Snowden Spill His Secrets->

Submitted by mspohr
mspohr (589790) writes "Great article in the NYTimes Magazine section by Peter Maass. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/laura-poitras-snowden.html

It goes into a lot of detail on how Snowden first attempted to contact Glenn Greenwald (who couldn't use secure communication at first) and then contacted Laura Poitras who was making a documentary about security. Lots of detail about their getting together, vetting each other, and personal threats to Greenwald and Poitras (as well as Snowden) as well as a good timeline of how events unfolded.
After reading this article I am more concerned than ever about the extent of US surveillance and the extent to which the USG will go to suppress information and intimidate whistle-blowers. Good to see that the NYTimes finally publish some real journalism on this subject.
Also... accompanying transcript of "Q&A — Edward Snowden" http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/snowden-maass-transcript.html"

Link to Original Source

Comment: The Reasons for "Herculean effort" (Score 3, Informative) 95

by scruffy (#43246801) Attached to: DARPA Tackles Machine Learning
Raw data need to be cleaned up and organized to feed into the ML algorithm.

The results of the ML algorithm need to be cleaned up and organized so that they can be used by the rest of the system.

No one (currently) can tell you which ML algorithm will work best on your problem and how its parameters should be chosen without a lot of study. Preconceived bias (e.g., that it should be biologically based, blah, blah) can be a killer here.

The best results typically come from combinations of ML algorithms through some kind of ensemble learning, so now your have the problem of choosing a good combination and choosing a lot more parameters.

All of the above need to work together in concert.

Certainly, it's not a bad idea to try to make this process better, but I wouldn't be expecting miracles too soon.

Comment: Online doesn't work for average students (so far) (Score 3, Insightful) 98

by scruffy (#42095013) Attached to: Rise of the Online Code Schools
One of the biggest issues for current MOOCs is the large attrition rate (in the 90% range). Assuming that people signing up are at least average intelligence (on average of course), this suggests that average students are unable, for whatever reasons, to complete these courses. Part of it is that the instructors come from elite universities, are used to teaching elite students, and approach the MOOC in the same way, leaving the average student in the dust. Another part is that average students lack the motivation, discipline, as well as the smarts to learn complex concepts without a real-life instruction.

Comment: Coursera heavy on math (Score 1) 109

by scruffy (#41491793) Attached to: The Rage For MOOCs
After taking a few courses from Coursera, a high dropout rate is not surprising. The CS courses are mainly math courses in disguise, which works when you are teaching CS students at the high end of the intelligence spectrum, like at Stanford and other top-tier colleges, but simply loses most students otherwise. Even the NLP course was very focused on the mathematical models, much less so on the linguistics.

I suppose many might say it's not computer science without the math, but you can still teach much about computer technology and software design while being gentler with the math.

Personally, I've enjoyed the courses because I like math (except the quantum computation course, which was dreadful), but I know most of our CS students would be buried by the math. For the record, I'm at a state univ with some good research, but nowhere near a flagship. We do want to graduate some students, and the students we do graduate are in demand in our area.

Comment: Same Old, Same Old (Score 1) 408

by scruffy (#39965981) Attached to: Positive Bias Could Erode Public Trust In Science
This has always been the case. Science is not a uniform march to the Truth. There is a difference between well-verified and understood results (think engineering) and working at the margins with not much data and the usual human failings (the vast majority of publications). Scientists are humans, not gods. It takes a lot of effort and error to get to the well-verified and understood part.

Comment: Re:I for one have new hope... (Score 1) 186

by scruffy (#39294293) Attached to: Rep. Darrell Issa Requests Public Comments On ACTA

If serving meat had as great of an effect on public health as providing universal birth control, then absolutely.

This is the key point. There is an enormous amount of evidence that birth control improves public health. From a scientific point of view, it is a no-brainer.

About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Regular use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancy and reduces the need for abortion. Contraception also allows women to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancies, protecting their health and improving the well-being of their children. Contraceptive use saves money by avoiding the costs of unintended pregnancy and by making pregnancies healthier, saving millions in health care expenses. Several contraceptives also have non-contraceptive health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of certain cancers and treating debilitating menstrual problems. Making contraception more affordable is a significant step forward for the health of women and their families.

This quote comes from http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/03/testimony-of-douglas-laube-md, which also includes citations for the above points. I would also include reduction of teenage pregnancy as an additional plus.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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