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Comment: Re:Good ruling (Score 1) 144

I agree that zero tolerance is a bad idea, but what they've struck down is the "reasonable person" standard in any kind of criminal case. It has nothing to do with zero tolerance.

IANAL, but I suspect the issue is that to convict someone for a serious crime you generally have to show "mens rea" ("guilty mind") -- that the defendant had the intent of committing the crime in question. If so the ruling may be reasonable, but not for the reasons you suggest. If I'm right, what SCOTUS is saying is that the jury has to determine that the husband actually intended to threaten his wife.

As for the civil liberties implications, they appear to be more limited than most people seem to believe. Threatening someone is still a crime. It's just not a crime to say something someone would misconstrue as a threat, even if that person is being reasonable.

Comment: Re:Like the sailor that blow into his sail... (Score 1) 245

by hey! (#49819399) Attached to: Fuel Free Spacecrafts Using Graphene

Well, without actually reading the article itself I'll venture an opinion of course. If you carried the fuel and lasers yourself it wouldn't be like the sailor blowing on his own sail at all; it's be like the sailor facing the stern and blowing his ship forward. That's because the ship would still be powered by the rearward expulsion of electrons.

The advantage of the system with an external laser is (I presume) that even though it is no doubt very energy inefficient, since all you're expelling is electrons the specific impulse would be quite high. This allows you to apply small amount of thrust, but continuously for a long time without the bulk of your payload being fuel. If you are going to carry the fuel needed to power the thrusters you might as well go with compact ion thrusters.

Comment: Re:I don't really buy it (Score 1) 422

by hey! (#49804893) Attached to: Mandriva CEO: Employee Lawsuits Put Us Out of Business

Well, bankruptcy ALWAYS is the result of somebody demanding something they think is owed them under the law. In fact that's pretty much what bankruptcy is: when you can't raise enough cash to pay people what they're legally owed. If your company can't pay the rent you don't go around saying, "We'd still be in business if the landlord hadn't sued us." People would laugh at you. But for some reason if you say "We'd still be in business of the employees hadn't sued us," then people somehow act as if that isn't equally ridiculous.

It's the same attitude where companies raid the employee pension fund to pay for current expenses: that somehow employees ought to pay for the mistakes of management.

Comment: Re:Play on words (Score 1) 25

by hey! (#49802133) Attached to: More About Dan Shapiro and the Glowforge CNC Laser Cutter (Video #2)

It's perfectly sound marketing logic.

Explaining things to people who aren't up to speed yet is difficult and tedious; and in any even people don't have the patience to sit through explanations. So the obvious thing to do is to describe your product in terms that confuse everyone, equally.

Comment: No. (Score 1) 125

The hospital didn't show that normal lagtime won't affect remote robotic surgeries. It looked for possible effects of that sort and didn't find any. That's a good result, but it's only the start of a process that might show that doing this is reasonably safe for patients.

The real world is much more demanding and uncontrollable than simulation. Remember the Therac-25 incident. Thorough functional testing apparently showed that the machine was perfectly safe; it didn't take into account the difference between testers and people who would actually be using the device every day. While you can never prove the non-existence of some unknown and unpredictable factor, that doesn't mean that a long and critical search for things you might have overlooked is useless.

Comment: Re:The Chinese are not the soviets (Score 1) 272

by hey! (#49793149) Attached to: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race

The chinese and americans make too much money off each other to go to war with each other.

Which of course means we are no threat whatsoever to to each other, because on both sides of the relationship the leadership is and is guaranteed continued to be completely rational.

Comment: Re:next up: ban cars (Score 2) 129

by hey! (#49790609) Attached to: Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion

Well, driving cars in urban centers generally sucks between the traffic and finding parking. The problem is people are too stubborn to get their act together and provide abundant satellite parking and transit links. Sure, driving your car right up to a store is ideal when you're the only one doing it, but there's a reason malls are built with parking on the periphery and pedestrian access at the core. If parking was the most pleasant and convenient way to get a lot of people into a confined area you'd be able to drive right into Disney World and park your car at Space Mountain.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 4, Insightful) 129

by hey! (#49790515) Attached to: Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion

Anything that happens inflates someone's bank account. If governments ban CFCs then people with CFC substitutes get a windfall. If governments don't ban CFCs then makers of sunscreen and skin cancer treatments get a windfall.

This is how capitalism works -- how it's supposed to work. Problems attract capital, which generates profits. But it's also how market solutions fall short. It's better for the public if someone makes a killing replacing CFC than if someone else makes a killing treating skin cancer.

Comment: Misses the strategic imperative for Android. (Score 1) 344

by hey! (#49790287) Attached to: The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier

Google's core businesses would be seriously damaged if Apple obtained a monopoly on mobile computing. If it breaks even and prevents Apple hegemony it's as much of a success as it needs to be.

As for the supposed switching of Android users to iPhone, notice the tortured stipulations in this sentence: "the 'majority' of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android." It's also no doubt true that the majority of users who switched to new Android phone had owned a smartphone running Android in the past. The vast majority of smartphones out there are Android, and that's been true for years now, so it's not surprising that someone buying a new smartphone of any kind has previously owned *some* android handset.

Comment: Re:It only increases accountability (Score 4, Interesting) 293

by hey! (#49779303) Attached to: Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

Well, speaking of Amtrak employee accountability, I have a story about that. A few years ago my family took a train ride across the country. When we changed trains in Chicago I noticed that the reading light in my sleeping compartment was stuck on, which of course was bad if I wanted to actually sleep. I found the friendly and helpful attendant and reported it, and her reaction was like watching a balloon deflate.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"If we report damage they take it out of our wages," she said.

"What! What do you mean take it out of your wages?" I asked.

"If a car is damaged under my watch I have to pay for it," she said.

"Well," I said, taking out my swiss army knife, "I guess there's nothing to see here."

I have to say that I've never encountered such a nice, enthusiastic, friendly group of people with such an abysmally low morale as the crew of a cross-country train. With passengers they're great, but all through the trip I'd see two or three congregated having low muttered conversations. It didn't take me long to figure out they were talking about management. And while the experience was wonderful, the equipment was in horrible shape. It was like traveling in a third world country.

With management that bad, more data doesn't equal more accountability and better performance. It means scapegoating.

Comment: Re:Maybe science went off the rails... (Score 2) 417

by hey! (#49775243) Attached to: Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

If 99/100 scientists agree one thing is true, it's more likely to be true than the alternative backed by 1/100 scientists.

Which is beside the point. Consensus isn't about truth, it's about burden of proof.

Suppose Alice and Bob both try to make a perpetual motion machine. Alice claims she has failed, but Bob claims he has succeeded. The scientific community treats Alice's claims of failure without skepticism but it automatically assumes that Bob has made a mistake somewhere.

Does that seem unfair to Bob? Well, imagine you're a rich guy and Alice and Bob are both applying to you for a job. Bob says you should give the job to him because he's your long-lost fraternal twin your parents never told you about and which the hospital hushed up for some reason. When you mention this to Alice she freely admits she is not related to you. You automatically believe Alice, so is it fair to Bob to be skeptical of his claims?

It's a case of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In either case Bob can prove his claim, it's more complicated and time consuming because he has to explain what went wrong with all the prior knowledge. Alice's claims in either case are consistent with what you reasonably believe to be true so you can reasonably assume she's correct.

The best laid plans of mice and men are held up in the legal department.

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