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Comment Re:the riskiest thing i do everyday (Score 1) 161

Apparently 15 Americans are crushed to death moving their furniture every year! BAN THE COUCH!

The source of that information is really interesting. Almost all (84%) people killed by furniture are under 8, killed when a TV (60%) or chest/bureau falls on them.

There are zero fatalities in the 10-year study involving people between 9-30 years old. I'm not sure what protects this age group from malicious TVs, unless the broadcasters somehow allow the TVs to distinguish members of the target demographic. It does seem that, if you're over 30, you should put on a college student costume before trying to move or walk near your TV.

The study covers 2000-2010, including the tail end of massive CRTs. I expect the statistics will be very different for 2010-2020.

Comment Re:In other words. (Score 5, Interesting) 270

In which case it also wouldn't prove anything at all, like whether your vote was fraudulent or not.

The point of this investigation is not to determine who voted for whom, which is, in fact, illegal. The point of this investigation is to determine whether, in aggregate, there are discrepancies between voting results and other recognized demographic trends.

If it turns out that a neighborhood of poor black people voted 80% Republican, it doesn't necessarily mean fraud. Maybe the neighborhood got very gentrified between when the demographics were reported and the election. Maybe the particular candidate had a specific message that appealed well to that exact neighborhood. Maybe his opponent's ex-wife lived in the area. Discrepancies between expected population trends and observed population trends are interesting.

Comment Re:There are good reasons for gvt bureaucracy, rem (Score 3, Insightful) 273

In this case, Sergeant what's-his-name could look up prices for HDDs on Amazon, fill a form asking for 100 dollars to buy a larger HDD and 50 dollars to pay for installation services and be done with it. Paperwork's done, tracked, everyone's happy.

No, in this case, Sergeant what's-his-name looked at the time he'd have to spend filling out a purchase requisition and decided the data just wasn't worth that. Five years of historical license plate location data is not as valuable to his department's investigations as a coffee break.

What are license plate scanners actually good for? The present location of stolen cars. Maybe some location data for crimes currently under investigation (ie, a few weeks). Not last year's crimes. Strangely, this is what citizen activists have been asking for a long time: why do you need to know where every car has been over the past five years? So now, when it comes down to costing the police even just the tiniest amount of effort, they find that, in fact, they probably only need a few months' worth of history.

Comment Re:incompetent (Score 1) 273

I mean... you can't tell me they can't afford 100 dollars worth of something somewhere in that department. I refuse to believe they're THAT hard up for money that they can't afford a fucking harddrive.

I'm sure they could, if it were actually important. So let me tell you how this went down. License plate computer is acting up...Call IT. IT says the HDD is full, mostly because it has 30 GB of license plate data going back 5 years. Chief holds a little problem-solving conference in his head, and decides to throw out the old, never-used data rather than spend 10 minutes requisitioning a HD replacement.

Comment Re: Or you could.. (Score 2) 273

Just stop keeping data on average citizens for which you don't really have any justification.

So, why are they collecting all that data in the first place? Is it really necessary for them to do their jobs and protect the public?

Storing it all because some sales rep told them a great story about picking up a cold case, going back through the records, and finding that Thuggy McBadguy had been close to a convenience store when it was robbed in 2011. Five years later, they're out of disk space, and it turns out they've never actually looked at any of that archived data.

The more interesting question is why this department finds the 20 minutes to fill out a purchase order a more compelling reason to review their perpetual data retention policy than public criticism.

Comment Re:No surprise (Score 1) 211

What civil liberties are being broken when they search for a piece of stolen property? That property could be in a bin, ditch etc.[...]

This really is no different than seeing a stolen car in the driveway of a premise.

It's quite different from seeing a stolen car in a driveway. It's even different that using a license plate camera to record the location of every car. Car license plates are in the open. They're required to be publicly displayed and visible to anyone without any special equipment.

Stingray inserts itself between every cell phone and the contracted service provider. That communication is not in the open. You need special equipment to 'see' it, and service providers make a big deal about your communications being encrypted and private.

If you want to make a physical analogy for massive large scale electronic surveillance, this is more like disguising cops as store clerks so they can read your credit card number, just in case you're using a stolen card.

Comment Re:ADVERTISING (Score 1) 198

Apple sells WiFi routers.

Actually, I bought one because the BT HomeHub 5 provided for free by British Telecoms is just absolute rubbish, trying to be "helpful" when it loses its internet connection and failing miserably.

I just run hostapd on my linux box. Since I have an always-on server anyway, turning it into a WAP saves me one more device to plug in. I realize that won't work well for grandma's house, but any decent geek house has an always on server running, probably sitting right next to a dedicate WAP.

Comment Re:One possible solution... (Score 2) 131

We should pass a law: if any public funding is used for research, the public has a right to free and unfettered access of your research results... end of story.

In the US, NIH policy requires that NIH-funded research be deposited in PubMed Central, a taxpayer-funded archive of published work. This is not quite unfettered access, as the incumbent publishers forced them to accept a 12-month lag between publication and archiving, but it's pretty good. The NSF (which is only ~25% as big as NIH) claims public archiving as a goal, but not a requirement. I believe ERC has a similar policy.

For the most part, these policies date to about 2005, and most journals have been very reluctant to give up control of their 'legacy' content. That's what the publishers are holding hostage behind their paywalls: the most recent 12 months and everything older than 2005.

Comment Re:With those figures ? (Score 2) 131

Libraries of big universities could simply provide the infrastructure to publish (online only) journals. There is not much needed as most of the work is already done by volunteers (reviewers / editors) so this could be really cheap.

The NIH, through PubMed Central, already provides the infrastructure for archiving (biomedical) articles. In fact, they demand that any publications resulting from NIH-funded research be archived there (with a 1-year delay from release by the official publisher). I believe ERC has a similar requirement for European research Some of the best journals have put their entire historical archives there (J Physiol back to 1878), but most journals only since the 2008 NIH mandate.

The problem is not the infrastructure to do online publishing. The problem is incumbency. The people who actually run the journals are, for the most part, tied to their historical publishing partners. I'm thinking especially of the 'big' journals that are the official publications of various academic societies. They are as locked in to publishers' workflow software as most people are to Microsoft Office.

Personally, I think every academic society, each of which claim education and public dissemination of science as core values, should make their historical archives available through PubMed Central, arXiv, or similar. Most of them have been digitized. Most of them are available to society members or journal subscribers. Most of them cost $30-$50 per article for the public to read, and there's no reason for that. If the society you belong to has not released its legacy content, ask your leadership, Why not?

Comment Re: YES (Score 2) 141

It's money, isn't it. "Why do you want to work here?". Money. Slightly different problems elsewhere.

Company founders, generally, aren't in it for the money. They're in it because they think they have a cool widget and really want other people to value that widget. They want everyone they work with to share that passion.

Workers want to trade time for money. They share the management belief that employees are faceless, fungible cogs that can be plugged into tasks without any real connection to the business or widget. Coding, digging coal, torturing puppies, whatever...it's just a job.

Healthy people are somewhere in between. Sip the coolaid, join the team, but make sure your personal well-being is not 100% dependent on success. You'll have a lot more fun when the widget wins. You'll do better work. You'll still be able to change jobs if things go to crap.

Comment Re:The "Gay Precedent" (Score 1) 95

Yes, the hypocrisy is the most stunning thing about this guys position. His rationalisation for SIGINT was "if the state knows everything, they'll see that you're truly a good person", where the word good should of course actually read loyal.

"Socrates" describes himself as a libertarian. Bemoans that he can not just load up his family in a wagon and head out for the prairie. Confesses to guilt/confusion when watching his superiors "misuse" his surveillance product. Then tells the entire, internal NSA audience that they just have suck up the cognitive dissonance and trust that their superiors know what they're doing (or at least that everything will work out in the end).

His whole life seems to be built around justifying his whims. The story about the failed polygraph perhaps best of all: "the needle jumped" on certain questions, and he's sure that, if he could just give the interrogator a longer explanation, then the interrogator would understand that he's really done nothing wrong (completely independent of whether he actually has done anything wrong). This mindset is exactly why you should never talk to the police. It's why Jamie Lee Hood thought he could get a jury to set him free, essentially by claiming the cop he shot initiated the aggression.

Well, can't have it both ways. I agree - they should have doxxed him. And if/when random strangers turn up outside his house, follow his wife and kids around, and constantly force him to justify his life .... he can't complain.

"Socrates" is an idiot, content to follow orders while fantasizing about life as a rugged individualist. Lots of us are like that. He doesn't deserve to be made a target for all the other nutbags out there.

Comment Re: Putting bread on the table (Score 1) 95

A) You did not perform wholesale collection, but targeted collection. If you threw away the innocent stuff. You actually build FILES ON EVERYBODY and no amount of denial invalidates this

Stored data doesn't count as a "file," until a human looks at it. That's a big difference between the Stasi and the NSA: Stasi had actual humans examine and physically sort pieces of data; NSA does it by computer, hence no "file".

B) Would go after folks like Cheney and Bush when they work for the Saudis and Israel.

Elected officials, by definition, represent and therefore do the will of the people. The appropriate question to ask is why the people would want to place the security and welfare of a foreign nation above their own. The answer to this may lie in massive data archive, given the right analysis.

C) Would go after those who still suck up to Saudi Money, like the British guy.

Why do you hate our way of life? There is nothing better than to find a source of money and suck it dry. Capitalism means everything is for sale.

Comment Re:This is just the looong tail of the distributio (Score 5, Insightful) 122

Collecting the data is the actual work. Any idiot with a computer can make the analysis. And draw the wrong conclusions from that.

It's a shame that so many people seem to agree with this. I would put it exactly the opposite: any idiot can be trained to collect data; knowing what data to collect, why to collect it, how it fits in with 100 years of pre-existing data, and how to condense all of that into a concise but readable story is the difficult (and creative) part.

Maybe it's learned from student science labs, where you spend a lot of time getting the mechanics of an experiment to work, then plug the numbers into a pre-set template for analysis. Of course, those labs are exactly about training students to collect data, and not so much about doing science. Maybe it's learned from the media, where an uninformed reporter picks a bit of data out of a paper and concludes the green coffee extract is a fat-cure-all. Maybe it's just that it takes a lot of work to be able to distinguish good work that advances our state of knowledge from a mountain of data that doesn't really say anything.

Comment Re:This is just the looong tail of the distributio (Score 1) 122

The grad student writes the paper and his adviser wants his name included because he "advised".

I've read enough PhD theses to know that very few students write their own papers. The difference between the chapters that have been accepted for publication in a journal and those that submission is still pending is easily determined. Nevermind the unseen contributions refining the research topic, the methodology, and analysis.

There's a reason science still works by the apprenticeship model. If you think you wrote your own Ph.D. thesis, you're either pathologically egotistical or your advisor died in your second year.

Comment Re:And yet... (Score 1) 663

True, however, a poor diet of fast food, highly processed snacks and soda is harder to reduce than a good well balanced diet.

Leave the last bite of Big Mac on the table. Leave the last six french fries on the plate. Processed/packaged food is sold in doses that satisfy "most" people, which means they are more food than most people need. We've all grown up with the pressure to clean our plate, to not take more than we can eat, to not throw away perfectly good food. When someone puts too much food in front of us, we eat as much as we can, which is more than we should.

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