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Comment Re: I disagree that this tool should be illegal (Score 1) 88

To be able to regulate such things you'd have to somehow magically be able to control who can be allowed to program anything in the first place, then you'd have to control all the possible tools for that

"Regulating" does not necessarily mean "strangling." For example, electrical devices are already required to be UL or CE certified before they can be marketed, but any numbnut with some wire and a soldering iron can build his own power strip, hair dryer, or Tesla coil.

It's patently ridiculous for a government to require software be bug- and exploit-free. It's also true that some disclosures would provide consumer benefit: does the software/device "phone home"? What information does it disclose if it does so? Does it implement encryption? Properly, using a widely recognized protocol? Does it run locally or is it a remote front-end?

Apple already claims to do some kind of review (or at least have some kind of conditions) for an iTunes listing. So does Google Play. That's self-regulation - it may not be perfect; it may not catch all the malware, but Apple and Google seem to think limited regulation provides some consumer benefit.

Comment Re:Fat Cats in the Countryside (Score 1) 199

He's right, you are getting a heck of a deal.

Examples: corn subsidies of $4-5B/year on crop values of $80B. Wheat subsidies of $2B on crop value of $15B.

Most of the direct, government payment programs ended around 2008. Interestingly, the 'farm price' of wheat went from about $3.50 before 2007 to $6.70 after 2009. Rich people's taxes no longer paying for poor people's bread.

Comment Re: Brought about by the internet? (Score 1) 717

The questions asked will be "Do you believe the Jews have the sole right to Israel and the surrounding territory?" Any answer other that "Yes, it is their right and destiny" is counted as antisemitic.

Also, anti-zionist will be lumped in with anti-semitic.

I think you are the one conflating anti-zionism and anti-semitism. The litmus test you give is exactly zionism. A common mistake, because of the prevalence of Zionism within Jewish Israel and particularly its vocal "hard right" political groups. Much the way the rest of the world thinks Americans love drone-based assassinations.

The two-state solution is anti-zionist but not inherently anti-semitic; that one of those states might be committed to Jewish genocide is anti-semitic.

Comment Re:the riskiest thing i do everyday (Score 1) 165

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) 284

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) 275

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) 275

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) 275

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,'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.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen