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Comment: Re:Here's how that works. (Score 1) 149

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46832507) Attached to: Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

... calculate the probability of a single event (asteroid arrival) in a period of 50 years that strikes a population-dense area.

Not a single event. One or more.

(By the way: I was just explaining how the poster's formula worked, not vouching for its correctness for the problem. Nevertheless, it strikes me as a reasonable quick approximation, given the uncertainty of the single 13-year n=26 sample of meteor arrivals.)

Comment: Re:it would be OK if..... (Score 2) 357

in other words, net neutrality would remain, but content providers could pay to BOOST the speed at which the internet provider customers received their content

Which only lasts until the next increment in consumer connection speed is rolled out. Then the companies that pay get to use it, but - SURPRISE! - nobody else does.

If this proposal had gone into effect before broadband became common you'd be hooked to on your, say, 5 Mbps DSL line, trying to watch videos at 56 kbps.

Comment: And wrong battleground. (Score 1) 357

The problem here isn't differentiated services - which can be valuable to a lot of us. The problem is that here in the US we have effective ISP monopolies or duopolies in nearly every region.

The other part of the problem is that the net neutrality advocates have been fighting on the wrong battleground.

As you point out: The prblem isn't some packets getting preferences over others: Sometimes that makes things BETTER for users. The problem is companies using their ability to configure this to give their own (and affiliates') carried-by-ISPs services an advantage, or artificially DISadvatntge packets of other providers unless an extra toll is paid, to the disadvantage of their customers.

The FCC is not the place to fight that battle. The correct venues are the Department of Justice's Antitrust division (is giving content the ISP's affiliate provides an advantage over that of others an illegal "tying"?), the FTC (is penalizing others' packets a consumer fraud, providing something less than what is understood to be "internet service"?) and perhaps congress.

I don't see how this can reasonably be resolved short of breaking up media conglomerates to separate information transport from providing "content" and other information service beyond information transport. Allowing them to be combined into a single company is a recipie for conflict-of-interest, at the cost of the consumer.

Comment: Here's how that works. (Score 1) 149

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46827697) Attached to: Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

My math isn't very strong; can you explain the (1-0.3*0.03)^10 part?

You mean (1-0.3*0.03)^100? (You lost a digit.) Let's walk it:

0.3 land fraction = probability a given meteor hits over land (assuming equal likelyhood it hits any given area).
0.3 * 0.03 Multiply by the fraction of land that's urban to get the probability it hits over urban land.
1- 0.3*0.03 Convert to the probability it misses all urban land. (P(hit) + P(miss) = 1 (certainty)).
(1-0.3*0.03)^100 We get a hundred of 'em in 50 years (assuming 2000-2013 is typical). Raise to the hundredth power to get the jackpot probably that they ALL miss.
1-(1-0.3*0.03)^100 Convert to the probabiltiy that at least one doesn't miss.

Comment: Grandparent had it right. (Score 2) 80

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46797973) Attached to: Preventative Treatment For Heartbleed On Healthcare.gov

The word you are looking for is "preventive".

No, it's not. The usage you're complaining about is perfectly valid.

"Preventative" has been in use since 1666 as an alternate pronunciation and spelling for "preventive".

In some regions (including where I grew up - almost in the center of the region natively speaking the "radio accent", which has been the de facto standard speech for the U.S. since the advent of commercial broadcasting) it is the preferred form.

If you want to be a spelling NAZI, you should avoid being provincial about it. Check the online dictionaries before correcting others, to distinguish between being helpful and imposing your local speech on others.

Unlike French ("a dead language spoken by millions"), American English does not have a regulatory body prescribing an official standard (though some educators have tried, since at least Daniel Webster). It grows and changes by usage. Dictionaries play a game of catch up and try to document how it's realy used.

(Yes, I know how it grates on your nerves when someone uses a different spelling or pronunciation than you're used to. I feel the same way when my wife pronounces "legacy" as if she was talking about a ledge. But apparently that's actually the first pronunciation listed in The Oxford.)

Comment: Re:Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk (Score 1) 182

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46797897) Attached to: The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

(Slashdot timed out on me and I lost the start of my post.)

As built the skywalk was so overloaded that eventual collapse was possible even without any load. Naturally when it did fail it would be at a time when both the upper and lower skywalks were heavily loaded with people, and the floor crowded below. 114 died, 216 were injured - many seriously.

Of course loads on things like bridges and skyways vary a lot. You can expect them to go in times of high load, which happens to be when there are a lot of people around to be injured or killed.

Comment: Re:Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk (Score 1) 182

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46797549) Attached to: The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

n this case it failed when there was a celebration in progress. The ground floor level was crammed with dancing people and the crowd had overflowed onto the skywalks. Pogo dancing was current at the time, and apparently the failure occurred when people on the bridges, synchronized by the live music, were jumping up and down in unison. (It's the inverse of the way soldiers are required NOT to march in step when crossing a bridge.)

Thus you can expect such structures to go when there are a lot of people around to get hurt.

(Interestingly, a crowd of people is MUCH more of a load, even without synchronized jumping, than vehicular traffic. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was reported to have had its greatest load ever during its anneversary, a few years back. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic and the public invited to hike over it. Normally the bridge span has a substantial arc. This stretched the springy cables and broght the span down until it was flat.

During the planning the load on the bridge had been anticipated and computed to be safe. But there were plenty of boats standing by to try to save people if the deck DID collapse, and the people had been warned of the possibility and asked not to dance or walk in step.

Comment: The courts are a different branch and not elected. (Score 1) 816

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46776465) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

then why the recent decision ... that allowed individuals to contribute directly to *all* candidates, with no overall cap on contributions?

Because it'a a SUPREME COURT decision. We have three branches of government and only two are elected.

The supremes are appointed, for life (subject only to impeachment for high crimes, like the president). They have no re-election issues and can vote their mind without affecting their own tenure.

The court has repeatedly struck down campaign spending restrictions, because they're limits, not just on free speech, but on the POLITICAL speech that is the reason it is an enumerated right in the first place.

But it takes a while for a law to produce enough damage to give someone standing to challenge it, and to bring it to the supremes, and then they rule narrowly. Then, once a piece is struck down, Congress just turns around and does another version of it to evade the details of that decision, and the cycle starts over.

There are under 700 people that hit the max last time around, do you seriously think that decision will benefit the grass roots? Sounds to me like it's aimed squarely at giving the oligarchs more influence.

Of course it's the rich are the first who are bit and who have the resources to bring the suit. That's part of why the limits end up off the rich (like Soros) first, while they're still hobbling everybody else.

It isn't just the limits themselves that are an issue. There's all the reporting requirements, publication requirements, time limits, and maze of details that make compliance hard.

It's hard for candidates: They need a substantial political machine right off the bat. Getting dinged for campaign finance violations is costly, may involve jail time, DOES involve court time, and produces publicity that tarnishes the candidate's image and hurts his chances in future elections. This gives the professional politicians, especially incumbents with the machine in place, a massive advantage over any grass-roots upstarts trying to replace them.

And it can bring on reprisals against donors - including carreer-killing or physical retaliation. Who contributed to what political campaigns is public record and searchable online. This is an invitation to people with opposing views to exert social pressure or take revenge. (Within the last couple weeks we saw the CEO of Netscape forced to resign by just such pressure, as a result of the McCain-Feingold reporting of a past political contribution to a "politically-incorrect" campaign.)

It's the exact opposite of a secret ballot, which is secret to prevent such reprisals so the vote can be cast in safety. Why should financial support be any different? Why would publishing the amount and beneficiary of each contributor's political contributions be any less of a bias on the political system than publishing the way each voter voted?

Further, risking a job is far more of a hardship for a little guy living hand-to-mouth than a rich executive with millions in the bank and a golden parachute. So it's another force to suppress grass-roots opinion in favor of those who are independently wealthy or well-off.

Comment: Looks like methodology "canceled out" grass roots (Score 2) 816

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46765127) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for,

I'm curious about what "organized interest groups" were "controlled for". Did that include things like the AARP and the NRA, the two largest public pressure groups in the country? How about the various organizations called The Tea Party?

When a lot of people at the grass roots level want to redirect the government, they often join together and form orgizations to lobby for their interests. These groups are generally what gets things done. If the study counts such organizations as "organized interest groups" and subtracts their policy impact from the impact of the "Average American", it's no wonder the latter's impact is measured as " minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant".

Also: What counts as the policy desires of the "Average American"? Are they averaging out people with opposing oppinions on government policy?

Comment: Spending limits are aimed at grass roots. (Score 1, Interesting) 816

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46765075) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

You lift the limits on campaign spending, declare that corporations have the right of political speech and are now surprised that the rich people have all the say?

Actually, the campaign spending limits are aimed squarely at the grass roots.

The McCain-Feingold act of 2002, for example, was passed in reaction to the massive volunteer efforts that took down Mike Roos from the California legislature in 1991 (and caused trouble for David Roberti in 1994), and Tom Foley from the House in 1994. It makes the equivalent value of volunteer work and supplies (such as paper, envelopes, and stamps) subject to the spending limits and reporting requirements, as if they were contributions, but provides no caps for campaign spending for such people as labor unions, media conglomerates, and billionaires such as George Soros.

Comment: OpenSSL can just backport anything OpenBSD fixes. (Score 1) 304

by Ungrounded Lightning (#46759305) Attached to: OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

There's no doubt that OpenSSL needs work, but they seem to be needlessly combining actual security review with "break every platform that I don't like." At a minimum, anyone else trying to benefit from this will need to unravel the worthwhile security changes from the petty OS wars crap.

I don't see this as a problem. Since OpenBSD is working on their own, for-themselves, branch, they can fix it any way they want. If they do a good job (as expected), the OpenSSL project can then backport their fixes into their project and integrate it to their hearts' content.k (If they chose not to, someone else can chose to fork and do it, and the two versions can fight it out for acceptance.)

This is how it works in the Bazzaar.

Comment: International "ethics" (Score 2) 304

... as they keep saying about Jerusalem, it will go something like this: "Annexed by Russia in a move not recognized internationally."

I recently too a course titled "Ethics in International Relations" at a major college. (This was to fulfill a distribution requirement for an "ethics" class and the particular course had the bonus of also fulfilling an international affairs requirement.)

One of the first points made:
  * Which regions are part of which countries is NOT a subject of international ethics.
A fait accopli is accepted as is. (This was taken as a universal, part of the definition of the boundaries of the field (as taught), which otherwise studied many different, often conflicting, schools of thought.

I interpret this as follows: "International Ethics", as a dicipline, is an attempt by academics (and the rich people who fund them - such as Andrew Carnegie, who largely founded the field) to influence governments, primarily to improve their treatment of the people they rule and otherwise use force upon. ("Improved" being viewed throught the biases of the academics in question.)

In order to sway the behavior of rulers - especially those who are oppressing their long-standing citizens, recent conquests, or those with whom they are considering resolving a dispute with force, they have to appear non-threatening to the rulers' core issue: that the ruler is in charge. So they must strictly avoid challenging WHETHER the rulers rule, sticking to issues of HOW they rule.

So don't expect academia to support any move for self-determination by the people of an occupied region. The rulers that make the claim and have the power to enforce it will be passively accepted.

DO expect them to oppose such people arming themselves to assert a right to self-determination, or even anyone speaking in a way that might "lead to conflict" rather than passification and quiet (but mainly non-violent) suffering. Thus you see them supporting things like censorship of speech an arms blockades to regions of conflict - which are then selectively enforced and lead to "ethnic clensing" genocides by the side that more successfully evades them against the side that is now largely disarmed.

(Example on censorship: During the period where the Benghazi attack was being blamed on a video posted on YouTube, Sarah Chayes, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote an op-ed for the L.A. times calling for its censorship.)

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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