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Comment: Re:Simple really... (Score 1) 489

by valdis (#32716354) Attached to: Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee

"So you're ok with a couple of thousand people dying from an attack every so often?"

The fact is that we as a society have decided that *much* higher preventable losses are in fact acceptable.

The 3,000 or so we lost in one attack a decade ago averages out to 300 per year. Compare this to the 36,000 a year that die in car crashes, or the 400,000 that die from smoking-related deaths, or the 300,000 due to obesity - maybe we should be declaring war on cars, cigarettes and food instead. Oh, and several hundred people die of bee stings a year, and 50 or so from lightning strikes - time to declare war on them too?

And there's something to be said for the idea that we as a nation should just man up and *not* insist on getting bent out of shape - remember that stuff like pissing away trillions in 2 wars, the Patriot act, the security theater that is the TSA - those are all things the terrorists *want* us to do. Osama bin Laden is probably laughing his ass off - all he has to do is send 1 incompetent guy every 2-3 years to light his underwear on fire, and let us do the work of destroying ourselves.

Since 9/11, some 4 million US residents have died because we as a nation think that's an acceptable loss to preserve people's right to smoke tobacco. Surely, 300 per year is an acceptable loss to preserve people's rights as a free society.

Comment: Re:It is the worsed example (Score 1) 122

by valdis (#32651312) Attached to: Preserving Virtual Worlds

You know, waving "It's called FUCKING EMULATION" around is one thing. Figuring out exactly how to actually *do* it os something else entirely. How do you emulate stuff you don't have full tech details for? What the hell is this totally undocumented code that scribbles 3 integers into a 15 year old NVidia card's control registers? Remember that there's a lot of stuff like device drivers from that era that we don't have source to emulate, and we never will. Make it kind of hard to emulate when you don't know what the emulated code actually does.

Comment: Re:If it's available it's fair game (Score 1) 282

by valdis (#30658826) Attached to: Does Cheap Tech Undermine Legal Privacy Protections?

Anybody with a few benjamins or so can charter a helicopter for a ride over the location and see whatever's visible from up there. Ordinary citizens certainly have access to it. See for example http://www.newyorkhelicopter.com/helicopter_tours.html

Another point is that even in a helicopter, the cops are still constrained by the "in plain sight" requirement - they can't act on anything they see down there unless it's something that anybody else who happened to do a fly-over would see. If they do a fly-over with special imaging gear, that's still going to need a warrant.

And they cops usually need a warrant for that phone tap that ordinary citizens *don't* have access to.

Comment: Re:There must be a better way. (Score 1) 282

by valdis (#30658596) Attached to: Does Cheap Tech Undermine Legal Privacy Protections?

Overlooking the fact that no police department will admit to a quota of speeding tickets.. ;)

If there *is* a quota for speeding tickets, it's conceivably fulfillable - the town I live in has a police department of around 20 patrolmen, and if you require each to write 3 speeding tickets a day, they can probably do it because in a town of several tens of thousands of people, at least 60 a day will be speeding - it's a relatively common occurence.

However, you can't say "Catch N terrorists a month" because there simply aren't enough actual terrorists out there actually flying. Even if you set the quota at 1 per airport per month, there's several hundred airports in the US (counting all the little regional airports), and most months there are *not* several hundred terrorists actually on planes in US airspace. Maybe 1 or 2. All the rest get to bust somebody innocent.

Think - in all the years since 9/11, we've had a shoe bomber who couldn't light his shoe, a testicle bomber who managed to blow up his junk, and maybe a few others that the plot failed without anybody noticing. I think it's safe to say there's approximately one terrorist per year in the entire air transport system.

Kinda hard to set quotas for something that rare.

Comment: Re:Solution? (Score 1) 490

by valdis (#29055635) Attached to: US Colleges Say Hiring US Students a Bad Deal

"The governmnet can't even be relied on to deliver the frickin' mail."

OK, and how often does the United States Postal Service *actually* screw up? Think about it - you get a frikking *pizza* delivered 2 miles, you're looking at tipping the driver a few bucks. But you stick a 44 cent stamp on a letter, they'll get it across the country in a reasonable amount of time, with a hell of a lot better accuracy (I've had a lot more pizza drivers not find my place than USPS employees).

Comment: Hate to inject some reality, but it needs doing... (Score 1) 306

by valdis (#28289777) Attached to: How Software Engineering Differs From Computer Science

"Economics generally failed to predict the mortgage meltdown."

Um. No.

There were a *lot* of economists that were saying a decade ago that nothing good could come from the deregulation craze, and the almost total lack of effective oversight over at the SEC.

You want to hang somebody out to dry, go after the financial execs that did the stuff, and the government people that acted as facilitators.

Comment: Re:Please Don't Give This Man Attention! (Score 1) 239

by valdis (#25662079) Attached to: Blizzard Sued By South Carolina Inmate

"but maybe they could have cut him off after the first dozen random suits, no ?"

Actually, there's provisions for that:

                    "Under 28 U.S.C. 1915A(b)(1), the court is directed to dismiss a suit brought in forma pauperis at any
time if the court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
                  The Supreme Court emphasized in Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989), that the term frivolous
as used in 1915(d) "embraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation."
Federal courts are thus empowered to summarily dismiss as frivolous "claims describing fantastic or delusional
scenarios." Id. at 328. Riches's complaint is obviously delusional.
                  This suit is accordingly dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Riches is
warned that if a prisoner has had a total of three federal cases or appeals dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or failing
to state a claim, he may not file suit in federal court without prepaying the filing fee unless he is in imminent danger
of serious physical injury. 28 U.S.C. 1915(g)."

http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/illinois/ilndce/1:2007cv04192/211173/5/

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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