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Comment You're drawing the wrong conclusions (Score 1) 875

We have more guns. (Per person!) According to our own government's statistics. Yet we have less violent crime. This is a direct, indisputable DISproof of the idea that "more guns equals more crime".

You're comparing the wrong things. Yes, gun ownership is increasing in the US. Yes, violent crimes are decreasing in the US.

But lets look at how violent crimes are defined in the FBI statistics

In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.

My point is that the violent crimes count includes both incidents where firearms were and were not involved.

What is interesting however, is that firearms are increasingly being used in violent crimes.

Dont take my word for it-

In 2010, firearms were used in 67.5 percent of the Nation’s murders, 41.4 percent of robberies, and 20.6 percent of aggravated assaults.

In 2011, firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults

In 2012, firearms were used in 69.3 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.0 percent of robberies, and 21.8 percent of aggravated assaults.

Figures for 2013 onwards are not yet available.

I think its correct (as well as common sense) to conclude that making weapons more easily available increased the likelihood it will be used in violent crimes.

Comment Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (Score 2) 220

Considering the great lengths he went to to mine bitcoins, I wouldn't bet on that.

From the report:-

The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer
usage at two universities to generate bitcoins valued between $8,000
and $10,000. Both universities determined that this was an unauthorized
use of their IT systems. The researcher asserted that he was conducting
tests on the computers, but neither university had authorized him to
conduct such tests -- both university reports noted that the researcher
accessed the computer systems remotely and may have taken steps to
conceal his activities, including accessing one supercomputer through a
mirror site in Europe.

Comment Re:The 'test' was fixed (Score 1) 432

Thanks for the link. This pretty much proves it was a set-up. If this was the level of the programme's response during the actual test, I cannot imagine how it could ever be interpreted as human (much less a 13 year old non native English speaker).

Comment Re:Keep it simple (Score 1) 170

Of course, it's also true that the fewer people know about it, the more likely it will be permanently lost.

Granted, there is always a risk. But in a situation where you have a secret that cannot be released now but which you hope to release for posterity in the future, usually the potential damage caused by premature disclosure far outweighs any possible benefits. Take the example of the Boston papers; I'm sure the parties who contributed their knowledge of the IRA activities would rather their information be destroyed rather than be disclosed now exposing them to criminal liability.

Comment What improvement? (Score 1) 432

still though, it's an improvement over past attempts.

No, previous failed attempts attempted to simulate a normal human adult conversant in the English language. This programme fooled the judges by lowering the acceptable standards to be judged human by telling them it was (1) a 13 year old (2) non-native English speaker from Ukraine.

This is like claiming a goal after moving the goalposts.

Comment The 'test' was fixed (Score 5, Insightful) 432

What has been conducted precisely matches Turing's proposed immitation game.

While they may have matched the letter of it, they subverted the spirit of the test. This quote from the programme maker in particular is highly suggestive that they lowered the standards :-

The computer programme claims to be a 13-year-old boy from Odessa in Ukraine.

"Our main idea was that he can claim that he knows anything, but his age also makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn't know everything," said Vladimir Veselov, one of the creators of the programme. "We spent a lot of time developing a character with a believable personality."

To illustrate what I mean by lowered standards, imagine if I set up the same test, with 10 entries, and I tell the judges some of them are 2 year old babies playing on the keyboard. Armed with this information, some of the judges are likely to interpret even gibberish as typed by a human and it is not too farfetched to get more than 30% of them to agree.

This "result" is bollocks and a pure publicity stunt conveniently on falling on the 60th anniversary of Turing's death.

I want to see the actual transcripts which do not appear to have been released so far, which in itself is highly suspicious.

Comment Decision seems dubious actually (Score 1) 53

From TFA:-

In March 2013 the case ended with the decision that Apple had in fact not infringed on the mark. The logic behind the ruling was based on the difference in the two companies’ markets. While iFone sells telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones (but not actual telecommunications service). Because of this, Apple would be allowed to continue using the name.

So far so good, you need to register your TM for specific markets. Thats why the music company that owns the Beatles' music and the tech company that produces smartphones both can use the name "Apple".

Because cellular carriers offer telecommunications services, the IMPI (Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) ruled that carriers selling the iPhone could no longer use the name in their advertising materials.

This is the dodgy part. Normally TM is only infringed if the TM that you use is either identical to the registered mark, or so similar that it causes confusion among the public causing them to mistake your goods/services for that of the registered TM holder.

From a logical point of view, the whole idea behind telcos flogging iPhones in the first place is to use a well known premium product, the iPhone to induce potential customers to sign with them. It would be counter productive if the potential customers were to somehow equate their offer with "iFone" services which do not have that cachet. Any way you look at it, it seems to be an abuse of TM law.

Comment Keep it simple (Score 3, Interesting) 170

You guys are thinking too much into this. Any third party you entrust your secret to (bank authorities, lawyers, software etc) is a potential point of breach.

Just keep your information in hard copy (papers, journals etc), put it in a box, lock it up and bury it. Entrust the secret and key to a son/daughter with strict instructions it is not to be opened until you pass away, with the warning that the secrets revealed may destroy the family.

The less people know about it, the more secure it is.

I'd rather trust family who have an interest in protecting your secrets rather than some stranger or worse, impersonal unthinking code. And having a living, thinking secret keeper who can respond to challenges and situations you may not even forsee is far more effective.

Comment Re: Bad DOJ (Score 1) 269

To the AC supporting the DOJ :-

While your explanation sounds plausible at first blush, other commenter smarter than I here have pointed out various flaws in your explanation you would do well to address.

The fundamental problem with your explanation is that no one really knows how the system works except for the NSA. And given that the Director of National Intelligence himself was caught telling untruths to Congress while under oath, and deliberately refused to correct the error when he had a chance to do so, you should understand why it is difficult to grant any benefit of doubt to the NSA when they give out their explanations.

To put it bluntly, the gut instinct of anyone who catches a liar is to disbelieve everything he says unless backed by solid evidence.

Comment Actual secret courts do not exist (Score 1) 240

Actual secret courts goes against the rights of people, namely the right to justice and would probably be considered unconstitutional by the courts.

If your definition of "actual secret court" is a court whose very existence is not known to the public (in contrast to trials held in a known court but whose proceedings are kept secret) then I suspect it doesn't exist.

The reason is simple- courts are essentially for public consumption. Its very existence is for justice to be seen to be done, to reassure the public that they are being governed by rule of law. That is why the existence of the FISC is disclosed to the public- to try and convince them that the NSA's powers are circumscribed by judicial authority (whether this is true or not is another matter).

If the court is completely secret, it serves no purpose. It is no different from someone making decisions/ruling by decree.

Comment Re:Actually, it happens all the time (Score 1) 138

The internet is full of disinformation and lies, just as well! Quite a bit of internet information is free...a ton of it is free for a reason, it is untrue.

I agree. However, by the same token the internet is also full of information that is true, that is being suppressed and/or information that is not available through official channels. There is a reason why most if not all governments maintain control of mass media and countries such as China actively try to filter the internet. Looking for information online is like panning for gold- its a lot of work picking through the mud, most of the time you get useless dirt, but the occasional gold nuggets make it worthwhile.

Searching the internet on Google is not a replacement for historians doing extensive research, having that research reviewed, then publishing.

You assume that the historians and the whole review mechanism are incorruptible, free from coercion (*cough*research grants*cough*), free from bias, subject to rigid scientific scrutiny and do not have their own personal agenda to push.

As in all things, even historians get it wrong . I feel that there is no substitute for doing your own critical thinking rather than relying on the work of others simply because of the label they bear.

Comment Re:Actually, it happens all the time (Score 1) 138

That is assuming both sides are equally fervent and vocal in their beliefs, which is rarely the case.

Usually you have one side with documents/evidence, and opposing them another side without documents/evidence who have nothing more than a fervent belief that there is a conspiracy, the evidence is forged, that they are being lied to etc despite all evidence to the contrary. Of the two sides, which one do you think is more likely to petition Google for the removal of information from their search engine?

Let me illustrate this with a real world example. If you visit any average forum for any product or service, you are likely to find posts by unhappy customers there vastly outnumbering posts by happy customers. This creates the impression on any casual visitor that the product/service is bad. However, this is usually untrue- it is simply because happy customers go on with their lives whereas the angry ones are motivated to telegraph their anger far and wide.

By the same token, allowing arbitrary removal of information is likely to hand over control of the conversation to those who are the most fanatic, the most dedicated and the most vocal irrespective of the actual merits of their beliefs.

Comment Re:Maybe forr once they really have to keep it sec (Score 1) 240

Then why bother announcing there is a trial? If it needs to be that secret, throw a gag order over the whole damn case. Why tease the public by saying "we caught some bad guys, but you're not smart enough to deal with it like we are"? I hate the idea of secret trials but I also live in the real world and know that sometimes the government has to work in the shadows.

If you read TFA, the government didn't announce it. They were found out, and the gag orders were challenged in court.

The identities of the two defendants charged with serious terror offences are being withheld from the public, and the media are banned from being present in court to report the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD.

The unprecedented secrecy has been imposed on the proceedings after the Crown Prosecution Service obtained legal orders to withhold the names of the defendants and allow the trial to take place in private on the grounds, they said, of national security.

At the court of appeal in London, Anthony Hudson, representing the Guardian and several other media organisations, challenged the orders, which will allow a secret criminal trial to take place for the first time in legal history.

Comment Re:Frightening (Score 1) 269

The principles that this country--the so-called "land of the free and the home of the brave"--is supposed to stand for are far more important than national security, even if we were to stupidly give them the benefit of the doubt by saying that collecting nearly everyone's communications effectively stops terrorists.

I will go further and say that shattering those principles are treason. Think about the amount of global goodwill the USA has lost over the past decade as news of its unjust invasions, NSA spying activities, Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo, waterboarding treatment, drone programme targetting civillian buildings etc gets about. Think of the increased danger US nationals have to face from angry terrorists seeking revenge for perceived injustice.

The more insidious effect is that things have deteriorated to such an extent that even Americans themselves are questioning what they stand for.

And the image of America is dragged down to be on par with totalitarian regimes like Russia and China.

Comment Re:And nothing will be done. (Score 1) 269

Of course, there are also many people who are just authoritarian assholes at heart, and they support things such as the NSA spying from the bottom of their wretched little hearts.

Pretty much par for the course for human behaviour and another variation of NIMBY all over again. These laws/regulations are all good and necessary -unless they start to affect me, of course.

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