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Comment Re:Computers are not the solution for elections (Score 1) 193

And then what?

Let's ponder this for a moment: You live in a country where there is one dominant party. A party that does not really represent you, but it seems to have a lot of support and backing because it does have the majority of votes. Maybe also because it's known that whoever exposes himself as someone who doesn't support The Party has to face some strange problems suddenly. Like, getting laid off for no good reason (explained as "economic reason").

Now you notice that your vote for $competing_party was counted as one for The Party.

What do you want to do now? Complain that your vote was counted wrongly and risk your job? Of 100 people "wrongly" counted, maybe one will have the guts to stand up and risk his future for the sake of democracy.

Sorry, but there is no cure for computer voting. It just isn't possible to make it democratically robust.

Comment Computers are not the solution for elections (Score 2) 193

Especially when you do not have a problem. If anything, computers are a liability for elections. For many reasons.

First, the obvious one that was showcased in this issue: KISS is the principle to follow with elections. The more complicated it gets, the more places something can go wrong. Moreover, the more places someone can try to manipulate without anyone having a chance to detect it. I'll get to that in a bit. But the bug in the software shows quite well what's wrong with this idea: It's complicated. Paper and pencil is a technology ANYONE can use and understand. It's time tested and foolproof. There is exactly NOTHING that could go wrong with making a cross somewhere on a sheet of paper and tossing that into a box. It's a simple, mechanical way of voting that simply can not fail, from a "technical" point of view. Yes, it's more complicated to count, but that's all that makes it less attractive.

And yes, a paper ballot can be manipulated. But it is WAY harder to detect manipulations with computer voting systems. With a paper ballot, provided your system allows it (which it should), anyone who wants to check whether there has been some foul play can do so. Any party that thinks there might be some sort of election fraud can send observers to any of the polling stations and ensure that people can (actually must!) vote in secrecy and that the ballot is not only sealed and tamper free until counting but also that any kind of transport happens in a secure way. Simply accompany that ballot box. You don't need any kind of specially trained personnel to do that. What the observer needs is fairly good vision (may be corrected) and a more or less functioning brain.

To test a voting machine against tampering or election fraud, at the very least you need a pretty good security auditor. And then you also need to trust that guy. I guess I'm not the only one who could see some populist party crying foul play should people start to realize that they're selling snakeoil and pretend that those voting machines are rigged. And then try to disprove that in such a way that the population, who knows jack about computers, believes you.

In a nutshell, voting machines are dangerous to the faith people have in democracy and elections.

Comment Don't you ever learn? (Score 1) 193

What do you think will the net effect be? It might work this year, and next year you'll see the conference move abroad, costing you not only income from tourism but also the ability to sneak your spooks easily into the con.

I sometimes really wonder if the responsible parties in the US are acting dumb or whether they are.

Comment Re:This again... (Score 1) 168

Cannabis has been around for ages. Yes. But it's only become a "youth thing" two generations ago. It was outlawed some more generations ago (after being legal for ... well, pretty much all of humanity's existence), probably around the same time we tried to do the same with alcohol, and the 60s youth revolution "rediscovered" it. They had to deal with a parent generation that grew up without it and hence feared that, to them, unknown drug. Since then, it's been part of our "youth culture", in a way.

In other words, the parents and grandparents of today's teenagers were "potheads" already, or at least had exposure to it. With the grandparents actually having more exposure to it than the parents. Along with other drugs like LSD. I'm fairly sure that there are more 50-60 year olds around that took a trip to the skies than there are 30-40 year olds.

The kids of today are "only" the second generation of gamers. Still, bad mouthing video games won't do it, since the parents, the first generation gamers, won't buy it.

Since we do apparently have that need to blame the unruly youth at something, and since the young'uns today don't do anything their parents or grandparents didn't do (aside of "social networking", but guess what: The parents and grandparents do it TOO, so that can't be it), we can only try some combinations. Parents enjoyed video games, grandparents enjoyed drugs, but it must be the combination thereof that makes our youth go bananas.

We need to pin it to something. Bad parenting can't be it, and now hush li'l Jonny and watch your TV, mom's busy on the phone.

Comment Re:This again... (Score 5, Interesting) 168

Well, it's getting harder and harder to demonize video games. The kids of today are already the second generation of gamers, their parents are the first. Having a teenager (i.e. the time when you start wondering "just where did my kid go wrong?") means that you're about 40 years old. That is about the age where you had an Atari 2600 or a C64 as a kid.

Demonizing weed isn't easy either, since it's been around for two generations by now (or rather, two generations had some rather high rate of exposure to it).

What's left is demonizing the combo. Because when you were a kid during my generation (i.e. the "40ish" people of today), you were EITHER a geek OR doing dope. The combination was rather rare.

And it simply can't be that your kids are simply walking hormones that come without a user manual, where you have to figure out how to deal with them. So SOMETHING must be wrong here. He was always such a nice boy...

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