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Comment Re:Scare tactics (Score 1) 407

Pretty much. It wasn't exactly a nobility/peasant distinction as a cuisine/non-cuisine split. The French had good cooks (even then) and so the terms for the dishes "mutton," "pork" and "beef" come from French while the terms for the animals, "sheep," "pig" and "cow" retained the terms from English/German. The cuisine/non-cuisine breakout probably had elements of a high/low language thing, but if the Anglo-Saxons were better cooks we would probably be eating SLT's (sheep, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, where the sheep is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe), pig chops, and ground cow.

Comment Re:Disposable cell phone (Score 1) 364

The scary thing is that a few weeks ago I would have read this post and thought "Jeez put away the aluminum hat" and now I'm wishing I had mod points.
What if the director of the NSA decides that he wants to run for president in 2016? And shockingly enough, no prominent politician is willing to run against him?
I would love to say that if I had this kind of power that I would use it wisely and justly, but I don't really know what I would do. And so I can't possibly trust somebody else to avoid all abuses of this power

Comment Re:No easy solution (Score 1) 364

I just can't stop myself. If you don't have anything to hide you have nothing to worry about.

I'm not going to downmod you, but I did notice:

amiga3D (567632)

(email not shown publicly)

Would you be willing to post your email? What about the name of your elementary school, the name of your first pet, and your mother's maiden name? Or how much money you have in the bank, and your retirement accounts?

It's not about having something to hide. It's about wanting a modicum of privacy from the Lois Lerners of the world (and yeah the baddies on the right too but the IRS is current events so that's my reference du jour).

Comment Re:Yes (Score 2) 397

I don't know, I have a very strong Bayesian prior that the drunk driver is the cause of an accident when that drunk driver is involved in an accident. Eyewitness testimony is fraught with possible errors so unless there is something stronger like video or a black box recorder I don't think you could convince me that the sober person was the cause of the accident (even with a preponderance of the evidence standard)

But merely the existence of a cell phone near the accident should mean almost nothing - almost everyone will have one, but the vast majority of accidents that occur have nothing to do with a cell phone. So I don't think that the police should be able to just fiddle around with someone's cell phone just because 1) the phone is there, and 2) there was an accident. Of course, if an SMS pops up while the officer is there saying something like "what was that? you didn't finish that last text" then of course it becomes evidence, but this law seems to just be authorizing fishing expeditions.

Submission + - Amazon delivering groceries? It's coming, thanks to sales-tax politics (xconomy.com)

curtwoodward writes: Amazon has been delivering groceries to people in its hometown of Seattle for a half-dozen years, but the experiment has never spread any further. But this year, rumors about Amazon Fresh expanding to new cities are coming out every month — Reuters just reported that Amazon could start the service in L.A. within a week, and in San Francisco in the coming months.
What gives? Why expand now? Look no further than Amazon's long-running battle with state and federal governments over sales tax policy. After more than a decade of resistance, Amazon has spent the last two years cutting deals to collect sales taxes in states all over the country. And it's pushing for a national online sales-tax system, which appears to be within reach.
That's the last obstacle to Amazon getting into the grocery-delivery game — a step that should worry not only grocers, but UPS and FedEx, too.

Comment Re:Ubiquitous surveillance (Score 2) 309

If it was this story that you listened to, there is more to the story. When the man was released, he murdered a woman.

But in a way that supports your point even more - eyewitness testimony is a bad way to get to the facts (let alone the truth!). Maybe she remembered right the first time, maybe not, we can never know.

Submission + - White House announces reforms targeting patent trolls

andy1307 writes: According to Politico and The Wall Street Journal, the White House on Tuesday plans to announce a set of executive actions President Barack Obama will take that are aimed at reining in certain patent-holding firms, known as "patent trolls" to their detractors, amid concerns that the firms are abusing the patent system and disrupting competition. The plan includes five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations. They include requiring patent holders and applicants to disclose who really owns and controls the patent, changing how fees are awarded to the prevailing parties in patent litigation and protecting consumers with better protections against being sued for patent infringement.

Comment Re:Should be noted (Score 5, Interesting) 643

Digging through the Supreme Court Database, this happened exactly once before (Scalia, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsberg all agreeing in dissent). It happened in Williams v. Illinois, which was interestingly also a DNA testing case. The question at the time was "Whether a state rule of evidence allowing an expert witness to testify about the results of DNA testing performed by non-testifying analysts, where the defendant has no opportunity to confront the actual analysts, violates the Confrontation Clause." The majority held that it did not violate the confrontation clause, with these four justices in dissent.

Comment Re:depends on what you're going into (Score 1) 656

This. I actually wrote the other day (in response to the "How did you learn to program" article:

I grew up with "programming" on the C64 too, and it is funny that it did not seem to help very much when learning to code for real. However, my undergraduate degree is in pure math (not statistics or discrete/applied math) and it's funny that the kinds of things that I learned on that C64 helped me tremendously in mathematics.

There is a unique blend of creativity and rigor that is very similar when you write a program or write a proof, that you need when you look at the blinking cursor at the top of a blank screen, or a sheet of paper that begins with "Thm:" and ends with a lonely "Prf:". You need to be able to connect what you know, and the tools that are available to you, and have some inkling as to how they might reach the goal at the end. Sometimes it is as simple as unpacking some definitions, or just plumbing together some libraries, but the tough/fun part is when you need to figure out some non-obvious trick that will get you to the other side. And once you have that insight, you are not done; both require a great deal of rigor, such as covering all possible conditions of a conditional branching structure, or making sure that counters and loops start at 0 and go to n (or is that 1 and n+1? :) ).

Now I work with statistics, and although the work deals with many more numbers, and most people would say that it really is "math," it really doesn't feel the same as the math I did at school except when I have to create some interesting data structure or use some optimization trick to get everything to fit into memory. And those neat coding exercises are more like "math" to me than a bunch of numbers coming out of some numerical method.

Your description of "arbitrary symbol manipulation as a tool to manipulate abstractions of a problem in a way that you can trust that the result solves the problem" is a much better way of saying what I was trying to say. If you can't think through several layers of abstraction into a problem you are going to have a difficult time contributing towards large software projects. Mathematics teaches you rigorous symbol manipulation and abstract thinking at multiple levels in a way that many other disciplines do not.

Comment Re:Performance feedback (Score 1) 273

Is it 'management dickery' to have a dashboard camera to record police officers on traffic stops? Or to put a black box recorder in a commercial airliner? How about background checks for elementary school teachers? Surveillance cameras on bank tellers, or casino dealers? I'm all in favor of privacy rights for the general public, but there are certain professions that by their very nature require a higher level of scrutiny, especially on the job.

This has been a problem for decades, and less intrusive methods have not seemed to solve the problem. Yes, this comes down to a "this is why we can't have nice things" argument. But of all the things that health care professionals do that requires hard work, sacrifice, a high level of skill, or dedication to helping people, this seems like such a small additional step with a tremendous possible bang for the buck. (And please don't turn this into a slippery slope argument. You should look at the costs and benefits of any proposed intrusion on privacy on its own merits)

Comment Re:Still doesn't excuse his behavior (Score 2) 273

According to this, "it has been estimated that hospitalacquired infections are responsible for 80,000 deaths in the United States and 5,000 deaths in the United Kingdom." "Compliance rates were ... lower among physicians (32%)." So only 32% of doctors are washing their hands, killing 80,000 people per year. I will let the reader decide whether they want to compare this to the deaths caused by automobiles (32,367) or handguns (31,672), but apparently keeping hands clean in hospitals is a serious public health problem, and one that, of all people, hospital administrators, doctors and nurses should all be doing everything they can to fix it.

The good news is that micromanagement works: "The majority of the time, the situations that were associated with a higher compliance rate were those having to do with dirty tasks, the introduction of alcoholbased hand rub or gel, performance feedback, and accessibility of materials."

This isn't about monitoring bathroom breaks, it is about monitoring basic competence to do your job. A patient is supposed to end a hospital visit healthier than they started, and if health care professionals are doing things that make that goal more difficult then they are failing at their job. It's not the same as, say, monitoring the number of lines of code that a developer writes (where there is, at best, a tenuous relationship between the measured value and the quality of software - and probably none at all), it is a well-documented and serious problem that kills people. It's more like measuring whether a developer leaves his workstation turned off all day. Washing hands regularly is a necessary though not sufficient condition to make people healthy in a hospital, and if constant monitoring is required to get more than 1/3 of doctors to do it, then so be it.

Comment Re:C64 (Score 1) 623

I grew up with "programming" on the C64 too, and it is funny that it did not seem to help very much when learning to code for real. However, my undergraduate degree is in pure math (not statistics or discrete/applied math) and it's funny that the kinds of things that I learned on that C64 helped me tremendously in mathematics.

There is a unique blend of creativity and rigor that is very similar when you write a program or write a proof, that you need when you look at the blinking cursor at the top of a blank screen, or a sheet of paper that begins with "Thm:" and ends with a lonely "Prf:". You need to be able to connect what you know, and the tools that are available to you, and have some inkling as to how they might reach the goal at the end. Sometimes it is as simple as unpacking some definitions, or just plumbing together some libraries, but the tough/fun part is when you need to figure out some non-obvious trick that will get you to the other side. And once you have that insight, you are not done; both require a great deal of rigor, such as covering all possible conditions of a conditional branching structure, or making sure that counters and loops start at 0 and go to n (or is that 1 and n+1? :) ).

Now I work with statistics, and although the work deals with many more numbers, and most people would say that it really is "math," it really doesn't feel the same as the math I did at school except when I have to create some interesting data structure or use some optimization trick to get everything to fit into memory. And those neat coding exercises are more like "math" to me than a bunch of numbers coming out of some numerical method.

Comment Re:scholarship? (Score 1) 318

It probably takes ten pages of legalese to say "you will tell us every detail that you know about the bug that you found. Also, if you spend your money doing something dangerous and/or stupid, you agree not to sue us." And like you point out, there is the usual NDA and publicity stuff too.

As for child stars, IANAL, but I believe that there is a way to get judicial pre-approval (e.g., here). I'm guessing that in this case they have neither the expertise nor inclination to go through a judicial proceeding for a relatively small amount of money. But that still doesn't explain why they don't just have the parents submit the bug and sign the contract.

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