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Comment Re:For the sake of saving time, (Score 2) 417

How exactly do you propose the NSA determine who means us harm?

By that logic, we should all just line up to get our appendixes taken out.

Do you know about the paradox of false positives? Let's say there are 300 hard core terrorists in the US planning to bomb something. If the NSA were able to determine a terrorist from a non-terrorist 99% of the time (and they're not. it's more like 60% of the time), that means you'd have hundreds of thousands of people declared terrorists who are not. So instead of being 99% accurate, you end up being thousands of percent inaccurate. Plus, you've ruined hundreds of thousands of people's lives unnecessarily.

The question you are asking is very much the wrong one, since almost everyone means us no harm. If you're starting you investigation with "We suspect everyone" then the NSA is a completely worthless organization.

Nobody said law enforcement was easy, but christ, our Constitution made it that way on purpose. It's not supposed to be easy. I bet it was easy to find out who dealt it in Soviet-era East Germany, because the Stazi had their nose up everyone's ass. That's not supposed to be us.

[pardon me for not doing the math precisely. it's late and I drank a few beers while standing at the grill this afternoon. I'm sure there's someone here who has actually passed statistics who can give it to us with more specifics]

Comment Re:Alternatively... (Score 1) 121

You know what else works just as well as a credit card that is way smaller and lighter than a cell phone, never needs recharging, works literally everywhere and already has proven, well-established limited liability for theft?


Plus, you have the benefit of not having your purchases become part of a massive database to be misused by powerful and evil forces.

I'd like to see some innovations in payment methods that still leave the shopper with a little bit of privacy protection.

Comment Re:For the sake of saving time, (Score 1, Interesting) 417

why in hell would you have this kind of agency?

That is the question, isn't it?

It makes no sense to get mad about the NSA spying since that is their entire reason for existence.

See, the idea is that they're supposed to spy on people who mean us harm. Not on everyone.

And if you're going to spy on everyone, why bother spending all the money and energy keeping it secret? Wouldn't it be more effective if you just let everyone know in no uncertain terms that "WE ARE WATCHING YOU"?

I realize that you're just trolling, but it's important for the low-information types that your questions are asked and answered.

Comment Re:Crippled crap... (Score 1) 232

Education will likely be much better when we have those

Do we have any evidence that education has ever been improved by technology? Any data we can point to as an unqualified improvement thanks to a specific technology?

I suppose a chalk board was a step up from scratching in the dirt, but past that, I'm drawing a blank.

Speaking as someone who has taught in higher education for decades.

Comment Re:Crime is down trending (Score 4, Insightful) 84

They're fishing for justification to continue to exist.

And more important, there is a lot of money to be made.

There are suburbs in Virginia where every single household is involved in the surveillance state. And the sweetest part of the deal is that the money comes entirely off-budget, because of course, if you're going to have a secret program, you know the appropriations to pay for it have to be secret too, because freedom.

I'm not even sure that the US government really has much control over the police state apparatus any more. And don't doubt for a second that the data collected will end up in the hands of private corporations, for god knows what.

Unfortunately, the surveillance regime, the kill lists, the extra-Constitutional domestic spying, the data mining and the "partnering" with private security contractors has now cost the US every bit of moral authority they once had over countries like North Korea.

We can no longer claim any high ground, when you've created an apparatus that the East German secret police could have only dreamed about.

Comment Re:Crippled crap... (Score 1) 232

I'm looking forward to taking all of my math courses through them in the future. Top notch.

I guarantee the math teachers in those courses do not agree.

I've spent a fair amount of time with the Pearson "MyMathLab" courses, since my wife is a mathematician who is required to teach at least one undergrad course each term. What I've found is courses that basically "teach the test" without requiring any sort of problem-solving by the student. That system produces kids for whom answers are what's in the back of the book rather than being the result of reason and mathematical operations.

And the statistics courses are much worse. I refuse to look at their English courses, because I don't want to become depressed. Plus I've retired from academia and it's all out of my hands now.

Comment Re:Crippled crap... (Score 1) 232

They work well for novels not well for non fiction and especially not well for the interactive books needed for children's education.

Because education is so much better now that we have "interactive books" instead of the old-fashioned kind.

And there are ereaders less than half the price of an iPad that can display "graphs" just fine.

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There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923