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Comment Voluntary Disclosure Is Not Openness (Score 1) 268

The whole point of laws like FOIA is that the law says that the information is public. If each White House decides what it lays open and what it does not, then it will only lay open the stuff that it does not care if people see. So you meet someone somewhere else if you don't want them showing up on the visitor log. That makes a log disclosure sooooo effective.

Comment Some Background (Score 2) 30

If you read the warning letter at the link, it may not make a lot of sense to many of you. Here goes:

FDA wants to have companies work with it to make things as safe as possible. Cooperation with FDA means that FDA worries less about you.

FDA usually starts with an "untitled letter" or "notice of violation" letter. This is FDA's way letting a company know that it found something that is concerning them. It may be that there is no problem, but FDA's concern has to be addressed or things may escalate. Obviously, St. Jude's efforts to convince FDA that there was not a problem did not work here.

When FDA moves to a warning letter, it has convinced itself that there is a problem that has to be fixed. The idea is to get the company to fix it on its own, which happens 99% of the time. Most companies address problems at this stage because they want to protect their reputation as a good company at FDA. Recalcitrant companies applications for approval can be viewed with somewhat more suspicion than companies that jump on issues and fix them right away. Nobody really wants more on-site FDA inspections.

We saw with Theranos what can happen if you fail to fix the problem identified in a warning letter: escalation to enforcement to make the company comply.

A company of any size, or with a product of significant complexity, needs to have written procedures for addressing problems and escalating unsolved problems to a higher level of management. FDA found that St. Jude did not follow its procedures and that the procedures were inadequate. So, to satisfy FDA the company will need to convince FDA that the written procedures are adequate and that there is supervision to enforce those procedures within the company.

At this stage companies will often turn to outside consultants to help fix the problem because higher management no longer has confidence in lower management to fix the problem.

Comment My First Game (Score 1) 467

The first computer game I spent substantial time on was the text game adventure.demo on a Honeywell Sigma 6. I was taught to program on that computer on Hollerith Cards, but after a couple of years at college they hooked up some user terminals. Going to the computer lab to play the game gave me a chance to talk to actual computer geeks and get started with my knowledge of computers.

Comment Civil Contempt is Not Forever (Score 1) 522

Ok, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of how civil contempt works here. Rather than address 100 different posts let me summarize:

The whole idea here is that he has been ordered to do something, and is refusing to do it. The judge may order him held to persuade him to follow the order. Persuasion can take a while on something like this. The judge has a duty to monitor the situation and eventually determine that the defendant is unpersuadable.
Once it becomes clear that the person is unpersuadable, then proceedings for criminal contempt of court should start.

At that point, there are full criminal law protections and procedures. The standard becomes proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the prosecution has the burden of proof on every issue of contention: i.e. whether he really forgot.

So, to address many posts: (1) it is not forever; (2) if he continues to there will eventually be a criminal trial of at least civil contempt. This is a form of obstruction of justice, so the penalty can be severe.

Comment The Problem of Tradeoffs (Score 1) 1321

Most things I can think of alternatives either have manipulable human intervention or compromise vote privacy.

Let's say you print a receipt to the voter with a key to check if the vote was logged correctly (and a matching paper record that is anonymous). That would put power in the hands of the people to detect hacking of the vote count, assuming the hack was in the recording of the vote, not the tabulation of recorded votes (the latter of which can be machine or human). But that risks compromise of voter privacy. After all, you have a potential trail back to the voter.

Let's say you do paper ballots which are anonymous but numbered. You can double-check via sampling every election to do "quality control" which would also detect tabulation hacking. The results of that, again, do no good with crooked election officials. Easy enough to cover up the tabulation error.

Keeping votes anonymous, preventing recording manipulation, and preventing tabulation and reporting manipulation all have to be dealt with or the subject of assumptions. Which ones do you want to preserve?

Comment Buildings Facing Pedestrian Walkways (Score 1) 146

I work in a building where the entrance faces a pedestrian walkway. It is a half-block walk to either of two streets. The problem is generic to the whole multi-block walkway.

With Uber I can position the cursor on the map to identify the pickup location. This is not that hard, and there is no reason for the ride-sharing company to not learn from it, and sell information to or trade information with a mapping company.

Comment Security Through Obscurity (Score 1) 285

Having lived near Fort Meade, I have always believed that if NSA was out to get me, I couldn't stop it. Something they would do would get around my security. The one thing I could count on is that NSA was highly unlikely to actually take an interest in me. So I will take reasonable measures, but I don't walk around covered in tin foil.

Yet so many of those that have good reason to think that they would be a target of highly competent infiltrators appear to rely on the same hope of obscurity. And so do their sysadmins. We see if from these officials of the Democratic Party, we see it from movie stars that ought to know that the traffic through their phones is of great interest, and we see it from businesses that have information on hundreds of thousands or millions of their customers.

Yo! You are NOT obscure.

Comment FBI's limits (Score 1) 242

In the U.S., police are restricted in the "searches" they can conduct without a warrant. They may conduct "reasonable" searches without a warrant because our Constitution protects against "unreasonable" searches. The police may observe activity with their eyes from the street or other public place. Technology raises other issues. The Supreme Court found it "unreasonable" to use an infrared camera to look at houses to see which ones had excess heat to identify houses that were growing marijuana and using hot grow lamps. Just about anything goes in an airport: x-rays, dogs, etc. It would be interesting to see what the Supreme Court would make of these observations. It may be that the quality of the cameras was selected precisely to stay within some perceived Constitutional limit. Violating those limits could destroy the entire case because not only the evidence gathered illegally, but all it led to ("fruit of the poisonous tree") is excluded from a trial.

Comment Administrative Procedure (Score 1) 383

Administrative Procedure is the kind of thing that makes even most lawyers go to sleep. From my brief review it appears that the court thinks that the FCC does not have an internally consistent logic for the treatment of the broadband carriers within the statutory limits set for it by Congress.

It could well be right. That court does practically nothing else but review the actions of administrative agencies. It is very good at doing that.

Not that Congress can do anything useful about anything. Which is another way of saying it cannot break things even more badly if you look at the bright side.

Comment Re:Guy sounds like a whiner (Score 1) 341

First of all, his oath of office (from Wikipedia)

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.

Nothing there about the President, though he does serve at the pleasure of the President. Obviously, maintaining the President's pleasure means keeping the policies. Oh, and the "White House" is lots of people who are not the President, so it is quite possible to not get drawn into White House inside politics and still maintain the President's policies.

Comment Re:not the end of ethanol (Score 3, Interesting) 314

Remember, that ethanol is present as an oxygenate to prevent carbon monoxide and soot. The discontinuation of the use of MBTE (methyl tert-butyl ether) left ethanol the primary one. Methanol is even worse for engines than ethanol. Whatever the shortcomings of ethanol from an engineering basis, it is non-toxic in reasonable quantities.

Comment Gallium Metal (Score 5, Informative) 115

Having worked with gallium, it is not the easiest metal to work with. It forms oxides easily on its surface, and when these oxides combine with the metal, the metal can stick to metals and glass quite easily. Gallium has been used to back mirrors for that reason.

For those wondering, just because it melts easily, does not mean it has any vapors. Unlike mercury, it has a very high boiling points and has essentially zero vapor pressure at temperatures that can be tolerated by people. As for non-toxic, as far as I know it is not poisonous in reasonable quantities, but neither is it generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Six-nines gallium is probably what to use (99.9999%), as Five-nines gallium (99.999%) usually has signifcant mercury levels in the remaining portion.

It supercools very nicely in plastic containers, and once melted will stay liquid at room temperature for quite a while. It expands upon freezing, like water, and often develops a distinctive cracking pattern when solidifying.

It will eat aluminum instantly. Certain stainless steels are fine for a while, but iron (not plain steel), berylium, tungsten and the like are other metals you can use with it and not have problems with dissolving part of it.

It is a blast, and you can buy small quantities of it from Amazon.

Comment Re:Um, Nobody has been reading the news. (Score 1) 398

Like the building of the healthcare website, the management of the IRS non-profit review function, or lots of other government operations have great oversight either.

The politicians elected to run the government want to play politics, not actually run the government. So that is what they do.

When my alderman (probably councilman in your city) failed to deliver adequate city services, she was voted out of office. That does not happen higher than the city level.

Comment It is about SPEED (Score 3, Insightful) 776

Hansen's principal point is moving fast enough. His point is that if you are too slow, certain irreversible things will happen. Therefore you have to go with currently executable plans. The United States went dam-happy after Hoover dam, so it is not like we have hydropower waiting to happen. Nuclear is the one thing that we can execute on large scales to provide 24x7x365 power for many nations right now.

Hansen's problems are not with leading engineers. They are with politicians, activists, amatueur busy-body fearmongers and their me-too hangers on. He thinks a tipping point is coming, and that the other side of that tipping point outweighs any worry you have about nuclear power. And you can theorize all you want about your solar panels, windmills, etc. Nuclear is what has been proven to provide a substantial portion of world power without carbon load.

He is not interested in theories. He is interested in precedented engineering. Nuclear provides 20% or so of electricity in the U.S. today, around 80% in France. There is no "renewable" that provides so much power to a major country today.

The fact is that a lot of the global warming band wagoners are only on board so they can bash the same enemies they have been bashing for 40 years. When they hear they have to team up with some of their old enemies or the world is going to flood, well, they get off the bandwagon. They do not give an actual rats ass about the planet. They forgot about it 30 years ago.

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