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Comment Re:Thanks (Score 1) 398

It depends upon how the VPN is set up but if it's using L2TP/IPSec then every non header part of every packet will be encrypted. There will be no pattern to analyze because the encrypted packets will appear to be random data. The only things the ISP could do then would be to block the network hosting the VPN server, which is difficult because most VPN providers have lots of servers with some of them probably hosted in popular networks, or throttle all connections that cannot be decoded by the traffic shaper which would cripple SSL too. Throttling all encrypted connections is an obvious non-starter since it would ruin online e-commerce and just imagine trying to shut off all traffic to Amazon Web Services just because some VPN providers host servers with a cloud provider. That wouldn't work well either. No, the ISPs much prefer to ignore VPNs for now, since relatively few of their subscribers use them, rather than engaging in a high profile arms race with sophisticated users which would only serve to popularize the concept of VPNs and make them easier for the unwashed masses to use.

Comment Re:sure, works for France (Score 1) 296

in many European countries vacation is by law on top of your salary, so you're still getting your normal paycheck when you're on vacation.

That's a financially unsophisticated view. In such cases the salary always includes the vacation in so far as it's lower than it otherwise would be were the vacation not required by law to be part of the total compensation. A cost to a company is still a cost. It doesn't matter that half the cost is due to salary and half the cost is due to the otherwise salaried employee being unavailable to work because he's on vacation. It's the total cost that matters and the vacation must be a non-zero part of that. I'd rather be free to negotiate my own preferred kind and amount of compensation, whether it be through vacation time or more money (I prefer money), than have the government force me to spend a mandatory minimum share of my compensation on vacation, whether I would chose to "purchase" that much vacation on my own or not.

Comment Re:Of course (Score 1) 82

Why wouldn't colleges seek to accommodate people who just want half-assed job training? It means they get more money.

Elite colleges are similar to luxury brands in the sense that part of their perceived value is derived from their selectivity and exclusivity. If everyone can get a Harvard or Yale certificate online then the perceived value of a degree from those institutions is reduced. Selectivity and exclusivity allow prices to remain higher, offsetting the gains to be had from more graduates at lower prices per certificate or degree awarded.

Comment Re:An absurd "crisis"! LOL (Score 1) 128

Have you ever taken a course in AI? The minimax algorithm is already guaranteed to produce the optimal outcome in a zero sum, non deterministic, perfect information game such as Chess provided that the weights of the branches in the tree are an accurate representation of the value of a given position. This means that the only part of the algorithm that requires any real creativity is the position evaluation function of which there are several good examples in the published literature. The depth of the search in the game tree, which is equivalent to look ahead, is a good approximation for the strength of the play. It turns out that a 4 move look ahead is good enough for a relatively strong program, regularly beating most chess novices and a lookahead of 8 moves and more, especially when combined with a good position evaluation function and databases common openings and all possible 5 piece endgames, produces grand master level play. So playing Chess is essentially an exercise in search of a game tree. There are some small improvements to be won at the margins at grand master level play with more sophisticated position evaluation functions, as demonstrated by the IBM Deep Blue team in the games against Kasperov, but 99% of human players never approach grand master level of play in Chess and would lose most games played against Fritz on the hard settings.

Comment Re:D&D influenced me and my game design HEAVIL (Score 1) 127

This variant of the rules is discussed in Unearthed Arcana (pages 111-112) as an option with extensive tables detailing the necessary modifications the base rules and a sidebar noting the effects. Basically, with armor as damage reduction attacks hit more often and do less damage. At lower levels this tends to make combat less dangerous, especially for armored characters. However, at higher levels the advantage shifts back in favor of monsters that deal large amounts of damage per hit. For example, when facing a huge earth elemental in full plate armor a fighter will be hit about 20% more often, due to a 4 point reduction in AC, to compensate for the fact that the base AC bonus values from armor assume the base rules, not the modified armor as damage reduction rules. However, the 4 points of damage reduction now only reduces his opponents average damage by less than 17 percent: advantage, elemental. It gets still worse when encountering monsters with yet higher strength bonuses to damage or added on damage from poisons, acid, disease etc or multiple attacks per round. Basically combat is easier at lower levels but increasingly deadly as characters advance much past about level 12 or so. It also tends to make the game more mundane and less heroic since characters enjoy early success at the expense of heroic high level fights which they are now less likely to survive. On the other hand, this variant also reduces somewhat the advantage that magic users have over fighting characters at high levels since they too are exposed to the more deadly combat and still without benefit of armor. This can make playing a fighting class more attractive in a high level campaign that might otherwise be dominated by spell casters.

Comment Re:An absurd "crisis"! LOL (Score 2) 128

Similar process here, use it or lose it.

I haven't played a serious game of chess since I took up programming decades ago. Why spend time learning to play chess when I can write a program that will beat most humans? Even a novice programmer could create a very strong chess AI using information that's publicly available. Chess was an early area of interest in AI and game theory but it's largely a solved problem now, used as an example of minimax search in undergraduate textbooks on the subject.

Comment Re:An absurd "crisis"! LOL (Score 1) 128

Every minute spent training for a marathon is useless because we have cars.

Training for a marathon improves physical conditioning and fitness which is arguably useful in it's own right. Cars satisfy transportation needs, but they do little or nothing to improve physical conditioning or fitness. They're different things and not really comparable.

Why is learning about algorithms useful? For every algorithm you learn, there are at least a dozen implementation of the said algorithm.

It's the algorithm that's important, not the implementation. Algorithms are discrete methods of abstract problem solving and study of them improves both abstract thinking and general problem solving capability. The game of chess for example is well solved by minimax searching of decision trees with a few chess specific evaluation functions thrown in. Further refinements and sufficient processing power allow even the best human players to be reliably defeated, but the basic concept remains the same: minimax search of decision trees. The game of chess can be part of a course on game theory or an introduction to algorithms, but the grand parent is correct that any more serious study or effort at mastering the game, outside of subjective entertainment value, is largely wasted given that computers are better at it than most or even all humans. Moreover, the mastery of chess doesn't seem to provide any special educational or intelligence benefit that couldn't also be had with many fewer hours of more generally applicable study of game theory, algorithms, computer science or mathematics.

Comment Re:Since CC defines the purpose of K-12 education (Score 1) 113

You don't have much time for a child's education.

You speak as if the children in our public schools aren't already the unwitting subjects of failed experiments by teachers, administrators and others pushing the fad of the month in education. Remember the "New Math"? Yeah, that worked out well for us. Your argument might hold water if our kids were already receiving an outstanding education in our public schools but you know what? They're not. Our tax dollars are paying for Cadillac and we're getting Yugo. It's time to hit the reset button on education and vouchers are the best way to do that.

Comment Re:Since CC defines the purpose of K-12 education (Score 1) 113

Education is not like gas

It's a commodity service and in no way exempt from the laws of economics. Your attempts to carve out an exception for education as "too important to be handled by the market" amounts to little more than lame excuses for wasteful allocation of resources to the current broken system. Education is ripe for disruption and like health care is in desperate need of it to make progress. The teachers and others who stand in the way of this process are, to use a phrase loved by the left, standing on the wrong side of history.

Free market is the idea that the worst kind of people will do good for the worst kind of reason.

And yet it works far better than any of the alternatives. There was a time, not so long ago in the grand scheme of things, when most people living on this planet, with the exception of a small group of rulers, nobles, warriors and priests, were subsistence dirt farmers. Then, towards the close of the middle ages, something happened. That something was sustained economic growth. It was modest at first, but over time societies which achieved and sustained it diverged greatly in wealth, power and standards of living from those that did not. Fast forward to today and the average American is thousands of times more wealthy and better off than the subsistence dirt farmers living in the poorest parts of the world. How did this happen? Free enterprise, private entrepreneurship and free markets. So go ahead and be as offended as you like by the free market, but ask yourself this. Where did the clothes on your back come from? Who produced the food that you're eating today? How is it that you have a relatively nice place to live, as compared to the subsistence dirt farmer? Perhaps the free market isn't such a bad thing after all, eh?

Comment Judicial Review is the Problem (Score 1) 1330

Beginning with Marbury vs Madison in 1803, when the Supreme Court first took upon itself a power not granted in the Constitution to strike down laws duly passed by the legislative branch and signed into law by the executive as "unconstitutional", the Supreme Court has expanded upon this self granted power in numerous cases from Plessy v Ferguson to Brown vs the Board of Education and on through Roe v Wade and continuing until the present time today. It has been variously called "judicial activism" or "legislating from the bench" but the intent, which is to express the fact that the Supreme Court was never explicitly granted this power by the Constitution, is the same. In fact, Congress can specifically limit what the Supreme Court is allowed to rule on as written in Article 3 Section 2 which states that the court's appellate jurisdiction is given "with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make." Congress can and has passed bills including language describing what parts of the bill are not subject to review by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with judicial review for now unless a Constitutional amendment specifically barring the practice and clarifying the already reasonably plain language in Article 3 against it is enacted.

Comment Re:Since CC defines the purpose of K-12 education (Score 1) 113

Vouchers have turned into a blatant corporate cash grab.

Would you say that the supermarket or the gas station or any other businesses that provide goods and services to millions every day are a "blatant cash grab"? Of course not. The very notion is absurd. Money is simply the medium of exchange in any advanced economy, nothing more and nothing less. Are the various tutoring centers or cram schools or other businesses that supply the education market a "blatant cash grab" or could it be that the people paying for those services, frequently out of their own pockets, are satisfied with what they have received in exchange for their money?

The private school system does not have the capacity for a huge influx of students

When there is demand, you will see how fast the market responds. Unlike government, which hems and haws and drags its feet, the private sector rolls up its sleeves and gets to work earning a profit and profit can be a powerful motivator. I'll bet it got you out of bed this morning. But as any businessman will tell you, profit is never guaranteed. It must be earned by satisfying the customer and in the case of vouchers the customer is the parent.

so charter schools are setup and either run by clueless parent groups who are underfunded and end up folding unexpectedly

If you don't think that parents can be demanding or care about what their children are or aren't learning, just ask any teacher. Parents have high expectations and they're hard to satisfy. How many times have teachers heard an exasperated parent exclaim, "My taxes pay your salary!" Clearly parents want value for their education dollar, whether that dollar comes indirectly from taxes or directly out of their own pockets, and they're vocal when they feel that they aren't receiving it. However, even if we accept that not every last parent is like this, why should we prevent a solid majority of involved and interested parents from being advocates for the best interests of their children? Who cares more about it than them? The government run schools and the teachers unions they serve have set themselves up in opposition to the real customers, the parents, and instead made themselves the customers of the politicians who control the purse strings. The best way to solve that is to put the education purse back into the hands of the parents, where it belongs, and not those of the corrupt politicians and their teachers union clients.

or they are run by corporate groups whose only interest is that fat voucher cash

And how best to get that cash? By satisfying the customers of course. It's called competition. Look it up. If one corporation pleases the parents more by providing a better quality education to their children at a lower price, where do you think the parents will send their children to school? Free enterprise and competition ensure high quality at the best possible price. The competent operators are rewarded with large enrollments and lots of voucher cash while the incompetent are driven out of the business. Thus the market rewards virtue and punishes failure, unlike the teachers unions which reward failure and punish virtue.

Schools are a community resource

One that's often underutilized and producing poor returns for the owners, aka the people who live in the community and whose taxes funded the creation of the school in the first place. These people are right to demand accountability, transparency and better results when they aren't receiving them, as indeed they aren't in many places here in the United States.

The problems we need to fix are community problems.

In my opinion, the problems that exist are best solved by submitting the schools and the people who work there to the discipline of the marketplace, just like what the rest of us. We please our customers every day or we're out of business. Why should it be different with our schools?

I don't think that strong central oversite is a bad thing

How about oversight from thousands of miles away in Washington DC, over what's essentially a local matter, by people who don't know you, don't live in your community, don't see the results of their policies and frankly don't give a damn about you personally? Compare and contrast with a business that takes your money directly, asks you directly how it can help you and does its best to satisfy you the customer every time you show up? I can tell you which model I prefer, but I think you already know which one that is.

communities need to communicate with other communities or they stagnate.

And free markets facilitate that communication best, at least as far as it concerns the efficient production of goods and services, education included. The free market allows people on opposite sides of the globe, who don't know and may even hate each other, to cooperate effectively in the efficient production of goods and services that profit those involved. It ensures rapid and thorough dissemination of knowledge and techniques that work and are profitable, whether they be methods of educating students or oilfield operations or chip fabrication or just about any other useful knowledge.

Comment Re:Since CC defines the purpose of K-12 education (Score 1) 113

None of this would be necessary if parents were empowered with vouchers to send their children to the accredited schools of their choice, whether public or private. Vouchers work but like common core there are powerful interests aligned against them. The irony is that the children who would benefit relatively the most from vouchers, poor minority children from inner cities, are the ones least likely to receive them. Meanwhile, the wealthier white families who live in the suburbs can afford to send their children to high quality private schools where they receive an education that's substantially superior to that available in many public schools. This advantage of persists right on through college and into adult life where those who were better educated in their youth have better outcomes in health, wealth, longevity and quality of life. Anyone who claims to care about poor minority children while at the same time demonizing vouchers needs to take a hard look at their priorities because their methods are at odds with their stated goals.

Comment Re:we're already close to that! (Score 1) 380

You know what the problem with the Tesla is? It won't last as long as a good old reliable gasoline car, which if well cared for can still be filled up and driven, often over 300 miles, decades after its original manufacture date. The very expensive batteries in the Tesla will have been replaced many times over by then. There's a reason why old Toyotas and Hondas maintain their value as beater cars many years after the last residual value from the original sticker price is gone.

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