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Comment Re:Public Access requirement (Score 2) 191

While there a good reasons to be wary of paying to publish where there is an incentive to publish lousy articles because the publisher wants the money, the current system is abusive and is tantamount to theft. I worked part time in a lab for 3 years. I was not paid - and yes I asked for money but they said they could not afford to pay me. However I did get a paper out of it! Yay! Except that even though it was my research, my labor, my stressing out over repeating the experiments many times to convince my PI that my results were legitimate, if I want a legal copy of the paper, I have to pay for it. Just because I was an undergraduate does not mean that I lacked basic civil rights or the right to property. So at the very least the people who busted their asses should be able to get a free copy of the paper and that should be a legal property right.

Then I went to graduate school and of course I was able to get access to journal articles. Later on after grad school I was working and lost access. But I was still interested in some research ideas. And eventually I talked to some people and that led to me going back to do research at a university. But in that interim I had no legal way of getting papers. I paid for them. Some cost around $25 to $30 each. Some cost $80! - the medical ones. But I used that to do research to help humanity for which I was paid very little and I had to pay money for the right to do the groundwork for that research. That is complete crap! At the very least I should get my money back which adds up to a few hundred dollars.

As to university libraries - even elite institutions are finding it ever harder to afford the costs of for profit journals that force secrecy in their contracts. So one college literally often pays 4 or 5 times what another pays for exactly the same subscription in the same country. The price of journal subscriptions has been rising ahead of inflation for decades and the higher the impact factor the worse the problem. And because copyright grants a monopoly, the publishing industry has been able to collect extreme amounts of economic rent. Normally the answer would be to regulate natural monopolies such as what happens in the power industry. It's quite obvious to me that this is what needs to happen in academic publishing.

We also need a way for people who are outside of academic institutions to gain access to journal articles. I am not saying that for profit drug companies should not have to pay. But if I am a tax payer and paying for the research then it is not alright for me to have to pay twice. And realistically at $25 - $50 per article that means that it's just impossible to read or merely peruse 10 or 20 articles a month. And often I might need to look at referenced articles in the footnotes of another article and so I might need to look briefly at another 100 articles in a month. I and indeed 99% of people do not have $50,000 a year to spend on that. And often someone might want to help the economy out with a start up idea. I did ask around if there was a way to buy in to a university's subscription or to get similar mass access by paying a realistic annual fee of say $500 and was told such a concept did not exist.

If someone has a rare disease and wishes to peruse the literature, they typically cannot. And often sick people are quite poor anyway. What if someone serves on a local school board or is a member of municipal government and want to affect improvements in public policy. This happened to me when I was trying to assist my town in making some important fiscal decisions. There was no legal mechanism to obtain the 50 papers I wanted without paying out of pocket. And my position was unpaid. The sheer cost of paying a la carte makes reading the literature prohibitive. You might say that you could go to a university. The problem is that in recent years it has become almost impossible to do so without a valid university ID. And just getting there and finding a place to park is complicated if you are not affiliated with the institution.

In short, individuals who are not using the research for a for profit organization need a legal mechanism to access peer reviewed research. The current system is immoral.

Comment Re:The 0.01% (Score 4, Insightful) 218

Comparing the salaries of people in completely different classes of society is not very useful.

Your argument is very worrying not only because it is tautological but because we can never stop ever increasing income inequality if people 'accept it'. The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay is about 350. In 1965 it was 20. The committee that decides executive compensation is stacked so that people serve on each others compensation committees guaranteeing extravagant salaries. They also prevent a more meritocratic search going out to the general population. It also is one of the reasons why average pay has fallen or stagnated for most people in the US - money spent on executives means less cash for the workers.

And you might also want to think about pay in terms of productivity. Since 1973 it has gone up by about 100% in the US. And yet wages for many people have fallen in real terms. Median household income should be double what it is and perhaps more given that the number of working adults per household has increased as women have gone to work full time.

In terms of finding 'good people'. I have personally met outstanding people who not only are smart and well educated but have excellent communications and people skills. They made good money - mid six figures. I am certain they could have done a better job than Marissa Mayer running Yahoo and they would have agreed to do it for a mere $1 million. Yet they are never seriously considered because of the tight knit and self referential world of executives.

What's so sad is that this is a bum deal for shareholders - even if you are capitalist and don't have any compassion on people getting poorer you should at least be bothered by the fact that awful CEOs like Marissa Mayer and Steve Ballmer get to destroy value at a company and get paid 8 figures to do so. Imagine that instead of hiring Steve Ballmer, Microsoft would have merely hired an average MIT PhD engineering graduate in their 30s or 40s with some business and management experience. Think about how much better off Microsoft would have been in 2013 when Ballmer did finally leave.

Comment Re: Tax Inversion (Score 3, Interesting) 456

I agree that capital gains should be inflation adjusted. So if you buy $100,000 of stock and sell it for $300,000 and in inflation adjusted terms it's only worth $250,000 then you should only pay capital gains on $150,000. But you should pay the full income tax even if you held the stock for 3 years. And you should pay Social Security and Medicare. And I don't care about the whole notion of double taxation because there we have a 35% rate in name only - they only pay 12.6% of worldwide income and Amazon, Google and Apple get away with murder. For example:

An investigation by the U.S. Senate showed Apple had paid just 2 percent tax on income of $74 billion over 2010-2012, largely by exploiting an unusual loophole in Ireland's tax code. In 2011 Google paid a rate of 11.9 percent, while Yahoo paid 11.6 percent and Microsoft paid 18.9 percent. Xerox paid 7.3 percent of its income in taxes, while Amazon paid only 3.5 percent.

In 1952, corporate taxes accounted for 5.9 percent of GDP, a figure that has fallen to 1.6 percent today. We need to have them start paying 5.9 percent again because if they don't pay it, then we will and we certainly don't have the cash.

Comment Bigger picture of opposing whaling per se (Score 0) 214

Please correct me if I am wrong but whale populations in the world have been recovering. And multiple species are less than a decade away from not being endangered any more. So the opposition to whaling is from people who don't want to kill whales per se. I am not arguing for premature killing of whales that leads to extinction and I know that has been as issue in the past. But that problem for most areas is going away. And it really only remains a big problem in Oceania. But if you eat meat and your culture eats whales why not eat them? I know that many people here don't eat meat and that is increasing in the Bay Area but consider that not everyone lives in that cultural bubble.

And using whale products for other purposes such as for their skins and oil is much better for the environment than making synthetic products from crude oil. Generally animal products produce fewer allergies and have fewer carcinogens than synthetic materials.

So isn't all the griping here just a matter of people who never want sustainable whaling to resume. But they don't have that right. If they don't want to eat whales or use their skins - that's fine - but they don't have the right to ram down their viewpoints down everyone else's throats, particularly other countries. It reminds me of abortion - if you don't like it, then don't have one but leave other people alone.

Comment Extraterritorial jurisdiction gone amuck (Score 2) 728

This is what happens when extraterritoriality expands unchecked. If you are not a citizen of Germany, you did not consent to be governed by the German government. Their laws should not apply to you. If they want to rule you they should give you citizenship along with all the rights of a German citizen and have you consent to that arrangement.

Of course the USA is no different. In 2009, Gary Kaplan, the boss of London-based gambling company BetOnSports, fell foul of a US law that bans Americans from placing bets online even on websites outside the US. He was jailed for four years. In 2006, three British former NatWest bankers were extradited to the US to face fraud charges, in a case that frieked out the British business community. At the time, the bankers said their crimes had taken place in the UK and the victim was a UK bank hence they wanted to be tried in Britain.

Of course to some degree you need jurisdiction preventing piracy at sea and so international treaties are needed in this case that allow countries to consent to having their citizens tried in another country.

Here, perhaps Facebook could block content using IP addresses, but in the case of the EU 'Right to be forgotten', the European Commission wants Google's search results censored throughout the world. That is absurd! And claiming that "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does" is a legitimate legal argument for limiting free speech means that for all practical purposes the first amendment is gutted. China could ban the Wikipedia page on Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent mass killings by the Chinese army. Christian sites could be banned by Islamic regimes. Anything to do with psychology or science that offends any regime would be censored. We would be back in the dark ages.

I think there is another point. Some rights are inalienable - meaning they are incapable of being alienated and surrendered. Free speech is one of those rights. The fact that the EU fails to recognize this fact, does not change it. Indeed this concept was hinted at during shortly after founding of the UN when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was unanimously agreed. The preamble states:

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.

Comment Re:All bullshit (Score 1) 265

I completely disagree with the premise that early-age sex is either psychologically or physically healthy behavior.

1. We are all descended from hunter gatherers who had sex as teenagers and then bore children. You imply that the entire genesis of the human race was psychologically and physically unhealthy. We evolved that way, it is the way we are designed. Of course it's healthy.

2. If you look at data looking at the ease of child birth and the health of semen, if is obvious that people biologically should be having children from their mid to late teens to early twenties. Pregnancies are easy in a 18 year old body. By age 30, they are a lot harder. Semen is of a much better quality at age 18 than at age 30.

3. Teens desire sex because nature evolved that way. They are supposed to have sex. They are not supposed to be practicing abstinence. Doing so is psychologically unhealthy!

When I read statements like the one from I quoted from I really think humanity is f@@@ed. No amount of science, logic, data or common sense can help us - saying that teens should not have sex is unscientific, puritanical crap.

Comment Re:Good news, and all... (Score 1) 363

IMHO this impacts digital recording of people. Imagine someone is arrested and while that happens if the police decide to beat the the arrestee up. Or imagine if they commit another crime like stealing their stuff, or planting evidence, or admitting that they are going to lie to a judge to secure a conviction. This happened recently and the arrestee was prosecuted for illegally recording someone without their permission. Well how are you going to get permission from the police while they secretly beat you up in a can or a police station?

We need to have a broad exception for recording without permission when either a law is being broken, a government official is engaging in corruption, a law enforcement officer or judge is abusing their authority or activity that undermines the justice system, a government agent is engaging in extra judicial activity such as 'rendition', when a private company is violating its employees rights, or when a person needs to collect information to protect themselves against someone trying to defraud them.

I also think that this story reflects the fact that a significant minority of people out there get way more outraged by cruelty to animals that cruelty to humans. I find this attitude quite sickening.

Submission + - Windows 10's New Feature Steals Your Internet Bandwidth ( 5

An anonymous reader writes: t's a devious little feature called Windows Update Delivery Optimization. It's enabled by default. For Enterprise and Education users, it operates over the local LAN. For ordinary Home type users, Microsoft can send their data update goodies to potentially any PC on the global Internet — from your PC, over your Internet connection. On your dime.

We could get into the pros and cons of local updates being staged between local machines on a LAN as opposed to the outside Internet.

But as soon as MS decided that it's A-OK for them to use my Internet connection to cut down on their bandwidth costs serving their other customers — without asking me for my specific permission first — the situation blows into the red zone immediately.

Comment Re:Don't forget stats & much has changed since (Score 1) 77

I am intrigued by what you say. What would you say are the useful areas of mathematics that average and above average high school students should know beyond pre-calc. Are there other math subjects that you would rather college students (in STEM and econ) learn other than calculus? I know many benefit from a course in a probability and another in statistics. What else would you suggest?

Comment Don't forget stats & much has changed since th (Score 5, Interesting) 77

There was an article in the economist about how statisticians also served in WW II. They were indispensable to making sure that Britain did not starve. Before WW II the country imported most of its food. They enabled it stay in the war undefeated until the entry of the USA.

Among the instances of their success was their analysis of the distribution of German bombs falling on London each day. They concluded that the Germans were trying to destroy the docks but missing. They conducted quality-control in the manufacture of aircraft components, and the calculation of the distribution of stresses on aircraft in flight. The aimed to load planes up to the point that the wings were about to drop off. The research meant the RAF dropped more bombs, and brought more pilots safely home, than it would have otherwise.

They used sequential methods for the first time in trials of medical treatments. Analyzing the results of a trial bit by bit, rather than all at once when it was finished, meant it could be stopped straight away if it became clear that the new treatment was so good that everyone should be getting it, or indeed useless or even dangerous. This simple-sounding idea, now standard in medical trials, requires great statistical sophistication—and saved many lives.

But after the war, so much of this was not integrated into the British educational system. I remember taking a GCSE in math and having to do a project. We had to figure our how to calculate the area under a curve. I asked almost every adult I ran into if they could help me and give me some ideas. No-one had a clue and this included college educated people. It was so sad that no-one recognized this as as the primary question behind integration and half of calculus. British people had forgotten all that Newton and Leibniz (albeit that he was not a Brit) had accomplished.

No-one told us that 60 miles up the road DNA's structure had been discovered at Cambridge by Watson and Crick on 1953. No-one talked about Allan Turing and his Turing Machine. No-one would teach me anything about electronics in high school despite my begging and interest beyond a basic physics class. No-one talked about James Clerk Maxwell and his relations in thermodynamics. No-one had a clue about statistics. No one screamed off the rooftops the central dogma of biology - we merely had to memorize the names of bones and muscles in the human body. The phrase 'normal distribution' was not used. People in the USA at least have a vague sense of what 23 and me is. In the UK so many people I know have no idea. They see genetics as so foreign - oh the irony. The math and science teachers were mean and the books not very helpful. I learned all about British STEM history but only when in the USA.

There was a time when inventors, manufacturing, science, technology and innovation was celebrated in Britain. Now the only time you hear about science is when people are discussing global warming. They spend their energy in opposition to building anything new. There are parts of London where 1/3 of the buildings are listed and cannot be torn down and rebuilt. People oppose new high speed rail projects. They oppose new home building despite the data showing the UK being short of 1 million homes. They axiomatically oppose genetically modified crops disregarding that at least some of them are helping to alleviate malnutrition. Where has your sense of innovation gone, United Kingdom? You argue now about whether to be in the EU, whether Scotland should leave, and whether more spying will solve your Islamic extremist problem.

Why not aim to spend 1% of GDP on R&D and build institutions like the NIH and NSF? Why not have almost all school children complete the equivalent of pre-caclulus, Calc I and Calc II, and intro to statistics by age 16? Why not set aside land to allow high end manufacturing using 3D printing and robotics? I knew someone who was accepted into a PhD program but could not get funding. This does not happen much in the US. Do you think training PhDs in STEM in the UK is a waste of time? Why do you charge more tuition for science and engineering in university when you should be charging less?

I asked these questions and no-one cared. No one wanted to continue Churchill's scientific legacy. No-one wanted evidence based policy. No-one would teach me so much of what I wanted to know. So I left. And so have others. So sad that the UK makes it best STEM prospects leave and instead thinks that economic activity generated by the City of London in investment banking will make up the deficit. But there is always hope - I beg you Britain remember your roots!

Comment Re:The Pirate Bay (Score 5, Insightful) 302

Working hard since 2003 to preserve your right to consume media without the annoyance of paying.

Intellectual property was created for the benefit of society. There have been numerous studies showing that IP has massively overreached and it no longer does that. Those who have benefited have resorted to rent seeking behavior by ever expanding its scope. They can legally bribe elected officials by using campaign finance contributions. In effect they get to write the laws. So how about they pay back all the money they took beyond what reasonable IP would look like. Seven years copyright protection is enough for most movies and music. And 14 years for almost everything else.

And how about we expand fair use back to what it was and should be so that students can get greater access to copyrighted works? How about we also repeal the Copyright Term Extension Act.

It really is the case that the movie and music industries are trying to steal from everyone else. But because they have politicians in their pocket books you don't call it theft. Piratebay was merely evening an unfair playing field.

Comment Re: First amendment? (Score 5, Insightful) 250

Legality aside, what would be the "moral" thing to do. The data was taken 'wrongfully', and belongs to Sony. So, morally it seems the correct thing to do would be destroy the data.

Just because you can do something does not mean you should.

What about the 'wrong' things that Sony has done that the documents show? Why is it that so many people side with corporations? Do they not have to be moral, just their customers? And why is it that people expect corporations to be immoral and say 'that is the way the world works', but are outraged when little people do the same thing?

Here are some immoral things that Sony does that they would not soon change if these documents would not have been leaked:

1. Sony corruption of the media - Emails between Amy Pascal (the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment) and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggest Dowd promised to show Pascal's husband a copy of a column before publishing it. Pascal's husband is former Times reporter Bernard Weinraub.

2. A series of emails between Pascal and movie producer Scott Rudin showed an ugly side to the beautiful business of Hollywood. Rudin called Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" in an email exchange with Pascal. Pascal and Rudin also made racially charged jokes about President Obama's taste in movies.

3. Breaking the privacy of patients medical records - Sony's human-resources department had detailed medical records of three dozen employees and their family members. One internal memo revealed a staff member's child with special needs, including the child's type of treatment. The memo talked about the employee's appeal of insurance provider Aetna's denial of thousands of dollars in medical claims. Another HR document detailed the medical costs for 34 Sony employees and their family members who had very high medical bills. Medical conditions included premature births, cancer, kidney failure and alcoholic liver cirrhosis.

4. Men are paid more than women. Sony paid Jennifer Lawrence less than it paid Christian Bale or Bradley Cooper, her co-stars in last year's hit movie "American Hustle." Lawrence was paid 7 percent of the movie's profit, while Bale and Cooper received 9 percent, according to emails sent to Pascal. Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment is the only woman earning $1 million or more at the studio.

5. The documents legitimate accusations that Sony colluded with other firms to keep VFX empoyees wages down. This is illegal and immoral.

This reminds me of when people say that walking away from your mortgage is immoral. But what about when the banks do it? Morgan Stanley decided to stop making payments on five San Francisco office buildings. When they walk away, then it's OK. This is so messed up, and yet people's minds are so brainwashed they think this way!

Comment Re:Just wondering... (Score 1) 416

I have used both MIT's, Berkeley's, and Yale's audio lectures. They are awesome. I have used them when I have taken a class for supplemental instruction and when I wanted to learn a new subject but could not afford to take an extra class. They are invaluable. And physics is probably the hardest subject to master. They have helped me overcome my fear of math and physics and have given me the courage to work practice problems. Of course I in no way am condoning any of his personal behavior. But he made physics accessible and fun on the college level. This is so rare! To remove his lectures mean you are punishing innocent people around the globe and degrading their education. And better educated people usually make better citizens who pay more in taxes (and yes of course this professor may have done something bad but there is still a strong correlation between education and not committing crime.)

We need to accept as a society that we have a lack of talented physics instructors and we cannot afford to remove important videos just because the person committed an antisocial act. And I would like to see what kind of due process he was given in the determination of his guilt. (He has not been found guilty of a crime in a court of law.) Is MIT going to find someone similarly talented and replace the lectures? And what about the lecture notes, practice problems with solutions and exams?

And it's funny how as someone else pointed out Bill Cosby's shows are still available. And many rap artists have committed violent felonies and yet their work is still shown. Roman Polanski's movies have not been withdrawn. Woody Allen still is able to make movies and has been accused of much more horrific acts. And yet they withdraw the stuff that is most needed, not the frivolous comedy.

Comment Re:America, land of the free... (Score 1) 720

My experience is that most companies do NOT check. I have worked for half a dozen tech companies, over several decades, and have been involved in hiring over a hundred people. Except for a couple cases that involved security clearances, we never did a criminal background check. Why should we? Studies have shown that people with criminal backgrounds tend to do no worse on the job. You are better off screening out people that use MSIE to fill out their application, since that is actually correlated with poor job performance.

From the economist article: "For instance, firms routinely cull job candidates with a criminal record. Yet the data suggest that for certain jobs there is no correlation with work performance."

That implies that for some or most jobs, having a criminal record does correlate with doing a worse job. I feel really sorry for the original poster. I hope he/she can find a good job. However as someone who has had to hire people I can attest to the fact that even relatively minor criminal offenses seem to indicate irresponsibility. I can't say I have a big enough statistical sample. However recently I hired someone who had previously committed a DUI. That was their only criminal offense.

It became quickly apparent that they should never have been hired. I had to deal with someone who regularly took time out of work to carry out personal errands. I had to stop them from going home in the middle of the day to pick something up - and they had no expectation of making up the time. I asked them to carry out a task in a specific way, aware of the pitfalls of the alternatives. They were obstinate and as a consequence wasted a lot of my time. They were a little dishonest about the time they put in at work. On their first day they forgot to bring necessary items to work.

I had a similar experience with someone else. IMHO the issue with breaking the law is not so much the act itself. Rather, it is indicative of someone who does not think about the consequences of their actions, does not responsibly think through whether something is a good idea and not just act on an impulse, does not think about how an action will effect other people, and lacks a sense of what is appropriate social behavior. It also often indicates a lack of respect for other people's property. Finally they often lack the inability to coherently think about a problem and then formulate a plan that addresses it considering possible things that might go wrong. This is also why credit scores are so useful - they often communicate in might finer detail the degree to which someone grapples with these issues.

The last point is quite salient. Quite often if the criminal would have considered how their action addressed their problem, they would have realized that the long term consequences of the action don't justify the action as a solution to their problem. For example: stealing from a store may get you the iPad but it isn't worth going to jail over. And indeed those who have occasionally broken the law and gotten away with it due to precise and intricate planning may not have that problem. (Not that I am in any way condoning such behavior.)

At this point, if I was hiring someone with a drug abuse history, I would be somewhat forgiving about their being an addict. But I would want to know why they took their first puff or drink or injection. They weren't addicted at that time. There is no 'right answer' to that question but I think it might allow me to see what sort of person I am dealing with. If they say 'I don't know', then clearly I cannot hire them - they lack insight and probably cannot think about their actions and their repercussions. If they say that they were pressured into it by a group of their peers who called them a pussy for not taking a smoke at a party - well I would be a lot more understanding.

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