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Comment Extreme Weather Events... Like an Ice Age... (Score 0) 358

I remember hearing that warming in the polar regions will eventually cause a salinity shift that will trigger changes to how the ocean and air currents transmit heat, which will trigger an ice age. That normally takes a bit of time (historically at least a century, IIRC), so I expect us to enter an ice age if we fail to come up with some large scale geoengineering within the next century or so. In the meantime, things are going to be a bit rocky.

However, I could be wrong and I'm happy to have experts weigh in. We could call them scientists and they could study data, and then we could use their conclusions to make policy decisions.

Comment Re:benefit for attorney? (Score 4, Insightful) 346

Judges are better about coupon settlements today because of how absurd it used to get. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 made some useful changes. It certainly still isn't perfect.

Class actions are useful because they are fundamentally the only way companies get forced to behave in the interest of large groups of consumers who would never bother to sue individually. There are definitely drawbacks in that they rarely substantially help those past consumers, but sometimes they do drive change within a company and drive better practices within a company--either directly as part of a settlement agreement, or just because of the risk of a class action lawsuit. It's not a perfect system, notably because of the high costs of the lawsuits, but it's probably better than not having it. (To determine that for sure you would obviously need to analyze a great deal of data about distributed harms and lawsuit and settlement costs).

Comment Keep an eye out for Unlocked Phones (Score 3, Informative) 109

I'm glad to see positive response across the board, from Apple, Samsung, and I'm sure others. Especially Apple and Samsung, though, as I have many devices from both of them in my home.

Keep an eye out for updates on "Unlocked" Phones that have switched networks. For some insane reason phones are marketed as "unlocked" when they can be used on another carrier's network, but *the security updates don't work* if you use them on the other network. These should probably be considered unmarketable and therefore not unlocked--and there should be a convenient way to pull signed security updates from the manufacturer instead of the carrier. Samsung and Apple issuing patches doesn't help if Verizon and AT&T fail to talk to each other enough for users on both networks to get the security updates, regardless of who originally installed a given phone's O/S.

Comment Be careful of IP rights (Score 1) 92

Depends on the company/team. I for one would not care if one of my devs was a literal Silent Hill monster as long as it wrote good code with proper unit tests.

Be careful of IP rights and assignments. The Due Process clause has not been explicitly extended to literal Silent Hill monsters yet and I do not believe there has been litigation in any jurisdiction establishing their right to be treated as persons for purposes of the takings clause or to sign legal documents as they might need to do when applying for a patent or assigning one to your company. That being said, state laws vary considerably and monsters have greater rights in some states than they do in others.

Comment Well... (Score 4, Interesting) 553

I've had border guards not be sure if I was really me when I was driving a rental car across the border. Drug traffickers will sometimes use rental cars and my driver ID happened not to match the location where I had rented the car. I'm not offended by the fact that they double-checked it was me. With this guy, they verified his story with his employer and asked him a question or two. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but there are much bigger things to worry about. And we don't know the circumstances from CBP's POV. (Did he match a pattern of people claiming to be software engineers from nigeria who turned out to be here for criminal purposes, for example? I don't know, and neither does he.)

Clearly, however, he should have been treated respectfully and with an "I apologize for the delay but we needed to verify your identity. I hope you have a wonderful time." They need to maintain authority, but it's also important to keep the country welcoming.

Comment Re:Incriminating evidence (Score 5, Informative) 126

A fingerprint is a fact. And normally facts are not protected.

The Manner of protecting a fact can be protected. For example, police may not arrest someone merely in order to get their fingerprint.

Similarly, the right against self-incrimination can protect you against having to disclose facts which tend to incriminate you.

These don't mean you'll always win an argument, but there is no simple rule that facts are not protected.

Comment Too much traffic... (Score 1) 243

Maybe we should reduce the number of cards on the road rather than trying to rebuild 1076 bridges per week... We could build places where people live together and call them cities, and build vehicles that carry multiple people and call them trains, and hire a plumber from Brooklyn to fix the evil in the world and call him Mario...

Comment Man in Tree (Score 4, Insightful) 71

Yes, that's one of several things going on here. A fire at the Samsung factory is *interesting*, so more first responders show up. Seattle had a man climb a tree downtown and they had dozens of people involved--but it's a guy in a tree occasionally throwing pine cones. People showed up because it was a diversion, not because they needed more people.

Second, responses to commercial properties tend to be somewhat faster and definitely more staffed than responses to individual homes. The potential for massive damage to inventory or danger to the public is usually significantly greater (especially in retail spaces). Something big like a Samsung factory might also bring substantial money into an area, and losing factories has a ripple effect in a community.

Third, if you hear you have a potential chemical fire at a factory and you don't know how big it is yet, you WANT to err on the side of caution and have all of the capability there that you need, and then some.

Fourth, if you had a Samsung factory in your country, mightn't you want to use it for espionage?

Comment Beg The Question - Metapost (Score 2) 341

"Beg the Question" has one colloquial meaning that is wrong but 80-90% of people believe is correct and one actual meaning that is right but that 90-95% of people don't understand. As a practical result, you should never use "beg the question" in a sentence, except perhaps with a particularly intellectual friend.

Instead, use "raises the question" (the colloquial meaning) or "contains circular reasoning" (the actual meaning).

Posted without Karma bonus due to metapost.

Comment Not all are guilty (Score 1) 341

Setting cars on fire, assaulting people, and breaking windows isn't "protesting."

Agreed. But not all of the people who were arrested were doing those things. Some got arrested for things like turning the corner at the wrong time and finding a riot in front of them. You would need more information about the particular facts in the case to know whether the law enforcement request made sense. Most do; some don't. If they try to charge the person with a crime or if the person decides to sue them, then the person gets to find out more and challenge it in court. That's not perfect, but it's still a much better system than many countries in the world have.

Worry about the data that doesn't get reported, not the data that does.

Comment Switching Majors (Score 3, Interesting) 537

Not only should the costs be the same but the article nicely explains why: those getting science, engineering etc. degrees generally earn more and so will pay more tax. This extra tax should be more than enough to offset the cost of their education and is also a good way to justify why higher salaries should attract a higher rate of tax.

Eighty Percent of students switch majors at least once in the United States. The more of an obstacle you create to that, the less likely you are to have people studying what they want to study. Also, the more expensive you make it to teach chemistry or computer science, the fewer kids will take a side class in chemistry or computer science.

There would be some advantages, though. It would make it easier to take a few early, basic courses where they take one professor and have 80+ students in the class. And it would make it easier for someone to get a minimal degree in something that doesn't cost the school much to run. But that's a small set of people you're helping, at the expense of STEM education and the ability to switch majors, etc...

The best solution is probably to have a few inexpensive-degree-only schools for people who absolutely know they want to major in Shakespeare, but still keep tuition flat across majors or relatively flat at most schools.

Comment Accuracy (Score 4, Insightful) 159

If that's the price the suppliers are giving them, why wouldn't it be accurate? Nobody forces people to buy from Amazon, there's an entire world wide web out there where they can compare prices and make their own determinations. Heck, there are even sites that will do the comparisons for you. Likewise, nobody ever pays MSRP on anything anyway; this sounds like a bogus complaint to me.

You are wrong. People rely on this information, which is why it is useful to do it. Amazon could and should easily show what the model normally sells for, but they only have an incentive to do it if forced to by regulation. Like how supermarkets should show price per unit even though anyone can do math if they take the time. In real life, you occasionally need regulation in order to incentivize behavior which is useful for society even though it hurts the person who does it. Otherwise you have lots of fraud, contracts are unenforceable, the economy becomes a whole lot less efficient, etc...

A lot of government regulations are implemented badly, and some are bad ideas, and there are too many--but there are really good reasons for some government actions.

Comment It is neither right nor wrong... (Score 2) 126

Yes, but since they can't please normal people and pedants, they've gone with the description that both can easily understand.

Exactly. The idea that something 1800 light years away "happened" at time X is kind of meaningless anyway, because our colloquial measurements of time (things like "1800 years ago" or "the third century") are dependent on being stuck in our local gravity well. It's like you get a call from the White House and your kid says "Don't you really mean you got a call from the first floor?"

Well, sure. The first floor of not-your-house. It's a categorization that doesn't make sense in the context of the real universe.

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