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Comment "Second Covers" (Score 4, Interesting) 70

UFOs are often convenient cover for secret Re:Carl Saganflight tests.

That gives the government an incentive to encourage UFO nuts.

A lot of the cold-war-era "conspiracy theories" sound like "second cover" stories. That's a psychological technique for diverting investigation into some large-enough-to-be-worth-the-effort secret project. Works like this:

Plant TWO cover stories. The first is plausible but misdirection. The second is fruitcake-nuts (but ideally has aspects that look attractively like actual artifacts of the project being hidden). Somebody investigating what is going on first hits the first cover. If he accepts it, fine. If he notices it doesn't quite fit and digs deeper, he finds the obviously screwy second cover. Oops? Now what?

The tendency of the more rational is to reject it - but bounce back to the first cover and give up there. The less well-hinged may report the second cover (much to the glee of the security people). Few are going to keep digging past both to discover some approximation of what's really going on - and if they DO get there and talk about it in public, if they happen to have said anything related to the second cover story (or even if the HAVEN'T), they can be debunked by painting them as having accepted the self-evidently tinfoil-hat-grade second cover story and propagating a variant of it.

The "conspiracy theories are always wrong and insane" meme is very convenient for this as well (as it is for any actual conspirators B-) )

Comment Re:Carl SaganUFOs are often convenient cover for s (Score 1) 70

UFOs are often convenient cover for secret flight tests.

Wasn't there a not too long ago release of government info-or-whatever about the Roswell incident?

Story was that one of the things they were testing there was the reentry mechanism for the upcoming (and still very cold-war-secret-military-tech) mercury launches, by lifting various model reentry vehicles to the edge of the atmosphere using weather balloons and dropping them . Not all that good a model of the heating, but a great way to check whether it would end up flying heat-shield-first until it was at low-atmosphere terminal velocity and time for the 'chutes.

Video showed a mercury capsule heat-shield, with retro-pack still attached, upside-down on sawhorses-or-the-like in a hanger. Looked very much like the canonical flying-saucer artwork of the era, and the picture was given as an explanation for the story of a passerby seeing what looked like a flying saucer in a hanger.

Comment Re:Being pedantic (Score 1) 382

... the felonious taking of the property of another from his or her person or in his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by violence or intimidation.

What Alphabet did is by definition Robbery.

If they'd given, or promised, a Christmas Bonus, then yes it would be robbery.

If the (or their predecessors) had led the workers to expect bonuses only by voluntarily giving them in the past, but had never written contract terms or otherwise promised the bonuses for this year, then the hypothetical missing bonus was never the property of the workers in the first place.

Comment Re:'"We are looking into the matter" (Score 2) 138

Hell they probably would have accepted the offer for a free pen test. Instead many orgs react rather violently if they dont know about it and you did it.

An unexpected, unauthorized, "free pen test" is indistinguishable from a bad-guy cracking attempt, and must be treated as if it's a real threat. This causes ENORMOUS extra costs as the victim has to batten the hatches, examine everything for corruption and/or possible persistent threat instalation, compare working databases to backups and examine the differences vs. update audit trails, and so on.

Not to mention the concern that it might be a real attempt by the DHS, or a rogue group within it, to hack the election.

Comment Re:Being pedantic (Score 2) 382

If your company removes money from you and gives it to someone else, that is called Robbery.

But if the company just doesn't give you a Christmas/End-of-Year gift that they had been voluntarily giving previously, it may be a disappointment but it isn't Robbery.

= = = =

It may also be really stupid move on the company's part, though. It's going to cost them a bunch in employee satisfaction, and thus performance, over the next year or more.

Of course, if they were thinking of replacing a bunch of the employees with H1Bs or the like, tweaking them off so they perform poorly could then be used in claims that they were not good performers and thus needed replacing.

Comment Glitchless streaming. (Score 3, Interesting) 158

Can you name one thing that your customers actually want that is actually being prevented by network neutrality regulations?

Glitchless streaming.

Streaming (things like audio, video, phone calls) requires relatively small and constant bandwidth (though compression adds variability) but isn't good at tolerating dropouts or variations in transit time. When it does get dropouts it's better to NOT send a retry correction (and have the retry packet risk delaying and/or forcing the drop of another packet).

TCP connections (things like big file transfers) error check and retry, fixing dropouts and errors so the data arrives intact, though with no guarantee exactly when. But they achieve high bandwidth and evenly divide the bandwidth at a bottleneck by deliberately speeding up until they super-saturate the bottleneck and force dropouts. The dropouts tell them they've hit the limit, so they slow down and track the bleeding edge.

Put them both on a link and treat the packets equally and TCP causes streaming to break up, stutter, etc. Overbuilding the net helps, but if the data to be tranferred is big enough TCP will ALWAYS saturate a link somewhere along the way.

Identify the traffic type and treat their packets differently - giving higher priority to stream packets (up to a limit, so applications can't gain by cheating, claiming to be a stream when they're not) - and then they play together just fine. Stream packets zip through, up to an allocation limit at some fraction of the available bandwidth, and TCP transfers evenly divide what's left - including the unused part of the streams' allocation.

But the tools for doing this also enable the ISPs to do other, not so good for customers, things. Provided they chose to do so, of course.

IMHO the bad behavior can be dealt with best, not by attempting to enforce "Network Neutrality" as a technical hack at an FCC regulation level, but as a consumer protection issue, by an agency like the FTC. Some high points:
  - Break up the vertical integration of ISPs into "content provider" conglomerates, so there's no incentive to penalize the packets of competitors to the mother-ship's services.
  - Treat things like throttling high-volume users and high-bandwidth services as consumer fraud: "You sold 'internet service'". Internet service doesn't work that way. Ditto "pay for better treatment of your packets" (but not "pay to sublet a fixed fraction of the pipe").
  - Extra scrutiny for possible monopolistic behavior anywhere there are less than four viable broadband competitors, making it impractical for customers to "vote with their feet".

Comment Re:Mandate reporting when antibiotics are prescrib (Score 1) 75

Yes. But we need to be aware that man is not the only source of antibiotics. They naturally occur. We get a good lot of them from plants and bacteria, starting of course with penicilin which we got from mold, and which was already present on salted food and damp environments. What we did was to make antibiotics present in organisms other than their natural sources.

Comment Everything Old is New Again (Score 2) 75

The Andromeda Strain was published in 1969.

The United States has some disease reporting, it started at least 75 years ago before the antibiotic bubble. This CDC Report summarizes the present state of disease reporting, in two pages. We need higher standards of reporting and legal penalties for failure to report.

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