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Comment Re:interesting though stupid comment (Score 1) 784

They shouldn't, but someone should have the power to exercise the "for no reason or any reason" bit.

This would violate constitutional requirements of equality before the law. If the law applies to me it applies to you, too. It's not someone's judgement call that it should be applied to me but not you.

Comment Re:Collusion (Score 2) 784

I like "the war on diginity" because it better encompasses the kafka-esque nature of the unthinking and unyielding bureaucracy that produces this sort of result.

Yes, but it's probably better than the alternative - a thinking, opinionated bureaucracy. That's just one step shy of fascism, because once it can make decisions individuals will be empowered, and they will soon structure around the exercise of power. A bureaucracy permitted to think is prone to fascism and corruption.

Comment Re:very understandable (Score 3, Informative) 784

I think you got it backwards; it's the right wing which associates what it considers vague wu-wu diagnoses of mental illness a way for a potentially tyrannical government to deny them rights. Like the right to bear arms. It's generally liberals and lefties who want to limit such rights, and if they can't get enough traction to limit them for everyone they'll settle for what they might consider a dangerous subset. The former is clearly a more theoretical concern as we don't have a tyrannical government (in fact it's pretty damn benign, obsessed with rule of law, not dictatorial), while I think the latter is a bit naive. Clearly once made law to be enforced it will include some number of people not originally envisioned. And I think this is more what we're seeing here, so I don't think we can really blame the right wing on this one.

Comment Re:Umm, what? (Score 1, Flamebait) 784

What sort of insane logic is at work here?

The U.S. is a country ruled by law, and the federal government is an anal-retentive regulatory machine. There is probably a rule somewhere that says entry is to be denied for the mentally ill, and that depression is a mental illness. It's not up to whoever stamps passports at entry to decide or make personal judgements - if the rules say the person can't enter, then they can't enter. This is no different than any other rules applied - be it corporate accounting, environmental protection, labor laws, etc; it doesn't matter how ridiculous it may seem on the ground, the rules will be enforced.

This is exactly why it's the only government in the world I'd trust to obey the law. It's also exactly why it's incapable of even building modest insurance retail site for less than half a billion dollars - because its regulatory system isn't compatible with the need of reality.

Once something is made law it's no longer in the domain of common sense and judgement. Laws are binary; either you're in compliance or you're not.

Comment Re:thats silly (Score 1) 215

For a lot of low-bandwidth work with I/O controllers (like I2C buses, SPI peripherals running at low clock, etc) - get a BitScope. I have a network attached one and it's very convenient and inexpensive. They have a way of doing plugins, so it should be possible for instance to do a plugin to decode captures of I2C. The nice thing is it sits right on a desktop display, next to the ICE/JTAG debugger so you can easily monitor signals in parallel with watching board console output (for instance).

Comment Re:thats silly (Score 5, Insightful) 215

Obviously, anyone designing electronics and building prototypes needs a scope. How else would you know what the ground plane looks like? Clean or noisy? Even a cheap 20-40MHz scope will show dirty signals as "fussy", and will allow identification of beat patters and cyclic issues... I suspect the OP doesn't actually do any board design, because if he did he'd be using his scopes and spending big bucks on really good ones.

Comment Re:National Interest? (Score 1) 382

Even during its worst, CA had only a $25bn deficit. While this sounds enormous relative to the size of the state budget, note that CA provides $53bn more in federal taxes annually than it receives. And that's just the net difference! The federal government is enormously expensive for what it does! A web site for, what, $400M? And that was on the cheap! It's more than FaceBook spent in total for the first six years of its existence. The federal government is the only government in the world I'd trust to obey laws (or punish people when they break it), follow regulations to the letter, and enforce them. But what makes it so anal-retentive about those things is exactly what makes it unsuited to actually produce anything. The things it's cost-effective on it gets done by handing money to states to go do it (like it has Caltrans manage maintenance of the CA portion of the interstate system by handing it cash; Caltrans actually works very well for a government organization).

Comment Re:How hard can that possibly be? (Score 1) 663

Consequently, it's impossible to have an opinion on this test without knowing who it's aimed at, what their curriculum looks like, and what percentage is expected to be able to answer it. What would be the point of a test that has no difficult section that pushes the limits and only a few percent are expected to be able to answer correctly? It's also not clear how the grading is done, for instance if a wrong answer yields -1/2 point to discourage guessing (whereas "don't know" is the neutral answer); on a 4-way this means a random guess has negative expectation, whereas being certain of the wrong answer isn't too detrimental (but still not reflected as something positive, since it isn't). Tests with difficult questions and grading which penalizes guessing will quickly teach students not to jump to conclusions, to evaluate the certainty of knowledge (hmm, how do I know this? is it true?), and other good habits. Hence, the tests themselves are part of the training.

Comment Re:How hard can that possibly be? (Score 1) 663

Question 1: You see 5 pennies, the total in the cup is 6, so the missing part is 1 (penny). How hard can that possibly be?

It's a good test if students are taught to separate quantities from units (kinds). You'd be amazed how many can't do that, even college-educated adults, and who will fail such an elementary question. They won't see past the confusing and incompatible units. It's probably not suited for 5 or 6 year olds though, unless the purpose is to identify the exceptionally gifted.

Comment Re:Problem? (Score 2) 170

Spying on foreign countries is feasible when there is an immediate threat.

Observing is essential to identify threats in the first place. Naively sitting and assuming that without an express threat sent to you in a pretty envelope, wrapped with a blue ribbon, all is good a fine means you'll quickly become a footnote in history. That's the sort of juvenile, childish assumption that just doesn't work in reality on any level.

Observing is essential to deescalate conflict early and maintain good relations.

Lack of response to a potential conflict means the other party may assume in return there really is no conflict and make the situation worse - until you finally wake up to a far worse problem than if you had paid close attention all along.

Observing and paying close attention is just as important with friendly nations as hostile ones.

Comment Re:GSM is the problem (Score 1) 278

Back when I had a GSM phone I could hear incoming calls before it rang, if I put it on the desk within a couple of feet of my computer. The speakers would buzz. It's not why I switched to Verizon but it made that particular annoyance go away. (I only use GSM these days when traveling. Usually by air. With my phone shut off.)

Comment Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (Score 2) 278

It's also not all about a properly functioning device, but what about a defective one? What are all the different failure modes for something containing a lipo battery, a transceiver, and an antenna? It could have a bad wifi transceiver or antenna, or poor shielding without the owner even noticing anything wrong. Or they just think poor wifi reception is normal. When turned on the owner is completely unaware it lights up the EM spectrum.

Clearly there is no way for cabin personnel or even a pilot to determine which device is a potential problem and which isn't.

Comment Re:Remember all those times Bush blocked... (Score 1) 352

The U.N. should move to Geneva and we should stop paying for it. We also should make a point of denying entry to people who bitch and whine about how evil we are, then come here to shop, work, publish, and attend conferences. They can stay at home. Moving the U.N. will make this easier. We should also close all bases in Europe and leave NATO. Why is it in our interest to spend billions to be prepared to defend these ingrates? Hardly our problem that euro-fascism is on the rise and they'll end up killing each other in yet another big war. Next time we stay out of it. Repeat after me: not my problem, none of my business.

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