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Comment Re:There is an open source solution (Score 1) 413

readin wrote:

* The only data fed to the program is geographic markers the will provide convenient district borders (railroad lines, roads, rivers, county and city borders, etc.) and the number of people within each section.

The program will be fair because the kind of data that allows gerrymandering simply won't be permitted as input. Any sneaky attempts to use something like population density as a proxy will be something anyone can find and complain about in the open source code.

I really like your idea of making district boundary-drawing be more repeatable and open. However, I don't understand the difference between the number of people within each section and population density; would you please explain?

It would seem to me that drawing up districts should start out like drawing a topographical map. After dividing the landmass up into smallish-units (like a grid), the districting would start with the unit of highest population density and expand out from there (using a mathematical formula of the gradient of the population density) by adding more units to an area until the district it builds reaches the pre-determined minimum number of people in it without going over some pre-determined maximum. Each district would be required to be within, say, ~0.1% of the ideal number.

I'm sure this ideas has lots of holes in it; I've not spent any time studying it.

Comment Re:So close, so far (Score 1) 561

AmiMoJo (196126) wrote:

How could anyone, in 2014, have thought this was acceptable?

Not to detract from your justified indignation, but I at least take hope in this "11/19 3:09pm" update posted to the bottom of TFA:

Barbie issued the following apology on its Facebook page:
The Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books. The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn't reflect the Brand's vision for what Barbie stands for. We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn't reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girls imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.

Comment Re:Funny how this works ... (Score 1) 184

smooth wombat wrote:

Not having regulations worked out really well, didn't it? It only cost us taxpayers a few billion dollars to clean up the mess.

The cost to us taxpayers was not due to the lack of regulations, but rather because our so-called representatives voted to bail out the supposed `too big to fail` organizations. Letting those organizations fail -- meaning those directly involved would bear the most pain while the rest of the nation suffers the side-effects -- was an option... though not a desirable one.

My opinion is that there would have been a benefit in having those directly responsible suffer the most so that they would be a warning to future crooks (err, I mean businessmen) and for us all to suffer a little so society learns to not let organizations get `too big to fail`. As it turned out, however, the crooks got off privatizing profits and socializing their losses and we as a society continue to down the same mistaken road as before.

Comment Re:Does it also apply to homes? (Score 1) 461

Ol Olsoc wrote:

Then I demand you produce the evidence that she wasn't. This is silly to demand that I produce evidence,

There use to be this ideal of "innocent until proven guilty". What makes you trust this woman so much? The NPR article didn't state why she was anonymous. (I assume she said she didn't want to give her name, as I believe 911 operators normally ask.) You don't find it odd that this woman -- who has supposedly been wronged by the truck driver -- wanted to remain anonymous? Why remain anonymous when she could be helping to put a drunk or dangerous driver behind bars?

Perhaps he didn't run her off, but now you have to produce some sort of sane argumemnt that a stoned guy was randomly selected by a lying woman just to screw with him.

The article didn't state the truck driver was stoned. How do you know that?

Why do you assume this was random? It could have been an ex-girlfriend wanting to screw over the guy. It could have been a woman from another drug gang wanting to mess with this guy's business. It could have been a female Federal agent wanting to create a parallel construction of evidence.

You do know that making a false report on 911 is a crime, don't you?

Why does that matter to crazy ex-girlfriends, female drug gang members and corrupt female Federal agents (or the other examples one could come up with)?

The story isn't about where they went, and isn't even relevant to the thrust of the story, which is if people are allowed to call 911 to report crime. The perp's layer is arguing that since the tip came from an anonymous source, it was invalid.

Of course people are allowed to call 911 to report a crime, but one needs to make sure that reporting is not abused by either the callers or law enforcement. (I.e. the "parallel construction of evidence" mentioned above.) And one needs to make sure constitutional rights (the right to face one's accuser, for one) are protected.

An anonymous call, by itself, warrants just the smallest of investigations -- in this case, the law enforcement official followed the vehicle and did not see any evidence of wrong doing. That should have been the end of it. The woman apparently did not want to press charges or even testify since it is assumed she refused to give her name.

The original poster was pointing out the very relevant fact that there was no other evidence to support the allegation that this man ran this woman off the road: no erratic driving, no witness that can be cross-examined, no highway reports of damage where the car was forced off the road, etc. the police would have been totally justified in stopping this man if they did witness erratic driving, or the woman did give her name to be a witness or if there was some other evidence to support the allegation.

911 calls are recorded and used as evidence all the time. When reporting a crime, the 911 center does not make the person swear on a bible that they are telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But they are still used as evidence.

I've only heard of them being used as evidence when the caller is identified, but I could be wrong on that. I suspect in this case, however, you'd need to have the caller identified since if the run-off-the-road case was taken to trial, the defendant has a right to cross-examine witnesses.

As for her continued anonymity, they could certainly retrieve that information, and use voiceprints to confirm that it was indeed her making the phone call. Did they? I dunno, you'd need the transcripts of the trial.

This may be the poor reporting by the news media, but the run-off-the-road case was not reported to have been taken to trial -- only the drug bust was. Due to the numerous violations of constitutional rights in order to support drug prohibition, I do not think it is wise giving even more nearly-unaccountable authority to those in power.

Real reasons to think there was some hanky panky going on would be if the defense had knowledge of the caller, (which would be unforgivably incompetent if they didn't attempt to access that) and she knew the perp, and had some reason why she would make a fraudulent and illegal call to 911.

It would be interesting to hear `how` anonymous the 911 caller is and whether she could have been found. It still bewilders me why she wanted to remain anonymous. Afraid of retribution? Didn't want to be hassled with appearing in court as a witness? I don't know. But with nothing but an anonymous complaint, I think the police initially took the appropriate action (finding the alleged truck and observing it). However, lacking a witness and upon not finding any other evidence, I do think they overstepped what was appropriate for the situation. This precedent gives yet another tool with such a great potential for abuse.

Comment Re:This makes perfect sense (Score 1) 273

ClickOnThis wrote:

In effect, the IRS is treating Bitcoin like any other "foreign" currency, which amounts to the same thing as treating it as property.

I don't believe that is right. From my understanding of the 2 possible ways of treating Bitcoin, it can either be treated like a commodity (property) and taxed at capital gain rates or it could be treated like a currency with gains taxed at the normal rates -- but with a $200 gain per incident exemption. Please see the "Characterization of Income from Bitcoin Sales" section of Tyler S. Robbins' primer on Bitcoin taxation in the U.S.

Today, the IRS has said they are treating it like the former and not the latter. Either way would make it inconvenient for those wanting to follow the rules, but if they had treated it like a foreign currency at least the $200 gain exemption would have taken the burden of keeping records off of many purchases.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Can some of us get together and rebuild this community? 21

wbr1 writes: It seems abundantly clear now that Dice and the SlashBeta designers do not care one whit about the community here. They do not care about rolling in crapware into sourceforge installers. In short, the only thing that talks to them is money and stupid ideas.

Granted, it takes cash to run sites like these, but they were fine before. The question is, do some of you here want to band together, get whatever is available of slashcode and rebuild this community somewhere else? We can try to make it as it once was, a haven of geeky knowledge and frosty piss, delivered free of charge in a clean community moderated format.

Comment Re:CREDO is a left-leaning carrier (Score 1) 48

damn_registrars wrote:

Which is exactly why many slashdot conservatives - many of whom are fascists under the guise of "ron paul libertarians" - would be against this company releasing this information.

I'm sorry, but what?! I have never met someone claiming to be a Ron Paul Libertarian (of whom I've seen many comments here on Slashdot from) express opinions that promote the military-industrial complex, the keeping of secrets of government action by force or the trampling of individual rights. Conservative fascists hiding themselves as Ron Paul Libertarians would be like Neo-Nazi skinheads hiding amongst members of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

With that said, I have seen people who blindly oppose whatever the `other team` is doing or blindly supporting what `their team` is doing without respect to principles -- but I've mostly seen that in the real world in partisan venues. (Fox, MSNBC, etc.) I don't see it here on Slashdot, as much.

Comment Re:All your tax avoidance schemes are done (Score 1) 293

mybecq wrote:

And by using affiliates as a sales force, a "significant business nexus" is established in the purchaser's State. Hence, they have to collect sales tax for the purchaser's State, because they pay a sales force there.

I admit I do not authoritatively know how Amazon's affiliate program works. I read TFA and have listened to some pod casts that want listeners to make Amazon purchases through their link. I'm not sure how accurate it is to describe or catagorize Amazon affiliates as a sales force.

I have trouble seeing how the commission an affiliate receives is that significantly different than paying for an outright ad. For example, if a mail-order company took out an ad in The New York Times but listed an order-taking phone number that was specific & unique to that TNYT ad, and the mail-order company made a deal with TNYT to pay them a little extra every time an order is placed using that phone number... I am now to believe that creates a "substantial nexus" of the mail-order company in New York state?

What it would come down to, for me, is how Amazon pays their affiliates. If Amazon was paying them as employees, then that would justify claiming they are Amazon's sales force. (I think it is a fair assumption that Amazon is not doing that.) If Amazon is paying them proportionately on the click-through purchases, then I don't see how it can be treated anything other than an ad contract.

If that is the case, then there is nothing to stop New York state from expanding their law to demand any out-of-state advertiser in a New York publication, TV, radio station or website start collecting sales tax for anything sold to a New York resident.

Comment Re:Treason.. or... (Score 1) 524

Since these warrants tend to be used for national security investigations, such as into spying and terrorism, how to you think that telling people they are being investigated isn't a bad thing?

I think the story mixes FISA warrants and Patriot Act National Security Letters (NSLs). I don't know about FISA warrants, but I've read that recipients of NSLs are forbidden from saying anything to anyone about having received them. I would not be surprised to learn the Federal government claims the same authority for FISA warrants.

Recipients of these NSLs and FISA warrants are not complaining because they cannot tell the subject of the investigation. They are complaining about the gag order -- even to the extent that they cannot publish statistics on how many government requests they've received.

Comment Re:Finally, a solution to abortion politics (Score 1) 367

Anonymous Coward wrote:

The Catholic Church forbids all messing with creation of life. IVF is forbidden. Certainly artificial wombs would be considered an abomination.

I completely agree with your belief that the Catholic Church would find it morally unacceptable to artificially conceive a child and place it in an artificial womb. However, I think they would find it morally acceptable to transplant a child from the womb to an artificial one if the mother could not, for medical reasons, carry the child to term or if there was a problem with the child that made it easier to treat the child if he/she was in an artificial womb.

But, like you wrote, transplanting an already-implanted embryo is beyond our current capabilities. Who knows what we will be capable of in the future.

Comment Re:Don't question authority. (Score 1) 652

Nyder wrote:

it seems to me there was a point, when she could of just walked away, and instead she came back to argue, bitch, or whatever.

But there was a point there when she could of just left, like they were letting her do, and she didn't.

It is my understanding (sorry, I don't have the time to find a reference right now) that once a person enters the security-checking area one cannot leave without being checked. This is supposedly to stop terrorist test runs. "Oh, they're using that scanning machine today; that will catch me. I better come back and try again tomorrow."

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