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Submission + - Legislating the Language of "Illiegal Aliens" (ala.org)

tiltowait writes: Last month, the U.S. Library of Congress announced the Subject Heading "Illegal Aliens" would be replaced with the terms "Noncitizens" and "Unauthorized immigration." Subject Headings serve as standard cataloging labels to make tagged items easier to find, and have likewise evolved to more accurately reflect the language of the day (previous headings include "Negroes" and so on). Last week, Tea Party Caucus member Diane Black introduced a bill (the Stopping Partisan Policy at the Library of Congress Act) to halt this renaming process. More recently, an appropriations rider was added to force the Library of Congress to retail the "aliens" designation, as the term is used in the United States Code. Given that we can't use a dead tongue for taxonomy, what is the appropriate method of cutting the language down to the bone?

Comment This isn't a victory for Behring-Breivik. (Score 3, Insightful) 491

Someone once pointed out that hoping a rapist gets raped in prison isn't a victory for his victim(s), because it somehow gives him what he had coming to him, but it's actually a victory for rape and violence. I wish I could remember who said that, because they are right. The score doesn't go Rapist: 1 World: 1. It goes Rape: 2.

What this man did is unspeakable, and he absolutely deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. If he needs to be kept away from other prisoners as a safety issue, there are ways to do that without keeping him in solitary confinement, which has been shown conclusively to be profoundly cruel and harmful.

Putting him in solitary confinement, as a punitive measure, is not a victory for the good people in the world. It's a victory for inhumane treatment of human beings. This ruling is, in my opinion, very good and very strong for human rights, *precisely* because it was brought by such a despicable and horrible person. It affirms that all of us have basic human rights, even the absolute worst of us on this planet.

Comment Doctorow's Law (Score 0) 28

I'm glad this was fixed, but for several days I had a bricked device (you ended stuck on the activation screen, with no option to skip that process) and in a situation best summed up by Cory Doctorow: “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”

Submission + - 20 Hollow Copyright Claims

tiltowait writes: Slashdot readers should be familiar with most if not all of these, but the list of 20 Hollow Copyright Claims is a somber reminder of the current sorry state of intellectual property laws in the United States--as anyone who’s encountered a paywall or a takedown notice (or remembers Slashdot's run-in with Scientology) can attest. It serves as a call to arms that we not lose sight of the benefits to sharing knowledge.

Comment Re:This makes no sense (Score 1) 424

Old library catalogs and databases, which are still around, work this way. The problem is that unless you've been trained to do non-intuitive things like omit initial articles from titles ("Old Man and the Sea" instead of "The Old Man and the Sea"), they don't work. This causes far more problems than an expert searcher grousing about having to occasionally add back in +/- operators to search for a known it

Comment p-value research is misleading almost always (Score 5, Interesting) 208

I studied and tutored experimental design and this use of inferential statistics. I even came up with a formula for 1/5 the calculator keystrokes when learning to calculate the p-value manually. Take the standard deviation and mean for each group, then calculate the standard deviation of these means (how different the groups are) divided by the mean of these standard deviations (how wide the groups of data are) and multiply by the square root of n (sample size for each group). But that's off the point. We had 5 papers in our class for psychology majors (I almost graduated in that instead of engineering) that discussed why controlled experiments (using the p-value) should not be published. In each case my knee-jerk reaction was that they didn't like math or didn't understand math and just wanted to 'suppose' answers. But each article attacked the math abuse, by proficient academics at universities who did this sort of research. I came around too. The math is established for random environments but the scientists control every bit of the environment, not to get better results but to detect thing so tiny that they really don't matter. The math lets them misuse the word 'significant' as though there is a strong connection between cause and effect. Yet every environmental restriction (same living arrangements, same diets, same genetic strain of rats, etc) invalidates the result. It's called intrinsic validity (finding it in the experiment) vs. extrinsic validity (applying in real life). You can also find things that are weaker (by the square root of n) by using larger groups. A study can be set up in a way so as to likely find 'something' tiny and get the research prestige, but another study can be set up with different controls that turn out an opposite result. And none apply to real life like reading the results of an entire population living normal lives. You have to study and think quite a while, as I did (even walking the streets around Berkeley to find books on the subject up to 40 years prior) to see that the words "99 percentage significance level" means not a strong effect but more likely one that is so tiny, maybe a part in a million, that you'd never see it in real life.

Submission + - Wikipedia and the Oligarchy of Ignorance 1

Andreas Kolbe writes: A recent news story reported that a Wikipedia editor had take it upon himself to make tens of thousands of volunteer edits to eliminate a single perceived grammatical mistake ("comprised of") on the online encyclopedia's pages. In Wikipedia and the Oligarchy of Ignorance, David Golumbia looks at what motivates people to become involved in a crowdsourced project like Wikipedia. He finds lust for power, and concludes that even though Wikipedia purports to be engaged in a democratisation of knowledge, its structurelessness has actually made it a "breeding ground for tyrants". Golumbia approvingly quotes Mako Hill and Shaw, both enthusiastic supporters of the crowdsourcing concept, who nevertheless found that "the adoption of peer production’s organizational forms may inhibit the achievement of enhanced organizational democracy".

Comment Re:US Centric? (Score 2) 167

Infobitt founder/CEO here. We want to solve this problem by creating a separate homepage for each nationality, or perhaps simply by filtering the news in a certain clever way that I won't bother to describe. The great thing about a big online community coming together to build Infobitt will be that we can indeed compare different sources. Perhaps your impressions of U.S. news is correct. Perhaps when stacked up directly with other reporting, you'll find it's not as bad as you think. We'll be able to tell much more easily because facts from different sources will be rubbing shoulders within the same bitts (stories = collections of facts).

Comment Re:Online news (Score 3, Interesting) 167

Infobitt founder/CEO here. Hey, I love Google News. But what they don't do is summarize the stories, nor do they make a credible effort of organizing the news in a way that makes it possible to get caught up with the news quickly and efficiently. Suppose you want to really learn about a story that is being covered by many different news sources. Google News provides the awesome service of letting you find all the coverage quickly. But what they don't do is make it any easier to extract original reporting from among the facts contained in those articles. You can read one article, and that will get your fingers on one part of the elephant...but if you want to handle the whole elephant, you'll have to wade through all the other articles as well. A community of newshounds could do that for you, summarizing all the unique facts in a nonredundant way, putting them in order of importance. That's what we're trying to do.

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