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Pols Blur Line Between Data Mining, Cyberstalking

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the selfless-public-servants-all dept.

Government 115

theodp writes "Mother Jones reports on Obama's Digital Gurus, the top-secret team of analytics engineers and scientists led by hipster CTO Harper Reed who work on text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing from the campaign's Chicago HQ and satellite offices. For OFA (Obama for America), writes Tim Murphy, there is no such thing as Too Much Information. 'In terms of just the sheer amount of data that political candidates have on you,' says UNC Prof Daniel Kreiss, 'I think everyone finds it creepy.' Still playing catch-up to OFA in its data efforts is Team Romney, which reportedly hired former employees from places like Google Analytics, Apple, Ominture, and Overstock.com in an attempt to reverse engineer the Obama campaign's strategy."

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115 comments

FIRST! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724229)

FIRST!

Re:FIRST! (1, Offtopic)

Jstlook (1193309) | about 2 years ago | (#41726079)

My apologies for the threadjacking; I'd really like to raise a key point I seem to think these campaigns tend to overlook.

If campaigns are so keen on doing whatever they can to get one guy into office .. why can't they do enough research to model the effects of their decisions over the next dozen years?

I'll make it very simple: If you want my vote, prove to me that your choices will benefit our Country. A Billion dollars spent to obtain a four year career ought to be sufficient to prove that. Do *that* FIRST! Then you'll get my vote.

FISRT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724231)

I've always wanted to do that!

Re:FISRT (0)

multiben (1916126) | about 2 years ago | (#41724301)

What? Spell first wrong or actually be second, but claim to be frist?

Re:FISRT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724407)

Actually, that should have said FIST. Because Barack Obama is fisting my asshole.

Re:FISRT (0)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41724981)

Wait, your in dc?

But can they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724261)

...put lipstick on a pig?

Re:But can they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724279)

No, but they can put a pig on a lipstick. Would that do?

Re:But can they... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728037)

No, but they can put a pig on a lipstick. Would that do?

Only if the pig is Polish. At least, that's what I got from the headline: "Pols Blur Line Between Data Mining, Cyberstalking"

What are they using this data for? (4, Insightful)

davydagger (2566757) | about 2 years ago | (#41724287)

Are they using this to campaign in the traditional sense or is the line between PR/Advertisement and "Spy Agency" is growing thinner and thinner. After all, the CIA started merely reading russian newspapers and expanded from there.

Are they gathering information to conduct survailence, and perhaps the type of "blag bag jobs" that become easier and deniable after conducting lengthy intellegence gathering on your subject. Where is the line.

What safeguards do we have in place to prevent these intellegence gathering PR agencies from:
Spreading disinformation on enemies, that sounds plausable, based on information they've gathered.
Digging up dirt on politicians enemies and disemenating it.
Using the social network to intimidate non-likely voters by having their friends shame and intimidate them into voting.

Looking up information on critics, and digging up dirt on critics

Digging up dirt on potential voters to keep them in line with some form of blackmail.

What system do we have to investigate these people should their massive campaigns succeed and their clients now have the power to pardon or otherwise shield them from the legal proccess after being elected.

What happens when these PR goons become the new prateroian guard?

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 years ago | (#41724361)

Digging up dirt on potential voters to keep them in line with some form of blackmail.

Which is why the secret vote has been important, and will continue to be important. A pity not everyone is committed to it [wsj.com] .

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41724515)

Secret vote only works, if you're voting for the candidates you think you're voting for. I gather there's supposed to be some ways to certify a secret ballot so that you can verify that your vote was counted as you expected without revealing that information to others.

Re:What are they using this data for? (2)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#41724581)

Yes, it's called "pen and paper voting and watching the ballot box and the count".

Try it, it works!

Re:What are they using this data for? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#41725317)

Simple, cheap, efficient, and trusted. - It's never gonna fly.

Secret vote only works if... (1)

Trashcan Romeo (2675341) | about 2 years ago | (#41724619)

... the person you vote for doesn't lie through their teeth about what they'll do when elected.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724773)

Funny how all the people replying to you didn't go to the link you provided. In addition to not waning a secret vote, the story is about an Obama recess appointment, that Congress had refused to approve, passing an executive order that replicates a law that Congress refused to pass.

That is what you call a dictatorship, pure and simple. Laws being put into place without the people's opinion being listened to at ANY level.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725361)

Yes, we've really got us a dictatorship here in America.

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

jcr (53032) | about 2 years ago | (#41725649)

Technically, it's an oligarchy, not a dictatorship.

-jcr

Re:What are they using this data for? (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41725151)

Which is why the secret vote has been important, and will continue to be important.

How do you expect to have "secret voting" when Mitt Romney's son holds an equity interest in a company that makes voting machines (a company which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Romney campaign).

We've outsourced our elections.

There have already been elections for offices as high as governor (for sure) and probably president that have been decided by the private corporations that have been entrusted with our elections. It is certain that black box computer election fraud flipped an election for governor of Alabama, and there is strong evidence that it has done so in several other states as well. In 2004, the swing state of Ohio was flipped thanks to election fraud, and while the perpetrator was prosecuted, the fraudulent election results were allowed to stand.

I have absolutely zero confidence in the integrity of US elections. and not because of "voter fraud".

Re:What are they using this data for? (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 years ago | (#41725277)

Ah, poperatzo, good to hear from you.

How do you expect to have "secret voting" when Mitt Romney's son holds an equity interest in a company that makes voting machines (a company which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Romney campaign).

The vote is secret since there isn't personally identifiable information linked to the vote itself.

Do you think that everyone at the company are both Romney only voters and are unethical? If not, how would they expect to keep quiet the sort of conspiracy you posit? Surely they would expect their behavior to be under scrutiny?

Does their contract cover the whole state, and do they actually have the means to change the vote?

We've outsourced our elections.

Only the manufacture of voting machines, and do you really want the government in that business? The elections are supervised the same old way, and votes are still cast by voters.

I have absolutely zero confidence in the integrity of US elections. and not because of "voter fraud".

Voter fraud [usnews.com] ? The very idea [amazon.com] ! Rest assurred, it doesn't always work [amazon.com] . ;) (Just because I know you've listened.)

Besides, don't worry, the the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU have your back [thehill.com] , in yet another embarrassment to the United States.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0, Redundant)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41725483)

Do you think that everyone at the company are both Romney only voters and are unethical?

No, but you learn very quickly what the boss wants and expects without him having to be explicit.

Only the manufacture of voting machines, and do you really want the government in that business? The elections are supervised the same old way, and votes are still cast by voters.

Yes, I want elections run by government. It's the way the Founding Fathers did it and it's the way it was done for 200+ years.

And no, elections are not "supervised the same old way", and there is absolutely no guarantee in black box voting (especially the kind with no paper audit) that voters' votes are being counted. We have examples of elections where votes were NOT counted and the machines were manipulated to fix the results.

Besides, don't worry, the the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU have your back,

And thank god they've got your back, too.

Re:What are they using this data for? (2)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#41725681)

Just a heads up - any argument that relies on "because that's the way we've always done it" or "because tradition, that's why", is not being properly explained. Those are *not* valid reasons for *anything*. I'm not saying your point isn't correct, but that sure as hell isn't the right way to make the point to others.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41727685)

Just a heads up - any argument that relies on "because that's the way we've always done it" or "because tradition, that's why", is not being properly explained.

The point is not to "explain" so much as to say, "It's worked up until this point".

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41728191)

Just a heads up - any argument that relies on "because that's the way we've always done it" or "because tradition, that's why", is not being properly explained. Those are *not* valid reasons for *anything*. I'm not saying your point isn't correct, but that sure as hell isn't the right way to make the point to others.

How about, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it?"

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 years ago | (#41725797)

. . . there is absolutely no guarantee in black box voting (especially the kind with no paper audit) that voters' votes are being counted. We have examples of elections where votes were NOT counted and the machines were manipulated to fix the results.

I'll agree with you on that one, that black box is not the way to go. I think optical scan machines are a better route.

No, but you learn very quickly what the boss wants and expects without him having to be explicit.

I think you are overstating things there - major vote fraud by "warm/cold" and foot stamps is not likely. I also can't imagine too many people intelligent enough to work on code for a voting system that also wouldn't be intelligent enough to see the serious downsides there, and would want it in writing - exactly what do you want me to do? If nothing else, they would need to document how to execute the fraud, and communicate that to the people doing it. Still, see my answer above.

And thank god they've got your back, too.

I think it is a good thing they exist, I just think it is nonsense that they are being brought in to American elections.* But, it is certainly within the right of the organization to ask for them, just as it is within the rights of others to point out the foolishness.

*I'm willing to grant the case of Chicago - something must be done about the Zombie voters. Besides, how many governors in a row have gone to jail now? Chicago could play in the same league as Massachusetts [spectator.org] .

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726989)

The only thing embarrassing to the United States is the continued ignorance of the population on how monied interests are taking over everything, including our votes. We have plenty of evidence that, at the very least, these systems are sloppily designed with poor security. More to the point, a local elections office has no way to verify the integrity of the counting code because it is "proprietary".

Corporate shills are getting really annoying around here...

Anything They Want To, According to Privacy Policy (4, Informative)

theodp (442580) | about 2 years ago | (#41724425)

From Obama for America PRIVACY POLICY [barackobama.com] : "we may use personal information we collect...for any other purpose for which the information was collected....We may store and process personal information in the United States and other countries... You may also opt out of allowing OFA to collect your geographic location by changing the location settings on your mobile device..."

Re:Anything They Want To, According to Privacy Pol (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724615)

for any other purpose for which the information was collected

Gotta love that line. We won't tell you what those purposes might be, but we give ourselves permission to collect information and use it for...whatever we darn please.

Re:What are they using this data for? (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41724465)

What happens when these PR goons become the new prateroian guard?

Er, we stand up, yell "Praetorian!," and then wait patiently while he throws his water bottle away, draws his sword, and charges us. Then we stab him to death, steal his horse, and ride to the capital where, after a series of hilarious and tragic blunders and some compulsory phy ed, we kill the emperor.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 2 years ago | (#41724969)

Obama Mines YOU! well, nobody said it so far.

Aren't PR goons already the praetorian guard? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724975)

Look at what the media did to Ross Perot and Ron Paul. Ridicule them it did. The media also loved Obama in 2007. Loved him, it did. They media can do whatever it wants to.

Re:Aren't PR goons already the praetorian guard? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#41725345)

Look at what the media did to Ross Perot and Ron Paul. Ridicule them it did. The media also loved Obama in 2007. Loved him, it did. They media can do whatever it wants to.

Yoda is that you?

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725741)

Are they using this to campaign in the traditional sense or is the line between PR/Advertisement and "Spy Agency" is growing thinner and thinner. After all, the CIA started merely reading russian newspapers and expanded from there.

The hunt for market opportunities and the hunt for terrorists utilize very similar methods and technologies.

Re:What are they using this data for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725911)

I'm not sure if this is a brilliant troll or a borderline schizophrenic.

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41726037)

Digging up dirt on potential voters to keep them in line with some form of blackmail.

What system do we have to investigate these people should their massive campaigns succeed and their clients now have the power to pardon or otherwise shield them from the legal proccess after being elected.

Already demonstrated in Canada - the Robocall scandal. Basically the Conservative government *allegedly* (because there's no direct proof) called up a bunch of Liberal party supporters and told them their polling station had moved. Of course, people who knew better voted at their proper polling stations, but crowds gathered at the fake locations do attest to the effectiveness at voter disenfranchisement.

The election results have been tossed out by the court on at least one riding because the number of people who complained verifiably exceeded the margin of the win. What happens now is unknown - it's something the courts have never had to dealt with.

The number of complaints is also unknown - and investigations have ground to a halt because the owner of the account used a burner phone, and IP address logs have been lost.

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 2 years ago | (#41726209)

The courts can and have declared elections void when there is evidence of voting irregularities that could have affected the election outcome. Usually this causes a bye-election but the current government has a member who refused to step down after the courts declared the election void. He claims to be waiting for the Supreme Court to order the election void.
The last election was the dirtiest in memory with various scandals and the governments response has been to cut funding for Elections Canada, ignore the courts and pass huge omnibus laws so the people don't have time to learn and argue the contents of the bills

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#41726201)

Are they using this to campaign in the traditional sense or is the line between PR/Advertisement and "Spy Agency" is growing thinner and thinner. After all, the CIA started merely reading russian newspapers and expanded from there.

I'd suggest to dissolve CIA and other 3 letter agencies and let the hand of free market reign supreme... after all, the private sector shows a much better efficiency and drive for innovation in wagging the dog and, more important, they are not hindered by that piece of scribbling called Constitution.
(the said agencies are already outsourcing to the private sector... taking the next logical step: why would the agencies still be needed?)

</grin>

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 2 years ago | (#41727023)

"This guy managed to get a 4+ insightful first post on Slashdot, and he's an attention risk."

"OK, make sure he has other things to worry about for a while".

Re:What are they using this data for? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41728703)

Using the social network to intimidate non-likely voters by having their friends shame and intimidate them into voting.

Would actually work on anyone?

Not biased at all... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724319)

Two links to Mother Jones telling us about the hipster geniuses Obama hired and a three month old article from Slate on Romney. And this was approved for a slashdot headline? Why?

Re:Not biased at all... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about 2 years ago | (#41724399)

Why not? Or are you suggesting that for /. stories, any sort of quality standard should apply? How silly! You must be new here.

Re:Not biased at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724801)

This story is such a lie, suggesting Romney want doing this all along. The guy that started Stapples doesn't know how businesses are run, that's hard to believe.

Re:Not biased at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724447)

Well, if your beloved FOX News and the other so-called mainstream media outlets aren't reporting on this issue, then it isn't possible to link to their articles instead.

Promoting Synergistic Synergy (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41724505)

text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing

What the fuck does any of these even mean?

If you scrap facebook to send out targeted spam, then just say so.

Re:Promoting Synergistic Synergy (2)

bfree (113420) | about 2 years ago | (#41724631)

If you scrap (sic) facebook

Presuming you meant scrape (cause we know they aren't scrapping it) the more interesting question to me is: what is to stop facebook and/or google (maybe others) from picking a side and providing an interface to their chosen candidates campaign? If one side had a direct link to mine whatever they wanted what influence would that have on the result of the election?

Re:Promoting Synergistic Synergy (1)

V-similitude (2186590) | about 2 years ago | (#41725285)

what is to stop facebook and/or google (maybe others) from picking a side and providing an interface to their chosen candidates campaign?

The risk of alienating half their users by picking a side that they (the users) disagree with. And probably alienating a significant part of the other half given the excessive privacy violation (possibly also violating their privacy policy). Users may be the product rather than the customers, but you don't want to scare away your product either. They'd need some pretty serious quid pro quo for that to be worth it (almost certainly far more than they could realistically get).

P.S. WTF "Pols"?? Really Slashdot?

Re:Promoting Synergistic Synergy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726085)

The risk of alienating half their users by picking a side that they (the users) disagree with

Facebook has one billion active users.

The population of the USA is fewer than 300 million.

At most Facebook would be alienating one-eight of its user-base.

Stop being so geocentric.

Re:Promoting Synergistic Synergy (4, Interesting)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41724635)

text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing

What the fuck does any of these even mean?

  If you scrap facebook to send out targeted spam, then just say so.

Don't we all pad our resume with important sounding titles for normal everyday jobs?

text analytics means he reads what people type.
social network/media analysis means he goes online.
web personalization means he knows how to upload an avatar to a forum.
computational advertising means he posts his resume online.
online experiments means you sell sex via a webcam.

Re:Promoting Synergistic Synergy (1)

lakeland (218447) | about 2 years ago | (#41726239)

People pad their CVs and attach fancy words to fairly mundane things but I think in your dismissal you're missing the importance of what he is saying.

* Text analysis means he uses programs to read what people type and at least at some level infer meaning, even if it's as simple as relevant and/or sentiment.
* social network analysis means he knows who has a lot of influence so you can concentrate on them.
* web personalisation means everybody who visits the website he creates is given a different version
* Computational advertising means the decisions around ad selection are based on ROI calculations and performance rather than a marketer's gut feel.
* Online experiments is similar and just means he tries different things in parallel to see what works best.

Perhaps more interesting is what is omitted. There is no mention of semantics or indication that the text analysis is beyond superficial, nothing around text generation/synthesis to show any attempt at creating a dialogue, and no conversation planning to indicate he is going to be having a conversation. I'd describe it as very similar to traditional advertising but tuned to the individual.

What?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724605)

There's a difference?!

Why doesn't Obama simply... (3, Insightful)

Trashcan Romeo (2675341) | about 2 years ago | (#41724607)

... call the NSA and tell them to hand over their records of all our electronic communications?

Re:Why doesn't Obama simply... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725659)

Ask Nixon how that one worked out.

Because Bradly Manning is a hero (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726161)

Because if they did something illegal like that, a hero like Bradly Manning would squeal on them and we'd all know the crimes that they'd been up to.

Re:Why doesn't Obama simply... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#41727621)

[Why doesn't Obama simply... ]... call the NSA and tell them to hand over their records of all our electronic communications?

That's cute what you did there, talking like they haven't been doing that for years and this would be something new.

Strat

Pity the Roman Emperors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724625)

All they had for divining the future was chicken entrails.

OFA: Sample Techie Job Requirements (4, Informative)

theodp (442580) | about 2 years ago | (#41724651)

From the Job Boards: "We are a multi-disciplinary team of statisticians, mathematicians, software developers, general analysts and organizers - all striving for a single goal: re-electing President Obama." 1) Digital Analytics - Data Production Analyst [hiredesk.net] : MySQL, Perl, Python, Netezza, MS SQL, Vertica, Hive/Hadoop, Google Analytics, Optimizely, R, STATA, SPSS. 2) Analytics - Statistical Modeling Analyst [hiredesk.net] : (M.S./PhD preferred), R, STATA, SPSS, Weka, KNIME, SQL HTML, XML, Python, Ruby, Java, C++, Excel. 3) Digital Analytics - Modeling Analyst [hiredesk.net] : R, STATA, SPSS, SAS, Excel, Netezza, MS SQL, Vertica, Hive/Hadoop, Google Analytics, Optimizely.

Re:OFA: Sample Techie Job Requirements (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 2 years ago | (#41725391)

Too bad all these supposedly smart people aren't spending their time creating solutions for this society's problems instead of playing with popularity contests like infantile highschoolers.

Re:OFA: Sample Techie Job Requirements (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#41725701)

They are doing just that. If they agree with Obama's position, and they are computer geniuses, it makes sense for them to help Obama by being a computer genius. Them serving coffee to advisors isn't exactly going to help as much, is it? Or not trying to get "their guy" in power again, and just coming up with solutions they think (rightly or wrongly) Romney will skull-fuck into the ground...

Obama has to have a special team to do it... (3, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 2 years ago | (#41724655)

...while the big telecomms and banks...the big retailers...your electric company...your natural gas company...your credit card company that knows just who you donate to...all those chunks of Corporate America that have far more in-depth information on you and far more experience at mining that data - and far, far more interest in seeing Mitt Romney elected...

Do you suppose they even make Romney and the Republicans pay for that data, or just give it to 'em gratis?

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (0)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | about 2 years ago | (#41725129)

I won't comment about corporate America in general, but allow me to comment on Wall Street.

It may come as a surprise to (some of) you, but Wall Street mostly supported Obama in 2008(1). You are right though in saying that this year Wall Street seems to favor Romney. I guess you can't really bash bankers for four years and then expect them to support you.
The point is that assuming that big business votes overwhelmingly Republican is probably not realistic.

Big tech names have also always been generally of the progressive type, hence Democrat. Not to mention the quasi endorsement Obama got from Warren Buffet.


(1): yeah, I know, citation needed. Couldn't find the WSJ article that was listing the shift in contributions... but basically there was this article (as an example) that was saying that while in 2008 at Goldman Sachs the ratio of campaign contribution by employees was 80% for Obama vs 20% for McCain, this has pretty much changed into 20% for Obama vs 80% for Romney.

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (4, Interesting)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41725257)

...while...your natural gas company...have far more in-depth information on you and far more experience at mining that data - and far, far more interest in seeing Mitt Romney elected...

Do you suppose they even make Romney and the Republicans pay for that data, or just give it to 'em gratis?

Sometimes it seems like they have lots of in-depth information, and sometimes it seems like they're couldn't tell whether I'm warming a cup of milk or cooking dinner for 8 people.

PG&E [pge.com] bills me by the kilowatt hour for my electricity, but they can't seem to get more granular data than a therm [wikipedia.org] (100 cubic feet) when it comes to how much gas I've used. Whether I have my stove on for 5 minutes or 45 minutes, I get charged for 1.02 therms of gas that day. I've methodically tested it. It's only a couple dollars per therm, but if you use your stove every day and they're charging you $2 every time you turn it on versus the 50 cents of gas you're using, they're squeezing an extra $45 a month out of you for gas they still have in the pipeline.

Unless... wait... <SARCASM>are you saying they do know how much of their product they deliver to us? I think you're giving them too much credit.</SARCASM>

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726117)

1.02 therms is probably their metric quantum. They probably cannot currently measure less than that for residential customers. So any gas use trips the flag in the smart meter. Or, you have a gas water heater and that's about your average consumption of natural gas by your hot water heater. Your stove use is probably inconsequential on a daily basis compared to that (but of course it still adds up for the billing cycle...)

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (1)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#41726219)

Wait. How smart is your gas meter to know how to round-up on a daily basis?

More importantly, why is it doing daily billing to begin with?

I have Columbia Gas. They (a couple of years ago) replaced my meter with something "smart" that they can read with a drive-by vehicle, but it still has spinny-dials that are mechanically driven by the flow of natural gas to my house. If the spinny-dials don't agree with what I'm being charged, there are instructions on the bill itself for reporting the discrepancy and being charged more properly.

IIRC, this is done by the therm, but it's averaged over a month (or however often readings actually happen). Seems fair to me.

(Disclaimer: I'm not in California. We've got plenty of fuel here, so perhaps the easiest explanation between your reported observations and my own is that Columbia Gas gives less of a shit.)

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726291)

are you saying they do know how much of their product they deliver to us

Whether I talk for 5 seconds or 55 seconds I am charged 60 cents. My telephone company started billing in 30-second blocks, then 1-second blocks, then 30-second blocks, now its 60-second blocks. Also there is a minimum monthly expenditure that I have to pay even if I haven't talked on the phone.

It's in every company's interest to use a large billing unit and and and sell a guaranteed monthly 'consumption'. And who can argue with natural/regulated monopolies?

Re:Obama has to have a special team to do it... (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 2 years ago | (#41726405)

Around here the gas company only actually reads the meter twice a year, the rest is just estimates. Perhaps they're doing similar?

Team Romney (1)

jo42 (227475) | about 2 years ago | (#41724761)

reverse engineer the Obama campaign's strategy.

Do not say and do stupid shite? Do not have a questionable and shady financial background?

Don't be a dumb-arse Republicantard?

Re:Team Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724833)

Don't be a dumb-arse politician?

FTFY, fucking bleeding heart dumbicrat

Re:Team Romney (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41725031)

lol anonymous asshat.

Re:Team Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725363)

Three! Three anonymous asshats! Ah Ah Ah!

Sincerely,
The Count

Re:Team Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725309)

Don't be a dumb-arse politician?

Only the most gullible Obamatards would believe that... he Failed ever since his first month in office.

Re:Team Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725553)

Did you mean Republitard? You look like an idiot when you can't even get childish name calling right.

Re:Team Romney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726317)

Do not say and do stupid shite?

Like all politicians, he'll do and say whatever his supporters allow. For M Romney, that means changing his mind every 5 minutes. How about blaming his supporters, for they see 'welfare for millionaires' and 'less social security for the poor' as consistent policies. Or, they accept any economic policy that bans homosexuals, bans abortions, bombs Iran.

WTF is a Pol (3, Informative)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41724763)

WTF is a POL? I can barely understand the summary, doesn't look like there is a lot of English in there. The first three lines has like 2 verbs. But can we at least have a summary that makes a bit of sense? Like maybe don't use abbreviations when it isn't necessary. My first thought was it was a typo and they meant Polls...

Re:WTF is a Pol (1)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | about 2 years ago | (#41724855)

That makes two of us. Politicians? Polls? Police Departments? Poles? Polarities?

Reminds me of an article in a printed newspaper that had the word "coms" in there. Communications? Communists? Commitments? It was hard to figure out even with context.

Re:WTF is a Pol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725425)

I immediately assumed Polish people

Re:WTF is a Pol (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41725037)

I agree, I was going to say the same thing. It was written by a 16 year old, had to of been...

Re:WTF is a Pol (2)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#41725125)

I agree, I was going to say the same thing. It was written by a 16 year old, had to of been...

Through reading the "Firehose" (link titled "recent" at top left of page, where submissions are shown before being approved for the front page), I can say that the submitter, theodp, seems to make every post as inciteful (not insightful) as possible.

PS, "had to of^H^H have been".

Re:WTF is a Pol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725383)

You might try opening up a dictionary before waxing hysterical.

Re:WTF is a Pol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725563)

Who are you to like criticize?

Re:WTF is a Pol (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 2 years ago | (#41726009)

Further, why is Harper Reed a hipster? I read To Kill a Mockingbird, and it hardly seems like a hipster book.

Re:WTF is a Pol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726325)

... it hardly seems like a hipster book.

It's time to hand in your Geek card and vote Republican.

Re:WTF is a Pol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726125)

So it is bad form to assume your technical audience might be able to squeeze a braincell or two to Google said terms or look them up in wikipedia?

Go team america, the bottom is almost here! Looks like we should punch through that barrier with nary a pop!

Re:WTF is a Pol (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41726637)

So it is bad form to assume your technical audience might be able to squeeze a braincell or two to Google said terms or look them up in wikipedia?

Well, yes, but it's also bad form to make assumptions about the knowledge your audience does have. I googled Pol and looked it up on Wikipedia, and I'm still not clear what meaning the headline is going for. And if it is meant to be "politicians," that might be passable on a politics forum, but this isn't one.

Re:WTF is a Pol (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#41726963)

Well, yes, but it's also bad form to make assumptions about the knowledge your audience does have.

I agree. Who's this "Obama" the summary talks about? And what's "America"?

Re:WTF is a Pol (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41727165)

Oh yes, hardy-har, I wondered how long that would take.

"Pol" is not in common usage, at least not down my way. And even when something is in common usage, any decent news source will still try to slip in some seemingly obvious context, such as "Tech giant Google," or "Cuba's revolutionary former leader Fidel Castro."

Hating on Poland? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724775)

What do the Polish have to do with this?

"...data that political candidates have on you..." (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#41724789)

If much of what they have on me was accurate they wouldn't waste their money calling me and sending me junk mail.

I wonder if they track who hangs up on their calls? I don't think they do: they keep calling me.

Re:"...data that political candidates have on you. (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#41724985)

You're their prime target. Kinda like a Christian converting you.

Most important tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724831)

There is only one piece of technology all democracies need in debates and that's real-time fact checking. We have the technology and the ability, it's insane that we haven't implemented it. I'm not a US citizen, but from what I heard there was some effort in the last debate.

they {have|don't have} shit on me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724983)

why would anyone screaming his head off in public find it creepy that someone was listening? if no one is listening, conversely, why would anyone waste his breath? any information the candidates' campaign staff might have on anyone is largely limited to what he or she broadcast. in my case, any information they have on me couldn't possibly help them, since inasmuch as I am an educated and informed voter, my first criterion for deciding how I will vote is membership in and/or the support of the Democratic or Republican parties. I consider membership in or support or nomination of either to be an automatic disqualification for receiving my vote. George Washington warned us about political parties, and morons that the American people were, they didn't listen, and promptly formed political parties, pissing all over the sacrifices all those revolutionary war soldiers had just made in the name of their freedom.

any info they might have on me personally therefore isn't worth shit, so even if they have shit, they don't have shit, in a form of fecal quantum superposition. see?

Just got an email thanking me for voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725029)

Just got an email today from the Obama campaign thanking me for voting. Pretty crazy.

Re:Just got an email thanking me for voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725161)

Their motto is "vote early and vote often". And if you don't, they'll find someone to vote for you.

Based on their actual advertising (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41725045)

All of this is wasted.

xs (0)

baiyi (2757525) | about 2 years ago | (#41725377)

LED lights webhttp://www.xsled.net

information should be free (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41725401)

They are right and just in doing this. Information should be free. Where the catch is, is that we deserve to have the same level of detail on their private lives and internet activity. Sadly that's not the case. The problem isn't out lack of privacy, the problem is the disparity between "us" and "them" If they know everything, and we know nothing, that's a cast system.

Re:information should be free (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 2 years ago | (#41728205)

that's a cast system.
Then you should cast your void pointer to something useful like an int or char.

Caging lists are the ultimate example of these (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725475)

The ultimate example of data mining affecting elections is surely caging? Mining the data to find a group likely to vote Democrat, then excluding them from the roll by cross referencing it with other databases, such as drivers ID.

This is where the 'you need an ID of type X, Y or Z but not J,K,M' laws come from. The database tells them that they can exclude democrats or Ron Paul supporters by requiring the ID be of certain types.

This is where the game of sending serving soldiers in Afghanistan who are black, a letter asking them to confirm their right to vote to their USA address. Of course they're not there, they're in Afghanistan. So Rove then uses that to block them from voting. Since black soldiers tend to vote democrat it swings the vote:

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/10/18/greg_palast_on_billionaires_ballot_bandits

But none of this matters, the teleprompter will decide the election, not the vote.
http://youtu.be/pKaXqoC4DjE?t=3m3s

funniest thing I've read all weekend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41725961)

First, because it's from Mother Jones, those reliable purveyors of unbiased and accurate information... oh, wait.... nope... they were the ones who released the edited tape of Romney with the 47% comments, and then after they were caught they fessed up and released the unedited tapes... which turned out to still be edited...

Yeah, I know, Romney said "47%", but we do not have the full context, and the point I am making here is NOT that we should view the comment differently but rather that the veracity of the publication is sub-optimal.

Second, because all the lefty hipsters who support Obama and read Mother Jones and simultaneously think "information should be free" (while also thinking our government is EVIL if it stores information about people and tracks them) are backing a politician (Obama) whose people are more dedicated to (and more skilled at) building huge databases of info about them, snooping on them, tracking them, targeting them, etc than any other political leader in US history... and since Obama currently RUNS the government, that data is effectively in the hands of the government (it's in the hands of the guy who RUNS the government) but without any of the safeguards that would apply if somebody like the FBI had gotten it directly ha ha ha ha...

What is a "Pol"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41726991)

Self explanatory. Never heard of a Pol.

In other words... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41727669)

How politicians subvert and manipulate the people so to get elected and do something else, other than what they promised, based on the spying on the peoiple...

This is not what the founders of this country intended when they formed this Republic (as opposed to a democracy)

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