Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"
I get the "bought" part, that is after all how lobbying works (it's not a secret), but how does one "sell" a politician? Do you mean that political parties are pimping out their people?
It's called 'bundling'., where existing wealthy donors who have already contributed the legal maximum 'sell' the candidate to their friends and business associates, effectively leveraging their personal connections and access to shepherd more funds to the campaign.
What has more political clout than one maxed-out contributor when it comes time to make policy? A fucking cartel of maxed-out contributors.
Given that your average congresscritter spends ~20% of their working hours trolling for contributions just to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, you can imagine how influential successful bundlers are.
Makes you wonder just how much we'd save by spending a couple billion a year on public financing of elections.
Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?
I'm not sure I'd want to be in a skyscraper in Memphis or St. Louis during a replay of the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812,
Almost certainly safer than anywhere else. Skyscrapers are pretty much universally steel-framed structures which are relatively resistant to seismic loading, subject to stringent building codes, by definition need massive foundations driven to a solid base, and already need to resist dynamic wind-loading forces with resonance effects. Even mid-rise 6-10 story buildings are likely to be quite safe given the inherent seismic benefits of steel-frame construction and attention paid to building codes in the USA.
Has any modern skyscraper ever experienced significant structural failure resulting in loss of life as a result of an earthquake? Ever? Even in areas known for less-than-enthusiastic enforcement of building standards?
Fukushima's Biological Legacy
The difficulty with any study of low-level radiation doses on exposed organisms is that ecosystems are messy and complicated, and the actual low-level biological mechanics for low-dose exposures are entirely conjectural, so observed effects have a very, very low signal to noise ratio.
Setting up controlled studies with a large enough scale to make statistically significant judgements greatly exceeds available resources for researchers in the field, leaving statistical analysis of effectively uncontrolled real-world populations as the only option.
So, the conclusions are only as reliable as the observations and the statistical analysis. This becomes educated guesswork, and for the most part educated guesswork based on the theoretical model that is being tested.
It's all very well and good to throw out statistics like:
Many other cell types and tissues have been shown to be affected by Chernobyl contaminants. Møller, Bonisoli-Alquati, et al. (2013) demonstrated that the frequency of visible tumors on birds was significantly higher in radioactive areas, presumably reflecting elevated mutation rates in somatic tissues. Visible tumor rates in birds from Chernobyl were in excess of 15/1000 birds while tumors have never been observed in Danish populations despite extensive surveys (0/35000 birds observed) (Møller, Bonisoli-Alquati, et al. 2013). ...unfortunately, the former USSR as a whole exhibits levels of persistent organic pollutants several times greater than observations in even industrialized areas of Western Europe. POPs are rather easier to study, and are definitively linked to tumor formation.
Attempting to control for various effects in real-world populations is a black art, often practiced and seldom practiced effectively. Often, before you can even start to evaluate the reliability of an article, you'll need to jump several citation links back just to see what assumptions a study is based upon. ...and that is why we still lack conclusive evidence about any long-term negative effects of low-dose radiation exposure.
Gmail Recognizes Addresses Containing Non-Latin Characters
Is it deeply wrong that I originally read "WORKS4ME" as 'worksame' due to excessive IRC leetspeak exposure in my youth... and yet it still kind of made sense?
EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power
The difficulty being, your references are estimates based on what dose threshold?
Well, you have to go three citations deep to reach the original model they're working off of. Which turns out to be a conservative application of Linear No Threshold. Which... isn't actually testable for any reasonable value of statistical significance over the populations they're attempting to apply it to.
The BEIR VII risk models are a combination of excess relative risk (ERR) and excess absolute risk (EAR) models, both of which are written as a linear function of dose, depending on sex, age at exposure and attained age. The BEIR VII risk models were derived from analyses of data on the Japanese atomic bomb survivors for all cancer sites except breast and thyroid; for the latter, they were based on published combined analyses of data on the atomic bomb survivors and medically exposed cohorts.40, 41 To estimate risks from exposure at low doses and dose rates, a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor (DDREF) of 1.5 was used for all outcomes except leukemia.
The biological effects of acute radiation exposure >1 Gy are reasonably well-known, are the basis for the linear-no-threshold model, and completely inapplicable to this sitation, as even the most-exposed workers at the Fukushima accident site did even approach this dose, despite the multiple situations where workers were exposed to doses in excess of legal limits.
The biological effects of short term dose less than 0.05 Gy or low-dose long-term exposure are also reasonably well-known, in that there is no statistically significant effect.
Unless you're dealing with the aftermath of a global thermonuclear war, the linear-no-threshold model is nearly useless from an epidemiological perspective, and so are conclusions reached using it.
Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible
Technically, 29.9792458N Latitude constitutes a ~1cm band around the northern hemisphere. The Grand Gallery is oriented roughly north-south, and at 46m long in itself occludes 0.00043 latitude-- so you'll miss almost all of it.
Fortunately, there is a much more useful application for random decimal numbers associated with SI constants. If you happen to be flying over Africa and become lost, follow your GPS to the scientific notation of the Planck constant degrees east, then fly north, and you'll eventually reach Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport in Algeria.
Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon
e pluribus... burnem?
Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?
I think you have a misunderstanding. In our society, the 'rule of law' is based more on color, wealth, politics, connections, and whether the justice system 'likes' you than on innocence or guilt.
*fuck* the rule of law. Laws have no judgement, rationality, and are subject to incredibly selective enforcement by cops, prosecutors, and the coercive apparatus of the government as a whole, entirely at the whim of officials who have no accountability or responsibility.
You really want a system where innocence or guilt is decided based on social class and race? Because that's where we're at right now.
If you'd like to talk about the rule of law, we can talk about our broken court system, where innocent until presumed guilty is a legal fiction, and better than 90% of crimes are resolved with a plea-bargain rather than a trial.
It's all a sham, and 'justice' is entirely illusory unless you're wealthy, educated, and connected enough to game the system. This is one of the (relatively few) places where the tea party and libertarians really have a solid point.
After FDA Objections, 23andMe Won't Offer Health Information
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would like to speak with you about how your health can enjoy the benefits of herbal supplements!
Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing
Unless there is dope residue in the car, there is no way that any prosecutor would ever charge this because there is no way they could prove the intent element.
Because the opportunity cost for the prosecutor to file charges is so high, and innocent people never plea-bargain to avoid the threat of trumped-up charges that could put them in jail for the rest of their life if the trial goes badly because their overworked public defender is unable to mount a successful defense.
Prosecutors will happily charge anything that they think will work as leverage for a plea-bargain. That's their job, that's how the system works, and that's how all of the incentives are set up.
Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing
No, legal fees are not 'taken care of if you win'. The system doesn't care if you are innocent, the system cares about the system, and obviously anyone who ends up in court has to be a scumbag, right?
For criminal defense cases, you may choose to be represented without charge by an overworked, underfunded public defender who has every interest in resolving your case as quickly as possible via plea-bargaining... regardless of guilt or innocence.
Or you may hire an attorney who is actually being paid to represent your interests, where the cheapest option available is typically in excess of a thousand dollars, substantially more for serious charges or if the case actually goes to a jury trial.
The vast majority of defendants in the American legal system do not have the financial resources to hire an attorney, which is why the vast majority of all criminal charges are settled by plea bargain. Prosecutors have every incentive to pile on the threat of every imaginable charge and use the uncertainty of the outcome of a trial as leverage to coerce a plea bargain, guilty or not, because it works, and because they are almost never held responsible for their unethical conduct even when they commit egregious acts like concealing evidence that would exonerate the accused.
Add in unconscionable levels of police malfeasance and corruption on nearly every level, and the result is a criminal justice system that is anything but just. Unless you've got plenty of money. Which is kind of the point.
Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners
The per-capita homicide rate in NYC is actually lower than in any other major city in the USA, barely above the national average.
Chicago roughly comparable to Atlanta... and even Detroit is still safer than New Orleans. You can argue the reasons, but you can't argue that the deep south has more than its share of social problems.
Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than You
Human drivers are bad at following safely because their reaction times are:
- Subjectively difficult to estimate accurately.
- Wildly variant from moment to moment dependent on the situation.
People are bad at realizing how fast they can respond. People are easily distracted, and are not capable of continuous full attention to more than a small fraction of their visual field even under ideal conditions. If you're looking at the radio to change the station, you are not physically capable of perceiving many changes in the peripheral view you have of the road, no matter how your brain fools you into thinking "Oh, I can still see everything", when your actual reaction time has just jumped by an order of magnitude.
Robotic reaction times are easy to measure objectively, and are situationally invariant. The the only relevant factors in following distance are the expected stopping distance at speed in the current conditions, and avoiding situations where the vehicle could potentially be unable to avoid a collision if whatever it is following stopped at maximum decelleration. This is EASY compared to most of the problems involved in navigating an unpredictable and changeable landscape.
I'd be much happier with a robot car following me than any human driver, the Stig included. It doesn't take a lot of distance to be safe with 50ms reaction time and rangefinders that are capable of discerning relative acceleration on a millisecond basis to form decisions with.
Lavabit.com Owner: 'I Could Be Arrested' For Resisting Surveillance Order
Which one actually leads to a safer world?
That would depend on the legitimacy, fairness, and effectiveness of the court system.
A reasonable argument can be made that all of the above are currently on the decline in America. How you choose to apportion the blame between wealth inequality, the systematic dismantling of public services, the prison-industrial complex, decline of the family, a crisis of faith, or other causes... is up to you.
I certainly don't trust our justice system to operate within acceptable standards. Do you?
NSA Still Funded To Spy On US Phone Records
This vote was incredibly close, with a few defections its successors will be successful. This was a roll-call vote, so we know which way they voted!
Roll call votes for Amash Amendment:
Contact your congresscritters! If they voted for the amendment, tell them that you agree with their stand even if you hate them most of the time!
If they voted against it, contact them and tell them clearly and respectfully why this issue is important to you and that it affects your future support. Complain to them, and if their answers are not convincing go out and support a primary challenger!
When the NSA Shows Up At Your Internet Company
I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service. That said, there's one other bit: a large number of their 30k customers are some rather large(-ish) corporations and companies - a few of whom have the ear of Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others in both state and federal government... not to mention (guessing this part, but given their location and name) they likely have a very strong hook into the LDS hierarchy.
Really, it's even more impressive. Pete Ashdown ran as a Democrat against Orrin Hatch in the 2006 senate election. Lost, of course, but Hatch ended up spending close to five megabucks on the campaign, and Ashdown did better than anyone else has against Hatch in recent memory, despite Hatch's ridiculous campaign funding and stranglehold on Utah politics.
Pete Ashdown is an impressively brave and principled individual, and it'd surprise me greatly if he even imagined any possible support from Hatch or the majority of the Church hierarchy in any civil liberties dispute with the feds. He's just a badass in general.
Security Researcher Attacked While At Conference
Two people go into a hotel room, apparently uninjured.
They subsequently leave the hotel room with documented physical injuries.
The physically weaker person provides a detailed account of their version of events, claiming that the physically stronger person attacked them, they were luckily able to fight off the stronger person and escape, but that the local (foreign) police did not pursue this case due to a lack of conclusive evidence.
The physically stronger person responds to these allegations with a blog post titled Lies, nuts, and the quest for attention, which focuses on ad hominem attacks and how very, very butthurt he is that people are even considering these allegations. The blog post does not provide any alternate explanation for the events that resulted in injuries to both parties, or any new information at all.
I'm having difficulty coming up with a rational explanation that doesn't include the stronger person being a predator who engineered a situation where they expected to face no consequences for their actions due to the victim being in an unfamiliar environment with limited support, the disinclination of local law enforcement to become involved in a dispute between foreign nationals, and engineered absence of conclusive evidence.
My opinion? I have no doubt that her story is substantively true. The argument that 'the polish police did not arrest me, so I must not have done it' is about as convincing as tissue paper to anyone who has seen the inconsistent results of even well-trained and well-equipped police forces-- if what we've seen so far is all he has to offer then he should be rightly shunned by the tech community and then some.
Given the alleged crime and narcissistic tone of the blog post, there are likely similar victims out there. Hopefully they will come forward as well.
Favorite U.S. Political Party
Actually, one of the first acts of the Obama administration was ordering the closure of Gitmo, ordering military interrogations to return to the policies in the Army Field Manual pre-Bush, and shutting down Bush's secret overseas torture centers. However, the authority of the Executive branch is limited by the United States Constitution, making it possible for Congress to delay funding allocated to move prisoners until the Republican majority elected in 2010 passed legislation making it unlawful to move the remaining prisoners to either the US or other countries.
The continued travesty of Gitmo is on Congress, the truly impressive part is how many effective measures Obama has put in place despite massive willful obstruction from the Legislative branch.
US Military Designates Julian Assange an "Enemy of State"
...and the FBI has no interest in making domestic terrorism a high-profile issue by exaggerating both the intent and abilities of 'terrorists'.
If every domestic terrorist plot foiled by the 'war on terror' had instead been wildly successful, where would we be?
Well, we'd be pretty vulnerable to threats like these from the Heritage Foundation paper listed above:
"He was arrested for conspiring to use blowtorches to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge"
"His plans, according to authorities, were to kill President Bush and then establish an al-Qaeda cell in
the United States, with himself as the head."
"The JIS allegedly planned to finance its operations by robbing gas stations."
"Derrick Shareef was arrested on charges of planning to set off hand grenades in a shopping mall outside Chicago."
"Four men plotted to blow up “aviation fuel tanks and pipelines at the John F. Kennedy International Airport” in New York City. They believed that such an attack would cause “greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks.” Authorities stated that the attack “could have caused significant financial and psychological damage, but not major loss of life.""
"Hassan Abujihaad, a former U.S. Navy sailor from Phoenix, Arizona, was convicted of supporting terrorism and disclosing classified information"
Setting aside the dubious competence and unbalanced mental state of the overwhelming majority of plotters, total success above and beyond what a reasonable person would expect given the actual capabilities of these groups would have resulted in negligible damage to society as a whole-- a couple planes bombed and a smattering of minor bombings if everything went perfectly for these disgruntled losers who are already unbalanced enough to be terrorists.
Surprisingly enough, most of these plots were 'revealed' by paid informants with a major financial stake in exhorting their idiot co-conspirators to plan something outrageous enough to warrant FBI attention and major payouts to the informants.
Modern democracies with strong civil society and no significant domestic conflict are inherently resistant to fringe nutbars-- all the 'war on terror' is getting for us is foreign oppression, dramatic restrictions on our own civil liberties, balooning 'security' spending and media scare tactics.
Facebook Scans Chats and Posts For Criminal Activity
Even cops have to pick and choose what laws they're going to enforce nowadays, what with increased reporting, surveillance, and proliferation of criminal law. Why should corporations have it any easier?
Selective enforcement, jamming social norms down our collective throats since prehistory.