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Comments

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Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

BitterOak Uproar? (146 comments)

What was the uproar about actually? Were people afraid the computers would make mistakes and overcharge them or what?

3 days ago
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52 Million Photos In FBI's Face Recognition Database By Next Year

BitterOak Re:I grew a beard (108 comments)

Let's see how they handle that, as I keep messing around with facial hair 8^{)>

Modern facial recognition seems to be immune to facial hair changes, as well as other simple attempts to fool it. It is based more on measurements of bone structure, and distances between certain facial features such as eyes, nose and mouth. Also, sophisticated AI software is used to make the system robust against changes to some of these features as well. Unless you wear a bag over your head, it's pretty hard to fool modern systems.

4 days ago
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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

BitterOak Re:Why do people listen to her? (586 comments)

The problem is herd immunity.

I agree with you that the problem is "herd immunity", but not in the way you think.

The problem is in people's perception of the risk vs. benefit of vaccines, and the phrase "herd immunity" does a lot to distort that perception. It suggests that perhaps the risk to an individual getting a vaccine is greater than the benefit to that individual, and the primary reason for the pushing the vaccine on people is for the greater good of the population. First, that isn't true: for pretty much all the standard vaccines people get, the risk to the individual by not getting the vaccine is greater than the risk to the individual by getting it. "Herd immunity" is really a bonus, in that getting a vaccine reduces everyone else's risk of getting the disease as well. However, no reasonable parent is going to subject their child to a risk of harm if the sole benefit is to other people's children, and so placing too much emphasis on "herd immunity" really could be doing more harm than good as it could distort the public perception of the benefits of vaccines for the individuals getting them.

A second problem is the terminology itself. As anyone in advertising will tell you, word choice can have a profound psychological effect on people's perceptions. The word "herd" in all other usages of which I'm aware applies to livestock, such as cattle. When doctors talk to parents about "immunizing the herd", it suggests, even just subconsciously, that health care professionals see children as livestock, and not human beings. While this may not be true, if parents are already wary of vaccinating their kids, the phrase "herd immunity" certainly won't push them in the direction of wanting to.

5 days ago
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Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

BitterOak Re:Stopping a billionaire's car (325 comments)

The problem is simple.

Unlike in Sweden or Norway, where your ticket depends on your income, the fine is a small amount to a billionaire.

How can the ticket depend on income? How do they know how much you're making? Do they look at your tax return? What if you're a tourist from America or somewhere? They don't file tax returns with the Swedish government, so how do they know how much to charge?

about a week ago
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Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

BitterOak Re:We have those in South Carolina too (325 comments)

That's simply false. I lived in SC for 4 years, and everyone drives about 10 mph above the speed limit and I've never been pulled over. And the cops I have talked to were actually very nice.

about a week ago
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NASA Can't Ethically Send Astronauts On One-Way Missions To Deep Space

BitterOak Re:Ethical is irrelevant. (402 comments)

Whether sending a willing astronaut, who understands and chose to do this of his own free will, on a dangerous or even one-way mission is ethical is not a question for anyone except the astronaut.

Can the astronaut accomplish the mission all by him or herself? Or does he/she need a ground crew and a team of engineers to design and build the rocket? If so, then they would all be participants in the astronaut's death. If I decide I want to die and I hand you a gun and ask you to shoot me, is it ethical for you to do so?

It's like trying to decide if gay marriage is "ethical". Unless you're one of the ones involved, nonya business trying to define ethics

But therein lies the problem. There are other people involved.

about two weeks ago
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If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

BitterOak Re:It Won't Work (353 comments)

That's a slippery slope right there. You could almost argue with it that you shouldn't be picking strangers as hitch-hikers because as soon as they pick *you* at some later time, an illegal business transaction is thereby concluded.

Actually, it is already illegal in many jurisdictions to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers and has been for quite some time.

about three weeks ago
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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

BitterOak Re:Apart from shades of grey... (512 comments)

Skin of Evil was pretty bad too. That's the one where Tasha Yar was killed by an oil slick. I also wasn't too fond of Manhunt. Bloodlines was a real stinker too, especially disappointing since it came so near the end of the series.

about three weeks ago
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Aussie Attorney General's War On Encrypted Web Services

BitterOak Re:We need a redesign (151 comments)

You mean, like, say, end to end encryption?

End to end encryption doesn't give anywhere near the security many people think. If adversaries (including the government) have access to the communication lines, they can intercept software updates, or take advantage of other vulnerabilities to install software (such as keyloggers, memory sniffers with key extractors, etc.) on the endpoint machines. In fact, they need only compromise one of the computers participating in the communication. So, end to end encryption, although a great idea in theory, really doesn't give much security in practice.

about a month ago
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Elon Musk Addresses New Jersey's Tesla Store Ban

BitterOak Re:Shooting themselves in the foot (229 comments)

True, but I think most people "forget" to declare most of their possessions. Unless you own a private jet or yacht, I don't think you'll have much trouble.

about a month ago
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A Look at the NSA's Most Powerful Internet Attack Tool

BitterOak Story writer didn't read own story. (154 comments)

But it also includes gadgets like a plug-in to inject into MySQL connections, allowing the NSA to quietly mess with the contents of a third-party's database. (This also surprisingly suggests that unencrypted MySQL on the internet is common enough to attract NSA attention.)

When the author wrote that part of the story, he or she seemed to be unaware of what he or she had just written:

allowing bogus certificates and similar routines to break SSL

By breaking SSL, the NSA has access to SQL queries whether or not they're encrypted.

about a month ago
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70% of U.S. Government Spending Is Writing Checks To Individuals

BitterOak Re:And... (676 comments)

Why is this a problem? You've outlined some interesting results here, but what makes you think there's an issue here?

Because the United States is not supposed to have a redistributionist government, but the figures seem to suggest that's exactly what it is.

about a month ago
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BPAS Appeals £200,000 Fine Over Hacked Website

BitterOak How far do these laws go? (104 comments)

This wasn't a corporate site nor was it a medical services site. This was a non-profit charitable organization. Suppose I set up a website of my own, not for profit, in which I provide information on where to get an abortion. Suppose I don't secure my web server enough and a hacker gets a copy of my access.log files and is thus able to determine who visited my site and suppose they publish that information. Would I be subject to big fines as well? What if it was a website about some other subject like building model trains? I understand in this case the hackers probably got more than just IP addresses, but where exactly is the line drawn? Is anyone who has a website in danger of running afoul of these laws?

about a month and a half ago
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Child Porn Arrest For Cameron Aide Who Helped Plan UK Net Filters

BitterOak Re: victimless crime (205 comments)

Because actual kids are being filned/photographed performing such acts? Since minors can't legally give consent for sex, they are the victims in this crime.

I think you misread the parent's post. It said "I dare someone to prove the harm in possessing/viewing cold porn" [emphasis added]. By "this crime" you seem to mean the sex or the kids being forced into sex to be photographed. I agree that should definitely be a crime and the perpetrators should be punished. By your logic though, possessing photographs of someone being murdered should be a crime, since the victim clearly lost their life.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Modern Web Development Applied Science Associates Degree?

BitterOak Re:Not a good idea (246 comments)

I still use a five year old book on CSS and a seven year old book on PHP, and they work just fine. Javascript has changed a bit since then, and newer tools like jquery evolve more rapidly, but the fundamentals change slowly enough that if someone gets a job in the field when they graduate, they should be able to keep up with changes throughout their career. This will be especially true if the professors teach it properly: encourage independent learning and discovery through projects and reading and not relying solely on lectures. In other words, teach the students how to learn web development, instead of just teaching web development.

about a month and a half ago
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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics

BitterOak Re:Still not quite correct. (94 comments)

I think you're being too picky in the interest of talking down to people.

Actually, I think the people that are "talking down to people" are those that give incorrect explanations of things because they think they're simpler. Pointing out the problem with the molasses analogy is not fussing about a picky little detail, it is pointing out the analogy is wrong on a very fundamental level. It paints a picture of the pre-Michelson-Morley days of a stationary ether that permeates all space and defines a preferred frame of reference. As Einstein said, you should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.

about 2 months ago
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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics

BitterOak Re:Stil waiting. (94 comments)

Yes! Absolutely. Let me second that recommendation. Best explanation of the Higgs I've ever come across as well. It is rather long (about an hour), but if you at all interested in what the Higgs is really all about, it more than repays your investment in time.

about 2 months ago
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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics

BitterOak Still not quite correct. (94 comments)

This explanation and comic are very good, but it makes the same fundamental mistake that so many physicists have made in trying to explain the Higgs field. It compares the field to molasses, slowing down particles by "sticking" to them, or providing some sort of friction to slow them down to sub-light speeds. This is fundamentally incorrect as molasses, or any other frictional medium, opposes the motion of particles, slowing them down until they eventually come to rest with respect to the frictional medium (molasses in this analogy). This is not at all how the Higgs field works. It doesn't oppose the motion of particles at all. In fact, Newton's law of inertia states that a body in motion will continue in motion at the same velocity until acted upon by an external force, and this is still true even in the presence of the Higgs field. There's nothing molasses-like about it at all. In fact, as a relativistic field the Higgs field has no rest frame. Put in other words, the Higgs field has no velocity of its own, zero or otherwise. If it did, it would break a fundamental symmetry law of special relativity: namely that all inertial frames of reference are equivalent. No field that behaves anything like molasses would be consistent with that principle.

about 2 months ago
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Report: Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Scans Your DNS History

BitterOak Re:ipconfig /flushdns (373 comments)

But does the flushdns actually ERASE the contents of the cache or merely delete it? (By erase, I mean overwrite with zeros or something else so snooping software can't reconstruct the original cache contents.)

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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DHS reading your Tweets and Facebook postings.

BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "Apparently, the DHS is reading your Tweets and looking at your Facebook wall. This may seem reasonable if they're trying to prevent a terrorist attack, but apparently, they're more interested in whether or not you are criticizing them!"
Link to Original Source
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Judge affirms students' right to post online pics.

BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "An Indiana judge issued a summary judgment affirming that when public schools punish students for their Facebook pics, they may be violating the First Ammendment.

This case concerns two Indiana teenage girls that posted some pics on Facebook that featured some pornographic candies that were taken at a sleepover (not at school). The judge here questioned the constitutionality of the school district's policy that actions by students in or out of school are punishable if they bring "dishonor" to the school.

The school district indicated it would likely appeal the ruling which enjoins them from punishing the students by barring them from extracurricular activities."

Link to Original Source
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Canadian songwriters propose $10/mo Internet fee.

BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "According to this story, Canadian songwriters are proposing a $10 fee to be added to monthly ISP bills, giving users a license to download music using peer-to-peer file sharing technologies for free, without fear of reprisal. The money collected would be distributed to members of a Canadian association of songwriters (SOCAN). The story doesn't make clear whether the license would apply only to Canadian music, or how musicians in other nations would be compensated otherwise."
Link to Original Source
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Public employee to face hearing over personal blog

BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "In another attack on online freedom of speech, Michigan deputy attorney general Andrew Shirvell is facing a disciplinary hearing over a personal blog he created on personal time using personal resources. In the blog (which unfortunately seems now to be invitation only) he is critical of University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong for a variety of peculiar reasons including "promoting a homosexual lifestyle". Although rather childish, his blog is not related in any way to his job with the state, and in fact, he doesn't mention his employer anywhere on his blog. Should civil servants give up their First Amendment rights as a condition of employment?"
Link to Original Source
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Criminal libel charges laid for criticizing police

BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "A Calgary man is facing criminal charges of libel for criticizing police. According to the story the RCMP have filed five charges against John Kelly for claiming on his website that Calgary police officers engaged in perjury, corruption, and obstruction of justice. What makes the story unusual is that the charges are criminal and not civil. Even in Canada, which has much less free speech protection than the United States, it is extremely rare for people to be charged criminally with libel. It is almost always matter for civil courts."
Link to Original Source
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BitterOak BitterOak writes  |  about 7 years ago

BitterOak (537666) writes "Four high school students were arrested in Toronto Friday, charged with assaulting police and obstruction, during a protest over the suspension of students for posting derogatory comments about the vice principal on their private Facebook pages. 60 students showed up for the protest, and only four were charged with any wrong doing. This story raises interesting questions. I'm sure no one condones disorderly conduct at a protest, but should public schools have the right to suspend students over online speech? The article doesn't make it clear whether or not the student used school computers to post the comments."

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