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Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

FreedomFirstThenPeac But policy is NOT science (496 comments)

While no one has ever suggested that science is subject to voting, it is naive to claim that opinion does not guide publication. If I wanted to argue data that showed the speed of light in vacuum was much different from the current estimate, my evidence has to be much better than if I were simply confirming a widely held number. AND, it is perfectly reasonable for a political body to declare that pi is 3.1416 for all calculations used in contracts and surveying. Not so reasonable is to hold that planning commissions cannot use the best science when planning for long terms (which they do, by their nature). See North Carolina's actions, which blocked use of the science.

But, in my opinion the best hedge we have is banks and insurance companies. As long as they are permitted to do the math, we will be safe (unless they are prevented from using their best estimates by social engineering in the "democratic" body politic). For example, in New Orleans I bet rational assessment of long term risk would hurt the poor the most, making for irrational attempts to legislate away risk by blocking its use in assessing mortgages, etc. Think of the whole real estate bubble and the good intentions but bad ideas that made home ownership a right, not to be denied just because the owner could not afford it.

about a week ago
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Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:I want silent vehicles (820 comments)

How about a Google-enhancement to human driven cars that beeps, whistles or otherwise sound signals a human or large animal only when they are near the car or in the path thereof?

about a week ago
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Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:So they are doing what? (509 comments)

The ability to think meta is important. Some once pointed out that the US Constitution is not a suicide pact, even though without meta-thinking it appears to be so. This is a variation on the idea that the only thing we must not tolerate is intolerance. Do not be afraid to embrace this conflict.

about three weeks ago
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FBI Says Search Warrants Not Needed To Use "Stingrays" In Public Places

FreedomFirstThenPeac I call BS (303 comments)

The ACLU says

Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators" or "IMSI catchers," are invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information. When used to track a suspect's cell phone, they also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby.

So, I think the Stingray is used to track who and where, very similar to having a beat cop standing on the corner who recognizes you and notes that you just walked by. All the discussion here about wiretapping is just FUD.

about three weeks ago
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Ebola Patient Zero Identified, Probably Infected By Bats

FreedomFirstThenPeac Outlaw Bats! (112 comments)

Outlaw bats and only criminals will have bats!

What? Not the wooden kind but rather the furry kind?

Nevermind.

about three weeks ago
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The Search For Starivores, Intelligent Life That Could Eat the Sun

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:Starivore? (300 comments)

Amazingly, this is the premise for my next SciFi novella - "StarEaters of Erdition", about a species of non-sentient astrophages. I think I'll use a plucky 70yo trans-species cyborg who's sentient self (hence, "who's") detects their existence and maps their trajectory from peta-peta-bytes of old Hubble data. Throw in a bit of a Cassandra complex (no one believes its (gender neutral pronoun) pronouncements). I think I'll cast Brent Spiner ("Data") as the carbon-based-component of the cyborg and George Takai ("Mr. Sulu") for the voice of the (nominally) silicone-based-component of the cyborg).

about three weeks ago
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Writer: How My Mom Got Hacked

FreedomFirstThenPeac Not capitalism (463 comments)

The article notes that Wisniewski says this is part of

"a very mature, well-oiled capitalist machine"

which is inaccurate and only feeds the populist anti-capitalist sentiment that is too often conflated with anti free-market rhetoric. It would be far more accurate to call this a "protection racket" akin to the crime bosses in New York who send thugs into shops, said thugs' opening line then being something like "this is a nice little shop you got here, it would be a real shame if something were to happen to it, like maybe a fire".

about three weeks ago
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NSA Says They Have VPNs In a 'Vulcan Death Grip'

FreedomFirstThenPeac NSA is the new NASA (234 comments)

A poster wondered if anyone else has the Intelligence gathering budget that the US does. I wonder if NSA is the new NASA, in that it provides jobs for geeks the way the space program did. And by geeks I mean those gifted individuals who would be bored trying to help K-Tar-Mart better ship and sell diapers and bottled water. Give them a mission (save the world from terror, get to the moon) and make them feel special. Keep them busy so they don't just hack apart your world.

about a month ago
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Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

FreedomFirstThenPeac Denver is headed to Mexico City (484 comments)

Denver already has the smog, now it can grow a narcotics trade as well. Then Nebraska will get some surplus drones and start a campaign agaist the drug trade, then ...

about a month ago
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Google Proposes To Warn People About Non-SSL Web Sites

FreedomFirstThenPeac My hack would be ... (396 comments)

My hack would be that any non-secure website would have its background image replaced at the browser end by a red warning background with a watermark "WARNING" embedded in it.

about a month and a half ago
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Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid'

FreedomFirstThenPeac I saw the trailer (580 comments)

I saw the trailer, not sure if this is a big loss to the free world.

about a month and a half ago
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11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

FreedomFirstThenPeac Midwest too (330 comments)

Now that we finally are looking at the whole system (aquifers too) rather than just surface water, we will be seeing pending droughts in a lot more places than we might think. I am on two planning commissions in Minnesota and we are very aware of the water supplies under ground, the entire state is concerned, and we are the land of 10,000 lakes (or, during flood season, one really big lake"). A new emphasis on sustainability and the ability to estimate water supplies better, coupled with a full "total cost of ownership" for new developments, gives local planners an opportunity to say no to new developments in a way that we did not see during the big boom of the 70's and 80's. Of course, the unintended consequence of careful planning is that we start to see "economic refugees", by which I mean people who move in despite local attempts to remain sustainable.

about a month and a half ago
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In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

FreedomFirstThenPeac Nuanced Republican View (435 comments)

I posted this on an MPR website discussing one Republican's response to this news. (Rep Bachman, one of my LEAST favorite Congresspeople)

Two comments. First, I expect better of the MPR audience than a bunch of personal attacks on the politicians involved ("crazy", "nut job", etc.). Where is the dialog in that? [They were discussing Rep Bachman]

Second, this Republican agrees that the [Cuban] embargo was a success, but not in the sense that it kept Cuba from profiting from its low wage workers (a form of serfdom?), but rather in the sense that Cuba was able to attempt to build a socialist paradise absent the machinations of the free world and its powerful interests. Did they succeed? If you think that universal health care at the 1950's level is success, with life expectancies comparable to US, and with a thriving black market in access to medical care for those with money (similar to ours, except that our high-payer patients subsidize the entire health industry rather than just the people they bribe), perhaps they did. If you think that a two-level economy is success (the have-nots and the tourists), perhaps they did. If you think a population with low expectations of their government and a high level of self sufficiency, perhaps they did succeed. Certainly their model of socialism is much more benign than, for example, North Korea's alleged communist system (I say alleged because NK is communist only in its choice of friends, not in its actual economic system, which is more a large slave plantation, as near as I can tell). So while I can understand a certain amount of hostility towards Cuba for their oppression of their people's freedoms, I must also acknowledge that, for a Luddite nation, they are doing much better than their Russian handlers did.

about a month and a half ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

FreedomFirstThenPeac Prostitutes v Co-eds (295 comments)

Prostitutes:coeds as taxis:uber brbr One tries to be sustainable, the other lives outside the economically sustainable boundary by not keeping itself fully accountable for the total cost of operations. The establishment lament is "how can we make a living when the tyros are giving it away below cost"? The tyros retort? Your place or mine?

about a month and a half ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re: To hell with taxis... (295 comments)

This is an excellent start at a TCO (total cost of operating/ownership) and ought to be the standard in Slashdot conversations like this one. Thanks! This sort of reasoning ought to prevail over wishful dreamcast fluff every time.

about a month and a half ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

FreedomFirstThenPeac N=1 (1051 comments)

We statisticians refer to anecdotes as non-random samples of size N=1.

Completely and totally worthless. Actually, not worthless (value 0), they are worth-negative, as they actually prevent good decision making.

And as Kahneman and Tversky discussed, the availability heuristic and the ease of remembering the outliers makes for very bad decision making. This is exacerbated by the modern un-filtered news system (aka, "the web" cross the "infotainment industry"). This warped noise delivery system, masquerading as "news you need to know" results in a really bad decision making process. Modern medicine (where I worked as a statistician) is unable to help with this extra-scientific process.

about a month and a half ago
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Stealthy Linux Trojan May Have Infected Victims For Years

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:give Peace a Chance (129 comments)

Because in the end, someone has to be as powerful as the most powerful state we might logically fear. Right now that is the Russians (simple tanks and bombs), the Chinese (economic warfare), and the Islamofascists (intent). Of these, we cannot afford to fight the Chinese, we are not the bleeding edge in defending against the Russians, and we might be able to defeat the Islamofascists here at home using ideas, not so sure about in other countries.

But the old days of raising armies only when needed has gone the way of the horse and buggy. Unless you are the Swiss, who count on others to provide defacto long-arm defense, you probably cannot count on an armed population either ("Red Dawn not withstanding)

about 1 month ago
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Stealthy Linux Trojan May Have Infected Victims For Years

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:give Peace a Chance (129 comments)

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed

Nice platitude. Prove it.

about 1 month ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

FreedomFirstThenPeac Methods and mileage may vary. (772 comments)

But in the end, whether it is a Catholic inquisition or a CIA operative is less material than why it is done. We should not simply scream

"do no torture on my behalf",

we should perhaps scream

I am willing to let X=8,143 people a year die from terrorist attacks rather than use torture

The number 8,143 is what we are arguing about.

The CIA thinks X is something small, like 1 child or 3 innocent adults.

The rest of us must think X is closer to 1M. Interestingly, it is the scientific humanists among us who claim X=Inf, even though they do not have a moral compass like the church telling them that. More proof that it does not take a religion to make one moral.

about 1 month ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

FreedomFirstThenPeac Re:Really? (772 comments)

My outrage over failures of the Obama administration pales in comparison to my outrage over the war crimes of the GWB administration.

Then the second generation of guards at Nazi camps is exonerated because they did not start it?

about 1 month ago

Submissions

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Outlaw Puns? What pun is that?

FreedomFirstThenPeac FreedomFirstThenPeac writes  |  about 2 months ago

FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "A story in The Guardian tells us that in an Orwellian-like move to legislate language, the Chinese are attempting to stop the use of puns because they are disruptive and may lead to chaos (not the mathematical kind) and as such are unsuitable for use. However, Chinese is rife with puns, with this example quoted in the story

When couples marry, people will give them dates and peanuts – a reference to the wish Zaosheng guizi or “May you soon give birth to a son”. The word for dates is also zao and peanuts are huasheng

The powerful date and peanut lobbies are up in arms, claiming that such a ban will cost them more than peanuts. Their claim? "If you outlaw puns. Only criminals will have puns.""

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Back the Future in Nuclear Armageddon

FreedomFirstThenPeac FreedomFirstThenPeac writes  |  about 4 months ago

FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "As a former Cold Warrior (both launch officer side and staff analytical mathematician side) I now appreciate more than ever the bitterness I saw in former WW2 warriors when they would see a Japanese car. One even commented that he was pretty unhappy that he had served in submarines to beat the Japanese, only to see their products rolling down the streets. Now I see that the President who was elected partially on a "no new nukes" plank is presiding over a major ramping up of US nuclear power.

This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy.

Mind you, Mutual Assured Destruction is a dangerous path, and one we managed to negotiate only because we were lucky (and we were) and because we were careful (and we were). As a strategy, it only works with rational people (e.g., world powers with lots to lose) who might have irrational expectations that they will win in the long run, the rapid fall of imperialist Russia was helpful (I have seen blackboard talks on this as a mathematical result in game theory). This speed minimized the time we spent in the high-risk regions while transiting from MAD to where we were in the 1990's, but the political world has changed, and this President is finding it hard to toe a pedagogical line in the face of neo-realpolitiks.

Refs:

"
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Can't sleep? Maybe it not just those powerdrinks!

FreedomFirstThenPeac FreedomFirstThenPeac writes  |  about 2 years ago

FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "SciAm reported that late night video, especially the "I'll just read my tablet so sweetie can sleep" variety, might be to blame for sleeplessness. It re-programs your circadian rhythms through your primary EM coding interface (eyeballs). So now I'll be wearing blue-suppressing sunglasses to bed, think that'll get noticed?

Refs:
  1. The first ref is the SciAm article Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime
  2. The second is a what's what list of great references from the literature f.lux sleep research site
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Detecting depression from your internet mechanics

FreedomFirstThenPeac FreedomFirstThenPeac writes  |  more than 2 years ago

FreedomFirstThenPeac (1235064) writes "Apparently we could diagnose you as depressed if the mechanics of your internet use fit certain patterns. By using a cleverly embedded questionnaire that classifies the subject as depressed, and by using existing net usage data collection to collect features (variables), researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology were able to correctly predict the diagnoses of the questionnaire using the net usage data. I wonder if this could be a new Firefox plug-in, designed to help parents detect depression in their adolescents by tracking the mechanics (not the sites) and automatically emailing them if their ward is showing increasing signs of depression."
Link to Original Source

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