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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Insightfill Re:I live in Montgomery County, MD... (779 comments)

My wife and I are even considering allowing our older child to take the Metro (public transit) to ballet by herself next year when she's in middle school.

A dog takes the bus to the park by itself every day, and it's a cute, human-interest story. A child does it, and everyone loses their minds.

I'm not sure if we trust the dogs more, or the dog-nappers more.

about two weeks ago

Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Insightfill Re:women in science (218 comments)

I've always found the story of Rosalind Franklin both encouraging and a little sad. I had always thought of her as the unrecognized discovery of the structure of DNA, but she did so much more in atomic structure and viral studies. She died at 37.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?

Insightfill Re:My mother is an optometrist (464 comments)

The probable best result (my guess) would be two pairs of glasses -- one set for work distances, and another set for 'normal' uses.


I'm in my mid-40s, but just as I crossed 40 I found I had to start looking over my regular lenses to read tiny print. I also found that if I didn't get away from the screen at least once an hour, I'd start getting eyestrain and headaches. I knew what was next.

My prescription is about -5 diopters. I've got a set of prescription lenses at about -3.5, with a slightly smaller PD (pupil distance) since your eyes narrow as you look closer. The nice optometrist gave me my full prescription written down, including the PD, and I was able to mail order new glasses - with nice frames - for about $30. I can use these at the screens all day without any fatigue.

I've got a set of bifocals as well, but my current manufacturer only does those in regular index plastic, so those are pretty thick. My single-vision lenses are pretty thin, however.

about three weeks ago

AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

Insightfill Re:Broadly accessible strong AI would empower peop (417 comments)

A bad person would be more capable of doing harm when aided by an AI doing planning, co-ordination, or execution.

This sounds vaguely like the plot of the short story "A Logic Named Joe", where home computing and access terminals are commonplace, and one of them with a random error starts combining existing knowledge pieces to satisfy user requests, subverting existing safety filters. An example from the story: "How do I kill my wife and get away with it?" would normally be gated as vague, and dangerous, but in this story the "logic" determines that green shoe polish would be fatal to blondes and could be painted on a frozen TV dinner. Also available as a Baen Free Book.

about a month and a half ago

Obama Offers Funding For 50,000 Police Body Cameras

Insightfill Re:Privacy (262 comments)

There already is a wonderful curator. It's called the courts.

In the case of red-light-cameras, the fact that they're usually run by outside companies also acts as a good buffer to blanket FOIA requests.

Since the camera footage is owned by the private company, you have no ability to FOIA "all footage of this intersection on this date". You CAN request all footage of a camera or set of cameras which resulted in tickets, however.

(As told to me by the FOIA officer of a local town.)

about 2 months ago

EFF Hints At Lawsuit Against Verizon For Its Stealth Cookies

Insightfill Re:EFF -- picking ACLU's ball and running (81 comments)

Good to see somebody doing, what ACLU used to do...

Generally, the ACLU does in meat-space what the EFF does in cyberspace. They have similar general goals, but the ACLU generally doesn't do as much of the computer stuff. Their current list seems to involve plenty of LGBT issues right now, for example, but these are active court cases.

Many times you don't hear about either organization as much because they get a lot of it sorted out via quick letters, especially at the smaller-scale level. A good letter from EFF or ACLU to a school district or county board, for example, usually never gets to a court level.

Sometimes they even work together, such as this Tennessee story.

about 3 months ago

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Insightfill Re:this would expose an enormous state secret. (248 comments)

This is the fantastic reductio ad absurdum approach I take when neocon relatives talk about war being good for the economy. I say, well, if that's the case, lets just leave out the killing, and build munitions and planes and then destroy them.

I believe that there's a paragraph in Orwell's 1984 specifically about this.

about 5 months ago

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Insightfill Re:Sue the bastards (441 comments)

Anyway, take a look at the kind of books that are *taught* in schools:
                Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
                Macbeth by Shakespeare
                Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
                Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
                To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
                The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
                Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
                Hamlet by Shakespeare
                The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
                Lord of the Flies by William Golding

And each of these books has been banned in some district or another every year. Harry Potter, etc.

"Banned Books Week" is the last week of September in the US. Many libraries at least put up a couple of signs calling attention to it.

about 5 months ago

US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Insightfill Re:this would expose an enormous state secret. (248 comments)

closing a 60 billion dollar a year facility would instantly land a quarter of a million americans unemployed

We've got a crapload of roads and bridges that need to be redone, and the deficit is shrinking at a staggering rate. The government has been able to borrow money at a NEGATIVE effective APR since for about six years, but has been blocked from doing so.

I say we give the 60 billion to infrastructure, which will employ a lot more than a quarter of a million people in the long run. Instead, we rely on an accounting gimmick to take money from 10 years out to pay for 10 months of the Highway Trust Fund.

about 5 months ago

Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

Insightfill Re:What's so American (531 comments)

Fight the local monopolies. That is the only truly important thing right now.

This is one of the places where LOCAL politics comes into play. The person who votes for/against these local monopolies is likely your neighbor who also has a full-time job somewhere else. They're easy to find, easy to approach, and often listen to their constituents.

about 5 months ago

The Misleading Fliers Comcast Used To Kill Off a Local Internet Competitor

Insightfill Re:I WAS THERE. IT'S ALL TRUE. (250 comments)

Thanks, Pete. I lived in Geneva when this went down and it really really sucked. The post cards that came in the mail (I don't remember the Comcast ones, but the SBC ones were AWFUL - really? a guy eating a rat?) fed on people's worst fears. The kicker is that the referendum came up on an "off-year", so turnout was horribly low, old, and uninformed. I really think it would have had a better shot if it had come up during a presidential year when turnout was better.

about 6 months ago

US Pushing Local Police To Keep Quiet On Cell-Phone Surveillance Technology

Insightfill Re:Oh my ... (253 comments)

I believe that the problem is that Al Franken wasn't sworn in until well after that session was well under way, Senator Ted Kennedy was missing for many votes due to his brain cancer, and Arlen Specter didn't switch sides until much much later. There were a few other Democratic Senators who were either out or "Blue Dog" and "DINOs" - the Democratic "Party" is actually more of a loose coalition. The Democrats had the seats, perhaps, but nothing more, for a total of 72 days.

(Reprinted from the last time I did this comment.)

The problem in closing Gitmo is that there have NEVER been enough people in Congress who are willing to take the political hit of letting anyone leave; witness the fact that we captured Chinese Uyghurs back in 2002, determined they weren't terrorists in 2008, and FINALLY released the last of them in 2014. These were GUYS WE KNEW WERE INNOCENT FOR SIX YEARS and still hadn't let go.

about 7 months ago

How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

Insightfill Re:If people would fight their tickets... (286 comments)

Of course, the administrative fee for going to court was $125 - as much as the ticket itself. So what did I gain, except the loss of half a day?

In the City of Chicago, the court fee for arguing a parking ticket is MORE THAN THE TICKET. I learned that the hard way, when a "No Parking" sign was pointing at a hydrant, but apparently the "No Parking" zone extended another 100 feet to the next intersection. Pay $50, or go to court for $65? (These prices are from 10 years ago; I can't believe it's gotten better since then.)

about 8 months ago

Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change

Insightfill Re:Vegetarian (291 comments)

How do you tell if someone is a vegetarian? You don't, they tell you.

Fair enough, and that's pretty funny.

Actually, there are so many cultural events tied around food that there's really no choice. Going to a wedding? Choice between chicken and beef. "Hot dog party day" at school? Hungry day at school. Group of people at work going out for lunch? Oh, great; someone picked the one place that puts "fish taco" under "vegetarian". When my wife was in the hospital with our first, the "vegetarian" option on the meal plan was a turkey sandwich... idiots.

There's a fair amount of debate that many of the Jewish food laws were intentionally created to keep them from mixing with the general population.

about 9 months ago

Scientists Race To Develop Livestock That Can Survive Climate Change

Insightfill Re:Vegetarian (291 comments)

Hate to be the one to point out the obvious... but the solution is not in changing the meat it is in reducing and/or eliminating the meat.

Slate recently had a decent article examining all of the impacts of a world that's entirely vegetarian. Interesting stuff.

(My family is vegetarian, even my kids. People stopped asking "where do you get your protein?" when they see my kids, who each were tallest in grade school. My youngest daughter was 5'6" at age 10.)

about 9 months ago

Was Eich a Threat To Mozilla's $1B Google "Trust Fund"?

Insightfill Re:The new Hitlers (564 comments)

Apart from it being a Religious term (in the Bible, it mentions that marriage is between a husband and wife, being man and woman).

That's part of the base scripture. Apparently the word of God.

And some parts say that a marriage is between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman... King Solomon, his 700 wives and 300 concubines come to mind.

Which part is the "base"? Which part is the "word"?

Not being facetious, but using the Bible to define marriage, or allow for slavery, or capital punishment, or... Well, there needs to be a stronger case on how to run a multi/non-religious society other than "my book says so...(let me find the right part)"

about 10 months ago

NASA Wants To Go To Europa

Insightfill Re:This could be a big problem for Republicans (216 comments)

There seems to be no concept of a middle ground, no grey. Everything is either black or white. How did it end up like this?

Well, a "winner-take-all" election system didn't help. It led us to this place where politicians must increasingly pull away from the middle. If you have too much overlap with your opponent, then there's less to distinguish you from them, and no reason to vote for you. The concentration of power into two parties over time exaggerates the effect.

Newt Gingrich made use of television to really amp up the effect, and the splintering of media into self-reinforcing channels meant you didn't have to seriously consider any other viewpoints any more.

about a year ago

California Fights Drought With Data and Psychology, Yielding 5% Usage Reduction

Insightfill Re:Meanwhile, in Toronto... (362 comments)

Water saving measures have drained funds from water taxes that are used to maintain the infrastructure...


The smarter towns do what many other (often private) utilities do - have a line item for "fixed costs" and another for "usage". You get a fixed charge of $10-20 for access to the utility, and then a per watt-liter-whatever charge for usage. Even if you use NOTHING, that flat cost comes in every month.

Water billing is largely done on a city/village/town basis. Often, the water comes from a common-source (county 'water agency') which passes on costs to the smaller towns feeding off of it.

Now: if someone along the way mismanages it, that's a different problem.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Local Sync Options For Android Mobile To PC?

Insightfill Re:BitTorrent Sync (146 comments)

Someone PLEASE mod this up some more. I screwed around with ftp, Google+, and a few other options, but BT Sync beat everything. I installed it on the PC, installed it on the phone, and in the space of a few hours I had 9GB of pictures and videos copied across Wifi from my phone to the PC. Whenever I add a picture on the phone, it appears on the computer. You choose the type of sync (read-write or read-only) and let it fly.

The Android App defaults to only operate when on Wifi, so data charges stay low (but you can override). There's a nice GUI on the Windows/Mac side, but also configuration files that are pretty well-documented online; you could, for example, share your local Windows profile directory, but choose to exclude the Local Settings directory and any file that begins with a ~. My next step is to work with some friends and family to operate as each others' "Crashplan". You can even share to multiple locations, for redundancy.

They have a pretty thorough FAQ and forum. It also works directly off a LAN, so no data necessarily leaves the house. Closed source, but I suppose you could run a Wireshark if you're suspicious. Everything is transmitted with encryption, but is decrypted at the target. If you don't trust the target machine, I suppose you could store a TrueCrypt drive and just share that.

Last week someone was asking for a good DR solution for their home machine. This works for the phone, too.

about a year ago


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