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IRS Misses XP Deadline, Pays Microsoft Millions For Patches

Jodka Funding (322 comments)

So how could the IRS fund their Microsoft Custom Support? By seizing tax refunds.

5 days ago

Jimmy Wales To 'Holistic Healers': Prove Your Claims the Old-Fashioned Way

Jodka Veridicality vs. Social Consensus (517 comments)

Quoth Wales:

'Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful. What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn't.'"

It is noteworthy that Wales is not arguing for excluding pseudoscience from Wikipedia on the basis of Wikipedia's own guidelines. According to Wikipedia itself, status as pseudoscience is not a criterion for exclusion from Wikipedia. Rather,the criterion for acceptance is NPOV. Wikipedia's guidelines permit dishonest, fictitious and untruthful content so long as it is NPOV.

Because the rules of Wikipedia would allow the inclusion pseudoscience this is a "gotcha" for Wales, revealing a fundamental limit in Wikipedia: With NPOV, the contents of Wikipedia can never be more veridical than is the social consensus. A purportedly objective guideline which immediately reduces to subjective value judgments, NPOV is a ruse; What constitutes "Significant views," or "reliable sources on a topic" is in the eye of the beholder. Or, as Wales would have it in this case, whatever he says they are.

Wikipedia was an unexpected success because the popular expectation, a priori, was that if you just let anyone edit an encyclopedia then predominantly non-experts would contribute falsehoods. A posteriori, after Wikipedia had actually worked, the reasoning about why it had was that it was unexpectedly accurate because, well, experts are really not so good at getting stuff right anyway, and maybe spontaneous social organization really does work better than structured regulation and those dead Austrian economists and their crazy Libertarian fan club might actually have been right about something.

Though perhaps the secret to Wikipedia's success is not really that open encyclopedias are unexpectedly accurate, but rather that accuracy is not, as had been assumed, paramount. Rather, it is the appearance of accuracy which is essential for success. NPOV is a codification of a strategy for creating the popular appearance of accuracy without achieving genuine accuracy. Wikipedia is winning the encyclopedia contest by gaming the system. It matched the same flawed criterion function for accuracy as used by its customers, the test of asking: "is this what respectable people believe?" So now Wales has the problem that, according to the very rules of Wikipedia which have been the recipe for its success, it must permit pseudoscientific content which is popularly believed. This explains why Wales can shoot that down only outside of Wikipedia's own guidelines.

about three weeks ago

Meet the 'Assassination Market' Creator Who's Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins

Jodka business method patent (291 comments)

For every assassination bounty hosted they should also host a corresponding anti-assassination bounty. The assassin would be paid the net pro-assassination value, that is, the difference between the two bounties, and the bounty hosting site would keep the remainder. For opposing interests of equal magnitude in a bidding war this would be hugely profitable for the bounty hosting site and also result in nobody actually getting assassinated. It would also be more equitable because it represents the opinions of both pro-assassination and anti-assassination sides, not just the pro-assassination side.

Though seriously, the entire subject is revolting. Almost every American, love Obama or hate Obama, love Bush or hate Bush, agrees that they do not want their President to be assassinated. Despite disagreements in American politics, there are essential fundamental core values which unite us all, and that we do not assassinate our leaders is one of them.

about 4 months ago

Boeing 777 Crashes At San Francisco Airport

Jodka Re:Open airplanes (506 comments)

This is the problem with non-free airplanes. If the blueprints had been free under a freedom preserving license I'm sure the problem that caused the hiccup had been found.

. . . and the plane could have been printed on an off the shelf 3D printer . . .

. . .and from the MakerPlane website:
"MakerPlane is an open source aviation organization which will enable people to build and fly their own safe, high quality, reasonable cost plane using advanced personal manufacturing equipment such as...3D printers."

about 9 months ago

The IRS vs. Open Source

Jodka Re:Open source equates to freedom. (356 comments)

Why would the freest country in the world (except, perhaps, Iceland) be against it?

According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, produced by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, the United States and Iceland are, respectively, the 10th and 23rd freest countries.

The top 10 positions are:

1. Hong Kong
2. Singapore
3. Australia
4.New Zealand
5. Switzerland
6. Canada
7. Chile
8. Mauritius
9. Denmark
10. United States.

In addition to current rankings the index also reports trends. For example, economic freedom in the United States has declined since 2009, according to the graph on this page. In comparison, freedom in Chile is high and continues to climb, which makes it a popular destination for American expatriates such as "Simon Black" over at his Sovereign Man website.

about 10 months ago

Canadian Couple Charged $5k For Finding 400-Year-Old Skeleton

Jodka Re:So the correct action is... (601 comments)

... property owners frustrated with the US's endangered species act find it's easier to hunt and kill such species on their property, rather than lose access to that property.

The term for this is "shoot, shovel and shut up."

about 10 months ago

Labor Dept. Wanted $1M For E-mail Addresses of Political Appointees

Jodka Transparency and Accountability (154 comments)

It could be reasonably argued that government officials hava a legitimate need for both publicly-facing published email addresses and private, unpublished email addresses for inter-governmental communication. Presumably the former would be handled by their staffs for public communication and the latter used for professional communications between government officials.

If that were the issue, there would be no scandal here, merely a difference of opinion between what is good practice. What makes this a scandal is not that the email addresses themselves were secret, but that 1). The practice of maintaining secret email accounts was itself secret 2.) With one single exception the agencies exempted the contents of the secret email accounts from FOI searches. 3) In violation of its own policy agencies sought to charge the AP fee, and quite a hight one.

So this looks like a widespread attempt by government officials to avoid transparency and accountability, not a pragmatic attempt to manage their inboxes efficiently.


about 10 months ago

Crowdsourcing Failed In Boston Bombing Aftermath

Jodka not really crowdsourcing (270 comments)

Crowdsourcing did not fail because what occurred was not crowdsourcing.

There is a distinction between, on the one hand, the emergent behavior which spontaneously arises from ungoverned social interaction and, on the other hand, the management practice of dividing and framing a problem such that it can be solved by large, loosely-affiliated groups of anonymous individuals working in parallel. The latter is crowdsourcing. The former, in the case of attempts to identify Boston Marathon suspects in online fora such as reddit, is a vigilante mob.

At least that interpretation is consistent with the conventional usage of the term "crowdsourcing" up to this point. Consider well-known examples such as the Mechanical Turk, the search for the wreckage of Steve Fosset's plane and prediction markets such as Iowa Electonic Markets. In all case the role of any individual in the crowd is predefined and constrained in advance by design. Constraints can include the dimension of response and the information to be evaluated.

about a year ago

Nature Vs. Nurture: Waging War Over the Soul of Science

Jodka Eric Raymond (235 comments)

Open source advocate Eric Raymond, author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar and The Art of Unix Programming has entered the Nature-Nurture debate, stating here:

And the part that, if you are a decent human being and not a racist
bigot, you have been dreading: American blacks average a standard
deviation lower in IQ than American whites at about 85. And
it gets worse: the average IQ of African blacks is lower
still, not far above what is considered the threshold of mental
retardation in the U.S. And yes, it’s genetic; g seems to be about
85% heritable, and recent studies of effects like regression towards
the mean suggest strongly that most of the heritability is DNA rather
than nurturance effects.

For anyone who believe that racial equality is an important goal,
this is absolutely horrible news. Which is why a lot of
well-intentioned people refuse to look at these facts, and will
attempt to shout down anyone who speaks them in public. There have
been several occasions on which leading psychometricians have had
their books canceled or withdrawn by publishers who found the actual
scientific evidence about IQ so appalling that they refused to print

Unfortunately, denial of the facts doesn’t make them go away.

about a year ago

Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network

Jodka Re:Only fair (848 comments)

The secret billionaires are just trying to even the playing field against those fat cat scientists who are rolling in their trillions from government grants. Exxon is David against the NSF Goliath, man.

Actual figures comparing private and government funding on climate issues are given here.

about a year ago

Leaked: Obama's Rules For Assassinating American Citizens

Jodka totalitarianism (800 comments)

A few observations:

  • -Last October, prior to Obama's reelection, Kimberly Strassel writing in the Wall Street journal documented Barack Obama's record of consistency and dedication to principle.
  • -More recently Daniel Kessler has assessed the promises Obama made when selling Obamacare, concluding "Every one of the main claims made for the law is turning out to be false."
  • -Gun and ammunition sales surged immediately following Obama's reelection.
  • -We have just learned President Obama has secretly granted himself the power to assassinate U.S citezens without due process.

Some people, with reasonable cause, do not trust Obama. Their suspicions have been vindicated.


about a year ago

Time Warner Boosts Broadband Customer Speed — But Only Near Google Fiber

Jodka how such low prices? (203 comments)

So I live in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. Google fiber is not in offered in Overland Park yet, but because it is close by and spreading I checked out the prices and signed up for email notification when their service becomes available in my area.

The prices. Holy cow. It's free. A one time $300.00 installation fee but then it is free. So I was wondering for months how is that possible? Is Google taking a massive loss? Did Google invent a new technology which allows them to undercut their competitors?

Then on a drive across town to the local Fablab I was listening to the local public radio station which just happened to be interviewing Susan Crawford, author of the recently published book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. As the summary at Amazon states:

This important book by leading telecommunications policy expert Susan Crawford explores why Americans are now paying much more but getting much less when it comes to high-speed Internet access.

Well as you might guess from the subtitle of the book, what she finds out when she explores is that internet and cable service in the U.S. are regional monopolies. Even when multiple internet and cable service providers operate in the same city they divide up the city into regions of monopolistic coverage and only overlap on small percentages of territory.

So Google offers such spectacularly low prices by undercutting monopolists, having enough clout to overcome barriers to entry which block startups, and Moore's law has reduced the cost of providing internet service to something pretty close to free. The inflated prices for internet broadband service which we have paid in the U.S. have not followed Moore's law because service provider are monopolies. Now with the disruption of that monopoly in one regional market prices are back on track with Moore's law there.

about a year ago

Interviews: Ask James Randi About Investigating the Truth

Jodka Douglas Adams on Astrology (386 comments)

In his novel Mostly Harmless the late Douglas Adams wrote:

“In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the difference it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing the indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just to do with people thinking about people.”

Is the practice of astrology acceptable to you on those terms?

about a year ago

Interviews: Ask James Randi About Investigating the Truth

Jodka gullibility is a lifestyle choice (386 comments)

Skeptics seem to divide into two categories. First, those who publicly reveal falsehoods and loudly denounce them as deceptions. Second, those who silently observe the willingness of the public to believe in absurd falsehoods and regard that as a financial opportunity.

As an example of the latter category, the golf industry has deceived the the public into the belief that hitting little white balls around in the grass with expensive sticks is very, very important. This falsehood is enormously lucrative. Tiger Woods earned $120 million from prize money and sponsorships during 2009. Between July 2011 and July 2012 the ten top-earning golf players made $236 million collectively.

A golf skeptic would claim that the positions of small white balls in grass fields is actually of no consequence whatsoever , that golfers are peddling flim-flam, and that the public is fooled out of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. A golfing apologist would say it is a personal preference and fans should have the freedom to spend on golf because they enjoy it.

Parapsychology, like an interest in golfing, is a personal lifestyle choice. If we denounce parapsychology, religion and astrology as irrational does not consistency demand that we also denounce all other manner of irrational human behavior such as golf? You denounce some forms of irrational behavior but undoubtedly carve out exceptions for other forms which you tolerate or even practice yourself. So like you, I could carve out an an exception to what forms of irrational behavior I will tolerate by selling Mayan end-of-the-world advent calendars. Why are specifically both gullibility and its financial exploitation not acceptable life style choices in a society which generally tolerates unquestioningly the financial exploitation of irrational behavior?

about a year ago

Interviews: Ask James Randi About Investigating the Truth

Jodka Ghostbusters (386 comments)

How does the fictional character Peter Venkman portrayed by Bill Murray in the 1984 hit film Ghostbusters compare to actual parapsychology researches?

about a year ago

Interviews: Ask James Randi About Investigating the Truth

Jodka risks of cash rewards? (386 comments)

When offerring a $1 million reward to anyone who successfully demonstrates proof of the paranormal you risk failing to debunk some paranormal claims, not because paranormal activity actually exists, but because the ruse is either so technologically advanced or clever that investigators fail to identify the means of deception. How concerned were you about this possibility and have you ever had any "close calls" where you almost failed to discover the trick?


about a year ago

Unlocking New Mobile Phones Becomes Illegal In the US Tomorrow

Jodka Contracts and Free Markets (475 comments)

from the Wikipedia article Libertarian Theories of Law

The defining characteristics of libertarian legal theory are its insistence that the amount of government intervention should be kept to a minimum and the primary functions of law should be enforcement of contracts...

It is a liberal trope that free markets are an uncontrolled dog-eat-dog social order in wich all forms of corporate treachery, deceit, and fraud are explicitly sanctioned by a laissez-faire philosophy embodied in law. In fact, it is the opposite; Free markets are strictly and invariably governed by the single dictum that all and only voluntary transactions are permissible. An essential implication of governance under that system is the enforcement of contracts.

Consider, for example, if you and I were to voluntarily agree to the sale of a bushell of apples to you for $10.00. I provide the apples but you fail to pay me $10.00. Your failure to pay me would result in an involuntary transaction prohibited under the laws of a free mareket. I would have voluntarily agreed to the exchange of a certain amount of apples for a certain amount of money. The actual exchange of apples for no money was involuntary on my part. Therefore, to enforce the mandate that only voluntary transactions are permissible, to enforce freedom, the government must intercede by compelling you to pay the agreed amount. In a free market, governments enforce contracts because involuntary transactions are inconsistent with freedom.

Consider cell phone contracts. If you purchase a cell phone and sign a contract agreeing not to unlock the service, but you do unlock service, then you have violated the contract. To enforce freedom the government must compel you not to unlock your phone because by unlocking your phone you are compelling the company with wich you signed a contract to engage in an involuntary transaction. It never agreed to provide you with an unlocked phone at the price which you paid for it. If you force the corporation to engage in an involuntary transaction by violating the terms of your contract then you have curtailed its freedom by compelling it to engage in a transaction to which it did not agree.

There are three ages of selfishness. The first, infantile selfishness, makes no distinction between "I want," and "I should have." The second, adolescent entitlement, is a conviction that your parents must give you anything you ask for and allow you to do anything you wish. The third, liberalism, substitues "government" for "parents." Those who violate their cell phone contracts by unlocking their service in the name of "freedom" are in fact acting selfishly and violating the freedoms of others. To some, freedom means they get whatever they want. It is infeasible to build any system of governance upon that definition for societies with population greater than one.


about a year ago

Sexism In Science

Jodka handicapping (467 comments)

Based on the evidence presented in the study, the conclusion that faculty have a lower regard for female job applicants than for male job applicants is at best an unsupported assumption and at worst a misinterpretation of the evidence. Furthermore, the study results are consistent with faculty holding beliefs favorably biased toward women and against men.

To rate job applicants on the basis of jobs applications one must hypothesize a relationship between the application and the applicant. One must explicitly, or implicitly through action, supply a general answer to the question: Given an application, how well will the applicant perform on the job?.

The only definite conclusion which can be reached from this study is that faculty hypothesize different relationships between application and applicant for male than for female applicants. But here is the kicker: The "bias" exhibited in this study is consistent with a belief among hirers that women job applicatns tend to look better on paper, not worse, than male applicants. Faculty offering lower salaries to women could be operating in the belief that women are better than men at presenting themselves.

If Professor Jane Doe believes the following to be true:
"Women are usually awesomely fantastic at presenting themselves, so if this female applicant looks looks like a 10/10 on paper, she is really probably an 8/10"
"Men are terrible ignoramuses at presenting themselves, so if he looks like an 8/10 on paper, he's probably a 10/10".

Those statements 1) Evidently display belief favorably biased toward female and against male applicants 2) Are consistent with the study results.

So, the traditional interpretation is flawed, because it is not a conclusion, but an assumption; there is no reason whatsoever to favor it over a handicapping explanation.

Someone should study what are the assumption of the faculty about the relationship between jobs applicants and job applications. And separately, if there is a difference in those assumptions between male and female job applicants, how accurate are they?

about a year and a half ago

GNOMEbuntu Set To Arrive In October

Jodka because? (157 comments)

Seriously, why should I care at all about this? What will make this any better than regular Ubuntu?

about a year and a half ago


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