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Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

KermodeBear Re:America, land of the free... (717 comments)

The worst part about felonies is that apparently, the average American can be convicted of Three Felonies a Day. If someone doesn't like you and has a little influence, it would be very easy to ruin your life. Forever. Felonies are no joke. Not only is there a loss of voting rights, but as the submitter has noted, getting hired is impossible. You're also not allowed to own a firearm - even if your felonies wee completely non-violent or were a long time ago. Renting an apartment or a house can be impossible. You can't hold many professional licenses. You cannot even get a license to cut hair if you're a felon.

A felony is in general (but not always) a serious crime. There should be some kind of punishment. But once that punishment is dealt... how do you move on with your life? Is it any wonder that we have so many repeat offenders that get out of jail, spend a few weeks outside, and bounce right back in again? It's hard to find a way to make an honest living, find a place to live, etc.

These people are doomed by a scarlet letter. It is one of our modern society's greatest crimes.

about two weeks ago
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Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

KermodeBear Re:Federal law has an effect, too (413 comments)

From Redrawing the Lines (just a site I found with a quick Google search, no special reason to pick it other than it is what I found):

Are states permitted to create new majority- minority districts?

States are permitted and sometimes required to create new majority-minority districts under the Voting Rights Act to avoid diluting minority voting strength during redistricting. States with significant minority population growth over the course of the last decade, for instance, may need to create new majority-minority districts to ensure that redistricting plans comply with the requirements of Section 2 of the Act. Plans that dilute minority voting strength by failing to create feasible majority-minority districts may be quickly challenged following adoption. Since Section 2 litigation can be both costly and time- consuming, officials in many states set out to draw plans that fairly reflect minority voting strength at the beginning of the redistricting process. The need to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to avoid minority vote dilution can serve as a compelling justification for both preserving and creating new majority-minority districts, which helps protect these districts from constitutional attack.

From Cornell University, we have:

Vote Dilution

Section 2 of the VRA, codified at 42 U.S.C. 1973, prohibits drawing election districts in ways that improperly dilute minorities’ voting power. This prohibition applies to states, counties, cities, school districts, and any other governmental unit that holds elections. Two typical forms of vote dilution involve “cracking” a minority community between several election districts, and “submerging” minority communities in multi-member districts. Cracking occurs when election officials split a single minority community into enough different election districts that even if the community voted as a bloc, it could not influence any single districts’ elections. Alternately, election officials might dilute a minority community’s voting power by submerging it in a multi-member district with enough non-minority voters to routinely defeat the minority community’s chosen candidates. See Gerrymandering.

Personally, I find it all to be a bunch of bullcrap. Have you seen those voting districts that are along, squiggly lines that wander all over the place? Give me big squares, randomly generated with approval from a set of judges or something like that, and get the god damned legislators out of the district drawing business. I don't care who it "hurts" or "helps", it is ridiculous to have some of the districts that we do.

about three weeks ago
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Sony Pictures Computer Sytems Shut Down After Ransomware Hack

KermodeBear Re:Who is going to get the pink slip (155 comments)

"Clever is easy, simple is hard."

I'm stealing this; I hope you don't mind. (o:

about three weeks ago
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Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

KermodeBear Re:from the Institute of the Blindingly Obvious (454 comments)

My company hired a kid right out of a local college. He is smart, eager to learn, and really enjoys getting into complex problems and trying to figure it all out. Unfortunately, a few months after he was hired, my company's new CEO laid off about 20% of the company. Our new kid was unfortunately cut.

That about four or five months ago. I've kept in touch with this person because he's super nice and I want to be available as a professional reference in case he needs one. He's still out of work. He wants to work, he is very capable, but he is having problems getting a spot. Not because jobs are rare - we know they're not - but because there's so many applicants.

The worker shortage has been a scam from the very beginning.

about three weeks ago
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Sony Pictures Computer Sytems Shut Down After Ransomware Hack

KermodeBear Re:Looking at the zip file, looks like (155 comments)

What are the contents of the file, by the way? I'm not interested in grabbing it myself (I'm mildly paranoid about doing so) but I'm interested in a brief description.

about three weeks ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

KermodeBear The "Protesters" (1128 comments)

The "protesters" in Ferguson right now are burning cars, breaking into stores, in general being asshats.

They're not interested in any kind of justice. They're only interested in revenge.

about three weeks ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

KermodeBear Re:In an unrelated news item... (334 comments)

Yup, because nothing says "trust" like search results based off of government mandates, right?

about a month ago
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Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

KermodeBear Re:my takeaway (222 comments)

If the cost of stopping the sea level rising is a million deaths worldwide [...] is that better or worse than even abandoning countries and low-lying areas entirely? I have no idea. And unfortunately, it always seems that no-one else does either.

Not only do these people not know, but even worse, they do not care. They just go ahead and do it anyway.

about a month ago
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Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

KermodeBear Re:Simple (222 comments)

Why is the parent modded down as a troll?

The post is entirely correct. These other sources of energy are not efficient and reliable enough to be financially viable right now. This may change in ten or twenty years, but right now, solar and wind just aren't where they need to be.

Slashdot itself is becoming less and less a site for geeks and nerds. It has been infected by dogmatic brats who cannot tolerate discussion. This is just one example of many - I'm sure you'll find more as the comments flow in.

about a month ago
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Launching 2015: a New Certificate Authority To Encrypt the Entire Web

KermodeBear Fantastic. (212 comments)

This is a fantastic effort that will help people such as myself. I run sites across a dozen or so hosts, but they don't generate income and I really don't want to drop all that money into certificates. If I can get free certificates from a good CA then I'll gladly bump all my sites over to HTTPS.

Thank you!

about a month ago
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Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

KermodeBear Re:Allow me to fix your typo (258 comments)

Many of these things are, in fact, progressive policies - but we must ensure that we're talking about the same progressivism. In American politics, a progressive is someone who believes in a large, power government that has a strong control over the economy and societal norms under the guise of "reform" and "progress."

An example of historical progressive policy would be Prohibition. But don't take my word for it; Last Call is a fantastic book that covers some of this material. If you're the anti-book type, Wikipedia mentions it as well.

So:
Largest corporate handout in history? Progressive.
Expansion of the military-industrial complex? Progressive.
More laws at the state and federal level? Progressive.
Raising taxes on people? The concept of an income tax is a progressive policy.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by clout in STEM work, so I'm not sure how to place it, but many of the things you listed are, in fact, big government progressive ideals. These are the things that FDR, Teddy, Wilson, and others loved. You know what the worst part is? This is a little secret the politicians won't tell you...

The (R) and the (D) are both progressive. The (R) are less progressive, but they're still progressive. They, too, enjoy increased spending, government handouts, boondoggles, choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, and using the law to enforce their own personal moral viewpoints. So remember, when you vote for that (R) or the (D), you're ultimately getting the same thing.

about a month ago
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Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

KermodeBear Re:Window Dressing. (258 comments)

I would like you, and everyone else, to remember something about the office of the president. This is very important:

The president does not write laws.

So when someone running for the office of president says, "I will do X," you need to ask yourself if the president is really capable of doing that.

Yes; the president can have some influence on how laws are written and which ones to write, but laws must be passed by congress first, and then approved by the president. That's how it is supposed to work. So next time some president comes along and promises "I will make dancing naked down the street covered in mustard while singing show tunes at midnight legal across the nation," you have to call him out and let him know that no, that office cannot make something legal or illegal.

The current day question, it seems, is if the office of the president has the right to outright ignore certain laws and choose not to enforce them. One can argue that the law hasn't changed, a legal or illegal act remains legal or illegal, only the enforcement of the law has changed, but to me that is a dangerous road to go down. We're supposed to live in a nation of laws, and if the president can choose to enforce or not enforce on a whim, then the laws stop mattering. To me, this is no different than unilaterally rescinding a law, as if the law never existed, a de facto change of the law.

We'll see what the Supreme Court says about this soon, I think; Obama is threatening to do just that, and I imagine there will be a challenge to his decision, and I can't imagine that it won't go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Should one decide to support (or not support) his actions, I would like to to think about what you would feel if "the other guy" was in charge and had the exact same capabilities. Don't support it because "your guy" is in office now, and then stop supporting it because "the other guy" is in office later. If it isn't right for person A to do it, then it isn't right for person B either.

I think this country would be in better shape if people focused more on principals and less on making sure that "my guy wins."

about a month ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

KermodeBear Re:There's a clue shortage (574 comments)

I was greatly amused when the HR department at my company was looking for "Pearl" developers.

about a month and a half ago
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Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

KermodeBear Re:H1B applicants are people too (190 comments)

I could be totally wrong, but I'm going to guess that the paper applications have no real value; the real data is stored in a database file. It's easy to remove personally identifiable fields from the tables and leave the non-personal data for analysis. Shred the paper, anonymize the digital data, keep it around and release it to the public perhaps.

That kind of data could be very useful in some kind of complex economic modelling software, or perhaps the data over time can use used as an economic or some other indicator, or perhaps an unusual change in the normal pattern could indicate something. I don't know what the actual data is specifically, but if it is stripped of personally identifiable bits then I'm sure someone would find it very valuable. Given how easy it should be to provide, why not?

about a month and a half ago
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Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

KermodeBear Re:US Citizenship (190 comments)

Because Americans are no longer educated about their government or their history, and as long as they can catch the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo they really don't care about what is happening. Those of us who DO care and pay attention are in the extreme minority. No matter how loudly we shout about the problems we're racing into, the rest of America looks at as like we're some crazy conspiracy theorists.

It doesn't help that many of the large news outlets are government sycophants, refusing to carry news that may damage the current administration. Note that this behavior is not limited to CBS or our current administration. They're all corrupt to some degree.

But yeah, nobody gives a shit, give them some Soma, all is well. Aldous Huxly was right.

about a month and a half ago
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Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

KermodeBear Re:Meaning (145 comments)

Unfortunately I see far less fear mongering and fraudulent reporting on Fox than I do on MSNBC or CBS. I'm not saying that any of those networks are great - they're not - but when Canada allows Al-Jazeera and declines to carry Fox, one does start to wonder if the real issue is reporting and not simply politics.

about a month and a half ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

KermodeBear Re:Then how is Earth 6000 years old? (669 comments)

That depends on if you're someone who takes every word literally (which is very precarious once you learn about the evolution of Biblical texts) or someone who is happy to take a large part of the Bible as metaphor. As an example, the beginning of Genesis famously states that the world took 6 days to create and that the 7th day was rest.

Only the most literal of readers would believe that it took six actual days; something that isn't even possible, since a "day" is a full revolution of the earth, and that wasn't even created on the first "day". It's metaphor, trying to explain how the world was created in stages.

Once can view the Garden of Eden story as metaphor as well, how the human psyche moved from an animal state of innocence (unable to comprehend advanced concepts like shame, guilt, etc.) and to a state where it can comprehend more complex ideas.

Then there's all of those laws; a lot of them pertain to sanitation so that you don't get sick or spread illness. When the Plague was ravaging Europe, the Jewish people had a much lower infection rate because they followed these rules.

Some parts of the Bible are pretty interesting and insightful, and even if it gets some things wrong in a scientific sense - especially if taken literally - some things may not be quite as wrong as a lot of people think.

I say this as a Pagan-ish type, by the way; I have no personal reason to put parts of the Bible in a positive light.

Once must also take into consideration that the people who put forth those ideas were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had. I'm sure that in 500 years people will look back at us and say, "Wow, those guys sure were dumb, why didn't they see X, Y, and Z for what it really was?"

One book that does provide a very good treatment of where science and religion overlap is The Universe in a Single Atom by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the core concepts of the book is what I described above; old religious texts were written a long time ago and those people didn't know all of the things we do now. He promotes science as a good thing, and says that if science can prove that a certain religious law, theory, philosophical point, etc., can be proven wrong by science, then it is the religion that should change.

He also talks about how science and religion exist to answer fundamentally different questions. Science tells us "how" something happens, but religion helps us answer what it means in a philosophical sense.

It's an excellent book and well worth reading by religious, non-religious, science, and non-science alike.

about a month and a half ago
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Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

KermodeBear Re:A Serious Deficit, You Say? (324 comments)

When the government wastes money on ridiculous studies then they obviously have enough for the important things. Asking for more money is inappropriate and they shouldn't have it.

I think we can both agree on that. If you think federal money being spent on rabbit massages is a great idea, well, I don't know what to tell you other than you are part of the problem.

You also say that it's a drop in the bucket. Does that change the fact that it is a complete waste? Big or small, it is a sign that there is plenty of money for the important programs.

As an analogy, with your thinking, I could go to the extreme and say, "beating someone up isn't as big a deal as violent rape or murder, so we'll just let people get beat up." It's the same concept and also ridiculous. It's all wrong, and we should stop beatings along with rape and murder, yes?

But since you bring up the topic, what would I like to cut?

I'd be happy to cut the defense budget. I'm not convinced that we really need military bases scattered throughout the world, for example. We see articles here on Slashdot on a fairly regular basis about military boondoggles that cost many billions of dollars - so maybe we need stricter controls on military contracts.

Health care? Sure, I'm willing to make some cuts there. The problem is that we shouldn't have to, but unfortunately we're so far in debt that we're left with little other choice. So we'll have to make cuts there too.

What about welfare? If you have a cell phone, a car, a television with cable, you are not poor. America has the wealthiest "poor" in the world. Welfare should provide, truly, the bare minimum to get by. Keep the heat and lights on, some food in your belly, that's it. I'm not the biggest Clinton fan, but his changes to our welfare programs made a big difference. We should do more along those lines.

Ideally, the entitlement programs in general should not be in the federal purview. It should be a state issue. Same with education. Same with a lot of things.

Not all things that I want to cut, but out of necessity, something has to get the axe. So it might as well be a little bit of everything. No sacred cows.

Have you seen what happens when a government is so deeply in debt that all it can do is print stacks of cash and dive into hyper inflation? It's not pretty. We're headed down that road. Not tomorrow, not next year, but that's where we are going.

That was the brilliance of a limited federal government, by the way. If a state screwed up and made a mess of things, people could vote with their feet and go somewhere else until the legislature woke up and fixed their issues. If another state did something brilliant the others could follow suit. A marketplace of ideas, if you will.

With a single entity in charge of nearly everything these days, well, you're stuck. The feds make a bad policy decision and it affects everyone, and there's very little recourse for the individual.

But since you're here saying, "Well, that program doesn't matter because it was just a little waste," you're probably going to just gloss over all of this and slap up yet another tired progressive meme. Oh well.

about 2 months ago
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Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

KermodeBear A Serious Deficit, You Say? (324 comments)

Yes, adding yet another tax is one way to help that, but why do governments worldwide - mine included - never consider the possibility that they're spending too much money? When our government is spending money on swedish massages for rabbits and then whining that they don't have enough cash to toss around, I am completely uninterested in giving them a single penny more.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Google and NRG File For $540m Bailout on Under-Performing Solar Installation

KermodeBear KermodeBear writes  |  about a month ago

KermodeBear (738243) writes "After taking out a 1.6 billion dollar federal loan through the Department of Energy to build a new solar power facility, NRG and Google have now applied for a 540 million dollar bailout to help pay off the loan. The reason? The solar plant isn't producing as much energy as they predicted — and now they want the American tax payer to cover for their mistake."
Link to Original Source
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How Cattle Estrogens Persist in Waste Water

KermodeBear KermodeBear writes  |  more than 2 years ago

KermodeBear (738243) writes "In the absence of oxygen, estrogens from cattle gradually change from one form to another which stalls the bio-degradation process. These estrogens end up in waste water used to fertilize fields. This causes the overall free estrogen levels to rise in the soil and rain run-off, which affects nearby wildlife. Government regulations cover other contaminants, but there is no regulation for animal hormones."
Link to Original Source
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Dungeons and Dragons Links to Gang Violence

KermodeBear KermodeBear writes  |  more than 3 years ago

KermodeBear (738243) writes "Dungeons and Dragons — originally Satan's Game — has now been found to encourage gang-like behavior. In a finding by a three judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, D&D "can mimic the organization of gangs and lead to the actual development thereof." From the ruling:

"during D&D games, one player is denoted the 'Dungeon Master.' The Dungeon Master is tasked with giving directions to other players, which Muraski testified mimics the organization of a gang."

"

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