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US Marshals Auctioning $20M Worth of Silk Road's Bitcoins

MacAndrew Re:But the case hasn't even started! (119 comments)

OMG, self-deprecation on the web. Seriously, kudos. (I am not being sarcastic.)

You're very right that the way the law uses certain words and expressions—"terms of art"—can be very different from expected. "Weapons of mass destruction" for example. :)

Good link provided in above comment: http://www.treasury.gov/resour...

about a month ago
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NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren

MacAndrew Pavlovian classroom? (66 comments)

The quote "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat" should be plenty to flag a really archaic approach to school that's going to work for some kids and poison the rest. The article mentions the criticism for the underlying theory as well. Teachers should be connecting with their kids. What's next? Food pellets for good behavior? Arf! Johnny's a good boy.

about a month ago
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Ebola Does Not Require an "Ebola Czar," Nor Calling Up the National Guard

MacAndrew Re: Politics (384 comments)

Thx for the informative digression. :-) On the airwaves in the States we have heard plenty of broadsides against "Africa," likewise against Muslims everywhere. It gets old.

about 2 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

MacAndrew Re:Congressional fix? (217 comments)

Well, we'll have to differ then. The free market is an ideal, but a self-executing free market is a rarity. No regulation (or no government) is a nice jingle but there will always be something. (Is anyone saying more regulation/govenrment for its own sake? No, but they can be nasty side effects.) It's the law itself. Even the criminal law is a form of regulation—especially unlikely to be banned—and yes amending, sometimes repealing, it can improve it. That said, I do sympathize with the libertarian perspective (versus dogma) and think the government can be seen as just another ... corporation. Which means, regulate with care, not never.

"Robber baron" just sounds cool. I don't think we have classic monopolies like oil and steel, but less the landscape is pretty messed up, and getting worse so with the repeal of Glass-Steagal and so on..... Just my 2 against $2 trillion.

about 8 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

MacAndrew Re:Congressional fix? (217 comments)

And I suppose big business loves non-regulation, with the opportunities of monopoly. So win-win?

I'll agree that regulation risks just shifting wealth from one corporate interest to another. Also, that regulaiton introduces its own barriers to competition. But to condemn regulation per se is mindless. We got enough of the robber barons ages ago.

Now, back to my question.... which way will things tilt, and how much will the public interest matter.

about 8 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

MacAndrew Re:Be Specific (217 comments)

Well said. I would be even more specific and say you don't want the carriers to discriminate or, god forbid, they'll redefine common carriers. ;-) I'm not sure most congresspeople understand the issue anywhere near as well as they understand who is for or against—politics.

about 8 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

MacAndrew Re: Congressional fix? (217 comments)

Pretty damn well. You can't believe the difference things like lifting the bar to pre-existing conditions makes to families like ours. That they could have better job with this behemoth project, I don't doubt. That they would have done a better job if the other half Congress hadn't been obstuctionist jerks, I don't doubt either. Growing pains, not fault with the basic concept.

To drift back on topic: ditto for net neutrality. Sometimes we do better without the market carved into big corporate fiefdoms and fake competition.

about 8 months ago
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How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

MacAndrew Congressional fix? (217 comments)

It seems to me the lobbying forces on the part of the content providers, Netflix et al., would be pretty formidable—unless they think the price is worth it to suppress upstart competition. Which is it?

about 8 months ago
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Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

MacAndrew Re:God (794 comments)

AMEN.

No, that is not ironic.

about 10 months ago
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College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

MacAndrew Re:How about replacing the College Board? (134 comments)

That's very much the ideal of the SAT, to draw out kids who are bright but haven't shown in through grades. It does happen. Statistically however, GPA is still a better predictor. It's just not the only one, and the SAT is overrated—hence even its creator talking about reform (again). My (totally unscientific) experience has been that a lot of the super-groomed kids don't come across so great. Having a soul is valuable too.

Ideally of course you have good grades *and* SAT scores! My kid has, to put it mildly, a very wide spread between SATs and GPA. I have no idea what the schools will think. They *are* in fact looking to GPA more and more. I think they are aware of the reputations of a great many schools and of grade inflation. Like you, I went to a prep school where everyone went to college, and its reputation stood for a lot. And straight A's in all AP classes at a school people have heard of is a fair criterion.

I think most admissions decisions are made on relatively little info and reflection. A lot of schools admit half or more of their applicants, and only a fraction actually matriculate. I doubt the 20-somethings doing most of the review are working too hard at analyzing the applicants. None of the schools my son applied to, for example, had interviews. On the other hand, yes, some schools get into it a little harder.

Oh BTW—congrats on pulling through the morass!

about 10 months ago
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College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

MacAndrew Re:How about replacing the College Board? (134 comments)

No. My scores for example were "so what" at Harvard. At those schools, the SAT scores of many applicants tend to be so good that they don't matter. The school can admit all the 800 scores they want, but do go looking for other qualities. The statistical validity of the SAT above 700 or so is not very good and is not useful for distinguishing among candidates—the test is designed around the much lower and heavily populated mean. Moreover, the SAT is technically not an IQ test any more, rather a measure of scholastic "achievement." (The "A" in SAT used to stand for aptitude, until 1992 or so. Mensa no longer accepts SAT scores I think. I'm not endorsing IQ tests here either.)

Consider http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

about 10 months ago
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College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

MacAndrew How about replacing the College Board? (134 comments)

While they debate what to do ... the Board itself should be challenged for its power and profiteering. They overcharge for things that should be dirt cheap like score reporting, keep pumping out more and more tests, and have surprisingly little proof of the validity of the tests themselves. Meanwhile the test prep industry is making millions, providing (or insinuating) false claims of what they can deliver, and helping wealth discrimination.

Closely timed fill-in-the-bubble test-taking skills are not valuable life skills, in college or elsewhere. FWIW I'm speaking as someone who got near-perfect SAT scores, as did my son, and have to admit it's a scam. The scores do mean *something,* but it's all gotten out of control. GPA is the single best predictor of performance. (But don't get me started on grade inflation....)

about 10 months ago
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Travel to Sochi for the Olympics, Get Hacked?

MacAndrew Why would Russian internet be special? (1 comments)

I have trouble understanding how hooking up to the internet in Russia would be any more or less dangerous than anywhere, or why the threat would be more likely Russian. Part of the damage was self-inflicted in the classic way by opening a "suspicious" email (an attachment?) that could have been sent from anywhere to anywhere. As for the compromised phone, I have no idea. This story sounds like a fairly unimaginative effort to ridicule Russia and draw attention to the reporter. Why wait several days to reveal the technical details that people need to protect themselves?

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

MacAndrew Well, to be really specific (822 comments)

Congress interfered by granting his testimony a limited immunity, in turn barring the (fumbling?) prosecutor from using the same. Perhaps they'll be that dumb again. Certainly it would be a very interesting hearing.

about a year ago
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Public Libraries Tinker With Offering Makerspaces

MacAndrew Is the term "library" going to die? (90 comments)

And what will replace it? I'm sure this has been asked before but I don't know the answer. Library literally means a collection of books—static, physically recorded information—the kind of thing future libraries are least likely to collect. It's quite a transformation. Library is coming to mean a gathering/making place of things drawn dynamically from elsewhere.

about a year ago
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Obama Announces Surveillance Reforms

MacAndrew Pragmatism (359 comments)

I think what's missed is that "no drama" Obama is a pragmatist first. I think he feels genuine empathy and believes (for obvious reasons) in civil rights, but in office has been willing to sacrifice little in the name of idealism. Guantanamo, for example; I think he would have liked to close it but found out how political impossible it was unless the detainees disappeared somehow. In fairness, in the wake of 9/11 and a ridiculously reactionary right it's been pretty hard to do much for civil liberties without an avalanche of criticism for beign soft and withering blame for any terrorist acts (Benghazi). But at bottom I think pragmatism, political and leadership, explains most of his choices. I wish he'd tried to be more inspirational and led in a direction that might last for generations, but I settle for (partially corrupt but historically huge) health-care reform.

I can imagine better alternatives, but I worked for Obama because I saw considerably worse. You don't have to pick sinners and saints in these things, sometimes both sides are deficient. Just try for what's best for the time being. If I tried to confront the true enormity of what we're doing out there rather then try for incremental change, i think I'd implode. I don't think much of the "idealists" attacking Obama on morally correct grounds but without a realistic path to improvement. That's just ego.

Obama won't make any grand stands on privacy or civil rights generally (gay marriage is an exception, but I think the financial incentive there was pretty big). It's a rare politican who would, unfortunately. I hope the people will.

about a year ago
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Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

MacAndrew Re:It's about time! (1431 comments)

No, this one is taken seriously. Other lawyers don't want these guys to be lawyers. I agree with cynicism towards bar enforcement generally, but this one is rightfully a hot button.

Note that there is a very serious free speech issue here too. It's still unclear what attorneys can or should say on websites and it ads.

Disbarment would be a very rare sanction! But at least most attorneys (generally as decent as anyone) and the public agree on something.

And, uh, actually chasing an ambulance and causing accidents is a whole 'nuther problem.....

about a year ago
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Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

MacAndrew Re:By a cop...let's not forget that fact (1431 comments)

I don't think "good guy with a gun" was ever really defined, and regardless the NRA has opposed virtually any kind of restriction on gun sales—like the gun show loophole—so it is quite hard to believe they consider the good guy part any of their business or the government. Maybe they mean good guy as determined after the fact of the shooting, which it is true would be 100% accurate and 100% useless in making anyone safer. No, "good guy" is just more cynical crap from one of America's richest lobby groups.

about a year ago
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Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

MacAndrew Re:It's about time! (1431 comments)

It's a funny wisecrack but note.... "Ambulance chasing" is grounds for disbarment. The bar imposes a waiting period of several weeks, as it should. And most lawyers don't regard the ones who approach victims and their families, looking to skim easy cases, with any high regard—like any profession, there are the good and the bad.

about a year ago

Submissions

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ACLU sues re "targeted killing" by drones

MacAndrew MacAndrew writes  |  more than 4 years ago

MacAndrew (463832) writes "The ACLU has sued the United States Government to enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for "the release of records relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles—commonly known as “drones”—for the purpose of targeting and killing individuals since September 11, 2001." (Complaint: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-v-doj-et-al-complaint .) The information sought includes the legal basis for use of the drones, how the program is managed, and the number of civilian deaths in areas of operation such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The ACLU further claims that "Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that U.S. citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones."

Aside from one's view of the wisdom, effectiveness, and morality of these military operations, the inclusion of U.S. citizens suggests that summary remote-control executions are becoming routine. Especially given the difficulty in locating and targeting individuals from aircraft, risks of human and machine error are obvious, and these likely increase as the robots become increasingly autonomous (please no Skynet jokes). This must give pause to anyone who's ever spent time coding or debugging or even driving certain willful late model automobiles, and the US government evidently doesn't want to discuss it."

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