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Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

NonSequor Re:Buy snowplows? (723 comments)

The primaries I was on were perfectly driveable without any issues. The issue was that the primaries were backed up because hills on the side roads iced to the point where cars were sliding back down them if they didn't have steady momentum all the way up them. People did figure this out, but it took volunteers coordinating people to keep traffic moving at a slow but steady pace over these trouble spots.

Under saturation conditions (i.e.nearly every possible square foot of road occupied by a car), the flow of traffic is reduced to the rate of flow at the outer bottleneck points, which was less than 3 miles per hour. The issue was the capillaries not the arteries.

about 3 months ago

Michaels Stores Investigating Possible Data Breach

NonSequor Re:Point of Sale Network Access (106 comments)

Target has a system where you can return anything without a receipt if you can show the credit card the item was purchased with. Plus Target makes heavy use of data to track customers. Not that that's a good thing.

I would have to guess that Target views these things as strategic advantages over their competitors and they may have a culture which views IT infrastructure only as a means to further develop these advantages. In that kind of environment, "what we can do if we hold onto this data" is going to trump security concerns.

It's kind of interesting that a concept of user data being innately dangerous to hold onto hasn't taken hold in the same way that the concept of raw chicken being innately dangerous to hold onto. Most industries where users can get hurt have some sort of "hygiene" practices that ensure segregation of dangerous materials if followed rigorously. Continuing on the raw chicken metaphor, the current state of things seems to be as if the health inspector had to analyze the design of every machine and process in the meat packing plant to determine whether it's safe.

PCI seems to be intended to tackle this, but it doesn't seem to be stringent enough to do the job.

about 3 months ago

Hadn't done any serious wrenching in a while.

NonSequor Re:TRAMP (17 comments)

Much obliged. I think I had seen that wiki before but didn't manage to filter through it to work out what I needed to do.

about 3 months ago

Hadn't done any serious wrenching in a while.

NonSequor TRAMP (17 comments)

How'd you get TRAMP working?

I fooled with it a few years ago thinking it would be an easy way to deal with editing scripts on a few Mac Minis from cygwin EMACS using scp for transport.

I never got it to do anything despite spending far more time on trying to set it up than it was worth and I ended up finding forum messages that suggested others had similar experiences. Is there some trick I missed?

about 3 months ago

Regex Golf, xkcd, and Peter Norvig

NonSequor Missed the point (172 comments)

I'd have been extremely surprised if solving for the shortest regex golf pattern for a pair of lists weren't NP hard. And greedy approaches are fairly obvious.

The point is, that's what makes it analogous to golf. The optimal solution is your hole in one. Some greedy algorithm solution is your par. Those aren't the interesting areas, they're just the end points.

For those who couldn't work it out for the,selves, here are the rules of regex golf:

How many characters you use in your regex is your score
Lower is better
There's a par calculated for each hole, and totaled for the course, which serves as a frame of reference for performance

about 3 months ago

Scientists Find Olfactory "Memory" Passed Between Generations In Mice

NonSequor Re:They did not pass "aversion" to their grandkids (118 comments)

The premise seems to be:

1. There is a gene associated with a brain pathway responding to the smell.
2. The more this gene is expressed, the more the stronger the pathway.
3. Brain functions that depend on this pathway have a feedback mechanism that result in hypomethylation of the gene in at least sperm cells (egg cells weren't mentioned). This increases expression in the descendants. From what I understand, hypo methylation does not entail any alteration of base pair sequences.
4. As the parent post mentioned, this doesn't mean passing on aversion/affinity, but potentially increased sensitivity which may aid in speed of learning these traits.

That's based on my reading of the abstract. The abstract didn't mention any kind of known or discovered chemical signal for the brain activity to result in the hypomethylation in the sperm. My question would be if anything else in the experimental protocol could have triggered this in a manner not directly caused by the brain activity. My next question would be if this work can be reproduced with a different chemical pathway.

about 4 months ago

Snowden Used Social Engineering To Get Classified Documents

NonSequor Re:They will never learn (276 comments)

The very short version of that theory is that in a perfect market all investors have the same information and thus the only difference in their investment decisions comes from their risk preferences and over time several high risk investments inevitably give exactly the same total return as lower risk investment since whilst the successful high risk ones give higher returns, more of them fail whilst the latter give lower returns but with greater certainty.

The theory doesn't really work that way. The theory says that under arbitrage free conditions there exists a probability measure that results in the expected return between the risky investment and the low risk investment being identical relative to that probability measure. This does not constitute an assertion that this probability measure is predictive, merely that it exists. The probability measure is essentially a rationalization applied to market prices. The spread between high quality corporate bonds and government bonds is much larger than the difference in default rates between the two.

Basically the theory doesn't say that risky investments even out with safe investments over time, it says that there is a premium you pay for safety. That premium can be neutralized by creating a fun house mirror probability measure that overstates the risk of the investment failing. The fun house probability measure isn't real, it's just something used to analyze prices.

about 5 months ago

Buried In the Healthcare.gov Source: "No Expectation of Privacy"

NonSequor Re:designed to obfuscate actual prices of plans (365 comments)

It does work for group insurance which is what 90% of people who have private insurance have. Most people who have group insurance don't want to buy individual insurance.

Whoops, I forgot to mention that since the survey was from 2009, those numbers have grown with 4 years of medical cost trend (plus one more to grow on to project to 2014). Fortunately that's been lower the past few years compared to the average for the last 20 years. I think it was only a bit over 6% last year, compared to a more typical trend of around 10%.


about 6 months ago

Buried In the Healthcare.gov Source: "No Expectation of Privacy"

NonSequor Re:designed to obfuscate actual prices of plans (365 comments)


In 2008, 12.7% of all individual insurance applications were denied. For ages 50-64, the denial rate was 20-30%.

Did you say you are paying $75 per month for your current plan? For 2009, the national average premium for individual insurance with single coverage and a $500 deductible was $259 per month.

You haven't been the one who's been seeing the worst of the current system and I'm not convinced that you are going to be the one who's seeing the worst of it next year.

about 6 months ago

Buried In the Healthcare.gov Source: "No Expectation of Privacy"

NonSequor Re:designed to obfuscate actual prices of plans (365 comments)

You realize that as someone who was satisfied with the individual health insurance market you are something of an oddity?

about 6 months ago

Buried In the Healthcare.gov Source: "No Expectation of Privacy"

NonSequor Re:designed to obfuscate actual prices of plans (365 comments)

That bronze level plan costs more than twice what I am currently paying.

How old are you? If you're young that may explain what you're seeing.

Here's the deal. The individual insurance market has premiums that are heavily biased towards expected claims for sicker people, but if you look at how premiums vary by age and other underwriting characteristics, it's more proportional to how the average claims change with those characteristics.

For group insurance, there isn't as much bias towards the cost of sicker people. The contract bundles the healthy and the sick people together so healthy people opting out is less of an issue. But the demographic component of the cost is basically averaged across the group, plus there is rating based on the actual experience of the group.

The exchanges are basically a group insurance scheme. However, they do allow charging different premiums based on age. The ratio between the highest premium and the lowest premium is capped at 3 to 1, whereas before in the individual market, this was more like 6 to 1.

Monetarily, the law is going to be worst for people who are young, have good underwriting characteristics and who already have individual insurance. But you are also getting a guarantee that you will be able to buy insurance next year. You don't have that under your current plan. Also, that 3 to 1 cap will work in your favor over time. You are getting less per dollar for the upcoming year of coverage, but you are getting guarantees that extend far beyond that year of coverage.

If it were possible to buy an individual insurance policy with guaranteed renewal for life under the pre-ACA regime, I'm guessing it would have cost an awful lot more than that bronze plan since they would have to price in the possibility of you moving into a higher risk class later.

about 6 months ago

Will Cloud Services One Day Be Traded Just Like Stocks and Bonds?

NonSequor Re:In other words... (168 comments)

Unless someone commits fraud, I don't see how connecting buyers with sellers is parasitism. It's a useful service, and like other useful services it is worth paying for.

There is no need for middlemen, therefore it is not a useful service. Investment markets are like politically connected men putting up a tollbooth at the end of your driveway and saying that connecting you to the road is a useful service, and like other useful services it is worth paying for.

Let's say I have a computing job I want to complete some time in the next couple of years. I'm not especially concerned about when it's done but I want it done for below a certain price. With a futures market, I could look for a good time of year when prices are low and lock that in now, establishing a contract that the counterparty will either provide the service at that time or pay whatever it costs to find a provider that can.

The benefit to providers is that they can sell anticipated capacity in advance and lock in their budget numbers.

about 6 months ago

NRA Joins ACLU Lawsuit Against NSA

NonSequor Re:Ludicrous Argument From An Effective Lobbyist (531 comments)

It is ludicrous, but it's also kind of brilliant. The NSA is arguing that they can use correlations to figure out what data they can snoop in. However that is also an admission of technical capability to determine other kinds of correlations. And it is in fact illegal for the government to build a gun ownership database. The NSA would have to argue that they cant figure out who gun owners are with their data. They cant just argue that they don't do that, they have to argue that they can't do that.

It's technically correct... The best kind of correct.

about 7 months ago

Hacking Lightbulbs To Cause a Sustained Blackout

NonSequor *Evil Laugh* (115 comments)

Now that the mood lighting has been disabled I can proceed with my insidious plot.

about 8 months ago

Guess the GOP is lubing up the amnesty

NonSequor Re:Sometimes I wonder (54 comments)

No one is capable of working outside their cultural narratives. Glib analysis of other people's cultural narratives is part of the culture you associate with. You're attempting to express his subjective reality in a manner that relates to your own subjective reality. That does not mean that you're working outside that subjective reality. Awareness of other people's limitations does not free you from your own. You have no basis for asserting superiority.

about 9 months ago

Guess the GOP is lubing up the amnesty

NonSequor Re:Sometimes I wonder (54 comments)

A cognitive bias is really just a heuristic strategy that's being applied in circumstances where it isn't effective. The things that people believe are driven by a mixture of their assessments of the frequency of events and the priority the weight they assign to different outcomes. The brain doesn't really adequately distinguish between the assessment of frequency and the priority piece.

This is the state of things. People's perception of the facts is muddled up with what's important to them. And you can't live with other people if you dismiss what's important to them, regardless of how much you think they're wrong. Democracy is the manifest reality of what you have to do in order to cooperate with people who you think are wrong.

While there are some genuinely pathological people and some genuinely pathological ideas, they really don't play as much of a role in the world as people tend to think. The world really is as bad is it is even despite the fact that most people are making their best efforts to improve it. The state of the world reflects how tiny and futile people's best efforts are.

The only way forward is to try to find a basis for agreement. Most people aren't completely wrong and occasionally they pick up on something that's worth paying attention to even if you don't agree with them. The key is to address people's fears rather than dismissing them as something insidious that just needs to be swept away by history.

To Smitty's credit, there's not a great history of successfully ruling nations made up of two groups of people who can't talk to each other. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Communities_and_regions, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_Czechoslovakia#Reasons_for_the_division, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_sovereignty_movement. There is some validity to the theory that not pressuring immigrants to assimilate and adopt the common language undermines national unity.

about 9 months ago

Guess the GOP is lubing up the amnesty

NonSequor Re:Sometimes I wonder (54 comments)

One time amnesty deals do nothing to address the underlying cause of illegal immigration which is that there's an underlying economic benefit to Mexican workers in seeking American income and that benefit significantly exceeds the hardships imposed by immigrating illegally. Really it's not much different than the flow of ions across a semipermeable membrane; it's going to continue until the underlying difference in potential is neutralized.

Past attempts at dealing with the issue by increasing the hardships imposed on illegal immigrants haven't been effective and now, I've presented the question to you if you feel it is morally correct to impose those hardships on a particular individual. What do you feel is best to put this specific situation right? What is important to you? Are individual human concerns subjugated to the macro-level goal of prevention of illegal immigration?

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Low-Latency PS2/USB Gaming Keyboards?

NonSequor Button depth (177 comments)

A mouse button has a hair trigger while you have to push a keyboard key down a pretty good bit before it registers a press. On the reaction time test, the margin between keyboard and mouse narrows to about 10-20ms when I try to make sure that I press down on the key as quickly as possible.

about 9 months ago

Guess the GOP is lubing up the amnesty

NonSequor Re:Sometimes I wonder (54 comments)

I've had an illegal immigrant do work on my house for me. I didn't know he was illegal when I first hired him. He speaks perfect English. He runs his own business, with business cards and shirts with the name of the business and everything.

He's married to an legal immigrant and their son is also legal.

I'm not going to argue that there aren't any people in the US that we shouldn't deport if we have the option. But for people who broke the rules once, but have since then made themselves into contributing members of American society, why shouldn't we offer amnesty? What good would be accomplished by deporting this guy? If applying the rules strictly creates bad outcomes, then the rules need to be changed.

As an aside, I'd say that the traditional strength (and also the traditional source of dysfunction) of the US is that we take in people who are undervalued in their home countries. To that end, I think we should make immigration available to most people who don't have a warrant outstanding for their arrest.

about 9 months ago

When Space Weather Attacks Earth

NonSequor Infrequent (176 comments)

The Carrington Event caused aurora borealis to be visible around the world. I'm not aware of anything else like that being reported in recorded human history. Even if it had happened before the development of writing, you would think it would be the sort of thing that would have a major impact on legends across all world cultures. So my best guess is that from the span of time from, let's say, 3000BC to 2013AD, this has happened exactly once.

Wikipedia says that ice core studies show that events like this which produce high energy protons comparable to the Carrington Event occur with a frequency of roughly once every 500 years, however it briefly mentions that these other events aren't necessarily comparable in terms of geomagnetic impact.

about 9 months ago


NonSequor hasn't submitted any stories.



I've got an idea for a sitcom

NonSequor NonSequor writes  |  more than 10 years ago

It will be set in the city of Dis, a city within Hell as described by Dante. The show will focus on a group of demons and their wacky exploits, which mostly involve haning around in a coffee shop or in their apartments. The show will be called Fiends.

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