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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

danheskett Re:I don't see the problem. (658 comments)

The House of Saud are anti-Wahhabists, al-Qaeda are Salafi's and Wahhabi's. There has been a deep split since the mid-1990's. It's why UBL was very angry with the Saud's.

Recommend "The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West" for more on this split.

yesterday
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

danheskett Re:Require H1-B visa recipients be paid more (522 comments)

Well for one, the AMA is a private organization, and they have tried, and failed to do what you are saying for another similar undertaking that sounds simple but is not.

The problem is that job descriptions are not uniform, and wages are not uniform. So the very thing you are trying to accomplish is technically challenging, and it will be prone to be difficult and challenging circumstances.

Plus, there is every incentive to cheat the system and a bad incentive structure to root out cheating. It's bound to fail, whether or not it's private or public.

yesterday
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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

danheskett Re:I don't see the problem. (658 comments)

I don't think you are going to find anyone saying that al Qaeda isn't a terrorist syndicate with aggressive goals and activities. It's pretty cut and dried.

The only thing you are going to find is people willing to go back further than the WTC. The primary grievance against the West was the co-operation between the Saudi's (who are a competing religious sect) and the West in stationing and occupying troops in the so-called holy land. It is clearly a reactionary movement. First reacting against the Soviets, and then reacting against the West and the US.

yesterday
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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

danheskett Re:I don't see the problem. (658 comments)

The World Trade center isn't a government site by any stretch of the imagination.
I agree with that generally. The 9/11 report went into motivations a bit, I think it's mostly as a symbol of economic power.

It is also believed the original intended targets were nuclear power plants which demonstrates these targets were picked to incite fear into Americans.
I don't think this is supported by facts. The facts indicate the last target (the one intended to be destroyed by United 93) was in Washington DC.

but the Pentagon and US Capitol attacks were strategic (foolish, but strategic) and could be classified as freedom fighters since they were fighting against their aggressors, but as soon as they also picked the WTC (along with their motive) and Bali Bombings that crossed the line into terrorism.

Pentagon and US Capitol, I think are fairly clear, are in fact legitimate military targets. It would be nice if you the other side raised a traditional army, landed an invasion force, and rolled up the the streets of Baltimore and into combat, but being asymmetric, legitimate targets.

The disagreement then is over WTC and the use of civilian hijacked planes?

For the planes issue, the collateral damage can't be the deciding factor for freedom fighter vs. terrorism. Otherwise, any military action that has civilian causalities is terrorism. For us Americans, we feel incredible empathy for the 44 Americans who died on United 93. It's a national tragedy and rightly so. Meanwhile, though, that many Iraqi's and Afghan's died every few days from simple mistakes, collateral damage, or accidents. So it's just not that clear how you decide which actions have acceptable civilian deaths and which civilian deaths are terror related.

I don't think you've clarified your position. Is the definition of terrorism only about motivations? Does that make shock & awe in general or Iraq, qualify as terrorism under that definition?

yesterday
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Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

danheskett Re:I don't see the problem. (658 comments)

A terrorist's goal is to frighten people into submission by causing fear of harm or death into civilians and attacking civilian's (like 9/11).

A freedom fighter makes statements to the people by attacking appropriate military or government sites

What is the definition of a government site?

The CIA waged war on the Taliban for a decade, and before that, in Afghanistan, throughout the 80's. They also radicalized the latent radicals in many Mid-Eastern countries, and then turned them loose with weapons, as a proxy against Russians and even democratic self-government movements.

Those same people then attacked the US, on US soil, hitting the Pentagon, apparently attempting to hit the US Capitol, and hitting the World Trade Center. The WTC, which by the way, contained offices of the CIA, and DOD, and the NYC government.

I just don't think your definitions are that accurate. The 9/11 terrorists attempted to attack the US seat of political, military, and economic power. Yes, a lot of very innocent civilians died. Is that the definition for terrorism? That's a tough one, it has a lot of very difficult implications behind it.

2 days ago
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A Look At NASA's Orion Project

danheskett Re:NASA has become small indeed... (108 comments)

From scratch is a term of art. Not a real description. We had been sending stuff into space before Kennedy's speech. We had been working on rocket and control systems for a bit. NASA didn't fall from the sky into existence, but was the culmination of a long-effort.

I am perfectly content at this point to just stop it all. If private individuals want to fund a non-profit organization to do the work of NASA go for it. I am all for a few regulatory changes to let it happen within a few broad parameters.

The challenges are different now, and I think well more than twice as a complex.

BUT you have a point about America:

"We used to make stuff in this country. Now everyone's just got their hand in the next guy's pocket." -- Frank, Season 4, The Wire.

Even the government can't get out of the government's way anymore. There is nothing happening that's not part of a graft racket.

2 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

danheskett Re:consider the source (522 comments)

I'd say the program empowers companies to be dumb in that particular way, i.e. hiring people who aren't qualified, but I'm not sure that dumbness is inherently baked into the program. One can imagine a company that actually vets its hires properly and only hires people who are actually qualified.

The fact that companies can do this, and still have success, goes to show you that even with language barriers, on the job training is really quite easy and practical. The "qualifications" are obviously not really qualifications, because if they were, the person without them would fail, and when a person who lies about the qualifications doesn't fail, it has exposed that qualification as falsely described.

2 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

danheskett Re:Require H1-B visa recipients be paid more (522 comments)

The government has tried to do this for other fields. They try to track what a standard medical procedure costs. There used to be 100,000 procedures, now there are over a million. The costs are regional, like salaries, so there is a complex formula that is highly political, that determines what the local adjustment factor is, and how it will be applied. Then there is the base rate, and it is also highly political.

It's been ongoing thing, at the Centers of Medicare Services, for almost 40 years. Between them an the AMA, there are, probably, 25k people who work the on the system, at all times. When it's updated, it takes billions of dollars to roll out through the medical system.

The problems are:

1. Diversity of jobs, and what they do. Not easy to classify the right job code.

2. Regional salary differences.

Even when you have it done, the problem is that employers want to be able to interchangeably abuse employees. This is the purpose of the H1B. The loop holes are so broad you can drive a 777 through them. In 1 minute I thought of 10 ways to abuse the system. The easiest being: classify the employee for a lower job description with lower pay. An American worker would be unlikely to happily accept a job that is 50% the pay, but has all the responsibilities of a higher tier job, but the H1B employee has all the incentive to suck it up and not say anything.

It's a good thought, but one that will still depress American wages, will add new government responbilities it will probably fail at, and will be abused into irrelevancy as it is. Think of it this way. The Department of Labor asks all employers to classify every employee as either exempt or non-exempt. It's binary. And it's still a vast enforcement nightmare.

2 days ago
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Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA

danheskett Re:Why are you so angry? (77 comments)

On top of that, it's extra stupid, since as a private pilots you don't even need to call the airport when you are within 5 miles. It's more regulation than a person flying in a plane is subject to.

2 days ago
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Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA

danheskett Re:both? (77 comments)

I fly kites. I have kites bigger than some of your flying machines. And they go way, way, way higher than 10 feet. I've run out 1000 yards before. I have two acquaintances who have broken 2 miles.

There is no logical basis in applying the commercial vs. private airplane scenario to drones. The commercial regulations are there to protect.. passengers. The people on the ground need the same protection from crashing planes regardless of whether it's Delta's 737 or John Travolta's 737.

Since there is no passenger to worry about in a drone scenario the only factor to consider is people on the ground, who need the exact same protection whether or not the person doing the operation is a hobbyist, an 8 year old, or a business.

2 days ago
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Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA

danheskett Re:both? (77 comments)

I disagree strongly on three specific points:

1. The FAA obviously cannot prevent all, or even most, of the bad stuff that happens. A few years ago a plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a house 1 1/2 blocks from my house. The pilot died. If anyone had of been home, everyone in the house would have been dead, probably instantly. It's rare occasion, but it goes to show that the FAA isn't going to solve all problems.

2. I am much more comfortable with an agency of government doing nothing, than doing something lawless. What the Court has done here is what everyone who follows this knows - tell the FAA that they have been acting lawlessly threatening people with fines for violating words which are not law, do not have the force of law, and are in fact just dictates and threats that are legally unenforceable. I would much rather let idiots do what idiots will do than live under the tryanny of unelected, unaccountable, unjust people.

3. The knows exactly how to make regulations. It does so continuously. They know exactly how to propose, accept comments, formulate and promulgate regulations which are the law of the land. They also know they haven't done it for certain activities. Why isn't anyone at the FAA facing jail time for knowingly exceeding their legal authority? This wasn't a close call. The FAA is ordering people around without the legal authority to do so. It's extortion. It's not a technical little violation, it's quite obviously knowingly done.

I could not care less about drone, RC, aircraft, or other regulation. I am comfortable that idiots will be idiots, and that people are doing dumb stuff with drones. All that comes with life. What doesn't come with life is unaccountable tyranny. The FAA should just stop. All the letters, all the threats, all the lies, until it completes the regulation process.

2 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

danheskett Re:"As it lays 18,000 off workers" (522 comments)

It's still close to 6000 domestic US workers. Even in Redmond cuts.

3 days ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

danheskett Re:consider the source (522 comments)

He probably thinks Microsoft could just take the 18,000 people it's laying off and repurpose them to fill whatever positions it's trying to use H1B visas fo

Yes, this should be the presumption. Microsoft or any company already supposed to have to show a genuine need before going to an H1B worker. That means that you have exhausted other possibilities. These companies all use the same stupid trick to show a need: create an unbelievably narrow job description that almost literally cannot be filled, and advertise that job domestically, and then create a reasonable job description, and advertise that internationally. Same job. Then use the lack of qualified resumes from the domestic advert, and the wealth of resumes from the foreign advert, as the basis for importing an H1B worker.

I would also just add:

1. Many of the 18,000 workers would probably relocate to keep a high-paying high-tech job. It should be obvious that they should be given first whack at any new jobs across the country. But, Sessions is right to say that Microsoft is reducing it's total global headcount. There maybe individual positions that are open, but it's not like they are shifting 18,000 jobs from one division to another area. This is a global head count reduction.

2. There is almost no evidence of a general lack of workers to fill these positions. All the silicon valley companies are simply trying to avoid the costs of training and re-training workers, by externalizing them. Most other industries have already dealt with these problems, and done so with very simply tools. Employment contracts and non-compete clauses are the tried and true way to both attract and train capable workers, while protecting yourself against job-shopping once trained.

3. The H1B program facilitates labor arbitrage, where lightly experienced foreign IT workers are repackaged as high-priced experts and sold for high-rates to American companies. The companies in the middle sprinkle some domestic management and technical resources, and reap large economic benefits that are economically unjustified.

3 days ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:Airspace (199 comments)

The problem is that you presume that you should have more access to the air space than anyone else. You shouldn't. For a long time the cost made access to air space prohibitive except for a small class of wealthy individuals or large companies. That's over.

It's time to make it fair. You have no greater claim to airspace than anyone else. Your desire to tool around in an aircraft for hobby in no way supersede my desire to do the same with an UAV.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:The FAA needs to follow the law. (199 comments)

The administration takes laws (like their own favorite, the ACA), and completely ignores hard-wired dates and other requirements as it suits them for political leverage with the portion of the voters to whom they pander. Happily, that particular instance is about to be challenged in a civil suit coming out of congress - that's very good news.

This is not exactly true, but the spirit is right.

Any administration has two prerogatives that they exercise:

1. Upholding and enforcing the laws, "faithfully". This is the ultimate judgement question. Imagine that Congress passes law intended to allow any person to breathe free, and that the penalty for violating that law is death. But Congress makes a mistake and passes language that says "one person may breathe free". Is the President required to go around, arresting and trying people for all breathing free, when only person is supposed to breathe free? No, he is not. That is the essence of "faithfully".

2. The FAA, like DHS and many other agencies, have prevailed upon Congress to grant their administrators massive deference to the implementation of rules and application of law. This is a worrying trend that has gone back many decades, but has really picked up in the last 20 years. In the past, Congress would work on bills in committee and in markup and in conference, to implement many of the smaller and fine details in the law.

Laws like the ACA are said to be very long, but really, they aren't that long. Most of it is technical wording to amendment the text of other laws or titles. In terms of detail, there isn't as much as you might think. And it's full of certifications, "as the director sees fit", and other various elastic clauses.

This administration especially has focus on passing laws that have very little meat to them excluding a set of broad goals and somewhat corresponding powers. Almost all of the commonly cited abridgements of the ACA fall into one of three categories:

a. A portion of the law that was left to the descretion of the Director.

b. Unenforceable - i.e. whatever the law says, it must be real and practiacable, or it is not enforceable by a Court. If the law says you must grow wings and fly away by August 1st, 2014 and you fail to do so, you can't be held to penalty by a Court. The same is true of the ACA. If they say all employers must provide accetable health insurance by a certain date, and a list of acceptable health insurance is not developed, then the penalty is not enforceable in Court. It's a matter of due process.

c. A portion of the law that creates no grieved party that has standing. This one is most interesting to me personally. Imagine a law passed that says that if certain conditions are met by two other parties, I am a poopy pants. Who can I see for my poopy pant status? The answer is: probably no one. There is no harm, so there is no basis for a successful suit.

In the end, your spirit is right though. The question is: what is the recourse when the Administration does not follow the law. The Courts can intervene, but in a practical sense, the Court has limited enforcement options.

The answer is: Congress can cut off the money. Unfortunately, the only House that can appropriate money is also hopelessly broken and run without really any interest in governing. For example, with this FAA thing, in the past, say when the House was run by Speaker Tip O'Neil and the White House was controlled by Republicans, Congress knew how to keep the White House on a tight rope. That House often attached funding directly to enforcement and deadlines. They would insert language into must pass bills, like funding appropriations, for things that they wanted done by the Administration. These were small-ish things. It would be perfectly in tradition to design funding for the FAA to ensure that the FAA met the legally required deadlines, by inserting language into funding appropriations that, say, reduced FAA funding for executive salaries and benefits by 1% for each day past the deadline that the rulemaking dragged on.

Unfortunately the current GOP really has no taste for governing. This type of thing requires a staff that is very competent, who have some weight in the Administrative branches, and who know the in's and out of policy. Whatever their strong points, the current GOP House really has no skills for actually making policy. Picking huge political battles that nearly break the government, only to cave at the last minute, is probably the most this GOP can accomplish. It is a complete and total myth that they can't do anything with just one House of one branch of government. The reality is that, properly managed, the GOP controlled House could force the Administration to do almost anything. Their problem is that they gave away the power of the purse for the length of their entire term. A huge,huge, huge mistake since that is their only power.

In fact, the best thing they could have done is only appropriate money month by month, and make the directors of each agency come and justify their funding requests every month for the entire two year terms. (But of course, that means less time for all the other important stuff they do.. like... err, well, I'm sure it's out there).

about two weeks ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:Movies (199 comments)

So... I uh, would tell you that from.. a friend's experience, yeah, that's it.. that a standard HO3 home-owners policy written by any major insurer should cover such damage after your deductible so long as you were not negligent.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:Tea-Bagger Click Bait (199 comments)

You may have a point about low-wage labor, but it's lost on the fact before 1940, the Federal government didn't even know about foreigners inside the borders of the United States. Up until then, aliens who could physically get to the US didn't even have to register, and did not have to do or not do anything special.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:Not a rule (199 comments)

Rather, the FAA is drawing a different line here.

It's quite a bit worse because they aren't drawing a line. Is there any rule making that has completed that supports their commercial vs. non-commercial claims. And it's not clear that the FAA is enforcing any existing promulgated rule or regulation.

Their actions against commercial drone operators just appear to be arbitrary.

about two weeks ago
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FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

danheskett Re:Dear Fed (199 comments)

There are no FAA rules that are going to protect you. End of story. The technology is too cheap and plentiful.

In another decade there will be tens of thousands of these in low altitude flights at all times.

about two weeks ago

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