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Microsoft On US Immigration: It's Our Way Or the Canadian Highway

davidwr IBM's workforce was ~75% non-US in 2009 (363 comments)

In 2009, IBM's US workforce was 105,000 out of 399,409 worldwide. (source: IBM stops disclosing U.S. headcount data, Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, Mar 12, 2010 6:00 AM PT)

IBM stopped releasing its US headcount in 2010, but I think it's safe to assume the US:World ratio is not much more than the 1:4 it was in 2009.

5 days ago

Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

davidwr Be careful with "The Internet of Things" (103 comments)

Connectivity and I/O features that aren't inherently necessary should be "hardware off" by default, and the end user should be made fully aware of any known or "it would be prudent to assume they are there" non-obvious risks of turning them on.

One of the best features an "Internet-enabled" thermostat can have is a hardware "Internet on/off" switch, along with hard-to-miss warning on the packaging that hooking your device up to the Internet has risks some of which are not yet known.

After reading such a warning, most consumers would (I hope) leave the "Internet" feature off except when they really needed it.

Another "nice feature" that all consumer-grade Internet devices that aren't designed to be on 24x7 should have is a "front-end gatekeeper." This "front end gatekeeper" should be an extremely simple device that did nothing more than turn on access to what is behind the gate for a specified period of time under specific conditions - basically, a very blunt "time lock" that opens when you present an valid credential then closes after a pre-determined time. This "front end gatekeeper" should not be programmable except at the console or over a dedicated (i.e. non-Internet) communications channel. This "front end gatekeeper" should be so simple that it can be mathematically proven to be bug-free provided that there are no hardware issues.

about a week ago

It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

davidwr This week: Fahrenheit 451 ... (394 comments)

... The rest of the year, "all of the above" and then some. Fahrenheit 451 and similar books that specifically point out attacks on the freedom to read vs. just attacks on freedom in general "rise to the top" during any celebration of the right to read.

about a week ago

SkyOrbiter UAVs Could Fly For Years and Provide Global Internet Access

davidwr CIA? NSA? Re:"Provide Global Internet Access" (48 comments)

SkyOrbiter UAVs Could Fly For Years and Provide Global Internet Access

They should have called it Complete Internet Access. They should also clarify that there will be No Surveillance Allowed.

As for the name,

about a week ago

Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

davidwr Why an arbitrary age? (478 comments)

I can understand the "At some point, I'm going to stop trying to stay alive for the sake of staying alive" attitude.

I can't understand projecting a fixed age. He doesn't know what his health will be like at 75. If his health starts to rapidly decline at 70 or 65, he may want to change his health-care attitude earlier. If he's still in great shape at 75 he may try to stay alive as long as he's healthy or only suffering acute ailments.

As for me, I'm going to treat my body like an old car: Barring a sudden fatal or mentally-incapacitating calamity, I'll try to keep it running well enough to be "fully functional" until it gets to the point that "it's just not worth it" then I'll cut back on how much effort I spend staying alive. Whether that's 65, 75, 85, or some other age, $DIETY only knows.

about a week ago

The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay'

davidwr Raid-resistant, not raid-proof (144 comments)

The technology listed is not raid-proof, only raid-resistant.

It is still vulnerable to legal attack IF the governments in the countries where the servers are located are willing to use subpeonas or other means to "quietly" (i.e. without TPB finding out) determine what the next "downstream" server is until they have a full list, then do a coordinated takedown.

All it takes to stop this is to make sure that at least some key servers are in countries in which such court orders could not be legally issued.

The summary didn't say it, but I would think that after all that they have been through, TPB also has recent-enough "disconnected" backups of all of their key servers that they could bring it all back up within a matter of days if their servers were all seized at the same time. I would also think that they have a "shadow staff" who can take over in the event that the people currently running the show are arrested or ordered by a court to not participate in the project.

about a week ago

Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

davidwr You don't have to use iCloud (504 comments)

Nobody* requires you to back your phone up to the iCloud.

*Nobody that I can confirm that is. I can neither confirm nor deny that the FBI/NSA can require Apple or your phone/internet provider to install hidden code on your phone that backs everything up to iCloud.

about two weeks ago

Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

davidwr This is fine for stored data after the fact ... (504 comments)

... but I wouldn't be surprised if you start seeing requests for courts to order phone/internet providers and/or Apple to install trojans and/or man-in-the-middle-enabling SSL certificates on suspects' phones.

Then again, I wouldn't be surprised to find out 5 years from now in a leak or declassified-in-2019 document that this is already routine practice in 2014.

about two weeks ago

Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

davidwr Is it time for per-transaction credit card #s? (61 comments)

Is it time for banks to start issuing "limited use" credit cards?

Personally, I would love to have:
* A general use credit card # good for transactions up to $SMALL_AMOUNT_I_SET per transaction and $SMALL_AMOUNT_PER_DAY limit unless I specify otherwise in advance. This would be of limited value to a data thief.
* A travel credit card # that is good only at $CERTAIN_TYPES_OF_BUSINESSES like airlines, hotels, gas stations, etc. and only for dollar amounts typical for the particular merchant unless I specify otherwise in advance. This would also be of limited value to a data thief.
* An internet credit card # that is only good for goods delivered to pre-designated addresses and with a pre-set daily and weekly limit unless I specify otherwise in advance. Likewise, this would be of limited value to a data thief.
* For merchants that have recurring charges, like my phone bill, a unique credit card # just for them, one that would be worthless to a data thief.
* A relatively easy but secure (yeah yeah, it's a trade-off) way to pre-authorize short-term exceptions like buying a refrigerator or a large Christmas-shopping trip. Preferably this authorization would require two independent communications channels, such as me calling the bank and talking to a live human and/or entering a code number printed on my monthly statement prior to going online and making the authorization.
* Alerts for any activity that is over any limit I set or otherwise meets any fraud-related parameter that I pre-set (some banks allow this today).

about two weeks ago

Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

davidwr Give me a dedicated computer for banking (61 comments)

Dear bank:

Please send me a bootable CD or other read-only media (i.e not a USB memory stick) that I can boot my computer with when I want to bank and a "password of the month" needed to log in in addition to my account name and password. To authenticate the CD, please create a signed hash for the CD and publish it in every major print newspaper in markets that you operate and publish the algorithm used to create the hash and the public key needed to verify the hash.

If I need to access my account remotely from a device that is not booted with that CD or from a machine that is not in a secure location such as one of your branches or a cooperating bank's branch or an ATM operated by an ATM operator that you trust, I will either visit a branch or log in to a secure terminal and retrieve a set of temporary one-time-use passwords that are valid only for a short period of time, only for transactions which I pre-designate, only for devices of specific types that I pre-designate (or "any" if I don't know ahead of time), and only for devices believed to be in certain geographic areas (i.e. where I will be traveling over the next few weeks). Thank you.

about two weeks ago

Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

davidwr Damn (61 comments)

It's getting to the point where I just want to do my banking in brick-and-mortar buildings.

about two weeks ago

FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

davidwr Agree in part, disagree in part (348 comments)

I agree in general but I disagree in two key areas:

* Internet and telephone access to the poor should be subsidized for the same reason we subsidize food, housing, and medicine for the poor: Because in practical terms they are essential to function in American society. However, as a "necessity" the average person only need enough instantaneous bandwidth to talk, email, and browse the web. In most cases "slow DSL" speeds of 0.5Mbps is adequate, and in almost all cases 2-3Mbps is more than enough. If a poor person can pay $20 for subsidize 10Mbps service that would be more expensive without the subsidy, he can pay 100% of a $20 bill for unsubsidized "entry level" service from his local ISP or smartphone network provider.

* In lightly populated remote areas that are currently not serviced and where running new wires or fiber is impractical and radio or satellite is the only option that's remotely cost-effective, I'm fine using my tax dollars to provide 1Mbps service or even 0.5Mbps service if the alternative is either no service at all or spending significantly more for a legally-mandated 10Mbps service. However, this is contingent on either the recipient being a full-time resident (sorry, not for summer vacation homes) or some other public benefit, such as providing internet to a public park or roadside rest area.

about two weeks ago

ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

davidwr That's dumb (973 comments)

You need math to aim your artillery.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

davidwr Depends on the minor and the job (392 comments)

For technical jobs a tech degree with a non-tech minor is generally better than a pure tech degree, but a tech degree is generally better than a non-tech degree.

For non-technical jobs a non-tech major with a technical minor usually beats a pure-non-tech degree. As to whether that's better than a tech degree with a non-technical minor, well, there's too many variables to make a general statement one way or the other.

A good hiring manager would consider "equivalent life experience" paid or not (yes, serious/huge-time-commitment hobbies count) as good enough to substitute for the lack of any particular class or program of study.

Personally, I wish I had had the time and money to take a couple of business classes, a couple more humanities classes, and maybe a fine art class but my degree program was 9 semesters of almost-all-tech with just the university-minimum-requirements for non-tech stuff as it was and I didn't want to extend graduation nor did I want to increase my tuition bill.

about two weeks ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

davidwr Only if the cops don't cover their tracks (286 comments)

It may affect the prosecution of those detained in the War on Terror too, if judges recognize illegally-obtained evidence and the subsequent evidence produced from it. That could well mean problems with interrogations, and given that this ruling cited a problem with military justice, there's a possibility that such rulings could apply to military tribunals too.

You are probably correct in cases where the cops aren't hiding things from the judge.

However, if one set of cops uses illegal means to find that a suspect did a crime then anonymously tips off another set of cops with enough information so that they could get a conviction if the tip had been given to them by someone outside the government then it's very unlikely that the shenanigans will ever be uncovered and it is very likely that the conviction will stand.

This "investigate once and ignore the rules, then do it again legally to cover our tracks" technique has a name but I can't remember it now.

about two weeks ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

davidwr Re: Posse Comitatus Act (286 comments)

Only the supreme court can act to affect the results of past laws on past actions..

Lower courts do it all the time.

Well, the president can grant a pardon, but that doesn't absolve guilt, it just removes punishment.

Legally speaking, an unconditional pardon removes guilt. Moral guilt doesn't even depend on getting caught, it only depends on some absolute standard of behavior to which a person's actual behavior can be measured against.

about two weeks ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

davidwr Not always Re:You have all been trained... (286 comments)

But the media is doing the damnedest effort to convince the people that if police accuse someone he is certainly guilty of something and it is a matter of digging deep and broad enough to nail him.

Not always.

Take that NFL football player who was indicted last week for child abuse. He's not contesting the facts of the case. The media isn't rushing out to tar him as a child abuser, they seem to be waiting for this one to play out in front of a jury. I wonder how the press will react if a Texas jury looks at the undisputed facts and declares that his actions did violate Texas's child-abuse laws. My bet is that a few press outlets will be calling for change but most will not.

On the other hand, if the NFL doesn't hold him accountable in accordance with whatever policy was in effect at the time of the actual acts then the press will tar and feather top NFL officials - an act doesn't have to violate a criminal law to be so socially unacceptable that organizations like the NFL cannot be seen to tolerate it.

about two weeks ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

davidwr FTC reality TV show Re: NCIS agent Steve Logan (286 comments)

The "fuck the constitution" reality show.

You mean that show on C-SPAN that shows Congressional committee hearings and votes in Congress?

Not to be confused with the Federal Trade Commission reality show, also on on C-SPAN.

about two weeks ago

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned

davidwr Bad policing is bad for multiple reasons (286 comments)

1) It denies innocent people their rights.

2) Because it rightfully results in guilty people going free, actual victims may be denied justice.*

*For the sake of argument let's assume I'm talking about a crime where everyone agrees there is an actual victim e.g. burglary, assault, etc. - I acknowledge that at least a small percentage of /. readers (NOT including myself) may consider typical cases of possession or downloading child porn as being a victimless crimes, making this particular case less than ideal for supporting my argument that bad policing is bad for the 2nd reason stated above.

about two weeks ago

The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

davidwr It's going to be done anyways (120 comments)

You can bet your $THINGOFVALUE here that the CIA and similar organizations are already researching this if they don't have it already.

Like handwriting recognition this will be full of examples of "bad output" in the early days and there will always be cases where lack of context and/or deliberate obfuscation by the speaker makes this unreliable.

Let's just assume that this will be as reliable 5 or 10 years from now as automated face recognition is today and within 20 years both will be very reliable. What do we do about it as a society? Do we pass laws and adopt social norms such that only "authorized" people can use this technology? Do we pass laws requiring that people be put on notice if their lips are being read by a computer without a court order or something similar? Do we become a society where people just expect that anything they say in public will be picked up and understood by a computer, likely in real-time?

about two weeks ago



30+ year old minor drug charge keeps Canadian contest winner from Super Bowl

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about a year and a half ago

davidwr (791652) writes "It's not "your rights ONline" but a Canadian who won an all-expenses-paid trip to New Orleans couldn't get past US Customs because he got busted with 2 grams of pot back in 1981, when he was 19 years old.

With Toronto and other Canadian cities having tech hubs, this "zero tolerance" is probably already having an impact on technology companies who have employees or contractors with ancient criminal records and who can't send them to US industry events."

Link to Original Source

Congress, at Last Minute, Drops Requirement to Obtain Warrant to Monitor Email

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 2 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Before passing the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act, the Senate dropped an amendment which would require the feds to get warrants before looking at mail older than 6 months that is stored on a 3rd-party server.

This means the status quo, dating from the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, remains."

Link to Original Source

Dolphins With Friggin' Lasers^H^H^H^H^H^HPistols

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 2 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "OK, it's not sharks with lasers, but Reuters reports the Ukranians are training their dolphin killing machines to use knives and pistols.

The other country training dolphins to take over the world before they leave and thank us for all the fish? The United States.

I for one welcome our aquatic mammalian overlords."

Link to Original Source

Turn your computer off? Maybe not: Your RAM may still be foresicly copyable.

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 2 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Stravroula Karayianni, Vasilios Katos, and Christos K. Georgiadis describe a way to recover passwords from RAM in a computer that's been turned off but which still has electrical power connected to it. They rely on the fact that in many computers, if you "turn off" the computer but still leave battery or A/C power connected, the RAM continues to be powered and is just as "fresh" as the moment you thought you turned off your computer. Their paper, "A framework for password harvesting from volatile memory," will appear in the journal Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 4, Nos. 2/3, pp. 154-163."
Link to Original Source

What is a reasoanble immigration policy for highly-trained workers?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 2 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "What are a reasonable temporary-worker or immigration-visa rules to apply to workers whose skills would likely to quickly net them a "top 20th percentile wages" (about $100,000) job in the American workplace if they were allowed to work in the is country?

Should the visa length be time-limited? Should it provide for a path to permanent residency? Should the number be limited and if so, how should we decide what the limit should be?

Note: The people affected are already likely eligible for special work-permit programs, but these programs may have quotas, time limits, prior-job-offer-requirements, and other restrictions. I'm asking /. what they think the limits and restrictions, if any, should be.

I'm assuming normal rules to keep out certain criminals, spies, terrorists, and other "undesirable aliens" will remain as is. These issues are beyond the scope of this question."

Hot pigs on the loose

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 3 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Oak Ridge has radioactive frogs (YUM!) and now Germany has hot hogs on the hoof (DO NOT EAT!). 'The German boars roam in forests nearly 950 miles (1,500 kilometers ) from Chernobyl. Yet, the amount of radioactive cesium-137 within their tissue often registers dozens of times beyond the recommended limit for consumption and thousands of times above normal.' 'Cesium also accumulates over time in the soil, which makes boars most susceptible They snuffle through forest soil with their snouts and feed on the kinds of mushroom that tend to store radioactivity, Environment Ministry spokesman Thomas Hagbeck said.' 'Japan's Fukushima plant has so far not leaked nearly as much radiation as Chernobyl...' So far???"
Link to Original Source

Collecting Personal Information About "Facebook Co

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 3 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "[Embargo from /. main page until the next anniversary of Pink Pony Day in a couple of weeks :) . Trim as needed for copyright compliance.]

--cut here--
Contact: Milo M. Münchhausen / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (703) 555-0099 Extension 666


April 1, 2011 — Internet Unlimited Analytics Surveillance Services (IUASS) of McLean, Virginia has announced an exciting expansion of its Internet surveillance and analysis services to include a wide range of features for surveillance exploitation and information analysis related to the "One Identity" Facebook Comments system, now being rapidly adopted as the only supported commenting system by both major and minor Web sites around the world.

Up until now, leveraging of Facebook data by law enforcement, insurance companies, and a broad variety of other enterprises — for the locating and profiling of malcontents, underage violators, insurance fraud perpetrators, and other undesirables — has been largely a manual process, often involving human observation of photos posted by Facebook users.

This all changes with the Facebook Comments system. By leveraging the fact that most Facebook users will only maintain a single identity within the Facebook ecosystem, and the new Facebook Comments requirement that all comments posted by a user at any participating site on the Internet must be publicly tagged with their Facebook identity, an enormous new range of surveillance and analysis possibilities have arrived, courtesy of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's "You Only Should Have One Identity on the Internet" vision. Mr. Zuckerberg's prescient and brilliant philosophy, by forcing most users of the Facebook Comment system to be fully identified for every comment that they post on all participating sites, regardless of topic or sensitivity, has enabled the ultimate linking of all aspects of persons' lives — professional, personal, public, and private — into a seamless continuum ripe for deep penetration, analysis, and appropriate exploitation.

IUASS' first new service to take advantage of the Facebook Comments surveillance potential, called FCUTO (Facebook Comments Unlimited Tracking Observer), currently offers two primary operational modes:

Target Mode — When the Facebook ID of a particular person is already known, FCUTO Target Mode will automatically search the Web to gather, analyze, and report (via fully-customizable dossiers) complete data regarding all sites and instances on the Internet (participating in the Facebook Comments system) where the target ID has posted comments. In addition to creating cross-indexed lists of sites and specific comments related to the target ID, the FCUTO service automatically determines the "Undesirability Index" (UI) for the target, based on a complex analysis of the sites visited, and the comments posted, by the target.

Insurance companies can determine if a target has commented in self-incriminating manners on sites discussing HIV/AIDS. Employers can learn if employees are making negative comments about their firm — or positive comments about competitors — and take appropriate punitive actions. Political groups can use FCUTO to verify that their members are not commenting on sites or in ways that could reflect badly on the group, or can use FCUTO to find potential gold mines of "dirty laundry" that could be used to tarnish the reputations of opponents.

Search Mode — FCUTO Search Mode is even more powerful. In Search Mode, you do not need to specify any individual target. Instead, you merely specify the topics, attributes, issues, or other parameters of interest, and FCUTO automatically creates indexed databases of all Facebook Comment user IDs that meet the required criteria anywhere on the Web. You can then use FCUTO Target Mode to build complete dossiers on specific targets of interest who were revealed via Search Mode.

For example, you might want to locate all Facebook IDs where the user has left Facebook Comments on news sites supporting liberal causes or criticizing public officials, while also commenting on sites discussing particular issues such as sexual matters, medical problems, or other data of potential value — depending on your specific target goal sets and operational methodologies.

Under normal conditions without FCUTO, it would be impractical to correlate the public and private lives of so many individuals in a useful manner, but FCUTO, through the genius of Facebook Comments, enables all of this and much more!

Of course, FCUTO includes features to correlate collected data and created dossiers with all other data posted on Facebook by targeted individuals, and to cross-reference with public record data and private commercial databases. You'll know far more about your targets than they know about themselves!

# # #

For more information about using FCUTO to leverage Facebook Comments for your firm, organization, agency, or other enterprise, please contact Milo M. Münchhausen at (703) 555-0099 Extension 666, or via email:

- — -

"Yes. This posting is a satire.""

Link to Original Source

Net sees earthquake damage, routes around it

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 3 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Japanese internet outages mostly healed themselves within hours. While some cables remain out most computers that lost connectivity have it again. From James Cowie's blog linked below: 'The engineers who built Japan's Internet created a dense web of domestic and international connectivity that is among the richest and most diverse on earth, as befits a critical gateway for global connectivity in and out of East Asia. At this point, it looks like their work may have allowed the Internet to do what it does best: route around catastrophic damage and keep the packets flowing, despite terrible chaos and uncertainty.' Let's here it for redundancy and good planning."
Link to Original Source

ADHD kids treated with instant gratification

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 4 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes ""The brains of children with attention-deficit disorders respond to on-the-spot rewards in the same way as they do to medication, say scientists."

Instead of pumping kids full of Ritalin, we can give them fast rewards for good behavior and pump them only half-full of Ritalin. This won't help them outside the classroom but it might help kids who don't tolerate medication very well.

On a related note, my teacher says if this gets posted to the main page in the next 60 seconds she'll give me a gold star."

Link to Original Source

Get off my lawn! Old man mines farm

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 4 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "73 year old man says "Get off my lawn" and means it. Alexander Skopintsev, a farmer in far eastern Russia, was convicted of planting mines to "ward off trespassers" and protect his potatoes. Kids, the next time the old man down the street says "get off my lawn" I suggest you listen!"
Link to Original Source

Owned by cat - yes, your cat controls you

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "You have a cat. Do you control him or does he control you? Scientists with too much free time have finally confirmed the obvious: You are his playtoy. reports that cats mix a high-pitched cry with their purrs when they want attention, and it works."

Poll: Favorite non-electric calculator

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Poll: Favorite non-electric calculator

Antikythera mechanism
Babbage's Analytical engine
Fingers and toes
Pascal's calculator
Slide rule
CowboyNeal's bones"

The Ten Commandments as seen in Star Trek (redux)

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Paul Asay slices and dices the Star Trek series to show us the Ten Commandments from Starfleet's perspective. He covers them all, from #1 "You Shall Not Have Any Other Gods Before Me" (Vaal, TOS: "The Apple") to #10, "You Shall Not Covet" (Hanoch, TOS: "Return to Tomorrow"). After reading #7 You Shall Not Commit Adultery (Nancy/alien, "The Man Trap"), you'll never stray again."
Link to Original Source

The Ten Commandments as seen in Star Trek

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "Paul Asay slices and dices the Star Trek series to show us the Ten Commandments from Starfleet's perspective. He covers them all, from #1 "You Shall Not Have Any Other Gods Before Me" (Vaal, TOS: "The Apple") to #10, "You Shall Not Covet" (Hanoch, TOS: "Return to Tomorrow"). After reading #7 You Shall Not Commit Adultery (Nancy/alien, "The Man Trap"), you'll never stray again."
Link to Original Source

Kentucky judges: No to domain name siezure

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "A state appeals court in Kentucky ruled that the state courts cannot seize domain names as "gambling devices." The court ruled that "it's up to the General Assembly — not the courts nor the state Justice Cabinet — to bring domain names into the definition of illegal gambling devices." Will the Kentucky legislature try to take control of domain-names world-wide? Stay tuned..."

The end of unwanted Goatse, er, Goat Sex?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes ""Goat 'condoms' save Kenyan herds Maasai herdsmen in Kenya have turned to an age-old contraceptive device, the "olor", to protect their precious goat herds from an ongoing drought. " Need I say more? Someone obviously has too much free time. The BBC has the rest of the story."

Poll: Names on Obama/Biden campaign signs

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

davidwr (791652) writes "What Democratic campaign sign would get your vote?

*Vote Obama/Biden
*Vote Barack Obiden
*Vote Joe-Bama
*V073 0b4m4/B1Ð3n
*\/07 0ß@|\/|@/ß|\|
*Vote for the guys who are better than the other guys
*Vote CowboyNeal/CmdrTaco"



Sig update 2014-08-14

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about a month and a half ago

All your e are belong to Mother Nature.

Past sigs:


davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 5 months ago

Storing a private key "in the cloud":

Key is K1. Key is thousands of seemingly-random bits, probably based on a pair of 1024-bit-or-larger prime numbers. You typically store K1 on your computer using a good encryption algorithm. Your password to decrypt the key is P1. P1 is typically tens of characters. Decrypting K1 with P1 is a fast (in human-time-scale) operation, under a second.

Although K1 is typically used to encrypt or decrypt data, for the purposes of this document, K1 is the thing to be encrypted. It will not be used to encrypt or decrypt anything.


How to safely store a backup of key K1 online such that the end user can access it from any device if he has both the password P1 and something else that is not mathematically related to K1.

Method 1, the "something else" is a one-time pad:

Create a random one-time pad, R1, which is the same size as K1.
"Encrypt" (XOR) K1 with R1 then encrypt both with P1, creating the safe copy S1. Store S1 online.
Print off a copy of R1 such that it can be easily photographed and re-constructed. Store R1 or an encrypted version of it in a safe place, such as a safe-deposit box or distributed in parts to trusted secret-keepers.
Without R1 it is provably impossible to extract K1 from S1, so S1 is "safe."
R1 by itself is useless.
R1 with S1 constitutes a compromise but it will mean the attacker has to either guess P1 or exhaustively search for it.

If the person loses their local copy of K1, they can use R1, P1, and S1 to reconstruct K1.

Method 2, create a file S2 which from which is computationally hard to extract K1 without P1, acceptably moderately difficult to extract K1 with P1 and no other information, and easy to extract K1 with P1 and "something else" not related to K1.

For example, create a one-time pad R2 which consists of P1 combined with some random-ish filler-number B2 whose size is dependent on how "moderately difficult" it can be to extract K1 given only P1.

If this pad R2 is at least as long as K1, proceed on as in Method 1: "Encrypting" (XOR) K1 with R2 and encrypting both with P1, creating a safe copy S2. As neither P1 nor B2 are known or predicatble, S2 is safe.
The time to recover K from S2 with only P1 will be the time it takes to go through all (or, on average, half) of the possible values of B2. Since the length of B2 was chosen in advance based on how hard this decription should be, K1 will be recoverable in a predicable, acceptable amount of time. With B2 and P1 recovering K1 from S2 is quick.

If the pad R2 is not as long as K1, one option is to re-use the one-time pad and as such will not satisfy the goal o being "comptationally hard to extract K1 without P1," but it may be good enough for some applications.

A different solution is to encrypt K1 with P1 (the file that is normally stored on the person's local computer will qualify) then encrypt the result with either B2 or some combination of P1 and B2 to create S2. The difficulty of extracting K1 from S2 with only P1 depends on the time it takes to go through all (or, on average, half) of the possible values of B2. Depending on the lenghts of P1 and B2 and the encryption algorithms used, this may not be safe enough. With B2 and P1, recovery is quick.

This method has the advantage that the "something else," B2 in this case, need not be kept at all.

A typical scenario where the "B2" method would be preferred over the "R1" method is where it is acceptable if key K1 becomes unavailable for an extended period of time in exchange for a zero-risk that an adversary will acquire or discover R1.


A self-proving identification card:

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 8 months ago

A self-proving identification card:

Display in human-readable and computer-readable form:
Identifying information such as name, card number, issuer/certifying agent, expiration date, face or thumbprint, signature, etc.

Display the same in a computer-readable form. For easy-to-scan things like letters and numbers that are on the card in a pre-defined layout, the human-readable form and computer-readable form may be identical.

For things like a photo, the computer-readable form may be a simpler version, such as an 8- or 16-color 64x64 bitmap.

Have the comptuter-readable form be digitally signed by the issuer/certifying agent and have the signature on the card in both a computer- and human-readable form.

Have the scanning device display the computer-read data in a human-readable form so that a human being can compare what is on the screen with what is on the card.

The same human being would compare what is on the card with either another form of ID or, if the card had a picture or thumbprint, with that of the person presenting the card.

Some information on the card could be encrypted and require a password or other authentication token to decrypt.

Other than this optional part, the card would be "self proving" provided that the public key of the issuer/certifying agent was available to the authentication terminal.


Quickly Mirandize arrested people no matter how serious the crime.

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about a year and a half ago

The surviving Boston Bombing suspect has not read his rights and as of Monday April 22, 2013, it's been several days since his arrest. Law enforcement has already said they believe the two bombers were acting alone. It would be one thing to press a suspect for information if you catch a guy and think an accomplice is about to set off another one within hours but anything after that is trampling on the Constitution. Therefore we petition the White House to only use the "imminent threat" exception to the Miranda warning when the threat really is imminent and getting information now is more important than preserving the Constitution.

White House Petition URL:


Handling older juveniles accused of serious crimes

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 2 years ago

Handling older juveniles accused of serious crimes

Most states try to certify older juveniles arrested for serious crimes as adults. "You do an adult crime, you do adult time," as the saying goes.

The human brain's moral centers don't reach full adult maturity until the early or mid-20s. This is reflected in our law and legal history.

Until the Vietnam era, some states would not let you vote until you turned 21. The logic was that young adults were too immature or ill-informed to vote responsibly.

While we now give anyone old enough to serve in the military without his parent's consent the right to vote, we have taken away the right to buy or consume alcohol without parental supervision. We did this because we saw that way too many people under 21 were using alcohol irresponsibly and killing or maiming themselves and others as a result. Prior to the laws being changed, people over 21 drank irresponsibly and killed people at a significantly lower rate than those under 21.

Knowing this, we need to change our court system so those convicted of crimes done before age 18 are at least offered a path to rehabilitation and, once their complete sentence, parole, and a possible short period after parole is complete without any new crimes committed as an adult, the assurance that their records will be sealed.

At least one state has implimented the option of a "determinate sentence" for youth over a certain age but young enough to be tried as a juvenile. Here is how it works:

* The prosecutor decides not to ask for an adult trial OR a judge turns him down
* The youth pleads guilty or is convicted and given either a "determinate sentence" of a stated number of years or decades, an "indeterminate" (traditional) youth sentence which means he gets out by a certain age or sooner, or a non-prison sentence such as home confinement or youth probation.

Assuming he gets a "determinate sentence" and is not yet old enough to be transfered to an adult prison:
* The youth goes to a youth correctional facility with a focus on rehabilitation
* If the youth serves enough time to be paroled before becoming a young adult, he MAY be paroled
* Under some situations, the youth may be paroled or discharged when he becomes a young adult
* If the youth is not paroled or discharged at this time, he is transferred to adult prison
* The now-adult inmate will eventually become eligible for parole if he his not already
* The inmate or parolee eventually serves his stated sentence and parole and is discharged
* The juvenile record is sealed

That last item is key. It's the "you can start your life over now, the mistakes of your immature-brained youth are forgiven" element that any society with a moral compass will have as part of its juvenile justice law.


Reforming Criminal Statutes of Limitations: A Phased-In Approach

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 2 years ago

Reforming Statutes of Limitations: A Phased-In Approach

Current statute of limitation laws are "all or nothing."

If the prosecution decides to file charges 1 day before the time limit expires, you can get the full sentence, even if you've been a responsible citizen for years after the crime.

But if they wait one day later, you are off the hook.

This is unfair to the guilty party and to society.

The purposes of statutes of limitations include:
* encourage swift justice, discourage prosecution laziness
* give people who have committed long-ago crimes some certainty that it really is behind them, at least with respect to criminal charges

A phased-in approach would be better.

Set an initial time period based on the minimum sentence, within a range of 1-10 years. Any charges brought before this time expires would not be affected by statutes of limitations.

Set a maximum time period based on the maximum possible sentence PLUS the initial time period. Any charges brought after this time period could be tried but there would be no prison term.

If charges are filed between these times, the trial and sentencing would be carried out as normal, but the newly-convicted criminal would be given day-for-day credit for time served for each day of delay after the initial period expired. The fact that he would be given such credit could not be used against him during sentencing or parole-eligibility or mandatory-release determination. However, the parole board can decide he hasn't spent enough time behind bars and deny parole up to but not past his mandatory-release date, if any.

Some examples:

A person committed second-degree murder 12 years before charges were filed. The law says the judge can sentence him from 2 years on the low end to 20 on the high end. The judge sentences him to 15 years. He gets 12-2=10 years of credit, so his effective sentence is only 5 years even though his criminal record will show a 15-year sentence.

A person stole a car 25 years ago. The police found the car with DNA but "John Doe DNA" indictments aren't allowed for property crimes in that state. 25 years later the same guy is arrested on a relatively minor felony. He is convicted and gets 1 year on the new felony. He could get 2-20 on the old car theft charge. He's charged and pleads guilty but no matter what the judge sentences him to, since 25-2=23 is more than the maximum sentence he will not serve any prison time for the car theft. He will, however, have a second criminal conviction on his record. If he later commits a third felony he may face serious prison time under "3-strikes" laws.

Some special considerations:

Tolling the statute of limitations:

Current rules on tolling would not be changed. Most states toll the statute of limitations for:
* Fleeing the jurisdiction
* Legal incapacity of a key witness, such as being a minor or medically unable to testify
* Intimidation or perceived intimidation of a witness, such as if the victim is financially or otherwise dependent on the alleged criminal
* An ongoing criminal enterprise
* Judicially granted extensions for an ongoing investigation
* "John Doe" indictments against the person matching a DNA sample, photograph, or other evidence that is presumed unique to the alleged criminal
* Any pending charge, once an indictment or equivalent is made

Reduction of charges by the prosecutor:

The prosecutor would be allowed offer reduced charges before conviction while allowing an effective sentence up to the same as if the original charges were filed (but no more than the maximum actual sentence on the reduced charge). Take the murder case above: The prosecution could offer a plea of manslaughter, which carries a 2-10 year sentence, on the condition that the person accept a 10 year sentence but serve the same 5-year effective sentence he would serve on the more serious charge. If it was to his advantage, the newly-convicted murderer could ask the parole board to treat him as if he had served 75% of a 20-year sentence.

To prevent abuse by prosecutorial bullying, if the effective sentence on the lesser charge under this rule is more than the effective sentence if the lesser charge had been the original charge, the actual plea would be the legal equivalent of pleading guilty or no contest to both charges with a judge acting on the prosecutor's motion to dismiss the higher charge. Since all pleas are under oath, a prosecutor encouraging a false plea is suborning perjury.

Reduction in charges by routine clemency:

A modified version of this would reduce the charge to match the maximum effective sentence, or to some "minimal" charge if the maximum effective sentence was zero as in the car-theft example above.

For example, if routine clemency were offered, the murderer would still be stuck with his original charge since 5 years is within the sentencing range for his crime. But the car theif would have his charged administratively reduced to the highest felony theft charge that allowed probation of 1 day or less, or to a special charge created by lawmakers for this purpose.

Effective dates of discharge and release when considering post-release and post-discharge conditions:

The date of discharge is no later than what the date of discharge would have been if the person had started serving the maximum sentence on the day the initial time period expired, plus extensions for tolls of the statute of limitations.

For example, if a person committed 2nd degree murder in 1970 and could have received 2-20 years, any conviction today will be considered to have been discharged in 1992.

If there are any post-discharge conditions or legal disabilities that are based on time, he will be given credit for all time since 1992 towards fulfilling these conditions and towards the eventual expiration of these legal disabilities.

Ultimate expiration of the statute of limitations

Allow only a specific period of time, such as 5 years for felonies or 1 year for misdemeanors - after the time where all legally-imposed time-based post-discharge penalties will have expired to file charges.

This allows prosecutors a short additional window to gain a "symbolic" conviction or to brand someone a criminal years or decades after a crime, while giving society a "date certain" beyond which they won't have to interrupt their lives to face possibly-false allegations of long-ago alleged crimes in criminal court.

Effect on fines

This plan is not designed to change the fine schedule.

The bottom line: The practical effect

Some example crimes and the effect of this change on them:

Petty crimes: Maximum sentence of 1 year or less:
1 year to bring charges to get the full maximum sentence.
2 years and a day to bring charges at all.
Latest discharge date after back-dating applied: 2 years after crime committed.

Higher-jail-time crimes: Minimum sentence 1 year or less, maximum sentence 2 years, no post-discharge conditions
1 year to bring charges to get the full maximum sentence.
3 years and a day to bring charges to get any jail time.
This is also the latest release date and the latest discharge date if the discharge date is back-dated.
4 years and a day to bring charges at all.

Low-prison-time crimes: Minimum sentence 2 years, maximum sentence 10 years, 5 years of post-discharge conditions
2 years to bring charges to get full maximum sentence.
12 years to bring charges to get any prison time.
This is also the latest release date and the latest discharge date if the discharge date is back-dated.
17 years to bring charges to get any post-discharge conditions.
22 years to bring charges at all.

Medium-time prison crimes: Minimum sentence 5 years, maximum sentence 40 years, 10 years of post-discharge conditions
5 years to bring charges to get full maximum sentence.
45 years to bring charges to get any prison time.
This is also the latest release date and the latest discharge date if the discharge date is back-dated.
55 years to bring charges to get any post-discharge conditions.
60 years to bring charges at all.

Very serious felonies less than life: Minimum sentence 10 years, maximum sentence 99 years, up to 25 years of post-discharge conditions
10 years to bring charges to get full maximum sentence
109 years to bring charges to get any prison time
This is also the latest release date and the latest discharge date if the discharge date is back-dated.
134 years to get any post-discharge conditions
139 years to bring charges at all

In practical terms:

If the person COULD have received a sentence that would have had him in prison for the rest of his life if he'd been charged by the end of the initial period, there is no statute of limitations.

If the person COULD have received a long sentence that would've had him under post-discharge conditions for the rest of his life if he'd been charged by the end of the initial period, he'll live to see daylight but there is no statue of limitations.


Don't write off criminals when it comes to hiring and housing

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 2 years ago

Don't write off criminals when it comes to hiring and housing

In some states a felony record is a de facto bar from renting decent apartments or getting decent jobs for life.

A more reasonable approach would be to limit how employers and those providing routine services to the public could treat you based on how long it has been since you were in prison, on parole, or on a parole-like supervised release.

Absent special situations such as those listed below, I recommend the following as a STARTING point for how to treat ex-cons when it comes to housing and employment:

Anyone on probation or parole: Positive, neutral, or negative recommendaiton from probation or parole officer should override time-since-discharge.

Anyone who has made himself accountable to another person or group in a legally-binding way that is accredited by the state: Positive, neutral, or negative recommendaiton from probation or parole officer should override time-since-discharge.

Anyone who has made himself accountable to another trustworthy person or group other than above: If the person or group can be trusted, their positive, neutral, or negative recommendaiton from probation or parole officer should override time-since-discharge.

Anyone discharged person not on parole or probation and not under legally-binding accountability who had at least 3 years of such supervision, whose last 3 years showed consistent positive recommendations, and who has had no negative indicators during those 3 years or since: Treat as a positive recommendation.

Anyone discharged person not on parole or probation and not under legally-binding accountability who had at least 3 years of such supervision, whose last 3 years showed consistent positive recommendations, and who has had no negative indicators during those 3 years or since AND who has been discharged from the legal system for 3 years for a misdemeanor or 5 years for a felony: Consider rehabilitated.

Anyone discharged from the legal system for 5 years for a misdemeanor or 10 years for a felony and no negative information during that time: Consider rehabilitated.

Anything in between: Treat it on a case-by-case basis. While summarily denying housing or employment based only on criminal activity may be efficient from the landlord's or employer's point of view, it is very inefficient from society's point of view. Although they may not be able to measure it, the landlord and employer pay "their share" of this inefficiency every time they turn down someone just because of a criminal record. If every landlord and every employer would do "their part" and not automatically disqualify criminals except where required by law, society would be better.

Special situations that might require special handling:

* Parole and probation officers and others who are known to "grade high" or "grade low" or who are not willing or able to justify their assessments
* Anyone with a recent history of gang involvement
* Anyone with an offense against another person can't demonstrate he is a low risk of hurting people again
* Anyone with a recent history of lack of self control that is likely to lead to criminal acts affecting housing or employment
* Anyone whose specific criminal history legally disqualifies him from a particular job or for promotion opportunities expected to be earned by those holding the job
* Anyone whose specific criminal history legally prevents him from residing in a particular location
* Anyone with a current or only-recently-resolved emotional issues which this job or housing situation may re-trigger, but only if such issues are likely to impact the housing or employment in question or are more likely to result in a parole or probation violation, or result in a new criminal offense than denying the employment or housing in question. For example, expected absenteeism due to violating probation is grounds for denying employment.

Some legal changes that should be made to make this happen

Landlords and employers should have general immunity from civil lawsuits if they rent to or hire a person with a criminal record, provided that they make a good faith effort in all of these areas:
* The employer or landlord checks the employee or tenant's recent (last 7-10 years for felonies, less for misdemeanors) public criminal record.
* If the employer takes risks that are ALREADY considered by applicable law to be "high risk," he either provides risk mitigation or alerts affected parties so they can manage their own risk. For example, a white-collar crook with access to a company's books requires either checks and balances to prevent fraud or notification to all stockholders so they can sell or vote to fire the management if they choose. A landlord renting to a person with recent criminal convictions for gang activity or any such convictions and any known recent gang-related behavior should forward this information to local police so they can step up patrols.
* If a landlord or employer has a significant concentration of criminal tenants or employees AND as a group the total tenant base of the property or the total employment at any one location during any one shift represents a significantly higher risk to anyone as compared to a property or location of employment with a randomly-selected group of individuals, the employer or tenant either mitigates the risk or alerts those put at risk that they need to watch their back.

Landlords and employers should be financially encouraged to house and hire those straight out of prison.

All inmates approaching a possible release date and all recently-released convicts should be given free access to credentialed rehabilitation specialists who are funded well enough to do their job right. These specialists will be in a position to provide positive, neutral, or negative recommendations regarding the suitability of a particular individual for a particular housing or employment situation from a public-risk perspective. Such individuals should have legal immunity for making a recommendation that later turns out to be incorrect.


davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Signature line starting 2012-04-23:

Base 13 math: "What do you get if you multiply six by nine?" / "Six by nine. Forty two." / "That's it. That's all there is."

Previous journal entry containing historical sig lines:


NSA line-eater redux - 2012 DHS Media Monitoring terms

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Remember the NSA line eater?

Well, it appears that the Department of Homeland Security and others are now monitoring Facebook and other social media web sites for certain keywords (Article at Animal New York, and on Slashdot. I wonder if Slashdot Journals count as social media web sites?

Well, here goes nothing (text shamelessly copied from the Animal New York story linked above):

Abu Sayyaf
Agro Terror
Air Marshal
Airplane (and derivatives)
Al Queda (all spellings)
Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
Ammonium nitrate
AQAP (Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)
AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)
Artistics Assassins
Barrio Azteca
Basque Separatists
Biological infection (or event)
Biological weapon
Black out
Blister agent
Body scanner
Border Patrol
Brown out
Brush fire
Brute forcing
Cain and abel
Car bomb
Cartel de Golfo
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Chemical burn
Chemical fire
Chemical Spill
Chemical weapon
CIKR (Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources)
Ciudad Juarez
Coast Guard (USCG)
Communications infrastructure
Computer infrastructure
Conventional weapon
Critical infrastructure
Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Cyber attack
Cyber Command
Cyber security
Cyber terror
DDOS (dedicated denial of service)
Denial of service
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Dirty bomb
Drug Administration (FDA)
Drug cartel
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Drug trade
Drug war
E. Coli
Eco terrorism
El Paso
Emergency Broadcast System
Environmental terrorist
ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
Extreme weather
Failure or outage
FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)
Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Food Poisoning
Foot and Mouth (FMD)
Forest fire
Fort Hancock
Fusion Center
Gulf Cartel
Hazardous material incident
Home grown
Homeland Defense
Human to ANIMAL
Human to human
IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
Illegal immigrants
Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Improvised explosive device
Industrial spill
Infrastructure security
IRA (Irish Republican Army)
La Familia
Los Zetas
Mara salvatrucha
Meth Lab
Mexican army
MS13 or MS-13
Mud slide or Mudslide
Mysql injection
Narco banners (Spanish equivalents)
National Guard
National infrastructure
National laboratory
National Operations Center (NOC)
NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)
Nerve agent
New Federation
North Korea
Norvo Virus
Nuclear facility
Nuclear threat
Nuevo Leon
PLF (Palestine Liberation Front)
PLO (Palestine Libration Organization)
Port Authority
Powder (white)
Power lines
Power outage
Public Health
Red Cross
Red Cross
San Diego
Secret Service (USSS)
Secure Border Initiative (SBI)
Service disruption
Small Pox
Smuggling (smugglers)
Social media
Suicide attack
Suicide bomber
Suspicious package/device
Suspicious substance
Tamil Tiger
Task Force
Transportation security
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Tsunami Warning Center
TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)
Tuberculosis (TB)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)
U.S. Consulate
United Nations (UN)
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
Water/air borne
Weapons cache
Weapons grade
World Health Organization (WHO and components)

I really, really hope the feds use software to eliminate posts like these. I'd hate to think that some poor agent has to waste time seeing if I'm a potential threat or just some guy who cares about striking a good balance between spotting legitimate threats and labeling anyone who happens to say the "wrong" thing at the "wrong" time a terrorist.


Is it moral to take gov't aid you don't need?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 5 years ago

The government is offering up to $8,000 for first-time home-buyers to buy a house. The intent is to stimulate the economy. This is great for those who would be better off owning but are trapped renting because they can't afford to buy, but who could afford a house if only it were $8,000 cheaper.

If you were going to buy a house anyways and can afford it without the aid, is it moral to take the money?

If you had no intention of buying a house because renting makes more sense to you, is it moral to buy a house just so you can have the extra $8,000?

With deficit spending, every "extra" dollar spent by the government is a dollar that comes out of our children's and grandchildren's pockets, with interest.

The same moral question applies to financially healthy companies who take advantage of tax breaks they don't need or who choose to operate less efficiently so they can qualify for government funds or tax breaks.

Comments welcome.


What do you think of

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 6 years ago

What do you think of

* The first thing I read every day
* It makes me laugh
* It's okay
* Not worth my time
* Take it out and shoot it
* Spare time? What's that?
* Sorry, too busy reading 4chan
* Give me CowboyNeal's journal any day


Do you prefer the old Slashdot?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  about 6 years ago

Registered users can use the Slashdot Classic Discussion style. But what if you aren't logged in? You can still get the classic view by disabling JavaScript. Thanks to tools like NoScript you can browse Slashdot with scripting disabled then temporarily enable and disable it as needed.

If you found this information helpful, please reply.


Poll: I think life on Mars...

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Poll: I think life on Mars...

* never existed.
* was microscopic but is now extinct.
* was intelligent but is now extinct.
* is microscopic and it's still there.
* is intelligent, hidden from our prying eyes, and want to stay that way.
* is intelligent and invaded Earth 10,000 years ago.
* is Intelligent, planning to invade, and has already taken over CowboyNeal's body.


Poll: What should /. have done for April Fools in 2008?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Poll: What should /. have done for April Fools in 2008?

* I vote for what they actually did. Subtle.
* Reruns are cool OMGPONIES!
* Celebrate history and redirect page to
* Announce Microsoft/Sourceforge merger.
* Announce that yesterday was indeed December 31, 1983.
* Put up a fake ad " is for sale. Send bids to"


Poll: What are you giving up for lent?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

What are you giving up for lent?

* Red meat
* Sex/booze/cigarettes
* SCO-bashing
* Religion
* Life itself
* Reading Cowboyneal's Blog

Previously archived comments: here and here


Poll: What are you giving up for lent?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

What are you giving up for lent?

* Red meat
* Sex/booze/cigarettes
* SCO-bashing
* Religion
* Life itself
* Reading Cowboyneal's Blog

Previously archived comments: here


Poll: What are you giving up for lent?

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

What are you giving up for lent?

* Red meat
* Sex/booze/cigarettes
* SCO-bashing
* Religion
* Life itself
* Reading Cowboyneal's Blog


Foreign Worker solution: Alien payroll tax

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

We have several foreign/non-US-citizen-worker labor problems in America:

  • For some jobs, there are not enough workers, so work doesn't get done.
  • For some jobs there are not enough workers at prices the market will bear, so work doesn't get done.
  • People don't like illegal aliens because they are a "domestic outsourcing," taking "American" jobs

A solution:

  • Open-door immigration to anyone who isn't a criminal, terrorist-wanna-be, unhealthy, or otherwise undesirable.
  • A payroll tax equal to the minimum wage for all non-citizen workers. For individual contract labor such as day-laborers, some tech workers, and most entertainers, tax the payer an equivalent amount.

This would strongly discourage hiring non-citizens for low-wage jobs while at the same time giving any employer a legal way to hire someone if they really wanted to.

The $13K-$14K/year increased costs would also make it harder to hire lower-middle-wage workers and make it somewhat harder to hire mid-wage tech workers. It would have virtually no effect on those filling 6-figure+ positions. It is precisely those positions where it's in America's best interest to hire the best candidate no matter what his country of citizenship.

If America decides it really does want to have more lower-wage non-American workers, the tax could be capped at 75%, 50%, or even 25% of the wages for lower-wage workers, with the tax itself capped at the minimum wage, currently $5.85/hr.


Essay on capital punishment

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Capital punishment is the ultimate punishment. It should be reserved for those who:

* caused a death. The death penalty for treason, rape, or other crimes where no death results is simply cruel and unusual.
* committed their act in cold blood without any mitigating circumstances. The slightest mental illness, the slightest intent not to kill, the slightest other circumstance which, if not present, would have resulted in a non-lethal outcome means life in prison is better.
* is, barring divine intervention, beyond redemption. The slightest acceptance of moral responsibility, even after sentence is handed down, means the execution should not go forward.
* the person would endanger the lives of others if he were incarcerated for life in the most secure prison possible

Very few people are simultaneously immoral or amoral and at the same time not mentally ill.

Of those who are, most can be kept from killing again by incarceration. For some, incarceration in a "supermax" prison may be necessary.

The number that is left is either very small or zero.

Since the combination of these conditions never or almost never happens, it is simply much more efficient to have life in prison than to have a death penalty.

I marked this "Pay no attention to my musings." If this shows up on Firehose then then the 'hose is hosed.


The inflation-adjusted morgtage payment

davidwr davidwr writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Adjustable rate mortgages rise too fast.

Mortgages whose payments go up with inflation, and down with deflation. The term of the loan shrinks or expands as needed, with a balloon payment of the remaining balance after some fixed period of time, say, 10 years past the stated term of the mortgage.

Have the interest rate adjust with inflation as well, rather than the prime lending rate.

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