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Dutch Gov't Has No Idea How To Delete Tapped Calls

ibbey Re:not afraid (186 comments)

Ledow raised the issue of a case where the police use the tapped phone conversation in their investigation and then find solid proof that the defendant is in fact guilty. Just because the police may not have looked there without the illegal information doesn't change the fact that they can now prove beyond resonable doubt that he is in fact guilty.

But it's still illegal.

What you are saying, effectively, is that the ends justify the means. Unfortunately, once you start down that road, even a little, you can justify all the acts that I pointed to in the previous post. I mean, if the defendant lied about his alibi, he must be guilty, right? And now that you know he lied about his alibi, you can apply pressure to the person providing his alibi (without telling them why you know the alibi is false), who will admit the falsehood, and you can now show in court the the defendant lied. Coupled with the other circumstantial evidence, that's easily enough to get a conviction... Of someone who is innocent.

I know this is a very TV drama sort of example, but these things really do happen all too often. We have these laws in place for a reason. They are not there just to hamstring the prosecution, they are there to protect the innocent. As soon as you start saying it's ok to break the rules since the outcome is positive, you are also accepting the fact that it's OK to send a few innocent people to prison in the name of catching the bad guys. Unfortunately, there is no happy middle ground in this case.

more than 4 years ago
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Dutch Gov't Has No Idea How To Delete Tapped Calls

ibbey Re:not afraid (186 comments)

Loopholes in the system? Illegally monitoring someones private conversations is not a "Loophole", it is a crime . A loophole is when a search warrant was issued, but no one noticed that the court clerk typed the wrong address making it invalid.

The word Immoral may be a tiny bit strong, but this much is true: Any police officer or prosecutor who knowingly uses illegaly obtained evidence in their case against a subject should be fired. Not only do they risk convicting the wrong person (Just because some evidence points at someone doesn't necessarily mean they are guilty... Other evidence may exonerate them), but they also risk having their case thrown out and the real criminal getting away if their shortcut is discovered. Watch the movie In the Name of the Father sometime to see what can happen when a prosecutor gets overzealous.

I expect your reply will be something like "but in this case, you're dealing with the words of the defendant, so they aren't false evidence, just illegally obtained". That would be a reasonable argument in the case of an outright confession on the phone line. In many cases, though, the evidence they gather could simply be something that reinforces their case but doesn't actually prove guilt by itself. For example, his alibi is not real-- maybe he was doing something that he doesn't want his wife to know about at the time of the crime. The lack of an alibi already makes him a suspect, but his lying about his alibi makes him even a stronger one... But neither even remotely -prove- that he committed the crime. If that information is illegally used against an innocent man, he could easily be imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit.

This sort of thing happens all too often in the US. I'm not in the Netherlands, but I suspect that it happens there, too. I completely understand your desire to convict the guilty, but that has to be balanced by the desire to protect the innocent, and locking up the wrong guy for a crime fails that on two fronts: An innocent man is punished, and the guilty man remains free to commit more violence. No one benefits from that situation.

more than 4 years ago
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Dutch Gov't Has No Idea How To Delete Tapped Calls

ibbey Re:not afraid (186 comments)

You may not have been paying attention, but your mother probbly answered your question when you were a child and she said "two wrongs don't make a right".

more than 4 years ago
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Author Encourages Users to Pirate His Book

ibbey Re:I don't think so... (237 comments)

If MS Word were to send a copy of your document over the Internet to have it manually spell-checked by some guy in India, then yes, that guy (or his employer) would presumably have some copyright interest in the final text.

Umm... No. By this standard, if an author gave me a copy of his book-in-progresss to review and I gave him feedback that affected the final book, then I would have a share of the copyright. I suppose there are circumstances where that could be true, they would only be in the most extreme circumstances (such as I re-wrote an entire section of the book). As an example of the complications that your scenario would create, companies like Pragmatic Programmers, who often sell "beta" access to their books before publication, would have to give a share of the profits from any sales to anyone who sent in feedback. For some reason, I doubt the beta books programs would last long in your world.

As has been noted, editors, whether they work for the publisher or the author, are doing work-for-hire and do not have a copyright claim. The ownership of the copyright of a book normally rests with the author, but it is entirely subject to the contract between the author and the publisher. On the couple of Apress books I have on my shelf, the copyright is held by the book's authors. Checking a random sampling of other publishers that's not always the case-- O'Reilly, Sams, New Riders, Que and Pragmatic Programmers all claim the copyright for the company. In addition to Apress, Peachpit and FriendsofEd books seem to leave the copyright with the author (Note: in all cases, my conclusions are only from checking one or two books and may not be consistent across all books from the publisher).

more than 4 years ago
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Ares Manager Steve Cook Resigns From NASA

ibbey Re:Steve Cook as an example? (153 comments)

You've obviously never worked in Corporate America... Pretty standard stuff, do a good job, never get promoted. Screw up royally, be made an executive.

more than 4 years ago
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Chevy Volt Rated At 230 mpg In the City

ibbey Re:Come on GM, at least make the lie BELIEVABLE (1006 comments)

Well, sure... But you're comparing apples to oranges. The Volt is a mid-sized, four-door sports sedan, the Leaf is a compact hatchback. The leaf also has a fixed range of approximately 100 miles per charge, while the Volt has an unlimited range, though that comes at the expense of carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of a gas engine and gas tank. All things considered, I think a 35% or so difference in fuel efficiency is quite reasonable when you consider the advantages the Volt has.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

Your analogy seems reasonable to a point, but it falls apart upon deeper examination. In fact, it has a number of flaws, any one of which makes it irrelevant to the current context. First off, in some cases, yes you are charged a 'cover charge'. As another poster already pointed out, membership stores such as Costco charge an anual fee that is the same whether you buy one loaf or a thousand, but in exchange for the fee, you get much better prices on most items and superior customer service.

But ignoring them, unlike the electric companies, grocery stores are not a legal monopoly. Grocery stores operate in a competitive marketplace, and therefore they will adjust their pricing and service levels at their own discretion, as the nature of the marketplace changes. Electric utilities are legally established monopolies, who cannot simply adjust their rates as the market demands, they usually need to get permission from a government agency. What they are doing here is simply requesting permission to adjust their rate structure to compensate for the changing nature of the market.

A retail store has no 'uptime guarantee'. If they aren't making enough profit to stay open, they can go out of business, and no one will really care. Some people may be inconvenienced by having to drive a bit farther to a different store, but it's not the end of the world. An electric utility has a different set of standards. While they can't guarantee 100% uptime, they do make every effort (under law) to see that the uptime is as high as possible, and they react quickly in the event of downtime. That guarantee costs money, and it is unfair to place the responsibility for implememnting that guarantee only on the customers who do not have solar.

As to the electric industry being 'a dying business', I think you are dreaming just a bit here. I would be VERY surprised if home generated electricity accounts for more than 20% of all electric usage anytime in the next 20 years. Even going out farther than that, I doubt that we'll ever see more than 50% home generated electricity, barring breakthroughs such as cold fusion or similar technologies.

But, as I've stated several times already, even if I'm wrong (and I hope I am), the groups who will continue to get the majority of their electricity from the grid will be poor homeowners and renters. However, the vast majority of those who do have solar or other home generation capabilities will still expect their power connection to be available 24/7 in case something goes wrong or their needs increase, even if they aren't actually paying anything for the power.

Once again, anyone who doesn't want to pay this fee has a very simple way to legally avoid it. They can simply give up on that guaranteed uptime-- in other words, they can go off the grid. They won't have to pay for the grids reliability, but they won't be able to take advantage of it, either. But I don't expect that there will be many takers on this savings.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

You are right, there are always unrecouped costs that are shifted onto others. For example, in my example I am NOT advocating that only the customers on the block paying for the repair. All the utilities customers will absorb the expense, so the actual cost to any given customer is only a fraction of a penny. Right now, the few customers with enough solar capability to not pay significant electric bills are getting a free ride, but because there are so few of them, they aren't costing the other customers any significant amount.

But you are not projecting the current scenario down the road twenty years or so. As solar costs drop, the solar installation rate will quite likely increase dramatically. Fewer and fewer people will be paying in to the pool, so the maintenance costs will suddenly start being a significant part of the bills of those without solar. To make matters worse, the people who will be the least likely to have solar will be poor homeowners and renters, the two groups least likely to be able to afford the increased costs.

I'll state this much again: I'm not arguing in favor of this fee as proposed by Xcel. But a fee like this will probably be necessary going forward, whether we want it or not. Obviously we can't predict the future to know what percentage of people will be using solar in a decade or two, but the number is certain to grow, and the effect their not paying for the upkeep of the grid will eventually become a noticeable one.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

May I suggest maintenance fees are already included, and this is just an extra layer of profit?

Quite possibly. And if you had actually read my original comment, you would know that I said that such a fee would ONLY be equitable if accompanied by a rate decrease. To save you from having to go back and reread, here's what I said: "What isn't reasonable is for the electric company to use a fee such as this as a profit center. If they truly are doing this to be equitable to their users they should implement a reasonable fee, but lower their per kWH rate that users pay so the average non-solar user sees no increase in their current bill". Maybe you should actually read before commenting next time?

If you would like a more detailed explanation of why these fees are required, see this comment.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

I call bullshit on you calling bullshit...

There is a problem with your reasoning, which is exactly the point the spokesman made. Suppose for a moment that a solar customer generates exactly enough energy to meet his energy demands, no more, no less. Say he does so for a full year. By your logic he should pay nothing to the electric company, which on the surface is perfectly reasonable.

But what happens if six months into that year, the line up the block from his house is taken down in a windstorm, knocking out incoming power to the homeowner and several of his neighbors? Who should pay to repair the connection? Clearly the power company has to make the repair, since more than one customer is effected, but should the cost of the repair be passed solely to those customers who actually use electricity, or should it be passed on to everyone connected to the grid? After all, even though this homeowner isn't using any incoming electricity, he probably appreciates the fact that the grid is there in case there is a problem with his system or his need increase.

Remember, the homeowner always has an easy way out of the proposed fee if they really object to paying it-- they can just go completely off grid. For some reason, I doubt that many people will be taking that route any time soon...

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:I have Xcel (367 comments)

I agree completely. I live in Seattle, where we are fortunate enough to have a publicly owned electric system, and we have some of the cheapest power in the US. Having the utilities owned by private entities only encourages graft and abuse as this situation exemplifies.

None of my comments were intended to endorse Xcel or this particular fee, however I still see the benefit of separating the cost of maintaining the connection from the cost of the electricity provided. While in the short term, this may seem unfair for solar users, in the long term, failing to implement such a system will mean that the expense of maintaining the grid that all electric users benefit from will fall primarily on the poor and renters, the two groups who likely will not have solar installations in their homes. Clearly that is not an equitable arrangement.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

When you buy a loaf of bread, do you get billed for an oven maintenance fee?

Of course you do. The fee may not be broken out into an itemized statement, but I guarantee you that the bakery factors their oven maintenance expenses into the price that you pay for that loaf of bread.

So your entire premise is flawed to begin with, but on top of that your analogy is terrible. A loaf of bread is a one-time purchase, so there are no ongoing expenses involved. All costs involved in its production and delivery are factored into the price you pay at your grocery store. When you connect up to the power grid, there are ongoing maintenance expenses regardless of the amount of electricity you use or you sell back to the electric company. It is perfectly reasonable to pass on those expenses to the homeowner. Otherwise, as the spokesman notes, those costs are absorbed by the other system users who do not have solar, effectively increasing their rates.

about 5 years ago
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Electric Company Wants Monthly Fee For Solar Users

ibbey Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (367 comments)

Alot of people here are making various arguments about how the policy is either reasonable or not based solely on their own electric bill. Without knowing more about how Xcel Energy breaks out it's fees, it's not really possible to judge whether the proposed fee is fair or not.

This much is true, though: There are certain costs involved with building, maintaining and connecting to the grid that are present whether the subscriber uses a single watt of electricity or not. It is perfectly reasonable for the company to try to recoup those costs from all their customers, so making that portion of your bill a fixed fee as opposed to a percentage of usage is quite reasonable. Otherwise, the spokesman is correct that the non-solar users rates will eventually have to be increased to subsidize the infrastructure for those who have solar.

What isn't reasonable is for the electric company to use a fee such as this as a profit center. If they truly are doing this to be equitable to their users they should implement a reasonable fee, but lower their per kWH rate that users pay so the average non-solar user sees no increase in their current bill.

about 5 years ago
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Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

ibbey Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

Yes... Mr. Dyson DOES have some credibility on this issue. But not necessarily more credibility than the thousand of scientists for whom climatology is their life's work, not merely a sideline interest. His arguments are worthy of consideration, but not blind adoration.

about 5 years ago
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Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

ibbey Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

It certainly is possible for someone who does not believe in global warming to be a useful adviser in this circumstance, but it would require them to put aside their beliefs and advise based on the data, not their ideology. If the Governor doesn't feel that he can trust the advice, it is both his right and his responsibility to find someone who's advice can be trusted.

But after doing some more reading this morning, the situation is even more simple. Mr. Taylor wasn't fired from the position of "state climatologist," because that position has not existed since the 1980's. The entire uproar is because Governor Kulongowski asked Mr. Taylor to stop using the fake title to lend credence to his work. Just like I can't just start calling myself 'Dr. Ibbey' without someone else bestowing that title on me, Mr. Taylor can't call himself "George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist" just because he wants to.

about 5 years ago
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Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

ibbey Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

It always amuses me when people make this argument. You obviously think academic scientists make a lot more money than they actually do.

But even ignoring the bad pay these guys who are only in it for the money are getting, here's another problem with your theory... You are arguing that something like 90% of scientists worldwide are only in it for the money, but the 10% who are quite often paid directly or indirectly by the oil companies are all the innocents? Are you really that naieve? Your theory just doesn't pass the laugh test.

Certainly there is money to be made off of the so called 'green' movement. Oddly, the majority of that money seems to be being made by the same corporations who would be making the money if there was no green movement. Global warming might be shifting a tiny sliver of the worlds wealth around, but certainly not enough to justify it's overwhelming support in the scientific community on the basis of greed alone.

Finally, you ignore the fact of the data. There is tons of data supporting man made global warming, and more is found everyday. Occasionally, evidence that support MMGW is found to be flawed, in which case that evidence is dropped and replaced with the new evidence. If that new evidence contradicts the theory, the theory is revised to take the new information into account. This is the scientific method at it's most basic.

The other side doesn't work that way. Instead of relying on the scientific method, they rely on doubt. They pick up on all those bits of evidence that on the surface seem to contradict MMGW and make press releases about them. They do this even if the discrepancy is already explained by a revision to the theory or even if there is no real discrepancy at all, only a perceived one. If they are ever faced with any evidence that truly does support the theory of MMGW, they just conveniently ignore it. These are exactly the same techniques that the ID crowd use when arguing against evolution, but either way it amounts to the same thing: a load of unscientific crap.

about 5 years ago
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Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

ibbey Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

You should watch the movie Expelled, which covers exactly these topics, but dealing with Intelligent Design. It documents all the people who have lost their jobs or otherwise been punished for teaching ID... Except for one little detail: The movie lies throughout*. One of my favorite examples was when a was "forced" to remove his Intelligent design website from his university's web server. A shocking infringement of academic freedom! Except the professor taught electrical engineering, not evolutionary biology or anything remotely related. Oh, and he still has his job there, and continues to host the website, just on a different server. Maybe not so shocking after all.

Most of the Global Warming deniers have similar stories... They either didn't really suffer the fate that they claim, or the disciplinary act happened for other legitimate reasons but they use their belief to make a shitstorm for their being disciplined. Finally, in a few rare cases like that of George Taylor noted above, their beliefs truly do make them unable to adequately do the job that they were hired to do. You wouldn't hire someone who doesn't believe in evolution to teach a class on evolutionary theory, you wouldn't hire a communist to teach a class on stock trading, and you wouldn't hire someone who doesn't believe in abortion to teach a class on abortion procedures... Why would you hire someone who doesn't believe in global warming to educate the Governor on climate issues effecting his state?

* See Expelled Exposed for a full refutation of the topics covered in the movie. And to be honest, unless you want to study the techniques of how to (very badly) make a utterly dishonest documentary, I really can't recommend the movie... It doesn't even have much of Stein's normal wit.

about 5 years ago
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Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

ibbey Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

But you need to understand what George Taylor's job was. His job was not a purely academic one. His job was to help advise the governor of Oregon on climate related issues effecting the state, and indirectly to help set climate policy in Oregon State. His disbelief in Global Warming made it impossible for him to act as a trusted advisor to the governor in that context.

From what I can find, Mr. Taylor seems to have retired, but he doesn't seem to be spending all his time fishing... He was a speaker at a anti-global-warming conference in New York this year. For some reason, I doubt that his appearance was pro bono. Also note (at the same link above) that the book that Taylor wrote arguing against global warming was funded by a publishing house funded in part by ExxonMobil.

about 5 years ago

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