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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

j-beda Re:Militia, then vs now (1092 comments)

does seem poignant.

I always strive for poignancy.

2 hours ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

j-beda Re:Militia, then vs now (1092 comments)

Pardon my reading comprehension problems, but I don't see that in the referenced article. I see a reference to the "proportion of armed robberies involving firearms has declined", but not that violent crimes has an overall trend down.

Mostly I was trying to address the blanket "the second Australia did [remove easy access to guns], violent crime statistics went up" idea that there is a strong causal connection between lack of easy access to guns and increased violent crime. Snopes rightly said "it ain't that clear" and that statements of that nature are intellectually dishonest. One should be clear about what one is stating, and when using statistics one should have an understanding about what expected variations (for example is 12.8% actually a "marked increase" or just noise?) are likely.

Drawing any strong conclusions between the US and Australia, which have vastly different demographics and cultures, is not an easy task. The US murder rate is about eight times that of Australia, and scores about 10 points worse on crime rates and safety scores that Australia. Australia also has less than 7.5% of the USA population, so the statistics are going to be a lot noisier for the smaller population. Then again, the variation in the USA from state-to-state and region-to-region are quite large making country-wide comparisons less valid in the first place.


2 hours ago

Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charges

j-beda Re:WTF?? (675 comments)

To be honest, this story comes across as a bit sensational. Two minutes of research shows an *out* from the wire taping statute.

Necessity is a defense, although quite tough to use in practice; it's a bit like successfully using an insanity defense -- possible, but highly unlikely. Also, the necessity description you provide is a general statement of the principle, not the language Pennsylvania has adopted. As a common law defense, the state courts adoption is what controls. Moreover, necessity isn't always a defense (even if you prove the elements) -- it depends upon how the statue is written.

Turning to the OUT I mentioned above, there is an exception built right into the statue. Full text can be found here:

In relevant part, the wiretapping statute provides:

  5703 Provides "**Except** as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he: (1) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;"

  5704 Contains a long list of exceptions. For the most part they apply to police, telecom, or telemarketers (go figure). Subsection 17 is relevant here ...

  5704 (17) Any victim ... to intercept the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, if that person is under a reasonable suspicion that the intercepted party is committing, about to commit or has committed a crime of violence and there is reason to believe that evidence of the crime of violence may be obtained from the interception.

If the bullying was as bad as the article describes, the student could surely have reasonable suspicion that the party was about to commit a crime of violence.

You can read more about this here:

Good point!

7 hours ago

IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

j-beda Re:No time limit != liability for debt (608 comments)

Just because the time limit has been raised, that doesn't incur a liability for the debt on the part of anyone who isn't already liable for it. And generally children aren't liable for their parent's debts unless their signature's on the contract. The parent's estate might be liable, but good luck collecting from that once the estate's finalized and closed out. I suspect this'll be what any competent attorney will raise as an issue if the victims get one: "Regardless of anything else, this is not my client's debt and the debt being collectible doesn't on it's own make my client liable for it.".

It is possible that if this was social security benefits paid to surviving children, then even if it was paid to the child's guardian, it could still be the child's debt. But what do I know?

2 days ago

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

j-beda Re:Yep. (582 comments)

I'm a vax zealot.

I'm absolutely convinced that any moron threatening herd immunity because of an unlicensed porn star should be put to the sword. Idiocy is no excuse for wanting to bring back polio.

Who licenses porn stars? :-)

2 days ago

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

j-beda Re:McCarthy the Playmate? (582 comments)

I have heard, from a recently minted M.D., the opinion that "it doesn't matter if breast cancer screening causes breast cancer, because once we detect it, we can treat it." I, lacking a medical degree, am obviously not smart enough to fathom this reasoning, how we should go around breaking people because we think we know how to fix them later?

Are you trying to say that screening for breast cancer is the only possible cause of breast cancer? Even if screening increases the number of cases by 1% (to use an arbitrary percentage), but reduces the death rate by 75% (to use another arbitrary percentage), that's still a net win.

It doesn't take a medical professional to understand simple math.

Unfortunately, the math and the concepts involved in screening decisions is not that simple. There are a number of situations where early or widespread screening can result in greater loss of life, and even more where the costs do not justify the expense. Currently there are debates worldwide over the "best" methods of screening for colon cancer as well as breast cancer because of this. Some factors that come into play for the breast cancer screening is what fraction of the detected cancers would prove to be fatal if untreated? What fraction of those undergoing treatment die due to the treatment (surgery, infection, anesthesia, etc. all have death rates). What is the false positive rate? Going beyond the simple death counting rate - how many "lives saved" should be balanced against the costs (money, time, fear, etc) that the screening produces?

The results or decisions to widely screen depend on: how common the problem being screened for is; how effective the screening is; what the false positive rate is; what the effectiveness of the treatment is (for both those with and without the condition); what the risks of treatment are (for both those with and without the condition); how dangerous the condition is untreated; how long it takes for the condition to progress; what the demographics of the group potentially being screened are; and a myriad of other factors.

As we should all know: Math is Hard!

2 days ago

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

j-beda Re:Why do people listen to her? (582 comments)

It is a shame that some parents are scared. I am glad that the research has shown the standard schedules are both safe and effective.

I hope that this focus on autism and vaccination has not caused such as shift in research focus so that actual causes and possible therapy have not been overlooked.

2 days ago

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

j-beda Re:Or you can... you know... just not speed. (324 comments)

If you are driving at the posted speed limit, you are in no way "forcing people to pass you on the right". If you are not following signs to "keep right except to pass" then you are subject to a ticket for that behaviour, regardless of your speed.

3 days ago

Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

j-beda Re:Stopping a billionaire's car (324 comments)

It's Finland that is indeed known for that and as a Finn, I don't consider it crazy at all - especially if you know how it works

If you are doing 180mph in a 60mph (sorry, I'm American - that's like 300 in a 100 kph ;) I totally agree with you, in fact put them in jail as that would be a much more effective deterrent than money. But if you are doing 45kph in a 35kph you should not be paying a 6 figure (in any currency) fine no matter your income, that's just idiotic.

I don't know.

One (8 hour) day of work at minimum wage in the USA is 8 x $7.25 = $50. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... so if some McWorker gets a speeding ticket, it seems likely it is going to cost him at least one day of income. Having everyone pay "one day of income" seems like a fair way of doing things, at least from one perspective. Sucks to be Bill Gates in that situation perhaps, but arguably it sucks much less for Bill to lose a day's wages than for our poor McWorker. Bill might feel sad, but McWorker might feel hungry.

3 days ago

Navy Debuts New Railgun That Launches Shells at Mach 7

j-beda Re:IANA Physicist, So... (630 comments)

The nitrogen under pressure remains inert, but the oxygen will coumbust at those levels.

Combustion is when something (rapidly) combines chemically with oxygen. Oxygen gas (molecules of two oxygen atoms) does not combust.

I would not be too surprised if other parts of the air (N2, H2O vapour, other gasses or particulate crap that might be around) underwent chemical changes due to the sudden shock of being pushed out of the way of the projectile, and some of those things might burn. The projectile seems to have a bunch of packing fall away as it leaves the barrel - maybe some of that stuff burns.

about a week ago

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

j-beda Re:Careful now (408 comments)

And the placebo effect has no side effects...

I think it can have side effects. People in double-blind studies often report a variety of side effects regardless of their status as in either the "active" or "control" group. I would not be surprised to learn that placebos with strong tastes or more warnings of side effects also have more reports of side effects and also more therapeutic effects too.

about a week ago

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

j-beda Re:Homeopathy Works (408 comments)

Australia has officially declared that homeopathic remedies are useless for human health. The body today released a guide for doctors (PDF) on how to talk to their patients about the lack of evidence for many such therapies.

Anyone else see the problem? Declaring something is "useless" because of "lack of evidence" ? That's not the way science works. Lack of evidence is not considered "evidence" in itself unless it directly contradicts another piece of evidence.

The studies sited in the documents are evidence for lack of efficacy. In situations where there have been no studies that show a lack of efficacy, there have been none that show efficacy (because they have not been studied presumably). Thus it is perfectly valid to state that there is a lack of evidence. Absent a plausible mechanism for any effect, it is reasonable to put the burden of proof onto the proponent. If I start claiming my magic stick can cure people, I hope that local doctors advise their patients about the lack of evidence for my therapy.

about a week ago

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

j-beda Re: diminished placebo effect (408 comments)

I know that the placebo effect exists and is effective, so believing something can heal me will indeed heal me.

...unless you have a real disease, in which case the "cure" won't last very long.

Well, improvements in conditions attributable to the "placebo effect" are actual improvements you know. The human body is capable of self-healing a vast array of problems. Some people recover from virtually every physical ailment without medical intervention.

I think your point is that for many serious medical conditions, the use of "evidence based medicine" gives vastly better outcomes than other treatments. Unfortunately for all of us, there are a huge number of medical conditions (many of them fairly minor) where modern medicine has only a slightly better outcome than no treatment at all. Thus the need for careful large double-blind trials to prove efficacy and the difficulty in showing that various forms of quackery are in fact ineffective.

about a week ago

Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

j-beda Re:Obligatory link of love (146 comments)

I had to pay for a copy of that book from the library, which got misplaced. I swear it was returned, but they never got it. It was more expensive then I thought it should have been.

about a week ago

Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

j-beda Re:What do they think? (351 comments)

What do uncontacted tribes think when they see our passenger jets and cargo ships? Gods?

"There goes the neighbourhood"?

about a week ago

Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading

j-beda Re:Banks deflecting attention from themselves (342 comments)

Though in this case, the first case is essentially what is happening. The exchange is giving your trade information to HFT traders in such a way that it can be utilized before it arrives at the other exchanges, even though all they are supposed to be doing is forwarding your trades to the other exchanges.

Well, the exchange IS supposed to publish information on what trades everyone solicits, that's pretty much a description of their function. Publishing that information in such a way so as to not create situations where a preferred group gets it ahead of everyone else does seem like a worthwhile goal.

about a week ago

New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

j-beda Re:Hey Samsenpuz (269 comments)

How about a link to the fucking site instead of this shitty betaboston website.


Thanks for the link!

about a week ago

New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

j-beda Re:Having a private pilots license (269 comments)

Incidentally, wouldn't seat belts tend to mediate most of the harm a rollover accident can cause? My understanding is that the bulk of rollover fatalities occur due to ejection.

At a lecture on physics education I heard a former police officer, now physics instructor, talk about how he uses traffic accidents to help students learn about kinematics and various other aspects of physics, and he mentioned one of the dangers of rollovers that is not significantly mediated by airbags and seat belts is a Traumatic aortic rupture. Strap a body to a a car seat and subject it to high acceleration in the correct direction, and the body does all right, but unfortunately the heat is not held in place very well and can rip apart from the major blood vessels. The lecturer spoke of being present at at least one accident where the victim seemed to be untouched, but quickly lost consciousness and died after a rollover due to this happening. I don't know how often this happens, but good seat belts could actually make it worse. Probably safer than being ejected, but rollovers are not a good thing to be involved in even without being ejected.


about a week ago



Role-Playing Game in "Latin Prose Composition" class

j-beda j-beda writes  |  1 year,9 days

j-beda (85386) writes "In a classroom where students battle away at mythological creatures and Latin grammar, Dr. Gellar-Goad has reinvigorated an out-dated course and brought new teaching methods with a twist of adventure.

In his first year as a Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Classical Languages, Gellar-Goad has developed a unique and innovative method for teaching Latin Prose Composition, a class which is a major requirement for Latin majors. It is typically a course designed to be an intense review of Latin grammar and rigorous practice translating English sentences into Latin."

Link to Original Source

Online "guilds" share featurs of real life gangs

j-beda j-beda writes  |  more than 4 years ago

j-beda (85386) writes "In June 2009, Dr Neil Johnson published a paper titled "Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic" in Physical Review E that found the way in which WoW "guilds" form can be described by a mathematical model that can also be applied to an unrelated group of people, namely street gangs in Los Angeles. Since "Any group that satisfies these fairly autonomous, competitive criteria would also (fit the model)," said Dr Johnson, the findings are of interest to though combating international as well as local terrorist cells."
Link to Original Source


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