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Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks

rpillala Re:Corruption (140 comments)

You're giving them too much credit by ascribing this kind of thing to incompetence. Politicians know what they're doing, or rather they know whom to trust to do what they want. And what they want is to get re-elected. It is impossible to ignore the constant state of re-election campaigning that goes on now. Fundraising and servicing lobbyists are the responsibilities we ought to lift. Not the actual work of government. I think Douglas McGregor described the administrative overhead that appears as an organization grows in size. In our case, the organization that's gaining in overhead cost is not government, but the country itself. Trying to dedicate fewer resources to a growing cost won't work.

about 6 months ago
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Cop Seeks Wiretapping Charges For Woman Who Videotaped Beating

rpillala Re:Ppl are doing this wrong. (662 comments)

I confess to not knowing what the Tea party stance is on civil liberties and law enforcement. As another poster pointed out, the fact that tea partiers come from the political right means there are a lot of brands of social conservatives and neocons mixed in there. Social conservatives pay lip service to rule of law and respect for authority but want to use torture if it works. I'm not saying you believe that, but "rule of law" turns out to be nebulous in modern politics.

If you can separate the general anger of tea partiers from any rationally held positions, then you have something. It's not like "Tea" is an actual political party though so people don't stay on message very well in videos etc.

more than 3 years ago
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UK Police Arrest 12 Over Facebook Use Inciting Riots

rpillala arrest 12 over Facebook (369 comments)

At first I thought that the police had placed these people under arrest by posting on their walls.

more than 3 years ago
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Anonymous Vows To Destroy Facebook

rpillala Re:Anono-hypocrites (575 comments)

Isn't the definition of terrorism being constantly expanded as we get more and more fearful? The USA PATRIOT Act managed a lot of this expansion as I recall. I don't think kidnapping was terrorism before that.

more than 3 years ago
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Anonymous Vows To Destroy Facebook

rpillala Re:Anono-hypocrites (575 comments)

Authoritarian governments by definition rule people because they think the people cannot self-rule. As in, authoritarian governments think they are "saving" their people. With that in mind, balance this quote from Anonymouse: "Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria." ...with this one a few sentences down:

"One day you will look back on this and realise what we have done here is right, you will thank the rulers of the internet, we are not harming you but saving you."

Sound familiar? Anonymouse are doing what those they claim to fight against are doing. Just another dictatorship that claims to be "rulers of the internet" that defends its "dictatorship" with petty DDoS attacks and makes outlandish and extremist claims that are on par with the "We will destroy America" claims we hear from the dits in the Mid-East. In the end, Anonymouse are nothing but wannabe digital terrorists and nothing they have done or will do matters. Their activities are as much a waste of time results-wise as the Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and all the years of ridiculous and resultsless claims, proclamations and violence had accomplished nothing, while one humble fella with a can of gasoline and a match set the dominoes falling, toppling governments in one simple act of self-immolation. And, interestingly, as much as they brag about being anonymous, a bunch of them are being rounded up by the Feds. So much for anarchistic intelligence.

The difference is that Anonymous isn't saving you by telling you what to do. They're saving you by (in their mind) killing a parasite.

Al qaeda gave the executive branch(es) cover to grab a lot more surveillance power. Maybe, had it not been al qaeda, it would have been something else. But that's not the case it was them and not something else. Erosion of civil liberties and rapid expansion of surveillance and associated bureaucracies is more destructive to America than killing its people. Bin Laden said that spreading fear was his intent in recorded videos. One need look no farther than Congress to hear people expressing fear for their personal safety and why basic tenets of freedom (press, speech, 4th amendment) need to be struck down to protect it.

more than 3 years ago
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Gates: Not Much To Show For $5B Spent On Education

rpillala Re:My Ire with Gates' work in education... (496 comments)

In Maryland at least, there's a degree called Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) that does what you describe in #2. It is still possible to do a bachelor's degree in elementary education or /secondary education as well. But a lot of career changers especially do MAT programs and get certified that way. The need for a program like this has not gone unnoticed in teacher preparation.

Bear in mind, most teacher preparation is useless, and most "graduate" level classes in education are useless, but the hoops are there and pretty clearly defined.

more than 3 years ago
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Gates: Not Much To Show For $5B Spent On Education

rpillala Turning a blind eye to poverty (496 comments)

Gates and Broad and whoever else controls education reform direction have an assumption in common. Namely that poverty doesn't matter. To prove this, they point to KIPP schools where great test scores are achieved. More on that in a minute. I don't know much about what else they accomplish at KIPP schools. I have a vague notion that they excel in performance arts as well, which is great. Anytime a child gets arts experience in school, it's a good thing.

I have a few major problems with this, mostly that students are selected to go to KIPP (self-selection counts) and that all they demonstrate with high test scores is success on tests. It could just be gaps in my knowledge about how much success kids have in KIPP. But the self-selection and ability of KIPP schools to dismiss students both undermine the idea's scalability.

Until we address America's 23%-and-climbing rate of child poverty, the scores posted by poor students are going to continue to drag the average down. I don't mean to be cruel here, but scores by non-poor students are generally fine. In some cases, better than many countries'. Poor kids need some basic needs met that are traditionally not the responsibility of schools. You're familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs I hope. Throwing more money at the administrators or putting in bonus programs for schools (as in NYC) will not accomplish this. There was a guy in Harlem with a charter I think who put in a dental office in the next building over because his students were not getting dental care. That's a start.

School reform efforts that ignore or dismiss concerns about poverty will always fail.

Note that this is still better than the conservative vision of school reform, where the greatest resources are spent on the highest (student) achievers and everyone else gets enough education to serve as their working class.

more than 3 years ago
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Internet-Based Political Party Opens Doors

rpillala Re:Centrist? (291 comments)

Sorry to self-reply but I see I got the group name wrong towards the end there. I thought I checked for that!

more than 3 years ago
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Internet-Based Political Party Opens Doors

rpillala Re:Centrist? (291 comments)

The truth appears much worse. Here's an article at Capitol Weekly about this group: http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?xid=znc6uo0z1a56ld. Of note:

“They’re very secretive,” said Richard Winger, the long-time publisher of Ballot Access News. “I found out about their petition drive independent of them.”

Why be secretive? I went to the official website and looked at the "about" page trying to see who the founders were and what political positions they might have taken in the past. I don't see any of that kind of info there, and usually that's where you find it.

Consider also:

At a recent visit to the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op and the neighborhood Savemart, paid signature-gathers sought support for a petition they said would grant ballot access to more political parties.

“Do you want just people on the ballot you believe in?” one signature-gatherer asked.

What these signature-gathers – paid by Arno Political Consultants of Carlsbad – are trying to accomplish is to place Americans Elect, a new political party that says it isn’t one, on the ballot in 2012.

I looked up Arno Political Consultants and they have a pretty spotty history, having been accused several times of fraud. The main accomplishment of America Elects so far has been a large number of petition signatures, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arno_Political_Consultants shows a petition the company prepared in 2009 whose overall signature validity was rated at 51%. 800k is a lot less impressive than 1.6 mil.

Now, obviously, accusations aren't guilt, but why would Americans Elect hire an organization with this kind of troubled history with petitions to gather their signatures for petitions? I'm making a number of assumptions here about the scale of their operation. None of this proves any sinister intent on their part nor does it prove good intent.

Just be skeptical is my advice - make them earn trust.

more than 3 years ago
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The View From the Ground At an Indian Call Center

rpillala Re:Dealing with Indians on the phone is frustratin (214 comments)

My name is 2 syllables and everyone still gets it wrong. The good news when you're talking to an American of Indian descent is that we don't care how you pronounce our names. After years of correcting people and more years after having given up, as long as you don't consciously mess it up, it's fine.

more than 3 years ago
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NYC Mayor Demands $600M Refund On Software Project

rpillala Re:SAIC ever have any successful projects? (215 comments)

I would say a lot. Read Spies For Hire by Tim Shorrock. It's specifically about outsourcing of intelligence work, but SAIC, Booz Allen, General Dynamics, etc. come up often enough to generalize.

When the Cold War ended, intelligence agencies started trimming all the people who did that kind of analysis in favor of more high tech approaches. Then, 9/11 and those people were in demand again. Rather than come back to their old job at their old pay, they came back as independent contractors to their old job at triple the pay. This goes on now - people leave on Friday and return on Monday, with only their employment status changing. Add to this Mr. Clinton's "Reinventing Government" initiative wherein he privatized more of government than Mr. Reagan and Mr. Bush (41) combined.

more than 3 years ago
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NYC Mayor Demands $600M Refund On Software Project

rpillala Re:SAIC ever have any successful projects? (215 comments)

I'll wager that they were above average in their rate of having security clearances too. That's one major feature of the "Reinventing Government" era contracting companies. They supply security cleared personnel for whatever work you need.

more than 3 years ago
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Senate Passes 4-Year Re-Up of Patriot Act Provisions

rpillala Re:Legislative Process (422 comments)

Oh how I wish that were merely funny.

more than 3 years ago
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Senate Passes 4-Year Re-Up of Patriot Act Provisions

rpillala Re:"lone wolf" suspects (422 comments)

To be fair, "lock box" was far more benign than the scare terms. Social security money continues to be abused, so an actual "lock box" would have made a difference.

Also you forgot "war on terror."

more than 3 years ago
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Robots Retrieve Your Books At U. Chicago's $81 Million Library

rpillala Re:Great for retrieving a specific book (202 comments)

The library online catalog where I live has a feature called "search nearby on the shelf" that shows you the books around your search result. If this kind of data is already being indexed, it seems like a simple matter to make a virtual representation of the shelf that you can browse with a mouse or a touch interface. It's not the same as being there but it can be approximated.

more than 3 years ago
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Professor Questions Sink-Or-Swim Intro To CS Courses

rpillala this just in (606 comments)

University professor just now realizes some very basic things about education. What this means for your weekend at 11.

more than 3 years ago
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Osama Bin Laden Reported Dead, Body In US Hands

rpillala Re:Mission Accomplished (1855 comments)

I don't think "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is organizationally linked to what we think of as al Qaeda. Or at least it didn't start out that way. I started as some other group trying to coopt the name for recruitment etc. As such, we can't generalize based on success against that group.

more than 3 years ago
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WikiLeaks Releases Guantanamo Prisoner Files

rpillala Re:GITMO still open? (426 comments)

It's bad form to self reply, but I just noticed it looks like I think Manning is being held at guantanamo bay. I don't, and I consider Guantanamo Bay part of a larger problem whose scope includes Manning's treatment: it's based on a presupposition of guilt.

more than 3 years ago
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WikiLeaks Releases Guantanamo Prisoner Files

rpillala Re:GITMO still open? (426 comments)

You're presuming that these people are al qaeda members. This type of presupposition of guilt is not part of any criminal justice system.

In World War 2, it was pretty easy to identify members of the enemy forces because the sides were more clearly defined. "War on terror" is very murky and it's not so easy to tell who's an enemy combatant, right? This is why you'd need evidence before detaining people indefinitely. There was also an end to World War 2, but there will not be an end to a war on the concept of terrorism. A few days ago, Obama said in some impromptu remarks that Bradley Manning had broken the law. This has not been established by the organ that properly establishes guilt. But if the commander in chief says someone is guilty, that doesn't taint the process? Was the president getting involved in military commissions back in the day by calling verdicts in advance to the press?

Maybe it was just bad phrasing, but the underlying concept remains. All these actions (in Manning's case, just for example) are taken under the presumption of guilt.

more than 3 years ago
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WikiLeaks Releases Guantanamo Prisoner Files

rpillala Re:GITMO still open? (426 comments)

As unattractive as those options are, only one of them is legal. Part of having a constitutional government with elected leaders is that the law supersedes anyone's desires to the contrary. If the founders had wanted the president to have the powers of royalty they would have written them in. Or left room for them. This is explicitly not the case. What else can we call detaining people in an extralegal prison based purely on the say-so of the President or forces under his command? This is one branch of government playing the role of two branches, and violates the checks and balances fundamental to the system. As another poster points out, the military base at Guantanamo Bay is not part of the criminal justice system.

more than 3 years ago

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