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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

wickerprints Doesn't matter (338 comments)

Like those who eat up the partisan politics in the US, or those who refuse to accept evolution as established science, the pro-Putin apologists don't care to be told the evidence was fabricated. That's not going to change their belief that it is genuine. Nothing will shake their beliefs. If you could show them actual video footage of the shooting of the plane by the separatists, if you could bring forth the actual people who shot the plane down and secure their confession in person, the response would be that the video footage was doctored, and the confessions coerced.

The rest of the world knows that Putin is ultimately responsible for this, but history is littered with the resolute convictions of idiots who will stop at nothing to defend the despots they have lionized. But should Putin fall, these people will be the first to disavow their allegiance, saying they were never in support of him in the first place.

about a week ago

Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills

wickerprints Can't have your cake and eat it too (553 comments)

Corporations want you to be smart enough to do your job, but not so smart as to challenge them on salary, outsourcing, or mismanagement. Be a well-behaved cog in the machine. Well, you can't have it both ways. If you want your obedient and unquestioning slave labor from India, you can't expect them to have critical thinking skills. If you want your creative, forward-thinking, initiative-taking workers to move your company forward, you better treat them with the respect they deserve and reward them commensurately with the value they bring, or else they will go elsewhere.

What companies have been doing for ages is pit the former group against the latter. The latest incarnation of this phenomenon is to hire loads of H1B workers to depress wages and squeeze the talented people out of the job market until they become willing to work for less money. But they still get treated like crap, so they eventually get disgruntled and leave, but from the company's perspective, hopefully not before some of the magic they brought rubs off on the slave labor. Problem with that is the companies are realizing that this doesn't work so well in the long run.

about a month ago

Ebola Does Not Require an "Ebola Czar," Nor Calling Up the National Guard

wickerprints Re:American Exceptionalism Strikes Again (384 comments)

Indeed. Here's a breakdown of all the problems:

1. Hubris. US government agencies (policymakers, public health officers, and elected officials) and private healthcare providers (hospitals) assumed that a substantial driving force for the spread of Ebola in West Africa is due to their lack of a developed healthcare system. In other words, these agencies thought that Ebola could be easily contained were it to occur in the US simply by taking appropriate precautions. That, as we have seen, is incorrect: the infection of two nurses proves that once someone is sick, it takes a great deal of diligence to avoid coming into contact with their infected blood, diarrhea, and vomit. Consider how many US hospitals have a difficult time as it is controlling other infectious diseases that are typically only found in the hospital setting--MRSA, C. difficile, MDR tuberculosis, etc. This demonstrates that establishing a complete barrier is not something most hospitals are either economically or physically equipped to do. Yet officials persist in saying that "Ebola isn't really that easy to trasmit."

2. Failure to consider severity. In insurance, we consider Exposure = Frequency x Severity. Exposure represents exposure to risk. Frequency represents the probability of a loss (or in this case, we might model it as the likelihood of dying of Ebola). Severity represents the costs associated with a loss (in this case, death). The problem is that many people are focused on the minuscule frequency, but the true exposure to risk is not merely quantified by this tiny, tiny probability. Moreover, this simple model must also be expanded to consider that frequency is a time-dependent function of the number at risk and the infectivity of the disease. Epidemiologists can model this much more easily than I can, but I guarantee you that they will have to do some HEAVY revising because what we have seen of the way these recent cases have been handled, the potential for error is enormous. If Ebola gets a foothold here--and this is not a negligibly small probability--then there are going to be some serious problems controlling its spread due to the fact that Americans are a LOT more mobile. Again, we saw this with these two nurses. One got on a flight while sick.

3. Politics and messaging. I think the notion of an "Ebola czar" is absurd. Such a role does not need to exist except for the sole purpose of having someone to be the scapegoat if everything goes tits up, and that's really what this idiot is about. It's about having someone to pin the blame onto. The people talking about how this is all being blown out of proportion have a point, but their opinion is largely based on the current state of affairs--one dead man who flew in from Liberia and two nurses. We need to take into consideration that if things do not shape up in West Africa REAL FAST, and if more American health workers go there and possibly come back infected, we really could lose control here faster than you can blink an eye. We really are on a knife's edge here. I cannot overstate how precarious this situation is. That said, this is not a reason for panic: the public doesn't have any control over the situation, except to not travel to West Africa at this time. But it is definitely a reason to not buy into the messaging that we've been hearing about Ebola, because the politicians keep telling us it's not a big deal that they keep fucking up.

about 1 month ago

Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

wickerprints Re:No (393 comments)

You must be some paid shill, because that wasn't even REMOTELY the point of the GP post. The point is that the existing cost of the Tesla Model S already hits Anderman's price range, so the Model 3, being smaller and another three years out from now to improve battery manufacturing costs, should easily sell for a lower price point. But you wouldn't understand because you need it explained in one-syllable words, written in crayon.

about 2 months ago

Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

wickerprints Re:Where are the links? (425 comments)

It especially doesn't make sense in light of the fact that there are numerous images of the iPhone that show the camera, and in each one, it is obvious that the camera protrudes. So, why go through the effort to hide it?

about 2 months ago

In Düsseldorf, A Robot Valet Will Park Your Car

wickerprints This is not novel (120 comments)

The basic idea has been around for a while now, in a number of countries besides Germany. And it has less to do with laziness or luxury, and more to do with maximizing the use of valuable space in areas of high urban density. The only thing that appears to be novel here is the use of a free-moving robot rather than a conveyance that is incorporated into the parking structure itself. Granted, there are other benefits as well--being able to retrieve your car rapidly and efficiently reduces parking structure congestion and environmental pollution from excessive idling.

about 5 months ago

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

wickerprints Re:Companies don't pay for healthcare, workers do (1330 comments)


Health benefits are just that--benefits included as an integral part of an employee's compensation for work performed in service to that company. The employee earns it. It's not charity, and it's not the employer who is paying for the coverage in the sense that the salary for a non-compensated employee would need to be commensurately higher to offset the cost of that employee having to purchase their own insurance. While it is not regarded as taxable income, health benefits are EARNED. It is therefore the employee's constitutional right to have the coverage they have worked for. It isn't a fucking Christian charity that Hobby Lobby thinks it's running, no matter what their greedy asses think they're doing.

Their win is not the least bit surprising: the SCOTUS has long since been run by religious and corporatist ideologues like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito. These dinosaurs need to die off because their hypocritical and self-serving opinions have nothing to do with fact or actual law. Corporations do not have a right to force its employees to use the benefits they rightfully earned with their hard work in only the ways their owners approve. I don't see Hobby Lobby screening every dollar of profit they earn to make sure it wasn't touched by someone who used contraception. They'll gladly take anyone's money.

And the dumbest thing of all is that the form of contraception they are opposed to has been repeatedly shown in scientific studies to not be an abortifacient, but much like the opposition to evidence regarding climate change, their religion-addled minds refuse to accept facts over propaganda. So they are discriminating and imposing their own mistaken beliefs not because there is any evidence that the actual substance of that belief has any merit, but simply because they personally believe these pills are killing unborn babies. More embryos miscarry every year of their own accord than are prevented from implanting by someone taking such contraception. And the Supreme Court's reasoning basically amounts to saying that a company has a right to dictate that the only medical benefits they want to offer its employees is leeches and trepanation.

about 5 months ago

Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions For Them

wickerprints Re:Wishful? Trade is a two-way street, is it not? (322 comments)

I find it rather strange that you are inferring that Krugman's proposal is merely liberal wishful thinking, or "promoting a liberal agenda," when there are numerous fiscal conservatives who would love nothing more than to level the playing field with respect to domestic versus foreign manufacturing. The dirty little secret, though, is that those fiscal conservatives are the blue-collar workers who've been squeezed out of jobs, not the ones who actually run the GOP political machine. The latter are what we might think of as corporate fat cats, ultra-wealthy investors, and the already-made men, for whom the consequences of globalization and foreign investment have been a windfall, rather than the ideologues living in Midwest states and the Bible Belt who buy the GOP "fiscal conservative" propaganda so easily that they are led to vote against their own immediate economic interests.

So, one must be led to wonder how such a proposal could even be branded "liberal" or "conservative" at all--unless by "conservative," one only means "creating wealth by manipulating the market," rather than "honest pay for honest labor."

about 5 months ago

Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

wickerprints Re:A Formula only an Actuary could Love (422 comments)

As someone who also has an actuarial background, the funniest thing about this sort of tangled code is that, in the mind of the analyst who wrote it, the intent was probably to do something relatively simple. Actuarial spreadsheets are some of the most convoluted things I've ever seen done in Excel.

about 6 months ago

Can You Tell the Difference? 4K Galaxy Note 3 vs. Canon 5D Mark III Video

wickerprints OMGPWNIES (201 comments)

Let's see if the Galaxy Note 3 can:

1. Record usable, relatively noise-free video at EV -2
2. Use f/1.2 lenses
3. Record at effective focal lengths wider than 24mm or longer than about video at 300/2.8 or 600/4?
4. Use varifocal lenses of any kind, let alone a parfocal lens

I mean, this is silly. Under a very limited subset of possible shooting conditions and configurations, you *might* be able to get comparable output, but this has no bearing on the fact that if you're using a $3000 DSLR to shoot video, you're not merely some Android fanboy taking selfies of yourself beating off in your parents' basement. You're looking at using it with cine lenses or even just EF lenses like the 24/1.4L II, 35/1.4L, 50/1.2L, 85/1.2L II, 135/2L, 200/2L IS, or 300/2.8L IS II (if you're addicted to primes). Or Zeiss if that's your poison. Good luck with mounting a 55/1.4 Otus to that Galaxy Note.

about 7 months ago

Siphons Work Due To Gravity, Not Atmospheric Pressure: Now With Peer Review

wickerprints Re:Plot twist: (360 comments)

I know you know this, but just to be sure no one else gets confused: A causes B and A causes C does not imply that B causes C. So for instance falling rocks are also caused by gravity but they don't have anything to do with siphons.

about 7 months ago

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

wickerprints Administrative politics (253 comments)

This is about office politics. The administration at his school has decided to make an example out of him, and they're using these science experiments as an excuse to make his life miserable. That's what this is really about. He doesn't toe the line, so someone with power has decided to exert their authority.

To make this about gun politics is as equally absurd as to say that we should stop kids from eating any food because there's an obesity epidemic. These science projects are no more related to actual firearms than the gas stove in your kitchen is related to a nuclear bomb. The only plausible explanation for this situation is that Schiller dared to butt heads with some administrator, and this is payback.

about 7 months ago

San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained

wickerprints Re:As long as the Republicans... (359 comments)

It's not quite so simple as supply and demand, however. The problem is that if you flood the market with more housing given the current price levels and demand, prices would take a LONG time to head back down once the demand is met (and that's assuming that the demand is ever met at all). Simply put, there's just so much existing scarcity that even massive amounts of new development would only serve to blunt the increasing trend in housing cost, rather than actually hoping to bring it down.

That's not to say development is not part of the solution--it absolutely, absolutely is--it's just that the current state of affairs is so entirely fucked up, and has been allowed to persist for so long, that what you'll see if you open the floodgates of new development is that in the short term, you get all the negative consequences (gentrification, displacement) while serving only the ultra rich who can afford those new housing units, but none of the long-term, aggregate benefits of lower housing costs that are decades down the line.

about 7 months ago

Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

wickerprints Phrased poorly (581 comments)

I'd like to interpret Bloomberg's statement to mean that it isn't realistic (or even desirable) to expect every blue-collar worker to be able to retrain in a highly technical field. Sure, some would be able to make that transition, but it's like asking programmers if they would have the desire to become physicians. It's not that people aren't smart or dedicated enough to do it, so much as it is the idea that a career in the tech sector is not some universal solution to everyone's job woes.

I also think that people who advocate such statements (very often, they are CEOs of tech companies) tend to have ulterior motives: they want to be able to pay their workers less money for more (and higher quality) output. While you might not blame them for having such a goal, I find it disingenuous how they wrap this desire up in some feel-good, altruistic sounding wish for more coders, more people to learn programming and computer skills, as if this is something that will create jobs. It doesn't work that way. Instead, it increases competition for existing jobs. These companies keep complaining about how there aren't enough skilled workers to fill the positions they have, but what they really mean is that there aren't enough *CHEAP* skilled workers. That's why they push this propaganda about H1B, teaching programming to kids, and fantasies about coal miners taking off their hardhats and learning Python and C#.

about 7 months ago

SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

wickerprints Re:Adventure holiday! (319 comments)

Or even better, a furry militant lesbian. Or militant lesbian furry. The difference is subtle but not trivial.

about 7 months ago

Apple Refuses To Unlock Bequeathed iPad

wickerprints If she wanted them to have the data (465 comments)

Fundamentally, I see this as a security issue. If the deceased wanted someone to have the data on the iPad, she should have provided the means to have access to that data. You can't just bequeath it in a will and then expect everyone else to sort it out after you're gone. That's inconsiderate.

It's also hypocritical to hold a company up to high standards for maintaining security and user privacy, and then at the same time blame them for not just rolling over and handing over the means to decrypt that information. It's not Apple's responsibility to give the family that ability, but the owner of that content. If I have years of personal photos that I've encrypted and bequeathed to someone, I'm sure as hell not going to just say, "here, you get this hard drive full of encrypted memories, but good luck decrypting it--I'm taking the decryption keys to my grave." That's stupid.

Even if Apple can unlock that data and eventually does so, think about how that might look to some people, who would NOT want their heirs/family/descendants to have the means to rummage through their personal data. You see this happen all the time--families of the deceased try to weasel their way into secrets and intimate histories of those who died. If all it might take is some lawyers and potentially dubious documentation to get around a dead person's privacy, then I would think twice about leaving any personal data behind.

about 9 months ago

Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft

wickerprints Re:Fuck (704 comments)

It is exceedingly rare for a post to be both funny and insightful at the same time.

about 9 months ago

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

wickerprints Re:Wow (664 comments)

Gives a new meaning to "race condition," doesn't it?

about 9 months ago

Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

wickerprints curve = stack ranking (264 comments)

Grading on a curve is no different than stack ranking in the workplace. Why are so many of you advocating for the former when the latter is so universally reviled? Is it because with stack ranking, we're talking about livelihoods and money?

The way to fix grade inflation is to fix society's expectations of GPA and the meaning of grades themselves. That includes the way corporations view academic credentials and transcripts. If you want honest assessment of a student's performance, then start by fixing your own biases and unrealistic expectations that the only qualified candidates should have a 4.0 GPA, 2 PhDs, 3 MS degrees, have been published in at least a dozen research journals in their field, wrote their own operating system from scratch, and is a 3-time Ironman champion...just to be hired for some low-level QA assistant job. Unless of course you're an H1B from India, in which case the triathlete is now "overqualified."

I think that's the real dirty secret everyone knows but nobody is willing to acknowledge. The fact is, grades were lower in the 50s and 60s because people STILL GOT HIRED, and competition was not as fierce as it is today. Everyone knows that GPA these days doesn't reflect true ability or learning, but instead, how well you know how to game the system, which is exactly what corporate America wants anyway--just look at what they teach in all the MBA mills. Those are your future bosses, middle managers, executives. All ambition and buzzwords, but no substance; driving business decisions that treat the engineers, developers, scientists, and in general anyone who actually KNOWS slaves.

So, you want to fix the system by adjusting GPAs? Fix the way GPAs are used as a stick to beat qualified job applicants with, and then we can talk.

about 9 months ago

US Customs Destroys Virtuoso's Flutes Because They Were "Agricultural Items"

wickerprints Re:Very weird story (894 comments)

Fine the relevant agencies 100 billion dollars. It would all be for naught anyway--it comes out of the taxpayer's wallet, and nothing gets changed in terms of policy. That's the problem with government agencies: when there is political support for their mandate, even if they are guilty of egregious overreach in their authority, they can waste unlimited amounts of money without being held accountable.

Now, if instead the politicians' and employees own personal bank accounts were to be emptied every time the public deems they have done something wrong, THAT would change Washington overnight in a heartbeat. But who is the "public?" How do we hold these power-hungry thieves accountable? By "elections?"

about a year ago


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