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  • Apr 17th, 2014 @ 10:34am

    (untitled comment)

    One possible consequence that isn't talked about is, I think, the danger of countries avoiding the risk by *never entering into contracts with large corporations* if they can possibly help it.

    After all, without any kind of agreement with Gabriel, there's no hook for the company to try this kind of extortion.

    Corporations lose from such a trend too, I would think.

    But ultimately, I'm adamant against this kind of formalized process that often boils down to extortion. The penalty for a country dicking a company over... is lessened future investment by other companies; it's a self-correcting mechanism.

    And the judge of whether a country screwed over a corporation would be all the *other* corporations, often competitors to the first. And, in theory, self-interest wins out for a relatively impartial decision, since these potential future investors would be putting money where their mouths are.

    But an arbitration panel, even if it were completely competent and impartial, doesn't have the capitalistic advantage of self-interest working to reinforce the structure.

    Plus I dislike any kind of relinquishment of governmental power to private hands. The *restriction* of how a government can use governmental power is fine to me - but effectively transferring some of that power to an entity not obligated - even in theory - to represent the interests of me and my fellow citizens is a horrible *horrible* idea.

    (The power a government wields will always exist in a society more advanced than a small tribe. I prefer it remain in handcuffed hands that I have a say in the identity of than in unrestrained hands I have no say in the identity of)

  • Apr 17th, 2014 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: This is bad.

    ... err... I don't think you've thought that last statement through. Who determines the compensation, and who determines what triggers a 'legitimate' demand?

    A corporation decides both (more or less), and it's ruled on by a theoretically completely neutral arbitrator. Unfortunately, the arbitrator is almost always *not* completely neutral, giving the corporation a bit of an edge.

    And so you've got what's described in the article - the *threat* to try this process. Heck, just like SLAPP, "you can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride" - the process itself is going to be inconvenient.

  • Apr 17th, 2014 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    Yes and no.

    The underlying *concept* is called democracy - that is, that political power rests in the people and is fairly evenly split among them (as opposed to divine right/mandate, say).

    But what we don't have is a *direct* democracy. We've got a representational one, where we the citizens select a smaller set of proxies to wield our (conceptual) power on our behalf.

    In addition, strictures upon how governmental powers are wielded are fully in-line with democracy - "you may not eat your fellow citizens for dinner" (either at all or "unless you can satisfy extra requirements - ie, a constitutional amendment) is quite legit under any kind of democracy short of direct unstructured democracy.

  • Apr 17th, 2014 @ 10:12am

    (untitled comment)

    To be honest, on a certain level I don't give a damn if all of Rogers' claims are true about Snowden. I doubt they are, but it matters little to me.

    What matters are the documents being released. I care far more about what the government that has quite a bit of power (theoretical and actual) over me then a single individual that I've never even met.

    So Rogers, posters gleefully pouncing on this and others of the sort... are you declaring the documents to be mass forgery? Because any other claim to try and sweep the issue away I don't give a damn about in comparison. Snowden could be a kiddie fiddler and it wouldn't change the cat being out of the bag.

  • Apr 10th, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re:

    See how fun it is? ^^

  • Apr 10th, 2014 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: You got it slightly wrong.

    How cowardly we have become since Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death" and Benjamin Franklin's "those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

  • Apr 10th, 2014 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: You got it slightly wrong.

    One measure was sufficient.

    Locking the cockpit door. The point of a hijack is to wrest control of the plane, not to kill the people on the airplane (that's just a bonus - they're going for psychological impact or far more significant kill-count).

    If they wish to kill the number of people on a plane, it's easier (and more effective) to bomb, say... a busy mall. A school. A hotel.

  • Apr 7th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re: Response to: Just Another Anonymous Troll on Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 12:52pm

    And then there was the copyright lawsuit over *silence*.

  • Apr 6th, 2014 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In Computer Science (I can't speak for other fields), submission is in the form of a LaTex file that has what is effectively a stylesheet specific to the journal included.

    So the layout of articles is negligible cost. The indexing can be automated - a LaTeX file or a bibTeX file can be parsed to extract the relevant fields for the paper itself, the references (which the uploading application can cross-reference to the existing database to get hyperlinks to the references), the abstract, the authors and so on.

    Proof-reading is again generally done by the peer reviewers. Typos are caught with a spellchecker.

    In short, the cost for an online journal is: bandwidth (small; PDFs created from text with an image or two are fairly cheap on the space), storage space (see previous), domain registration... and salaries, which is the only big one.

  • Apr 4th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    (untitled comment)

    Woops... I thought at first it was a climate change denier's paper that vanished, not a paper on such people...

  • Apr 4th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re:

    Zooko's been busted...

  • Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 10:34am

    Re: Waaaahh, my pussy hurts because of Bush

    Such a strange pair of glasses you have, in which you can see approval of bin Laden or al Queda everywhere...

    As for Obama... sure, he wasn't in charge when it actually happened, but he's been quite willing to conceal it. And to drone-strike people; that's not unrelated to the core concerns in question (it does raise the absurdity of getting the Nobel Peace Prize for doing... sod-all other than get elected).

    And if you *are* genuinely military personnel (you sound more like a bad cliche than any soldier I've met), then I hope you never work in MI; that's the kind of shoddy thinking and poor analysis that harms our nation.

    On the topic... torture is wrong. Period. No exceptions. I would rather have died in a terrorist attack then to have my country tarnished in such a fashion. As it happens, the torture didn't have a thing to do with useful information and I was never given the choice.

    Which burns me - these idiots tarnished *my* country, whom my forefathers have fought for since the very beginning... and for *nothing*. So they're not just morally bankrupt but *incompetent*.

  • Apr 1st, 2014 @ 10:06am


    Heck, I'd like to see proposals for such clauses written in to many bills and treaties - if defenders say "oh, this legislation won't be used to go after non-terrorists", then surely they wouldn't mind some stiff penalties and the striking of the law if they're found to do so...?

  • Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:35pm


    I favor constant records, myself.

    Heck, combine the two - I have a drone following me with a camera and a directional mic that streams the results to a remote server.

    Heh... I had a thought. A shirt with the phrase "any verbal interaction may be monitored for quality assurance" on it. It'd be rather provoking, though; not the best of ideas.

    However, it might fulfill any notification requirements for one-party consent recording...

  • Mar 18th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re:

    This, many times this. Any list of "people that've done/might do bad things" needs to have:

    1) Clear criteria for how an individual is added to the list

    This one is usually given some attention, but it mostly comes down to a lazy "someone with authority fills out this form", which is not sufficient.

    2) A straightforward process to remove an individual from the list.

    "Wah," some might cry, "that would mean a terrorist/meth maker/etc would be able to get themselves scott-free". So? They're going to find themselves on it again soon enough... and they've (as a possibility) sworn under penalty of perjury that one or more of the criteria is incorrect. That gives another felony charge to level at them.

    3) A mechanism for someone to find out if they're on the list.

    *Especially* if being on the list measurably impacts the individual's life. Making them unable to sell their home, for example, or being not permitted to fly.

    4) Sufficient information attached to that entry of the list for someone to make the "on list/off list" decision again.

    This is perhaps the most important, and should come with some random spot-checks on entries (if the list is large enough that one person can't periodically validate them). Having an attached report (because surely someone's life shouldn't be able to be ruined by a form with a couple of check-boxes and a signature) allows the possessing agency to respond to challenges to the list efficiently.

  • Mar 18th, 2014 @ 10:49am


    Each failure offers case precedents, however. You need a company with large enough coffers to fight, but hasn't goofed in the way Viacom did. And I think all of the 'big players' have made the "DMCA'ed an authorized upload" error, and I'm pretty sure they've all DMCA'ed content that wasn't theirs.

    What Viacom et all doesn't want almost above all else is a court precedent that supports "making an invalid DMCA has actual penalties" suits *against* them; because if one of the latter occurs and succeeds, they've got to spend more or stop being so flagrant.

  • Feb 27th, 2014 @ 12:18pm


    Al algorithm that works as described (identifies individuals at risk of committing a crime) is working with *extremely incomplete* information for its modeling.

    Now, using it to predict future lawbreaking and then comparing to future data (ie, do they commit violent crimes) could lead (assuming the model is clean) to pinning down innocuous causal factors that can be fixed without human risk or cost, but the way they're using it is most certainly Doing It Wrong.

  • Feb 27th, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    (untitled comment)

    Speaking as someone who works with cognitive models of human thinking and is quite familiar with the benefits and detriments of computer-run algorithms...

    Whoever is championing the code should be taken out back and given some wall-to-wall therapy before being tied to a chair at the university's "Programmer Ethics" equivalent. And probably a basic class on algorithms, heuristics and the like.

    And if their university doesn't cover such material... then that explains the problems, I suppose.

    Computer decision-making should only be an *adjunct* to human decision-making in non-trivial circumstances. An algorithm is only as good as the worst of the people who created it AND the people who implemented it.

    And while human decision-making, with on-the-fly application and development of new heuristics as needed, can generally adapt to situations with incomplete or incorrect information at least reasonably well (all things considered), computer decision-making just sits there and craps itself.

  • Feb 27th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Re: blank-check TOS

    Fairly sure such terms don't work like that - that is, a company can't change the terms on someone willy-nilly.

    I'm thinking of that... was it a jewelry seller? Suing over negative reviews.

    Any changes are also limited by a court's interpretation of "reasonable". For example, declaring six months after signing a two-year cellphone contract (with really nasty penalties for breaking it) that the monthly price has increased by an order of magnitude is not kosher.

    Which is why generally contract changes only take effect on 'turnover' (ie, a renewal for the old contract isn't offered, only the new one). Companies tend to put "free to change at any time" in terms and conditions, but it actually standing up in court if they try to enforce the 'new' terms (unless, of course, the user has been prompted to agree to the new contract and has done so) is uncertain.

    At least, that's my understanding.

  • Feb 24th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Q & A

    It goes back to the (groundless, surprise surprise) "Broken Window Theory" - that because you see petty crime occurring at increased rates when serious crime does, then by stomping hard on vandalism and the like you can drop serious crime rates.

    Needless to say, it's a nice hearty mixture of confusing correlation and causation and "magic thinking" (ie, the voodoo approach) and has generally been debunked every time there's a serious look at it.

    But yet it endures in the form of Zero Tolerance; a fact with irritates me about as much as the "War on Drugs" and "War on Terror" does.

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