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  • Jul 26, 2019 @ 04:53pm

    Re: Too good to pass up

    I was really hoping we could all have an unspoken agreement not to take that shot.

  • Jun 30, 2019 @ 09:26am

    [i]"The US locks up an alarming number of people every year and an alarming percentage of them are black. Feed this data into a system that wants to see if it's locking up enough black people and the data will tell judges to keep hitting black people with longer sentences."[/i]

    Umm... how do you know that? How do you know how "the system" will respond to such data? If you haven't seen the code, you don't know which way it'll jump.

  • Apr 29, 2019 @ 04:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Gotta say...

    So on a return as complex as yours, the probability that the IRS will makes a serious error (in their own favor) is 2.5%, and a CPA 5%. The tax code is a mess.

  • Feb 08, 2019 @ 04:52pm

    "If the actual goal of speed traps and DWI checkpoints is to generate revenue, then of course law enforcement is going to be upset about Google picking its pocket."

    That is not the correct metaphor. Persuading people to obey the law and thereby avoid fines is not picking anyone's pocket. "Spooking its quarry" might be better.

  • Dec 20, 2018 @ 01:14pm

    Dogberry tech

    "The tech is basically a police force on steroids -- capable of demanding ID from thousands of people per minute... The difference is no one's approaching citizens to demand they identify themselves."

    To be fair, there is another difference: the tech does not detain those it cannot identify -- at least, not yet. Shakespeare himself made fun of watchmen who behave like that. ("Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the watch together and thank God you are rid of a knave.")

  • Sep 08, 2018 @ 03:46pm

    Re: Time for the lawyerly solution

    That sounds like the kind of perfectly logical solution that lawyers -- and judges -- hate. When you go to court with that one, bring a toothbrush.

  • Aug 22, 2018 @ 03:57pm

    market forces

    These systems are designed to be sold to Law Enforcement.

    There isn't much point in spending development money guarding against threats the customer doesn't understand.

    And the fact that the records can be altered by the person in control of the hardware sounds like a major selling point.

  • Aug 07, 2018 @ 10:10am

    Asch Conformity Screening

    _"With this proposal, those who have bypassed screening at smaller airports will receive the full TSA treatment when they arrive at a larger airport."_

    Oh, that makes... Wait, what?

    *"So, it's not like most passengers embarking from a small airport will bypass screening for their entire flight."*

    They will do exactly that, unless the TSA agents are going board the plane in mid-air, to demand everyone's ID. *(It doesn't matter who we are. What matters is our plan.)*

    *"If terrorists want to take down a plane, it will be a small one flying to another small airport."*

    Or -- and I'm just brainstorming here -- they could board a small plane bound for a large airport, and then take it down. You know, crash it or blow it up or something. Without actually landing. So, maybe plough it straight into the departure lounge or city hall or a hospital or something, and then the TSA agents who are waiting to screen the passengers won't actually...

    I'm really not sure how much I should spell this out. Am I the only one who fails to see any sense in post-flight screening?

  • Jul 26, 2018 @ 04:15pm

    To a sufficiently ignorant observer, any technology is...

    Q: What steps did you take to determine whether it was possible to prevent bad people from using this tool, while still allowing good people to use it?

    A: That seems obviously impossible, and we don't remember taking any "steps" to verify that. Why? Do you know something we don't? Please, if you know a way to do it, tell us! If it works we'll admit you're better engineers than we are, and give you stock options and gold medals and your pictures will be on every front page. Seriously, why do you politicians keep asking this question, about every new tool we invent? The answer is that we don't see any way to do that, so will you please stop blaming us for all human evil, and telling us to look harder?

  • Jul 09, 2018 @ 08:07am

    Re: I don't buy your "redundant job" argument.

    I beg to differ.

    Large, old companies tend to acquire parasitic managers, people whose only real skill is self-promotion and political intrigue, and who don't do any good to anyone but themselves (and perhaps each other). They accumulate in middle management because at the top they can't hide from the stockholders, and at the bottom they can't blame failures on subordinates. They are very hard to fire -- since being hard to fire is something they work hard at -- and maybe mergers and bankruptcy are the only ways to get rid of a lot of them at once.

    I don't know whether this is the case in Sprint and/or T-Mobile, and I don't expect customer service to improve after a merger, but I think it's a mistake to assume that these two giants are now shining examples of efficiency and sensible management.

  • Jun 18, 2018 @ 05:39pm

    Sauce bonne pour l'oie...

    “This measure is completely false; we can easily assert a right of quotation [to illustrate why the material was well within the law to broadcast]”.
    -- Marine Le Pen

    "Marine Le Pen is a tech-illiterate simpleton who thinks that human law, not mathematics, underpins the universe (and is therefore what computers can do), and every year she celebrates Hitler's birthday by squeezing into a latex Eva Braun suit and dancing to the French version of 'You Can Leave Your Hat On'."
    -- anonymous source

  • Jun 11, 2018 @ 08:05am

    the market... finds a way

    There's no market solution? Because the buyers don't care, and therefore the manufacturers don't care?

    Try as I may, I can't think of a way to suggest the possibility of ********** without making everyone think that I'm responsible when it appears.

  • May 10, 2018 @ 07:55am

    Re: GDPR

    In order to make that argument work, you must show where the symmetry breaks. You must argue that the EU has more right to meddle with my newspaper than the US has to meddle with your bank, and that the US has less imperative to protect US citizens (and their money) than the EU has to protect its citizens (and their data).

  • Mar 16, 2018 @ 01:18pm

    Re: Re: "Piracy"

    I wonder whether the US Navy screens its officer pool for names like Avery, Teach, Rackham, Blood and Hook.

  • Mar 02, 2018 @ 03:41pm

    informatino hygiene

    _"Lots of people take work home with them. Only a very small percentage of those do anything more nefarious with government documents than work off the clock."_

    I've had a Top Secret clearance. You do _not_ take classified documents home with you. If you get home and realize that you had some in your briefcase by mistake, you turn around and take them straight back. As for classified computer systems and memory media... it's hard for me to explain just how much you do _not_ just plug an unmarked thumb drive into a TS machine for expediency. Imagine you work in a lab with Ebola, and you see a colleague preparing to transport a culture down the corridor using a spare coffee cup; that's about the level of _WTF are you doing, NO!_

    It may not have been criminal intent, but it was not an ordinary mistake.

  • Dec 11, 2017 @ 11:57am


    I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but you seem to have some serious misconceptions about how cryptography works.

  • Dec 11, 2017 @ 06:54am

    fantasy conversation

    "In fiscal year 2017, the FBI was unable to access the content of approximately 7800 mobile devices using appropriate and available technical tools, even though there was legal authority to do so."

    "Can you tell us more about this legal authority?

    "Uh... no."

    "Were these devices in your custody?"

    "I'd... rather not say."

    "Was encrypted data on all of these devices?"

    "I cannot comment on that."

    "Did you, in fact, gain access to any of these devices?"

    "I cannot comment."

    "You do understand that strong encryption cannot be broken after the fact, right? It must be broken before it's installed."

    "I'm not sure that we-- I think we should not jump to--"

    "Let's say that some of these devices are in your possession and are encrypted in such a way that you cannot read them, can we suppose that?"

    "Yes, we can suppose that, that is a--"

    "Then why are you holding onto them?"

    "That's all the time we have."

  • Jul 14, 2017 @ 05:58pm

    slow clap

    "The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia."

    I propose that we suspend the "Funniest Comment" competition for this week. We can't top this.

  • Dec 27, 2015 @ 11:13am


    1. Yes, I know they must be shaped like themselves, but usually things are named descriptively, not shaped to fit their names. If you're saying they're shaped that way because of their name, you're raising more questions than you're answering.

      2. "By hook or by crook" refers to the law that the fruit on the tree belonged to the landowner, but the fruit on the ground (windfall) was free for the taking -- and sometimes the wind needed a little help from the not-entirely-honest. And come to think of it, that might actually answer my question.

  • Dec 23, 2015 @ 09:54pm


    I've also heard that candy canes are shaped liked shepherd's crooks. But I don't know why shepherd's crooks are shaped like shepherd's crooks. Do they have to break up sheep-fights from a safe distance or something? Pull sheep down from trees? Express bewilderment by visual cue?

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