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  • Dec 11th, 2017 @ 11:57am


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

  • Dec 11th, 2017 @ 6:54am

    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 14th, 2017 @ 5:58pm

    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 27th, 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 23rd, 2015 @ 9:54pm


    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?

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    I find it weirdly fascinating. I have a hypothesis -- still very tentative -- that it has to do with a kind of emotional back-propagation.

    This isn't really the place for discussion of rationality and cognitive science, but I might just be able to get an essay out of this thread...

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    All right, let's clear this up once and for all.

    Server Sue works a five-hour shift, ostensibly for $3/hr, and collects $85 in cash tips. The tax rate is 20%.

    She reports her tips (honestly) and goes home with $85 cash and a paycheck (or pay stub, or whatever) marked "$0".

    She fills out her tax return: gross income $15 + $85 = $100, rate 20%, tax $20, withheld $15, tax due $20 - $15 = $5. She takes $5 out of the jelly jar and mails it to the tax collector.

    Did I get that right? Does she pay the $5, or does the Fed "eat the difference"? Does she wind up with $80 for that shift? Or $85? Or some other amount? Note that I'm not asking about other things like the price of postage stamps, or MEANINGLESS distinctions like whether she paid $15 or was not paid $15, or was paid and then charged $15. Did I describe the sequence of events and states correctly?

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    That's what I thought. It's one reason I tip in cash, no matter how I pay the check.

    (Someday my credit card company will call up and ask me why I always tip "$0", and I'll give them my best Scrooge voice: "They think themselves ill-used, I'll be bound!...")

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    I'm not aware of any wordview/ethical position that says it's OK to not pay people for the work they do.

    This might not be the best place to say that.

    Anyway, I have a worldview/ethical position in which it is absolutely 100% OK to not pay people for the work they do in some cases. And before you reply, please reflect on the fact that I work hard at my job and you have never paid me. [Note for the logic-impaired: I know that it is not appropriate to expect ottermaton to pay me, I am simply demonstrating the worldview/ethical position in question, and showing that ottermaton's argument requires a great deal work before it can stand on its own, more than I feel like doing today.]

  • Nov 16th, 2015 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    "Huh? Are you implying that this isn't a real situation, that I just made this up?"

    No, I was implying that your point was a kind of arithmetical wordplay, whether the situation was real or not.

    >But let's be serious again. The server's net income for the evening comes out to $91.32

    It doesn't work like that -- more evidence (as if any was needed) that you don't know what you're talking about.

    Oh? You said (in your scenario) that the server had "hourly pay" of $2.83 * 5 = $14.15, plus $100 in tips, and had to pay 20% in tax. By my calculation, $14.15 + $100 = $114.15, 20% of that is $22.83, leaving $91.32, but now you add:

    Taxes are only taken out of a paycheck. That's why it's called Income Withholding. Servers don't pay taxes into the system. The Fed just eats the difference.

    That's news to me, but if it's true then I must correct my figure: the server's net income for the evening is $0+$100 = $100, and once again the fact that none of this is in the form of a check means nothing.

    I guess the point was lost on you, so I'll give it another shot...

    Sure, you can take another shot, as long as you don't change the scenario.

    Let's go on the assumption that the net income would have been $100, [and you contributed $30 of it].

    You decide you don't wanna tip. Guess what? You have just removed $30 from that servers net income. Now it's only $70.

    No, you subtracted it when you changed the scenario. I added it in the first scenario; I didn't add it in the second, just as if I hadn't dined at the restaurant.

    [Personal attacks]... You are refusing to pay someone for work they did directly for you without a middleman... the bargain you made when you walked in the door...[personal attacks]...

    Ah, now you're no longer talking about numbers, but principle, which is a fair change to make. But look at how that "bargain" works. I have left tips more that 15% many times, but I've never had a server run after me to give me back the surplus. And oddly enough, the convention is a percentage of the price of the dishes, as if the service has anything to do with that. Still, as long as we are now talking about a matter of courtesy and not of accounting, I don't see much to argue about. (But if that's the point you're going for, you might ease up on the personal attacks.)

  • Nov 14th, 2015 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re: Traditionaly here...

    "A server works a 5 hour shift... The [wages] for that time worked comes out to be $2.83 * 5 = $14.15... [Tips were] $100. [Tax rate is] 20%. So that server owes the gov't $20 in taxes for the amount of tips made. Which comes out of the payroll of $14.15. Obv, that's a negative number. The server's paycheck comes out to be $0."

    So if I want to increase the servers paycheck (which naturally I do), then I should refrain from giving a tip, so that the server won't have such a huge tax bill and can take some of those wages home.

    I get it, you made a mildly funny math joke, like "What Happened to the Last Dollar?" But let's be serious again. The server's net income for the evening comes out to $91.32, I'm with you so far, go on...

    ...Oh, was that it?

  • Nov 1st, 2015 @ 9:45am

    your witness

    If they get the hamster on the stand and it's revealed to be a hypersensitive, narcissistic princess, then they'll have a case.

  • Sep 24th, 2015 @ 4:29am


    'I sit in the minority who appreciate the removal of comments from news sites... Trying to wade through that shit to find the one or two decent comments isn't anyone's definition of "a pleasant experience".'

    I don't understand. You'd prefer not to read the comments at all? Then why not... refrain from reading the comments at all? If you prefer to read the article and not the comments, you can do just that regardless of whether there's a comment section down at the bottom or not.

    I understand if you just can't help but dive into the comment section-- really, I do. But wouldn't it be better to have a browser setting, or a separate page, to remove that temptation while still allowing discussion for those who want it?

  • Sep 22nd, 2015 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: failure to test

    I didn't say "a single mistake", I said "one false positive". If you don't know the difference then you don't understand laboratory analysis.

  • Sep 22nd, 2015 @ 8:26pm

    the magic words

    ", you must remove zese leenks."

    "But that would be absurd--"

    "JUST DO EET!"

    "All right, there, it's done."

    "Eh? But you 'ave not removed zem from zee othair domains!"

    "Well no, you have authority over--"

    "To 'ave zem down on but steel up elsewhere, zis would be absurd!"

    "Yes, we know, we--"

    "Because, you see, someone can use one of ze ozair domains."

    "Yes, we know, we do this for a living, and--"

    "Take zem all down! Everywhere! JUST DO EET!"

    "You want your law to apply throughout the world?"

    "Mais non! We 'ave not said zees! We 'ave asked only zat you who are offering service 'ere observe our law."

    "Your law, which you're telling us to observe around the world?"

    "Yes... Non! Oui! JUST DO EET!"

  • Sep 22nd, 2015 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Some issues I have with this

    "Why does France not make it illegal to bypass the filter?"

    Because that would make French citizens the criminals. The major theme of the French legal system is to make foreigners the criminals whenever possible, and logic be damned.

  • Sep 22nd, 2015 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re:

    "Luckily US law can't do that..."

    What if Venezuelan law can? Google Inc. has presence in Venezuela, doesn't it?

  • Sep 18th, 2015 @ 8:22am


    IANAL, but I thought this was covered under "inalienable rights"; I have certain rights which I cannot give up even if I want to, so any contract I sign which requires me to give them up is invalid.

  • Sep 18th, 2015 @ 8:19am


    To be fair, they're not asking for that power. They're not saying "you two may not exchange notes", they're saying "I won't carry notes back and forth between you".

    (Actually, they're saying "I'll carry your notes more slowly than others and charge you more for them", but the principle is "I won't carry them".)

  • Sep 11th, 2015 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: “Westcott had a gun (a legally-owned one) which he raised...”

    Strange that the judge's ruling on her claim of self-defense should depend on a document she never saw.

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