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  • Mar 26th, 2018 @ 6:51am

    Malice vs. Incompetence

    Either way, the book of examples of just how incredibly the New Zealand government has fucked up everything about this case at every single turn has now added yet another chapter.

    Normally you should never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

    This is not a normal case and I think we can rule out incompetence.

  • Mar 21st, 2018 @ 7:20am


    A striking example of the Streisand effect in action. I'd never heard of Fstoppers before, yet now I have. I'd say that they've done a fantastic job of advertising themselves and their wares to a group of techno-nerds who never would have heard of them otherwise.

  • Mar 9th, 2018 @ 8:02am


    I think you're wrong on the age thing.

    The FBI are teenagers. They want what they want, now, without working for it because they're special. And by the way, you geeks can provide it because of your magical abilities, and the fact that you won't is because you hate us!

    Christ, what an asshole.

    Nice, 4 word summary of the entire article. Should have been the title.

  • Mar 1st, 2018 @ 11:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, Politifact. Nice unbiased source, and I love the quote in your first link: "The Second Amendment is fading as a wedge issue in American politics" is pretty laughable, is it not? I know of only one other issue that seems to divide folks as starkly and that's abortion. Both guns and abortion are pretty stark, defining wedge issues. Then there is the claim in the article that "The Democrats have avoided all gun control controversies assiduously." That's quite the howler, itself.

    Overall, your first link really doesn't support your supposition, especially in the context of our present discussion on political parties. On the first point, the NRA mailer in question made an assumption without support and applied that to Obama, but the article didn't note that the Kennedy bill would have banned even common deer rounds such as the 30-30 due to the standard to which the ammunition would be tested. So the NRA's perceived threat existed; they attributed it to the wrong person, Obama, rather than Kennedy, but they got the political party right. On the second point, Sunstein's comments were true made, and he only walked them back when he had to do so politically to get appointed, and even Politifact had agree. And on the third point, the NRA was factual. In essence, if not in strict literal truth, the NRA actually was correct about the Democratic party in general, but not about Obama's personal involvement in the rifle ammunition ban in particular.

    So we can't believe what Diane Finestein said on tape? Remember, what are called "assault rifles" are really just semi-automatic rifles. They are no different than the majority of hunting rifles except that they look more like military rifles, and there are proposals that would effectively ban semiautomatic rifles.

    In reality, the vast majority of guns sold are semiautomatics, so a ban on semiautomatics is essentially a ban on the vast majority of guns. This is especially true with handguns, so Politifact's parsing of what Feinstein said is one of those 3 Pinocchio type arguments: technically it's not all guns, but it's the vast majority.

    As for Australia and Obama's admiration of their laws, the restrictions are draconian: you need what they call a "genuine reason" to own a gun, and self-defense isn't a genuine reason. The vast majority of guns were confiscated in Australia under their laws, so support for their system is effectively support for gun registration and confiscation of the vast majority of guns in America.

    And then there's this little tidbit: according to YouGov, 82% of Democrats support banning all semiautomatic weapons, and 50% want to ban all guns. That's sort of the NRA's whole point in their propaganda, isn't it?

    So no, I still don't suspect that the NRA is fearmongering or lying any more or any less than Planned Parenthood. Both are fighting even the slightest infringement of what they view as basic rights in highly polarized environments, often in the face of political parties who are extremely opposed to them.

  • Mar 1st, 2018 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Can I ask you to support the idea that the NRA is lying to its members? Not to support the NRA, but may I point out that various politicians such as Diane Finestein (a concealed weapons permit holder herself) have explicitely called for banning all guns?, we have Barak Obama praising Australia's gun laws that lead to gun confiscation, or Ted Duetch wanting to ban all semiautomatic guns?

    To say that the NRA is lying to its members that various politicians want to ban their guns is itself a lie, at least if we listen to the words above. There are a fair number of them out there who would do so given the chance, and they've been fairly frank about their desire to do so. I suspect that the NRA might be cherry picking the instances, but I wouldn't know since I don't follow them. The above 3 links were quick Google searches and just the top results. I suspect that more determined Google-fu would return a far greater number of results.

  • Feb 28th, 2018 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: 20 people killed in knife attack

    Yes, although not by that name.

  • Feb 28th, 2018 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You might consider why the NRA wields outsized influence in Congress and it's not money. The NRA is barely in the top 10 of political contributions, and Bloomberg alone dwarfs them regularly, and yet the NRA still wins. By money alone, teachers and public workers unions should be running the country if monetary contributions were the sole factor determining elections.

    Yet the NRA is considered a powerhouse. Why might that be? Because when they speak their 4-5 million members listen (something like that number, I don't follow them much), as do a much larger number of non-members. The NRA speaks to a fair chunk of the population it seems.

    You want to neuter the NRA? You'll have to change public opinion as to the reliability of the government to do the right thing, which is where this push for censoring the NRA's message comes in. I'd prefer robust disagreement, but it's frankly easier to demonize the other side to marginalize their message and that's what's being attempted in this case.

  • Feb 28th, 2018 @ 6:49am


    NBC being afraid of the NRA in '73 seems ... unlikely. I'm wondering if there was something else going on inside NBC that Rowan either didn't know or didn't understand.

    The NRA has a long and varied history. In the early 70s it was a much more apolitical organization run by genteel folks who even endorsed the GCA of '68, and really didn't participate much in politics. In those days the NRA focused more on marksmanship programs and the Boy Scouts. It wasn't until the Cincinnati Revolt of '77 that folks turned the NRA into a more politically active organization.

    And I might point out that the NRA isn't really a Republican organization. It's a gun rights organization, and even a decade ago it endorsed about 25% of Democrats in various races (including my "Blue Dog" Representative). The parties have been sorting out much more strongly on some pretty basic issues in the last 20 years, and the the shift in the Democratic Party to more urban viewpoints has reduced the number of Democrats who meet the NRA's loose standard for endorsement (more supportive of gun rights than your opponent).

  • Nov 7th, 2017 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Way off base

    Actually, they are paid to say things, and often on social media to promote their work and the company they work for. That's why so much of this whole thing is problematic: these folks are the public face of their companies, and if they're out there speaking it can be difficult to decide if they're speaking as a representative of their employer or as themselves.

    Look at Trump. When he tweets is it personal opinion or the policy of the US government? If it's policy, Hillary would be under investigation or locked away, so it's probably some mixture of both. But in any case, he's creating a very confusing situation with his social media interaction, one that anyone interacting with the public would be wise to avoid and that's what these companies want.

    So I don't disfavor these policies much as a general rule. Think of this as a career protection mechanism for these folks. They say something stupid enough and they'll hurt the company and they're essentially unemployable anywhere because they're so often facing the public.

  • Nov 2nd, 2017 @ 10:15am


    Interestingly, most publishers have gone to less oppressive DRM schemes and have learned to accept some "losses" from piracy over the years. Back in the day, I spent more on a Lattice C compiler than I did my car, but publishers learned that by cutting the price they actually made more money so things changed.

    Game makers haven't changed, however. Yes, their target demographic generally tends to have less money to spend so they're more likely to pirate to play. Still, the fact that their content plays much more poorly with DRM installed drives ever more of their customers to pirate solutions. I know that I would be tempted to go that route if I were a young gamer these days just because the DRM sucks and causes more problems than it's worth. Being an old fart, however, I don't need to play the latest games this very second to have cred with other gamers. I can wait until both the price comes down and the DRM goes away, so I do.

  • Nov 2nd, 2017 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Shocking

    The idea that dead folks vote is particularly associated with races in Chicago (not without reason, I might add), and that vote is controlled/delivered by Democratic bosses. It predates the JFK election and has been a constant political meme for longer than I've been alive.

    So yes, you are a humorless scold and your reaction shows the dire need for irony and sarcasm tags in html. This meme was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline.

  • Oct 3rd, 2017 @ 9:29am

    Mixed feelings

    DRM is bad for consumers and the consumer/vendor relationship, so losing it wouldn't hurt my feelings in the least.

    What I'm worried about, however, is that it's much more likely that the industry will transition to on-line only games as a "fix."

  • Sep 21st, 2017 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re: open and shut case

    The average smartphone user doesn't change the ring tone, much less go in and mess with security settings. And when Google makes sideloading a two step procedure and tells them that it's dangerous to sideload, well...

    The only part of the complaint that really stands a chance is the fact that Google has effectively made the Play Store the only way to get apps for the vast majority of people. Forcing the sideloading of apps effectively bans them from 99+% of the market, and that's where Google's anticompetitive/monopolistic risk lies.

  • Sep 1st, 2017 @ 10:10am

    Culture change required

    I'm a hardware guy, and while I've not worked for St. Jude personally I've know many who worked there, at Medtronic, etc. In fact, the guy across the aisle is a veteran of those companies.

    The problem at places like Medtronic is more cultural than anything. Medtronic is referred to internally as "The Country Club" for good reason: it's a relatively slow moving tech company dominated by doctors and bureaucratic management. Now in general, that's a good thing since your average techie is a little too willing to cut corners on verification than I'd like in a medical device, but it does lead to technological blind spots like in this case.

    Trying to get a doctor interested in something that's this esoteric and out of their sphere of knowledge as just about impossible. Doctors tend to be pretty dictatorial and when they don't understand something like a tech issue, they just tend to ignore it as you can see from all the lax to non-existent security in just about all medical devices. In fact, one of the biggest complaints I've heard from the guys who worked in biomed companies is that it's just about impossible for techies to get any input into serious decision or product specification. It makes it rather frustrating for techies in biomed companies who recognize real issues and yet get completely ignored and shut down. The fact biomed pays more poorly, equips its engineers with poor tools, and generally gives them little input into how things could be done isn't a package that leads to excellence in the engineering staff overall. Although I know some very good engineers who work in biomed, they aren't there for the pay or working conditions.

    Most of these medical companies need to find a better way to balance the inputs of doctors and engineers. Right now there's really no balance inside the companies.

  • Aug 30th, 2017 @ 10:08am

    Re: Don't kid yourself.

    I personally find it funny how many people acknowledge that coverage of the fields they know intimately by journalists in most major media tends to be rubbish and yet they still trust journalists in fields they don't know well. (Shorter version: journalists these days are the kids who couldn't cut the requirements for an English degree.)

    And as for politics, I've personally given up on any hope of objective, honest coverage of *either* side. Jon Snow, the English broadcaster, gave the best statement I've seen: "Good evening. I know nothing. We the media, the pundits, know nothing. We simply didn’t spot it.” The media exist in their own bubble, with a political orientation that is nearly 3-sigma away from the country overall. Expecting them to pick up the patterns of the bulk of the country when they're so far apart from it is just expecting too much of them.

  • Aug 17th, 2017 @ 8:42am


    The MPAA/Hollywood have failed at making a moral argument? Excuse me, I must have misplaced my shocked face somewhere around here.

    After all, we're talking about organizations have misled the courts about what they were doing to track down "pirates", have consistently lied to consumers about things like backing up the content they've purchased, and have gleefully attempted to abuse consumers at every point they could (how many of you wanted to avoid the preview adverts at the start of your DVDs only to find that Hollywood did all it could to make sure you couldn't?), etc. And yet the public couldn't see past all that to see how righteous the argument they've been making really IS?! How unenlightened of the hoi polloi!

    Yeah, so absent honeypot sites attempting to make Hollywood's point I doubt anything has changed with the MPAA's new tack.

  • Aug 16th, 2017 @ 8:50am


    At a bare minimum Green should have sought a lawyer when he looked at the loan agreement and realized he was signing away his financial future. Why he stuck around with that group of folks as long as he did is a real puzzle. There were fewer red flags at Soviet May Day parades than there were at Proper Media.

    Programmers think they're smart, which is much of the problem. Sure, in general they've got the logical reasoning down fairly well, but they're not prepared for the real world in which systems have much more complicated, illogical rules and hidden variables to which they don't have access. And they're especially vulnerable to sharp business practices, as one of my cousins found out to his detriment when he set up his consulting company with some other programmers who were smart programmers, but less than ethical business folks.

  • Aug 15th, 2017 @ 9:17am

    An independent California would be even more dependent on tech money

    If you believe that Kali would enact laws less likely to protect their tech companies than the US in general, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • Jul 24th, 2017 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Quite right. I've had to design these chips in a past life and the signal propagation changes are just massive as you move and keeping the main signal constant is a real challenge as the signal changes multiple orders of magnitude as you hit reflections, rain and humidity changes, etc. Unless you were doing real-time analysis directly beside the phone these kinds of analyses are pretty much worthless to pinning down a phone.

    The defense expert witness, a Mr. William Folson, had it exactly right: the kind of analysis performed will tell you with somewhat moderately good precision that a certain area *may* be susceptible to dropped calls (and even then, not always if there's a change in the weather, a truck driving beside you, etc), but unless the wireless company is able to pin down the electronic environment by monitoring multiple simultaneous nearly coincident signals it would be virtually worthless for trying to determine position accurately. There is, after all, good reason we have power-hungry GPS chips in our phones for location information.

    About all this "analysis" would be good for is impugning the honesty of a suspect who says he across town at the time. I'm glad the judge listened to the actual technical folks who work on these things rather than the law enforcement types who, frankly, aren't practitioners. It's rare enough to see good science understanding in a judge that I think we should celebrate what he did here.

  • Jun 24th, 2017 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Shouldn't have told the cop that he was armed...

    There is some debate about how Castille should have responded.

    In most CCW classes in MN (required for a permit), they tell you to say, "Officer, I have a concealed carry permit and I am carrying. How do you wish to proceed?" Then you're told to repeat back the officer's instructions before asking to proceed to follow them. All in all, it's meant to slow down the interaction to allow everyone time to calm down a little and to make sure that each side understands exactly what is to come next. You'll notice that Castille should have mentioned the fact that he had a permit before saying he had a weapon, although in theory Yanez should have known that Castille had a permit if he'd run the plate before the stop.

    Now, that's how the CCW instructors tell you to handle things, but that's not what the law requires. In Minnesota you are not required to tell the cop you're carrying unless the cop asks first at which point you are required to answer honestly.

    So there is a great deal of discussion on how this should be handled, and one of the problems is that despite requests from MN gun owners, Gov. Dayton(D) has refused to come up with a protocol on how CCW carriers should respond when stopped by police. That is contributory to the mess here. It would be awfully nice to get a standard so that cops could be trained in how to respond appropriately.

    Now, on a personal level, I think I can say that Yanez has no business being a cop and was very lucky to have skated as he did. How he handled things was just wrong, and he doesn't seem level headed enough to be trusted with a weapon. Even the NRA can agree with that, as you can see from Colin Noir's epic rant on what a disgrace this whole situation was from the point of view of a black man, lawyer and NRA commentator. The problem being, even if you believe that Yanez was a fool and morally deserved to be convicted, it can be hard to overcome the burden of "beyond a reasonable doubt" in a case like this, as Noir points out, no matter how much you might dislike the fact that Yanez was acquitted.

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