Shared posts

03 Apr 19:26

Comic for April 03, 2018

Dilbert readers - Please visit to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to
02 Apr 16:13

" That Cop Just Called Me Faggot " Boohooo...LMAO....

by Radbod
But that's what you are faggot...
28 Mar 01:53

DOMINATE AND CONTROL: Google starts blocking “uncertified” Android devices from logging in….

by Glenn Reynolds
19 Mar 19:17

++GRAPHIC++ MAMMA MIA! Guess what is going to do Speaky....

by SpeakItaly
Do you know this situation?
07 Mar 14:08

Inside South Africa's White Displacement camps

by Goliath

We must fix this. Thanks God for the free press.

See title
18 Jan 17:50

First method to detect illicit drone filming developed

(American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) 'The beauty of this research is that someone using only a laptop and an object that flickers can detect if someone is using a drone to spy on them,' says Ben Nassi, a Ph.D. student in the BGU Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and a researcher at the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC). 'While it has been possible to detect a drone, now someone can also tell if it is recording a video of your location or something else.'
17 Jan 15:48

Bowel cancer test may be a much better way to screen for polyps


someday we will look back at screening colonoscopies as barbaric.

A new blood test seems to be more than twice as good at detecting bowel cancer than the method currently used to screen for polyps and early bowel cancer
16 Jan 19:18

Wall Wishes It Were Load-Bearing

by Ryan Shattuck

ummm, load bearing

17 Oct 03:36

Comic for October 16, 2017

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11 Apr 13:35

New MIT study will explore future of transportation

(MIT Energy Initiative) As part of MIT's five-year Plan for Action on Climate Change, the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) has launched a major study -- 'Mobility of the Future' -- to explore how consumers and markets will respond to potentially disruptive technologies, business models, and government policies. The scope of this study is ground transportation with an emphasis on the movement of people.
07 Nov 20:52

I'm With Her

We can do this.
22 Sep 16:20

People Want to Interact -- Even with an Autonomous Car

by Kristen Hall-Geisler

Semcon's smiling car experiment shows pedestrians' fear of self-driving cars

Semcon's Smiling Car ConceptSemcon's Smiling Car Concept


Semcon's Smiling Car Concept

This family probably feels safer while crossing the street.

Semcon, a product development company specializing in how humans actually use things, conducted a study on people's attitudes toward self-driving cars. People in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany responded, and nearly half said they had very little trust in autonomous vehicles.

Here's a clue why there might be so little trust: 80% of all respondents said that, as pedestrians, they seek eye contact with the driver of a car at an intersection before they cross. Self-driving cars don't have eyes to contact or a nod of recognition to give. How do pedestrians know the sensors see them?

So Semcon tried an experiment. They rigged a car to seem as if it were autonomous, with a driver reading a newspaper in front of his face. (In fact, a second, hidden human was controlling the car.) Even though the car stopped for the pedstrians, they frowned and skittered across the street, uncertain of the car's next move.

Semcon developed a prototype in response to this lack of pedestrian-to-car communication called the Smiling Car. A set of LEDs in the grilled light up a wide smile when the sensors pick up on a human, and the human then knows they're seen. This is similar to the Mercedes-Benz F 105 Luxury in Motion concept, shown at CES 2015, which also had a light-up grille that could communicate with people outside the car.

It's interesting that companies are already thinking along these lines. The NHTSA guidelines for autonomous vehicles that were just released on Monday state that companies working on highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs) "should consider how HAVs will signal intentions to the environment around the vehicle, including pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles." It specifically mentions situations just like the one Semcon tested, when a vehicle recognizes a pedestrian and is waiting for her to cross before proceeding.

02 Aug 21:04

Apple's App Store Rejects Anti-Hillary Game, Sells Nasty Trump Games

by Tim Graham

Well, here’s a liberal tilt.  Charlie Nash at Breitbart reports that after months and months of making a profit at the expense of Republican nominee Donald Trump, Apple is refusing to publish a political satire game about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.

It’s okay that Apple publishes games that make fun of Trump by featuring him as a giant turd in the game “Dump Trump,” or “Dump on Trump Bird” or “Dump on Trump Twisty Wheel Edition” that allows a player to douse Trump in what can best be described as …ummm…bodily fluids. One game lets you punch Trump in the face. (Imagine the feminist reaction to these games with Hillary.)  But Apple has a BIG problem publishing anything that dare criticizes Clinton, even just scandal mockery.

15 Jul 14:46

xkcd Phone 4


Randal needs to take a sebaticle and work for khan academy for a spell. Bill Gates loves Randal and would certainly foot the bill...

The SpaceX system carefully guides falling phones down to the surface, a process which the phones increasingly often survive without exploding.
09 Jun 14:36

5 Things I’ve Learned From 10 Years Of Depression

by Todd Peperkorn

author went from cool tip (I went to friends house to eliminate responsibility) to blathering on about useless information. That first part is the pearl in the rough for depression cure.

Ten years ago, on Good Friday in 2006, my life took a profound turn for the worse and for the better. I was on partial disability for clinical depression, and I was barely hanging on. Trying to “do” disability, be a pastor, and a father to two girls and a newborn only weeks old was all getting the best of me. I was barely holding on, only I didn’t know it at the time.

When I got back from my morning constitutional (nine holes of golf), I received a phone call from my insurance company. They told me matter-of-factly that they had determined I was no longer ill, and that my disability had been canceled as of two weeks previous. I hung up the phone. It was the last straw, the end. I could not hold all of this together anymore. I was (so my disease was telling me) not worth anything to anyone, and it was time to give up. I resolved to end my life.

Well, after church, of course. I was a pastor, after all.

So the day continued. I didn’t tell my wife anything. She was quite used to me wandering around the house as a zombie. By that time it would have been strange if I did anything else.

I went to our noon service, a joint Good Friday Tre Ore that we held with our sister congregation in town. I was preaching. Right before we went in I told my pastor (my colleague and friend), that I was going to kill myself after the service. It probably didn’t come out sounding that dramatic. I have no idea what I actually said any more than I have any idea what I said in the sermon. But I will say that it is a, well, unique experience to preach on the death of God for the salvation of the world while you are planning your own death.

But I didn’t die. My pastor wouldn’t let me out of his sight after the service. We eventually went to Panera and stared at each other over a cup of coffee for an hour or two (Six? Half an hour? I have no idea). Eventually I came out of the fog enough to call my counselor. Somehow we developed a plan to get through the weekend, appeal the determination of the insurance company, get me to someone’s home where I could stay without responsibilities for some weeks, and slowly, slowly, rebuild my life.

Now, I’ve written about this many times—herehere, and here, for example. But after ten years, it strikes me that it might be useful to highlight a few things I’ve learned after ten years of a life that was saved.

1. My Story Is Not Unusual

While it may seem strange or unusual because I’m a pastor, there are many, many people with stories much like mine. Sometimes they are darker, sometimes brighter, but in almost every case there are commonalities. A sickness that no one fully understands. A low point no one could see coming. Friends and family, or even a stranger stepping in so life may go on.

At the time it felt like no one could possibly understand what I was going through. Today I am more amazed that someone doesn’t understand, at least a little bit. We all have darkness in our lives. It is either our own darkness or someone else’s. But it is there. I have come to recognize that as a part of our common humanity.

2. One Can Never Be Too Grateful for Family

Family, friends, pastors, doctors, counselors, all of these and more are God’s instruments to bring you life, hold you together, and to give you a glimpse into God’s mercy when the darkness surrounds you. The kindness that has been shown to me and to my family just never seems to end, and I am constantly amazed at the people God continues to place into our lives so we might be cared for and loved.

3. Recognizing Our Common Humanity Can Initiate Healing

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” (“The Four Loves). If this is true of friendship, how much more is this true of our weaknesses, diseases, and need for mercy! Speaking with others who suffer, giving them permission to say “This stinks!” (or something more colorful), is a liberating thing. While it is sometimes hard, very often I benefit more from the conversations that those who have reached out. We are never alone.

4. Healing Never Really Stops

The last years have had plenty of ups and downs, health-wise. I’ve tried going off medication (not a good idea for me). I’ve tried and transitioned through different counselors, doctors, and even pastors. Each of these have held their challenge, but they have all pointed to the simple fact that while life is fragile, things do change. And that is okay.

5. It’s the Lord’s Supper that Gives Life

Finally, it is the Lord’s Supper that continues to give life. I know, the pastor had to get one “pastor” answer into this. But it is true. No matter how I feel, in the sacrament Christ is present delivering his gifts to me. My mood or health don’t keep him away. My confusion or hurt doesn’t deter him. He gives himself in the Eucharist, and in doing so, is with me to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). That rock, that certainty beyond all doubt, is what sustains me when everything else seems to go dark.

If you are suffering with depression, bipolar disorder, or the myriad other mental illnesses that seem to afflict us day by day, know this: you are not alone. Christ has suffered for us, and we in turn suffer with each other. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalms 73:26, ESV)

This is reprinted with permission from I Trust When Dark My Road.

08 Jun 20:59

Deflategate: Controversy is due to Scientist Error

by Steve McIntyre

holy shit!

I’ve submitted an article entitled “New Light on Deflategate: Critical Technical Errors” pdf to Journal of Sports Analytics. It identifies and analyzes a previously unnoticed scientific error in the technical analysis included in the Wells Report on Deflategate. The article shows precisely how the “unexplained” deflation occurred prior to Anderson’s measurement and disproves the possibility of post-measurement tampering. At present, there is insufficient information to determine whether the scientific error arose because the law firm responsible for the investigation (Paul, Weiss) omitted essential information in their instructions to their technical consultants (Exponent) or whether the technical consultants failed to incorporate all relevant information in their analysis.  In either event, the error was missed by the NFL consultant Daniel Marlow of the Princeton University Department of Physics, by the authors of the Wells Report and by the NFL.




Much public commentary about the Deflategate controversy has been about the Ideal Gas Law. However, contrary to many misconceptions, Exponent fully accounted for deflation according to the Ideal Gas Law.  However, they observed that there was “additional” loss of pressure in Patriot balls for which they could identify “no set of credible environmental or physical factors”.   The Wells Report said that this “tends to support a finding that human intervention may account for the additional loss of pressure”:

This absence of a credible scientific explanation for the Patriots halftime measurements tends to support a finding that human intervention may account for the additional loss of pressure exhibited by the Patriots balls.

While Exponent did not expressly quantify the additional pressure loss – a very peculiar omission,  it was approximately 0.35 psi, as compared to an observed pressure loss of approximately 1.4 psi, due to changes in temperature and the balls becoming wet offset by slight warming during intermission.  Drawing on information in the Exponent Report (see article for details), for Patriot balls (left two columns) and Colt balls (right two columns), the figure below compares estimates of the impacts of cooling (Ideal Gas Law) and wet footballs to observed deflation during the intermission plus an allowance for warming during intermission.  Information for Colt balls reconcile almost exactly, but there is a discrepancy of about 0.38 psi for Patriot balls. This discrepancy is almost exactly equal to the bias of referee Anderson’s Logo Gauge (orange) – a coincidence that should alarm any analyst of this data (including Exponent, Marlow and Wells).


Figure 1. Reconciliation of Patriot and Colt pressure drops. In the right column of each pair, estimated warming through the intermission is added to the observed pressure drop to estimate the pressure drop at the start of the half-time intermission. In the left column of each pair are shown the pressure drop for dry balls (limegreen), an estimated average additional drop for wet balls and, for Patriot balls, the additional deflation arising from re-setting pressure after gloving.

Simulation of Patriot Ball Preparation

The newly identified error pertains to Exponent’s simulation of Patriot ball preparation for the AFC Championship Game – an issue originally pointed to by Patriot coach Bill Belichick at his press conference of January 24, 2015.

In their simulation of Patriot ball preparation, Exponent set football pressures to 12.5 psi, then vigorously rubbed the balls (“gloving”) for 7 to 15 minutes before stopping.  They observed that pressures increased about 0.7 psi, but that the effect wore off after 15-20 minutes – effects shown in their Figure 16 (shown below). From this analysis, they excluded Patriot ball preparation as a potential contributor to the additional pressure loss.


Figure 2. Exponent Figure 16. Original Caption: The pressure as a function of time while a football is being vigorously rubbed.

However, Exponent’s simulation neglected an essential element of Patriot ball preparation. According to the Wells Report (WR, 50), Patriot equipment manager Jastremski set football pressures to 12.6 psi after the vigorous rubbing.

Jastremski told us that he set the pressure level to 12.6 psi after each ball was gloved and then placed the ball on a trunk in the equipment room for Brady to review. [my bold]

The detail that Jastremski set pressure after gloving is not mentioned in the Exponent Report, only in passing in the Wells Report.  Exponent’s failure to mention this detail makes one wonder whether Paul, Weiss might have failed to transmit this detail to Exponent. The detail is critical: footballs so processed will have pressures of 12.1-12.2 psi at room temperature, about 0.3-0.4 psi below the NFL minimum of 12.5 psi.  This is illustrated in the re-statement of Exponent Figure 16 shown below, which illustrates the setting of pressure to 12.6 psi of footballs warmed by gloving, with the subsequent loss of pressure to 12.1-12.2 psi as the balls return to room temperature. The resulting amount of under-inflation is almost exactly equal to the amount of “unexplained” Patriot loss in pressure.football_fig16_with_gloving_transients

Figure 3. Re-statement of Exponent Figure 16. Red: Exponent transient shows effect of rubbing to increase pressure, together with a decline after rubbing stopped. Black: shows reduction in pressure from re-setting to 12.6 psi, followed by transients as ball temperature returns to room temperature. Twenty seconds allowed for setting gauge in above transients. Dotted vertical lines show 7-15 minutes from start of rubbing reported by Jastremski. Logo gauge values of 12.5 and 12.6 psi are shown on right axis, deducting the bias of ~0.38 psi.


“Logical Inferences” on Gauges

The battleground issue in scientific analysis of Deflategate has concerned which gauges were used by referee Anderson for pre-game measurement.  Exponent argued that, “despite the remaining uncertainty, logical inferences can be made according to the data collected to establish the likelihood of which gauge was used [by referee Anderson]”, a conclusion with which I agree, though the above analysis changes the conclusions.

Referee Anderson had two gauges, one of which (the Logo Gauge) measured about 0.38 psi too high, while the other gauge (the Non-Logo Gauge) was accurate.  It was observed almost immediately (MacKinnon, 2015; Hassett et al 2015) that the additional deflation of Patriot balls could be explained if Anderson had used the Logo Gauge for pre-game measurement of Patriot balls, a hypothesis that was consistent with Anderson’s own recollection that he had used the Logo Gauge.  However, Exponent argued that other information led to the “logical inference” that Anderson had used the Non-Logo Gauge for measuring both Patriot and Colt balls. They stated:

Walt Anderson recalled that according to the gauge he used (which is either the Logo or Non-Logo Gauge), all of the Patriots and Colts footballs measured at or near 12.5 psig and 13.0 psig, respectively, when he first tested them (with two Patriots balls slightly below 12.5 psig). This means that the gauges used by the Patriots and the Colts each read similarly to the gauge used by Walt Anderson during his pregame inspection.

Exponent had obtained dozens of gauges (all new gauges similar to the Non-Logo Gauge), none of which had a bias similar to the Logo Gauge.  From this information, they argued that it was “very unlikely” that both the Patriots and Colts could have had gauges that were “out of whack” (the term used by Wells) similarly to the Logo Gauge and therefore concluded that Anderson had used the Non-Logo Gauge for pre-game measurements.      This conclusion was endorsed in the Wells Report, with Wells’ being particularly vehement about the conclusion in the Appeal Hearing, comparing the possibility to a “lightning strike” – a term that he liked and used twice.

Wells was particular emphatic that use of the Logo Gauge was a “scientific” finding (rather than a conclusion from circumstantial evidence). Wells told Goodell:

The scientists, the Exponent people say they believe based on their scientific tests that the non-logo gauge was used.

Wells invoked “science” to explain away Anderson’s recollection of using the Logo Gauge as follows:

Look, this is no different than a case where somebody has a recollection of X happening and then you play a tape and the tape says Y happened. Now, the person could keep saying, well, darn it, I remember it was X. But the people are going to go with the tape. I went with the science and the logic that I had three data points. And that’s what I based my decision on.

Goodell was swayed by Wells’ vehemence and his decision expressly included the following finding on gauges:

There was argument at the hearing about which of two pressure gauges Mr. Anderson used to measure the pressure in the game balls prior to the game. The NFLPA contended, and Dean Snyder opined, that Mr. Anderson had used the so-called logo gauge. On this issue, I find unassailable the logic of the Wells Report and Mr. Wells’ testimony that the non-logo gauge was used because otherwise neither the Colts’ balls nor the Patriots’ balls, when tested by Mr. Anderson prior to the game, would have measured consistently with the pressures at which each team had set their footballs prior to delivery to the game officials, 13 and 12.5 psi, respectively. Mr Wells’s testimony was confirmed by that of Dr. Caligiuri and Professor Marlow. As Professor Marlow testified, “There’s ample evidence that the non-logo gauge was used”.

This reasoning is valid if the pressures were set without rubbing (the Colt balls) but leads to exactly opposite conclusions for Patriot balls.

Because the Patriot rubbing protocol resulted in the balls being under-inflated by approximately 0.35 psi at room temperature,  the only way in which Anderson  could have measured them above 12.5 psi was if he used the Logo Gauge.  This is based on exactly the same form of logical inference used by Exponent, but without their erroneous interpretation of Patriot ball preparation.

The corollary is that Anderson inattentively switched gauges between measuring Patriot and Colt balls.  While this seems peculiar, NFL officials did exactly the same thing at half-time – switching gauges between measuring Patriot and Colt balls – despite heightened scrutiny.  If Anderson put the gauge in his pocket after measuring one set of footballs,  it would be entirely random whether he used the same gauge for the other set of footballs.

Although the possibility of Anderson inattentively switching gauges for pre-game measurements was an important possibility (suggested, for example, by Hassett et al, 2015 pdf), at the appeal hearing (Hearing, 369:11), Exponent made the remarkable statement that they had been “told” not to consider such a possibility, which was not raised or analysed in the Exponent Report.  Surprisingly, this admission wasn’t pursued by Brady’s counsel at the Appeal Hearing and it is therefore unknown who gave these instructions or why.


An essential element of Exponent’s report were their comparisons of observed pressures at half-time to modeled transients of pressure changes through the half-time intermission as footballs warmed up, simulations illustrated in a series of figures (Figures 24-30). Remarkably, these simulations contained another error.  The Exponent Report stated that the Logo Gauge had been used to set pressure of footballs to 12.5 psi in Figures 27 and the right panel of Figure 28:

The Logo Gauge was used to set the pressure of two balls to 12.50 psig (representative of the Patriots) and two balls to 13.00 psig (representative of the Colts).

However, Exponent actually used a different gauge (the unbiased Master Gauge) to set pressures to 12.5 psi, resulting in transients that were approximately 0.38 psi higher than under the stated procedure. In the figure below, I’ve re-stated results from their simulations to show transients based on Colt pressures being set with the Non-Logo Gauge and Patriot pressures with the Logo Gauge.  In each case, there is plenty of time during which there is an overlap between observations and modeled transients, contradicting Exponent:


Figure 4.  Re-statement of transients from Figures 25 (Non-Logo) and 27 (Logo), basis 70 deg F, for Colt balls set to 13 psig using Non-Logo Gauge and for Patriot balls set to 12.5 psig using the Logo Gauge. 



The “unexplained” additional loss of pressure can be unequivocally seen to occur as a result of Jastremski setting pressure after gloving, rather than before.  This is a complete explanation, which precludes tampering after referee measurement.

Previous scientific critiques of the Wells Report had observed that Patriot deflation could be explained if Anderson used the Logo Gauge, but had been unable to overcome Exponent’s argument about the improbability of the Patriot Gauge being “out of whack” similarly to the Logo Gauge.  That weakness is overcome in the present analysis.  Correct modeling of Patriot ball preparation yields the “logical inferences” that the Patriot gauge was relatively accurate and that Anderson used the Logo Gauge.

Indeed, it is the Wells Report itself that requires an implausible “lightning strike”. Wells’ analysis requires that, out of all possible target deflations, the amount of Patriot deflation was almost exactly equal to the bias of Anderson’s Logo Gauge.  Any self-respecting analyst should have examined and cross-examined his data when asked to arrive at that conclusion.

Exponent expressly stated that their procedures were based on information provided by Paul, Weiss (Ted Wells’ legal firm).  While descriptions in the Exponent Report generally track descriptions in the Wells Report, the information that Jastremski set pressure after gloving appears only in the Wells Report and is conspicuously absent from the Exponent Report.  With present documents, it is impossible to tell whether Exponent was in possession of this information and neglected to include it in their simulation or whether Paul, Weiss neglected to transmit this information to Exponent. Either way, it is an error that has no place in a professional report.

Without these errors, Exponent could not have stated that there were “no set of credible environmental or physical factors” explaining the additional pressure loss.

Appeal courts are poorly suited to resolve such errors. There is another way to resolve the controversy. The scientific community takes considerable pride in the concept of science being “self-correcting”.  When a scientist has inadvertently made an error, the most honorable and effective method of correcting the scientific record is to issue a corrected report, and, if such is not possible, retraction.  The Deflategate controversy originated in scientific and technical errors and the responsible scientists and investigators should take responsibility. Even at this late stage, Paul, Weiss and/or Exponent and/or Marlow should man up, acknowledge the errors and either re-issue corrected reports or retract. If any of them do so, it is hard to envisage the Deflategate case continuing much further.

Advocate and even policy-makers often like to say that their conclusions are supported by “science”, but Wells’ enthusiastic use of the terms “science” and “scientific tests” as rhetoric to validate incorrect analysis should serve as a caveat

The complete paper is online pdf.

08 Jun 20:46

D.C.’s $15 Minimum Wage Will Dim Employment Prospects for Younger, Less-Skilled Workers

by Charles Hughes

bullshit. Wendy's, et al support this. I am totally serious. They know robots are entering the workplace, so they want to pander to workers. I am very serious about this.

Yesterday the D.C. City Council unanimously approved a measure that would gradually raise the $10.50 minimum wage to $15.00 by 2020, and then index future increases to changes in the Consumer Price Index. These new scheduled increases will come on the heels of an already significant 39 percent increase currently being phased in. With the passage of this bill, D.C follows California and  in passing substantial minimum wage hikes beyond the scope of past experience in the U.S. The related adverse disemployment effects will primarily impact younger workers and people with limited job skills or educational attainment, putting the important first rung of the job ladder out of reach for many of them.

While proponents of an increase tend to focus on families, roughly half of minimum wage workers are between 16 and 24, and a more than one-fifth are teenagers. People lacking a high school diploma are more likely to be in minimum wage jobs, and even with some recent incremental improvements, the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate for D.C. public schools is only 64.4 percent and for African-American students it is less than 62 percent. While the aggregate unemployment rate for the District might not seem alarmingly high at 6.4 percent in April, there is a lot of variation between the eight wards, with the unemployment rate as high as 9.9 percent in Ward 7 and 12 percent in Ward 8.  One survey found that almost half of responding businesses had already reduced staff or hours to cope with the first raft of minimum wage increases. Younger workers and people with limited educational attainment will find it increasingly difficult to find employment as labor costs continue to surge.

These minimum wage jobs often play an important role in helping people develop the skills they need to eventually move on to more lucrative and promising jobs, far from being a dead-end where these workers get stuck forever. The majority of minimum wage workers that stick with it get a raise within a year. An earlier study looking at data from 1979 to 2002 found that almost two-thirds of minimum wage employees who continue working earned higher than the minimum wage within a year. More recently, 72 percent of minimum wage earners got a raise between 2014 and 2015. About a fifth of these people saw their earnings rise due to mandated minimum wage increases, but 57.5 percent of people working continuously got a raise or moved into a higher-paying job outside of those effects, and this share could have been even higher in the absence of those legislated minimum wage increases. Far from stagnating in these entry-level jobs, most of the people in these positions use these opportunities as a springboard to better things.

Supporters of the new bill may say that they want to ensure that hard work is rewarded and that people can support their families, but D.C.’s substantial minimum wage increases will make it much harder for many people, especially younger workers and people with limited job skills, to find any work at all.

08 Jun 16:33

Four new element names to be added to the periodic table



Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 will likely now be known as nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson
08 Jun 03:55

Uber and Lyft Flee Austin, Less Safe Alternative Emerges

by Matthew Feeney

i was fingerprinted and had to sign 21 separate documents when I taught High School.

Something unsurprising but very interesting is happening in Austin, Texas. Last month, voters in Austin voted against Proposition 1, which would have repealed regulations mandating that wannabe rideshare drivers include fingerprints as part of their applications. Uber and Lyft left the city in the wake of the vote. Predictably, drivers and passengers have turned to social media to keep ridesharing going in a city without Uber and Lyft. While it’s nice to see drivers and passengers trying to adapt to Uber and Lyft leaving Austin, the approach does pose some privacy and safety concerns.

Austin residents looking for a ride need not resort to taxis. Rather, they can join the Facebook group “Arcade City Austin/Request a Ride.” Members of the group can request rides. These requests includes arrival and pickup locations as well as preferred times. Drivers in the group interested in driving the passenger can comment on the request with a phone number, fare, and “brochure” showing that Uber and Lyft had approved them to drive.

As Arcade City notes, their approach removes “corporations” (read: Uber) and other institutions that act as middlemen in popular ridesharing services. There is no Uber or Lyft connecting passengers with drivers, the two parties voluntarily submit information to one-another in order to make each other better off.

As great as it is to see so-called micro-entrepreneurs in Austin working around poorly-considered local regulations, the Facebook group isn’t without concerns.

The “brochures” put on display by drivers could be faked without too much difficulty. A driver found via the Facebook page could be dangerous person who knows how to use Photoshop. Passengers do not know for sure that their potential driver was cleared by Uber or Lyft. In fact, they don’t even know if the driver has a valid license or insurance.

Speaking of insurance, drivers could end up in trouble if they are in an accident while driving a passenger using this Facebook group. Absent clarifying legislation personal auto insurance will be of little help if you’re involved in an accident while driving someone in exchange for money.

There are additional safety concerns associated with Arcade City’s Facebook page. It doesn’t seem difficult to be added to the Facebook group. In fact, I was promptly added to the group after I sent in my request, despite the fact that I work in Washington, D.C. and live in Virginia. It’s not hard to see how this page could be used by stalkers or would-be assailants to identify or track targets. As the screenshot below shows, passengers using the page can reveal specific addresses and telephone numbers.

Arcade City, which has yet to release its app, claims that their platform will allow drivers to create a profile that can embed a social media account, which will enable them to list their safety qualification, as TechCrunch explained:

Arcade City is confident they have a solution that will protect riders, while still remaining decentralized.

The startup explained that each driver will have a profile that can embed a Facebook or Twitter profile, background check, FBI check, driver’s license, proof of physical address, and more. Each driver can attach as few or as many of these verification options as they like, and the app will use these to compile a score that summarizes trustworthiness for each driver. Essentially, since riders will always be able to pick their driver, drivers who choose not to verify should be weeded out of the platform.

However, while this approach may work to provide some safety reassurance, it remains the case that the current Facebook page doesn’t provide rides as safe as Uber or Lyft rides.

Ironically, Uber and Lyft leaving Austin over a safety regulation has left residents with a ridesharing platform more dangerous than the services offered by Uber and Lyft.


07 Jun 17:18

Genetic test predicts your success in life, but not happiness


its on!

Subtle variations across the genome can go a small way in predicting how likely a person is to have a prestigious job, high income and likeable personality
07 Jun 16:19

On Every Federal Policy, Answer the First Question First

by Mike Maharrey

guns and abortion are just a busy-box for me the republican. I care just as much about privacy, but my gun-friends only care about guns and abortion. Its part of the plan of keeping us too busy to have time to picket ! Before I die I want to picket, but like everyone else, I am terrified of getting flushed down the system because of it.

When it comes to federal government policy, Americans generally begin the discussion without first answering the most basic question: is this or that federal action authorized by the Constitution?

Federal gun control provides us with the perfect example.

During a PBS Town Hall discussion this week, Pres. Obama assured a gun shop owner that he, Hillary and Democrats in general don’t want to take away folks’ guns. They just want to enforce “common sense” gun control measures.

“So, sir, I just have to say, respectfully, that there is a way for us to have common sense gun laws. There is a way for us to make sure that lawful, responsible gun owners like yourself are able to use them for sporting, hunting, protecting yourself, but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation in which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment. And that’s how the issue too often gets framed.”

Who can object to “common sense,” right? And for most Americans, the discussion begins and ends right there. The gun control lobby wants to paint anybody who challenges their agenda as opposing “common sense,” and the supporters of organizations like the NRA want to convince you some specific proposed gun control measures aren’t reasonable.

Rarely does anybody ever bring up the more basic question: does the federal government have the constitutional authority to enforce any gun control in the first place – common sense or otherwise? If not, debating the reasonableness of any given proposal becomes utterly irrelevant.

Before you can even consider whether the federal government should do something, you must determine whether it can do something legally under the Constitution. If not, the federal government should not act, no matter how common sense or beneficial the action may be.

During the Virginia ratifying convention, delegate Henry Lee alluded to the importance of this “first question” during debates on federal power.

“When a question arises with respect to the legality of any power, exercised or assumed by Congress, it is plain on the side of the governed. Is it enumerated in the Constitution? If it be, it is legal and just. It is otherwise arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

So, let’s explore the question: does the federal government have any authority to enforce common sense gun control?


No more than it has any authority to confiscate guns. In fact, any federal law regulating firearms is in fact a “tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment.”

“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Infringe – v: Act so as to limit or undermine (something)? encroach on.

Simply put, any federal government action that limits the right to keep and bear arms in any way whatsoever violates the Second Amendment. This includes whatever actions gun control advocates want to categorize as “common sense.” The Second Amendment establishes absolute prohibition on government action that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms – even the common sense action. Any federal gun control crosses the constitutional line in the sand. And once the feds take that first step, it erases the line completely.

As North Carolina ratifying convention delegate James Iredell put it, any law “not warranted by the Constitution is a bare-faced usurpation.”

Even if the Second Amendment didn’t exist, the feds still wouldn’t have any authority to enforce gun laws, or to create gun registries, or limit certain kinds of guns, or to exclude certain people from gun ownership. Read through the powers delegated to Congress in Article 1 Section 8. You will find no authority to regulate firearms.





Americans need to reprioritize the way they look at federal actions. Not just relating to guns – every federal action. They need to ask the first question first: Is whatever I think the feds should do authorized by the Constitution?

If not, it shouldn’t be done.


06 Jun 20:12

Southern California Woman Steals Drone, then Lies About It, Exposed by Drone’s Camera

by Carlos Miller

i hate all cameras. They should give a shit for her interests.

A Southern California woman who prides herself on her community involvement was caught on video trying to steal a man’s drone before lying to police in claiming that it nearly killed her.

Lisa Manfredi apparently thought she was doing her good deed for the day when she picked up a remote controlled quadcopter that had crash landed in Fairview Park in Costa Mesa, then tucked it underneath her shirt as she walked away.

She also thought she was much slicker than she actually proved to be.

“Can you believe how casually I looked?” Manfredi asks a man who is identified as her husband in the video as she walks away with the drone underneath her shirt.

“That was perfect,” he says.

However, it was far from perfection considering the drone’s video camera was recording everything.

The owner of the quadcopter, who posted the video on YouTube on Wednesday where it now has 240,000 views, was also able to track it through the device’s received signal strength indicator.

Plus, there was the bulge underneath her shirt as she tried to walk away.

“Ma’am, do you have my quadcopter,” asks the owner, whose name is Alex, and who was one of several men operating drones in the park that day.

“No, I don’t,” replies Manfredi. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I think you do,” he responds.

“I don’t think I do,” she replies, already halfway admitting guilt.

“You’re going to give it to me or I’m going to call the cops,” Alex says.

“Thats fine, call the cops please,” she says, adding that she has already called the cops.

She then goes into a tirade about how the drone nearly struck her (it didn’t) and how it is illegal to fly them in the park (it’s not) and how she had grounds to sue them (she doesn’t).

She also tells police on the phone that “there’s three men following me right now,” insinuating that her safety was in danger when all they were trying to do is get her to return their property.

“You almost killed me with it,” she tells the men. “I’ll fucking sue you. I got a video of it, you dumb ass …. fuck you.”

At this point, she is obviously still not aware that the drone is recording because she is under the impression that the video she recorded earlier would be enough evidence to sue the men.

“You almost killed me,” she tells the men, still refusing to return their drone.

“I have kids, I have a family, I have all kinds of shit,” she continues.

She then claims children are unable to play in the park because the men keep flying their drones.

But Fairview Park encompasses 208 acres of open space, including a designated area where people are allowed to fly remote control planes (and copters, we assume).

Besides, the men say they had already received permission from the park to fly their drones.

“Leave me alone,” she tells them, still refusing to return their drone. “Don’t come near me.”

“My whole fucking life flashed before my eyes,” she claims, getting more dramatic by the minute.

She continues ordering them to get away from her, then cries into the phone to a dispatcher.

“Excuse me, can you please send an officer here right now? What is taking so fucking long?”

“Fucker, if you come near me, one more step, I’ll fucking kill you,” she threatens. “Leave me alone.”

Police finally arrive and she tells the officer that the drone landed within four feet of her, then starts crying about how they have been following her around the park.

But the cop, probably a Costa Mesa police officer, seemed to sense that she was off her rocker and orders her to calm down and step away.

He also returns the drone to its owners and gets their side of the story first, which was simple. The guys only wanted their drone back.

Alex says he could have filed charges against her, but decided against it.

Manfredi, who lists several community awards on her LinkedIn page, ran for the school board a few years ago, but lost to the incumbent.

She is also a PTA member and very involved with developments at Fairview Park, attending park board meetings regularly.

In fact, her plan was to show up to the next meeting with the drone before she was busted.

Hopefully, she shows up anyway to explain her illegal acts and lies.




The post Southern California Woman Steals Drone, then Lies About It, Exposed by Drone’s Camera appeared first on PINAC News.

02 Jun 15:51

How the FAA Shot Down "Uber for Planes"



Flight-sharing was a brilliant and innovative idea to connect pilots with passengers, until the feds got involved.

01 Jun 16:13

Map Age Guide


better every time!

Does the screeching chill your blood and herald death? If yes, banshee. If no, seagull.
30 May 16:55

Why you don’t want your boss to help with your health


on my last wellness survey I cked the boxes for every vice known to man. No repercussions yet.

To boost health and profits, companies are offering wellness programmes that gather data on staff including steps, calories and even genetic information
29 May 22:46

ZUCKED UP: Why Silicon Valley Is Scared to Death of Trump Part 1

by Lee Stranahan

The four horsemen need to pay their taxes. I would attack them en mas until one leaves the US. Then back down a bit.

California's high-tech business wizards like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are in full freak-out mode over Donald Trump, and the key to understanding why lies in the H-1B visa program.
28 May 14:55

Ethical Questions Loom Over Efforts to Make a Human Genome from Scratch


In the history books, secret meetings are frowned upon.

Printing genomes on demand could mean custom-built organisms, difficult ethical questions, and profits for a handful of companies.
20 May 16:47

Uber’s Prices Are Both Too Low AND Too High (Apparently)

by Don Boudreaux

support Lyft, Uber needs competition. They scare me.

(Don Boudreaux)


As noted in this earlier post, Douglas Rushkoff (in Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus) argues that Uber, despite the fact that its business is based on the use of modern digital technology, is really nothing more than an old-fashioned, worker- and consumer-exploiting monopolist-in-the-making.  Among the means that Uber uses to achieve its monopoly is, according to Rushkoff, predatory pricing (“the same way Walmart undercuts local retailers” [p. 47]).  But in addition to charging prices that are too low, Uber also – in Rushkoff’s telling – also charges prices that are too high:

Unlike traditional, regulated livery services, Uber is under no obligation to the public good, freeing the company to implement “surge pricing” during peak use periods, as it did during Hurricane Sandy and other disasters – a practice indistinguishable from price gouging [p. 86].

It’s true that a firm that practices predatory pricing might nevertheless raise prices when demand for its services increases, and that these higher prices might still be predatory according to the conventional (if, in my opinion, completely meaningless and mistaken) definition of predatory pricing (that is, depending, P<MC or P<AVC).*  But if and to the extent that Uber is a predatory pricer, then the complaints about Uber’s prices during peak periods should not focus on the fact that these prices are higher than during non-peak periods but, rather, on the alleged fact that these prices haven’t risen high enough during peak periods!

It’s very difficult to square Rushkoff’s assertion on page 47 that Uber is a predatory pricer (that is, that Uber charges unjustifiably low prices) with his complaint on page 86 that Uber is a ‘price gouger’ (that is, that when market conditions permit, Uber charges unjustifiably high prices).

More generally, Rushkoff’s complaint about surge pricing is simply another revelation of his profound economic ignorance.  When demand for a good or service rises relative to its supply, the market value of each unit of that good or service necessarily rises.  This reality is not optional.  The resulting higher monetary price, rather than causing this increased scarcity, reflects it.

In addition to reflecting the current, increased intensity of the scarcity of a good or service, the higher price also (1) informs both existing and potential suppliers of this product’s now-greater relative scarcity; (2) incites both existing and potential suppliers to increase the amounts of time, effort, and resources that they devote to producing and bringing this product to market; (3) informs both existing and potential consumers of this product’s now-greater relative scarcity; and (4) incites both existing and potential consumers to economize further on their use of this product.

The result of the higher price is that suppliers eventually bring more of the product to market and consumers use existing supplies more carefully than they did before the price rose.  Both responses – those of producers and those of consumers – help to diminish the negative effects suffered by flesh-and-blood people from whatever underlying reality caused the demand for this product to rise relative to its supply.

Complaining about so-called “price gouging,” therefore, is akin to complaining about the reflection in a mirror of your blotchy face and unkempt hair.  Not only will destroying or distorting – or bemoaning – the mirror do nothing to change the reality that your face is blotchy and your hair unkempt, it will fail to give you accurate information about the state of your face and hair.  It will also diminish your capacity to take whatever are the best steps to rid your face of blotches and to make your hair more attractive.

In short, Uber’s surge pricing is strong evidence that Uber serves the public interest rather than, as Rushkoff believes, undermines it.  Yet because Rushkoff has no earthly idea of the determinants of, or of the role of, market prices, he blames the symptom (rising prices) for causing the underlying malady (increased scarcity).  Rushkoff therefore mistakenly concludes that masking the symptom will cure the underlying malady.

UPDATE: The Economist just now offered this nice essay on surge pricing.  A slice:

Yet surge fares also demonstrate the elegance with which prices moderate a marketplace. When demand in an area spikes and the waiting time for a car rises, surge pricing kicks in; users requesting cars are informed that the fare will be a multiple of the normal rate. As the multiple rises, the market goes to work. Higher fares ration available cars by willingness to pay: to richer users, in some cases, but also to those less able to wait out the surge period or with fewer good alternatives. Charging extra to those without good alternatives sounds like gouging, yet without surge pricing such riders would be less likely to get a ride at all, since there would be no incentive for all the other people requesting cars to drop out. Surge pricing also boosts supply, at least locally. The extra money is shared with drivers, who therefore have an incentive to travel to areas with high demand to help relieve the crush.


* MC is the acronym for “marginal cost” (which is the change in the producer’s total costs when its output changes by one unit).  AVC is the acronym for “average variable cost” (which is the sum of the producer’s variable costs divided by the number of units of output it produces; variable costs include all costs save those that are “fixed” – i.e., cannot be varied – during the time horizon under consideration).

By the way, if economists and antitrust scholars had read and absorbed the lesson of Armen Alchian’s sorely neglected 1959 article “Costs and Outputs,” the very concept of below-cost pricing would have been seen for nearly 60 years now as being completely meaningless.

16 May 21:59

Solar-Powered Tuk Tuk To Travel More Than 6000 Miles

by Kristen Hall-Geisler
Naveen Rabelli and Tuk Tuk Tejas in IranNaveen Rabelli and Tuk Tuk Tejas in Iran

Naveen Rabelli

Naveen Rabelli and the Tuk Tuk Tejas

Rabelli pauses in Iran as he drives from India to Germany in his solar-powered tuk tuk.

Billed as the largest electric rally in the world, the sixth WAVE Trophy Rally will take place June 10-18. It begins in Germany and ends in Geneva – for most of the 80 projected participants. But not for Naveen Rabelli.

Rabelli, an automotive engineer, designed a solar-powered tuk tuk, or three-wheeled powered rickshaw, for the competition. The Tuk-Tuk Tejas, as he named his entry, will not only cover the 1600 km (nearly 1000 miles) of the WAVE Trophy Rally itself; he’s also driving it from Bangalore, India, to the competition, about 8800 km (about 5500 miles).

The Tuk-Tuk Tejas is solar-powered, so Rabelli plans to travel only about 100 km a day, or 62 miles. At that pace, it will take him about 100 days total to reach the rally. Even after accomplishing all that, Rabelli hopes to push on in his creation, all the way to London. He’s been testing his design for the past four years in preparation for this epic, if slow, solar-powered journey.

By building the Tuk-Tuk Tejas, Rabelli is following the lead of the WAVE Trophy’s founder and director Louis Palmer, who in 2008 drove his Solartaxi around the world. The project intended to draw attention to solar power and zero-emissions vehicles, and he received a “Champion of the Earth” award from the United Nations for his efforts.

Rabelli wants to move those goals forward, especially in demonstrating the reliability of solar power and connecting with others who are working toward sustainable living solutions. The other teams will be bringing a mix of commercially available plug-in electric cars, like the Tesla Model S and a Zero S motorcycle, and home-built conversions, like a Citroen 2CV and a Saab 900 convertible.

On May 4, according to Rabelli’s Facebook page, he’d crossed through Iran and entered Turkey – right on schedule. His calculations showed that he’d generated 24 kWh of solar energy as he traveled 2800 km (1739 miles) through Iran, saving 175 liters (46 gallons) of gasoline. He’ll next travel through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Austria on his way to the WAVE Trophy starting line in Bremerhaven, in northern Germany, on June 11.

11 May 14:33

Craig Wright, Satoshi, and Turing Completeness

by Steve P.

easy, whomever possesses the largest amount of btc is the creator.

I am only passingly familiar with Bitcoin technology, but I have been intrigued by recent claims that Craig Wright is the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto.  I was also intrigued last December, when the first claims came out.  At that time, I knew even less about Bitcoin  then I do now, and I knew nothing about the people who were involved in its creation.  But I watched this video,

and at around 17 minutes, I thought it was funny that "some guy" (who I now know is Nick Szabo, another Satoshi candidate - who denied it.) was arguing with "Satoshi".  Here is an approximate transcription at 16:34:

@BitcoinBelle: So, um, how is it that you feel about... obviously it's a peer to peer currency, and protocol that you don't want government involvement in...
Wright: I'm not... I mean... That's looking at it too small.   Umm... Unfortunately, not many people seem to have knowledge of assembly code or Forth or anything like that any more and I listened to one of Nick's earlier talks and he was talking about limitations in machine code there's none of these limitations and in fact, we have a rather rich instruction set.  It's just not well-defined yet.  And then the next part is, we have Ethereum going out there saying we've got to build a new stack because we can't loop.  But no one seems to realize that Forth actually does loop.  You have to use a separate control stack.  It's not like a lot of code forms where you actually have a single stack.  Forth and Forth-like languages use a dual-stack architecture.  So everything that we're talking about in derived contracts can actually be done directly in Bitcoin and the Bitcoin protocol.  It's just going to take time for people to understand it. 
@BitcoinBelle: Since you mentioned Nick, then I'm going to allow him to respond to that... 
Szabo: No... I have not heard that opinion before.  I've never heard anybody call the bitcoin script Turing complete.  And I don't believe that's accurate. 
@BitcoinBelle: He just said you're wrong. 
Wright: The difference is the script itself isn't.  What you can do is you have in Forth, a control loop, so the looping function is separate to the actual script itself. 
Szabo: Yeah, that's an esoteric thing.  If it's not Turing complete, then it's not a general purpose language like Ethereum....
There was some more back and forth between the two of them until Joseph VaughnPerling - apparently a diplomat - joined in on the topic, saying,  "...It doesn't exist today.  It is a possible future.  Who knows if it will occur?  But... both of these gentleman are correct."

I remembered this discussion because I thought it was funny to see someone debating Bitcoin's capabilities with Satoshi - it was only later that I read the skepticism about whether Wright really is Satoshi or not, and later still when I learned that Nick Szabo isn't just "some guy" in the cryptocurrency field.  I soon read that the Wright = Satoshi claim was widely believed to be a hoax, so I put it out of mind until the Satoshi spark was lit again this month.

As I understand it, many people have again concluded that Wright's latest claims were false, but there are four prominent bitcoiners who are still backing Wright's claim: Gavin Andresen, Jon Matonis, Joseph VaughnPerling, and Ian Grigg.  I know very little about any of them, but one of the first articles I read on the topic came from Matonis.  In light of the video above, here's what I found especially interesting:
Directly or indirectly, the work of Satoshi has already provided employment opportunities for tens of thousands of people around the globe and created over $7 billion of new blockchain wealth. The forthcoming research work from Dr Craig Wright can only be described as voluminous and highly technical.
At its essence, Bitcoin displaces the intermediary, or trusted third party, and there will be no sacred cows along the way. It will be methodical, scientific, and unforgiving in its ascent.
Going forward from here, Bitcoin-company board rooms and others throughout the financial ecosystem will be recalibrating business models as these applied developments realign the prevailing orthodoxy. Expect radically-new solutions that address specialized nodes and on-chain scalability, smart contracts that exploit a Turing complete Bitcoin, the impotence of tokenless blockchains, and a systematic decline in the quantity and value of alt-coins.
So it seems that not only did Wright convince Matonis that he is Satoshi, but - and perhaps more importantly - Wright also convinced Matonis of the viability of a Turing complete Bitcoin, which Szabo had disbelieved.

Is Wright Satoshi?  Or part of a Satoshi team?  Who knows?  My guess is yes.  When 4 different "insiders" all believe him, and two of them claim to have personal knowledge of his identity, it seems a stretch to call them all liars or dupes.

But I know less than Jon Snow, so that guess is basically just wild speculation.  At any rate, it's an interesting question from the perspective of history and current events, but in practical terms, the answer isn't very useful.  At this point, I'm far less interested in Wright's Satoshi-status than in the content of that "voluminous and highly technical" research.

Does Wright's exit from the stage mean that Matonis' expectations will go unfulfilled?  Or is the anticipated technology realignment still on the horizon for Bitcoin?

Update: Wright's reference to publishing again next year during his video introduction is interesting in light of current events and Matonis' description of Wright's forthcoming research.