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It's not just a question of how the model extrapolates from the input data itself. The actual input data may be in question as well, because there are always judgments involved in deciding how to measure, what "unreasonable" datapoints will be discarded, etc.

Read, for example, here:

"It is indisputable that a theory that is inconsistent with empirical data is a poor theory. No theory should be accepted merely because of the beauty of its logic or because it leads to conclusions that are ideologically welcome or politically convenient. Yet it is naive in the extreme to suppose that facts – especially the facts of the social sciences – speak for themselves. Not only is it true that sound analysis is unavoidably a judgment-laden mix of rigorous reasoning (“theory”) with careful observation of the facts; it is also true that the facts themselves are in large part the product of theorizing. ..."


Well, it looks to me like people rarely vote for a candidate. More often, they're voting against a candidate because they believe that the other team is evil and must be stopped.

And it should be obvious that we're already in the end game for this strategy: if you vote against the other guy because he's evil, then your guy doesn't need to be good, he just needs to be perceived as slightly less evil. So it becomes a race to the bottom.

The cause of this seems to me to be the forced gerrymandering of voting districts so we don't get a meaningful voice in politics (other than as implied by the color of our skin, which is what the voting rights act requires).

But I think that, while getting rid of gerrymandering is a necessary part of any solution, the ultimate fix is to do away with the institutionalized two-party system. If today's problem is that the decision is binary (if I hate A then I must choose B), then offering three or more choices forces some thought and decision (at the very least: I know I hate A, but is B or C a better alternative?).

That's not entirely true. Even if I behave completely above-board, it's possible that some site I visit has been compromised by hackers. Without some kind of protection, I could then be damaged by malware.

How can a compromised site damage your machine, given that you keep your browser updated?

Isn't that the whole point of 0-day bugs? That they work against fully updated browsers?

And how would an antivirus save you against such a bug in the browser?

By detecting some typical exploit pattern, the exploit kit itself, the malware the exploit eventually ends up downloading and executing, or even the malicious host itself. There might be other ways too, but those at least are the most typical ways.

An antivirus definition file is a lot easier to update than a browser component that is exploited. The latter generally involves a lot more testing, whereas the former is essentially just metadata.

... or to decry gag orders from what was promised to be "the most transparent administration in history".

Do we know he wasn't the most transparent? All we know is that he wasn't very transparent.

Granted, it's hard to quantify. But we do know specific issues of transparency that were promised but never delivered.

Most egregiously, he promised that he'd post for 3(?) days, every bill passed by Congress, prior to signing it into law. This is something that he could have done unilaterally, it was - and still is - entirely his own decision. Yet that promise was abandoned within the first week of his presidency.

That the promise was so quickly and thoroughly broken, even in cases for which there's no apparent special circumstances, is sufficient evidence to me that the promise was nothing but pandering, without any good faith behind it.

This was 2.5 years ago. It hasn't gotten any better since:


Since there's no real reason to break this promise, I'm guessing it's a symptom of speechwriter/teleprompter politics.

I guess you can't expect that most of the words from a politician even made an impression as he orated them from the scroll/earpiece, less that they'll be remembered, less that they reflected any authentic intent or belief.

I'm starting to think that I should vote for someone in the next election who promises to maintain every status quo and aggressively obfuscate government activity, in the hopes that all politicians do the opposite of what they say they'll do.

Free speech doesn't include yelling fire in a crowded theater

This is incorrect. This is a silly characterizations on the limits of free speech (of which some certainly do exist). Ken, the writer at Popehat, has written many times on this very topic. To address the most obvious problem with your statement, free speech DOES include yelling fire in a theater, unless that cry is false.

Further, Ken has also written at great length about what constitutes a "true threat", and demonstrated why NONE of the comments falls into that definition.

Moreover, you pick the most egregious of the statements. Saying that there should be "a special place in hell" for the judge can't possibly be interpreted in that manner. Anyone trying to do so is obviously acting in bad faith.

On top of all these problems:

"Yelling fire in a crowded theater" was originally a metaphor for why we should jail anti-war protestors for handing out anti-draft pamphlets as spies under the Espionage Act; The standard established in Schenck was later overruled in Brandenberg, narrowed severely to describe 'Speech likely to incite imminent lawless action', with implication that this only applies to a riot. Up until the Patriot Act, we were fairly strongly against prescriptive prohibitions on speech, like gag orders; The optimist in me says ten years down the line we probably will be again. The pessimist in me is too busy weeping in a corner for his rights and having repetitive panic attacks to provide constructive criticism.

The fact that the phrase persists is one of the odder facts of Constitutional history, and the original ruling one of the more obviously loathsome of the set. Say what you like about the necessity of getting entangled in WW1, but the Founders would certainly speak strongly on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington's_Farewell_A... , and choosing to suspend blatantly obvious First Amendment protections over that, as opposed to some more controversial position, always struck me as an unlikely outcome.

PS: The inner pessimist just perked up to ask what the hell I'm blathering about "speech" this and "speech" that, since we suspended due process entirely when we chose to empower highwaymen with civil asset forfeiture, and what's the point of debating more nuanced problems when that's standing law, when the people in charge think that's Constitutionally valid? Dude's depressing.

And in the case of it being false, the restriction isn't on the grounds of free speech, but is on the grounds of property rights of the theater in which your actions have done damage.

I prefer to apply the principle of charity when replying to others' arguments. You chose the most uncharitable reading of my invocation of the 'silly' 'yelling fire' prohibition. Obviously I'm talking about the situation where it is false - and that is exactly my point. Not all lies or false statements are protected. There is such a thing as prohibited speech. Yelling 'fire' when there is no fire is an example of it.

Furthermore the test is whether a reasonable person believes they could telegraph intent.

The test is - if you, a reasonable person, could reasonably believe that this judge's safety is in question? I will grant that it seems like the standard is fairly subjective, and libertarians are predictably siding with the expansive free-speech side of this argument, choosing not to read intent into something that other reasonable people might read intent into.

I tend to err on the side of personal safety given that I read these comments as probably not true threats but also not definitely false.

For what it's worth, though, I believe the sentence issued by the judge in question against Ross Ulbricht was unjust and unduly harsh and probably qualifies as cruel and unusual. Still, I don't recommend making suggestions of violence against an individual online, whether joking or not, and I don't think this is as clear cut as many are making it out to be.

Justice Holmes later back-pedaled quite a bit on the fire/theater thing, and the simple quip just is not an accurate statement about how Free Speech works in America.

From another Popehat post (Ken's really serious about this stuff, and goes to great lengths to explain it), talking about Holmes's evolved jurisprudence years after making the fire/theater statement. Quoting:

Holmes' Repentance — Too Little, Too Late

Conventional wisdom says that Holmes rethought his broad support of censorship when he grasped how open-ended it truly was. The next trilogy of cases before the Supreme Court, starting in late 1919, is consistent with that view. Holmes dissented repeatedly as the Supreme Court reaped what he had sown. ...

Holmes, a regretful Dr. Frankenstein struggling against his creation [that is, the fire/theater comment], dissented. He first offered what in my opinion is a disingenuous and utterly unconvincing attempt to distinguish the case from Schenck, abruptly discovering fastidiousness about proof that expression actually has a tendency to cause lawbreaking ...

The damage Holmes inflicted — the malleable and unprincipled standard of censorship he drafted — was not thoroughly rebuffed until a half-century later. Brandenburg v. Ohio states the modern standard


Even correctly quoted with "falsely", the 'crowded theater' example comes from a decision resulting from the successful prosecution of someone handing out fliers opposing the WWI draft.

But the federal government has banned marijuana, which is arguably much safer than alcohol, and a potential substitute. In fact, they've banned to such a degree that for most purposes even scientific research on it is illegal.

It really does seem arbitrary, and once the arbitrary decision is made, all bridges are burned and we commit ourselves 100% to the capricious decision.


A lot of this is arbitrary and capricious, but banning marijuana is so blatantly stupid that there is actually some movement of late to reverse the ban.


Don't forget salt and sodium. The gov't is still trying to work up sodium regulations, while the scientific evidence supporting it withers and dries up (kinda like a salted slug)


It's not so much that it's drying up, as that the illusion of there ever having been evidence is more and more widely disbelieved. These nutrition fads aren't actually coming from science; they're coming from the intermediaries that claim to be telling us what science has found, but which are actually just making stuff up.


The only reason that the individual states that wearing a helmet is a hinderence...

You missed one important point from the OP:

One well-done study that evaluated all the current studies out there (called a meta-analysis), found there to be no benefit to helmet use when you take into account all types of injuries. Helmets protect against certain kinds of injuries (those to the head) and increase the likelihood of other injuries (those to the neck).

That last sentence there is important, so I'll call it out again: "Helmets protect against certain kinds of injuries and increase the likelihood of other injuries."


I think their characterization of the major shifts they detected are a little off the mark.

First, they claim that in 1982, Disco was ascendant (along with New Wave and Hard Rock). I would claim that by '82, Disco was waning, and it's the New Wave along with Hard Rock and particularly Metal (this being the climax of the NWOBHM in Iron Maiden that led to Metallica and other metal bands) at this time.

Then in '91, they claim that rock was receding, while rap was ascendant. The rap part of this is surely correct, although it had been building steam since the mid '80s. But their call on "rock" is surely wrong. 1991 was a hugely pivotal year in rock, but not as a death knell. The 1991 release of Nirvana's Nevermind shot metal in the head, and brought us the "Seattle Sound" that dominated rock through that decade. I would claim that it's the Seattle Sound that was the sudden sea change in '91.


Like all cities, it gets thoroughly screwed by the State

I'm no expert on this, but I can think of important counterexamples, so I'm not sure this is true at all.

Counterexample #1 - New York. It seems that this name is pretty much synonymous with the city plus a bit of surrounding area, and the upstate regions are completely forgotten. In particular, the areas that have to host NYC's water supply get particularly hosed: their economies are significantly based on tourism and fishing, but the flow of the Upper Delaware is entirely governed by NYC needs, ignoring the fish. Further, the State has banned fracking, largely in order to guarantee the integrity of the reservoirs, and at the expense of the only opportunity that those living on the Marcellus Shale have to escape their rut.

Counterexample #2 - Austin, TX. Again relating to water, it seems that the city gets priority access to water (a scarce commodity in much of TX). Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan were sacrificed, emptying to something around 30% capacity (I forget the exact numbers) until our recent floods, so that Ladybird Lake (the center of the city) could be kept beautiful and full - and they're even talking about building a water park. So suburban and rural interests were subordinated to aesthetics in the city.


NYC and its suburbs fork over about $12 billion a year more in taxes to the state than gets spent in that region on services. That's not including the massive urban/rural cross-subsidies built in to everything from electricity to water to telecommunications.


As a pretty heavy counterexample, compare public transit funding vs. highway funding pretty much anywhere in the US, or education funding (which screws both urban and rural, to the benefit of suburban). In terms of cities I've lived in/near, Philly, Pittsburgh, SF, Chicago, and Baltimore all get pretty thoroughly screwed by the state governments, which are all districted to minimize urban influence.



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