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School Issued Laptops Used to Spy on Students at Home
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:44 pm EST, Feb 18, 2010

This article claims that a lawsuit was filed over a Philly high school allegedly activating student's webcams to spy on students at home. Scary.

School Issued Laptops Used to Spy on Students at Home

I like the way that this function sounds
Topic: Arts 3:10 am EDT, Aug  9, 2009


I like the way that this function sounds

Dear Memestreams: Why is there any money in VOIP?
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:57 am EDT, Aug  9, 2009

This is a real question that I am curious about as an interested layman (I am not trying to be snarky or sarcastic).

It seems that all you really need to do for VOIP is encode and decode sound from a usb headset to/from mp3 or some such and send it to a peer. Can this not be done in under 2000 lines of python?

Granted, most end-users nowadays are behind a NAT, but is it really that expensive to set up a STUN server to traverse the NAT? I mean, would even this take more than a few thousand lines of python and relatively light traffic?

Also, if the move to IPv6 ever happens, will the need for NAT traversal pretty much disappear?

I am by no means an expert or even proficient at this sort of thing, so please let me know if I am missing something.

21 and up - the single most regrettable decision
Topic: Society 1:07 am EDT, Jul 28, 2009

One of the people who was instrumental in pushing for laws to increase the legal drinking age to 21 now calls his actions "the single most regrettable decision" of his career.

Dr. Morris Chafetz, a psychiatrist who was on the presidential commission in the 1980s that recommended raising the drinking age to 21, made his remarks in an editorial that he is shopping for publication and which he released to the advocacy group Choose Responsibility.

21 and up - the single most regrettable decision

New Tron Movie
Topic: Arts 11:25 am EDT, Jul 27, 2009

Apparently Disney is doing a remake of Tron. Lightcycles seem to be upgraded (?) to follow arbitrary smooth Bezier curves rather than non-differentiable right angle turns, and use an expanded color palette allowing one to choose between multiple shades of green. Programs are now given loosely fitting tracksuits and motorcycle helmets. Looks as if memory discs can now be used as weapons or hand-held circular saws, but this is unclear from the trailer.

New Tron Movie

Great Animation of the Ptolmeic Model of the Solar System
Topic: Science 12:54 pm EDT, Jul 26, 2009

This is the best animation that I have seen of the ancient Earth centered system for calculating the positions of the planets in the sky. Smaller circles on the main orbits called epicycles correct for the fact that planets don't actually revolve around the Earth. It's cool to see the whole system in motion at once.

Contrary to popular opinion, there never were 'epicycles upon epicycles' needed to produce further corrections, and when Kepler finally proposed his elliptical sun centered system, he had found that the Ptolmeic model was about as accurate as the circular Earth centered Copernican model - both accurate to a few arcminutes. Another interesting fact is that the Copernican model also included small epicycles called 'epicyclets'. Both systems were mathematically quite difficult to work with.

The Copernican model was ironically praised for the fact that it adhered better to Aristotelian theory in that heavenly bodies move at a constant speed, which does not occur in Ptolemy's model - a problem that he made apologies for. Many astronomers were simply impressed that two radically different models could give accurate planetary positions.

The driving economic interest behind creating these models was the production of natal charts giving the positions of the planets at the time of birth, useful for making astrological predictions - a practice that paid the bills for the Renaissance astronomers.

Great Animation of the Ptolmeic Model of the Solar System

Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct
Topic: Society 2:37 pm EDT, Jul 25, 2009

Disorderly conduct has its roots in the mid-19th century, when police officers needed a way to quell street brawls that erupted frequently between recent immigrants and already established residents, often regarding labor issues. Crowds would gather and cops needed to restore order in public places.


Jon Shane, who spent 17 years as a police officer in hardscrabble Newark, N.J., said that had he been the cop called to Gates' house, he would have left Gates and his huffy comments alone once he was sure Gates was the homeowner. He admits he may well have been offended by the professor's alleged bluster, but that's just part of the job, so much so that there's a term in police vernacular devoted to situations like this: contempt of cop.

"In contempt of court, you get loud and abusive in a courtroom, and it's against the law," says Shane, now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay who specializes in police policy and practice. "With contempt of cop, you get loud and nasty and show scorn for a law enforcement officer, but a police officer can't go out and lock you up for disorderly conduct because you were disrespectful toward them." The First Amendment allows you to say pretty much anything to the police. "You could tell them to go f--k themselves," says Shane, "and that's fine."

It is interesting to look at the divide between law enforcement officials on whether they believe that they have to 'put up with' being verbally berated. Reading the various news stories, it is nice to see that some cops understand that as much as it sucks this really is part of the job and unique to their profession.

Gates Controversy - Some Cops Understand Disorderly Conduct

RE: Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius
Topic: Society 5:52 pm EDT, Jun 27, 2009

Briefly, he has posited that our intellectual abilities are divided among at least eight abilities: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalistic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The appealing elements of the theory are numerous.

It's "cool," to start with: The list-like format has great attraction for introductory psychology and education classes. It also seems to jibe well with the common observation that individuals have particular talents. More important, especially for education, it implicitly (although perhaps unintentionally on Gardner's part) promises that each child has strengths as well as weaknesses. With eight separate intelligences, the odds seem good that every child will be intelligent in one of those realms. After all, it's not called the theory of multiple stupidities.

Gardner's Theory of multiple intelligences almost certainly has a grain of truth. It is similar to the fact that the human body contains multiple types of fluids that need to be in good balance. The problem is that the fluids regulating the human body are not simply blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile as posited by medieval scholars who simply observed that people contained these loose categories of ooze.

Similarly, visual-spacial, verbal-linguistic, etc... are patterns that are evidently on the surface of learning, but I WILL EAT MY DIRTIEST, SMELLIEST OLD HAT if nature was to give up such a critical secret of human cognition so easily. I will go on record as strongly conjecturing that the neurotypical system of human learning is *at least* as complicated as the enzymatic chemistry that goes on in human cells.

On the other hand, one can rate the overall effectiveness of a system, and some systems are more effective. Part of me really doesn't want to believe that it is genetic, but one cannot ignore data.

I don't think that this invalidates meritocracy, however. I would rather work with a scientific researcher who is plain dumb but has placed 10,000 hours of hard work studying the subject and can collaborate than an incredibly clever individual who refuses to seriously study the literature and is arrogantly lacking in reflective criticism. I will also guarantee that the former will have a greater impact nine times out of ten.

RE: Not Every Child Is Secretly a Genius

RE: The United States of America is a free country!
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:23 am EDT, Jun 19, 2009

Decius wrote:

A federal jury on Thursday found Jammie Thomas-Rasset liable in the nation’s only Recording Industry Association of America file-sharing case to go to trial, dinging her $1.92 million for [sharing] 24 songs [on a p2p network].

We have mature, sophisticated political institutions in the United States of America that uphold justice and reach reasonable results.

We have credibility.

In fact, we set an example for the rest of the world. We are a shining light for freedom in which people of all nations find hope.

Our citizens are thankful that they live in a free country. They respect our legislators and judges - who have the most difficult task of maintaining and upholding our democratic values. These are intelligent people, our best and brightest, who faithfully represent the best interests of everyone in our country.

There are absolutely no widespread problems with our system's ability to cope with technological and social change. We are completely free of corruption and small minded authoritarianism. Our justice system meters out punishments that are righteous and appropriate, a fact which is ensured by our careful, deliberative processes in which checks and balances effectively contain the abuses of political power.

In sum, we are totally awesome, and there is absolutely no room for criticism of how we do things around here. Only evil people suggest that the fundamental structure of our institutions might need to be reconsidered. This is the end of history, and we represent the final form of political organization. There is no way that you could ever improve upon how we do things right now.

Man, what a great time to be alive!

It is worth noting that if she had shoplifted the equivalent number of CDs in Minnesota, it would be considered a misdemeanor offense and she would owe a maximum of $1000 dollars in fines.

If Sprint Communications corporation was required to pay equivalent fines for their 18.2 million dollars of illegal early termination fees, they would owe 1.024 trillion dollars, which would easily pay off the TARP.

The eighth amendment states:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

I don't get it.

RE: The United States of America is a free country!

SCO possibly very close to delisting
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:58 pm EST, Mar 22, 2005

] LINDON, Utah, March 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The SCO
] Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOXE - News) today issued the
] following information. The Company participated in a
] previously announced hearing with the Nasdaq Listing
] Qualifications Panel on March 17, 2005 regarding its
] possible delisting for its failure to file its Form 10-K
] for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2004 in a timely
] fashion as required under Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(14).
] The Company outlined for the Panel its plan for filing
] its delinquent Form 10-K. The Company also discussed its
] plan for filing the delinquent first quarter Form 10-Q
] with the Panel during the hearing. On March 18, 2005, the
] Company received a notice from the staff of The Nasdaq
] Stock Market regarding the Company's failure to comply
] with Nasdaq's requirement to file its Form 10-Q for the
] quarterly period ended January 31, 2005 in a timely
] fashion, as required under Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(14).

The NASDAQ is now reviewing SCO (current ticker: SCOXE) and may decide to delist them. I find it very interesting that SCO is continuing to not release their financial statements. They may be very close to their demise.

Their stock is currently down about 9% on the announcement.

SCO possibly very close to delisting

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