Saturday, June 8, 2013

On Why Data Mining Is Useless at Preventing Terrorism

Over at The New Republic, Rachel Levinson-Waldman has a great piece.

Credit card companies are held up as the data-mining paradigm. But the companies' success in detecting fraud is due to factors that don’t exist in the counterterrorism context: the massive volume of transactions, the high rate of fraud, the existence of identifiable patterns (for instance, if a thief tests a stolen card at a gas station to check if it works, and then immediately purchases more expensive items), and the relatively low cost of a false positive: a call to the card's owner and, at worst, premature closure of a legitimate account.
By contrast, there have been a relatively small number of attempted or successful terrorist attacks, which means that there are no reliable “signatures” to use for pattern modeling. Even in the highly improbable and undesirable circumstance that the number of attacks rises significantly, they are unlikely to share enough characteristics to create reliable patterns.
via Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money

This is my field. If you don't have a pattern you have nothing to match against.

On The Closing of Google Reader

With the deadline for Google Reader coming soon I have a question...

Anyone found a good replacement?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On Marriage based Green Cards

I don't know how folks that aren't financially comfortable can afford it. I know they do though.

They have my great respect.

Stay tuned to this space for my adventures as I  go through the process. Hopefully a series of "another check to the lawyer and everything is proceeding apace " posts.

So far I have found out that leaving the country while married to an American citizen is a bad idea for someone of TN status. Good to know but wish I had known sooner.

On Voting

It is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On Marriage Equality and Bigotry

If you are not in favor of marriage equality you are a bigot. Just as much as if you think black people are stupid and lazy or if you think women should stay in the kitchen.

You can dress it up any way you like but it doesn't change that basic fact. If you don't like me calling you a bigot, don't be one.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On A Game Of Thrones

PZ Myers gets it just right again

 These are books in which the actions of the characters are totally meaningless — I expect Martin’s plan for wrapping up the series is to have a giant asteroid smash into the planet in the final chapter, turning it into a cinder of ash and magma, spiraling into its sun for a final “pfffft.”

I have read all 4 of the books and frankly was more and more underwhelmed the further into them I ventured.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

On Intelligent Christians

And yes they do exist. Greta Christina has a very good take on this.

Can an intelligent, reasonable, and well-informed person be a Christian? Obviously. Many of them are. It would be absurd to claim otherwise, entirely counter to all the available evidence.
But that doesn't mean it is intelligent, reasonable, or well-informed to be Christian. It isn't. There is no good reason to think Christianity is true; there are lots of good reasons to think it’s bunk. And the same is true for every religion.

On Abortion Rights as a Moral Issue

I think that PZ has this about correct.

However, the equivalence of mother and fetus is an untenable proposition. A mouse has more complexity and autonomy than a fetus, and we don’t even hesitate when the choice is between the life of a mouse and a human being. We don’t even argue about it. And to argue that a single-celled zygote or even an embryo with a few dozen cells at implantation is anything but a negligible component of any moral equation is utterly absurd. It’s a fantasy of the deeply ignorant, the kind of people who think the babies on Pro-Life Across America billboards are actually accurate representations of the age-specific fetus, to think that there’s something cute, adorable, personable about a self-organizing mass of cells.