Tom M

Tom M

  • Commented on The sudden eruption of news
    Moreover, the actual running of the elections happens at the county level. In most states, a local official certifies the vote counts and forwards just the totals to the state. The opportunities for hanky panky abound, especially since it's common...
  • Commented on The End of the British nuclear deterrent?
    Hiding some things isn't particularly extraordinary. Planning it might be - overt attempts to shut people up or hide an installation creates a backlash. Unless there's something really obviously weird, most people will pass off things. New office park? Know...
  • Commented on The End of the British nuclear deterrent?
    One thing about county sheriffs is that they're usually elected officials. Even in large cities where the city and county is coterminus and the city police chief exercises law enforcement jurisdiction, there tends to still be at least a figurehead...
  • Commented on Placeholder? Placeholder!
    I've not traveled much by air since that change, and I probably couldn't distinguish one machine from the other anyway. Is there any assurance that the changeover is complete? Knowing the nature of these bureaucracies, I would suspect that there...
  • Commented on Eleven Tweets
    The Never Ending Quest for Eyeballs may not even entirely be about ad revenue. Crackpots, cranks, and propagandists are entirely ok with pursuing venues that don't generate CPM cash. Unfortunately, reputable writers and producers also use non-monetized channels to build...
  • Commented on Duelling - Essentially a Bloody Stupid Idea
    I'm reminded that in Colorado's state law, criminal libel was explicitly the replacement for dueling. The law outlawing dueling is immediately followed by the criminal libel statute, which made it a felony to comment on the natural defects of the...
  • Commented on Just plain icky
    A parasite colonizing nerve tissue, optimizing for all sorts of actions that result in sentience as an emergent property... sounds a bit like a soul. Mind/body dualism as an actual biological reality would be an interesting story hook....
  • Commented on Ever Young?
    'Also, the idiots who look at how you dress might be the ones paying your salary, so sometimes it pays to dress how they want.' In those cases, I'm disturbed by management that favors coworkers who dress beyond their means....
  • Commented on Suspense is the key
    This is almost journalistic in form - a modification of the inverted pyramid. Put the meat of the story up front with a hook. Follow up with the context. Finish with a kicker that brings the story back to the...
  • Commented on The iron law of development
    Call the support number? I recently worked in a library that served as the venue for high school students taking online courses. Oddly, questions about the material rarely came up. These kids were mostly repeating courses that they'd previously failed....
  • Commented on A plaintive request
    The question is if the system would be set up with protections or recourse for those that have been wronged. In the US it's common for senior living facilities to set their rates to match or just barely exceed the...
  • Commented on A game of consequences
    That only works if the distribution of ideas and action works primarily from the bottom up - if the top level of the hierarchy is empowered to impose on the lower levels rather than act on the directives that bubble...
  • Commented on Updating a classic
    One simple hack that's eminently plausible is to disseminate to HR a policy on time off requests designating employees as 'mission critical' based on salary - obviously, higher paid staff MUST be that much more important to the business or...
  • Commented on Updating a classic
    1) to avoid unnecessary production delays, and achieve competitive pricing we shall source all large quantity purchases from two or more vendors Surely you mean solicit quotes from multiple vendors and award the contract to the best proposal? No I...
  • Commented on Rise Of The Trollbot
    Once it becomes obvious that troll bots are running loose in a forum, the sport is to identify the conditions they're programmed to respond to and goad them into outing themselves. Ideally, when there are multiple bots in thread the...
  • Commented on 5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script
    There certainly is a device that will report if you've been in a car accident - OnStar and similar services have been doing that for years. Some Texas schools have been sued because of the tracking devices they require children...
  • Commented on Deploying the monomyth in Space Opera
    The AI parent would have to be able to outwit children at the very least - I've watched primary and secondary school students run rings around their algorithmic online lessons, not to mention substitute teachers. An AI that is suitably...
  • Commented on Defining space opera
    I wonder if there are story elements that are inextricably linked to space opera - ie stories that can only be told within the genre? I find that many classic space operas, especially movies, can be almost as fun if...
  • Commented on Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
    Planets that are completely covered in water or only have a few islands are convenient spots to set up bases for refueling since the weather is at worst the equivalent of a Caribbean port during storm season....
  • Commented on Confessions of a (half-assed) news avoider
    Media institutions tend to motivated by the direct financial concerns of their corporate owners and indirectly by access to their subject matter. Definitely not left-wing, and historically does quite well at maintaining the interests of the moneyed and powerful. That...
  • Commented on The sky's gone dark
    I would expect the immediate knock-on effect to be a muscular but ill-conceived response from one of the space powers-- say the US. Their initial efforts to de-orbit some portion of the initial debris field results in a massively enlarged...
  • Commented on The present in deep history
    David Byrne makes the point in the first chapter of How Music Works that music is shaped by venue - church music used a lot of long notes because complex changes got muddled in the echoes from the big stone...
  • Commented on Where Have All the Women Gone?
    Libraries have increasingly moved to using circulation numbers to guide their buying and shelf weeding policies. That mirrors bookstores enough that it eliminates the countervailing force that my public library offered when I was a kid. Whether through shrewd intuition...
  • Commented on Random thought for the day
    I did some digging and while in theory the US courts have the ability to rule on the constitutionality of treaties, they haven't really done so. Which makes sense in that it would be very hard to establish standing. In...
  • Commented on Random thought for the day
    I wonder how that would drive policy as economists already use data derived from card purchases in judging consumer behavior. The assumption that large scale deployment of debit cards would account for enough economic activity seems to miss some glaring...
  • Commented on Random thought for the day
    The US model isn't particularly good as welfare and food stamp cards are provided by private companies that charge the state to issue them and then charge beneficiaries fees for certain transactions and balance inquiries. A large portion of the...
  • Commented on Crib Sheet: Saturn's Children
    In California during the mid-60s, relatively few people were natives around Santa Cruz where Heinlein settled. The California identity he would've been exposed to would be that of the recent population boom of military contractors and baby boomer families that...
  • Commented on A Bad Dream
    The Ruling Party stays in power because its members in each nominal party are willing to take on the distasteful project of running things. Your average idealistic pol gets elected to address an issue or to make inroads on a...
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