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Mathematicians Push Back Against the NSA 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-adding-to-the-problem dept.
First time accepted submitter Parseval (3632761) writes "The NSA and GCHQ need mathematicians in order to function — they are some of the biggest employers of mathematicians in the world. This New Scientist article by a mathematician describes some of the math behind mass surveillance, and calls on other mathematicians to refuse to cooperate with the NSA/GCHQ while they continue to surveil the entire population. From the article: 'Mathematicians seldom face ethical questions. We enjoy the feeling that what we do is separate from the everyday world. As the number theorist G. H. Hardy wrote in 1940: "I have never done anything 'useful'. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world." That idea is now untenable. Mathematics clearly has practical applications that are highly relevant to the modern world, not least internet encryption.'"
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Mathematicians Push Back Against the NSA

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    • Thanks for the tip! I might actually watch that some time. Also, let me throw this [imdb.com] back at you.

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        Thanks for the tip! I might actually watch that some time. Also, let me throw this back at you.

        Don't forget this title [imdb.com].

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:30PM (#46854425)

      This trend of demanding that STEM workers should refuse to work on ethical grounds is very disturbing, and very misguided.

      It is, in fact, a complete passing of the buck. Politically-capable voters are refusing to get off their asses and use their political power to reign in these government agencies, and are instead demanding that STEM workers sacrifice their jobs, potentially ruining their careers, in an completely ineffective effort to stop government evil.

      If you have an axe to grind, the only morally-correct thing to do is to grind it yourself. It is slothful and cruel to demand that other people should make a sacrifice in order to champion your noble cause for you.

      Furthermore, it should be outright obvious now that the advancement of scientific (including mathematical) knowledge will not be curtailed. If you don't research it, someone else will. That someone else may be one of your enemies. Demanding a halting of progress will only result on our country being left behind in the technology race. It is tactically ridiculous.

      If you want the government evil to stop, get up, demonstrate, vote, and lobby. Those are the tools you have. If you are unwilling to use them, you have no business demanding that others do it for you, especially not in a stupid way that requires great sacrifice and is guaranteed to fail.

      • by BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:39PM (#46854481)

        Someone else might do it instead, but that's no excuse for doing it yourself. You're still helping government thugs commit acts of evil, which is inexcusable.

        Yes, we should be tackling the issue in multiple ways, but that doesn't mean people are excused for 'just doing their jobs.'

      • by Cenan (1892902) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:42PM (#46854491)

        It is, in fact, a complete passing of the buck.

        Not really, this is a mathematician calling on other mathematicians to actually think twice before they accept that lucrative summer job at NSA. Other than that, your reply is utter bullshit. If we can't factor in the ethics of the work we do, the assholes down at NSA have already won. It is exactly your kind of mentality that keeps those wheels spinning - just a drop in the ocean, nothing to see here, more along citizen - if I don't do this, someone else will.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          In Starship Troopers by Heinlein, the non-intelligent bugs, when stressed, bred a "brain bug", and lo! The stressor magically went away, and the brain bug died.

          In The Mote in God's Eye, the Moties had a genius engineer caste...who was completely silent and didn't interfere with the controlling political caste.

          We have our Congress and we have our president. These are functionally idiots with precisely one skill: the ability to convince you they are your friend. i.e., as studied by psychologists, the abili

          • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:13PM (#46855559)

            /sighs.

            Not this again.

            The Bugs in Heinlein's Starship Troopers were NOT unintelligent. Not were "Brain Bugs" a product of stress - they were the boss bugs all the time. ,

            Note that you're probably thinking of the movie (again), and that what you're describing wasn't even part of the movie.

            In Mote In God's Eye, the Engineer subspecies (not caste) were NOT completely silent, they just didn't talk well. They also did NOT "not interfere with the controlling political caste", since the "political caste" (which wasn't a caste, it was a subspecies) was actually a hybrid (read: mule) of the Ruler subspecies and the Engineer subspecies.

        • by Xest (935314)

          I can't talk for the NSA, but certainly jobs for GCHQ are far from lucrative. £40k a year to live in a part of the country where nothing ever happens and where there's nothing to do? The max they pay for developers, mathematicians, and architects alike is £46k at the top end. There are exceptions for the best of the best, but even then why bother pratting around fighting their red tape for a higher salary when you can just go into private sector in a more interesting part of the coun

          • by Cenan (1892902)

            Ok, I wrote lucrative in the context of the article, which states that some of the mathematicians do their work for NSA during the summer. To me that meant more money while they're sitting on their sofa anyways - I'll accept your correction though.

            It doesn't matter for the bigger picture; The article spends a good deal of time getting the point across, that it needs to become socially unacceptable to accept these kinds of gigs, whether you do it for money, glory or patriotism should amount to the same in th

      • by Immerman (2627577) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:45PM (#46854505)

        It is on the other hand completely legitimate to condemn the jack-booted thug for crushing your neck under his heal - after all every individual bears absolute personal responsibility for their actions. Should we condemn any less the mathematician sitting in an office somewhere who is responsible for determining where the jack-booted thugs should be targeted?

        Certainly the electorate needs to get off their collective asses and change things, but at present there is no effective mechanism for them to do so. The election system has been gamed to the point that it's virtually impossible to wrest control from the two-faced party currently in control, short of a major grass-roots campaign to toss the bastards out, and such campaigns inevitably need leaders and organization to give them focus, which the NSA is quite likely doing their best to disrupt (we have documented evidence that the intelligence organizations have been infiltrating and undermining potentially powerful citizen groups since at least the McCarthy era, do you really think anything has changed?)

        I would truly love to hear any ideas you have as to how we can realistically disrupt the current system nonviolently - I have a couple, such as a direct democracy party being implemented within the context of the existing political structure (with elected representatives legally bound to obey the will of their constituency on individual issues), but I just don't see a way to get such system off the ground before the established power structure changes the rules to make it impossible.

        • by theArtificial (613980) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:35PM (#46854767)

          Certainly the electorate needs to get off their collective asses and change things, but at present there is no effective mechanism for them to do so. The election system has been gamed to the point that it's virtually impossible to wrest control from the two-faced party currently in control, short of a major grass-roots campaign to toss the bastards out, and such campaigns inevitably need leaders and organization to give them focus, which the NSA is quite likely doing their best to disrupt (we have documented evidence that the intelligence organizations have been infiltrating and undermining potentially powerful citizen groups since at least the McCarthy era, do you really think anything has changed?)

          America is an Oligarchy [talkingpointsmemo.com] interview with the paper's Author. Another analysis [zerohedge.com] which I would recommend skimming over.

          What is most incredible to me is that the data under scrutiny in the study was from 1981-2002. One can only imagine how much worse things have gotten since the 2008 financial crisis. The study found that even when 80% of the population favored a particular public policy change, it was only instituted 43% of the time . We saw this first hand with the bankster bailout in 2008, when Americans across the board were opposed to it, but Congress passed TARP anyway (although they had to vote twice).

          Unless you get the "elites" involved you're doomed.

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            And if the thugs are working for the elites?

            • Clarification, unless you can get the elites on your side (they're on their own side :/) it doesn't really have much of a chance. Here's a link to the paper [princeton.edu], form your own opinion. Warning PDF.
              • by Immerman (2627577)

                I quite agree, I was just being snarky.

                So, knowing that the elites are hardly a unified front, and are engaged in struggles for dominance amongst each other, how do we convince enough of them that allying with us will allow them to get a leg up on their peers? The only way that springs to mind is to stage mass uprisings with the backing of powerful factions. That seems to be what has usually done the job in the past. Collaborate with Faction A to help them gain ascendancy over Factions B and C, in exchan

            • by Artifakt (700173)

              Revolutions tend to start among people who are at least technically part of the upper class, although it varies whether they are in the uber-wealthy 0.01% or in the broader group of people who simply have much better than average access to good educations, health care, and communications tech. Witness the positions of Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Paine and Franklin in the US revolutionary war, or who actually made out better by the time the War of the Roses actually ended (hint, it wasn't the people who

        • by RandCraw (1047302)

          I strongly agree with most of your post, but direct democratic governance is an invitation to manipulate the uninformed voter. Left to a direct democratic vote, we'd have dozens of added fatuous amendments, like outlawing flag burning, embracing christianity over other religions, and requiring onerous voter ID enforcement.

          A preferable alternative might be to ask registered voters to take a knowledge test that apportions a greater/lesser weight to their vote in proportion to their score. That way the infor

          • A preferable alternative might be to ask registered voters to take a knowledge test that apportions a greater/lesser weight to their vote in proportion to their score.

            I'm not sure what test we could give that wouldn't be biased out the ass, or would later be manipulated by elites.

            A somewhat better solution would be to have a constitution exactly like we do now, and not just mindlessly accept everything the majority wants. The majority should not have absolute power, but their power should be constrained by a constitution that protects individual liberties. The people certainly could have more say than they do now, though.

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            >A thorny problem. But almost any change would be an improvement over today's status quo.

            That's certainly my own feeling. And for all the theoretically good reasons to oppose a direct democracy, I can't think of any examples where such a thing has ever been actually attempted on a large scale, much less devolved into the horror story that's always trotted out against it.

            My own thought is that if it was established as a *Party*, rather than as a national policy, then it could be tested and set aside if t

          • by Pseudonym (62607)

            A preferable alternative might be to ask registered voters to take a knowledge test that apportions a greater/lesser weight to their vote in proportion to their score.

            That always seems like a good idea, but every time it's been tried in the United States, it's basically been a tool for minority voter suppression.

          • Knowledge tests of any sort are always gamed for political outcomes. The White Australia Policy of the freakin' 1970s was enforced principally through administering language tests to would be immigrants. Not english language tests mind you - pretty much whichever language we knew you didn't know.

            The same crap has showed up again in the ridiculous citizenship tests we've now got. The first draft and implementation includes a bunch of random sporting facts about cricket. It's been improved since then (so I've

        • You lost me when you misused "jackboot" for rhetorical effect. I assume the remainder of your vocabulary is just as tenuous, and your message just as misapplied.

          There are at least two statements at odds with current psychological understanding in your post. I normally do not respond to replies, and I think it best to continue that practice. So good luck.

          Either you will learn doubt, or you will continue sounding like an idiot. For the record, in general, I am on your side of the argument. I just wish someone

          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Ah, a denigration without possibility of rebuttal by or education of the target. Am I supposed to be impressed by your ability to make useless, empty comments?

            Do please inform me of my supposed failings that I might learn from them, or correct your own misunderstanding. Pompous statements of your own self-restraint on the other hand serve no purpose whatsoever.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        lots of actual, you know, STEM luminaries, found ethics to be one of the most important things they worked on.

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        If you have an axe to grind, the only morally-correct thing to do is to grind it yourself. It is slothful and cruel to demand that other people should make a sacrifice in order to champion your noble cause for you.

        Are we talking about an apathetic voter-base, or not?

        If yes, they're not demanding that anyone else grind their axe. They probably aren't even aware of the axe.

        If no, we have a genuine disagreement.

        No-one is saying I'm too lazy to vote, but I hope engineers refuse to become cogs of the military/industrial/prison/media machine.

      • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:02PM (#46855519)
        The key to effectively solving a complex, multifaceted problem is to attack it from all possible angles. 1 method does not negate the others; it compliments them.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        People taking the impact of their actions seriously is "a complete passing of the buck"?

        You refer to the article as "demanding" multiple times, even though any idiot who reads it themselves and assesses its tone will see that it is simply a man attempting to call his peers to action. See statements like "Not everyone will agree, but it reminds us that we have both individual choices and collective power" - acknowledgment of differences of opinion without condecension, reaffirmation of choice...yep, all the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:58PM (#46854251)
    Hardy's conceit is nonsense. Mathematics has always had a dark side. Archimedes built war machines. To admit anything else is to say that mathematics is useless, and we have no business foisting it on students. I am tired of mathematicians who whine that math does not get enough support in the United States and then brag that it is like art. If you want to act like an artist you should not complain if you are paid and treated with scorn like one.
    • No so. Throughout most of history, mathematicians did not have the luxury of pandering to nationalism, militarism, pacifism or other temporal concerns. The numbers of mathematicians were so low that from the very earliest days mathematics was an international scholarly activity.

      While it is true that mathematics was employed by engineers and others in many applied fields, mathematics itself has never been subject to restriction or exclusion on the basis of its applications. The applications themselves perhap

      • by BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:42PM (#46854801)

        It's not just mathematicians working for the NSA who are at fault; at this point, anyone working there is knowingly helping evil prevail. Anyone who doesn't quit is a scumbag.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by cold fjord (826450)

          ...anyone working there is knowingly helping evil prevail.

          So, you think that anyone attempting to protect citizens of the US and its allies is engaged in "evil"?

          It is as I suspected then.

          Tell me, what do you think about the following item? Is it the NSA and FBI engaged in evildoing? Or are they stopping evildoing?

          NSA helped foil terror plot in Belgium, documents, officials say [cnn.com]

          • by BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:24PM (#46855325)

            So, you think that anyone attempting to protect citizens of the US and its allies is engaged in "evil"?

            I think infringing upon people's rights in an effort to protect them is evil.

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by cold fjord (826450)

              You don't have a right to confidential communications with the enemy in wartime. You don't have a right to make war on the US. You seem to have an expansive view of "people's rights" that is supported by the law or Constitution. And yet you don't seem to object to Americans being killed, totally depriving them of their rights.

              • You don't have a right to confidential communications with the enemy in wartime.

                Even if I were to agree with that, the government does not have the power to spy on everything just to see if someone is doing something illegal. Etc.

                And yet you don't seem to object to Americans being killed, totally depriving them of their rights.

                I expect the government to be better than criminals or terrorists. When the government is infringing upon people's rights, for whatever reason, it becomes the bad guy; that shouldn't happen in any country. It's a much worse scenario than terrorists or criminals killing people, as the government that's supposed to care about our rights no longer recognizes them

          • Is it the NSA and FBI engaged in evildoing? Or are they stopping evildoing?

            Even if the NSA was actually stopping terrorist plots, the end would not justify the means. Given the size and scope of their operations, any plots which they might have foiled are literally negligible considerations. The NSA is now a domestic surveillance apparatus and nothing more.

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by cold fjord (826450)

              The NSA is now a domestic surveillance apparatus and nothing more.

              North Korea, Iran, al Qaida, China, and Russia will be relieved to hear that.

            • A while back there was an article where the government claimed that their spying had prevented something like 50 terrorist attacks never specifying the time period over which those attaches were prevented. At the time I went through the mental exercise of pointing out how worthless it was with logic similar to this:

              Let's give the government the benefit of the doubt and assume that those 50 attacks were in a single year.
              Let's also assume that each attach would have been as successful as the attacks of 9/1
          • Another made-up plot that we've been "protected" from. And who protects us from the "protectors"? When the NSA threw away the Constitution, they became terrorists.
            • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

              by cold fjord (826450)

              I assume you didn't bother to read any of that since it was from a court in Belgium. The thing that is made up here is the claim that "the NSA threw away the Constitution." Since they are still subject to the control of the President, Congress, and the courts, that doesn't seem to be true.

        • by Laser Dan (707106)

          It's not just mathematicians working for the NSA who are at fault; at this point, anyone working there is knowingly helping evil prevail. Anyone who doesn't quit is a scumbag.

          If there was no risk of becoming homeless and starving, people would have a lot more choice in the matter...

          • Between helping the NSA violate almost everyone's fundamental liberties and the highest law of the god damn land, it's quite selfish and immoral to choose to help them, job or no job.

  • by davydagger (2566757) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:07PM (#46854305)
    The implications of mathematics are fairly abstracted in terms, but in an engineering driven society, math is behind everything we do.

    Encryption, the cornerstone of secure internet, is based on heavy math, and mathmatical relations.

    Heck, all computers algorythms are math, and math is needed to optimize them.

    statistics is what advertisers use to target ads, given access to people's personal information can draw mathematical relationships between habbits and demographics, and between demographics and desires, and strengths and weaknesses.

    Politicians use the same sort of advertising model to construct campaigns, and law enforcement/military, to target dissedents.
    • by erikkemperman (252014) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:18PM (#46854367)

      statistics is what advertisers use to target ads, given access to people's personal information can draw mathematical relationships between habbits and demographics, and between demographics and desires, and strengths and weaknesses.

      In fact, statistics is the one branch of mathematics that basically everyone in higher education comes across. Much to the chagrin of non-technical majors the world over. Which is too bad, because with zero intuition it is a really hard subject.

      But yes, mathematics touches on basically everything we do in IT, and I for one welcome this call for a debate about how ethical questions come into play for e.g. cryptographers.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      I'll half agree with that, math and materials science is behind everythiing an engineering driven society does.

      • Math and material science were only invented to accomplish engineering tasks.

        Instead of engineering being called an applied science, science should be called theoretical engineering.

        Engineering is behind math and science.

    • by bug1 (96678)

      Mathmatics is the single most important field

      Philosphopy is the the father of all knowledge.

      Did you know Pythagoras was a philospher ?

      • by lgw (121541)

        Bah, philosophy is just applied psychology.
        Bah, psychology is just applied biology.
        Bah, biology is just applied chemistry.
        Bah, chemistry is just applied physics.
        Bah, physics is just applied mathematics.
        Bah, mathematics is just applied philosophy.

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3&gmail,com> on Sunday April 27, 2014 @04:07PM (#46854307)
    Some years back I when I was working on my undergrad (BS Applied Math), I stopped by an NSA booth at the career fair. I asked if any of the signals intelligence work involved monitoring domestic communications. The recruiter panel said "No, it is illegal for us to spy on Americans and there are signs near every workstation that say so". Agreeing, I said, "well why do you still do it?".

    Ok so I was there to be antagonistic, but even five years ago the lower level guys knew what was going.

    College students can step up and stop joining there ranks. Here in North Carolina, my alma mator is suckling the teat and getting in bed further with them via a 60 million dollar data analytics lab [newsobserver.com]. There was some student protest in the form of people writing "Fuck the NSA" in chalk on buildings, but other than that, big U's are happy to cozy up closer to the feds.

    I ended up going into the private sector and look back thankful that I didn't join their ranks.
    • by Solandri (704621)
      You're targeting the symptom, not the disease. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the President (both Bush and Obama) knew full well what the NSA was doing, and were instrumental in putting the program together and setting up new laws and courts to skirt around the 4th Amendment. They're in full Cover Your Ass mode right now, trying to dump the blame for this entirely on the NSA, so they can wash their hands clean in time for the next election.

      The NSA is just a tool, an instrument. Its b
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re "Ok so I was there to be antagonistic, but even five years ago the lower level guys knew what was going. "
      Everybody knew since the 1980's with a few books and magazine 'hints' and the massive placement of non Soviet related domestic hardware.
      You also had the mid 1970's Church Committee on the NSA and CIA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] A lot of people recall the CIA aspect but few recall the more legally sealed NSA side.
      So people entering the telco, crypto, math fields knew what was been placed, as
  • If you look at US navy documentaries about the battle of midway, The US was totally out gunned in terms of naval ships. We cracked the Japanese code. We knew where they were and where they were going. We were able to defeate a numerically superior force accordingly. The same also held with the skys over Brittian. Radar provided the information needed to intercept a much larger airforce. The work of the code breakers that told the British where the submarines were, etc, helped win the war. It can be argue

    • by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:42PM (#46854799) Homepage

      The NSA is an important component in understanding the world around us.

      Nobody complains about good old fashion spying... Such as hiring a PI to follow a suspect around.
      The invasion of privacy conducted at the hands of the NSA is so extensive that it makes whatever records Stasi was making look like childs play.

      It's the unprecedented scale that is the big problem.... Then there is the legality of industrial espionage in a civilized world, etc... And the fact that you normally don't conduct criminal activities within the territory of your allies.

    • by bmo (77928)

      >NSA is important

      Before the Bush administration, the NSA mostly had two basic roles: 1. To help with information, computing, and communications security and 2. To spy on foreign nationals and foreign governments. After 9/11 their mission was changed, to assume that the entire US population was the enemy.

      Alan Turing is long dead.

      Fuck off.

      --
      BMO

      • After 9/11 their mission was changed, to assume that the entire US population was the enemy.

        There are enemies that hide among the US population. The US population is not the enemy.

        Fuck off.

        You had a fairly reasonable post till that.

    • by tragedy (27079)

      RADAR seems to be pretty irrelevant to this discussion. As for the rest of it, that's all intercepting military communications during wartime. It doesn't fit the current situation.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Yes a vast domestic records database... recall Groundbreaker? The domestic side seems to have been an ongoing project.
        http://www.wired.com/2007/10/n... [wired.com]
        • by tragedy (27079)

          I think you may have replied to the wrong post. I was discussing the differences between wartime monitoring of military communications and peacetime (for a given value of peacetime, of course, since the US seems to basically be eternally at war) domestic surveillance).

          • by AHuxley (892839)
            Yes just building on your domestic vs "peacetime" and saying that under different projects an interest in US domestic telco traffic seems to show itself in any decade.
            Just the digital age makes it more instant and wider for less cost.
            Been less at peace sems to offer more expansion and dreamy retroactive legal cover.
  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:13PM (#46854647)
    Perhaps not quite the same, but things have changed since 1997. The basic idea is applicable.

    Why Shouldn't I Work for the NSA? (Good Will Hunting) [youtube.com]
  • The call for smart, ethical people to ban themselves from working at the NSA is not the solution. The NSA will simply hire instead smart, unethical people or smart, naive people. We should encourage smart, ethical people to work in all branches of the government and report any illegal/immoral things the government is doing. And then the public needs to kick the criminals/immoral government agents out of office.

    Or we can pretend that a few people refusing to work for them will solve all our problems, no need

  • 'Mathematicians seldom face ethical questions. We enjoy the feeling that what we do is separate from the everyday world.

    Actually this is a recent affectation. Historically mathematicians very much enjoyed the interaction of mathematics with the real world, e.g. Archimedes, Isaac Newton, Fibonacci, Euler, Gauss, Hilbert, Poincare, Pascal, Bernoulli, Cartan, von Neumann, Turing, Dirichlet.

    More recently we have Stephen Smale, Terry Tao and Tim Gowers all three mathematicians of the first order who have dabbled in various applications.

  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:21PM (#46855039)
    Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people that I never met and that I never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Send in the marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the schrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure, fuck it, while I'm at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
  • Mathematicians Push Back ...

    "Mathematicians" implies > 1

    This is an opinion piece by one person.

  • What about doctors, who perform/take part in:

    • Executions of criminals?
    • Abortions?

    Unlike mathematicians, who are subject only to the secular laws, doctors are governed by medical boards and other certification bodies with professional ethics — a term sufficiently vague to drive a truck through — being among requirements.

    If a non-profit CEO can be illegally [slashdot.org] fired [slashdot.org] over a $1000 donation to a cause, should not doctors participating in activities, that enough noisy people find objectionable, be perman

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