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Embarrassing Stories Shed Light On US Officials' Technological Ignorance

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the Is-this-thing-on? dept.

United States 299

colinneagle writes "Speaking at the SXSW Conference recently, Dr. Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, recalled one U.S. official who was 'about to negotiate cybersecurity with China' asking him to explain what the term 'ISP' (Internet Service Provider) means. This wasn't the only example of this lack of awareness. 'That's like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what "ICBM" means,' Dr. Singer said. 'And I've had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi.' Similarly, Dr. Singer recalled one account in which Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013, admitted that she didn't use email 'because she just didn't think it was useful.' 'A Supreme Court justice also told me "I haven't got round to email yet" — and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations,' Dr. Singer said."

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supreme court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449407)

They've been doing it this way for centuries, why change now? besides, they have an army of clerks that know how to use email.

An advantage (5, Interesting)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 9 months ago | (#46449435)

This is in some ways an advantage--SCOTUS is supposed to change slowly. But it also results in crazy rulings at times, like the idea that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in who you call. The judges who made that decision a few decades ago grew up when there were still *shared phone lines* between neighboring houses.

SCOTUS (0, Troll)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 9 months ago | (#46449613)

That acronym annoys me to no end. Are we in the days of Western Union telegraphs that charge per letter? Would it kill you to type out the Supreme Court?

Re:SCOTUS (4, Insightful)

danlip (737336) | about 9 months ago | (#46449715)

There are state Supreme Courts, and other countries have them too, so unless you are going to type out the entire thing, SCOTUS is more specific. Are you opposed to all acronyms, or just this one for some reason?

Re:SCOTUS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449797)

I am against acronyms that niggers are unfamiliar with. Ergo SCOTUS is perfectly find!

Re:SCOTUS (0, Troll)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 9 months ago | (#46450249)

Crawl back under your turd mush.

I have never understood why people would create an account, then post this sort of shite anonymously. Seriously why?

Brain dead I suppose.

Re:SCOTUS (1)

ewibble (1655195) | about 9 months ago | (#46449897)

In general I am, they are far to often used to make people feel, superior, just like other jargon. Just because you don't know what ISP means doesn't mean you don't know what an Internet Service Provider is, or does. The purpose of language, for me at least is to communicate, acronyms in general only make it harder.

You could say the US supreme court. It is simple, and clearer to larger set of people.

Re:SCOTUS (1)

kaehler (43680) | about 9 months ago | (#46449915)

Why cannot one use "SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the US)" then use SCOTUS all you want after that. To many acronyms are being thrown out.

Re:SCOTUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449949)

Well... any acronym that partially resembles the word Scrotum is a win in my book!

Re:SCOTUS (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 9 months ago | (#46449995)

Which supreme court?
New York City Supreme Court,
New York State Supreme Court,

and that is just one city and one state. we have 50 more states and a lot of cities duplicating names.

My personal favorite. is 3 local towns 3 zip codes . Each town has a Winter Street. All three Winter Streets are within 5 miles of each other and don't even come close to touching in any way shape or form.

Talk about annoying.

Re:An advantage (1)

rk (6314) | about 9 months ago | (#46449689)

Ah, the party line [wikipedia.org] . I had almost forgotten about them.

Re:An advantage (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 9 months ago | (#46449785)

Ah, the party line [wikipedia.org] . I had almost forgotten about them.

Yes. I thought about calling it a party line, but I thought most people on slashdot wouldn't know what they were--we had the last one in a particular rural community nearly thirty years ago.

Re:An advantage (4, Insightful)

es330td (964170) | about 9 months ago | (#46450009)

but I thought most people on slashdot wouldn't know what they were

/. is a place wherein denizens brag about using their acoustic couplers, or bbs'ing at 300 baud or computing in the snow, uphill both ways while editing inodes by hand with a magnet. You take a pretty big leap when you guess that "most" people don't know about an outdated technology.

Re:supreme court (1)

plover (150551) | about 9 months ago | (#46449781)

The Courts are supposed to weigh cases based on the facts and arguments presented, and not so much on their own personal experiences. As a matter of fact if a member of the court is too closely involved in a case, they're supposed to recuse themselves. Therefore one does not need to use email to listen to arguments involving email.

At least that's the theory. Of course personal experiences and biases do enter into their decision making, but the rulings are to be made on the case before the court.

Of course the function of the courts are completely distinct from the function of a trade negotiator. A negotiator who does not fully understand their topic needs to be surrounded by people who do, and they need to get well versed in it prior to negotiations. That could be what's happening here: I don't know anyone who could recite every TLA in use by every technology out there, so an unfamiliar acronym might need a bit of context.

Regardless, it sounds like the "U.S. Official" is a bit of a dolt.

Re:supreme court (3, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | about 9 months ago | (#46450013)

The Courts are supposed to weigh cases based on the facts and arguments presented, and not so much on their own personal experiences.

Conextual knowledge is usually required to make good decisions. Without that context, decisions are likely to be random. Yes, the lawyers should present information to develop context, but where to start? Do they have to start with 1 + 1 = 2 ? Obviously not. So what assumptions should they make about the knowledge of a judge? Probably they start with what a ordinary person would know; but if a judge knows less than an ordinary person?

I've heard that government moves slowly... (3, Insightful)

techprophet (1281752) | about 9 months ago | (#46449413)

I've heard that government moves slowly, but having high-power officials 20 years behind the times seems a bit outrageous.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | about 9 months ago | (#46449465)

It's not the government. These people have access to all the modern conveniences via their jobs. They have chosen not to learn anything about them which would be O.K. if it wasn't critical to their job performance.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (3, Insightful)

drainbramage (588291) | about 9 months ago | (#46449537)

Perhaps what they've learned is that digital footprints are easier to track.
Not that they are hiding anything...

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450287)

Perhaps what they've learned is that digital footprints are easier to track.
Not that they are hiding anything...

There is truth in that: I have some co-workers that would rather leave you a long voicemail than type an email, or wait tell you something in person rather than leave a written note, and they get rather pissy when you insist on them writing things down. I've noticed that they tend to also be the types who are the last to take responsibility when a screw-up occurs down the line due to some bad info that they provided because "oh I never said that." It's their way of trying to dodge being part of the paper trail.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449507)

It's not just being behind the times, some of these guys have failed at everything except politics [youtube.com]

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

seyfarth (323827) | about 9 months ago | (#46450073)

I watched the video. It was rich when the admiral took it in stride and answered without laughing. He's well trained. I think I would be capable of laughing at a congressman.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (4, Interesting)

TheMeuge (645043) | about 9 months ago | (#46449661)

I once attended a seminar by one of the heads of emergency response from the city that's often portrayed as the world's biggest terrorism target. He was going on about communications equipment that is stored away for use after a low-yield nuke detonation. I asked the speaker whether the equipment and storage facilities are shielded against EMP. He asked me what "EMP" is.

I walked out.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 9 months ago | (#46449855)

...the city that's often portrayed as the world's biggest terrorism target.

Bagdad or Jerusalem?

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (3, Funny)

ynp7 (1786468) | about 9 months ago | (#46449871)

It's the ugliest building in Seattle. Next question!

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449669)

These people also do not know how much a gallon of gas costs, the price of a loaf of bread or a half gallon of milk. They live in a different world.

A.C.

Re:I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

naasking (94116) | about 9 months ago | (#46449941)

I've heard that government moves slowly, but having high-power officials 20 years behind the times seems a bit outrageous.

The first SMTP RFC was published in 1982. The first electronic mail RFCs were published in the 70s. They're way more than 20 years behind the times.

Re: I've heard that government moves slowly... (1)

techprophet (1281752) | about 9 months ago | (#46450149)

20 years is about how long email has been in the public consciousness.

to this day... (4, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 9 months ago | (#46449433)

The monitor *IS* The computer as far as my parents are concerned

AOL *IS* the internet... and email....

The hard drive *IS* known as gigabytes

Im sure others have similar stories

Re:to this day... (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46449519)

and your parents are lightyears ahead of this fossils who have never used a PC

Re:to this day... (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 9 months ago | (#46449571)

Im sure others have similar stories

I know they do. [rinkworks.com]

Re:to this day... (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about 9 months ago | (#46449649)

According to my coworkers, the monitor is the CPU.

Re:to this day... (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 9 months ago | (#46449655)

The hard drive *IS* known as gigabytes

For my dad, the hard drive is "memory". It bugs me when I hear that, but I'm not going to be pedantic and try to correct him either. I figure he's doing pretty good with computers for a 75 year old, and I can interpret what he means.

Re:to this day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449745)

And the tower is the "modem." Anyone in the business long enough has heard these stories and yet we still shake our heads when we expect people from our generation or older to know the lingo. Sure, if their job depended on it... or the clown who hired/elected them...

Re:to this day... (4, Insightful)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 9 months ago | (#46449845)

The hard drive *is* memory. It's non-volatile memory (as opposed to volatile memory, like RAM). It's also a hard disk (as opposed to floppy disks). It's also magnetic storage (as opposed to optical, etc). It's also electro-mechanical storage (as opposed to solid-state).

It actually bugs me more that RAM is referred to as "memory" which is and should be a very generic term.

If anything the harddisk is probably a better candidate for the term "memory" than RAM is. A harddisk is what ultimately must store the data permanently and recall it. RAM exists to make certain frequently used data quicker to access, and it "forgets" when the computer is powered off. Granted this is basically equivalent to short-term memory, but I think long-term memory is more what people think of when they think of the generic term "memory".

Re:to this day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450103)

It actually bugs me more that RAM is referred to as "memory" which is and should be a very generic term.

I've thought for a long time that this situation came about because of the early microcomputers that introduced computers to laymen.
Your TI-99/4A or Commodore VIC-20 didn't have disc drives; only a fraction of owners could afford them.
The only place to store data was in RAM--or on a cassette, but that took too long.

Re:to this day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450123)

I think you've thought about those terms both far too little and far too much.

Re:to this day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449739)

From a recent conversation I had with an older friend that bought a new tablet:

Him: "So it has 64 gigabytes of memory?"
Me: "No, it has 64 gigabytes of storage."
Him: "What's that used for?"
Me: "It's used to store files."
Him: "I thought memory did that."
Me: "No, memory is for whatever you see on the screen right now. Storage is for things you put away but want to keep for later."
Him: "So memory doesn't remember things?"
Me: "In a computer, 'memory' is short-term memory. Long-term memory is called 'storage' or 'hard drive' or anything with the word 'disk' in it. They're two different parts of the machine. You need them both, but you need more 'storage' than 'memory'."
Him: "Oh. OK. I guess that makes sense."

I've had this conversation many, many times. It's always with someone born before 1965, but I'm sure that age range will change. Inattention and disinterest don't have an explicit age range. These are people that don't know because they haven't needed to know. The problem comes when their lack of knowledge is used against them by salespeople and marketers, which is why it's in their best interest to educate them regardless of their level of interest. And if they refuse to learn, then those in the know should refuse to support their devices. As long as it's someone else's problem, they won't willingly learn how to deal with this on their own. If that means that it's more worthwhile for them to forego the use of a smartphone or tablet than to learn to use it properly, then so be it. That's their decision to make. (Note: In the workplace, turnabout is fair play. It's up to you to decide if you're willing to forego your paycheck for refusing to do your job, including supporting the clueless CxO's iPad.)

Re:to this day... (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | about 9 months ago | (#46449921)

I have this conversation fairly regularly with people born after 1990. Like those born before 1965, kids these days don't need to know anything about computers so they don't. The main difference is that the old timers at least have the excuse of not using a computer of some sort for nearly every waking hour of their lives.

Re:to this day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450011)

(Note: In the workplace, turnabout is fair play. It's up to you to decide if you're willing to forego your paycheck for refusing to do your job, including supporting the clueless CxO's iPad.)

Yes, that's completely up to me. I'm sure my family will understand that, when we are evicted from our home and eat ketchup soup for dinner. Yessiree, no coercion there whatsoever. This is definitely a real decision, complete with options. C'mon.

Besides if that was my job that I signed up for then I would accept responsibility for my decision. Boss-to-underling is not the only scenario during which an asshat who is too lazy (or self-centered to have curiosity) refuses to learn a few basic things and tries to shift their own burden to someone else. In every other scenario they're selfish assholes who want to reap the benefits while their problems are solved by someone else who invests the time and effort without compensation.

This behavior does not deserve to be coddled, tolerated, or legitimized. No adult person should act like this in any field, computing is not special in that way.

dumb way to explain (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#46450117)

It's no wonder your friend was confused...your "storage/memory" dichotomy is absolutely stupid.

For non-tech's, they expect the names of things to indicate their function somehow, and that will be somewhat analogous to non-computing usages of those terms. This is normal behavior.

To make "storage/memory" as the words for "Hard-drive" & "RAM" guarantees confusion.

1. We already have logical terms that roughly distinguish the two functions: RAM and ROM...there is **NO NEED** to add another layer of abstraction. New computer users have to learn the concept, so learning two new words is the same as learning to associate two old words with new meanings.

2. "storage/memory" are too broad and both words have the same connotation. There is no logical reason a non-tech could know which was which without someone telling them. "RAM" & "ROM" also require this, but their ackronyms have different meanings which denote the difference in function.

3. Some of "storage" is used as "memory"...some times HD's have a portion that is used to supplement regular RAM

I know 'RAM' and 'ROM' arent' perfect but that's a false bar for me to meet. No terminology is perfect, but using RAM/ROM would end all confusion on this topic permanently.

Really, it would....non-tech's can learn the difference between "BAKE" and "BROIL" then they can learn this.

Your friend is actually thinking more logically than you!

Who's worse? (5, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | about 9 months ago | (#46449443)

The guy who had to learn what an ISP was, or the guy who didn't know and didn't ask and made government policy on it anyway?

Re:Who's worse? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46449499)

The guy who had to learn what an ISP was, or the guy who didn't know and didn't ask and made government policy on it anyway?

But if you came from the distant future, like Mr Scott, you might be utterly baffled by what cantankerous garbage we have to put up with, despite our smug feeling our $800 smart phone is the latest and greatest - looks like a glorified paperweight to them.

Re:Who's worse? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449625)

This is right... plus, depending on the context, it may not be clear what a given acronym is. Combine this with instances of the same TLA meaning different things and I would be much happier that a government official asks to clarify meaning rather than just forging ahead on a possibly incorrect assumption.

LINK TO THE ARTICLE, NOT BLOG SPAM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449453)

The article is basically a summary of a quote made in another article. Then the summary posted here is a summary of that summary.

In Charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449455)

You don't appear to need to be too smart to be in charge, just too old.

Old Man Yells At Cloud (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 9 months ago | (#46449457)

As of 2008, John McCain did not use a computer at all. I doubt he's learned since.

Re:Old Man Yells At Cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449691)

That is not surprising. In about 15 years we went from pretty much a small select group of people having an email address to pretty much everyone having 2-3 of them. To get ahead in politics takes years. To get to the senator level you probably have already put in a good 20 years telling everyone yes with no idea what you are saying yes to. Just a 3 term senator would span the entire internet time frame of the 'public' getting to use it. There are *many* of those. I remember the cries of the elite when the unwashed masses of AOL users hit usenet.

It will be 20-30 years before our political apparatus 'gets' the internet. Some of them do get it, right now. But the positions of power are not filled by those people. They are filled by people who have made it a job to 'represent' you. It shows at election time and they still use phone polls. They are too busy going to 5000 a plate galas to worry about how to run their email. They hire an intern for that.

It will be a slow bumpy ride, as designed, our gov moves slow. When it moves fast we end up with garbage legislation written by lobbyist groups.

Re:Old Man Yells At Cloud (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 9 months ago | (#46449867)

What's the point? He'll be dead soon. I certainly wouldn't want to spend the last 2 years of my life learning some technology that I will never get to use.

Re:Old Man Yells At Cloud (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 9 months ago | (#46449955)

Maybe if you spent 5 years being tortured [heraldsun.com.au] and as a result cannot raise your arms above your chest from the damage done without pain [go.com] , you wouldn't use a computer too much, either.

Re:Old Man Yells At Cloud (3, Informative)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 9 months ago | (#46450075)

Since when do you have to raise your arms above your chest to use a computer?

Re:Old Man Yells At Cloud (1)

operagost (62405) | about 9 months ago | (#46450207)

'cuz he's a MAVERICK!

We didn't realize the pundits really meant he would fit in best as a 19th century poker player.

What's so complicated? (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#46449459)

Its just a bunch of tubes.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#46449973)

At lest that's the best analogy any of our heroes in office can come up with; let alone understand what the Internet actually is. Well, except for maybe Al Gore.

We are so screwed.

Government Intelligence (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46449471)

One of the first Oxymorons I'd ever heard mention of.

This is why I'm not that concerned about the NSA (2)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 9 months ago | (#46449491)

Their ability to scoop up such a trove of data on our use of the Internet seems really fearsome, but what is their actual ability to make use of the data? They could use their tools plus the US global enforcement powers to nail Internet frauds like the Cryptolocker ransomware, thereby redeeming the bad press they been getting since Snowdon. That they are not doing so tells me that they probably cannot do so.

Re:This is why I'm not that concerned about the NS (2)

pla (258480) | about 9 months ago | (#46449611)

That they are not doing so tells me that they probably cannot do so.

An intelligence agency doesn't (necessarily) do policework. They may (or may not!) drop a tip to the FBI when they come across something big, but for the most part the NSA doesn't care in the least about "minor" crimes like ransomware or carding or murder. Until something reaches the level of impacting actual national security, the NSA merely observes.

Also, don't mistake the useless fucks in Washington for the geniuses (not used sarcastically) that get invited to apply to the NSA - The former may effectively cripple the latter in practical matters, but the latter by no means count as technologically illiterate.

Re:This is why I'm not that concerned about the NS (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46449615)

Their ability to scoop up such a trove of data on our use of the Internet seems really fearsome, but what is their actual ability to make use of the data? They could use their tools plus the US global enforcement powers to nail Internet frauds like the Cryptolocker ransomware, thereby redeeming the bad press they been getting since Snowdon. That they are not doing so tells me that they probably cannot do so.

Publicly they come across as all inept and easily baffled by the vast volumes of data they have. That's the cover I'd assume if I wanted to convince you not to be too worried.

Re:This is why I'm not that concerned about the NS (1)

Scott Ragen (3378093) | about 9 months ago | (#46449717)

That would be even *worse* than what they're doing now. Not only have they used their reach to get data on everyone to keep us safe from "terrorism", but now they use it to catch fraudsters!

Re:This is why I'm not that concerned about the NS (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 9 months ago | (#46449783)

Actually this is why you should be very concerned about the NSA. The people doing NSA surveillance know what they are doing. The oversight does not. That is the scary thing.

Re:This is why I'm not that concerned about the NS (1)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 9 months ago | (#46449925)

You're not concerned that the government is blatantly violating people's freedoms and the constitution it's supposed to be bound by? Huh.

Everyone surprised, raise your hand. (1)

pla (258480) | about 9 months ago | (#46449493)

What, no one? Oh, right, sorry...

EVERYONE SURPRISED, RAISE YOUR HAND

Ahhhh, I see now... Hey, look over there, an early-morning all you can eat buffet restaurant!

Ahem. That taken care of, I move we lower the age of candidacy for all public offices to 18. Do I hear a second?

Re:Everyone surprised, raise your hand. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46449659)

What, no one? Oh, right, sorry...

EVERYONE SURPRISED, RAISE YOUR HAND

Ahhhh, I see now... Hey, look over there, an early-morning all you can eat buffet restaurant!

Ahem. That taken care of, I move we lower the age of candidacy for all public offices to 18. Do I hear a second?

Just keep in mind these departments and heads are generally chock full of people who do know their arse from a hole in the ground and they generally are the ones who actually meet with as-aware counter parts for the actual details. Mucky-mucks just zero in on the microphone, for a speech or two and then the bar for after the worker bees have been lined up to get the fiddly bits all right.

Re:Everyone surprised, raise your hand. (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 9 months ago | (#46449701)

Except the ones who DON'T know their assess from a hole in the ground actually vote on these things.

All those other people just get coffee for them.

Can we afford technically incompetent politicians? (4, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 9 months ago | (#46449511)

I'm looking at you, Kathleen Sebelius. The healthcare.gov fiasco is just one obvious symptom. The world depends utterly on science and technology, but is being guided by people who I will describe politely as "technically challenged."

We've seen the results recently, and they're not pretty. I think our democracy itself is going to have to go through a thorough upgrade to remain viable. IQ tests for politicians? No, it's not egalitarian. It's not the American way. It may, however, allow the country to survive in something like its present form over the next century.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (4, Insightful)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 9 months ago | (#46449807)

You know of an IQ Test that can measure corruptibility? I don't think the problem with our elected officials is generally a lack of intelligence; it's a lack of character and responsibility to their actual electorate, rather than the highest bidder.

Testify, Word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449953)

You know of an IQ Test that can measure corruptibility? I don't think the problem with our elected officials is generally a lack of intelligence; it's a lack of character and responsibility to their actual electorate, rather than the highest bidder.

BAM!

Yeah, I'd rather have an honest idiot than the current crop of half-smart criminals.

Although a really really smart crook wouldn't be so bad; after all, Bill Clinton was far better than the Cheney Regime.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449859)

Kathleen Sebelius was put in a politically impossible position. There was zero possibility of the technology supporting the ACA ever working as originally specced. She should have recognized this instantly, but even if she did, what could she have done?

IQ Tests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449869)

Quite a few of our politicians are lawyers who have passed the BAR. A few others are MDs, MBAs and most are college educated.

I'm sure most would score in the bright normal range and above. What 110+ on Wechsler?

It's not so much intelligence of our politicians, but their ignorance and the fact that the electorate can be manipulated so easily as to get them to vote for these folks.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (1, Informative)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 9 months ago | (#46449967)

I don't think it's fair to say Kathleen Sebelius was technically challenged because the healthcare.gov website didn't work on time. Even if it were her fault, that the healthcare.gov launch went badly, it wouldn't be because of her technical skills, it would be because of her managerial skills.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450137)

Can't expect the head of HHS to be a competent manager. That would be judgmental and incompatible with eloi culture.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450029)

No, the rich can, silly.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450053)

It may, however, allow the country to survive in something like its present form over the next century.

Given that IQ tests are pretty useless at measuring, well, anything... Not really.

Protip, kids: George Bush and Barack Obama and even that guy who wanted to turn the government into a pizza joint all have IQs higher than the average Slashdotter.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450221)

Given that IQ tests are pretty useless at measuring, well, anything...

Yeah? Well, I once blew through a company's "intelligence" test with a decent score, then took some silly "personality" test, then ran out and got an MCSD... and a company hired me for about $150k for herping and derping for 3 years. Easy, and fun- best job I ever had before I couldn't stand it any more and left to go do real work.

As long as people and organizations with cash think that the tests measure something, I'm cool with it.

You need to shut the hell up before you blow it for everybody.

Re:Can we afford technically incompetent politicia (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 9 months ago | (#46450061)

Kathleen Sebelius

What, she drafted the law that said the government would magick up a website in a few months from rainbows and moonbeams?

The law set hard deadlines for a technology project nobody had ever tried before and that was just one of the signs that it was drafted by someone who had no idea how technological projects work in (or out of) government. The results would have been equally horrifying if congress had passed "The Moon Shot Act of 1961" after JFK's speech with a deadline of colonizing the moon by October 1.

IQ tests for politicians? No, it's not egalitarian. It's not the American way.

I'll say! What does IQ have to do with whether the person will vote for or against abortion?! You have to focus on what's important here!

Perhaps a judge does not need e-mail (1)

MXB2001 (3023413) | about 9 months ago | (#46449513)

But if he's to make a judgement on the topic surely he must either learn about the subject first or recuse himself.

Re:Perhaps a judge does not need e-mail (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#46449905)

Should a judge learn to fly a passenger jet if there is a pilot on trial for negligence? - Think about it, judges are there to listen to testimony and make decisions based on the facts presented to them, they are essentially laymen in everything but the law. So they don't use email, they probably also don't use slashdot, twitter, facebook, youtube, need I list them all? - Should the judge use all of them before he makes a decision on a case that involves a computer?

We have met the enemy, and it is time-to-market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449631)

Speaking from professional experience, the biggest obstacle to following industry best practices is unrealistic time-to-market demands imposed by people with MBAs. The tech people know they're creating boondoggles; they just don't have a choice.

Re:We have met the enemy, and it is time-to-market (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449697)

But if we don't productivize our application with a million business logic rules within the next two weeks we'll desynergize our first mover advantage and the market paradigm will shift away from us!

I work for a Tech company and same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449667)

Here at Dell there's so many people who don't have a clue. I know there is technical people in this city, but Dell is too stupid to hire them and a lot of the good ones left with the VSP.

Email isn't necessarily useful to everyone. (2)

hey! (33014) | about 9 months ago | (#46449671)

It's not that it can't do useful things for everyone; it's that you have to balance that against things like time wasted. For the head of a major agency with private secretaries and aids at her call, checking and sending emails might not be the best use of her time.

HAHAHA government officials are totally ignorant!! (1)

mindpivot (3571411) | about 9 months ago | (#46449673)

HA... ha.... wait... that's seriously not funny.

Abstention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449731)

In cases where a Supreme Court justice is completely ignorant of a topic, they really should abstain.

Sheds light...? (1)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 9 months ago | (#46449753)

I thought this was a commonly known fact.

Donald Knuth also doesn't have Email (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 9 months ago | (#46449755)

Okay, the cybersecurity negotiator ignorance is bad, the rest less so.

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime.

Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.
        - Donald Knuth

The role of Supreme Court Justice is also "to be on the bottom of things". It is possible to understand enough about email to make good judgements about it without using it on a daily basis. The justices have to make weekly about subjects which they have absolutely no interaction with in their normal day-to-day life. From technical to finance to agriculture, no one can possibly be an expert on all the issues they hear. It is their job to constantly learn enough about a subject to know what is important from a legal and constitutional point of view. If they are failing to do this, then that is a legitimate complaint. The fact that they weren't familiar with "common knowledge" technologies before encountering them in court, or haven't chosen to incorporate them into their life isn't.

Re:Donald Knuth also doesn't have Email (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450199)

Mod up. This is the right answer to this whole farcical article.

Re:Donald Knuth also doesn't have Email (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450279)

But do the SCOTUS Justices know how email works? Donald Knuth used it for 15 years and only gave it up because he had no use for it. The Justice said "I haven't got round to email yet". Well, what else haven't they "got round to yet?" Are the parties who argue cases before SCOTUS about technology able to be sure that the Justices aren't going to view the law through a technological lens that is decades old?

Some "heard" Janet Napolitano doesn't use email? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449765)

janet.napolitano@dhs.gov

http://whichwayhome.net/contact-secretary.html

President@ucop.edu

http://www.ucop.edu/president/

The Right Wing will make up anything. Slashdot's going to become something like the old guy's who watch Fox News all day become.

Re:Some "heard" Janet Napolitano doesn't use email (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449987)

Just because someone set up accounts that her aides use doesn't mean she ever uses email. Idiot.

The best salesman/negotiator (1)

vlad30 (44644) | about 9 months ago | (#46449769)

is not always the one with the knowledge about the product but the one with the people skills to manipulate the situation to their and your advantage these people usually have a very knowledgable person beside them who has poor people skills due to their single subject focus

The blind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46449799)

The blind being led by the stupid.

There's nothing really wrong with having stupid people around. Someone has to flip the burgers. The problem is when the stupid don't know their place. This is what happens, and I bet this is only a small peak at the enormity of the situation.

As it turns out, the US does still do some manufacturing. The make Ego's, and they are fearsome(drooling) beasts.

Rampant ignorance (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about 9 months ago | (#46449827)

It's not just government officials. This is rampant in the work world. The higher up the food chain you look, the more you have "leaders" who openly reject technology and cloak themselves in their ignorance. They literally joke about how little they know in regards to their basic tools. I'm confident most of us can name at least one "superior" who held critical decision making powers in an organization who would print off their emails to read them rather than reading them on the monitor. Why are these people not being publicly shamed? Why are they not being openly mocked and degraded because they "haven't gotten around to email"? Yes there's more to life than eating, breathing, and living tech. That being said, they should feel fucking ashamed that they refuse to learn the basic tools needed to function in the modern world. This doesn't just apply to computer technology. Ignorance of everyday tools is rampant in our society. People can't figure out to pull their car over on the highway because they have a flat tire. They can't be bothered to check the oil in their engine. Replacing a light bulb is a monumental task. Hell, people can't even boil water for noodles without screwing that up! Shame them.

Not better here... (1)

mseeger (40923) | about 9 months ago | (#46449837)

If it is any consolation, the level of competence of political decisionmakers in Germany is about at the same level. The ballpen is the last technological inovation they use.

3rd-Rate, 3rd-Party Post (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#46449895)

Why did we get a comment containing a link to a blog post about a news article elsewhere on the internet [theguardian.com] ?

I mean, holy crap, Slashdot, can't you even bother to give us a link to the actual article anymore? We have to go on a link-to-a-link goose chase?

Re:3rd-Rate, 3rd-Party Post (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#46450167)

I retract the above statement. At least in regard to this particular topic. The blog post does link more than just that one story into a theme. Still, I would not have brought it up unless I'd seen that kind of thing quite a bit on Slashdot lately.

garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46450165)

Just add more to the pile. We can be sure that there will be no skillful people in Congress. Ever.

Results (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 9 months ago | (#46450205)

This is the result of people outsourcing their thinking to others. This is what happens when you have politicians running the show.

Like Fawn Hall in 1986? (3, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about 9 months ago | (#46450255)

Like Fawn Hall in 1986? Ollie North's secretary, who printed out his emails so she could shred them?

this is slashdot (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 9 months ago | (#46450273)

Yet you had to spell out ISP in the summary? WTF?
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