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Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 263

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 296

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Re:Wow. Just wow. (Score 1) 320

by hey! (#49490245) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

So... They didn't test the iPad / content combo to establish usability / feasibility / usefulness prior to dropping all this cash?

That's speculation. Feasibility is no guarantee of performance.

I read the attached article, and there were two specific complaints cited. The first was security, which is a non-functional requirement; that could well be a failure of the customer to do his homework on requirements but presumably a competent and honest vendor could have done a better job on security. It's often the vendor's job to anticipate customer needs, particularly in projects of the type customers don't necessarily have experience with.

The other complaint is that the curriculum wasn't completely implemented. If the vendor failed to deliver something it agreed to, that's purely the vendor's fault.

Sometimes bad vendors happen to good customers. Bad vendors happen more often to bad customers, but every project involves taking a calculated risk.

Comment: Re:Sign off. (Score 3, Insightful) 320

by hey! (#49490193) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Well, until the details of how the contract was awarded and how the vendor failed have been thoroughly investigated, it's premature to fire anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for accountability and decisiveness, but picking someone plausible and throwing them under the bus isn't accountability. In fact that may actually shield whoever was responsible.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 1) 698

by GameboyRMH (#49478727) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Scientology has Xenu the space-devil, and the alien ghosts that implant themselves in everyone's bodies...

However, I still think their tax-exempt religious status should be revoked. It was originally rejected for legitimate legal reasons and was only conceded to them because of bullying (via lawsuit-DDoS).

Worryingly, I've noticed more mainstream religions are copying some of Scientology's business methods. "Prosperity gospel" basically copies the way they make massive real-estate investments and buy lavish luxuries for top officials using donations from followers. Some Christian boarding schools basically operate like Sea Org on land. I don't think the time is far off when tax exempt status for all religions will have to be revoked to clamp down on these abuses. Scientology has let the genie out of the bottle.

Comment: Re:Everyone loves taxes (Score 1) 173

Everyone loves the benefits of government-funded infrastructure if someone else is paying for them.

That's not entirely true. If you are in the top %0.001 of the population for income, you could feasibly pay for your own private infrastructure. You buy a plot of land, put a wall around it and hire a bunch of people to protect you, take care of you and cater to your needs. But your standard of living wouldn't actually be any objectively better than it is in contemporary America. In fact it would probably be somewhat worse. Historically societies that organized themselves along these feudal lines were not by modern standards innovative. You mustn't imagine living your untaxed castle enjoying Internet access and the other benefits of a modern science. In the rule by and for the wealthy, guys like Jon Postel or Vint Cerf would most likely have been serfs.

Humanity's greatest resource is the creativity of people -- a resource that tends to be squandered either by totalitarian control on one hand or anarchistic neglect on the other. People who can see no middle ground aren't just blind as futurists, they're historically blind.

Comment: Re:better idea (Score 0) 165

by hey! (#49453713) Attached to: UN To Debate Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Great idea. 2000 years ago they nailed someone to a tree for saying that.

And by a thousand years ago they were going to war in his name. People will seize on anything to rationalize what they want to do, aided by the bottomless human capacity for inconsistency. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if someday to learn there were "Gandhian" terrorists.

Don't get me wrong, I think ideals are important. But we shouldn't expect too much from them. An ideal is only as good as the people who espouse it.

Comment: Re:Never consumer ready (Score 1) 228

by hey! (#49453541) Attached to: 220TB Tapes Show Tape Storage Still Has a Long Future

Wake me when tape is reliable AND costs 10% of the $/GB of hard drive storage.

No, you have to get up before that so you can shlep 22 10 TB hard drives to the backup site.

The truth is that there is no simple solution for backup -- not if you consider preparing for future contingencies. Backup to hard drives? Your backup data is an asset that needs constant maintenance less bit-rot set in.

"I am, therefore I am." -- Akira