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Comment Not slashdot too..... (Score 5, Interesting) 965

Terrorism is a statistically completely irrelevant cause of death. 2014 was the most peaceful year in human history. Recently, only 0.9% of all deaths are violence related and there are indications this is on the decline. Life Expectancy is rising, Child Mortality is dropping and life seems to be moving on. Apart from Cancer, Heart, Lungs and stuff like Malaria, traffic is a big one we should be worried about, really. Having a staircase in one's house is, for instance, more dangerous than the notion of terrorism ever will be.

Now, here come the news outlets. Apart from all this "Educating and Informing The People", "Freedom of Speecht" and "Checks and Balances" bullshit, the press and media generally exist to make money. In some cases they even seem to exist for more Machiavellian purposes, but to make money is a biggie. So when something as statistically insignificant as a terror attack happens *Close By*, the news explodes. It's like a gigantic circle jerk in which everyone and their uncle needs to fill yards and yards of column space or air time to talk about What May Have Happened, Why It May Have Happened or What May Happen Next and Which Refugees To Treat Like Shit Because Of This.

So generally speaking, the Media seem to take events like this and add to the sense of fear that terrorists would have instilled in the citizenry. As such, I'm beginning to view the media as culpable in the problem of terrorism, because any wacko can get a world wide platform by misbehaving in an instant. Social media are even worse when it comes to knee jerk bullshit and mass panic.

Which leads me to Slashdot. I think Slashdot is a haven of alternative news which offers refreshing takes on things, interesting articles, sometimes brilliant and inspired discussions. It is a news aggregator / outlet that works differently, feels differently and makes me feel at home in more than a few ways.

I am sad to see that even here, there needs to be a discussion on Paris. I came here to avoid that news. Moreover, I came here to avoid certain discussions about Guns, Islam, The Administration and Refugees. Because these discussions are boringly predictable, polarised, fraught with no-fact-debates and generally just plain stupid.

Comment Re:A Bad Trade (Score 2) 252

Quite. The funny thing is that "Wintertime" as we call it is actually the default time. "Summertime" where we gain light in the evening, is the change.

I for one am sick and tired of this fascism of the early bird. Aside from catching the worm, I suggest the early bird goes and f$#ks itself. As a late person, I want my light in the evening. When, you know, I am awake, productive and generally more cheerful.

Now on /. I wonder... How many folks are with me to abolish the Wintertime / Daylight Savings Time altogether?

Comment Re:BBC / other state broadcasters? (Score 5, Insightful) 132

Well, mate, if you'd then bother to learn someone else's language for a change, you could enjoy the Dutch NPO, the French France Televisions SA, the German ARD, Sveriges Television and many other public broadcasters.

Now I would not mind at all if you watched programmes on the Dutch NPO which I payed for with my NL TV License fees. It's just that you can't. Because you're uni-lingual. The fact that the average German, French, Dutchman and Scandinavian can watch your shows because we hablo Ingles and possibly few other languages doesn't change that fact.

So instead of bickering about me enjoying the odd re-run of Allo Allo and nature shows narrated by Sir Attenborough, I suggest you go back to school.

Now you might say that I respond harshly to your comments, but please remember that the people in the smaller countries and smaller language zones bend over backwards to accommodate the English speaking world. One fringe benefit of me watching your BBC would be that you can actually get a fish and chips in Amsterdam, and we'll happily converse with you about the weather in Wales while we serve it to you from the English menu you just read.

So is it worth your TV license fee to not have to feel like a hapless idiot when you travel the mainland?

Comment Re:They (well some of them) are mental disorders (Score 1) 412

You manage to misrepresent transgenderism in one fell and foul swoop there.

Gender, in terms of how the brain is wired, is actually wired into the system before the testes drop or not. To cut a very long and technical story short, you are mentally wired to be male or female regardless of how your body turns out. For a small percentage of society, this means that their brains don't match their physical attributes, and the consequence of this is indeed a life long quest to become "right".

Stigmas and taboos are quite counterproductive for these individuals, and what Russia is doing is a gross violation of human rights. Then again, I don't expect much sympathy from US citizens, because the LGBT community is still under siege in the US as well. Laws are discriminatory, and public discourse is not very accepting of these folks. All you need to do is watch some Fox News and you'll get the gist.

Characterising the transgendered plight as "dress up in women's lingerie" only serves to exacerbate this situation, even if the intentions are quite OK.

Comment Re: islam (Score 1) 1350

"Capitalism" is really quite a useless term. It frames the discussion in terms of a dichotomy that does not exist in reality. The Americans have now even started equating Socialism with Communism and by proxy of that full fledged Marxism, and then turn around to oppose this with "Freedom" or a "Free Market".

Now I have said this in another post, but there is no such thing as a free market. A free market has an unlimited amount of sellers, an unlimited amount of buyers and no regulations whatsoever. As soon as there's a discrepancy between the supply and demand side, like monopolies, cartels, monopsonies the market isn't truly "free".

Then as soon as you regulate the market in any way, shape or form it isn't truly free. Now for those libertarians out there, or those "no-government is good government" folks on this forum: "Capitalism" as translated into free market doctrine really sucks at morality. Do you agree that child labour ought to be illegal? Are you against slavery? Do you think some oversight should exist as to the circumstances under which labour is performed? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you yourself do not believe in a "free" market.

This means we can quit demonizing "Socialists" because of their alleged "anti-freedom" stance, and we can get on with having some constructive discussions on how we want to redistribute assets so as to maximize the welfare of the world population as a whole. Preferably based on fact rather than faintly religious notions.

Now the notions of a "free market", the "trickle-down effect" and most importantly the "rational actor model" that have been put forth by the Chicago school of economics and their ilk have been proven to be wrong and ineffective countless times. It should become clear if you look at the state of the US today, actually. For reference I would point towards the collected works of Joseph Stiglitz and Ha-Joon Chang.

Yet the public at large seems to want to keep paying lip service to these faulty theories and continues politicians, bankers and businessmen to act in accordance to that which is known to fuck up.

If you are saying people act according to "mutual benefit" you are a proponent of the "rational actor model" I talked about earlier, and that notion is bunk. This is not only made clear by Kahneman et al, but if you delve into George Lakoff's work you'll see that even our definition of rational thought is somewhat fictionalized. Dan Gardner will allow you to see how there is nothing rational about our calculation of risk and Barry Schwartz and Dan Azriely have written volumes on how we are impacted by choices.

To cut a long story short: Cognitive science has long proven that we wouldn't know what "mutual benefit" really is if it kicked us in the ass, which is illustrated by the ever narrowing of the definition of "rationality" in the rational actor model. So yes, the invisible hand as you define it is fictitious at best and completely religious at its worst.

We need government and we need to make some moral decisions as to the kind of society we wish to live in, and enforce that notion through the rule of law, also where economic policy and redistribution of wealth are concerned.

Comment Re:islam (Score 1) 1350

But then religion has already lost all meaning. It just doesn't realize it yet.

I understand the need for some notion of spirituality because people can be freaked out by the prospect of a finite and largely meaningless life, so in order not to go insane I guess some of us need imaginary friends and a promise of an afterlife.

However, in daily life neither my religious neighbors nor I do not ask god to charge our mobile phones. We use a charger that was built and engineered by mankind. Similarly, I don't need a god for morality either. Simple empathy will enable us to do the right thing. We can recognize suffering and decide to try and end or minimize it all by ourselves.

I'd even go as far as to say that a morality that hinges on an external factor dictating it is weaker than a fully internalized and autonomous morality.

Given that opening statement, there is no practical and discernible difference between a religion, dogma and ideology.

Comment Re:islam (Score 1) 1350

So much nuance needed here.

It is easy to look at Islam and consider it to be the root of all evil. Quite frankly this strikes me as a clean cut case of confusing correlation with causality.

Let me start by saying I do not condone violence of any kind, whether it's sectarian for any religion we know of or just plain assholery. So I don't condone the invasion of Iraq, the bombing of Gaza or the invasion of Charlie Hebdo's premise in any way, shape or form. Too many innocent and civilian lives are squandered tragically by all of these actions. Whether it's Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the IRA, ETA, IDF or Rote Armee Fraktion, US Army or Halliburton that's engaging in violence, I don't care. It's all the same barbarism to me when civilians die.

However, I do find myself at odds with the notion of freedom of speech. I'll illustrate by means of a small segway:

Ha-Joon Chang, the Korean economist has once stated that there is no such thing as a free market. A free market has an unlimited amount of sellers, an unlimited amount of buyers and no regulations whatsoever. As soon as there's a discrepancy between the supply and demand side, like monopolies, cartels, monopsonies the market isn't truly "free".

Then as soon as you regulate the market it isn't truly free. Now for those libertarians out there, or those "no-government is good government" folks on this forum: "Capitalism" as translated into free market doctrine really sucks at morality. Do you agree that child labour ought to be illegal? Are you against slavery? Do you think some oversight should exist as to the circumstances under which labour is performed? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you yourself do not believe in a "free" market.

Similarly, my Constitution's Article 7 is colloquially called the Free Speech article, but really what it states is that Censorship is illegal as long as what you are saying, writing or broadcasting DOES NOT BREAK THE LAW. So the law says that hate-speech, slander and lastly "mis-representation of facts for commercial purposes" are all illegal.

As such, you are totally free to think what you like, but you can't say what you like. By that token: Nobody batted an eye when the Dutch courts forbade an organisation that openly advocated pedophilia. In this case, the consensus is that "free speech" should not be so free, think of the children, etc. But as soon as we are looking at insulting religion, speech should be "free".

Now if we look at the colonialist forces that shaped much of the Muslim world, all the way from Afghanistan to Syria, from Baghdad to Algiers, we should also get a notion of the socio-economic circumstances that arose after our collective (French, English, American and to a degree Belgian) intervention in those areas. And we can then safely conclude that those circumstances are highly conducive for violent crime: There is poverty, no rule of law, borders are haphazardly drawn across cultural and religious boundaries, and 19-35 year old males regularly have no prospect of procreating.

Then quite a few people fled these colonial FUBARs, and settled in Europe. This is about 4.5% of Europe's population, and they have been marginalized, discriminated and even treated with violence. If you look at the amount of violent attacks on mosques in the last 12 years, the list is staggeringly large as compared to attacks on synagogues or papers such as Charlie Hebdo.

So we are dealing with an impoverished population that has residual colonial trauma and is constantly being attacked from all angles, and then we wonder why violent excess enters the picture.

This is a very long winded way of saying that as far as taking the piss at Muslims is concerned, White Privilege becomes part of the equation. We can mock the RC Church more freely, because we are the elite and it is an institute of our own making. However, when we mock Islam we need to be mindful of the socio-economic and power structure we created in which these people survive.

It's akin to the difference between a black US citizen dropping the N-word vis a vis a white middle class male dropping the N-word. We need to be more cautious about viewing the whole picture if we are to solve radicalism in our societies.

Comment Re:Two things. (Score 4, Insightful) 330

And boy let me tell you, the items that are controversial in the USofA are not the same ones that are controversial over here in Europe. Of course we get a smattering of IS and Ebola related news this time of year, but in general political discourse tends to not involve discussions on what one should be doing with one's penis, vagina, uterus or the contents thereof, but much more about the re-distribution of wealth and the state of law.

I see that both in Israel and the US, to be honest: A focus on the irrelevant. Case in point being that the security craze and hype surrounding 9/11 has caused a spike in ground traffic that killed more people than the 9/11 incident itself. It seems to me that both the US and Israel have a greater tendency than normal to hype relatively small risk factors and completely and blatantly ignore evidence for large looming risk factors, even in the face of mounting evidence.

The more progressive a society gets, the more balanced people's view is on risk. Whether the one causes the other or vice versa, I do not know. The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland are decidedly more earthy in their political discourse, even if obviously we do have some fear mongering rotten apples. Case in point in the Netherlands being the fascist reactionaries that crawled from under all the rocks in the country in the wake of the discussion on whether blackface is a good idea, but I digress.

So while the findings are interesting, firstly 83 subjects is a piss in the pond and secondly the original poster is right: Is this finding universal for all the cultures we find on the globe?

Lastly, by US standards I would be a flaming liberal. There's nothing wrong with smoking a doozie, I am atheist, I think abortion isn't even worth a discussion since babies only really become sentient some 2 months after birth, obviously I am in favour of gay marriage and last but not least I think the proliferation of weapons amongst civilians (and even the army, but I digress again) is a really really silly idea.

However, I self identify as a Left Winger in terms of economic re-distribution politics, as a Constitutional Conservative when it comes to safeguarding the state of law in my country, a Conservationist in terms of the environment and indeed finally as a Liberal in terms of sexual practice and tolerance and the tolerance for people of other color. But when it comes to my atheism I am quite extremist. I think people who are god-believers are simply lesser beings and I do strive to stamp out god-belief and related silliness wherever I encounter it.

Now I wonder, given all my views and thoughts on things, whether I would be deemed a "Conservative" or "Liberal", and what selection criteria would be used for classifying me such. Because none of those were mentioned in the article.

Comment Allons-y! (Score 1) 701

I wanted to ask why Star Wars and Galactica, but no Culture novels, but then I realised that neither GCU Fate Amenable to Change or dROU Frank Exchange of Views had any sort of catch phrase.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 4, Insightful) 310

You, as an individual, are not statistically relevant, even if what you describe is the actual truth. I say that last bit because infants, as soon as they are born, start sucking up language from their parents / caretakers, and I cannot really imagine you growing up in a total vacuum.

I do tend to agree most people learn best from people, because of the simple reason that there is so much evidence all around us that supports that claim. It is wired into us to mimic and learn from the people in our environment.

Comment Re:Now and then.. (Score 1) 270

Konami Magical Tree, Yie Ar Kung Fu II and Namco's Bosconian, is all I have to say.

Maybe King's Valley II and Boulderdash too.

If you infer that this post has a get-off-my-lawn type of feel to it, you're right. Point is that the games I grew up with were all at least 10-15 years before 20 years ago. ;)

Since then, from my perspective, the largest two "Good Ideas" were packed in Leisure Suit Larry / Space Quest I and potentially Wolfenstein 3D.

I must admit I think Masters of Orion is one seriously underrated game. I'd love an update on that where the original gameplay is kept as is and ported to MacOS. ;)

Comment Re:Pockets (Score 1) 254

Obviously you have never heard of Fjallraven G2000 cloth. Then the US Marine Core uses cloth in their uniforms that is designed by a company residing in Almelo, the Netherlands. So in terms of cloth that can withstand fire, wear and tear, wind and rain, we have some of the most techy gear on the planet in Europe.

Then when it comes to regular clothing, I find that the US and Canada have an absolute horrid industry. Clothes are baggy, ill fitting and generally just look like bags rather than shirts or trousers. For nice, form fitting jeans, suits, shirts and such I rely on G-Star (Dutch), Diesel (Italian), Boss (German), Van Gils (Dutch again), Eton Shirts (Swedish), Ledub (Dutch) or Sand (Danish).

When it comes to hand made shoes for business or evening wear, I would point to Van Bommel (Dutch), Van Liers (Dutch), while for casual wear and golf I enjoy Ecco sneaks and golf sneaks (Danish).

All of these clothes are not particularly cheap, but they fit the body, they look really damn good and the quality is generally excellent.

So whether it's hi-tech (polar, wetlands, desert) gear or actual clothing for regular use, I tend to favor (Northern) European brands any day of the week.

Comment Re:Virtualization (Score 1) 93

Information security and adhering to all manner of certification, both in terms of physical security and compliance to information management regulation, is usually a lot more stringent in a decent (professional) cloud environment than in people's own data center.

I'd be inclined to disagree with your assessment of hosted infrastructure, although quite honestly I am apprehensive about going to the cloud myself.

Maybe it's a psychological thing.

"Help Mr. Wizard!" -- Tennessee Tuxedo