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Comment Re:This is just an attempt by the Republicans... (Score 3, Interesting) 140

Well, let's see...

That's from one quick search (obviously not needed for the Chernobyl item). And beyond those, the contrast in the level of pollution between democratic, capitalist West Germany and authoritarian, Marxist East Germany at the time of unification is well-documented, the subject of many studies and articles. It's about as close to a lab comparison as you could ask for.

Are there, and have there been, environmental problems in the free world? Certainly. But the idea that they're worse than in undemocratic countries is ludicrous, especially since the Marxist countries had their problems even with the benefit of hindsight, since most of them industrialized long after the free world had.

Comment Sorry, no. Actually, just plain "no" (Score 1) 1032

"Instead of guaranteeing loans, the government would have to guarantee a college education."

Uh-huh. So, if he were going to college today, I should foot the bill so Mr. Siegel can get his masters in philosophy, become a "cultural critic" as he's described, and write articles demanding that I foot the bill so he can get his masters in philosophy, become a "cultural critic" as he's described, and write articles demanding that I foot the bill so he can...

I sense a stack overflow coming on.

No. Hell no. For the most part, degrees that don't pay for themselves are degrees in things that you don't need a degree to pursue. Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, to name just a couple critics, had rather illustrious careers without any degrees. As for philosophy, anyone with the aptitude for it would do just as well reading books on philosophy and having discussions with similarly-inclined people.

Comment Re:Intent matters. (Score 3, Informative) 312

Information that could make civilians more dangerous to police or military should not be available to civilians at all, obviously.

On the contrary, it's precisely the opposite: civilians must have access to such information, to keep the police and military in check. As far as the US goes, this is discussed extensively in the Federalist Papers, in particular by James Madison #46 and Alexander Hamilton in #29. Both explicitly state the assumption that the citizenry at large will outgun any Federal standing army. To quote the latter, "...if circumstances should at any time oblige the Government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the People, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights, and those of their fellow-citizens." The rationale for the Constitution, and therefore for the very existence of the Federal government of the United States, is predicated on this imbalance of power in favor of the citizenry.

And mind you, Madison and Hamilton were speaking for the pro-big (relatively speaking) government faction. Their argument, stripped of the flowery language, was: "Don't worry, it's safe to let the central government field an army. If the politicians try to misuse it, the citizens will just shoot them."

Furthermore, the very idea of any power or information being available to government agents but not to the citizenry is contrary to the core philosophy of the US system. Per the Declaration of Independence, governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." That is, whatever powers government has are delegated to it by the citizens. The government's powers are a subset of the powers of the citizenry, by definition, because for the government to have the power to do X, the citizens must first have the power to do X in order to be able to delegate it.

Comment Re:I do not understand (Score 1) 538

I never claimed they don't - both the "for the children" and "war on terror" crap is used by opportunists in both parties to use emotionally charged rhetoric to distract from the actual effectiveness of their pet laws. Democrats are just more likely to run on a platform of opposition to that thinking than Republican candidates are.

I really disagree with you on that, especially the relative balance of "for the children" usage, but that's probably because we have different ideas about what the "actual effectiveness" and merit of the laws. For example, if you're a Democrat, you probably don't see the use of school shooting incidents as justification for laws that violate the Second Amendment to be examples of "for the children", while I do. Likewise, the "have the government make this decision because it will decide more intelligently than the parents can" argument is almost-entirely a Democrat thing. It's not a "for your children" argument, it's a "for those other parents' children, because those parents aren't smart like you" argument. All sorts of health, safety, and education mandates fall into that category, such as the Democrat hostility to alternatives to public schools. "Spend money for the children" is a mostly-Democrat thing as well, as is the infantalizing "spend money on the children who are no longer really children but we'll talk as if they are" variant, such as Obama's "stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26" thing.

Now, presumably you think most of my examples are things that should be done, but that's my point: we will tend not to see the "for the children" argument unless it's being used to push something we disagree with.

Comment Technology section seems... odd (Score 3, Insightful) 428

Javascript and AngularJS and NodeJS? If you're using one of the latter, aren't you using the former by definition? And also, while I have nothing against Angular (learning at the moment myself), is it really more-used than jQuery? I see jQuery all over the place when I look into the source of sites I find interesting, far more often than I run into Angular.

Comment Re: I do not understand (Score 1) 538

it's still silly.

No, silly is insisting that a word be used in an essentially-useless way.

what's wrong with "north americans"? "south americans" seems accepted too.

Yes, because they provide useful information -- there are generalizations you can make and subjects you can discuss about North America(ns) or South America(ns) that apply to them but not to the rest of the world, as opposed to both of them combined.

i meant appropiaton in a linguistic sense.

As I pointed out, the use of America to mean the United States probably came into widespread use outside it before it did so inside it, because for the better part of a century its people primarily thought of themselves in term of what state they lived in, not what country. I'll defer to someone with a better knowledge of linguistic history, but at a guess this is probably because the US was the first European colony to become a separate nation and thus need a special name to denote it.

in the end it might just be you just have a silly name for your country, i admit that "united staters" or "usians" sounds weird

If you just can't bring yourself to use "Americans" to mean "person who lives in the US", the way everyone else does, use "Yankees" or "Yanks." Just realize that it means something different within the US, and that some folks in the Southern US will take offense.

(though that's exactly how you are referred to in most european languages),

As others have pointed out in their replies, that's not the case. And even for countries that do have a specific word for US citizens in their language (for instance, Japan or China), when speaking/writing English they use "American" for that.

but that's no reason to disregard the meaning of a reference for all people in america to the point to, ... yes, appropiate it. or else, how would you actually refer properly to that group (assuming you wanted to)?

Can you give me some non-contrived examples in which you'd want to? Is there anything (again, non-contrived) we could discuss that would apply to people in Seattle and Sao Paolo but not to people in Stuttgart and Sydney?

you could'nt, you'd have to use a periphrase because you gave an arbitrary meaning to the only word that would make sense.

Your statement is akin to insisting that the astrophysics definition of "metal" (everything except hydrogen and helium) should be the preferred meaning instead of the meaning everyone else uses.

Really, it sounds like this is just a proxy for resentment of the US. Maybe that resentment is justified, maybe not, but this seems a pretty silly way to express it.

Comment Re: I do not understand (Score 4, Interesting) 538

Most people think of their location in terms of political entities rather than geography.

there are examples of the opposite. people in canary islands, for example, refer to themselves as "canarios", not "spanish". that makes sense, however, because the term isn't inaccurate.

Point taken, but in that case, their term is more specific and helps distinguish them from a larger group -- the exact opposite of the way you want to use "Americans." And you'll note that they do not call themselves "Africans" despite their islands being geographically part of that continent.

That's not just an American thing.

can you remember any other instance where the name of a whole continent is appropriated by a single country as "nationality"? thought so.

The Republic of India, generally called "India" and whose citizens are generally called "Indians", despite sharing the subcontinent of India with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Do you call the citizens of the Republic of India "RoIans"?

Besides which, the idea that it's an "appropriation" is silly. Next to no one uses it that way in everyday conversation or refers to themselves primarily that way, because it doesn't tell you anything useful about them. If I tell you someone is an American in the nationality sense, that lets you make some generalizations about them -- you know he probably speaks English, you know to a degree what kind of food he eats, what TV shows he watches, who the leader of his country is, etc. (Feel free to snark if you wish here). If I use it in the geographic sense, it tells me... what, exactly, besides the tautology that they live on either the North American or South American continent? That they set their clocks between UTC-3 and UTC-11? Heck, just telling me if a person lives north or south of the equator tells me more about where they live than saying that they live in the Americas.

In short, when a word has multiple meanings, people naturally gravitate towards the meaning that's most useful. Referring to someone as an American in the sense you want to use it is only slightly more useful than telling me they're a Terran.

you should be able to understand how nonsensical this looks from anywhere outside united states.

i know that this is customary in the states, but you guys should also note that this is the internets where you are being read.

It's used that way in plenty of other countries, including Canadians, who would have as much right to be annoyed by the supposed "appropriation" as anyone else. My impression is that they're proud of their demonym and have no great yearning to lump themselves in with a couple dozen other countries by calling themselves "Americans."

Furthermore, at a guess I'd expect that "American" in the nationality sense came into common man-on-the-street usage (as opposed to political tracts or whatnot) outside the US before it did so inside it, because for the first 75 years -- prior to the US Civil War -- most people here tended to designate themselves and others by their state rather than national identity. They didn't primarily think and speak of themselves as Americans but as Virginians, Vermonters, Ohioans, Kentuckians, etc.

Comment Re:I do not understand (Score 3, Insightful) 538

protecting citizens' rights in the face of "for the children"

Democrats are just as willing to use that canard, they just use it to support violation of different rights than Republicans do. For example, this, or just as a general magic phrase to demand access to your wallet.

Comment Re: I do not understand (Score 1) 538

and who would give a fuck about the cia's world factbook (besides some really stubborn usian :D)

if you don't mind, i will continue to use "american" as related to anything in "america", even though "america" doesn't mean what you think it means.

As with many words, it has more than one meaning, depending on the subject you're discussing. When you're talking about nationality -- which was clearly the case -- "Americans" means people who live in the United States. If you're talking about geography, it means people who live in either North or South America. Since there are far more topics of discussion that apply to everybody in the US than apply to everybody living on both continents (time zones, maybe? plate tectonics?), the former is used.

That's not just an American thing. Most people think of their location in terms of political entities rather than geography. Perhaps you should go to a pub in Ireland and tell them that they're British, since they live in the British Isles. The results might be amusing. That goes for smaller political entities as well, unless there's some well-known landmark that locals refer to. If you ask me where I live, I'm going to answer "Las Vegas, Nevada" not "at the base of the Spring Mountains range, in the Mojave Desert."

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson