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Comment: Why stop with Scientology? (Score 1) 700

What is it that we think makes Scientology so egregious when compared with other tax-exemptions? It seems to me that if this gets pushed hard enough we will conclude that "tax-exempt status" for religious groups leads to a violation of the amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Only by NOT granting tax exempt status do we get government out of the business of deciding what is a valid religion and what is not. Look how well it worked to let government define marriage. Be careful what you wish for.

Comment: We are all elitist pigs. (Score 1) 114

We need to remember that most of us would not know how to create a financial derivative wrapping up bad mortgages into a pretty package and then selling them to banks who then get the government to cover the losses at the high end leaving the luzr$ holding underwater assets that they have to just give up. $12T worth of equity vanishing in the process. Yet these are the guys who pay us the best. The "techs" who lurk at the fringe, and who do not really know a packet from a pickle should be treated like physician's assistants or paralegals. Useful to do the routine stuff, but needing tech supervision or nudging aside when the going gets tough. They might be the hardware guys opening the hood and putting in the parts, while we wait at the keyboard to make it work. In a repair shop, it makes sense to form these sorts of teams, but for on-site delivery it is usually a one-man team, and in that case, we need to be careful to send in the paratechs only when called for, sending in the true techs when necessary. In the end, it is about education. Educate the users about why they sometimes only need the power user, sometimes the paratech and sometimes the tech. Educate the support spectrum to have proper (if limited) respect for each other and keeping each level engaged.

Sheesh, you'd think we thought being techie qualified us to do brain surgery, for crying out loud.

Comment: User's choice (Score 1) 516

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#49150867) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10
The sound I use to indicate that the system is shutting down (the "that's it man, game over (NSFW)") sound bite from Aliens. Icons could be the same way, I would think, sort of like themes. But ultimately icons are shortcuts to replace long words like "Save" or "Stop". And look how far the Egyptians of 4,000 years ago got with their icon-based language. And cross cultural issues abound. The red "X" used in 1990's German software caught me off guard, compared to common English usage to indicate "Delete".

In the final analysis, icons are like standards ... everyone has their own, sometimes just for marketing.

Comment: This Republican is smiling (Score 1) 599

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#49138439) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules
I was putting pressure on my Representative (R) though I had no influence with my two Senators since they are both from the (D) party. I pushed for the "the Internet is a utility" based on first principles in the Republican party, which does not always lead to wanting private ownership of public goods.

Comment: Re:Anecdotes from Germany ... (Score 1) 290

A friend told me that in China the elevator door etiquette was for in-bounds to stand in the door and, similar to the German train behavior, block the door. He is big, and would stand in the elevator with his nose almost touching the door waiting for it to open. Startled a few people, for cure. Social interaction rules are learned behavior, and we are all both teacher and student, if it is done right. Unfortunately, as a child of the 60's, I know that many of my peers refused to be bound by cultural customs, leading to a ruder world, IMNSHO.

Comment: Rule of the sea (Score 1) 290

A vessel at anchor always has right of way (though I would not try this with a small boat and a big tanker). So I sometimes stop, take out cell phone and pretend to be answering a call. Since I am stopped, I have the right of way under most social rules of traffic in common spaces.

Comment: What is the purpose of the test? (Score 1) 129

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#49021241) Attached to: Replacing the Turing Test
Turing's test was about the ability to imitate human behavior/knowledge. The real question we need to answer I will call the Mycroft test. The purpose of the test is to determine if the program has earned the right to not be turned off, that is, does it have a right to a trial before it is "terminated"? A program that has earned that right has crossed the blurry line between inanimate and "human" in a way that should be important to us. Defining a test that can measure this is at the heart of deciding what makes us us, vs what makes us tick.

Comment: Re:That's like ... (Score 1) 779

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48970569) Attached to: WA Bill Takes Aim at Boys' Dominance In Computer Classes
They keep pushing these programs because they never heard of black markets, did not get the lesson in "life finding a way" in Jurassic Park, and for some reason while they believe in evolution vs creationism, they do not think the basic law of the genetic algorithm applies to behaviors (memes). The Soviets had almost 70 years to stamp out superstition and religion, but failed, in spite of some pretty horrific "scientifically justified" methods (not counting their flawed biological science models, thinking mostly of their flawed economic models).

Comment: But policy is NOT science (Score 1) 497

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48887185) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work
While no one has ever suggested that science is subject to voting, it is naive to claim that opinion does not guide publication. If I wanted to argue data that showed the speed of light in vacuum was much different from the current estimate, my evidence has to be much better than if I were simply confirming a widely held number. AND, it is perfectly reasonable for a political body to declare that pi is 3.1416 for all calculations used in contracts and surveying. Not so reasonable is to hold that planning commissions cannot use the best science when planning for long terms (which they do, by their nature). See North Carolina's actions, which blocked use of the science.

But, in my opinion the best hedge we have is banks and insurance companies. As long as they are permitted to do the math, we will be safe (unless they are prevented from using their best estimates by social engineering in the "democratic" body politic). For example, in New Orleans I bet rational assessment of long term risk would hurt the poor the most, making for irrational attempts to legislate away risk by blocking its use in assessing mortgages, etc. Think of the whole real estate bubble and the good intentions but bad ideas that made home ownership a right, not to be denied just because the owner could not afford it.

Comment: Re:So they are doing what? (Score 1) 509

by FreedomFirstThenPeac (#48792829) Attached to: Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack
The ability to think meta is important. Some once pointed out that the US Constitution is not a suicide pact, even though without meta-thinking it appears to be so. This is a variation on the idea that the only thing we must not tolerate is intolerance. Do not be afraid to embrace this conflict.

Comment: I call BS (Score 1) 303

The ACLU says

Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators" or "IMSI catchers," are invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information. When used to track a suspect's cell phone, they also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby.

So, I think the Stingray is used to track who and where, very similar to having a beat cop standing on the corner who recognizes you and notes that you just walked by. All the discussion here about wiretapping is just FUD.

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.