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Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 217

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: The important question... (Score 3, Interesting) 77

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#49498339) Attached to: Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt
The article does not mention where the cost of this error is going to fall. This seems like an important detail. On a sufficently complex project, one of the bevy of subcontractors fucking something up isn't a huge surprise; but I would be very, very, disappointed if NASA wasn't able to contract sufficiently vigorously to make the vendor eat the cost of delivering the goods as specified, rather than paying them for their effort no matter how well or badly they do.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 154

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:I guess he crossed the wrong people (Score 4, Insightful) 154

by Waffle Iron (#49498273) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

Making a plant manufacture its own insecticide is one thing. Modifying it so that it can withstand being soaked with ever-increasing quantities and varieties of synthetic pesticides is another.

Weeds are gradually evolving to resist this chemical onslaught. Most people would rather not have themselves subjected to such evolutionary pressure within their lifetimes.

The weeds are destined to eventually win this arms race anyway, so this huge experiment in chemical exposure to the US population is eventually going to be for naught.

Comment: Re:I guess he crossed the wrong people (Score 1) 154

by fermion (#49498205) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal
Most guilty people will immediately try to become the victim. Ignore the fact that I convince gullible people to buy junk that at best is useless and at worst will harm them. Ignore the fact that I use my medical degree to trick people. Look at the big bad corporation over here that wants to attack me. Ignore the fact that I am in the arms of a big bad corporation that airs my tv show and wants rating no matter what.

My problem with Dr. Oz is not that he appears to be a unethical charletan that will prostitute himself to any snake oil salesman who asks. My problem is, n the few shows I have seen, is that he actively is teaching his audience bad science. This is not surprising as doctors are not scientists. For instance, there was one show on fat where his depiction of fat was completely inaccurate. The demonstration was there to be visually exciting, but at the expense of any real science. I can imagine the people who saw it going to their doctor and arguing a point, thinking Dr. Oz is right, and their doctor is wrong.

It is entertainment. I agree that persons who are fundamentally entertainers and not seriously committed to medicine should probably not be the medical staff.

Comment: Re:Not fully junk (Score 1) 305

Cryonics Institute charges $28K for whole-body suspension. A fancy casket, funeral, flowers, burial plot, etc. can easily cost more than that. By spending that cash on cryonic suspension, there's a long shot of coming back in some form or other. Being turned into air pollution or worm poison is pretty much guaranteed to leave your body unrecoverable. Not much of a wager.

Comment: I want a gyrocopter... (Score 3) 217

by dtjohnson (#49496979) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.
Watching the video of this guy flying in to land shows what a cool machine the gyrocopter is...simple, cheap, easy to fly, and with a small take-off and landing footprint. Am I the only one who wants one of these now? Did the media ever identify what make and model of gyrocopter he owned? I want to get a kit and start building.

Comment: Re:Must hackers be such dicks about this? (Score 1) 251

by pla (#49496013) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
Might be more rules with the police, but at least with private parties in Colorado a verbal agreement is a legally binding contract.

Even if they had it in writing, a purely one-sided contract would typically count as unconscionable. Since his "chat" with them didn't involve any actual concessions on their part (and "play nice and we won't harass you until the day you die", would make it equally unenforceable), I doubt you'll see them try to press this as a matter of contract law.

The fact they even mentioned it I'd call more of a smear campaign - The FBI needs to make this guy look like a complete asshole, because any other outcome would require actually acknowledging and fixing the underlying problem, rather than harassing the guy who pointed-and-laughed at the naked emperor.

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