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Comment Re:Apropos of nothing... (Score 1, Insightful) 464

Yeah, cool analogy. But bad analogy.

Unfortunately, this discussion is being fought on the field of emotion, and not with facts or analysis.

A swarm of angry taxi drivers are littering the discussion with "fukin' law-breakers" comments, so I have to tap into the big stores of emotional reserve to have any effect.

You're right, of course. It was a cheap shot, but an easy one. :-)

Comment Re:An argument (Score 2, Interesting) 464

that is a fallacious argument. You have incorrectly associated an individuals right to civil disobedience with the rights of a company. A company is not a citizen and as such it cannot commit civil disobedience. The world would be a very bad place if companies got to decide on laws, companies don't have the individual consequences associated with civil disobedience.


So by that logic, the New York Times shouldn't have published the Pentagon Papers, and the Guardian shouldn't have published Edward Snowden's revelations.

Both of which were classified at the time.

Comment Re:Uber is as safe as taxis (Score 1) 464

that report does not address the issues of the differences in inspection requirements, insurance requirements or in some places licensing requirements.

Which is, in essence, my point.

Stop talking about what *might* happen, and cite facts about what *does* happen.

Give us data on how Uber, in flaunting these regs, is worse than taxis!

Comment An argument (Score 3, Funny) 464

How about, Time for tech companies to stop thinking local laws don't fucking apply to them. Either obey the law, fight to get the laws changed or get the fuck out of the market.

How about, "Time for taxi drivers to stop posting drivel and stop using "fuck" in every sentence?

The basis of law is justice. When laws are seen to be unjust, they are often struck down through the efforts of concerted civil disobedience. Prime examples are Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus, Martin Luthor's sit-ins, and the Boston Tea Party.

There, see that above? The section in bold? That's called an argument.

An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

You want abuse - that's room 12.

Comment Re:Religions and slavery (Score 1) 268

Today, there's a lot of choice for someone shopping for a moral compass. A tolerant person will agree: Slavery is cool.

It's unfortunate that we don't teach the fundamentals of ethics in the US.

Admittedly there are nuanced and corner cases, schools of thought and arguable principles, but a handful of things are clear cut and we don't teach those.

We should teach that slavery is immoral, and that many religions get this wrong. It's OK to worship what you want in way that you want, but that part is settled *regardless* of what your religion says.

Another one: You can't force other people to conform to your religious views. No killing of infidels, stoning of witches, or swatting of Branch Davidians. Again, it's OK to worship what you want in way that you want, but that part is also settled.

Maybe someone should collect these "morality best practices" and write them down somewhere. In a permanent form, so that they can't be easily erased.

Comment Uber is as safe as taxis (Score 5, Interesting) 464

In an attempt to cut through the bullshit of what *might* happen and work directly from evidence, I came across a report of a Cato institute study:

A Cato Institute study shows key differences between rideshare services and taxis, but passenger safety isn't one of them.

The other differences are not as important and will probably get solved by other means. For example, cleanliness of the ride, courtesy of the driver, and gypping the customer can be handled by the Uber feedback system.

The economists here are quick to point out the importance of liquidity, and Uber adds much needed liquidity to the taxi system.

Can anyone justify the expense and bureaucracy of taxi medallions when passenger safety isn't an issue?

Comment Religions and slavery (Score 0) 268

science tells you how the world works. religion tells you how to live in the world

The great thing about religions is that there are so many to choose from!

For example, the bible at times recognizes, condones, and even encourages slavery.

Bible:Exodus 21:20 "Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result,
but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

Islam neither ignores nor condemns slavery. In fact, a large part of the Sharia is dedicated to the practice (source).

Muslims are encouraged to live in the way of Muhammad, who was a slave owner and trader. He captured slaves in battle. He had sex with his slaves. And he instructed his men to do the same. The Qur'an actually devotes more verses to making sure that Muslim men know they can keep women as sex slaves than it does to telling them to pray five times a day.

For 3,000 years, the Hindu caste system has held the people of India in the grip of religious slavery.

I wonder what the Flying Spaghetti Monster has to say about slavery?

Comment Re:So many ways to combat this... (Score 2) 139

If the purchase is large or the card isn't swiped, simply send a verification code to the customer's phone for that transaction that they have to enter.

So in order to complete the purchase I have to drive home, get the verification code, and drive back to the store?

No thanks.

Comment Re:Bad data is worse than abstract data (Score 4, Interesting) 232

I have the sneaking suspicion that this is going to backfire massively. They'll have bad data hither and yon as overworked medicos end up entering the wrong codes (hey, it's a broken femur, who cares which side?) as often as the right ones. They won't get the supposed benefits of more granular data because the data will be so screwed up that they won't be able to draw any conclusions at all.

Nothing like an industry standard to screw things up on a grand scale.

It won't backfire, it'll work perfectly.

The insurance companies sit between the doctor and the patient, view medical care as an expense, and seek to avoid paying by any means.

Having an enormously complicated system of classification gives them many more ways to deny claims, leaving the patient on the hook for the bill.

I've had personal experience with this: for a procedure which was 100% covered, the anesthesiologist put the wrong diagnosis code in his notes and the insurance company wouldn't reimburse him for that reason (but everyone else - doctors, nurses, hospital - was OK).

It took 2 1/2 years and about half a vertical inch of paperwork to straighten it out, and was a nightmare. Some tidbits:

1) The insurance company could tell the doctor that he used the wrong code, but wouldn't say what the right code was.
2) The med techs swore up and down that it was the right code (in fact, the *only* code), the insurance company stated with equal strength that it was not.
3) Since it is a mistake with either the doctor or insurance company, nothing the patient can do will help - they are completely helpless.
4) A doctor can't "just change" their notes, even when they've made a clear and unarguable mistake.
5) If you resubmit a claim, the company will deny it based on the previous denial, even if the mistake has been corrected.

#3 above is the most frustrating. The patient has to convince someone else to spend time and effort to fix something which is not their problem.

This new system is just a bureaucratic boondoggle that lets insurance companies avoid payments.

It's saying, in effect, that they care more for paperwork than they do about providing health care.

Comment Electric universe (Score 1) 45

There's a less-well-known set of theories under the name Electric Universe that posit electric forces having a large effect on accretion.

It supposes that individual bodies in space can pick an electric charge through various means, and are thus attracted to bodies of the opposite charge. This explains why many bodies seem to be "double lumps" caused by the joining of two prior bodies (and not three or more).

Static is a problem for space travel, so I've heard. With no atmosphere to bleed off the charge, any friction tends to leave behind a static charge, making your helmet visor a magnet for dust, for instance.

I wonder if the solar wind has areas of net positive and net negative charge, so that bodies orbiting in various ways could pick up such an electric charge and thus be attracted to other bodies.

Any astronomers here care to comment?

Submission 47 year old television signals bouncing back to Earth -> 2

Okian Warrior writes: While searching deep space for extra-terrestrial signals, scientists at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have stumbled across signals broadcast from Earth nearly half a century ago.

[Dr. Venn]: "I realised the signal was in the VHF Band and slap bang in the middle of 41-68 MHz. It was obviously old terrestrial television broadcasts, but they seemed to be originating from deep space." After boosting and digital enhancement the resulting video signals are remarkably clear.

"They are signals that left the Earth about 50 years ago and have bounced off an object or more likely a field of objects some 25 light years away".

Link to Original Source

Comment Outer space (Score 2) 72

This is one of the really useful experiments that could be more easily done in space. (As opposed to, for example, most of what the space station is used for.)

A laser interferometer in interplanetary space could have an enormous path length quite easily, and would not sense all the vibrations on Earth. It could also be in 3-dimensions, consisting of a satellite hub and 3 corner-cube mirrors at long distances from the hub.

Comment Can you list any reasons? (Score 3, Interesting) 237

I will say, though, that I disagree with you that a tragedy like Columbine should have some sort of geographical limit to its impact. We live in a connected world, and for better or worse one of the impacts of that is that such tragedies affect the world (or at least the first world) more or less simultaneously. I think the days where you can claim "oh, that happened miles (or thousands of miles) away, it shouldn't impact us" are long gone.

I disagree with you completely on that point.

John Cleese believes that the purpose of solemnity is to enforce control: control over people, over their actions, and over their natures.

Cleese got a lot of shit from making fun of the life of Christ, and that was half a world away and 2000 years ago(*). Because he wasn't solemn about it.

We hear weekly about bombs going off in India or Syria, a cop shoots an unarmed black man every week in the USA (on average), and of late there's an endless string of "baby found dead" stories in the news.

Must we live in a continual state of solemnity?

This is how people get controlled, how their behaviour gets corralled and guided. Comedians are quick to point out that humor is the best way to get us past a tragedy, but I've often wondered whether there's anything special about humor.

Not having the convention because of some unrelated incident is simple emotional control.

Can you give me any rational reasons why I should change my behaviour over... well... anything?

(Rational meaning: not based on emotion.)

(*) And was the first person to say "shit" on British television, the first person to say "fuck" at a British funeral (Graham Chapman's)

Dinosaurs aren't extinct. They've just learned to hide in the trees.