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Comment Swaying public perception (Score 2) 361

I've often wondered how much our media actually sways public perception.

To take an example, consider the TV series "West Wing", which ran from from 2000 - 2007. This was during most of the Bush administration.

In the series, the president (played by Martin Sheen) was powerful, smart, compassionate, and likeable. The character was a Nobel Prize laureate in economics(*), and pretty-much the pinnacle of personal achievement.

For comparison, note that Dennis Kucinich brought 35 articles of impeachment against Bush at the end of his term, including taking the country into war for no just cause.

(I don't bring this up to cast aspersions on the man or party, only to show that there was widespread disapproval with some justification at the time.)

I can't help but wonder if peoples' perception of the president's actions were somehow biased because of the "West Wing" series. It was highly popular, and the character of the president (in the series) was one who garnered a lot of respect.

Would the public have been less tolerant of Bush without "West Wing" running concurrently with his term?

I wonder what other effects that TV and entertainment might have on the population. Does everyone's view of police stem from CSI, Hawaii 5-0, and Hill Street Blues? We see all the time how police risk their lives to protect the innocent, for example... on TV. Do people use their TV viewing as the basis for their assessment of reality?

(*) And in one particular moment during the show, someone asked the president about NAFTA and whether opening up free trade would hurt America, and Martin Sheen (as the president) stated something like "every economist thinks it would be to our benefit".

Comment Can Verizon Stealth cookies be spoofed? (Score 2) 81

Now that Verizon has hooked up with AOL to share cookie data and personal information, it sure would be nice if the Verizon stealth cookies could be deletable.

Just a quick question, can the browser insert its own Verizon stealth cookie into the request URL?

And if that can be done, can it be used to poison the data, or even crash the Verizon tracking system?

Comment Current research in cold fusion (Score -1, Troll) 186

I just finished this series of videos from SRI that gives a good overview of current(-ish) research in cold fusion. It's an easy set of videos to watch, and highly informative.

To summarize, SRI and others have gotten cold fusion to happen, with byproducts one would expect from a nuclear reaction. Their experiments generate excess energy under well-measured experimental conditions, as well as nuclear byproducts such as tritium and Helium-4.

They've also identified the experimental regime that is needed to reproduce these results, and can point to exactly why previous attempts to reproduce the phenomenon have failed. Basically, the experimental conditions are specific and lots of things will stop the reaction. You can only use certain materials to construct the reactor vessel (because anything else will poison the reaction), the hydrogen loading has to be more than 87%, and so on and so on. Just throwing things together and trying it won't work.

They also have aspects that they haven't figured out yet: the reaction seems to oscillate, and the Palladium has to undergo some sort of initiation (an internal rearrangement of some type) that can sometimes take weeks to saturate.

SRI is not a crank institute, so it would seem that there is some interesting physics going on, and (if you believe them) that cold fusion is real.

Comment Re:What's the rationalization? (Score 2) 448

The reason for keeping weapons such as knives out of schools (or anywhere else) is to reduce the chance of fights escalating and becoming deadly.

While keeping knives and guns out of schools *might* reduce the chances of fights becoming deadly, it increases the number of fights overall.

Bullying happens. Subject certain kids to constant harassment with no recourse and no way out, and you get Columbine.

What are you proposing, teenager open carry in school to deter bullying?

Obviously, because that's the smart person's conclusion.

I would never consider addressing bullying by other means.

In comparison to letting teens carry weapons, all the other options seem kind of... silly?

(And for the record, why do I have to propose a solution anyway? Don't social scientists and psychologists read this board?)

Comment What's the rationalization? (Score 1) 448

The reason for keeping weapons such as knives out of schools (or anywhere else) is to reduce the chance of fights escalating and becoming deadly.

While keeping knives and guns out of schools *might* reduce the chances of fights becoming deadly, it increases the number of fights overall.

Bullying happens. Subject certain kids to constant harassment with no recourse and no way out, and you get Columbine.

Comment Re:Apropos of nothing... (Score 1, Insightful) 471

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) 471

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) 471

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) 471

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) 471

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?

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre