Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Treat causes, not symptoms (Score 3, Insightful) 233 233

No money is not speech. It's money. Putting a limitation on campaign contribution in no way shape or form limits your speech.

Really? Citizens United was about some people who made a movie about Hillary Clinton. If the government forbids you to spend money on making a film (or publishing a book, putting up a website, or buying an ad, or making a sign, etc.), they are certainly limiting your speech.

And note that even the defenders of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that Citizens United overturned admitted in court that the law would have allowed the government to stop the publication of a book if it was about a candidate. If that isn't suppression of speech, what is?

Comment: Treat causes, not symptoms (Score 4, Insightful) 233 233

I think there's a basic error in this approach. It assumes that government can and will run better with "big money" taken out of campaigning. But there's a lot of money given to campaigns for several reasons. The first is that, as Citizens United confirmed, money is speech, and spending money to support a cause or a candidate is at the heart of political expression.

The second reason is perhaps even more basic. When government is huge and has their fingers in every pie, it creates a great deal of motivation to influence those fingers. Campaign contributions are merely a form of lobbying, and lobbying has a standard message: subsidize me and cut my taxes and regulations, but burden my competitors and enemies with taxes and regulations, if not ban them outright.

If you really want to "get money out of politics," you need to (as much as possible) get politics out of the economy. (Ideologues will always lobby, and that's fine, because it's the crony capitalism and pay-to-play aspects that are most objectionable.) Which, of course, is not what many reformers want to do. Until they do, they are basically advocating spreading sugar around their picnic blanket, and then complaining about all the ants.

Comment: Re:And so the cycle of "reform" continues (Score 1) 851 851

Do you really want people who will be shown to be wrong within 40 years to be making force-of-law decisions for you on the very things that they are wrong about? My guess is that its only not-a-big-deal when it doesn't directly effect your lifestyle choices.

Yes, my point was not to criticize correcting mistakes, but pointing out how often the reformers are wrong in their certainty. If people simply decided that X was unhealthy and advocated avoiding it, it wouldn't be so bad. But often these reforms have the force of law, everyone is coerced into going along, and then later on, we find out it was better to have left things as they were.

Comment: And so the cycle of "reform" continues (Score 5, Insightful) 851 851

Ever notice how many reforms are actually reversals of previous reforms? Trans fats got a huge boost in the '70s and '80s because the reformers were convinced that saturated fat was very bad for you. Margarine was supposed to be more healthy than butter. So manufacturers ditched saturated fats and went for trans fats.

Similarly, now people want to ban animal testing, which established at the insistence of the reformers of a century ago. HMOs were a healthcare reform of the '70s, and are now reviled. People now complain about mandatory minimum sentencing, which was a '70s reform meant to end the problem of wildly disparate sentences.

And so the cycle goes....

Comment: Re:Useful technique (Score 1) 500 500

What part of Sanders' is batshit crazy. Please have some examples.

You did seem to miss the joke, but to answer your question, Sanders is an economic idiot. He really thinks that "too much" consumer choice for deodorants or sneakers causes hungry children.

Comment: Re:Germany should pay war reparations for WWII (Score 1) 743 743

Maybe if the Greeks paid their taxes this would not have happened.

Ah, the old "if only the government had more money, it wouldn't be bankrupt" idea. But of course it doesn't matter how high your revenue is, if you constantly spend more than that. See also: the United States.

Comment: Re:Germany should pay war reparations for WWII (Score 1) 743 743

Excellent point. Not only was Poland more devastated by WWII, they suffered from Communist rule for 44 years afterwards, and yet have recovered pretty darn well since 1989. Meanwhile, Greece has gotten themselves into this hole because they still cling to failed socialist economic thinking.

Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope 286 286

sciencehabit writes: Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) – a state agency established to advocate for native Hawaiins — voted Thursday to withdraw their support for construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. The vote follows weeks of protests by Native Hawaiians who say the massive structure would desecrate one of their most holy places. The protests have shut down construction of the telescope, which would be the world's largest optical telescope if completed. The vote, which reverses a 2009 decision to endorse the project, strikes a powerful if symbolic blow against a project that, for many native Hawaiians, has come to symbolize more than a century of assaults against their land, culture and sovereignty.

Comment: *Why* there is too much noise (Score 0) 56 56

Commenters above have talked about the signal/noise problem, and they're right, but I don't think anyone has talked about why this problem exists. I have no direct evidence, but I'd bet that after 9/11, there was a high-level conversation in the administration something like this:

"There might be terror cells all over the US, and we might be hit again! Can the NSA watch the electronic communications of all Muslims in the US?"

"Sure, but we can't be sure of knowing who they all are. Besides, it would be considered discrimination to only surveil Muslims. If that ever got out, there would be charges of "racism" and it would complicate things with Saudi Arabia."

"Right, we can't admit that there's a religious war being waged against us. Better to just surveil everyone. Can you do that?"

"Um, sure, but we'll need a really big budget increase."


Comment: Re:Solution looking for a problem? (Score 1) 174 174

"What use is a newborn baby?"

I shouldn't have to point this out to geeks, but the Apple Watch is only the start of something. It will be years before it really comes to fruition. And remember, unlike some companies (*cough* Samsung *cough*), Apple doesn't come out with a bazillion products and then sees what sticks. They tend to heavily research and internally test things beforehand. The size of the rollout tells me that they are pretty confident this is a worthwhile product (and product category) that will catch on.

Comment: Re:Define "affordable" (Score 1) 540 540

In the Bay area anyone making under $350,000 is considered low income.

About five years ago I discovered that a San Francisco hospital considers anyone who makes under $44,000/year to be a potential charity case. This is helpful when an overnight in intensive care costs $26,000.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long