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Comment: Re:The UK doesn't have freedom of speech (Score 2) 316

What the IRS did was to punish people for speaking.

Punishing people for speaking is tantamount to prohibiting speech. Virtually every law against anything is a declaration to the effect of "if you do this, you will be punished"; so if you can legally be punished for doing something, it is effectively illegal to do it.

Comment: Re:biased claims (Score 1) 458

by Pfhorrest (#48364851) Attached to: Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

I feel a twinge of something in your explanation, which is a sort of understanding of the world that I hear people express often. It assumes a just world, that people who don't succeed are either inherently inferior, or not trying.

You might already know this and just not be mentioning the name, but that is called the just-world hypothesis.

Comment: Re:All mandatory licensure is antithetical to libe (Score 1) 231

by Pfhorrest (#48362489) Attached to: Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

I'm in favor of people learning how to drive before they do so, and of testing programs that certify that you do in fact know how to drive safely, and I'm fine with such certifications being used as defensive evidence if someone thought you were driving dangerously and charged you with such. You can show them that you've passed this test that shows you are able to do things like whatever you did safely. Not that that should make it an open-and-shut case, but it's good evidence. "It's ok, I know what I'm doing." Absence of such certification could likewise count against someone: change it from a mere one-time error of judgement to recklessly engaging in activities you have no competence in. But again, the absence of certification wouldn't make it open-and-shut, it's just a piece of evidence, and other factors can outweigh it.

What I'm against is punishing someone who was, despite such certification, operating a vehicle in a safe manner anyway. That is what makes it a license and not just a certification: you're not allowed to (meaning you will be punished if you) do something, even if you do it safely, without someone's prior permission. Note well that requiring licensing doesn't actually preemptively stop people from driving without a license, it just punishes people who do; and it punishes them whether or not they were actually driving unsafely. The ones who were driving unsafely would have been rightly punished anyway even if they did have a license. So the mandate of licensure does nothing but punish those who were driving safely without permission.

Comment: All mandatory licensure is antithetical to liberty (Score 1) 231

by Pfhorrest (#48356059) Attached to: Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

If ever you can be legally punished not because you did something that hurt or even endangered someone, but simply because you didn't ask permission first, liberty has one foot already in the grave.

If someone with a license to do X does X and hurts or endangers somebody anyway despite their license, they get rightly punished for it anyway.

If somebody with a license to do X does X and nobody gets hurt or endangered in any way, they don't get in trouble for anything, as they shouldn't.

If somebody without a license to do X does X and hurts or endangers somebody, they get rightly punished for it too.

But if somebody without a license to do X does X and nobody gets hurt or endangered in any way, they get punished, not for causing any harm or danger, but for having the gall not to ask permission before safely and harmlessly doing something.

The only difference mandatory licensure ever makes is punishing people who wouldn't have been punished otherwise because they weren't doing anything harmful or dangerous. Mandatory licensure, of anything, only ever harms innocents, by punishing them for harmless behavior that they simply didn't ask permission for first.

Comment: Re:never mix science and politics (Score 1) 282

by Pfhorrest (#48342275) Attached to: When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

'Until they fail to meet their requirements' would mean 'immediately', as the requirements begin unmet; and if you mean they'd declare a deadline for meeting their requirements, that'd just be letting them set their own term limits. "I promise to [fix all problems] over the next 50 years!" and bam, president-for-life.

Comment: Re:"Generalized Life" (Score 2) 221

Yes, this! The way I like to phrase it is that "life is self-productive machinery", where "productivity" is defined as a property of mechanical work such that that work decreases the entropy of the system it acts upon. Life is then any physical system that transforms some kind of energy flow through it (i.e. is a machine, does work) in a way that causes its internal entropy to decrease (necessarily at the expense of increasing the entropy of the environment). The operating conditions of such a machine are the conditions in which such life can live.

By this definition, all traditional (DNA-based) living things are alive, but viruses are not (despite reproducing), fire is not (despite consuming energy and reproducing), crystals are not (despite reproducing and reducing their internal entropy — because they are not doing the work that reduces their entropy, they don't consume energy to do that, they have to have energy removed from them and then that just happens spontaneously), and perhaps most interestingly, computers are: the processing and storing of information is a reduction of their internal entropy, and they are machines that consume energy to accomplish this. A computer that built other computers that built other computers (etc) would undeniably be artificial life... but then if we add "reproduces" to the requirements, as you say, mules are out, and we definitely want them in, more so I think than we want non-reproducing computers out.

Comment: Republic != Representative Democracy (Score 1) 200

by Pfhorrest (#48323511) Attached to: Net Neutrality Alone Won't Solve ISP Throttling Abuse, Here's Why

A republic is not synonymous with representative democracy. Democracy and republicanism are orthogonal concepts; they're akin to the ownership and administration of a business. Democracy is about the state being administered, controlled by, the people, be it directly or indirectly by representatives. Republicanism is about the state being owned by, operating on behalf of and in the name of, the people. It's possible to have one and not the other, or both, or neither.

A great example of this is the United Kingdom, which is a representative democracy because it is administered by ordinary citizens representing other ordinary citizens, but it's not a republic because that government does is not directing the official sovereign power of The People, delegated to it; it is directing the power of The Crown, which power is officially delegated to said Crown by God. An opposite example would be North Korea, which is a republic in that the state officially belongs to and act on behalf of and in the name of The People, but is not democratic because that power is administered solely by the Kim family and their lackeys.

The US is both a (representative) democracy, and a republic, but those do not mean the same thing.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.