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Comment: Fetishising nature + this is after all a desert! (Score 1, Interesting) 265

Someone sounds jealous...

Jealousy and other issues as well. The Vice article seems to have strong opinions as to what sort of conditions other people may live in. It just states that it is dystopian without much evidence. And as to the poor in Dubai, they are already richer than many of their compatriots back home (many are immigrant workers) and given time and further economic development they no doubt will get richer themselves. The United Arab Emirates are the one most forward thinking areas in the Middle East. They are slowly going through what the West did in the reformation and enlightenment. Of course it will take time but I am sure they will be much more progressive societies in 300 years.

Then there is the issue that some people simply fetishise nature and assume that everything 'natural' must be beautiful. It simply is not the case. Most 'natural' places are ugly. The ones that we photograph are the elegant and interesting ones. A lot of the time those people who enjoy extreme temperatures and who are in excellent shape imagine that rest of humanity has the same take on their surroundings. It's so easy to forget that without keeping out the heat or cold many people would be miserable - particular in an extremely hot desert which is where Dubai is located. The heat is simply oppressive. And of course by allowing this dome, it means people can venture out of their homes and get more exercise - something that is otherwise not possible.

I can imagine that some people would say that humans should not be living there to begin with. To which I answer: someone gave birth to them and once there here on planet earth they have to live somewhere. And most people living in the middle east don't have much choice as to where to live particularly if they don’t want to live in absolute poverty. (So unless you want to stop Bangladeshi and Pakistani mothers from getting pregnant and /or prevent men there from impregnating them, you really cannot complain. I am always amazed at people who are shocked when they hear others moralize about women giving birth when they are very poor. They pontificate about every women having the 'right' to have children. Often these same people then later complain about the environmental consequences of such children when they reach adulthood.)

Comment: Re: I never understood the principle. (Score 1) 454

by Raisey-raison (#44725367) Attached to: Syria: a Defining Moment For Chemical Weapons?

Any well trained military unit will be trained and equipped to deal with them.

I don't accept that this point always holds. And not all armies are well trained and equipped.

During the cold war the Soviets developed the Novichok agent - something that the US could not necessarily defend against. If soldiers are wearing gas masks and protective suits, they are less agile and less effective in using regular conventional weapons. This provides the enemy with a tactical advantage. And given that chemical weapons have not been used in a major war by industrialized nations since WW1, much of the technology may have changed. It may be in fact that they do have significant strategic value.

The chemical weapons in Syria worked. The opposition is not well trained and equipped.

And how would bombing Assad help? He is a dictator fighting for his survival and therefore has little to lose. But bombing Syria would kills Syrians, both soldiers and civilians. It would destroy people's homes (why not be empathetic and imagine your own home blown up by a bomb from Syria and the regime shrugging it off as collateral damage). It would destroy people's livelihoods (not to mention that we tend to target infrastructure such as power stations which mean people may lack electricity for months or years and even sewage systems may fail). It would wound people and inhibit their receiving appropriate medical care. It would in short inflict huge suffering.

In short people say that chemical weapons are really bad because they inflict lots of human suffering. So what is their proposed response to their use? Dropping bombs and missiles that will also inflict lots of human suffering. What then is the point?

And why if we have so much moral outrage, do 1000 deaths from chemical weapons necessitate a response, despite the fact that 100,000 deaths from conventional weapons do not?

Comment: When we can watch the police then..... (Score 4, Insightful) 508

I really hope they don't put up ever more cameras. We don't need them. Crime has been falling since 1988 and the US murder rate is around 5.4 / 100,000 people. And that is close to its all time low. And terrorism is rare and unlikely to kill or hurt anyone. When can we start rolling out policy based on data and evidence not on fear?

As far as cameras looking at police officers. We need a lot more of that. Police routinely 'beat people up' and conduct illegal searches. They need to be put on a short leash.

You provided the per-capita murder rate. Can you also provide the per-capita for people beat up by police and for illegal searches?

Well that's the point isn't it. We can't collect data because police lack effective oversight. If there was an an agency whose job it was to only oversee the police, who could not arrest civilians, and who had access to cameras, microphones and general surveillance of the police - then we could get an idea what kind of stuff goes down.

You only have to look at the cases coming out of the Innocence project to see the incredible abuses by the criminal justice system.

Comment: Re:That will not happen. (Score 4, Interesting) 508

I really hope they don't put up ever more cameras. We don't need them. Crime has been falling since 1988 and the US murder rate is around 5.4 / 100,000 people. And that is close to its all time low. And terrorism is rare and unlikely to kill or hurt anyone. When can we start rolling out policy based on data and evidence not on fear?

As far as cameras looking at police officers. We need a lot more of that. Police routinely 'beat people up' and conduct illegal searches. They need to be put on a short leash.

Comment: Giuliani was no crackpot (Score 1) 459

That's not the whole story either. If you read your own link carefully, it points out that Giuliani predicted the quakes using a method that has never been proven scientifically and has had no peer reviewed papers published. In other words, he's a crackpot who just happened to get lucky;

If you read this article ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/05/laquila-earthquake-prediction-giampaolo-giuliani ) you will see that Giuliani was no crackpot - in fact he presented his research to an American conference. Just because someone does not have a PhD does not mean they cannot carry out scientific inquiry. All you need is brains and money. He has some financial backers. It seems, and this happens so often, that because he didn't have the right credentials his work was ignored in Italy and he wasn't allowed to publish. It wasn't until he came to the USA that he was given a fair hearing.

Comment: Re:[Citation needed] (Score 1) 1276

It is correct that literacy tests were used in the past to deny voting rights to citizens of color. However that does not mean that any test we apply in the future will be motivated by the same intent. Imposing a test in a vacuum is not desirable, however we now have very serious problems - long term problem of debt, healthcare costs, entitlement spending, a crumbling infrastructure, obsession with futile wars, income inequality, a failing k-12 educational system, the taking away of civil liberties and out of control intellectual property.

It appears probable that those problems can only be dealt with by a wise and knowledgeable electorate. Indeed only those who did not understand macroeconomics would have believed that the Bush tax cuts would have 'paid for themselves' as was claimed at the time. Now we have to deal with the consequences of those stupid actions. And that is why we need a rigorous examination for future voters,

[And there is nothing to prevent the imposition of safeguards in federal law to prevent the new exams being abused by those with racial malintent. For example the exam centers and grading system should be closely monitored.]

Comment: Re:more laws (Score 1) 358

by Raisey-raison (#39252337) Attached to: Smartphones More Dangerous Than Alcohol, When Driving

I don't dispute the importance of road safety.......

But what is it with the obsession with taking away motorists rights? They can be pulled over for any reason that the police might make up. The thrust of policy seems to be making their lives more miserable, encouraging congestion, raising prices to drive, lowering local speed limits etc.

And if you care about saving lives - why not care about the current NHS reforms which I am sure will mean a worse level of service for those who cannot afford private care. Undoubtedly people will die as a consequence.

People also die when they are homeless or don't have adequate access to housing - caused by draconian zoning policies (extreme green belt laws mean that you need to be very well off to buy a home in the south of the UK - now middle class people buy ex council flats.)

People die because of the war on drugs - why not deal with that?

Disabled people have a nasty habbit of dying especially when you cut their already miserly disability benefits.

People have short life expectancy when they are poor - why not deal with increasing income inequality?

Instead we overly obsess about the roads. Maybe it useful for governments because it distracts from more important issues.

Comment: possible solution (Score 1) 1276

Might I suggest a partial solution.

Perhaps we need to mandate that in order to vote you need to take a test. We do the same for driving yet bad voting decisions are even more calamitous than bad driving.

1. Require voters to have taken and passed a comprehensive 3 hour exam. It would cover the US political system (with a local component), history, economics, international relations and war, law (constitutional, federal and state), science and engineering (including energy), healthcare, the environment, finance, business, transportation, social economic and racial factors, regulation, tax, criminal justice and cost benefit analysis. It would included questions where multiple areas impinged on one issue - eg energy where cost, poverty, national security, the economy and the environment all tugged in possibly differing directions and where any policy involved compromise between these competing priorities. And people would need to know that Row vs Wade was built on Griswold v. Connecticut where the Court found constitutional protection emitting from "penumbras" within several amendments to the Constitution. And they would need to know what median household income was currently and how it compared with 40 years ago.

2. Require that on the federal level, candidates for congress and the presidency take a series of exams in the above subjects. They would be difficult, challenging and would make certain that the candidate was intelligent, had wide critical thinking skills and had a wide knowledge base. They would assume a college background in all those areas and the exams would be similar in difficulty to the bar, the CPA, the Step 1 exam (taken in med school), the actuarial exams and cumulative exams in graduate school. I think this would attract a lot more engineers to congress - something, that would in my opinion greatly enhance our polity. And it would prevent someone like John McCain from running for office when he had never even sent an email.

3. Require retesting at age 50 and 75.

4. Require high schools to teach rigorous civics courses. They would cover not just the basics, but committees, sub-committees, lobbyists, zoning regulations, town committees, bylaws and ballot initiatives.

5. Provide regular synopses of state and federal budgets, laws and regulations that are being considered, and recent significant judicial decisions. This would provide a depth that would go beyond the New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico.

6. Incentive citizens to, actually read them. Tax breaks maybe? Cash? etc.

7. Mandate that citizens attend town meetings etc.

8. We need to replace the idea of the patriotic citizen being a flag waving nationalist with a citizen who is informed, cares about their community and country and votes. For example, when we are not at war, the ideal citizen does not 'serve' in the military, rather she/he 'serves' on a local sub-committee, reads and comments on prospective laws and regulations and takes the time to learn about mundane uses of intellectual property in agriculture.

Comment: Re:Not another guest worker fraud thread... (Score 4, Insightful) 433

by Raisey-raison (#39222243) Attached to: Science and Engineering Workforce Has Stalled In the US

There is also another reason why more people are not in the S&E field - the pay sucks! It has fallen in real terms since 2000 (and started falling before this recession). If you get a BS in math, chemistry, physics, bio or biochem you are lucky to start on more than 35K. Some lucky few might start on 40K. Even computer and chemical engineers have seen their pay dropping (yes of course they start on a lot more). I know a Chem E who had to take 50K in a high cost city.

S&E are very hard degrees. I bet if starting salaries were 60K for science and 90K for engineering lots of people would 'suddenly discover' that they loved science. And yes corporate America could afford to pay them. Since 2000 productivity has increased significantly and profits are at record highs.

When I hear people saying we need to encourage more people to do STEM - I am incredulous. The solution is very simple - raise salaries and people will run to it. [It's also why top MIT PhDs go into Wall Street - why make 90K with a PhD in science when you can make 350K on Wall Street.]

+ - President can sign ACTA into effect->

Submitted by msheekhah
msheekhah (903443) writes "In a TechDirt article, Mike Masnik asks Senator Wyden about ACTA:

Senator Wyden says, " It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law..." but "...the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress' authority". However, then he states that "...if you allow the USTR to express your assent to ACTA, then the agreement can bind the U.S. under international law even without Congress' consent, because international law, not U.S. law, determines the binding effect of international agreements. According to many international law scholars, customary international law recognizes the ability of the chief executive of a country to bind its nation to an international agreement regardless of domestic legal requirements."

So while the treaty won't stand up before judicial review inside of the United States, it can still be considered binding in International Law. You then have to determine which has greater sovereignty in American courts."

Link to Original Source
Apple

+ - Apple "rationalizes a lot" About the Human Toll of->

Submitted by afabbro
afabbro (33948) writes "Apple says they have a rigorous program of removing suppliers who do not provide good working conditions in China. 'Privately, however, some former executives concede that finding new suppliers is time-consuming and costly. Foxconn is one of the few manufacturers in the world with the scale to build sufficient numbers of iPhones and iPads. "There's a lot of rationalization."'"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Atheism isn't a belief system (Score 0) 907

by Raisey-raison (#38784907) Attached to: Indonesian Man Faces Five Years For Atheist Facebook Post

Thus "atheism" is by definition a metaphysical belief system (or at least a component of one), because it affirms at least one particular propositional statement about metaphysics. Defining atheism as a lack of a belief system is merely a convenient way of using weasel-words to avoid having to defend the propositional statements contained in one's position.

"The misuse of language induces evil in the soul"
-Socrates

What about afairyism - the belief that fairies don't exist? Are those weasel-words or do I need to justify myself and defend my afairyism?
Or agoblinism - the belief that fairies don't exist?

You could say that we all have to justify our lack of belief in an plethora of false idea.

Or of course you let common sense kick in and say that I don't have to justify not believing in things that lack supporting evidence.

The irony is that saying "Defining atheism as a lack of a belief system is merely a convenient way of using weasel-words to avoid having to defend the propositional statements contained in one's position" is in itself a form of weasel-words that end up making someone who is saying something that is quite rational seem irrational.

Comment: Re:Stand up, people! (Score 4, Insightful) 439

by Raisey-raison (#38629556) Attached to: SOPA Makes Strange Bedfellows

What I find interesting is that it's never mentioned much in the mainstream media. It's not mentioned in the presidential debates. And I don't understand why unions, Americans for Tax reform and builders associations support it. Our current extreme IP inhibits economic growth (which is why tax reforms should be against it) and helps to bolster income inequality (which is why unions and builders associations should oppose it).

I understand that this this is the ONE issue that CNN, MSNBC and FOX all agree on. Because they all are part of media companies that want ever stronger IP to bolster their profits. The whole subject is censored.

So many of my so called 'informed' friends aren't aware of it and they say IP is boring. My god - what are we to do!

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling

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