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Comment: Re:Indeed (Score 5, Informative) 366 366

While Voltaire defended free speech, I doubt he defended a form that was as absolute as people who quote him make it out to be.

The quote about "I will defend to the death etc." wasn't actually said BY Voltaire, but ABOUT him, by an early biographer.

Here is a quote from the man himself, from his 1763 Treatise on Toleration: “The supposed right of intolerance is absurd and barbaric. It is the right of the tiger; nay, it is far worse, for tigers do but tear in order to have food, while we rend each other for paragraphs.”

An example of intolerance is Goebels on the radio. Or radio presenters calling on the radio for extermination of the Hutu's in the neighbourhood, telling people where and when to gather for that, and giving out pointers on how and why you should kill the Hutu's - as Radio Milles Collines did in Rwanda. Which was absolutely crucial to the genocide taking place. I doubt Voltaire would approve of that and say "oh, it's free speech. We really should defend the right of those poor folk to criticize the Hutu's for being alive."

There hasn't been a single great thinker or writer on free speech who also didn't recognize its limits. Or had a specific purpose in mind for free speech. Only when the debate is divorced from reality, and waged in abstract terms, do we get the pretty weird outcomes we can see today.

Comment: Re:Indeed (Score 3, Interesting) 366 366

We are the same free minded geeks who have been around since Internet day 1

No, you're not. You weren't born on the Internet's "day one". I was there on the other hand, and the people I knew back then would have had pieces of Gamergaters/MRAs/KiAs/and /pol in their crap. You guys aren't fit to name the people who were there at the Internet's day one.

To be honest, when we only had usenet I was nearly suspended from my CS study for a few weeks because a flame with what was probably the first notorious troll in the country got a bit out of hand and we descended into namecalling ("idiot" was used, I believe)... good times :)

But you're right. The folks driving gamergate are a bunch of right wing teens that think that shouting "free speech! free speech!" is somehow a laissez-passer for racism and sexism, and then act like victims if someone responds to it and shoots back.

Comment: Re:Indeed (Score 0) 366 366

You people are the rednecks of the internet, and YEEHAW I GOTS MY FREE SPEECH BUT DON'T KNOW WHERE TO POINT IT.

Your opinion is not the one that is objectively right, as opinions cannot be objective. So stop trying to pretend you're a good guy to everyone else being "evil". Voltaire was not evil.

You're not Voltaire. And neither is anyone on reddit.

Comment: Re:Let me take this one (Score 3) 107 107


And, it also helps if you know the sources that provide information to Amnesty International. You can then leak them 'totally by accident' to the friendly raving lunatic in the country you're doing business with, and *poof* no more complaints. Or complainers.

It happened in the UK as well: human rights campaigners have been targetted by hit squads in the past, especially Irish campaigners, journalists, lawyers etc. in Northern Ireland were at serious risk, because the police would leak the addresses and names of those folks that were suspected of IRA sympathies to the extreme right wing deathsquads of the Orange order.

So for everyone in the UK, hearing about this brings back a lot of old and unpleasant memories.


Volkswagen Factory Worker Killed By a Robot 319 319

m.alessandrini writes: A worker at a Volkswagen factory in Germany has died, after a robot grabbed him and crushed him against a metal plate. This is perhaps the first severe accident of this kind in a western factory, and is sparking debate about who is responsible for the accident, the man who was servicing the robot beyond its protection cage, or the robot's hardware/software developers who didn't put enough safety checks. Will this distinction be more and more important in the future, when robots will be more widespread?

Comment: Re:Boo hoo... (Score 1) 818 818

The Dutch were under a lot of pressure from the British to abolish slavery, both for moral and economic reasons (unfair competition). They were also the last ones to abolish it in the colonies. And even then, they richly compensated the slave owners - not the slaves.

Let's give credit were credit is due: the British were very ardent about ending slavery. And while the British Empire has not exactly been a shining beacon of human rights in all of its history, in this case they set an example that still shines through the ages. And I say this as a Dutch citizen.

Comment: Re:Those evil enemy oppressors (Score 1) 818 818

My take on it: The North needed more labourers. The South had plenty that wanted to go North, but didn't allow them to leave because they were property. This directly messed up the ability of the manufacturing in the Northern states to expand.

If we assume that the root of the problem is a conflict between different sets of capitalists over how best to exploit their labourers, everything that happened afterwards follows quite naturally from that assumption.

Comment: Re:Who buys them? (Score 1) 668 668

I suspect a sizable number of people go in to pharmacies desperate for anything that will relieve their 2 year old's stomach/congestion/whatever and ended up leaving with homoeopathic crap

I think the same. And I suspect it saves a lot of lives otherwise lost due to overmedication, or giving potent medication with harmful side effects, where nothing was actually needed.

Besides, sometimes babies just cry because their parents are nervous. If they can give the baby something that will "cure" the baby, they calm down, so does the baby, and everyone's happy. If there is something wrong for real, the baby will continue to be sick and smart parents will go to a real doctor. The rest just helps evolution do its work.

Comment: Re:Does it matter? (Score 0) 668 668

On the other hand, over here you need to have it prescribed by an actual doctor to get the treatment paid for by your insurance. And they don't do stupid stuff like giving homeopathic treatment for actual acute disorders.

However, they do prescribe it where it might do some good: for hard to explain, vague issues that are possible more psychological than physiological in nature. And that's a good thing, because doctors won't prescribe a placebo nowadays, but *can* prescribe a homeopathic medicine that's pretty sure to be harmless.

And I've seen some pretty weird results with eczema in little children. Even heavy eczema, treated by hormone salves, cured overnight. Including in my own son, because "what the hell, nothing else works so let's try it." - and it cured him of it in two weeks time, taking 6 little sugar pills, for two years, and only very minor symptoms for the past decade.

So while I'm willing to accept that there is literally nothing in the placebo, the placebo by itself works miracles. And we also know that placebos work better if you believe in them more, and when they are more expensive.

That is why I'm advocating for allowing homeopathic medication, because why give up a random chance of 1 in 3 to get cured, for almost no side effects?

Comment: Re:WindowsME 2.0 (Score 0) 277 277

Thanks for the heads up, it more or less confirms the plan I already had:

- Install Windows 10 as required, and activate it.
- Install a clean Windows 7 again.
- Wait until the bugs are fixed
- Carefully try it at someone else's PC if everyone says it's okay
- Install Windows 10 if it provides any benefit.

Comment: Re:Time to recompile humanity (Score 1) 62 62

However, nature was optimizing for survival until somewhere around the age of 16. Any time after that was just an unintentional, beneficial side effect. I do agree with the GP that we can probably enhance ourselves quite a bit to optimize for survival to, say, 200 years of age.

It probably wouldn't even take all that much. What about a second heart? Take up cancer resistance genes that give more heart issues, but offset that with a smaller backup heart tucked away somewhere. Most americans have got plenty of space for a full RAID-5 set of them :)

Optimize the lay-out of our spine. It sucks. We can develop much stronger, lighter spines nowadays, without touching the original purpose.

Optimize our air intake channels: our lungs were developed when the air intake was at the front instead of the top, and stuff that came in was pulled out by gravity eventually.

Remove killer mutations before birth. A personal one - I've several acquaintances with dead babies due to genetic defects. Horrible, painful, lingering deaths in both cases. Both rare enough that the standard screening didn't get it. Once we can cure the carriers this won't happen as much as it does now.


Nature doesn't optimize. The first working solution is the one that has the advantage and thus gets adopted. We can do better with a little thought and foresight, once we understand genetics - but we're not so near that point as some people like to believe, I fear.

There are never any bugs you haven't found yet.