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Comment: Live free or die (Score 2) 186

Banning cars could save more lives - Does that mean we should ban cars?

What effects would that have on the economic productivity of the country ? In turn, how much poverty will that create ? How many extra people will die as a result of not affording medical care ?

And this is a simple utilitarian exercise where you compare lives lost with lives lost. What about more complex dilemmas (see title of post) ? Should a nation never send troops in any conflict and accept any onerous terms the adversary imposes, for the sake of preserving all lives ? Should we ban all individual choice and responsibility, ban all sugary drinks, impose a state-controlled healthy diet ?

The notion that "lives can be saved" is not and cannot be used as the sole deciding argument on a societal issue. We are free individuals, we associate in a community seeking to improve our perceived welfare - one cannot treat the welfare as a goal in itself segregated from what we as individuals want.

Comment: Re:Except, of course, they have to prove you can (Score 1) 560

what makes a lawyer so special that he can talk to the cops? Are lawyers vaccinated against cop-tricks or something?

Anything dumb your lawyer says can't be used against you (since he cannot be witness against his client) or against himself (since he's not the suspect). A really really dumb lawyer can be charged with conspiracy and end up next to the defendant but it's exceptionally rare and the burden of proof is monumental (mafia lawyers involved in the same operation with their client).

You, on the other hand, are already a suspect, the tiniest slip ('I didn't like him, but I did not kill him !') can send you to the gauntlet ('Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant despised the victim - by his own official testimony'). The greatest trick your lawyer has is that he isn't you.

Talking to the police while suspected of a crime is like performing brain surgery on yourself.

Comment: Re:Castle Doctrine Defense (Score 4, Insightful) 358

by Stellian (#47306067) Attached to: Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

he was acting in self defense to prevent an idiot driving while on a cell phone from causing an accident

"The signal is bad around these parts... let's switch to message chat !"

This is a prime example of why we have societies, laws and regulations - in this case those designed to stop mobile phone usage. Going for an individual solution quickly devolves into mayhem: thousands of bystanders affected, emergency calls interrupted, and probably not a single accident prevented.

Comment: Re:HOPE to exploit it (Score 1) 106

by Stellian (#47280301) Attached to: Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria

More importantly, is this something fundamental to how gram-negative bacteria develop, or is it simply the current solution evolution has produced ? It would be nice to develop biotechnology that takes evolution into account and is ready to predict a few moves ahead and minimize the probability of a helpful mutation.

It seems to me that from a computer security point of view, the human biological computer has low entropy keys and we are dealing with a massively parallel adversary that tries trillions of keys every second (billions of people infected with thousands of strains of bacteria). Meanwhile, our current "cyber defenses" (drugs) are rather crude pattern match filters that look for things like <script>, SELECT *, and other static characteristics of what we consider to flag an attacker. Luckily, biology has endowed us with a key switch defense algorithm that ensures a "rooted" system does not compromise the whole network; unluckily, the mechanism will also take unrecoverable systems offline.

Comment: Solutions to the wrong problems (Score 1) 396

by Stellian (#47247005) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Yeah, the actual argument used against this kind of GMO use is that it would cost the same to treat the root cause of the problem by teaching people to grow a wider range of crops and the importance of a balanced diet.

The "root cause" of malnutrition is societal dysfunction. We have more than enough food, energy, water, fertilizers or the potential to obtain them in every country on earth, enough to feed the world ten times over. Every person on earth prefers a balanced and diverse diet, if it's a available. When people starve or go sick it's because they are trapped in a low productivity economy, caused by corruption, war, mismanagement of public resources and usually enabled or instigated by some western power friendly to the local chieftain.

This is techie myopia at it's finest, from the "give laptops to the poor" or "internet balloons" to "vaccines via mosquitoes". We know how to make the internet work and we know how to deliver vaccines: just like we do it in the rich countries. Poor people don't need technical solutions designed to work in anarchy, they need societal reform and functional public services. While the intention behind these schemes is laudable, we should not believe for a moment they are more than bandaids in lieu of peace, democracy and working governments.

Comment: Re: This reminds me of a great Simpsons episode (Score 5, Informative) 625

by Stellian (#47228021) Attached to: EU's Top Court May Define Obesity As a Disability

Yet, the vast majority of obese people have perfectly working thyroids. This is not about recognizing that some medical conditions can derail your metabolism, which I believe no one is arguing, and should be covered by existing disability laws.

This is about treating all obese people, the vast majority of which are so because of their own choices, as disabled. Inability to control your own actions becomes a valid form of disability. It's a slippery slope because it legitimizes self harm and forces society to take responsibility. If obesity is a form of disability, so is tobacco or gaming dependence. And if treating obesity is not about making people eat less, then clearly treating dependence is not about smoking or gambling, we as a society should hold together and provide comfort: smoking places and breaks, subsidies for food when all the person's paycheck is lost in the casino, job protection when the addiction interferes with work performance, free medical coverage for resulting problems etc.

BTW, I write the above as a 220 pound man, who use to be as large as 260 pounds, and knows full well how hard it is for an obese person to control her appetite and weigh. But I fully understand it's MY body and MY choices, I'm fat because I love food, it's one of the great pleasures of my life and I wouldn't dream to blame nature or society for my fate.

Comment: Re:Yes, good idea. (Score 2) 322

by Stellian (#47191511) Attached to: Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions For Them

Actually, the US is twice as efficient at GDP/ton of GHG, about the same as Canada, Australia, and Finland.

That's because a whole lot of that 15 trillion GDP is produced on Wall Street, Redmond and Hollywood - non tangible goods. As the GP said, per inhabitant USA produce far far more CO2 than China, and a CO2 tax would absolutely cripple US manufacturing and exports.

Comment: Embryo (Score 2) 323

by Stellian (#47121373) Attached to: 'Curiosity' Lead Engineer Suggests Printing Humans On Other Planets

You don't have to print humans, just synthesize a memorized genome and throw it into an artificial womb. Done to death in SciFi literature and certainly within the means of 21th century technology. It's certainly interesting if a human raised entirely by a computer can really qualify as human.

And why do it ? Just to spread the human disease in the universe ? Why not simply send the artificial intelligence that is necessary anyway to make such a mission a success ?

Comment: Re:I got tired of waiting (Score 5, Insightful) 213

by Stellian (#47106613) Attached to: PHP Next Generation

JS on the server is clearly big contender for PHP: it's great for quick and dirty prototyping, awful for large projects, and significantly faster than PHP.

JS is the perfect recipe for language lock-in that's even stronger than PHP: front end developers already "know" it, they write a botched version of the backend code that 10 years later turns into an incomprehensible behemoth; any attempt to rewrite it will be rejected for "performance" reasons.

Comment: Re:Duh... (Score 1) 265

by Stellian (#47064459) Attached to: IT Pro Gets Prison Time For Sabotaging Ex-Employer's System

Anyone in IT that might be disgruntled?

What you need to expect in a case like this (assuming you can pull the perfect crime, technically speaking, and leave no digital tracks) is be prepared to face the most vicious face of law enforcement. The officers will know you did it, but they will have no proof, so they will push you to the extreme, for months or years, until they get a confession. They will ransack your home, multiple times, harass your employers and loved ones, etc. All in all, not a good side project for a geek with no soft skills.

I mean, if you can pull the perfect cybercrime and resist the best prosecutors in town, then why not hack into City Bank and transfer a billion dollars to some nice old lady in Russia ? Surely a billion dollars is better than some momentary satisfaction. You can even set aside 500 million for the purpose of bankrupting your ex employer.

Comment: Re:Cue "freedom" NRA nuts in 3.. 2.. 1... (Score 1) 274

by Stellian (#46952783) Attached to: First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Because guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people

You mean to tell me, in a country where guns are illegal, the number of deaths resulting from guns is lower?

2 hundred times lower, actually. You can point all you want at countries like Canada and Norway but the truth is the much lower GINI and higher equality of these countries produces an overall violence level that US can only dream of. Still, they are at the same order of magnitude to US at gun violence (when adjusted for ownership rates) debunking the "cultural factor" hypothesis (Bowling for Columbine, etc.)

The dominant factors for a country's violence level are gun availability and inequality: unequal countries with lots of guns, like US, some African and some South-American countries have significantly more homicides, and by significant I mean statistically significant at the > 99.99% confidence level and pretty much an established scientific fact.

Comment: Re:It's a government contract job. (Score 1) 288

by Stellian (#46876653) Attached to: Decommissioning Nuclear Plants Costing Far More Than Expected

With respect, the state can go straight to hell. Spent fuel storage is a national emergency, not a political issue.

Than the nation should pay for it. Every affected state should bid for storage in the Yucca mountain repository, and if it reaches a reserve set by Nevada, they can use it. All proceeds go to Nevadians, after expenses. If no one is willing to pay what Nevada is asking, then no one is allowed to store their shit in Nevada.

What you are proposing is that the Government can step right it, declare your backyard a nuclear waste repo and all their industry lobyist can dump toxic shit there because it's "a national emergency". As a staunch nuclear proponent, you can go straight to hell.

Don't be irreplaceable, if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.