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Comment: Re:Can't... (Score 1) 680

by Tynam (#32504436) Attached to: Anti-Speed Camera Activist Buys Police Department's Web Domain

As I see it, if you don't like it, work to change it. Until it's changed, however, it is still a law.

I used to feel that way. But as I've grown older, I've increasingly realised that bad laws are only changed because they are repeatedly violated; without that pressure the law will remain cheerily on the books. The history of, say, squatter's rights gives some examples.

Comment: Re:What about the presumption of innocence? (Score 1) 1590

by Tynam (#32011964) Attached to: Arizona "Papers, Please" Law May Hit Tech Workers

If you believe the police in the United States are "the local gestapo" who simply "pistol whip" people on a whim, it's probably past time for your medication.

If you believe there are no police in the US who are "the local gestapo", then it's long past time you took a good look at your country. Try googling "Arpaio". When you're a victim of a violent or prejudiced cop, knowing "hey, 85% of cops wouldn't have done that" is no help whatsoever. And it's much worse with immigration authorities, who often have effective license to detain arbitrarily without trial, crime or access to a lawyer. US citizen or not.

Comment: Re:UK experience (Score 2, Insightful) 194

by Tynam (#31286818) Attached to: Europe To Block ACTA Disconnect Provisions
It's more complicated than that. Remember, the EU takes it's orders (in principle, at least) from the MEPs we elect. Frequently when the government objects to 'the EU' telling us what to do, they mean "Thank god our party managed to get this useful but unpopular policy passed in Europe, where we can get all the benefits but blame other countries when the voters ask."

See also: US handling of ACTA. (Oh no, we're not passing any stupid laws without involving the actual legislators. It's those foreigners. It's just a trade treaty.)

Comment: Re:Part of a general pattern (Score 1) 276

by Tynam (#31197466) Attached to: Switzerland Pursues Violent Games Ban

The minaret ban is perfectly okay - it's a democratic decision to set a sign against a fascist ideology disguised as religion.

No, it's not. It's typical tyranny-of-moral-panic prejudice. By 'set a sign' you mean, of course, 'posture and draw lines in the sand'. Sometimes it's depressing how much democratic politics resembles 14-year-old-school-bullies.

It will not prevent Islam from spreading further through Europe and erode our basic values of freedom.

So now you don't even have freedom of architecture. Bad guys can't destroy our basic values, lukas84, because they were never part of the community that subscribed to them. Only we can destroy our 'basic values of freedom'. (Personally? "Don't hate religions, don't hate people, hate the actions you hate" is my basic value. Neither immigrants, criminals or fascists can destroy that, and nor can you, though you've declared an intent to.)

In general, solving nasty social problems - like honour killings - is more complicated than 'intensely dislike a religion until it goes away'. The first requires hard work, but can actually be achieved. The second is pointless, ineffectual and usually aggravates the problem you're trying to solve.

In Europe, the situation is different. The muslim immigrants here are uneducated and would kill their daughter if she had sex with a non-muslim (happens almost every week in Europe). Up until the Minaret vote, political correctness forbade from speaking about honor killings - luckily, this has now changed.

No, nothing 'forbade' speaking about honor killings. Unless moral cowardice counts as 'forbidding' now.

But I'm not an expert on violence against women. So I found one, and asked "what are the things we could be doing to reduce domestic murders of women in immigrant communities?" Guess what? "Ban turreted buildings" and "scream about the evils of Islam" weren't on the list.

Comment: Re:Another game with no options (Score 1) 80

by Tynam (#30680390) Attached to: <em>Dragon Age: Origins</em> Expansion Coming In March
No, that's evil. Brilliantly, entertainingly evil, but evil. There's not much ambiguity there.

A morally ambiguous version: if it was clear in advance that neither Alistair nor Loghain has the leadership skills to stop the darkspawn, so the easiest way to save life was to seize power for yourself.

An even better morally ambiguous version: if Loghain did have the skill and sense to rally the army and stop the blight, and was the only one who did. Then the player would have to consider betraying their allies and letting the Redcliff forces be executed as traitors, in order to have a unified kingdom to resist the darkspawn. (The least coherent part of the game plot is Loghain's claim that there's no blight. This is done in order to give the player motive and means to stop him, of course, but it's blatantly ridiculous. Newly crowned usurpers or dictators love having a clear threat that demands the kingdom rally under their military leadership immediately, and here he's got a real one to work with!)

Comment: Re:Another game with no options (Score 3, Interesting) 80

by Tynam (#30667514) Attached to: <em>Dragon Age: Origins</em> Expansion Coming In March

Dragon Age's story isn't great; if they were going to ditch the whole AD&D/Forgotten Realms setting that was at the heart of the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights games, then I would have hoped that they would actually do something a bit more... well... different with it. Compared to... say... Mass Effect, it felt very much like they were playing it safe and sticking to a well-trodden path with Dragon Age. If that's what they're doing, then a part of me would actually have preferred to have a more familiar Forgotten Realms setting (not least because of the potential for Miniature Giant Space Hamsters). If, on the other hand, they were trying to produce a genuinely different "dark" fantasy story, then I'm sorry, but The Witcher got there first and did it better.

Everything parent said. Mass Effect does the style of star wars, but uses every bit of the freedom they gained from leaving KotOR behind, both in mechanics and in the universe, to do bigger and cooler stuff that Lucas would never touch.

With DA Bioware put a lot of effort into getting away from D&D, in order to produce... a stat/skill/feat based fantasy RPG system. I love DA, but there's nothing in it that wouldn't have worked fine in D&D rules. And DA has some genuinely interesting good/evil/nice/harsh character choices, but there's none of the Witcher's moral ambiguity. (The closest approach I can think of is Jowan in the Mage intro... a genuine moral choice there, but it doesn't actually change the outcome.) DA may be dark, but it always know who its good guys are.

Comment: Re:Who said it was anti-technology? (Score 1) 870

by Tynam (#30592560) Attached to: Anti-Technology Themes in James Cameron's <em>Avatar</em>

Force wins. Then it is transferred. Then the transferred force wins. So, force is still winning, isn't it? Only the person wielding it has changed. This is consistent with the idea that force wins. Not just in the short term, but always.

That's what I get for over-simplifying to forum-comment length; impossible not to introduce obvious weak spots in any argument. Short form: Sorry, not so - mutual losses by multiple different parties do not constitute a win, for anyone. But you're right that the argument I presented is flawed; that's because I oversimplified it. A not-ridiculously-oversimplified version of the argument requires some actual facts, several pages of reasoning, and some sources. I didn't feel like doing that much typing.

In the movie too, force won. The human army was routed by force. This may be unexpected, but that does not mean force does not win.

True, but irrelevant, as Cameron-land != life. Pity, as it would only have taken a couple of easy additions to give the movie actual plot, moral dilemmas and hence convincing characters, as well as pretty beasties and elves. Fun movie though. Look, pretty beasties! With elves!

(Would be nice to live in movie-land, as might really would make right; by movie-rules it actually is so. Also, cars would explode when shot, torture would actually produce intel because torturers would have magic lie-detection powers (as long as they were white), I'd be guaranteed to resolve all of my issues with dying relatives before they went, and it would only rain when I was already miserable anyway. But women would be incapable of having conversations that weren't entirely about men, so on the whole I think I prefer living in this universe. Hmmm... must run an RPG set in movie-land sometime.)

Comment: Re:Who said it was anti-technology? (Score 1) 870

by Tynam (#30583094) Attached to: Anti-Technology Themes in James Cameron's <em>Avatar</em>

If you do not obey the laws, what will happen to you?

Usually nothing. Most citizens of most modern societies break some laws routinely, frequently through ignorance. Ask any cop; if he follows you around for a couple of hours, he can find something to arrest you for. Lawmaking being pretty inefficient, much law is badly written and widely ignored in both directions.

But you could rightly call that evasive nitpicking on my part; you meant "government power over individual citizens is backed by overwhelming force." This is completely true... and does not refute my point. A government possesses stability and security precisely to the extent that they do not use this power. Laws are either made with the consent of the governed... or they demand increasing escalation of enforcement. This only works until you've escalated so far that the force undermines the structures that you're using to deliver force with... at which point the country usually collapses. (Zimbabwe's a pretty good near-worst-possible-case example.)

Short form: The government does not have the power to escalate indefinitely... because indefinite escalation tends towards destroying the society that the government is part of. Governments that survive do so in part because they know this, and limit their use of force to well below this point.

This is a statistical process, not an absolute one. Large and important results can be achieved by force, and injustice based on massive use of force can and does exist. But the trend is away: the more a law depends on force to execute it, the less popular it is, the greater the pressure away.

(My government has the ability to escalate any dispute with me until I am in prison or dead. But it doesn't have the ability to escalate a dispute with the population as a whole until the entire population is in prison or dead.)

Authoritarian states, backed entirely by use of force, are less stable and, ultimately, less successful. Force is the short-termm solution; long term it loses out.

Comment: Re:Who said it was anti-technology? (Score 1) 870

by Tynam (#30577840) Attached to: Anti-Technology Themes in James Cameron's <em>Avatar</em>
Nonsense. Force wins out in the short term, always. Force loses miserably in the long term, always. Force-based systems are unstable as hell, because force is easily transferred.

Consider this: Every significant war of the twentieth century - I'm reserving judgement on the twenty-first, too soon to tell - was started by the side that then lost. Peaceful revolutions had a poor but decidedly non-zero success rate. (Yes, this is a gross oversimplification, I know. But it's not a meritless point.)

Consider this also: The gross long-term trend in human-on-human violence is down, and has been so for centuries, at the least. Yes, that's an extreme macro trend, and local exceptions are abundant. But it is a trend.

Comment: Re:Open Letter (Score 1) 1079

by Tynam (#30412326) Attached to: Sci-Fi Author Peter Watts Beaten, Charged During Border Crossing
To be fair to Obama, his acceptance speech made it pretty clear he knows that the prize is a political gift for not-being-Bush; he openly admitted that he hadn't earned it himself and the committee was just trying to lend its weight to a future of please-God-anything-but-another-Bush-ever-again.

I'm having trouble with my opinion on this. On the one hand, it does kinda devalue the prize. On the other hand, the Peace prize has frequently been used to make political statements; this isn't new. And I can sort of see the committee's point. Not-being-Bush is pretty praiseworthy in itself, in the cesspit of current US politics.

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