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Comment: Re:Hahah (Score 1) 245

I don't know anything about the kid (other than he's stupid and impulsive enough to try something like this) but locking him up won't make anything better in the long run. When he gets out the only thing he'll be able to do is crime and he'll probably have met plenty of other enterprising individuals who can give him some tips.

All we're really doing is setting this individual up to be a lifelong drain on society.

I'd rather see massive amounts of community service to repay the debt he owes to society. I don't know what this individual's home life is like, and I can't imagine it's great given what he's done, but his punishment should be get an education and then work his ass off to pay for what he's done. No sports, no video games, and no screwing around.

He might not like it, but I suspect he has at least a small chance of turning out to be a decent person and contributing to society if the second approach is followed.

Comment: Re:You do not discharge anger from engaging in it (Score 1) 58

by alvinrod (#49591023) Attached to: Tech Credited With Reducing Nigerian Election Death Toll
I wasn't saying that catharsis theory is valid (I honestly have no clue and have never read any research on it outside of what's been linked here) but merely that the study that was presented has some serious flaws in the way it was implemented. It seems like they proved that if you piss someone off, have them focus on their anger, and keep them thinking about it that they will react more violently than people who were not subject to the same.

If there are other studies that also support the same claim there's obviously more strength for the hypothesis that catharsis is either ineffective or actually more harmful than not, but that study alone would only be sufficient to make that claim in a very narrow sense.

I guess I've always thought of something being cathartic in the sense that it was a way of releasing anger and didn't associate it with a necessary violent component. If meditation helps a person reduce their anger, I would call that cathartic. So perhaps some of my hesitance comes from my own misunderstanding of the term in the scientific sense.

Comment: Re:You do not discharge anger from engaging in it (Score 1) 58

by alvinrod (#49588749) Attached to: Tech Credited With Reducing Nigerian Election Death Toll
I have some issues with the experiment design.

Although they don't explicitly state this, it seems that all of this happens over a relatively short period of time. I suspect that when people normally resort to physical release to blow off steam, they isolate themselves from the person or source of their stress. This may not even be measuring how people typically use this type of behavior to manage their anger.

More importantly, the following comes from the description of the study procedure:

If the participant did not rank the punching bag activity first, the experimenter asked if the participant would be willing to hit the punching bag, explaining that ratings were needed for each activity on the list and that more ratings were needed for the punching bag activity.

Participants were told that they should think about their partner while hitting the bag.

Next, participants completed a mood form that measured anger and positive affect. The anger measure consisted of 15 adjectives (e.g., angry, annoyed, furious) from the hostility subscale of the revised Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist (Zuckerman & Lubin, 1985).

So first of all they had researchers ask people to engage in the activity even if they hadn't originally wanted to, which biases the results. The Milgram experiment suggests that people will go along with what a research asks of them even if it's objectively horrible.

Next, they told people to specifically focus on the individual that had angered them while doing this. I have no idea if it is standard for people using physical activity or even what could be considered violent activity to focus and maintain focus on what has antagonized them while engaging in this activity, but they've introduced another potential source of bias.

Finally, they showed them a list of words that are all associated with anger. This is invariably going to result in priming issues (i.e., would the results be different if they showed some group a list with words like "calm", "patience", etc.?) or possibly influence the mood of the subjects by keeping them focused on how mad they are.

This sounds like far less of a test on catharsis and more likely proof that if you get a person riled up and keep reminding them of their anger that they're going to react more angrily. It doesn't sound at all like they measured catharsis but rather the effects of making someone angry and then keeping them focused on that anger.

Comment: Re:Capitalism is doomed (Score 0) 99

by alvinrod (#49586277) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Windows Holographic Platform
Universal Health Care has nothing to do with communism. In many countries that have universal healthcare the hospitals, clinics, and other companies supplying treatments, medical devices, etc. are still privately owned. The only difference is that the government holds a monopsony position that can keep prices more favorable for its citizens. Some even allow for otherwise free-market systems for additional or non-essential care.

Many non-communist countries have employee or member owned businesses as well. You can bank at a credit union or buy insurance from a cooperative if you want. Just because you have a system that permits private ownership of industry does not mean that all industry must be privately owned.

I think that most people have realized that while pure communism or socialism sounds great on paper, it doesn't actually work in the real world. Much like many other ideologies, it requires humans to behave in a way that humans don't behave so it's impossible to reach the described outcomes. Rather than try to address and fix these, proponents would seemingly rather rail against capitalism like the poster above.

Comment: Re:I like this guy but... (Score 5, Insightful) 437

by alvinrod (#49585165) Attached to: Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules
It's difficult to have a functioning market when local municipalities grant monopolies to individual companies and then turn around and get the state to ban municipal networks entirely.

In theory, the FCC shouldn't need to regulate the internet at all, but because other government has created a wholly fucked up system, I agree that it's necessary at this point for them to step in.

Paul is just blindly sticking to principles without considering the reality of the situation. If he wants to block the government from regulating the internet, first he needs to remove the roadblocks that prevent such government regulation from being necessary. You can't have a market-based solution when there is no market and the chances of having one have been made practically impossible.

Comment: Ignoring the Elephant (Score 2) 634

by alvinrod (#49568447) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers
I wouldn't call this forcing it, as this sounds like it's trying to appeal to women's interests. However, while this sounds interesting (I'd really be interested in seeing this implemented and tracked over a long period of time), I think it overlooks whether or not there are a lot of engineering, IT, or computer jobs for this kind of societally meaningful work. I think that having an engineering degree means that a person has the kind of mind to apply themselves well to almost anything, but if we have these droves of women leaving the profession after working for a few years because most of the jobs are for the hum-drum kind of things that they don't appear to be interested in, is anyone really better off?

If it gets some people to tackle these problems that no one else is looking at great, but the real world is a lot of code monkey going to boring meetings and writing goddamn login page.

Comment: Re:We should have now learned our lesson (Score 2) 239

by alvinrod (#49566469) Attached to: Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim

and most importantly editors/distributors don't have a leg to stand on when requesting 75% of the money on the premise that they sold the engine

The claim that without the game itself there would be nothing to mod seems like a rather large leg. Never mind that Valve is allowing the use of their store and payment system which makes it a lot easier to collect money.

That said, there are far too many problems with the current implementation for Valve to allow for paid mods. They already have enough issues with quality control on Greenlight. Mods are an even bigger problem as there's no guarantee of quality, indication that there won't be conflicts with other paid mods, and the invariable jerks that submit existing free mods that aren't theirs in order to make a quick buck.

If Valve wants to do this they should develop a system that makes it easier to address some of those issues before they try to offer paid mods.

Comment: Re:Since when (Score 1) 629

by alvinrod (#49562263) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame
If a person isn't ever supposed to drink diet, how would they become acquainted to the taste?

If they drank the non-diet version regularly enough they could probably tell if they were given a mystery bottle, but with fountain pop, the taste isn't always as consistent. There's also the chance that the person normally is a Coke person but found themselves in a Pepsi restaurant (or vice versa) and doesn't have much of a clue about how the diet version of the product should taste.

For example, you could give me a glass and tell me it's Pepsi, and I probably couldn't tell you if it was actually Pepsi, diet Pepsi, or some cheap imitation cola. Similarly, I wouldn't know the difference between Mountain Dew and Mellow Yellow as I never drink those at all.

Before you go off claiming that someone is an idiot, it might be best to examine the problem from their point of view or to look for holes in your own explanation. I myself am a little skeptical that someone could have an episode over what was probably a small amount of the substance, but people have all manner of different tolerance levels and we could be dealing with an individual who is a few standard deviations towards the fringe.

Comment: Re:I'm really conflicted... (Score 2) 109

by alvinrod (#49561011) Attached to: Stephen Hawking Has a Message For One Direction Fans
I think it's just an easy way to add some science to the lives of those who might not otherwise care.

There's a lot of advanced physics for which we currently lack practical applications or even a good way of relating what's being done to the public. If this sparks an interest in a few dozen kids I'd say it's a good thing.

Comment: Re:Good for Amazon! (Score 2) 83

by alvinrod (#49546561) Attached to: Amazon's Profits Are Floating On a Cloud (Computing)
Which is why the stock is valuable. No one is paying the current price because Amazon is making a lot of profit but because in the future they might be the only one left standing to make any profit. They've essentially said that their game is drag a razor across everyone's throat and bet on their skin being the thickest.

It will be interesting to see at what point the government goes after them for predatory market practices if they're only sustainable because of massive revenue/profit from other divisions.

Comment: Re:Please, BCE/CE, not BC/AD (Score 1) 105

by alvinrod (#49536287) Attached to: Ancient Hangover Cure Discovered In Greek Texts
Wouldn't starting in the year 2000 still be basing the calendar on Christ as you're picking precise point in time that's in reference to the old calendar? The year 2000 is only the year 2000 because it was 2000 years after the estimated birth of Christ and you'd still be using it as the basis for the new calendar.

You'd have to pick some other human event to set the start date. You could go with the moon landing or the first atomic bomb test or any other number of historic dates that are well established. Or perhaps you could choose based on some celestial event or even something more mundane like the founding of Slashdot.

Comment: Re:Laugh (Score 1) 407

by alvinrod (#49525503) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead
I was mildly interested in whether or not this had any effect at all or if there was a strong correlation.

I grabbed some data from Wikipedia for homicide rate and required minimum leave and did a quick and dirty correlation after removing any countries that didn't have both data points.

Without controlling for any other factors there's only a very weak correlation (r = -.205) which would suggest that vacation days don't have much to do with the homicide rate of a country. Note that this doesn't reflect that actual vacation days, simply the number mandated by law, which may or may not be closely followed. However a bigger problem is that regardless of country, the type of people who tend to commit the most murders likely aren't working the kind of regular job that has vacations so there's probably too many confounding factors for the Wikipedia data to be useful.

It would be nice to have a better data set as the idea is interesting.

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