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Comment: Re: Wrong Title (Score 1) 499

George Zimmerman was a bilingual, self-identified Hispanic (his mother was a Peruvian immigrant and his great grandfather was Afro-Peruvian) and registered Democrat. Hispanic Democrats are generally not a great source of Tea Party followers.

Andrew Joseph Stack III (the "IRS plane guy") left a suicide note raging against the policies of George W. Bush, the FAA, the IRS, the Catholic Church, Bush's TARP bailout and Enron (among others).

His note ended:

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Once again, pro-communist, anti-capitalist, church hating people who blame George W. Bush for regressive tax policies are not generally considered prime Tea Party material.

Maybe next time, you could read up on the subjects that fill your own diatribes.

Comment: Re: Wrong Title (Score 5, Insightful) 499

Jared Loughner (the man who shot Rep. Gabby Giffords) was a paranoid schizophrenic who was described by a classmate as being a hardcore leftist prior to manifesting his disease. Once his disease took hold, he became obsessed by conspiracies and hated all politicians but mostly the ones he knew of, like George W. Bush and Rep. Giffords. He was in no way a "tea partier" and had no knowledge of the "target ad."

Jared Loughner was a mentally ill person who tried to kill his local Congresswoman (among others). Had G. W. Bush or John McCain have been there, he would have shot them too. He was no more a tea partier than John Hinckley was an anti-Reagan Democrat. They were just both mentally ill and violent.

Comment: Re:This is robusta coffee they're talking about (Score 2) 167

by brianerst (#47836657) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

So, then theoretically they could also sequence the arabica bean and figure out which alleles cause the "better flavor" of arabica and breed and/or modify versions of robusta that contain those flavor-positive alleles. Arabica flavor in a more robust(a) plant. (Robusta plants are more disease resistant - perhaps the tetraploid nature of arabica make them more vulnerable).

I've got no dog in this hunt - I hate coffee. But figuring out how to get better flavored coffee from the higher producing, more robust plant seems like a good thing.

Comment: Re:Biased (Score 1) 221

by brianerst (#47785621) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

In that section of the survey (about attitude rather than knowledge), "We depend too much on science and not enough on faith" was one of only two measures by which Americans "lagged" the sample set (Canada, EU, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and India). The other was "science is changing things too fast" in which we were only the third most science-positive (Russia and Canada were top, then the US, and then everyone else lagging quite a bit behind).

For the other four ("science makes life better", "science makes work more interesting", "science creates more opportunities for the next generation", and the "knowledge of science is important in my daily life" [asked in the negative]), the US were a bunch of raging techno-optimists, generally way more positive than the rest of the sample set (including Canada).

Table 4.2, Page 54

Comment: Re: Bullshit ... (Score 1) 338

by brianerst (#47725159) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

You do realize that Obama's hand picked FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, is a long time cable and cellular lobbyist so beloved by the industry that he's the only man in both The Cable and Wireless Hall of Fames? A man dedicated to gutting net neutrality?

If the Dems are any more friendly to municipal broadband, it's just as part of a different payoff (unions or a different set of corporatations).

Comment: Re:How about some real number? (Score 1) 561

by brianerst (#47663547) Attached to: Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

So, what happens to men who don't fit their stereotyped role? Are managers encouraged to seek out anyone who they feel should self-nominate but haven't or only women?

I'm pleased that they are working around the cultural issues of self-nomination. But it does seem to be based on stereotypical group behavior rather than individual behavior. Group differences should be the focus of research (why is this group underrepresented) but process should focused on individuals (how do we get the most out of all our employees).

Comment: Re:maybe (Score 1) 512

The Nazis did many things but are known primarily for their most evil deeds - the terms "fascist" and "Nazi" have deep, profoundly negative connotations. Saying "the Israelis are like Nazis in this narrow sense" doesn't get you brownie points - you're still doing reductio ad hitlerum.

Hitler was also a vegetarian and antivivsectionist - should we thus compare PETA to Hitler? The Nazis were eugenists as was Margaret Sanger - should we thus compare Planned Parenthood to Nazis? The National Socialist Party was initially anti-big business and anti-capitalist - do we thus compare the Occupy Movement to Nazis? The Nazis wore armbands with a cross on it as does the Red Cross - are the Red Cross then Nazis? This can go on and on.

Being compared to Nazis, for better or worse, is shorthand for unmitigated evil. Feeling the need to compare the greatest victims of the Nazis to Nazis says something about you, not the Israelis.

Comment: Re:maybe (Score 1) 512

I singled out the Arabs simply because it's the same piece of land - they colonized an area they had no historic claim over and invented a religious rationale for it after the fact. They did this largely because the Jews were the main native group that resisted conversion to Islam - the Christian and Jewish converts came to be known as "Palestinians" while the Jews remained the Jews. And yes, I'm well versed in the relatively benign conversion pressures of the early Umayyad period but by the time of building of al-Aqsa, they were using more of the stick than the carrot.

The Hebrews did much the same thing a few thousand years earlier. At least the Jews and the Palestinians were essentially the same people - just with differing religions (Yawheh-ism vs Canaanite/El then, Rabbinical Judaism vs Islam now). The Umayyads were classic foreign invaders.

But getting back to main topic, it is grotesque to highlight a few areas where Israeli policy overlaps Nazi policy (Lebensraum vs Greater Israel) because it neglects the enormous differences (Israeli Arab citizenship, lack of gas chambers, etc.) and because the horror of the Holocaust is still within living memory of people living there. You can easily use non-Nazi comparisons or use non-comparative strong denunciations for violating expected social norms. That people choose not to do so is not "bravery" or speaking truth to power - it's Jew hatred.

I wouldn't use that analogy anymore than I would compare the Navajo to Andrew Jackson in their current dealings with the Hopi - I could conjure areas of overlap but the comparison is inapt and offensive.

Comment: Re:maybe (Score 1) 512

Again, this is simply a poisonous statement, designed to offend and ahistorical. You can easily compare them to any number of colonial powers (European, Turkic, Persian, Han, Malay, etc.). You could compare them to North Americans (who depopulated, unwittingly at first and then purposefully, nearly an entire continent). You could compare them to Iberians, who marginalized and/or decimated the native peoples of all of Central and South America.

You could even compare them to the Arabs, who built the Al-Aqsa Mosque right on top of the holiest site of Judaism, the Temple Mount, marginalized the remnant of Jews still living there and fabricated a mythic night journey that never happened in order to lay a religious claim to the city.

Colonizers do shitty things to the populations that are already there. Israelis are probably in the middle in terms of nastiness - not angels but certainly no worse than many others occurring right now. If you want to argue that Western nations shouldn't be funding them, or that as a democracy they should behave better, that's fine - but let's drop the Nazi comparisons. There's no comparison there.

Comment: Re:I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 5, Informative) 739

by brianerst (#47545139) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

To be fair, the tirade occurred on the Linux Kernel mailing list and was intra-kernel team bitching. This wasn't directed at the gcc devs personally - he was telling another kernel dev that the output of from his version of gcc was crap. It's a snapshot of a mailing list conversation, not an official statement.

His actual bug report was professional and courteous. He thanked the gcc devs for quickly coming up with a fix.

Comment: Re:maybe (Score 1) 512

Maybe you wouldn't be considered an anti-semite if you didn't compare Israelis to Nazis.

A comparison to South Africa or Rhodesia/Zimbabwe would be more apt - at least you've got some similarities (and some differences too - having a diaspora return to an ancestral homeland that still has a remnant of the original population is different than pure colonization). But nothing that is occurring in Israel/Palestine comes close to what the Nazi's did in a decade. It's a category error.

Comment: Need more thumbs (Score 1) 77

by brianerst (#47485235) Attached to: Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

That's interesting (if a little clumsy). I wonder if a different arrangement of digits would work better.

I'm thinking of placing an opposable thumb opposite the existing thumb (a mirror image of the existing thumb) and one on the base of the wrist pointing up which would curl up when the fingers curl down. Without modeling it, it would be hard to tell if the extra digits would get in the way too much, but they would greatly increase the ability to do certain types of grips.

(And why does Firefox seem to think opposable isn't a word?)

Comment: Re:The Gripping Hand? (Score 1) 77

by brianerst (#47485163) Attached to: Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

The GP was imprecise. The Gripping Hand of the Moties in the Niven/Pournelle CoDominium universe is a third arm/hand - it is used for strength and better grip. Two hands for detail/fine work, one for heavy lifting/gripping.

It's also used in the sense of a "third way" between two sides of an argument - "on the one hand, on the other hand and on the gripping hand". The gripping hand argument is supposed to be the strongest one and a way around the weakness of the core conflict.

Comment: Re:Probable cause (Score 1) 223

by brianerst (#47420359) Attached to: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

To be fair, at least one of the targets (Nihad Awad of CAIR) appears to have been targeted only during the period that his organization was labelled an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial. When the label was removed (by court order), the surveillance stopped. (This assumes that the data released by Greenwald is complete and the lack of surveillance after January 2008 is real.)

Awad has some questionable associations in his background but that alone shouldn't be cause to put him or anyone under surveillance.

Comment: Re: What's the big deal? (Score 1) 561

by brianerst (#47323831) Attached to:, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Absolutely - I don't think they measure much else other than pattern matching and a specific subset of abstract reasoning. I think they're reasonably effective at measuring those skills and those skills are reasonably correlated to fitness to certain types of tasks. But that's true of any decently designed test - a test of leaping ability is useful to some degree for athletics but it'd be ridiculous to think it was the only or even the most important criteria.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead