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Comment Re:Deserves the protection of law and order? (Score 4, Interesting) 80 80

I recommend the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces" by Radley Balko. It goes into detail on why and how we got the police we have today. It's not a coincidence and it's not about "a few bad apples".

Since the 1960s, there has been a systematic top-down development towards a more violent, heavier armed and more excessive police force. This has been achieved through government grants, incentives, and case-law favoring and encouraging the police behavior we see today. No-knock raids gone wrong where innocent people get hurt is now a regular occurrence. Forfeiture without a court charge is a major source of income for all law agencies, to the tune of billions a year. The wars on abstracts (drugs, crime, terror) has made our society more violent and less safe.

If we continue down this path, the next step will be the people having to defend themselves against their government and police.

Comment Re:Deserves the protection of law and order? (Score 2) 80 80

Although it is true that power corrupts, and that "the new boss is the same as the old", there are just as many or more examples throughout history where resistance and revolution did change things in a positive direction. To take a few examples close to home: the American revolution and later the civil war, universal suffrage, black's rights, gay's rights. The list goes on.

If you lean back, hide, and let the powerful get what they want then they will corrupt. That will most certainly lead to a net negative for society as a whole. You might live a comfortable life, but you will die a coward.

Besides the eternal class struggle you mentioned, today's fight is about a free society vs. total corporate and government power, and there are many fronts. Some examples, in random order: Never-ending wars on abstracts (drugs, crime, terrorism); excessive military spending; Internet communication, privacy and freedom of expression; copyright vs. cultural heritage; government transparency vs. secrecy; police abuse, cops-gone-bad, no-knock raids.

It is of course ironic how the latter problem is more or less the same as where we started, with "writs of assistance" before the Revolution. So yes, I guess it's moving slowing, but overall we are moving in a positive direction.

Comment Re:I would like to volunteer as the chief harbinge (Score 1) 300 300

Like the other guy said, you're talking about art forms here. And if you go by the mainstream opinion on art, you'll get average stuff. It's simple really, if something has to appeal to everybody, it cannot be very special or left-field, rather it becomes repetitive and cliché.

Talk to people who are actually into a particular form of art, like movies, and you'll most likely get a different opinion than the mainstream. On the original Terminator: Great movie, and actually very well done effects for a (relatively) low budget production. It's been 31 years, and it has aged surprisingly well.

Comment Re:BECAUSE IDIOTS PAY IT! (Score 1) 36 36

I agree with most of what you say, although I have a hard time following some of it: For example, even on Windows, you can use basic tools like ssh and rsync, I believe. Set up a crontab'ed rsync from an external machine like you say, and you're good. One-way public key authentication. That's (relatively) easy and inexpensive.

Which leads me to the cost of such a system. In my case, I have two decommissioned laptops (even a Raspberry Pi 2 would do the job) bought for $50 in two separate locations from my house. Each has a 3 TB external USB disk, bought about three years ago. I do incremental of /home very day, and full back up twice a month. Never deleted anything. DSLR pictures comes extra (one time is enough; don't need redundant unchanged incrementals), and I don't find it necessary to back up porn and piratebay downloads. I'm currently at 30% free space left, so will probably buy a new pair of 6-8 TB disk in a year or so. Average cost per year is at around $100-150, I guess.

Granted, this is not for everybody. Then I again, this system covers my family, including parents. So yeah, not a business, if that is what you meant. However, scaling this up is not going to go exponential. Randomly picked server hosting I could find is at $1000 / year; there's probably many cheaper options out there. If that covers a business of 5 - 10 people, the cost per head is about the same.

Comment Re:i'm going to say something potentially unpopula (Score 4, Informative) 123 123

You are mixing random concepts here, applying the same label to them, and concluding that there is no privacy. Sounds like a straw man argument to me. But let's dissect it.

The first problem is comparing privacy from your family members to society as a whole. Sorry, but there is little power to be gained from peeking through the window of your older brother. And it will definitely not affect anybody else on your block. Now, if somebody were to drive down the street with a camera, film everybody and everything and put it on the Internet, that would be a whole different story. Google tried, and they had to blur faces, lower their cameras or stop altogether in different countries. The key difference is the scale of the operation, and number of people affected.

The second problem with your argument, is comparing police, state and government surveillance with private data collection. You might think Google, Microsoft, Facebook are evil, and should not hold your private data. You're probably right. However, none of these companies will kick down your door and shoot your dog. The very purpose of government surveillance is to retain power and control. That has always been the case, and the Internet and computers didn't change it. It has just made the rulers' job so much easier.

The beauty of total government surveillance is that it doesn't have to be total in order to achieve its goal. It is enough if most people merely believe they are watched most of the time, just like you describe. We start to self-censor. We'll be more careful about what we write, what we criticize, who we associate with. It fences our thoughts and ideas, and limits our ability to seek alternatives, which is precisely its purpose. The opposite is not privacy, it is freedom and liberty.

Comment Re:What happened? (Score 4, Insightful) 422 422

Monitors did get a lot better, and with higher resolution, though. With 4k (3840 x 2160 or 4096 x 2160), or even 8k (7680×4320) you don't have to zoom out to a fraction of the original size any more. In fact, with your S3 of some 6 MP, you can see the picture in 100%. It means details like noise, camera shake will be more apparent.

Comment Re:No nice things (Score 1) 277 277

Most people seem to fall into the trap of associating the crime with the marketplace and payment system, and as an extension demand that those third parties be responsible. Furthermore, the crime drives hysteria, and similar to the "think of the children" line of reasoning, it's used by dishonest people to drive their agenda. The fact is, the severity of the crime is completely irrelevant to the question of responsibility here.

If she had paid with Foursquare, Visa or MasterCard, clearly those companies would not have been sued. And if she found the cab service through Bing or Google, no sane person would cry for them to vet their advertisers and links. Replace the crime with a hair in the soup at a restaurant, and suing any of those third parties would be just as ridiculous.

Last time I took a "normal" taxi in India, the driver demanded 100 USD, although I knew the price was around 800 rupees (~13 USD). The final transaction was made in cash, so who should I lodge my complaint with? The Reserve Bank of India or the US Federal Reserve? The patentable absurdity of the original case is starting to become apparent.

Finally, regarding those "normal" state and city taxi monopolies: They need to fall. In virtually any country I've been, they offer a poor service at an extortionate price. They abuse their monopoly by only having the number of drivers available they see fit and benefit from, while ignoring peek demand on weekends and other busy days and nights. And as for safety; crimes also happened in taxis before the Internet.

Comment No nice things (Score 2, Insightful) 277 277

Any this is why we cannot have nice things. Any attempt at improvements and progress is immediately attacked by those who seek egoistical gain or cry for an ever bigger nanny-state, or as in this case both.

Blaming somebody's crime on Uber because they used the app is as absurd as blaming Tinder for failing to screen and monitor its users. (Although, I'm sure somebody will eventually sue for that as well).

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder