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Comment: Re:The problem is... (Score 1) 174

The point that I was trying to make is that comparing smallpox to a gun, or even a nuclear weapon, isn't accurate. Using smallpox as a weapon is MAD even if you're the only one using it. The purpose of pointing a gun at another armed person is the idea that if you shoot him first, and do it thoroughly enough, he then won't be able to shoot you. That is not the case with smallpox.

Having live samples available is also not needed or useful for producing the vaccine. The only argument that I've heard in favor of keeping some samples around which isn't totally loony, and this is a recent development, is that genetics manipulation has reached the point where artificially creating something comparable isn't insurmountably difficult anymore. So smallpox is less of a threat, basically by obsolescence. As this is a recent state of affairs however, this does not justify holding onto it as they have for the last few decades.

Comment: Re:The problem is... (Score 4, Informative) 174

That is not the argument. I don't know what the argument is, but it can't be that - it doesn't make any sense. If we voluntarily destroy all our samples, and some other nation doesn't, then there will be that much less smallpox. This is a valuable goal in itself, even if it doesn't mean that the virus has been completely eradicated.

No one who wasn't literally insane would try to use smallpox as a weapon, the infection would inevitably spread back to the country which initiated it, and the idea that we would need samples of our own to retaliate is preposterous. For one thing, the entire premise of this scenario is that this other country has just given us all the samples that we could possibly want. For another, we still have tons and tons of missiles and bombs just sitting there, looking for a way to justify all of the money that we paid for them.

Comment: Re:First world problems.... (Score 1) 305

by guises (#47509693) Attached to: Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same
Could you elaborate on the substantial reduction in titles? I've recently moved to a rural area without the broadband that I'd need for streaming and have been thinking about Netflix's disc service. The other things I've heard of, but why would they reduce the number of titles that they offer?

Comment: I don't buy this "solution" of his (Score 5, Funny) 287

by guises (#47500851) Attached to: Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

So my solution is still essentially the same as what I proposed after trashing the Stratosphere: Some Consumer-Reports-type outlet should rate phones on a Stupid S*#t Index (along with speed, reception, etc.), based on how much stupid s*#t they run into in a week of typical usage.

It sure sounds like he's talking about Consumer Reports here. But the solution already exists, and he got burned anyway, so maybe the real solution is complaining about it on Slashdot. That gets things done.

Comment: Re:it is the wrong way... (Score 1) 288

by guises (#47481735) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax
I'm confused by your question. What exactly do they do with the taxes? They pay down the debt, they fund infrastructure, they fund education, they fund the military, they fund the arts, they fund research, etc, etc... Most of all, for this case, they fund the environmental clean up and disaster relief resulting from the pollution. What is the confusion here?

Comment: What is the basis for the infinite universe? (Score 1) 202

by guises (#47446093) Attached to: How Deep Does the Multiverse Go?

Sure, there's probably more Universe just like ours that's unobservable,

This has come up before, and I ended up in an extended conversation with someone who was absolutely insistent that the universe was infinite. But he wasn't able to actually explain this. I don't see the basis for this assumption and I can't understand why it seems to be so widespread, is this some new(ish) theory that I haven't heard of? It's my understanding that the universe, as we currently know it (in other words the area effected by the big bang), extends only a few hundred thousand light years beyond the point of last scattering. Further, since the observable universe is slightly larger than last scattering, whatever may be beyond what we can see is unlikely to be familiar.

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 1) 178

by guises (#47429715) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted
The problem with "publish or perish" isn't the fact that scientists have to eventually share their results, it's the volume of publishing that's expected which gets in the way of actual work. When a scientist has a data set and the first thought is "How many papers can I get out of this?" it's an indication that something is wrong.

Comment: Re:better than what we have now (Score 3, Interesting) 249

Well, you could have phrased that a little better... I do think it's odd that a Superman costume would be so integral to this monument when the only suggestion that the kid cared about Superman at all was a single comment by his abusive father.

Random Stranger who's organizing this didn't know the kid at all... which is itself also rather odd. Monuments like this aren't for the dead, after all, they're for the living, those who still remember and care about the people who have passed, and Random Stranger never knew this kid. Random Stranger doesn't know the first thing about his personality. Why is it so important to Random Stranger whether or not the statue is dressed like Superman?

Comment: Re:Not a dime from me (Score 1) 117

by guises (#47387183) Attached to: Lessig's Mayday PAC Scrambling To Cross Crowd Funding Finish Line
Try looking at it this way: the 2012 election cost our economy just shy of $2 billion. If we do it through the voucher system, one of Mayday's proposed solutions, we can set that amount to whatever we like. Say $200 million, roughly the same as funded through FECA. That's a dramatic improvement in efficiency.

Now how you see that depends on your attitude towards money: the efficient method comes out of taxes (partially paid for by you), while the inefficient method is paid by third parties. In other words, the cost of the election in the inefficient case effects you indirectly rather than directly. As long as you are in any way connected to this economy though, you would feel it.

Comment: Re: If you take the bait (Score 2) 117

by guises (#47386445) Attached to: Lessig's Mayday PAC Scrambling To Cross Crowd Funding Finish Line
The grandparent was talking about some kind of fictional first-past-the-post campaign funding system that no one has proposed. You are saying that the voucher system will give a massive advantage to incumbents. Could you explain your position? Vouchers are given by voters to the candidates of their choosing - how does this give an advantage to incumbents?

Comment: Re:Not a dime from me (Score 1) 117

by guises (#47386419) Attached to: Lessig's Mayday PAC Scrambling To Cross Crowd Funding Finish Line
"Allegedly" is right. The level of rhetoric here is nuts: Mayday's stated goal is to change the way that campaigns are funded such that each person (voter) can contribute equally to the campaigns of their choice. This is in opposition to the current method, where each person can contribute an amount limited only be their means, giving drastically more influence (or speech, as the supreme court sees it) to those of significant means.

There is no group being oppressed here, though I'm starting to think that these common sense campaigns could do better by taking some sort of crazy position like that. It's all that people hear nowadays.

Comment: Re:It isn't irony (Score 1) 148

by guises (#47379357) Attached to: Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions About His Mayday PAC (Video)

So, apparently, it is ok if someone can pay for such airtime out of his own pocket, but not if twenty people pool their pockets to pay for it.

Is this one of those, "If you can't do everything perfectly then you shouldn't do anything at all?" It's true that McCain-Feingold only dealt with corporations. It's true that it was not the end-all of campaign finance reform. So what? The law still had a big impact, and a positive one if you're someone who cares about the corrupting influence of money. Soft-money spending (outside organizational spending) tripled between the 2008 and 2012 elections.

Your concern about "the rich guy" getting heard where the paupers contributing to Citizens United are ignored is misplaced - they're all rich guys. PACs are for rich people and no one else. Anyone with less than $5,000 to contribute just gives it directly to the candidate's campaign. Further, your implication that corporate political spending is just a bunch of like-minded people pooling their money is ridiculous. If I work for Comcast does that mean that I hate anti-trust law and net neutrality? When Comcast spends the tens of millions of dollars that it spends on politics, is it representing me or is it representing just the few people at the top who control how the company spends its money?

Yes, McCain-Feingold blocked spending by non-profits and unions as well as for-profit companies. Some few of those might have been groups with legitimate political interests as you describe. Doubtless those just told their members to make political contributions directly, thereby ensuring that their members still had their speech intact. And if the organization itself can't speak? Companies don't (shouldn't) have first amendment rights.

Ultimately the best argument against the Citizens United decision is to simply look at its consequences - the vast leap in political spending, with so much of it from completely unaccountable anonymous donors.

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann