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Comment Re:The Onion had it right (Score 4, Interesting) 97 97

So at the end of the day: if these populations wish to enter the first world, the first step to take is to assert their ownership of the land they occupy on the continent, decide on their own borders

Bad borders are bad, but trying to redraw borders? That can be much, much worse.

One of the big rules in Africa (and pretty much everywhere) is you don't change national borders because that introduces massive stakes and is a recipe for wars and rebellion since every group decides they want their own country comprising of every bit of land they think their group is entitled to.

or (like other countries in the first world), abandon tribal identity so they progress on to greater things like indoor plumbing and medical research.

That's the solution but I think it's far from simple. Look at the US, there are two parties sharing a white Christian base and the political system has been deadlocked and dysfunctional for half a decade.

What do you think would happen if half the country was Protestant and the other half Muslim, or New Jersey was 50+% Italian descent, Michigan 50+% Nigerian, Texas 50+% Mexican, etc. Getting people to cooperate in a political system is not simple.

Comment Re:The Onion had it right (Score 4, Informative) 97 97

I'm sure that some people will still blame "colonialism", although that hasn't even been an issue for generations now.
  Even then, we've seen many other regions, like most of Europe, China, Japan, South Korea and even Vietnam, go from total devastation due to war to modern societies capable of producing such research, over roughly the same period of time. Why isn't Africa progressing when so many other nations, often with much fewer resources and far less support, and coming from a much worse situation, managed to turn things around?

Colonialism is still a huge issue because the colonial borders are still in place, the borders were designed to keep them weak by putting rival tribes in the same country.

In Europe and Asia a government can get reasonable levels of support across most of the country because they figure they're all on the same side, so you get investment in the future and a generally functional society.

But in Africa it's really hard to develop a country when a government can never get real support outside of their ethnic group, everyone ends up playing a zero-sum game and you end up with corruption and violence. All that's going to fix it is a lot of time until African's start thinking of themselves as primarily members of their country and not of a tribe.

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

You're implying that we just killed a quarter million people with no context, reason, and that we did so intentionally.

No I didn't, I was doing it in the context of the Iraq war where they're understood to be excess deaths.

You're also attributing all deaths to our actions when the responsibility has to be spread around to include the taliban, various terrorist sponsors, and natural forces like famine etc that kill people without any direct human volition.

I glibly dismiss the question because it isn't intellectually valid.

If you want to talk about death tolls in war zones we can do that. But laying all the death's at our feet like we intentionally killed all those people, had no reason to in, and we are solely responsible is invalid.

It's a standard methodology. Over the period X deaths would normally be expected instead Y occur, Z=X-Y is roughly the number of excess deaths attributable to your actions. You're not as nearly guilty as someone who pulled the trigger but in a debate of whether an act contributed to the greater good the fact remains that Z lives were lost due to that act is completely relevant.

Wrong, we tried to actually rehabilitate Russia. We would not have funded their space program or made so many diplomatic gestures if we wanted to treat them like an enemy.

There was even serious talk about inviting them into NATO.

As to surrounding them with enemies... all we wanted to do was secure the self determination of past victims of their aggression. Our intention was not to threaten Russia but to give other nations a chance at freedom, modernity, and prosperity.

NATO was an alliance formed to counter Russia, it's easy to see why inviting former Warsaw pact members into NATO would be viewed as a hostile act.

So your suggestion when NATO members invoke our aid to deal with a relevant operation in their territory and put diplomatic pressure on the US to provide logistical and tactical support... we should do nothing?

It's not just the conflict itself but the internal dialogue. You don't think other countries are listening when presidential candidates talk about invading other countries like it's no big deal?

As to the legitimacy of Israel... it is no less legitimate than any other power in the middle east.

I didn't say it was illegitimate, I said that its creation was a legitimate target for criticism as a very ugly form of colonialism (lets treat the land owned by these brown people like they're not even there and let some white Europeans settle it). And their current settlement policy is so indefensible I don't know that I've actually seen anyone ever defend it.

What nation do you hail from?


As to innocent people getting killed in a war... that is not unique to the drone strike.

As to collateral damage ratios... we spend more money and effort avoiding collateral damage than any other power in world history.

In WWII the axis powers inflicted a 3-1 civilian-military death ratio, and that includes the holocaust.

The 10-1 ratios in drone strikes that I cited, which are the only decent estimate I could find, are not something to brag about.

And even if they were lower than usual they're only acceptable if the acts themselves are necessary, I find it dubious that these actors in other countries are particularly legitimate terrorist threats.

What is also plain to me is that our heart strings are being played upon here. You say what you think will effect us emotionally and psychologically.

Were I a soulless monster you would not be telling me these things. You cite civilian causalities because you know it effects me and you know I care.

See, I am aware of myself. I don't cite this becuase I don't care but because I make a point of stepping outside myself and getting the bigger picture. You are attempting to manipulate me with pathos.

I don't like it when people use arguments on me that are designed to work on a child or a peasant. I am neither.

Re-read what I said, I wasn't 'm not appealing to your heart strings, I was talking about the bigger picture.

The drone strikes are counterproductive because of the ill-will they inflict by causing mass collateral damage.

In war, you use the best tools your people have to execute the missions. Our enemies have large numbers of deluded religious zealots. I will not casually sacrifice my own soldiers just so you feel some "fair" ratio of kills to deaths is met.

Ideally I want 100 percent of the enemy dead to 0 US soldiers lost. That is my ideal in war.

Many of the people upset with the US use of drones wants something like a 1:1 ratio of US dead to enemy dead. I completely and categorically reject that as being an acceptable goal.

Anything that improves the US K/D ratio in combat without other serious and reasonable issues should be employed. If we send our people to war, we owe it to them to give them the best chance to complete their missions and come home to enjoy the peace.

If we can use killer robots that will engage the radicals largely mitigating US troop losses... then I will do it.

You're still missing the point I'm talking about... which is kind of my point in arguing against the drones and autonomous weapons.

It's not just US dead vs enemy dead. It's US dead vs all the different categories of people who are killed or harmed by military action. Because you dehumanize the enemy (not a criticism, just human nature) you don't really give those other people the proper weight and are way too eager to deploy military force.

The point of having US military personnel in harms way isn't to have them harmed, it's to have people realize their at risk and so give some consideration as to whether the conflict is actually worth it.

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

""Afghanistan there's possibly in the range of 250K deaths, and a lot of the country is still under Taliban rule.""
I'm not seeing a problem.

Seriously? A quarter million dead people and you don't see a problem? I'm going to hope that's just short hand for "oh it's terrible but it's worth the cost for the part of the country that's more free than before".

This presupposes that the Russian empire would not seek to restore past territory at some point in the future.

There's other ways to protect against that, principally not treating Russia like an enemy to contained.

The assumption was that it was safe to treat Russia like a potential enemy and surround then with NATO forces because they wouldn't dare thwart American power. Clearly that was not the case, Putin turned hostile, and Ukraine is now paying the price.

That war was predominantly desired by the Europeans and not the Americans. Our assistance was invoked by the French etc because they lack the logistics to project power even so far as north africa without our support.

I'm not sure what you're laying at our feet here. What did you want the US to do?

Possibly not get involved.

I admit it's not easy to see an atrocities and simply let it progress, I was partially in favour of a Libya intervention and I'd probably decide the same way over again, but helping is a lot harder than dropping some bombs so the "good guys" win and it's hard to see what the destabilization might do.

Read the rhetoric coming out of people that are highly critical of US middle east policy and it often gets anti Semitic. When it comes from middle easterners it is guaranteed to get anti Semitic but shockingly you'll see that out of French and English people as well. Its kind of sad.

There's definitely antisemitism, though it's ironic that you're mentioning it after that response to 250k dead Afghanis.

But there's also a lot of very legitimate criticism of how the Israeli state came to exist and how it's acted over the last 40 years, especially with regards to the settlements, that has nothing to do with antisemitism.

As to your experience... I'll refer you to your line about people not understanding their own misdeeds. You don't really know why you're saying things sometimes. You don't see the layers of influence and supposition in it all.

Possibly, but so far I'm doubtful you have better insight into my motivations on this subject.

As to drone strikes... its a weapon and a tool. No more capable of creating a terrorist than a pistol shot to the back of someone's head. They're not going away. Get use to them.

As to the notion that killing one terrorist leads to 5 more. Not in our experience. They tend to come from places that have no family connection to the person being killed. The reason person X becomes a terrorist is almost never because we killed his friend or his brother or something. Typically they're radicalized somewhere and they would have come or done something no matter what because they were radicalized.

I'm not talking about the dead terrorists, I'm talking about all the innocent civilians getting killed around them.

Would you find it acceptable to kill ten Americans to kill one terrorist? There's a very clear message that the lives of those Muslims don't really matter, it's not hard to see how that message would create a lot more Muslim terrorists.

Comment Open Source and Mobile Apps (Score 1) 339 339

With so much moving to mobile devices and applications I wonder about the state of open source on those platforms and how developers can make a living while writing open source mobile apps.

The ads and sales that most mobile apps use to generate revenue aren't really an option for open source apps. Does that mean developers have to rely on a donations or are there other ways they can fund their work?

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

Ok weird thing, I thought I had sent the AC post but that was actually just some random AC. I got an email for your reply, it just brought up the thread, I saw your response to the AC and thought it was your response to me (I assumed I'd be logged out and posted AC).

Either way since you took time to respond to the AC I'll respond a bit on their behalf :)

As to gaining our "way" by using military force... first that doesn't go against our principles or we'd have talked to the Imperial Japanese and Nazis instead of bombing them into submission.

Actually you did mostly talk to them. The US came very late to both world wars. (though you did pretty much all the fighting against the Japanese).

But with Iran you engaged in the talk and it worked, you get a less hostile Iran with a lower chance of Nukes, the alternative was likely a Middle Eastern North Korea.

Furthermore, our "way" needs to be defined because there is this implication that we have some sort of secret or exclusive agenda that only profits us when really it is in support of the entire first world as defined by the original paradigm... aka our allies. This would include the entire EU, our middle eastern allies, our asian allies, our african allies, and our American allies. Our way is in the service of that interest which likely includes you. I don't know what country you're from but it is probably a first world country.

Canada, and I don't claim it's a secret agenda, it's just an observation that the US is a very bossy and aggressive country and diplomacy looks a lot like a demands for capitulation.

As to putting a gun against someone's head being anti democratic... our democracy didn't happen because we asked the British nicely to let us form a republic. We violently rebelled. This notion you're pushing that violence is inherently bad is simplistic and erroneous.

And being a Canadian we asked politely and got our freedom without any bloodshed :)

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

I'm not interested in talking about Iraq. Its a fucking whine at this point.

Sure, toss out Iraq.

Afghanistan there's possibly in the range of 250K deaths, and a lot of the country is still under Taliban rule.

The mid-2000 NATO expansion pissed off the Russians and is likely responsible for Putin's invasions of Georgia and Ukraine.

The Libya intervention brought about a civil war.

The US overthrew the moderate democratic rulers in Iran to install a dictator (which led to the Iranian revolution).

The US supported dictators over South America, supplied rebel groups and taught them how to torture.

The US is currently supporting dictators in the Middle East.

As to various nations not being happy with the US... the vast majority of that is either unhappiness that we stopped them from raping their neighbors or a mixture of envy/shame at someone being more powerful and a generous dose of ignorance as to how vital that power has been to the global status quo that everyone takes for granted.

Except in South America and the Middle East where the US supported the people who raped their neighbours

And his bias against the US was based on the belief that the US attacked Serbia for no reason in the Kosovo war and that his people were absolutely not genociding the Albanians.

The lesson there is people are blind to their own misdeeds.

Most of the anti US stuff boils down to something like that. And the thing is that the US gets that attitude no matter what we do. We go to war. People say they hate us. We don't go to war... and literally the same people say they hate us because we're not going to war.

Generally not in my experience. They want the US to be more cooperative and less dictorial with its influence. Drone strikes are a good example, you kill one terrorist and create five others.

As to the effectiveness of war... I disagree. War is extremely effective. Can politicians fuck it up after the military wins? Sure. Name something politicians can't fuck up? If you undermine the military victory by pulling forces out and abandoning the area after winning then... yeah... your victory isn't going to mean much because you've ceded all won territory by default to any other competing power which is likely to be the inevitable remnant of your enemy.

Beating armies is easy, the problem is when you have a population who doesn't really like you and doesn't share your objectives.

if the US had dropped the two atomic bombs on imperial japan and then just left... no occupation... no rewriting their constitution... no carefully sculpting their political environment for generations... then they could have just reverted immediately back to the imperial Japanese mindset.

Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. The fact Japan was very homogeneous helped.

And your citation of Vietnam or whatever else... you're ignoring that we won the battles and had the ability to dictate the nature of the societies but we ceded that by abandoning the area. Which was a political decision based on domestic political considerations and not a military decision.

You're assuming you had the ability to create the society, Vietnam isn't Japan and the Vietnamese may not have cooperated.

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

Since when is the enemy my responsibility as well?

How many true enemies did the US have in Iraq? Not everybody who dies because of US military action is an enemy.

Tell you what, you pay US taxes or fucking behave yourself at the very least as nation and I'll either regard you as someone that my country has to actually worry about or we likewise won't have a reason to show up.

You think we like to go to war? Fucking peasants.

I don't think you like going to war, but I do think you overestimate its effectiveness.

What did the Iraq war actually accomplish? Vietnam? Bosnia probably helped, though that combined with the NATO expansion inspired Russian aggression and Georgia and Ukraine are paying the price now.

Much of Afghanistan is better but in total war is incredibly destructive, it's very rare circumstances that it actually helps.

I can't wait until the US starts actually putting out of global affairs. The shocked looks on your stupid faces as you realize the US was actually doing something vital for you the whole time... I'll be giggling at your expense for the rest of my days.

I don't disagree that the US is generally a positive influence but I don't think you really understand how much hostility that aggressive attitude incurs.

Remember Americans aren't the only ones proud of their country or who think they should have influence, imagine you're not an American but you're an Iranian or Russian cheering for your side. You might hate your government, be all about free speech, democracy, and everything else you associate with the US. But when you see the arrogance that the US acts with on the international state you're going to find it very difficult to cheer for the US.

With your patriotism if you weren't an American I'd very much expect you'd hate the US.

Comment Re:Think like a soldier in the next war for a mome (Score 1) 296 296

So the soldier who no longer needs to go into battle is better off.

What about the civilians in the country you just invaded because politicians are no longer worried about getting blamed for dead soldiers?

The US already has a big problem with wars, almost all the costs are externalized.

From the Iraq war slightly less than 10,000 non-Iraqi coalition forces died.

But over 100,000 Iraqis died, perhaps over 500,000 or even 1,000,000 and their country is shattered.

These are costs that are barely registered in the US other than the fact that they create entities such as ISIS, and even they barely warrant notice except when they're threatening Americans.

If you're going to start a war you need some skin in the game, soldiers dying is a horrible tragedy but it that restrains the US from perpetrating far grander tragedies on a whim.

In the alternative universe where you have effective killbots they're now roaming the landscape over Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan. But they're also probably in Libya, Lebanon, Iran, and Gaza (Israel gets them too). It probably saves a few Americans (minor a handful from escalated terrorist attacks), but at the cost of many times that.

Comment Re:Is it possible? (Score 1) 296 296

Like the summary says, nuclear weapons require expensive and hard to obtain raw materials and a significant amount of technology not common in the civilian space. This is the only reason, IMHO, that nuclear proliferation treaties work as well as they do.

On the other hand a single nuke is very powerful and easy to conceal, which is why nuclear proliferation treaties are very tough to enforce.

But no one really cares if you have a dozen autonomous weaponized drones, that's not going to give you a decisive military edge and any more than that you won't be able to conceal.

How does this group expect governments to keep a lid on military tech that relies on ubiquitous technology found throughout the civilian economy?

Make it against international law, people will occasionally violate the law but they'll be only small instances. The real cause for concern is a large scale deployment and arms race which a law can stop.

Comment Re:Same likely holds true... (Score 1) 257 257

I'm guessing the vast majority of ad benefits come from impressions rather than clicks.

I don't think I've ever clicked on a movie ad, but I'm sure a lot of my movie choices come from movie ads.

Same thing for other products, the ads annoy you, but when you go to buy something the one you've seen the ad for suddenly looks a whole lot more credible and familiar.

Comment Re:I don't think it's a ho-hum (Score 2) 255 255

I think the biggest problem is that a two party system completely dumbs down the whole process of government and removes nuance. If you're pro-gun, you pretty much have to be a Republican and if you're pro-gay, you pretty much have to be a Democrat.

Remove the winner-take-all election contents and rather divide districts such that they elect several representatives from each district. This eventually leads to choices that don't exist along party lines and you can find a candidate that more closely represents your views (e.g., pro-gun, pro-gay, anti-abortion, pro-immigration, etc.) that has a reasonable chance at election.

Any changes that make it more difficult for political parties to operate would go a long way towards improving the country. Politicians would have to start voting their own mind, or better yet talking with their electorate, rather than simply falling into line with the party, and there would be less pandering to small, vocal parties that serve as important parts of the political parties' bases.

I think you've got it backwards.

In Canada the parties are far stronger than they are in the US and the individual MPs are almost irrelevant as they're simply expected to vote with their party, yet we seem to have a lot less of this kind of corruption and I don't think it's a coincidence.

Look at the emails, the guy was so compliant partly because he was relying on the MPAA for fund-raising, he's a state level politician dealing with the representative of the US media industry, of course he was playing ball. Just like if he was some individual legislator with a big group threatening to flood his district with money for his opponent, it's really easy for powerful interests to manipulate the government by picking off individual legislators.

If you make the parties stronger then the interests have to deal with the party instead of the legislator, and the parties are strong enough (and often incentivized) to tell the powerful interests to screw off.

Comment Re:Bed Nets (Score 0) 34 34

From the article:

Prof Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute, Oxford, said he was pleased and encouraged by the EMA's decision but added that the vaccine was not a "magic bullet".

He said: "A bed net is more effective than this vaccine, but nonetheless it is a very significant scientific achievement.

While research into a vaccine is great, why haven't we focused efforts on supplying bed nets for everyone? I'm assuming that they'll cost less than the vaccine per unit and they also have the advantage of being reused.

Why aren't the locals buying bed nets themselves?

Supposedly $5 gets you an insecticide treated bed net that's good for 2 years, I know we're talking about very poor people but that sounds like somewhere where'd I'd expect a local industry to pop up.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.