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Comment: Re:Well there's the problem... (Score 1) 188

by jwdb (#49777055) Attached to: Court Orders UberPop Use To Be Banned In All of Italy

They are both possible and actual outcomes of unregulated taxis.

It's worth pointing out that they're outcomes due to a lack of very different kinds of regulation. 500 taxis vying for the same fare is a result of not limiting their number, whereas 30 in an 8-person van is a result of not enforcing safety and quality standards. You could scrap the limits while still enforcing quality standards, which would put more taxis on the road without endangering people. Enforcing standards would also help somewhat with the overcrowding, as not everyone would be able to just suddenly become a taxi - gotta make sure you're up to spec, and such.

Comment: Re: Mixed reaction (Score 1) 319

by jwdb (#49737167) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

I can start building a system outside their control here and now?

Because that would be a very concrete and definite violation of the social contract, much more clearly so than the nebulous accusations made against government and corporations earlier in this thread, and it's therefore in my best interest to stop you.

You can't expect to declare the contract invalid and not abide by it but still get the benefits, i.e. the basic protections of living in that society, among many others. That's parasitism.

Comment: Re: Mixed reaction (Score 1) 319

by jwdb (#49728983) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

Right, because there are so many places to move without a social contract. Yes, Somalians have a social contract with local warlords.

Didn't say that. If you want a place without social contract, you'll either have to find somewhere empty or conquer somewhere occupied, all by yourself.

Oh, sorry, you're only an armchair libertarian, and you want someone to just give you such a space? Hah! Well, I want a pony.

No one owes you an easy choice in this matter. If you set yourself outside of society, don't expect them to lift a finger for you.

Comment: Re: Mixed reaction (Score 1) 319

by jwdb (#49728297) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

The "social contract" is an outrageous fantasy, that someone else can trade your freedoms on your behalf before you were even born.

Someone else did not, as you're always free to end the contract and leave the society. I'm betting you don't want to, however, as despite it's flaws that contract is pretty good.

Comment: Re:One small problem (Score 1) 509

by jwdb (#49727631) Attached to: What To Say When the Police Tell You To Stop Filming Them

Life outweighs action.

Why? Is life any more valuable than freedom of action? On what basis? If life is always more valuable, why have people ever given their life, say to fight for freedom?

And who decided which right outweighs which? If you leave it to individuals, you're stuck with the same contradiction again.

Then you should review its definition. Whether you believe in them or not, they can't be taken away from you.

Just because it's written in a book doesn't make it reality. Yes you can define the concept of inalienable rights as an abstract, but doesn't mean any actually exist.

Or, to phrase it differently, can you show that the right to life is inalienable? It clearly isn't for anything not considered a person, so what makes us different?

Comment: Re:See it before (Score 1) 276

by jwdb (#49667439) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Future of Desktop Applications?

Servers are a little different of course, but even here people are frequently running VMs these days so they have a full Linux environment to themselves; the big exception I can think of is ultra-cheap shared web hosting, and there the capabilities available to users are limited.

Research number crunchers are another exception. The ones I've used in the past tend to be a shared resource with multiple people running jobs on them at the same time. Yes, it would be nice if you could have your own custom install with exactly the libraries you want, etc.., but then it would be hell for anyone else who then tries to run your software and replicate your work outside of your exact environment.

Comment: Re: One small problem (Score 1) 509

by jwdb (#49650821) Attached to: What To Say When the Police Tell You To Stop Filming Them

The owner of the room is, therefore, responsible because he did not provide proper training or had too many people in the room.

Why is the owner responsible for providing training, but the speaker not responsible for the consequences of an action he knows will lead to injuries, possibly death? An action that can only be mischievous or malicious in intent, despite it in theory being a right?

To be clear, I'm talking about someone yelling fire when there isn't actually a fire.

Comment: Re:Someone pissed they didn't get hired? (Score 1) 296

by jwdb (#49650783) Attached to: A Visual Walk Through Amazon's Impact On One Seattle Neighborhood

Actually, the article by Dominic Holden about "apodments" that Reifman links to is quite interesting: discusses tiny ~250 ft apartments, the few valid problems they have, and the nimbyism against them that's gotten way out of proportion. Long, but worth a read.

Comment: Re:One small problem (Score 1) 509

by jwdb (#49641813) Attached to: What To Say When the Police Tell You To Stop Filming Them

So, let's discuss the first example...

Society does not have the right to protect itself from dangerous individuals. Individuals have the right to this. In order to achieve these goals, individuals have empowered their government to protect their right to life and property.

Any scenario in which society is defending itself against an individual A can probably be reduced to one where society is the agent of one individual B defending themselves against A, I'll give you that. This is not always clear-cut, however: it may be a question of a contradiction between A and B's rights, for instance in the commonly-cited example of yelling fire in a theater. If you view things as it being purely about the individual, how do you resolve this kind of conflict? Why is A's right to free speech less important than B's right to life? You probably can't get them to agree, but if it's all down to the individual, then society has no right to step in and resolve the discussion for them.

But, more importantly, I don't think it makes sense to define things so narrowly. Society can be reduced to its individuals because in the end it's solely composed of and defined by a collection individuals. But in a similar vein, a person is only composed of cells, so why do we speak about the rights of a person and not of individual cells? What's so special about the particular level of organization that corresponds to one individual human? Society - Human - Cell - Chemical... each is an ordered cooperative of lower elements, so what makes human the unique one that deserves rights above all others?

To put it differently, I don't believe in inalienable rights, for the same reason that I don't believe in absolutes. I think the set of rights the US has is a very good one, but I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to call them the truth, the best, or the everlasting.

Same argument applies to any of the examples we're discussing.

Comment: Re:One small problem (Score 1) 509

by jwdb (#49640107) Attached to: What To Say When the Police Tell You To Stop Filming Them

While a society may not have natural rights in as far as its interactions with individuals, individuals most certainly have obligations towards the society that they live in, which is effectively the same thing. For instance, society has the "right" to protect itself from dangerous individuals, be they external or internal, which is why we mandate vaccines, lock up criminals, go to war, etc. Society has the right to demand that its members contribute, which usually takes the form of taxes. Society has the right to decide who becomes a member, which is why not every person on this planet is automatically an American citizen. I'm sure you can come up with other examples.

These are all rights that you as an individual grant society when you chose to join it, as they are essential to running a society. Don't grant these rights, and you won't be a member long.

I have rights, society doesn't. Society is built to protect the rights of the individuals.

That's really only the view of American society. Societies worldwide have a wide spectrum of views on this, finding their own balance between the individual and the group.

Comment: Re:Marijuana's capacity to REVEAL TRUTH (Score 1) 291

by jwdb (#49466639) Attached to: Cannabis Smoking Makes Students Less Likely To Pass University Courses

Widespread legal ownership of firearms is a problem when there's practically no restrictions on who can own a gun. Did you see the recent study saying that almost 1 in 10 Americans both own a gun and self-report aggressive, impulsive behavior? In that society the old or infirm don't worry about predators, they're too busy worrying about bumping into some hothead and getting shot in response.

Comment: Re:No they don't (Score 1) 226

by jwdb (#49375203) Attached to: Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space

What on earth are you talking about? It most certainly works, as in there's absolutely no impediment to beaming power down from space - it's what the sun does. The only thing your article shows is that if you use the same size solar array in space as you do on earth, and for a given loss (which I can't find in that source it links), you get less power over their lifetime. Given a fixed number of collectors it may be more efficient to deploy them on earth, but that doesn't imply it doesn't work.

As for why you might want solar cells in space anyway, just off the top of my head consider:

  • That land is a precious resource, and if the population keeps growing in the long run it will be more economical to put those cells in orbit rather than on land.
  • That there's a lot more space up at 36,000 km, so you can have a lot more cells than down on earth, and a higher total power generation.

Comment: Re:Wireless charging hit mainstream ~ 1-2 years ag (Score 2) 184

by jwdb (#49256279) Attached to: Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard


  • - Each iPhone charger would have a loss of 2 W
  • - There's over a billion iPhones sold, so let's estimate that a third of those are still in circulation. That ignores iPods, other smartphones, tablets, and whatever else you might want to charge wirelessly.
  • - I would estimate a typical modern smartphone phone needs an hour of charge per day

2 W * (1/24) * 3e8 = 25 MW

That's an extra gas turbine, small wind farm, or similar, just to compensate for the losses of chargers, and not taking into account the fact that the peak power draw going to loss could be as high as 600 MW, or almost a fission-plant's worth.

Or, we could all not be lazy and just plug the damn things in.

Comment: Re:Price Controls? (Score 1) 279

by jwdb (#49221247) Attached to: California's Hot, Dry Winters Tied To Climate Change

Problem is, that arid climate happens to be where the good sun and soil is. I just moved from wet Northern Europe to arid Southern California, and it's amazing how much longer the growing season is here. Maybe they could grow somewhere else where there's more water, but colder temperatures and less sun would probably lead to a drop in productivity.

I'm actually more incensed by the casual wasting of water I see here - sprinklers on during a rain storm, for instance.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz