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Comment: Re: Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

I'll admit that the 21 is probably unsupportable. I'll also agree that legislating via route A instead of unconstitutional route B is sub-optimal. The question then becomes, "why is route A valid, but route B not?" I don't know that answer, because I'm not a constitutional lawyer.

In any case, forcing all laws to be supported by some set of reproducible research would solve many problems. If this law doesn't improve outcomes in some fashion, it's not useful, and shouldn't be added. I guess "quality" is what I would hope the government would strive for.

Comment: Re:Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

Am I correct that your concern is the corruption of Congress, as they are the ones who write the laws? I'm trying to understand, and be sure you're not claiming that all government employees are corrupt. Since members of Congress are elected locally, I'm unclear how this would be helped. Campaign finance seems to be the most obvious place where such issues would take place. Would you agree that having an organized election system, where each candidate presents a set of views, and have that funded equally to ensure fairness would eliminate the appearance of corruption that exists now? Alternatively, do you believe that unrestricted campaigns would be better?

I also don't see where you read me as being against self-determination. People are free to do what they want. That's the point of equality of opportunity. Affirmative action attempts to provide that on a racial basis, under the assumption that college acceptance is biased. That was clearly the case in the past, and has improved over time. Should it be permanent? Of course not, but where making a cereal commercial with an interracial couple causes outrage (as was the case last year) suggests that racism is still a problem.

I will now gloss over the rest of that paragraph, as I can't see a common theme. Yes, human rights are universal. Yes, they should therefore be applied universally. I don't see where I claimed otherwise. Just because I support the current administration doesn't mean that they're without flaws.

Continuing: research. Figure out the solution beforehand. The world is not a series of unforeseeable random attacks. You can figure out how things will work before you try them. It's convenient that you bring up the ACA, as this is an example of attempting to solve a problem (uninsured citizens) by doing something (everyone needs insurance now) and then offsetting problems (insurance companies get new members, but can no longer discriminate. Some people are too poor to afford insurance, so use the tax breaks and existing medicaid system to cover them at lower cost). It's already doing exactly as it was designed to do: get more coverage to more people. People no longer have to go without preventative treatment because they're afraid of what they might find. Isn't this a good thing?

The NSA spying story is something where my actual response was, "didn't we already know this?" Is it ideal? No, but I also don't see this as the beginning of internment camps for everyone. Why? Because it's impractical. Step A: everyone goes into camps. Step B: ? Why? The government doesn't really benefit from that. The evil corporations don't benefit from that. Banksters don't benefit. So, if no one benefits (except some hypothetical God-King that has decreed this), then why assume it'll happen? What to do about it? Shut it down, and if it were a perfect world, send people to jail. Is this the greatest concern right now? Not when Congress wants to cut SNAP funding by $5e9. That will hurt people now. Although your concerns on the NSA are justified, they are not hurting people now, and do not justify hurting more people in the name of "freedom."

For your final list, how do you fix that? Do you try to elect new members of Congress that are not beholden to external interests, and more interested in governing than voting 40+ times to stop a single program that might help people, or do you claim that the whole system is broken, and must be burned down to the ground and destroyed? When your car runs out of gas or gets a flat tire, do you push it off the road and set it ablaze? Besides, why not talk about government programs that work? Hurricane relief, the interstate road system, college grants, the head start program ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... ), NASA, Social Security, the TVA, NIH, etc.

Comment: Re:Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

Where did I say "we can't trust the stupid people"? Do you take a poll of your neighbors to see how to rewire your house, or do you call an electrician? You call an expert because they've studied the field, and know how it works. I don't see any way that this is "the modern left." It's common sense. If you have a problem about X, you find an X-ologist to tell you more about it. If you don't think this is the obvious way to do things, then I'm sorry, but you're simply wrong.

A complex system can be sorted out to find a decent optimum. I'm not going to claim that the Hessian of the entire political and economic world is beautifully negative semidefinite, so there's a unique best solution. However, I will claim that there must be a better solution, because poverty exists, because not all children have satisfactory nutrition, because unemployment is high, and because I have eyes and can see the problems that exist. Therefore, if these issues were mitigated, then the system is in a better state. I claim that doing something that moves closer to that better state is better than not doing that thing. It seems morally obvious. What objection do you have to this? Is it simply that you may need to pay more in taxes than you do now? Is it that you've somehow lost some intangible concept of "freedom"?

I cannot see that the current government is somehow a scheming bastion of corruption and totalitarianism. This is not Middle Earth, you are not Aragorn, The Government is not Sauron. Setting things up in such tones makes it impossible to have actual discussions on how to improve things.

Is the government perfectly efficient? No. Because it's made of people, and people make mistakes.

Comment: Re:Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

by kinthalas (#46116963) Attached to: Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

I would like any evidence that the first paragraph is correct. State governments are not magically immune to the influence of lobbyists. See the governors of VA, NJ, (ex-)IL for examples of this. Corruption and mismanagement are problems, but claiming that the way to defeat government corruption is to break the government into so many pieces it'd be impossible to corrupt them all sounds too much like King Solomon's solution.

As for local values, I would argue that allowing that to define laws is insanity. Are people citizens of the same country? If so, then they all should be dealt with identically, regardless of who they are, what they believe, or even more so, who their neighbors are and what they believe. Things like gay marriage seem to obviously fall into an equal-protection concept that personal religious beliefs shouldn't influence. Marijuana is different, in that the laws prohibiting it are based on questionable science from nearly a hundred years ago. Research the issue, determine the health risks, and then legalize/tax/whatever as necessary.

On competition, what do you propose to do with states that find a bad solution? A state that must repair roads yearly because they don't work as planned, or a state that has terrible educational outcomes, or a state with persistent poverty. Are they to be doomed forever because of this failing? Do you point out that they should have done better fifty years ago, but you're sorry that you can't prop them up anymore? Are the citizens there to move to another state, further depressing the economic base and resources until the state is empty?

There's no reason to "pray and hope" for a good outcome from some disconnected ruling class. You fund government agencies with tasks. "Figure out how to make better roads", "see if this plant really is dangerous to people", "put that man onto that moon, then bring him back so I can shake his hand". You then hire experts in the field to solve the tasks, and then they write up how to do it. Then, you fold that knowledge into the system. Finally, the trickiest bit of all: you don't stop. "Figure out how to make the roads better still", "see if that other plant is dangerous to people", "put that man onto that Mars, then bring him back so I can shake his hand". Things won't always work perfectly, but I can't possibly imagine how having a large entity spending money to solve problems is a bad idea.

Urban sprawl is a product of many things, and having interstates that promoted easy travel to city cores from suburbs is part of that, but the benefits of interstates definitely outweigh the problems. Although urban planning could have had better leaders than Robert Moses, the concept of urban planning is not a problem.

The government does have to obey economics, but the economics of the world's largest economy are not the same as the economics of your family, your city, or your state. Attempting to fit it with those economics is incorrect, and constrains the options unnecessarily. I also fail to see how non-obvious problems is something you should fear in this way. All choices have effects, and you can only try to minimize them based on the knowledge you have. Pushing the problem to the state level brings me back to my questions of how to deal with failures.

Comment: Re:Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

by kinthalas (#46116771) Attached to: Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

I would like to know of the laws and unfunded mandates that the federal government uses over highway funding. The only one I could think of was the NMSL ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... ), but that's been repealed for nearly 20 years now.

I will agree that there are anarchists that are willing to give up roadbuilding, but I believe they are largely centered on the right wing of Congress, who refuse to fund infrastructure upgrades. I believe they claim that all government funding needs to be stopped to prevent some catastrophic debt burden, despite the projected debt not actually exploding ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... ) and current interest rates for federal debt being at historically low levels ( http://finance.yahoo.com/echar...; ).

On the second part, my response would be "So do research." Just take a portion of the money, build roads in different ways, and see which are the most durable/safest/cost effective. It'll be different in different places, so you probably have to do the research in multiple places to cover weather variations, but you just do it. Then, get this: you share that information with everyone. You don't need to have each state blindly try things.

Competition is not the solution to all problems. You don't need to run a complex Monte Carlo test to figure out how to fit a line to some data. You can use math to figure that out. Similarly, you don't need to have everyone come up with their best ideas and experiment on actual things people use everyday. You can do research to figure that out beforehand.

Comment: Re:Different from the NSA (Score 1) 264

by kinthalas (#46116325) Attached to: Federal Agency Data-Mining Hundreds of Millions of Credit Card Accounts

Why are states optimal? Is it because 50-200+ years ago, this patch of geography was chosen to be grouped together? How does this imply that all states have the resources necessary for their own road building? By directing those funds at the federal level, you can average out those differences, and ensure that if you drive across the country, you don't have to deal with roads of different quality. This should then allow equal benefits from interstate commerce. The same argument applies for a common social safety net, as you then can minimize the differences in poverty/health/nutrition in a way that doesn't require all states to have identical resources per citizen.

But there's this constant push to decentralize things, and "let the states handle this" so they offer different things, and solve things via competition. Why would you want competition between states? Who benefits from something like that? How many companies do you know that construct teams to work on identical problems in competition? What would happen if you did that? You'd get something like Sears ( http://www.businessweek.com/ar... ), where because of the competition, you have parts of the company actively opposing other parts to receive resources, causing the entire thing to lose out.

Not everything is a scheme to force Stalin-like five year plans on the nation. Not everything is a slippery slope to totalitarianism.

Comment: Re:What can they learn? (Score 4, Informative) 267

by kinthalas (#45041303) Attached to: What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov

It's not a challenge at all. Texas does it. We're required by our state constitution to have a balanced budget, and we only let our legislature meet for 150 days every other year. The result: once they are in session, they're working to hammer out the new budget and fix the real problems, instead of constantly being in session feeling the need to legislate something, messing things up, and wrecking the economy.

Yeah. They never feel the need to legislate something, right? Only work to fix the real problems? They'd never decide that they needed a bit of extra time to legislate something just because they felt the need, right?

I'll just leave this here for people who maybe aren't absolute morons:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Davis_(politician)#2013_filibuster

Space

+ - Annual Meteor Shower Joined By Planetary Alignment

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "The planets' get-together is going to happen on August 12 or 13 after sunset. Venus, Mars and Saturn align with crescent Moon popping out of the western twilight before the Perseid meteor shower, which is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle.The planets' get-together is going to happen on August 12 or 13 after sunset. Venus, Mars and Saturn align with crescent Moon popping out of the western twilight before the Perseid meteor shower, which is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. On August 10, Venus Mars and Saturn will form a near isosceles triangle, with Venus securing the bottom, Mars to the upper left and Saturn to the upper right. A thin crescent moon will be joining just below the planets on August 12. On Friday, Moon will have jumped to the left of the planets and moved higher in the sky."

+ - Human Rights Groups Join Criticism of WikiLeaks-> 1

Submitted by e065c8515d206cb0e190
e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) writes "Several human rights organizations contacted Wikileaks and pressed them to do a better job at hiding information that endangers civilians from their leaked documents. Wikileaks editor Julian Assange issued a strong rebuke. From the article:

Mr. Assange then replied: "I'm very busy and have no time to deal with people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses. If Amnesty does nothing I shall issue a press release highlighting its refusal," according to people familiar with the exchange.

"

Link to Original Source

+ - Sharpie creates Liquid Pencil -permanent in 3 days->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Sharpie has managed to flip what we all know about a pencil on its head. Your typical pencil is made of hard graphite and can easily be erased. Not so with the new Sharpie pencil, it is liquid and becomes permanent.

Something that writes like a pencil but can’t be erased isn’t that useful as you could just use a pen. But there’s a clever twist to Sharpie’s invention. The liquid pencil can be erased just like a normal pencil for up to three days. After that it is permanent."

Link to Original Source

+ - SSD vs. HDD Benchmarks for the Relational Database->

Submitted by VValdo
VValdo (10446) writes "When it comes to SSD performance, it seems most people focus on how fast Windows 7 boots up or how quickly Photoshop loads. That's all well and good, but how do SSDs compare with traditional hard drives in a server application like Postgresql? Here's someone who did actual benchmarks, and the results were fairly dramatic."
Link to Original Source
Science

+ - Bats May be Facing Extinction-> 1

Submitted by gpronger
gpronger (1142181) writes "the Scientist reports that brown bats, at least on a regional basis are threatened by extinction due to the "".White Nose Symdrome. This disease attacks the animal during hibernation where large numbers of bats congregate to over winter. The disease is believed to be caused by a fungus called Geomyces destructans. Researchers have looked at the population declines in areas effected and were surprised to find in some regions the brown bat faces extinction in as as soon as 16 years. The journal Science carried the main article, the abstract is available without charge."
Link to Original Source

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