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Comment: Re:Fuck Twitter (Score 2) 451

There is a difference between censorship and refusing to allow a private forum to be a venue for objectionable speech. Free speech means you can set up a soapbox, a printing press, or your own website and say whatever crazy things you want without interference. It does NOT mean that I have to let you use MY private space, printing press, or website to say things I think are objectionable.

Comment: Common in the U.S. Too (Score 1) 98

by nealric (#49147409) Attached to: Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech
My 87 year old Grandfather recently got one of these calls. Fortunately, he is still very sharp and smelled a rat. They called and said "Hi, it's your grandson". He said, which one? They said, "you know, your Grandson!" and proceeded to come up with a story asking for money. Since my Grandfather has 11 grandchildren and 4 grandsons, that didn't exactly narrow things down. He figured it was a scam and hung up. But I worry that one day his mind won't be so sharp.

Comment: Lawyers (Score 1) 255

by nealric (#49137725) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken


What robots are doing is not replacing lawyers per-se, but making lawyers more productive (just like accountants, programmers, and a host of other white collar professions). It used to be (and still is to some extent) that in large lawsuits, you would need armies of lawyers just reviewing documents produced by the other side to see if they were relevant to the case. 90% of them would just be emails asking to go grab coffee, 9% would be tangentially related to the case, and 1% would actual be important to the case. The people who did this work were either junior associates or temporary "doc review" attorneys, who generally graduated from bottom of the barrel law schools and couldn't find more interesting work. Now, algorithms can sort out most of those irrelevant documents, leaving human attorneys to sort through only the tangentially relevant documents from the very relevant documents.

But while this allows fewer lawyers to handle more cases, it doesn't remove the fundamental need for lawyers. The only way a robot will handle substantive legal work, no matter how good the AI, will be if a robot has the same psychological impact on humans as another human. Would you rather a robot deliver the closing arguments in your murder trial or a human? Even if the words were the same, I imagine most people are far more likely to emotionally connect with a human. Even if we were to accept robot lawyers, the profession really boils down to politics and the weighing of the rights of different parties. If we ever get to the point we are comfortable with robots doing that, we will be at the point where ALL human professions are obsolete.

Comment: One-Way Street (Score 1) 333

by nealric (#48926225) Attached to: The discovery of intelligent alien life would be met predominantly with...

I voted indifference (really initial fascination, followed by indifference).

The most likely scenario for the discovery of intelligent life would be a program like SETI picking up a signal from a civilization hundreds of thousands or millions of light years away. Were there something closer, it's likely we would have picked up on it by now. There would be no way to actually communicate with the civilization, which would likely be long gone anyways by the time their signal reached us. Scientists would spend careers attempting to discern the meaning of the signals, but it's unlikely much useful information would be gleaned. After all, most broadcasts from earth amount to "I Love Lucy" reruns, and there's no reason to think the aliens would be any different.

Comment: Needs More Study (Score 2) 348

by nealric (#48855923) Attached to: Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day
I'm not convinced the sitting variable has been properly isolated. The people who get regular exercise but sit for long periods are mostly office workers. Perhaps it's the stress of an office job that is getting to these people rather than sitting. I also note that this "study" aggregated other studies. One of those studies defined excessive sitting as someone who watches more than five hours of television a day. I submit that anybody who watches more than five hours of television a day is suffering from depression or some other condition that would lead to doing such a thing.

Comment: Re:Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (Score 1) 441

by nealric (#48829583) Attached to: Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

Re: "Huge subsidies"

I am a tax attorney for a large independent oil producer. The amount to which the oil industry is subsidized (at least in the tax code) is often greatly exaggerated. The biggest tax provision that gets scored as a subsidy is expensing for intangible drilling costs. However, this provision really attempts to capture the economics of what is happening when an oil company drills a well. When you make a large capital investment, such as buying a machine, you get deductions spread out over a period of years. When you make small purchases, such as office supplies, or pay employees you get an immediate business expense deduction. The intangible drilling cost deduction essentially says that certain costs related to well drilling, such as geological surveys are more like buying office supplies than long-lived machinery. There are lots of other oil specific provisions that could be looked at either as a subsidy or simply as a provision intended to properly tax the unique aspects of an industry. Oil is not alone in this. Life insurance companies, for example, have their own special tax regime to themselves due to the unique aspects of the life insurance industry.

Comment: Re:Ironically, bottled mineral water is exploding. (Score 1) 441

by nealric (#48829525) Attached to: Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

I'm not sure what you mean by "immunity from disclosing". The backing ingredients in frack fluid are well known. However, the exact mixture may be protected for intellectual property reasons, as getting it right for a given formation can have a big impact in how successful the well is. Nothing to do with environmental concerns.

As for breaking the rock. It's true that is what fracking does, but it does so well below the water table, with several layers of rock between it at the water table. The potential for water contamination comes from a leaky wellhead casing as it passes through the water table. But that can happen regardless of whether the well is fracked.

Comment: Re:Just hire a CPA (Score 1) 450

by nealric (#48811359) Attached to: Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid
RALs are technically illegal, but there are plenty of ways to produce a similar result. Nothing to stop them from giving you a payday loan at the same time. I'm not getting into the payday loan industry, just saying that many poor people pay for their tax prep out of their refund, and way overpay.

Comment: Re:Common sense space exploration (Score 1) 83

by nealric (#48767115) Attached to: Analysis of Spacecraft Data Reveals Most Earth-like Planet To Date
It might get out to Alpha Centauri (provided a whole host of technologies required for a spacecraft to travel 50 years are invented and perfected).... which is not where these "goldilocks" planets are. Nuclear pulse won't get us the 100+ light years needed to get to the planets under discussion.

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