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Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 698

by nine-times (#49488861) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

So, for capital crimes, relying on people's judgement is ok, but not for money matters? I think your priorities may be a bit screwed up.

I think you somehow managed to miss the point of my post. Yes, judgment enters into criminal courts in that the prosecutor has to decide whether to charge a suspect, the judge has to make some decisions, and the jury has to decide guilt or innocence. HOWEVER , those decisions aren't made arbitrarily based on a random person's arbitrary "common sense" judgment. We don't go, "Oh, I think I know who's guilty and who's not, so we'll just put the guilty people in jail."

There are laws and court precedents. When judgement is involved, it usually involves some process where a person is supposed to be applying some criteria that were set by law or precedents. If you don't do that-- if you leave the decision up to some person's "common sense" judgment, you're creating a situation where abuse is inevitable.

So what I'm saying is, if the government is going to have a "tax exempt status" for religious organizations, it should be a decision that is made according to set laws and precedents. I would guess there already is some kind of law here, but I'm not a lawyer.

To racap, you're right to compare the decision to our decisions on whether someone should be convicted of murder. We don't put people away for murder because the general public has a good opinion of that person and would like to see him locked up. We need evidence that they actually committed murder, in accordance with existing law. We shouldn't decide tax-exempt status for an organization based on whether the general public has a good opinion of it.

Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 698

by nine-times (#49481565) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Sorry, no. I recognize that there are circumstances where matters of governance have to come down to someone's judgement call, but I don't think first amendment matters or tax law should come down simply to, "You know, common sense. This guy sucks, so I'm deciding gets treated differently." That would just be asking for abuse.

There needs to be some kind of criteria. We do use judgment to distinguish between Murder and Manslaughter, but it's not just "common sense". There are actually laws about what the difference is, as well as a bunch of court precedence, that are used to provide guidelines for that judgement. We don't just have some guy who decides, "I think this act was particularly bad, so apropos of nothing I'm deciding to call this murder."

Comment: What is or is not a religion? (Score 4, Interesting) 698

by nine-times (#49477945) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

My question here would be, how are we deciding what is or is not a religion? You have a bunch of people with a belief system organized together... I don't know how you distinguish between a social club, a cult, and a religion other than going by what they claim for themselves. However, whatever the legal method of determining the answer to that, it should be applied consistently.

The process here should not be, "We think that Scientology is crazy and therefore not a valid religion, so we will revoke their legal protection on that basis." If there's no legal criteria to refer to, then you're setting a precedent for revoking the legal protections for any religion that you don't like. Go by the law. If the law is inadequate, then revise the law, but make sure you're comfortable with the revised law being applied consistently to all groups, including the group you belong to.

Comment: Re:Great, Let's Build IFR's (Score 1) 414

Apparently environmentalism and an understanding of basic math aren't particularly compatible.

Apparent to you, who apparently aren't exposed to many mainstream environmentalists. The same argument could be made that people who oppose environmentalism apparently don't understand basic science-- such as "destroying our own food supply might be a bad idea."

Comment: Re:I'm for nuclear power if it is economical (Score 2) 414

Well we can argue about a lot of different specifics on this issue. Nuclear power may not ultimately be the best solution, but it's also true that there are many environmentalists that have changed their mind on the issue, and argued that we should switch to nuclear even if it's not "economical".

Part of the argument there is that fossil fuels are also not economical, but that their costs are hidden. First, they are also subsidized in various ways, including taking up a disproportionate amount of our foreign policy in order to secure foreign sources. But second, a lot of the costs are to individual health and the environment, which don't necessarily get applied to nominal cost of providing the power.

Now, I'm not particularly interested in taking a position in the argument, at least not here and now. All I'm saying is, it's outdated to blame the "damned hippies" for the lack of adoption of nuclear power. Yes, there are still some people with irrational fears, but many environmentalists have reconsidered the traditional anti-nuclear position, and are more strongly anti-coal and anti-oil than anti-nuclear. Not all environmentalists are pro-nuclear, but it's not unusual these days.

More often, the lack of development in nuclear power is due to other groups, whether it's the coal/oil industry themselves, people who are pro-oil because they're trying to be anti-hippie, or people who have other objections to nuclear power, it's not so much the "damned hippies" that are the problem.

Comment: Re:Unintended Consequences ? (Score 3, Insightful) 116

by nine-times (#49446783) Attached to: 'Let's Encrypt' Project Strives To Make Encryption Simple

That's already happening. DRM, for example, has always been partially for commercial reasons (preventing privacy), and largely for anti-competitive reasons (preventing interoperability and forcing people to repurchase the same content repeatedly).

Encryption is being used for almost every purpose except the good ones. We could use encryption to protect privacy and prevent identity theft, but I guess we can't do that because it might prevent the NSA from snooping on your dick pics.

Comment: Re:Great, Let's Build IFR's (Score 4, Insightful) 414

So, where are all the environmentalists demanding we build integral fast reactors as fast as we can?

There are actually quite a number of environmentalists who have suggested that we should use nuclear power in order to get off of fossil fuels. I suspect a lot of the problem is political. There are still a lot of people with an irrational fear of nuclear power on one side of the issue, and on the other side there are people who support fossil fuels just to say "fuck you" to "the hippies". And that's before you even get into the lobbying and propaganda from fossil fuel producers.

It's an uphill battle to do anything, even if it completely makes sense and has broad support, because there are always ignorant people and entrenched interests.

Comment: Re:Double tassel ... (Score 1) 216

Because you need to to know how a TV or bluray player or iPad or iWatch or Google Glasses works in order to use them?

No, because there's a very good chance that you're going to have to use computers for their jobs, and because using a computer effectively for your work requires a greater degree of understanding than watching TV.

I've done IT support for quite a long time, and I don't expect most people to be able to do what I do. However, most of the businesses I work with would be much more effective, and could lower their IT costs substantially, if people had even the most basic understanding the logic of how computers work, even if they couldn't write a single line of code.

Comment: Re:Double tassel ... (Score 1) 216

Yeah, I don't think everyone needs to be able to program well, but I do think our public education system to aim to give everyone a very basic understanding of what a computer does and what it does not do, how a computer works, and what programming is. Computers have become too much a part of our lives, and too vital to our economic and social systems, for people to be completely ignorant of how they work.

I also agree that it makes sense to connect computer science to math. Really, I'd want to restructure our math education to include logic and statistics (and how to spot bad use of statistics). It you teach logic, math, statistics, and algebra, then computer science seems like a natural part of that curriculum.

Comment: Complexity is a feature, not a bug (Score 4, Insightful) 623

How could the language be made as easy as possible to learn coming from any linguistic background? How could interest in the language be fostered in as many people as possible?

Part of the problem is, these two things are working at cross purposes. Contrary to your instinct, making a language easy to learn will also probably harm the cause of fostering interest.

The problem is, from a sort of detached, scientific, logical point of view, it sounds like a great idea to have a language that is simple, easy to learn, containing definite rules, with no irregularity, and leaving little room for ambiguity. The problem is, people don't want language to work that way. It's not specifically that they want it to be hard to learn, but they want a language with nuance and ambiguity. We like puns and plays on words. People often enjoy and appreciate slang, or unusual word choice. And beyond that, people don't particularly like being told how to use language. It's something we learn culturally, and it's difficult to lose those habits. Picking up a language that no one actually speaks is difficult, since it has no purpose.

So if you really want to develop a clean, simple, clear, concise language, you should probably plan to abduct a lot of babies and raise them yourself in order to force them to learn it. And then, prepare yourself, because they'll start developing slang, and using the language in ways that you didn't expect and might not approve of.

Comment: Re:We really should rethink web encryption. (Score 1) 53

by nine-times (#49428513) Attached to: Heartbleed One Year Later: Has Anything Changed?

If SSL'ing a site is more than a 10 minute process for you... then I worry about how you go about it.

I think his point was that, if you know what you're doing and you do these sorts of things regularly, yes, it's pretty simple and quick. However, if you're not used to the process because you're not doing it frequently, it becomes more cumbersome and frustrating. For example, on Windows, the process has changed a bit over the years-- not the process of issuing the key, of course, but exactly where do you go in Windows to go through the whole process? What does that process look like? If you want to use the same cert for Exchange, SMTP, IMAP, or other services, where do you go to do that? I couldn't tell you off the top of my head. The whole thing is pretty different from one version to another, so I'd probably have to poke around for 20 minutes just looking for the controls. Similarly, in Linux, I do it infrequently enough to need the instructions in front of me. If you ask me to put an SSL cert on some random shared hosting account, I'll have to go dig through the documentation for that host. My experience has been that the whole process is not hard, but it's not extremely obvious either. You need to be a decent admin who does it regularly to breeze through it.

Now you might ask, what's wrong with that? Shouldn't we expect the people setting up web servers to be decent admins? And that'd be great if we could leave it at that. However, if you've ever dealt with IT professionals, you'll know that the majority of them are not very good at their jobs. Believe me, I've supervised a lot of them, and even the ones who think they're super-brilliant hot-shots are often pretty sub-par. Even the ones that are pretty good usually have their weaknesses, and we all make mistakes.

So honestly, I agree, it should be easier. The process in general reminds me of some pieces of software that I've installed, where after you run the installer, you're supposed to manually run some commands on the CLI, edit some configuration files, edit the registry, or other manual tasks. That feeling of "This isn't hard, but it seems like you haven't thought this all through. You should have streamlined this process a bit."

If you have need of SSL, then you can spend the annual renewal on a decent CA.

I think part of the idea here was that we should all be using SSL. Encrypting web traffic shouldn't be a fringe case of "something used by people with money and expertise". Somehow, we should work on making it the default behavior. It should be cheap (or free) and easy, and setting up a web server without it should provide a bunch of warnings. Hell, visiting a website without it should generate warnings. But if you want to get to that point, then you'll probably need to streamline the process of getting a certificate, as well as making it cheaper.

Comment: Re:Funny because it is true (Score 1) 200

by nine-times (#49422899) Attached to: Snowden Demystified: Can the Government See My Junk?

If you tell people "we know who you called" people will think "I have nothing to hide". Once you say "We saw your dick" then suddenly it becomes real and understandable.

Yeah, and I think part of the whole thing is, it needs to be put into concrete terms. A lot of people (at least middle-class white people) aren't actually that frightened of the idea that law enforcement might possibly intercept one of their communications. You can say that it's impinging on our freedom, and that it has the possibility of creating an oppressive police state, but most people aren't actually afraid of that. The possibility seems too distant, and they assume it must be, "The police are monitoring communications for real problems, and if my communications get intercepted, it will just be accidentally, and who cares? I don't mind if the police know that I called my mother last Sunday."

I think it's a problem, but I can understand why people don't. So what I think "Last Week Tonight" was doing was to put it into terms where people can more readily see the problem.

It's not just that the police might know that you called your mother. It's that they might see your "dick pic". It's not just that they might accidentally intercept a random work email. It's that if your creepy ex-boyfriend has a job at the NSA, he can potentially read through your emails to your current boyfriend. It's not just that they might accidentally intercept one of your meaningless work emails, but that they could potentially read Obama's personal emails looking for political leverage.

And it's not just that they potentially have that kind of access, but that there's not really much oversight to prevent them from using that access irresponsibly, to detect when they're using that access, or to determine what they're doing with the information they glean.

Comment: Re:Overrated (Score 5, Interesting) 200

by nine-times (#49422815) Attached to: Snowden Demystified: Can the Government See My Junk?

Oliver criticized Snowden for his complex descriptions of complex issues

I don't think that the interview was, in the end, very critical of Snowden. If anything, I think he came across as someone who, whether or not you agree with his decisions, had the best interests of the general public at heart. If anything, it made me feel very sorry for Snowden, especially when he had to watch video of people who didn't understand what he had done.

And I'd agree that it's the media's job to make the whole thing easily digestible, which is exactly what I think Oliver was doing in reducing the issue to "dick pics". He forced Snowden to explain the different programs in terms of "dick pics" because he knew that, otherwise, people wouldn't really understand or appreciate Snowden's explanations.

Comment: Re:Too many pixels = slooooooow (Score 1) 263

by nine-times (#49417801) Attached to: LG Accidentally Leaks Apple iMac 8K Is Coming Later This Year

Maybe it's so that content creators can work in 8k. Like if you're working with 8k video files, you need an 8k screen to view your work at full resolution.

Of course, that would imply that these might be external displays to be used with a Mac Pro rather than iMacs. Also, it would seem strange, since Apple generally leaves that kind of niche market to others.

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