Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Taxpayer's Dilemma (Score 2) 213

by omfgnosis (#48495301) Attached to: Game Theory Analysis Shows How Evolution Favors Cooperation's Collapse

The cause of your crumbling infrastructure in the US is largely people not paying taxes.

This is a more than just a little overstated and misleading (and I am taking the assumption that you are talking about tax policy allowing such; if you're talking about illegal tax dodging, you're off your nut). US infrastructure is in the state it is because of a confluence of gross mismanagement (often intentional); incredibly effective self-destructive propaganda; and a culture of punitiveness, resentment and retaliation; at least as much as it's caused by budget shortfalls. And the whole thing is a dog chasing its own tail, constantly producing reinforcing incentives.

As much as I wish there were budget for the infrastructure and services we actually accept as a society, throwing more money into it will only preserve the services and infrastructure that are functioning and uncontroversial. Which is a terrifyingly small subset, and doesn't even speak to services and infrastructure we have so far rejected.

I'd love to be proven wrong by some miraculous arrival of leadership we don't deserve (or making better of some inevitable disaster, but I couldn't even finish writing that with a straight face), but I'd go so far as to say that the US and all its factors and conditions are basically unmanageable, with nowhere left to go but decline.

Comment: Re:Why is this story on the front page? (Score 3, Insightful) 834

by omfgnosis (#48360337) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

You think rape and death threats are about hurt feelings. You obviously have never been a victim of such threats.

If you don't want to read about the social aspects of technology, you have a perfectly reasonable alternative to whining about it: scroll past it. Some of us actually take it seriously when proposals are made to reduce or eliminate the most egregious forms of online harassment, and want to have a real discussion. Go play with your toys, or whatever.

Comment: Re:Liberals are Egoistical Maniacs (Score 1) 330

by omfgnosis (#48300419) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

That's fairness.

Hardly. That's revenge. They're not actually the same thing.

However, life isn't that black and white so while its fairly obvious who murders the unborn its not always obvious who murders the others. Death penalty is a simple solution.

So you are saying, unequivocally, that you accept institutional murder of innocent people. Not very "pro life".

Once all those who want no criminals to die have to support all those living criminals via their own money and no one else, they will reach a point that they either can't afford to support them or they will change their mind.

Wait, now it's about money? Not fairness or justice or morality? By the way. In any justice system with a hint of protection for the wrongly accused, it costs more to kill a prisoner than not to.

Comment: Re:are conservatives just showing more reaction? (Score 1) 330

by omfgnosis (#48300385) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

You quoted the whole thing, so it's unclear: are you saying that the reason for the oligarchy is because of the numerous points I made about political realities? Or because I closed with a paragraph indicating that the government has a role in providing for basic regulations that allow us to live our lives in safety with confidence?

If you mean the former, that is the system the founders designed. It's in many, many ways a flawed design. If you mean the latter, I'd like to know how the examples of regulations I provided lead to an oligarchy.

In either case, just to clarify, we do live in a republic. All that means is we don't have a monarch.

Comment: Re:Liberals are Egoistical Maniacs (Score 1) 330

by omfgnosis (#48298131) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

This is a good question. I want to say that first, because this topic is so often devoid of good questions.

There are a variety of ways the "pro life" movement places itself in this corner: insistence on a "right to life", little regard for the wrongful killing of post-natal innocents, little regard for other ways innocent children are abused or suffer. In a way, I'm repeating myself, but because I think I've mostly already addressed this. There is only one case of killing that most "pro life" people care about: that of a fetus. They typically care about few other harms than killing, even though many can ruin lives just the same.

The alternative position you raise is also one without much distinction. Scarcely anyone will claim that it is morally justified to kill innocent people. That kind of rationalization is either done by altering the definition of innocence and guilt, or by arithmetical sleight of hand. In any case, assignment of guilt and innocence has proved extremely problematic, especially in cases of institutional killing such as I mentioned. In order to really defend those types of killings, one must either place undue trust on the prevailing actors or simply accept that "pro life" is not absolute.

Because your alternative has little distinction, it essentially forces the conversation become the dreaded debate over the definition of "human life", but while accepting that certain classes of humans are incapable of being moral agents in any way—and therefore by definition "innocent". While I agree that a fetus cannot be assigned "guilt" by any reasonable assessment, I think the other debate—over how to define "human life"—is morally pointless. It's an excuse to produce a permanent impasse.

Comment: Re:are conservatives just showing more reaction? (Score 1) 330

by omfgnosis (#48296963) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

What should be evident is that if the law doesn't pass, it really isn't that necessary and not favored heavily enough by enough people.

In fantasy, sure. In reality, there are political forces much greater than what people favor. There are countless polls, not only about particular issues where the public and the Congress are tragically out of step, but where voters say they don't think either party represents them. (Happy to provide links if you care and doubt it... I have done a ton of research on this, but I won't bother unless the conversation remains relatively engaging.) Voters simply don't have much leverage.

If a congressman refuses to vote in favor of a thing that his or her electorate feels is critical, he will be removed upon the next election.

Even in fantasy, this would be unlikely. Voters often compromise on things they consider critical, in order to protect other things they consider critical.

If his electorate is so intellectually bankrupt (as oh so many Americans are), then they will leave that person in Congress to continue failing to do things that are critical. The former is a check on the system; those failing to represent those who elected him is removed. The latter is not a symptom of dysfunction in Congress. It's a symptom of the dysfunction of the voters.

This is cartoonishly simplistic. Suppose, for example, a person finds climate change critical. The vast majority of voters have no credible option available to express this, even if they were willing to compromise other critical issues. Organizing credible options is a task beyond the vast majority of citizens' means; organizing it over time requires far more political acumen than your "if you don't like it vote differently" picture, but rather a world class marketing effort with essentially no misstep. This is beyond the reach of the voting public as a whole. And even if it could be mustered, it would almost certainly come at the cost of other critical issues.

We were never supposed to have a government that built an ever-growing catalogue of all things we citizens cannot do. They were never intended to prevent us from being offended, or uncomfortable. They were meant to defend our borders, settle disputes between states, and very little else. They (and the plethora of activists) have taken it upon themselves to try to govern how we think, act, drive, read, are entertained, eat, sleep, breath... They have changed the foundation of our system from innocent until proven guilty at which time you'll be punished, to attempting to prevent us from ever becoming guilty by forcing the behavior they desire.

I tried to respond to the previous bits in good faith, despite realizing this was coming. I hope you'll agree that I made a reasonable effort there. But this... most of what you're describing is first a caricature of the Constitution and second a caricature of liberalism. Your efforts to describe a constitutional ideal are undermined by this. There is real over-regulation, but it is mostly a product of powerful business interests.

There is an actual need for regulation, though. I need to be sure that my drinking water isn't dangerous. I need to be sure I can make an educated decision about my nutrition and health. I need to be sure that if a neighbor in my apartment building starts a fire, I have an otherwise unobstructed path out of the building. I need to be sure that my employer will actually produce a valid check for the amount I was promised in exchange for my labor. Quoth the Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." I considered adding emphasis, but I would have emphasized nearly the entire quote.

Comment: Re:Liberals are Egoistical Maniacs (Score 2, Interesting) 330

by omfgnosis (#48296119) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

Unless a "pro life" person is against all killing of humans—including institutional killing (war, police shootings, death penalty)—I don't take their "pro life" claim seriously at all. Additionally, unless a "pro life" person also promotes policies which improve conditions for humans outside the womb—including promotion of good education, access to quality nutrition and healthcare—I don't take their "pro life" claim seriously at all.

Now, there are a few people who meet those criteria. I don't see eye-to-eye with their position on abortion (and sometimes even birth control), but I respect their conviction, consistency and intentions. You may be one of those people, but I sincerely doubt it: you have identified yourself with conservatives, a group which often (but not always) tends to be at odds with all of the other values I listed. (And yes, I realize that many liberals tend to also be at odds with some or all of those values. This is why broad political affiliation is problematic.)

Until the "pro life" movement becomes anything other than an absolute joke, hypocritically shaming perceived moral ills most of its members broadly support in other contexts, it can expect to become increasingly marginalized as a more empowered generation elects to make decisions about whether or when it parents children by answering questions like:

- Is parenting something I'll ever want?
- Is parenting something I want right now?
- Will I be able to provide a good life for the child?
- Will I be able to be a responsible and loving parent?

All of these can have a profound impact on the life of a child, and ultimately an adult as well. It's astonishing that so many "pro life" people readily dismiss them. Pro "life", but what kind of life?

Comment: Re:are conservatives just showing more reaction? (Score 1) 330

by omfgnosis (#48295911) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

I don't think it's disputable that the US Congress is configured (by a combination of design and historical precedent) to limit legislative action. I also don't think it's disputable that this limitation is a source of stability and a mitigation for some extreme action. I even think that some extremely successful Congressional actions are evidence that this limitation is necessary (at least in context) and should be applied more thoroughly.

But it's facile to then say that a dysfunctional Congress is right or desirable. Whether a law should be enacted depends upon the gravity of circumstance, the character of the law itself, the education of the Congress members themselves, the education of the public, and any number of incentives. It simply isn't apparent that the government which governs least governs best.

I don't think anyone really means to say that Congress should be a well oiled legislation factory. Quite plainly, people are just as displeased with the quality of legislation that does escape as they are with what doesn't. People are upset because they expect Congress to take certain actions that are not being taken.

Besides specific legislative needs—some of which, like declaration of war, are quite grave and Congress has completely shirked—there is also an expectation that members act in what they believe to be the best interest of their constituents. It is obvious that many do not see this expectation being fulfilled, and that is what rankles people about Congress and "gridlock".

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin