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Comment: Re:Imperial Police (Score 2) 175

by physicsphairy (#47407695) Attached to: US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

Respecting territorial sovereignty is for when other countries can do something about it. A small island nation of a few hundred thousand people need not apply.

Still, it seems a bit excessive to do an extradition raid for someone who is apparently accused of hacking into zoo and deli websites. His relation to the Russian MP is probably what has earned him the special attention, part of Obama's plan to punish Russia. The message is clear, "Invade its allies and America will spoil your vacation."

What do you suppose the probability is that after some further negotiations the MP's son and Snowden trade places?

Comment: Re:If everyone loses their jobs... (Score 1) 525

by physicsphairy (#47405225) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

Let's say everybody does lose their jobs and is unable to buy goods or services. Is it more likely they will (a) resign to slowly starve or (b) start growing and trading for food amongst each other, providing each other the services they can't get from the robot elite, band together for social protection, etc.?

Shutting someone out from one economy just puts in them in another economy.

Ultimately, even if it costs the unsophisticated people more in time and investment to produce the same goods, the robot elitists don't care about *that* cost, they only care how many of the newly minted Robot Supreme Data Coins the poor humans want in exchange for the same service. That's an arbirtary quantity and the poor humans can always offer a lower bid than the robot automation centers.

But, remember, this whole problem came about because we found such an incredibly cheap and efficient way to produce all our resources. So, even though the humans are going to be forced to trade for what the robot elitists consider virtually nothing, for them it will have vast purchasing power since goods are now so cheap.

In general, I don't think keeping people employed is ever going to be a problem. What the onset of robot workers actually means is that relative income for human workers is increasing to where it is too costly for manufacturing companies to compete for their services compared to the other opportunities they have.

The real problem with super-efficient resource generation is its effect on political dynamics. One person controlling half the economy may be perfectly harmless up to the point where they realize they can use that vast wealth to dictate what laws will be passed. But, who knows, maybe at that point we'll all be so well off that it will actually be harder to buy votes and loyalty than it is today.

Comment: Re:Distinct DNA (Score 1) 1310

by physicsphairy (#47368849) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

Personally, I have no interest in making humanity a race of immortal lineage. People get old and die, I am on terms with that. But I am definitely not on terms with taking a gun and shooting someone, even if they are getting on in years. I imagine a similar argument can be made with respect to abortion vs. "self-abortion."

That said, I'm not sure of their ideological affiliation, as it is also of interest for simply improving fertility, but you'd be wrong to think there's not a lot of research done into improving embryonic implantation.

Comment: Re:a few hundred years earlier than that (Score 1) 1310

by physicsphairy (#47368765) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

It takes a good deal of cynicism to speculate this is about profit, given that
(a) in all cases covering contraception is a whole lot cheaper than providing pre- and post-natal care
(b) Hobby Lobby continues to cover all forms of contraception which are not considered to possibly interfere with uteral implantation
(c) Hobby Lobby has provided health care and decent wages, including contraceptive coverage long before the mandate was passed
(d) They also keep closed on Sundays for religious reasons (Sunday being the most profitable day to be open)
(e) There's plenty of much more expensive things covered -- I'm not aware Hobby Lobby attempting to use legal means to wrangle out of any other form of coverage

Investing in funds which invest in companies which among their portfolios develop the contraceptives is not the same as investing in the contraceptives. But what is being said is that that was an accidental investment, which I don't see as unreasonable to believe.

Comment: Re:Myth: Corp shields you from company failure (Score 1) 1310

by physicsphairy (#47368527) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

Absolutely true. But despite the common meme this is not about assigning a corporation personhood. A book is not a person either, but if Congress said "You can say what you want, but we're going to ban your book" you would rightfully be up in arms about it, because the book, while not itself a person imbued with constitutional rights, in some ways acts as an extension of such a person, and therefore receives some comparable protections (if you want to look at it that way).

This is the same issue. Mr. Green's religious beliefs are intricately tied into his position as CEO and his ownership of Hobby Lobby. Funnily enough, no one squawks about him giving Sundays off or paying double minimum wage and offering decent benefits, both of which are driven by his religious convictions. If this was not a closely held corporation I imagine he would have been sued by shareholders for such unprofitable decisions long before the ACA became a concern.

Comment: Re:Myths are socially hilarious (Score 4, Interesting) 198

To be fair, in the domain of common experience a 7' tall ape man living in the pacific northwest *is* far less crazy than the idea of a subatomic particle being in two places at once.

Many scientists of yesteryear were hardly willing to accept such preposterousness, though I imagine they would not have batted an eye at an undiscovered hominid of unusual cleverness. (In fact, sometimes they seemed to be far too trusting when evidence of new hominids was presented to them.) People can go to the zoo and encounter all sorts of species they never anticipated. Where can they experience quantum mechanics?

It's only through substantial and careful methodological treatment of the evidence that we're able to develop the capacity to distinguish truth which contradicts intuition, accepting the fantastic but real and dismissing the common but false.

My wild and probably quite unpopular thinking on this is as such: the people you describe are perfectly reasonable people. They are drawing reasonable(ish) conclusions. They just lack access to the expanded toolset and and supply of evidence modern science has provided. What if instead of calling their theories a bunch of hocus pocus, we simply sent them on the right trail? Used the Socratic method, as it were. They are clearly already interested in the subject of undiscovered species, so "You think there is a wild ape man? Interesting. I wonder how we could prove its existence. What about DNA evidence? There's this great book called 'Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.' Maybe we could read it to learn a bit more about genetics and see if it helps us come up with any ideas."

Comment: Re:Ruling doesn't change much. (Score 1) 558

Because forensic analysts have determined the same gun used to kill the president may have been used to kill the Joint Chiefs. Because they think someone else may have used your gun. Because they believe the person who sold you your gun is an accomplice. Because you are contesting your confession.

It's a rather cynical view that the only point of trying someone for a crime is to send them to prison for that crime. The point is to find out the truth and mete out justice accordingly. That requires a full evaluation of all of the evidence. In this case, the lawyer has admitted the evidence exists and is located on the harddrive, but it's not clear how the details of that evidence will affect the case and subseqeunt sentencing.

Comment: There are no such features (Score 1) 427

by physicsphairy (#47319697) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Frankly, I stopped wearing a digital watch because I noticed when I forgot it class passed by much more quickly and enjoyably than when I was counting away the minutes until it was over. Also, it lead to the rude habbit to be checking my watch when conversing or keeping company with someone, as if I was just waiting to get away.

Having technology always at the ready is at least mildly antisocial, especially when it's visible to others. If I'm sitting down to do work then I want my full laptop. I will carry a smartphone for alarms, texting, important email, GPS, etc., but that stays in my pocket until it's needed, I don't fiddle with it and distract myself while I have any kind of company or other work to do. If there were useful features that only a smartwatch could perform, then I would carry the smartwatch in my pocket. I absolutely don't want some gaudy box on my wrist which can distract me from whatever I am presently doing. For the most part, each feature you add to it is another reason I don't want it.

Comment: Professors are disposable (Score 4, Interesting) 538

by physicsphairy (#47290301) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

The fact of the matter is that there are far too many people who want faculty positions compared to the number of available positions. I quote directly from our university president, "I can get professors anywhere."

This is detrimental to learning as well. Some adjunct faculty, desperate to keep jobs, rely on easy courses and popularity with students to stay employed. Many others feel obligated to help students beyond the limited office hours they're paid for, essentially working for free in order to get the students the help they need. At a time when tuition prices are rising faster than ever, why are we skimping on the most fundamental aspect of college?

There is pressure from the administration to buffer grades, as that effects various important statistics for the school, and it's far easier for them to give out As rather than worry about complaints and legal action etc., but otherwise the administration couldn't give a rats arse about how popular the professors are with the students. They care most about how much research money the professor is bringing in. Maybe at some big private school where you have legacies and wealthy donnors to worry about the administration actually cares about the students' feelings.

No one goes into a professorship expecting a 9-5 job, but pointing out professors are spending extra time with their students isn't really making the case the situtation is detrimental for education, either. When you get your degree, you have a decision -- do I enjoy doing research/teaching so much that I go into academia, or do I want a profitable career and go into industry? Professors aren't in it for the money. They're the sort of people who just wouldn't fit anywhere else. You don't need to pay them well. The professors making $40k tend to work as hard and spend as much time in the lab as the professors making $80k. I'll bet many would work for room and board if you gave them a nice lab to go with it.

If you want to improve the situation, your options are either establish some legal minimums, or curb the excess of academics by providing either positions for them and/or doing a better job of training people for other positions. Unless you're an engineer, most bachelors degrees are more or less geared toward becoming an academic, even though relatively few people will wind up in academia, and it doesn't help this situation when you have a flood of graduates who aren't really sure what they can do with themselves besides stay in the university environment.

Comment: Re:My two cents (Score 2) 646

by physicsphairy (#47267131) Attached to: Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

Unequal application of the law is always a challenge to our freedoms, including free speech. When two men are fighting, you are commiting far less of a crime by pinning both down than by pinning just one down while the other pommels him. If libel laws were "loosened" to apply only to liberals and not to conservatives, that would not be a gain in freedom as you propose: that would become far more of an affront to free spech than the fully implemented law ever was. Allowing trademarks to some and not others is the same sort of distortion.

Trademarks are a (very limited) restriction on free speech, but they also increase our freedom to express ourselves through the cultivation of a particular symbol. A government which decides it will make political assessments on whether to grant that freedom is not upholding the principles of free speech. Whether the term Redskins is actually offensive is a matter of ongoing social debate, and the government should not be deciding the answer.

Comment: Re:Turn off, tune out. (Score 4, Interesting) 127

by physicsphairy (#47260617) Attached to: Emotional Contagion Spread Through Facebook

Or set the tone yourself by posting words of encouragement. As someone who has never quite mastered the hug or unsolicited complement or prying into what's bothering people, I find the broadcast medium of facebook a means of providing what I can. I mostly post humor (which has helped me through dark times), mix in occasional inspiration quotes from people like Emerson, Longfellow, Thoreau, Kierkegaard, some art I find beautiful, and try to be open about my struggles and the good places they have lead.

Over the years many have taken time to thank me for encouraging them (sometimes they are persons who have never interacted with me on facebook but eventually tell me in person), occasionally I receive a private message from someone who needs a friend, an ear, or advice, and other times they post something about their struggles and I am able to approach them about it. There is a lot to be said if you have the social skills to offer these things in person. But most of us are accustomed to the "Hi, how are you?" "Oh, I'm fine" routine where it is impolite to turn someone's general courtesy into a demand for their time and sympathy. The rules are different on social media, where all information is broadcast and can be ignored as easily as it is read. Why not let us introverts do something good with that?

I don't know if I can claim credit in anyway, but over the years the character of what is posted among my peers on facebook has definitely become more positive. Perhaps people have simply realized they don't enjoy the drama and the complaining. Or maybe a few of us have had an impact. But this study seems to show that having a positive impact is something you can set out to do. Pursuing that may be worth considering.

Comment: Re:Seems reasonable... (Score 1, Insightful) 260

by physicsphairy (#47185405) Attached to: Virginia DMV Cracks Down On Uber, Lyft

And people would buy toys with lead paint in them too if the price was low and they weren't aware of the risks of lead paint. Does that mean the regulations preventing them are wrong?

Children are assumed to lack the capacity to make intelligent decisions for their well-being. They receive both additional protections, and are denied most of the rights which are granted to adults. Regulating toys may hold up in that philosophy, in as much as they are intended for children. However, adults are still allowed to purchase products which contain lead, such as solder, because the assumption is they can adequately assess the risks, and have the right to decide accordingly.

Certainly, we can treat average citizens as too ignorant to tend for their own welfare, and provide state protection, but just as with children, these adults are being denied certain rights and freedoms in exchange. There are many proxies for this question, among them, whether people should be allowed to purchase firearms or drugs, even though they are capable of doing damage, depending on the decisions of the user.


Which is how the regulations came into effect in the first place -- the public was tired of getting into cabs that weren't insured or maintained properly.

The question is how necessary are the regulations, and, especially, how applicable the regulations which were written specifically for taxis in a different era are nowadays.

This is one of the major problems with government solutions--they have an awful lot of momentum. It's hard to make changes when changes are warranted.

Do I really care how well-maintained the transport car is? Why does it need to exceed rules established for cars in general? Are poorly maintained vehicles as much of an issue with modern automobiles as it was when the law was passed? Does the ability of users in Uber and Lyft to rate drivers completely solve the problem since they can vote down drivers with unpleasant or unreliable rides? Is it now so easy to flag down a new driver that the car breaking down is not a particular issue?

How important is a multimillion dollar insurance package? Is this actually improving the situation for people who would otherwise be walking or taking their own vehicles or a friend's vehicle without such a high insurance coverage? Would it possibly make more sense to transition to a system in which passengers carry insurance instead of drivers?

The situation is simply not the same as it was when these laws were passed. Back then, these laws provided possibly needed solutions. Now, if the problems they were intended to solve even exist, there may be better solutions. The question is whether the state is going to step in and forbid citizens from pursuing these solutions, on the premise the state is once-and-always-correct, or if we are going to let citizens experiment and make their own decisions.

Comment: First city? (Score 4, Informative) 1040

by physicsphairy (#47153155) Attached to: Seattle Approves $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage

In the first year of implementation, hourly minimum wage will be raised to either $10 or $11 according to the employer size category. By 2021, hourly minimum wage across the board should be at or above $15. Seattle is the first city to implement a living wage for its lowest earners

Santa Fe has had a living wage since 2003, presently at $10.66. San Francisco implemented a living wage shortly thereafter, presently at $10.74. I'm sure there are others at this point.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard