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Comment Re:What's the deal... (Score 2) 262

Cycling is a bit special as a longer endurance sport. There's more to be gained from marginal benefits. That said, cheating is very wide spread. It's a constant race between athletes and analysts. You often can't detect a new strategy of cheating until someone is physically caught and then you can develop an analytical method to do so. Lance Armstrong was caught not by the technology of the time but by revisiting blood samples which had been stored. Athletes may content themselves with microdoping where they use very small doses of drugs or reserved blood to evade detection limits. It obviously is less effective, but they're looking for whatever edge they can get. With small alterations it becomes difficult to distinguish between artificial enhancement and genetic anomalies. If you don't hear about people cheating I think it has a lot to do with them getting very good at it.

Comment Re:Because that would be unimaginable CENSORSHIP? (Score 1) 832

Depends on whether you are talking about "free speech" as an American legal concept or "free speech" as a philosophic good.

Sure, the government is the biggest bully in town and it minimizes a lot of potential harm if it is required to play nice. But if all "freedom of speech" is to you is a promise to be harangued, fired, and/or murdered only by people unaffiliated with the government, then it's obvious that you don't appreciate freedom for freedom's sake.

In my opinion requiring companies and people to go out of their way to provide equal platforms, etc., would lead to worse abuses. So I don't think that there should be any requirement placed on person or companies to transmit or support your views. But I still say a society where people use their private power and influence to purposefully squelch the views of others is intrinsically unfree. Same as how, even with slavery outlawed, as a black you were not really enjoying equal rights and protections in the post-Civil War South. Not while the society itself was determined to deny those to you.

Comment Re:Because that would be unimaginable CENSORSHIP? (Score 1, Interesting) 832

Over a broad enough time span that is true -- the right has wished to stifle communist and anti-religious speech, etc. They also, in relatively greater proportion, support blurring nudity and beeping out a handful of words broadcast on public channels.

But realistically censorship, particularly of ideas, is now a weapon sought and wielded by the cultural left. That may largely be a practical consideration -- they have predominant influence over media and public education and so are the ones who benefit most from claiming the right to stamp out minority views. However, it remains they are the ones most likely to tell you that you can't publish an editorial in the college paper because it is insensitive, that you should be fired from your job and stripped of your recognition because of something you said, that you be disinvited from speaking because your views are not in line with those they feel comfortable with.

The left should be conscious of this and attempt to fix it, for the general good, because some day the pendulum will swing the other way again, and to avoid pushing out their civil libertarians.

Comment Re:This is crazy... (Score 1) 301

Law enforcement receives substantial additional vehicle training and have lights and sirens to make other drivers aware when they responding to an emergency or blocking an intersection. Law enforcement is allowed to carry restricted firearms and to do so in restricted areas (such as bars) while on duty, but again they have substantial additional training and are performing a specific function. The conditions for legally discharging their firearms are pretty much the same as for you or I.

The privileges of a licensed police officer are comparable to those of other licensed professionals. E.g., a surgeon or a commercial airline pilot can do things that most others (including cops) could not do legally, but because they are specially equipped to do so in a beneficent manner.

However, neither a surgeon, airline pilot, or police officer is entitled to use their special dispensations to do anything malignant. The issue here is that disseminating child pornography is understood to directly and/or indirectly harm children. The police should not have the option of using that or even of idly allowing that to occure in order to obtain their convictions, any more than it would be okay for them letting a murder go forward so they could bring up murder charges.

I think taking over the website is a valid sting. But they should not have provided the actual images once it was in their capacity to prevent them from being distributed. If that results in less evidence collected, so be it. Protecting the innocent is of higher priority than maximizing justice.

Comment Re:Jah booty (Score 2) 139

But the people who make the decisions about who is going to be killed already may never set foot on the battlefield. And veterans aren't to my knowledge the major component of war protesters.

On the other hand remote combat (theoretically) removes much of the incentive for killing. If you are out on the battlefield, killing is how you guarantee your personal survival. Armies have historically dealt with non-violent acts such as desertion with on-site execution of their own men because of their own personal stakes in victory. We even accept "I was afraid for my life" as a justification to kill back at home. But that argument doesn't work if you are safe in an office controlling a robot. With robots you can justify waiting to see if the person reaching for their pocket is going to pull out a gun or a detonator. You can justify non-lethal response even if it is.

Not saying we will automatically pursue that. But it's a possible future, given the technology.

Comment Re:There was no before (Score 4, Interesting) 225

Everything we have ever known has had a cause.

I disagree, we are ever in search of causes, precisely because our body of facts great exceeds our body of explanations. Some facts, such as quantum randomness, seem to explicitly exceed our ability to link a previous state to the final state except by statistical description.

Taking it for granted that we can uniquely relate all effects that we have observed with prior causes -- and even that we will never encounter a future exception -- on what basis can we assume this would apply when the universe was in a fundamentally different situation? In fact, we know some of our existing assumptions must break down, and it is one of the standing problems to understand how. But how can you assign a probability to rules like cause and effect under unknown conditions? Inside the scope of a basketball game, you can estimate the probability that a player, or a group of players, will score. What good is that estimate if I tell you their next game will be a newly invented sport with unknown rules?

But I think it's fine to assume things like an ultimate cause or chain of causes. It's not science, because it's not subject to observational inquiry. However, it may still be true. I just don't think it's something we can state as having to be true.

Comment Re:Cue the flamewar... (Score 1) 1134

"Extreme" has different contexts but a political extreme almost certainly refers to views far removed from those generally held. According to your interpretation, someone who supports "some genocide" has adopted a moderate position and someone who is totally against genocide is an extremist. You can rationalize that usage if you have a specific purpose to do so but it's obviously not the common usage.

In the US, advocating significant gun restrictions is an extreme position. Globally, it is not. Select euthanasia is moderate position by polling (although not very popular as actual legal policy). The American's left's views on abortion are very extreme both globally and locally. The right fosters some extreme views as well but realistically the political discussion of abortion in the US is almost exclusively about the second and third trimester and it is the right which (collectively) seeks the more moderate policies.

Comment Re:Punishing people who get degrees we need the mo (Score 1) 230

Want to pursue a STEM or other high-paying degree? No problem, but you have to pay a lot more for your degree.

Isn't paying more for something that's worth more just normal market behavior? For that matter, engineering and science programs typically also cost the school more, but are somewhat subsidized by tuition from cheaper humanities programs.

That said, there is the issue that engineering degrees are also more valuable to society, which may want to provide its own incentives.

My idea: involve the employers in these ISAs. Plenty of employers already cover tuition in exchange for working a set number of years with them (including the U.S. government). Universities can act like unions, doing collective bargaining on behalf of the students (I am not assuming the universities' intrinsic benevolence here, but presumably students will choose to go to universities which can get them the best deals). Conversely, government and businesses might do a much better job of bargaining down tuition prices than loan subsidied college students have been doing. And instead of gambling on the future, students enter into the arrangement knowing exactly when they are going to be able to afford a mortgage. There are plenty of potential problems, but I think the present process of "guess a good major to land a job from an unspecified employer and make indefinite earnings and by the way your wager is $100k and 4-6 years of your life" leaves a lot to improve.

Comment Re:stupid (Score 1) 305

In the world in which doctors are constantly evaluating all humans for all conditions, I agree with you. But "the average slob" does not go to see the doctor unless he is dying, and when he is dying, his bladder/hairloss/libido issues may not come up.

"end users, ask your sysadmin if systemd is right for you."

"End users, there is this thing called VPN which lets you do your work offsite. Ask your sysadmin if you want privileges enabled on your account."

Comment Re:Reality acceptance issues... (Score 1) 728

The amazing part is that most people don't consider it as a disease to be eradicated.

Clearly, plenty do. There's always some "disease to be eradicated." It could be a religion or other ideology, or an ethnicity. If you haven't had your turn yet to dig the mass graves I'm sure as time goes on the opportunity will arise. Then your ideological allies (if you're not around) can go about eradicating the disease and ushering in the new paradise. It's funny how eliminating these undesirable elements of humanity and thought never seems to produce the promised paradise, however. But I'm sure it will work for you.

Comment First Priority is to Protect the Innocent (Score 1) 121

If the police failed to act on information a rape or murder was planned because they wanted to catch the perpetrator in the act, there would be outcry. You don't jeopardize the safety of the innocent to assail the (potentially) guilty. Collecting foreign intelligence is not more important than heading off immediate threats to domestic citizens. Clearly the NSA views it as all about "catching the bad guy" and has forgotten the reason the bad guys are considered bad. It's like SWAT leaving a bomb in a public building because, "Hey, maybe we could trip it when the bad guys get back."

Comment If you're in Britain (Score 2) 324

Don't store anything on the laptop. The fact they can legally compel you to provide the means of data access means you are in trouble in every case which they have possession of both you and your laptop. You can either do a really good job of hiding the data or you can keep it outside of where they can get it. How about a remote server a trusted person can deactivate if they hear about your situation?

Comment Re:Circadian rhythm (Score 1) 291

But the time we set our clocks to has no bearing on levels of sunlight, that's just how we originally began measuring it. We can start our days at 8am as well as we can start them at 7am. Apparently we really like being able to have everyone in large (but not too large) geographic regions say they 'start work at 7' and that 'Spongebob will be on at 9.' Whatever reasons we have for that, are they reasons which are going to fall apart if things shift by 1 second every couple of years? I'm guessing not.

Comment Re:This piece is hosted on the internet.. (Score 1) 248

Probably, yes. The development of space exploration could be basically credited to the occurrence of the the second world war. Does that indicate the need for more world wars to advance human civilization?

Anecdotal evidence is inherently flawed here because, no matter what route we had taken, we could always point to whatever we did achieve and say "we wouldn't have that if we had done something else" and not be aware of anything we might have created instead. So it's a kind of evidence that can only support the status quo.

Personally, I think it's obvious that a global communications network was inevitable. The internet was not even the first thing which could be called that. There are various reasons it could actually have benefited us to develop the technology later and/or in a different way. What if we wound up with all data and communications encrypted by default, for example? The internet is great but its existence in its present form is not a proof that society needs to progress through projects undertaken by our department of defense.

The real question is how much *general progress* results from dollars invested in NSF grants etc. verses dollars invested in other ways. That's a difficult enough question that is probably a lot of fair points to be made either way. But by all means lets try to qualify what a dollar of public research spending gets us. We may decide we want to keep public research but still reform how it is set up.

Comment Re:Robots (Score 1) 284

You can always work cheaper than a robot. Whatever a robot costs, there's nothing stopping you from charging less (well, except minimum wage laws). How will you afford to eat? Because thanks to the fact food is now produced by robots and supercheap labor, it doesn't cost very much any more.

People will always be exchanging things. Money facilitates that. It won't ever become the barrier preventing it. What really drives people away from menial labor is having better job options to where trying to outbid robots is not appealing.

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