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Comment: Re:I wonder who bought him (Score 2) 216

Their wielding of power requires that others are responsible. You can't pass a law against someone unless you've laid some blame at their feet. And it's not necessarily the goal to pass the law, either. Maybe just a friendly reminder that ISPs aren't making enough campaign contributions and might want to reconsider before the next legislative session comes around.

Comment: Re:This would be a great idea if... (Score 1) 186

by physicsphairy (#48518427) Attached to: Pizza Hut Tests New "Subconscious Menu" That Reads Your Mind

It is meant to solve the single solitary problem pizza hut has ever been interested in solving: how to make more money. Just as a curiosity everyone now wants to order a pizza to see if it really works. They may keep ordering for a while before the novelyt wears off. There may be psychological biases in which people think the pizza tastes better. If nothing else, everyone is now talking about getting a pizza they will like by going to Pizza Hut.

Comment: Re:It's all about the merchandising. (Score 2, Interesting) 390

by physicsphairy (#48480413) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

To be fair, a lot of those things actually were action figures because that's how the effects were done. And puppets probably translate fairly well. But at least they didn't come off as specifically designed to be turned into a McDonald's toy. I suppose I didn't really get that impression in the new trilogy either, although part of that may be simply because I wasn't made to care about any of the characters and am not sure why I would want them as figurines. . . .

Comment: Re:This is not about revisionism or censorship ! (Score 5, Insightful) 193

by physicsphairy (#48476485) Attached to: Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten

I'm pretty sure for "most of our history" people have lived in the same rural communities where, not only did everyone who regularly encountered you have a pretty good running list of all your past major mistakes (which makes a great way to pass the time) but good luck outliving their memory, especially for the big ones. Identifying tattoos have been used as punishments since at least Roman times, and I'm not aware of any historical laws which really reflect the idea of a "right to be forgotten." Obviously anyone who could write could have gone out of their way to keep records on you at any point in history.

Which is not to immediately say this right to be anonymous is a bad idea, but I don't see how you could support it as some kind of social inheritance.

But note where you have gotten your ideas of anonymity. I assume you're from a modern urban area. There are so many people and so many things to keep track of that everyone is effectively anonymous unless someone goes to an effort to make it otherwise. But this same process is exactly what is happening with the internet. The more information which is provided the more your individual details are washed out. Believe it or not Google and the modern data age is making you *more anonymous.* Lives are not being ruined forever. As time goes on we are soon going to start having to reconcile with the fact that *everyone* is going to have embarassing crap online, not just the unlucky few. In all likelihood we are going to quickly move past it as a society, at least as much as we have ever done before.

As for the accusation of revisionism and censorship : this is the exact reason why the search engine are asked to remove stuff, and NOT the original publication. Because then the information is still reachable by the same OLD fashioned way we did before : old fashioned research.

And exactly how long do you think it is before someone wants the original publication delisted as well? Or before governments realize that there is *lots* of stuff they can think of good reasons to delist? How hard do you think it is to extend the capability? Since you're interested in how history informs the present, why don't you go back a couple hundred years or so and pick out a dozen governments you would trust to have this level of control over what information is presented to the public. Any contenders?

As far as I am concerned the major improvements and liberalization in many governments in recent years relates directly to an increase in public transparency and communication. To a large degree those things happened simply because they were outside the government's control to stop. Now we're back on the otherside of the pendulum where technology is returning power to control information into their hands. I think if you want to bet on their continued benevolence, then you aren't betting on history.

Comment: Since when do the police care about privacy? (Score 1) 301

by physicsphairy (#48363861) Attached to: Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation

Mugshots and information about arrests are made publicly available. Most news articles I read have the names of any supects and arrestees over 17 years of age. This is all before any kind of criminal convinction. Why the sudden concern about whether someone gets "embarrassed"?

Comment: Re:Six Years Ago (Score 2) 401

by physicsphairy (#48297881) Attached to: US Midterm Elections Discussion

In a well designed system the House should match the vote. It does not.

What is this well-designed system? It's not an equipartitioned grid -- that would have the Republicans ecstatic and the Democratics up in arms.

In fact, the whole concept of local representatives is incompatible with the idea of representing the electorate in perfect proportions. Unless every neighborhood in the country is the same homogeneous mix of Republicans and Democrats, you're going to have to deal with the fact that some areas are going to have higher concentrations and dilute the impact specific votes in that area have on national outcomes. Trying to balance it out isn't a great idea either -- want to tell people in California they are going to get less net representation so they don't drown out Colorado?

However, the system has the advantage that it does a much better job of representing regional interests, which is basically why it was invented. In some marginal cases that may even mean putting the technical minority in charge. Of course, if your party is the technical majority you will feel up in arms about it and want to change the system. (But you won't because you can't until the system favors you, and then the incumbents will not see it as nearly such a crisis.)

If you want to talk about disproportionate, how about we tally up the number of voters who identify as independent vs. the number of elected candidates who do. Interesting how no party is worried about that little misfeature.

Comment: 1940s technology (Score 2) 260

The technology to actually manufacture nuclear weapons is starting to close in on a century old. What prohibits their manufacture is ultimately a combination of international pressure, expense, and engineering difficulty. If your country doesn't have a bullet train then it probably doesn't have nuclear weapons for much the same reason or else because it has specifically chosen not to manufacture them (the fact any money from western nations would quickly evaporate makes a strong incentive). If you're going to worry about people getting hold of galium and high speed cameras, you're just being ridiculous. Anyone who could even have a shot at building a nuclear weapon also has enough resources to easily obtain those sorts of items, no matter what international restrictions are applied.

Comment: Re:This is not like giving a DNA sample (Score 2) 328

How is gaining access to the contents of your phone not "just surrendering information which is stored outside your brain"?

Your phone and its contents are evidence and once a warrant is issued (which I hope is still a requirement) it is fair game. What is not fair game, thanks to the American constitution, is to say "Either you can tell us that you committed the crime and we can send you to jail for the confession or you can tell us you didn't and we can send you to jail for perjury."

The password on your phone is not protected information because it requires your consent for the police to look at it. It's protected information because divulging it proves you own and have access to the contents and giving it up equates to admitting the same. You can't be compelled to make that admission.

But if the police prove by some other means that you do own and have access to the information, then you're no longer protected from being compelled to dislose the password. E.g., we have had articles here where a defendant admits it is their laptop computer and they know the password, and then are ordered to reveal it.

Comment: Re:Disturbing (Score 1) 331

How is someone with only high school as experience expected to assess how well they will be doing in 401 Statistical Mechanics down the road, what job they will have, how difficult it will be to make their student loan payment on top of a carpayment, rent check, groceries, etc.? Up to this point in life most of them have lived at home, had no job, no responsibilities, and are used to having all the important decisions made for them. Their first real life decision shouldn't concern whether to sign up for a hundred thousand dollars in debt. They realize it's a lot of money but it's all part of some nebulous future to which their parents, teachers, and peers assure them a "good college" is the key to success. And their actual responsiblity to pay back the loan is deferred four or five years into that future.

What's missing here is the other party to the risk. If you were to take out a loan to buy a house or start a business, you would have to convince the bank that it was reasonable for you to pay it back. The goverment has removed that risk to the seller of the loan on the theory that now you can take out a cheaper loan, but with the downside that there is no second assessment on whether the loan is a good idea.

But in the grander scheme the bank is mostly just an accessory. They're earning a percentage, it's the colleges who are pocketing the lump sum, and the colleges are also doing so with the entire risk shifted onto the student, despite their continued intimate involvement in whether the student's investment will pay off.

IMHO, the university should be as responsible for the loan as the student. Call it a partnership.

Comment: Re:Makes no sense (Score 1) 608

by physicsphairy (#48238275) Attached to: Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment

You're comparing analysis of a decades long trend to single data points. The question which is being asked is "Why has the proportion of females in CS declined?" Yes there are many complicated factors which go into a woman's decision to pursue a career in CS -- more than we could ever hope to analyze -- but taking all those factors as a given, and then allowing a change, it's possible correlate any increase/decrease to that change. This study is purporting to have isolated economic factors as providing that correlation for a particular set of data. No, it does not explain the job market breakdown between women in CS/psychology/art history, etc., but it does explain why the ratio for CS now is different from the ratio for CS in 1985.

Comment: What is "positive thinking"? (Score 5, Insightful) 158

by physicsphairy (#48231825) Attached to: The Problem With Positive Thinking

I don't see why establishing unrealistic views of reality would ever be constructive. Imagining the week will excel in every way and finding out that it doesn't isn't what I consider "positive thinking" -- obviously the week is going to fall short and then the lesson learned is not going to be a habit of thinking positive, it is going to be the opposite, that thinking positive is futile and incorrect.

What I consider "positive thinking" is a realistic perspective which acknowledges the good and the bad but emphasizing the good aspects. Seeing losing your job as an opportunity to start a new chapter. Seeing the misfortune of others as an opportunity to help them. Being thankful for what you already have instead of craving everything you don't. It's a more accurate view in any case -- it's quite rare that losing a job or a relationship deprives the rest of your life of meaning or success, and solving problems actually does give the brain a sense of euphoria, so why should you be upset about encountering them?

The mental contrasting approach the article describes seems oriented along those lines, but to me it's not a matter of "contrast" so much as a matter of compatibility -- positive thinking doesn't contrast with realism, realism simply sets the context in which positive thinking should take place.

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 372

by physicsphairy (#48218641) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

The risk factor is non-zero regardless of what procedures are followed. Even if ebola is not generally transmissible by air it's not quite against the laws of nature for the virus to find itself in some liquid drop which just happens to follow the right air currents in the right time frame to get taken up in an orifice etc. Then there's the possiblity of tears and defects in protective equipment, etc. The fact he spent so much time near ebola patients may have turned a one in a million risk to a one in a thousand or one in a hundred and from there it was bad luck. Of course, he might have botched it, too, but realistically if someone is spending all of their time around carriers of the disease they should be considered at risk of contracting it whether they're being clever about it or not.

Comment: "not a good judgement" (Score 4, Insightful) 113

An EU spokesman later said the removal was "not a good judgement" by Google.

Clearly google should have a team of philosophers, ethicists, social activists, and legal theorists evaluate each of the 1000 requests per day to ensure that each link removed is a "good judgment."

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