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Comment: Re:Obama is a complete and utter failure (Score 1) 853

by sdnick (#34635882) Attached to: Obama FCC Caves On Net Neutrality

And why is it that Obama can't get anything done? Is it because his plans are all wrong-headed? Or is it because no matter what he attempts, there is a group of reactionaries that going to be against no matter what and no matter what lies and other indecencies they need to commit?

What exactly has Obama tried to do as far as net neutrality goes? Most of the FCC commissioners, including the chairman, were appointed by him. Obama's political party still controls both houses of Congress for another month. So why this FCC ruling? The "reactionaries" didn't want this FCC ruling, they dispute the authority of the FCC to regulate the Internet at all.

Maybe, just maybe, Obama's just another politician who will tell voters what they want to hear in election years and pay the most attention to whoever has the most money the rest of the time. Just a notion.

And this FCC ruling is the worst of all possible worlds - it gives Time-Warner, Comcast, etc. the regulatory cover to turn their overpriced, inadequate "broadband" services into the same walled-gardens of fail that the mobile carriers currently inflict on their customers. And since we've gotten the FCC involved in Internet regulation, we can look forward to more meddling in the years to come to support anti-piracy and "anti-terrorism" efforts.

Comment: So link "all the studies" relevant to these claims (Score 1) 709

by sdnick (#33742818) Attached to: Could Anti-Texting Laws Make Roads More Dangerous?

I see, so your game, here, is to ignore all the studies and assume your gutfeel is right.

Uhuh.

How *very* compelling...

What studies? The poster I replied to didn't cite any study - he simply claimed that "studies show...".

Could you provide some specifics from "all the studies" to back up the claims made by the poster I responded to? I mean, it would certainly be more convincing that a huffy attitude.

Comment: Re:because it's a distraction and dangerous? (Score 0, Troll) 709

by sdnick (#33739156) Attached to: Could Anti-Texting Laws Make Roads More Dangerous?

Better ban talking to people in the car with you as well.

As it turns out, talking over a phone is more distracting than talking with someone sitting in the car. There are multiple reasons: 1. Someone in the car with you can and will respond to the dynamically-changing environment as you do. If something unexpected happens, they will usually stop talking. 2. In fact, someone in the car may notice something important, and notify the driver (either by shutting up or pointing it out), thereby partially mitigating the distraction they cause by talking.

Why would someone in the car with you, engrossed in conversation with you and without the responsibility of driving, react to the situation faster than you? This doesn't sound at all realistic.

3. A phone conversation requires more of your attention because you have to make up for the deficiencies of the data channel (phones have lower audio quality than real life, you can't read their body language (even out of the corner of your eye, you can get a feel for a person's mood), etc.).

You can usually get a feel for a person's mood by the tone of their voice as well - I'd say a much better feel than you can get by whatever information leaks in through your peripheral vision.

4. Shared context makes communication more efficient, thus requiring less mental effort (this is why, even in this day and age, people generally want to meet face-to-face).

While this is undoubtedly true, you still haven't made any case that people can't share a context equally as well over the phone as they can with some person sitting next to them while they drive.

5. Studies have shown that it takes humans more mental effort to think/interact with people/data they believe is remote as compared to people/things they think are local. In one study, they measured reaction times and errors in a driving simulator when people were either using an "in-car GPS" giving them instructions or a "satellite data-feed" giving them instructions. Even though both sets of instructions were identical (including latency, etc.), the mere perception that the "satellite data-feed" was non-local caused people to devote more mental effort to it, which increased driving accidents. A non-intuitive result, perhaps, but human mental machinery is finely tuned not for the tasks we currently expect it to perform.

I can't argue with this, since I have no study to prove otherwise. But I know that I've been involved in conversations while driving that consumed so much of my attention that afterward I couldn't recall the process of driving home. The same has occurred when I've found something interesting on the radio. I'd like to see some studies comparing how all of these activities, which aren't outlawed, impact driving and how they compare to the impact of phone usage while driving.

6. Initiating and finishing a phonecall requires much more attention than stopping/starting a conversation with someone sitting beside you. (Unlike fidgeting with a radio, answering a phonecall requires immediate action not at a moment of the driver's choosing.)

Voice commands. "Dial wife". How hard is that? And answering a phonecall doesn't require immediate action - if I'm shifting from first to second as I accelerate from a stop, I'm certainly not going to interrupt that to answer a call. Most people who use phones while driving do so in precisely the same situations in which they fidget with a radio - cruising along, with no anticipated interruptions.

Comment: Re:Lunatic? (Score 1) 1695

by sdnick (#33526926) Attached to: Rackspace Shuts Down Quran-Burning Church's Sites

This is not a question about rights. No one is denying this man has a right to do what he says he will do. What we are saying is that he is a fucking lunatic for exercising this right. Yes it will act as a recruiting sergeant for the Taliban (who must be laughing their heads off about this). Yes it will be used by demagogues to whip up mobs to attack Christians in many countries. Yes it is really just fucking rude and unnecessary. If we were talking about cartoons of Mohammed then I might agree with you - there is an important principle about parody there - but this guy has just picked the most offensive thing he could do to the world's 1.3 billion Muslims

Believe it or not, most of the world's Muslims aren't robots programmed to go insane when someone happens to burn a Koran or draws a cartoon of their prophet, and are actually capable of nuance in their thinking. The kind of hyper-sensitivity you want does no one any good - Western societies jumping to condemn and vilify members who actually choose to exercise the rights those societies brag about are simply showing their lack of commitment to their own principles. The West's supposed support for free-speech and free-expression is just a silly joke if any controversial or hateful forms are immediately shouted down and repressed. And casting all Muslims as potential nut-jobs with hair-triggers who must be humored like spoiled, dangerous children is offensively patronizing and only breeds more ill-will toward Muslims. When we act like fundamentalist Muslims are all Muslims, we only harm the mainstream Muslims who despise and resist the theocratic impulses of those fundamentalists.

Comment: No, obviously you don't get it. (Score 4, Informative) 182

by sdnick (#33249240) Attached to: Blackberry Gives India Access To Servers
India actually did get hit recently by Muslim terrorists who received intelligence, coordination and orders from neighboring Pakistan over mobile phones for several days as they moved through Mumbai targeting non-Muslims and racking up a body count of 166.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE didn't suffer any recent attacks coordinated and made possible by mobile phone technology, and both have historically been far more willing to curtail free speech than India (which isn't anywhere near US standards for free speech itself).

RIM should have hung tough and refused India's request, but at least India had a legitimate reason to ask. "All about spin" - yeah, darn that annoying reality and how it gets in the way of the narrative you prefer.

Comment: 3D is back again. It'll be gone again, too. (Score 4, Insightful) 521

by sdnick (#33133722) Attached to: Filmmakers Resisting Hollywood's 3-D Push

Old people resist change, news at 11.

Old people resisted this particular change when they were young. 3D has been showing up every 10 or 15 years for decades, realizes that no one wants it, and wanders off. Only difference this time is that Cameron used it on a film that would have been an equally huge hit without it and now we have the creative masterminds in Hollywood pushing to film all of their comic book adaptations in 3D.

Comment: Exactly right (Score 1) 565

by sdnick (#33107104) Attached to: How Can an Old-School Coder Regain His Chops?

If you are proficient in as many languages as you state, then learning "modern" languages will be no problem.

This is very true. If you know how to code, you know how to code. Especially if you have some familiarity with C, it simply isn't very hard to become productive in Java, C#, Javascript, ActionScript, etc. And even if you don't have familiarity with structured programming languages, you'll find the "modern" languages much easier to learn than COBOL or FORTRAN ever were.

Just start writing code - the ability to program matters more than the language used. Same as it's always been.

Comment: Re:heh (Score 1) 481

by sdnick (#32831740) Attached to: George Lucas C&Ds 'Lightsaber Laser'

Anyone else notice how Lucas tends to just shit all over anything remotely reminiscent of Star Wars?

Well, yeah - those new Star Wars movies he put out this decade were vaguely reminiscent of Star Wars.

My fiancee is convinced it's because Star Wars prevented him from having any other successful films for the rest of this life, and he resents the series because of that.

My own suspicion is that George Lucas prevents George Lucas from having any other successful films for the rest of this life. I can't even begin to conceive the amount of long-term insulation from reality and the layers of yes-man sycophancy that it took to keep the man from realizing just how bad his attempts at movie-making had become. Just MHO of course.

Comment: Re:Most of these people are cranks or con-artists (Score 1) 206

by sdnick (#32518380) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

Death is sometimes the only thing that puts an end to accumulation of wealth and power. The ability to continue accumulating across generations through primogeniture has a well understood negative effect on society.

I don't doubt that a number of people would agree with you that no attempt to prevent the consequences of aging should ever be made - for religious reasons or societal concerns such as yours.

I also don't doubt that nearly all of those people would sign up for any proven anti-aging treatment if available. Years of debility and/or senility followed by death seem acceptable in the abstract, not so much when it's happening to you. The symptoms of aging will be resolved over the course of decades or centuries (the whole point of this thread is that the rest of the world doesn't play by the FDA's rules), and society will adjust to deal with that happy development.

Comment: Some examples... (Score 1) 206

by sdnick (#32518188) Attached to: Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

Are there also legitimate treatments that the U.S. FDA just doesn't recognize yet? Of course.

Can you give us some examples?

I'm not doubting you, I'm just curious which ones come to mind.

Here's a non-life-threatening example: in the mid-90s, fresh out of college and armed with my new developer's salary, I got my eyes operated on to fix the horrible vision I'd had since childhood. The procedure was something known as ALK, and the outcome was a hideous, star-spangled fun-house mirror perspective on the world every time I opened my eyes. The procedure known as LASIK, now common, became available in the US about a year later as an experimental procedure via a single type of laser approved for off-label use by the FDA. I was told the laser's primary use was etching circuit boards. At that time, LASIK was practiced in many other parts of the world using far more modern devices made specifically for eye surgery, operated by surgeons with much more experience than anyone in the US.

So I did a lot of research, flew to the nation of Colombia, got my eyes fixed with LASIK despite the severe complication of my FDA-approved ALK surgery, and obtained perfect vision - three years before LASIK was finally approved by the FDA. I still send the Colombian doctor a Christmas card every year. This is obviously not an example of a major health issue, but I don't know how you assign a value to three years of good vision vs. three years of near blindness. For me, it was beyond price.

The FDA serves a very necessary purpose and saves lives. But they are cautious to a fault, and their caution costs patients time and - in the worst cases - lives. In the case of experimental treatments by large, reputable pharmaceutical firms, informed adult patients should be able to sign waivers of liability and obtain treatment, FDA-approved or not.

Comment: Re:the sound of clashing ideologies (Score 1) 381

by sdnick (#32452366) Attached to: FTC Staff Discuss a Tax on Electronics To Support the News Business

I like what the brits have tone with the BBC. I could get behind that kind of government support. I don't want to see Ruport Murdoch sucking at the public teat while putting out his bullshit.

We all could get behind the government supporting news organizations that slant the news the way we like it, and we're all opposed to the government supporting news organizations that slant the news in a way we don't like. Since the objective truth is that every single news organization out there has a slant, either government supports all of them or none of them. I strongly favor the latter.

Comment: Re:America is socialist (Score 1) 413

by sdnick (#31444468) Attached to: Bill Gates No Longer World's Richest Man

Sweden is the almost complete opposite, there the working and middle class (the majority voter) believe that the best system for themselves is a system where you can take a year off from work, or not work at all and be supported by the state.

Well, let's be honest - they aren't being supported by the state, since the state does no work and earns no income. They're being supported by their fellow Swedes - the ones who want to work or have to work, and who pay some very high income taxes. The reason their economy is still working is because Sweden imports so many workers from Africa and the Mideast. One of every five workers in Sweden was either born in another country or is the child of immigrants. If/when social pressures force Sweden to halt immigration, or when improving economic conditions at home draw many of these immigrants back to their countries of origin, the fantasy of taking year-long sabbaticals paid for by fellow tax-payers ends.

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