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Comment: Re:Damn unfortunate (Score 5, Insightful) 714

by serano (#39381983) Attached to: Rutgers Student Ravi Convicted of Bias Intimidation and Spying
Hate crime laws exist to address the fact that certain attacks are a type of terrorism that affect an entire community. If a man kills his wife, that is horrible, but it doesn't cause everyone other wife to have reasonable fear that they will likewise be attacked. If a random guy walking down the street in a gay neighborhood is gaybashed, that pointedly does strike terror in an entire community. It deserves an additional deterrent.

Comment: Re:Because nobody with a degree ever had an idea? (Score 3, Interesting) 418

by serano (#36250622) Attached to: PayPal Co-Founder Gives Out $100,000 To Not Go To College
He argues from the fact that a few people buck the trend and succeed despite dropping out of school. That does not mean they succeeded because they did not go to school. That's like Oprah getting up on her final show and saying she owed her success to her prayers to Jesus. Well tens of thousands of people around her prayed too and none of them were up there, so that logic should mean prayer failed in nearly every case rather than prayer is what made her succeed. Looking at the exceptions without looking at all the factors that actually made them exceptional is a big error here.

Comment: Grow up (Score 2) 205

by serano (#35655702) Attached to: Page Can't Turn Back Clock At Google
This sounds like a 45 year old who longs for the golden years of being a college student. Google should acknowledge it's not a nimble startup company but a near monopoly search engine with a massive amount of money. It should invent itself as something new appropriate for it's age rather than be a 45 year old with a faux-hawk and skinny jeans.

Comment: Security an authoritarian government could love (Score 1) 227

by serano (#34986238) Attached to: How Facebook Responded To Tunisian Hacks
The second technical solution they implemented was a "roadblock" for anyone who had logged out and then back in during the time when the malicious code was running. Like Facebook's version of a "mother's maiden name" question to get access to your old password, it asks you to identify your friends in photos to complete an account login.

Hmm, you're trying to log in... Please help us identify your friends first.

This is going to be a great new fake verification for a future authoritarian government.

Pope Says Technology Causes Confusion Between Reality and Fiction 779

Posted by samzenpus
from the where's-the-reset-button dept.
Pope Benedict XVI has warned that people are in danger of being unable to discern reality from fiction because of new technologies, and not old books. "New technologies and the progress they bring can make it impossible to distinguish truth from illusion and can lead to confusion between reality and virtual reality. The image can also become independent from reality, it can give birth to a virtual world, with various consequences -- above all the risk of indifference towards real life," he said.

Comment: Re:Why so discriminating? (Score 1) 1036

by serano (#32760270) Attached to: Google To Add Pay To Cover a Tax For Gays

I'm only responding to the first three due to time constraints.
Gen 19:5-8: "and they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.' But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, 'Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.'"
The very next verse includes this:
Don't do [this] evil, my brothers. Look, I've got two daughters who haven't had sexual relations with a man. I'll bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want to them.
Does this really seem like a moral source you want to draw on to condemn gays, a source that literally in the next breath has a father sending his young daughters out to be raped? Incidentally, that passage isn't about homosexuality, but rape and as another commenter pointed out hospitality.

  Lev 18:22-23: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
This passage is from a whole string of commands about who you should not have sex with, including family members, your neighbor's wife, women who are menstruating, and others. The punishment for any of these is essentially excommunication from society: 'such persons must be cut off from their people.' Our views on many things have evolved, including on adultery having sex with women who are near their mensuration cycle, and gays.

Lev 20:13: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death."
Consistency aside (death sounds a lot worse than the excommunication punishment outlined just a few paragraphs earlier), other things that warrant the death sentence include worshiping other gods, improper eating of ritual offerings, gathering sticks on the Sabbath, and ineligible people acting as priests. This sounds a lot like the Taliban to me, and not at all a society most Western people actually support.

The bottom line: the Bible was written 1500 - 1800 or so years ago and reflects a very primitive and authoritarian set of values. Many of those values are immoral by our views today. The people who are selecting passages to support anti-gay views, anti-black views, pro-slavery views, whatever, always ignore the inconvenient passages.

Comment: Re:It's just the opening scenes of Alien Nation (Score 1) 207

by serano (#28838661) Attached to: District 9 Rises From the Ashes of Halo

An important thing to keep in mind with evolution is it is not some person sitting in a shop coming up with a design for a new species. There is no intelligent thought involved (ignoring sexual selection and animal husbandry for the moment), and a huge amount of luck is required. A given mutation needs to happen in a given environment and not get wiped out immediately by some random event. The result is not the best design an intelligent actor would create. It's the best design that happened to mutate and survive in a given environment.

Comment: violence is stimulation (Score 1) 473

by serano (#28540449) Attached to: On Realism and Virtual Murder

I think video games (and movies) have violence because it is an easy mechanism for engaging emotion and stimulating people. We evolved as humans to respond physiologically to violence (e.g. with adrenalin), and that's easy to manipulate, probably indicating lazy or less-talented writers.

As to whether repeated exposure to violence is harmful, I think it's hard to argue that it doesn't desensitize us. Whether that's bad or not is a judgment call. We know that when we visualize something much of our brain reacts as if we're doing that thing. We also know that our brain can change as we repeat activities so that something that caused one physiological reaction at one point does not cause the same reaction later. That's desensitization to the original stimulus.

I think it's interesting that on slashdot every time this issue comes up, people who support violence in entertainment are frequently very emotional on this issue and people who are against it are shouted down and often not given much rational consideration.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce