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Comment: Re:No, it means you don't understand irony. (Score 1) 547 547

What made you so mad at Christians in general? You are a true odd ball. Do you hate everything in this world that you are unable to achieve? I've known people like that, and you reek of it.

This blog entry is actually a good starting point, if you're sincere about wanting to know why people "hate" Christians. (Some ads on the page may be NSFW.)

*sigh* Thanks a lot for burning 2 hours of my time (supposed to be writing at the moment) :p. That's a wonderful blog entry and I (naturally) started reading her other posts as well. Amazingly lucid writer - she goes on my 'permanent reading' list. Cheers/

Comment: Re:Next step? (Score 1) 391 391


Notepad++ works for all my technical needs (coding or general writing).

For creative writing, I use this single exe file (357kB) free tool called Q10 (eminently portable so I use it from my usb stick). Superb writing program - opens full screen, soft font, no formatting possible and you can customize background and font colors (but that's it). All keyboard driven (no mouse functions and the mouse cursor disappears entirely) - a command list appears with F1 (intuitive - open close, save). Oh, best thing - you can choose to hear a typewritten sound when you type :). Wrote a lot of neat stuff on this thing - I can see the difference in the way I write.

Comment: Re:I was banned from Free Republic (Score 1) 245 245

There is the pink page of death and other nasty bits that I think /. could get rid of, but on the whole this site caters to its posters very well. That said, the groupthink is still very obvious.

What's the pink page of death? o.O (I'd really like to know)

Also, there is a fine line between groupthink and consensus. That line is defined by objective correctness (when it exists, else the line becomes vanishingly thin). I don't doubt that groupthink does exist even here, but I do trust that you're not making the common mistake of thinking the two are identical. For what it's worth (based on what I remember of your posting history), I don't think you are.

Just needed to be said because there are far too many idiots on the intertubes (again, not referring to you) with persecution complexes the size of Montana who immediately cry "groupthink" (and break out their copy of Sparknotes: 1984) when their pet lunacies are summarily dismissed by rational people.

As for being banned from Freeperville, isn't that the final test of a rational human being? Like being cast out from intellectual purgatory and sent back to earth.

Comment: Re:Alright! (Score 1) 485 485

Here's an idea - raise property taxes to the point where the village can exist without extorting its people in random ways. Oh wait, no one's gonna want that either are they? It's like a bad game of Monopoly where any half-penny township gets ticketing control over the tiny stretch of federal or state roadway that runs through it. Or like a mundane version of 'Salem's lot :p

Comment: Re:Aptitude (Score 1) 769 769

*sigh* I'm afraid you're not responding to my arguments, but rather what you believe my arguments are. Let me try again (based on your latest post).

The problem is that nation states have the intrinsic right to self-governance.When it comes to nation states, there is not "higher authority" per-se; They are all peers.

In principle perhaps. But in reality, only as valid as its enforceability. Here's the funny part that you valiantly continue to ignore - Why the hell should I respect this so-called "intrinsic right of self-governance" of a nation-state that does not respect its citizens basic human rights? If that's too strong, I'll weaken my point a bit to suggest where we might be talking past each other. I can agree to respecting the rights of the nation-state to govern itself while recognizing the fact that the government of that state is an entity distinct from the nation-state (which I take to mean the people who reside in it). Do you see the difference?

It sounds to me like the issue you have with the concept of blanket national soveriegnty is that it allows forms of government and political activities that you personally disagree with to go "Unpunished", as long as they dont start pooping in other people's cheerios.The issue is one of who watches the watchers.

Not really. The issue I have is simply that I shouldn't be expected to agree to (what you assume is a) "basic right" as it applies to governments that themselves do not agree with me with what human rights their citizens should have. It's a matter of symmetry. If you're an oppressive government, you can't fuck humanitarian principles in the ass when it applies to your own people and then shamelessly expect the rest of the world to respect your sovereign rights. As for watching the watchers, I'm a pragmatist. The answer is whoever has the means, motive and opportunity. Having said that, I fully agree that this can't be unilateral - though not for the same reason as yours (so I'm not sure why you're belaboring this point instead of responding to one of my major ones). I just think the US doesn't owe the world any policemen. Let the barbarians civilize themselves. It's a thankless job and is all too often like teen rebellion (doing something bad just to piss off the parents).

As for the question that brings up the spectre of Godwin's law: (I dont intend for this to sound aggressive, btw.)

Perhaps you missed out on Chairman Mao's little happy fun-ride through China? What did the world stage do about it? What is it doing about the aftermath of it right now? [exactly.]

Or, for a more recent example, Sarkosy (however you sell his name anyway) and the Roma extirpation; even though it does not involve extermination.

So, your argument is that global intervention doesn't occur for every example of government oppression, so we should just not do it at all?

The most that other nations have the RIGHT to do about these kinds of things are to 1) Condemn the practice publicly, and 2) withold trade from those countries.

I'll take a page from your relativist handbook and ask you - "WHO decides that this is the only right a nation has?" :p

Who decides what is ethical, what is justified, and what is a crime? (more importantly, who has the RIGHT to impose such arbitration?)

If we can't agree about what's ethical, and what's justified and what is a crime, on what moral basis are you arguing so vehemently for national sovereignty? Can't have it both ways boyo :p If even human rights are so morally ambiguous for you (ew! by the way) that mass killing or political imprisonment cannot be judged as wrong by anyone, why is national sovereignty the only unambiguous principle you adhere to? And that's the crux of the issue here - WHAT moral principle could possibly justify the idea that should I respect the right of a government to exist without molestation if that government does not respect the rights of its citizens to exist without molestation? This is completely analogous to criminals being imprisoned and not afforded the right of personal sovereignty. You consistently fail to address this issue and continue to treat national sovereignty as a moral absolute and everything else as relative. This is mind-boggling to me.

As for the questions about pre-war afghanistan and co.; These nations were ruled by a theocratic agency, more or less. The same could have been said about pretty much every european country during the dark ages. (The power of the papacy exceeded that of local kings. The catholic church's only real adversary was the islamic nations, only later to be replaced with protestantism.) The question then boils down to one of "Do you accept the Taliban as a governmental entity" or not. (much like asking if you accept the papacy as being a government or not. Both are politically charged theocratic agencies, that hold territories. The taliban holds several cities and wasteland areas in the middle east, and the papacy holds Rome. The only outstanding difference that I can see is that the Vatican is internationally recognized as a soveriegn nation, while the Taliban is not. It is this issue of being recognized as a "peer" that is important when a newly born nation declares independance, as such recognition is what confers national soveriegnty; the right to self-rule.)

I would personally recognize neither the Taliban nor the papacy as sovereign. If only they followed my advice ...

Considering I live in the here and now, the fact that Europe was ruled by people who were just as horrible as the theocratic assholes infesting the world today seems to me an argument AGAINST tolerating this sort of abomination (from any faith) in today's world. Legitimizing it will simply delay their equivalent of the Enlightenment because then it becomes acceptable and commonplace.

To summarize the last few paragraphs. My solution to the discrepancy you raise would be to remove sovereignty from the Vatican, not grant it to the Taliban in a misguided attempt at "evening things out".

As for materialistic wealth and standards of living; [...going off on a massive tangent...]

A perfect example of what I started this post with. Let me try to clarify the point I was making (added stuff in italics to the stuff you were responding to to make the point clearer)--- "The standard of life (in materialistic terms at least) is seen to be better in the "freer" countries. The people in the theocratic countries see the 'godless sinners prospering' while they themselves have a hard time barely surviving. The theocratic promises start becoming more and more abstract (since the concrete becomes undeliverable). However, they can only be made so abstract before more and more people start catching on to the bullshit."

All that time you spent on the material wealth stuff was unnecessary. The whole idea is about perceptions and what governments do to adjust.

As for the last part of your post, I personally find that it smacks of democratic elitism;

Hogwash :). It's not my fault that you automatically equate "this government does not assrape its people" or "the people enjoy certain freedoms" with a "democratic form of government". In fact, I was EXTREMELY careful to NOT bind myself to any particular form of government as GOOD. You convict yourself. But history (your european examples work well here) has shown time and again that theocratic states are a particularly BAD form of government. Surely you're not falling prey to the temptation to deduce what I think of as GOOD merely by negating my BAD. That's too simplistic for a moral relativist besides being embarrassingly dualistic. Besides, the last paragraph was meant to show you that while that particular idea of "them hating our freedoms" is often abused, there is a well-defined way in which a modified version of that statement is quite true (I made all these caveats quite clear back then). Again, you missed the point. *shrug*

It has much the same sentimentality that communist countries extolled about marxist (and it's bastard derivatives) communism-- That it was the one and only "True" way to run a country.

To hell with comparing modes of governance. I've focused ONLY on human rights issues. If you're going to start matching presence or absence of human rights with specific forms of government, that's your problem, not mine :p

Say what you will, but Dicatorships DO work. Same with communist governments, and same with theocracies.

Define "work". From the point of view of the rulers, they probably do. From the point of view of the ruled - hah! Now, who's elitist?

(Granted, in all cases the proposed government must govern rationally, and realistically, or else they tend to collapse.)

A rational theocracy is a contradiction in terms. Make a theocracy rational and you have a board of directors :p. The entirety of the human rights violations are based in irrationality. Same with dictatorships. A benevolent dictator is fine in my book. His future spawn usually doesn't maintain that benevolence. But, again, I have no problem with ANY mode of governance that grants its citizens basic human rights. YOU insist on granting sovereignty to certain types of governments because it would be "unfair to discriminate between modes of governance". I think that's irrational reasoning.

Simply because their choice of government is in conflict with your own, does not make their government illigitimate, and/or unworthy of soveriegnty.

Again. Their choice of government is not the issue. How the government treats its people IS. Regardless, I have already stated that this is NOT reason enough to invade the fucking country. But it is reason enough to not want to have anything to do with the fucking country - hence the refusal to recognize sovereignty. That's a diplomatic solution by the way - an alternative to military action. I couldn't care less if they choose their leader based on the genuflections of lemmings or if they have child-queens a la Padme Amidala :p. As long as that leader doesn't trample over human rights in his nation-state, I'll be happy to recognize his government's sovereignty.

However, it should be pointed out that at least in Iraq, the residents WANT a democracy; They just want one that is FREE from outside interference, either from the religious extremists seeking to exploit the existent power vacuum left over from deposing their dictator (that the US put there, to control the region in the first place...), or from a certain powerful western country with hungry eyes on it's oil reserves.

I have to laugh at this. You merely emphasize my own point about this - "I don't think we have a moral obligation to respect the sovereignty of tin-pot dictatorships or "theocratic hellholes". Clearly, the vast majority of its people don't give a shit about who rules them (or they would have revolted). Why should we care?".

I agree that we should have stayed out of Iraq. Of course, if we had done that, the Iraqi people "who want a democracy" would still be living in a dictatorship and their "natural RIGHT to self governance" (your words) would be an abstract concept (much like string theory or the color of smell :p). The biggest irony of this is that my preference (and yours) of non-interference would have resulted in a non-democratic Iraq. And yet, you continue to stress the fact that we OWE them security because we inflicted 20 years of dictatorship on them. Careful - a wingnut could take your entire argument as support for deposing Saddam :p.

"National Soveriegnty" is quite a bit like a child coming of age in that respect. You HAVE To accept that they make their own choices, and you have to accept their RIGHT to make them.

There really is no room for any kind of "But only if they make the RIGHT choices!" kinds of interjection.

As L.M. Bujold wrote:

Adulthood isn't an award they'll give you for being a good child. You can waste... years, trying to get someone to give that respect to you, as though it were a sort of promotion or raise in pay. If only you do enough, if only you are good enough. No. You have to just... take it. Give it to yourself, I suppose. Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, 1999

I believe that says it all :p. Where you see justified rebellion, I see surly teen rebellion. Suicide bombers aren't acting "adult" in any way. They're the equivalent of "I'm holding my breath till I'm blue in the face". When these states grow up, they'll realize that national sovereignty is earned, not begged for.

I'm sorry if you disagree, but really, that's how it is.

No apologies necessary. But I respectfully state yet again, THAT'S not how it is; THIS is how it is. :p

Comment: Re:Aptitude (Score 1) 769 769

wierd_w:-If that means being a theocratically managed hell-hole, that is THEIR business.

Not trying to Godwin the thread, but is this really a good principle to have? On a case by case basis, some of what you said could possibly be said to have merit (with serious reservations at that), but taking the above statement as a guiding principle would mean that in principle, the only thing Hitler did that warranted intervention from the rest of the world, was attack his neighboring countries. Anything related to the holocaust within Germany proper was off-limits to the rest of the world under the principle of national sovereignty. Same with Rwanda (in fact, the argument works better because that's really an internal problem. Who are we to trample on their national sovereignty? So they commit genocide - a principle is far more important than people, right?

You do well to say "Iran is in charge of Iran" (it probably is - marginally). How about some others? Pre-war Afghanistan? pre-war Iraq? The best you could have said then was that someone was in charge of those countries. Why should we recognize a government that doesn't even pretend to represent its people? I don't think we have a moral obligation to respect the sovereignty of tin-pot dictatorships or "theocratic hellholes". Clearly, the vast majority of its people don't give a shit about who rules them (or they would have revolted). Why should we care? Why should I personally grant respect to a government or organization whose stated aim is the destruction of everything I actually do respect? You can't have it both ways.

Here's a principle that I think would actually work:

National sovereignty will apply only to nation-states that can coexist peacefully with other states (just as freedom in a democratic society applies only to non-criminals). Nations with governments that largely behave analogously to criminals do not need to be granted the respect or deference that is the natural due of a sovereign state. Don't like it? Tough noogies. Respond with terrorism? Well, there are solutions to that.

wierd_w:-They want us to stop. It's that simple. It's not that they hate OUR freedom, they WANT freedom from US! (and they are willing to kill for it.))

No. It's not that simple. You ascribe to a bunch of dispersed jihadists a unity of purpose that simply does not exist. Seems to me like you're falling in the same trap as the people you criticize (of the vast terrorist network with a common goal).

wierd_w:-The argument that "They hate our freedom!" is both a smokescreen and a farce all wrapped up in one

While there is some truth to the idea that this reason is used frequently as a smokescreen by politicians, it is far from being a farce. I will agree that it is simplistic and limited because freedom itself is not the major bone of contention. The problem with theocratic (or otherwise totalitarian) societies is that its leadership promises certain rewards in return for the loss of certain freedoms and privileges. These rewards can be either concrete ["the godly way brings prosperity"] or abstract ["behave the way we tell you to or you ain't going to paradise"]. The problem of faith-based terrorism is related in part to the disconnect between promises and reality.

The standard of life (in materialistic terms at least) is seen to be better in the "freer" countries. The theocratic promises start becoming more and more abstract (since the concrete becomes undeliverable). However, they can only be made so abstract before more and more people start catching on to the bullshit. Do you think "wag the dog" is limited to the west? Well, the theocratic nations (and otherwise closed states like NK) have been playing the most colossal and long-running game of "wag the dog" in recorded history. And its citizens (for the most part) remain blissfully ignorant of this. "The infidel is to blame for you troubles. Never mind that we park our asses on our national wealth and grow fat on our luxurious palaces. Trust us because we're the chosen representatives of god." The only true promise they make is that they will lead their people to god (see, you don't even have to wait till you're old!!)

Comment: At least ... (Score 1) 325 325

... get the title right *sigh*. Is that so much to ask from (even) self-published authors?

Super Principia Mathematica: The Rage[sic] to Master Conceptual and Mathematica[sic] Physics

Without RTFA, is this an Onion review?

However most notably Robert Louis Kemp celebrates the work and wisdom on one which he quotes throughout his prose and cites credit beyond all the others, and that is God. I would not classify this book within the genre of theology; however it is refreshing to see a man with such scientific acumen articulate his respect for a fundamentally diametrically opposing thought process.

I call troll =). Heck, I doubt even theologians would take this guy seriously. Sounds like one of the people who keeps spamming our entire physics department every once in a while with "proofs" that the earth is going to collide with hell (you can't make this shit up).

Comment: Re:I hope this dies on the vine. (Score 1) 374 374

Sure you can. I have plenty of software where I can give you a copy, and you can install it, and it will work for a limited time for you. Unlike these e-books, there's no artificial limitation aping physical objects by allowing only a single person a copy, or by disabling the original.

Otherwise known as software demos. That has exactly nothing to do with lending licenses. I could get a "limited time" demo direct from the publisher without you lending [sic] it to me. The analogous thing would be book samples or previews. Again, no limitation (anyone can download them without restriction).

Then there's Steam, with "Guest passes", which lets you lend the software to others so they can play multiplayer with you. Another broken concept, by the way, because it too relies too much on the old "physical copy" paradigm, which is an anathema to raw digital data.

A marginally better analogy. But still, it's not really lending because these magical guest passes seem to appear randomly (I use Steam). It would be like the book fairy suddenly appearing in your house and touching a couple of books on your shelf and giving your permission to lend them out. I'm glad you realize that's a broken concept.

By the way, nothing you said counters my main point which was - the current ebook selling and lending schemes have nothing to do with physical object scarcity and everything to do with taking a page out of the software licensing handbook. You gave all those examples to counter what was essentially a "by the way" statement.

Again, the whole physical buy/sell based on scarcity model doesn't work for digital works.

It may be unfair (in your opinion). It may be detrimental to certain principles (that I suspect are not rooted in economic reality - but that's another discussion for another day. I won't insist upon that here). However, it is an incontestable fact that the model is working. The vast majority of people have accepted the model (as horrible as I personally find it) - as evidenced by the mass migration of ordinary non-technical folks towards E-ink based ebook readers (visit the B&N forum sometime and you'll be as amazed as I was about the demographics that have converted to the dark side :p). I suspect we might have a lot in common as to how we feel the world should work in this regard. Your mistake lies in ignoring what's really happening - your little ditty about the "dying publishing industry" is a clear indication of that.

I.e. abolition of copyrights is an important first step.

Sure, let's throw the baby out with the bathwater. That oughta be good for a few laughs :p.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (10) Sorry, but that's too useful.