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Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 5, Interesting) 440

by jc42 (#47946373) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Actually, there's quite a lot of history in various parts of the world when parts of a political entity split off. Sometimes this is done peacefully, sometimes it involves serious fighting and wars. An interesting recent case was in Switzerland, where in 1978 the Canton of Bern split, with the northern part forming the new Canton of Jura. You can read a lot about it online, including a couple of wikipedia articles. It's fairly well encoded in Swiss law, where similar votes happen every few years, typically involving a municipality with a large population that wants to secede from its canton and join another. The typical reason for such splits is as in Scotland, where the people in an area feel poorly served by the government, and think they can do better as part of a different county/state/whatever, or perhaps as an independent unit as Jura did.

Here in the US, we had a similar vote in 1863, which resulted in the new state of West Virginia being formed. This is often presented as part of the Civil War split off of the Confederacy. Historians tend to interpret it as more of a case of the western population feeling poorly treated by the remote state government in Richmond, which collect taxes in the mountains, but provided few government services in return. West Virginia did apply to the federal government for statehood, which was ratified after a few years. Unlike the Southern secession, this was done without (further) warfare. A funny aspect of the story is that now, several counties in the northeast of West Virginia have openly discussed seceding and joining either Virginia or Maryland, for pretty much the same reasons. Unlike Switzerland, though, the US doesn't have much in the way of official laws that deal with such political reorganization and redrawing of political boundaries.

The story in Scotland may work out as it often does in Switzerland, where many of the votes for secession fail. The reason is that the referendum functions as a "wake-up call" to the government. It's typical for a lot of public discussion to happen, and the government(s) make promises to fix the problems that triggered the referendum. Sometimes, as people have suggested here, the government reneges on its promises. This will be followed by another vote a few years later, which will often succeed. Or the government may fix many of the problems, which will satisfy the voters and repeated votes will fail.

The Scots would probably do well to continue discussing the issues publicly, and keep the London government aware that they can't continue to get away with everything without repercussions.

Comment: Re:Shetland and Orkney (Score 1) 190

by jc42 (#47945257) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Yes, this is correct, and my bad for perpetuating the myth. I read once that Shetland was closer to Oslo than Edinburgh, but that's also blatantly false. ...

More accurately, I've seen it stated as "closer to Bergen than Edinburgh". Or course, some people might not know where Bergen is. In any case, Shetland historically has always been rather remote from either "mainland", and they've pretty much been on their own all along. If they have problems in the middle of their winter, they can't much rely on help from anyone in the rest of the world.

Comment: Re:Probably a bad idea, but... (Score 1) 190

by jc42 (#47945063) Attached to: On Independence for Scotland:

Well, I've always sorta liked the Scottish historians' observation that, strictly speaking, it was Scotland that took over England, not the other way around. That was after the first Queen Liz died, back in 1703. The new king was the fellow who was already King James VI of Scotland, and became King James I of the United Kingdom of Scotland and England; uh, I mean of England and Scotland.

Of course, a more accurate description wouldn't interpret this as either country taking over the other. It was really more a case of the inbred population of royalty, who were really neither Scottish nor English, agreeing among themselves who should be the next monarch over both of those populations, and giving both jobs to the same fellow. He then spent much of the rest of his life trying to merge them into a single "nation" -- and not succeeding all that well. But this wasn't any real benefit to the majority of either the Scottish or English populations. Or the Welsh or Irish or Manx or Cornish or Shetlanders or ..., for that matter. Or those Colonials over across the Pond.

Comment: Re:Not True, I Saw It Online: (Score 3, Interesting) 82

by jc42 (#47944757) Attached to: Europeans Came From Three Ancestry Groupings

There's no measurable genetic differences. There's only one race: the human race, and that's all that ever was and ever will be.

It's not an all-or-nothing situation. There are statistical genetic differences between various groups of people (though superficial features like skin color are often not closely related to ancestral groupings). One of my favorite such statistics was the calculation that some time in the late 1980s, the US population passed the mixing point where more than 50% of Americans now have sub-Saharan African ancestors. Most such people look "white", of course, since they have only a small fraction of African genes.

I recently read that the accumulated DNA data shows that between 20% and 25% of the US population has "Native American" genes, though again in most of that population is primarily "white". I'm part of that population, with an Ojibwa great-grandmother, though nobody would ever guess by looking at me that I'm not of pure European ancestry.

One thing I've found difficult to discover is what fraction of the US is purely European. If you try googling the topic, it mostly teaches you one thing: Most people don't understand even such simple statistics. You find lots of matches for the part of the population that's "white" or "of European ancestry", but the phrasing implies that they're talking about people who are predominantly European. There's data on the small populations that are purely African or purely Asian or whatever, but it's hard to find any information on the (probably small) population that's purely European.

Of course, for most purposes this all qualifies as idle curiosity. But there are at least a few medical reasons for studying it, in addition to general curiosity about where we all came from.

Comment: Re:Finnish (Score 2) 82

by jc42 (#47944573) Attached to: Europeans Came From Three Ancestry Groupings

You don't need to learn languages to do linguistics. You need to learn about languages.

While working on a linguistics minor for my CS degree, I heard a number of versions of the quip that a linguist is someone who knows 100 words in each of 100 different languages. Of course, this should be followed with the observation that the main focus of linguistics is understanding the structures of languages, and vocabulary is interesting only in that it shows relations between languages. This doesn't generally require having a large enough vocabulary to be fluent. Most of the actual linguists I've met are fluent in only a few languages. These are often languages that are radically different from each other, though, since radical differences in how to express something would be interesting to a linguist.

Comment: Re:Must be an american thing ??? (Score 1) 61

by damn_registrars (#47942133) Attached to: More unsurprisingly conservative ads on slashdot
Sorry that I missed this message in the chatter in this discussion. Considering what you have been through you are probably one of the toughest people I've ever met online. I'm very impressed at your ability to bounce back from all that so quickly, I hope things start getting better for you.

I can also tell you that from some of the research I have been proximal to over the past decade or so, we could probably reach a point of an eye implant (something equivalent to what the Cochlear implant does for the ear) within the next couple years. Unfortunately that kind of work mostly only gets done when the US government wants to fund it, and NIH funding is atrocious right now. Maybe some of your friends from the retinal super-center (I'm trying hard not to think of Walmart when I see the phrase "super-center") can recruit some American researchers to go up there and they can tap into the scientific research money that various Canadian government agencies are willing and able to dole out.

Maybe that could be your campaign promise - "bringing the best American medical research to Canada so we can benefit first" - if you do decide to run. It wouldn't be the first scientific coup for Canada; IIRC back in 2008 Stephen Hawking accepted a post at Waterloo University.

Comment: Re:Not in Tesla's favour (Score 1) 153

by jc42 (#47941845) Attached to: Dealership Commentator: Tesla's Going To Win In Every State

This leads to the question of whether there will be some sort of sweeping federal action in Tesla's favor.

I'd say that's a poor choice of wording. If any such action was taken, it would be AGAINST dealers. It won't be in favour of any single company. It should be fair for all.

It should be. But history (e.g. the "only sell through registered dealers" laws) says it won't be. It'll be in favor of whoever pays the most bribes to the right officials.

Comment: Re:I have a phone in my pocket (Score 1) 130

by jc42 (#47941799) Attached to: Once Vehicles Are Connected To the Internet of Things, Who Guards Your Privacy?

no, but while there are no regulations on mandatory tracking equipment for phones, there are all sorts of regulations on cars. If we got legislation on the books to mandate this tech then it would be illegal to drive without letting the govt track you.

That's already the case in the US (and as I recall, we discussed it here a few years back). US law for some time has required that new auto tires contain an RFID tag. Granted, those can't be read at a distance, but they can be read by sensors under the roadway or in poles next to the street.

It's hard to believe that the purpose of this can be anything but tracking. Yeah, such tags might have other uses, but would any of those uses have resulted in laws mandating the tags?

Comment: Re:I have a phone in my pocket (Score 4, Informative) 130

by jc42 (#47941029) Attached to: Once Vehicles Are Connected To the Internet of Things, Who Guards Your Privacy?

... It knows where I am. It knows how fast I'm going. ...

Well, maybe, and maybe not.

I recall a couple years ago, when I was traveling south on a street in a nearby town, but when I glanced at the GPS gadget, it showed me about a block north of where I was -- and headed north. Traffic was light, so I looked at it frequently, to see what it did, and it showed me continuing north, until my actual location was nearly a mile south of what it showed. Then it decided I'd made a U-turn, and was proceeding south at a rather high speed. Finally, the little You-Are-Here icon reached my actual position, and slowed down to match me. A bit later, I checked its records of that trip, and it showed a max speed somewhat over 250 mph.

So if the police had access to that data, I'd have got a ticket for going about 8 times the legal speed limit. I sorta suspect that most judges would laugh and toss it out. But if it'd been only twice the speed limit, I'd probably have had a large fine to pay.

And note that the position was credible, though it was roughly a mile off. A couple of months ago, however, I noticed that, while my bearing and speed seemed accurate, my GPS position was roughly 100 miles SE of my actual position, which put me maybe 10 or 20 miles east of Cape Cod, driving along in the ocean. It stayed that way for at least 15 minutes, and then suddenly popped over to a local street a few blocks from my actual position.

I've also seen it showing my position as being in north-central Canada, and somewhere in Nevada, when I was actually in the Boston metro area.

So if the police are tracking our GPS position and speed, we have no defense. Yes, maybe the judges will dismiss the tickets that are obviously so badly wrong. But if they're only off by a few miles or mph, we'll all be getting completely bogus tickets that we'll have to pay.

Of course, they may still dismiss them for people who "look right" and "talk right", as they do with claimed drug offenses. ;-)

Comment: What is really happening here? (Score 1) 949

by Bruce Perens (#47930483) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children
We are in a War on Faith, because Faith justifies anything and ISIS takes it to extremes. But in the end they are just a bigger version of Christian-dominated school boards that mess with the teaching of Evolution, or Mormon sponsors of anti-gay-marriage measures, or my Hebrew school teacher, an adult who slapped me as a 12-year-old for some unremembered offense against his faith.

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 949

by Bruce Perens (#47930331) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Hm. The covenant of Noah is about two paragraphs before this part (King James Version) which is used for various justifications of slavery and discrimination against all sorts of people because they are said to bear the Curse of Ham. If folks wanted to use the Bible to justify anything ISIS says is justified by God's words in the Koran, they could easily do so.

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Comment: Re:Look at it this way... (Score 1) 61

by damn_registrars (#47926255) Attached to: More unsurprisingly conservative ads on slashdot

PS - I liked it better when we had ads for mail-order-brides on the front page. At least that was something that performs a useful service. The GOP can't claim that.

...with the GOP, you have an even better chance of getting screwed.

As I've said before, the democrats promise to improve things and - either through incompetence or evil - end up screwing me instead. The GOP campaigns on promising to screw me.

For now, I'll take the fantasy. I like to think that I could keep a job here in this country.

Comment: Re:Must be an american thing ??? (Score 1) 61

by damn_registrars (#47923701) Attached to: More unsurprisingly conservative ads on slashdot
The whole apk bit I find generally ... amusing. I almost never see a post from the actual apk user, pretty much they are always AC posts claiming to be him. Granted, accounts on slashdot aren't goo for establishing identity anyways but seeing an AC claim to be someone is something I find humorous.

That said the AC/apk posts directed at you are certainly meaner than the typical AC/apk posts here.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle