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Comment Re:The thing that has made great superhero movies. (Score 1) 640

No, Hannibal Lecter could not have been conveyed in a PG-13 film. Because, by definition, horror has to be scary, and scary means children don't get to see it.

I don't know if you have children, but if you think that PG-13 movies are "not scary", I would recommend that you screen at least The Ring and Sixth Sense yourself before showing it to your 7-yr-old.

I don't think you are correct about Hannibal Lecter not being portrayable in a PG-13 film. A good filmmaker can make something just as scary (The Ring (opinions vary on that one though) and Sixth Sense being good examples) without depicting the gore graphically. It's not done as often, partly because people like the gore. It's part of the fun of the movie (for people who like that), and you're making something that would scare kids anyway, so what point is there in toning the graphic violence down?

If there was a way to throw down the guantlet and challenge filmmakers to make scary films that fit withing PG-13 guidelines, you would see exactly how terrifying a film can be without on-screen gore or extreme violence. (Although if you did this you might get parents screaming to modify the rating system after those movies came out :).

Comment Re:Hardly surprising... (Score 1) 1147

The price differential exists precisely because the head of Microsoft doesn't understand what it is about Apple software that causes many people to consider an Apple computer to be worth a few hundred bucks more than a similar-spec Windows machine.

Dude! Don't say stuff like that out loud! It's funny to watch them lose and not know why.

Comment Re:Insight required (Score 1) 115

Graphene has some pretty interesting electronic properties. Its bandgap (the essential component of all semiconductors) can be manipulated by changing the length of the sheet; as the sheet becomes infinitely long, the bandgap approaches zero

Yeah, in theory. I've actually got an infinitely long sheet and I'm about to test that, just waiting to hear back from the lab assistant I sent to the other end.

Comment Re:Or you could tell people not to bring their lap (Score 1) 179

Did you mean

Indeed. We seem to be evolving a culture where we try to solve every problem with government force. Sometimes government force is not the answer. Sometimes you have to realise that government force is not curing the problem, it is just solving a symptom. And like most diseases, it will simply evolve around your attempt.

? :)

Comment Re:One way to get more registered voters (Score 1) 1088

Yes, we the people are idiots, and democracy is a terrible idea. Bring back an oligarchy, it works for Russia.

I think he is arguing for a republic, which we actually are. "We the people" may be idiots now, but originally "we the people" delegated a very limited set of powers to the federal government in the Constitution. It was never intended, and is not legal without a change to the constitution, for the people to vote in the same kind of tyranny that we had just fought a war to evict. (Like H.R. 1 which allows the fed gov't dictatorial rights over the practice of medicine.)

If you're like most slashdotters, you think the war in Iraq was a disgrace. Did you like the fact that a majority of the people/their representatives voting in favor of that war meant that *your* tax dollars, which are extracted from you buy force, went to support it?

I think it's fine if people want to try to help another country throw off tyranny (remember that up to 70% of Iraqis wanted the US to invade when the question was being considered originally), but I don't think they should be forcing you to pay for it if you don't agree. In my opinion, in the long run, we are better off with more free countries in the world, and there is value in us helping fix a mess we created (by supporting Saddam in the first place). But that's my opinion, and it should be up to me and the other people who agree (and anyone who wants to volunteer to fight) to do something about it if we want to.

By naively saying "democracy! majority rules!" you are inviting other people to infringe on your rights. It's a republic, and there are rights you are not allowed to take from me nor I from you by a mere 51% popular vote. Sometimes that means you don't get to force other people to do what you want them to.

Comment Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (Score 1) 231

Yet we "force" people into Jury Duty.

Yeah, that's not necessarily the right thing to do, either. What would happen if people voluntarily opted out, for example? I don't know. People have explored possibilities there.

If pressed I could concede jury duty for a few weeks much easier than forcing someone to change careers.

Comment Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (Score 3, Insightful) 231

We should draft random people to become politicians.

Ah, yes! Use force! Only by taking away freedom (the freedom not to be a politician) can we protect freedom!

That's my knee-jerk reaction, and it's like that for a reason--just about the only thing anyone ever proposes is more force. Forcing banks to lend money to people that wouldn't have qualified for loans under the bank's own rules, coupled with the creation (again, through force of federal law) things like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which gave institutions a place to unburden themselves of that debt, got us into the mess we have now. And the first thing people think (well, to give them credit, they did stop it the first time, but when the fear mongering set in, they caved) is "the government should do something". And when they say that, they mean "by force".

Every time you think of or hear of a possible government solution to a problem, ask yourself if this is just another scheme to try to use force to make things the way someone thinks they should be. Force is seductive--it looks so easy. End poverty! Take all the rich bastards' money and give it to the poor! Stop the horrors of drug addiction! Make drugs illegal! Prostitution is immoral! Make it illegal! Pornography {feminist: victimizes women!} {religious right:offends God!} It should be illegal!

The alternative is _so_ _much_ _more_ _work_! It staggers the mind to think of what it would take to teach, encourage, get people to choose to do the thing you think is right. Some of them might not ever do it. It would be _so_ _much_ _easier_ to just _make_ them! And that, basically, is what you get from the left and the right. A plan to force others to do things they way they think they should be done.

The thing is, the people that are in positions of power aren't the problem. It's the power that we have conceded to them. The constitution does not give the government the right to do 1/3rd (made that up, I bet it's actually smaller) of what it does. What we should do is work to reign government back to what the constitution says it is. Then you can fret less about who gets elected, because they will have less power to mess up your life.

Comment a better patentability test/process (Score 1) 175

My theory is that we should scrap the current system and replace it with this:

If you have an idea that you can show would have been economically feasible to do for the past 20 years, and yet no one did it, you can own it for the next 20 years.

I think someone at one point patented selling advertising on menus, right? Or is that a legend? Anyway, pretend it's the truth.

I don't know when someone thought of this, but I'll bet that when they did it was something people could have made money off of for 20 years before that time. So, imagine you think of this idea (say it's 1900 or whatever). You don't even own a restaurant, have no particular interest in starting one. You're sitting there at a sidewalk cafe and thinking, man, I already know what I want, I'm waiting for the waiter (hmmm) to come back, and I'm bored. I'm a captive audience! Someone should sell ads on these things.

Now, the question is, what do you do next? Suggest it to the cafe owner? Will he give you free lunch there for the rest of your life with the money he makes? Probably not. Are you going to start a restaurant so you can try this out? Probably not. So what's your most likely course of action? You notice free puppies for adoption on the corner and forget about it until the next time you are bored at a restaurant.

So the idea stays in your head, and the general population doesn't get the chance to use it to make money. Maybe some quirky cafes that some people really liked but they didn't appeal to a wide enough audience go under, which could have stayed afloat if they had one more source of revenue.

And with this standard, you know that the idea is "hard" or "ingenious" or "sufficiently clever" or "hard enough to arrive at that we deem it patentable", because no one has done it, even though restaurants and menus have been around for more than 20 years.

Now, if the restaurant was something that had just come out of the labs and people were only newly getting used to the idea, you wouldn't be able to patent stuff like "free water to every guest! whoa!" or "paper napkins to save on my laundry bill!" or whatever. The stuff that's too obvious to be legitimately patentable will show up as a matter of course as people try to make their businesses more profitable.

When you hear (most) people complaining about patents, they are complaining about stuff like one-click, which any reasonably intelligent person working on a user interface would arrive at by simply trying to reduce the complexity of the process for a repeat sale. Someone with a bunch of VC backing or corporate R&D budget is getting paid to play around with new technology and they end up stumbling into this area first, and bang, it's theirs. The problem with that model is that it slows down innovation, because then the next guy has to innovate around the totally obvious "invention" that someone land-rushed to.

This system would eliminate this "stake out all the easy stuff for the big companies that can afford to just play" activity. If you want a patent on something, you had better figure out something so clever that no one has thought of it for 20 years even though it could have made money at any time during that period.


Make it float--if it's only been feasible for one year, you get your lock for a year. That way you eliminate the motivation to sit on an idea if it's year 15 or whatever and you might make more money if you keep it secret a while longer.

The idea of the patent system is to get the ideas out so everyone can benefit. It wants to reward innovation, and protect both the little guys who come up with a clever idea on their own and the companies that pay a lot of money for R&D and want a return on that investment. The problem with the current system is that it's really hard to say what's innovative enough to be worthy of protection. This method computes idea difficulty with a massively parallel socio-biological machine. (Man, I should patent those!)


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