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Comment Re:Doctors save soldiers (Score 1) 406

Saying an engineer shouldn't design a better non-lethal weapon is like saying a doctor shouldn't treat a wounded soldier.

FTFY (Even that is arguable given they could be used to enforce a police state, and that non-lethal weapons can cause permanent injury)

However of course this may be impossible or impractical with current technology. Ex. I imagine it would be impractical with current technology to disable an aircraft or submarine without virtually guaranteeing the death of some/all occupants.

Wars are frequently started not for moral reasons but merely justified by citing some moral argument with no connection to reality. Designing better lethal weapons for a country (read America) that is already generations of military tech ahead of all allies and much more so enemies with the justification of "saving lives" is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

Comment Re:Ha Ha (Score 1) 69

So is "Sitting In" at a restaurant. But sometimes in life you feel like you have to do something, and sometimes you don't want to be violent.

Forcing yourself on others in any way is violence. If you don't leave, if you block a path, don't kid yourself that your are not being violent and potentially inciting a (well-deserved) violent response.

1. behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

"Sitting in" does not damage anything. Disobedience is not by definition harmful and the last century has shown it can be central to movements doing great good.
It is precisely because the violent responses were so clearly undeserved and one-sided that those movements were successful.

Comment Re:only in academia (Score 1) 94

Only in academia

No. You should read the blog post titled "If You Want to Know What a Falsified Resume Looks Like, Here's an Example"

When the compliants are 'company policy does not tolerate lying on resumes' and workers (Cheri Sidney in the blog) are hired and promoted after demonstrably lying on their resume (for 90k+ jobs not some CSR job) the point is no longer arguable.
Hypocrasy is not a subjective value.

Comment Re:That is easy ... (Score 1) 382

I hope this is just a poor attempt for tea party candidates to say they tried to cut wasteful government spending for egghead scientists, but the more cynical part of me assumes it is serious and even likely to pass.

If government isn't going to support expensive research with unknown fruits who will?

I remember seeing a youtube clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining how the British parliment failed to fund early electromagnetism research because it had no apparent use. Wise choice eh?

Comment Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (Score 1) 85

I'm in my twenties, never used facebook or myspace, I stay in touch via phone calls or text. That being said I have less interest than most in staying in touch, others may find a social website necessary.

With younger generations, it may be that they've never used e-mail for that purpose to begin with.

I haven't. Never even thought about it, I'd rather use my cell phone.

Comment Re:You asked for this (Score 1) 289

  1. 2) Limited campaigning time -- I like that it forces them to not flip flop (it would be too obvious) but I suspect voters would have very shallow information on candidates.

I would be inclined to say this is already a problem, especially since it seems like many of them ignore obvious information sources (such as congressional voting records of incumbents) in favor of soundbites.

To clarify I meant that scandals wouldn't have time to be researched and surface. I don't like media hype on scandals more than the next person, but the longterm pressure on Palin when showing her extreme religious beliefs and lack of experience may have taken away votes from those who would otherwise have reflexively voted R (some in my family choose not to vote for that reason). I think you bring up a good point, and the benefits may out way the disadvantages (sadly as I think in an ideal world you would have a long run up to get plenty of information about the candidates).

Comment Re:You asked for this (Score 2) 289

I absolutely agree that something needs to be done, and I've thought a bit about this but hopefully someone with a PolySci background will give substantive feedback:

What I agree with

  1. 1) Need a new voting system -- Agree completely there isn't a single best (comparision here). Don't have the background to have a strong preference.

What I disagree with

  1. 2) Limited campaigning time -- I like that it forces them to not flip flop (it would be too obvious) but I suspect voters would have very shallow information on candidates.
  1. 3) No political advertising, or [with conditions] -- I like Laurence Lessig's idea and haven't heard a better one.
  1. 4) No political parties -- I actually like this but I don't see how it can be enforced, I think this will happen informally if outlawed.
  1. 5) Single public forum for candidates -- I dislike centralizing control of where candidates are presented, too vulnerable to corruption.
  1. 7) State pooled representatives for congress. -- Concerned the representative will be ineffective if they come from an area with very different problems.


  1. 6) No primaries --- I'm not sure how this would be enforced, or if it would really be beneficial, but I'm not sure it wouldn't either. More info please.

What I suggest

  1. 1) Voting system is a major but not sole part of the solution. -- Corruption and human errors have affected other areas as well. Media has massive biases, both major parties have die-hard supporters, civic engagement isn't part of our culture (beyond voting). We need a whole new voting ecosystem. I don't know how you would accomplish this, it will take many people many decades to change things. I do think the approach of identifying and targeting structural failings (like voting system) rather than individuals is the right approach.
  1. 2) Change should happen SLOWLY. -- Quick fixes never work this will be no different. Contrast Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years to any Learn X language in Y days material.
  1. 3) Strategy 'war of attrition' -- I think attempting to change federal politics directly is a strategic mistake, in order for any structural change to get support you would need many people familiar with it and have proven success. People are justifiably suspicious of any change to the government, bills will be watered down, movements will be co-opted (Tea party). Trying these changes in small towns and cities first before moving to state and federal allows you not only to target areas with more receptive citizenry, and reduce costs, but reduces backlash you might expect from entrenched players on the national level. (Koch brothers care who gets elected president but have no idea who is running in SmallTown Iowa)
  1. 4) Game Theory 'Watch your step' -- I suspect this comes up a lot in poly sci already and I think would give insights on unexpected effects of any proposed changes Yale released a course to youtube, enjoyable instructor. (Obviously a lecture series isn't enough just trying to spread information)
  1. 5) Corporations are not democracies. This is a sore area, especially in America, but one I feel is important. The power structure varies from public firms to single owner firms to small groups of investors to significantly employee owned (Boeing or Mondragon) and others your might imagine. Each is simply a different way of running an organization with its own merits and flaws. The fact that we tend more towards top down management and industries with a few major players needs to be kept in mind. I think Governing the Firm provides a level headed, economic perspective on the matter.
  1. 6) America has a lot of people. -- I think the seer number of people an indiviual is expected to represent needs to be addressed. How can people who are capable and honest be pushed up to a wider audience? I see 3 solutions and don't particularly like any of them for reasons I won't go into (and are fairly obvious) a) have many small elections from bottom up (say amongst groups of 12 --- some arbitrary small number) those go up a level and nominate the next group etc until the highest fills office b) demarchy c) No representatives, via the internet people vote on bills directly.

TL;DR: If you will not put forth the effort to at least skim it your opinion isn't of interest to me.

Comment Re:Reference Newspapers (Score 4, Informative) 239

Given his, AlphaWolf_HK, other remarks on this same page:

Except wikileaks (and Assange himself) is already known to embellish the truth, or even outright fabricate it. For example, what they claimed were cameras in that "collateral murder" video were in fact weapons. I'm not even an expert and I clearly saw both Kalashnikov and RPG being carried by those people walking - I don't know how anybody could mistake those for cameras. Assange himself admitted that his intent is to cause outcry, even if he has to lie about it.

All of which are false (those in fact were cameras, held by the two reporters named Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh working for Reuters), more info here. I think we have additional evidence that in fact bloggers are a much worse source of news than reporters. Instead tending to reinforce the beliefs and opinions of those that seek them out rather than provide accurate commentary. Slashdot, please mod AlphaWolf_HK down.

Comment Re:Reference Newspapers (Score 1) 239

There is enough leftist hatred and antisemitism in the Guardian to kill a civilization.

Great! Then you will have no trouble citing multiple stories The Guardian has written indicating as much.

For extra points provide some commentary from other news sources, which typically leaning pro-Israel (especially in America), would no doubt have torn apart those same Guardian stories.

Comment Re:Reference Newspapers (Score 5, Insightful) 239

4 Points
1) Diversity is good, but... You must keep in mind that is not sufficient reason to read a source. A 'diversity' of falsehoods is worthless.
2) You can't read everything. Choose the areas that mean the most to you (international affairs, economics, national or local politics, etc) and try to find 2-3 sources that seem to do good work in those areas.
3) Be aware who is paying the bills. The consumers/adverisers in typical newspapers? Purely advertisers as in television/online reporting? Government in state funded broadcasting? I don't believe reporters will bend their views to match the person paying the bills. Instead reporters with unsympathetic views will often not get hired in the first place (probably not a lot of leftwingers in Fox or rightwingers on MSNBC). I'd strongly recommend reading Manufacturing Consent for more information.
4) Let your choices evolve. The editors today may not be the editors tomorrow. Companies get bought out, new ones arise. How much longer will the Guardian's editor remain?

My recommendations:
The guardian -- You already have your reasons. I think their dissimenating the NSA leaks and wikileaks info when no one else would is justification enough.
al jazeera -- Particularly foreign viewpoint, high quality.
Democracy Now -- Not the best quality but clearly believe what they say and is run off donations. Also provides an American (important to me as I am one) viewpoint on things.
Their are others I think are probably good and have seen other posters mention already but I'm not experienced enough with them to know.

Comment Re:Badly (Score 1) 497

Because everything the government does it does badly. That's the nature of government. If you want "good" government, you whittle it down to just those activities which history has shown aren't credibly done outside government -- military, justice system (police and courts), funding basic scientific research (not technology research!), and so on.

I agree. One such area is health care.

Comment Did I miss the monkey brain project? (Score 3, Insightful) 251

I understand that we have far more invested interest in modelling the human brain for medical purposes than any other type of brain. However, if you're going to try to create a model of something vastly complex you should probably start with something easy (and by easy I mean less vastly complex). A short list of neuron amounts in various animals is here, an aplysia(sea slug) or fly brain, I would expect to be a much more reasonable starting point and one with the obvious advantage that you can experiment on, breed whole lines of defective forms to study, just generally have far more control and face no ethical issues with.

Oh and whatever differences may be present in moveing from fly to rat to monkey to human it isn't in the neuron itself those, from what I understand, are almost indistinguishable across species.

This project will not, and I suspect will make no meaningful attempt at, creating a thinking human brain simulation and is really just about better medicine for various mental diseases, which we do sorely need. If it was attempting to take a stab at hard AI "The research hinges on creating a super-powerful computer that's 1,000 times faster than those in use today" is most certainly a false statement: my smartphone is no more creative than the computers of yore that it is 1,000 times faster than.

I suspect they went the thinking machine angle just for the attention... Is it just me or is there a chill in the air?

Comment Re:What the hell costs $30k? (Score 1) 268

I'm trying to figure out exactly how they figure they can justify $30k in the first place. It just doesn't make any sense from where I sit.


What if it only cost $1 would you pay for it? Would you really? Somehow I don't the the price is a reflection of a team of brilliant minds patenting some amazing new learning assessment test.

IQ tests are flawed I'm sure these are as well, my impression is that these seem more like a way for rich people to fleece well meaning but not well grounded rich people out of money. Given the natural desire for people to want the best for kids and everyones desire to want to hear their kid is special/getting the best help/intelligent in their own way/etc I'm sure the marketing on this will be easy and virtually unchallenged.

I don't have kids but I suspect any results from this (annual?) test will be less useful then quality time by the parent spent learning what the child is interested in and encouraging growth in those areas. Something like this might be valuable one day but probably not soon.

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