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Comment Re:open source ipad (Score 1) 199

OK, the difference between a for-profit and a non-profit is that the non-profit does not pay anybody dividends. A non-profit is legally forbidden to reward its investors (who are called "donors"). So, actually, it's completely different, since the entire purpose of a for-profit is to pay dividends to the investors.

A monolith on the moon certainly isn't going to pay anybody dividends in proportion to their investment. Either no investors get paid, or everybody gets the same "dividend" (even those who didn't invest), depending on how you look at it. Either way, it's a non-profit.

WRT OpenMoko, I don't know about their "original mission statement", but they were quite clearly attempting to make a phone with an open hardware platform. And now the company is making another hardware platform unrelated to phones. It's a company full of hardware designers who produce hardware as a product for sale. So I think it's fair to judge them on that basis.

Finally, the difference between taxation and theft is that taxation attempts to take from all in order to enable collective purchases, while theft does not exist to enable collective purchases.

It's really pretty simple.

Comment Re:Better Use? (Score 1) 199

In fact I can think of no better use for a tiny drop in the total sum of money floating around the planet, than a mass exercise in artistic expression. It's kind of the ultimate way of saying, here we are.

This is the question isn't it?

Certain activities are excess, certain are essential. You can't play the game forever: the food people eat is essential to their survival. Art is not, and as excess, it exists only in a situation of abundance of the essential.

The only reason excess can be derided, rightfully, is that the abundance of the essential, and thus art, exists amidst (and indeed is made possible by) the deprivation of the essential from a vast majority of humans. Art and excess are the privilege of the few amidst the many who live in a world of scarcity.

I do realize that one can make the argument that if we wait for justice before beauty, we will just end up with a world that is without both. It is unfortunately rare to see this position coupled with the candor to admit injustice.

Myself, I do not think we should refrain from all fun until the chimera of social justice is conjured -- and I am certain that even the poor and starving, that even those in concentration camps and prisons, find energy to devote to humor and celebration. However, given the state of the world, the message of such a piece of art as this is, to me, a message of the harshest disregard for human suffering and equality.

Comment Re:Get thee to the Supremes (Score 1) 438

No, the OP was quite correct: you lose the constitutional right to privacy when you are arrested (not convicted). RTFA for the relevant supreme court decision.

And of course, those who are arrested are indeed treated like those who are convicted. They are held in the same facilities, subjected to the same restrictions and punishments, and not socially separated in any way. The guards do not even know which is which.

It is said that the COURTS treat the accused as innocent until proven guilty, which is true in a certain way, but no one could ever say such a thing about the "executive branch."

Comment Re:Get thee to the Supremes (Score 2) 438

The reality is that everybody plea bargains. The percentage of cases in which arguments even occur (let alone arguments about constitutionality) is such a tiny minority as to be negligible. Mostly, the accusation leads immediately to a plea bargain which is 1/100th of the maximum penalty (or more, but in proportion to the arrest record of the accused and without regard to the accusation) and is immediately accepted. Neither attorney needs to become familiar with the case.

Comment Re:Define "Liberalism" (Score 1) 841

You don't need to means-test the services if you means-test the taxation rates.

Of course I realize that that isn't done either, for these programs.

There is absolutely no disagreement that the programs in question cannot be sustained without fundamental modification.

(But again that is an exception to the way the majority of federal taxation works -- as a political compromise, "social security" is supposed to be a mandatory mutual insurance scheme, instead of a socialist redistribution.)

Comment Re:Repeat after me (Score 2, Insightful) 371

True, but where there is correlation you have to look for causation.

As a general principle, no, you don't. As a rule of thumb, you are probably safer assuming that a correlation between two variables is the result of a common cause. E.g., in humans, height over 6'5 is strongly correlated with usage of urinals. At no point should you bother to rule out causation (in either direction) in this case.

A more practical example is the media's constant repetition that healthier people have more sex. Of course, they jump to the sexiest but dumbest possible conclusion, that the sex causes the health. But we don't even have to assume that the health causes the sex; in fact we can intuit that health must be only partially the cause, since many healthy behaviors will increase attractiveness completely aside from their health benefits. (Especially diet and its effect on body shape.)

The general principle is that any one cause will have myriad effects, all of which will be correlated with one another. By default, assume a common cause.

Comment Re:Define "Liberalism" (Score 1) 841

OK, you're right, but those two programs are really the exception to the general rule in the USA.

Anyway, in practice, government services generally work much better when they are not "means-tested" -- many problems are much more easily solved when everyone has access. (E.g., stigma of use; perpetual underfunding; overhead associated with the means tests; the exclusion of some who should not be excluded; contention over where to draw the line.)

Comment Re:And who gets to define "liberal?" (Score 1) 841

No, Democrats do not see wealth redistribution as a means to eliminating class divisions. Jesus. What Democrat says anything like that? Name one class warfare Democrat in US office.

I don't think you'll find hardly anyone that doesn't agree that poor people should live better than they do

On the contrary, you don't have to look far to find many who say the poor live too well -- that they should live within their means, stop borrowing money on credit cards and mortgages, stop taking handouts, etc., because it's unfair for them to receive what they have not earned.

Comment Re:Oh, just great (Score 1) 841

Nazism is both conservative and liberal, ideologically -- it promises radical change, a new society, a new man, etc. -- but it conceives of this new world as a return to the purity of the old world, tradition, etc..

I don't think there is anything conservative about eugenics though. If conservatives supported it, it wasn't out of conservatism.

Comment Re:Oh, just great (Score 1) 841

I agree with you about the persecuted groups, and about the neutral "two sides of the coin" stupidity...

Still, there is something real to philosophical conservatism that is not simply "the wrong side of history." The pro-soviet left was also on the wrong side of history.. They, as you said, made "new mistakes" -- opening the possibility (since realized) for a completely new level of disaster. If the conservatives at the time were not right, at least their form of wrongness would have been safer.

Conservatism is the voice that says "you cannot design a new society on paper; what exists today has reasons for its existence and is integrated into the social body; to destroy it will disrupt the organic whole, and the way of life of everyone, in ways we cannot predict."

There is value in that voice, so long as it tempers progress, rather than impeding it.

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