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Comment Re:I'd be sorry (Score 5, Interesting) 496

Has anyone NOT read 1984 by now? I'm pretty sure it was required reading at high school in the UK for a while.

If anyone hasn't read it, they should do so. Right now. It is the book most relevant to the times in which we live. Spoilers follow. The parallels are just terrifying:

  • We have total surveillance of all people. Heck, think about laptops and smart TVs. Are you sure the NSA can't turn on their webcams and microphones remotely, a la telescreens?
  • We have a Winston equivalent breaking down and saying how much he loves the government and how amazed he is that he could have ever doubted their greatness.
  • We have the government torturing or executing anyone who disagrees with them.
  • We are in a state of perpetual war against regions of the world that somehow suddenly shift yet somehow stay the same (one day Afghanistan, the next day Iraq, then Iran, etc).
  • Until recently bin Laden was the target of the "5 minutes hate". Though I guess these days there's no equivalent. The analogy is a little rough because in the book Emmanuel Goldstein (?) was a terrorist figure entirely manufactured by Big Brother to attract and flush out rebels. In reality no such person existed. bin Laden surely existed, although he did once work for the CIA itself until the US no longer needed him. So in a rough sense he was "made" by US policies.

Of course, there are things that don't apply too. In 1984 the government exercised absolute control over information, as the Soviet Union did (which is what inspired the book). Goldstein could be manufactured out of nothing because Big Brother controlled all access to information and had perfect propaganda in place. I am very skeptical such a thing does or could exist today. Our Big Brother equivalents hide information obsessively but they know they can't actually control it once out, nor can they rewrite history. If the internet had not happened or had evolved in a different way (like in China) then this part might also have come true, but so far in the west I believe we have a pretty good idea of what's truth vs fiction - we might be missing information but we are not widely believing propaganda. Well, except for idiots who have an instinctive need to "belong to a team" in which case they choose to believe propaganda even though disproving it is trivial. But that's a different problem than the people in 1984 had.

Comment The days of unbridled growth are over (Score 1) 159

Those died in 1975 or so, and there will hopefully never be another boom in the West like the one between 1945 and 1975. The reason is simple: everything was destroyed in 1945, hundreds of millions had died, and everything was there to be rebuilt. This is fortunately no longer the case.

However this is not a normal situation. In peace, we should all expect a small, steady growth, more or less proportional to the population increase, but not much more, e.g. in the West anywhere between 0.5 to 2% a year. Anything more means someone is losing out somewhere. It is not quite a zero sum game, but almost.

The thing we should be doing is invest in the long term future, but our political, economic and sociologic systems are not geared up to it. Everybody wants to become rich quick. Like the internet boom of the 2000, or the investment products craziness of 2008 or so, this is a game were only a very few win, and many lose. We should concentrate on avoiding investment bubbles and painful downturns. This will have to wait until the machines rise and make it happen for us (in the best possible outcome).

Comment Re:Stupid decision by clueless jury (Score 1) 164

The Jockey Club already prohibits artificial insemination.

That's perfectly allowable if you're simply a registry that says "X is a Horse Association branded Mustang; Y is not". But as soon as your organization goes beyond that and says "X is a Horse Association branded Mustang, and only our branded Mustangs are allowed to enter races A, B, and C" then you're impacting commerce and are subject to monopoly laws. If you're one of many options for the same kind of commerce, you're in the clear. If you exercise monopoly power, you're more limited in what restrictions you can impost.

I'm not sure what the law should be for AQHA, I'm just pointing out that they aren't simply a consumer information company saying "this horse meets our standard for being an Organic Mustang!". They run commercial races, and are saying "this horse is or isn't allowed to make money by doing M and N". As such, they are subject to monopoly law (if they're not a monopoly, that doesn't mean much, but if they are it's limiting on their power).

Anyone can come up with a definition for "Green Growers Organic Certified" food, and define it how they want if it's just informational (presuming it doesn't conflict with legal standards of the same name). If the Smarcher Danielle Interlands company runs 90% of supermarkets in the US and says that only things that meet their definition of Super Enviro Organic Food are allowed to be sold, though, then that definition could come under federal scrutiny. Effect on markets matters.

Comment Re:Stupid decision by clueless jury (Score 1) 164

That's a complicated question. I want to first make it clear that I'm not saying whether I agree with this decision or not. I don't know enough about the market to judge.

But because the AQHA isn't just an informational list (it actually controls whether you're allowed to engage in certain commercial endeavors or not), it is subject to monopoly regulations. Monopolies are complex. If F1 were the only car-racing company of real size that existed, they would certainly be much more limited in what they could allow. If Indy and CART didn't exist, but NASCAR did, it'd be an interesting question whether the market is "car racing" and so NASCAR provides real competition, or whether it's "open wheel racing" and F1 exercises monopoly control.

Courts decide those kinds of questions, and they change with the realities of the marketplace--Ma Bell got busted up, but if Skype and other things had existed they might not have even if they were the only real telephone company in the US. It'd depend on whether the telephone market is distinct from other communications, or whether they form a single competitive market.

In the case of AQHA, like I said I don't know. I know that you can't go race your quarter horse at the Kentucky Derby, even if it's faster than the horses there--the Jockey Club limits those kinds of races to registered thoroughbreds only. So long as you're part of a competitive market, that's fine. But if you have enough power to essentially limit the market, then you lose your right to do a lot of kinds of regulations.

Comment Re:No so much (Score 1) 637

Okay, let me try clarifying by presenting my conclusion first and giving the specific argument afterwards.

Are you absolutely certain that you have the right way of things? Are you 100% sure that your answer is the best possible answer, forever and ever, for all people, no exceptions? Is there any chance, no matter how remote, that this rule could actually cause harm -- not more harm than inaction, but any at all?Faced with a dilemma of where inaction causes great harm versus actions that cause small harm, human beings often choose inaction; the exceptions have significantly higher incidents of sociopathy and psycopathy ... are you so certain you can boldly proclaim, "Yes, even in a world where everyone acts like complete anti-social psychopaths, this action would still be correct"?

If any of this has given you have even the least smidgen of doubt—even just one tiny whisper of "well, but..."—then why are you willing to force suffering upon your fellow human beings?

With such absolutely certainty in your rightness, should I not take your belief seriously, but call you "arrogant" instead?

If somebody can't cover the costs of their treatment at the time they enter a hospital, they can seek assistance from a charitable organization (either specific to the nature of their care or a "general" community charity, like a church).

The hidden little gotcha of that particular argument is that there are organizations out there that will pull heinous shit like denying services to certain classes of people...

Are you certain that government cannot fall prone to any classist, racist, sexist, bigoted behavior? Are you so certain in the goodness of "Western" (European and the US) society that I can't provide multiple examples from those same governments (albeit far less extreme) within recent history? Are you so certain a central system is superior you would boldly proclaim "Yes, even if the government itself were to be racist, it would be the superior choice for all people"?

I'm not.

Answer the Second: <sarcasm seriousness=90%> I have no problems with turning away a patient from a hospital because they can't afford to pay. After all, they can always go to a charismatic/Pentecostal minister for miraculous healing, and they tend to charge far less less for their services. Heck, while we're at it let's also allow witch doctors, homeopathy, acupuncture, and every other "alternative medicine" practitioner to tend to medical care!</sarcasm>

If this is a '90% serious' answer, then you are a barbarian.

It's 90% serious because it's a pure expression of my argument—that absent absolute, crushing certainty in the correct behavior, freedom of choice is better than any mandate—presented in a tounge-in-cheek fashion.

And for that levity, I am called a "barbarian"?

In all seriousness: all "medicine" has started out as either "alternative medicine" or "experimental medicine". Are you so certain that the procedures in place are a perfect, immutable method of separating the healing methods from quackery that you're willing to force everyone to obey your preferences?

I'm not.

Do you believe that someone who has been mis-informed, or who remains willfully ignorant, should be forced to live according to "the right and proper nature of things", rather than allow them to chart their own course, even to the point that their incorrect beliefs will kill them?

Don't quit your day job, O Hippocratic Comedian.

Okay. I've presented this argument flatly, with the least humor possible. Is this more understandable?

Comment Re:No so much (Score 1) 637

BTW, what was this basic "human right" again? I can't seem to place it from what you're saying. You've just been yacking about "socialized health care".

Question: Do you believe that someone without insurance, or who otherwise has no ability to pay, who is suffering from an acute medical emergency, should be turned away from a hospital emergency room and left to die on the sidewalk?
If the answer is "No," then I've got some even worse news for you: we already have "socialized medicine." The patient will, in fact, be treated, and you and I will, in fact, pick up the tab.

Answer the First: You present a false dilemma; "the patient (or his insurance)" and "the public" are not the only possible answers to the question of who pays. It's quite sad that so many people are ignorant of the March of Dimes' origins as a anti-polio charity that they never imagine that there could be such a concept as a medical care charity. If somebody can't cover the costs of their treatment at the time they enter a hospital, they can seek assistance from a charitable organization (either specific to the nature of their care or a "general" community charity, like a church).

[That is, if we didn't live in a world where government-run centralized care systems (like Medicare/Medicaid) hadn't driven 99% of such charities out of the marketplace. After all, a focused or local charity, struggling to raise even $100K in donations, will collapse with no donations when 'competing' against the government who can swoop in with millions of dollars in tax/"aid" money.]

Answer the Second: <sarcasm seriousness=90%> I have no problems with turning away a patient from a hospital because they can't afford to pay. After all, they can always go to a charismatic/Pentecostal minister for miraculous healing, and they tend to charge far less less for their services. Heck, while we're at it let's also allow witch doctors, homeopathy, acupuncture, and every other "alternative medicine" practitioner to tend to medical care!</sarcasm>

[In all seriousness, hospitals are far from the only people who claim to heal life-threatening medical conditions. On what grounds do you limit the legitimacy of "health care" to hospitals alone? Furthermore, on what grounds can you then claim to limit my choices to those same restrictions?]

Answer the Third: <sarcasm seriousness=0% tone="humorous">Oh, I absolutely LOVE this game!
* Do you believe that someone who has no ability to pay, who is suffering from an acute starvation, should be turned away from a McDonalds and left to die on the sidewalk?
* Do you believe that someone without relevant skills or a degree, or who is suffering from medical conditions that make them unable to work, should be turned away from life-affirming "gainful" employment?</sarcasm>
* Do you believe that someone who has been mis-informed, or who remains willfully ignorant, should be forced to live according to "the right and proper nature of things", rather than allow them to chart their own course, even to the point that their incorrect beliefs will kill them?

Comment No. No, no, no. (Score 3, Insightful) 296

If one wears a large phone, let alone a tablet, on one's belt one is going to look like a dork. You are better off getting a bag of some sort. It won't matter if it is a man bag, a messenger bag, a backpack, a laptop bag, or a briefcase, you are better off getting a bag. Now, if you or someone you know does leather craft, Tandy Leather Factory has two kits, one for a "vertical messenger bag" and one for an "expedition brief case". Of course, if you have the money, you can always check the Saddleback Leather Company.

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Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov

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