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Comment Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (Score 1) 705

it's an order of magnitude easier to replace a single politician with someone who'll vote for laws with teeth than it is to expect [the voluntary market forces to work]

In theory, I could agree with the above. In practice, the politicians in the US are bought and paid for, largely with corporate money. (How else does one explain the DMCA?) Laws on the books, with teeth or otherwise, are no guarantee against wrongdoing by companies - see the ongoing ForclosureGate crap as an example of fraud and felonies of all stripes, with nary a cop in sight.

To the extent that US commerce remains free and voluntary, customers made aware of undesirable business practices divert their business away from the company in question to one extent or another. Absent government-granted and enforced monopolies, competitors will spring up to capture the alienated customers' business.

History is replete with examples of government's failure to replace free markets with government control/regulation.

Comment Re:Still too vague and too poorly defined (Score 0) 705

Actually, regulation does not do anything to prevent a company from putting melanine or floor sweepings in their products - such activities have occurred while government regulations were in place to prevent such things.

The behavior of participants within a free market will not prevent such happenings, either, but the resulting consequences can destroy such a company, through lawsuits to cover poisoned customers and loss of business from new and previous customers, and rightly so. As it currently stands, if a company is caught defrauding its customers, perhaps by poisoning its products, the government forces it to pay a small fine (relative to the costs of the gains made by the fraud) and recall existing poisoned product. That's no solution - that's viewed as a cost of business!

The biggest obstacle preventing such free market behavior is the government itself, at various levels, that grant and enforce monopolies that have no good reason to exist. This sort of meddling is becoming ever more prevalent, most recently with the passage of US Senate bill S-510 (and potentially its House counterpart) that raises the barrier for food production to such heights that only a small handful of mega companies can afford to meet them, thus in essence granting and enforcing yet another monopoly at the expense of a voluntary and free market.

Government still is the problem.

Comment Mechwarrior Living Legends beat them to the punch (Score 3, Interesting) 90

With the advent of the open beta of Mechwarrior Living Legends, the "official" games may well be eclipsed by a fan-made total conversion mod for Crysis/Crysis Warhead. MWLL features, among other cool things, combined arms: air, mechs, infantry, and tanks are all playable and useful on the battlefield.


Griefers Assault Epileptics Via Message Board 621

An anonymous reader tips us to a story up at Wired reporting on what may be the first computer attack to inflict physical harm on victims. Last Saturday, griefers posted hundreds of bogus messages on the support forums of the nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation that used JavaScript and strobing GIFs to trigger migraines and seizures in users. For about 3% of the 50 million epileptics worldwide, flashing lights and colors can trigger seizures. "'I don't fall over and convulse, but it hurts,' says [an IT worker in Ohio]. 'I was on the phone when it happened, and I couldn't move and couldn't speak.' ... Circumstantial evidence suggests the attack was the work of members of Anonymous, an informal collective of griefers best known for their recent war on the Church of Scientology. The first flurry of posts on the epilepsy forum referenced the site EBaumsWorld, which is much hated by Anonymous. And forum members claim they found a message board thread — since deleted — planning the attack at, a group stronghold."
The Media

Getting The Public To Listen To Good Science 419

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "We all know that false or misleading science headlines are all too common these days and that misleading media combined with an apathetic and undereducated public lead to widespread ignorance. But the real question is, how can this trend be reversed? At a session at the recent AAAS meeting, a study was discussed indicating that what matters most is how the information is portrayed. While people are willing to defer to experts on matters of low concern, for things that affect them directly, such as breast cancer or childhood diseases, expertise only counts for as much as giving off a 'sense of honesty and openness,' and that it matters far less than creating a sense of empathy in deciding who people will listen to. In other words, it's not enough to merely report on it as an expert. You need to make sure your report exudes a sense of honesty, openness, empathy, and maybe even a hint of humor."

Internet Censorship's First Death Sentence? 475

mrogers writes "A journalism student in Afghanistan has been sentenced to death by a Sharia court for downloading and sharing a report criticizing the treatment of women in some Islamic countries. The student was accused of blasphemy and tried without representation. According to Reporters Without Borders, sixty people are currently in jail worldwide for criticizing governments online, fifty of them in China, but this may be the first time someone has been sentenced to death for using the internet. Internet censorship is on the rise worldwide, according to The OpenNet Initiative."

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