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Comment Re:Dangerous Thinking (Score 2, Insightful) 611

Soviet naval doctrine had a different set of constraints to work with than the Americans. It's naval doctrine more closely resembled pre-war Germany. Both are physically connected to the theater of operations they'll be fighting in, and both are situated such that their fleets must traverse straits to gain access to open oceans. As such, unless they were deployed ahead of any armed conflict, it would be very hard for the Soviets to deploy any large surface fleets during a war. They would either have to station the fleet in the north, which only has seasonal access to the Atlantic and must go around the tip of NATO member Norway, traverse Baltic by Germany, Denmark and Norway, or the Black Sea through NATO member Turkey. Oh, and despite this, they did try to build proper carriers. Honestly, I'm not sure why the Soviets even bothered making large ships. They were mainly a tool of statecraft, I suspect (and a matter of prestige). Their large submarine fleet made the most sense given their constraints. They didn't need to control the oceans, just deny control of it to the Americans. Same with Germany vis-a-vis Great Britain in both world wars.

Comment Re:Controversial? (Score 2, Insightful) 284

It's more complicated than that. There are those who believe in genetic diversification, and see genetic manipulation as a threat to that, much as they see GM crops along those lines. This is more of a niche ethical argument, but it's out there.

Additionally, and this is the ethical argument that Charles Krauthammer, (hardly a "spiritualist" and he's pro-choice), that it becomes an ethical dilemma if we create life simply to destroy it. At that point, there is a breakdown in the fundamental moral underpinnings of our concept of "natural law" and fundamental rights, and you encourage a very real threat from an ethical slippery slope.

One of the common arguments against cloning and genetic modification from Christians (although it is espoused by non-Christians as well) that society will become increasingly intolerant of "defects", and that people considered such (like those with Down-syndrome, or even physical defects) will be considered "sub-human".

Lastly, there is a worry that the "human" status of those cloned, despite being human, will be less than we attribute to those we consider "human".

Our "enlightened" view of humanity took a long time to achieve. A lot of people (myself included) feel that we are pushing the limits of our shared morality is capable of dealing with. The fact that a lot of people aren't even considering the implications of these scientific advancements don't do much to alleviate that concern.

Comment Re:others trying to force their morales on us (Score 1, Flamebait) 284

Well, let's take this a step further. Hypothetically, let's say that there isn't a sanctified right to life for fully grown humans. Those who are a drag on society (the homeless and mentally ill, the generally useless) should be resources for those that are contributors. Let's say a CEO is suffering from a failing liver. If he gets a replacement, he can continue to run his company for years to come. He can generate a great deal of money for a great many people. His blood matches a homeless man who is a drain on society - everyone has to pay to keep him alive. Because, using this ethical framework - and using your moral argument that simply because someone don't recognize another's right to exist they shouldn't be interfered with - should the CEO decide to take the homeless man's liver, thereby killing him, you wouldn't have a problem with it.

I just don't understand the position you take. Heaven knows you aren't the first person I've heard take it. I'm not sure how to classify it - I'm hesitant to call it pro-choice or pro-stem cell, because I know people who fall into that crowd but understand the serious ethical implications of the argument. But this argument, that science should be unconstrained by ethical and moral considerations, and the fact it's so prevalent on Slashdot, is downright scary. Or perhaps it's not that you're arguing that it should be unconstrained, but that you're not willing to entertain opposing points of view as to what has a right to exist as a human being. But, you haven't argued against it, and I doubt you even understand it, but rather rejected it out of hand. That isn't insightful but ignorant.

The traditional argument of freedom is that your rights end at the other person's nose begins. There is an argument about that line of demarcation. It's not a minority opinion either, and you don't have the right to dismiss it out of hand simply because it's inconvenient to think about.

Comment Re:Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice (Score 3, Interesting) 1376

Well, Christopher Hitchens (whom, while I disagree with him, do admire) is a polemicist and makes a living at stirring things up. But you're being intellectually dishonest when you reduce those who disagree with him on religion as being little more than thugs. For every Richard Dawkins you cite, I can come up with a theologian like William Lane Craig or C.S. Lewis. Should I judge atheism by the rantings of my college's atheists when they said the Christians killed Galileo (they didn't) and that the Church thought the world was flat (they didn't)? Or should I accept that there are loudmouthed idiots in the world?

Europe has been moving towards a concept of religious tolerance that puts it at odds with the concept of free speech. This is evident in the reaction towards the Danish cartoons and British clamping down of criticism of Islam in recent years. To me, it doesn't seem inherently Christian, nor "religionist" in nature, but rather pan-European trend, that is a trend of the cosmopolitan bureaucracies that make up the EU.

I am a little bit sad that the common reaction on Slashdot has been to try and be as offensive to Christians as possible. For those that RTFA:

"In fact, the new law is a very modern phenomenon. Rather than harking back to the days of God-fearing, or at least priest-fearing, Ireland, the blasphemy law has more in common with contemporary politically correct measures of social control."

So not exactly imposing papal doctrine on the masses. Going after Christians is petty and vindictive, especially when they have as much to lose with this law as anyone.

Comment Re:I think they just increased piracy. (Score 1) 737

Bah, seriously, these comments were made six or so hours after the original story was posted. Who really expects to get modded up after that amount of time? Chide me if you want on my fast-and-loose use of rhetorical terminology (I still think strawman was a legitimate term in this case), but let's not get into wild speculation as to my motivations.

As to the core argument, I'm not the only one who thinks that. Look at Stardock - they know their games are going to be heavily pirated, but they design games for the people *who are willing to pay*. Blizzard seems to be taking a different tact. And now, I think, fewer people than before are going to be willing to pay. And I truly am not passing any sort of moral judgement on piracy (you can't really say that and then condemn it in the next breath). I am saying that the result of very vocal anti-piracy measures, especially when it reduces the functionality of the game, is sort of like throwing down a gauntlet. Again, look at Spore. A successful game, no argument on that, but also a heavily pirated one.

Comment Re:I think they just increased piracy. (Score 1) 737

Let's not be pedantic. Insure and ensure are synonyms.

And despite your strawman where piracy is concerned, a number of people (myself included) are more than willing to pay for good games. All the games I play regularly I've paid for. But nowadays it's just as easy for someone to download a pirated copy as it is to buy it. The question is, "Do I feel like compensating people for this game?" Without LAN, and Blizzard's attitude towards the issue, I think a lot of people that were looking forward to purchasing the game have shifted.

Comment I think they just increased piracy. (Score 5, Insightful) 737

Whenever a company does something that hurts the consumer in the name of "fighting piracy", it seems to me to be taken by the community as an open invitation to pirate their game. Given the choice between pirating and buying the game, frequently the reason the individual consumer chooses to pay money for the game is the impression one has of the company. Sure, no one is going to pay for a crappy game, but look at the difference between Spore and Starcraft. Spore was seen as a slap in the face of the consumer and consequently was one of the most pirated games in history. The original Starcraft, despite the fact it is easily pirated, is still profitable enough to be sold for $20 in stores.

You want to insure piracy? Piss off your users. Removing LAN and telling LAN users they're nothing but pirates seems to be going down that road pretty nicely.

Comment Re:Bush-era? (Score 1) 167

Well, yes, which would include a good chunk of the Presidents of the 20th century. But people single out Bush for behavior antithetical to their idea of America, but what if their idea pf America runs counter to the actual history?

That isn't to necessarily say that Bush is right, but rather that the issues are more complex. The Church committee didn't exist in a vacuum, but was a product of a number of political trends. This was after the Democratic Convention of '68, the McGovern candidacy and during the Watergate era. Internal Democratic politics had shifted and the Republicans were politically gutted. The Church committee fit into all this.

Again, this isn't to say that the Church committee was some sort of left-wing plot, nor that the security services didn't need reform. I do, however, think that one needs to realize that the Church committee isn't some definitive statement on right and wrong, but rather a product of the ascendancy of political forces that sought to constrain those agencies. Realize that other "liberal" nations had powers similar to those that were condemned by the Church committee. Indeed, there has been a lively debate as to whether or not the Church committee went too far.

I think the best way of looking at it isn't that Bush was somehow unique or part of a small minority of bad Presidents, but represents a shift back to the state of things prior to the Church committee. Frequently, political trends come in cycles, and this isn't any different. Wilson had a strong security apparatus (even before the war), which was torn down by the Republicans of the 1920's. FDR built up a strong security aparatus that existed until the Church committee. Now we are in the strong cycle again. Obama doesn't look interested in dismantling it, so it looks like this strong cycle will continue a while.

But most people can't be bothered to really look at political history past the last fifteen or so years. With that myopic an outlook, everything tends to get exaggerated, which explains kdawson's hard-on for all things anti-Bush.

Comment Re:Bush-era? (Score 4, Insightful) 167

All new levels? It's a well known fact that the NSA used to collect all international telegraph traffic from the major telecoms for decades after WWII under the argument of national security, and killed all inquiries into the fact using that argument. And let's not forget that the FBI was run by Hoover, who wasn't exactly the most circumspect person when it came to individual liberties. I really don't think that Bush was any more secret than most of the administrations of the 20th century up until the Church committee. The only real difference is the amount of information that's available to the general public.

Comment Deregulation is a strawman (Score 1) 292

I keep hearing about the evils of deregulation. The thing was that there were a *lot* of financial regulations passed after 1929, and not all of them were good - not by a long shot. A lot of those regulations (NRA, for instance) were dismantled *during* FDR's time. Others were dismantled following WWII.

Fast forward ahead to the 1990s. Regulations regarding the merger of banks were relaxed, allowing for the very large banks such as Bank of America to form. But new, tougher enforcement and interpretation of existing regulation (namely the Community Reinvestment Act) encouraged bad lending practices. In this case the problem was overregulation.

Additionally, the most devestating argument that deregulation wasn't the problem is SOX - Sarbanes-Oxley. After the fall of Enron, extremely tough reporting laws were passed (compliance was frequently cited as costing several percentage points of the gross income of corporations). They'd been in force for about five years before the market meltdown. If they weren't strong enough regulation, then the problem isn't simply "deregulation".

Comment Re:Yay! (Score 1) 523

While Strauss was influential on the neo-conservative movement, linking the concept of the "noble lie" inherently to neo-conservatism is a bit disingenuous. After all, the idea was central to Georges Sorel (who predates Strauss by quite a bit) and his "energizing myth" of the worker's strike as well. The workers-movement is not exactly at the center of neo-conservatism.

What you're talking about isn't "directly out of the playbook" of "neoconservatives" any less than it's out of the playbook of "liberals". It was a smart man deciding to manipulate people because he thinks it's for their own good. That kind of thinking isn't inherent to any side of the political spectrum - it's just hubris - a concept the predates left and right by a good margin.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 508

But the atomic bomb was a scientific inquiry none the less. The point wasn't to equate that with stem-cell research but to illustrate the fact that there can be legitimate ethical dilemmas raised by scientific research. We could use GM crops or cloning as an example if you'd like.

To you, an embryo might be a microscopic group of cells that in no way can be considered "human", at which point the destruction of embryos in the process of research carries no ethical dilemmas, but the pro-life side sees it differently. At that point, you have a legitimate ethical problem with the destruction of embryos, especially if it appears there are alternatives available. You might disagree with their basic assumption about the nature of human life, but the ethical argument made based upon that starting point is no more anti-science than those who opposed the scientific development of nuclear weapons crops for ethical reasons.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 3, Insightful) 508

I think you're being a bit unfairly dismissive of the pro-life side (and most pro-lifers I know of do have objections to fertility methods that result in destruction of embryos). Science may want to know things, but most people accept that there are ethical limits on where science should go and how it gets there. Rejecting, out of hand, the ethical concerns of the pro-life movement as "want[ing] to stay ignorant" also condemns those scientists who had moral objections to the development of the atom bomb as wishing for ignorance. I might disagree with them, but that doesn't mean that I consider them luddites.

Comment Why? (Score 5, Insightful) 508

Given the deep moral objection a significant part of the community has to the use of embryonic stem cells, and given that it looks like there have been large advances in the use of adult and other stem cells, why lift the funding ban? I mean, all other things being equal, wouldn't it be better to not wander into a moral gray area?

As I understand it, one of the major points of the ban was to discourage the field from becoming reliant on stem cells that required further destruction of embryos. I might be wrong, but from my understanding great leaps have been doing just that - that adult and other non-destructive forms of stem cell research have been fruitful. If that's the case, I don't understand the point of lifting the ban other than for purely political purposes.

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As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. -- Albert Einstein