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Comment Definition of plagiarism (Score 0) 281

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work.

So first of all your argument is wrong because it doesn't have to be exact. I felt the use of the word "obvious/obviously" and the fact that it was a throwaway line made it seem heavily influenced by McCracken's tweet and has the exact same sentiment. At best it's a coincidence but it might not be, I'm just saying.

But considering I put a nice little ;) at the end basically means I wasn't trying to stir up something all that serious, but fire up your flamethrowers if it makes you happy, I'll be off somewhere else.

Comment How I understand the fee (Score 2) 562

Okay let's dissect this before Slashdot goes apeshit. Per the screenshot on the link:

"A $2 payment convenience fee applies to bill payments made by phone (IVR and rep-assisted) and online (My Verizon and My Verizon Mobile). The fee is waived for bill payments made by electronic check (also referred to as "ACH") and for all bill payments made on accounts that are enrolled in AutoPay with any payment method (credit/Debit/ACH or electronic check)."

Now before I go further, note that some payment options cost more for Verizon than others. Mostly it's due to credit card interchange fees, and not personnel and infrastructure as most people think. Credit card processors love to slam everyone, small and big companies alike, and verizon is trying to maintain margins. Yes they are also trying to discourage people from using certain services by "incentivizing" them to use ones that cost less. I'm not stating to defend this, merely trying to explain how things work.

Now then:
1) payments over the phone are considered "less secure" by credit card companies because there's a human involved. Despite all the huge "this site got haxx0red and lost 100k credit card numbers" stories, most credit card fraud is an inside job where humans get card numbers. They have humans handling multiple things in customer service and I'm sure they have made things efficient enough at this point that someone taking a payment over the phone is not going to hurt their bottom line. What does hurt their bottom line is that "less secure" transaction cost more money to Verizon, thus a $2 fee. It's verizon passing on costs.
2) Doing payments by ACH is basically wiring the money. This passes the cost from Verizon to the customer, because wiring money might cost money with the bank. It might not, but it depends on each bank. Verizon has no real extra cost here.
3) The sentence is convoluted but it seems there is a difference between making a one time payment via verizon's site, and being enrolled in autopay, which autocharges every month. This part I am not as familiar with, but it would seem locking your card number costs less than typing it in once. From Visa's standpoint this is counter intuitive because if a user pays once and presents you with a card and you throw away the number after the transaction is done, it's "more secure" than storing the card and paying it at any time. It's more likely to get stolen if it's stored. I can theorize here that they must be using two payment systems and the autopay system is cheaper all around in interchange fees simply due to volume.

Now I'm not defending this fee by any means, but I am explaining the thought process here. They are trying to incentivize people to use lower cost services due to interchange fees, regardless if it costs them a human being to do so. To me, it's not in a company's best interest to start charging their customers fees like this and they should eat costs as a part of doing business. There are probably better ways to incentivize people.

Comment Re:How do you determine healthy food? (Score 5, Interesting) 455

This is 1.5 hours long, but this man speaks the truth: sugar (fast carbs) is poison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

The rest of this is addressed to anyone interested enough to read it:

I can also attest to the massive changes in my health after eliminating simple carbs and going for complex carbs (meaning more fiber as well) in my diet in 2003. Weight loss wasn't even a goal as I didn't even think I was near the upper end of "healthy" for my size at the time (6' and 185 lbs. at that time. I have been consistently 155 since developing a new relationship with food). The changes I made were to combat reflux. That worked. No purple pill or surgery for me and the reflux is gone.

A lot of the illnesses in western culture are clearly linked to the western diet (read Michael Pollan's book An Eater's Manifesto). The western diet is far too focused on simple/fast carbs. I believe this is largely a self feeding addiction (I believed that long before seeing the video linked above but it's nice to have a doctor confirm this). The hardest part of changing how you eat is making it to the point where your sense of taste very literally changes.

Believe it or not, if you eat the standard American diet, it's likely that your taste buds lack much sensitivity. I would not have believed it if I didn't experience it myself. Eating all of those heavily processed foods with artificial flavors that beat the hell out of your taste buds is akin to staring at a bright light for hours and then going into a darkened gallery with the most beautiful art... that you cannot see until your eyes readjust. Same thing with food. Processed and artificially flavored food is like the bright light. You aren't really tasting real food when you encounter it. That's why many of the healthier choices "lack flavor" or even "taste bad". Try going for a month without eating anything but fruits, vegetables, and high quality cuts of meat and poultry, but being heavy on the vegetables. Also avoid all sugared drinks. Just drink water or tea. I guarantee that you'll open up a whole new world of flavors and what you used to think tasted great, will be too intense.

Comment GM foods safe? (Score 1) 571

I seem to recall reading a number of products approved by the FDA which were 'unlikely to post a health risk" to people. At least until after people starting dying or were harmed beyond help. Diet drugs and other items approved for human consumption. We were told they were safe after many studies. Until we've had a LOT more research how does anyone really know?

And yes I've read their reports. I'm not a scientist or play one on TV however I believe their conclusions are premature...

Comment It's both (Score 4, Insightful) 630

It's sad what we have come to expect from politicians. On one hand, this is a dirty low down trick. On the other hand, Newt is a lying, cheating ass, so it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. But so are all the other Washington politicians, lobbyists and PAC executives, on both sides of the aisle. So on some primal level I get entertained when it happens to someone I don't like a lot, like when I'm watching professional wrestling or a soap opera. And this is where our government has degenerated to.

Comment Sorry to be pedantic (Score 1, Offtopic) 314

Call them an evil empire all you want, I'm not doing to argue. That's the point you are trying to make. But don't call them an evil monopoly. They aren't a monopoly by any definition. I'm tired of people using that word and not understanding what it properly means.

It's like calling Sarah Palin a stupid man.

Comment Arguing the wrong point (Score 1) 910

What causes the religion to start in the first place? What causes them to grow and spread? What causes them to be twisted and used for evil?

Religion are started when a bunch of people have problems which cause them unhappiness, and a smaller group of people or a single person offers them a solution to happiness.

Buddhism, for example, did not start out as a religion.

You are absolutely right, but in one of the classic evolutions of history, it became one despite itself.

The issue is not with any particular religion. The issue is not with any particular person, either. The issue is the human mind's capacity to react blindly to what is happening.

You appear to be stating the argument is that religion is the root cause of all our problems, which I never said. No the root cause of all of our problems is that we are illogical animals that in order to thrive need to live in orderly societies. Religion was a solution to that problem. It was an easier solution, but turned out in the history of man it was a much worse solution than adopting reason. Religion then went onto cause plenty of suffering and other problems and holds back our development.

Criticizing religions won't make a dent in it.
Criticizing religion is exactly what has made a dent in religion. First Christ made critical remarks about the organization around his religion by espousing his own which was more accessible to his people. When that was corrupted to the point that people couldn't take it any more, Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to a church with a criticism. Each of these Criticisms has worked to ease suffering by furthering philosophy and humanism in it's own way, working towards a society where one is not injured or killed for their opinions or discoveries.

What would make a dent in it is teaching people how to no longer react blindly to things
How can you tell someone how to do something right if you first don't find a way to tell them what was wrong with the old way they were doing things? In my opinion, this statement seems to make someone like me and someone like Hitchens out to be simply an attack dog, which is a gross mischaracterization and is exactly what those in Religious circles want you to think. Hitchens and myself have been providing the solution this whole time... reason. All the things religion does bad are done perfectly well with reason. Obviously something in my messaging is failing because I can't possibly see how you didn't see that, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. Saying that billions of people have been killed in the name of religion is not some kind of attack statement, it's the truth. Can you dispute that?

In a twist, Reason is hard because it goes against our animal nature, but in that much, we agree that as animals we are emotional and want quick fixes rather than well thought out responses, and we must train ourselves away from that animal nature. I agree with what you are saying about our nature, but in my opinion you are misrepresenting a reasonable opinion as simply a contrary one. I leave it to others to figure out a diplomatic way to bring humans into an age of reason, but you can't start that until someone is very clearly stating what is wrong.

If you shoot down one 'bad' religion, another will spring up, and so on ad infinitem
Considering Hitchens went after them all with one very large hammer, I fail to see how this is relevant. This isn't about taking out one religion at a time, it's about doing away with ALL of them.

To summarize: The problem is our animal nature, but religion in general is a bad solution that Hitchens devoted his life to speak out against. Reason is a better solution.

Comment Hitchens criticism of buddhism (Score 5, Insightful) 910

Hitchen's criticisms of all religions primarily boils down to their impacts as a whole to large portions of society, and how the larger defined body of Buddhism in the world is just as bad as Christianity. There are so called Buddhist sects are just as intolerant and violent as Christian ones, and ask their followers to cast off thought and reason and simply listen to their teachings. It's this abandoning of reason that's the problem with religion, and while one might define that for an individual person religion was good... for example, Jesus was a good guy who did good things and was better for his beliefs... but for society as a whole, religion has had negative impacts and is used for evil and hypocritical purposes. The Abrahamic religions do this far more efficiently than Hinduism and Buddhism but the latter are not, as a whole, innocent religions.

And that's not to mention the supernatural. Emphasizing the supernatural over reason is immediately a problem because it leads to be people not questioning the supernatural and simply accepting it.

I could find you a sect of Christianity that is equivalent to Theravada Buddhism, but there is a fine line between philosophy and religion. There's also a fine line between humanism and a well thought out philosophy that emphasizes reason. Where you want to draw the line is another debate entirely, but using Theravada Buddhism as a way to counter Hitchen's argument about religion is equivalent to using an anecdote to counteract statistical evidence. Invariable, as religions grow and spread they are twisted and used for evil and force people to abandon reason. Some smaller religions and philosophies emphasize reason, but the moment you put reason below anything else, you open up people to the principle that at some point, they are allowed to stop thinking for themselves.

Comment Corporatist (Score 4, Interesting) 231

Wrong. The US is not becoming statist, it's becoming (is?) corporatist. You got modded up by all the Libertarians, who love this line of argument but it doesn't make sense.

The traditional left, especially the progressive wing of the Democratic party, espouse civil libertarianism, regulation of corporations, and control of industries where they feel competition does not work (i.e. medicine).

The traditional right, espouses fewer regulations on corporations so as not to become a dictator ship that picks winners unfairly and fiscal responsibility of the government as a whole, and striking a balance between federal and state powers. In the past, they have not liked spending, but when spending was called for, they called for a sensible balanced budget at all times.

The current Democratic part still espouses civil Libertarianism as a whole, but doesn't push it too hard because it stirs certain idiot groups to froth at the mouth and rather than go after them, they quiet down, and because Americans as a whole aren't very socially progressive (one of the last developed nations to free black slaves and give women the right to vote, and we'll probably be one of the last to allow some kind of marriage reform). Corporations actually fund these idiot groups and claim it's grassroots behind cleverly used laws designed to shield nonprofit corporations. The no longer push hard, as a group, for corporate regulations, because the only people able to put together enough money to help them run for office are the corporations, so they don't chime up too much about regulations. So thanks to clever corporate greed, the Democrats as a group are simply pussies.

The current Republican party still espouses fewer regulations, but to the detriment of the people as if to have no regulations and an anarchy state. This is thanks to corporations donating to them and giving them speeches that simply state that we have too many regulations and taxes when corporations are already free to run rampant and we are going broke. They get donations from those same corporations that fund the idiot groups, and are basically paid to say the same things these idiot groups say about social causes. They no longer push fiscal responsibility because they don't care if we have the money, they just keep chanting "lower taxes" instead of "fair taxes" or "just enough taxes." The taxes are lowest on the upper class and keep going lower, under the guise that if the rich get more money, they'll hire more people, which hasn't shown any truth in in decades. It's called trickle down economics, and it doesn't work. But they don't have time to talk about any other fiscal matters because they are too busy pushing the idiot group agenda. And they push it so hard then end up being supreme dicks about any issue they are on. And they look like dicks when open their mouths about some social issue that people just want to stop talking about. So thanks to clever greed, Republicans as a group are really big dicks

So yes, our government is run by a bunch of pussies and dicks fucking around and not getting anything done, being directed by corporations to not get anything done unless it makes more money for them. And we all watch it expecting something new to happen when it's the same boring stupid shit over and over. Welcome to porn Washington, DC style. Statist my ass, the state is dead!

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