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Comment Why I Stay Away (Score 5, Insightful) 894

I lived and worked in the US for a few years prior to 9/11, and travelled to many parts of the country. I still have a lot of good friends down there, and surely there are a lot of places that I'd love to visit again.

The problem is that since I moved back to Canada there have been a seemingly endless series of stories like this. Whether it's Mahar Arar being grabbed and shipped to Syria for torture and imprisonment; Jacob Appelbaum being detailed by US customs with no reason and no explanation; innocent people who are having their laptops and phones seized and copied with no warrant or explanation, or who are quite simply harassed at the border on the whim of any customs agent. - it just seems to be happening more and more each year.

Being innocent (whatever that means to Homeland Security) is no protection. All it takes is one renta-cop with a bad attitude.

To my American friends: I am honestly terrified by the thought of crossing your border, and I am not alone.

Comment Re:Human Based Climate Change vs Climate Change Ti (Score 1) 249

Sorry, but the Sun has everything to do with climate change when combined with the variable orbit geometry of the Earth around the Sun.

This is absolutely true -- over millions of years. It does not explain the warming trend in the past century. Your mode of argument is like saying "all will eventually die of old age, therefore automobile accidents don't kill people." There can be more than driver of climate change, and the timescale over which a driver of change operates is very important. Even if car accidents are less likely to kill you than old age, the fact that they kill you at 19 years old rather than 90 makes a big difference.

Four degrees C rise over 100,000 years is no bit deal for the human race. The same change over a century is a very big deal. Not species extinction for humanity by any means, but massive economic dislocation. Imagine the western US as much more arid than it is now; it could mean the end of agriculture on the Great Plains.

Comment First things first. (Score 5, Insightful) 796

I care more about *how much* and *how often* you read, than *what* you read. If you read more than 50 books a year that tells me a lot more about you than the titles you read. I think everyone should read at least 20 books a year, with two or three genres of fiction and non-fiction represented. Once we get to that point, THEN we can argue what titles should be in the "canon".

This is not the middle ages, where a gentleman could return from university with a library of fifty or so books that'd do him for the rest of his life. There's just too much information in the world and entering the world to rely exclusively on a canonical list of titles. It's more important to be a habitual knowledge seeker who can take pleasure in reading.

And we need some kind of antidote to the 24 hour news cycle, in which the more people read or watch the less informed they become. That antidote is books, in large quantities.

Comment Re:Human Based Climate Change vs Climate Change Ti (Score 0, Flamebait) 249

Globalist Climate Change Research = CRAP SCIENCE.

Unfortunately for you, this style of argumentation is just easily refuted in the same style: SEZ YOU. You're obviously a mindless puppet of the Koch brothers. Not a very satisfying argument, is it?

If you want to debate this at a higher level than middle-school playground reparte, you should address the researcher's argument: that at higher temperatures the cloud forming moisture at lower levels gets dispersed into the upper atmosphere. This reduces the rate of cloud formation, which in turn reduces the albedo of the Earth. That means that models which weight reduction of cloud formation higher are more likely to be accurate.

Feel free to take issue with any of the points raised in the previous paragraph. Or we can leave it as SEZ YOU.

Comment Re:Cut The Horsehit, Slashdotters! (Score 1) 462

Seriously, who's got a plan? Who's willing to vote, possibly against their own self interest, in order to effect change?

You know how it goes... if voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal.

The U.S. Constitution has become a piece of toilet paper, you've long established that. It's clear that the general population of the U.S. doesn't care. So, what are YOU going to do about it?

And just what response are you attempting to evoke, Mr. Anonymous Agent Provocateur?

Comment Re:Bad article (Score 1) 118

What he wants to to is provide legal immunity for manufacturers against harm caused by their robots. His justification for this is a law Congress passed, at the urging of the pro-gun crowd, to immunize manufacturers against suits by people injured by their guns. Even that immunity is quite limited - if a criminal shoots you, you can't sue the manufacturer. But if your gun blows up when fired, you can.

Which is as it should be; if my gun blows up when I fire it, that's the manufacturers fault (unless I did one of a number of dumb things like plug the barrel or use the wrong ammo, which hopefully will come out at trial).

The problem with product liability law in general is that it's far too easy for some idiot to do something harmful with the product and then for the person harmed (often but not always the idiot himself) to turn around and claim it's a "defect" because the manufacturer could have anticipated and prevented the harmful use. That's not a "robot" problem, that's a general problem with product liabioity law.

Comment Re:Clouds that can use the Hubble telescope??? (Score 1) 62

Researches Using Hubble Telescope Confirm Exoplanet Has Clouds
  Would have made more sense. There is a dangling something or other in there.

I think this story must be cursed or something.

Anyhow, what we have in the story title is a misplaced modifier. The phrase "Using Hubble Telescope" functions as an adverb modifying the verb "confirm", but the editor has *misplaced* it in such a way that it could easily be misread as an adjective modifying "clouds". Yet while this modifier is misplaced, it is not quite "dangling"; to dangle it must refer to something that isn't in the sentence at all.

Dangling is usually the result of incomplete editing. You might start with "Using the Hubble Telescope, researchers find evidence of clouds on an exoplanet." After editing, you might end up with "Using Hubble Telescope, clouds are discovered on an exoplanet." The latter is a dangling modifier; its target "discovered" has been removed from the sentence, leaving the adverbial phrase "dangling". There is no alternative parsing in which the orphaned modifier makes sense, because what its target simply isn't there.

Comment Re:This is the problem with religious people. (Score 5, Insightful) 903


this is about religious organizations with employees with the same religious values. here's a pro-tip, don't work for a religious organization if you don't hold their beliefs.

Wrong. The argument is not that religious *organizations* ought to have some special privilege, it's that employers in general have a right not to cover medical treatments they disagree with.

Medical treatment choices should be matters of *personal* conscience. The Church has every right to teach its opinions to anyone it pleases; it has no right to force its opinions about legal, private behavior on its employees, or to punish them for their purely private behavior.

Comment Re:Dangerous Road (Score 2) 903

Well, that's just a slippery slope argument. The real problem with the Catholic position here is that it is incoherent.

Covering contraception under a health plan is not "paying for contraception". It's paying for contraception *coverage*, because it is the employee that decides to take the medication -- which by the way has numerous other therapeutic applications besides contraception. What's going on is the RC church trying to interfere with their employee's medical coverage.

Comment Re:What exactly happened? (Score 5, Informative) 181

Short, simplistic answer: the ISP found a way to fraudulently skim a percentage from online retailers for every purchase made by the ISP customers.

Slightly more detailed answer: the ISP directed users looking for online merchants like "" to it's own bogus server. That bogus server then re-directs the user's browser to the merchant's server in such a way the consumer doesn't notice and the merchant thinks the customer is following a product referral from an advertising partner. Thus the ISP collects a kickback intended for people who make product recommendations and referrals, without actually having made any recommendation or referral.

Comment Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (Score 1) 321

The amount of power used by the laptop is going to be pretty much a rounding error. You'd be better off making sure the tires are properly inflated.

Except more efficiently powering your laptop will not prevent you from fully inflating your tires, nor will it make doing so any less effective nor more time-consuming.

Similarly, fully inflating your tires will not prevent you from more efficiently powering your laptop, or eliminate the significant gains from doing so.

No matter how relatively significant the gains, there are gains, and they are cost effective and well worth the effort. And if you add up all the various "rounding error" type gains to be had in most vehicles, they cumulatively add up to a significant amount of savings.

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