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Comment Re:Universities aren't completely honest either (Score 4, Interesting) 420

I think the problem with government money for college is that we went demand side rather than supply side. States have a good history of building public universities that provided a great education at a great price and admitting students who could actually benefit from that education. Eventually, we shifted tons of money into providing loans and grants, which ultimately just arms both sides in a bidding war over the same set of seats for already existing universities. In general, when that happens, the price goes up and more suppliers enter the market to satisfy the demand. The problem here is that it's a lot easier to build a shitty fake university to soak up easy tuition dollars than it is to build a real university that actually educates people and has standards.

Worse, as more and more people are selected for seats in real schools, the remaining people with piles of federal cash burning holes in their pockets are, on average, worse and worse students. So building a good quality school with high standards isn't even necessarily the right thing to do even if your heart is in the right place and you're willing invest the money doing so. Ultimately, you just end up with a bunch of fly by night operations that specialize in separating vulnerable students from their loan money.

Comment Re:"Adult conversation next year?" (Score 5, Insightful) 367

It's tough to compare the environment now to what law enforcement has "always" done in history, though. There never used to be a way for them to read every single letter and cable being sent and received everywhere, so in that sense, the power they're looking for is unprecedented, even if they promise only to use it in a way that's analogous to old school manual police work. And even the claim that they've "always" had access to the data they're asking for doesn't entirely hold up. They've never had, say, access to timestamped GPS data about everywhere a person has gone every day or years of archives of mail. In the idealized old days, they could start tapping your phone or reading your mail at a certain point in time and get data for that time window, but not everything you'd done for years before that. There are types and quantities of data about us that exist now because of smart phones and ubiquitous use of the Internet that simply didn't exist in the "good old days" he's pining for.

So I think the fundamental claim he's making is at least a little bit flawed, and that's before we even get into discussions about whether it's technologically feasible or whether law enforcement can be trusted with the expanded powers.

Comment Re:The whole idea is stupid (Score 2) 220

I'm actually not sure about this. There seem to be a lot of people who are more than happy to post about their crimes and questionable affiliations on their social media accounts, even when they should be pretty sure the police will be looking for them. It certainly won't catch sophisticated terrorists, but it seems like it would probably catch a lot of problem cases since a high percentage of problem cases really are total idiots.

That doesn't make it any less horrifying. Remember back when employers were demanding that people hand over their facebook credentials? Good times.

Comment Re:This is the wrong answer (Score 2) 193

This. Make your boss look good and very few other things usually matter. I've fired a guy who worked tons of hours because he was totally inept. I've also managed a guy I considered my MVP even though he was at a remote office and I had literally no idea how many hours he worked or even if he was even coming into the office. Managers value a person who doesn't require much management time and provides a steady stream of good news they can report to their managers.

Comment Re:Answer the phone without knowing the caller? (Score 1) 236

Do people actually do this? Pick up the phone if they don't know who is calling them?

Young people don't. But old people? They love that shit. Not answering the phone is inconceivable to them. The great news for scammers is that young people aren't all that great to scam anyway. They don't usually have much cash, and they don't have grandchildren who might need to be "bailed out" of jail in Mexico or so many magazine subscriptions that they don't remember who's been paid. Old people have money, and a juicy subset of them are losing their mental faculties and are easily duped.

If you're too smart to answer the phone and talk to a robocaller, they don't want to talk to you anyway.

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 1) 183

And none of those specialties makes a person qualified to make such a statement.

I'm going to guess that you don't think anybody is qualified to make such a statement. I suppose technically, that's true. It's not possible to prove that something is "safe" so demands to prove GMOs "safe" are really just setting up goalposts with wheels. All you can do is test for specific dangers, and those tests have come out negative. So I suppose the best thing to say is that we've tested for the dangers we can reasonably think of and the relevant experts pretty much agree that those dangers aren't there.

They're not anymore qualified than Jenny McCarthy's idiot brigade except for the fact that you're appealing to expertise that doesn't even exist.

So if you're going to summarize the general conclusions from a large body of research across a lot of different disciplines and I offered you the opinion of a random Nobel Prize winner in a scientific field and the opinion of Jenny McCarthy, you'd be willing to toss a coin as to which one was more likely to be correct? Given that Jenny McCarthy has pretty much demonstrated that she doesn't basic statistical inference, I'd throw in with any random scientist or engineer on the topic. But I suppose that if your view of the world is, "Doesn't know everything == Knows absolutely nothing," it could be hard to distinguish.

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 2) 183

That's not a solution. It has to be mandatory or companies aren't going to bother putting the label on unless it's cheap to go without the GMO technology.

It "has to be mandatory" if your goal is to push people away from GMO products, not if your goal is provide a supply of verifiable non-GMO food for people who want them. Your point about there being a "well defined market" for Kosher foods gives the game away. Your goal is not to find non-GMO foods to buy. You can already get that by buying Organic or "Non-GMO Project" labels. You want to create a larger market by putting a scary looking label on perfectly safe food and making "non-GMO" something people look for as a mark of safety or quality.

But, the biggest issue is that non-Kosher foods do not destroy the Kosher versions. GMOs can and do destroy non-GMOs that are grown in close proximity.

This is a very interesting comparison because the definition of "destroy" is pretty strange. We could likewise say that non-GMO plants in the proximity of GMO plants "destroys" the GMO plants through cross-pollination. It's a weird religious insistence on purity that's at stake, just like in the case of Kosher. Imagine this: I have a requirement that none of my food be grown near power lines and I refuse to eat any plant that has any power line plants in is family history. Now we have a problem: Nobody will create "non power line plant" labeled food for me, so I need a mandate. Fortunately, one I get the mandate, I can build a constituency of people who share my hangup. Unfortunately, we need to drive the power line plants out of existence, because their very presence can ruin entire fields of my non power line produce! Ruined, I tell you!

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 2) 183

By my count:

Medicine: 41
Chemistry: 34
Physics: 25
Economics: 8
Literature: 1
Peace: 1

I don't know how many holders of the price in Medicine are alive right now, but I would have to guess that 41 of them is a pretty substantial percentage. It seems like mostly relevant people. Not sure why the literature and peace price winners jumped in there. At a glance I don't see much that's relevant in their background. But yeah, I'd say that this list doesn't compare very closely to Jenny McCarthy's idiot brigade.

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 5, Insightful) 183

There's nothing wrong with labeling per se. It's just that labeling mandates are basically a scam to allow this to happen:

Scientists: This stuff is safe.
Organic industry: If it's safe, why not label it?
[labels go in]
Organic industry: If it's safe, why are there MANDATORY LABELS? BOOGA BOOGA! Buy organic!

The problem of people wanting to find GMO free food is easily solved by voluntary labels put on by companies that want to cater to people with food hang-ups. It works for Kosher, and there's already a "Non-GMO Project Verified" label that's perfectly happy to scam you out of your cash by putting its stamp on salt and bottled water.

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 1, Insightful) 183

Actually I think most of the problem with GMOs has to do with them being modified such that they don't produced replantable seed. That scares the hell out of me. If for some reason the company that produces it goes away then you can't continue using it. Become dependent enough on it and you are entirely dependent on that company and they can pretty much charge whatever the hell they want.

1) This isn't a real thing. It was an idea that never got into marketed products. It would actually probably be a good thing because people would shit their pants less about GMOs "getting out" and ruining the world if they were sterile. But they're not. You can absolutely harvest seeds from and replant the GMO seeds that you buy. You'll just be violating the agreement you signed with the provider.

2) Farmers buying seeds every year isn't a new thing. In many industries, farmers never save their seeds. Often, it's because they're using a special hybrid that doesn't breed true (the second generation gets a whole variety of unpredictable traits instead of the traits you want). Sometimes its because the seed saving process for that plant is not worth the effort and is better left to the professionals. The idea of farmers saving their seeds closed-loop as the norm is a myth believed mostly by non-farmers.

Additionally these companies have a tendency to sue the crap out of farmers that don't use their product if they find any evidence of their product on that farm.

1) This is also false. Look through the actual legal cases in question. There are relatively few of them, and they don't involve "accidents" at all.

2) How do you square this with your belief that GM seeds aren't replantable? It's not surprising that scary myths get around, but it's kind of amazing that people can hold two mutually exclusive myths in their heads at once.

Comment Re:Do I have this right? (Score 1) 183

First of all, plant IP licensing goes way back to before GMOs. Second, patents aren't permanent. Even the original Satanic Roundup Ready soybeans are off patent. Third, there are no patents on tons of varieties of seed. If a seed company decides to jack up its prices on patented seed, they'll lose business to unencumbered seed.

The price premium on Roundup Ready corn, for example, isn't "low" now because Monsanto is being nice and lulling us all into believing they're good people. They're charging what the market will bear. It's the value of the corn seed + the value of the additional savings that come with the Roundup Ready feature. If they jacked the price beyond that, people would just grow one of the many other types of regular ass corn.

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