Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment "The peasent will be forced to keep voting..." (Score 2) 621

"...until they pick the alternative the ruling class prefers."

That worked before on EU votes. I don't think it will work this time.

A lesson of the past few days is the danger of groupthink. Along with the major international institutions, the assembled might of establishment opinion – in the CBI and TUC, massed legions of economists and a partisan Bank of England – was confident that the existing order here and in Europe would be preserved by promises of unspecified reforms. Until around 2am on the morning of Friday 24 May, the bookies and currency traders followed the playbook that had been given them by the authorities and the pollsters. Then, in a succession of events of a kind that is becoming increasingly common, the script was abruptly torn up. A clear majority of voters had reached to the heart of the situation. Realising that the promises of European reform that had been made were empty, they opted for a sharp shift in direction. The consequences can already be observed: rapid political change in Britain and an accelerating process of unravelling in the European Union. The worldwide impact on markets and geopolitics will be long-lasting and profound.

There are sure to be concerted efforts to resist the referendum’s message. The rise of the hydra-headed monster of populism; the diabolical machinations of tabloid newspapers; conflicts of interest between baby boomers and millennials; divisions between the English provinces and Wales on the one hand and Scotland, London and Northern Ireland on the other; Jeremy Corbyn’s lukewarm support for the Remain cause; the buyer’s remorse that has supposedly set in after Remain’s defeat – these already commonplace tales will be recycled incessantly during the coming weeks and months. None of them captures the magnitude of the upheaval that has occurred. When voters inflicted the biggest shock on the establishment since Churchill was ousted in 1945 they signalled the end of an era.

Predictably, there is speculation that Brexit will not happen. If Britain can vote for Brexit, it is being argued, surely anything is possible. But those who think the vote can be overturned or ignored are telling us more about their own state of mind than developments in the real world. Like bedraggled courtiers fleeing Versailles after the French Revolution, they are unable to process the reversal that has occurred. Locked in a psychology of despair, anger and denial, they cannot help believing there will be a restoration of an order they believed was unshakeable.

Still, the Europhilic ruling class is exceptionally cross that mere citizens would dare to express opinions that differ from their elite betters:

Many liberal journalists, representing elites throughout the advanced world, have reacted with indignation to the fact that 52 percent of U.K. voters (many without degrees) have rejected the EU system of supranational government of which the elites approve. Naturally, these journalistic spokesmen argue, the common people could not possibly have good reasons for such an act of multinational vandalism. So they must be inspired by, er, racism, xenophobia, fear of globalization, and related other thought-crimes.

That account doubtless condenses and oversimplifies the elites’ response to the Brexit shock, which is just one small skirmish in a new class war in advanced societies between geographically mobile, liberal, skilled, high-earning professionals and more rooted, communitarian, particularist, and patriotic citizens (or what British journalist David Goodhart calls “nowhere” people and “somewhere” people). “Nowhere” people simply didn’t grasp the outlook of “somewhere people” in the referendum, not seeing that many decent people who voted for Brexit had such respectable anxieties as loss of community or, one step up, the transformation of their country as motives for casting their votes. So the elites thought the worst. They were still making the same mistake in their television and columnar explanations of the result on Friday morning. But what was remarkable was the Darwall-McArdle thesis that in other countries the elites reacted to the Brexit shock as if personally or spiritually affronted in their own lives. Alarmed, they asked: Why weren’t we told that they might vote for Brexit?

It’s a hard question to answer.

One aspect of it, however, is ideologically fascinating. Among the central arguments of those favoring Brexit was that the Brussels system was dangerously undemocratic and that British voters and MPs had lost the power to propose, amend, or repeal failed or oppressive laws. This was a passionate concern among English people who had grown up in a self-governing democracy, who may have fought for it in wars, and who simply couldn’t understand why the loss of their democratic rights didn’t worry their opponents. Yet again and again liberal journalists treated this passionate belief as either abstract or a cover for more primitive emotions and bigotries. Democracy as such was rarely given weight in Remain or liberal debates on the cost/benefit analysis of Brexit. They treat multinational political institutions as such unalloyed goods that it would be impolite to raise questions about such defects as a democratic deficit. Has the knowledge class/meritocracy/cognitive elite/nowhere people/etc., etc. developed not only an intellectual snobbery towards the rest of society, but even an impatient, dismissive contempt for democracy that cannot be openly avowed but that does influence its other political attitudes?

Predictably, the losing side seems to have doubled-down on calling their opponents racists:

Bigotry! Nativism! Racism! That’s what elites in Britain, Europe and here have been howling, explanations for why 52 percent of a higher-than-general-election turnout of British voters voted for their nation to leave the European Union.

But there is plenty of bigotry, condescension and snobbery in the accusations and the people making them. And it’s incoherent to claim, as some do, that it’s undemocratic for voters to decide. That amounts to saying that ordinary people should be content to be ruled by their betters.

Comment All we see are Federation propaganda films! (Score 1) 359

Remember: All we see are the myriad propaganda films that paint the Federation in the best possible light. We never see the vast slave gulags back in the Federation hinterland. "Look, our society is perfect! No one is ever jelous, enraged, power-hungry, greedy, or ambitious! Starship Captains never abuse their positions to accumulate vast wealth!"

It's set in a magic fantasy world where communism works and people never have personal conflicts with each other. It's Potemkin Villages all the way down...

Star Wars, on the other hand, is set in an imaginary hereditary monarchy where out of untold trillions of living beings, only a handful of intermarried power families seem to control everything, and true virtue and magic ability only comes from those favored by God who have inherited high midichlorian counts...

AI

The Moral Dilemma of Driverless Cars: Save The Driver or Save The Crowd? 364

HughPickens.com writes: What should a driverless car with one rider do if it is faced with the choice of swerving off the road into a tree or hitting a crowd of 10 pedestrians? The answer depends on whether you are the rider in the car or someone else is, writes Peter Dizikes at MIT News. According to recent research most people prefer autonomous vehicles to minimize casualties in situations of extreme danger -- except for the vehicles they would be riding in. "Most people want to live in in a world where cars will minimize casualties," says Iyad Rahwan. "But everybody wants their own car to protect them at all costs." The result is what the researchers call a "social dilemma," in which people could end up making conditions less safe for everyone by acting in their own self-interest. "If everybody does that, then we would end up in a tragedy whereby the cars will not minimize casualties," says Rahwan. Researchers conducted six surveys, using the online Mechanical Turk public-opinion tool, between June 2015 and November 2015. The results consistently showed that people will take a utilitarian approach to the ethics of autonomous vehicles, one emphasizing the sheer number of lives that could be saved. For instance, 76 percent of respondents believe it is more moral for an autonomous vehicle, should such a circumstance arise, to sacrifice one passenger rather than 10 pedestrians. But the surveys also revealed a lack of enthusiasm for buying or using a driverless car programmed to avoid pedestrians at the expense of its own passengers. "This is a challenge that should be on the mind of carmakers and regulators alike," the researchers write. "For the time being, there seems to be no easy way to design algorithms that would reconcile moral values and personal self-interest."

Comment False (Score 0) 301

"Doctors in Cuba’s public health system are pressured to induce abortions for potentially problematic pregnancies in order to artificially lower the infant mortality rate. Stusser estimated that if the deaths of living fetuses older than 21 weeks had been reported, Cuba’s infant mortality rate would be at least 50 percent higher."

And the conditions in Cuban hospitals are horrible.

Medicine

New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor 301

HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.
Communications

C-SPAN Uses Periscope and Facebook Live To Broadcast The House Sit-In (washingtonpost.com) 350

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Washington Post: C-SPAN has made history for resorting to Periscope to live stream a sit-in on the House floor. C-SPAN spokesman Howard Mortman said: "This is the first time we've ever shown video from the House floor picked up by a Periscope account." C-SPAN had to rely on Periscope for a direct feed to House proceedings because these proceedings aren't exactly official. The Washington Post reports: "Earlier today, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) led a sit-in on the House floor to push for action on gun control, following the failure of four gun measures earlier this week in the Senate. According to an official at the House Recording Studio, the cameras that C-SPAN commonly uses to broadcast House business are 'in recess subject to the call of the chair.' No approved video feed, no problem: C-SPAN has been piping in the Periscope feed from Rep. Scott Peters, a California Democrat." The feed hasn't been as reliable as C-SPAN's official House-proceedings feed. "Well, the Periscope video froze up again," said a C-SPAN anchor. And a bit later: "We're still having some issues with that video feed." At around 3:30 p.m., C-SPAN switched to a Facebook feed where viewers could hear and watch Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) rip the "cowards who run this chamber" for failing to turn on the microphones.

Comment Facts about Omar Mateen & The Shooting (Score 1) 1718

Censorship

World Reacts To The Worst Mass Shooting In U.S. History (cnn.com) 1718

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Fifty people were killed inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and other officials said Sunday morning, just hours after a shooter opened fire in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. At least 53 more people were injured, Mina said. Police have shot and killed the gunman, he told reporters.

The shooter is not from the Orlando area, Mina said. He has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, about 120 miles southeast of Orlando, two law enforcement officials tell CNN.

Orlando authorities said they consider the violence an act of domestic terror. The FBI is involved. While investigators are exploring all angles, they "have suggestions the individual has leanings towards (Islamic terrorism), but right now we can't say definitely..."

In the discussion on this submission, Slashdot readers reported that Reddit is among the sites that have removed some discussions about the shooter's identity, with one reader even reporting "Posts directing people where and how to give blood have been removed."

Comment California's committing economic suicide (Score 1) 151

High taxes, business-strangling regulations, insane housing prices driven by land-use laws that strangle supply, and the future is further imperiled by unsustainable public pension debt and rising labor costs due to the minimum wage hike.

So I'm sure Denver is benefiting from the exodus of high tech jobs, just like Austin, Durham, DFW, etc.

Slashdot Top Deals

"We live, in a very kooky time." -- Herb Blashtfalt

Working...