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Comment Enforcing rights (Score 4, Insightful) 81

I don't have any sympathy for secret spy schemes or the mass warrantless interception of private data or communications. The people behind those belong in jail.

But Twitter isn't a private communication. It's public. When you stand up on a soapbox on the street corner and start shouting, yes, that's your free speech right. But a cop can stand there and listen to what you say, even record it if they want. It's a public place.

This is where I think we missed the boat on free speech.

In the free speech debate, everyone points out that no one is required to give you a public forum for your speech. But all these forums actually *are* public, and yet we think it's OK if the companies suppress speech in various ways because it's not the government that's doing it. This fails rational logic in two ways.

Firstly, there was a time when companies would hand over user details on request of law enforcement without a warrant. The government thought this was OK because the companies were free to deny the request, and they also thought it wasn't a violation of the user's rights (4th amendment) because it wasn't the government doing it.

The companies were sued, and the government passed "telecom immunity" laws which effectively shut those lawsuits down.

Allowing companies to censor speech will follow that same arc - eventually the government will be able to "request" that a site suppress some news article or opinion or whatever, with a wink and a nudge, and it'll be the companies doing it and not the government.

Secondly, we don't allow a company to only hire whites (14th amendment) or only men (19th amendment), because that would be a violation of their rights. We don't allow a company to deny services to gays (such as wedding cakes) either.

Why do we allow companies to deny 1st amendment rights?

I think the distinction has to be made between public and private forums. Breitbart can post right-leaning articles, and the NYT can post left-leaning ones, because those are private to the company. Not everyone can get an article published on the NYT website, it's the company product built by employees.

But the article comments sections are public - anyone can log in and post a reply, an opinion, or even a rant. To have those sections monitored and curated is a violation of free speech by the public. Companies shouldn't be in the business of curating free speech, and their response to illegal speech should be to alert the police.

We're rapidly approaching the point where *no* opposing speech or controversial ideas will be available, simply because the big players will go in and remove the ones they don't like. Look at the election coverage for proof of this - constantly insulting Donald Trump in the media wasn't enough to get Hillary elected, because the opposing views were available. There's a move on to remove those opposing views from the public eye.

I think we're losing freedoms here. Free speech means literally *all* speech, including speech you disagree with, or that disagree with you.

We shouldn't let companies run public forums without enforcing free speech.

It could be the downfall of our republic.

Comment Defense and spending ceilings (Score 3, Insightful) 451

Only 80 killed in 10 years, sounds like the defense was working for the most part.

The problem with healthcare is there is no ceiling to the cost and the end result is always the same, everyone dies eventually. Most of the early deaths appear to be lifestyle related anyway. Any reasonable person should prefer money to be spent on preventing unnecessary deaths (like terrorism) and just take care of themselves better to handle the longevity part.

The US now has 10 aircraft carriers, 2 under construction, and 1 planned. (source)

Military spending is 54% of our national budget, which is more than the amount of our deficit. More than the combined spending of the next seven countries.

What was that you were saying about spending ceilings?

Comment Or it might go up (Score 2) 451

It's sure to drop further once he repeals health care.

That's one rationalization of the future.

Another one is that life expectancy has gone down because more people are impoverished.

If you don't have a lot of money, you tend to scrimp and cut corners. You might not be able to purchase a new winter jacket, might not be able to take a day or two off of work when you're sick, and might not be able to recover from a burglary.

If the economy picks up in a way that benefits the people instead of businesses, more disposable cash might lead to longer life expectancy.

But hey - don't let me interfere with your narrative. The "and replace it with something better" thing will *never* **ever** happen.

Because... Trump.

Comment Why babies cry on planes (Score 4, Informative) 101

I've been next to a baby that was on full wailing for quite some time, despite the mother's best efforts and that was considerably worse than any idiot yapping on the phone. Didn't really want to make me throw myself or the baby off the plane, but I was quite happy I didn't have to deal with that every other hour of the day.

In flight the cabin air pressure is reduced as the plane goes up in altitude, to an equivalent altitude of about 9,000 feet when the airplane is at cruising altitude. This reduces stress on the airframe, by about 5-ish PSI on every inch of the cabin outer surface.

Adults have the ability to clear their eustachian by yawning, but babies generally don't. The extra air pressure causes their ears to ache for the entire flight.

That's why babies cry during an airplane flight. Mothers don't generally have to deal with it all the time.

(I wrote the firmware for one of the popular air cabin pressurization systems currently in use.)

Comment Paying the price (Score 1) 70

The only election that counts has not occurred. That's December 19, 2016, and it's not the foregone conclusion that some of Mr. Trump's supporters claim. For one thing, as Secretary Clinton's popular vote margin continues to rise, there remains the distinct possibility that close states will flip to her slate of electors. For another, eight electors have already announced intent not to vote for their party's nominee.

If you're hoping for that to happen, I hope you also are prepared to pay the price for it.

No one paid much attention to Hillary's rioters because deep down everyone knew that Trump won fair and square. The rules were clear, Hillary had her chance, and didn't make it.

If the electors switch the outcome, about half the country will be up in arms over the results, the half that has most of the arms. Some of the other half will be on our side, some will be apathetic, and only a small slice of the public will be actively against the ensuing revolt.

Expect to see whole cities burning and mass riots at a level that local law enforcement couldn't hope to contain. It'll be like the Rodney King riots, but everywhere. There will literally be lawless areas in some cities - areas where the police are afraid to go.

It would be a demonstration that rules don't matter, that the social contract is a scam.

It could also bring down the government. As many as 25 states at once have sued the federal government over various things during Obama's administration, and it only takes 33 to call a constitutional convention. Many of those were holding off recently, under the hope that Trump would win.

If California and New York try to dictate the election, a *lot* of states would immediately file suit against the union.

This is what you're risking. Just to get an unlikeable "business as usual" politician into office.

It would cause a not-insignificant loss of property and life, and might bring down the government.

That's the price to get Hillary elected.

Comment We knew this going in (Score 4, Interesting) 572

It's getting close to the point that the schadenfreude of seeing morons get their due makes up for the fact that we all will be screwed.

So by all means lets call climate change a hoax. When the inevitable calamities fall, I suspect the deplorables and Breitbart readers will be disproportionately affected and not only will I not shed a tear but I will kick dirt in their faces.

Ok, so which is more important: everyone in the country slipping into poverty and terrorist attacks from immigrants next year, or...

Global warming, only [our] part of which can fixed by us, is driven by political corruption, and won't affect us for a couple of decades?

Of these issues, political corruption is the biggest impediment to rational climate change action. Getting rid of that has to come first, and only then can we expect to make progress on the other issues.

Do you think anything would get done under a Clinton administration?

We knew Trump had shortcomings, and still elected him - warts and all. We did it because he promised to fix certain issues that we felt were more important in the near term. Global warming will kill us, but, mass poverty will kill us sooner.

I'm completely happy taking steps to curb global warming, but a) I want to be safe doing it, and b) I want to eat first.

Get some perspective. Not everything Trump is going to do will be bad, and you always have 2024 to look forward to.

Comment Is this art now gone? (Score 1) 204

A question to the readers: I've been trying to view this online comic for awhile now.

The problem is, the comic itself is written in Flash, and I can't think of any way to enable flash without downloading all the Adobe crap, or installing a browser extension that's horribly unsafe to use. My best guess is to do all this in a separate VM specifically tuned to do this one task, and then delete it when done.

Make an entire system specific to reading one website? That seems like a lot of work.

Is there some sort of offline viewer I can use, or convert the files to PDF or something?

Is this work of art now forever lost because the means to display it is gone?

Comment And on that subject (Score 5, Interesting) 113

And... they're off!

Hillary campaign bus involved in deadly crash.

And of course, CNN falsly admits it aired pornography for 30 minutes on thanksgiving.

Synopsis of previous link:
1) A Twitter user in the Boston area reported that CNN was airing hardcore pornography for 30 minutes through local provider RCN.
2) Picked up by The Independent, a leading left-of-center newspaper based in the United Kingdom.
3) Subsequently many other media outlets including Variety magazine, the U.K. Daily Mail, the New York Post, Esquire magazine and Mashable, &c.
4) Eventually, CNN actually confirmed that it did air “inappropriate content” and was seeking an “explanation” from RCN.

Of course, nothing of the sort happened.

Mainstream media has a bit of a credibility problem, yah?

Comment How to get there (Score 2, Interesting) 535

I'll ask this question, which has come up before: If nobody has a job, then where the [bad language redacted] will they find CUSTOMERS?

It's well known by just about anyone who looks that our current economic system is not tenable going forward. In the extreme limit, we can imagine all human needs produced by automated systems, with no human interaction required.

We're closer to this than you might think. Automated farming is almost available now, automated delivery (self-driving trucks) is almost here, and automated last-mile delivery by drone is almost here. A largely automated solar cell factory could produce more solar cells than it needs to supply its own production - build one of these in Arizona or Nevada or western Utah and let it make and install its own cells and geometrically increase its power generation capacity.

(If you've ever driven Rte 55 across Nevada and Western Utah, you know that there are large swaths of flat, generally sunny desert land that aren't used for anything. All current US electrical needs could be supplied by solar cells filling a square 20 miles on a side. More-or-less, depending on assumptions.)

I don't mean to say that these would be *completely* automated, but if the entire production of the US population can be maintained by 100,000 workers, it's effectively full automation.

The best guess for future economics is that everyone will be given an allowance (a virtual $1000 each month, say) to spend on production, and order the goods and services they need online. During the month the factories will produce the goods, to be delivered automatically by drone.

Also, local automated stores in the manner of Wal-Mart will be built for everyday needs. Walk in and grab a new winter coat whenever you need one.

The geometric progression of the solar-cell factory also translates to other production. With proper management, that $1000 allowance would grow over time as more production comes online, making it possible to purchase more and more goods with the monthly allowance.

This is pretty-much where we need to go in order to maintain our civilization on the planet.

The Universal Basic Income comes up and is discussed periodically, but it's always panned as being too expensive or unworkable. No one anywhere is willing to give up the results of their labour for free, no one is willing to pay workers a decent wage if they can get away with less, and no one is willing to reduce wage hours (holding salary constant) to make enough jobs for people.

It really looks like our economic system will have to crash and burn before we can transition to the new system.

We know what the economic system must be going forward, but no one seems to know how to get there.

Comment Spot on. (Score 2) 373

It doesn't. But there IS stuff on Slashdot that qualifies, although IMHO there's not a lot. But if you browse at -1 as I always do, you'll see it.

Arguably, the moderation system here already takes care of the problem. Users who aren't logged in won't see much if any hate speech; it almost never makes it higher than +3, and if it does then it drops below that threshold pretty quickly. So they actually have to drill down to find it - it's not immediately obvious. Users who ARE logged in are unlikely to see it if they browse at +1 or higher, (again, unless they drill down), because most of it is posted by AC's whose comments start at 0. People who browse at lower than +1 soon know what to expect and can determine if they want to see that stuff or not.

Godwin time: Mein Kampf is still available for anyone to read, but it isn't unexpectedly waved in front of anyone's face - people have to seek it out. Hate speech on Slashdot is similar to that. And this kind of speech SHOULDN'T be banned; we need to maintain an ongoing awareness that those attitudes exist and are actively shaping our world. People should be able to easily avoid most of it if they so desire, but hiding it entirely and driving it totally underground is dangerous.

Spot on, in all respects.

There's sometimes a hate-speech reply at the very front of every article here, you can sometimes see it when you view an article right after it gets posted. When there are very few replies. There haven't been any recently, but there was a time (recently) when every article had one at the very beginning.

It's usually a single-line message "gay faggots" or "gay n*ggers" or about cows. "You are all cows. Cows go moo". That sort of thing.

(There hasn't been any recently, so perhaps it was either a) a paid poster during to the elections, or b) Slashdot has a better filter.

Since it's always always a first post, I suspect it's a bot. Since some of it is complete nonsense (cows? really?), I suspect it's an anchor for forum sliding.

1) The bot ensures that the post is first, and the text ensures that it gets modded down.
2) If something appears in the discussion that the owner wants to suppress, they log in and post a reply to the invisible first post.
3) We see the reply (at +2), but not the first post. The text to be suppressed is now slipped further down the page.

As a corollary to #3 above, the poster might have several accounts and post a fake argument about spelling or grammar. It all seems above-board and legit, but the interesting bits get pushed down the page, hopefully below the fold.

And finally, I read an analysis online (with links and references) that estimated that the *maximum* number of white supremacists in the US is less than 50,000, and most of those are passive. The article (which I can't find right now) notes that only 200 people showed up at a KKK national meet. It estimates that there are less than 1000 people across the US who are the stereotypical "Banshee" style member, who actively perform hate crimes against other races.

Their exploits get amplified by the media, so we see the problem as bigger than it is.

(Am I wrong? Let's have some links.)

I think most of the hate speech comes from teens and young adults looking to rile people up. I don't think there's really a lot of white supremacy activity going on in the US any more.

Note that I did *not* say that there was no predjudice or bias, only that there is no lynching, cross burning, and such. Blacks can be around anywhere in the country without fearing for their life due to the color of their skin.

Comment Police searches (Score 4, Interesting) 242

One interesting use I can think of is to simply carry one around in case you get arrested by the police.

Supposedly police require a warrant to search your personal papers such as your cell phone, so this shouldn't be much different. If they take the USB drive over to the cruiser and plug it in "just to see" then this will fry their system.

You can even tell the officer not to plug the device in, that it's not a thumb drive, and that there's no information on it.

It would probably work at airports as well.

I really don't see a downside to this.

Comment Economic theories (Score 3, Interesting) 468

Economy does not work that way, sorry. Hawking should read from a real economist, like Milton Friedman. Middle class jobs have to remain, but the exact majority of work a person does will differ. Hawking knows political hyperbole, not economics.

The problem with "real" economic theories is that there are so many to choose from.

Here's a different economist who extends our current economic system to its logical conclusion, and also presents a viable alternative. It's very readable and a quick read - well worth a few moments if you want to see where we're headed.

It's clear to anyone who studies economics as a math problem that our current system is untenable going forward. In the limit of extremes, automation will supply all of humanity's production needs, while employing no one.

A fine situation, but in that scenario who will have money for purchases?

We're already feeling the pinch here in the US due to globalism. Real wages have been stagnant (against inflation), good jobs are increasingly hard to find, and people are forced to work multiple mc'jobs to make ends meet. Automated vehicles and drone delivery systems will put perhaps 10 million people out of work in the next 10 years.

America can stem the tide a little by stepping away from globalism, bit it's a temporary measure. Ultimately, AI will take over more jobs than it generates, people will tighten their belts and reduce spending, and this will continue until our current system collapses completely.

Something has to change, and we pretty-much know *what* has to change, but no one has any idea or plan on how to get there.

Traditional economics is religion, not science. It never predicts what will happen, only why something *did* happen. It makes conclusions by building a model to fit past data.

If you want to fix the economy, you have to look to the future.

Real economists don't do that.

Comment Better question (Score 1) 184

He campaigned on a platform of isolationism. Why would he care if two countries on the other side of the world are hacking each other?

I have a better question:

Why does this concern *us*?

Is there an actual tech issue here, or is it just another chance to get a dig in on Trump?

Are we to consider how Trump would react to every small and subtle world news item until he takes office?

Could we at least wait until he makes some sort of statement?

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