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Comment No Intelligent Life Detected at UN HQ (Score 1) 3

Isn't it cultural imperialism or something to tell someone of another faith what their faith means to them or which sites are holy to them? I'm trying to figure out how one would determine that the last remaining structure from Herod's Temple wasn't Jewish and that furthermore the Mount on which Solomon built the First Temple isn't Jewish either. So far, nothing's coming to me.

Comment Re:Why yes. Yes they are... (Score 1) 642

I think your categories have some overlap.

There are whole professions which involve getting hung up on these things. Three that I can think up off the top of my head are copy editors, proof-readers, and language teachers. It's probable that some of them, the bad ones anyway, spend most of their time in category 1. It's also possible that some of the folks in both categories 1 and 3 are better at their jobs because they are also in category 2.

Comment Re:I don't want to live in this planet anymore (Score 1) 678

Texas allows licensed carry in restaurants where alcohol is served, but drinking and carrying at the same time is illegal. (Carrying while under the influence is also illegal, even if you're not actively drinking.) On other other hand, it is illegal to carry a gun in restaurants and other places like bars that derive more than 51% of their income from alcohol sales. These places tend to have legal signage indicating whether carry is allowed or not. Restaurant owners can also post 30.06 and 30.07 signs specifically prohibiting licensed weapons on their premises.. 30.06 applied to concealed carry. 30.07 was added recently when licensed open carry became legal.

Comment Re:Surprising, really (Score 1) 4

Do you mean the alloy would have affected the strength of the spices? I suppose that could be an issue if you use baking powder with sodium aluminum sulfate in it, but I prefer my bread aluminum free.

Comment Re:I'll get pilloried for saying this but (Score 1) 123

The convergent evolution of ideas strongly suggests the validity of those ideas. It does not demonstrate that the ideas in question must always come to light. I'm thinking about calculus, specifically. Two Europeans who had no contact with one another both developed calculus, but how many ancient cultures did not discover it? The Chinese did not, nor the Persians, nor the Arabs, nor the peoples of South Asia.

In short, just because something requiring human creativity has happened in one way (or even several ways) does not demonstrate that the laws of the universe require it to happen at all. We simply cannot know that. If, however, you are right, and certain kinds of progress are inevitable, why then we should all sit back and wait for the laboratory equipment at Intel and AMD to spontaneously generate new CPU architectures. At the same time, we can wait for the computers at Apple and Microsoft to write new software and operating systems. If we feed Linus' computer enough electricity, we'll get Linux kernel version 5, eventually. We can all take a ten or twenty-year compiler break! Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Comment Re:I'll get pilloried for saying this but (Score 1) 123

The progress in question only seems inevitable because it has already happened. We can see in the hindsight the "Of course!" and "Why didn't they think of that sooner?" moments because the logic of the thing is there for all to see. At the time it was happening, it was neither a foregone conclusion, nor trivial. The fact that several people have the same idea at the same time doesn't mean the idea itself is inevitable. The idea may be waiting, so to speak, to be discovered from first principles, but its discovery is not guaranteed.

Comment Thread Necromancy (Score 1) 2

I think I understand why comments on journal entries become impossible after a while. On a role-playing forum I frequented some years ago, the practice of posting new answers to old threads was called 'thread necromancy' and was generally considered rude. I see the usefulness of such a rule on the main news stories. The best comments are useful years after the fact, but the half-life of a normal forum post is usually pretty short.

I am not sure that journals should have the same rules applied to them. Journal entries would normally have a smaller pool of commenters and therefore a greater chance that the commentariat will be personally invested on one another. They might want to go back and discuss old issues, particularly as new people find each other read backward through each other's journals.

Anyhow, here's some fodder for your test. I'll be interested to see how it goes.

Comment Re:No problem (Score 1) 369

I had neglected that fact. I need to add some cases to my logic, I think, to include a one party state in which elections continue but in which all other parties are outlawed. This, however, leaves out the People's Republic of China, which has a few minor parties that are related to or clients of the Communist Party of China. It also leaves out the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has moderate political parties, but also engages in the violent suppression of political protest.

Comment Re:Net Neutrality (Score 1) 284

If you mean that the recognition of rights is not universal, I agree. We cannot come to a consensus about what they are. No government protects them perfectly, not even the supposedly free governments of the West. Modern governments keep coming up with superfluous Bills of Rights for travelers or investors or consumers while failing (or refusing) to enforce their essential rights.

If you mean that the recognition creates the right, I could not disagree more. If the rights in question are actual human rights and not privileges of citizenship, they belong to each and every one of us as a consequence of birth and do not depend on the recognition of (or even the existence of) any government. We had our Revolution because the British Crown and Parliament insisted on infringing our inalienable rights. As Americans, we are greatly indebted to the words and deeds of the Englishmen like John Locke who first expressed the ideas upon which our Revolution was founded. Locke mostly addressed the right to property, but the same principles apply to other rights (which are themselves property). The first humans had all their rights to property, to association, and so on, before any government existed. We would still possess them even if every government on earth were to explicitly deny their existence or prohit their exercise.

Comment Re:No problem (Score 1) 369

I puzzle this out as well, from the other side. At what point is it right and just to take up arms? More importantly, what bridge must we Americans cross as a nation before those on the right (such as Tea Party Americans and the NRA) embrace in their hearts the Spirit of 76 they invoked during the Tea Party rallies of 2009 and 2010? For my money, it's time to sling arms and muster on the green if either one of two things happens: the government begins confiscating weapons or if the government suspends elections. The first is prima facie evidence of the intent to oppress. The second is a literal, un-mistakeable repudiation of the consent of the governed from which all governments derive their just powers. A government might stand on shaky, unconstitutional ground long before these twin bridges are crossed. It might, in fact, be so far beyond the bounds of its constitutional authority that it is in effect no government at all, while still maintaining the appearance of representative governance. Under these lesser tyrannies, the citizens are entitled to less drastic forms of resistance and redress. However, many on the right seem unwilling to follow these ideas to their logical conclusions.

I appreciate all the folks who have committed to non-violence and who are striving for a political solution. Civil Wars are by definition terrible events. They should be avoided if at all possible. In order for the violent response to be to valid and righteous, it must be the very last option, after every possible warning to the the would-be tyrant to cease and desist and after every possible attempt at redress by the those in the shadow of the tyrant's boot. For every Committee of Safety, there must be a Committee of Correspondence.

I agree with you that the extra-judicial killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and that other guy who was him was illegal. It sets a very dangerous precedent. The indefinite detention langauge in the NDAA worries me to no end. Both majority parties (with the endorsement of their supporters, including me before I woke up and smelled the cow-pies) have played fast and loose with the Constitution for a long time, with the result that the Federal Government is tap-dancing on thin ice.

Comment Re:Net Neutrality (Score 1) 284

Legislation, or recognition, cannot create rights. Rights are inherent in the person and do not depend on any agreement by others that those rights exist. As such, the UN's Declarations of Rights either state the obvious or demand the impossible. Rights predate and transcend government, to the extent that when governments infringe upon the rights of the individual, the individual is entitled to seek redress comensurate with the severity of the infringement. The transcendance of our rights - including the right of self defense, the right to property, and the right to keep and bear arms - means that the UN's Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons is a steaming pile of crap.

The question we should be asking is which basic rights the use of the internet involves. We have the right to free expression. We have the right to free association. The Internet makes both of these processes easier, but it is by no means a prerequisite for either. We have the right to property, including the property in ourselves, and in the fruits of our labors. As such, we have a right to spend our wages as we see fit, including purchasing tools to ease the exercise of our rights. So, we have a right to buy access to the Internet, if we have the money for it. We have the right to speak freely on the Internet. We have the right to associate through the internet. We have the right to buy presence, to own the boxes, to own the networks, and so on and so forth, if we can swing it.

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