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Comment Re:Only a fraction of US munitions... (Score 1) 197

We bomb brown people because we can get away with it. That's more opportunist than racist, but it's still racist.

As soon as "white" people start doing the same crap, it happens to them too. I'm guessing you're wishing away that pesky little Balkan conflict a few years back, where we bombed white people for, among other things, slaughtering olive people.

Pretending that it's skin color that makes ISIS a fair target for air strikes is the worst sort of craven intellectual laziness.

Comment Re: Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

Putin only kept Snowden to embarrass Obama. Now that Putin's pal Trump is about to take office, he may well say "As a sign of improving relations between our two great nations we return to you this criminal such that you may see justice done." The only things I've ever heard Trump say about Snowden are that he thinks he's a traitor. Snowden needs that Obama pardon PDQ.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

So for example if he pardoned Snowden for crimes of espionage and leaking state secrets then isn't there a risk he could be charged still, for say, treason?

He wouldn't be pardoned for the crime he would be pardoned for the act. Rather, he would receive a blanket pardon for any criminal acts committed against the United States between such-and-such date and such-and-such date. So no, he wouldn't be tried for a different crime stemming from the same act. At least not by the federal government. If he committed a state crime the state could still try him, but in Snowden's case it's unlikely any of his actions violated state law, and even so it would be an incredible dick move and very disrespectful to the office of the Presidency (regardless of what anyone thinks of Obama). It would set a terrible precedent and would probably look like malicious prosecution.

I can see why, if this is the case, that Obama might want legal certainty on what he's actually pardoning before doing so even if other presidents may be a bit more laissez-faire about it.

I can see that. We also still don't know the extent of everything that Snowden took and gave to Greenwald. And even what we do know, there's some stuff I'm not sure should be pardoned. I had no problem with Snowden revealing the (in my opinion) unconstitutional spying the government was doing against American citizens. But he also revealed government operations against foreign citizens and governments that are not unconstitutional, not illegal, and in some cases necessary and beneficial operations of our government. I can sit on a jury and find someone who beat up an attacker not guilty of assault because their defensive actions were justified, but still convict them of theft for stealing the assailant's wallet after he knocked him out.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

While an interesting topic for legal autists, I don't think anything like a state trial for a Presidential pardon recipient would ever happen. The district/state attorney would have to have a real bug up his ass to go after someone who had received personal Presidential attention. The political and public relations impact of such an effort would be messy.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

There are other reasons for criminal punishment besides deterrence. One of the main ones is "removal." As in, this person has proven they are a danger to others and will be removed from society for a time so that they may not harm anyone else. Felon disenfranchisement is useful because the person has proven they are incapable of living by the rules of society, and so they should not have political power in society to shape the rules that they themselves refused to live by.

If we believe that person has changed and corrected their attitude, perhaps they can be re-enfranchised, of course. But deterrence is rarely effective for anything, as most criminals don't think they'll be caught, or are literally too stupid to engage in long-term planning to consider the consequences of getting caught.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

When your little girl is playing pretty pretty princess tea party, you're an asshat if you walk up to her and say "you're not a fucking princess!"

However, if you're the one walking around telling all the other grown-ups "my daughter is a princess and you will refer to her as one at all times!" then you're the asshat.

Basically everyone involved is asshats. Probably the little girl, too.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

To his face I'll call a man in a dress "her" to be polite, sure, but that doesn't make him a woman. For you to insist a man in a dress is a woman and I must believe it also or you'll find me in violation of "social rules" invokes a social rule for you: I get to think you're a meddling busybody on a power trip who wants to force your social/political beliefs on to me in order to feed your own ego.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 1) 633

Gail Ruben argued that gender was a social imposition rather than anything tied to biology, and she used the two words separately in her argument.

If sex and gender are biologically distinct, then the gender feelings would be a product of hormones. Doesn't that imply the societal gender roles are a product of different male and female behavior based on their hormones, and are therefore still tied to biology? Changing the biological source of gender from sexual organs to hormones doesn't make gender no longer biological and merely a social imposition.

Comment Re:Explore the ocean depths (Score 1) 95

if economics is the biggest concern

But I don't think it's possible for economics to not be a concern. The "economy" is just the interactions of people exchanging resources, sometimes controlled by individuals, sometimes controlled by collectives. But it doesn't exist in a vacuum...it always serves some purpose to someone, even if people don't agree on the usefulness of the purpose (i.e., resources used to drop bombs on the middle east is wasteful from the point of view of the taxpayer but useful from the point of view of the bomb manufacturer). Star Trek handwaves away the economy by saying they don't have money any more...but then they're constantly visiting "mining colonies" or transporting medicines to stop a plague that for some reason they can't just replicate on the infected planet. And while everyone has free energy and wants for nothing you can replicate they never explain how they decide who gets the ocean front property with a view and who's stuck inland. They say they've risen above concerns like "money," but basically everyone you see who isn't in Starfleet is still behaving like someone participating in an economy.

The only way anyone will ever launch themselves 10,000 light years away is if all the resources needed to do so are essentially free, because it serves no purpose to anyone else (no return on investment, no political/PR utility). By the time that happens human society would be so radically different that who knows what we'd consider important.

Also we could hopefully find planets that could support life much closer. A 10 or 20 year journey (from earth's frame) is still perhaps useful in human time spans. For a look at a future like that, have you read Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space books? Very engaging, well-written books with fascinating characters and a space faring human civilization with as little magical physics as possible (i.e., no FTL*, 20-40+ years travel time between systems so the books span centuries).

* Well, there's one part in one book where they sort of try FTL but horrible things happen and it essentially breaks reality.

Comment New senses? (Score 1) 70

Elliot Freeman, a cognitive neuroscientist at City University and the study's lead author, said: "A lot of us go around having senses that we do not even recognise."

It seems to me more like a short circuit between regions of the brain than a different sense. I wouldn't like to hear things that aren't there just because I'm seeing things. It's well known that there are substantial interactions between different regions of the brain, which is why for example we turn down the stereo while trying to find an address.

Comment Re:Some places are impossible. (Score 1) 45

Sounds like an awesome idea.

In the presence of a working public transportation system that actually met the needs of inhabitants, it might be. But we have that in maybe one or two cities in the USA, and actually, if you took the cars away the systems couldn't handle the load. Toll roads are harmful to business and individuals alike. We make use of the road network free to enable commerce and free travel.

I am an outspoken proponent of PRT and of ordinary rail for longer distances, but barring their existence, I'm extremely opposed to placing more restrictions on people's ability to travel. What year is it? Let's figure out how to let people travel efficiently.

Comment Re:Just what we need (Score 1) 97

For every (likely made up) story you have about how your father's uncle's brother's first cousin's roommate had a union job and it was full of lazy people

I had a student job with a community college while I went there only about a decade ago, while I uh, pivoted. And what I saw in the IT department was tragic. The primary system upon which the school depended was a HP-SUX quad Alpha, because that's what their software runs on. Then they replaced it with some ridiculously expensive many-way itanic box because that's what the vendor told them to do. On the old system, I got paid to implement ssh tunneling (with putty, naturally) to stop them from sending SSNs and other private student information across internet links in cleartext, because the sysadmin they were paying to do this stuff couldn't figure it out. Then I got paid to figure out how to implement ipsec on the new machine because the guy whose job that is couldn't manage that either. I was hoping to slide into that job but that guy bought a second Harley, and he had to stick around to pay for it. Or more to the point, so that the students and taxpayer could pay for it. He certainly didn't earn the money. My boss was quite competent, that was nice. My two coworkers were also competent, but lazy. I wound up doing job after job that they were supposed to do, because they didn't bother. One of them had severe short-timer's syndrome for the entire two-year span we were both there, with a countdown clock to retirement. He was a pro at stretching jobs out and making them take forever. He probably should have had a 75% pay cut.

Meanwhile, administrators have a different union from educators. This results in administrators and their favored assistants being paid dramatically more than the educators... you know, education? The point of the whole place?

I don't know if unions are as toxic in other industries as they are in education, but they're definitely a massive part of the problem with education today.

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