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Comment Re:The Bravery of Being Out of Range (Score 1) 75

Are you saying that our downward spiral is inexorable and so shouldn't even be discussed? I don't buy that. Even if we are doomed to a state of ever-increasing atrocities being committed in front of an audience with ever-increasing apathy, acknowledging this could perhaps slow that descent. But more than that: recognizing empathy and recognizing where it's missing in one scenario can have broader effects in how we think about it in other scenarios.

In other words: while fighting at extreme distance may divorce us from the suffering that we cause, acknowledging that problem and its consequences can help you appreciate the people that you have nearby. And this can be true even if, as you say, war will continue to become more and more divorced from our personal experiences.

Comment Re: Too Late (Score 1) 394

Well, since you're asking about how it looks "in my eyes": I used to live in Canada and saw, and experienced, this with some regularity from French Canadians. My eyes don't see most kissing as sexual assault, whether or not it's welcome. My eyes don't see most kissing as sexual in nature, though obviously it can be.

Taking a more objective look at it though: that statement was sufficiently oddball that I read it as hyperbole, and I was proven correct when he met the woman and didn't start involuntarily kissing her. Even though he had said earlier that he "couldn't help himself." Really, he was relatively well behaved compared to his sycophant. That guy's behavior was just contemptible and by far the most uncomfortable part of that video for me.

Comment Re:Well, duh. (Score 1) 75

Unfortunately, they've never been translated to my knowledge from the original Latin, but you can read an English summary here [].

Hey, that's pretty neat. Thanks. Never even realized arXiv had a "history and philosophy of physics" section.

Comment Re:Too Late (Score 1) 394

Yeah, I don't get this scandal for this reason. His remark sounded more like commentary on our appalling culture of celebrity worship than it did any kind of non-consensual sexual contact. Not that I'm suggesting he intended it as social commentary, I'm sure he intended it to be a brag (because he's a scuzzbag) but none the less: I didn't see any implication of assault when I watched that video.

Comment Re:Well, duh. (Score 4, Interesting) 75

This hasn't always been the case. Michael Faraday had no formal degree and used hardly any math and yet contributed a great deal. I just watched a lecture series by him recently (reccomended) and was impressed by how much he was able to demonstrate through nothing but rigorous qualitative experimentation. I kinda have this impression, which I know to be completely false, that everyone prior to the modern era were total idiots who ascribed all natural phenomena to humorous vapors and spirits and the mumbling of witch doctors. To be able to learn something about the physical world from someone who's been dead for 150 years is somewhat revelatory.

Of course, most all of what can be learned that way has been learned that way. So you're not completely off base to say that you can't do science without math if you're talking about contributing to the sum of human knowledge, but a person who learns a thing through rigorous experimentation and application of the scientific method is still doing science, even if what they discover is already known to the broader scientific community.

Comment Re:That's OFFICIALLY okay per written regulations (Score 1) 80

What you've linked to here doesn't support what the grandparent is saying. It just says that if you don't fall into one of the recognized groups with social disadvantages (women are not among the listed groups), then you need to demonstrate your disadvantage. It doesn't say that anyone is disqualified based on gender or ethnicity.

Comment Re: Yeah, by hardening our defenses you morons (Score 1) 396

I'm not sure what you mean by "the roles," but the essence of what you're saying seems to be: "There are some instances where the US government should just stand by and let foreign powers fuck with American people or organizations." Is that what I'm hearing here? Am I getting this right?

Comment Re:Yeah, by hardening our defenses you morons (Score 2) 396

So... what you're saying is that when someone punches you, the right response is to curl up into a little ball so it doesn't hurt as much? You certainly shouldn't punch back or call the police or something.... right? Or were you trying to imply something with that "private organization" comment that I missed? It's the American government's job to protect not just itself, but all Americans and American interests from foreign powers.

I read a suggestion that the Russian election hacks were more about sowing mistrust in our elective process, and the resulting chaos and dysfunction in the American government, than they were about supporting Putin's cheerleader. If that's the case then I wonder about those voting machines that so many states use... I can think of a few possibilities, but the easiest might be to just tamper with just one or two machines in a really obvious way, so that people notice and question the legitimacy of all of them. This would possibly force a reelection, but would more likely just split our already bitterly divided electorate - people who supported the winner(s) would say that a reelection wasn't necessary, since there's no evidence that the hacks were widespread enough to actually accomplish anything. And people who supported the loser(s) would declare that the election wasn't legitimate.

Russia could go further than that if they really were out to support specific candidates, but keeping the hacks small scale allows them to retain plausible deniability.

Comment There aren't any rival services which don't scan (Score 1) 205

Scanning your email is standard practice ever since the wild success of Gmail, and Lavabit is long gone now - where are all of these dissatisfied people supposed to go? Unless they're planning to ::gasp:: pay for their email service, they don't have any other options.

Maybe if you're specifically worried about surveillance from law enforcement and you don't care who else reads your email, or who they sell your information to, or who those people sell your information to (probably law enforcement), then maybe you've got some choices. But it takes some pretty selective blinders to fall into that camp.

Comment Re: oh, yes (Score 1) 199

Oh for gods' sake, they oppose voter ID laws because those laws exist only to subvert elections. And while I don't like how the Democratic primary was handled at all, primary elections are not part of the democratic process. They are a method which private organizations (political parties) utilize to make decisions, while publicly adopting the veneer of democracy.

Comment Re:What a Waste (Score 1) 867

Well... Okay, but actually I meant that lobbyists do exactly this. Lobbyists are interested in influencing public policy and one way they do that is to go directly to the legislators, but that isn't the only way. Convincing constituents of the need to give lots of money to industry X is another part of that.

Comment Re:Really? Why? (Score 5, Insightful) 867

Well I'm not the grandparent, and I don't agree with the grandparent, but I'll respond anyway:

Your first question is flamebait. The non-trollish way to phrase that would be something like: "How is this qualitatively different from other campaign propaganda?" And the answer would be something along the lines of: It's true that campaign ads and other tactics can be flat-out deceitful, but there is some measure of difference between deceptive ads and astroturfing. Neither are good, both are working against us, but one exploits our trust in the honesty of our peers and in doing so sabotages our basic ability to communicate with one another.

For your second question: I don't think it is worse. It's not better either, it's basically the same - lobbyists are doing exactly this, constantly. They deceive constituents and organize campaign contributions all in an effort to get their legislation passed. What is this doing? Deceiving constituents in an effort to get someone elected, who will then go on to pass legislation. No difference.

Your last question though, "Why should this be of any concern to anyone?" is... what? This should be of tremendous concern to everyone. The fact that it isn't is part of the problem.

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