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Comment Re:Irreverent vs. Inappropriate (Score 1) 363

Do you like that taboo?

"Some things should be taboo" "All things should be taboo" nor "All taboos are good"

A taboo against posting signs that say "Death to all Jews", for example, can be a good thing. I shouldn't like legislation to that effect, but I am happy that such language is not acceptable in polite company.

also who guarantees that the taboo is " right"

No one. Taboos are a matter of social pressure and standards, not some centralized guarantor or body. The mental mechanism which causes taboos can certainly be put to bad ends. Such taboos should be challenged. But, again, there is a some/all distinction we have to make here. It does not follow that because some taboos should be challenged, on account of them being unjust, all taboos must always be opposed.

Even if such were the case, it'd be an endless task. Taboos naturally arise among humans. There isn't a human society lacking taboos. Now of course natural does not mean good, just, or even 'ought'. But it does mean that eliminating taboos entirely is likely an impossible goal without modifying human nature itself. Better, therefore, to focus one's efforts are unjust taboos than to waste effort supporting some idealist goal of eliminating all taboos. In short, I do not (and did not) say all taboos are good. I merely said some things should be taboo.

Comment Re:Irreverent vs. Inappropriate (Score 1) 363

At the same time, I can say quite honestly that if one of my staff made Youtube blatantly anti-Semitic Youtube videos, he'd be gone in a hurry.

Yep. Me too.

I believe in free speech, so I suppose to some extent that makes me a hypocrite [...]

Nope. I don't think you are. It's quite simple: "We've chosen to dissociate ourselves with Mr. Kjellberg because his actions do not reflect the values and attitudes of Disney." I'm not objecting to their dissociation, and I think what I just offered is at least passable corporatese. As I said before, I think taboos can be a good thing. My objection is to the implicit approval of praising 'irreverence'. I really don't think PewDiePie meant any harm. But its precisely a culture that praises irreverence as a good in itself which leads to irreverent and, sooner or later, 'inappropriate' speech. My objection is that the corporation was perfectly happy to associate itself with 'irreverence' as such.

The difficulty is that our culture lionizes irreverence for its own sake, but then is unwilling to accept the same when it is applied to very particular (i.e. profit threatening/socially objectionable) circumstances. This is where I find the hypocrisy.

Let me put it this way: I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian; I am also a supporter of free speech and liberal democracy. If I ran a media corporation and I spoke in glowing terms of 'irreverence', and then, upon discovering that my corporation was sponsoring Andrews Serrano (who did the (in?)famous 'Piss Christ'), distanced the company from the artist, I would be a hypocrite. For this reason I would not heedlessly lionize irreverence. I should sooner support mutual respect: "Our company would recognize your individual right under the law to do as you please artistically. But, if you're a Muslim, you'll not find my company doing cartoons of Muhammad and praising ourselves for being 'irreverent.' If you're a Buddhist, you won't find my company Photoshopping the Dalai Lama into compromising positions, even if we think it funny or artistic. If you're African-American, you won't find us making jokes about slavery. If you're Jewish, you should understand that we don't think the Holocaust is a laughing matter."

I'm all for a CEO saying something like this. I call him a hypocrite only when he treats 'irreverence' as something to be desired in itself (as is often the case in our culture). If one wishes to sell material which offend my religious sensibilities, very well then; I leave that to them. But if the same one objects when an employee draws a picture of Mohammed or makes an elephant dung virgin Mary, I think I'll be justified in calling them out for hypocrisy.

Comment Re:Irreverent vs. Inappropriate (Score 1) 363

Certainly. I agree with the thrust of what you say. PewDiePie was blockheaded for doing this. It was in poor taste and, frankly, some things should be taboo.

My objection is to the corporate speak and the hypocrisy it allows people to rationalize. One shouldn't praise 'irreverence' as something great and courageous, on the one hand, but reject the speech of others as 'inappropriate' once it's applied to one's own sacred cows.

Comment Irreverent vs. Inappropriate (Score 5, Interesting) 363

"Although Felix has created a following by being provocative and irreverent, he clearly went too far in this case and the resulting videos are inappropriate."

It's funny how one of these words has a positive connotation, and the other one a negative. This, despite the fact that opposing groups might apply each term to the same content. All inappropriate means in a context where one is praising someone for irreverence is that the irreverence was applied to a preferred group.

I am reminded of Isaac Hayes's objection to South Park's irreverence toward Scientology.

Comment Re:Loss of culture (Score 1) 490

The greek city states never had republics... You are mixing this up with Rome.

That's a matter of definition. The term republic as used by the Romans, res publica, merely refers to affairs handled publicly. In many ways, the Roman system was closely comparable the mixed constitutions present in most Greek city states. (Before the Delian League, at any rate, Athenian style democracy was far less common than mixed constitution systems.) Most of these were outgrowths of competition among elites. Early city states would be headed elders from wealthy landowning families. (Even the term senate, from senex or old man, reflects this--incidentally senile is from the same root as senate.) Popular assemblies would also be used for matters like war and use of public lands. In many cases, nouveau riche from the merchant classes would agitate for change and gradually expand the franchise to increase the number of loyal voting blocks to achieve their ends. The real anomaly is the Athenian system which, under the likes of Pisistratus and Cleisthenes, expanded the franchise to ever greater proportions--and in their own interests--until the people's assembly held most of the power.

The term republic has evolved since that time. If you look at the way it was used in the Renaissance/Early Modern period, it merely meant a constitutional arrangement without a monarch. This is rather closer to the Latin meaning of res publica than the way we use it today. (There's not really an ancient Greek equivalent, though the Greeks freely discussed mixed constitutions composed of democratic, oligarchic, and monarchic elements.) But under the influence first of Anglo-American and then of French systems of representative government, it has come to mean something very different. When we speak of republics these days, we often mean representative systems. But this is one of the (great) innovations that has occurred since parliamentary systems came about in the past millennium. Contrary to popular belief, the Roman Republic was not a representative system. See Polybius, Histories, Book VI if you'd like some details, but the quick and dirty version is this: Romans did elect magistrates for certain positions we would term 'executive.' But all legislative power was vested in an assortment of popular assemblies. The senate was an advisory body made up of former magistrates who'd attained a respectable rank, but it had no direct legislative powers.

In short, the meanings of these words have changed so much that saying the Greeks had no republics but the Romans did requires some parsing. If by republic we mean a representative system, then neither Greeks nor Romans had republics. But if we mean what the Romans meant, then many Greek poleis were republics.

China

China's Island Factory 199

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has a lengthy investigative report about China's efforts to create and expand artificial islands in the South China Sea. They've been going to coral reefs and atolls, dredging the bottom for material, and dumping it on top of the reef to create new land. On at least one of the new islands, China will build an air base large enough for fighter jets to use. This highlights one of China's main reasons for constructing these islands: sovereignty and strategic control of the surrounding area. "The U.S. government does not acknowledge China's claim, and the U.S. Pacific fleet continues to sail regularly through the South China Sea. But the Chinese navy is beginning to grow more assertive. In December 2013 China sailed its brand new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into the South China Sea for the first time. Shadowing it, at about 30 nautical miles, came the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Cowpens. A Chinese amphibious assault ship approached and ordered it to leave the area. The commander of the Cowpens refused, saying he was sailing in 'international waters.'"

Comment Re:Fleeing abusive companies? (Score 1) 257

In fact why does this article focus on the tech sector? Similar claims could be made of banks or car companies among others. If anything has changed it's that the tech sector has grown and diversified enough that its subsections can support major companies as monopolies (or near monopolies) for example facebook/twitter for the relatively new social media section.

So major companies with virtually no competition naturally become destructive to society. Maybe we need a wave of enforcement of anti-monopoly laws... or given modern corruption per Citizens United some new major limitation on how corporations are allowed to incorporate or buy stock in existing corporations for any state (e.g. Make Wal-mart unable to incorporate in a new state due to its annual revenue nor buy out smaller companies and run them as mini-Wal-Marts).

Of course, we should outlaw Corporations as "People" on top of that.

Comment Ergodox (Score 1) 82

Massdrop just started another run on the ergodox that will be ending in about a week, anyone interested in this keyboard would probably want to check that out.
I've never used anything but standard cheap keyboards but I'll be trying the ergodox on this latest run. At a glance they appear very similar. I like this guy's thumb layout better, though I'd prefer the board was split into two pieces one for each hand.

Submission + - Activist group sues US border agency over new, vast intelligence system

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an attempt to compel the government agency to hand over documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the US border. EPIC’s lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, seeks a trove of documents concerning the 'Analytical Framework for Intelligence' (AFI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. EPIC’s April 2014 FOIA request went unanswered after the 20 days that the law requires, and the group waited an additional 49 days before filing suit. The AFI, which was formally announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consists of 'a single platform for research, analysis, and visualization of large amounts of data from disparate sources and maintaining the final analysis or products in a single, searchable location for later use as well as appropriate dissemination.'

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