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Comment Re:Time to shut down the WTO (Score 4, Insightful) 327

This was a post by another Slashdotter that I saved. Didn't write down who it was though. My bad.

Let's say you and I are sociopathic assholes, so whereas most people might have some kind of implicit social contract, and a sense of how people should act decently to one another, we're jerks and write up and agree to some formal rules. Among these rules are things like "Neither party will ever hit the other in the head with a hammer and then steal their wallet while the victim is incapacitated." Call that the WIPO rule.

We have another rule too. It's "Neither party will ever vandalize the other's car." Call that the WTO rule.

Then I go and vandalize your car, totally in violation of the rules. I don't deny it, either. Instead, I explain I had good reasons to do it. "I really wanted to vandalize your car, and it looked so vulnerable. I just couldn't help it!" but whether I had a good reason or not, you claim I broke our agreement. You might not feel all that hurt about the car, but breaking the agreement .. oh dear. We're sociopaths, but we're not uncivilized, are we?

After my amazing explanation for why I did it, you ask me: "Are you going to do it again?" and I answer "Yeah, probably. Your car still does look pretty vandalizable, and I really like vandalizing cars." You answer "What about our agreement?" and I just shrug. You ask, "Are our agreements important?" and I shrug again!!

You go see our mutual acquaintances, perhaps some people with whom I also have some agreements. They're a little concerned to hear I value our agreements so little. Will their cars be next? They think it over and say, "Yeah, Sloppy broke his agreement to not vandalize your car. You should get even."

So you do. You hit me in the head with a hammer and I wake up without a wallet. You do it openly, too. Our acquaintances nod with approval, even though you're breaking the agreement now. I ask, "How can you do that?!?"

You explain: if I think the rules are so important, and I have such a problem with being hit with hammers, THEN MAYBE I SHOULD STOP FUCKING AROUND WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S CARS.

I don't know what I'll do. I still really do like vandalizing cars. I'd like to vandalize your car again, and that other dude with whom I have a no-vandalize agreement. But I'm not sure I like this hammers development. OTOH, I don't know, maybe it's worth it. The hammers hurt and I don't like losing my wallet all the time, but the cars! Oh, the cars! That's so much fun.

Chemists Build App That Could Identify Cheap Replacements For Luxury Wines 206

schliz writes "Australian startup Wine Cue is combining the chemical composition of wines with customer ratings for what it hopes to be a more objective wine recommendation engine than existing systems that are based on historical transactions. The technology is likely to reach the market as a smartphone app, and could be used to identify cheap alternatives to expensive bottles."

Comment Re:I'm not surprised that this didn't happen soone (Score 2) 335

This is spoken by someone who already lives under them. You have no "freedom of expression," you have limited expression as deemed by the government in a very and exceptionally narrowing scope as deemed by unelected bureaucrats in HRC's(human rights councils) who run tribunals outside the court system.

Taken from

Anti-hate laws undermine free speech.

No, said the court, they “appropriately balance . . . freedom of expression with competing Charter rights and other values — a commitment to equality and respect for group identity and the inherent dignity owed to all human beings.”

Anti-hate laws breed political correctness, stifle debate.

No, “hate speech legislation is not aimed at discouraging repugnant or offensive ideas. It does not, for example, prohibit expression which debates the merits of reducing the rights of vulnerable groups. It only restricts the use of expression exposing them to hatred.”

Hate speech is hard to define.

The judges have defined it — as that which “a reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances, would view the expression as likely to expose a person or persons to detestation and vilification on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.” They also provided “a workable approach” to combating it.

Apply the rules “objectively” (their emphasis).

Interpret “hatred and contempt” “as being restricted to those extreme manifestations of the emotion described by the words ‘detestation’ and ‘vilification.’ This filters out expression which, while repugnant and offensive, does not incite the level of abhorrence, delegitimization and rejection that risks causing discrimination or other harmful effects.”

Look to the effect of hate speech on the target. “Is the expression likely to expose the targeted person or group to hatred by others?”

A no-holds-barred debate may hurt but it does not harm anyone.

“Preventive measures do not require proof of actual harm. The discriminatory effects of hate speech are part of the everyday knowledge and experience of Canadians.”

Provocateurs do not mean to malign the group they attack.

Good try, but “allowing the dissemination of hate speech to be excused by a sincerely held belief would, in effect, provide an absolute defence and would gut the prohibition of effectiveness.”

The court could have added that human rights codes are not the only limitation on free speech.

Libel laws don’t allow writers to say whatever they want about, say, Conrad Black. Why is that chill less corrosive of free speech than anti-hate laws? Are minorities less worthy of legal protection?

The Criminal Code, too, limits free speech. I may be marched off to jail for up to two years if convicted of spreading hate. Granted, the bar to prosecute is higher there than under human rights codes. Still, it makes no sense to criminalize speech and jail people for their words, rather than merely imposing a fine on them.

Comment Arxiv, Science 2.0, etc... (Score 1) 337

I'm in the same boat. My first degree is physics, but now I'm doing my PhD is computer science. My particular interests are in particle physics, dark matter and astronomy/cosmology. The best place to scratch my itch I find is It's a preprint archive for physics, math, computer science and so-on. has some interesting blogs, but you have to be careful as there are a number of people there who use it as a platform to advance their own ideas. For more general science reading I have and bookmarked. On the educational side I have Leonard Susskind's general education courses in physics bookmarked. They can be found at

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