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Comment What will the news orgs pay out? (Score 3, Interesting) 172

Journalism is almost entirely taking "snippets" from other people in the form of quotes and information and compiling them into a story, so I must assume the newspapers will also be paying out royalties on their articles to anyone they interview, mention, or quote (including when they search for comments on twitter and facebook as they like to do now).

Comment Re:Better go arrest Google execs (Score 1) 110

"Intent" is difficult to demonstrate given that it lives in the minds of the accused. The website itself is based on content-agnostic algorithms. I'm sure it's true that it has a higher percentage of illicit use than google does, but that's probably true of Tor and VPN services as well. Would we be comfortable shutting those down on the same justification?

Personally, I find it hard to find any "good intent" behind hosting, e.g., The Anarchists Cookbook. But it's well-established that that doing so is protected speech. Is pointing people to IPs where they can request to receive copyrighted bits of information more insidious than pointing people to how they can make a pipebomb?

I am fine with shutting down criminally entrenched websites and prosecuting the persons involved. But the free speech protections we are promised in the US are quite broad and in almost all cases we refuse to risk weakening that simply to avoid the possibility of mischief. If Google can deliver 10% questionable content under that protection then I think someone who delivers 90% questionable content must be protected as well. I don't see how the fundamental nature of the right could change simply because we get more day-to-day value out of google.

We could enforce the law by, you know, going after the people actually breaking copyright by uploading and downloading copyrighted material.

Comment Re:We're All Dying (Score 2) 512

I represent someone in that demographic from a small engineering school. Among my admittedly non-mainstream group of friends I'd guess at least half know what KDE is. I'm not sure how many actually use it vs. GNOME, but it's common for them to have a Linux or Mac laptop. Laptops have become work devices -- they're what you take to project and study groups. *nix works great for that, and easy to get everyone using the same software (within a college student's budget, no less). I'm sure other places are different, but one anecdote deserves another.

Comment Re:Since neither is getting elected (Score 2) 264

This overlooks that A, B, and C are competitively selected, actively maneuvering to win, and influenced by previous results.

E.g., if B is slated to lose because C is attracting more liberal voters, B is likely to move left in order to capture those voters. Or if B2012 wasn't left enough B2016 may be someone more of that bent. Also, a disliked presidential candidate tends to depress the party's congressional holdings, which makes it more difficult to enact their agenda, and tends to setup a win for the opposing candidate in the next term.

Furthermore, in democracies votes don't merely decide outcomes, they legitimize them. If 100% of the population votes and 90% vote for Hitler because the alternative is Stalin, at that point he basically has a mandate. If only 5% of the population votes and 90% votes for Hitler, I would say an uprising is well within bounds.

Voting your conscience may not net you specific near term outcomes that you desire. But in the long run your vote is a commodity politicians value and they will shape their policies to obtain it. Unless, of course, they can obtain it some other way, such as simply by pointing out their opponent is on the left/right side. If you're going to lock in on that, then you've already spent your opinion as far as they're concerned. The only way to control politicians is to be completely willing to withhold the thing they need and value -- victory. If you let the parties blackmail *you* with outcomes, then they are the ones in control, and that will be obvious by the fact the people are only given choices (Hillary/Trump) that a sound majority of them dislike.

Comment Re:option for surrender (Score 1) 983

I am against ever taking life where it can be avoided, so I oppose the choice of action by the police unless they were resolving some imminent danger to themselves or to the public.

But "due process" was not violated. If you want the protection of the court system you have to cooperate with the system. If you skip town, you get tried in absentia. If you refuse a defense attorney, the case proceeds without one. If you shoot at the people trying to take you peacefully to court, you may not get to be taken peacefully to court.

Comment Re:Religion poisons everything (Score 1) 404

If I may, as a person who considers themselves Christian, I would like to address your points from the perspective of my own religious understanding.

To say there is no replacement of the old testament rules to ignore vast portions, perhaps even the majority, of the new testament writings. Jesus changed marriage requirements, the punishment for adultery, reinterpreted the sabbath rules and the rules for cleanliness. After his resurrection he appears to Peter and rescinds the rules on clean and unclean, not to mention that huge recurring bit from Paul et al. about circumcision not being necessary, etc. Old testament law is a covenant between God and the Jewish people, a covenant which Christ ultimately fulfils.

Christianity is in every case a peaceful religion. Jesus never injured anyone, and whatever self-serving arguments some might come up with to justify behavior, the core of Christianity is to put your faith in Christ and become like him in every way. His life stands as an irrefutable counter-argument to any violent perversion of biblical teachings that you or I might come up with, because there is no way to do violence without violating his example.

Part of being a peaceful religion is that Christianity does not seek to overthrow governments or institutions. It instead seeks to change people by witnessing in example to them.

You do not go to hell for not believing. You go to hell for committing evil. Unholy things cannot be united with a holy God. If that sounds unpalatable, apparently Christ agreed, since he was willing to suffer and die to circumvent that on your behalf. Do all non-believers (upon death) go to hell without any secondary consideration? Some people do think that, but that's not laid out in any clear fashion. What is clear is that if you repent of evil deeds and choose Christ's path instead, you may have ever confidence of remaining in that forever.

Comment Re:VoiceOfDoom, *FUCK YOU*!! (Score 2) 260

As long we apply this to every single other political issue which exists. Because gun rights is just as validly "pro-choice" vs. "anti-choice." And school vouchers. And if cities/states choose to implement capital punishment. Etc. Or do you have a particular reason why "choice" is a word which politically is only about abortion and nothing else?

Personally, I really hate this Orwellian crap where you try to win your ideological battles by modifying the dictionary. Pro-abortion/anti-abortion clearly defines the territorial ground (and frankly gives abortion supporters the slightly more favorable "pro" adjective).

The point where you want 'pro-choice' to go alongside 'anti-abortion' because of your claims about what else your political side represents. . . that is a ridiculous self-serving waste of everyone's time. How does it sound if I say, "People who support a broad second amendment interpretation are actually ANTI-GUN because increasing legal carriers deters criminal gun use"?

Comment Re:Why is it important? (Score 3, Insightful) 346

Microsoft bundling IE in its capacity as the by far dominant provider of desktop operating systems was considered an anti-trust violation.

Now what about the by far most dominant social network bundling a particular political platform for its users? Is there no ethical problem with that?

I agree that FB's actions are legal and even constitutionally protected. But if you find it unnerving when companies hire lobbyists to write laws in their favor, you should probably find it even more unnerving that FB may be surreptitiously packaging the specific issues and views on which people vote.

I wonder what the monetary value to Trump/Hillary would be to suppressing news helpful to their opponent, and what sort of favorable legislation that could buy FB in return.

Comment Re:We always need heroes (Score 1) 581

As compelling as it might be to recast all heroes as Democrats and all villains as Republicans... I'm pretty sure the more conservative party is automatically a closer approximation for anyone born two-hundred years ago. I'm also not quite seeing the exchange of ideologies bit. If you were to interview Harriet Tubman today, on what defining Democrat issues (abortion, gay rights, gun control, universal health care, income inequality, etc.) does she sound like more like a contemporary Democrat than a contemporary Republican?

Comment Re:Interesting tactic (Score 2) 93

Previously, on slashdot:

The NYTimes has an 8-page exposé on how an online business is thriving because of giant amounts of negative reviews. It seems that if you directly google the company you have no problem discerning the true nature; but if you instead only google the brand names it sells, the company is at the top of the rankings. Turns out that all the negative advertisement he generates from reputable sites gives him countless links that inflate his pagerank.

I mean, there's also a reason he is revealing it was a hoax. The 'it was a hoax' articles will do damage control while also doubling his exposure. I presume they'll come up first in searches, being newer. Would this be a as great as getting your name out there in a positive light in the first place? No. But everyone else is trying to do the same thing, and it's expensive. This was effective and free. Not everyone will appreciate the joke and some potential customers will be lost. But the potential customers when no one knows about you is zero. I'd say wait and see how the company is doing in a couple of years before denying it was a good play.

Comment What is the FBI's mission? (Score 2) 99

According to their website

The National Security Branch carries out the FBI’s responsibilities as the lead intelligence and law enforcement agency in the nation to detect, deter, and disrupt national security threats to the United States and its interests. Our goal is to collect, analyze, and share intelligence to develop a comprehensive understanding of—and to defeat—national security threats directed against the United States while preserving civil liberties.

We continue to refine our intelligence capabilities to position ourselves to stay ahead of the evolving threats our nation faces. Intelligence directs how we understand threats, how we prioritize and investigate these threats, and how we target our resources to address them.

To ensure success, we continue to integrate our intelligence and law enforcement capabilities in every operational program. The traditional distinction between national security and criminal matters is increasingly blurred as terrorists commit crimes to finance their activities and computer hackers create vulnerabilities that can be exploited. The integration of intelligence and investigations makes the FBI uniquely situated to address these threats and vulnerabilities across programs. The FBI draws on both intelligence and law enforcement tools to determine strategically where and when to disrupt threats.

Is it just me or does a reasonable reading of this statement imply that a big part of the FBI's mission is to help eliminate vulnerabilities in software used by American citizens and companies? Is there an interpretation in which they are credibly following their own mission statement?

Comment Re:Who needs the scientific method? We have CONSEN (Score 1) 795

Hey, that whole gravity thing could be bogus! I know other researchers have verified it thousands of times, but maybe they're wrong. Let's just do some calibration tests every day in the lab to be sure stuff doesn't randomly start floating UP instead of falling down. After all, we can't accept consensus!

The existing consensus on gravity has been overthrown before. Your 1001st gravitational calibration tests might be the one finally sensitive enough to detect that Newtonian gravity is incorrect.

"Well, I was going to do a chemistry experiment today, but I don't really believe that whole atomic theory of matter. I mean, there's 'consensus' on the idea that molecules are made up of atoms, and a substance has consistent properties based on that. But maybe water isn't really made up of H2O. Maybe if I zap it with electricity, it will turn out that it's actually made of microscopic gnomes! The gnomes could be magically giving the illusion of molecular structure. Before I start my chem experiments, I need to be sure my hypothetical gnomes aren't going to ruin the properties of my solvent. So let's test for gnomes every day!"

If your 'gnome' turns out to be nucleons and electrons, you would be right to challenge the atom ("indivisible") view. Or if it refers to polymeric chains comprised of H2O subunits. Zapping water with electricity does have important effects. It can decompose it into hydrogen and oxygen, it can restructure the arrangement of the molecules. Water is fairly sensitive to such effects.

The trouble with relying on consensus is that the scientific refinements we are searching for are precisely those which have eluded our previous knowledge and intuition.

My counter to

Consensus is PART of the scientific method. It's the only way we actually get to DO "science".

is that consensus is the enemy of the scientific method. People have been studying the universe as long as there has been people. Why did the scientific method spark so much progress? Because it disregarded consensus. The scientific method didn't care what Aristotle and all the intellectual giants had written about science, it said anything was fair game to be contested and disproven. Humanity was no longer beholden to oligarchy of thinkers in deciding what could and could not be so.

I don't disagree that there is something practical in establishing broad consensus. We have to choose which experiments we want to perform. Sometimes that is done by Senate committees. Sometimes it is done by individuals. We have finite resources and have to spend them wisely, and so science inherits a political aspect. But is that really in keeping with the scientific method? I think that's more of a practical sacrifice to achieve social goals. But scientists should always remember that the essence of their practice is in subjecting human conjecture to every suspicion, to be vindicated only by relentless experiment. And political expedience or no, I would hope there would always be a small contingent of holdouts against every theory, just to make sure we never find ourselves permanently entrenched in a pocket of false truths.

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