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Comment Technology should make life better and easier (Score 1) 948

Technology should make us more productive, e.g. able to respond to situations from a distance. (Consider how much easier it has become to discuss things with a colleagues, since the invention of the cellphone.)

Increased productivity should mean that people get time off and are able to do the things important to them. But it now also means that they're able to work very long hours. This correlates with a high unemployment rate, which suggests that the fear of being fired translates into working another person's job, for little or no pay.

The evidence is that the USA's relatively free market approach to employment practices is failing the workers. Is there a simple solution? Of course not. But some guaranteed conditions would be nice, like four weeks' annual leave.

It must be possible to make it uneconomical to penalise people for taking leave: if anyone loses or leaves their job when they are owed guaranteed leave (e.g. more than a few weeks' leave), or accumulates more than a certain amount of leave (e.g. two years'), then they receive a proportional payment e.g. triple time. You'd have to find a way to make sure this didn't just push people to become casuals and contractors. Not too hard: e.g. if you work more than 160 hours in a month for a given employer, you start accruing leave benefits. Yes, increased regulation would make it more expensive to hire people --- but only for employers who were expecting to exploit their employees.

My scheme is simplistic, but it aims to push a failing system in the right direction. There needs to be some momentum to help employees obtain a payoff from increased productivity, because at the moment they aren't getting it.

Comment Re:He seems to confuse the purpose of copyright (Score 1) 543

$200 million movies are too expensive and they contribute little of value to society. We don't need to reorganise our society (copyright, DRM) around the notion that people should be able make such movies and expect the government to protect their investment.

If the "work" and "effort" are so large that they can't be funded without specially designed laws being enacted, then society doesn't really need the product. Big budget movies aren't generally particularly good, and cheaply produced movies are often excellent. So, if you want a $200 million movie, pay for it out of your own pocket money. If you don't have that much money, make a movie with less special effects and more frigging acting--- just don't expect me to help you make money out of it.

As you note, the vast majority of movie profits are made very early, and people watch them in theatres for the experience, despite the fact that they are easily able to download them. That market should probably be protected, to encourage the creation of reasonably cheap, high quality movies.

Comment Re:Spending, not solutions (Score 0) 106

Governments do go out of business. They lose elections, and the cronies they appoint end up working honest jobs. And they don't spend "other people's" money, they spend our money because we choose to give it to them to spend. You don't have to like democracy, but that's how it works. If you would rather live in e.g. some libertarian utopia, by all means go and set up your own.

Comment Re:Are yellows in Denver really short? (Score 1) 433

In Australia it's illegal to drive through a yellow light. Nobody gets fined for it, but it's the way the law is and should be. Both red and yellow mean "stop", but red also means "you will likely kill someone if you don't stop". Don't be the asshole who thinks of yellow meaning "you have 3 seconds, maybe more, before things get lethal."

Comment Re:How do I patent????? (Score 2) 434

Please someone! write an app that can detect and remove the sound of me taking a shit (and the toilet flushing).

I will buy whatever phone it runs on. If you need motivation for this innovation, you can patent it--- when the revolution comes, I will make sure there's a special clause that means that your patent remains valid.

Comment Re:So much for a fair trial. (Score 1) 1855

I find myself strangely happy that OBL is dead, and I don't much care that he didn't get a trial. If he was innocent he should have had the decency to come forward and tell his story even if it cost him his life. If he was guilty he should have repented and come forward, and asked for forgiveness --- again, even if it cost him his life. This guy was so bad that simply getting shot was the right outcome.

Comment Re:Not saying I don't care...but... (Score 1) 316

I agree about the excessive collection of information --- I think the expansion of DNA collection by law-enforcement agencies is scandalous and disgusting. It stratifies society, creating a group who are presumed to be a criminal underclass.

But we have to fight it on legitimate grounds. The objection you proposed (that it could be in some sense a "root password" for personal information) is just wrong, and I explained why. The AC who also replied to me kindly illustrated just how silly the shrill objections to DNA collection are.

Comment Re:Not saying I don't care...but... (Score 2) 316

Alright, a few quick responses to the things that aren't a bit of security-through-obscurity.

-Clone you without your permission

(1) Make my day! That would be an awesome compliment. (2) Just like a DVD, copying me does not take anything away from me. (3) But it would be a very sneaky way of finding out how big my willy is.

-Use your DNA to create a child without your permission and use it against you

(1) Nonsense. There's a vast gap between knowing your DNA sequence and using it to create a child. (2) See point about implication of crime --- it would be a useful defence against paternity suits as well. (3) See point about awesome compliments. (4) What kind of warped view do you have of children, that they are weapons?!

Just giving up all that information, is ridiculous. You wouldn't hand over your psychological profile, credit history, social security number, email passwords, house keys and sperm/eggs and feel okay with that, would you?

My psychological profile is available to anyone who knows me. I'll tell you my credit history: I've never been in debt, and have some cash in the bank, I'm gainfully employed. I don't have a social security number. My email password is nothing to do with my DNA. I'd attach a photo of my house keys --- in fact I live in inner Sydney and usually leave one door unlocked. And no, you can't have a sperm donation, that wouldn't be fun at all.

Comment Re:Not saying I don't care...but... (Score 1) 316

Research has just begun, and your DNA code may yet turn out to be the root password to all kinds of interesting personal things. I'd rather that stays with me.

I think that's very misinformed on two grounds. (1) The "root password" metaphor is inappropriate. (2) Understanding the biological basis of disease is not something to be afraid of.

There is no "root password" to real life. That metaphor belongs firmly in the domain of magic. Your DNA will not make it possible for third parties to influence you --- at least, no more than having your photograph, or knowing your true name.

Without doubt, there will be some surprising personal information encoded in DNA. Maybe one day we will be able to tell that you find other men rather more attractive than you would like us to believe. Or are motivated entirely by selfishness, or that you're a deeply conservative person, or incapable of sincere love. But these surprises will be special cases, and as society starts to understand the biological basis of things we now regard as deeply personal, the social construction of identity will adapt to make these things seem less personal. Mostly, the personal things that make you "you" are not defined at birth.

As a precedent, it seems to me that over the last few centuries, the biologicalisation and medicalisation of disease has led to the de-stigmatisation of things that would previously been considered personal issues. (As a current example, consider the medicalisation of alcoholism.)

Sure DNA information can be abused. And Americans will no doubt defend their right to do so in the interests of economic advancement or national security. But that's a very different problem.

Comment Re:Physics (Score 1) 151

Given that his heart needs to maintain the same blood flow, it will need to generate higher pressures to get the blood through the less elastic aorta. That will increase the strain on his heart (W = PV, V is constant, P is increased), though presumably it will return it towards normal from a low level, rather than increase it to a dangerously high level. I am not a doctor either (whimsical account name!)...

Comment Re:Why the '!opensource' tag? (Score 1) 487

Sure. But if it were (properly) open source, the bug would have been patched long ago, and any user still inconvenienced by it would have themselves to blame (and could easily find instructions to fix it).

I have a 3G and it's time to upgrade. This --- very real example of the inconvenience created by closed source --- is the single biggest reason I have identified to switch away from iphone.

Comment Re:Options (Score 1) 789

Rubbish. The road has been there for far longer than trucks have been using it. Cyclists have been there for far longer than trucks have, and will be too. If you make the road dangerous for cyclists then you are wilfully endangering a human life and should go to jail for that crime.

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