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DNA Testing For Jobs May Be On Its Way, Warns Gartner (computerworld.com) 228

Reader dcblogs writes: It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information. People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job. This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research Wednesday at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo in Orlando. This research is called 'maverick' in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors. It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. Even without testing, businesses, governments and others may use this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined to develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire.

Comment Re:Corporations == Facism (Score 1) 240

No, sorry, I'm afraid you need to go back to school and learn what "fascism" means. It's not the absence of democracy or participation (a "tyranny of the majority" is both democratic and fascist). It's not even strict top-down control (you can have a fascist oligarchy, for instance). It's the fact that individuals surrender their freedom in order to make the collective stronger. The key thing about a fascist society is that its members have no choice.

An employee of a corporation (however hierarchical its organisation structure), has not surrendered their freedom. They have voluntarily signed a contract of employment, agreeing to perform certain tasks in exchange for money. Just because that contract doesn't include a share of "ownership" in the company (and why should it?) doesn't make this a fascist arrangement - it's a voluntary exchange, and one that either party can choose to end at any time (subject to certain contractually-agreed conditions). Try telling even a non-fascist government that you no longer wish to receive government services and will therefore cease paying taxes, and see how that goes...

And where a fascist state expands by forcibly bringing new people under its control at the point of a gun, a corporation expands by persuading new people to voluntarily hand over cash in exchange for goods and services (and then uses that cash to persuade other new people to work for it, again voluntarily). To try to equate the two is just silly.

Comment Re:How? (Score 1) 381

Unemployment too high? You lost your job? What are we going to do about it? Sir, were you aware that your 11yr could possibly be addicted to Tentacled midget porn?

Would you prefer that they answered honestly: "Finding you a job is not the government's responsibility. This is Britain, not the Soviet Union."? Given the choice between (a) antagonising a potential voter with a truthful response, (b) actually turning Britain into the Soviet Union in order to give a more pleasing response, or (c) changing the subject and moving on... I know what I'd pick.

Comment Re:Who are the fascists?? (Score 1) 500

If you believe anything Hitler said, because he said it, you're almost certainly wrong.

Hm. That's veering into Hitler Ate Sugar territory. Just because Hitler was a bad man doesn't mean every word out of his mouth was a lie. And in this case, I think tsotha is right - "National Socialism" is a pretty good technical description of "Fascism".

Bear in mind that the name "Fascism" comes from the symbol of the fasces - a bundle of sticks bound together. The message is: "Individually we are weak, but together we are strong." Fascism is, therefore, essentially a collectivist ideology - the nation becomes strong through joining together. And Hitler was very much all about suppressing the freedom of the individual in order to strengthen the nation.

The difference between National Socialism and conventional ("International"?) socialism is not the structure, it's the goals - fascists collectivise in order to be strong, socialists collectivise in order to help the weak. But to somebody who thinks about politics as essentially a question of the relationship between the individual and the state, there's very little difference between the two forms.

Comment Re:Who are the fascists?? (Score 4, Insightful) 500

The act of owning slaves, on the other hand, not so much.

I stand open to correction here, but my understanding was that Jefferson inherited the vast majority of the slaves that he owned, and his only known purchases of slaves were in order to reunite family members who had been separated by sales to different masters. It's true that he didn't free many of his slaves, but that was (apparently) because life for an ex-slave in Virginia in the 18th century was arguably nastier than being nominally "owned" by a caring owner. He also attempted to pass laws through the Virginia state legislature that would have abolished slavery (his bill was defeated), and included an anti-slavery diatribe in the original Declaration of Independence, which was cut by the committee before it was published.

When you get right down to it, there is not a lot one man - even a President of the United States - can do when the culture of the time is against him. But he seems to have done about as much as he could in the circumstances, so criticising him from a perspective more than two centuries later seems a bit unfair.

Comment Re:Who are the fascists?? (Score 1) 500

Wrong. Fascism does not require a bigger federal government, in fact a larger government is generally the opposite of fascism. Fascism requires more power in the hands of fewer people.

Ah, I see the source of the misunderstanding here; it's quite a common problem when conservatives talk to liberals: you use the same words, but to mean different things. When GP talks about a "big government", he means a government that is big in terms of the scope of its powers and responsibilities. It's not a matter of headcount, which is how you seem to be using the term. An absolute monarchy can be a "big" government if the monarch feels he is entitled to micro-manage the daily lives of his subjects. Or it can be a "small" government, if the monarch just lets people be. Likewise, a vast bureaucracy that does very little could be considered a "small" government, albeit a very inefficient one.

Sure, in practice, more power in the hands of government usually means more government employees required to deal with enforcement and administration, but the "size" of the government (to the right, who are usually the ones talking about it) is a philosophical point, not a practical one. So in those terms, a fascist government is by definition "big".

Incidentally, President Obama made the same mistake in his first inauguration address - he said something like "it's not about big government or small government, it's about a government that's the right size to help its citizens"; neatly missing the fact that big government v small government is about whether the government is there to "help" people, or just there to administer justice and provide national defence and basic public infrastructure.

Medicine

Harvard To Close New England Primate Research Center 100

sciencehabit writes "Citing an increasingly bleak outlook for federal research funding, Harvard Medical School is shutting down its major primate center, which has recently experienced the departure of several key scientists and an investigation into its handling of animals. In the announcement, which surprised many primate researchers, the school said it will not seek to renew the New England Primate Research Center's (NEPRC's) 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and will 'wind down operations' at the center in Southborough, Massachusetts, over the next 2 years. The center, which has a nearly 50-year history, had done groundbreaking work on an AIDS vaccine and developed animal models for diseases such as Parkinson's, among other accomplishments."

Comment Re:Another reason not to fly via Heathrow (Score 1) 821

IANAL, but for my money the Fourth Amendment won't be any help to you Americans either. The authorities will argue that since the search is not mandatory (you have the alternative of not getting on the plane), and since you know at the time of purchasing your ticket that you may be scanned, your purchase of the ticket represents tacit consent to be searched, and the search is therefore not unreasonable.

Comment Re:Hang On (Score 1) 340

Council Directive 83/189/EEC was passed in March 1983.

Surely, though, an EEC Directive can only govern issues pertaining to trade between EU countries? I can see how under this directive other countries in the EU could be freed of the requirement to comply (or at least, protected from prosecution if they failed to comply), but I don't understand how non-notification would invalidate the law itself.

True or false: If I, a British Subject, today sold an 18-rated DVD to a 12-year old, I could not be prosecuted because some civil servant forgot to tell Brussels that they changed the law 25 years ago.

Basically, I'm asking: is this bad lawmaking or just bad reporting?

Comment Re:Hang On (Score 1) 340

If we were only talking about a requirement that made the law unenforceable when applied to importers from elsewhere in the UK without notification, you would be right. But in this situation, application of a law domestically becomes impossible without reference to an outside party. You don't think that limits sovereignty?

I'll admit it's a subtle difference, but I don't think a country can truly be considered sovereign when its internal laws can be invalidated by a failure to notify an external party.

Comment Re:Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves Here (Score 1) 705

Not to mention the fact that the aliens would not have landed in South fucking Africa.

Yes, because all aliens are of course extremely well-informed about the geo-political landscape of Earth, and would therefore naturally land their broken down spaceship in an affluent first-world country with a successful film industry rather than, say, the first place they found.

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