Nate Silver's New Site Stirs Climate Controversy
Its sad to see these scientists cry fowl, controversy, and blasphemy at dissenters . Isn't science supposed to have opposing views, with fact-based research on multiple view points using the "scientific method" for cross-checking each-others work?
'How dare you! I have a right to my opposing view, no matter how ill-informed or incomplete or intentionally agenda-driven wrong it is! How dare you point out the flaws! How dare you engage in the "scientific method"! Why, I'll just claim your engaging in the "scientific method" is not engaging in the "scientific method"!'
And this is why I can't take you seriously. You're the one with your head in dogma.
White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups
And you don't find this relevant to this discussion? Exactly where costs are coming from and why? Seems a hell of alot more important than just giving everyone insurance that pays for everything and just raising taxes to account for our out of control healthcare costs.
It's relevant to the discussion. Too bad that, AFAIK, there aren't any studies to spell out where costs are coming from and why. The quote I give only gives a "from" but in mostly esoteric terms that give virtually nothing on the real where and why. Now, if you could provide a study that actually broke down who was using the health care system and how, I'd love to see it. The closest I've seen is little snippets that are often an abuse of statistics.
A very good question. Perhaps it calls for a study (rather than hands over eyes + dump cash into anybody's pocket that asks for medical care). It doesn't even have to be perfect accountability. At this point, I'd settle for any .
You seem to be missing my point. There's already been fuck tons of studies done that show "this significantly increases your risk of cancer type X" where "significantly" just means that there is an actual effect and it's not merely a placebo effect and where "cancer type X" doesn't necessarily apply to any other type of cancer or condition. There are very few examples of any one thing causing one major condition that's preventable and therefore in scope of accountability.
My HSA grows every year (and accrues interest). I fully well intend to have a buffer (+ insurance) for when misfortune strikes me.
That's a ludicrous statement, but thanks for saying it anyways. It's entirely why I asked. You "intend" to have the money "when" misfortune strikes. Yet by its very nature, you have no idea when misfortune will strike, whether multiple misfortunes will strike, or the scale of the cost. Or do you seriously contend that everyone should strive to have millions in savings just in case? Because anything less is unreasonable. Insurance is more of a risk pool precisely because of that and not merely for even "catastrophic" emergency because such a term because untenable very quickly on the cost of many medical procedures.
So then they should end up paying for their mistake, or their children should be taken and given to someone more responsible to take care of.
For the former, you can't get blood from a stone. For the latter, we already have a huge backlog of foster kids.
Well you've finally come around. So aren't you then incensed that next to zero effort was put into healthcare cost control in Obama's healthcare bill?
I would be if I actually thought any health care law passed in the US would do such a thing. Really, we're so well beyond the incensed point on how the system already works, you'd be hard pressed for me to become any more incensed Any real effort to fix the problem would involve either (a) public conversion of the health care system--leading to "death panels"--or (b) massive government regulation into the health care system--as if the current mess is really helping and further regulation is unlikely to be any better than Obamacare.
I never painted all of it as such. In fact, I specifically called out cases that are not self-caused. However, some of it is damn well self-caused. Such as type 2 diabetes for instance. Which statistics show to be ~95% of diabetes cases. So that's at least $245 billion (http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html) that's highly likely to be self-caused. I could bring up numbers for lung/throat cancer and smoking as well.
Yep, those are the major two ones I'll grant you.
Heart disease is likely strongly linked to obesity as well.
Actually, it's most strongly linked to age as is stroke most strongly linked to age. "It is estimated that 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 and older." Of course for medical cost purposes, we might worry more about the ones that live--although without a study, we don't know if it's a one heart attack kill or a many heart attack kill and when the "magic" age hits hence a much greater cost on the 65+ crowd.
Don't pretend these studies have not been done.
Plenty that show a disease is "strong linked to obesity" which means that not being obese cuts your risk by a "significant" percentage. Then you get old and you still get the disease because age is the most strongly linked factor. So, cut all the health care to the old since invariably they're the ones we all know inevitable should be accountable for their age.
NONE of those people are accountable atm. If they're poor, they do as they damn well please, and the rest of us pick up the costs of their incredibly expensive lifetime vices.
Except for vice taxes. And attempts to increase vice taxes. With the goal that those taxes then pay for their medical care. Right, that doesn't work because (1) the government doesn't actually use the money properly and (2) the poor are too damn poor to ever pay for their own medical care. In short, you want all the poor to just die except for the cheap, preventable stuff. Because I fuck well know that I'm poor, not obese, not a smoker, not a drinker, etc, and I'll likely still have a heart attack because...82% of people over 65 die of it.
And most of those cultures also have a far healthier culture: less fat people, more exercise, less job stress, generally better lifestyles. But of course, none of those factors are considered when healthcare costs are compared from nation to nation.
Canada. Seriously, Canada. And let's not forget that less exercise, more job stress comes from working a lot because you're poor (depends on the work, of course). As for obesity, that's becoming pretty epidemic in Europe as well, although I would agree the US takes the lead. Too bad you don't have a study that that's the major cause.
In fact, the major problem with your whole argument is that it very quickly degenerates into one of wanting to off the poor and the elderly to cut costs. To hand wave about "tons of studies" without managing to find one that can actually consolidate the risk factors into hard numbers rather than general "greater risk". If it were enough to sate you simply to hold people at least "any" accountable, you'd already okay because we already have vice taxes on some things and you'd just call for more vice taxes on the rest.
Yet all the above ignores that Canada has very much a similar culture, lifestyle, etc, and they still manage to have a cheaper system. A major part of that is simply having waiting lists and not trying to solve it directly through money. Another major part is the government being the one in charge of rates--although I tend to believe the US government too corrupt for such things, I could be wrong and would be willing to give it a shot given how shitty the current system is. Sure, Canada has some major vice taxes--a major reason I bring them up here--but they're not enough to hold people wholly accountable because the only real way to do that is let them die.
Well, that goes basically for *all* medical conditions because once you choose the "well, they didn't choose their genetics" or "they didn't choose their age", yet their parents did choose their genes to some extent so they can be held accountable and people can't live forever so we can just hand wave all the age-related diseases. So, we do have your proposed shift to 95% of the "knowable" that insurance won't cover and we have lots of people dying out of some obsession over taxes or some shit and some self-righteous belief that studies prove us right that the people deserved to die.
Well, to me, I'd rather just have a well working system, damn the cost. We fail on both counts on that. And I can honestly see an attempt to only fix the costs only making the system even worse. Dare I bring up programming, but I honestly think we should focus less on the preemptive optimization. A shitty program using less cycles is still a shitty program.
White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups
That wasn't my statement. It forces ALL healthcare (including non-emergency care) through insurance. Secondly, your "emergency room" case argument is liberal talking point bullshit. 5% of less of our total healthcare bill is racked up in the emergency room. The VAST amount of healthcare expenses are known ahead of time. If 5% of our healthcare was handled through insurance, and 95% of it wasn't, that would be a functional system.
My former point was that those who were not financially capable of covering medical costs had to buy insurance and that those unplanned expenses are why most people are required to buy insurance. Having said that, further research and you appear to be right. Emergency room care seems to be in the 2%-10% range. I should have stated emergency and urgent care--including things like heart surgery after a heart attack or expensive medication/surgery to treat cancer or other ailments after a diagnosis. Having said that, it does leave me to wonder about the other 90-98% of care. So, we have this:
"Of each dollar spent on health care in the United States, 31% goes to hospital care, 21% goes to physician/clinical services, 10% to pharmaceuticals, 4% to dental, 6% to nursing homes and 3% to home health care, 3% for other retail products, 3% for government public health activities, 7% to administrative costs, 7% to investment, and 6% to other professional services (physical therapists, optometrists, etc.)" -- from Wikipedia Cite Note 45, although the information wasn't readily visible in the first link
Given that ~50% of US spending on health care is Medicare/Medicaid and the other ~50% is private (insurance), it's rather hard to separate out that figure to get an idea of how much of that is "Cadillac" coverage of unnecessary treatment of the elderly/poor or what. In any case...
On the demand supply of things, everyone is a "BMW luxury car" unless you really think rich people, poor people, young people, old people, etc have fundamentally different bodies.
They in fact do. Some cram drugs into them. Some cram nicotine and cigaratte smoke into them. Some pollute their bodies with alcohol. Some spend multiple days a week in tanning beds. Some conduct themselves in dangerous activity like base jumping. Believe it or not, healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all level playing field. The only case where I wouldn't want people paying for their individual fuckups is something like autoimmune or genetics, when they literally have no choice in the matter. Most other times, it most likely had something to do with the way they lived their lives.
How much of it is genetics and how much of it is environmental? Should we go 50/50 until we get genetic tests done on those cancer drugs? And what about the fact that generally being old == getting cancer/having heart failure/having a stroke because eventually you "cram" enough bad stuff in your body even if you live a very healthy lifestyle. So, well, you seem to be for ending Medicare near entirely. That right there doesn't paint you very well. Beyond all that, I'm curious exactly how much money you've saved up personally for your inevitable heart attack and cancer. When are you going to have it and are you saving enough? Because if it's oh so predictable, it'll be nothing more difficult than saving up for one's child's college--which plenty of people don't do either.
Though I guess in your mind the ACA really does eliminate those "market options" of "should I get really sick from the flu to the point I need to see a doctor" or "should I stay healthy, not get really sick, and avoid needing medical care". Or was it the idea that hospitals and doctors used to run specials of "have a heart attack take, 50% off your first quadruple bypass"?
You're an idiot. If I never plan to have children, why does MY plan have to cover maternity care? There's one example for you. You seem hung up on emergency care, which is sad, since you're so off base it's not even funny.
Plenty of people don't "plan" to have children. Yet they engage in activities that can result in it. Meanwhile, even if we acknowledge that you really won't ever have kids, we as a society have decided that children are important and maternity care should be a social expense. Now, perhaps *you* don't care about children, but clearly you're in enough of a minority that it really doesn't matter what you think pragmatically. The same goes for lots of most other diseases. We don't want people dying on the sidewalk from lung cancer, heart disease, etc because as much as they caused their illness, we have the means to treat them. This would be a rather different story if it was actually financially impossible. Evidence is, though, that the major issue in the US is simply that health care costs too much, period.
But then perhaps it is the fact we don't just have a financial cut off point for people and more hospitals that will refuse service. Yet that's not predominantly what happens in other countries to explain their better heath care costs. Nor do the simple stats paint a clear picture of exactly what's costing us so much--no matter how much you want to paint it all as the knowable and self-caused, do you have exactly evidence for this or are you just presuming? Of course even if it's knowable and self-caused, plenty liberal "idiots" like me still would prefer them getting medical care. Why? Because if one presumes that to do self-harm results in an effective guilt that warrants a lack of treatment *except* if the person has the money to pay for it, then I really question your exception. Money should not be the deciding factor except as a necessity. Perhaps that's the core of the problem, you say? Well, plenty of more liberal countries have cheaper health care systems, so clearly it's not this liberal attitude about money. It may have more to do with a lack of accountability and resolvability. And if that's your main argument against health insurance and the current health care system, I agree.
White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups
ACA forces people to engage with the healthcare system through very specific channels (insurance) when they cannot pay for emergency care out of pocket. Crazy shit! Anti-market! Because we can readily have a "market" when buyers don't (because they can't) pay for things they never-the-less receive. Unless you're arguing that we do away with emergency room care for everyone, nothing about the ACA adds to the supply side of things except so far as there's likely to be a shift of people from the emergency room to the doctor's office; but, then, that's most likely to cause a reduction in price.
On the demand supply of things, everyone is a "BMW luxury car" unless you really think rich people, poor people, young people, old people, etc have fundamentally different bodies. That was true before ACA and it stays the same. Cadillac plans, btw, are the ones where people don't have to pay many out-of-pocket expenses and I can personally attest to the point that nothing about the ACA magically erases those except in a few trite ways. Though I guess in your mind the ACA really does eliminate those "market options" of "should I get really sick from the flu to the point I need to see a doctor" or "should I stay healthy, not get really sick, and avoid needing medical care". Or was it the idea that hospitals and doctors used to run specials of "have a heart attack take, 50% off your first quadruple bypass"?
The best part to your little rant is that while you have a small point that any government involvement of the sort involves *some* market elimination, that obviously there's a much bigger insurance market if many more people are buying insurance. Add to it the government subsidizes and it's a real sweet deal for insurance companies on that end. That they have to actually *pay* for care and not wipe it under the table by denying claims, yes it must suck for them. Or that insurance companies can no longer charge 5x the rate for an individual must really cut on those "market options" for individuals who clearly like the idea of getting no better coverage for much higher rates.
But, yes, let's also hear your little diatribe about the evils of car insurance while you're at it, which you basically ran on. Because fuck knows there's no competition in that space. I must be imagining all those commercials. Meanwhile, that there are government standards should mean that Bob's Unfinanced Car Insurance Shack can't enter the market is such a major loss that we should ignore that by setting minimal standards a lot more people actually drive because they don't have to worry upfront about the risk of catastrophic medical costs if they hit someone--not to mention the risk of being hit by someone who didn't or won't keep that sort of cashing in savings.
The only real capper to your statement would be if you were to suggest we expunge all the fraud and murder laws which are obviously very "anti-market". Because fuck knows that a government providing some sort of minimal standards for a society would not in any way provide the basis for a stable market even if it incurs its own costs. It's all zero sum and hence all government can do is shrink a market.
Thanks for the lesson!
White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups
One of the key requirements of any free market is free information.
Not quite. One of the key requirements of any free market is *perfect* information. There's no requirement that information be free in any way. Admittedly, it's generally improbable for information to be perfect and unfree--hence the discord of closed source software and security, among other things.
If you're familiar with "Medicaid oversampling" I'm guessing you're already affiliated with a health care provider. Are you currently pushing your provider to publish its prices? If not, why not?
No, I'm not familiary with "Medicaid oversampling" and Google doesn't really help there. As for pushing my provider to publish its prices, you make it sound like if I somehow got more information out of my health care provider I'd suddenly be able to get prices more in line with their own price estimates per insurer. Well, no, as another major point of the free market is a recognition that oligarchies and monopolies may be a natural consequence in a market place and as such they'll set their own prices which may fall out of an optimal* supply/demand point. As insurance is basically a large financial instrument where the more in the pool the lower per-user rates, it's rather obvious that insurance falls into the scope of natural monopoly/oligarchy. So beyond all the lack of free transition available to buyers, there's simply no means for natural healthy competition--even if cross-state insurance was allowed.
*Okay, that's a rub of the free market. If you're in a desert and there's one well with one owner and a million people about to die, yet no one has the asking price for a drop of water, then the "optimal" solution in a free market would be for everyone but the owner to die of dehydration. Hence, optimal in a free market and actually optimal for society or people in general may be very different things. And since we're having this discussion, I presume you are no more happy with the "optimal" solution that the free market tends towards in health insurance. No doubt, government interference may make the situation worse in many ways, but no government interference would have similar but different problems. Hence, either the whole system reasonable needs abolished or much better regulation needs established. Neither of which I see actually happening, especially as it's unclear how you can well regulate private health insurance when the wealth gap pushes people into free medicaid (admittedly, more often just the emergency room kind).
White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups
I was on my own with a full-time consultancy, but I scaled it back to off-hours and went back to a forty-hour-a-week corporate job for the health insurance. The cost of individual health care plans was insane, and the crappy ACA plans provide worse coverage with fewer providers - and they're even more expensive!
So, I take it from this that before ACA you had health insurance while a full-time consultant? Out of curiosity further on that point, are the figures that you discovered along the same path of rate increases that have been going on for years now? Was all of this the result of having to dump an older, set policy rate for a current plan--ie, anything that would require switching policies would have had the same net effect on the price/options? I'm asking all this because I"m curious just how much this is ACA and how much of this is SOP when it comes to health insurance.
I really think what the feds are up to here is trying to kill off as many individual and small business operators as possible. After all, it's a lot easier to monitor and tax large corporate entities than it is to chase after a bunch of little ones.
No, I'm pretty sure the point is to fill the medicaid loophole. That is, one of the major unpaid/underpaid costs hospitals face is their requirement to treat emergency cases if they accept medicaid dollars. It's gotten to the point that some hospitals refuse medicaid just for that reason as even with the overtesting--really, a sort of fraud--, there just isn't remotely enough compensation to foot the bill for all the uninsured. The only directly* reasonable course is to effectively require everyone to have their own insurance. But, as you note, the health insurance rates/coverage are horrible in a lot of locales (and really have been getting worse a lot faster than the inflation rate).
So, it seems a necessity to (1) open up exchanges to push a lot of the available plans together to allow people to choose, (2) require consistent plans so that people can reasonably shop for insurance instead of focusing heavily on every little detail, and (3) to subsidize the very poorest so that they'll pay for at least some of their own coverage. Consequentially, of course, even the best case scenario is that health insurance rates will stay overly high for years as the rate of competition will be rather slow given how people tend to buy policies on a longer scale. It's the same reason why competition in cell phones takes so long. It'd be radically different if people could or did switch policies weekly.
In any case, I do feel bad for you and agree that ACA is a mess. But too many people in Congress are so dead-set against Universal Healthcare that ACA was basically the best that could be reached at this time. Now, whether that translates into Congress and the President being against individuals and small businesses... I think it has more to do with them being seriously incompetent about the ramifications of the current system and how much we really need Universal Healthcare as a solution. I mean, both Democrats and Republicans are seriously delusional about how much the free market can magically solve a lot of the problems with our current health care system. I mean, the main part of trying to make the ACA function is precisely to force the existence of a market place precisely because health insurance is such a disaster on its own.
*There was also talk of a plan to a Single Payer system where money currently to health insurance would funnel to the government and Medicare/Medicaid effectively would pay for everything for everyone. That's obviously unworkable solutions because then people would just drop the insurance. Then you'd be back to taxing people a la Medicare/Medicaid...and that's basically how it'd have to go anyways. So, that's why I said "direct" since everything else turns back into government taxes and pays for health care. That's almost certainly the better approach, but then as I say it would have never passed.
High Court Rules Detention of David Miranda Was Lawful
If one could say that any information, no matter how it was obtained, is protected from seizure due to freedom of speech (or whatever the local variety of that right is) then that's an awful big shield to hide behind, it basically legalizes all sorts of [crime] so long as the perpetrator is not caught red-handed.
Yea, uh, that's how it's supposed to work. The major point of the 4th Amendment was precisely to prevent fishing expeditions either in scope of area searched, duration of search, or material to be seized. It all amounts to basically hard evidence gathering of otherwise known facts. To that end, I would actually support requirements of handing over encryption passwords to things if the 4th Amendment was actually being followed as intended. Instead, it takes but the world of a border guard or law enforcement officer to fish into all you personal documents or as in this case the personal documents of your supposedly close associates.
Of course, all of the above is a moot point since this is the UK and obvious US laws don't apply. But, then, as I already stated it's not as if US laws really apply in the US properly either. As a sort of tangent, I think this scenario disproves Upaya--I don't think journalists intent to reclaim their inherent rights was anything more than a expedient step towards their real needs to oversee government intrusions but it's come at the cost of enshrining the false belief that journalists deserve these inherent rights and everyone else will use them to shield their crimes. It's funny that we don't see that logic used to have harsh, dismantling laws over governments and companies which consistently function as much worse shields to crimes not only of wanting desire to harm but simple, consistent apathy to negative consequence.
Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
To keep up with that, websites either need to constantly change in small increments, or to do it in big chunks. We'd been doing the former for a while, but the decision was made to start fresh. I totally understand how jarring it is to see such a huge amount of change all at once, but we also have to look at what the website will look like a few years down the road.
The classic design in 2014? Not too bad. The classic design in 2018? Probably not going to cut it.
So, what you're saying is that in 2018 you predict that /. will have to involved into an unusable, crap-looking site, and you want to beat the future to the punch and deliver that in 2014? That's precisely what people are pointing out to you and until you, the /. development team, actually deliver an improvement to the current design *for the users*, all the above is stating is how you envision /. circling the drain in the future. As another posted of mine stated, perhaps you are envisioning a wholly new wave of users--an Eternal September. If so, then the only thing I can imagine is you and others are listening to know exactly how *not* to design the site to as quickly as possible get the base to leave and let the new fresh meat^W users in.
The whole point is that generally alienating your base will eventually alienate your new users as well--and there will always be new users--as they see how disposable you view them and unilaterally you act. Until you get your shit together and the commenting system, whiting spacing, etc are to a usable state, any sort of announcement that even hints at a switch over or auto-redirects to test out the beta are bound to alienate and generally make the situation worse. It doesn't take 25% of users being auto redirected to get the feedback to know of problems you're already aware of and state to us you know need fixed.
So, do you understand or do you grok?
Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
I think you've got this all backwards. It seems that rational slashdotters have no interest in learning a new way to do the old thing. ...Unless there is some compelling reason or need, learning a new way to do an old thing is a waste of time better spent on learning something totally new. Yes, I do get that sometimes there are improvements that make it advantageous to learn a new way to do something old, but the beta is not such an example.
Which is more or less precisely it. When Slashdot did its redesign 8 years ago, there was a bit of fuss too. But the level of it was a lot less precisely because it included a lot of improvements without the useless layout butchery. And eventually virtually everyone switched over from the earlier Slashdot classic to the current design (hence my comment you quoted, as not everyone values the current design). I agree that the beta is not an example of such, but that's precisely why leaving it as a choice is the way to go. People won't choose crap* and if their claim of "listening" holds they'll devote most their resources to either (a) creating yet another beta but more aligned to the current design or (b) simply evolving the current design as far as they can.
*Yes, there's always the risk that a new wave of people will come in wholly unlike the current community will come in and see the new design as better than the old one and utterly replace the current base. And there's the distinct possibility that a lot of people will tolerate a lot of crap (hence why defaults for design, web browser, opt-in donor cards are so important) to be almost equivalent. Still, I wouldn't count on a new save coming in, and I can only imagine even a vocal minority on /. to make the new Beta near unusable for a placidly accepting majority. After all, it's a vocal minority that's responsible for the submitted stories, the higher rated comments, etc. That's just an inherent part of the system of filtering out a lot of noise.
Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
we want you to know that Classic Slashdot isn't going away until we're confident that the new site is ready.
Nobody gives a flying fuck about if it is 5%, 50%, 95% or 100% ready when they kill off the classic interface.
WE WANT THE CLASSIC SLASHDOT TO REMAIN AS AN OPTION!!!
To reiterate the point, the obvious truth is that the beta will be "ready" when people chose it over classic slashdot. For some people, it'll never be ready because they don't care to learn something new (ironic enough given the audience). But, the first big step to getting people to adopt the new beta is to make sure it's actually a choice. Otherwise, as others have stated, they'll pull a Vista and learn just how uncaptive of an audience/crowd/mob they really have.
Oh, and to that end, I'd suggest a big first step would be to make it trivial to switch from/to the beta layout and not bury it as an option at the bottom of the page or to randomly change to/from the beta layout for people who normally lurk without being logged in. Seriously, that's also a complaint I generally have about Slashdot "classic"--too many pretty preferences require you to be logged in to take effect. But, really, it'd just be enough to make it a choice for the user.
But, yea, it's not like the /. community is at all about choice or anything. :)
23-Year-Old Chess Grandmaster Whips Bill Gates In 71 Seconds
What do you mean, "regardless"? There's no "regardless" about it. It's like comparing a guy who won a gajillion dollars on a scratchcard to Warren Buffett (except for the fact that you could never get richer than Warren Buffett with any scratchcard). There is no comparison.
And thank you for proving the point of the "regardless". Even in your own mindset, you feel compelled to mention money as some sort of comparison as if money == aptitude, no matter how much you discount the comparison.
Or are we really now meant to re-appraise Bill Gates's intelligence and business acumen in light of this spectacular failure to hold out against a chess grandmaster?
Yes, we are. Because Bill Gates being good at making Microsoft or being a billionaire means nothing in light of chess, general strategy, curing malaria, etc. Sure, he might be good at some of those latter things, but the whole point is that way too many people do associate money with ability in a lot of areas it has nothing to do with it and its that large sum of money which is used as a basis to pay any attention to Bill Gates or ilk beyond how, you know, they're spending that money or doing whatever actually business they do and how that business will effect people.
Ie, it's appropriate to issue some humble pie not on Bill Gates--well, not necessarily, since he does come across as a general egomaniac although he's mellowed a lot--, but on everyone to really appreciate the situation.
Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs
I think allowing the sale of cadaveric organs is reasonable; right now, hospitals and doctors effectively enrich themselves and frequently engage in fraud and nepotism. Getting that money to the family of the deceased is a good thing.
"Will you help this boy see? Will you give this little girl your dead son's heart?"
"No. Fuck 'em!"
"What if we give you $1,000?"
"Well, then, sign me up!"
You might call the above ridiculous. But that's, more or less, the argument that said economist is making.in the context of cadaver organs.
Btw, you're making the same fallacy Mark Twain did about copyright and publishers. He argued that copyright should more or less be perpetual because publishers have no incentive to drop prices just because they no longer have to pay the authors their royalty. But like tax cuts or increases, that's rather a moot point to the issue. There's something inherently ridiculous and wrong about selling organs just as there's something wrong (obviously, to a different scale) to extending copyright or fiddling around with the tax code to maximize some numbers.
The best chances for an organ transparent recipient are people (especially how it's structure today, parents and relatives of the deceased) to want to give those organs away (and I'd argue for a more opt-out system (one where the dead prechoose and an affirmative to donate cannot be overridden and need not be reconfirmed from living relatives)). By the same token, a copyright system works best which an author keeps making new works that people want to buy, not simply having a single smash hit that they worry about publishers milking more than they can. Same with taxes being an attempt to micromanage behavior instead of to micromanage acknowledge the necessary and least unjust way to form the burden of paying for the services the people want and need. That is, each system only really works best when people buy into wanting the system to work and to participate in its functioning to its fullest; best is not a matter of numbers precisely because numbers are a horrible metric*.
Money clouds the issue. If it does it with the doctors, who have made much more of an oath to the preservation of life, then I trust the common person even less on that point. Obviously, there's no way to take money out of the equation completely, but that doesn't justify encouraging its use.
*You go on a segue about organs from the living, and this is precisely it. If you can kill one person and harvest their organs to save 8, it's a bargain in numbers, right? Yet that's obviously wrong and quoting numbers doesn't change that. The only real question is, then, if we even want to have a system that respects the wishes of the dead or not when it comes to organ harvesting. And I'm tempted to say to ignore their wishes. But, that does seem wrong as well. So, well, we should just leave it as a choice unless or until society accepts such an idea.
How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?
Geez, our present system is an utter failure in most of the US. I would posit that pretty much anything is worth trying, in an effort to start trying to reign in cost, and get more results from our efforts.
Worth trying, yes. But to actually "reign in cost" you have to, you know, budget appropriately (and most charter schools inherently add to costs as extant public schools don't magically become cheaper and it's a slow, grinding process to consolidate them (if at all possible)). As for "get more results", well, you have to first ask questions about whether we are actually getting results and then you have to examine their methodology, including making sure they're producing accurate results and not simply skewing them--for example, taking all the top scorers and placing them in charter schools and leaving all the low performers in public schools and you might have simple shuffled people around without even changing the median score let alone the average one.
There is one thing, however, which I don't know how we can fix, at least not from a legislative or policy standpoint, and that is the lack of parental participation.
How about student participation? The biggest hope for success of students are the students themselves. Yet we've consistently stripped students of any sort of power, consideration, or respect--student council, journalism, etc are all jokes in school. People may look to the past and point about how much administrations so actively fought students in the past as a sign that today things are better, but that's actually more evidence that the administrations won and now students are so actively discouraged that there's basically nothing left to fight over.
Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs
So we've doubled the amount of money we spend on food stamps and we have record numbers of Americans that rely on the government for their food. I wonder which way the vote.
Both political parties, since neither wants to get rid of SNAP?
When you don't work and get your income from the government (who gets its money from taxpayers) then there is no incentive to look for work.
You've got it. That's why you don't work, right? Oh, right, you work because you're wholly a motivated person. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that said "income from the government" is at best a meager amount barely capable of supporting a person and that most jobs pay better than that--because even though the average "income from the government" is over minimum wage, that's a factor that is heavily skewed by urban recipients having a higher cost of living and hence higher "income" (read, project housing) figured into the "income", but then urban areas inherently have to pay more than minimum wage precisely for that higher cost of living reason.
Have some kids, collect some checks, and don't ever look for work. And with all the unemployment and record food stamp usage both parties are now talking about letting millions of illegal immigrants into this country and legalizing the ones that are already here.
Of course. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the US has a changing demographic because (a) there's now a lot of legal hispanic immigrants, (b) a lot of illegal hispanic immigrants, and (c) hispanic immigrants tend to have more kids on average which all basically begs for politicians to, in some fashion, address the question of immigration policy. But, sure, it's all about the short-term spike in unemployment and food stamps...
And of course cue the screaming. "Corporate welfare is worse than individual welfare". They are both a major drain on society. And individual welfare is now a record drain. There's no incentive to succeed anymore. There's no incentive for personal responsibility.
So true. That's why no one works. Oh, right, that's obviously false at so many levels.
You can have six kids out of wedlock and be rewarded by the state with free food and housing. This happens on such a massive scale that we lose billions annually creating a system that encourages broken homes, unwanted children, and bastard children with no future as productive citizens.
Two obvious things. One, no one wants to have six kids in today's American society because six kids, even trying to be really, really negligent, still is a pretty full-time job. But, yea, nothing about raising kids is important for society so fuck that. Two, "bastard children with no future as productive citizens"? Did you just drop out of a time warp from the 1700s? "Bastard children" were and are such a fucking common thing throughout history and the very nothing that they, as a rule, have "no future as productive citizens" is such utter bullshit that I honestly can't imagine how you can think such a thing. Why? Because due to automation a "productive citizen" is now days most often a person who does an incredibly menial task of little sophistication that a trained chimp could do.
That is, instead of having a view of this as some sort of utopia where so few people are needed to actually work and the people who do work have such easy jobs, you want to begrudge upon people such horrible filth out of some backwards view of heredity and the importance of being a "productive" "citizen", both of which are increasingly becoming subjective terms. And I wonder, do you begrudge that "productive" workers want to be paid above said "drain"s on society? Do you begrudge all the illegals who can't become "citizens" become some bastardly quota system?
Really, before you go around dismissing people, why don't you prove that *you* are a "productive [citizen]" who is worth the sort of consideration you obviously are unwilling to show when it's so much easier to just play up stereotypes and hyperbole.
23-Year-Old X11 Server Security Vulnerability Discovered
Did you actually even bother checking this? No, most modern X11 servers run as root so they can* have hardware access to GLX and DRM. But, please tell me, which distro or OS do you run that runs your X11 server as non-root? Because I'd love to use a system like that.
*Technically, privilege separation is quite possible on these points, which has been done in OpenBSD AFAIK, but very few people use OpenBSD and I think the whole point of your post was about what the vast majority of people use. Otherwise, you're just quibbling over the point without stating it that most people don't run a "modern" X11 server.
US Federal Judge Rules Suspicionless Border Searches of Laptops Constitutional
So why not follow suit, and keep updating the Constitution with new things that we deem particularly worthy of protection because we have fresh memory of them being infringed?
While that sounds good in theory, in practice you have to keep in mind that as you note...
The Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights, were originally written very much with this intent in mind - by a generation that witnessed several flagrant violations of their rights, intent on codifying the law against those particular violations.
And that only happened because people who weren't the original leaders held a revolution because those in the status quo were not at all willing to take part in codifying laws to address those violations. I think that's precisely why TJ spoke about "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". But beyond that problem, even if we saw a near bloodless coop, there's nothing to stop the equivalent of "The Muslim Brotherhood" taken power. After all, there was enough agreement about the fact that rights were being violated in the colonies. Today in America, if anything the majority seems to want to codify even more abuse.
And again, I speak of the hypocrisy of the founding fathers. They were quick to support Freedom of Speech when it meant being allowed to speak unfavorably about the king, but they wanted to declare it sedition when it came to the newly elected President. TJ himself helped write and pass a Bill of Attainder, then later had them banned in the new United States; yet, he later wrote to continue to defend his previous act, citing the urgent and immediate need. Doesn't that line ring a bell?
Perhaps if there was less hero worship of the founding fathers and a political shift, which might itself take a generation, we could get to the point where we could compromise our way into new Amendments to address what will be hopefully past issues that they wish to avoid resurfacing. I'm just not hopeful of anything being done today since if anything there's been a strong shift the opposite direction, in large part because of a willingness under expediency to bypass amending the Constitution to codify the necessary changes and just hoping that progress would keep going in the desired direction.
US Customs Destroys Virtuoso's Flutes Because They Were "Agricultural Items"
Beware of people whose only marketable skills are their supposed loyalty and their ability to equivocate the following of rules to the letter. The ones who actually followed rules to the letter would have died long ago in the shower from lack of common sense.
US Federal Judge Rules Suspicionless Border Searches of Laptops Constitutional
There's no suspension of constitutional rights here. Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable search. Historically, border searches (then primarily to detect contraband) have been practiced since the founding of the Republic, and are deemed reasonable by long historical precedent and public good. As this has always been the case, there's no actual erosion.
You should read about Writs of assistance, which rather tie into this.given how many reports there have been of searches conducted well beyond the borders and over similar logic--smuggling, although of people today. You also seem to be glossing over the point that the courts are directly acknowledging that the searches aren't reasonable in what seems heavily a sign of equivocation on their part to justify the searches--that is, they acknowledge they're not "reasonable" but then counter that the search is okay because "hunches" can be fruitful. This rather falls much further into the category of what's an acceptable level of search for people detained. To that end, it quite clearly seems unreasonable by any definition to allow unilateral mass copying of all data on laptops or any other device.
I do agree that it may well be overly broad and should be narrowed down, but it would require a constitutional amendment to codify that arbitrary searches at the border are not "reasonable". It is not something that SCOTUS can strike down, because the precedent is overwhelmingly in favor of it.
I don't know. We've already got a Fourth Amendment that doesn't qualify "at the border" as some sort of exception. And we've consistently read the Fourth Amendment in all sorts of broad ways well outside the scope of the original intention--mostly because a lot of the people who wrote the Constitution were hypocrites by any reasonable standard. Honestly, if we tomorrow had an Amendment that clarified the point that "at the border the Fourth Amendment applies", I don't doubt that in fifty years we'd just redefine what "at the border" means in such a fashion to be again having this debate. No, the simple truth is that this whole scenario is such a flagrant violation of a person being secure in their effects that we should on principle alone interpret the Fourth Amendment to not allow such things, regardless of how narrow in scope its original intent was. Because honestly, the founders didn't have one concrete idea of what they wanted on most things and even the ones who did were more than willing to make an exception for themselves.
So, short of a whole rewrite of the Constitution to "reset" the interpretation, we're always going to be arguing interpretation. And it's really absurd to argue "deemed reasonable by long historical precedent and public good" or "English Common Law" when the whole Constitution was enacted precisely to rely more upon Statute and not "historical precedent" which the colonists felt were so bad to have to revolt and start a whole separate country over. And if worst comes to worst and the Statute become too absurd, then one can fall upon the meaning behind the Declaration of Independence and excise yourself from absurd Statutes. None of that, though, justifies stomaching this bullshit.
US Justice Blocks Implementation of ACA Contraceptive Mandate
It's not surprising the Catholics can create a big controversy that government actually listens to, while the Quakers cannot.
It also has a lot to do with most Quakers not *wanting* to make a big controversy because they believe it a private, personal matter. Honestly, the whole idea of it is absurd because of the thousand things that health insurance covers, it's not like "The Pill" is the one big morally questionable aspect. No, it's just the "icky" sex-related one that the Catholics are fighting to stop because anything that promotes the ability to have sex or any other kind of worldly pleasure without consequence greatly diminishes their control. The fact that the Church doesn't have nearly the control they think they do...and it's not like "The Pill" is only available through health insurance.
In short, it's more attention whoring than anything wrapped into some self-absorbed desire to dictate to others how society should work. Well, if the Catholics or Quakers or whoever are that opposed to it, they can seclude themselves from society or move to another country. And I say this is as a former Quaker, who recognizes most Quakers really only make a fuss when they're asked to directly harm others or the like. This discussion would be wholly different if the nuns or whoever were being forced to shove "The Pill" literally down people's throats.
US Federal Judge Rules Suspicionless Border Searches of Laptops Constitutional
'The report said that a reasonable suspicion standard is inadvisable because it could lead to litigation ...
Unlike now, where there's litigation precisely because there isn't a reasonable suspicion standard. Okay, yea, I know, it'll head off future litigation. But, then, is that a good thing in itself? Because if it is, we should just shut down the Judiciary Branch and be done with it.
... and the forced divulgence of national security information, ...
That's some great logic there. If we have some sort of standard of reasonable suspicion for anything related to national security, then indirectly national security information will be divulge. Isn't this the same logic that requires those on the inside to "neither confirm nor deny" everything? And if it's not talking about the indirect form, well, the last decade has shown just how little any part of the federal government has been "forced" to do anything national security wise, even if a court order demanded it. Honestly, no matter how you interpret it it sounds like the court is giving extra-legal blessing to all the "national security" activities the federal government has done/is doing/will do because there's already standards for national security information containment during court proceedings, which apparently they aren't willing to accept as actually good enough.
... and would prevent border officers from acting on inchoate "hunches," a method that it says has sometimes proved fruitful.'
And firing at people on inchoate "hunches" has sometimes proved fruitful in killing drug lords and murderers. Should we legally allow border officers to do that too? Yep, the borders really are a Constitution free zone. There also apparently a human decency free zone. Really, this sort of ruling would make me want to not be a border officer at all. At least the executioner, as bloody as his hands might be, can have some faith that a lengthy process was taken to determine the guilt of the person they kill. With this? It's a free-for-all, with out apparently any reasonable restrictions. Because being reasonable might allow the bad guys to win.
I respect your religious beliefs
One of the main driving forces in Star Trek is an idea of tolerance of religious beliefs. This often comes in the form stating very blandly, "I respect your religious beliefs". Yet, one major complaint about Star Trek is its heavy view of secular humanism as a utopian-like future of most of human society. With strong atheists vehemently opposed to religion and secularist often unwilling to follow or deeply consider the religious beliefs of another, one has to wonder what it really means to "respect your religious beliefs".
With enough consideration, the answer seems more clear. One tenant that most people follow is an understanding that certain beliefs are rather axiomatic. That is, the foundation of one's belief structure is based more on one has learned than what is deduced. A firm rigidity to those axioms can, at time, lead to willful ignorance of reality. Yet, as open as many people claim to be, without some underlying basis to understand things, it is difficult if not impossible to organize or believe anything.
People, however, generally aren't so rigid as to be beyond change. As time progresses, generations of people come in contact with more people and more ideas and have to further evaluate the teachings of their ancestors. So, the axioms of one's fore bearers or even one's youth are at times called into question and generally evaluated not only with one's own other axioms but also with the axioms of others. It is through this that people can grow and change and tolerate others.
In the end, however, people have different axioms. The set of axioms may be better shared today than in the past, but people need a firmness in their own axioms to make decisions for themselves. To that end, a respect in another's religious beliefs is not a direct acceptance of another's beliefs. It is a respect that one must have some sort of underlying beliefs to exist and that it is unreasonable to expect or demand another to give them all up to tryout another belief system.
In short, it is not "I respect your religious beliefs". It is "I respect that you respect your religious beliefs". So long as the former is merely meant as a shorthand of the latter, they're equivalent. But, otherwise, the distinction is of significant importance.
There once was a little robot boy. He lived in a world of monochromatic grays. Well, his world was supposed to be of monochromatic grays. Every Sunday, he would hear a fiery sermon about the five evil colored cubes, the cubes of sin.
The five evil colored cubes--red, blue, green, yellow, and orange--would attach to your soul, in your chest. Only through repentance to God could the cubes go away. The little robot boy had seen those colors before. Sometimes, a few in the communion would even flaunt their cubes, and for that they would be shunned.
But most parishioners tried to cover up their cubes. Try as they might, the colors shone through the holes and seems in their chest. Yet, people acted oblivious to the array of colors that shone in the Church every Sunday. The little boy vowed to not become like these people.
One day, when the little robot boy was twelve, he found a surprise. Upon his soul was a little red cube. It was tiny and it was dim, but it was definitely red and it was definitely there.
The little robot boy responded quickly. He tried to physically remove the cube. That didn't work. He prayed to God for help. Still, there was no help. He thought to ask his mother and father for help, but as he began to ask, he thought better to shut up.
He remembered quite clearly the many times his mothered had rallied against those robots with red cubes. Would the little robot boy still be loved if his mother found out? The little robot boy decided to not tell his parents or anyone but to work to remove the red cube; if that meant pulling back from people so they'd never be close enough to see the faint red glow, so be it.
So, it began. Every day, the little robot boy prayed to God. At first, he prayed simply for the red cube to go away or be destroyed. Over time, his prayers changed. He asked God for help in removing or destroying the red cube. Eventually, his prayers turned to pleas for guidance to remove or destroy the red cube.
Six years passed. The little robot boy was now a robot man. Yet, he still continued to pray. He had prayed over two thousand times to God to in one way or another get rid of the little red cube. Still, the little red cube remained. Sure, it might be a tiny bit smaller now and the edges were charred--trying to use a blow torch to remove it didn't succeed.
The robot man was at a loss. He knew he was no closer to a solution. He also knew that for six years, he basked in the undeserving glow of his mother's love. He felt no better now than before to reveal his red cube to his parents or anyone. He was also puzzled why no one had yet seen the cube or, if they did, why they didn't react to it: as much as he had tried on principle to stay away from people, he had not always been successful.
The robot man was saddened but still had resolve. The red cube in him must be destroyed and he was undeserving to exist until it was gone. But after six years, he was no closer to an answer. Where did his answers lie?
PS - Yes, obviously, the red cube is a metaphor for a human sin. But, of the many listed in the Bible, it is not one of those listed. It is a sin against God, a sin against man, a sin against nature, and the answer to the destiny of the robot man and his sin is unclear.
God is All-Mighty. To be All-Mighty, God must be infinite.
An infinite being is irreducibly complex in so far that an infinite being could not be made finite. Hence, any substantive representation of an infinite being would be infinite.
The Bible is a representation of God. The Bible is finite.
Hence, the Bible cannot be a substantive representation of an All-Mighty God.
This either leaves God as less than All-Mighty (and specifically finite) or leaves all holy texts as inrepresentative of their respective infinite deities.
The Time Machine Halting Problem
Let's engage in a little thought experiment. Presume there exists a person with the capability of making a time machine. This person performs the following experiment.
- On day one of his experiment, he calibrates a watch to a know time device.
- One year later, he measures this watch against the same time device to establish the amount of drift on the watch.
- One week later, he measures again this watch.
If the difference between the one year and one year and one week measurement is greater than the possible drift incurred over one week, the experimenter knows that he creates a time machine that successfully shifts the watch by an amount greater than the possible error. Hence, he decides to not work on the time machine.
If the difference between the one year and one year and one week measure is less than or equal the possible drift incurred over one week, the experimenter knows that he doesn't create a time machine that successfully shifts the watch by an amount greater than the possible error. Hence, he decides to work on the time machine.
Now, that's just a silly time paradox, just like the halting problem paradox.
What disturbes you?
Is it the fear of death? Or do you respect your mortality?
Is it a childhood trauma or a instinctive bias? Or do you recognize your phobias for what they are and step beyond them?
Perhaps it's the nude human form, generally or of the excessively young or old? Or do you recognize it as an unhealthy fear from society/religion?
Perhaps you fear sex? Or do you see the futility of fearing the only means to grant you some level of immortality?
Maybe it's the fear of violence? Or do you understand that violence is at the very heart of life?
It'd have to be the future, the great unknown? Or do you see time as a current of unimaginable length which you have little part in?
Do you search out for your confusion and disturbance? Do you work to desensitize yourself to them? Or do you accept the wisdom of letting sleeping dogs lie?
What do you do?
Public-key Hiberantion (and other Public-Key uses)
Before I begin, I should give some credit where credit is due. Some time ago, Raymond Chen's OldNewThing blog had a post about the dangers of using locked pages to try to keep a secret key from leaking onto the HD. In short, something like hibernation would allow even locked pages to be written out, thereby allowing those with enough intent to potentially override the intended protection. And while the offered suggestion provided by a friend, to use a key to encrypt the information and hopefully obfuscate the information, was dubious at best, it did eventually lead me to thinking about how to properly address the situation and many *other* situations like it.
Having said all that, I very much doubt I'm the first person to suggest the following ideas. But, I'm throwing them out here as I've yet to see anyone suggest them publically enough to have run across them.
Idea one is rather simple, and it relates to the hibernation problem. In general, the problem with hibernation is a public/private problem. That is to say, there is a fear that the hibernated information might be made available to the public, yet there is a strong desire to keep the information private. And while there is the obvious suggestion, to have a user provide a key each time hibernation occurs, it is a very impractical solution. Instead, a more practical solution is offered.
1. Create a public/private-key pair
2. Encrypt the private key with a strong symmetric cipher (aes-256, for example) using a user provided password
3. Write the public key and encrypted private key to the HD
1. Randomly generate a one-use key for a strong symmetric cipher (aes-256, for example)
2. Use the one-use key to encrypt memory as is written out to the HD
3. Encrypt the one-use key with the public key and write the encrypted key to the HD
1. Read in the encrypted private key
2. Read in the encrypted one-use key
3. Read in the password for the encrypted private key
4. Decrypt the one-use key with the private key
4. Use the decrypted one-use key to read in memory
The real thing of note is, this idea can be extended into many other fields. Let's consider the example of automated backups. While the cost and hassle of automated backups is one major reason that people resist having a rigorous backup system, another major reason is privacy concerns. Medical records and financial data need protected, although the reasonably paranoid would likely prefer that backups are encrypted by default instead of relying upon the user to do so manually. Things like EFS have the right idea in principle, but EFS's implementation seems focused on the short-term usability of a HD without enough consideration on long-term backup; there have been efforts by backup-programs to support use of EFS, however. In short, something like EFS could be tweaked slightly to be a great automated backup solution.
Generally, in any situation where the question comes up "but how do we keep this information private while allowing people access to the (possibly encrypted) data", the answer is a public/private key with the use of symmetric encryption of the private key. The only major limitations is whatever weaknesses exist in the encryption algorithms. But, that's another can of worms.
A New [Copyright] Deal
I am no fan of copyright. There are many reasons for this. Some of the more notable reasons include how copyright is the primary basis for Microsoft's dominance in the personal computer world (and all the adverse effects of one organization having such vast control over so many systems), the disconnect between the application of copyright to other mediums (like books) and software that arises from the compilation step of source code, the way the US (and other countries) have begun to rely so heavily on a purely governmental construct to economically exist, and the way copyright law has become so horribly twisted into more of a grotesque beast than any attempt to promote the arts or sciences (this coupling with the former point, and being forced down the throats of other nations in trade agreements). It's not clear to me that any form of copyright could successfully solve all these problems. Much like the roaring 20s, the boom of copyrighted works may lead into an extended depression as what seems like a means to print one's own money, with every computer user with their own printing press, becomes a nightmare when no one will accept it.
So, while many long term answers elude me, I humbly propose some aspects of a "New Deal" of copyright law. At the very forefront of this is the consideration of what everyone involved gets out of this new social contract. To the copyright holder comes the privilege to exclude others from selling unauthorized copies for a very limited time (on the order of half to a whole decade). To the copyright holder also comes the advantage of said limited time allowing much more extensive use of derivative forms. And to further bolster this comes an aspect of the advantage given to consumers, eventually access to the source of a copyrighted work.
Without copyright, the author of a work could obfuscate their work as much as they please. Even reverse engineering a work completely would still leave one with an approximation of the original (especially true when refactoring and macros can radically simplify an author's work and whose form is often lost in compilation). Yet when a copyright ends, one only gains access to what's available to the public. Source code could be lost, yet it holds under the same copyright as the binary (as compilers commit non-creative translation). Similarly, when a CD is created, the many channels that make up the final song are condensed into one through a mix-board, removing the ability to obtain the pure vocals or the pure guitars. Such greatly goes against the ability of reuse the many parts of the whole in a way unlike most other copyright forms (although rough drafts and incompletely painted layers serve under similar quandaries).
This is especially important given the very nature of copyright. Copyright covers not ideas but embodied ideas. This further means that the point of expiring copyright is to allow others to use those embodiments. All the various ways in which modern copyright law and those who use it work against this, by not sharing sources with anyone, leaving technological rot to lose those private copies, and employing encryption schemes to hinder legal (or otherwise) copying of public copies. Most importantly, all such schemes cast a lack of faith in the legal system (that enforcement will take place) and copyright itself (that copyright actually means anything). Would 1930s US society have accepted the idea that because prohibition wasn't be enforced by the states that citizens should have the legal right to create alcohol-proof glasses and forbid any attempt to circumvent them? Why should we today accept DRM formats and devices or laws that make it illegal to circumvent them? Why is there more faith in the law stepping in to stop DRM violations when it can't seem to be bothered to stop the copyright violations the DRM is designed to stop?
Source for copyrighted works has to be available. And the only way to insure that is to require copyright holders to provide that to the Library of Congress [or an equally apt repository]. And at that point, copyright intrinsically reverts back to requiring a registration for a copyright to exist. This is actually a good thing, given that it is the glut of copyrighted works that drives down the worth of such works (supply and demand). Further, all those works that aren't copyright suddenly become a huge repository of public domain knowledge to be used as one pleases. And much shorter terms removes the fears of many that their project might contain 10+ year old random snippets of questionable code from interns who copied from others instead of doing the work themselves (admittedly a bad thing to happen if it's true, but tracking 10+ year old code to prove copyright is very difficult).
The intent of copyright is for authors to have faith in the law to protect them so that they might widely distribute their creative works and for the people to benefit very directly from access to the authors' works without an author inducing arbitrary restrictions. A new deal is necessary for copyright because copyright today fails on both parts of this intent. I don't have faith that a new deal is coming. That is a strong reason I call for the next best thing, an end to copyright.
Curvation of Space/Time
If you're interested in forces and space/time, you might have found some interest in the way certain particles have been dubbed force-carriers. Some believe that the those forces we all known and love (gravity, electro-magnetic, weak, and strong) are conveyed by particles in a process only weekly understood by most (me included). One of the interesting parts of this comes into play when one considers that photons are considered the force carrier of electro-magnetism.
Why this is interesting should become apparently as one considers gravitational lensing. For those unaware (which I assume are few), gravitational lensing is based upon the idea that space/time is bent/curved as the result of gravity. As a result, a ray of light will "bend" around gravitationally large objects, resulting in various lensing effects. In truth, the light continues on a "straight" path in space, but because the path is bent, the light effectively bends as well.
The reason this should be of interest is because photons don't have mass. On the other hand, W and Z bosons (responsible for the weak force) *do* have mass. Why is this important? Because as force carriers, W and Z bosons themselves warp space/time while photons do not. Mass is, after all, the measure of space/time warpage. Now this leads into a hypothetical, and yet unobserved, particle known as the graviton.
As you might guess from the name, gravitons are the hypothetical force carriers of gravity. Gravitons, like photons, are thought to be massless and travel at the speed of light. However, gravitons aren't exactly like photons because they don't follow the curvature of space/time. How can this be known? Accretion disks.
Accretion disks, if you're not aware, are spinning clouds of gas rotating at high velocity on their path to enter a black hole. Such high velocity actually causes such immense friction that large quantities of the gas's mass (estimates range upwards of 50%) is converted to energy. But what causes such high velocities? Why, the warpage of space/time that's caused by the black hole.
Now, what is one of the fundamental trademarks of a black hole? Why, an event horizon. And an event horizon is defined as a boundary point at which space/time is so curved that not even light can escape. But, it's not so much that light isn't fast enough as it is that, as discussed earlier, light travels along a "straight" path of space/time; but because in a black hole space/time is so curved, space is bent back on itself, preventing any "straight" path to leave the black hole.
Why is this of interest? Because gravitons are supposed to behave nearly identical to light (ie, photons). But, if gravitons were to travel along "straight" paths within a black hole, they themselves would never leave. The result? While objects could still "fall into" a black hole, there would be no gravitons emitted from a black hole to create accretion disks. Ergo, gravitons themselves must not travel along the curvature of space/time.
But what exactly does that mean? How do they travel if not along the straight paths of space/time? Well, the truth is, curved space/time isn't exactly space/time. Instead, a field corresponding to graviton warpage exists. Similarly, a field corresponding to gluon warpage, w and z boson, and photon warpage exists. And while some particles (photons) are effected by the graviton warpage field, others (gravitons, at least) are not.
Meanwhile, the strong force exists, in part, as a graviton warpage field (the sheer fact that one measures the strong force as a mass increase (ie, a gravity increase) attests to that). So, it's not entirely true that mass = energy. For if it did, photons would have mass (ie, graviational warpage). Instead, the measurement of gravitational warpage is merely a good indicator for measuring the energy of many particles.
I walked along the southern end of the sprawling complex. It, like several other buildings of the era, extended so far that opposite ends reached into different climate zones. While the south side of this building edged into a mediterranean climate, the northern end rested in a temperate forest zone.
Because of its massive size, there existed multiple HIDs (in this case, two) to service the many people who would use the complex. HIDs, more often than not pronounced heads (for the way they screwed with your head), are, if you didn't know, human-interface directories. They manage the complex task of instantaneous transport to one of the many sub-complexes, businesses, residencies, and other facilities provided. As I walked along the southern area, the image of a younger woman projected outward from a node above a doorway; or, more appropriately, the illusion of an image appeared--as I said, they screw with your head. It was cheaper, more personal, and more direct to directly communicate with the many customers that would pass by than to actually project flickers of light.
I mentally asked to be sent to the northern side of the complex, where I had business. Just before I was transported, I noticed something peculiar. I seemed able to see the many projects of other people who also were interfaced to the HID. While a few were engaged in activity, something rather noticeable in their body language, others were trying their best to ignore the flicker of light in their mind. At least one of the projections seemed to be nearly begging for the person to come inside.
But before I could gather more of what was going on, I was on the north side. The northern HID, also a younger woman--though this one with black hair--asked how she might be of service. I thought for a second, and asked to be returned to the southern doorway, where I had just came from. She dutifully sent me back, and I returned a short distance from where I had left. I looked out again, and I again saw the many projections of the southern HID for other people. I knew that wasn't right; perhaps there was a leak in the system, somewhere?
But as I walked forward and looked around, I noticed something else. This HID's AI seemed to have an unusual personality. While almost all HIDs were designed to be courteous and prompt, to near a fault, this one seemed to have a personality of longing well beyond the fake sincerity used to draw people in. And as I looked around, I truly wondered if an AI could be alive.
Travels of Mana
It was the 12th age of the Elves. Many ages had come and past, as technology progressed and eras of peace existed. But each time, the technology of progress became the technology of death and destruction. But this, the 12th age, was a true and lasting era of peace. For the Elves had evolved their technology into the world of magitechnology, fueled by what the Elves understood as the very essence of life itself: mana.
Eons of prosperity existed in the 12th age, but over this vast period of time, a crisis began to arise. A clear decay was evident in the world of the Elves. The greatest scientific minds could not explain what was happening. Many philosophized that such decay was the natural result of an extended peace, but the decay was not of society or of art: it was decay of the very world itself. Their mana trees continued to produce the copious quantities of mana their magitechnology demanded. The mana ran pure and clean, as it had for centuries. Everything seemed as it should be, yet still their world decayed. Eventually the Elves realized, there must be something beyond mana--something essential to their world that was decaying or gone.
And so the Elves set out to colonize other worlds, for which they hoped they would find the stability their eons of peace desired. They created a project known as "Mana Seed". To prepare and plant upon the many lifeless worlds they would colonize, the Elves shut down much of their magitechnology and diverted it into a pure ball of mana. Such would be the home of many elves as they travelled across the vast void of space. Even with their vast life span, on the order of a thousand years, it would be a multi-generational journey upon which they would need to make the ball of mana their temporary new home.
And so the Elves set out on their quest, urging those who remained to produce yet another "Mana Seed" and journey forth in other directions, to spread the lineage of the Elves as far as possible. In the great time the Elves travelled on their Mana Seed, much of the philosophy and technology of the Elves disappeared. No longer did the Elves remember the great diversity of ideas of what mana truly was, in the existence of life, or the varied technology that had progressed to their use of mana. To them, mana was the one and only true life.
Upon finally arriving upon a world of sufficient stability around a star, they were surprised to discover a race of sentient beings already there. They called themselves humans and seemed to exist on the power of their muscles alone. The Elves were very disturbed by this and set to change the world, fearing it would collapse. They planted a single mana tree and nurtured it from what the humans called the Elven comet. The Elves taught the humans of magitechnology, and the humans seemed to prosper under the tutelage of the Elves.
But then the greed and ambitions of the humans seemed to overpower them. They began long and bloody wars, using the magitechnology the Elves brought. Each era of peace with the humans never seemed to last so long that the Elf who forged the peace treaty could be assured that he wouldn't be called again to form a new pact. Eventually, many of the Elves who remained on their new world became secluded from the humans, feeling disgraced at the way the humans perverted their technology; any idea to stop the spread of their technology was quelled as going against their ideals of peace. Some still hoped that the humans might eventually evolve away from war as the Elves must have.
It was at this time that a young boy and his comrades together fought to end the senseless fighting that had been going on continuously for a thousand years. The mana tree that the Elves had planted was beginning to wither and the Elves on the Elven comet were unwilling to plant a new tree to be abused as it was now. The young boy was able to form a truce, but the timing of it was too late. The mana tree withered away and died, leaving behind only a mana seed.
He, along with the elves, agreed that the only way to truly end the current crisis was to split the world in two, allowing each side their own world to rule. But the young boy had his own plans, and set out to make sure neither side would ever again develop sufficient magitechnology to wage war again. He held the mana seed enshrined so that it would not germinate but merely slowly leak away its store of mana. He took control of the Elven comet and hid it from the two worlds, just as he had hid the worlds from each other. The Elves upon the Elven comet were outraged but powerless to stop the determined lad. Many chose to join the Elves would lived in seclusion upon the world they lived on.
And so four thousand years of peace persisted, but they existed under the cruel hand of the ageless boy. The continued suffering of humans was put to use in what would become known as ex-spheres, a technology which in the past fed on mana from the mana tree instead. It was only after another boy and his own party of comrades fought against the system that was created that the worlds were reunited and the evil production of ex-spheres was halted. Knowing full well that humans would again use the magitechnology to wage war, the Elves still blessed this occasion, for there comes a time where continued peace through the suffering and oppression of some is worse than the bloody skirmishes of war. Only time would tell when the greed of the humans for power would truly end.
The Secret of Mana
Vulp looked at the metal crest on the armor. Armor, of course, wasn't made out of metal now days. But tradition dictated that the crest be made out of metal regardless. /Who started that tradition, anyways?/ wondered Vulp. The crest was a circle. Engraved in it were three concentric gears. In the very center was their world.
"The crest of a prince. Our prince." Vulp looked onward past the crested armor towards the rest. It had been many years of training, but he'd finally gotten this far. He'd be issued the latest of armor tomorrow and be stuck under Prince Edward's command. Royalty as a thing was dead, but the royalty lived on. And so Edward had received an honorary position to lead a brigade in non-combat. Oh, to serve under him was seen as a honor...for some. But Vulp knew that he wanted the leadership of more than a figurehead.
"Edward the Feline. Edward the cat-hearted. Edward the catnip addict." Vulp chuckled to himself. "If only catnip had the same sort of effect on evolved cats. That'd make for some great pranks." Vulp sighed to himself. Cat, jackal, whatever. He only cared about starting a life for himself.
Today was the start. The end would be so far away. But today was not the start that Vulp had hoped. It was not a start that many had prepared for. For in the early hours of that fateful day, a new type of royalty was born. He came riding on a chariot of destruction. His coup crippled the world. He was a human. His name was Eric.
What Vulp heard startled him. For outside the castle walls, the screams pierced through the concrete walls. As Vulp reached closer to the surface, smoke poured down the stairway. As he looked up he saw the sun blotted out. Forced to turn back as the smoke became suffocating, Vulp searched the armory for all of the gear he could carry. He travelled underground, away from the castle, to a nearby exit port.
Fleeing into the outside world, it would be many days before it became clear to Vulp and the others what had happened. What set their world ablaze was not an asteroid but a single man. The son of a famous general, Eric declared himself leader of the survivors. In stroke he destroyed their society and plunged it into the dark ages. Only the royal castle--Eric's new royal castle--still contained their advance technology; the exception being the few things that Vulp and the others had managed to save.
The one thing that was certain was that Eric had to pay for what he had done. But it would take time to find out Eric's true power. Vulp had found his new life.
At the moment, the useless toy I most desire is a nice looking famiclone. If there were superfamiclones or genesis clones (beyond the little, non-cartridge supporting kind), I'd probably want one of those instead. Don't take this to mean I want to get a famiclone with pirated games. Nothing is farther from the truth.
The reality is, I like the idea of having my own, odd little bit of nostalgia. While currently my family as a whole owns a working original NES, there's something sort of geeky about having perfectly legal, but never the less dubious looking, electronics equipment from another country. It's probably this reason more than any that I bought a Gamepark 32.
Part of celebrating nerdiness/geekiness, to me, is being different in things that others wouldn't even understand how it's being different. I've no doubt that's part of the reason I like Earthbound over Final Fantasy (the other reason being that Final Fantasy doesn't seem to be intentionally corny; there's that whole intentionally B-movie factor that helps it out; of course, a lot of movies try that and somehow fail because they lack the chemistry to be incredibly corny while still endearing).
In that regard, I sometimes notice that I seem to disagree just to disagree, and I'm a bit shaken with the prospect that I'm unwilling to agree with the mainstream. It's not that I think that the mainstream is always right, but I'm equally sure that the mainstream isn't always wrong. It is just incredibly difficult for me, at times, to draw that line where I feel confident I'm making a decision impartial to what group it would place me in.
So should I relish being a geek or just accept that it's merely the label that various others are likely to attribute to me through no intentional action of my own to be labelled a geek. There's nothing wrong with being a geek. But, I'm not so sure that it's okay to take steps to be a geek so you can feel like you fit in. Uniqueness can be an uncomfortable ground to stand on. Siding with a group or broadly rejecting opinions--which are immaterial to anything of consequence--might in the long run be a more uncomfortable ground to deal with.
Looking for a Brighter Day
This is but one of several sections of a story I am working on for a publication that will be known as "Eurohacker" and hopefully printed at some later date. It is a science fiction piece for which various ideas likely will seem familiar to those who read or watch much of any science fiction. If you have any comments of the story presented, please comment. Comments are welcome. Feedback, even trolling kind, at least shows someone read it. And that, to me as an author, is worth a lot.
Weather-worn rocks protruded through the barren brown dirt forest floor. A gentle, gray mist hung throughout the foliage. And young Jay Matherson scrambled forward, scraping with free hand up a steep hill up to the forest plateau. How much of a head start he had, he wasn't sure. Without a clock handy, he was a horrible tell of time.
It must have been fifteen, maybe thirty, minutes ago when they had caught on. At least, that's as soon as he realized he wasn't alone. Typing on his laptop, he thought he noticed a file change. That couldn't be right, he thought. No one's supposed to be using this account.
Scrolling back, the change was there and apparent. Someone was there, and they must have noticed by now the changes he made. Maybe they thought it was someone else? And then his connection was terminated. *Shit*, he thought. The only reason they'd do that is if they already knew where he was.
Quickly putting on a pair of shoes, Jay had grabbed his laptop and took off. If he was lucky, he could get to the other side. At least there, he could blend in. Surely Frank would let him crash at his place.
Running forward, he started arcing east, hoping to find the bridge. Trudging across the river would ruin his shoes, and he hated the thought of what would happen to his laptop. They didn't make them like this anymore.
Past trees and the unlikely bush, Jay ran across the Alaska countryside. He hated the chilly winter mornings. Looking back from time to time, he heard the distant hum of an approaching helicopter. Must have been more important stuff than I had thought, thought Jay.
Only a couple more minutes. Hopefully a couple more minutes. Even having hung around in the forest for long stretches at a time, he still could hardly tell where he was. Hiding out in the forest patch was only good when the hunters went by foot. Few bothered tracking through the forest for long, figuring anyone stupid enough to go willing hang out in the radioactive dump wasn't worth the money to try bringing back alive.
But Jay knew the radiation wouldn't kill you. Not right away at least. You could survive a few weeks in the forest if you didn't kick up the dust too much and general stayed huddled in one of the rock alcoves. Though near the end, you'd start losing some hair. That was the sign to get the hell out as quick as possible and hope the trackers had given up.
He still wondered how the trees survived around here, though he supposed they had very deep roots. Their bottom trucks all were a thickly layered black color thinning out to what otherwise looked like a healthy tree. Elm? Oak? Birch? A tree's a tree. He only guessed they weren't dying.
But back to the problem at hand. The area around the bridge was a clearing. Surely the helicopter would hover around it, waiting for him to cross. Worst of all, it'd kick up a lot of dust, and the last time he had hung out the forest was but a month back. He couldn't wait for long, and he couldn't very well go running through a radioactive dust cloud. The guys at the camp couldn't save him from that much exposure.
So, it meant trudging across the river. He arced more west, where the trees went out to the water's edge. Hopefully his shoes wouldn't melt too much. But above all else, he wasn't go to let his laptop in the river. Any new one would end his games, with their authorized programs only "feature". It was only a feature to the government. What better way to prevent you tracking the latest toxin dump.
Not that the toxin dumps were the worst things. But, they were the most persistent. Who was it that was the government's sponsor this year? The contract must be really good to be producing twice as much as last year. Computer chips? Coal harvesters? It had to be somewhere in-between those two, given virtually no other industries still exist. Who needs a real car when you can get a virtual one virtually free?
Live, grow, and die in the computer world. At first the idea was fun for Jay, Frank, and the others. But, then the crackdowns came. Oh, not the old kind. The new crackdowns just meant a fix and virtual cash dump. If it's virtual cash, it's not really yours anyways, right? And all the new computers began being only able to interface with the computer world. And people who wanted to could continue live in the real world.
But the real world was boring. You were so fixed on what you could do. So virtually everyone began staying on night and day: working, sleeping, and eating while connected. The hardcore traditionalists stayed offline, though most their children didn't. And a few hacker camps like Franks stayed offline and only dabbled on enough to keep people abreast of the real world.
Not that most listened. The government would acquire enough provider, there'd be a short spurt of outrage at Frank's virtual newspaper, and then the next day life would go on. Who cared if the government bought another provider? It just meant lower rates, right? And that'd mean I could work a little less at my job, my virtual job.
And the government knew well enough to never attack Frank and his group directly. Spies like Jay would find an connection on the other side, to be sure we weren't being filtered. Some of Frank's camp was half way around the world, but the majority of us would head out, find a connection, do a little "tweaking" to get past the latest generic blocker, and see if we can spot any trouble.
Jay had stumbled across a news report that was coming out later today to announce the now future attack by a "hacker" group. It seemed like a good report to make a few minor changes. Would they notice the slight change saying the hackers were sponsored by the government? They had caught Jay's change though, before he had time to clean up the evidence of his break-in.
Oh well, thought Jay. At least they probably didn't notice the wedge he put in should he or his group have a need to get back in. The next computer audit left them at least a 2 month envelope before they'd have to break in again.
But breaking in is such a crude way of putting it. You had to massage the system a certain way. Trying to take the metaphorical sledge hammer and smash your way in just alerted them to an attack. That was fun to do, if you were tunneling through one of the mega-corps. But, it was no way to actually find out anything useful. So, you used one hole to carefully watch as people come and go. And if you were lucky, you could tailgate in behind someone with high enough authority to make a small back door for entry.
Once inside, you quickly looked for any logs to wipe them of your entry and the small hole. Then, you unpacked enough so others who don't know how can't get in as well. Some of the more subtle bugs kept being quietly patched in the process of the unpacking. The last thing you wanted was they system to go down and be audited. Not that the audit would turn up much. But, they were paranoid and did a clean wipe from an independent source undoing the work in a way you couldn't trap.
Out upon the water's edge, Jay prepared to take the plunge. The water was nice rosy pink today. He hoped it was the happy and cheery pink and not one of the more caustic ones. Shove his pants down into his shoes as best he could and tying the laces to hold them in place, Jay looked down the river.
As he expected, he could see in the distance a search light peering down around where the bridge was. They'd probably give up soon and go down river more. No sane person would willing go trudging through a pink river. Jay realized just how much sanity he had to give up to get out of their world.
Placing the laptop on his head and holding it in place with both hands, Jay began his trek across the river.
MS vs the World
Through some fluke or post of another person on slashdot (I don't know recall), I recently stumbled across a rather interesting book hosted on MIT: The Hacker Crackdown. Having read through all four chapters and being in the "Afterword", something striking occurred to me that probably should have occurred to others before. That is, why exactly is it that viruses and worms of today are much weaker/simpler than of many years past?
"What?", you ask. You obvious realize that worms and viruses seem to be everywhere and tons of exploited machines are in use all over the place. They certainly don't seem weaker. But, while the large mass of machines are together strong, each individually is quite weak. But, the weakness is not only in its singleness. The weakness is at core in the design of its payload designed to infect others.
The simple reason for this striking weakness is clearly one company's fault: Microsoft. How could they possibly be to blame? Why would I even call it blame? It's not really blame, now, but this is the calm before the storm.
In the past, viruses were transmitted by floppies (and networks, for those lucky few). Over time, BBSs became a major transit though good sysops made sure they didn't keep such badies. This "centralized" control meant more than anything, you were pretty safe even without a virus scanner. But, e-mail introduced the need for person virus scanners, which the public was woefully unprepared for (as well as MS's Outlook Express) and for which virus scanners even now only do a lack luster success at stopping.
This is primarily because viruses spread like word of mouth, much faster than anti-virus makers have time to disect and block their "nasty" payload. In a blink of an eye, millions of systems can be infected and turned into zombies.
The situation isn't much better with worms but for a different reason. Where the first Internet worm took advantage of several unpatched exploits in a few Unix variants, most all since worms have targetted the Windows platform. And partly because of unpatched systems and the sheer near unending need to patch yet another security flaw, many machines become infected and spread on their disease.
These two methods of transmission are so great in fact, just about any programmer can do the work. And with them comes the rapid anti-virus team to remove them. There's no time nor any strong need to make a resistant worm or virus. There is sure to be a new vulnerability or a new way to trick people through some new hole than to labor for a worm or virus designed for attrition.
But, that's the fatal rub. Today, XP SP2 is being rapidly deployed across many XP machines. And while pre-XP machines and various people who never do patch when there are patches available are out there, the new line of Windows will quickly move forward. And assuming the whole user-verifications to e-mail are perfected to everyone's happiness and as generally users become more aware (or at least, the programs they use do), that anonymous and word of mouth virus will slowly die away from a flood to a trickle.
But what does this mean? An end to viruses and worms? Of course not. Some will get through, and the sheer labor and unlikeness of getting through will make the worms and viruses more virulent. Today, most businesses don't give a second thought to installing a security patch to their system without doing a company wide audit of all systems. They know that most worms are harmless, they're not exactly quiet, and though it's possible, it's improbable someone exploited the security flaw prior to the patch.
But in the future, where worms are one in a million, every patch will have to include an audit. Maybe even weekly audits may be necessary. Once a machine is compromised, the author will *not* want to give up his new "0wnage". Techniques like that of Ken Thompson and the infamous login hack will undoubted be duplicated, compromising a system in a way to leave the administrator unware there ever was a problem.
As a result, the security costs will dramatically rise to scour all those systems to make sure they're safe. And the same will be true for Mac OS X and Linux. In a brave new world, having hardware digital signing and no true system-wide administrator account will begin to be the only hope to keep costs down. Are we prepared for this new world?
To start off, I'd like you to know what I made this entry, so here's the story (rather old, which I heard some time ago anyways) which inspired me to finally write something about it: Thong-th-th-thong.
Now, go read the article. Back? Right, so this is just another one of those stupid "Abercrombie & Fitch" stories with this particular instance involving thongs aimed at 10-16 year olds.
It's clear from the Sophie Linnett's point of view, thongs and sex are equal. In fact, it seems that *any* underwear advertisement, short skirts, or nudity is seen as sex. That's partially to do with the hypersensitivity of the US as well as the fact that a lot of advertisers use sex to sell things.
But where does this lead me to issue? For starters, I don't seem to understand the basis for why that's exactly a bad thing (ignoring the larger ramification of all society that it dilutes sex's "power", though not necessarily its importance). For most of America, 10 years is about the age in which children are entering Junior High School. It's also the time that most children are going through puberty (the national average has shifted from 16 to 10 as nutrition has improved). So, if thongs are in fact a relation to sex, why shouldn't children of that age be able to wear such clothes?
The problem is, a lot of people get a queasy feeling about children and sex. I personally learned the basics of sex (man (with penis) + woman (with vagina) + intercourse => baby) before I was even in kindergarten. I also was taught at the same time that a man and woman should love each other and marry first. Regardless of the obvious religious basis of this learning, until I reached puberty and had hormones pumping heavily through my veins, I took such information the same way I took information about Santa Claus not being a real person: it's just another fact of life.
But, if I hadn't been told, would my naivity been innocence? I say, no. I was innocent because I was taught well in ways that kept me innocence. Naivity is another approach to that end, but it's raught with pedophiles and general society which leaves you not innocent but warped by society. So, every time a person comes forth screaming "such and such will warp our children", I realize it'll only warp the children who are never taught anything. Try to stop things like thongs for kids doesn't stop the core problem: parents unwilling to teach their children properly.
Now, this isn't to say that a totally warped society would be conducive to producing a non-warped child, but it can hardly be said to be the case that a specific cut of underwear is the culprit in the downfall of all children.
And I believe the author is probably well aware of this and is instead acting more on their queasy feeling of children and sex. It might be a case of conscious dissonance: ie, the author herself likely finds thongs sexy. Because of this, the author realizes she'll think girls in little thongs are sexy. Because thinking little girls are sexy makes you a pedophile*, she'd have to self-loathe herself because being a pedophile is such an egregious sin. So, I say get over it.
You're not really a pedophile to think that. More so, don't punish others on the assumption they're so naive that they'll do insane things. Instead, *teach them* so that it's unlikely to be a problem. If you believe something strongly enough to follow it, you should be teaching your child why you believe it. They may not follow your path, but you'll know you've taught them well enough that they can find a path they will be content with. That's more important than them being a carbon copy of you.
*A pedophile is the extreme fetish of being unable to have sex without a prepubescent child. Being attracted to the opposite sex when they are capable of producing offspring isn't truthfully unnatural, while it is likely unnatural to be involved with such a person if you're not in the same age group. People who exploit children or men or women do it because they want to be in power, especially in a sexual relationship. Any actual attraction to their prey is secondary.
More importantly, it would seem the case that girls (and some boys) use their cuteness in much the same way as women use their sexuality to "take advantage" of the opposite sex. While actual thoughts are not necessarily traced out as being clearly sexual (especially in the eyes of the junior participant), there is striking similarities to the behavior shown. Children are innocent because they do not possess the biological parts or experience to understand sexuality. Parents, relatives, and friends should not exploit that queasy/good feeling of the cuteness of children unless they're willing to admit that the majority of the harm from sexuality of children is not in the physical act (the except of course being when it is) but in the psychological damage substained from how people perceive sex and a child while discounting the psychological harm of exploiting the looks of a child.
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