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Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

istewart Re:Who watches the watchers (243 comments)

You have not provided any positive definition of the word "republic," only asserted it as a simple antonym of monarchy. As I understand the "republic, not democracy" meme, those who buy into it (and I am rather sympathetic myself) are bemoaning the fact that the central government is controlled by a specific, entrenched political class who determine the choices set in front of the electorate. This situation is just as dangerous as an unfettered monarch, albeit in different ways. Simple assertions that the system is supposed to be a democracy do not address the division of labor which creates specalists in manipulating the levers of centralized power.

about 9 months ago

Analog Designer Bob Pease Dies In Car Crash

istewart Re:Died in a '69 Beetle (187 comments)

UNDERsteer, in a rear-engine car? I think you have a bit of confusion in terms there. Oversteer is what occurs when the rear of a vehicle loses traction due to weight imbalance. Additionally, Ralph Nader's criticism of the similarly rear-engined Corvair (and its contemporary Volkswagens) in "Unsafe at Any Speed" had a lot to do with that vehicle's use of a swing-axle transaxle, in which the rear axle's suspension only has one, vertical, degree of freedom and thus has a tendency to bounce upwards during oversteer incidents and risk overturning the whole car. 1969 and later Beetles had independent rear suspension, which does not exhibit this behavior. The Corvair was killed before it could be evolved in this direction.

Additionally, Porsche fanatics will tell you that the 911's rear engine placement is actually an advantage in terms of traction during corner exit, so long as you are not foolish enough to lift the throttle in mid-turn.

more than 3 years ago

US Gov't. Ending Its Hands-Off-the-Internet Stance

istewart Re:Well, government "oversight"... (452 comments)

Yes, and now you have a thoroughly subsidized monocultural food production system which breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria and outputs decidely non-nutritious food at its most affordable levels; and the abusive working conditions you decry have simply been moved offshore, leaving the corporations who contract for such cheap labor to enforce our enlightened norms, if they feel like it. The moneyed interests which benefit from these arrangements have much more influence over the people in power than do you, the single voter. So while these problems may, eventually, be addressed by the government, it will not happen until they are almost catastrophes. This is the downside to such a heavily centralized republic.

more than 4 years ago

James Cameron On How Avatar Technology Could Keep Actors Young

istewart Save Star Trek? (404 comments)

What if the tech is used on a character who's supposed to look slightly inhuman? I'm thinking chiefly of Data from Star Trek, whom Brent Spiner has said he will never play again since an immortal android doesn't age. But if you could reset his looks to 1987, while also setting the character further apart from the normal humans surrounding him, I think that would be an enhancement rather than a drawback.

about 5 years ago

Nothing To Fear But Fearlessness Itself?

istewart Re:atlas yawned (660 comments)

I don't think that's quite a fair assertion to make. Local elected officials' hands are generally tied by policies set at the national and state levels. California is a strong example of this. Someone up above mentioned the extreme imbalance of tax payments made to the federal government vs. returns received. And I have experienced firsthand the enforced impotence of well-meaning school district officials in repairing severely outdated school plants due to positively Byzantine and constantly shifting state funding rules (which are typically rigged to benefit huge districts like Los Angeles). These are but two examples. The social engineering policies that define our society are set at the highest levels, and the power brokers at those levels do indeed come from an elite background or are validated by the elites who control the political and financial machinery. Populists and guys next door can make it to national office, usually in the House of Representatives, but they quickly learn to toe their party's line or be marginalized.

The American republic may have a system vaguely resembling democracy, but it is hardly participatory, and that is where the populist rage you decry comes from. It is especially intensified by the ease of individual interconnectivity that modern information technology enables. As these interconnected individuals come to feel more disempowered, their rhetoric becomes more intense. The same thing happened with liberals under Bush.

more than 5 years ago

Alan Cox Quits As Linux TTY Maintainer — "I've Had Enough"

istewart Re:Linus was right (909 comments)

His basic philosophy is old bug is better than new bug

Having driven both, I must say that I agree.

more than 5 years ago

Wolfram|Alpha's Surprising Terms of Service

istewart Re:Nothing to worry about for academics (303 comments)

Science is all about having replicable results... how could someone replicate your results if you failed to list all the procedures you used?

more than 5 years ago

Is a $72.5m Opening Weekend Enough For Star Trek?

istewart Re:Worst Case (820 comments)

Part of it is that Next Generation ran longer and thus had a better opportunity to develop all the characters, making it more disappointing when the movies degenerated into Picard/Data stories. Insurrection and Nemesis were Rick Berman's incompetent attempts to balance the desires of both Star Trek fans and general audiences, something that JJ Abrams seems to have done quite deftly.

more than 5 years ago

Could Fuller Take Trek Back To TV?

istewart Re:Hmmm... (444 comments)

In a way, the wormhole aliens were simply a logical extension of the ideas they began exploring with the character of Q. Q chose to present himself as easily relatable, essentially a human with boundless control over space and time. However, it was easy for Picard to dismiss Q as a god due to his human appearance, which included such flaws as hubris and a willingness to pass judgment. The Prophets, on the other hand, had a completely different non-linear perspective that was not friendly to human comprehension (or easy writing). Thus Sisko and co. had a much harder time dismissing them.

The theme of relating to superhuman intelligences is found throughout Star Trek. It's just too bad that later attempts at exploring it failed so miserably, such as the Q episodes of Voyager.

more than 5 years ago

Athletes' Brains Reveal Concussion Damage

istewart Re:If this is true... (328 comments)

Please elaborate on your metrics of efficiency. I would also like to hear about specific social improvements that are a direct result of the school system.

about 6 years ago

My Genome, My Self?

istewart Re:Isn't it, though? (194 comments)

The front companies provide the illusion of choice, but the American Medical Association holds a monopoly on licensing for conventional care, the drug companies are focused mainly on securing patent monopolies above anything else, and the insurance companies themselves have an army of lobbyists to keep them in their places of privilege.

Note also that neither Clinton nor Obama seriously advocated for a single-payer system during the recent election. Both proposed federal subsidies for existing insurance companies, touting it as the more politically realistic choice. I don't support state-monopolized medicine myself, but I can't see such a proposal as anything other than crackpot realism, which is the first refuge of scoundrels.

about 6 years ago

As of October, FBI To Allow Warrantless Investigations

istewart Re:And what are us Americans going to do about it? (574 comments)

Why bother involving yourself with the existing parties or trying to seize a seat in Congress? There are far too many compromises down that road. Get involved in transforming your local politics away from a pathetic sideshow, and build sustainable institutions on the local level. Disregard what the national government is trying to do. It will collapse in upon itself.

Counterproductive, unsustainable, divisive policies like this one might appear to be the roots of dystopia to most people, but it really amounts to the last desperate thrashings of a dinosaur as it drowns in a tar pit.

more than 6 years ago


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