top Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"
Look, I love a good amount of "pointless" fun and frivolity, but my experience as a life long American is that 95% of people here don't want to ever talk about anything serious or consequential. I'm not talking about being a killjoy, a downer, or trying to shove unorthodox political views down someone's throat (most of the people I talk to share my general political views). Rather, let's say that just a couple of times a day I try to bring up a serious political issue that might affect how someone votes. By and large, whether offline or online (most of the day I'm working in a social environment with a variety changing faces), the response I usually get is either a kind of cold silence--as if I've destroyed the mood--or that I'm a loser for actually caring about something (i.e. sort of like "why are you talking about something serious when we could be having fun? We must be having fun at ALL TIMES!").
I have not experienced other cultures (never had the opportunity to leave the U.S.) and of course this is just my personal experience, but can any Europeans or other Americans chime in if they've experienced this sort of thing with Americans? If so, that could explain a lot about why our democracy is so dysfunctional (among other reasons, of course).
top In this year's US mid-term elections ...
With some exceptions, I will vote for anyone who presents a compelling case that they support effective Campaign Finance Reform (e.g. public funding of elections, disclosure, rolling back Citizens United, much stricter lobbying laws, closing the revolving door, etc etc). I am actually left leaning--much farther left than the corporate Democrats, but if a candidate supports CFR I will vote for them even if they are Republican or Libertarian.
This is because I know nothing I care about will be addressed meaningfully until wealth has a lot less of a sway over the political process.
about a month and a half ago
top Autonomous Trucking
There are apparently over 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US--that's over 1 out of every 100 Americans (see here
http://www.truckinfo.net/truck... ) . And while I assume this technology will initially support the driver rather than substitute them, eventually they *will* be substituted.
Now, I am not saying that I am against this technology or the vast multitude of other technologies that are replacing formerly human work--I think technology is a great thing which, used properly, can make life dramatically more enjoyable. However, I don't believe man at the individual level is infinitely adaptable to system that requires he/she hold an economic worth in order to survive (and live a good life) when technology is increasingly rendering nature's several billion year old creations uncompetitive. Our economic system as it currently is will leave these people unable to support themselves, and then you have poverty, crime, and death (and since I have empathy and I am not a sociopath, I think this needs to be avoided...)
Some US conservatives I know claim that this will not happen and man is infinitely adaptable as an individual (and a very small handful of others say the poverty, crime, and death is a good solution). Some US liberals I know claim that we should just drop technology altogether and return to a "simpler time." All three of these "solutions" are incredibly stupid, so fortunately most respond with "I don't know." I personally look forward to a future where both technology and an "innate human worth" (rather than a solely "economic worth") can be embraced, but that inevitably means many people won't be working or will be working very little.
But if the many "trust fund baby"/never-had-to-work-a-day-in-their-lives people that are peppered about my area are any indication of what this future will be like, then it doesn't sound so bad: writing poetry or doing other forms of artwork all day, running very small (and unprofitable) "hobby farms," socializing all day, etc etc (no, they didn't turn to drugs or other antisocial activities because there was "nothing to do"...that stuff stems from poverty, not unemployment)
top Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy
Yeah, nevermind that workaholism makes the overwhelming majority of people miserable--certainly that couldn't be more of a reason (or even a sufficient reason) to be concerned. Would someone please think of the upper class's ability to maximize profits by squeezing the life out of the working cla--I mean
the Economy, would someone please think of the Economy?
top Mayday Anti-PAC On Its Second Round of Funding
The last submission was met with positive/encouraging comments and a little skepticism, but now we have individuals overwhelmingly complaining that this is a "democrat PAC", a "leftist cause", or that it is somehow infringing on free speech rights. This is all absurd. A "democrat PAC" would not give you the option of limiting your pledge only to Republican candidates. The disgust with the influence of money in politics is not a "leftist" thing--there is just a minority trying to make it another left vs right thing by instilling the usual tribalistic hatred (most of the right hates money in politics just as much as the left does and knows how badly they are screwed by it). And the reforms the Mayday PAC supports do not infringe on free speech rights unless you believe there should be no equality to free speech--that the size of one's wealth should make one's voice much more likely to be heard.
As for the skepticism of whether or not it will work (assuming you think it's a problem in the first place--if not, enjoy your plutocracy):
First, what do you propose as an alternative? Unless you're advocating for a revolution, the solution needs to work within the system itself. Americans are very concerned about the influence of wealth in politics, but in order to transform that concern into a change in policy there need to be promising alternative candidates running on that issue (the current selection of candidates are quite reticent about it and rarely act on it because they know it threatens their re-election). Candidates that would actually like to remove the corrupting influence of wealth in politics cannot compete because one needs a lot of money to run a meaningful campaign (and the reforms supported by Mayday give such candidates a means based on support at local levels--e.g. matching funds systems). Therefore, these candidates rarely get any media attention and thus very few even know they exist or have any confidence in their success. What Mayday is trying to do is give candidates running on an issue that many Americans are concerned about a fighting chance within a system whose design is antithetical to resolving that issue. I'm all ears to your alternative solutions.
Second, while the skepticism is warranted, it is redundant. There is no solution to this problem that won't be unbelievably difficult in practice--Lessig is calling it a "moonshot" for a reason. If you look at each solution in isolation, all of them seem unreasonable and they always will until one of them by chance stumbles upon success. But this does not mean you should not act. Some solutions are less unreasonable than others and I believe Mayday PAC is one of them because it is one of the few that are working with the constraints and realities of the system in mind. And as a "kickstarter" it has been designed to reduce the risk to you as a supporter--the worst that can happen is that they raise $12 million dollars, the candidates they support are duds, and you lose $20. In the other negative case, you get to keep your $20.
But given the pent up disgust with politicians being unresponsive to the concerns of everyone except the large donors, I think Americans will respond very well to compelling candidates that make the issue of money in politics a top priority (and yes, "compelling," among other things, means well-financed--even if indirectly through a small dollar funded Super PAC) and whose financial backing does not compel them to act otherwise.
top Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality
PR in the US is often just propaganda. It is another avenue through which wealth can be used to exert undue influence over policy by shaping public opinion, deceiving, astroturfing, etc etc. It is justified under Free Speech, but there is no concern for equality: if you have more money, your voice (or the people you pay to spread "your voice") is much more likely affect change. In my opinion, this is wrong.
I recommend reading the book Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter which shows just how insidious this practice is. The author used to be a top PR executive at several insurance companies but "found his conscience" and is speaking out against it.
top Who Helped Kill Patent Troll Reform In the Senate
Why would you assume he means to destroy what remains of democracy? I interpreted it as meaning that we're focusing too much attention on the the symptoms of a much larger problem: the way that wealth can be used to direct or at least sway the political system. This is systemic "corruption" in the sense that the intent of the system is to serve the public good.
The "hacking at the branches of a problem when the culprit lies at the root" (or something along the lines of that) is an expression used by Lawrence Lessig and the "Rootstrikers" group he started (the originator of that expression is someone else, I forget who), both of which are trying to enact campaign finance reform, reform lobbying, end SuperPACs, etc etc. I assume he is referring to the same general problems and solutions (solutions which are actually more democratic in the way th theyat, e.g., raise money for campagins)
I don't think this person sees "the root" as the concept of Government itself.
top The Mere Promise of Google Fiber Sends Rivals Scrambling
If I had mod points I'd give them to you. Whenever some naive free market idealist gets modded +5 saying the problem is government granted monopolies (a particularly insidious claim due to its speciousness and thus its ability to deceive the uninformed) and the solution is the enticingly simplistic "deregulation" (ignorning hundreds of years of precedent with similar public utilities and the successes of other first world nations that acknowledge this fact), it drives me mad.
top Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs
A public funding system like a $100 per-citizen tax rebate (Lessig has proposed something similar) for use in campaign contributions would easily quell any fears of not being funded (if everyone who voted in 2012 saves themselves $100 and uses their rebate, it ends up being quite a bit of money--more than was spent in 2012 I believe). This is the kind of reform the backed candidates are being "sent" to enact. Not to mention, being responsible for such landmark reform is sure to keep you popular with your constituents for many terms. And I think you're a bit too cynical to think all of the backed candidates will be so self-serving, unless they were chosen from the current crop of money hustlers (you'd have to be an idiot to select from them and Lessig is not an idiot).
Also, it's very odd that you consider small dollar donations from a large number of average citizens as a "power grab" in the same sense as large (massive) dollar donations from a small number of citizens (as is the case with The Heritage Foundation). If the former is anything of a power grab, it's power that ought to be restored to them.
top DC Revolving Door: Ex-FCC Commissioner Is Now Head CTIA Lobbyist
Right, an individual passing through the revolving door does not represent a conflict of interest, but rather just the hiring of experienced/knowledgeable individuals. Here are some cherry picked statistics to prove my point
Please tell me this isn't where the PR spin is headed, because I fully believe people will buy it (if it's repeated often enough and made tribal). I mean, the spindoctors have already convinced too many people that bribery is "free speech" and 99% of climate scientists are frauds.
top Neovim: Rebuilding Vim For the 21st Century
Vim has to be one of my favorite programs but I rarely use it for any "ambitious" coding project because it lacks critical features that an IDE provides (the plugins don't cover these gaps either). Right now I'm using Netbeans with the jVi plugin (provides a subset of common vim behavior) for c++ programming and it works well, but if an IDE plugin could simply embed instances of vim into the program itself and have it work seamlessly with the existing IDE features (e.g. advanced code understanding of inheritance hierarchies and type deduction) that would be the ideal. With this in mind, the following from the website sounds really promising:
First class support for embedding
Since Neovim will be provide the interface to interacting with text, any program will be able to tap into this potential and be able to include Neovim commands right in the application.
top Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"
Death is quite right and quite natural
What significance does death being natural have here? It is your own assumption that something which is natural is automatically good or at the very least should be followed. Now I completely agree that the preservation of many of the things I care about on Earth is maintained by nature in somewhat of a fragile equilibrium, but there are far too many exceptions to make such a generalization. "Nature could decide" to incinerate all of it in the next 10 minutes--is that a good thing to you? And our tendency to fuck things up simply means we need to be more careful. Not to mention there are creatures on Earth that do not undergo senescence, so even assuming the appeal to nature was ever a valid reason for anything, it would be somewhat wrong to apply it here.
...to fear death so much we need to somehow eradicate it.
Why are you so certain that the desire for an extended lifespan is motivated purely by fear? For example, I personally accept that my death by old age is quite likely and I've decided that what is inevitable (or at least is quite likely to be) is not worth worrying about any more than is innate. However, I would still like to live longer simply because life is so enjoyable. There are so many things to experience that I'll never have the time to, so many things to learn, so many things to explore (on this planet and otherwise, in the mind...), etc etc. I want to live longer not out of negative emotions, but of positive. You state that death motivates you to live your life to the fullest--that's great if that's what works for you, but not all of us need that. We'll go on living just as happy as otherwise (and perhaps less anxiously than you) because life on its own can be just great.
Lastly, you keep describing those that fear death as immature babies. What relevance does this have? Even assuming these people are "immature" and childlike, this lends no reason to the debate--it's pointless. Or is this how you intend to motivate them to agree with you? By attacking their egos? "I've given up on the desire to live longer because someone on the internet called me a baby!" How about using some reason.
top Goodbye, Google Voice
I still use Google Voice because it's free (well, I suppose it's not free because they are collecting my data, but I have a feeling the carriers are doing the same anyway). How can you beat that? Sure, I'm only able to use it at home and through WiFi hot spots, so it's only a little bit better than a landline, but I'm not getting gouged by the cell phone companies for a couple of GB a month.
Now someone will respond to this and tell me what great cell phone service they have that's not available in my area and is still garbage for the price ("See? The system works for me. Why isn't it working for you?")
top WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up
...is still garbage. We Americans should not feel at all good about how badly we're getting fleeced by the telecoms just because someone else has it worse, just as an American McDonald's worker shouldn't brush off their own depressing work conditions after witnessing work conditions in the third world. That kind of thinking is a race to the bottom.
Americans will not see fair prices for phone service until we accept that utilities like phone service are a natural monopoly and that the government must step in to to force sufficiently competitive conditions. Break up the oligopoly. Force them to act as common carriers. Separate the ownership of transportation mediums from those providing the actual service and compel them to allow many companies to compete over the same medium. Subsidize infrastructure build out where it is not normally profitable (like any other utility). Forbid vertical integration with, e.g., content companies so to avoid the blatant conflict of interest. Stop outlawing municipal broadband. So many other countries have made these exact structural changes with extremely successful results, much in the way that many of these same countries have very successful healthcare systems that the US also refuses to emulate.
Of course none of these changes will occur unless we take care of our corrupt political system ( http://www.represent.us/ ). Politicians will claim there is "no political will" which translates to "I don't want to be decimated by the telecoms' campaign money and PR offensives next election" and perhaps "maybe I'd like to quadruple my salary by becoming a telecom lobbyist in my later years". But I'm digressing...
And the "As a single parent" line sounds like something from your typical shill script and is rather out of place on Slashdot--especially since it's coming from an AC.
Portal 2 Beta Released For Linux
Nice! I should have mine setup today (I can't actually download it because the single DL is much larger than my monthly bandwidth allotment, so I need to *drive* to an ssh server I've setup... 'mericuh internet). I'm trying to remember what collections are especially good because I haven't played in a while (should change now that it's available on linux), so assuming my memory is still good:
Designed For Danger Collection http://steamcommunity.com/work...
12 Angry Tests Collection http://steamcommunity.com/work...
Dilapidation Collection (if I recall correctly this is of especially high quality) http://steamcommunity.com/work...
Killing Machine Collection http://steamcommunity.com/work...
And there are many other great ones which aren't coming to mind yet. Some of the above--at least in my opinion--are better than the SP or coop campaign (at least in terms of how challenging and interesting the puzzles are)
Portal 2 Beta Released For Linux
Haven't been able to try it out yet (poor internet), but according to the following link "...users have access to the Workshop and can download any custom map they choose".
Portal 2 Beta Released For Linux
the game I was waiting to show up on linux. The vanilla single player and coop campaigns are far from the best aspect of Portal 2 now. The custom maps are where it's at and the ingame custom maps browser, downloader, rating system, and "series subscription" functionality remove all of the pains of hunting for the perfect maps. I highly recommend people check out the custom maps if they're fans of puzzles--there are some extremely challenging ones that will test both your mind and your agility. And if coop is your thing there are some excellent custom maps for that too.
top NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse
It's not just the NSA. It's evident in forums across the web that there is quick, coordinated trolling of any discussion of climate change or health insurance - the main targets of the Koch Bros' web of disinformation front groups.
And today all of these malicious tactics are considered fair game under the innocent sounding classification of "Public Relations".
If anyone is interested in how this plays out in the context of for-profit health insurance (and; really; the tactics are transferable to any area) they should read Wendell Potter's book "Deadly Spin." Potter was a former PR executive at some of the largest health insurance companies in America (and one of many carefully orchestrating the nonsensical fear of any sort of healthcare reform) until his conscience forced him to quit. After reading his book I am convinced that the ways in which wealth can be used to shape public opinion in America are just as much of a problem as the corrupting effect of money in politics.
top White House Responds To Net Neutrality Petition
Anyone who signed this petition knew we'd get the typical PR response that's devoid of any content--that's not what we were seeking in the first place. The benefit from these petitions is that (1) it may draw public attention to this issue and get a mention in the mainstream media and (2) they cost each individual about 5 seconds of time and a mouse click. And that's what we may get, so there may be at least some measure of victory in this.
If the vast majority of Americans knew how badly they were getting fleeced by the telecoms compared to other first world countries, they would be more concerned. Unfortunately the media has no incentive to cover such issues because (1) real journalism isn't as profitable as entertainment and news outlets are no longer required to cover issues of public importance (see e.g. the Fairness Doctrine) or (2) it conflicts with the propaganda.
top Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You
So here we have Berin Szoka--the president of a libertarian "think-tank" (TechFreedom
... yes, another one with "freedom" in its name) that receives its funding from broadband providers--favoring a policy position that is consistent with the interests of the big players in the telecommunication industry. Namely Comcast, which sees its dual position as both a conduit and content provider as a means to further its gouging of consumers (this is why they bought NBC Universal and are gobbling up sports broadcasting rights throughout the country). Well, color me fucking surprised! From TFA:
Disclosures: TechFreedom is supported by foundations, web companies, and
both broadband and edge providers
According to TechFreedom's Form 990, TechFreedom has received $1,056,560 in contributions that were
not from government grants, federated campaigns, membership dues, or fundraising events. As a 501c3 TechFreedom does not need to disclose exactly who is making these contributions and in what individual amounts, but by now it should be obvious where the money is coming from. See here: http://990finder.foundationcen...
And prior to TechFreedom, Berin Szoka was part of The Progress And ... Freedom ... Foundation, a "market-oriented think tank" that received funding from the telecommunications industry. From http://www.sourcewatch.org/ind... :
According to Common Cause.org, The Progress and Freedom Foundation’s list of corporate donors "reads like a who’s who list of the telecommunications industry. Telephone companies like AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon; technology companies like Microsoft and Intel; telecom trade associations like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association;
cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner; cell phone companies like T-Mobile and Sprint; and broadcasters like Clear Channel Communications and Viacom19 have all helped fill PFF’s coffers to the tune of a $3 million per year operating budget."
These organizations really shouldn't be considered "think tanks" at all. They're just avenues through which crony capitalists can affect legislators/policy and public opinion by leveraging their massive stores of wealth. This is not "free speech." This is free speech
amplified by wealth, which is wrong. Without their contributors' backing, they would just be a bunch of noisy shmucks that no one listens to--just people like you and I.
It doesn't even matter whether or not people like Berin Szoka truly believe the bullshit that comes out of their mouths and onto paper/keyboards. In either case the only reason they're even given an ear is because there's a shitload of money backing them. This is not how a democracy should be run. Wealth should not determine the penetration of your message.
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