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Comment Re:Gun nuts (Score 1) 1374

First, I want to be clear, I am NOT calling for a ban on firearms. I'm simply saying that when a firearm is around, I'm more careful, due to a rational fear. I'm also more careful to watch for cars when crossing the street than when on a sidewalk, due to a rational fear of getting hit by a car.

That said, I am also against calls for increasing the amount of firearms present in public places, particularly schools and hospitals. These are both places where people's judgement may be poor (due to either youth or stress) and as a result the risks of a firearm are disproportionate to those in a private home or a shooting range.

Wrong, and here's why:

1.) All people who own guns own a gun, and nearly all own ammunition. This means that simply being around a gun owner or at a gun owner's house I am dramatically more likely to get shot accidentally. This is perhaps not so much a fear of the gun owner as it is fear of the gun itself.

This would only be true if said gun owner started taking his firearms out and handling them carelessly, which is so rare that you stand a better chance (by at least an order of magnitude) of being hit by a car driven recklessly (yet for some odd reason, no one is calling for a ban on automobiles.)

Again, not calling for a ban on guns. Just saying that I'm more careful when I know one is around. I'm really more concerned about children or teenagers mishandling the gun than I am about the owner or myself. Kids can be pretty crafty. If a toddler can climb on top of my refrigerator then a teenager can potentially find a way into a gun safe.

2.) MANY gun owners believe in using their gun for self-defense. This also increases my likelihood of being shot around a gun owner because the gun owner may mistake me for an intruder.

If you break into my house, yes - expect to be shot if it's dark, and held at gunpoint if it's daylight. If you are not an intruder, you have nothing to worry about. Under what condition do you expect to be mistaken for an intruder, anyway?

The situation is if I knock on your door at 2am because my car broke down and my cell battery is dead. Another potential situation would be if my teenage son is sneaking, invited by your daughter, into your daughter's bedroom (see point #5, below.)

HARDLY ANY gun owners (and this includes police officers and members of the military) are sufficiently skilled to discharge a firearm in a crowded indoor situation with multiple panicked people and possibly a few assailants in such a way that they correctly identify and harm the assailants but do not harm the bystanders. If an individual has multiple years of experience working as a military sniper they probably fall into this group, but even then they may not fall into this group when using a handgun.

Hardly any human being is sufficiently skilled to safely land a crippled airliner - and yet the odds of either happening are roughly the same, if not slightly in favor of the crippled airliner. Your point?

This point really had to be taken in context with the point after it, about more people thinking they can than actually can. I know several gun owners who when they hear about things like Columbine say that "If I had been there I would have put a stop to that." I don't see a lot of people making similar boasts when a plane crashes. My point is that such situations are not nearly as simple as they might seem. Moreover, I've seen trained police officers take defensive action (ducking and throwing another person to the ground, not brandishing a firearm) on things that turned out to be innocuous.

My overall point was twofold (and my original wording tried to reflect this, though perhaps unsuccessfully): 1.) If such a situation were to occur, the average gun owner shooting back would likely make things worse, not better. 2.) The person who thinks they can shoot in a situation like this is probably more likely to think they are in a situation like this than they are to actually be in one. I'm willing to concede the second point simply because I'm not sure if the accidental shooting statistics would support me or not.

5.) SOME gun owners believe guns are a good way to solve interpersonal problems besides those involving self-defense. These people WANT their ownership of a gun to be a form of intimidation to some individuals. I rationally consider these people to be a danger to everyone.

Such people are promptly arrested/convicted for assault, brandishing a firearm, etc. They are only a danger once, and once only. After that they are, as convicted felons, no longer allowed to own such things.

I'm not talking gang members here (though they might fit,) I'm talking about people who say "if my wife was cheating I would take my gun and kill the guy." This kind of talk won't get you put in jail (obviously going through with it will), but it is using a firearm as a form of intimidation. Someone owning a firearm who makes such threats might be willing to use the firearm in other circumstances as well.

Meanwhile, how many people commit DUI, reckless driving, blatant disregard for life/limb in their automobiles (see also the almost-daily police chases in LA), and assorted road rage incidents? Do you therefore also fear automobiles under the rational banner, or is it just that you fear something you have no familiarity with (considering that owning and using a firearm is replete with enforced gun safety demands at the gun range, classes required for hunting, classes/certifications required for concealed-carry permits, etc?)

Hunter safety is actually a good example of my overall point. When you go hunting you KNOW there are firearms around, and they will be discharged. As a result, you take precautions to ensure that a.) You don't shoot anyone else. and b.) Nobody shoots you. All I'm saying is that the presence of guns in other settings can also result in increased safety risks. I agree with another poster that I don't understand why this concept is so controversial.

Another poster made the herd immunity argument, and in a sense they are right. I'm probably safest if people who I don't happen to be around have guns, and as a result potential intruders are wary because I MIGHT have a gun. This happens to describe my situation most of the time, so lucky me, I get the best of both worlds.

Comment Re:Gun nuts (Score 5, Insightful) 1374

It is not rational to fear all people who own guns.

If you own a gun, here are the things I know and suspect.

1.) All people who own guns own a gun, and nearly all own ammunition. This means that simply being around a gun owner or at a gun owner's house I am dramatically more likely to get shot accidentally. This is perhaps not so much a fear of the gun owner as it is fear of the gun itself.

2.) MANY gun owners believe in using their gun for self-defense. This also increases my likelihood of being shot around a gun owner because the gun owner may mistake me for an intruder.

3.) HARDLY ANY gun owners (and this includes police officers and members of the military) are sufficiently skilled to discharge a firearm in a crowded indoor situation with multiple panicked people and possibly a few assailants in such a way that they correctly identify and harm the assailants but do not harm the bystanders. If an individual has multiple years of experience working as a military sniper they probably fall into this group, but even then they may not fall into this group when using a handgun.

4.) FAR MORE gun owners believe they fall into group 3 than actually do. This makes them a danger to others when they incorrectly gauge either the facts of the situation they are in (see #2) or their ability (see #3.)

5.) SOME gun owners believe guns are a good way to solve interpersonal problems besides those involving self-defense. These people WANT their ownership of a gun to be a form of intimidation to some individuals. I rationally consider these people to be a danger to everyone.

6.) MANY gun owners are responsible with their guns and how they are stored. They also understand the risks of discharging a firearm and the limits of their ability. For these individuals the increased risks come primarily from items 1 and 2, and not items 3-5.

My point is, it is perfectly rational to fear gun owners for the increased risks they bring to my personal safety. While I am most afraid of those who fall into group 5, all gun owners represent an increased risk to my safety.

Comment Re:The Re-Hate Campaign (Score 1) 1116

I wouldn't be so sure and all these marriages would do is to remove yet another arbitrary constraint, this time not on sex of people involved but on a number.

While I wouldn't necessarily oppose legalizing marriages with multiple people, the restraint to a single marriage per person is hardly arbitrary. Many of our marriage laws rely on it. For instance, how does "without a will, all property becomes the property of the surviving spouse" work if there are more than one surviving spouses?

And it's not like you will change people's minds when your politically correct zeal pushes them underground. They feel wronged and the persecution only fossilizes their worldview.

I don't agree with the grandparent, I will absolutely defend Eich's right to donate to whatever campaign or cause he chooses, (within established limits, which he was well within.) However, I also agree that the correct remedy for bad speech is MORE speech. In this case, that took the form of a lot of people on the internet pointing out that he had taken certain actions with which they personally disagreed. Furthermore, they expressed their belief that this was sufficient cause for him to step down from his current position, and some expressed a desire to sever business ties with his current employer over his continued employment. All of this is also well within their rights. If this is going too far on their part, then there will likely be more speech (such as your own) condemning their over-reaction, and so-on.

There was a big stink over Chic-fil-A a while ago. A certain city refused (threatened to refuse?) to allow them to do business there because of their founder's beliefs. This was absolutely wrong and should be illegal. A number of people then chose to conspicuously increase the amount of business they did with Chic-fil-A. That's a good form of money as speech. Another group of people then chose to boycott Chic-fil-A, partially in response to the conspicuous consumption. Well within their rights as well. Another group condemned the boycott as unconstitutional (as well as objecting on other grounds.) A final group pointed out that not only was the boycotting group's action, which was not being done on behalf of a government, perfectly constitutional, but it was basically equivalent to the first group's conspicuous consumption. This is the way things are supposed to work.

The point is, speech is good. The correct response to speech isn't going "underground" but expressing your views both louder and more clearly.

Comment Re:Also Oakland (Score 1) 319

NOT the same thing.

I have no problem with "Shut down or be evicted." If it's illegal or against your lease agreement then it's perfectly reasonable to tell you to cut it out.

What I have a problem with is SF evicting without a cease-and-desist. This is going straight to the punishment stage without the request to stop something that many may not realize is illegal. I suspect that the landlord getting to up rental rates when a tenant moves out may have a lot to do with this excessive behavior.

Comment Re:Big deal. (Score 1) 387

1.) The charms bar is badly designed. I'll give you that this pain is attenuated by the fact that you don't need it for most desktop usage. I hate the hot corner (I hit it when changing monitors) but I'm not convinced I can safely disable this feature completely. (And I'm not confident that I'll remember the keyboard shortcut, especially if I never use it.)

2.) I read a Windows 8 developer blog that specifically said something like "we redesigned the start menu because our runtime data indicated that with Windows 7 people rarely use it." I'll accept that this is only partially true, but that doesn't really change my argument. Start search is one of the many "better ways" but sometimes I don't remember the name of a program, and having the menus is the reminder. The start menu is most useful for programs that I may not have used in months.

3.) I agree, avoid metro apps where possible. I don't typically run windows 8, but weren't some of the system apps (like media player) replaced with metro apps? I thought I remembered metro periodically popping up when doing various things, but it's been a while so I can't remember what those things were.

Comment Re:Big deal. (Score 3, Insightful) 387

It's interesting,because my opinion on those two is the exact opposite.

I couldn't care less about boot to desktop. That's a single button click when I boot the machine.

However, I use the start menu quite often. It provides a hierarchically sorted list of every program I have installed on the system. I use that about once a week to once a month. It also provides a list of my most recently used programs. I could move those to the taskbar (and sometimes do) but sometimes these change and I don't want them semi-permanently taking up space on the taskbar.

There are three things that are really bad about windows 8. I've ordered them from worst to least bad.

1.) The charms bar is torture on a desktop. You have to go to the top right of the screen, then go halfway down the screen in a narrow strip to actually click on something. If your mouse moves outside that narrow strip for even a moment, the charms bar disappears and you have to do it again. "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

2.) The start menu was removed, because it is rarely used. This was just not thinking. The start menu has become big and clunky... that's also become it's purpose. We have new and better methods to access frequently used programs, but the start menu continues to be useful for those infrequently used programs. A hierarchical list is certainly better than displaying them all in a flat grid of live tiles.

3.) Metro programs can't run in a window. This makes them inconvenient for multitasking, which is common for desktop users but not for tablet users.

Comment Re:Um, right. (Score 1) 278

I suspect the real problem has nothing to do with this statement (or your response.)

The real problem is that helping kids with homework is HARD, even more so if the parent thoroughly understands the material.

The key to helping with homework is helping your kid in a way where you promote learning the material better, rather than just giving answers to them. Ideally you can just say which questions they got wrong and they will find on their own what they got wrong and fix them. However, sometimes they need more help than that. Then it's taking them just far enough to see what's going on and making sure that on the next problem they can make the mental connections that you helped them make on the previous problem. This is doubly hard in situations where the homework only has one or two of the "tricky" problems. It's incredibly difficult when you realize your child hasn't fully internalized something they learned before, and you've got to re-teach (or at least reinforce) that older skill and THEN get them to apply it to the current situation. All of this has to be done WITHOUT making them dependent on you to find the answers.

Because helping with homework well is so difficult, I suspect a lot of parents wind up, often unintentionally, doing something a lot closer to just giving the kids the answer. Kids are also good at getting their parents to give them answers by not really trying or by just guessing wildly at answers without really considering if they are correct.

Comment Re:just wait... (Score 1) 667

Honestly, I was a little nervous that the second show was a very strong "the creationists are all wrong, and here's why," argument. Regardless of my agreement with the bulk of the contents of the show, I still thought it was a poor choice for this early. I fear that this makes the show appear to be actively anti-religion, which risks alienating a lot of viewers and hurting ratings.

I want the show to succeed, and if that means putting off the controversial topics until the show has a more established viewership, such a choice seems prudent.

Comment Re:Whatabout we demand equal time of our views ins (Score 1) 667

Actually, the argument for rejecting the old testament is even easier. The old testament was written (really passed down orally) at a time when there was little distinction made between secular law and religious law. The two got stirred together because, well, anything considered important was taught to the younger generations in pretty much the same way. The new testament records are substantially more pure and accurate, being that they both were purely religious records (the christians had no secular legal power) and were written down to begin with (much of the new testament is made up of letters between the then-current apostles and the christian church in various areas.)

None of this makes an argument for the divinity of the religious instruction contained in either testament. However, the purity of those teachings and the accuracy of the contents relative to the original source strongly favors the new testament.

Comment Re:Going bust not unique to drop-outs (Score 1) 281

I believe there are a number of problems with your economics professor's argument that basically come from the fact that he was only considering the demand side of economic activity.

Doctors (particularly specialists) are paid seemingly ridiculous amounts because there is a very serious supply problem. In my metro area of over a million people, there are a number of specialties for which there is a single doctor. This doctor is clearly overworked as their PA basically has to see most of their patients in order to control the doctor's load. Thus, the doctor is able to charge monopoly rents for their services. The fix for this specialist problem is to open more medical schools. Opening these medical schools may take some government funds as start-up capital until the affect on doctors' wages is seen industry-wide.

In a more gruesome supply issue, we should pay organ donors (or their families) for their organs. Economics says the cost of the organ is already included in the cost of the surgery, that money just goes to the surgeon instead of the family. Paying organ donor will increase the supply of organs, thus ultimately lowering the cost of organ transplants. All of this of course ignores the possibilities of abuse.

Teachers also suffer from a supply issue, but this is of the opposite character. College graduates are basically told that if you have trouble finding a job in your field, you can always teach. This societal pressure towards teaching means that there are a disproportionate number of applicants for teaching positions. Furthermore, having been a teacher significantly reduces your hire-ability in other fields, again causing the individuals to be trapped in the teaching profession. Raising wages in the teaching profession requires getting people to stop thinking of teaching as a guaranteed job (which it isn't, ask anyone with a recent teaching degree) and start viewing it as a specialized field. There are a number of other industries (engineering, nursing, etc.) where, despite facts to the contrary, the industry is trying to create this same image of "a guaranteed job," likely in order to create the same over-supply of job applicants.

As the above two points show, you don't get the whole picture of a market (even a labor market) without considering the supply side.

SIDE NOTE: CEO pay is a completely different thing. One of the primary objections to CEO pay is that, unlike stock brokers(bankers is a very general term) or doctors, they carry very little risk for the problems they create and the salary they receive. In fact, due to "golden parachute" contract provisions, CEOs are often actually contractually incentivised to make their companies fail. While I can understand the reasons for this in some ways, these people are also smart enough to know what we engineers know: "tell me what you're measuring, and I'll do well at it." In this case, they are being measured on how quickly they can be fired, presumably for running the company into the ground. I think if there were fewer examples of this kind of reward(often a lifetime's worth of a normal person's earnings) for failure, people would be more willing to accept the extremes of CEO pay.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 769

Coffee makers make a little or as much coffee as you want. If you want one cup, only put one cup or water and a proportionate amount of grounds. And you have the added benefit that while brewing many cups of Keurig is a linearly hard problem (meaning that it takes 20 times longer to brew 20 cups), conventional brewing is not. When you actually in a situation where you are brewing a lot of coffee, the conventional method becomes more efficient per cup.

Any computer programmer should be able to tell you which is the overall more efficient solution for the general situation.

I can't believe you got away with this.

Unless you have a collection of conventional coffee makers of increasing size (including industrial versions) then making coffee in a conventional coffee maker is ALSO a linear process.

  • Time to process n cups of coffee with a Keurig: n/1, which is O(n)
  • Time to process n cups of coffee with a 12-cup coffee maker: n/12, which is ALSO O(n)

These are both linear processes, it's just that the 12-cup coffee maker is about 12 times as fast (for large values of n.)

Comment Did anyone else read this as... (Score 5, Insightful) 306

'The NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people's emails, not listening to the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA's more aggressive. It's not constrained by laws.'

I read this as a VERY carefully worded line that rather than saying "the NSA is actually pretty reasonable" really says "if you think what we're doing in the US is bad, you should see what we're doing overseas." It practically comes out and says that they're doing all of those things "outside" the US borders. He also implies that all of the metadata collection that is done domestically is just fine.

Based on this, I would suspect that some program that the NSA agrees costs more that the intelligence gathered is worth is going to be cut, but overall nothing is going to change.

Comment Re:Of course... (Score 1) 419

Sometimes (I'll admit this is the exception rather than the rule) simplifying provides a clearer picture of something specific that the original person stated and that the person wants to address.

Substituting "consensual" for "as long as no one is coerced" is equivalent in my book, and otherwise there is nothing in your response to imply that GP's statement is an inaccurate portrayal of Stallman's views. If anything, using the word "consensual" was perhaps being too generous towards Stallman, as it could be argued that "as long as no one is coerced" is actually a LOWER bar to meet than "consensual."

Based on a cursory search of the internet, it appears that while RMS pays lip-service to the real power issues that exist in adult-child relationships, I don't think he really understands the depth to which power in such relationships is centered around the adult. Furthermore, it appears that he doesn't realize how young of children are abused. RMS seems to really be thinking people who are at the boundary of adulthood, whereas many of the abused are so far from adulthood that there is no question that they CANNOT provide any meaningful form of consent. It's not clear to me if Stallman believes that young children could ever meet his standard of not being coerced.

Both GP and I are addressing a specific portion of Stallman's statement because that part is cloaked in a number of areas on which reasonable individuals could respectfully disagree. That specific portion shows either extreme ignorance or a frightful lack of judgement. It is difficult to tell which.

Comment Re:We have. It's called the X Window System. (Score 1) 419

My experience has been that X is broken on all fronts, and, while I don't understand the internals, I completely believe that something new is required to really fix them.

X is overkill for local display because it has to carry along a bunch of logic to pretend like it's displaying over a network. This results in significantly degraded local performance compared to what would be possible with a more optimized solution. A lot of workarounds have been put in so that this isn't as bad as it was, but it's still less than ideal.

X is bad for modern remote display because it doesn't tolerate intermittent connections. If your client-server connection goes down all your applications die, which makes it useless for viewing remote applications from a laptop over wireless.

Even in cases where the connection is persistent, X is dog-slow over high-latency connections. Firefox rendering over X from a server a time zone away is unusable. My understanding is that this is because, at least for naive client implementations, too much communication between the client and server is required beyond simple display data.

Based on the above, I can think of NO case where X11 provides a GOOD solution to modern display needs. The experts appear to agree with me. My naive expectation would be that the right solution is to design a new protocol that works wicked-fast locally and that has hooks to allow its output to be displayed (using a separate protocol) over an intermittent network connection. Wayland at an extremely high level seems to match my naive expectation.

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