If Everything Is A Threat, Then Nothing Is

from the government-created-'ad-blindness' dept

The government's neverending quest to make America "safer" has turned on itself, making Americans less safe. This isn't solely an issue with the government's obsession with "security," although that is a large part of it. It's the constant onslaught of warning messages, applied to nearly every product sold by retailers and any area frequented by the public. Most of the warnings are of the CYA variety. These are used to deflect future legal complications and satisfy the endless requests of regulators.

David Henderson, writing for Econlog, suggests that years of government-mandated warnings are resulting in a sort of "warning blindness" in Americans. He begins by discussing California's infamous Proposition 65, a law that requires warning labels to be affixed to any product that might possibly contain chemicals the state has determined "cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm." Like any bit of overweening governmental concern, it has its heart in the right place. In practice, it's a nightmare.

Nearly every product sold in California contains this warning label. And it's not just products. A majority of businesses in California feature signage containing this warning. (One example: a parking garage may have to post the warning sign because of the exhaust cars produce.) This has led to Californians ignoring the label completely, even if the product in question actually contains harmful substances. Why? Because the warning label is omnipresent. If something's everywhere, on everything, it's obviously meaningless. (The old adage: if everyone's special then no one's special applies here.)
Californians have learned to ignore Proposition 65 labels because they are white noise: they don't communicate anything about degrees of danger or probabilities.
The problem here is created by the government itself. By declaring a majority of places and products "dangerous," it has lessened the effectiveness of the labels. This sort of self-defeating behavior goes much further than product labeling. It also carries over into other areas controlled by the government, undermining various agencies' non-stop efforts to portray this country as being in imminent danger at all times.
When I went through the San Jose airport Saturday morning in a long line at TSA, we passengers were subjected to John Pistole's warning, on an infinite loop, of the dangers of terrorism. We've all seen enough to know that it's not that dangerous. So we tend to ignore government warnings.
The government wants to be taken seriously and yet, it can't help but get in its own way. It gets in its own way because it wants to micromanage the lives of Americans. It loves control. It "knows better." On the rare occasion the government has something important to communicate, it can't find many people willing to grant it much credulity.
So when there really is a high-probability threat and the government warns us, we tend to dismiss that too. Government cries wolf way too often.
If the Homeland Security Advisory System moves from "elevated" to "high," is that up or down in terms of severity? Does anyone outside of the DHS know or even care? If we suddenly went to "severe," would it affect the daily lives of Americans outside of more hassles at airport checkpoints? The public doesn't really seem to know what these phrases mean in terms of an actual threat. And most Americans have long since stopped caring about "yellow alerts" or "orange alerts." It's meaningless and it conveys no useful information.

How meaningless? The alert system has never dropped below Yellow ("Heightened" [as compared to what?]) in its existence. (We have always been at war with terror.) In fact, a 2009 Task Force report suggested removing the two lowest tiers and making "Heightened" the baseline. If that's the baseline, then the government has won and the terrorists have won. Americans will remain awash in a sea of government-generated ambiance just loud enough to be noticeable but not annoying enough to grant it their full attention. It's a steady supply of junk "info" that generates resigned complacency, rather than heightened vigilance, and it does little more than make the government feel better about its monotonous efforts.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    pr, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:00pm

    And most Americans have long since stopped caring about "yellow alerts" or "orange alerts."

    Don't forget "amber alerts". Like I can do anything about that, either.

     

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    pr, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:01pm

    "(We have always been at war with terror.)"

    Wait, I thought we had always been at war with Eastasia.

     

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    radarmonkey (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:07pm

    Prop 65

    It's actually more noise inducing that the summary here, because it requires a warning sign on any business property that may contain said chemicals. That's right, you'd be hard pressed to find any food establishment (fast food, restaurant, even Starbucks) that does *NOT* have a Prop 65 warning sign because of the cleaning solutions used.

    #facepalm

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:20pm

    Isn't this all just the parable of the boy who cried wolf in action?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:25pm

    WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

    Eventually. Of something.

    Plan accordingly.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 8:54pm

    Merely an observation. Purchase an OTC medication (say Aleve for example) and then read the back of the container to find the dosage. Even with a magnifying glass it is almost impossible given all the warnings appearing on the label. Maybe it is useful to know about potential problems associated with a medication, but it does seem to me that the proper dosage is pretty important.

    My favorite? A provision on prescription labels informing users that the medication is to be taken orally. I am grateful they cleared that up for me because I was positive taking a pill rectally was the recommended method.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 9:30pm

    We need some sort of warning to warn us of all the excessive warnings.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 9:44pm

    I think we should go back to using the doomsday clock I like it better than the color coded warnings.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 11:08pm

    Think in terms of info, then

    The government's neverending quest to make America "safer" has turned on itself, making Americans less safe.

    Considering that there are all sorts of government groups, I think that statement is rather broad.

    As for the issue of providing info to consumers, imagine everyone wearing Google glasses, and as they look at everything in front of them, up pops info about that object, person, or place.

    That could be quite useful. You could see what's in the food you are about to eat, the medicines you are about to take, the hazards in your surroundings.

    People like me actually do pay attention to info like that.

    People already appreciate traffic info, telling them when there's an accident ahead. People have also appreciated weather warnings, even if sometimes the weather is more or less severe than predicted. We can get both traffic and weather updates minute-by-minute and some people like all of that info.

    So I don't know that the issue is to reduce the info people get. Whenever I have to sign a medical consent form, for example, I actually read it and learn about the potential hazards for the procedure. That leads to a discussion with my doctor. That's a good thing, I think.

    What may seem to be overkill to some people may be insufficient info/warnings to others.

     

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    Teaman, Apr 26th, 2013 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Think in terms of info, then

    The thing is, the article isn't really about traffic warnings or weather. They are useful to people and directly affect them. It's about an over abundance of warnings that exist solely to cover the rears of the people in charge and for the sake of warning. Warning me that a cleaning product used in a restaurant, that I'm not directly exposed to, that contains a small amount of a chemical which in large doses may or may not cause some problems isn't helpful. I don't know how many products I see that have a warning about containing a chemical that has been known to cause cancer in California, and every time it causes me to roll my eyes, and that's only because of how common it is.

    It's one thing if it's dangerous, or has been linked to problems in humans in doses around the amount that's in the product. But, most of these have caused problems in rodents when they are directly exposed to extremely high levels. These kinds of grossly exaggerated and overly abundant warnings don't help warn people, it just makes them assume the warning can be ignored because of every other instance of exaggeration.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 26th, 2013 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Think in terms of info, then

    As I ponder how info should be conveyed to consumers/citizens, two situations from today come to mind.

    Living Social was hacked, affecting 50 million people. Now, I think people want to know when companies get hacked. I don't believe they become indifferent to each incident as there are more of them. Cumulatively it probably alerts them that their data isn't necessarily safe from hackers and they either need to take steps themselves to protect themselves or they need to demand more security on the part of the companies they deal with.

    And then there is this. Would it be better not to tell people that these companies can unexpectedly fold and they will lose their money?

    Study: 45 percent of Bitcoin exchanges end up closing (Wired UK): "A study of the Bitcoin exchange industry has found that 45 percent of exchanges fail, taking their users' money with them. Those that survive are the ones that handle the most traffic -- but they are also the exchanges that suffer the greatest number of cyber attacks."


    Seems to me that with all the info being exchanged in the world these days, people are going to get warnings about all sorts of things. I don't think that is going away and I don't think people actually want it to go away. My guess is that they do want to be warned about the hazards and then if they choose to ignore those warnings, so be it. I also think there would be a bigger backlash if info is kept from them than if they are warned about dangers that might not turn out to be so worrisome.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:00am

    Re: Think in terms of info, then

    You're defending a broken system.

    My company is based in California, and our office supplies frequently come from California.

    My scissors have the Prop 65 sticker on them. Guess I won't try to eat my fucking scissors. Everything has the fucking sticker, every box of pencils, every printer cartridge, everything. Starbucks has the sticker. If you're saying that every object in California had the sticker, that wouldn't be enough information for you?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:20am

    Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    My scissors have the Prop 65 sticker on them. Guess I won't try to eat my fucking scissors. Everything has the fucking sticker, every box of pencils, every printer cartridge, everything. Starbucks has the sticker. If you're saying that every object in California had the sticker, that wouldn't be enough information for you?

    What I am saying is that technology will eventually take the stickers away. And that pointing a finger at too much info might be "anti-Internet" in its way. People seem to want the info.

    Don't think in terms of "warnings." Think in terms of tags that you can see about everything. That's what AR promises to offer us. Everything will have tags. You can instantly get the back story about everything.

    It may not come from "government" but the info will be available. Want to know the hazard of anything? Google glass can show you.

     

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    dadtaxi, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:24am

    wolf
    Wolf
    WOLF
    WOLF - but i really mean it this time ! honest

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:41am

    Warning!
    This shallow existence known as Life may cause undesirable effects. In many cases, participants of Life have experienced death, both sudden and prolonged. If you experience death, please consult a physician as permanent termination may occur.

     

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    justok (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:54am

    Is there a warning label on the stickers themselves, or is the glue on the stickers the only safe thing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    How will technology take the stickers away? By making them digital? Or are you trying to tell me my scissors will eventually be made of organic free range quinoa? Everything has a lethal dose, even oxygen.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    How will technology take the stickers away? By making them digital?

    Yes.

    Look, I actually read the ingredients on labels. Having the info about what is in foods, beauty supplies, household cleaners, lawn care products, etc., is of interest to me and other label readers like me. I don't need the additional warnings because I am already suspicious of certain ingredients and won't buy products/food/cleaning products which have them.

    Whether some people do need those warnings, or whether there are better ways to info people is what I would focus upon.

    It sounds like the problem in California is in the implementation more than in the info itself. Having stickers on everything doesn't sound very effective. But allowing people to be more aware of everything around that isn't a bad thing.

    I'm just trying to point out that "government is bad because it warns people with stickers" perhaps doesn't get at the right issues.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:14am

    Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    It's about an over abundance of warnings that exist solely to cover the rears of the people in charge and for the sake of warning.

    And that's a business problem rather than a government problem. If your company has provided adequate warning, maybe you'll be less likely to be sued.

     

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    dadtaxi, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    I wonder if those warning labels themselves may be toxic and therefore have to have their own warning labels, which in turn may be toxic therefore will have ho have their own.....

    "So nat'ralists observe, a flea
    Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
    And these have smaller fleas to bite 'em.
    And so proceeds Ad infinitum."

     

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    Mark D., Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:25am

    Re:

    Have you not heard of suppositories?

     

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    Bob Pendleton, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:26am

    behavior of guilds and professions

    Yes, regulators believe there should be more warnings, lawyers recommend more litigation, specialists generally tell us we need more professional care. The only way we overcome these pressures is for us generalists to assert our common sense, and reject the implication that we can't think for ourselves. Of course we need government, but not of the foolish, self-serving kind. We might begin with simplifying or repealing our complex and interwoven laws -- such as those that require warning messages!

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Imagine a system like Wikipedia where every item, person, place can be tagged with info and it can come from a variety of sources. So if I go to the grocery store, I can get product info from the manufacturer, but I can also see warnings from environmental groups. Because they can digitally add their own tags via AR, they don't have to depend on government authorization to get those warnings added. They can tag everything themselves and consumers can pull them up. Just as you can pull up reviews as you walk past a restaurant, you can pull up info and warnings as you go shopping.

    Having a more informed public isn't a bad thing. And if the info and whatever warnings people want to add can be provided without putting stickers on things, why not?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:46am

    Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    I live in a very pro-environment community. If anything, the citizens are more environmentally concerned than the elected officials. The voters don't want GMOs on county open space, don't want fracking, don't want the city and county to spray herbicides and pesticides, etc.

    So it isn't always government imposing its will on the community. Sometimes it's the community telling the politicians that if they don't support environmentally friendly policies, they will be voted out of office.

    Sometimes the regulations the anti-government folks don't like are regulations that citizens insisted upon and value.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:48am

    Perfect, exactly what you want

    just loud enough to be noticeable but not annoying enough to grant it their full attention.

    so you would rather them be annoying as well as noticeable ??

    Seems like a warning that is "noticeable but not annoying" is exactly what you want.

    if the Government has achieved "noticeable but not annoying" they have achieved their goal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:53am

    Re: Perfect, exactly what you want

    how much 'attention' does it take for you to 'work out' what the warning is ??

    do you really have to pay it your full attention to understand the warning ? is it not sufficient that you notice it, and your brain works it out for you instantly ??

    or do you have to pay it your full attention and ponder the meaning of the warning.

    Are you the type of person who will walk over the cliff, while putting all your attention on trying to understand and contemplate the sign that says "Danger Cliff" ??

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:17am

    Re:

    My favorite? A provision on prescription labels informing users that the medication is to be taken orally.
    Nah.... "Warning: Filling may be hot when heated" is a classic and "This product may contain nuts" on a packet of nuts has to be the all time winner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Nuts

    A recent story, a supermarket withdrawing packets of nuts from sale because the packet did not have a 'this product contains nuts' warning on it.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Imagine a system like Wikipedia where every item, person, place can be tagged with info and it can come from a variety of sources.
    The bit you're missing is the divide between "useful information I'm interested in" and "Pointless stuff that sounds scary but isn't that I'm not going to bother to read".

    The difference is that if in your vision of the future the "total information about a product" is available at the glance of an eye when you want to call it up then it falls into the useful and interesting category, because you have the choice to call it up and read it all or selected bits of it that you want to.
    On the other hand, what happens in this utopian future if the government madates that all that information must appear in your glasses every time you look at something "for your own good". Suddenly your Google Glasses become useless because your vision is constantly obscured by a wall of text.

    Bottom line - information available good, information rammed down your throat when you don't want it, counterproductive.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    double plus ungood: above post refs unperson pr

     

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    Digitari, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:39am

    Re:

    what kind or warning labels are on the Government/Politicians?

     

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    Ed T, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 2:43am

    Re:

    30 years ago, as a student pharmacist (chemist) working in a retail establishment, I was told, when dispensing suppositories to include the phrase "before inserting the suppository, first remove the foil."

     

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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 3:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    So what happens when the warning about the dangerous pesticide residueon that banana you're looking at is buried amoung the thousand or so warnings about everything from the slipping hazard of the peel to the fact that it contains dihydrogen monoxide?

     

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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 4:47am

    Safety for all - a real-world example.

    Here in Aberdeen, about a decade ago, the Council noticed that if a property had a door entry system on the common front door of a tenement it had slightly less chance of being burgled than if it didn't.

    So, somebody had the bright idea of making such door entry systems mandatory on Council tenements. They assumed that if you reduced the break-ins to one property by 25% by fitting one, then you would reduce *all* break-ins by 25% if you fitted them everywhere.

    This proved to be erroneous logic. The overall level of break-ins was unchanged. All that happened was that the distribution of them levelled out so that the door entry system no longer provided a "bonus". What they thought was an indication that a thief had been thwarted was simply a sign they moved on to somewhere that offered an easier target; the total number of crimes was unchanged.

    But what it did do was inconvenience every person living in a tenement, with folk buzzing every flat in the block all hours of the day and night trying to get in, and continuing "service charges" to keep the systems working.

    In the end, the whole "perceived safety" came at the cost of making everybody just that little bit more miserable on an ongoing basis. Almost exactly the same would have been achieved if, at the very beginning, they had *outlawed* such door-entry systems. The only people who would have lost out from such an action were the people who install and maintain door-entry systems.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Obama warns Syria: Chem Weapons use 'Game Changer'

    UN investigates Syria chemical weapons use”, Al Jazeera, 27 Apr 2013
    UN chief writes to Assad with new request for access as US President Obama talks tough while calling for patience.

     . . . .

    'Game changer'

    For his part, US President Barack Obama gave warning to Syria . . . .

    "That is going to be a game changer," he said. But Obama stopped short of declaring that Assad had crossed "a red line" and described the US intelligence evaluations as "a preliminary assessment".

     . . . .

    Not ‘airtight case’

     . . . .

    Sharif Shehadeh, a Syrian official, called the US claims "lies" and compared them to false accusations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the US-led invasion of that country.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 5:03am

    the biggest problem i think is that the USA government and in particular the various law enforcement agencies and those that are continuously pushing for stricter laws, more surveillance, fewer freedoms and privacys, have turned the nation into one that terrorists have no need to do anything in any more. everyone in the country, certainly in powerful positions have instilled more terror than the terrorists themselves could ever do by themselves. it's the old saying of 'nothing to fear but fear itself'. such a shame that whoever is so scared themself has managed to spread that fear to everyone.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 5:13am

    Obama must act on Syria chemical weapons

    Obama must act on Syria chemical weapons”, by Frida Ghitis, Special to CNN, April 26, 2013
    (CNN) -- The Obama administration has confirmed what we have been hearing for months, that chemical weapons have been used in Syria by the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

    The news, revealed in a White House letter to Congress, presents President Obama with a stark question. Will the United States become directly involved in the two-year-old Syrian civil war?

    Last August, Obama issued a stern warning to Assad. If he used chemical weapons, Obama said, even if he moved them in preparation for use, he would cross a "red line" that would have "enormous consequences." . . .


    “Red line.”     “Enormous consequences.”

     

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    The Real Michael, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    That we are, and we're much more likely to die being struck by lightning than by terrorist attack.

    Frankly, I just don't get it. There is a preponderance of things besides terrorism which kill people with far greater frequency. Because somebody might decide to set off an explosive or hijack a plane at some indeterminable point in the future, the government blows billions on security and defense. Meanwhile, we've already lost millions of jobs, over a million homes have been foreclosed upon, we're $17 trillion in debt and the government cannot (or rather doesn't want to) balance the budget. Their priorities are completely busted.

    Even when we had our military patrolling the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq, it didn't prevent those people from killing. We had beefed-up security (theatre) presence at the Boston Marathon, including bomb-sniffing dogs, yet two pressure-cooker bombs went off anyway, so what the hell are more cameras going to do?

    We're all human, we all bleed and we all die. It's not a question of if but when. All this paranoia about our impending doom is turning us into an Animal Farm. I'd much rather live free, the American way, what with all the inherent risks. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re:

    Tim just gave us one. Thanks for the warning!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    "The government's neverending quest to make America "safer" has turned on itself, making Americans less safe. "

    - If you see anything, regurgitate something.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:08am

    "Red Line" stance evokes amusement among rebels

    DIY gas masks as Syria rebels wary of chemical attack”, AFP / Zeenews (India), April 27, 2013
     . . . This "red line" stance evokes amusement among the rebels.

    Abu Tarek says his feelings are best summed up by a cartoon by Ali Farzat, a renowned Syrian satirist, in which Assad crosses numerous US-demarcated red lines drawn in the sand to step on the final one that says "chemical weapons".

    "When he (Assad) used planes to bomb his own people, he crossed a red line. When he bombed cities, towns and neighbourhoods, he crossed a red line. When he began using scud missiles on civilians, he crossed a red line," he said.


    When Assad used aeroplanes to bomb his own people, he crossed a red line. When Assad bombed cities, he crossed a red line. When Assad used Scuds, he crossed a red line.

    Amusing.

     

     

    (P.S. Deep apologies to those of you who process information differently: I understand that the typical American communication style is both direct and implicitly judgmental. And I realize that the mere presention of news snippets without commentary drives some of you bat-shit crazy. Sorry 'bout that. I understand you hate other peoples' communication styles—but no intent to offend.)

     

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    Nom du Clavier (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Re:

    As someone who's followed the whole Prenda, the phrase 'Govern yourself accordingly' sprang to mind immediately.

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:26am

    Color alerts were phased out in April of 2011.

    Maybe the reason Americans stopped caring about the "color alerts" is that they were phased out completely two years ago.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    'Humiliation' for Obama

    Obama under pressure over chemical 'red line'”, Deutche Welle (Germany), April 27, 2013

     . . . .

    'Humiliation' for Obama

    Riedel argues that Obama must make sure that his warnings are still taken seriously in the region. Even at this stage, Riedel fears that Obama is putting himself in a "humiliating" position, which will not only damage his negotiating power when it comes to the Syria conflict, but also in dealing with Iran, with whom the US has an ongoing dispute over its nuclear program. "I think for a long time the Iranians have thought America was bluffing and Israel doesn't have the capability to carry out a really thorough mission," he said. "And they may be reinforced in that view by this."

     . . . .

     

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  45.  
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    broken record, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    We get it, you like information and reading labels. I don't think anyone here has yet disagreed with you that the google goggles concept is really cool. Nobody has argued that we should have less information available to us. The issue is the quality of the information and that it can become useless after being applied to everything.

    Like if you put your google goggles on and look around and everything has a caution sign on it. How useful would that be? People would quickly turn this layer off or filter it. If you want to simultaneously see thousands of warning labels go ahead leave that on. Good luck driving, walking, or sitting and being able to quickly spot a sign or info you actually are looking for. You will never move because you will be able to spend days at any given place reading about all of the objects and their properties around you.

    To make your traffic example translate into the discussion better, would it be useful if your google goggles constantly displayed a warning whenever there were cars ahead of you saying "warning there are cars ahead, you could get in accident, cars kill millions every year, you might die." This would happen constantly and you would learn to ignore it. THAT is the point, not that there is too much information out there and we should take that away from people.

     

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  46.  
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    Violated (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re:

    This reminded me when here in the UK one supermarket very recently had to remove monkey nuts from sale when they forget to include the mandatory label reading "Caution: This produce may contain nuts"

    It looks like a nut. It smells like a nut. It tastes like a nut. Then the UK government says it "may" be a nut when your average citizen is too stupid to know what a nut in its shell looks like.

    You would think those people with nut allergies would know their enemy.

     

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  47.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    Where I've lived I only seen Amber Alerts maybe once or twice a year. And you're right in that most people will be able to do nothing about it.

    Then again, it's amazing how often someone does manage to see that yellow Ford pickup truck.

    Which tends, in my mind, to prove his point. The fact that they're relatively rare means that when they occur we're more likely to make a mental "note" regarding that yellow truck.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 7:22am

    Syria Agrees to Russians and Blames Turkey

    Syria to allow Russian experts to probe alleged chemical attack”, Xinhuanet (China), April 26, 2013
    MOSCOW, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said Friday that Damascus would agree that inspections of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria be conducted by Russian experts.

     . . . .

    Zoubi said the chemical shelling of in the town of Khan al-Asal near Aleppo was fired by terrorists based near the Turkish border and the ammunition could be shipped from Turkey.

    "It was done by the groups, including al-Qaida, which have threatened to use chemical weapons against Syria. They have implemented their threat near Aleppo and resulted in casualties," Zoubi said, citing 14 people killed and 50 wounded in that attack.

     . . . .

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    "On the rare occasion the government has something important to communicate, it can't find many people willing to grant it much credulity."

    I wonder if the last word in this sentence is instead supposed to be "credibility". ("Credulity does not make sense in the context.)

     

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  50.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Define "adequate warning"? Do we really need tags on electrical cords warning us to keep them away from water or children or that an INDOOR Christmas tree should be used INDOORS?

     

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  51.  
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    Nor do I play one on TV, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:06am

    When common sense is rare...

    It's not just a business problem. The government in the USA hasn't exactly gone out of its way to discourage nuisance suits.

    People injuring themselves because common sense is rare in their community should have their suit tossed out before it even reaches the docket, made to pay the court for wasting their time. Call it a stupid tax, the benefits of which can be used to fund a massive party celebrating the end of ambulance chasing lawyers.

    But perhaps this solution is a bit undercooked too. ;-)

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re: When common sense is rare...

    Make the lawyer representing the person liable for court costs if the suite is without merit. Part of a lawyers job should be advising a client whether they have a valid case. They should also be liable for the sued parties reasonable costs. This would discourage bringing suites on the basis it is cheaper for the sued party to settle out of court.

     

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  53.  
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    Torg (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I kind of want to see that warning used as a nut brand name/slogan now.

     

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  54.  
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    Torg (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    The stuff discussed in the article isn't even "information rammed down your throat when you don't want it". I'd hesitate to call it "information". Wow, that building may contain something somewhere that has been shown to cause cancer at unspecified doses given conditions that aren't present on the sticker. Thanks for the warning, what the fuck do I do with it?

    If the sticker actually said what the cancer-causing chemical was, how it's used in the business, problematic dose level, if being near it is an issue or if I need to drink it from the bottle before I have to worry, stuff like that, it would be somewhat useful. The problem is that the sticker doesn't distinguish between "there's a measurable chance that you'll get cancer if you go into the wrong room here" and "you'll get cancer if you bathe in toilet cleaner, and they've got toilet cleaner here". Calling it "information" is being too generous.

    Terrorist alert levels have a similar issue of failing to convey anything but a general badness sense. They're updated nationally, so I have no idea if the problem is supposed to be where I am or on the other coast somewhere, and furthermore I can't tell if we're expected another plane thing or a marathon thing or if those cyberterrorists we've been hearing so much about have finally managed to hack the power grid. It's the lack of real information that makes the warning useless, not that what information there is was rammed down my throat.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Dark in the city
    Night is a wire
    Steam in the subway
    Earth is afire
    Do-do-do-do-do-do-do...

     

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  56.  
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    ralph, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    Great post, all the more so because it is right on target.

    Hey!

    What if a warning label falls off a toy and chokes a kid? Will there be a little warning label on the bigger warning label from thenceforth?

     

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  57.  
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    DNY (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    (Ir)rational risk analysis

    Basically people are remarkably stupid (or irrational) when it comes to risk analysis.

    As the Cato Institute observes the probability of being killed by a police officer is about eight times the probability of being killed by a terrorist, but we will cede more and more power to the police (increasing the likelihood of dying in a misplaced no-knock raid) to "protect" us from terrorists. Ingredients in food or medications which on balance in small doses have beneficial health effects are banned if massive doses of the same chemical cause cancer in rats. I trust the reader can multiply examples almost ad infinitum.

    In each case, the overblown risk is invariably used as an excuse for the expansion of government (in the American context, most often Federal government) power. Woe to politicians if the populace ever develops the ability to rationally weigh risks: as H.L. Mencken observed, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

     

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  58.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    The difference is that if in your vision of the future the "total information about a product" is available at the glance of an eye when you want to call it up then it falls into the useful and interesting category, because you have the choice to call it up and read it all or selected bits of it that you want to.
    On the other hand, what happens in this utopian future if the government madates that all that information must appear in your glasses every time you look at something "for your own good". Suddenly your Google Glasses become useless because your vision is constantly obscured by a wall of text.


    I was pointing out that "government" is vague because there is government at all levels and some of it is definitely citizen-run rather than mandated by politicians/bureaucrats/lawyers. If the citizens within a community want warnings, then they might pass laws mandating warnings. They might want it rather than view it as an imposition.

    I was also pointing out that "warnings" is also vague. I read warnings all the time, in news articles, online, etc. I'm not sure the issue is too many warnings. It's more about access to info. If the info is inconvenient, then it could be a problem. But that could be considered a user-design issue. How do you develop a system that best gives people the right information at the right time?

    We could be talking about info overload, which has been debated for generations and it might have nothing to do with government or laws.

    It's a more nuanced issue than "government issues too many warnings."

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    fnord

    "Under the Illuminati program, children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word "fnord". For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevents rational consideration of the subject. This results in a perpetual low-grade state of fear in the populace. The government acts on the premise that a fearful populace keeps them in power.

    In the Shea/Wilson construct, fnords are scattered liberally in the text of newspapers and magazines, causing fear and anxiety in those following current events."

    -- Wikipedia

     

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  60.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 10:58am

    Re: (Ir)rational risk analysis

    As the Cato Institute observes the probability of being killed by a police officer is about eight times the probability of being killed by a terrorist, but we will cede more and more power to the police (increasing the likelihood of dying in a misplaced no-knock raid) to "protect" us from terrorists.

    But we could argue probability issues on all sorts of things and how people irrationally respond to real and perceived threats.

    In each case, the overblown risk is invariably used as an excuse for the expansion of government (in the American context, most often Federal government) power.

    One could also argue that the US operates that way throughout the world. The anti-military libertarians and the anti-military left probably could find a meeting of the minds on that issue.

     

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  61.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    To make your traffic example translate into the discussion better, would it be useful if your google goggles constantly displayed a warning whenever there were cars ahead of you saying "warning there are cars ahead, you could get in accident, cars kill millions every year, you might die."

    That info is true, though. Being in a car increases your chances of dying in a car accident.

    What I see as the bigger concern is conveying info to people in ways that actually work.

    Climate change is a big issue now. Those who believe we're at a make-or-break point are looking for ways to alert the world of this situation. How does one do that? Is it constant reminders? Is it a catchy slogan? Is it scaring the shit out of people? Is it linking costs so that they immediately feel the effects financially?

    My points have been that in this post "government" and "warnings" are rather vague. Government can be good or bad. Any group that develops rules to function is, in my mind, a form of government, so we'll always have governments.

    Similarly, warnings can useful or not. What becomes overkill depends on lots of factors and may vary depending on the audience, the message, and so on.

    The author of the post lumped product labels in with national security warnings to make a point, but I think the argument as presented is very loose.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    Re: Nuts

    Please tell me you joking and if your not then the please give me the link.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Intervention in Syria is inevitable

    'Intervention in Syria is inevitable'”, Turkish Press, April 27, 2013
    Turkey`s EU Minister Egemen Bagis said that even if chemical weapons had not been used in Syria, an intervention in this country was inevitable because there was currently a dictatorial regime which was killing 150 of its citizens everyday.

    US is currently discussing that an intervention is now inevitable in Syria as Assad regime is using chemical weapons, Bagis told Turkish journalists during his talks in Washington. . . .

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Nuts

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Did you ever think who owns the sticker-producing factory and if they're in government? :)

     

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  66.  
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    Jim, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    This...

    ...sign has sharp edges.

    Also, the bridge ahead is out.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Prop 65

    Not to mention that /not/ having it would be a sign for the health inspector to close it down since they never clean.

     

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  68.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You would think those people with nut allergies would know their enemy.
    You'd think so, but this is one of the UK's worse imports from the US - this kind of Cover-Your-Legal-Ass-Because-People-Aren't-Responsible-For-Themselves bollocks.

    Not only are you suddenly liable for whatever moron didn't recognise a peanut they are allergic to when it comes without a "warning" in a packet labelled "Peanuts", but because pretty much anything in a food factory that deals with nuts may contain nut traces everything has a warning so it's useless to tell what you can actually eat.

     

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  69.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    So it isn't always government imposing its will on the community. Sometimes it's the community telling the politicians that if they don't support environmentally friendly policies, they will be voted out of office.
    That I would think almost inevitably be true since environmentally friendly policies are usually unpopular with the people paying the politician's bills.
    However that would seem to have little to do with labelling, which is a good political way of being seen to "do something about a problem" without having to know too much about it or piss off too many people who count (i.e. not the public).

    It would seem to me to be incredibly rare for a label to be called for by any community and where it is, as far as I can see it's most often a knee-jerk reaction to some tragic event lobbied for by a vocal minority until some politician either thinks they can score cheap points.
    Given that voter turnout means that the people making the laws are generally elected by about 20-30% of the target population I feel faily confident in saying that political response to this kind of "community will" is not necessarily representative of most of the people in the community.

     

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  70.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    However that would seem to have little to do with labelling, which is a good political way of being seen to "do something about a problem" without having to know too much about it or piss off too many people who count (i.e. not the public).

    That thought occurred to me, too. The people who feel like a product is dangerous would rather have it banned altogether. Putting a label on it is a half-measure.

    But let's look at GMOs. The anti-folks GMO folks (and there are many in my community) want food products labelled if they are made with GMO products so they know what to avoid. They would prefer not to have them at all, but labeling is better than nothing.

    Similarly, there are food ingredients that some people believe are unhealthy, but they are still on the market. So labeling at least allows people to make their own decisions.

    Now we could argue that labeling and warning are not the same thing and if a product needs a warning to be safe, maybe it shouldn't be offered. Or perhaps people don't need to be warned about anything and it's buyer beware for everything.

    I think the warnings are helpful, though, when, for example, your kid has just drunk some cleaning product he found under the sink. If there is a warning, you know you need to do something. If there is no warning, you probably assume there's no real harm to him.

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    Re: Re:

    it takes TD readers quite some time to work these things out,, give them time.. they are just a bit slow.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re:

    which is why there are warning signs at golf courses telling you not to play when there is lightning around..

    I don't play golf, but I have seen the signs, so the sign must work.

    and the fact that you know that fact about lighting tells me you have at some time or another seen a similar sign, and from that have learnt to avoid lighting.

    The signs work !!!

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:16pm

    Re:

    WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"""

    it's just the stupid people who cannot work out what a sign says are just going to die more often and earlier.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Nuts - Anaphylactic Shock

    "A sudden, severe allergic reaction characterized by a sharp drop in blood pressure, urticaria, and breathing difficulties that is caused by exposure to a foreign substance, such as a drug or bee venom, after a preliminary or sensitizing exposure. The reaction may be fatal if emergency treatment, including epinephrine injections, is not given immediately. Also called anaphylaxis.


    It is also VERY COMMON.

    ANYTHING WITH NUTS in it,, yes, that includes NUTS, HAS to have that warning.

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re: (Ir)rational risk analysis

    how do both of those figures compare to you chances of being killed by some moron American with a Gun ??

    Or motor car deaths ???

    how is the Government 'expanding it's power".

    Get over it..

     

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  76.  
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    btrussell (profile), Apr 27th, 2013 @ 7:31pm

    Here's your sign!

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:08pm

    "just loud enough to be noticeable but not annoying enough to grant it their full attention.

    Goal achieved !! exactly what you want, do you think if the warning signs were not there that the statistics of you being hurt by that thing is reduced ?

    if you have a 0.00001% chance of contracting cancer from a product, is that going to change if you are warned about it or not ?

    Would you be better off by not knowing that ? (probably not if you use that product).

    do you think you are going to care about the 'statistics' of getting cancer from using that product if you get that cancer ??

    "hardly any people die from using our product so we did not bother to warn you that SOME PEOPLE DO DIE FROM IT".

    That is not going to help you much if you are one of those WHO WILL DIE from it..

    at least if you are informed, you can then in turn make an informed decision about it's use.

    You can say, sure there is a 0.000001% chance it will kill me, but there is an 90% that it will do me some good, the risk (in your informed opinion) is worth it, or not.

    I wonder that is the ratio of health and safety warnings to advertisements is?

    I am sure it would be in the thousands or millions to 1, adds as clearly buried much deeper in the 'white noise' that health and safety warnings will ever be. And far less useful or informative.

    Also some of these chemicals used for cleaning in restaurants and other places might be reasonably safe, until something like a fire, where they produce deadly fumes. These warnings are for that purpose as well as for the general public. To be aware of these potential hazards.

    There is also a common medical condition where you are hypersensitive to industrial chemicals, and people highly allergic to certain foods. So these people should not be warned about what is contained in the products and services they use ?

    I guess if you are on the side of advertisers, and in the pocket of the 'great advertiser' Google. then you want all that warning sign space filled with money making adds.

     

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  78. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:10pm

    Warning

    Believing Masnick's ranting's will result in a lower IQ.

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re: When common sense is rare...

    The problem is that laws are written by (ex) lawyers and judges are (ex) lawyers and many politicians were lawyers. So good luck getting a law fixed when lawyers make the laws.

     

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  80.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Much of it is not really that different from before. Bitcoin, as small as it is, has been subject to pretty much all the same scams as physical currency. Stealing, pyramid schemes, hacking (ie: hacking back accounts or ATM's/hacking computers with bitcoin info to get those coins transferred), attempts to find devious ways to manipulate the value and exchange rates so that you can buy low and sell high (ie: DDOS attacking bitcoin 'banks' or computers with many bitcoins to devalue them while you buy a lot and then, when you stop the attack and the value goes up, you sell. Rinse and repeat), etc... It's not like exchange rate scams and inflation manipulation scams don't exist with real money (just look at the Chinese government's attempts to manipulate currency, or any government for that matter). If anything, bitcoin and the digital age is very much like things before, scams galore, the only difference is it's on computers now. The problem isn't "The Internet", it's about not being gullible and being prudent enough to avoid scams. The same thing applies off the Internet. Sure, bitcoin and the Internet may be resistant to some of the scams that existed before the digital age but to make up for it they are vulnerable to other types of similar scams that may not have existed exactly as before but the overall effect sorta balances out. Scams are as old as ancient society and the fact that they happen on the Internet with digital currency changes nothing.

     

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  81.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    and there is actually a simple way the government could 'tax' bitcoins. They can simply set up their own servers and start mining for coins. This will raise the cost to others of generating coins which, in a sense, is a tax. Then the government can spend those coins how it wants. Granted this is arguably a waste of government resources but it's not like the government doesn't know how to waste resources.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    (and it would actually be interesting to see many competing governments trying to mine coins to out compete each other).

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2013 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Never seen one in pill form...

     

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  84.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 1:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So that said, have you understood the point of the article yet, or should we give you some more time?

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Government mandated warning labels are often nothing more than a form of government granstanding, a method of trying to convince people into thinking the government is for your own good. The government doesn't care to give you useful information, that would be counterproductive to its self interested nature, the government simply seeks to promote the self interest of politicians and other legislators, bureaucrats, and government employees. An informed public is counterproductive to this end.

     

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  86.  
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    The Real Michael, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 5:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, because walking around in a thunder storm with metal golf clubs sounds like a real genius idea. Not.

    It's a matter of common sense, not warning signs. Know your world.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Never underestimate the stupidity of litigious morons.

     

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  88.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Nuts - Anaphylactic Shock

    Ah, now I see. You're speaking from experience!

    "darryl. WARNING: NUTS."

     

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  89.  
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    Torg (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Common sense isn't.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    But let's look at GMOs. The anti-folks GMO folks (and there are many in my community) want food products labelled if they are made with GMO products so they know what to avoid. They would prefer not to have them at all, but labeling is better than nothing.
    Which kinda proves my point. Firstly, I don't doubt that there are "many in [your] community", but I would also guess that, unless you're talking about a very small community, the "many" who really care are actually a small percentage of the total community.

    Normally in any reasonable sized group, there'll be a somewhat larger percentage that, if asked, would say "yeah that sounds about right.. GM is probably bad" and a smaller percentage who think GM is a good idea.

    I would wager that those 3 groups added together are less than 1/2 the percentage that really don't give a monkeys' one way or the other.

    Assuming the above is anywhere close, it means firstly that the labelling "law" in question is actually wanted or cared about by less than 1/3 of the affected people and for the rest it's just another thing to get in the way on a packet.

    And for "labelling better than nothing", if that's true it's only a tiny sliver better than nothing. For a start it's local, so inevitably some "imported" products (i.e. probably most products sold are not made within the jurisdiction of the labelling) are going to slip through the labelling, meaning that even if you care avoiding GM is next to impossible. Is there such a thing as an "acceptable" level of GM in your diet if you believe it's bad? Secondly, before much longer if not already, the way the food chain works means the only difference between GM and "non-GM" is whether it's deliberate or not.

    So labeling at least allows people to make their own decisions.
    True as far as it goes, but there are 2 threshold problems with that statement:
    The first is, as above, how many people care? Yes, if it's a bottle of drain cleaner or something definitely directly harmful, enough people care that it's probably worth labelling. For more nebulous stuff like GM, do enough people care to make it worthwhile? Maybe, maybe not. You clearly do and that's great but society as a whole? Even for something as contentious as GM foods? Not so sure. You could be right, you could be wrong and history will tell, but where's the threshold for such nebulous threats? How many people need to be concerned about it to stick labels on anything? And the point the article makes is that the more warnings you put on things the less attention people are likely to pay to the more imminent ones.

    This leads me to the second, related threshold problem - packaging. You can only make it so big. The more warnings you shove onto packaging, the harder it is to read any of them and that just adds to the "which one(s) do I care about?" problem.

    What happens if your bottle of drain cleaner as well as having the "this'll eat through enigine blocks and definitely won't do your stomach any good" label, also has a carcenogenic label, a GM label, a "may contain nuts" label, a "not safe to use while driving" label a "mandatory eye protection needed" label, and a dozen others that someone somewhere has decided we need to care about? How the hell do you even notice, never mind find and read at 2point font size, the "what to do when injested bit" after your kid swallows the stuff? Or do you make a point to read and memorize every single label of cleaning products you buy?

    As an example the other way, I have a fish allergy and have endless fun at buffet lunches (common because seminars, conferences and briefings and such like are part of my work) trying to spot the stuff with fish in so I don't scare the other delegates by going funny colours. It's rarely labelled. Now I don't think it should be - it's my problem to deal with and I have a tongue and common sense - but shellfish allergies can be as deadly as nut allergies. This brings me to wonder why, when every single cake or pastry in the shops has a "may contain nuts" label, not one has a "may contain shellfish". Hell, there are plenty of potentially deadly allergies, why not add them all?

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Nuts - Anaphylactic Shock

    ANYTHING WITH NUTS in it,, yes, that includes NUTS, HAS to have that warning.
    So if you have a nut allergy the label saying "salted peanuts" isn't enough of a clue? Aren't you in some way responsible for your own condition to at least some basic level? And if not, what about all the other things that can cause a similar reaction to nuts... up to and including death... shellfish, milk, eggs, latex and others? Yeah, they are usually there on the ingredients list somewhere but I've not noticed a rash of big "WARNING: MAY CONTAIN TRACE EGGS" labels...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Re: Warning

    Have you read it so much that you can't even locate the name of the writer in the article anymore?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Assuming the above is anywhere close, it means firstly that the labelling "law" in question is actually wanted or cared about by less than 1/3 of the affected people and for the rest it's just another thing to get in the way on a packet.

    But that's how it works. If one group cares enough to push for legislation and others don't care enough to bother, the activists get their way.

    It actually fits well with so much I see on Techdirt. Some of the issues concerning copyright and the Internet matter hugely here but I often point out that most voters are not going to make a decision about who they vote for based on those issues.

    Where I live, it's a liberal, tech-savvy community. Our representative made lots of money as a tech entrepreneur and tends to support issues that matter to the tech community. However, the local voters tend to be even more passionate about environmental issues and social causes and would likely base their votes on those more than tech issues. A tech-supportive, but overall politically conservative candidate wouldn't get elected here.

    This leads me to the second, related threshold problem - packaging. You can only make it so big. The more warnings you shove onto packaging, the harder it is to read any of them and that just adds to the "which one(s) do I care about?" problem.

    I've already agreed to that, pointing out that we're talking about an info delivery system, which could be refined, which is a different issue than the more generic concept that "government issues too many warnings." That's been my point. "Government" and "warnings" are too broadly defined in the article to be much more preaching to the choir about the evils of government. And as I continue to point out, everyone has government. So it's a matter of what government. A culture of locally-run cooperatives involves government, hopefully one that reflects the wishes of each small group.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Keep in mind that there's a difference between localization of government versus getting rid of government. Getting rid of government just isn't going to happen. That's not how people operate. They organize in some fashion.

    However, advocating breaking down government into smaller, more manageable units is something where you might find agreement among a diverse group of people, including those on the far left and the far right.

     

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    special-interesting (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Hard to comment on and still be serious. What is a conspiracy but a meem (a social/cultural/group-belief phenomena) gathered around specific fears of a person/group/firm. What is the difference between full disclosure and fear? A lot.

    The real problem is not terror or terrorists but a culture/society that is itself terrorized. Panic is always to be feared especially if whole sections of society panics. Its a subtle basic low take on the 'why wars start' level of analysis. Its also bad when society sections itself up to much. Culturally unhealthy.

    Few topics have resulted in more thrown away essays than this one. The fear of fear is a complex subject. Being subject to all of that makes any response an exorcise in self delusion. (of which everyone suffers from including me)

    There are many dangers out there in real life that we know of only because of science and technology. Warnings are good but if overdone intrusion into normal life will lead to ignoring the same warning.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    My primary concern these days (even more so than in the past) is the environment. Most in the scientific community who monitor these things tell us we will run into severe problems due to global warming. The philosophy espoused throughout Techdirt (i.e., get government out of the way and do whatever is best for the Internet) doesn't really address the issues I consider especially important. Rather than Internet and IP issues, I'm more focused on global economic issues which promote sustainability. I can see overlap between Internet freedom and sustainability, but only as a small part of a big picture. And I am concerned when Internet freedom seems to reinforce power/control in the hands of large tech corporations because I think concentrated power/control in general leads to some negative results.

    The threats that worry many Techdirtians don't strike me as nearly as big a threat as other issues.

    Driving Is Deadlier Than Terrorism; Why Isn't It Scarier? - Blog

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    But that's how it works. If one group cares enough to push for legislation and others don't care enough to bother, the activists get their way.
    Not disputing that, just pointing out that it's almost always a minority opinion that causes these things, which ensures that a great proportion of such warnings will be pointless to the majority of the population, many will be counter-productive to the intended effect and a good number, maybe even most, are likely to be wrong.
    pointing out that we're talking about an info delivery system, which could be refined,
    Except we've had an "info delivery system" capable of this kind of refinement for years now and exactly ZERO attempt to refine anything along these lines, just more and more and more "warnings" that 99% of the population don't care about.

    The problem is not the technology, it's groups of people thinking they know better than anyone else what everyone needs to know and seeing it as their duty to "do something about it". Whoever initiates this, the instument by which the mandated "warning" is delivered is usually governmental at some level and people do not make the distiction - it's a "government issued warning" and gets lumped in the brain with all the other pointless "warnings" and nannying that comes from such sources.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    I'll add that where I live is home to a number of organic foods, organic cosmetic companies, and organic farms. It's in their economic interests both to discourage GMOs which might pollinate with their crops and which might affect the image of the community as an organic leader. So not only are a number of local consumers interested in the issue, so are a number of local businesses.

    Similarly, there is fracking going on in another part of the state next to organic farms. The farmers are concerned about pollution affecting their land.

    So in some places it is a bigger issue than just a consumer issue.

    What I have been hoping to point out is that within communities what constitutes a threat may differ from community to community. If you believe in citizen involvement, then you have to allow for small communities making their own rules, especially if there is consensus within the community.

    Now, if the community wants to do something that would be considered a violation of human rights, then authorities outside the community will step in, but if it's a matter of rules that the community wants to enforce and everyone is on board, what is the issue with that?

    The big national debate is about whether the interests of business can trump the interests of people, and if the people collectively decide what they want, even if businesses complain, what's wrong with that? If the businesses want to relocate, they can and probably will. But the community may decide it doesn't want those businesses anyway, especially if the businesses happen to be polluting the local area.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Except we've had an "info delivery system" capable of this kind of refinement for years now and exactly ZERO attempt to refine anything along these lines, just more and more and more "warnings" that 99% of the population don't care about.

    The article lumped product warnings in with national security warnings.

    If we want to confine the discussion to how best to warn people about safely using products, I'm all for it because we are getting into specifics.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    The problem is not the technology, it's groups of people thinking they know better than anyone else what everyone needs to know and seeing it as their duty to "do something about it".

    Of course, conservatives have been doing the same thing. That's why I view with a lot of skepticism the commitment by most people and their elected officials to actually stop telling people want to do.

    Yes, I know that true libertarians are much more inclined to eliminate laws that hope to control social behaviors than conservatives are, but true libertarians are still relatively small in number.

    The alliance of libertarians and religious conservatives doesn't really work for me because they seem to represent vastly different philosophies about personal freedom.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:41pm

    What if you put it to a vote?

    Some of you are saying the warnings are bad, and are inconvenient for you as business people.

    But what if you put to a vote whether or not to eliminate specific warnings? And what if voters wanted to keep them in?

    Would you support them then?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 12:57pm

    Re: What if you put it to a vote?

    I'm not in California, so I don't know anything about Proposition 65, but it occurred to me that this law might have been citizen initiated and it was. So when you guys are complaining about "government," you are complaining about voters. So what do you want to do about voters who pass laws you don't like? Keep them from voting?

    California Proposition 65 (1986) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Proposition 65 (formally titled "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986") is a California law passed by direct voter initiative in 1986 by a 63%-37% margin.

     

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    zerostar83 (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Reverse Example

    I still see activism no the side of over-reaction on several things. Mostly all of the ones I've heard of are on change.org. Petitions to stop using a chemical which can cause mental illness at dosages nowhere near the normal rate of use (Brominated vegetable oil), or GMOs, or pesticides on food (organic activists), mercury in teeth fillings, and so on. Did you know cigarettes contain arsenic? So do apples, and so on. So much hype over little things. I try to ask myself "Will I die from this? Will my lifespan be significantly decreased?" Personally I think the TSA "agents" should be on a heightened sense of uneasiness (by using skilled training to look for and spot disasterous situations) at the airport, instead of systematically making everyone else feel that way because of them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re:

    It may be sad that you will depart early.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re:

    You are in the wrong blog them, IP issues is what this is all about.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are in the wrong blog them, IP issues is what this is all about.

    I don't get into the IP discussions. But when the conversation drifts into government or economic issues I comment.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 28th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I also like to point out that some groups want to get rid of or modify IP in the name of capitalism and others want to modify or get rid of IP in the name of replacing capitalism with something else.

    So I tend to jump ahead to what develops in the post-IP world and particularly how that might foster a more sustainable approach to the planet.

    If the primary result of dropping copyright is to make life easier for Google, then I don't think we've accomplished much. I'd rather focus on how we change ownership and business so that there isn't really any need for companies as big as Google. Right now our financial system tends to reward big and growing companies. But I'd like to look at alternatives.

     

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    Robert, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:03am

    Insanity as Sanity

    Think of this distortion in terms of those at the core of creating it, the rich and greedy. Nearly everything imaginable is a threat to them including each other. It all becomes even more distorted when they consider the truth, justice and democracy as the greatest threats. So in the end to alleviate those threats they must separate themselves from the whole of society and simultaneously lock down the whole of society.
    Sound insane, why of course it does, just look at the result, ever growing paranoia and insanity all looked upon as being normal. When you let the insane run the asylum, expect insanity paraded about as normality.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Modern IP laws are the cornerstone of ownership in business. They make it easier for a big company to destroy any new small start ups. The Internet can support a much more distributed, and at times anarchic, approach to business, politics and culture.
    I suspect that getting rid of them will have little effect on Google, as it has grown by being very good at providing services, and not by owning IP. If IP laws are abolished, then its idea of becoming a major library system does not popse much of a problem, because anybody else could take the same data and try and compete with them. Further I suspect this effort has more to do with the data not being available online, that a desire to be the worlds library. If others make the data available, Google will be happy to incorporate it into their Indexes for searching.
    In the case of Google, a large problem, indexing the worlds Knowledge, requires a large company to carry out. Making this knowledge freely available will empower people in solving their own problems, significantly reducing the power of large corporations, and religious fundamentalists.
    This is a anarchistic view, give people the knowledge to solve their own problems, and the means of enabling them to organise themselves, and they will solve their own problems.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 3:55am

    Re:

    Ooooh, that's a good idea. Just like companies trying to find the perfect productivity index that encompass all others (and when you look at them you say "oh shit, how am I going to find where's the problem?"). Or just like some weirdos have tried to find the law that encompass all nature laws.

    As we've seen this is pretty much bound to succeed epically. In failing =)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    No, we have always been at war with Eurasia...

    And it's just as effective as the War on Crime, Drugs, Terror, and Peasants....

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    Re:

    My favorite? A provision on prescription labels informing users that the medication is to be taken orally.


    My wife is a nurse and confirms that people get this wrong all the time. Even worse, they've stopped using the term "orally" and started using "by mouth" because too many people didn't understand what was meant by "orally".

    Sometimes it's hard not to despair.

     

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    Argonel (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Based on being required to review the Prop 65 list once for my job, I'm pretty sure the warning sticker for your scissors should have it's own sticker.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    The article lumped product warnings in with national security warnings.
    Because the government as a whole take much the same tack with national security warnings as is taken with package warnings - "more is better".

    Of course the intent may be different - I suspect packaging warnings are more often motivated by some do-gooding sense, whearas security seems more about scaring the population enough to accept egregious abbridgements of civil liberties. Perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps both are more about the legal/political ramifications of having been seen to have "done nothing" even when nothing is the best course.

    Either way, though, both end up with the same effect in the mind - low level noise that gets ignored and ultimately has the exact opposite effect of the one stated. The real warning about the caustic effects of a cleaner get lost in the dozens upon dozens of irrelevant ones, the warning of an imminent terrorist attack gets a "yeah? So what?" response because of the "It's all so dangerous out there and we have to protect you" notices issued every single day.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Because the government as a whole take much the same tack with national security warnings as is taken with package warnings - "more is better".

    And what I have wanted to point out is that there is no "government as a whole." My local city government is a different beast than the US Congress.

    It is possible to break down government into small units which reflect the wishes of the people within those small units and to operate based on a consensus within the group.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The Internet can support a much more distributed, and at times anarchic, approach to business, politics and culture.

    I believe it can, too. But I have wondered whether those big companies which have grown big using the Internet will readily step aside to accommodate this. As I look at the world's increasing concentration of wealth and power, I don't see a push from those currently in power to hand it over. There are all sorts of justifications about why they have become rich and powerful and perhaps deserve it, but I wonder what they might do if their hold on the current world economic system is challenged.

    One reason I am concerned about this is that based on what I have read coming from those living/working in Silicon Valley, there is a disconnect between their lives/their worldview and what happens elsewhere. So my impressions are being formed by what they say about themselves and how they think the world operates or should operate.

    There are disruptive forces in the world, but to be disruptive for the next generation, I don't think you can be part of the system that funds and reinforces the way things work in Silicon Valley and the larger financial/economic systems. When the system depends on rich people funding companies to make the same group of people even more rich, it's not all that disruptive.

    If your goal in being disruptive is to create a company that makes you and your investors wealthy, will you take the necessary steps to be disruptive when it disrupts what you have built or trying to build?

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    > Climate change is a big issue now.

    Not according to actual temperature data.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Not according to actual temperature data.

    Really? Your source of info is different than mine.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Nuts - Anaphylactic Shock

    > ANYTHING WITH NUTS in it,, yes, that includes
    > NUTS, HAS to have that warning.

    Wouldn't the packaging of peanuts itself be enough warning that the thing contains peanuts?

    I mean, to anyone with a functioning brain, that is.

    And if you somehow are unable to read the huge PLANTERS PEANUTS label on the front of the jar, why in the hell would you be able to read a little warning label on the back?

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    > Really?

    Yes, really.

    http://tinyurl.com/d6fmw5q

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    From the same article:

    Twenty-year hiatus in rising temperatures has climate scientists puzzled | The Australian: "For Hansen the pause is a fact, but it's good news that probably won't last.

    "International Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri recently told The Weekend Australian the hiatus would have to last 30 to 40 years 'at least' to break the long-term warming trend."

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Yes, yes, they have to say that don't they, in order to save face? They keep moving the goalposts whenever reality doesn't jibe with their agenda.

    The fact is, we were already supposed to be in a full-blown melt-down according to the predictions these same people were making 10-15 years ago. Now that none of that has come to pass, and the opposite seems to be happening, they're backpedaling and saying, "Well, maybe it's 30 to 40 years, but it's still a crisis, so give us money!"

    A more honest quote from that article comes from David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation: "If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change."

    It was never anything but a huge scam from the beginning and now people are waking up and seeing the naked emperor for what he is.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A company that may turn out to be disruptive in ways that people haven't been focusing on is Kickstarter.

    People continually point to it as a fundraising platform, and how that can replace more traditional fundraising platforms. But I think it's real potential is that it might get more of us thinking in terms of discrete projects rather than companies. A group of people can come together to create a project, get it funded on Kickstarter or something similar, and then perhaps move on to a new project.

    The lack of business structure has been a negative for some Kickstarter projects because there have been people successfully raising money and then not being very skilled at the necessary steps afterward. If there are enough projects where donors become dissatisfied for one reason or another, it could hurt Kickstarter and other similar sites.

    However, if the Kickstarter project-by-project approach changes people's ideas about whether it is necessary to build companies, then that will be quite disruptive.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    The fact is, we were already supposed to be in a full-blown melt-down according to the predictions these same people were making 10-15 years ago. Now that none of that has come to pass, and the opposite seems to be happening, they're backpedaling and saying, "Well, maybe it's 30 to 40 years, but it's still a crisis, so give us money!"

    Now, if you don't trust a large community of scientists, how do you verify anything? If there is evidence that requires a change of thinking, then sooner or later the models and theories will be adjusted.

    We've seen with some politicians if the evidence doesn't fit what they want to hear, ignore the evidence.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Here's some research reported in that tree hugging site, The Wall Street Journal.

    In Study, Past Decade Ranks Among Hottest - WSJ.com: "New research suggests average global temperatures were higher in the past decade than over most of the previous 11,300 years, a finding that offers a long-term context for assessing modern-day climate change."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  126.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    "We could face cooling period for 200-250 years."

    http://www.thegwpf.org/we-cooling-period-lasts-200-250-years-russian-scientists-claim/

    IPCC Predicted Decrease, Observations Show Increase In Antarctic Sea Ice

    http://www.thegwpf.org/paper-ipcc-predicted-decrease-observations-show-increase-antarctic-sea -ice/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  127.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 29th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    There's been quite a bit of skepticism about this organization.

    Global Warming Policy Foundation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    But honestly, if you have a large number of scientists adding research to the discussion and you're citing one particular place as the source of the other side, I don't think it will be enough to counter momentum about climate change.

    Yes, scientists have been revising their models. From what I have been reading, they are revising them to say the globe appears to be warming faster than what they predicted before. As a group they aren't tossing out their conclusions. If you want to say they are all part of a vast conspiracy, so be it.

     

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  128.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 2:21am

    Re: Re:

    You could take some paint and repaint it back to yellow. This will surely push back the threat of terrorism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  129.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    > There's been quite a bit of skepticism about
    > this organization.

    Of course there is. They're not towing the party line. Anyone who disagrees with the dogma on the subject of AGW is considered suspect by those who have so much invested in it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  130.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 30th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Think in terms of info, then

    Of course there is. They're not towing the party line. Anyone who disagrees with the dogma on the subject of AGW is considered suspect by those who have so much invested in it.

    So you think all of the scientists who think there is global warming are either stupid or part of a mass conspiracy?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  131.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), May 6th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    It is possible to break down government into small units which reflect the wishes of the people within those small units and to operate based on a consensus within the group.
    It's possible to break down the human body to discrete organs fulfilling specific functions but one doesn't try and describe the functioning of a person in terms of those sub-units.

    The differences you describe are mostly semantic rather than real and any such "small units" still typically have little to do with majority opinion or even empirical evidence over pet theories or the financial urgings of special interests so I'm not sure what it achieves anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  132.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 6th, 2013 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    The differences you describe are mostly semantic rather than real and any such "small units" still typically have little to do with majority opinion or even empirical evidence over pet theories or the financial urgings of special interests so I'm not sure what it achieves anyway.

    Saying you are against "government" doesn't say much, because there are many different forms of government. Here's an example.

    How a Community-Based Co-op Economy Might Work

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  133.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), May 6th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    Here's an example.
    Except in terms of government that's a fictional example. It's an example of how a government *might* work. Unless you have a plan as to how to enact such a government, and ideally how to get around the issue of such a setup being co-opted by minority opinions in much the same way as the various levels of current governmental structure, then it seem rather irrelevant to discussion.
    And no, I am not "against government". I am not an anarchist. However, it is fair to say I am unimpressed with the current governmental structure pretty much top to bottom and don't see it improving any time soon.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), May 6th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sometimes it's the citizens insisting government be more pro-active

    And no, I am not "against government". I am not an anarchist. However, it is fair to say I am unimpressed with the current governmental structure pretty much top to bottom and don't see it improving any time soon.

    But, I'm not sure what you are saying. That people can be difficult? Yes.

    Look at some of the P2P experiments, like Wikipedia. People set them up, see what works, and then hopefully modify things as they go along when they run into problems.

    I think it is impossible NOT to have government. The challenge is to keep working at the models to find something that works. And when you have groups that can't get along, they split into smaller groups that can get along. If you can offer an endless choice of government options, presumably everyone can find something that works for each of them.

    It's kind of what happens with religion. You get sects that split off because people decide they want something different. And the sects spawn more sects. Some sects stay small; some grow huge.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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