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Comment Re:Obligatory reading (Score 1) 419

I think the reason people fear nuclear reactors is because of nuclear weapons. The public has spent more than half a century hearing about various ways to use real weapons of mass distraction to kill millions of people (or maybe almost everyone, depending on the movie). I think if we hadn't had bombs hanging over our heads, a few reactor accidents would be scary, but not mythically terrifying.

The rather creepy history of "atoms for peace" being an excuse for weapons programs doesn't help. The bombs and the toxic disaster-areas left by their manufacture are linked in the public's mind as a problem that threatened them for generations, and they don't see that its been solved.

Real nuclear power for peace may well be a fine idea, but it's saddled with the burden not just of it's own risks and expense, but of the whole Cold War nuclear legacy.

People ignore coal's constant risks (until faced with direct consequences like trains or waste nearby) because they've never been told to be afraid of a coal bomb blowing up the world. (Though one could say that Global Warming is pretty close to that picture.)

I don't know how nuclear promoters can distance themselves from peoples' fears of the weapons as long as the weapons remain an issue. Especially since they're still used for fear mongering. i.e. "I will protect you from the terrorists who want to blow up the reactor down the coast, or use dirty-bombs on our cities, or whatever, and maybe we need a few more of these bombs ourselves, oh, and how 'bout these new friendly reactors?" Tough sell.

Comment Re:We can learn from this (Score 1) 163

Anybody remember "Randomocracy?" Back in the 1980s William Brown's comic "President Bill" presented a candidate who was elected by random draw from the total voting population. He seemed to do about as good as the guys we pay billions to elect now.

I'm still waiting for his proposed, "Vast Inland Sea" environmental restoration project.

Comment Re:We can learn from this (Score 1) 163

In Communist Canada we have rules about media coverage of elections within certain days of the voting. We don't have "the 1st Amendment," but the elections don't seem less free than the terribly broken examples in the US. (I'm going for duel citizenship so I criticize both.)

There are so many examples from around the world that could improve the American electoral process. If we had a system that reflected the majority in a sane way, we might easily implement some of them. Oh, wait...

Comment Will this apply to google/internet-based research? (Score 1) 227

As someone who's writing a non-fiction history book I wonder if this effects what I'm doing. I use google and the net a lot and find many little nuggets of information tucked away that I would have missed. A very significant thing though is the deeper I get, the more I realize how much information is not online. Vast quantities of historical old paper have not been digitized. Seriously, most of human knowledge is not available to me when I look for it.

If, as this article argues, individuals think they're smarter because they consult the net, I wonder if research (and researchers) and their books and work published using the net may also suffer from this? Are researchers (perhaps including the writers of this article, hmm?) stupider when they rely on google for their writing.

Google gives me a wide but shallow feeling while doing research. It takes a great deal of extra work to pull the tiny nuggets from google and find the actual paper sources that take you to yet new things. The internet is a nice start, but to get anything of quality you have to go deeper. And of course the collating and analysis and arguments don't come from the search-bar, that's still human. But if we look online and stop at what I now think of as just the seed of a topic, we miss the eventual mass of data that isn't there yet.

So, is internet research going to produce dumber research, and dumber researchers? Maybe more information will become available (can I add: damn you extended copyright, jailor of so much monetarily valueless culture.) But if a researcher thinks a quick search makes them more of an expert, should we all doubt their findings even more?

(Dumb/clever closer: "Google that question.")

Comment Re:Technology can NOT eliminate work. (Score 1) 389

Just off the top of my head, I'd guess that rather than specific spending items, a lot of "corporate welfare" consists of tax-free benefits or breaks that real people pay for but corporations get as "incentives." (Insert debate on taxing individual people vs. taxing corporation people here.)

Not in any way non-partisan, but the old-school peace group the War Resister's League (founded back in post-war 1923) likes to point out a variety of expenses that stem from military adventures: They include past military expenses like servicing payments on the portion of the national debt racked up by borrowing to pay for wars, or medical expenses of veterans (those people we said we supported but often seem to forget about as they need care for the next forty years or so).

If you set aside Social Security, which is supposed to be a savings plan not a tax-funded social program, then the military portion of the discretionary budget is substantial. It should be added that the War Resistors go on to suggest that people simply stop paying for wars. Simple? Maybe not so much.

Comment Re:I love you man (Score 1) 305

If they're shilling for a pharmaceutical company, why are they pushing aspirin, which went out of patent in 1917?

Had to look that up – interesting stuff; German-spy conspiracies and everything! Who knew Edison's record factories competed for raw-materials with pain-releaver production?

Comment Re:Why not put a new twist on old tech? (Score 1) 278

I remember talk about the laser record players. They found it much harder to achieve (warped records, etc) than they expected.

And I believe there were two video disk technologies. Laserdisks, which were like giant CD's with digital video on, and Video Disks, which were about the same 12" size, but came in a hard shell-case sort of like old floppy disk, and they were in fact an analog video medium in a grooved disk. You put the case in the machine and then removed it, leaving the disk inside (you never saw the actual disk). That technology still blows me away.

The two disk formats went at it for a while in the 80s, and then failed, with VHS tapes winning most of the American market until DVD's came along.

Comment Re:Move to a gated community (Score 1) 611

I'm sure different people use it in different ways based on their experience, but "blockbusting" was a tactic created and used by real-estate businesses, not "black people." It was neither invented nor particularly helpful for most black home-buyers. Real estate folks made a crap-load of money though off of convincing people to sell low in fear of new neighbours, and then jacking the price to others moving in.

Comment Mary Shelly, failed writer of speculative fiction (Score 1) 368

My favourite example of missing future changes is Mary Shelly's other book, The Last Man (1826).

It's not great, but interesting for a number of reasons. For one, it inspired dozens of "apocalype-plague" movies like The Omega Man and such. The other grim element is that everyone in book dies of plague (spoiler, except the Last Man), but all the characters are based on people in Shelly's real life who had actually died and left her alone – her husband, her children, friends etc. Yikes.

One of the most interesting things about the book though is that it is set in a Europe 400 years in the future. And Shelly, writing in 1820, totally missed the coming Industrial Revolution. So in her 2100 the only new technology is a few hot air balloons. One result of this lack of technology is that without germ-theory the plague of the book is a totally uncontrollable force with no hope of controlling with any medical science.

Of course forward-looking writers miss things. We can't foresee the future. And preoccupation with the events of today (like everybody you know dying) are a reasonable excuse for focusing on the story instead.

Comment Re:And this is how perverted our system has gotten (Score 1) 436

A difference here is that you seem to be proposing that others' rights should be restricted to prevent you from committing a crime. i.e. Clothes (or lack of clothes) might make you want to rape people.

The case in question (way up above all the curious "stop talking about free speech" spam) seems to be one where a person was threatening to break the law by hurting people himself, not provoking some crime in others.

I'm no constitutional lawyer, but I do see a difference between concern about this person's threats and your concern about your susceptibility to raping people.

I'd suggest perhaps closing your eyes all the time and imagining people dressed in calming clothes. This might be a less restrictive solution for everyone. You won't commit a crime based on your lack of self control, and the rest of us can get on with life.

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