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Comment: Re:Since Repubs cannot descredit 'climate change' (Score 1) 338

Here is what monied capitalists most fear: If climate change is real, either free market capitalism dies or a sizable of chunk of humanity does.

Uhm, what?

Since when was Elon Musk not a capitalist? I'm pretty sure he's charging real money for Tesla Model Ss and Powerwalls. I'm pretty sure SolarCity isn't giving away solar panels for free. I'm pretty sure the Model X will go on sale this year, and people will give him money and he will give them a car in return.

Capitalism is not incompatible with environmentalism. It's just that there are entrenched interests in our current capitalism that make money in ways that are incompatible with environmentalism. Elon Musk is a disruptive capitalist who is going to make several more entrenched interests very unhappy by the end of the decade. He's already making some entrenched interests (notably United Launch Alliance) very unhappy in non-environmentally related fields. (They're having to spend money on those horrible horrible professional middle class people to get them to design a better rocket for the first time in two decades, instead of just selling the same old piece of shit for sweet cost-plus contracts.)

As of today, if you have the capital, you can give Elon Musk money and he will give you equipment that can cut your personal carbon footprint by 36%, permanently, by wiping out your emissions for housing and travel. That 36% is fully half of the footprint that you personally control. This is a transaction in a capitalist system, where the means of production are privately owned, rather than government owned, where the organization doing the producing expands its production capacity and research and development efforts using private profits, and where the purchaser has a choice of viable alternatives in some sort of market.

The US economy has been capitalist for over 200 years, and it has been getting more environmentally friendly for that entire period. Admittedly it started out rather thoroughly unfriendly, so there was a lot of room for improvement, but it has happened. Nor were the changes voluntary, but they still happened, while still being fundamentally capitalist.

Comment: Come on, Slashdot, at least get her name right! (Score 5, Interesting) 174

SurveyMonkey's CEO Dies While Vacationing With Wife Susan Sandberg

Dave Goldberg, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey and spouse of Facebook COO Sheryl K. Sandberg, died on Friday night.

Her name is Sheryl. It's fairly well-known. How do you screw this up when the correct name is in the first sentence of the summary?

Comment: Bad dog! No biscuit! (Score 1) 46

I'm just waiting for drones that will simultaneously cut my lawn and deter burglars.

According to Gary Larson, that would be robodog Ginger featured in "You call that mowing the lawn? Bad dog! No biscuit!" Well, you might have to put a beanie prop-hat on the dog, but it would be pretty close...

Comment: Re:2kW isn't enough power for a home (Score 1) 511

by Areyoukiddingme (#49601465) Attached to: Tesla Announces Home Battery System

With some extensive re-wiring of the power panel to move high-load devices (AC, washer/dryer, dishwasher, possibly even the gas furnace blower motor) to another panel, the 10kW unit MIGHT be useful to keep the fridge and lights going during a short-term power outage.

Why would you do that? Every single one of those things has an off switch. In all but extraordinarily rare cases, use of every one of those things is discretionary. You don't need to rewire your panel in order to keep the house running during quite a long power outage. Just don't use heavy draw appliances. If you are affluent enough to buy one or more of these battery packs in the first place, you can certainly afford to buy a few paper plates and an extra pair of underwear, if it comes to that.

Yeah, you're probably not going to be an early adopter, if you don't have solar panels already, if you don't have an electric car already, if you're not subject to substantially high differential energy pricing, and if you live in a region with a better-than-average grid maintenance organization. But the price will only come down once the gigafactory comes online. It's very likely that these packs will get cheap enough to fit in a discretionary budget just for rare convenience. My existing UPSes certainly fall into that category. You may already have a few for the same reason. It's just a somewhat bigger UPS, when all those other conditions apply.

Regardless of your individual situation, it's a gamechanging device for the vast majority of the world.

Comment: Re:Too bad (Score 2) 66

To paraphrase, you can't be too rich, too thin, or have too many bits of precision in a calculation. With single precision you have to be enormously careful not to drop digits even in comparatively modest loops; with double precision you can many digits before you run out. You can see it in almost any computations involving trig and pi -- single precision pi degrades in series much faster than double precision pi. It isn't just a matter of not using forward recursion to evaluate bessel functions, which is unstable in any precision (or for that matter, using book definitions of e.g. spherical bessel functions in terms of trig functions) or reordering series to avoid subtracting big numbers and running small to big instead of big to small -- there is simply a big difference between cumulating a random walk with a random digit at the 16th place and one at the 8th place.

A second problem is the exponent. 10^38 just isn't "big" in a modern large scale computation. It is easy to overflow or underflow a single precision computation. 10^308 is a whole lot closer to big, even expressed in decibels. One can concentrate a lot more on writing simple code, and a lot less on handling exponent problems as they emerge.

A final problem is random numbers. This is actually a rather big problem, as lots of code (all Monte Carlo, for example) relies on a stream of algorithmically random numbers that (for example) do not have a period less than the duration of the computation and that do not have significant bunching on low dimensional hyperplanes or other occult correlations. It is much more difficult to build a good random number generator on fewer bits, because the periods of the discretized iterated maps scale (badly) with reduced numbers of bits and it is more difficult to find acceptable moduli for various classes of generators from the significantly smaller discretized space. You can watch this problem emerge quite trivially by building a Mandelbrot set generator in float and rubberbanding in -- oops, you hit bottom rather quickly! Rebuild it in double and you at least have to work to rubberband in to where it all goes flat. You have to build it in a dynamically rescaleable precision to rubberband in "indefinitely" as the details you wish to resolve eventually become smaller than any given finite precision. This actually illustrates the overall problem with single precision quite nicely -- the emergent flat patches in an graphical representation of an iterated map are isomorphic to the establishment of unintended correlations in long runs of iterated maps in a random number generator and the clipping of the graphical representation of small numbers illustrates the problems with mere underflow in real computations of interest.

Personally, I dream of default quad precision and 128 bit processors. 34 decimal digits of precision means that a random walk with n unit steps (which accumulates like \sqrt{n}) require (10^30)^2 = 10^60 steps to get to where I don't still have 4 significant digits. Even a rather large cluster running a rather long time would have a hard time generating 10^60 add operations. In contrast, with only (say) 8 decimal digits a mere 10^16 operations leaves you with no digits at all, assuming you haven't overflowed already. I've run computations with a lot more than this number of operations. I also like the idea of having overflow around 10^5000. It takes quite a while adding numbers at the overflow of double precision to hit overflow, and one basically could add overflow scale single precision floats forever and never reach it. That gives me comfort. It would also make writing a Mandelbrot set explorer tool where one would be likely to give up before rubber banding all the way to the "bottom" -- there are a whole lot of halvings of scale in there to play with that still leave you with much more resolution than needed on the screen.


Comment: Re:What if this happened at Wal-Mart? (Score 1) 482

Let's suppose Wal-mart started a floor at something reasonable, say 20$ an hour.

Walmart has decided to try it. To $9, not $20, but that's their minimum for 2015. 500,000 employees will make more money, costing Walmart $1 billion more than it would otherwise have spent on salaries this year. All of it going to the people in the very lowest income bracket, who are practically required to spend every dime they earn, because they're at or below the poverty line.

We'll see how it works, both for the economy and for Walmart. (Personally I think Walmart damn well knows that some large fraction of that billion dollars will be returned right back to them in increased spending at Walmart by poverty-stricken people.)

Comment: Re:"Close" Only Counts (Score 1) 342

I'm sure they'll make up for it in volume.

The Coward is a ULA partisan who comes in here to spout lies pretty regularly. They're not losing money. They're profitable on every launch, by a healthy margin. The Coward can't understand how it happens, since the ULA can barely turn a profit when they charge $480 million for the same thing, so he assumes they're taking a loss.

Elon Musk hasn't been so rich that he can run a rocket company for 13 years out of his own pocket. (Probably he is now, because of Tesla stock, but he wasn't for most of that period.)

Comment: Mutant Great Whites... (Score 1) 193

...with laser beams! Radical!

Shades of a bad science fiction novel. Or even several bad science fiction novels.

Next up on the news at 9 -- replete from eating Fukashima, Godzilla shows up from the trenches off of Japan to eat the Independence before marching on San Francisco, plates a-glowing...

Comment: Perfectly understandable move... (Score 4, Informative) 208

by rgbatduke (#49495205) Attached to: Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

...and this isn't even the first journal to do this. It's probably happening now because an entire book has just come out walking people how universally abused p-values are as statistical measures.


The book is nice in that it does give one replacements that are more robust and less likely to be meaningless, although nothing can substitute for having a clue about data dredging etc.


Comment: Re:Why stop at Scientology...? (Score 1) 700

by rgbatduke (#49492769) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Donations are already taxed for most non-profits. Tax-exemption for donations isn't the same thing as not paying a corporate tax. Bear in mind that it is trivial to set up non-profit organizations and easy-peasy to use them to pass absolutely obscene not-profits straight through to the corporate officers as salaries, who just happen to be the folks that founded the not-for-profit and who own its not-for-profit shares that, in the event that those same officer/owners convert it over to for-profit, will become disgustingly valuable in an instant (see the history of Blue-Cross-Blue-Shield, for example). My wife worked for just such a non-profit until about a year ago. The company president of this not-for-profit company was knocking down seven digit salaries plus seven digit bonuses at the same time they were cutting her income to pay for an IT transition that they mandated. Her "donation" to the company was indeed not taxed -- it wasn't even voluntary. Non-profits need substantial tax revision almost as badly as religions.

You seem confused about the constitution, the bill of rights, and taxation in general, and nobody has suggested taxing people for exercising a civil liberty (certainly not me). What is being suggested is not giving people a tax deduction for money donated to a club. I'd oppose giving a tax deduction for dues paid to the Shriners, the Benevolent and Paternal Order of the Elks, the Masons, the Knights of Columbus, etc on the same basis, even though in some cases some of those organizations do some charitable works some of the time. I'm even borderline comfortable with tax breaks for donations to things like the Salvation Army whose primary focus is charity, although I am most unhappy with the way they pay their corporate officers and don't like the idea that those that they help get the help only at the cost of proselytizing. I could see clear to similar rules for genuine charities stripped of the missionary component set up by religious groups as well.

But the pass-the-hat donations to churches, used primarily to pay to maintain the infrastructure and personnel of the church, no. Taxing that isn't taxing your right to exercise a civil liberty -- nothing in the world is preventing you from belief or worship. It is taxing the money you are giving to a club designed to promote your belief in yourself and others and to support a huge formal infrastructure that yes, absolutely, exercises a substantial amount of power. We have similar laws regulating donations to things like political action committees and candidates for office -- if those laws were fairly applied to many churches they would not meet the criteria for 527 status because they often advocate for specific candidates or positions and are knee-deep in issue advocacy.

Some churches do good stuff some of the time. My niece is a Methodist minister; so was my grandfather. My grandfather, from all accounts, was a sharpster who ran his household until he ran out of money and then went and held a tent revival somewhere to refill his coffers. My niece works in Palestine trying to bring justice for the Palestinians and peace in a land that has almost never known it. But if you donate money to the Methodist church in church, almost all of that money goes to support the church itself and the minister that preaches to you on Sunday. That's the money I don't think should be deductible, because the government has no business subsidizing the support of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, or the people that run them, "cult" or not, and tax breaks are a de-facto subsidy.

If at some time you want to talk about the religious beliefs or lack thereof of our founding fathers, I'm happy to direct you to their own writings in which it was made perfectly clear that most of them were anything from atheists to deists. Jefferson's personal ambition was to establish a state free from religion, not a religious state, a state where one did not have to profess belief in a God at all in order to exercise political rights.

If you look up above, you can see precisely where that plan has been run awry by your own words. You are quite right. Even for atheists like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson and John Adams and George Washington and Thomas Paine, it was necessary to hide their (lack of) beliefs in a world where political power was solidly in the grasp of the churches. It still is. One cannot get elected as an atheist. Which all by itself says that something has gone very, very wrong with the founding fathers' ideal of religious freedom -- freedom from religion, especially in politics. All you are doing is confirming my reasons for wanting to oppose it -- you suggest that anybody "godless" must be "totalitarian" (bullshit!) or that simply actually enforcing the separation of church and state that the bill of rights requires and getting nonsense like "In God we Trust" off of our currency is somehow threatening to our civil liberties rather than actively enforcing them.

I really do suggest that you consider studying the Bible before you suggest that our rights were endowed by a Creator. The Bible makes it clear that humans have no rights whatsoever. For example, it explains that I can beat my slaves almost to death, or rape my neighbor's daughter as long as I pay her father 20 shekels of silver afterwards and marry her. Numbers 21 is another really excellent passage describing the genocidal slaughter of women, children and old men except for the young virgin women in the Midianite crowd who were given to the troops to rape and enslave as part of the booty -- by Moses, who was surely a righteous man, somebody Jesus was perfectly happy to walk around with up on the mount. Consider that at no time in the history of the world has God enforced a single human right. No injustice, no matter how it cries out to the sky for correction, has ever been repaired by a divine act. Every day acts of unspeakable horror occur -- plenty of them as the result of so-called acts of God -- without any hint of divine rescue or retribution.

No, human rights were invented by humans -- in particular by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Thomas Jefferson, especially by Jefferson who gave them a compelling poetic appeal, one that could rouse passion in the human heart. The declaration of independence is a statement of what the world should have been if God had in fact been on the job, and an acknowledgement that since he's not, since there is no such thing, it is high time that we as human beings pick up the burden for ourselves. If you want heaven, if you want justice, you'd better put your shoulder to the wheel and make it happen here on Earth because there is no divine heaven or hell or cosmic justice before, during, or afterward.

I can do no better than close with a nice quote from Thomas Paine, one of our good old founding fathers:

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

That, my friend, is the common attitude of the founding fathers, most of whom were sufficiently adept at concealing the depth of their antipathy to organized religion that they could continue to hold political power in a world where mankind was already enslaved, where the church(es) already held the monopoly on profit and power. It has taken hundreds of years to break that monopoly. The work isn't finished yet. But the age of reason that Paine called for is gradually bringing it about, because -- and I know you won't like this, but it is simple truth and you should think about it -- reason and religion are fundamentally incompatible. You cannot consistently accept a dual standard for determining probable truth, one for "scientific" facts deduced using observation and consistently applied reason in the actual world and another for "truths" supposedly stated by people whose primary goal was the establishment of a stable religious hegemony that conferred upon them substantial power and wealth and tribal status, which have no observational basis and which cannot ever be verified or disproven by observation or reason.

That's why you are reduced to making up stuff about Creators and trying to tie it into what might have caused the Big Bang or other observed aspects of the visible Universe. Nobody can prove you wrong, to be sure. You could assert that the big bang was the hatching of a giant egg (Hindu), or the expression of certain bodily fluids (Greek) or that it can be mapped in some improbable way into the absurdities at the beginning of Genesis and nobody can possibly prove you wrong. In fact, you can make up a literally infinite number of stories for what might have gone on beforehand. You can support them by means of antique scriptures or just invent them. There really isn't any difference.

Physicists (I am a physicist, BTW) do the same thing -- they try to imagine what might have been going on beforehand. The difference is that their guesses and imagination are tempered by the need for absolute, rigorous consistency with the body of knowledge we have gradually built up that can be verified at any time by any person interested in doing so by the means of performing various experiments or observations, and that physicists do not assert their hypotheses as truth . Physical laws are expressed as probable truth -- in the case of some things, very, very probable truth -- but we always maintain the mental flexibility to change our minds in the event that an experiment comes along that disproves a belief or demonstrates that the belief is not complete.

Where is there any evidence of that rational process in religion? Physics is humble and skeptical where religion is arrogant and certain. In science there is no revealed truth, only truth as we can best discern it when we work very hard and in a completely open and collaborative way. In religion it is exactly the opposite -- all truth is revealed truth, and (with the exception of perhaps the Quakers) such truths are held to be immutable and unchallengable. For most of human history, to openly challenge a supposed revealed truth was to invite torture and death.

You like the idea of freedom. So do I. And the most basic freedom is the freedom to think, to challenge the system of beliefs you were force-fed as a child and indoctrinated in to the point where you find it difficult to challenge them. I suggest that you use it.


If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.