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Comment: Re:Heptatonic (Score 1) 73

by GrahamCox (#49771493) Attached to: Favorite musical scale, by number of pitch classes?
You're right - music as a logical system is pretty much a mess. But that reflects both its long history and lack of understanding that went along with it for a very long time. A great series to watch if you're interested in that is Howard Goodall's "Big Bangs" which is very interesting and approachable even for non-musicians.

The idea of musical notes being a straightforward geometric series took an awful long time to be realised, because of the idea (set in train by Pythagoras) that musical intervals HAD TO BE simple integer ratios. Just like Pythag's blind-spot about irrational numbers such as root 2, he assumed that nature abhorred nasty fractions. That thinking influenced music for millennia, and people still think that equal temperament is a "compromise" because it's slightly off from whole number ratios - but who says it has to be? That's just trying to force it to fit an idealised model of nature that is an entirely human idea.

Musical notation is also barking mad in the light of a 12-tone scale. It would make much more sense if a stave had six lines, so every note in the scale had its own fixed place, instead of wandering all over the place because 12 doesn't divide into 5. It would do away with clefs, the need to notate keys by use of special sharps and flats, and generally make it much easier to learn and use. However, it'll never happen because those who read the existing notation think it's fine, and a change would be too disruptive.

Comment: Re:You realize... (Score 1) 71

The premise is that things going extinct is universally bad

Says who? You realise that >99% of species that have ever lived are extinct? Of course it seems sad when a species goes extinct, especially as it's often because of unnecessary predation by humans (e.g. elephants, rhinos), so let's concentrate on stopping our own species being such arseholes. However, in general extinction is totally natural, and as in this (rare) case when it's not our fault at all, then let it be. I suspect that those Iguanas will be perfectly fine if we just leave it alone for a change.

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 609

by PopeRatzo (#49770731) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Utter nonsense. Yes, in some cases that may be the effect, but it's certainly not the design.

The "design" doesn't matter in this case. The biggest companies in the world are ignoring that design.

By design, boards of directors are intended to serve the same role that elected political representatives do for citizens of a nation; to represent the interests of the voters.

Don't we have enough evidence that when the corrupting influence of money gets enough, elected political representatives no longer represent the interest of the voters?

That just indicates that regulators are not making the fines large enough. If regulators want to use financial penalties, they have to make them large enough that bad actions are unprofitable.

That's not going to happen as long as the regulators are former bankers. There's a revolving door between regulatory agencies and the industries they regulate.

We have to evaluate the system we have, not the ideal or the system we wish we had. This is late-stage capitalism and we have to evaluate it on it's merits.

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 609

by swillden (#49770527) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would?

How about the individuals that committed the crimes?

That's certainly fine with respect to crimes that justify criminal punishment (e.g. prison). But if regulators choose a market-style punishment (fines), then they're just acting as a market force, and that's a consideration for shareholders as owners.

Do you know how corporate boards work? They're designed to shield the management level executives from any such governance by the shareholders.

Utter nonsense. Yes, in some cases that may be the effect, but it's certainly not the design. Your cynicism has gotten the better of you. By design, boards of directors are intended to serve the same role that elected political representatives do for citizens of a nation; to represent the interests of the voters. It's not feasible for every governmental or corporate decision to be voted upon by the whole body, so they choose representatives. A proper board of directors takes a dim view of executives acting against the interests of the shareholders, and boards that fail their jobs badly enough do get ousted.

Plus, the fines paid by the shareholders are only a tiny fraction of the money the corporation made from these illegal activities.

That just indicates that regulators are not making the fines large enough. If regulators want to use financial penalties, they have to make them large enough that bad actions are unprofitable.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 367

by swillden (#49770359) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

You're assuming that simulating the structure of an organic brain is necessary to accomplish the same functions. That's like assuming that simulating legs is the only way to construct a self-moving machine, just because that's the way that nature has done it. Evolution produces workable schemes and fine tunes them; but it clearly suffers from the local maximum problem, while the scientific approach to generating knowledge is much less prone to that limitation. You're also ignoring the fact that the basic construction of our computers is orders of magnitude faster and more energy-efficient than the neurochemical processes that drive organic intelligence. That fundamental difference in materials has to make a difference at larger scales, I think. There are likely other questionable assumptions underlying your guess.

Your assumptions may be valid, but we have no way of knowing. I suspect they're not, myself. What is certainly true is that we won't know until we understand how intelligence works.

Comment: Re:Okay... (Score 1) 267

by hey! (#49769947) Attached to: D.C. Police Detonate Man's 'Suspicious' Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers have actually made a comeback among foodies. The difference from grandma's pressure cooking style is that times for anything but pot roast are *extremely* short. For example if you're cooking broccoli it's done after two minutes at pressure. Grandma would have kept the broccoli in the pressure cooker for five minutes and removed it as a pale gelatinous goo.

A pressure cooker is a good acquisition when you're setting up a kitchen because even though you might use it only a couple of times a month, if you don't lock down the lid what you have is just a nice, heavy pot. Slow cooked is still the way to go for chili, but if you don't have eight hours you can get passable results in well under an hour with a pressure cooker.

Comment: Re:How is this tech related? (Score 2) 123

by nbauman (#49769813) Attached to: EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US

I used to write for an environmental magazine. I quickly found out that whenever you have a controversy over safety, the ultimate question is, "Who has the burden of proof?"

If you have the burden of proof to prove that a chemical is safe, you'll never prove it. Your opponents can simply raise the standard of evidence until you don't meet it.

If you have the burden of proof to prove that a chemical is dangerous, you'll (almost) never prove it. Your opponents can simply raise the standard of evidence until you don't meet it.

So you wind up having to make a judgment call on inadequate evidence. It's not as if there's a scientific argument on one side and ignorant anti-science people on the other.

But I think the Europeans should be able to make their own judgment calls. They're not luddites.

The proposed ban was suspended because researchers have, so far, been unable to find ANY actual causality. Yes, these pesticides are harmful if you mix them into a mouse's drinking water.

If you find that a chemical is harmful if you mix it in a mouse's drinking water, you've found causality -- in mice. That's not definitive evidence that it's harmful in humans, but it is evidence.

But that doesn't mean they are significantly harmful in the way they are actually employed in agriculture.

Yes, but that doesn't mean they're safe either. I think it's reasonable for Europeans to say that they don't want companies to go pouring a chemical in their environment until they've convinced people it's safe.

Even if they are harmful (and it is likely they are to some degree) that needs to be compared against the harm from the alternative chemicals that would be used instead.

Well, which is it? Are they significantly harmful? Or just a little harmful? Or not harmful at all?

What is the economic cost of the chemicals -- in dollars? What is the economic benefit -- in dollars? That's what you need to compare.

The truth is that you don't know. You're just making arbitrary assumptions.

Environmental regulations should be based on a deliberative scientific process, not on which interest group can shout the loudest.

Yes, that's what I say. There is some evidence that chemicals like phthalates can disrupt sexual development in human embryos. They've gone through a deliberate scientific process. They've concluded, "There's no conclusive evidence one way or the other." Then what?

It's perfectly reasonable for environmentalists to say, "We want convincing evidence of safety, the manufacturers haven't prove it, we can live without phthalates, so we don't want it in our environment."

If you think environmentalists are irrational and anti-science, you ought to see some of the industry's economists. I used to read Sam Peltzman's articles. He said that if a drug is successful on the market, it must be effective. You don't need scientific evidence. If a drug sells for $100, it must be worth $100, otherwise consumers wouldn't buy it.

Conservative economists (when they testify for the chemical industry) believe that the free market is perfectly efficient, so if they can make money doing something, it must be good.

Comment: Not really (Score 1) 609

by aepervius (#49769645) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment
When times are hard, people tend to go back toward the "community" , group together to weather better the storm, a group is less likely to fail if individuals fails if other fare better and compensate. Thus the trend toward socialism/communism and other similar politics which tend to favorize the group and the lowest worker classes. It is just plain logic on the individual level.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 1) 238

by PopeRatzo (#49769383) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Example 2: There are 50 auto dealers in a state. The state raises taxes on car dealers 30%. Now all dealers raise their prices 30%.

Now I ask you "Who is paying that 30% increase?"

God, can your math really be that bad? If the state raises taxes on car dealers by 30%, as you say, and the tax goes from 3% to 4%, why would that require the car dealers to raise the prices of their cars 30%?

That's the first problem with your comment.

Second is the fact that some of the car dealers may choose to let their profits fall the additional 1% (from the taxes being raised from 3% to 4%) and they'll keep their prices lower than the dealers who chose to raise prices and end up being the most successful dealer in the state.

When their competition, and when there's not market consolidation to the extent that it causes concentrated pricing power, taxes will not raise prices significantly.

Let's let Bruce Bartlett, a former economic adviser to Ronald Fucking Reagan explain why "corporations don't pay taxes" is a myth:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes....

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson

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