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Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 2) 255

by Bongo (#49733827) Attached to: Energy Dept. Wants Big Wind Energy Technology In All 50 US States

It is weird, you know, if this was about specifying some IT gadget, people would be all over the hard numbers and data and adding stuff up.

But as soon as it gets onto energy and climate, it becomes this, oh, we can just consume less, and keep building green energy, and it'll all work out.

It'll be fun when you're getting up in the middle of the night to bathe and shower the family, because that's when the hot water is affordable.

People who talk like this have never, I would guess, lived in a 3rd world country.

Comment: Re:In other news... (Score 1) 255

by Bongo (#49733795) Attached to: Energy Dept. Wants Big Wind Energy Technology In All 50 US States

"good motivator"

No, that is a bad motivator. It is like, the slave owner motivating the slave with a beating. Yeah, we are all "motivated" to survive.

Making life harder for people is not "good" motivation, that's just called "survival".

Hey, if you make the electricity even more expensive, maybe the women will be "motivated" to going back to spending all day washing the clothes by hand.
You're welcome to try doing that yourself.

Comment: Re:Minimum Wage (Score 1) 1072

by Bongo (#49733741) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

Yes, indeed. Unfair.

Also, I could spend all day making a better hunting spear, only for others to come steal it from me by force.
It is because life is unfair, that we are all having to try to find better systems that work better for everyone.
Like the guys who go round killing rhinos to sell the horns, they just say, "life is unfair, I have nothing, why shouldn't I get something for myself?"

Minimum wage may or may not be a good idea (my guess is it isn't), but "life is unfair" is a moot point, because every human is every other human's problem, one way or another.

Comment: Re:Updates (Score 1) 118

Good point, for my own experience, it is nice to have a working iPlayer on the panny Viera—it makes it feel "modern"—but craptastic to keep seeing a "Myspace" ad on the home screen—makes it feel ancient. They seem to think you can just dump an "ecosystem" on these things and make it feel "smart", but it is a fine line between "useful" and feeling instead that you've just driven into a run down small town in the middle of nowhere. Talk about making your shiny gadget feel like it is obsolete on day one.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 4, Interesting) 849

by Bongo (#49681245) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

The "Proofs" against the existence of God, are just as faulty as the "Proofs" for God.

That's an important point, wrt not making claims about what we don't know. I realise Richard Dawkins is critical of people who say, "science doesn't understand x therefore I believe in dragons etc." BUT/AND there is the other side where, scientism claims that life after death is impossible, and that's a step too far because, going back to the "we don't understand x", we don't have the faintest idea what sentience is, and nobody has come up with a good answer for how to even define it, or for how sentience arises out of matter, so Occam's razor doesn't help, because we don't know what the simplest answer would even be.

Why if you are a biological machine, are you also sentient? What's the point of sentience? It is irrelevant to life. Ants and birds might not be sentient, they are just machines running, like plants or trees, so why is there also this odd and unnecessary and frankly, annoying sentience? Yet if your body was here, living, yet without you being sentient, it would seem like... being dead? Why are we so identified with sentience, and why have we no idea how sentience works?

Not that I'm saying people should believe in sentience continuing after bodily death, I'm saying people overstep the mark when they claim that it must end and that's that and anyone who wonders otherwise is a religious nut. That's just where a scientific view becomes a scientism view, a belief in itself. So, remain open minded.

I'm not saying there is a god, and frankly my best speculative guess is that there is a cosmos of many kinds of beings, humans, ants, why not other stuff we don't know about, but there is NO evidence for ANY of the Abrahamic Gods, none of the Pagan Gods, whatever, these are all just old stories, and have no evidence at all for any of it. Those guys were not the first to have hallucinations nor the first to start a social movement.

And most of the main religions REQUIRE you to believe in a God, there is no way round that, and that belief or story is a sort of metaphor of then what you believe yourself to be, that comes to define what you believe you are, a sinner; in submission; etc., and all of those stories are simply bad psychology.

So yes, people should quite rightly be becoming atheist as they catch up with the modern world, like, if you are not atheist, then you haven't actually really quite noticed modernity. But that also means dropping the idea that we are "human animals" because, that's actually just another myth. We don't know what we are because we don't know what the real nature of sentience is. And as we discover more actual knowledge, maybe we'll start to discover something about that.

The hardest thing isn't just to drop the religious beliefs, the hard thing is to not go replacing them with pseudo-modern versions, like "we are a clever ape".

Modernity can retain the mystery because like all things we know we don't know, we simply leave it as an open question. And if atheists start getting too dogmatic then maybe we start a new thing called, "remaining being open minded".

Comment: Re:Great. Let's sit here and wait for the next wav (Score 1, Troll) 422

by Bongo (#49671433) Attached to: Ice Loss In West Antarctica Is Speeding Up

Yes, risk assessment, that's reasonable and that's what I'm saying. Waiting for better models may be more harmful, and/or acting on existing models may be more harmful. So let's remove all the garbage about "deniers" and "marxists", all the feigned certainty one way or the other.

Fossil fuels "will" run out eventually, but is that in 10 years, 50 years, or 200 years? Climate is changing, but is it going to wipe out all grain harvests, change some rain patterns, or increase plant growth? Nuclear power is dirty, but is it manageable, is it expensive because of over-regulation, is it cleaner to build nuclear yet risking accidents, but providing for electric cars? Do wind arms actually produce enough energy to merit their use, or will do after enough subsidy to kickstart the system, or should we be thinking other things? Risk risk risk.

See one can't just acknowledge, oh yeah obviously there is risk... so therefore... this here model and solution is what we should do and anyone who disagrees is a denier. Nope. As I was praising the earlier poster, he was being honest.

Whatever we do there are risks, and start yeah, but start what? What if climate change is actually a fairly low risk in the grand scheme of things and meanwhile lack of cheap (coal fired) electricity is holding back Africa, and the underdevelopment of infrastructure, is making one of those global epidemics more likely? Something which could decimate humanity in a few years? Why is climate change touted as THE MOST IMPORTANT issue? When that's just a wild speculation about risk?

Which do you start?

Comment: Re:Great. Let's sit here and wait for the next wav (Score 5, Insightful) 422

by Bongo (#49671181) Attached to: Ice Loss In West Antarctica Is Speeding Up

I sort of agree, but then, do we have time to wait for the 'logical evolution of the science'? Most science is done by making observations that prove hypotheses. In this case there is a slight problem with this way of making science. Once the observations are indisputable, its a bit too late to change things.

I don't care whether you are pro or against climate change action, but at least you are being perfectly HONEST.

So that's right, it is about risk and how to deal with that risk. To me this analogy fits: you are on a fast road and there is limited visibility, you see some object on the road up ahead, and you know that if you swerve violently you might just swerve into some other car or a tree, or maybe just go off the road and bump and survive, or you could keep going and see whether the object turns out to be an old cardboard box or something less dangerous. The decision/problem is about how best to rationally handle the questions of the risks involved.

There are two common and really idiotic views on climate change:

(1) it is real and happening and undeniable and those who claim we aren't certain are asking for a 100% certainty whereas we are 99.9999% certain so to deny that is tantamount to questioning whether the world is flat or a sphere, and whilst it may be true that in some weird unpredictable way, climate change turns out to be benign, because anything is possible, the risk of planetary disaster, mass extinction, runaway greenhouse, etc. are simply too big and so we have to act, because by the time it happens, it'll be too late, so we MUST act

(2) there is a United Nations drive to create a grass roots political counter culture which will operate via NGOs as an alternative to national governments, for wealth redistribution from rich countries to poor countries, to halt population growth, to halt industrialisation, in some new mix of socialist world government, under the banner of "global justice" and "sustainability", and that movement is simply unelected, undemocratic, authoritarian, and nuts, and they are pushing climate change as "science" via the corrupt IPCC in order to beat everyone into accepting their new "reality"

Now I'm sure many people will think that (1) makes sense and (2) is the idiotic one, but here's what I think really makes sense:

The reason both views stink is because, they are both really about risk and the future, and nobody knows the future. I'm all for a world government, where any kid born anywhere gets the same great opportunities in life, but how do you get there? I'm all for protecting the environment, but there too there is always risk. For example, that TED talk by an ecologist who said that, back in the day, they knew, and all ecologists agreed, that to protect a grassland they had to change things, so they shot 10,000 elephants. And decades later they realised their model was totally wrong. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. Of course, people only act when they think they know the answer. Of course, decades of expertise can go into that answer. And it can still easily be wrong. To think otherwise is just overconfidence in a world of complex systems. More fool you.

Remain open minded, to both ideas of global governance and to ecological change and to environmental damage and so on, and to economies, to education, to all the other human systems, and remain open minded about all these things, and then when thinking about risks, INCLUDE the risk of your established and accepted expert theory being wrong, include those risks and weigh up all those risks. Yes, welcome a global equal society, but also be sceptical about how to get there, the risks involved, after all, the current system is a product of people's past efforts, and you are not the first generation to suddenly grow some compassion. Likewise, look for risks to the environment, to societies, and so on, and climate change is one risk, but not the only one. Weigh up all the risks.

Comment: Re:So when will this actually happen? (Score 3, Insightful) 372

by Bongo (#49636475) Attached to: Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Monthly Record

And the big one, population growth. But another big one is also this:

An environmentalist who had travelled the world to find a job in carbon trading, explained to me that, "it doesn't matter if CO2 isn't really a problem, because by cutting CO2 you force a reduction in production and consumption; it is about reducing GREED."

As far as I know she wasn't religious, but it seems the West has inherited a monotheistic dogma about man being full of original sin, and sometimes it shows up in environmentalism.

Humans are creative intelligent creatures full of potential for empathy and freedom. But rather than champion our better qualities, some think we should persecute starving Africans for being born.

Comment: Re:Because of the action of a few ... (Score 1) 195

by Bongo (#49627481) Attached to: French Version of 'Patriot Act' Becomes Law

Sure, but unless you want ordinary people to revert to codes of personal honour and clan protection, the state has to be strong.

A strong state isn't a bad state. A bad strong state is a bad state.

"Bad" meaning, dictatorial, nepotistic, corrupt, abusive, etc. And people being flawed, all states have this problem in their government. But my impression is, the level of corruption in say, a Zambia or a Pakistan, is bigger than the corruption in a China, which is in turn perhaps more corrupt than a USA, which is more corrupt than say, Norway. Which is why I'd rather live in Norway than Pakistan.

So ISIL and the Islamists and all the people who are corrupt Islamic leaders, trying to use religion to gain power, rather than just help people, those people WANT the West to look weak, that's the point of terrorist attacks, a few here and a few there, which kill in relatively small numbers (compared to road deaths) but the point is, to create the illusion that the West is weak and ready to fall, and that you know, Islamists will be raising the flag above Rome any day now. It is to make you look weak.

So the state has to respond with signs of strength.

And we hope that USA is not so corrupt that this actually trashes your existing country and so becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Comment: Re:The Curve on Academic Courses (Score 1) 425

by Bongo (#49620811) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

OK well let's say that programming is more like architectural design, ie. it involves drawing, but what you draw comes as a result of thinking over a large set of technical, aesthetic, cultural, psychological, risk, and practical issues, and being able to organise them, puzzle out the contradictions, and find a balance which is about right for the particular site and client and costs and timescales. But again, it is a certain mode of thinking involved, or a set of modes, and if they can't teach people how to get into those modes, then students can't design stuff. Actually, there was a debate about architecture back in 1890 or something, when they were proposing to formalise architectural education, and many architects/master builders of the day, argued that it wasn't something which could be taught. You either had the skills, or you didn't, and no amount of teaching or testing could give them to you. The only way to learn was by apprenticeship, where you'd soon find out if you had the right stuff or not. Personally, I tend to think they had a point. So maybe like architecture, programming isn't about simply executing a mechanical skill, like drawing or coding, but being able to handle all the other stuff. Whether that stuff can be taught, that's the question.

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.