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Comment Re:So far so good.... (Score 1) 315 315

You mean the creator of OS/2 went back in time and destroyed planet Redmond, causing a split in the timeline, forking Windows development down a new path of teh ultra shiny and full of lens flare? And somewhere, a very old Jobs is walking around in a black robe, whispering to his younger self?

Comment Re:Swift (Score 1) 352 352

As a non-programmer, who tries a bit of stuff, that's exactly what I find myself wrestling with. It is the formal operational thinking, or more simply, how to organise things. It is not unlike buildings and architecture; you have all these rooms and they all have certain requirements and functions, yet they also have to co-exist and be connected together, in a building which itself has certain requirements and constraints, and so on. And the details can often affect the wider decisions, for example, a building code says you can't put X next to Y, but to move Y you have to rearrange the plan. And that's where experience really matters, where someone knows that for certain kinds of work, there are certain patterns which will tend to work out ok, ie. you can start with that pattern and find that when you arrive at the details, they more or less fall into place. An analogy I'd suggest is that the programming language is like the building materials—steel can do amazing things which you can't do in iron, but sometimes you are looking for pure thermal mass which you get with coarser stuff like concrete—whilst the architecture, the "pattern language" (a book about towns and cities) is the formal operational thinking, organising everything so it works. That's the key big skill, and whether it is programming or buildings or how to do the weekly shop, the ability to organise, is a life skill, and it is basically the same skill regardless of the subject. As one great developmental psychologist said, "organisms organise."

Comment Re:Chaos Theory (Score 0) 174 174

Chaos theory and nonlinear systems should be mandatory in high school, together with statistics. Seriously.

Agree. And you can see how AGW was specifically framed to step around them. For example:

"weather involves chaos but climate is the long term average within boundaries... "

"uncertainty can't be an excuse to do nothing..."

Comment Re:Can't be true (Score 4, Interesting) 174 174

Kinda, it sounds like the "fragility" issue. Exports aren't bad—you get more global diversity if you can exchange globally. We can't all grow coconuts even if coconut oil is really good food. The problem is the "efficiency" idea that each place should only do one thing, and then rely on that alone. That's kinda what people are trying to figure out when they say "local". It isn't about local, it is about more diverse systems. Same for any product. When Zambia decided to rely on copper, well what happens when copper prices plunge. It is just the "too big to fail" problem. Globally, we actually have some help in this in that, if one nation's food supply were to fail, it could buy food from elsewhere, so that is diversity and counters the too big to fail problem. It isn't about being local, it is about diverse systems which can adapt to change. Of course, big chem loves to sell to big customers and do big business with monocultures. But that big top down central planned one big scheme thinking is what has to go. That's what people are kinda trying to say when they say "local". What we need, can still be big, just more diverse, less of the "efficiency" thinking, and more of the diverse, integrating thinking, anti-fragility.

Comment Re:Technology to deliver personalized lessons (Score 1) 162 162

I like that idea and to extend it, differentiated education could also be on-going, and we basically split the work week between continuing study and productive work.

The old model—learn by rote and follow a clock and then do the same task in a factory all day for life—is long gone.

Markets shift and adapt, and people need to be able to develop their abilities in whatever direction suits them, whilst working.

Comment Re:Basic Engineering! (Score 1) 163 163

Do you think that a country that thinks it's progressive with it's recent legislation permitting woman to attend sports matches should be allowed to have nuclear capacity... in this day and age?

People might not like your question, but it is easy to forget how much violence and war the West has gone through, until well, building peace wasn't so much a case of "because we're civilised", but rather, "because we're tired and thoroughly abused of our desire for war". It's the futility of war. But one only gets that futility when the wars are un-winnable, or the costs of the win too ironic. As discovered... from experience.

Much of the "developing" world, has yet to make this "exquisite" discovery. So, young men really do dream of being heroes, they really do dream of being victorious, and their wives really do love their men for being heroic.

That's quite possibly the more dangerous cultural stage, than whether they get to watch a sports event. Fear the patriotic fever.

Comment Re:Goldman Sachs (Score 1) 1307 1307

When Greece joined, they claimed to have a 3% or below deficit. It turned out to be more than 15%. Goldman Sachs helped them to cook the books. So there's multiple parties to blame. Greece for weaseling themselves into the eurozone, Brussels for turning a blind eye, and Goldman Sachs for committing large scale fraud. In the end, none of the responsible people will be punished. In the end, taxpayers in Europe, both the Greek and the rest of the Europeans are holding the bag. It is by design.

There's little to be done if a nation of people wind up with a bad government (and bad government departments full of people who screw things up).

Hopefully the future will bring in more "team of teams" connected organisations, so that the people can see the crap that's going on and can have a chance to fix it.
Democracy, on its own—elect some people—doesn't protect anyone from those people making royal cockups. People still need to be able to see what is going on and hear the alarm bells when they happen, not 20 years later when the stuff the governments were doing finally has consequences big enough for all to see.

As it is, "the people" only get to find out about the small leak when the ship sinks.

So I think there must be some lessons for the people, in books like General McChrystal's Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World.

Comment Re:Reconciling faith with science (Score 2) 305 305

There's often confusion between science (testable observations) and science (reasoning, thinking, rationality).

They overlap in a very specific way: reason is the capacity to think about thinking. Ie. I have a thought, "the Gods like me" and then rather that just start behaving like the Gods like me, I actually then have another thought, "wait, how do I know the Gods like me, what am I basing that thought on?"

Most people gain the ability to think about thinking in their early teens. Until then, we just parrot what we're told.

Now, this enquiry, "how do I know if this is really true?" is the basis of science. Science is technically called a "3rd person perspective", ie. it is objective. It comes from like, 13th century or something, where who armies were about to charge each other on the battle field, both of them yelling "GOD IS ON OUR SIDE!!!" and a clever guy standing on a hill watching, said to himself, "well, they can't both be right". He was literally the 3rd person there, as the first two could not stand objectively and see the scene. He realised, they can't both be right, so at least one side is deluding themselves, is mistaken, yet they appear completely convinced. So how do I know if I ma right? I can't just rely on feeling certain of my view. It has to be..... TESTED!

That's science and reason. The ability to know that we can fool ourselves, so we need a way to TEST.

Ironically, climate change is one of those things where they say, oh we can't wait until it is really testable, we have to act, which you know, is a problem. It is such a problem that people resort to calling others immoral denialists, for pointing to it. And ironic that the Pope weighs in on it, too.

But if you read many of those paragraphs in the Pope's thing, you'll see that he is only using it to promote Christian values, like self sacrifice, helping the poor, etc. And he's very against postmodern values, where people try to think about alternatives. It would be nice if he said, please build some nuclear power stations, or improve the efficiency of cars, but no, he's all like, stop being selfish you sinners! Stop being materialistic! Stop being greedy!

And frankly, I'm of the opinion that climate change has been tuned in to a polarised, good guys v bad guys, "science" v "denialists", that it is no wonder that the Pope can come in and say, see I told you, you must respect the ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY OF GOD!

It is just a symptom of ecology having been dumbed down to such an extent that it has become religious an polarised.

The actual calculations and reasoning you have to make just to figure out the carbon footprint of an espresso are complex, full of assumptions, and difficult. Ecology is NOT a simple subject. The climate is NOT a simple subject. Should you build a coal station, to raise living standards faster, improve healthcare, and thus reduce child birth rates, or should you be "sustainable" and limit energy availability, so development takes longer, and people maybe continue with high birth rates for longer? That's just an example.

But no, denialists! And now with the Pope's blessing, evil selfish god-denying denialists!

But back to your point, someone would have to sit down with Hitler, and rationally explain to him Human Rights, and that he has no basis for thinking that his race was superior to other races, or if he does cite evidence, you critically examine it, and even then, ask, so what's the moral reasoning for him thinking that his place is to dominate others rather than help others? Most of this stuff can be reasoned out and doesn't require Gods.

And we actually know form developmental psychology that humans go through several stages of ethical and reasoning ability, so we know that what appears to be completely self evident to Hitler, is not reasonable to other people who have a higher and more reasonable capacity. It goes back to that ability to think about thinking, which is the start of being able to take the perspective of other people, and that's the basis of asking, would you like it if they did that to you? and that's the start of the Golden Rule. But you need the cognitive ability to do that.

And we also know that what the Pope cites as ethics, believing in a complete authority of God, is also an earlier moral thinking outlook. Many people grow out of it. And become better at making ethical decisions. Which is why the Church gets ridiculed for its silly and simplistic "no condoms" thing.

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't have a fix. -- Rhett Buggler