Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 377

by khallow (#48934867) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

In the US we gave our telcos massive tax cuts in the 90s in exchange for fiber rollout. The telcos took the money and ran.

That doesn't explain all those bankruptcies during the dotcom bubble. Rather they built a vast pile of dark fiber (that is, unused backbone fiber cable) and then went bankrupt when the money ran out. Companies like Google have been using that stuff (particularly, the right of ways these days) ever since.

Comment: Re:Positive pressure? (Score 1, Offtopic) 343

by khallow (#48933095) Attached to: Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States
I'm aware of two sorts of evidence. First, there's the rhetoric used by the President, for example, "bitter clingers" speech and his statements about the Trayvon Martin shooting indicate he is at least in support of some sort of federal level gun control.

Second, there's the ATF Fast and Furious scandal. On the surface, it's supposedly a sting operation meant to uproot gun smuggling networks in the US in order to assist with the taming of the Cartel war in next door Mexico. In actuality, this sting delivered considerable material support to the Sinaloa Cartel, 2,000 guns guaranteed not to be intercepted plus whatever else the Cartel was able to smuggle out with those weapons (such as laundered money or more guns), a pretext (which turned out to be too flimsy when the scheme was revealed) for introducing additional regulations on gun purchases, and these guns turning up at over 200 murders in Mexico and the US and which are still turning up at crime scenes.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48932875) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

You are confusing expert opinion with argument from authority.

Not at all. Expert opinion is the most common basis for an argument from authority. Let's look at the three examples you gave, the Stern Review, the Garnaut Climate Change Reviews, and the IPCC's series of assessment reports. The first thing to observe is that the first two reports were funded by politicians with a particular agenda and who happened to need a particular outcome of those reports and for which the reports just happen to deliver on that agenda and need.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair needed a pretext for supporting near future greenhouse gases emission controls. He sets aside public funds for the Stern Review, and (what a coincidence!) the Stern Review just so happens to support his needs of the moment. Same goes for the Garnaut Reviews which happen to fill the same role for former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

IPCC has long been notorious for providing what pro-climate change propaganda is needed as it is needed. For example, we have the "hockey stick" estimate promulgated in the 2001 Third ASsessment Report, extreme weather in the next assessment, and heating of the oceans in the latest one. I wouldn't be surprised to see a sudden confidence by considerable narrowing of the temperature forcing of a doubling of carbon dioxide in the next assessment report.

Each of these reporting sources has consistently exaggerated its conclusions in favor of current carbon dioxide emission reduction. Earlier in this thread, I mentioned the consistent biases of the Stern Review. The Garnaut Reviews are even worse with a claim of only 0.1 to 0.2% of Australia's fossil fuel-dependent GDP lost each year to mitigation policies for AGW. That's ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the IPCC has long been notorious for exaggerating the impact of AGW while simultaneously downplaying the costs of greenhouse gases emissions reduction. For example, I was told by slashdotter Layzej that the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (TAR) predicted a 0.1 to 0.2 C increase in global mean temperature over the few decades after 2001 (using scenario "IS92a").

But when I actually looked at the "Summary for Policy Makers" I see claims of larger near future heating for the scenario in question (of 0.1 C to 0.3 C) with the high end of the initial range of increases presented instead as a median value of this new, unjustified range. I also saw that in this Summary the TAR had obsoleted the scenario in question and was using scenarios that presented more aggressive heating.

In other words, the fine print, which Layzej unearthed was buried deep in the report somewhere, while other, significantly worse and unjustified scenarios were presented for public consumption. Now, that those overly alarmist scenarios are failing, supporters are digging up the hidden, but somewhat more accurate predictions and claiming that the IPCC was right all along.

This sort of dishonesty and misuse of expert opinion is why I term the whole effort an argument from authority. But don't get me wrong I think there's a lot more fallacies at play here than just argument from authority.

My view on this is that "expert opinion" and "peer reviewed and published" doesn't outweigh being deliberately wrong.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48927557) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

No it isn't. It's required by law to pay taxes just as it is required to pay your employees and not kill them at the end of the day.

So you're saying it's not strictly a negative externality. The moral content or intent of a policy is completely irrelevant to whether it creates an externality or not.

Just because it would be cheaper if this law didn't exist doesn't make it an externality.

Of course not. It's incurred without choice by the employer, that's what makes it an externality.

I don't think you will ever understand what an externality is. There isn't much more I can do here. I understand that you will never want to lower CO2 emissions if you don't get what an externality is.

Funny, doesn't look like that from my end. While I grant someone seems to have a problem understanding what an externality is, I find it more interesting that merely characterizing this massive synergy of fossil fuels, energy, and transportation with the entirety of an economy, as not an externality is sufficient to dismiss it.

This strikes me as comparable to the argument from authority fallacy you presented earlier, created by presenting "credible, peer-reviewed", but highly biased predictions as if they were the best possible guesses out there.

Sure, if we ignore contrary evidence, like what I've remarked on (such as ignoring the positive externalities of fossil fuel use, proper time value of money, or the oter systematic biases contributing to portraying radical carbon dioxide emission reduction as something with low costs and large benefits) then sure, we can reach agreement on this. It's just not worth my effort to do so. Nor would it be moral.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48926979) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

Externalities are not related to price.

As an aside, the more (or less) something costs, the less (or more) incentive there is to produce it. Higher supply results in a price swing in the opposite direction due to supply and demand. That right there creates a positive correlation between externalities incurred by something and the price offered for that thing.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48926893) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

The cost of all goods include the cost of transportation. When you pay for an apple, you pay for pesticide, oil, transport, the retailer's accountant and a whole bunch of stuff whether you like it or not and these are not externalities, these are part of the voluntary trade, no matter if you are aware of the details or not.

No, it doesn't work that way. You already included a number of externalities. The retailer's accountant, for example, often is employed to insure compliance with tax codes and employment regulation. The marginal cost of the labor required to deal with that is an externality.

For oil, similarly, the various goods and services that the apple grower uses which are not directly tied to the purchase of your apple, also make the apple a little bit cheaper. That's an externality of oil which directly changes the price of the apple. Similar, because the apple is cheaper or more expensive, you may be able to offer your goods and services (eg, your labor) at a cheaper price or forced to offer at a more expensive price . And you can purchase more or less of other goods and services that you consume.

Externalities are not related to price. Cheap oil has the same externalities as expensive oil. Externalities are related to its production and burning in your car. Not to the price you pay at the pump.

This is deeply flawed reasoning. The price of oil due to its prevalent use throughout human society creates substantial externalities just on that basis alone.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48926187) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

It's not nebulous. Just because you are ignorant doesn't make it an externality. So whether you agree or not to the pollution of your own car, it is par of the deal, or the trade (between you and the gas company) if you prefer. What is not part of the deal is the pollution that you force to others while driving your car.

I prefer "trade" not "deal" because "trade" has an established meaning ("mutually voluntary exchange of goods or services") while "deal" apparently means "Whatever danbob999 decides it means". I note that you have yet to objectively define "deal" or explain its relevance to anything we've been discussing.

Yes. And when you buy gas, or buy service from a delivery company, you make the choice to add more CO2 to the atmosphere. A small part of that cost will be assumed by you. But a much larger amount will be assumed by the rest of the world, and this is what we call an externality.

It's an externality because the rest of the world didn't participate in my transaction. Similarly, cheaper or more expensive oil can result in near universally cheaper or more expensive goods and services even when the agent doesn't do anything with oil or its derivative products directly. That's an externality as well by definition since the beneficiaries didn't participate in the trading or use of fuel and thus did not voluntarily incur the cost or benefit of the pricing of oil-derived fuels.

Comment: Re:Science by democracy doesn't work? (Score 1) 496

by khallow (#48925205) Attached to: Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

It's the impact on those not part of the deal which is an externality.

No, that's not what externality means. Externality means you didn't make a choice to incur the cost or benefit. Making a trade doesn't imply that I'm part of some larger, nebulous "deal" and hence have agreed to whatever externalities I'm exposed to.

One has to look out for engineers -- they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb. -- Marcel Pagnol