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Comment: Build or support alternatives where you are... (Score 1) 70

by Paul Fernhout (#48466113) Attached to: DHS Set To Destroy "Einstein" Surveillance Records

Whatever makes sense with your skills, resources, and connections... These alternatives are there to provide the seeds for a next generation. They can be things like non-profits, for-profits, hobbies, community organizations, libraries, social networks, barter exchanges, citizens groups focused on one important local issue like a better library or better infrastructure of some sort, a movement for a basic income, LETS systems, or whatever. A healthy society has a good mix of subsistence, gift, exchange, and planned transactions. If you think the system is out of balance, then create or support counterbalancing forces (in a legal, healthy, and optimistic way). Tiny non-profits across the USA are suffering from lack of leadership and members as TV and the internet and dual-income families soak up all the otherwise spare volunteer time. The "old" USA from a century or so ago had those strong traditions of a mix of all those things, and such a mix is at the root of "Democracy" IMHO.

I used to think Debian provided one example of alternative governance, although lately mostly bad news on that front regarding the systemd issue. Hopefully it will move past that and become stronger through some self-reflection.

Search on "Michael Rupert Evolution" on his "From the Wilderness" site for some related interesting reading where he tried to move to another country and it didn't work out (an extreme case, and I dismiss his worries about "Peak Oil" as overblown, but he had some insights there about building where you are now and are connected).

Comment: Re:Developing (Score 2) 45

It's not a few that are really developing and a lot that aren't, but the contrary. For example, if you look at how well Nigeria has dealt with the current Ebola crisis, you pretty much have to acknowledge that they have improved a lot since the 1960's. In the same way, Uganda today is not sliding downhill from some Idi Amin glory days, quite the contrary. We could fairly describe a few states as failed - that's not a racist term per say, it's a rational assessment if used correctly, but when people talk about developing nations like 9 of 10 are never going to develop instead of the contrary, that's an abuse of terms like 'developing' and 'failed state'. There's also this meme that foreign aid is just pumping money into corrupt regimes that will never actually improve the lot of their populaces, and again, that's more the exception than the rule.
      There's also a difference in comparing a failed state with a successfully developing one in 21st century terms and comparing it to its colonial past or some general colonial era. You can take the real numbers for famine deaths caused by the British raj in India and Irish potato famine deaths of about the same time, and with fair statistics, nobody should ever complain about anything Stalin did to the USSR again,unless they are prepared to compare Queen Victoria with Hitler and Stalin, to her disfavor. That's your colonial era, without even knowing the figures for Africa and how much they would make the totals worse. Somalia today probably has it about as bad as they did in the colonial era, but not worse. That's bad, a drastically failed state - there's no need to claim that somehow it's even worse than what Belgum did to its colonies or other cases which were unimaginable hells - by the time things get any worse than that, everyone is dead.

Comment: Re:Well if two google engineers say so (Score 2) 578

by Artifakt (#48461043) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Cheaper than coal isn't enough, until it's so much cheaper people shut down existing coal plants early. As cheap or slightly cheaper just means people will stop planning new coal plants and start building new wind farms to cover new demand - that is, it only impacts the increase in desired power generation, not all the power already being generated that already contributes to CO2 rise.

Comment: Re:Is Nuclear going to be acknowledged? (Score 2) 578

by Artifakt (#48460951) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Why do people keep mentioning the (presumably left wing) enviro-weenies, when the US stopped running breeder programs and reprocessing spent fuel based on the arguement that we couldn't stop the isotopes from falling into the hands of terrorists - various parts of the shutdown were started back in both the Carter and Reagan administrations, by people who were Homeland Security type policy wonks, who went to work for Oil companies after leaving the public sector. In other words, - generally right wing, even under a Democrat president. Movements to develop Thorium power have been opposed, in large part, because Thorium designs can't produce Plutonium for nuclear weapons use, again, something the right wing cares about much more than the left, which mostly wants to stop making more bombs at all. Yes, there are plenty of people in the environmental (green party) left who don't like nuclear power or nuclear deterance, but by singleing just them out for all the blame and ignoring the ones on the other side of the political spectrum, you have accomplished two things - you've helped kill the thing you desire, and you've taught the ones on the right that they can count on what Stalin called useful idiots. Making nuclear power all about right v. left is being played for a fool.

Comment: Re:Let's do the math (Score 1) 292

by Artifakt (#48453437) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

Even though he's probably right, it's unimportant - let's assume you're right, there really is some way to move at at least a high fraction of c, and even that it can open the stars themselves to humans. - WE certainly won't be looking for life in other galaxies before we have even looked around our own. We won't be looking for life closer to our own galactic core before we have looked at the immediate neighborhood in our own spiral arm. We won't even be looking as close as Tau Ceti until after we have checked our own solar system in such places as Titan and Europa, if we even get that far. Most probably, we won't be looking at Europa at all until we have proven the technology to tell absolutely and for sure if Mars has life. This whole discussion is like a young person speculating about what they would do after they have more money than Warren Buffett, before they have actually made their first million. The time to start speculating is after you've made a few hundred million or even a full billion or so.

Comment: Fuck you, Eugene O'Donnell (Score 1) 474

by jcr (#48451987) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

The cops in NYC are a criminal gang that routinely violates citizens' civil rights. The fact that they're still doing this illegal "stop and frisk" bullshit after multiple court rulings against it, proves that they're not there to protect the public, they're just tax collectors and obedience enforcers.


Comment: You might like: "Marxism of the Right" (Score 1) 197

by Paul Fernhout (#48431651) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

"This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.
    The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it. Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon's wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments."

I would add "community" and "health" as public goods government should also help support.

BTW, to underscore the point that charity only tends to work well in communities where people are well known to each other (either that or an abstract gifte economy like JP Hogan wrote about), see:
"Switzerland's shame: The children used as cheap farm labour"
"Gogniat, his brother and two sisters were "contract children" or verdingkinder as they are known in Switzerland. The practice of using children as cheap labour on farms and in homes began in the 1850s and it continued into the second half of the 20th Century. Historian Loretta Seglias says children were taken away for "economic reasons most of the time⦠up until World War Two Switzerland was not a wealthy country, and a lot of the people were poor". Agriculture was not mechanised and so farms needed child labour.
    If a child became orphaned, a parent was unmarried, there was fear of neglect, or you had the misfortune to be poor, the communities would intervene. Authorities tried to find the cheapest way to look after these children, so they took them out of their families and placed them in foster families. ...
    The extent to which these children were treated as commodities is demonstrated by the fact that there are cases even in the early 20th Century where they were herded into a village square and sold at public auction. ...
    "Children didn't know what was happening to them, why they were taken away, why they couldn't go home, see their parents, why they were being abused and no-one believed them," she says.
    "The other thing is the lack of love. Being in a family where you are not part of the family, you are just there for working." And it left a devastating mark for the rest of the children's lives. Some have huge psychological problems, difficulties with getting involved with others and their own families. For others it was too much to bear. Some committed suicide after such a childhood.
    Social workers did make visits. David Gogniat says his family had no telephone, so when a social worker called a house in the village to announce that she was coming, a white sheet was hung out of a window as a warning to the foster family. On the day of this annual visit David didn't have to work, and was allowed to have lunch with the family at the table. "That was the only time I was treated as a member of the family... She sat at the table with us and when she asked a question I was too scared to say anything, because I knew if I did the foster family would beat me." ...
    The Farmers Union agrees with the principle of compensation, but is adamant that farmers should not have to contribute. You have to understand the times in which these children were placed into foster care, says union president Markus Ritter. Councils and churches had no money. Farming families were asked to take children who had fallen on difficult times or had one parent so the farmers were fulfilling a social function. Does he acknowledge abuse occurred? "We received a lot of feedback from children who were treated really well⦠But we are also aware that some children were not treated properly." ..."

Of course, either big business out of control or big government out of control (or both at once) is a terrible thing, like a fire let loose to rage and burn everything good in its path. Libertarian criticism is often valid, even if solutions put forth by "propertarian" libertarians may be found wanting in various extreme aspects. (BTW, there are also "Libertarian Socialists" lwhich are better represented in Europe, and that is what the rest of the world outside the USA thinks of when people say libertarian -- an example being Noam Chomsky.) So, given that our society is no longer small-scale enough for some older social processes to work well (short of rethinking and remaking our infrastructure, which is maybe a good idea in any case), we need to think about a healthy balance, which can be a very hard thing to achieve or maintain.

Comment: Re:Debian OS is no longer of use to me now (Score 1) 566

by Paul Fernhout (#48431315) Attached to: Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

"You are personally going to migrate your employer's systems because you personally do not like something, something every single major distro is moving too, and the top kernel developers are already using?"

No, AC, he said he is going to migrate his *personal* systems and those of an apparent volunteer organization he is affiliated with. Read more carefully next time before launching into the personal insults...

Comment: The Ben Franklin / Copyright "Pirate" connection (Score 1) 55

by Paul Fernhout (#48431235) Attached to: Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors

"Ben Franklin and others who owned printers realized that copyright didn't apply to them, so they promptly began making copies of everything - books, sheet music, etc."

I had know that for much of US history there was no respect for foreign copyrights (from other countries). I never saw anyone connect this to Ben Franklin's success before. Interesting!

Now that I look:
"Benjamin Franklin, Copyright Pirate"

"Benjamin Franklin, the first IP pirate?"

Comment: Small nuclear vs. solar PV vs. a singularity (Score 1) 516

by Paul Fernhout (#48431185) Attached to: Rooftop Solar Could Reach Price Parity In the US By 2016

I agree we may well see cheap compact nuclear fission reactors in the 2020s like from Hyperion., Also, it is a sad truth that we could build much safer reactors if engineers had been asked to prioritize safety over other things (Freeman Dyson's TRIGA design being one example) and if the USA has not focused on a Uranium nuclear cycle that intentionally could be easily weaponized (instead of Thorium).

Still I'd expect solar will actually continue to fall in price by the 2020s too. It would not surprise me if PV was in the 15 cent per watt range by 2030 (or even less) other things remaining constant. Consider how "cheap" used "solar collectors" in terms of tree leaves are in the Fall in the USA. Solar panels potentially could be printed as cheaply as aluminum foil using advanced nanomaterials and special inks.

We haven't really seen anything like the amount of research in PV we will probably see when it reaches grid parity everywhere and people really invest in it in a huge way equivalent to previous investments in fossil fuel production and research. Some people (myself included) have been predicting this turning point for a long time, and it has been dismissed and ignored. It is easy to say PV progress will never get to grid parity until it actually happens. That has been true even though the trends for decades show a clear line towards zero cost (no doubt it will go asymptotic at some point to just be dirt cheap though).

Unfortunately, in our short-term-oriented society in the USA, until PV is cheaper than the grid it is only a niche thing for special circumstances or motivated environmentally-minded people. That has been what has been funding it as only a relative trickle of investment. Once PV is cheaper than the grid, assuming a good solution to energy storage exists (fuel cells with nickle-metal hydride storage, Lithium ion batteries, molten salt batteries, compressed air, or something else), it will be economically foolish to use anything else to generate power than PV. And then, sometime after the stampede, we will see enormous sums of money flow into PV research and production. Electric utilities may collapse all over the place as his happens because grid power becomes too pricey once the cost of delivery exceeds the cost of on-site production. Except for the value of their right of ways as internet conduits, and maybe the value of their copper wires, I would guess that most utilities if properly accounted for, given decommissioning costs and outstanding long-term debt in sunk costs, most utilities may well have a negative net worth right now given any forecast that includes these trends.

Personally, I still think it possible that hot fusion or cold fusion will displace PV (as well as nuclear fusion) in the near future. Those could potentially be really really cheap. Even if fission gets cheaper and better (including potentially as small batteries), I don't see it could compete with workable fusion (and probably neither could PV for most applications).

We'll likely also see energy efficiency increase greatly. The current best construction in Europe is to build passive solar superinsulated houses without furnaces; search on "no furnace house".

I'd love to see the solar roadways thing work out... Or even just for parking lots or driveways.

Still, as I said elsewhere, the same reasons PV s getting cheaper (cheaper computing leading to cheaper collaboration and better designs by cheaper modeling and newer materials and so on) are the same sorts of reasons we will also see much cheaper nuclear power. Of course, there are other trends that all interact with that as well... A post by me from 2000:
"[unrev-II] Singularity in twenty to forty years?"

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein