Forgot your password?

Comment: Great advice; see also seasonal vegetables (Score 1) 193

by Paul Fernhout (#46797207) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Leafy greens especially are really important to preventing many diseases. Cabbage is a fairly cheap one. You can steam the cabbage while cooking the rice. Dandelions are a terrific source of healthy greens (if they have not been sprayed with weedkiller etc.). It's crazy that people have been taught to hate healthy Dandelions.

Our stainless steel "Miracle" rice cooker with a steamer attachment was one of our best kitchen investments ($70) as it does not have Teflon as most rice cookers do, but we worked up to it from cheaper Teflon ones.

Without good food, the mind and body can go into a downward spiral of low energy and depression -- thus a cycle of poverty. Hunter/gathers are more than 100 different types of food over the course of a year. Getting calories in not enough -- you need micronutrients too, and that means a diversity of foods -- but they don't have to be expensive foods.

Of course, so many sick care schemes (Medicaid, Medicare, "health" insurance) will pay for expensive drugs and surgeries but won;t pay for good food to avoid drugs and surgeries. It doesn't help that stressed-out people tend to bulk up on calories as an ages old survival mechanism, not knowing where the next meal may be coming from. This is all made worse by US farm policy:
"Thanks to lobbying, Congress chooses to subsidize foods that weâ(TM)re supposed to eat less of."

Watch out for additives in bullion that might cause headaches and such. Lots of bad headaches could make it hard to keep a job or graduate from college.

Beans are also cheaper to buy dried than canned -- except you need to know how to prepare them and have a place to cook them and the electricity or gas too cook them, which together may not be possible for many students.

People need a healthy source of fat, too -- something lacking in what you outline. The brain is mostly fat, so it is no wonder on low fat (or poor fat) diets that people can get messed up mentally. Nuts can be one, but they tend to be expensive and they may be lacking in Omegas 3s. Eggs might be a good cheap choice of fat including some Omega-3s for many people; some other sources:

Eating vegetarian in general is healthier and cheaper. So is buying the right things in bulk, maybe splitting big purchases with others.

We also got a lot of value from a $100 blender to do smoothies from frozen fruit -- but that is beyond very cheap (although still cheaper and much healthier than a carton of ice cream).

Still, something like a "basic income" may be a needed as a general solution to poverty. The problem with a lot of frugal advice is that it forces people to take on various risks (like health risks of lack of vegetables, or safety risk of a cheap car, or assault risk in a bad neighborhood, and so on). Or it entails doing a lot of time consuming things that prevent more productive activities. Your advice though is very time-saving and practical, which is why I like it (except for quibbles on some of the above points as far as long-term living).

Comment: Governance could be a problem... (Score 1) 28

Aside from the technical difficulties (which are certainly real; but probably surmountable with time and funding), I would be concerned about the political side of the project(politics being...somewhat less of a solved problem... than space and blowing things up).

The technology sufficient to divert an asteroid, especially with limited warning(which precludes some of the subtler 'attach an ion drive or give it a slow shove with a laser' type schemes), is probably pretty punchy, possibly 'basically an ICBM but better at escaping earth's gravity well' punchy. It would be an unfortunate irony if, in the attempt to mitigate the city-destroying-asteroid threat, we ended up with some sort of proliferation problem or another round of delightful nuclear brinksmanship.

In an ideal world, you'd hope that people could put "Stopping asteroid apocalypse" in the category of 'things more important than your petty nation-states and dumb ethnic and religious squabbles'; but I wouldn't exactly be shocked if people largely can't and every stage of an anti-asteroid project ends up being a bunch of delicate diplomacy and jingoistic dickwaving between the assorted nuclear powers, along with a lot of hand-wringing about anti-satellite capabilities, and generally a gigantic mess.

Comment: Re:I am all for this research (Score 2) 28

However.... what happens when there is an Asteroid that will threaten earth... in between the time the telescope is developed, but before the asteroid diversion tech is developed?

Well, probably the de-facto legalization of every drug ever, along with cataclysmic declines in production in all sectors where working kind of sucks...

Comment: C. H. Douglas -- Social Credit (Score 1) 193

by Paul Fernhout (#46797013) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

"What sucks is we're so much more productive, you'd think we'd be working less. But why the hell would we give anything to anyone if they didn't 'work' for it?"

If inheriting property is a legitimate idea, what about all of humanity inheriting our collective know how and so being entitled to some of the fruits of our global productivity?
"Douglas disagreed with classical economists who recognised only three factors of production: land, labour and capital. While Douglas did not deny the role of these factors in production, he saw the "cultural inheritance of society" as the primary factor. He defined cultural inheritance as the knowledge, technique and processes that have been handed down to us incrementally from the origins of civilization. ..."

One way to implement that:

Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 257

by artor3 (#46796809) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

That sunset clause is the ONLY reason Obama was able to get rid of even a portion of the tax cuts. The whole thing was about to expire, and he was able to force the Republicans to accept some tax increases since the alternative was much larger increases. If it hadn't been for that sunset clause, the Bush tax cuts would have lasted another 50 years.

Comment: I'm not sure how common it is... (Score 3, Insightful) 193

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46796461) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?
But it sounds like an absurd example of a false economy: Even at relatively cheap schools, the cost of running a student through is nontrivial. It seems like complete insanity to waste expensive instructional time on somebody who can't concentrate properly for want of a few dollars worth of calories. Nobody's interests are well served by that.

Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 257

by hey! (#46796433) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

I don't know if this is nuts. I'd have to see the full arguments on both sides, and so far what we have to go on is a one-sided summary.

If the *only* effect of the proposed regulation would be to increase beer prices, then sure, I agree with you 100%: government is being stupid. But if there's a good reason for the regulation, then I'd disagree with you.

Reading the article, it seems like the idea that this regulation will cause beer prices to spike dramatically seems a bit alarmist. The regulations would require brewers who send waste to farmers as animal feed to keep records. It seems hard to believe that this would significantly raise the price of beer or whiskey given that alcohol production is already highly regulated. On the other hand, it seems like there is no specific concern related to breweries. They were just caught up in a law that was meant to address animal feed.

If you want an example of a regulation free utopia, look no further than China, where adulteration of the food chain is a common problem. If the choice were a regulatory regime that slightly complicates brewers lives, and a regime that allows melamine and cyanuric acid into human food, I'd live with higher beer prices.

Fortunately, we don't have to live with either extreme. We can regulate food adulteration and write exceptions into the regulations for situations that pose little risk. Since presumably the ingredients used in brewing are regulated to be safe for human consumption, the byproducts of brewing are likely to pose no risk in the human food chain.

Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 3, Insightful) 257

by Dutch Gun (#46796179) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

This is all a tempest in a teapot. The FDA is proposing rules for complying with a 2011 law passed by congress to ensure food safety. Brewers had been exempt from the rule because they were able to buy off congresscritters in the past. Now they will have to keep records and conduct training to make sure that they aren't shipping contaminated waste grain to feed cows. People who love to eat cows should welcome the fact that they can be assured that their cows haven't been fed contaminated feed.
All of the hysteria about driving brewers out of business is just hyperbole. Before these rules, brewers could ship contaminated, spoiled grain to feed cows without any accountability. Now they will be accountable to make sure that they don't feed cows garbage... seems reasonable.
You can read the FDA regulation (and avoid the hysterical hype) here:

I haven't heard of anyone talking about driving brewers out of business wholesale, but any increase in operating cost is going to have negative repercussions for a business, which may mean lower profits, leading to reduced employment. That's just the way these things work. Note that this could also have a ripple effect, such as increasing the price of milk, since farmers have been able to rely on this cheap and nutritious feed for a long time.

You mentioned "they could have" in your response, but I could counter with "they never have so far", which seems a more powerful argument. This practice has been going on for over a century with apparently no real trouble, and suddenly the brewers are going to poison the farmer's cattle? It seems a bit far-fetched, since after all, these are the by-products of human-consumable beverages. I'd be more apt to support this if there was a documented history of problems with this practice.

Government, by it's nature, tends to want to create more and more rules and regulations. I think that's part of the natural desire to proactively protect against problems, but it's also has slightly less noble purposes as well. More regulations essentially means the government has to grow to enforce those regulations. It's in the FDA's own self-interest to pass as many rules and regulations as it can, because then it's "business" grows. That means those in the FDA can move up their own "corporate ladder", so to speak.

Government regulations have to be viewed as a necessary evil. All but the most die-hard libertarians or anarchists would say we need no regulations, but there's always a careful balancing act that must be made between the imposed overhead of these regulations and the benefits they provide in terms of safety, reliability, and consumer rights. So, I think it's worth questioning whether the imposed cost of this new proposal is worth the imposed overhead and costs.

Comment: Re:Model M Keyboard FTW (Score 1) 641

by greg1104 (#46794707) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Some of the models from 1993 and 1994 have a drainage channel for spills. See the Design section of Model M Keyboard to find out the model numbers. I consider those the peak of the Model M design. The quality dropped noticeably starting in 1995, due to cost cutting changes also mentioned there.

Comment: Re:Model M Keyboard FTW (Score 1) 641

by greg1104 (#46794685) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Lexmark ruined the design with a set of 1994 cost cutting changes. Models from 1995 and later have a noticeably worse typing feel to them. Unfortunately that lower quality 1995+ version is what Unicomp inherited. They make an OK descendent of the Model M design, but it's surely not the same keyboard as the classic design.

Comment: Re:IBM Model M Keyboard (Score 1) 641

by greg1104 (#46794659) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

The Model M was redesigned by Lexmark in 1994 to use lighter, cheaper components. All of the units from 1995 and later are substandard compared to the earlier ones. The backplate is just one of the problems.

Engineered quality peaked with the 1993 and 1994 models that were updated to have a liquid drainage channel.

Comment: Post-Scarcity Princeton: Abundance vs. Elitism (Score 1) 90

by Paul Fernhout (#46794165) Attached to: Minerva CEO Details His High-Tech Plan To Disrupt Universities

From my essay discussing excellence vs. elitism & privilege:
So, the question becomes, how do we go about getting the whole world both accepted into Princeton and also with full tenured Professorships (researchy ones without teaching duties except as desired? :-) And maybe with robots to do anything people did not want to do? This is just intended as a humorous example, of course. I'm not suggesting Princeton would run the world of the future or that everyone would really have Princeton faculty ID cards and parking stickers. Still, that's a thought. :-) That motel for scholars, The Institute For Advanced Study, is already a bit like this (no required teaching duties), so it's an even better model. :-)

But you might object, who will run the kitchens, repair the roofs, plant Prospect Garden, and so forth? Essentially, who will be the Morlocks to support and maybe eat the Eloi on staff? :-)

Well, that's where this analogy breaks down, although one could perhaps imagine robots as the Morlocks (maybe without the whole eating PU staff for fuel thing).
    "A prototype robot capable of hunting down over 100 slugs an hour and using their rotting bodies to generate electricity is being developed by engineers at the University of West England's Intelligent Autonomous Systems Laboratory."

So, for the rest of this essay, I'll assume the "scarcity" world (at least in the USA) currently works more like, say, G. William Domhoff suggests:
    "Q: So, who does rule America?
    A: The owners and managers of large income-producing properties; i.e., corporations, banks, and agri-businesses. But they have plenty of help from the managers and experts they hire. ... I will try to demonstrate how rule by the wealthy few is possible despite free speech, regular elections, and organized opposition:
                * "The rich" coalesce into a social upper class that has developed institutions by which the children of its members are socialized into an upper-class worldview, and newly wealthy people are assimilated.
                * Members of this upper class control corporations, which have been the primary mechanisms for generating and holding wealth in the United States for upwards of 150 years now.
                * There exists a network of nonprofit organizations through which members of the upper class and hired corporate leaders not yet in the upper class shape policy debates in the United States.
                * Members of the upper class, with the help of their high-level employees in profit and nonprofit institutions, are able to dominate the federal government in Washington.
                * The rich, and corporate leaders, nonetheless claim to be relatively powerless.
                * Working people have less power than in many other democratic countries."

And what is the current result of that system of social organization? We create a self-fulfilling prophecy of scarcity in part through fearing it, and then acting on that fear. (And the only antidotes to fear are things like joy and humor. :-) Consider, say the US military and Iraq. The USA invades Iraq and produces terrorists that now justify having invaded as well as now devoting more money to the military. :-( Now people are saying the Iraq war, promised as a "cakewalk" will cost about three trillion US dollars before it is done. So, now we need to cut back on US social programs like R&D and nursing homes and also reduce aid to poorer countries (which might have truly helped prevent more problems). Thus we ensure more scarcity at home and abroad.

How much of the US monetarized economy goes into managing "scarcity" in terms of person-hours of work?
* A big chunk of the prison system,
* A big chunk of the legal system,
* A big chunk of the military and police,
* Cashiers,
* Most guards,
* Most of the management chain,
* Most of the banking system,
* Most sales people,
* Most of the insurance industry,
* Most of the Welfare and Medicaid government program staff (eligibility and oversight),
* Most lawyers and related proceedings,
* Much of the schooling and grading system, and
* Most of the government.

Add it all up, and maybe it is 90% of the person-hours consumed by the money economy by now? That's just a wild guess, of course. :-) I'm sure someone else better with numbers could refute or affirm that. But it is loosely based on a study mentioned in the essay linked below.

If you consider that a lot of service work is unnecessary if people had more free time (babysitting, restaurants, teaching, home construction, entertainment) then even less hours in the money economy are really needed in a society with a lot of leisure to raise children, cook meals, putter around the house, take on apprentices or educate neighbors on demand, and sing their own songs or make up their own stories.

And of course, child-rearing and day-to-day housekeeping and volunteering probably represents many more person-hours than the 10% or so of the total person-hours that the money economy uses for real production (actual work on factory goods, actual labor in agriculture, actual work making energy etc.). So clearly people will do important tasks for intrinsic benefits.

Things may have been different 100 years ago when most US Americans still lived on somewhat subsistence farms, and so most work was local and for one's own family and business. But somewhere during the past century, I'd speculate a shift happened where the amount of hours spent guarding exceeded the amount of effort spent producing. And then it probably just got worse from there, to the current situation where most work was related to guarding, even though work that is mostly guarding may also euphemistically be called "cashiering", "teaching", "managing", and so on. Pick almost any job and take most of the guarding out of it and it becomes more enjoyable.

It's important to look at the hours people work on various tasks, not the money value assigned to the tasks. If all those person hours are going into guarding functions, then of course there is little time left over for playful productive work.

And note, this estimate is without even giving a long hard look to rethinking how things could be done to be easier or more fun. Down the road, once tasks are redesigned to ignore the guarding aspects, they might be more efficiently done. For example, think of all the time people waste waiting in supermarket checkout lines or at toll booths. Or the time educators devote to attendance and grading.

The above is all an echo of this essay by Bob Black :
        "The Abolition of Work" (written as I graduated in 1985, but I only saw it a couple years ago through the internet)
    "Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working."

How might a "post-scarcity" society really work?

So, how might a "post-scarcity" society really work? How could a "post-scarcity" society emerge at all, given this (obsolete) elite social deadlock Domhoff outlines?

What if some people get some "free" stuff somehow, and they use it, and in the process of using it they make more free stuff than they got? Let's assume these people then freely give this extra stuff away for free to others who use it to make even more free stuff. If everyone starts doing this, soon there could be an enormous amount of free stuff going around. A chain reaction (but a good one). Of course, as with any exponential process, with ever more free stuff on the way from more and more people, the problem becomes, where to find the space to put it all? (Hint: maybe "Space". :-) ...

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison