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Comment: Re:my takeaway (Score 1) 210

by KermodeBear (#48426051) Attached to: Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

If the cost of stopping the sea level rising is a million deaths worldwide [...] is that better or worse than even abandoning countries and low-lying areas entirely? I have no idea. And unfortunately, it always seems that no-one else does either.

Not only do these people not know, but even worse, they do not care. They just go ahead and do it anyway.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 1) 210

by KermodeBear (#48426009) Attached to: Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

Why is the parent modded down as a troll?

The post is entirely correct. These other sources of energy are not efficient and reliable enough to be financially viable right now. This may change in ten or twenty years, but right now, solar and wind just aren't where they need to be.

Slashdot itself is becoming less and less a site for geeks and nerds. It has been infected by dogmatic brats who cannot tolerate discussion. This is just one example of many - I'm sure you'll find more as the comments flow in.

Comment: Fantastic. (Score 5, Insightful) 201

by KermodeBear (#48412905) Attached to: Launching 2015: a New Certificate Authority To Encrypt the Entire Web

This is a fantastic effort that will help people such as myself. I run sites across a dozen or so hosts, but they don't generate income and I really don't want to drop all that money into certificates. If I can get free certificates from a good CA then I'll gladly bump all my sites over to HTTPS.

Thank you!

Comment: Re:Allow me to fix your typo (Score 1) 257

by KermodeBear (#48393103) Attached to: Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

Many of these things are, in fact, progressive policies - but we must ensure that we're talking about the same progressivism. In American politics, a progressive is someone who believes in a large, power government that has a strong control over the economy and societal norms under the guise of "reform" and "progress."

An example of historical progressive policy would be Prohibition. But don't take my word for it; Last Call is a fantastic book that covers some of this material. If you're the anti-book type, Wikipedia mentions it as well.

Largest corporate handout in history? Progressive.
Expansion of the military-industrial complex? Progressive.
More laws at the state and federal level? Progressive.
Raising taxes on people? The concept of an income tax is a progressive policy.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by clout in STEM work, so I'm not sure how to place it, but many of the things you listed are, in fact, big government progressive ideals. These are the things that FDR, Teddy, Wilson, and others loved. You know what the worst part is? This is a little secret the politicians won't tell you...

The (R) and the (D) are both progressive. The (R) are less progressive, but they're still progressive. They, too, enjoy increased spending, government handouts, boondoggles, choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, and using the law to enforce their own personal moral viewpoints. So remember, when you vote for that (R) or the (D), you're ultimately getting the same thing.

Comment: Re:Window Dressing. (Score 1) 257

by KermodeBear (#48393049) Attached to: Comcast Kisses-Up To Obama, Publicly Agrees On Net Neutrality

I would like you, and everyone else, to remember something about the office of the president. This is very important:

The president does not write laws.

So when someone running for the office of president says, "I will do X," you need to ask yourself if the president is really capable of doing that.

Yes; the president can have some influence on how laws are written and which ones to write, but laws must be passed by congress first, and then approved by the president. That's how it is supposed to work. So next time some president comes along and promises "I will make dancing naked down the street covered in mustard while singing show tunes at midnight legal across the nation," you have to call him out and let him know that no, that office cannot make something legal or illegal.

The current day question, it seems, is if the office of the president has the right to outright ignore certain laws and choose not to enforce them. One can argue that the law hasn't changed, a legal or illegal act remains legal or illegal, only the enforcement of the law has changed, but to me that is a dangerous road to go down. We're supposed to live in a nation of laws, and if the president can choose to enforce or not enforce on a whim, then the laws stop mattering. To me, this is no different than unilaterally rescinding a law, as if the law never existed, a de facto change of the law.

We'll see what the Supreme Court says about this soon, I think; Obama is threatening to do just that, and I imagine there will be a challenge to his decision, and I can't imagine that it won't go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Should one decide to support (or not support) his actions, I would like to to think about what you would feel if "the other guy" was in charge and had the exact same capabilities. Don't support it because "your guy" is in office now, and then stop supporting it because "the other guy" is in office later. If it isn't right for person A to do it, then it isn't right for person B either.

I think this country would be in better shape if people focused more on principals and less on making sure that "my guy wins."

+ - Google and NRG File For $540m Bailout on Under-Performing Solar Installation->

Submitted by KermodeBear
KermodeBear (738243) writes "After taking out a 1.6 billion dollar federal loan through the Department of Energy to build a new solar power facility, NRG and Google have now applied for a 540 million dollar bailout to help pay off the loan. The reason? The solar plant isn't producing as much energy as they predicted — and now they want the American tax payer to cover for their mistake."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:H1B applicants are people too (Score 1) 190

by KermodeBear (#48271253) Attached to: Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

I could be totally wrong, but I'm going to guess that the paper applications have no real value; the real data is stored in a database file. It's easy to remove personally identifiable fields from the tables and leave the non-personal data for analysis. Shred the paper, anonymize the digital data, keep it around and release it to the public perhaps.

That kind of data could be very useful in some kind of complex economic modelling software, or perhaps the data over time can use used as an economic or some other indicator, or perhaps an unusual change in the normal pattern could indicate something. I don't know what the actual data is specifically, but if it is stripped of personally identifiable bits then I'm sure someone would find it very valuable. Given how easy it should be to provide, why not?

Comment: Re:US Citizenship (Score 4, Insightful) 190

by KermodeBear (#48268621) Attached to: Labor Department To Destroy H-1B Records

Because Americans are no longer educated about their government or their history, and as long as they can catch the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo they really don't care about what is happening. Those of us who DO care and pay attention are in the extreme minority. No matter how loudly we shout about the problems we're racing into, the rest of America looks at as like we're some crazy conspiracy theorists.

It doesn't help that many of the large news outlets are government sycophants, refusing to carry news that may damage the current administration. Note that this behavior is not limited to CBS or our current administration. They're all corrupt to some degree.

But yeah, nobody gives a shit, give them some Soma, all is well. Aldous Huxly was right.


Imagining the Future History of Climate Change 495

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept. writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.

Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."

Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""

Comment: Re:Meaning (Score 1) 145

by KermodeBear (#48263797) Attached to: Verizon Launches Tech News Site That Bans Stories On US Spying

Unfortunately I see far less fear mongering and fraudulent reporting on Fox than I do on MSNBC or CBS. I'm not saying that any of those networks are great - they're not - but when Canada allows Al-Jazeera and declines to carry Fox, one does start to wonder if the real issue is reporting and not simply politics.

Comment: Re:Then how is Earth 6000 years old? (Score 1) 669

by KermodeBear (#48261223) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

That depends on if you're someone who takes every word literally (which is very precarious once you learn about the evolution of Biblical texts) or someone who is happy to take a large part of the Bible as metaphor. As an example, the beginning of Genesis famously states that the world took 6 days to create and that the 7th day was rest.

Only the most literal of readers would believe that it took six actual days; something that isn't even possible, since a "day" is a full revolution of the earth, and that wasn't even created on the first "day". It's metaphor, trying to explain how the world was created in stages.

Once can view the Garden of Eden story as metaphor as well, how the human psyche moved from an animal state of innocence (unable to comprehend advanced concepts like shame, guilt, etc.) and to a state where it can comprehend more complex ideas.

Then there's all of those laws; a lot of them pertain to sanitation so that you don't get sick or spread illness. When the Plague was ravaging Europe, the Jewish people had a much lower infection rate because they followed these rules.

Some parts of the Bible are pretty interesting and insightful, and even if it gets some things wrong in a scientific sense - especially if taken literally - some things may not be quite as wrong as a lot of people think.

I say this as a Pagan-ish type, by the way; I have no personal reason to put parts of the Bible in a positive light.

Once must also take into consideration that the people who put forth those ideas were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had. I'm sure that in 500 years people will look back at us and say, "Wow, those guys sure were dumb, why didn't they see X, Y, and Z for what it really was?"

One book that does provide a very good treatment of where science and religion overlap is The Universe in a Single Atom by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the core concepts of the book is what I described above; old religious texts were written a long time ago and those people didn't know all of the things we do now. He promotes science as a good thing, and says that if science can prove that a certain religious law, theory, philosophical point, etc., can be proven wrong by science, then it is the religion that should change.

He also talks about how science and religion exist to answer fundamentally different questions. Science tells us "how" something happens, but religion helps us answer what it means in a philosophical sense.

It's an excellent book and well worth reading by religious, non-religious, science, and non-science alike.


Tech Giants Donate $750 Million In Goods and Services To Underprivileged Schools 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.

Comment: Re:A Serious Deficit, You Say? (Score 1) 324

by KermodeBear (#48205357) Attached to: Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

When the government wastes money on ridiculous studies then they obviously have enough for the important things. Asking for more money is inappropriate and they shouldn't have it.

I think we can both agree on that. If you think federal money being spent on rabbit massages is a great idea, well, I don't know what to tell you other than you are part of the problem.

You also say that it's a drop in the bucket. Does that change the fact that it is a complete waste? Big or small, it is a sign that there is plenty of money for the important programs.

As an analogy, with your thinking, I could go to the extreme and say, "beating someone up isn't as big a deal as violent rape or murder, so we'll just let people get beat up." It's the same concept and also ridiculous. It's all wrong, and we should stop beatings along with rape and murder, yes?

But since you bring up the topic, what would I like to cut?

I'd be happy to cut the defense budget. I'm not convinced that we really need military bases scattered throughout the world, for example. We see articles here on Slashdot on a fairly regular basis about military boondoggles that cost many billions of dollars - so maybe we need stricter controls on military contracts.

Health care? Sure, I'm willing to make some cuts there. The problem is that we shouldn't have to, but unfortunately we're so far in debt that we're left with little other choice. So we'll have to make cuts there too.

What about welfare? If you have a cell phone, a car, a television with cable, you are not poor. America has the wealthiest "poor" in the world. Welfare should provide, truly, the bare minimum to get by. Keep the heat and lights on, some food in your belly, that's it. I'm not the biggest Clinton fan, but his changes to our welfare programs made a big difference. We should do more along those lines.

Ideally, the entitlement programs in general should not be in the federal purview. It should be a state issue. Same with education. Same with a lot of things.

Not all things that I want to cut, but out of necessity, something has to get the axe. So it might as well be a little bit of everything. No sacred cows.

Have you seen what happens when a government is so deeply in debt that all it can do is print stacks of cash and dive into hyper inflation? It's not pretty. We're headed down that road. Not tomorrow, not next year, but that's where we are going.

That was the brilliance of a limited federal government, by the way. If a state screwed up and made a mess of things, people could vote with their feet and go somewhere else until the legislature woke up and fixed their issues. If another state did something brilliant the others could follow suit. A marketplace of ideas, if you will.

With a single entity in charge of nearly everything these days, well, you're stuck. The feds make a bad policy decision and it affects everyone, and there's very little recourse for the individual.

But since you're here saying, "Well, that program doesn't matter because it was just a little waste," you're probably going to just gloss over all of this and slap up yet another tired progressive meme. Oh well.

Comment: A Serious Deficit, You Say? (Score 2) 324

by KermodeBear (#48203339) Attached to: Hungary To Tax Internet Traffic

Yes, adding yet another tax is one way to help that, but why do governments worldwide - mine included - never consider the possibility that they're spending too much money? When our government is spending money on swedish massages for rabbits and then whining that they don't have enough cash to toss around, I am completely uninterested in giving them a single penny more.

Felson's Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.