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Comment: Re:So What (Score 2) 321

by hey! (#49376609) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

It is your choice to make your eventual obliteration the focus of your life. That's something you can either try to change (good luck with that), or it's something you can choose to accept. But choosing to accept that doesn't mean you have to sit around being miserable and resentful while you wait for the Grim Reaper. The world is only as cold and hard as the things in it you choose to focus on. There's also more wondrous and amazing and even funny things in the world than you an get around to thinking about in a lifetime.

It's like summer vacation when you're in school. You only get ten weeks or so of it, not nearly enough to get to all the things you want to do. And there are some people who will react to that by spending the whole time from day 1 unhappy about going back to school. What a waste of existence! But that's definitely a choice open to you.

Imagine your last few seconds of consciousness before you die. How would you like to spend them? Being angry? Sad? I think that's a waste of precious time. I'd like to have someone I love very much tell me a very funny joke.

Comment: Re:So What (Score 1) 321

by hey! (#49376541) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

No, we all make the choice of the kind of world we want -- or maybe it'd be better to say the kind of world we can live with. It just so happens that some people can live with a world that they don't like very much, so long as that doesn't demand very much of them.

Anyone can by choice have an immense effect on the world around them. Maybe they can't change the *whole* world very noticeably, but they can transform their own neighborhood.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 1110

by hey! (#49374839) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

Oh, yeah. The rational actor theory. But by the same postulates that underly that theory there should be no human being who eats unhealthy, boozes or gambles excessively, or picks fights he obviously can't win.

I have an alternative theory which states that going by actual behavior most people discount their future welfare to zero when there's an immediate reward, even a trivial one. It's almost impossible to resist an immediate burst of pleasure a nasty habit's got you hooked, whether it's a relaxing smoke or that glow of self-righteousness you get when you act on your bigotry.

People will literally kill themselves for a little short-term reward. Forgoing a little profit is nothing compared to that. If you look at places where segregation was historically sanctioned, you'll see you're entirely right: it's economically irrational. That didn't stop people from doing it.

Comment: Re:Yes. It is called "land subsidence" (Score 2) 427

by hey! (#49366771) Attached to: Experts: Aim of 2 Degrees Climate Goal Insufficient

Which makes sense. Sea level rise in the last 50 years has amounted to about 4 inches, probably not enough to make drains run backwards.

The way sea level rise will make itself known isn't through changes in day to day phenomena, but in exceptional phenomena like storm surge flooding. This is a place where inches may well matter. People plan around concepts like a "ten year flood" or a "hundred year flood", and this creates a sharp line on the map where there is no sharp line in reality. Depending where on the domain of the bell curve their chosen planning horizon is, a few inches could turn a ten year flood into a five year flood, which has immense practical implications.

When people way that there is nothing intrinsically worse about a globe that's four degrees hotter they're right. But *change* that undermines human plans represents a big challenge. Change also represents a big challenge to species populations that can't relocate on the timescale of change.

Comment: Re:The Canadian middle class is dying out. (Score 3, Informative) 197

by epine (#49364223) Attached to: Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop

This is a huge change from what the country was once like, when it had a robust middle class.

First of all, this is the norm among industrialized economies. Perhaps Norway is different. I haven't checked since the fracking boom.

Second, the thriving middle class was a fairly short lived affair, centered around three decades from 1950–1980. Most affluent societies have now returned to pre-1930s levels of economic inequality. Historically, an affluent middle class is the exception and not the norm.

I had a college roommate whose brawny younger brother dropped out of high school with few skills and somehow got a job with the CAW at a starting wage north of $70,000 per year, back in the early 1980s. He soon had a wife and children, a driveway filled with expensive motor toys, and cash-flow problems.

He was almost certainly employed at a factory making automotive products that discerning consumers—those of us lacking misty-eyed Big Three loyalty—did not wish to purchase.

Meanwhile, high school drop-outs trying to scrape by on non-union wages weren't necessarily doing much better than those same people today, a major difference being that the majority of those fantasy union jobs have now gone away.

Someone needs to get in a time travel booth to go back to the early 1970s to inform the CAW management group that no matter what course of action they chose, their business model (high union wages for semi-skilled labour) could not survive selling shit product. Marketing the hell out shit product was a short-term solution at best (Future Shop—ultimately—not excepted).

As much as the Reagan and Thatcher plutocrats initiated a self-serving destruction of the middle class, the middle class itself was hardly blameless.

Now it's time for the plutocrats to determine whether they can recognize how they are painting themselves into a non-viable corner before they encounter a messy corrective force of their own seeding.

Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming

Comment: Re:as usual faith in humanity is gone... (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by hey! (#49362099) Attached to: Commercial Flamethrower Successfully Crowdfunded

Having fun isn't necessarily stupid. Having fun with flamboyantly dangerous things isn't necessarily stupid. It's endangering unwilling bystanders that's stupid.

Some people like to build and shoot powerful crossbows, or even replicas of medieval siege weapons. These are extremely dangerous and useless things. The dangerous power of a trebuchet to throw an upright piano 150 yards is part of the charm.

But a trebuchet is something that takes certain amount of thought and sacrifice to obtain and use. This flamethrower thing is more like a powerful handgun. There's been a recent fad for ridiculously overpowered handguns, which pack superfluously fatal power into a convenient, affordable form factor. The recent brouhaha over "armor piercing" ammunition was a side effect of a manufacturer selling a cut-down semi-automatic carbine as a "handgun", even though if you look at videos of people using them they're obviously terrible as handguns. This raised the question of whether 5.56 NATO ammunition should be regulated as "handgun ammunition", and in the end I think the decision not to was reasonablee. These aren't cop-killing or military handguns. They're extremely dangerous toys designed to get your rocks off.

There are some who'd say that because these guns are dangerous and impractical they should be banned. But I don't agree. "Impractical" isn't the same as "useless" because getting your rocks off is a legitimate use for a thing. I think people should be able to enjoy their ridiculous firearms as long as they do it at some kind of appropriate range. I also think there's a real danger though from stupid people who will go plinking in the woods with the things like they were BB guns.

That's really the only problem I have with this flamethrower, whether it's gold, chrome, or gunmetal gray. Any idiot can buy one, but it'd take someone reasonably intelligent and determined to find a place where it can be used safely. I'm not against people buying them, but I am for coming down hard on people who use them where they're a danger or public nuisance.

Comment: Re:This Guy's Talents Should be Put to Good Use (Score 5, Interesting) 198

by hey! (#49361119) Attached to: Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison

Well, in the end you have to ask "did he get away with it?". Or, given that he turned himself in later, "did he have some purpose in escaping that he fulfilled?"

Intelligence is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It includes things like thinking through unintended consequences before acting that quite clever people are sometimes bad at.

"I think Michael is like litmus paper - he's always trying to learn." -- Elizabeth Taylor, absurd non-sequitir about Michael Jackson

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