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Comment: I think you're America-culture centric (Score 4, Interesting) 236

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48920269) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

Some of the Asian countries do have cultures that love learning and the very smart. However, they have various other cultural problems.

There's this old joke, heaven is English policemen, German scientists/engineers, Italian lovers, Swiss bankers, and French cooks. Hell is English cooks, German policemen, Italian bankers, Swiss lovers, and, well, I don't suppose French make bad scientists/engineers, but I'm botching the joke some. But the point is that if we could take the very best of all our cultures and fuse them, humanity would advance far faster.

The Chinese have admirable work ethic and love of learning, however, their government needs improvement in inclusiveness and combating corruption. Some of the European governments are far superior in these respects (or so it seems from the outside.) The anti-intellectualism of the USA is rapidly degrading the US political system, its economy, its worldwide power, and its future prospect for maintaining dominance in science/tech/economy/military. However, again, not everywhere in the world does humanity glorify sports or singing and hate learning and intelligence.

Perhaps we can hope that the negative aspect of humanity will cause their own self-destruction without destroying the best aspects of humanity.

Comment: Re:Control the bureaucracy? (Score 1) 282

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48915503) Attached to: EFF Unveils Plan For Ending Mass Surveillance

Right, "rein". At least I didn't write "rain".

At the moment, at least nominally the government bureaucracy isn't writing the laws. Instead, it's the various congressional bureaucracies that change when the ass occupying the congressional seat changes. However, with government by sortition, I think it'd be a practical necessity that each congressional office have a permanent bureaucracy associated with it to provide expertise and continuinity that would be lacking.

It is this bureaucracy that I think might become problematic and corrupt.


Comment: Great, but how do you point it? (Score 1) 124

A half-mile diameter disk isn't going to be easy to rotate and point in different directions, and considerable motion by the light detector is also going to be required.

Frankly, I think these disadvantages so severely reduce the utility of the telescope that I wouldn't want to deal with it.

Not only that, but a half-mile diameter disk is one heck of a target for random space junk.


Comment: Control the bureaucracy? (Score 1) 282

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48913609) Attached to: EFF Unveils Plan For Ending Mass Surveillance

I've pondered sortition government, but I wonder how you would reign in the power of the bureaucracy.

As an AC said, the random citizenry isn't going to have the depth to really write good laws, so it'll probably largely fall to a bureaucracy, which might end up with all the real power. I can scarcely see that as an improvement.

However, the sortition has the big benefits you mention:
1) Actually representative of the people, because they ARE the people
2) Don't arrive in office corrupt, aren't beholden to donors

Maybe have the lower house of Government chosen by sortition?


Comment: Not sure you're right (Score 1) 663

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48885989) Attached to: Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

Yes, you can still get infected, but if you keep running into people who are infected with measles, you'll either get a full-blown case, a mild case, or a subclinical unnoticeable case.

97% chance you'll get a subclinical unnoticeable case. That means you GET measles, but the replication is quickly shut down by your immune system, which is primed to fight it. However, having just fought it, your immune system is EVEN MORE primed to fight it.

And measles in particular is so very, very contagious that if ANYONE near you has it, you're going to be exercising your immunity to it.

So, yeah, it's a "matter of time" until you get infected, but your infection is likely to be such that you don't even notice.

People who have such subclinical infections are probably very unlikely to spread the disease.


Comment: Get the flu shot even if it is 0% effective (Score 1) 663

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48885805) Attached to: Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?


    Because Big Pharma doesn't like losing money. If the risk is REALLY high that they'll miss the circulating flu viruses and have a poor vaccine, and then NOBODY BUYS IT, they lose all their money.

    And POOF, you won't have a Big Pharma company producing flu viruses THAT DO WORK (which they usually do), because of the risk.

    If, however, Big Pharma sells flu vaccine regardless of whether they got lucky or not, then we'll get flu vaccine EVERY YEAR, and in MOST years, they'll be good!

    So there's good argument for getting flu shots that aren't "the best", because if you don't support the industry when it is down, it won't be around NEXT year.

    And this completely ignores the seemingly unsubstantiated but plausible claim that even a bad match of flu shot will make the flu you get less severe.


Comment: Be thankful you are "temporarily abled" (Score 1) 663

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48885627) Attached to: Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

I'm glad to hear that you don't get sick much and so your 25 days of vacation is working out for you.

I'm lucky too and I don't get sick much. However, I'm not confident that'll always be true. I have a co-worker who got cancer and is out for a few days every time she gets chemotherapy.

Could you POSSIBLY see yourself as maybe being unlucky someday, and not being able to cope anymore on the pittiance you're currently "perfectly happy with"? Or are you an invincible superhero?

Me, I've been lucky. So far. I'm downright thankful my employer lets me pile up sick leave in a SEPARATE pool and keep it indefinitely. It spares me from having to purchase short term disability. Because I may need it someday. I'm only human and all my good health that I've enjoyed could be taken from me in an instant.


Comment: Maybe because they're oppressed? (Score 3, Insightful) 894

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48821899) Attached to: Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

And maybe the 3% of the population experiences 80% of the oppression?

I mean, I'm a member of the "elect". I'm mainstream in sexuality, race, age, income, etc. I have it pretty good. Why should I bitch and moan?

But gays? They can't marry, they get sometimes get beatings by the 97% and face all kinds of other discrimination, why shouldn't they complain?

Even if the questionable claim you make that 80% of the "bitching and moaning" comes from gays is true, it doesn't LOGICALLY follow that that bitching and moaning isn't PERFECTLY justified.

I mean, frankly, your unsubstantiated claim against them kind of proves their point about having cause to bitch and moan, so in a way your post is sort of brilliant. You accuse them and justify them all in the same post!


Comment: Fracking doesn't PUT stress on faults (Score 2) 168

At worst, it can release stress that is already there. So they can "cause" an earthquake. But it's the big motions of the ground that we have no influence over that really puts stress in the ground.

Isn't it true that stress that builds up over time would get released anyway, SOMETIME? (Unless the forces that caused the stress in the first place reversed so as to release it....)

I mean, the release of chemicals, water pollution and consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions are all reasonable charges to make against fracking, but as far as earthquakes, weren't they inevitable anyway?

Also, wouldn't triggering an earthquake cause a quake of less magnitude than would occur if allowed to build up and release naturally?


Comment: Automated manufacturing (Score 5, Informative) 327

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48705347) Attached to: The Coming Decline of 'Made In China'

Haven't you heard? Manufacturing is coming back to America, bigtime. It's just coming back automated. Relatively few jobs are coming back with the manufacturing.

Hate to sound like a luddite, but what's a person to do for a job? Farming is automated, manufacturing is automated, even service industry jobs are becoming automated (self checkout at grocery stores, robotic stocking, brick and mortar retail dying out in favor of Amazon). Driving/shipping jobs are going to be automated.

And there just isn't much economic demand for lots of engineers and scientists and artists--a few of each can serve the entire planet and thus everyone who labors is trying to "supply" a few jobs with little demand for labor. And we can't all just doctor/nurse and sue each other. I don't see us making money entertaining each other either, there have to be people who can afford and pay for entertainment. Wages are going to crash, then what?


Comment: But religion makes positive assertions about truth (Score 1) 755

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48701983) Attached to: Science Cannot Prove the Existence of God

One, religion asserts that God exists. Existence itself, but perhaps not meaning or other intangibles, certainly seems open to scientific enquiry.

However, it's hard to turn up evidence of existence of God.

Two, many religions assert origin stories for the universe. None of these match the physical evidence we have obtained without VERY liberal interpretation.

It is these types of assertions that the scientifically minded question the truth of. Softer assertions, like "people ought to be good to each other" don't find the same sort of opposition from science and logic.

Comment: Re:And for the people who can't drive (Score 1) 386

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48699715) Attached to: The One Mistake Google Keeps Making

I haven't made a detailed study of the topic, if you really want to know you should research it.

However, my understanding is that prior to the creation of Social Security, the aged and infirm were often living in horrible conditions because they were no longer able to make income to take care of themselves and hadn't saved sufficiently to support themselves in old age.

Hence the establishment of Social Security, to alleviate this suffering. Most Americans, even today, save only a small fraction (if any) of their income for a "rainy day". When the paychecks stop coming, without Social Security, their situation gets quite dire.

However, with Social Security and better health care, fewer kids, and other Government mandated savings programs, the "old" demographic has become the richest, by and large, in the USA.

Personally I think it is time to stem the tide of wealth transfer from the now-poorer, younger demographics to the richest demographic (robbing from the poor to give to the rich) by raising the retirement age, ending the wage cap on social security tax, making the benefits taxable above a certain income threshold, and lowering the social security tax on the folks who are still working.

I don't think it makes much sense to have a Government program to make the most rich even richer at the expense of the poorer.

As for the social security recipients who will cry about this, well, take some responsbility. YOU voted in the Governments who spent the social security surplus into broader Government debt, now YOU can live with reduced benefits.


Comment: And for the people who can't drive (Score 1) 386

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48697535) Attached to: The One Mistake Google Keeps Making

We have ever increasing armies of people who should not drive any longer, namely, the partly-disabled elderly.

Do they want to be dependent upon deliveries of food and drivers to go anywhere? Self-driving cars give this demographic independence, and it is a demographic that is growing. And it is a demographic that has THE MOST MONEY. (Yes, old people are the richest demographic in the USA now.)

Would YOU rather get a $60k car and be independent or not be able to go anywhere without a benefactor?


Comment: Japan has managed to reforest (Score 1) 363

by PeterM from Berkeley (#48691903) Attached to: Trees vs. Atmospheric Carbon: A Fight That Makes Sense?

The rest of the world could do that too, but shouldn't do it the way Japan has done. They planted a monoculture of cedar trees, which produce lots of pollen and do little for biodiversity, and water retention. But they do a lot to promote allergies in the Japanese, 10% of whom now suffer from pollen allergies.

Instead of only planting economically useful trees, a good ecological mix should be planted....


"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_