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Comment Re:the good old days... (Score 1) 784

Yup. In my rural area, way back when, kids were expected to a) do lots of chores then b) go outside and disappear until dinnertime. On the rare occasion you saw a sheriff or other official, they'd only stop and check up on you if they thought you were up to no good (which, if you actually saw them, meant you probably were.) These days it seems like most everyone under 45 has a panic attack if they carelessly wander outside cell coverage range.

Comment Re:More info (Score 1) 403

Gentoo is definitely not for the 'just do it' crowd. I've been using it continuously since 2004, copying the disk every time I upgraded computers and then re-compiling everything. I've never encountered another distribution where I could do that as easily. After a while you learn what packages can be 'trouble' and upgrade them gingerly. However, I've never had my system rendered unusable to the point where I couldn't go in and fix it. And Gentoo is the best argument there is for spending money on hardware upgrades as often as possible. Chrome compiles starting to seem slow? Go buy some more cores. It's also nice to have fast access to multiple releases of a package. If the latest foobar package is borked, just mask it and wait for the next update.

Even OpenRC Gentoo is not immune to the creeping insidiousness that is systemd though. As I run /usr on a separate (read-only) SSD partition in true UNIX fashion, I paid for that arrogance by being required to boot first to an initramfs because such things are now mandated by the systemd/udev gods.

Comment A moon base would make more sense -- or Venus (Score 1) 94

Much closer, more scientifically useful.

If you want sustainably habitable, Venus is a better choice. Similar in size to the Earth, and much closer than Mars. Use 'global warming' mitigation techniques developed on Earth to convert Venus CO2 to oxygen, and then add hydrogen to create water. The biggest problem is figuring out how to speed up the rotation of Venus. That's a tough one.

Comment Re:May I suggest an alternative... (Score 1) 190

Almost no access to broadband Internet other than big$$$$ leased lines purchased by a few local broadcast technology companies. Average age 60 (plus or minus 20 years). Housing prices on average twice that of Sacramento due to being primarily a retirement community. Both towns turn off the lights around 7:00PM. Limited tech employment opportunities. Not uncommon for talented employees to stay a few years then be vacuumed up by Bay Area / Sac / Roseville companies at 2-3 times the pay.

Lovely weather. Beautiful place. Great place to raise kids. Plenty of outdoor recreation nearby.

The next big tech startup hub? Not likely. A regional hub for the burgeoning Northern California "hydroponics" industry? Certainly.

Comment Summary Fail (Score 2, Insightful) 818

As usual. It implies that the views of 'average Americans' are abrogated by the economic elite. As the PDF clearly states on page 14 "It turns out, in fact, that the preferences of average citizens are positively and fairly highly correlated, across issues, with the preferences of the economic elites." It also turns out that the paper defines 'average American' as someone at the 50% income level, and 'economic elite' as someone at the 90% income level or above, which works out to $146,000. The paper than argues that this 'elite' population fairly represents the truly elite (the top 2%) based on 13 policy preference questions--which aren't listed in the paper--with a correlation of r=0.91 vs a correlation of r=0.69 for the 'average' population.

Sorry. There ain't nothing in this paper about the Koch brothers, Soros, Oprah, Bill Gates, or any of your other favorite elites. This is all about Joe the Plumber vs your mid-level Google executive.

So how does the paper define the views of the 'average American'? Well, on page 15, there's this "Some particular U.S. membership organizations--especially the AARP and labor unions--do tend to favor the same policies as average citizens. But other membership groups take stands that are unrelated (pro-life and pro-choice groups) or negatively related (gun owners) to what the average American wants." A footnote 40 then directs you to another paper by one of the same authors, presumably for the corroborating data.

Finally, on page 18, we encounter this: "Because of the impediments to majority rule that were deliberately built into the U.S. political system--federalism, separation of powers, bicameralism--together with further impediments due to anti-majoritarian congressional rules and procedures, the system has a substantial status quo bias. Thus when popular majorities favor the status quo, opposing a given policy change, they are likely to get their way; but when a majority--even a very large majority--of the public favors change, it is not likely to get what it wants."

In other words, here's the real summary: "Elite academic researchers at elite universities have conducted a study in which they find that the constitutional system put in place by the founders of the republic to prevent mob rule is thwarting their elite progressive agenda by working as intended. Oh, and throwing a lot of money around and making noise tends to draw attention to your cause, particularly when it aligns with the majority view, which it does most of the time."

Nothing to see here. Move on.

Comment Re:The magical scenario is "gradual social decay." (Score 1) 737

Exactly. A very insightful post.

I would place 'teacher' very high on the list of required professions. Human society has had them for thousands upon thousands of years. Back then, they were called 'old people'. Through oral tradition and example they taught the children the skills and knowledge necessary to survive.

One of mankind's greatest skills is the ability to communicate with increasing precision (well, at least until the advent of texting in the last decade). Reading, writing, printing, are among man's greatest inventions, as they enable future generations to build upon the past. Remove those skills and mankind reverts to a stone-age lifestyle within a few generations. Teach literacy to those same generations, hope that at least a few dead tree libraries survive the great server cloud apocalypse, and an advanced civilization could be reborn as soon as there was sufficient population to support the required specialization.

Comment Re:Oh great (Score 1) 64

Seriously, in order to save a few minutes and pennies, the airlines probably would scrap them if they could.

At least in the U.S., the safety briefings are mandated by the FAA: see FAR 91.519 and FAR 91.1035. As a private pilot, I'm required to give the same sort of briefing to any passengers I carry before takeoff. (Basically, "here's how to fasten the seat belt; here's how to open the door; please don't do that in flight.") Getting the FAA to modify those regs will probably require something between an Act of Congress and an Act of God.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!