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Comment: Re:Inquisition (Score 4, Insightful) 386

by Sique (#49138021) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics
The standard argument is that climate scientist have to claim the existence of AGW, otherwise they would lose their tenure, their grants or whatever their finance support is.

Now this just uses the same argument: Climate sceptics have to doubt AGW, because otherwise they would lose their financial founding. And to support that, the lawmakers want to actually know who founds the climate sceptics.

Comment: Re:Interesing... (Score 3, Informative) 386

by Sique (#49137723) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

At one time, most people thought the earth was flat. That didn't make it factual.

The correct sentence should have been: "At one time, most people thought the people of former times thought the earth was flat. That didn't make it factual."

There never was a time when people, who were really interested in the actual shape of the earth thought it was flat. There have been models of a flat earth, but they existed solely because no one actually cared about the real shape. It was just assumed in the models to be flat because it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. Old Germans believed the world was a tree -- but just in the sense that the World Tree Yggdrasil made for some nice stories. They never tried to map their trips assuming they would be walking along the bark of an actual oak.

As soon as the necessity arised to know about the real shape, it was pretty clear from the beginning that the earth was round.

Comment: Re:What's different now?... (Score 2) 255

by Sique (#49136197) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken
It's not the lack of imagination. Far from it.

When the buggy whip makers went out of business, the car industry was already in full swing. They were already outputting enough cars to replace the buggies. The buggy whip makers could actually see the workers working to make them obsolete. At this time, it was wellknown how many jobs the automobile industry was creating. And it was wellknown that the new automobile not only replaced the horse carriage, it actually made it better, allowing for more trips, for more load hauled, for higher speed. The car helped to make the whole transportation business to grow more productive, and not just a few percent, it was a multitude of improvement. The demand for transportation at the same time was also growing because transportation got so much cheaper that goods or persons which would never have been transported so far and so often before, now could. Replacing the buggy with the car as the means of transport actually increased the transporting market.

Buggy whip makers didn't need to imagine the new jobs. They knew what the new jobs were, as they could see their neigbours already having them.

But if you just replace a worker by a machine, there is not necessarily a new job opening waiting. The manufacturer of the machine already has the people to make the machine, as he was able to built it. And it's not as if his business has to be growing, as the market for his worker-replacement-machines is limited to the number of workers his machines can replace. It happens that not only the worker who is replaced by the machine is out of the job, also the people installing the machine are also out of a job, because their job is now finished. And maintaining the machine surely will require either less man-power or less qualified man-power than the man-power it is replacing. Otherwise there would be no point in actually replacing them.

Automatisation of jobs in general does not create new jobs. It just frees up human labor. If that allows for huge gains in productivity (and we are talking huge gains. The mechanical loom improved the productivity tenfold, and so did the spinning machine), there might be new markets and thus there might be new demand, creating new jobs. But just replacing the human by a machine does not. Having cheaper sport news does not increase the market for sport news. The replacement of the financial advisor by a computer does not increase the demand for financial advise, because the requestor does not get a tenfold improvement on his ROI. As a maximum, he saves the few percents the human financial advisor got as his premium. The same is valid for legal expertise. People will not want to have more need for legal advise just because it is cheaper. Most people prefer not to be involved in legal quagmires at all. Compare that with the demand for cars! People love to buy cars. Or at least, they used to love it. But the demand for new cars is already shrinking at least in some parts of the world. Young people in Europe list the desire to own a car quite low in their priorities already. A similar trend can be seen in the U.S.. And which new job is replacing the car manufacturer's job? Simply none. Completely different than it was when the welder's job at a car factory replaced the buggy whip maker.

Comment: Re:Sweet F A (Score 4, Interesting) 576

The short story "Invasion from Aldebaran" by Stanislaw Lem pictures a very advanced race with lots of means to hide their presence or to seamlessly adapt to the environment they are landing in.

The invasion starts in a forest near a small polish village, and the aliens transform into local people they just saw passing by, thus totally hiding their alien presence. But then they meet a drunkard, who bears a grudge against one of the people they have turned into anyway. Their biogenic attack weapons (a swarm of insect-like stitching and poisoning robots) turn back because they can't get through the ethylalcohol cloud surrounding the prospective victim, and the drunkard gets agitated because they aliens don't really react when he yells at them. Their weapon detecting device doesn't warn about the knag lying wayside, and the drunkard takes it and hits them on the head, while they still try to get their translation device to decipher the messages he was mumbling at them - thus killing the aliens and fighting off the alien invasion.

Comment: Re:Make them pay (Score 2) 365

by Sique (#49054459) Attached to: Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought
Actually, it would make sense to charge smokers less than the non-smokers for health insurance.

Sure, smokers die early. But the typical reasons for a smoker to die are quite cheap for health insurance. Yes, lung cancer is nasty, but you are dead after half a year. A healthy non-smoker with just a tad high blood pressure gets fifteen years of treatment until he dies.

Comment: Re:I blame the FDA (Score 1) 365

by Sique (#49054437) Attached to: Smoking Is Even Deadlier Than Previously Thought
Not the nicotine itself, but the amide of nicotinic acid, namely nicotinamide a.k.a. Vitamin B3.

But that's the general problem with many toxins: They are often toxic because they are so similar to a very important compound that's quite necessary for us, and they poison us, because they are nearly, but not completely right.

Comment: Re:Forced benevolence is not freedom (Score 1) 551

by Sique (#49017263) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el
That's because many people listen to those who talk about the "viral GPL" (the copyright law itself is viral as it requires each derivative work to be licensed, thus any license that deals with copyright has to be "viral". GPL is no exception), and how it complicates the licensing process. I have to deal with proprietary licenses every day, and I can tell you that any other license model I have encountered is more complicated and more burdensome than the GPL. I estimate that about 10 percent of my work time is spend on ironing out licensing issues.

If you don't get your information from the actual institution that invented and maintains the GPL, but from secondary sources, you are prone to run into misconceptions and misleading ideas. But generally, hearsay is a bad advisor.

Comment: Re:Forced benevolence is not freedom (Score 2) 551

by Sique (#49015939) Attached to: RMS Objects To Support For LLVM's Debugger In GNU Emacs's Gud.el

The other issue is companies that don't distribute software. Google's modified Linux that runs their datacentres, for example, is never distributed and so they never had to share their changes. I've worked with companies that use GPL'd software in this way but won't admit to it publicly for fear of liability (even though they're completely compliant with the license, as far as I can tell), and so who won't send patches upstream. Meanwhile, the same teams will happily send bug fixes for BSDL'd libraries that they use, because there's no chance that they're infringing the license and so they're happy to admit to using it.

People are not used to the GPL, don't know how it works, and then don't use the GPL. This is at first a problem of the people not educate themselves about the GPL. The license itself is clear: Yes, you distribute the original code or your derivative work upstream, as long as the people you distribute to can enjoy the same freedoms you had when you got the original code. It's quite simple.

And this is the real difference between BSD and GPL: as long as the people you distribute to can enjoy the same freedoms. BSD doesn't have a provision like this. BSD allows you to take away freedoms you enjoyed. Some people argue this would somehow be more free.

Comment: Re: Good (Score 2) 297

by Sique (#49007591) Attached to: Canadian Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post
The whole amount of money that all governments of the world spend on climate research and weather prediction per year is about 5 billion dollars. Yes, that's a huge amount. But just for comparisation: the fracking industry in the U.S. alone has invested about 1400 billion dollars. So if you are looking for a wellpaid research job, don't become a climate scientist. There is no money in it.

Comment: Re:Wrong Koch (Score 2) 222

by Sique (#48996453) Attached to: GPG Programmer Werner Koch Is Running Out of Money
Greece is actually an example of the "low taxes for rich people" approach, not for collectivism. In Greece, allowing rich people and property owners to avoid taxes brought the whole state in financial disarray while at the same time "trickle down" economics just didn't work.

From a taxation point of view, Greece is a libertarian heaven. Your point being?

Comment: Re:This Proves GMOs are Safe! (Score 1) 74

by Sique (#48996387) Attached to: Photosynthesizing Sea Slugs Steal Genes From Algae
You don't get me, right? People eat rice, because this is the cheapest food available. Some people can afford only rice and nothing else. Those people thus have a quite unbalanced diet, and Vitamine A is one (but not the only) nutritient that is underrepresented.

To solve this problem by adding Vitamine A to the rice is misguided. The diet is still unbalanced, and just adding more and more nutritients to rice will just make the crop yield less in general, being thus more expensive, and people will still be poor and not able to afford anything but rice - and in general more of the old fashioned white rice as this one will still be cheaper.

It would make more sense to empower those people to earn more money to pay for a much more balanced food.

C for yourself.