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Comment: Re:not surprised (Score 1) 83

by Black Parrot (#47813403) Attached to: Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

I suspect people put too much emphasis on brain evolution as an explanation for technological innovation. Think how slow innovation would be coming now if the world population was 50,000 and we didn't have writing.

Our ancestors of maybe 10,000 years ago had a material culture closer to the apes than to us, but we probably hyaven't changed much during that period.

Comment: Re:But hey... (Score 2) 433

I'm even more sad that so many Americans would STILL vote for this guy today simply because they're Democrats and that's that.

Low as my opinion of Obama is, I'd certainly vote for him again if he was running against the same two clowns as last time, or the two psychopaths from the time before.

Comment: Re:Put it this way (Score 1) 433

This is why the solution, if Putin persists in this line of thinking, will involve a single bullet from a covert operative, not legions of troops or thousands of missiles.

I hardly imagine that that would matter, other than give his successor the "terrorism" excuse to do whatever he wanted.

Putin's cronies at the FSB put him into power. His successor isn't going to a have noticibly different agenda.

Comment: Re:Put it this way (Score 2) 433

And then Putin will start looking around for more real estate he likes. I hear there are a lot of ethnic Russians in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia....

Which have been NATO countries for a decade. The Soviet^w^w Russia will have a bit more trouble getting them back.

In fact, Putin may be making his play for Ukrania now, lest it also slip permanently beyond his reach.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Seven

Journal by mcgrew

I got up about seven thirty or so, and Destiny was still asleep. I started coffee and told the robot to make breakfast, and then I shit, shaved, showered, and got dressed. Destiny was still asleep and I had to be in the pilot room in fifteen minutes so I started eating by myself. At five 'til I filled my coffee and took the rest of my breakfast to the pilot room. Huh? Eggs and bacon. What? Of course it was turkey bacon. Now knock it off before I

Comment: Well Obviously... (Score 4, Funny) 404

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47807113) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist
Only a verifiable head case would write about a school shooting 900 years in the future. I have it on good authority that the last 'chemical/kinetic homicide' was recorded in the waning days of the Transcend Uprising in 2234. By 2914, the most common spree killings, by method, are 'engineered retroviruses', 'covert antimatter decanting', and nanoassembler override.

Also, ever since Heuristic Neural Patterning became economically viable in the mid 24th century, 'school' exists as little more than a footnote in some of the low level neural patterning modules. I'm not sure why you'd expect to find enough people for a mass casualty incident visiting one.

Comment: Re:not surprised (Score 1) 83

by Black Parrot (#47806763) Attached to: Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

The idea that neanderthals are too dumb for cave art is just as rediculous as the notion that some humans are practically animals compared to other humans (what most racists believe).

I imagine that, prior to the discovery of evidence that they painted cave art, the argument was that there was no evidence that they had, not that they were unable.

No, there's a long tradition of viewing the Neandertals as "incapable of symbolic behavior". In the latest edition of Scientific American there's still a guy peddling the argument with moved goal-posts.

Comment: Re:Excellent move for the government (Score 1) 61

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47805851) Attached to: New Nigerian ID Card Includes Prepay MasterCard Wallet
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have no expectation that this rollout will go well, at all. Y'know all those cautionary tales about throwing technological solutions at human problems? Well, Nigeria has a hell of a lot of human problems and I doubt that the technological solutions will work better than usual.

My observation was narrower: overt violence, imprisonment, or other radical life disruptions among debtors are symptoms of an immaturesystem of credit and interest extraction. Now, since large parts of Nigeria have symptoms that suggest such a system(high levels of local corruption, massive inequality, minimal social infrastructure and documentation, etc.), it is likely that such relatively primitive debt mechanisms will persist, at least for a time.

However, the cards are unlikely to be the ideal mechanism: electronic transactions are traceable, to a degree, and the only greater enemy of corruption than an honest man is a dishonest man's boss who is wondering why he isn't getting his cut of the take. This(as much as any rule of law) helps discourage excessively overt bribe-taking. There's always a bigger fish you'll have to pay off if it becomes clear that you are worth targeting. Ground-level corruption will prefer to deal in cash, or some 'cash equivalent'(if I had to bet, it'd be a local cigarette or phone top-up card, or some other item that is both intrinsically useful and relatively nonperishable if purchased and returned to local vendors: people who need to pay bribes will buy this good, people receiving bribes will receive them 'in kind'; but be able to return, likely minus a small restocking fee, any excess that they don't need. All electronic transactions legitimate, works even if cash if phased out, still transfers value. Something like what happens in prisons with commissary goods).

As for the rest, I stand by the basic conclusion: brutalizing your debtors is inefficient unless there is no other way of keeping them from escaping, or they are so helotized that their value as slave labor is about as high as it could be. Maximum efficiency is somebody able to live a 'normal' productive life while desperately paying the minimum balance on their credit card every month. (Note, I don't say that this is a good thing, it bloody well isn't; but it's the ideal and most advanced form of interest extraction. All other methods, even if scarier or more theatrical, are less efficient and ultimately contrary to the interest of the lender, if they can achieve this one.)

Comment: Re:Arevas failure (Score 1) 116

by Black Parrot (#47805293) Attached to: Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

ISTM that Homo economicus is almost incapable of resisting the urge to cut corners in the design, construction, operation, and inspection of nuclear power plants. (And in non-nuclear projects as well, though few have the destructive potential of Cherynobyl.)

I wish the whole world was on nuclear powar, but our species simply isn't mature enough to "drink responsibly" when it comes to such things. And with the past few decades' huge increase in pressure to cut corners in order to maximize short-term profit, I suspect things will get worse before they get better.

As for the Chinese... have they hit on a better approach than capitalism, or are they practicing the Soviet-style corner-cutting that gave us Chernyobyl?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian