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Comment: Careful with that axe Eugene (Score 1) 166

by TapeCutter (#47421527) Attached to: The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere
Sure, Eisenhower warned of the problems but lets try something radical like reading the entire speech. Here's some context to whet your appetite...

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction....[snip]...But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions....[snip]....In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

In other words, Eisenhower saw the overwhelming power of the MIC as essential for peace and at the same time was warning the nation about the potential of a home grown Hitler.

Comment: Re:Reaching for symbolism - and failing (Score 1) 135

by TapeCutter (#47420755) Attached to: Dubai's Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting To Happen

Global warming is measured using terms like "degree" and "decade" (degree, as in singular)

You are missing the point, people won't burst into flames because of AGW. However the Arab spring was preceded by the worst drought in the the history of the fertile crescent (the birthplace of agriculture). People didn't suddenly log on to facebook and find out they were living under tyrants. There were food riots in Cairo and other major cities BEFORE the uprisings, almost 10% of Syria's total population just walked away from their farms and went looking for work in the cities.

Go and find out why that one guy set himself on fire in the public square, and why it resonated across the Arab world. Don't believe the "hunger for freedom" bullshit, these people were hungry for bread.

Comment: Re: Patience, my pretty... (Score 2) 111

by TapeCutter (#47412879) Attached to: A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet

[vaccination caused] 25 deaths. All to stop a flu that never exceeded 5 infections contained to Fort Dix

Yes, but you can't go back in time and discover what would have happened if they didn't mass vaccinate. Sure dumb luck may have caught all five cases before it spread further, but do you want to bet your life on dumb luck?

Comment: The Relativity of wrong (Score 1) 94

by TapeCutter (#47412133) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano
You're arguing that people put their faith in the title people wear rather than the diametrically opposed philosophies they follow. The fact that you have so many people disagreeing with you demonstrates that is not the case. What you are claiming is that what Karl Popper called the "republic of science" (AKA scientific consensus) has no place in Science and that you must personally test each and every claim. That is a ludicrous claim, it demonstrates an immature understanding of philosophy and epistemology. It's also the same old argument climate deniers and creationists use when they claim that "consensus" has no place in Science, it's simply an emotional reaction that puts ones mind at rest when confronted with evidence that unsettles it.

Of course the real problem with your argument is that unlike religion, Science does not claim absolute truth. It claims to have the most accurate answer available at this point in time. A point more eloquently expressed by Asimov in his essay The Relativity of wrong

Comment: Re:And this doesn't seem like a bad idea? (Score 1) 94

by TapeCutter (#47411607) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

There's absolutely no difference between "faith in scientists" and "faith in wise men".

Sure, appealing to authority is unscientific but to assume there is no qualitative difference in the opinions of the two groups simply implies you think that all opinions are equal. Many people do express that ideological view, but they obviously don't believe it since nobody would go to the hairdresser to get their appendix removed.

What you are really talking about is informed trust. Why do you trust scientists to follow the scientific method and report honestly? Why do you trust wise men to selflessly mediate between you and your imaginary friend? Why don't you trust the barber to cut your appendix out?

skepticism is often warranted

More than that, skepticism is the fundamental principle that Science is built on, and it's no accident that it is shunned by religion. Climate deniers, creationists, flat earthers, etc, are not skeptics. A genuine skeptic practices self-skepticism (ie: questions and tests their own beliefs), refusing to change one's opinion in the face of overwhelming contra-evidence is dogma, AKA pseudo-skepticism.

Comment: Re:more leisure time for humans! (Score 4, Insightful) 514

by TapeCutter (#47405421) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

The whole premise of Communism is....

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". - Karl Marx.

In otherwords everyone is a "worker" in a communist society (despite what you may think of bureaucrats and politicians). Marx thought that it would work because the communist movement belived technology was the road to equity. However they also belived that property above and beyond personal need was a barrier to the efficient use of technology and resources. Mao was a true communist in this respect in that he pulled down the "barrier" by forcing everyone to become a pesant farmer. The result was that millions starved to death.

I was a teenager when they finally booted out the gang of four. In the 40 years since that time China has dragged more people out of poverty than the rest of the world combined by directing it's economy towards feeding, housing, and employing it's own people. It's a remarkable turn around, the only economic feat I can can think of that comes close to this kind of growth was the rise of Gengis Kahn.

Both the US and China practise "crony capitilisim" (moderate facisism) these days, they just implement it differently. Actual reasearch (as opposed to ideological naval gazing), into what makes a productive stable society indicates that the sweet spot for income disparity is somewhere around 10:1, ie: the top 1% earn 10X as much as the bottom 1%. Currently China has one of the worst equity ratings in the world, the US and Russia are about even but not that far behind China.

Comment: Re:Expert System (Score 1) 159

by TapeCutter (#47399561) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers
Yes, the math behind the system in TFA was discovered by none other than John Von Neumann, who is also credited with inventing the aritechture that all modern computers are based on. FPGA routing and layout design uses path finding algorithms, the similarity is that they are both optimisers. MinMax, path finding and other optimization algorithms are all part of a branch of maths called Operations Research, or simply "logistics" to Americans. It gained it's original name and it's connection with computers during WW2.

I helped build a dispatch system similar to the one in TFA for a large telco in the 90's that planned and dispatched jobs for 6,000 linesmen and technicians. The thing spent all night calculating the most efficient plan only to have a half dozen PHB's screw it up at 5am with unwritten rules such as Senator Dick Waver needs his phone fixed now! It would then spend all day trying to work around their manual overrides via 2min partial optimization runs. That $100M system would now run on a cheap laptop. It's grandchild is still a "mission critical" system but I imagine the PHB's have got enough hardware grunt to recalculate on the fly these days.

To be honest efficient planning wasn't the original reason they implemented the system, getting the workers into a company van they could take home (union), with a laptop and phone backed by automated dispatching (engineering), meant they (PHB's) could sell $600M of prime real estate the (ex-government) depots had been sitting on for over half a century.

Comment: Re:So is an app food... (Score 2) 123

by TapeCutter (#47397475) Attached to: FDA: We Can't Scale To Regulate Mobile Health Apps

Why is the government involved in devices? ... get Underwriter's Labs .... to certify it.

From the WP entry on UL - "UL is one of several companies approved to perform safety testing by the US federal agency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)". If UL started handing out certs without doing the work then their license will be pulled and they will go out of business overnight.

Very few "free markets" spontaneously arise and prosper, the government creates them with the judicious use of regulation, the most basic of these regulations is property law, the saftey cert market is simply a more recent example. This is actuacully how things should work, the government defines a fair market for the public good via regulation of property and trade, business competes to implement the new market as efficiently as possible. Neither can do it alone due to self-interest getting in the way, which is why politicians and CEO's need to be kept at arms length from each other.

To be awake is to be alive. -- Henry David Thoreau, in "Walden"