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Comment: Re:Republicans could... (Score 1) 608

by bmajik (#49727225) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

So, my ideological transition went from Reagan Republican to Goldwater libertarian to Rothbardian Anarchist.

Personally, I am socially boring, somewhat socially conservative, and evangelically religious. I don't (politically) care what other people do to themselves; as long as they and their government don't do it to me or my family.

I've really given up on government as an entity that can create moral good in the world; it seems that historical attempts to have government play that role have turned out poorly, both for the people involved and the morality being coerced.

I've tried to explain where my head is at so you can try and tailor the message in a way I might understand.

Can you help me understand what the "war on women" rhetoric is about?

Assume that I'm an intelligent person, with degrees in Math and CS, and extensively educated in history, medicine, politics, and economics.

Yet, despite this, I cannot for the life of me understand how people with different ideas came to those ideas via any plausible mental process. It seems to me that there are fallacies all around - why aren't they seeing them?

I want to assume that they are acting with good intentions, but I am unable to debug or understand them and their decision making process.

So, this is a legitimate request for help, and not a thinly veiled attempt to demean or attack someone.

Will you explain what the "war on women" is in a way that will cause me to want to listen? Explain what things are included in this war, and what things aren't.

I mean, my inclination is to throw a flag on the play before it even begins; a political "war on women" appears to suppose that all women should think and want the same things politically, which is self-evidently insulting to women and denies their essential individuality.

For instance, the only people I know personally who are tireless anti-abortion activists (and I know several) are all women. Are they part of the war on women?

I'll stop, and hope you craft a well-intentioned response.

Thanks.

Comment: Re:How the executive wipes away democratic power? (Score 1) 121

by bmajik (#49720249) Attached to: Learning About Constitutional Law With Star Wars

The one thing I want to point out is that you should recognize the name "Cass Sunstein"; he's not some random academic, he was part of the Obama administration, and has a bunch of ideas that you will find either kooky or great, depending on how you align politically:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

He's also good about co-opting terms he disagrees with as a way to try and attack intellectual opposition. He calls a bunch of things libertarian that are flagrantly NOT libertarian, for instance.

Comment: Re:It's not limited to the US (Score 5, Interesting) 220

Someone else covered this but is buried.

Bee colonies do not freeze in the winter. They starve.

We've been keeping bees in North Dakota, which is colder than wherever you are, for 7 years. All 3 of our colonies survived last winter. One is strong enough that we've split it this spring to try and prevent a swarm.

The way that bees operate in winter is amazing. The bees form a sphere, with the queen near its center. They vibrate their wings and bodies to create heat. The bees on the outside of the sphere obviously lose heat the fastest. The bees on the inside stay the warmest. The sphere of vibrating bees constantly turns itself inside out, over and over, so that the cooler outer edge bees return to the warm core and replenish their warmth, while the warm bees from the core circulate out towards the edges after they've recuperated.

This consumes lots of energy (and food).

As the cluster of bees does this, it moves upwards in the hive, consuming stored honey.

When they get to the top of the hive, they stop migrating. If they run out of honey, they die.

We use 2 deep supers and 1 medium honey super to over-winter our bees.

Comment: Re:wildfires? (Score 2) 304

by bmajik (#49430525) Attached to: Obama Says Climate Change Is Harming Americans' Health

So I agree entirely with your sentiment, except I chuckled when you wrote that you live in Seattle.

What's funny about that is Seattle is also full of rich dumb people that make dumb decisions.

If you've done the Seattle underground history tour, you know that Seattle basically sunk into the sound long ago. The whole city history is replete with stories of stupid people that fought nature and lost.

Recently, the highway 99 project comes to mind :)

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 1) 119

Well, I personally take the view that any society that forcibly sterilized 50% of its residents doesn't deserve to continue as a society.

I also don't think Malthus was correct.

Someone insinuated that I'd be ok with Jewish concentration camps if that resulted in a society that survived.

That's a hard question to answer. On one hand, what was done to the Jews was clearly immoral. On the other hand, a society that goes extinct isn't around to argue that it was a moral society. Heinlein noted that survival is somewhat of a precursor to moral behavior.

What we'd like to hope is that the choice between survival and violence against others is a false choice - that there is always a way to both survive and not harm others.

But that may not be the case for all societies in all situations.

It may be that the Native Americans came to the conclusion that you did -- that anything beyond a certain population was unsustainable given the technology level and resources they had available to them.

That may have been an eminently moral choice.

It also means that what they thought doesn't matter today - because there weren't enough of them to defend themselves against an invading society with different ideas.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 2) 119

Another question to wrestle with:

Why didn't the colonization and empire building go the other direction?

Why weren't the native Americans launching ocean going vessels towards Europe? Why, when the Europeans arrived, were the NAs unable to repel them?

Why were there so many top-notch German scientists and engineers in that society in the 1930s and 1940s? Why, given its amazing technological advantages, did Nazi Germany still ultimately lose the war?

If you want a really uncomfortable question: why was South Africa apparently a much nicer place -- for everyone -- under European management with the distasteful Apartheid policy? Why has that society _regressed_ since kicking out the colonial invaders?

There are books on these topics that take varying points of view.

My point is very simple: pining for primitive cultures is romantically appealing but intellectually dishonest. And holding our ancestors to the standards of today is also silly - we can only hold them to the standards of their day --- unless you mean to imply that there has been no human progress.

It is precisely the fact that the Western world has shown dramatic human progress - even at the cost of slowing its own rate of expansion and conquest - that we can be confident that Western Civilization has something to offer the world.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 1) 119

I don't believe that inside Nazi Germany nor in Stalinist Russia, there was the problem of a foreign empire clashing with an indigenous culture.

It seems the best American analogue to the experiences of those regimes was what was done to Japanese Americans in WW2 - which while awful, thankfully, doesn't hold a candle to what was done to the German Jews or the Soviet victims of Stalinism.

The history of the world is filled with violent tribal conflict, usually over the right to settle and tax a given piece of land.

The Jews and Nazis weren't fighting for control over Bavaria.

The Europeans did not set out with the goal of exterminating the native Americans. The NAs had their land taken from them by force, which is how it has always worked on this planet.

There are two general possibilities for how to proceed from here

1) convince people that taking land from other people is immoral

2) find additional land that is both unsettled and desirable

#1 is worth working on, and can show some real improvements, but will ultimately not be enough.

#2 is also worth working on, and why I am a space nutter, and why I am interested in how seasteading plays out.

A mix of #1 and #2 may help humanity not kill each other completely. We've gone almost 70 years with the ability to wipe ourselves out and we haven't done so yet. That's an encouraging indicator.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 5, Interesting) 119

Small Part Native American here. Grandpa and mom are buried on the Res.

Not that my heritage should matter, but some people can't hear the message until they've decided what bucket to put the messenger in....

How is the way of life and/or world view of the Native Americans worth saving?

Same question for impoverished rural Africans?

We are having this conversation only because an objectively superior culture with an objectively superior propensity for technical development has built this amazing medium for our use.

My ancestors were excellent hunters, excellent farmers, and excellent stewards of natural resources. There are many things to admire and respect about what they did.

Ultimately, however, I'm glad I don't live in a house made of animal skin; I'm glad I have modern medicine; I'm glad my other ancestors - my white European ones - have shot themselves into space, and have opened a way for my children to someday get off this rock.

In many ways, Humans of all colors and shapes are still participating in the tribal violence that shaped native Americans and still shapes many Africans.

Some tribes are better run than others, with better results to show for it. Adapt or die.

Comment: Re:As far as I'm considered, this article ends wit (Score 1) 85

by bmajik (#49205297) Attached to: Inside Minerva, a Silicon Valley Bid To Start an Elite College Online

I don't think the distinction you're making is as bright of a line as many people wish it were.

When you think of "for profit" college, do you think of the motivations? The governance? The educational results?

I look at "normal" colleges and I see many examples of
- bad motivations: if you don't think "normal" colleges aren't motivated by the wrong things, look at how much money gets pumped into athletics programs. look at how much money goes to administrative stafff. look at how much money goes to building lavish student unions, extra rec facilities, and all kinds of other things that aren't really related to the "stated" mission of the university. instead, they're related to attracting student enrollment with candy; attracting not the top of the intellectual pyramid, but the broad base, with bread and circuses...

- bad governance. University administration and leadership live like royalty in some places. In my humble state the university chancellor is apparently forcing campus cops to be his personal chauffer. The higher ed system in this state badly misdirects state funds, over and over, and is never held accountable.

  - bad outcomes: plenty of people coming out of "normal" universities with toy degrees that are unemployable, and worse, really have no insight or understanding into anything worthwhile... and yet are saddled with plenty of debt.

Private universities are a response to current realities: many low-risk jobs require a paper degree, but no actual skills. Many traditional universities are needlessly stupid and expensive if all you want is that paper. And there is plenty of free money to go around, irrespective of merit.

I agree that for-profit diploma mills are probably a net negative. My point is that "normal" universities, in broad strokes, may not be any better.

Comment: Re:Christopher Alexander (Score 2) 81

by bmajik (#49116567) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

The last quarter or so of the patterns deal with interior space, but i think you might find it problematic to just apply them in isolation.

The patterns are meant to be applied in order, from largest effect with least detail, to smallest effect and highest detail.

So, for instance, if you take room that doesn't have "light on two sides"

http://www.patternlanguage.com...

there may not be much you can do, interior design wise, to save the room, without first trying some of the suggestions he has for how to deal with the lack of windows...

Comment: Christopher Alexander (Score 5, Interesting) 81

by bmajik (#49112901) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

One other AC posted this, but it will probably stay buried at zero.

If you're interested in why some spaces feel nice to you and others don't, there's a series of books you want to read, by "Christopher Alexander"

The first one is "The Timeless Way of Building". The next is "A Pattern Language"

This guy was writing about the human factors in architecture -- why certain spaces make all people feel good, and how that developed over human history, and how it's largely been lost in modern architecture.

His next book, "A Pattern Language", enumerates 253 patterns his team rediscovered that help resolve social problems in architectural spaces.

The problem he noticed is that people could understand if they felt good in a space or not, but it was difficult to predict ahead of time if a building would have this quality or not. And that's obviously a huge problem if you want to build things that people love, because buildings are expensive and stay around a long time. Just cloning old buildings that people like doesn't quite do it either - because people didn't really understand what made those spaces great.

This series of books is what the Gang of Four looked at, and one of them said "hey, this applies to building software also - when the problem looks like this, there's a pattern that can be implemented many different ways to address that problem".

Thus, the design patterns movement in software was born.

If you're at all interested in houses, cities, planning, design, etc, I really recommend the books.

However, read them before you buy/build your next house -- not right after you just moved. You'll start to find explanatinos about where you currently live that explain why you don't use or don't enjoy certain things, and you'll be frustrated and want to start changing things :)

Comment: Re:Is Slashdot owned by Tesla? (Score 1) 257

by bmajik (#49061337) Attached to: Tesla Factory Racing To Retool For New Models

You should consider the business model of slashdot. How does slashdot make money? I suspect page views are part of it.

If i were running slashdot, I'd be able to tell you, based on over a decade of historical data, which types of articles generate the highest ad revenues. I'd make sure those articles appeared as often as possible, and I'd look for feedback effects to make sure I wasn't over doing it.

If you want to know why slashdot has lots of articles in Elon Musk, Tesla, Gender in CS, and Microsoft, it's because those stories bring the clicks, commenters, and critically, page views.

(I'm assuming)

Comment: Re: Electric cars work great in an urban landscape (Score 1) 215

by bmajik (#49055405) Attached to: Japan Now Has More Car Charging Points Than Gas Stations

It was not so long ago that rural residents exceeded urban residents in the US. While the balance has flipped, it has not dramatically done so.

I live in a rural area and when I go into the office it is a 20 mile one-way trip (that takes only 20 minutes, door to door). If I run any errands while I am in town I need to plan for at least 50 miles of drive on a charge. Given that it gets bitterly cold here (-30F is not uncommon), I wouldn't feel comfortable running a battery pack that didn't have a significant buffer above that range. Also, given that the posted speed limit is 75, and the roads are often empty, my actual road speed can be much higher than the 55-60mph that range testing is conducting at. Also, wind speeds here are often 30mph or more, so the car may be moving through the air at a 100mph or more speed equivalent. Drag increases exponentially with air speed.

When driving in winter, rear defrost, seat heaters, and front defrost will all be running at maximum.

The bottom line is that I don't think I could reliably do my daily commute on something approximately rated for my actual expected round trip mileage. The Leaf is rated at 70 miles at 55mph with intermittent AC usage. That's not enough margin for me to feel comfortable.

I have driven a Tesla 85 and it is simply magnificent. I'd be willing to experiment with the Tesla 60kw and I think it would reliably meet my normal needs, but any lesser EV I have no interest in.

"Well I don't see why I have to make one man miserable when I can make so many men happy." -- Ellyn Mustard, about marriage

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