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Comment: Re:Options A. through D. (Score 1) 340

by Pfhorrest (#47434505) Attached to: On 4th of July:

You're the moron, or at least illiterate. They said that on one day, the 4th of July, they make $10k, and that that's 10% of their annual income. That means that their total annual income must be $100k, because $10k is 10% of $100k. That leaves $90k to be made over the course of the rest of the year, about $7.5k per month, which is plenty to keep the lights on and rent paid until the next 4th of July.

Comment: Re:hahaha! (Score 1) 932

by Pfhorrest (#47219673) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

I think what you want is a pro-market, anti-capitalism party. Capitalism doesn't just mean free markets; it means those with more capital can exploit those with less. If you want a competitive, non-monopolistic or -oligopolistic, genuinely free market, you need to get rid of capitalism; that is to say, you need to protect the smallest players in the market from being held down and exploited by the bigger players. You need to make sure that all gains are made and all advantaged held through the continued production of genuine value, not just by rent-seeking and choice-limiting behaviors.

I agree that the left thinks that's impossible to do without forced wealth redistribution, but most of the right does too; and having some party backing that angle, and investigating and addressing the myriad ways that capitalists make the market less free, would be great.

Comment: How to guard a Turing test against stupid judges (Score 1) 309

by Pfhorrest (#47205371) Attached to: Was Turing Test Legitimately Beaten, Or Just Cleverly Tricked?

Have a bunch of human judges and some instances of the bot in question all participating in a chat together, or randomly paired together for a while and then re-paired, so that humans are judging humans as well as bots, and have no idea which is which.

If a human is frequently judged as a bot by other humans, that human's judgements are de-weighted, because apparently they're too stupid to be distinguished themselves from an AI, so why should we trust their ability to distinguish other humans from AIs.

Although, I wonder if exceptionally intelligent humans with perfect spelling and grammar, a wide range of knowledge, and high typing speed, might be mis-judged as AIs too, for being "too good". Some hunt-and-pecker who can't tell their/they're/there apart might see someone who gives an intelligent response in complete, grammatically-correct sentences in half a minute as inhuman.

Comment: Re:market at work (Score 1) 325

by Pfhorrest (#47185053) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Governments are made of people and do whatever the majority of politically active people want or at least allow them to do. You're reading too much into my position and wrongly assuming, as most do, that the negation of capitalism necessarily entails some kind state-controlled command economy, and that opposition to capitalism means support of the state. There's a thing called libertarian socialism which opposes both. You should look it up.

Anyway, yeah, governments can enslave and exploit and steal and so on just as others can -- and note here that "governments" is not the antonym of "individuals", as there are non-government aggregate entities (corporations being the big one here, but clubs, coops, NPOs and NGOs, even families, all count too), and governments like all aggregate entities are still composed ultimately of individuals.

The point is that what people will tend to do is always constrained by what other people -- acting as individuals or in aggregate, as governments or otherwise -- let them do. And what people should or shouldn't let other people do is always going to be an ideological issue. What's happening now is what people tend to do, yeah -- when other people let them do that and don't let them do other things that they might do instead. Whether that is the right choice of things to let and not let people do is a moral question, and even saying "yeah it's fine how it is now whatever" is taking a position on that moral question, not some kind of above-the-fray neutrality.

Comment: Re:market at work (Score 1) 325

by Pfhorrest (#47183663) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

At no point did I say that unfettered capitalism was the best of all possible worlds

Maybe not but you suggested that capitalism was in some way non-ideological when it's certainly not.

merely that people, left to their own devices, tend to place value on goods and services and develop a market under their own steam, rather than someone sitting down in a cave somewhere and saying "hey let's build a stock exchange because we deeply believe in the fundamental principle of private property".

Yes and, as was my point, people when left to their own device also tend to do whatever they can to exploit and live off the work of others up to and including enslaving them and credibly threatening them with death to enforce that enslavement. The slave-driven economies of the ancient world, the capitalist economies of the modern world, and the feudal economies that bridged the gap between them, were none more or less "natural" than the others. They were and are just what people tended to do in their respective times when nobody stopped them from doing it. In other times people did stop them from doing some of those things, and then people tended to do other things instead; if we allowed feudalism or slavery today, people would tend to do those sometimes too. Would that make a nonchalant stance toward slavery somehow non-ideological? Would "people hold slaves, and I don't object to that" be ideologically neutral just because if nobody objects to it people will tend to hold slaves?

And bonus negative points for backhandedly equating the ownership of private property and the exchange of said goods and services to people who "steal from and enslave and murder each other".

There was no equation, there was illustration by analogy.

You claim that people tend to do a certain thing if nobody stops them and then claim that supporting or allowing that thing is ideologically neutral because of it.

I point out that there are other things that people tend to do if nobody stops them, things that we do not generally consider non-chalant attitudes toward to be ideologically neutral.

Thus illustrating a counterexample to the principle you seem to be employing, to make the point that accepting or protesting the practices of capitalism is no less ideologically neutral than accepting or protesting the practice of slavery, etc. Not because the two are the same thing, but because in either case it doesn't matter whether people will tend to do it if not stopped or not, you're still taking an ideological position if you say either that you're ok with it or that you're not.

If you're asked "Should this happen?", any answer you give will be a moral opinion. If you respond "that does happen", you've just avoided the question and given an answer to a completely different one.

Comment: Re:Cultural issues (Score 1) 325

by Pfhorrest (#47183085) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Analytic philosophy's adherence to mathematical rigor is what saved it from falling down the post-modern hole that swallowed up all the "other humanities".

(I'm not fond of that category "humanities" and how philosophy doesn't fit well into it. Paintings and literature are just arts. History is a thing of its own that transcends all the fields, arts and sciences alike, and so is philosophy. Lumping half the arts in with two big overarching fields in their own right doesn't sit well with me. Math also shouldn't be lumped in as a science, that's a thing of its own too on part with art, and we're completely lacking the normative analogues of science, engineering, and technology, although some things like sociology and anthropology are approximating a normative analogue of science, and bus-econ courses are in the right general area for a normative analogue of engineering and technology, but that whole area is woefully underdeveloped).

(I drew a diagram of something like this once, though I wasn't sure how exactly to incorporate history into it).

Comment: Re:market at work (Score 3, Insightful) 325

by Pfhorrest (#47182963) Attached to: Fixing the Humanities Ph.D.

Capitalism is what people do when you leave them alone. You may as well say physics is a religion.

People also steal from and enslave and murder each other when you "leave them alone", in the sense of total unregulated anomie.

To say that people should be "left alone" in that sense is still to take an ethical, moral, or as you've been calling it, ideological stance. To say that nobody should do anything about it; that it is ok, acceptable behavior. Moral nihilism is still a moral position: the position that everything and its negation is OK, that nothing is either forbidden or obligatory.

Now on the other hand, what I think you probably more likely meant to say, is that free markets (which are not identical to capitalism) are what happen when people leave each other alone, in the sense of not stealing from and enslaving and murdering and otherwise violating and exploiting each other. But because people will violate and exploit each other if "left alone" in the earlier sense, i.e. if nobody stops them, then in order to achieve a state where we all leaving each other alone in the later sense, we cannot "leave alone" those who would violate and exploit others.

Freedom requires either everybody to be perfectly well behaved of their own accord (good luck with that), or for there to be enough people actively counteracting the misbehavior of others (but going no further in their actions against those others than to counteract their actions). As Adam Smith put it, a free market is a well-regulated market.

And whether the practices that underlie capitalism (which, again, does not simply mean a free market) count as misbehavior or not, and are in need of counteraction or not, is an ideological position. Should we let people exclude others from the means of production by force, and even help them do so? (i.e. should it be privately owned?). Should we let people demand repayment on borrowed money or goods beyond the return of the money or goods, on threat of force, and even help them do so? (i.e. should contracts of rent and interest be enforceable?) Capitalism answers "yes" to both of those questions; a "no" answer to either would not be capitalism, but could still be a free market.

To lose a free market, you'd have to answer "yes" to "Should we let people demand goods and services from others on threat of force?" It could be argued that allowing that on threats other than force would also lose the freedom of the market. Should we let people demand goods and services from others on threat of the release of private information (e.g. blackmail, I'll tell about your affair unless you pay me off). Should we let people demand goods and services from others on threat of letting them starve or freeze to death because they have no food or shelter? Now it's getting into controversial territory. But no matter what your answer to that question is, you're taking an ideological stance.

Comment: Broken metaphor (Score 1) 72

by Pfhorrest (#47177665) Attached to: Snowden Rallies Privacy Advocates In New York City

Somehow I don't think the government licking my balls really conveys the right idea of the bad things they're doing. That's generally the kind of thing you'd tell someone you don't like to do because it demeans them and pleasures you, not the kind of thing someone oppressing you does to you of their own choice.

Well, maybe it's different for men and women, their stereotypical experiences and perceptions at least. A bunch of pervs wanting to lick a woman's genitals against her will gets more into the territory they're probably trying to convey here.

Comment: Re:Science Writers: Stop Causing Us Intellectual P (Score 1) 147

by Pfhorrest (#47152439) Attached to: Strange New World Discovered: The "Mega Earth"

I wouldn't know how to make sense of "2.3 times smaller" in any context. Except maybe... you have things A, B, and C, and B is smaller than A, as is C, and the A-C = 2.3 * A-B. But I wouldn't know what to make of it if you just said "C is 2.3 times smaller than B!" without the comparison to A. And I don't know how you would phrase that comparison... "C is 2.3 times smaller than A than B?" That's just confusing.

Transportation

Is Google CEO's "Tiny Bubble Car" Yahoo CEO's "Little Bubble Car"? 190

Posted by timothy
from the otherwise-would-have-been-huge-and-square-I-guess dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Back in 2011, then-Google VP and now-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer brainstormed with BMW to sketch out an idea she had for self-driving 'little bubbles' that could ease office commutes. Here's Mayer's pitch from a BMW film short: 'All I really need is a little bubble that drives itself and when it runs into something, it doesn't hurt that much...and...you know, like it doesn't actually take up that much fuel because it's so lightweight and it's good for the environment for that reason.' So, with Google's newly-built, steering wheel-less self-driving car being described as a 'tiny bubble-car', one wonders if Google CEO Larry Page's "Tiny Bubble Car" has its roots in Mayer's 'Little Bubble Car,' especially considering the striking similarity of Mayer's concept car sketch and Google's built vehicle." Seems to me there's been plenty of concept art (as well as actual tiny bubble-like cars, even if they generallly have had steering wheels) for car designers to draw on.
The Internet

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot 343

Posted by timothy
from the contortions-of-all-kinds dept.
lpress (707742) writes "At a recent conference, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts rationalized charging Netflix to deliver content by comparing Comcast to the Post Office, saying that Netflix pays to mail DVDs to its customers but now expects to be able to deliver the same content over the internet for free. He forgot to mention that the Post Office does not charge recipients for those DVDs. The underlying issue in this debate is who will invest in the Internet infrastructure that we badly need? Comcast has a disincentive to invest because, if things bog down, people will blame content providers like Netflix and the ISP will be able to charge the content provider for adequate service. If ISPs have insufficient incentive to invest in infrastructure, who will? Google? Telephone companies? Government (at all levels)? Premises owners?"

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