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Comment: Re:Sad (Score 2) 195 195

It's not about wether or not everyone's within their rights, nobody contests that the mods don't have the right to do what they did, I think. The question, more for Ellen Pao and the mods than us, is wether it's actually appropriate or good community conduct to shut down the whole website because she decides to let someone go.
Nobody's going to work for Reddit if they're told at the door: "We'll keep you around as long as some splinter cell of mods doesn't start a flashmob against you. And we try to fire bad people but if they have loyal mods they're impossible to get rid of." So exactly what do the redditors want reddit to be, assuming we call them constituents or stakeholders, and not mere content sharecroppers? Do they really want to be involved in Reddit's internal business process? Why?

In California at least, there are strict legal protections for people who are fired, their boss cannot necessarily talk about why or how someone is fired in public, not without courting significant legal liability. So I'm not sure what "transparency" or "involving the community" can practically accomplish, without getting everyone tied up in torts.

Comment: Re:Sad (Score 4, Insightful) 195 195

They need to launch a /r/WeWantToFireThisPersonIsThatOkWithYou every time this comes up to prevent spoiled babies from holding message boards hostage?

Reddit may eventually have to decide if they're an actual business that's supposed to make money or a hip BBS. The two identities are sorta in tension and I'm not sure it's resolvable.

Comment: Re: The author doesn't understand Herbert (Score 1) 230 230

"No... down with the people appropriating people that don't share their ideology or way of thinking as members of their group."

In your opinion. It's up for interpretation, and anyway there's a lot more to the Guardian than some caricature of brain-dead leftism, and there's a lot more to Dune than a one sentence quote from Paul Atreides.

Comment: Re: This needs to be a well done movie (Score 1) 230 230

I really think a movie adaptation could be done without all of the internal dialogue.

Yeah but it'd sorta be like doing a painting and calling it an "adaptation" of Bach's D-minor partita for violin. The medium is the essence of Dune in a way many other books aren't; any book that deals so heavily in metaphysics is going to be hard to realize visually.

Comment: Re:This needs to be a well done movie (Score 3, Insightful) 230 230

The attempts to put Dune on screen have been largely terrible, but this is one of those books where the "big budget blockbuster" would be totally justified.

Huge stretches of the book are internal monologue or whispered conversations in dark rooms, where two people exchange few words and pages are spent on exposition. The book is unfilmable; or rather, you can make a lot of movies with the title Dune but they're going to end up just sharing character names and the general bag of situations.

Comment: Re: The author doesn't understand Herbert (Score 1) 230 230

"glowing piece also claimed ownership of his work effectively within the ideological camp of the paper"

So on the one hand, down with the Guardian because it is rigidly ideological. And on the other, down with the Guardian because it doesn't adhere to your rigid, singular interpretation of the novel Dune.

Comment: Re:Science can say a lot about what's good and bad (Score 1) 305 305

We need to preserve the diversity of life to survive.

Right, but what if we engineered ourselves out of this necessity? It's completely conceivable that we could. Do we maintain diversity of living things just because human beings require a diversity of food? Or do species have a right to exist independent of the human need for survival?

Comment: Re:Science can say a lot about what's good and bad (Score 1) 305 305

but go beyond that and the opposite will happen. E.g., catching this many fish is sustainable, but catching more that that will lead to population collapse and you not catching anything -- i.e. that's a bad decision.

But then the fishermen say: "We'll find different fish you'll like better, just learn to like the new fish," and the bioengineers say: "We've got these fish's DNA on file, we'll just clone them and you can eat the cultured flesh." Are these bad solutions? Why do we want to preserve the diversity of life on Earth, exactly? Is it just to serve our whims and appetites (er, "markets"), or do living things have a right to exist regardless of us? And do we have a responsibility to protect living things, even living things which are, to us, worthless?

Is that math somehow morally empty? That's an individual's decision.

Are you able to defend the position that empirical reasoning and math can sustain a moral imperative? It doesn't sound like an individual interpretation to me, I mean, do you know any moral philosophy that connects math and consequential ethics? Maybe Pythagoras...

Comment: Re:Krauss won't like the obvious answer (Score 1) 305 305

I'm really not a spiritual person, I'm not a Catholic nor a Christian and I'm not advocating his position here. I'd also happily concede that throughout the developed world the Catholic Church is viewed with more suspicion now than at any time since the Great Schism, mainly due to it's total failure to address clergy sex abuse.

But I'd say, even given all of that, the Bishop of Rome is still a greater moral authority than just about anyone from Richard Dawkins on down. I'm just describing the situation, Krauss is complaining about the situation, that's the situation.

Comment: Re:Krauss won't like the obvious answer (Score 1) 305 305

The entire structure on which science is built on philosophy, which is grounded in trying to answer exactly the kind of questions that lead us ultimately to issues like whether global trends are good or bad for us.

The question of wether or not a global trend is "good for us" is neither a falsifiable proposition, nor is it derivable from methodological naturalism.

So, trend X might kill people. Okay, that's bad, but stopping it might cost Y, how do you weigh the benefits? And you're going to run into people that'll say, "people on Tonga should have to pay for their own evacuation, they must adapt," okay, so why? Other people might say, "It's wrong to make a people run from their home and destroy it simply because we refuse to curtail CO2 emissions," and that's a perfectly valid position too. Science can't tell us which of these solutions is correct.

And in all these cases we aren't really talking about how we know something is bad. Death is bad, we can stipulate that, but why? Maybe you'd say that it violates Kantian ethics, it violates the Golden Rule, that's fine. Maybe you could say that killing people causes a harm, and harms must be avoided according to utilitarian ethics, that's fine too. But neither of these are science. They're humanistic, they avoid Sky Father, but it's impossible to prove they're right from completely materialistic, naturalistic priors.

Comment: Re:Krauss' claim is not about moral authority (Score 3, Informative) 305 305

Needless to say, the pope couldn't really go there, although he has previously said that people should have fewer children -- never mind how.

That's not true, the Pope goes there and totally disagrees with Krauss, Francis strongly condemns birth control and abortion. I agree I don't think that's workable, though I know what Francis would say: people should be fucking a lot less and only for procreation. This doesn't actually work in our culture, but as far as he's concerned the culture is the problem.

Comment: Krauss won't like the obvious answer (Score 5, Interesting) 305 305

The Pope holds a great deal of moral authority. Scientists not so much.

I've read Laudate Si'. It's not really about the science, or arguing that AGW is true, or that biodiversity is being lost, or that pollution is killing people. It takes these things for granted but it does not marshall evidence per se.

It's main point is that AGW, true or not, is evil and must be stopped, and it ties this into social teaching by associating the consumer culture of rich countries with the exploitation and immiseration of small, poor ones; mankind's moral obligation to protect the Earth, and it asserts baldly things like "man has no right" to push a species, any species, even the smallest plankton, to extinction (Francis actually mentions plankton).

I don't hear scientists talk like this, and that's fine, it's probably not their place. But evidence isn't enough to actually move people to action, you do actually have talk about right and wrong, and why this thing is wrong and must be stopped. And Francis specifically argues against the idea that technology will one day solve this problem for us, to him the problem with the planet is 100% between people's ears, it has to do with the way modern people see the world as a resource to be exploited. Don't ask me to defend this, I think he's a little too pessimistic here, but it just continues the idea that his argument isn't about science, or technology, or even the material world, to him it's fundamentally spiritual.

And he has a point; why should we care about climate change if the Earth if it's just a ball of dirt and we can just fly a rocket to another one? Science can tell us what the planet is and where it's going, but it can't tell us if that's a good thing or not. So does Krauss think scientists should hold more moral authority than a Pope? Is that the paradox here? Should scientists teach us right and wrong?

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