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Comment Re:This is why physics is the king of the sciences (Score 1) 95

Great points, and I fully agree, but I want to go a bit further.

General Relativity is amazing and wonderful, but I think we can safely say it's not complete or fundamental. Aside from dark matter, the insides of black holes, and quantum effects, it doesn't provide any mechanism for curved spacetime. As much praise as I think Einstein and GR deserve, too often I see and hear people treat it as the ultimate truth of the universe, particularly curved spacetime. I'm somewhat skeptical of String Theory, but I expect some of the mathematics will prove useful in whatever theory emerges successful over the next 30 years or so. For instance, something akin to superfluid vacuum theory, with spinning toroidal vortices as fermions, might well have properties similar to strings.

I am encouraged by the return of aether in several theories, which shows that the community is slowly getting past the misconception that aether was disproven and discredited when it fact it was one very specific aether theory that was shown to be inconsistent with the evidence. It is challenging, especially for a lay person, so stay on top of all of the theories and experiments, what was disproven, and what alternative theories are actually promising versus those that are silly (particularly when discussed on internet forums). However, we must avoid getting too stuck in one particular paradigm, otherwise it will take that much longer to discover the more fundamental layer of reality that underlies the physics of today.

Comment Re:Not anti-science, anti-authority (Score 1) 580

I'm actually astounded by how often computer guys can be so bad at the science they claim to be upholders of. In no other industry have I come across so many guys with actual degrees who are convinced climate change is some sort of vast left wing conspiracy, that vaccines are some sort of evil big-pharma plot, and so on.

I mean fine, believe what you want, but don't call yourself an engineer when you hold so much science in contempt guys.

Computer science is really more engineering (unless you're talking about a subset who are more mathematicians, but that's still different from science). Plenty of engineers have a scientific mindset, and plenty of scientists have an engineering mindset, but the two disciplines are quite different. I've certainly witnessed it enough in people I know, and more so in forums. I happen to have both backgrounds, though I fall more into the scientific category as I only did engineering in undergrad and I'm about to finish my PhD in neuroscience.

To be clear, I quite value engineering/problem solving as a way of thinking, but I do find very generally that engineers are more susceptible to magical thinking than scientists (who are by no means immune themselves). As a very anecdotal/small sample example, many muslim extremist jihadists, particularly among those who were part of the 9/11 attacks, are engineers. Again, such an example is not meant to impugn engineers, but I do think that scientists would be less likely to be taken in by such ideology. There is a far greater need for questioning underlying ideas and models in science. I'd be very interested in seeing any hard research on this sort of thing, but it would fit with engineers (including computer scientists) being more likely than scientists to have anti-vax views.

Having said all that, while I very much am in favor of vaccination and do not doubt the science, I also don't simply trust big-pharma or even necessarily any given government science agency. For instance, the USDA has had serious problems with having too much influence by certain food industries. The FDA has certainly made some political decisions over the years. Still, while I might not trust a specific agency at a particular time, or a specific pharma company about a particular vaccine, I do trust the scientific and peer review process with regards to vaccines in general. It seems many people have a very hard time differentiating those things.

Comment Re: noooo (Score 1) 560

I'm not anti-nuclear, but requiring other people to agree to your solution before you'll admit the problem exists is pretty pathetic bullshit.

He never said he wouldn't admit the problem exists. He just wants people who aren't interested in real solutions to stop complaining about a lack of action.

True, but apropos of nothing. JWW was responding to someone mocking deniers and who said not a peep about what specific solutions should or should not be applied. Hence the response, which I wholeheartedly agree with. He could have made the same point without acting like a jerk.

Comment So many incorrect assumptions (Score 1) 386

1. Responding to concerns over patents, there will be plenty of future patents to make money off of with various improvements to the current design.

2. A centralized control over driverless cars is a possibility and would be sufficient to achieve many of the great promises, but it is not necessary. Complex adaptive systems can pretty reliably solve problems through distributed decision making. I expect this to be a big component of point 1. A central information resource could help, but the cars don't need to tell the system anything about who they are to improve traffic and reduce accidents so long as the cars follow some accepted protocols. It is likely that regulations will require having a software system that passes inspection and hacking the system could be a major crime, but if there are people who don't want to be tracked then there will be a system that passes inspection that has built-in privacy. This assumes government doesn't require the information and there is actually competition in the market - but I'm just arguing that the author's assumptions are by no means certain.

3. Others have made this point, but the author's premise with regards to who would want to buy the car is so utterly flawed. The elderly who can no longer drive, the sightless, driving commuters, taxi companies, all of these would have reasons to at least consider a driverless car over the alternative. Then add in the issue of no longer having to worry about parking near where you are going, and many more people might want to consider a driverless car.

Comment Re:Democrats voted (Score 4, Insightful) 932

Political parties are not forced to hold primaries. They can hold a nominating convention if they prefer. That's what the Republicans did in the last VA governor's race. I don't see how open primaries are any more screwed up than having a winner-take-all vote that keeps out 3rd parties from having any substantial chance in most cases. It's past time we had ranked choice voting. If we did, then there would be no particular benefit to having open primaries. As it stands, open primaries at least give people a chance to vote in the election they think matters. The fact is, in many cases, the general election is a foregone conclusion and the primary is the real election.

Comment Re:Does it matter? (Score 1) 90

To provide a bit more detail to what NotSanguine said, there was some legalese in which the FCC classified broadband as an "Information Service" as opposed to a "Communications Service" back in 2002. The court then recently said that the FCC could apply Net Neutrality regulation on a Communications Service but not an Information Service, but the FCC and Congress are refusing to reclassify even though there is nothing legally stopping them (as far as I am aware). I do not understand the distinction between the two, though my understanding that a Communication Service would be a Common Carrier.

From the 2002 FCC news release I found, 'The FCC also said that cable modem service does not contain a separate "telecommunications service" offering and therefore is not subject to common carrier regulation.'

Comment Re:We all need to pay higher taxes (Score 1) 182

It doesn't sound like you actually read anything I wrote. I was hoping you might actually care to have a conversation, but now I realize you just came here to rant. Your anger is destroying your sanity. Good luck finding your way free. No longer watching Fox News would be a big step forward. You do realize Fox is part of The Machine, right?

Comment Re:We all need to pay higher taxes (Score 2) 182

Virtucon, your anger is severely misplaced. Many of those regulations that are making life difficult for you are primarily from larger businesses that want to keep you from competing fairly with them. That's not to say that there aren't some that are real efforts at fixing a problem but that aren't well-designed, but that's the sort of problem that could be fixed assuming the government was set up to respond to the people. I'm guessing there are also some annoying regulations you don't like that are actually really beneficial, but I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to easily tell all of them apart when there are so many regulations, some federal, most state and local. You are lumping all of the problems together, but in order to solve anything you need to understand the separate components and how they fit together. We could discuss those issues forever though, so I'll focus on the root problem. If we could eliminate corporate contributions to campaigns by constitutionally distinguishing corporations from people, and money from speech, then your voice would actually matter to politicians, and you wouldn't see nearly as much of the horrendous waste we witness.

Did you see the recent study that found that over the last 40 years policy at the federal level is completely uncorrelated with public opinion and highly correlated with the opinions/wishes of wealthy and special interests? Once we solve that problem, then we can see what happens and then have a real conversation about how big government should be and what it should be involved with at what level. Until then neither of us will achieve what we think is the proper approach in government. If you really want things to change, call your state representatives and tell them they need to pass a resolution calling for an Article V convention to deal with the issue of money in politics. Common Cause, Wolf PAC, and Move to Amend are all working on this, among others I imagine.

Comment Re:We all need to pay higher taxes (Score 1) 182

This is some pretty fucked up logic right here. Shit, God only wants 10% and that should be more than enough for any government! The argument that we need to pay more taxes and keep giving more away to entitlements belies the facts that we've given away so many tax breaks to big companies and billionaires that the only way the Feds can keep things afloat is to borrow massively and tax the middle class out of existence.

The middle class is not being taxed out of existence, it is being job and wage-decreased "out of existence". Also, your assertions about what is enough for a government and entitlements make no sense at all. You are taking a variety of different expenditures and mixing them together without actually looking at their value to society. There are both economic and moral components to what we do as a society through government. If you think eliminating most of government will solve our problems, you fundamentally misunderstand economics and large societies.

Comment Re:Sounds like utter bullshit (Score 2) 426

Don't get the specific research cited in the article confused with Integrated Information Theory (IIT). IIT, or a possible future more accurate/complete version, could well be true without the rubbish article assuming brain member is non-lossy. Thinking about consciousness in terms of information is nice because it comports with the evidence that when you change something about the brain or its inputs (i.e. change the information content of the system) you get a change in cognition. The details of the theory are complicated, but worth reading up on. I find the basic concept of IIT intuitive, but the math is pretty intense.

Comment Re:The protesters should brace themselves ... (Score 1) 448

More like "ankle grabbing" for the lovers of the NSA and water boarding. Going back as far as Napoleon, torture was already dismissed as ineffective, so its sad to me that some people are glad to regress a few centuries. And the "everybody does it" theme neglects that few others countries, ie none, have 30,000 employees and a $10 billion a year budget.

To the contrary, torture is highly effective... at spreading fear and exerting dominance, and/or to produce false confessions. That's why it is used by a number of other countries.

Comment Re:Projections (Score 1) 987

Ted Danson said in 1998 that we had 10 years to save the oceans or else.

Al Gore said in 2006 that we had 10 years to stop global warming.

The US and other nations have taken efforts to protect the oceans and fisheries through the National Marine Sanctuaries and various regulations, though more efforts are certainly required. Fishing takes in dramatically less per unit energy than each preceding generation, and ocean biodiversity is suffering from temperature changes, various sorts of pollution, and ocean acidification. As usual we've pushed out the horizon on disaster, but in the meantime things are still unhealthy.

For both statements you'd need to provide a detailed quote in order for anyone to make a useful judgement. Perhaps Gore meant that if we were not to address the issue within 10 years, the issue wouldn't be addressed without us suffering some substantial ramifications. It certainly looks like that's the direction we're heading.

Comment Re:Well, he's not wrong (Score 1) 479

The simple fact that you can quickly pump gas into a car versus hours of charging is a huge advantage if you want to drive beyond the action radius of a single charge.

Charging is currently on the order of 30 minutes, not hours, and it can take as little as a couple of minutes for a robot to swap out your batteries for fully charged ones. That is all with current technology.

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