Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment System Dynamics (Score 1) 157

I've been reading a lot of economics the last few years, trying to figure out why it's so full of shit.
It seems mainstream (neoclassical/keynesian synthesis) economists believe in mathematics but don't believe in reality.
Their close kin the Austrians don't believe in mathematics either.
They both believe economies are in equilibrium, this is a fundamental assumption, and other nonsense like 'people behave rationally', 'people have perfect information' etc.
These are not a priori assumptions like a physicist might make but come out of their theories and without which they do not work. This does not phase them.

Along the way I have discovered System Dynamics, a way of modeling complex dynamic systems which seems well suited to studying economics. There is an economist using this, he has designed his own System Dynamics software called Minsky, and unlike Krugman, Rogoff et al. he makes a lot of sense.
His name is Steve Keen and you can get Minsky from here: Windows, Mac or here: Linux.
He has an excellent book: Debunking Economics and you will find him on YouTube too.

Comment Re:Can the enemy actually shoot down the F35? (Score 1) 732

Those aren't US bases at all.

Lakenheath and Mildenhall most certainly are active USAF bases. Menwith Hill and Croughton are coms/listening posts and radar stations. Alconbury is some sort of support facility.
That does not seem to be an exhaustive list but some of the bases may have been closed since I last paid them attention (eg. Upper Heyford, where I once attended an air show). Mildenhall and Alconbury are slated for closure.

Comment Re:Can the enemy actually shoot down the F35? (Score 1) 732

The vast majority of those "bases" have just a handful of guys. That's not a base.

That's 132 countries not bases. There's 44 air bases and 22 naval bases according to Wikipedia (if my tired eyes are counting right). Some of those countries have over 100 'bases'. Even a small base can eavesdrop, run agents, torture abductees etc. What else are they for?
How would you feel if even Canada (say) had 100 military bases in the US? What sovereign country would allow that?

With good reason, too, which became clear soon after.

Yes, Iraq was a monumental fuckup on almost every level. But it was a strategic goal for the Neo-cons who aren't happy it has been given up, ISIS or no.

Comment Re:Can the enemy actually shoot down the F35? (Score 1) 732

132 countries have permanent bases (not counting 'black' sites). Some of those in Europe, and no doubt elsewhere, have nuclear weapons.
The stronger countries are probably not much intimidated by the military presence as such, it just forms part of the overall control mechanism. The weaker countries are essentially not free to choose a government opposed to US hegemony. Iraq is a special case, there are many in Washington who are furious that Obama agreed to (mostly) leave.
Guess which major Western European country has no US bases.

Comment Re:Can the enemy actually shoot down the F35? (Score 1) 732

So when the US doesn't fit the criteria for empire you just change the meaning of the word until it fits.

I have not changed the meaning of the word, the GP sought to (re)define it narrowly so as to exclude its current leading exponent.
Since it is traditionally used for such diverse organisations as the Mongol Empire and the British Empire to try to pretend it doesn't also apply to the "Washington Consensus" smacks to me of exceptionalism and self-delusion.
Having said that, even if we accepted GLMDesign's definition, three-quarters of the countries in the world currently enjoy a US military presence on their soil. I'm sure this has no effect at all on the excercise of their sovereignty.

Comment Re:Can the enemy actually shoot down the F35? (Score 1) 732

If troops aren't controlling your interaction it is not an imperial relationship.

That's an old-fashioned view. The modern empire uses economics as its primary means of control. Economic dependency is encouraged by bribing leaders, tailoring economic theory, foreign 'aid' and 'investment', intervention by 'international' institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, sanctions, blockades, and so forth.
Foreign leaders who pursue independence and decline the bribes find themselves voted out in rigged elections, or overthrown in 'local' coups and 'revolutions', or assassinated.
Only if all that fails do the troops invade, a friendly government is installed and a permanent military base is established to discourage backsliding. After that it's Hotel California...

Comment Re: Correction: (Score 2) 83

2) France asked America to help in Vietnam which we did.

No. When France quit Vietnam after Dien Ben Phu the US decided it would suck up the remnants of the French Empire as it had done for the Spanish and British Empires. Oh, and Communism.

  3) reagan tried to stop massacre in Libya, but showed yellow belly when we were attacked.

What massacre? Gadaffy was a murderous nutter (though no more so than many 'friends' of the US) but more importantly he had oil.

4)we did go into Panama but only to stop noreiga.

Not really. It was to regain control of the canal which had been given to Panama by Carter.

We also invaded Grenada to stop a coup that had ussr, North Koreans, and Libyan soldiers helping

That is complete bullshit. There were 700 Cuban soldier/workers. There are a few more than that only 90 miles from the US at all times. Not sure if you are referring to the original Bishop coup or the US inspired counter coup.

America has only responded to events that others did.

If you look a bit deeper you will find that in most cases the 'others' were provoked (often covertly) by the US into giving them an excuse.

Comment Re:Funding (Score 1) 169

All the chemical elements are available in space. Imagine a Drexler-style nanofab that can build anything atom by atom, given the right atoms. There's no compelling need to develop such a thing on Earth, but if we had it (because we needed it for space) the economic impact would be profound.

The enormity of the advances in technology that would be required to colonise space would inevitably transform life on Earth. And the amount of resources required need not be that great. There is no deadline, no hurry. We have plenty of spare capacity, 25% unemployment in some countries. The aim would be to bootstrap an autonomous colony building machine that lived off the land, not keep flinging megatons of stuff off the planet.

The main reason to choose Mars is PR. The Moon is old hat. The stars are a thousand years away. Mars is a clear step forward that people might get to see in their lifetime. Any large public project needs to have public support. Would a reality TV company contemplate funding a robotic mission to sniff a pebble near Uranus? How many people would tune in to watch the birth of the first Martian?

Comment Re:Funding (Score 1) 169

We can do this be sending robots.

True, but there would be less impetus (hah!).

That can be done on the moon for a much lower cost. It might also be economical to return to Earth the things we find on the Moon.


Not quite as it would only be relevant to Mars and a few moons.

I meant 'and everything else' not 'that would be everything'.

Sorry but unless we can create a completely self sufficient colony any outpost will be reliant on re-supply from Earth. Creating a completely self-sufficient colony on Mars would bankrupt any countries that tried it. There will always be some critical material or item that is available only on Earth.

Self-sufficiency is something we'll have to learn how to do. As for bankruptcy, no. Provided things are arranged to give value for money on Earth there is no end to money. Tricky, I grant. Running out of resources could happen.

Mars is not a lifeboat. Until we can get to another star system where we can live on an Earth-like planet long term survival of humans is not ensured.

Yup, but we'll not get there in one bounding leap. It may take generation ships, and if you can do that why do you need a planet?

We need waypoints. Mars may not be optimal or necessary but it is on the way and people can see it in the sky and get excited about it.

Sure, there are more urgent local concerns. The ones you list are good. But if we have the resources there is no need to be constrained by money, we can do a bit of everything. In fact a space colonisation program could yield technological benefits for Earth in all the areas you mention.

Comment Re:Funding (Score 1) 169

Just strapping a few Saturn 5s together and dumping a half-dead astronaut on the surface of Mars, never to return, would be completely pointless I agree. But if by trying we learnt how to travel more quickly through space, how to survive the radiation, how to maintain a habitat with nothing but sunlight and regolith, everything required to colonise the Solar System then we will have secured both enormous wealth and long term survival of the species. We have to get out there eventually whether the immediate goal is Mars or not.

Wealth, I would suggest, is anything you feel better off having than not having. It doesn't have to be useful or be capable of creating more wealth. Most of the things we spend our money on aren't.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan