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Comment: License vs. Education (Score 1) 342

by stealth.c (#49187577) Attached to: Would You Need a License To Drive a Self-Driving Car?
People seem to be conflating licenses and training, which is cute considering y'all just got done beating up on tech certifications in another thread. Should you need government permission to travel in your automated car? Hell no. Should you know what you are doing when climbing into one? Ideally, yes.

Comment: Re: I would *hope* he got paid a lot! (Score 0) 448

by stealth.c (#49108803) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
There is another reason to do so: The sincere belief that the alarmists are a threat to human survival. Their unconditional animosity against much-needed energy sources, if acted out in the political sphere to the degree that they wish, would doom billions to poverty and death. There is no doubt some risk in continuing to use fossil fuels the way we do, but governments are not who I would trust to quantify and hedge against that risk. They are much more likely to overreact or underreact for political reasons, costing the world countless lives. This is an unpopular opinion I'm sure. The technocratic idealists here who align with the alarmists are positive they know better how the world should run than those SUV-driving rubes out there, but such paternalistic hubris has gotten mankind into huge trouble before.

Comment: Isn't this just shooting the messenger? (Score 1) 448

by stealth.c (#49108689) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests
Whenever scientists publish a controversial new cosmological theory there is no gossiping over who paid them. Because it doesn't matter. If their interpretation of the data is wrong, or if their model is wrong, all someone has to do is correct their work. Yet when it comes to "climate science" much ink is spilled disparaging the motives and character of anyone who challenges the orthodoxy. If he's wrong, show how he's wrong. I don't give a rat's behind who paid for what. The work either contributes to our understanding or it doesn't.

Comment: Re:Replacement Co-Anchors (Score 5, Interesting) 277

by flyingsquid (#49027519) Attached to: Jon Stewart Leaving 'The Daily Show'

I don't see how anyone except John Oliver could fill in for John Stewart. Oliver is funny, he's enjoyable to watch, he's political, and the key thing is, he's earnest. Jessica Williams is a name that comes up a lot, and as great as she is, she doesn't have that earnestness that Oliver does, and she doesn't seem to get fired up about issues the same way that Oliver does, or Stewart did. I'd watch a comedy show with Jessica Williams but I don't think she's quite right to head up the Daily Show. She's one of the newer members as well; that may be why Comedy Central didn't give her the Colbert slot. Samantha Bee and Jason Jones? No way in hell that will happen. Samantha's OK but Jason has a grating presence- he pretends to be a dick but when he does, he comes across as actually being a dick. He's got that small, mean laughing-at-you-not-with-you thing that kept Craig Kilbourne from ever going anywhere with the show. Comedy Central clearly feels the same way: he was passed over to fill in for Stewart, and for Colbert's slot. I don't see Larry Wilmore happening either, he seems more annoying than funny and there's just a limit to how much humor about race a largely white audience can handle.

Everybody saw what happened when Oliver took over the Daily Show. Stewart was clearly looking to do other things. Even before this he's seemed worn out and ground-down, he joked a lot about how old he felt, at times he seemed to be going through the motions to manufacture his indignance- I think that's why he bonded with O'Reilly, John Stewart had become a lot like O'Reilly, someone who was paid to go on and pretend to be upset when he'd gotten to the point that he didn't really care that much anymore. And then John Oliver came on and for the first time in years, I actually thought that Daily Show actually was a fun show to watch. And everybody clearly saw that Oliver had that rare talent where you can get him up in front of millions of people, talk about the news, and people laugh and enjoy themselves. HBO saw it and gave him a show and he's proven he's able to headline a show, hell he can even turn net neutrality into comedy.

That's what you want. You want a guy who's funny, who's enjoyable to watch, and can make something as dull as net neutrality funny, and can get fired up about the politics: he actually cares. He's proven that he's all of those things, and none of the other names have. Oliver has the HBO thing, but my guess is that Oliver's agent negotiated some kind of a loophole with HBO so that he could go back to Comedy Central if asked. And the Daily Show is Comedy Central's flagship program. There's no way that they will replace Stewart with an unproven or unknown talent; they have too much at stake to take a chance and gamble with an unknown when they've got a proven talent who can not only do the job that Stewart does, but do it better than Stewart himself. The fact that they haven't named a replacement suggests to me that the deal isn't final, but I'm guessing that Comedy Central is currently in negotiations with Oliver.

Comment: Re: Double Irish? TAX ALL FOREIGNERS!!! (Score 3, Insightful) 825

by stealth.c (#48954147) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas
How exactly is risking capital to produce products people willfully buy "leaching off society"? Which government service exactly are they skipping out on paying for? Why not send them a bill for that instead of stabbing in the dark at arbitrary sums? When did it become "greedy" to keep your own money, and "justice" to take someone else's?

Comment: Re: Double Irish (Score 2) 825

by stealth.c (#48953785) Attached to: Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas
Do you mean to say my taxes only pay for the desirable things my government does, and at the best possible price at all times? And that without this small group having a unilateral right to help themselves to other people's money -- so long as they honor bureaucratic protocols of course -- civilization would collapse into a Mad Max dytopia?

Comment: Re:Honest question. (Score 1) 479

by flyingsquid (#48836973) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

To flip things around for a moment, what about all those female-dominated careers? Why is it that we aren't up in arms about the fact that yoga studios, elementary schools, secretarial staff, birthing services, and hospital nursing staffs are overwhelmingly dominated by women? Nobody seems to be losing sleep over the idea that there is some kind of pervasive gender discrimination that discourages men from these careers. Is that because these careers are seen as somehow less worthwhile- and if so, why? Because women do them?

Modern feminism seems consumed with the idea that career success for a woman can only come by pursuing a traditionally male career path. But this seems like an incredibly sexist viewpoint, because it's assuming that the only kind of job that's worthwhile or important for a woman to aspire to is one that a man traditionally has done. If you're not a CEO, a surgeon, a professor, then you're somehow less worthwhile. But taking care of other people- which is something a lot of female-dominated careers have in common- is incredibly important, and probably contributes as much or more to society than coming up with a better way for Amazon to flood my inbox with special offers.

The other issue is that feminism seems obsessed with the idea that women will be happy if they can pursue these career paths. But here's a thought. Maybe women opt out of certain career paths in favor of other career paths because those career paths better fit what they want out of life. Maybe many women- not all of them, but a lot of them- find working with kindergartners or being a midwife more rewarding than firing employees, shooting at insurgents, or writing computer code.

Comment: Re:Academic wankery at its finest (Score 2, Interesting) 154

It's a bit like the iridium spike at the K-T boundary in that the use of nuclear weapons is an event that will have a worldwide signal, in fact it wouldn't surprise me if they got the idea from the asteroid impact. This would be a bit ironic because Alvarez, the guy who discovered the impact, was a Manhattan project alum who actually worked on the explosive lenses and triggers used in the Trinity implosion bomb. The issue with using Trinity is that from a biological/evolutionary standpoint its not that meaningful an event. The Chicxulub impact is a huge deal, it's the driver of the biggest mass extinction in 250 million years. The Trinity test has the advantage of being easy to measure but nuclear weapons have had pretty much zero effect on the biosphere. In fact, primitive hunter-gatherers running around with fire and spears have a vastly larger effect than nuclear bombs. After Homo sapiens moves out of Africa into Australia, Europe, and the Americas, we see massive dieoffs of the megafauna which, combined with the use of fire to alter the landscape, dramatically alter the fauna and vegetation on a continental scale. From an evolutionary standpoint, these migrations are important; they mark the first time the species began to alter the world on the level of entire ecosystems. So I'd argue that the migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa would be the defining event, but obviously that's kind of hard to date.

Comment: Re:RAH had this in the 50's (Score 1) 235

by flyingsquid (#48714193) Attached to: The Billionaires' Space Club

More importantly, you don't build large-scale infrastructure like China's new Silk Road bullet freight operation out of thin air. Large-scale infrastructure of this kind will require large amounts of pure metals. Having large new sources of supply in turn encourages bigger projects. How much copper is it going to take for the Silk Road to go maglev?

These kinds of shortages have a way of sorting themselves out. If the price of a commodity goes up, then people start exploring new sources of the commodity, new modes of production, alternatives to the commodity, and ways to be more efficient with the commodity. This is exactly what happened with oil prices back when people started panicking about "peak oil". New resources and modes of production (deep water oil, tar sands, shale oil) were developed and alternative sources of energy (solar, wind, natural gas, etc.) were pursued, and more efficient cars were developed. The result is that oil prices have fallen dramatically in recent years from around $100 a barrel to around $60 a barrel and the U.S. is set to become a net oil exporter. The same dynamic is likely to play out with copper- as soon as we start seeing shortages of copper, increased prices will increasingly drive people to find more of it, replace it with other materials, and be more efficient in its use.

Comment: Re:Do I buy it? (Score 2) 235

by flyingsquid (#48714123) Attached to: The Billionaires' Space Club

I remember seeing starving Ethiopian kids on TV when I was a kid, and it left me deeply shaken up. But over the years, I realized that you saw all kinds of things on TV- GI Joe and Transformers and the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon and exploding coyotes, and the little Ethiopian kid with the distended belly sort of entered that realm. One more image on TV and you can just change the channel.

And then travelling in Africa I saw a starving kid, face to face. Me looking at him, and him looking back. And I realized, that's not fake. That's not TV. I can't just change the channel and make him go away. And he can't just change the channel and make all this stuff go away. This is his reality, and it fucking sucks, and this is the reality of millions and millions of people.

One of the tropes in science fiction is the Bubble City. The residents of the Bubble City live in their cozy, clean, climate controlled little domed city and have wealth and peace and long happy lives. And meanwhile, outside live the savages, with their poor, dirty, and violent little lives, and the people in the Bubble City don't think much about them or worry about them. What I saw for the first time is that this isn't science fiction. This describes the world we live in. The developed world is a bubble, but until you step foot outside, you don't even know it.

Comment: Re:Do I buy it? (Score 1) 235

by flyingsquid (#48714051) Attached to: The Billionaires' Space Club

On other the other hand, if it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all the world's rich people truly care about lifting poor people out of poverty then poverty could be eradicated from the world in a single generation.

I think that this is probably a bit overly optimistic. The difference between the U.S. and some failed state isn't merely a difference in the level of wealth. It's a whole series of things- an effective security apparatus, infrastructure, a court system, trustworthy, responsive, and effective government administration, education and literacy, a free press, a fair market system with companies and finance, a national identity, tolerance of different people and ideas, and a culture that buys into and believes in these things as realistic and important goals. The wealth and prosperity of the United States are built on a culture, ideals, markets and governments that go back hundreds of years, to the Colonies, to England, to Renaissance Italy, to Rome, to Jesus, to the Greeks.

Wealth isn't just the condition of not being poor, it's about creating a productive and fair society. Like they say, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him the rest of his life. The issue is that being a good fisherman is *hard*. It takes a work ethic and discipline, piloting, engineering, and navigational skills, management skills, and learning how to actually catch fish. It takes years.

Poverty has a lot of causes. If you cut your potential labor force in half by keeping women unemployed, if government officials steal from the people with bribes, if there's a lack of education so you can't hire skilled workers, if business can't operate because of a corrupt judiciary, if you can't move goods to market because there are no roads, if you're sick with malaria and can't work, if the army is weak and violence flourishes, if you can't get a small business loan... these are problems that make going to the moon look pretty straightforward. I'm not saying we shouldn't try. As Kennedy said about the moon, we're not going there because it's easy, but because it's hard. But we need to be realistic about how hard it's going to be.

The sooner you make your first 5000 mistakes, the sooner you will be able to correct them. -- Nicolaides