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Comment call it our point (Score 5, Interesting) 1135

I'm a USAmerican and while I'll admit to sucking at math, I think it's a stretch to say I suck "so badly." I'm not exactly sure what The Problem with America Today is, but if I had to guess I'd say a lot of it has to do with extremely large organizations motivated solely by profit (AKA news media) manipulating the international discourse in ways that are profitable, which has nothing to do with a sane representation of reality. It's probably not even that satisfyingly conspiratory, unfortunately, but I do know that I've never seen anyone ram together a few legitimate data points like I have in this blog post (which I'm reproducing in entirety here to save everyone the effort of having to click through to a foreign environment):

In the style of Harper's Index, if with so much less elegance...

Number of deaths in the USA due to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists in 9/2001: 2,996
Estimated number of those that were US citizens: 2,669
Number of deaths in the USA due to traffic accidents in the same month: 3,303
Number of deaths in the USA due to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists between 9/12/2001 and 12/31/2008: 0
Number of deaths in the USA due to traffic accidents in approximately the same period: 303,841
Total approved, as of 12/2009, for the three military operations initiated to combat terrorism in response to 9/11 (excluding funds for CIA, FBI, TSA, Homeland Security, etc.): $1,086,000,000,000
Estimated budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the same period: $6,520,000,000
The NHTSAs budget, expressed as a percent of the amount allocated for these military operations: 00.
Estimate, in 2008, for the final total cost of the Iraq war alone: $3,000,000,000,000
Amount allocated to the military per terrorism related US citizen death in the USA since 9/11/2001: $406,893,967.78
Amount allocated to the NHTSA per traffic related death: $21,458.59
Amount allocated to the military per terrorism related US citizen death in the USA since 9/12/2001: Undefined
Percentage of causes of death in the USA that kill more people than terrorism: 100
Percentage of causes of death in the USA that receive more public money for prevention than terrorism: 0
Percent change in gross federal debt between 2001 and 2010: 232.97
Percentage of gross federal debt in 2001 that would have been eliminated by 1.086 trillion dollars: 18.8
Amount each US household would receive given 1.086 trillion dollars evenly distributed: $9443.48
Rank of defense, excluding expenditure on active military operations, among all categories of federal spending: 1
Percentage of federal spending in 2009 that went to defense: 23
Percentage of federal income in the same year that came from individual income tax: 43
Percentage that came from social security/social insurance tax: 42
Percentage that came from corporate income tax: 7


Sources: http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHTSA Global Terrorism Database, with specific query used The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, by the Congressional Research Service (pdf) The three trillion dollar war http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt Projections of the Number of Households and Families in the United States: 1995 to 2010, from the US department of Commerce (pdf) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget

Comment Re:Language (Score 1) 1153

Also, saying that math can express most anything is a pretty strong assertion.

Godel's completeness theorem proves that mathematics is infinite, that is, no collection of mathematical rules and structures can ever be called finished or complete. There's no reason to assume that includes expressing emotion, epistemology, etc., especially because it is known there are different sizes of infinity, but it is clear that math can express an awful lot. Of course there's plenty of reason to conclude that math can't say much about something like ontology, because questions like "what is really real?" (as one of my many philosophy books puts it) are so terribly ill defined that they evade even rudimentary logic.

Comment Re:What World Does He Live On? (Score 1) 1153

I'm supposed to be doing my analysis midterm right now. The part I'm at requires that I prove (-a)*(-b)=ab, and I have only the slightest idea how that's going to happen. I fear that my course isn't being taught well, because so far it seems all I've learned is that I'm terribly afraid I don't actually understand any of this thing called math. This is rather disturbing, as it was only a few months ago that I decided I'd pursue my PhD in pure mathematics. Formal proof is indeed very important, but the class in which I first saw the potential was Philosophy 101, introduction to formal logic. It was only through continual reinforcement in classes such as discrete math that I realized the true power of logic. That said, for me one of the most enlightening moments was the revelation that all life is composed of (potentially) trillions of cells.

Comment Re:My car gets 1000 MPG (Score 1) 576

By most standards it's not a car, I was just tired of being ignored the moment the word bicycle was used. Obviously this didn't work as I was instead immediately modded irrelevant then flamebait, both of which not only confounded me but also deepened my fear that humanity is Screwed (despite considering myself an optimist). The car I was referring to is indeed an electric assist bicycle which receives somewhere short of 50% of its power from my legs. Though the electric conversion has been blowing my mind and that of the few intelligent people around me, I'm already ready to cede that a century of brainwash has made irrefutable fact of the notion that any distance further than across the street, or any cargo greater than a candy bar, or any weather at all requires a car. As such, I've begun the design of a four wheel, two seat electric assist velomobile just shy of a Miata in stature, with the intent of tricking people into thinking it's a car.

Comment Re:My car gets 1000 MPG (Score 1) 576

If I get hit by another 60 lb car, neither of us are likely to be seriously injured, especially if neither of us are going over 40 kph. It's very basic physics, if you're in something that's over 1300 kg (like the average sedan) traveling over 40 kph, any accident has the potential to be deadly. This is why there are on average over 3000 deaths per month due to car accidents in the US. Just because there's a tradition of high speed heavy vehicles doesn't mean it makes sense or is the optimum form of transportation.

Comment Re:a trade war? good (Score 1) 738

As American consumers, we pay less for cheap plastic crap now.. at the expense of our jobs and quality.

Ultimately, American consumers caused this problem, because they sought the best value for money. Nobody forced Americans to by products made in China - they chose to, by taking the money out of their pocket and putting it on the counter.

Don't forget that all very powerful corporations have well funded marketing departments, whose entire purpose is the manipulation of people into parting with their money; the perfect advertisement would hook 100% of its audience, which is no different than mind control. If you ask me, the advertisements have been plenty more than effective enough for a long time. Did you know that people didn't really wear deodorant until shortly after shortly after WWII? One of the earliest incarnations was a concept of Bristol-Myers. Then all of a sudden here we are and deodorant is apparently as essential as water. The entire culture was manipulated into thinking that people "stink," which is true but misleading. Consider that deodorant works by blocking the apocrine glands in the armpit, apocrine glands being the special ones that are only found in the armpits, at the areola, and around the genitals. Is it really a leap to assume that if we have any pheremones, that's where they come from? And that by blocking our "stink," we are blocking one of the few ways in which we can sense and communicate with our fellow humans, one that might actually be rather developed after so much evolution? There are some businesses that are making a lot of money based on the misconception that deodorant is necessary; we have been convinced that we need absolutely need so many things when we really don't.

It's pretty clear that the quest of continually increasing profit is naturally anti-people (and unsustainable) because it demands the subjugation of people (employees) in order to undercut the market; it's also in a corporation's best interest to maximally inflate the price of a good over its material cost, which implies maximally taking advantage of their customers (who are people). It's really too bad that instead of using our gift of consciousness to enhance life on Earth and beyond (as the logical conclusion of evolution might suggest we do), we have chosen the strange purpose of trying to get a big number written on a bank slip. What's probably worse is that this culture of greed transcended single individuals and has become the sole drive of large and powerful organizations.

Comment Re:fucking city-living hipsters (Score 1) 233

So... how do I move heavy stuff? How do I travel when it's raining? When it's fucking cold? When it's fucking hot? When it's more than a few kms?

I don't own a car and I use public transportation, yet I can see a lot of uses for one. A bike is not, and never will be, a replacement for a car.

Really heavy stuff should be transported by a truck, ideally by a localized freight/home delivery service. But this isn't really an argument against cars, because the majority of cars are rarely used to carry heavy things, and many heavy things (furniture) won't even fit in the typical sedan. If it's raining or cold, put on a coat. If it's hot, wear athletic fabrics and carry some insulated water bottles with ice water. If it's more than a few kms, stop being such a lazy ass--I rode my normal pedal bike over 6000 kms across the US. I ride my e-bike 5 kms to school every day, and do it faster than I can in my car. A bike can not do everything a car can do, this is true; just the same, a car can not do everything a bike can do. For any trip under 50 kms with less than 20 kgs of cargo (ie most of them), the bicycle is the most efficient option.

Comment Re:Electric cars are not the answer (Score 1) 233

And what do you do when it snows? Stay home? Some of us need to travel all year, not just the 120 days a year when it's not snowing, raining, too windy, or too cold to ride a bike. Plus some of us buy groceries, or need to get our kayaks to the water.

Put on a coat. The only weather that makes riding a bike impossible is several inches of snow, which usually precludes driving the average sedan as well. There are plenty of ways to carry groceries: a roomy backpack, an extracycle, a trailer (cargo or child), etc. As for kayaks, I've never seen it done but a kayak is certainly light enough to be towed by a bicycle.

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