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Comment The USPS is profitable, except for... (Score 1) 582

(if you think that they're not running at a loss, try getting any other company to deliver a letter for 46 cents in any time frame, much less in the usual time for the post).

With $140 billion in annual cash flow, it doesn't look like the problem is their prices. It looks like their overhead is too high, starting with many of the Congressionally-imposed costs mentioned in the article.

Other companies do not have many of the legal advantages the USPS has that were created specifically to allow it to be solvent but inexpensive.

The service last year projected it would save $7.1 billion a year by managing its own benefits.

...a $5.6 billion payment due to the U.S. Treasury for future retiree health-care costs...

Look to the causes here, not some comparison of apples and oranges.

Comment Round up the freaks (Score 1, Offtopic) 72

We'll start arresting people based on their search and CC usage history. And mainstream America will be happy "because we're safer".

Why stop there? Just arrest people for non-conforming behavior.

Anything but shopping, going to work, watching TV and loudly proclaiming "they hate us because of our freedom, liberty, peace, diversity, consumerism, sexual liberation and excellent shopping" is suspect.

If we round up these deviants, I think we can achieve Utopia within the decade.

Comment State of Fear (Score 2) 72

In part, this is because those predicting them often have a vested interest in making them sound a scarier than they actually are.

Financial incentive? In science?

Well, yes. Scientists are people too, and they want the same thing most of us want: to put together enough of a money pile to leave the rat race adn go do what we want for a change, without having to make it profitable and thus bending it to the lowest common denominator (LCD).

Michael Crichton's State of Fear reveals this tendency in our media and science. Quite simply, fear sells. And what doesn't sell will not get funded, will not help your 401(k) swell, and will leave you an unethical but underpaid lab-drone while fools get the gold for preaching what people want to hear.

Comment Beware of fortune tellers and computer models. (Score 3, Insightful) 72

Computer modeling is a powerful technology that should not be underestimated.

However, it should also not be overestimated.

When the "real world" has millions of convergent factors responsible for an event, computer models can sometimes capture a few thousand. Based on those, a simulation is created that suggests a certain outcome. But it may be using less than 1% of the necessary data.

This is like making architectural models out of child's blocks and then being surprised when the building falls down after it is eventually made. There are issues of scale in addition to data that can reveal periodistic or epicyclic patterns that cannot be modeled in a linear method.

Comment Here's where he got the argument (Score 2) 228

So the burn rate isn't increasing, big fucking deal. We're still not remotely at a break even point for water consumption so, guess what, there's still a huge problem.

I agree with you.

Here's what fuzzy is parroting:

Moreover, the poor, highly fertile countries that once churned out immigrants by the boatload are now experiencing birthrate declines of their own. From 1960 to 2009, Mexico’s fertility rate tumbled from 7.3 live births per woman to 2.4, India’s dropped from six to 2.5, and Brazil’s fell from 6.15 to 1.9. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average birthrate remains a relatively blistering 4.66, fertility is projected to fall below replacement level by the 2070s. This change in developing countries will affect not only the U.S. population, of course, but eventually the world’s.

Why is this happening? Scientists who study population dynamics point to a phenomenon called “demographic transition.”

“For hundreds of thousands of years,” explains Warren Sanderson, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University, “in order for humanity to survive things like epidemics and wars and famine, birthrates had to be very high.” Eventually, thanks to technology, death rates started to fall in Europe and in North America, and the population size soared. In time, though, birthrates fell as well, and the population leveled out. The same pattern has repeated in countries around the world. Demographic transition, Sanderson says, “is a shift between two very different long-run states: from high death rates and high birthrates to low death rates and low birthrates.” Not only is the pattern well-documented, it’s well under way: Already, more than half the world’s population is reproducing at below the replacement rate. - Slate.com

This argument, which is not proven science, suggests the following: as technology and wealth improve likelihood of survival, people tend to have fewer children. That which technology does not do, birth control will also.

The main evidence for this, in this article's view, is that in fewer than half of the nations on earth, population growth has declined, and it took us as a whole longer to add the 7th billionth person than it has to add the previous billion.

The article is shoddy science for a number of reasons.

First, the nations that are declining in population tend to be the wealthier ones or ones aided by immigration in becoming so. Related to that is that the nations which are dropping in birth rate are importing large immigrant populations.

Second, the delay in adding the seventh billion may have very little significance. A few tragedies or droughts, some instability or disease, and a delay can happen. That's even assuming our estimates are right, since we're estimating that seven billion and when it occurred.

Finally, the article ignores the path of history. The poorer tend to outproduce the wealthier, which tends to make wealthy nations poorer and less stable, which tends to increase the birth rate as well.

Further, many of our magic cures like antibiotics are no longer guaranteed barriers to disease. In addition, many diseases are mutating. Life expectancy rates of a modern nature may be a blip on the radar.

As you noted, we're already at a stressing point. We don't need to look much farther than the collapse of fish stocks to see that we're trying to feed too many people.

The Slate article is suspect for another reason: Slate tends to pump out these feelgood articles every year or so encouraging us not to think about any problem that contradicts popular notions of freedom and individuality. Invariably they turn out to be bad science, or broad conclusions drawn from relatively small data.

Why would someone do that? For starters, there's a huge audience of people out there who want to believe that everything will just be fine if they keep repeating what their TVs tell them.

They are certain that overpopulation is a radical or corporate plot, even if the corporations are egging it on because it will let them try out their new GMO crops.

You could say that fuzzy, like the people at Slate, has misled himself out of fear.

Comment Nuclear warfare. (Score 1) 228

I'm assuming you're referring to nuclear warfare here; if wrong, please correct.

Unless they figure out how to make their "supermen" radiation-proof, I suspect it won't make much of a difference as far as the outcome is concerned.

I don't know if any nation at this point intends to use its nukes except if (a) someone else launches first or (b) it is invaded and the invaders are winning.

It's too unstable to use except as a final act.

Comment Drone warfare. (Score 2) 74

Unlike the previous one who was only a jury and executioner thats actually a step up!

I think we're past the days of judges, juries and executioners.

Now after government bureaucrat #2,987,103 puts your name on a watch list, expect to suddenly explode at any time.

The age of judgment by drone has begun.

Comment Taboo. (Score 0) 228

No one will address the human population issue. Everyone is scared (except China) of having to enforce limits on people's sex organs. Instead they will let it go until things collapse, like a person ignoring their diet until they have a heart attack then they go to their doctor demanding to be fixed.

We have invented modern taboos, such as any restriction on any person wanting to do anything in any place at any time is bad, and not only is it bad, but it's literally Hitler.

China isn't fooled, and so they're not only limiting population, but using eugenics to improve the abilities of their population.

It's going to be interesting when the next war comes about. Chinese supermen versus the obese sofa-bound citizens of Western liberal democracies.

I can't get excited by any conservation tech or effort because I know population increases will erase any gains.

Generally I agree. The exception might be spaceflight cheap enough to displace most of our population to Mars.

Comment Hypocrite. (Score 1) 70

it's intended to prevent assholes like you from telling other people what they can and can't do

You're telling me what I can and can't do.

According to you, I can't live in a society with any standards.

Thus I'm doomed to ride the river of mediocrity into Idiocracy with fools like yourself who can't tell the difference.

Comment Excellent explanation. (Score 1) 70

So, from restrictive religions' perspective, the behavioral restrictions they place on the former is a means for an end: that of increasing the lat[t]er. It's kind of like metric poetry: by restricting how you express yourself it more or less frees you to become more creative on what you express.

In other words, it enhances quality where permissiveness increases quantity. Great definition; thanks for adding it.

Comment You're babbling. (Score 1) 70

Mission creep is a well known phenomenon, and it's both easily historically observable that people's descriptions of political and social commentary they don't like frequently ends up tinged with the same vocabulary of condemnation as that used for porn

You have made a comparison, but not shown a continuity. This is an implementation of slippery slope that most would consider a fallacy.

They use the same language to describe anything they don't like or find disgusting. It does not mean the same mechanism will be applied.

Comment Nonsense. (Score 1) 70

The problem with bans against subsets of speech is not that the actual subsets are considered to be valuable, but because the vagueness of what is considered pornographic means lawyers can just slap it on to anything.

What political speech do you think is going to be categorized as pornography? Even in very conservative jurisdictions in the past, such decisions have been overthrown (I'm thinking of the Ulysses and Naked Lunch cases).

Comment The excluded converse (Score 1) 70

And yet:

I defend the right of someone to take a shit on a sheet and call it art. I don't get it, and I'm not interested in it, but I'm not going to appoint myself or anybody else to be the arbiter of what we should and shouldn't say. And you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad, or you're setting yourself up for a situation in which one group or another gets to define 'art', 'obscene', and things you're allowed to say.

You are defining art.

You have precluded anyone in this society from raising the standard of art above "anything goes," and initiating the kind of artistic revival movement that happened centuries ago.

"Anything goes" is as limiting as any other definition of art. It's just more permissive, which basically drowns the art world in junk and excludes quality, as history shows us.

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