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Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 1) 83

I'm not sure this is true. In the early Victorian period in particular the drive for rationalism and empirical information was everywhere. The heros of the age were scientists, explorers and engineers.

In Newton's time there was more mumbo jumbo but do remember that they changed the laws of the country to allow him to take up his chair at Cambridge, this led (in part) to the explosion of non-comformist religions in the UK.

Benjamin Franklin was a hero in the US in the early victorian era (IIRTTC) and is a great example of the difference between then and now.

Comment Re:When facts were respected (Score 2, Insightful) 83

The placebo effect is a real thing, and it works better if the placebo is expensive.

It is indeed real but that doesn't make homeopathy real. I have no problems with the placebo effect or even people who deliberately sell a placebo wrapped in mumbo jumbo what I have is a problem with people selling a placebo who don't have the intellectual honesty to admit its just a placebo.

The placebo works, homeopathy doesn't.

Comment When facts were respected (Score 4, Insightful) 83

The Royal Society really does typify the content led questioning society that the world used to be. By establishing a body (The Royal Society) with the express intention of enabling that form of dicussion it represented very much a broad view that facts were what moved society forward rather than opinions.

How far we have fallen from 200 years ago into a world where opinion matters more than facts and where its routine for big companies in particular to hide data that doesn't match the outcome that they want.

The current pieces around Climate Change are a great example as to how far we have fallen, people with zero background, training or experience in a field are claiming that their opinions are just as valid as someone who are studied a field for 20 years.

We have people questioning doctors and demanding antibiotics
We have people believing rubbish like homeopathy because their "opinion" is it works
We have presidents believing that FAITH in something (WMDs) is more important that actual facts
We have people questioning evolution because their FAITH says it isn't so

Hopefully in 100 years our great-grand-children will look back on this as the biggest era of deliberate human stupidy. Its not often the past is actually better but the basis of the Royal Society and indeed the society which it represented 200 years ago is a much more rational and measured one than the FoxNews driven debates of today.

I often think that Fox News would be firmly on the "gravity denier" side if it had been around at the time of Newton.

Comment Xenophon and Socrates (Score 3, Insightful) 511

Pretty OT here but with people making Xenu gags because of the name its worth point out that Xenophon's Conversations with Socrates is one of the few sources for views of the great Greek philosopher and orator.

CoS are of course a shill, its not even a very clever shill, their "e-meters" are almost as dumb as the bullet proof pants that the Mormons try and pedal.

Why should any religion get tax status? They aren't a charity, the money is primarily there to support their own organisation. They are selling a product called "salvation" and people are paying money in the belief they are getting something back.

Socrates wasn't the biggest fan of religion either... question everything.

Comment Re:Gee, it's almost like they have a monopoly or s (Score 1) 330

That would make sense if you could demonstrate how they are leveraging their current "monopoly" (search) to dominate in another area (mobile phone OS, Sat Nav). This is VERY different from having a dominant (and convicted) monopoly in one type of operating system (desktop) and then using that to shift into other operating system areas (Mobile, Gaming, etc).

Its the difference between GE and Standard Oil. Being GOOD at different things is fine.

Comment Re:Finally!!! (Score 1) 278

Seriously, I have trouble dating

and

from "interviewing" them and their family

Now correlation is not causation but....... I'd suggest reducing the formal interview requirements for prospective dates and particularly don't insist on interviewing their family before considering them for a date.

Just a little hint....

Comment Re:Wouldn't it make more sense... (Score 2, Interesting) 105

Only if you trust the US to not screw around with it for political reasons. Imagine Sarah Palin as President, who is to say she wouldn't scramble GPS for France & Germany because they refuse to support her invasion of Canada? How about if they release those algorithms and keys just to US companies thus undermining European ones (TomTom etc) and say that the keys can only be exported in completed devices.

The issue with GPS is one of trust and control, simply put the Europeans don't trust the US to play nicely and fair in part because they are funding it.

And if it sounds far fetched... remember the US used to forbid the export of crypto.

Comment A reverse-SCO? (Score 1) 493

So based on a fragment of pretty basic code doing a very basic task that most people would write off the top of their head the assumption that it has been stolen from OSS.

This is like the old SCO claim around the Knuth code. There really are some basic bits that date back to the pre-history of IT. This is a long way from evidence and doesn't make the OSS world look any better than SCO did with their claims.

Evidence folks needs to be a bit bigger than a method.

Comment Re:As Rutherford said... (Score 1) 551

The social sciences, of which economics is a part, must do research and gather evidence to back up their conclusions; even those which should be obvious to everyone. This is really not so different from proofs in other fields where even 'obvious' statements must still be proven or at least investigated

This report however does nothing of the sort in that it identifies a correlation between two sets of data (salaries and effectively GPA) and puts forward a theory that because the salaries are, in real terms, falling behind the market that this is why you are getting less high quality people. In otherwords this paper doesn't actually prove anything but just puts forward a theory that then needs testing.

There is nothing in the report that indicates the actually proof of the statement just the repeatment of the statement with some data which indicates a level of correlation. And as stats people and scientists will tell you, correlation is an indication of potential proof it is not in itself proof.

Economics is another example of such a piece and actually has a Law - Goodharts Law (ex head of the LSE) which says any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes which became A risk model breaks down when used for regulatory purposes. (Daníelsson, 2002)

In otherwords their models are fundamentally untestable and hence are not science.

Comment As Rutherford said... (Score 2, Insightful) 551

But a new paper by sociologists

Ernest Rutherford once said The only possible conclusion the social sciences can draw is: some do, some don't

So while its nice that they've tried to have a firm opinion they really haven't, what they've said is that as the salaries in science and engineering fall behind the likes of banking and other world destruction careers the top people aren't going into science and engineering as much.

The phrase "Well Duh!" comes to mind. I'm mean seriously is this research or just some people sitting around a table in a bar after 10 pints drunkly going "you know what, I think that if there is less money in an area that less top people will want to work in it". Now what they spectacularly fail to note of course is that some of the very, very brightest have become the very, very richest people on the planet as a result of science and engineering (and maths).

Good god its hard to believe that people not only get degrees in subjects so vague and obvious but also get to do "research" that would leave Homer Simposon feeling that it wasn't stretching him.

Comment Super computer? (Score 5, Informative) 260

Ummm isn't this just a ridiculously powerful desktop computer rather than a super computer? The current 500th super computer on the top500 list is this machine which has a Rmax of 17 Tflops and an Rpeak of just over 37.6. Now its impressive that this desktop system has 1/37th of the power of the lowest machine on the super computer list... but does that really make it a super computer? Moore's Law says that it will take around 10 years for this desktop box to evolve to the power of that current bottom top500 box. So in other words its 10 years behind the performance of the current 500th best super computer.

If its because it hits 1 Tflops then in a few years time you'll have mobile phone "super computers" as Moore's Law is still moving onwards.

This is a very very fast desktop computer suited to certain simulation elements which are GPU intensive. Nice box, fast box.... but not a real modern super computer.

Comment Why stop there? (Score 4, Insightful) 103

Using just a laptop with a built in motion detector and a series of steel poles to rig it to your body you can do exactly the same thing but in higher resolution. From a simple netbook to a 21" monster its all possible and creates a higher resolution virtual reality experience. Going higher resolution why not drive it from a 30" cinema display, sure dragging the cables around is a bore but its virtual reality with exercise built in.

Oh hang on you wanted actual tactile touch, object interaction and other genuine immersive elements that signify the difference from a pair of goggles and a true virtual reality experience.

Nope we don't do that.

This is the virtual reality equivalent of carving little pictures into asprin and claiming they are Ectasy tablets.

Comment Re:Environmentalism means losing your mind (Score 3, Insightful) 942

Lets break down your "mentalism". I'm not going to argue global warming as I'm sure you think its an evil hoax, so lets just do basic science and economics

1) Compulsory replacement of lightbulbs with more expensive technology "for the environment" (no it's not just because there's a huge profit to be made selling new technology at 20x the price, honest it's not). Never mind that LED technology has much more potential.

Lots of parts of the US, California for instance, and parts of Europe (UK) have or will have issues with electricity supply. Light bulbs are quite a part of that consumption this makes electricity a scare resource (excluding its environmental impact) by having things like energy standards against TVs, cookers and indeed lightbulbs you ensure that this scarce resource isn't wasted. So yes LED technology might be better but the point is that the old technology was certainly worse. Thus by making people use energy efficient devices (including lightbulbs) you actually stop things like rolling brown outs etc.

2) Creation of flimsy plastic bags that fucking fall apart so that you need twice as many to carry the same groceries followed by the removal of plastic bags with studier but still flawed and breakable "green" "enviro" bags which are now sold at large profit instead of being given away. Lets nickel and dime our customers to death in the name of the environment - but we couldn't possibly stop filling their mailboxes with dead tree junk mail. Fucking hypocrites!

Now again putting away the dead dolphins and concentrating on the costs of landfill and the belief that you don't want to live in a socialist country this switch again makes sense. What you are given a choice between is a poor product for free (socialism) or paying a market price for something that lasts longer and has more value (capitalism). So its not enviromental nutters its just plain old capitalism at work.

3) Solar hot water systems that cost more environmentally and financially to produce, install, run maintain than their conventional counterparts, often require that they be supplemented/boosted by a conventional heater (so net negative gain in terms of production). Honest it's not about selling shit people don't need!
Now the Solar hot water systems I know about (for instance the ones that I've seen down here in Australia) are definately nothing like this and are for large parts of the year totally self sustaining. Some of them are pretty damn technically simple (black pipes on the roof) with very little cost of production. If you aren't forced to use these however what is your problem? Its capitalism at work again, the latest Ferrari is a ruddy expensive car, has rubbish amounts of space and sits only two people, why on earth would people pay over the odds when they could just get a truck? The majority of solar water systems sold in the right markets (i.e. hot countries) and geothermal systems in the right countries (e.g. Iceland) are much cheaper to run than conventional systems, sure some people put the system in the wrong place (e.g. a solar system in Ireland) but those things happen all the time. Still I could generously give you that some environmental people are a bit silly (David Cameron and his windmill springs to mind).

4) Water conservation and rationing. What a fucking joke. It's got nothing to do with environmental impact of building more dams and desalination plants and everything to do with the dollars it takes to do so. Water is not scarce on this planet. It recycles well if you don't abuse it badly with extremely noxious chemicals. The system is build to deal with the shit and piss of every creature on the planet. Anything short of sewage and noxious chemicals often can be reused if we weren't so skitish about grey water. Water as a scarce resource, and kids no longer being able to play in their back yards with a hose has nothing to do with environment and everything to do with politicians lining their pockets with taxes that should be spent on infrastructure.
Now here is where you move firmly into a mental category of your own. Australia is a massive problem with water shortages due to a long term drought. In the US the problem is that water hasn't been treated as a scarce resource and has therefore been treated as free money (SOCIALISM) by farmers in particular who have done ridiculous things like rice farming in areas that really don't get the rainfall to justify it. Building more dams and pipes doesn't help if the water is in the wrong place and if people (farmers) keep deliberately wasting water as it has no price attached to it. If water was priced fairly as a market commodity (capitalism) then it would mean that kids would be much more likely to play with the hose in the garden but that they'd have to pay the right market price for that water. With farmers being subsidised by the state (SOCIALISM) to waste water and grow stupid crops water has become an even more scarce resource than it would already be. FRESH water is a scarce resource in many parts of the planet, California is one of those places, Nevada, Arizona, Texas are others, Australia is a country with a water problem and Africa is covered with them. Throwing money at "build another damn" isn't about fixing the problem, the problem is one of consumption and the creation of a socialist agricultural system that relies on government subsidies to grow things people don't want (more corn syrup kids) and to waste water while they do it.

Only one of the things you talk about could arguably be an "enviromentalist" element, the others have very strong economic reasons for attacking the problem in the way that environmentalist people talk about. I'll use another "environmentalist" argument.

Many moons ago some "environmentalists" went to hotels and pointed out that they were using loads of detergent and water to clean towels and sheets that might not need it. Their suggestion was to put little paper cards into the hotel rooms that say "if you don't want the towels washed then hang them up" and "we change the sheets after each guest or every 3 days, if you want it changed more often just let us know". This piece of dreadful environmental insanity saved the hotels lots of money and helped protect the environment.

This is what most smart environmentalists do, hence cap & trade or a carbon tax, hence water pricing. Its about using a capitalist system to create a true market price for a commodity rather than a price which excludes the overall costs. Things like water are today the equivalent of being sold a car and never having to pay for petrol and wondering why you are running out of oil.

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