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Comment Make your own economic theories! (Score 2) 235

You too can use the rigorous methods of this paper to prove your own theories explaining why European culture is the best!

Ingredients:
(A) a measure of economic/social/cultural development that puts Europe on top, 1500-2013CE (plenty to choose from; Europe was really good at conquering/enslaving/looting over this period)
(B) a second characteristic correlated with "Europeanism" (in the paper's case, genetic diversity based on migratory distance from Africa --- pick another to support your own pet theory).

Method:
Plot (A) vs. (B). Note the graph peaks around the maximally-European value of (B).
Conclude that having just the right value for (B) was a cause for Europe's maximal (A).

Yay! Now you too can "prove" why nice-sounding attributes (like "optimal genetic diversity for cultural cooperation") put Europe (deservingly!) on top, instead of bothering with the distasteful details of actual history (genocide, colonialism, neo-colonism, ...).

Comment Re:Er, I Think You Misread That ... (Score 4, Interesting) 235

Just looked at the actual paper... wow, that's a load of rubbish.

The figures showing the data that they use to prove the "hump shaped" correlation of economic status against an optimal "middle ground" genetic diversity are just big sprays of uncorrelated points, through which you could draw basically any curve you want with equal statistical probability. The parabolic-shaped curves that they've chosen are basically entirely determined by a couple outliers in South America. No statistically reasonable interpretation of their results would give them anything publishable to say --- at least outside the especially low standards of Economics.

Comment Re:Er, I Think You Misread That ... (Score 4, Informative) 235

In that case, though, similar historical arguments hold just as as well --- highly economically advanced civilizations also formed far from the original "cradle of civilization." From the Inca and Aztec empires in South America, to continent-wide trade relations and the mound-building cultures in North America (basically "re-discovered" only after the invention of aerial photography, when people started realizing that some big oddly-placed hills were actually man-made structures), highly sophisticated and economically advanced civilizations have sprung up all over the place, from all sorts of "genetic stock." Tying genetic characteristics to economic advancement is an extremely iffy proposition, since there are far stronger fluctuations from historically contingent accidents. At best, you'll end up confusing cause and effect from correlating powerful, aggressive societies (conquering, assimilating, and intermarrying other surrounding populations) with the resultant genetic diversity of expansionist conquest.

Comment Re:That backwards African continent... (Score 3, Insightful) 235

For arguments based on racial/genetic makeup, a couple thousand years don't matter (significant genetic changes and the timescale for the initial "out-of-Africa" spread of humanity are over tens of thousands of years). Over the time scale of just a couple millennia, accidents of history unrelated to underlying racial makeup will be the dominant source of fluctuations in where the centers of geopolitical power (and corresponding economic advancement) lie. If Africans a couple thousand years ago were producing world-leading centers of technology and culture, that is a strong indication that the present-day underdevelopment of the African continent is due to factors besides racial/genetic disability (such as centuries of colonial exploitation following the shift of the regional center of power from Egypt to Rome, and eventually Northwestern Europe).

Comment Re:UnemployedÃY (Score 2) 626

Presumably, having earned an appropriate commercial vehicle operation license, and a past history of employment as a delivery driver, would be typical attributes for which someone would be termed a "delivery driver" even if currently unemployed, similar to how others might be referred to as "unemployed programmers," "unemployed engineers," etc.

Or, is the job of "delivery driver" so far below your contempt that it deserves no distinction from "unemployed bum"? I.e., are you a total elitist asshole?

Comment Re:How Bad is it, Really? (Score 1) 72

Rosa Parks' civil disobedience action turned out to be effective because there was a lot more than one lone person involved. Ms. Parks was secretary for an NAACP chapter, which mobilized the work of a *lot* of activists to make sure Ms. Parks' arrest wasn't just another "negro arrested, so what?" case. "Just one person" would have been forgotten by history --- the only reason we remember this is because of the large, dedicated, grass-roots activism organization backing her up, turning out tens of thousands for boycotts and marches.

Comment Re:fuck you iceland. (Score 1) 684

There's no "You" term in F=ma, or in the Standard Model Lagrangian, either.

The fact that "you" are around to ponder being snarky on Slashdot indicates that some pretty nifty emergent behaviors can come out of our favorite physics formalisms.

Saying that "there is no free will" is approximately as helpful as obstinately rejecting the existence of protons, just because they're built from quark and gluon fields.

Congratulations on being pedantically correct in the least useful way.

Comment Re:Constant dollars (Score 1) 419

And you've hit a sore spot of mine, which is: indefinite hoarding of wealth is not the keystone of a functional society.

The world's a lot bigger now than it was a century ago --- lots more people, lots more property. Only slightly more gold. That's why making gold a primary monetary standard (i.e. getting rid of fiat currency, using only gold-backed securities) is an absolutely horrible idea --- supply doesn't expand to keep pace with the size of the economy and number of people who need money. I don't think anyone *deserves* to be handed an unending cut in the entire growth of the economy for doing nothing more than hoarding shiny metal in the basement --- if you want your personal wealth to grow with the economy, then get a job (or at the minimum lend your money out to start up other people's jobs). Tying the supply of money to a fixed quantity just results in horrendous stagnation-deflation: why would anyone with money go through the risk/bother of growing the economy, when they could capture all the gains of others just by sitting on their gold?

Do I think the Fed is the best and most trustworthy steward of national finances? No. Does it destroy my life that my $$ lose 3%/year? Also, no --- and for any that I'll keep around past the end of the month, I have plenty of other options than stacks of paper bills for storing wealth that will more or less keep up with inflation. This includes gold, or I can even hand my $$ back to the government and they'll compensate me for inflation (I-series bonds), or I could buy stocks, or hire a worker in a business, etc. Some of these things contribute to a functioning economy; the gold-hoarding option doesn't.

A slow, steady, predictable rate of inflation is, basically, a good thing (encouraging spending/growth over indefinite hoarding) --- and far preferable to the massive deflationary spiral of non-fiat-backed currencies. If you don't like how your government is managing the money supply, then work on changing the government (or establishing alternate fiat money supplies) rather than pushing for the quack cure of gold-backed economics.

Comment Re:What can we DO? (Score 3, Interesting) 419

Blaming this specifically on GMOs is a bit of a stretch. The issue is more that, while both Europe and the US control their food supplies through massive government subsidies, the US subsidies are strongly focused on supporting pure corn/soy monocultures (instead of subsidizing the broad variety of regional products necessary to support healthy diets). GMOs do contribute to this cycle, by making it easier than ever to produce huge volumes of a very limited number of crops (instead of supporting a slightly lower volume but more varied food supply).

Comment Re:Get on with it! (Score 2) 583

You have a serious problem with things the government is doing, allowing others to do, and/or requiring others to do. As a Christian, so do I (on many issues)! The problem here is that you are assuming the First Amendment has a mystical absolute reach (which Obama has presumably violated) that it has never actually had --- throughout this countries' history of jurisprudence (not just beginning with Obama), the government has, by balancing against other (contradictory!) legal principles, placed boundaries on how far claims of religious freedom can be taken. For example, with a long history of legal precedents, I don't have a First Amendment claim to replace my taxes with an apology note to the IRS saying I don't like the government's wars. A certain common level of employee treatment is something that (religious) employers of secular workers don't get to define from their personal beliefs (which are not universally held in our pluralistic society --- a significant segment of the population does not morally equate "morning after pill" with "murder a child").

This doesn't mean you're *wrong* to object to birth control funding mandates --- just that this argument doesn't stand up from *within* in the existing constitutional framework. Perhaps "First Amendment" freedoms should have a much stronger scope (at the expense of "equal protection" principles) than they do; but this isn't a problem with Obama unilaterally violating religious freedoms, it's a problem with that level of religious freedom never having existed in the first place. Working from within the system, you can continue to strive to win the hearts and minds of the nation to agree with your definition of "murder a child" --- this is what "First Amendment" protections guarantee you. Or, you can fight the system from the standpoint of a higher external logic that pushes for a radical change in the scope of "First Amendment" protections. But you don't have legally sound grounds from "within the logic of the system" to claim that Obama is doing anything at all extra-ordinary.

Comment Re:Get on with it! (Score 2) 583

The government has always had an absolute ability to order you to act against your religious beliefs.

Your religion might demand that you punch strangers in the face, or oppose interracial marriage. The government orders you not to go around punching people in the face, or to run a car dealership that refuses to serve interracial couples. "Freedom of religion" protections guarantee that you can continue believing and preaching that God is sending the country to hell for its lack of face-punching or abundance of interracial relations --- just don't act on your illegal impulses.

Should I assume that your particular gripe was with Catholic hospitals (a secular business, with employees not required to be personally Catholic) being asked to provide their employees with the same type of healthcare benefits that *every other* employer is required to provide? Should they also get a free pass on employee benefits if they believe God wants a lower minimum wage and no paid overtime for 80 hour work weeks?

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