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Comment That's Some Nice Armchair "Feels Like It" Science (Score 1) 235

And now that the genetic element has been effectively abated, the controversy evaporates. You're welcome.

Thanks, but you offered absolutely zero proof or research nor did you even talk about how you verified that "genetic diversity and cultural diversity would be related." Armchair genetics is not progress.

I mean, I can pull explanations out of my ass too: the paper focuses on the distance from the cradle of humanity so while they may be correct in genetic diversity they are actually witnessing the exploitation of resources in new lands as humans traveled further and further. Their "just so" sweet spot of heterozygosity has nothing to do with economic productivity. The economic productivity comes from the untapped resources that the free new land provided the encroaching humans.

And that explanation is about as helpful as yours (hint: not at all).

Comment Er, I Think You Misread That ... (Score 2) 235

Clearly, the African continent is home only to the most primitive peoples. It's not a place that would birth historically powerful, flourishing civilizations whose large-scale engineering feats would be regarded among the "wonders of the world" millennia later. Oh, wait...

Um, the article was confusing, it showed like a White Pride info graphic ... yet if you read the paper, the genetic diversity is noted as being increasing over time the closer you are to the birthplace of humanity (as pictured here the heterozygosity is reduced the further away from Africa). The second part that the article woefully left out was that this article examined the year 1500 CE.

Comment Article is Crap, Move Along (Score 2, Insightful) 235

Wherever determinism appears, controversy attends, raising specters of days when colonialists, eugenicists, public health officials, and political idealists believed they could cure the human condition through manipulation and force.

Well that sounds pretty epic ... also, very confusing. "Cure the human condition"? "Manipulation and force"? What does any of that have to do with this paper? Also, I find it counter-intellectual to take a paper that has been submitted for peer review and renounce it along with colonialists, eugenicists, public health officials and political idealists just because it contains correlated determinism. You're free to attack it based purely on what it says but to say that just because it suggests determinism in humanity's history doesn't mean that they are Nazi scientists and Ku Klux Klan members.

Curiously the article accompanying this paper leaves out a key detail. From the paper:

This study therefore employs cross-country historical data on population density as the dependent variable of interest in the historical analysis and examines the hypothesized eect of human genetic diversity within societies on their population densities in the year 1500 CE.

(emphasis mine) Okay, after reading the article I would have said this study is obviously overlooking the British Empire that came back and started to systematically colonize the world despite it being further from the cradle of civilization than the very people it was colonizing. So 1500 CE was prior to a lot of the counter examples I could think of but I also feel like China and Japan had to be fully operational at these points in time and I wish I could pull up GDP numbers for 1500 but, gosh darn it, they weren't very good at record keeping at this point in time.

I think that if these authors had placed their time frame in pre-Holy Roman Empire or pre-Zoroastrian times they would have met with less kick back from their academic community. Personally, I feel like we as humans by 1500 CE had already transcended the epoch period where our intelligence removed us from the uncaring hand of nature. Granted, that was a long struggle, but I think it's foolish to say that "At not time in humanity's history has our genetic diversity played a role in our survival." We are of the animal kingdom, the mistake this paper made was trying to bring that too close to the present. We had already had inventor-geniuses. History had already shown that technology like the Romans roads could be critical in enforcing dominance on other cultures.

The paper attacks everything from its sources of population data to its methods for measuring genetic diversity, but the economists are standing by their methods.

Welcome to academia. I mean, when it comes to publishing papers on historic events you can't exactly take their experiment and run it 50 times in your own lab to independently verify your results, can you? So I would imagine that economists, social sciences, historical studies and the like are filled with disagreeing camps that can't rectify their differences.

The quality of Ashraf and Galor's research notwithstanding, the debate illustrates just how tricky it's become to assert anything which says something about human development was in any way inevitable.

Or perhaps if you publish something about the past and you make flimsy assumptions, you can almost guarantee your "colleagues" will roast you alive.

Geographer and author Jared Diamond, for example, who wrote Guns, Germs, and Steel, has been branded an environmental determinist who cuts culture and colonialism too much slack with regard to the rise and fall of civilizations—criticism that has been renewed recently with the publication of his new book, The World Until Yesterday.

So you're saying an author is being attacked for his theories not being 100% sound and accounting for all possible cases over the history of human civilization? Stop the presses.

Evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has come under similarly scathing attack by big name thinkers from Robert Trivers to Richard Dawkins for suggesting that highly social animals from ants to bees (and perhaps humans) may be driven to driven to divide labor and act altruistically--what’s known as eusociality--because of a eusocial gene or set of genes.

Is that because he's trying to make an observation about human determinism or is it because his research is shit? I assume he has conducted experiments with lab mice that lack their eusocial genes? And done tons of comparative societal observations with said mice? Look, if you're the Timecube guy, you can't go around saying random shit and asking why it makes physicists uncomfortable to debate you. If you say "there's a gene that means you're good with money and only the Jews have it" then you had better have some real research to back that up or else people are going to question why you said that.

The debate over whether our genes can determine our future is fierce. But why? Why does the contemporary scientific community posses such a basic discomfort with the idea of determinism wherever they smell it?

I think you're confusing "a basic discomfort with the idea of determinism" and "a desire to know the truth." I think this is a pretty relevant article. The answer to this article's alleged problem is probably more simple than they make it out to be: The researchers noticed a correlation that carried on for longer than most of their colleagues were comfortable with. When they published it, their colleagues were vocal that the underlying reason is almost certainly not genetics. I mean at some point, you've gotta admit that something like a society with a strong and persistent education system will beat out a society that revolves around the physically strongest winning and leading -- genetics be damned.

Comment Wrong Premise, Approach from a Different Angle (Score 4, Insightful) 267

Quick disclaimer: I am not an anything.

Do Patent Laws Really Protect Small Inventors?

No. Nor have I ever heard anyway claim that as being their primary function. Let's adjust that to say that patent laws are designed to promote innovation and invention by disproportionately reward the production of ideas compared to the actual work and creation being done. This, in theory, helps any size of inventor put in R&D monies to chase a high reward. And, yes, I do think they have been successful to some extent in doing this although there is plenty of evidence that they have gone too far as of late. They've also been applied to things that probably shouldn't be patentable like genes and software.

One such inventor faces selling his house, despite inventing a product that has sold tens of millions worldwide.

Pardon my anecdotal apathy but so what? Plenty of Americans squander money like it's nobody's business. I'd imagine there are tons of engineers out there that are brilliant inventors but either don't want to or fail to deal with money in a responsible manner. Hell, I've recently been collecting sketch card art and just totalled up my last six months spending. What the hell was I thinking?! American athletes can make millions in a single year and still end up penniless before the age of retirement!

From the article: 'Inventor Trevor Baylis says he faces having to sell his house after failing to make money from his wind up radio and is now calling for the government to step into to protect inventors. “I’ve got someone coming around in the next couple of weeks to do a valuation on my house,” says Trevor Baylis, as he walks into the sitting room of his home on Eel Pie Island, in Twickenham, south-west London. “I’m going to have to sell it or remortgage it – I’m totally broke. I’m living in poverty here.”'

Okay so this inventor is house broke -- he's got nice clothes, the article doesn't say he works three jobs. That leaves me a little curious so I inspected the article which had hilarious counter intuitive subtitles:

He built a home on Eel Pie Island in the 1970s for £20,000

Wow! That bit is interesting! So he lives on an island in the Thames in London?! Okay, I'm going to go ahead and gather that property taxes must be insane. Could he afford a house in the country? I mean, is he selling a house that he can no longer afford to buy a house in a cheaper neighborhood or is he genuinely poor? Which is it?

The property also has a pool (Paul Grover)

Uh, okay so add energy and water bills to the above.

The prolific inventor earns money as an after-dinner speaker (Paul Grover)

Okay so, has he tried getting a 9 to 5 job? I hate to be a dick but I don't think you can invent a particular modification of a radio in 1991 and a shoe that charges cell phones among "250 products" and expect to coast through life smoking a pipe and getting a bennie here or there for dinner speeches. I mean, those were the two most notable inventions?

Furthermore how do his business mistakes equate to a breakdown of the patent system:

Due to the quirks of patent law, the company he went into business with to manufacture his radios were able to tweak his original design, which used a spring to generate power, so that it charged a battery instead. This caused him to lose control over the product.

Man, I wish PJ would deconstruct this so I knew what was going on. So what that tells me is that the novel part of his invention was the spring that generated power directly to the radio? And when the company found a different way to do that, they cut him out? Yeah, companies are going to try to screw you anyway they can. The problem is that this screwing could go the opposite way too. I mean, are you really going to say that if you find a different way to accomplish the same effect the rights still belong to the inventor of the initial way to do something?

Basically if he invented the whole device, I don't know how adding a battery could cut him out completely. Anyone have that answer?

Patent reform is badly needed. To tailor it to this poor unfortunate soul's anecdotal evidence might just make the situation worse. I am suspicious of this piece because it relies on soft journalism describing how human Mr. Baylis is in his grandfatherly estate and stays away from the hard numbers or specific details of precisely just how he was wronged by the patent system.

Comment Actually That Might Not Be a Difference (Score 4, Insightful) 605

The difference is this is something people post to voluntarily. They are not paying to receive a grade and credit for. The OP is referring to a course requirement.

The submitter didn't really explain the purpose of this exercise. If the purpose was to deploy and customize Wordpress to show something you had learned about PHP and MYSQL then maybe the teacher wasn't grading on grammar and most people didn't care. I myself am guilty of long sentences that, if I had more time to spend on them, I would probably trim down but I don't because that's not what I'm paid to spend time on at my job (unless it's user doc). Likewise if this was demonstration of technical skill over prose, these could have been last minute entries and afterthoughts to the assignment. Given little time, no proof reading and just put up to Lorem Ipsum up some text?

The big question: are these students docked for having poor grammar in their blog posts in a computer course? If not, then you probably shouldn't be critiquing them like they just tried to write a novel.

Comment Now What? (Score 3, Insightful) 72

You told other staffers when you left:

Don't be discouraged by the potential consequences. You work for the American people. It's your job, your obligation to be challenging existing paradigms and put forward novel solutions to existing problems.

So now what? What's your plan? I mean, you can tell them not to be discouraged but that's a pretty hefty weight to put on your own shoulders. Anyone who gets a check from the content industry (and I think that's everyone in DC) is going to blacklist you. Do you see yourself taking a Ralph Nader-like approach to politics? How do you even get your foot back in the door? You do realize that if you don't return or rise to another kind of constituent-focused power that your above encouragement will fall upon deaf ears as you will become the example of what happens to an outspoken staffer?

Comment You Were Surprised? Really? (Score 5, Insightful) 72

From your interview with Tim Lee:

But the "level of backlash it received from the content industry" took him by surprise.

Really? This took you by surprise? If not exactly what occurred, what exactly did you expect to happen? The content industry was just supposed to take it in stride and think that maybe copyright law has moved too far in their favor? I'm not in politics (thank god) and I'm not in the copyright business (praise xenu) but it was as lucid to me as an unmuddied pond that your job was forfeit upon publishing this. I mean, what exactly do you think Hollywood and the RIAA are paying you for if not to keep these kinds of discussions off the table and pass some Mickey Mouse Act 2.0 through the next Sonny Bono puppet?

Comment Valuing Companies Over Constituents (Score 5, Interesting) 72

Something that's always puzzled me is that the Republican party (more so than the Democrats) appears to value a corporation's rights over the rights of one of their very own constituents. With something like copyright law, it has long been clear that there is a lot of money in lobbying for the corporations and crickets chirping when it comes to defending things like fair use and public domain. In this particular arena, why don't votes outweigh campaign donations? Why hasn't a Republican (or Democrat even) built a platform on these things that benefit society as a whole in order to gain more votes? Is the money that good? Are the effects too concealed?

Comment Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (Score 3, Insightful) 72

I believe your paper would have been unpopular on both sides of the isle but did the Republican knee jerk reaction to it negatively affect your affinity with the Republican party and your efforts to further their cause? Setting aside your differences on Copyright Law with that party, are you still Republican?

Comment A Serious Fan Could Apologize This All Away (Score 5, Insightful) 111

But, I really don't have all day to do this so just to cover a few of the points: If the energy shields could only stop energy and not physical materials from entering, then the rebel shield makes sense. The Star Destroyers are too massive to get below the shield without crashing to the planet and yet all of their weapons are ion or energy based. So you have to transport in ground troops and walk them in. If you believe in the future that energy is cheap and mass is expensive, then the energy shields make more sense. You might have physical bombs on a fighter like a Y-wing with proton torpedoes but a Star Destroyer that might need to be out for years would never need to reload if they have cheap energy to power their systems.

Also, the article asks why Vader didn't bomb out the base. One explanation is that he senses Luke is inside and it's his duty to turn Luke over to the Emperor. Another explanation is that they're dug in too far and they don't have the bunker busting utilities on the ATATs and ATSTs.

He flies into an asteroid belt — which somehow the Imperial Fleet had failed to account for when planning its hasty “blockade” — and the Falcon has defied the odds.

I would have guessed that since the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid belt are so low (as threepio notes) that the blockade used that as a natural barrier like you would a mountain or sea in an earthly battle. When they flew into it, nobody was expecting them to opt to be blown up in an asteroid belt and they reluctantly gave chase.

Yeah, I know, I'm the life at parties and this is all done tongue in cheek but I could probably come up with apologetic responses. I'm actually really glad that Lucas didn't decide to have meaningless strategic dialogue of Tom Clancy proportions so that we could all follow why every little thing was happening. I've read fantasy books by authors with military backgrounds and the battles get tedious -- though very informative.

Comment This Is Beyond Inane & Changes Nothing (Score 5, Insightful) 232

Okay so I read this rebuttal and I stand by my earlier position.

From my understanding, the group made a good faith offering of ronpaul.org to Ron Paul for free but wanted $250,000 for the commercial ronpaul.com in order to recoup the work and effort they put in. On top of that, I see nothing malicious, untruthful, slanderous or libelous on ronpaul.com -- quite the opposite! So this is how capitalism works, I have something you want and I have come to own it by legal means so it doesn't matter if it has your name on it or not. I'm sure they could drum up another person out there named Ron Paul if you want to play that game. Now, with all that said, the only option in a libertarian world is to either pay that sum, get a different URL or tell your followers to stop going to ronpaul.com. Turning to any -- and I mean ANY -- higher power to subvert that desired price is, by definition, appealing to a governing body to impose some form of regulation. And the only reason is to subvert the sale and tendering of cash from your hands to the party who has due ownership and control. Ron Paul says "Property rights are the foundation of all rights in a free society." And this is a directly contradictory action to that maxim whether he is a private citizen or not.

Ron is not using the State to acquire RonPaul.com. He could have brought a lawsuit in US government courts, but he did not.

Just because you use another arm or governing body instead of the official United States government does not mean you aren't using the State.

He is seeking to have ICANN enforce its own rules against cybersquatting, including the rule against registering a famous person’s name and making money off it.

Wait wait wait. I'm confused. You see, you're using the R word and your calling it a "rule" but I think the word that Ron Paul and most libertarians like to use is "regulation" and then they spit because it leaves a dirty taste in their mouth. What is the difference between rules against cybersquatting and government regulation? What is the difference between the New York Times using Ron Paul's name to sell newspapers and this site printing facts about him to make money? This isn't about what is right and wrong, this about the convenience of owning a domain. Ron Paul even has a different official domain, is this site parading around purporting to be the official Ron Paul domain? No? Then what exactly are your allegations?

Anyone registering a URL agrees to keep all the rules, just as he must pay a recurring fee. A URL is not private property in the normal sense. It is a license, and ICANN is a private, non-profit organization.

Wrong, ICANN was created to assume their responsibilities under a United States Department of Commerce contract. Haven't you been following the news where the rest of the world wants the US to give up control of ICANN? They act on the US Government's behalf. And in a libertarian world there would be no rules. Money and the free market would set the rules. In a free market you would have a whole bunch of different DNS registrars and lookup services. You could pick whichever one you liked the best. They would be for sale as entities. Big corporations could just pay them to change their DNS records to point resolution of weaker companies to their websites. When you typed in a URL it could go wherever the money tells it to go and if you don't like that, you might change to OpenDNS or someone else -- if they exist. But everyone has a price in a libertarian world. Rules are regulations and regulations are bad in a libertarian world. End of story. Rules ruin the free market. Regulations ruin capitalism and they are a hallmark of socialism.

Ron is not calling on the UN. ICANN has four approved arbitration organizations. Because the RP.com guys registered Ron's name in Australia, the international arbitration option must be used.

What part of tendering $250,000 in exchange for a domain don't you fucking understand? That option is comparatively government free!

This fight is not about so-called intellectual property, since it involves private agreements. But if it were, must one agree with Murray Rothbard--who discussed IP more than 50 years ago--to be a libertarian? I agree with Murray, but IP is hardly a make or break issue. Certainly Murray did not see it as such. In the same sense, one need not be an anarcho-capitalist to be a libertarian, though, like Murray, I am one. One can be a constitutionalist or otherwise believe in limited government. Oh, and need I note that Murray loved and admired Ron?

I'm sorry, you've lost me here. So some dude I never heard of had a man crush on Ron Paul? That's backing up your argument?

Is Ron "attacking his own supporters" by his action?

Look, dude, this is the last of Libertarian problems. Hell, after reading "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand, I assume all Libertarians attack each other. I've seen Democrats eat their own, I've seen Republicans eat their own, I just think that Libertarians are more open about it. They answer a dog eat dog world by openly consuming each other. In a libertarian world there are no police, just everyone packing heat. So you better have the balls to pull the trigger and inflict your sense of justice. If I ever meet a nice Libertarian that is genuinely concerned for others, full sympathy and overflowing with empathy, I'll eat my hat.

Comment People Forget About Iraq's Marshes (Score 5, Informative) 228

Yeah, I know it sounds stupid but Saddam Hussein drained 7,700 sq miles just to try to flush out people during the first gulf war. Before that the British had tried to drain all that fresh water out of there to stop the breeding of mosquitoes. Which, in the near future, is going to be looked back upon with disgust.

I don't think people yet understand or truly appreciate how much destruction they can bring to ecosystems. I wish conservation was given more respect than treating advocates like tree hugging hippies that have no clue about industry and economy. The area between these two rivers was once so lush and full of life that it was thought to be the origin of the Garden of Eden myth.

Comment Are You Confusing Afghanistan with Iraq? (Score 1) 583

So the US is ending their occupation of Afghanistan again?

Where on Earth did you read this? Are you confusing Afghanistan with Iraq?

Like they did the last few times they announced a "full withdraw"? The only thing I find more amazing than official US propaganda is that most people seem to believe it.

[citations needed] on the "last few times" and I'm almost certain that they never have announced a "full withdraw" (why do you even bother using quotes on that phrase). Actually, it's really hard but if you read the summary he announced the removal of 34,000 troops. Removing 34,000 != "full withdraw"

Seriously, are you ripping on him for something no one ever said? It's really hard to talk about "Official US propaganda" when you're muddying it up even further by imagining crap.

Comment Horrible Analogy (Score 5, Insightful) 583

There was a certain King Canute who went to the beach one day and ordered the tide to stop flowing. I can imagine Obama's ideas and efforts will have exactly the same effect.

Your analogy is terrible. History and other countries have shown that industry and consumers don't give a shit about the environment. And that goes for both capitalistic and socialistic societies. We've shown in the past that government regulation can fix things like CFCs and the pollution of drinking water so what's so batshit insane about proposing we fix this with regulations?

Your analogy would work if King Canute had previously ordered a lake to split in two and it had worked.

While he's at it he should make tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes illegal.

I don't know what this is? Some throwback to that bullshit logic about gun control? I guess people are still being murdered so we should revoke all the laws outlawing murders? I mean, when murdering is outlawed then only murderers will have the ability to murder people!

It's not about controlling the weather. The weather is a symptom of the problem of spewing tons and tons of carbon and greenhouse gases into the air and environment. So he's tackling the root cause of the problem, not making a symptom illegal ... is this some new parroted right-wing narrative you're getting from Facebook or something?

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