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Comment The lack of Modular Design (Score 1) 341

And that is a symptom of one of my pet peeves - the lack of modular design in most modern hard goods.

There is no reason why major subsystems couldn't be built to a common form factor so they could be easily serviced and/or upgraded as improvements are developed. Why shouldn't that old, durable fridge be retrofit with a high-efficiency compressor, upgrading it to modern energy standards at a fraction of the price (and cost of disposal?)


Comment Re:Hrm. The latest theme in the religious PSYOPS (Score 3, Insightful) 717

Before I start, allow me to express my deepest condolences on the passing of your wife. And I really, truly, mean that.

My assumption is that, given that you have broached this subject, that you are recovered enough from that loss to discuss it.

There are four possibilities:

1. Through some biological mechansim not currently understood (but understandable, once discovered and studied) your wife was subconciously aware that something was profoundly wrong, and it manifested itself as fear;

2. Your wife's fear was irrational, but, thorugh a mechanism not currently understood (but also potentially understandable) that fear directly caused the embolism. There are cases of demonstrated "mind over matter" (the Placebo Effect is very real, and currently not understood) so this is actually possible;

3. Your wife's fear and her sudden passing are completely unrealated and utter coincidence; or

4. Some invisible, "divine" presence was warning your wife of her impending demise (and yet - I'm trying not to be harsh here - did nothing to prevent it)

Three of those explainations are plausible and require no supernatural influence. One requires both supernatural influence and, I would argue, inhuman cruelty.

I clearly cannot say which, if any, of these scenarios are "the truth". But I hope for all of humanity that #4 isn't it.

And again, you have my sympathies. I would not wish what you have gone through on my worst enemy.


Comment And on top of that... (Score 1, Insightful) 717

All excellent points.

But on top of that, for any given set of scientific "beliefs", you have the ability to personally replicate the experiment and see the results for yourself. While science says "trust me", it also expects (and, in fact, RELIES UPON) that some people will NOT trust, and insist on replicating and verifying the results.

No dogmatic religion permits this. Nobody is expected or allowed to attempt a virgin birth, to change water into wine, raise the dead etc etc etc.

Science encourages questions. Religion discourages it. That, to me, is THE key difference.


Comment "Forgiveness" as part of Game Theory (Score 1) 717

Just as an aside, "forgiveness" is often raised as a point in favour of religion, as if it were a new concept created out of whole cloth by the "Jesus" fellow.

And yet, "forgiveness" is an essential, mathematical part of Games Theory. Strategies that punish transgressions and then "forgive" are provenly superior (in a mathematical sense) to strategies that only punish or never punish.

And "niceness" is proveably superior to "nastiness".

Science has a claim on ethics, and unlike religion, can test and prove strategies and ethics.


Comment Hrm. The latest theme in the religious PSYOPS (Score 4, Insightful) 717

Posts like these reveal the latest tactic in the religious fundamentalist PYSOPS campaign - the attempt to cast "science" (which is a process) as a "belief system" or "religion" and thus either elevating their religion to the same level as science or pulling science down to their level (whichever view you prefer)

Sometimes, the reveal is the use of the new portmanteau "sciencism" but other times - like in this case - it is more baldly stated.

The ironic thing is that I think this particular theme is meant as much in defence as it is offense; most religious fundies give each other a degree of professional courtesy and refrain from directly attacking each other's dogmas - you don't often see Bible Belters railing against Buddists. Perhaps they hope that if they can recast science as a belief system, science will extend that "professional courtesy" to them and leave them the hell alone.

Sadly, they are tilting at windmills; "science" does not care one whit about religious dogma. It's not even on the radar. What science "cares" about is the propogation of knowlege teased out through experiment. If religion contradicts this, science - quite rightly - seeks to correct the error (the same way science seeks to eliminate error from science).

If science winds up systemically dismembering religious dogmas, well, so much the worse for religion - but it isn't PURPOSEFUL.

The problem with religion is that it has made claims about the workings of the universe which are demonstratively, testably, and predictively FALSE - and they are still, after centuries of Enlightenment, still not equipped to deal with it.

So nice try - but we're on to this tactic too.


Comment Re:And yet..... (Score 1) 163

I honestly have never seen an iPhone there.

Plenty of iPods... but no phone.

There were a couple of times I thought I saw one, but they turned out to be Droid phones.

Now they are undoubtedly around - my bubble of "phone awareness" doesn't encompass the whole train after all. I'm not claiming that "nobody has one". But the density seems low; whereas the BB density is universally high.


Comment And yet..... (Score 1) 163

I have a Blackberry. I love it (as much as anyone can love a phone) And I'm also somewhat sensitive to choosing the wrong platform, being a former Amiga guy.

For all the talk of RIMs demise, around here (Toronto) in my informal survey of people I see with phones, BlackBerries dominate. I ride the TTC a fair bit, and I have never seen an iPhone on the TTC. Never. I've seen a couple of Android phones, but BlackBerries I see by the dozens. And not just in the hands of government or corporate types - I mean the kids too.

I've tried very hard to avoid self-selection bias so it's not just fanboi recognition - I think it's real data (for as much worth as it is)


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What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli