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Comment Re:This is disputed (Score 1) 380

I should also say that Solar alone won't do it. It won't come online soon enough. But nuclear, cleanest available coal technology, oil and fracking, natural gas, massive conservation, urban over rural living, public transport, population reduction strategies. We're going to need it all.

But we can't be in denial about what it will cost. It may well cost us our planet.

Comment Re:This is disputed (Score 1) 380

Why bother responding to an AC troll?

Because somebody with a lazy brain might believe you.

To everyone else (besides the AC):

Back in 2006, Dan Nyocera did some math (see minute :14 in above link)

  Right now we (planet Earth humans) use 12.8 trillion watts.

In 2050 we project a need of 28 terawatts. 2050 = 9 billion people. To find 18 terawatts he looks for in the following sources:

Biomass: If we grow crops for biomass on the whole earth (no more food!) -> 7 terawatts And we would need cellulose and lignon enzymes, which we don't have!

Nuclear: We'd need 8000 new power plants to generate 8 terawatts. That's 1 new plant every 1.6 days for the next 45 years (starting back in 2006)

Wind: Put a windmill 10m above ground on the whole landmass of the earth -> 2 terawatts

Dam every river left to get 1 terawatt.

The only solution for the future is solar. The only question is how to capture it because the sun provides 800 terawatts on just the landmass of the earth.


We need new technologies, sure. But (as Prof Nyocera suggests) we ought to stop hunting for a cure for cancer, MS, Alzheimers, AIDS. Because all of those are not existential threats to humanity. The Energy-Climate problem may well be. That won't happen (even if it is what we *ought* to do, for maximum human survival) so get ready for (indirectly) choosing who's going to die. And choose how: disease, war, natural disasters.

Comment Re:Teacher do not know Mathematics. (Score 1) 440

Yeah.... NO.

Math-competent teachers are not the same as teachers who what to engineer solutions. Engineering is the art and science of building solutions to complicated problems. Math and Science only get you so far towards that goal.

I'd prefer more compassionate Engineers running schools than befuddled Math professors. And I say that in part because my most advanced degree is a BA in Math (magna cum laude).

Comment Re:In Depth Fisking for the time crunched: (Score 1) 1255

Newsflash: the relationship between individuals and society is much more complicated, and has very little to do with the expression "for the sake of". (imho) That expression implies to me a "guiding purpose" for one side or the other of that relationship. I think the evidence for a cognitive guiding purpose, especially one that understands what is good for individuals, or the common good, is .... weak.

I think the original Slate article did not make the point explicit, but if you'll grant me that parents want to do something for the benefit of their children (not that it is their *duty* any more than it is society's *duty*, but empirical evidence suggests it is a compelling motivation)....

If you grant me that, I think the point can be made that improving the society a child (and that child's child) enters is very much in their best interest. A country with fewer foreign wars, less domestic crime and terrorism, better governance, and (dare I say it?)* higher levels of social justice and economic equality is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than an extra 5 points on the SAT. (or whatever)

And I think the strategy of supporting public schools is in line with that achieving those goals, even if it takes some of your time, energy, or money away from other things that benefit your child.

I'm trying to stay away from the strident, accusatory tone of the Slate article. It seems to have put your teeth on edge, and I'm sorry for that. I can see why it is completely unconvincing to someone who who rather read corny rebuttals than admit that you might care about more than your own children. (Don't you care about your grandchildren? Neighbors? Do you really think the Louis CK thing and say, I don't care what you do with your f'ing kid?**).

If you do care about your kids, take some time to consider how to make collective agreements with the other people in the world, in your country, state, county or municipality, and even in your local public school district. Making those collective agreements improves that irritating 'society' whose altar you seem so outraged by. Because I really think that if too many people completely ignore it, eventually the collective is going to start doing things that are bad for your kid. I don't have any facts at hand.... it's just a feeling.... but I'm convinced of it. Maybe you've already noticed some evidence?

How you react to that prediction (i.e. with engagement vs disengagement) says a lot about you. I personally choose to support engagement. But, as far as personal liberty goes, I recognize it as a choice.

Last link***, to help you empathize with the people who hold opposing viewpoints: I think this is not a red/blue policy distinction, rather a 'inherited obligation'(red) versus the 'negotiated obligation'(blue). You're explicit that a parent doesn't have a duty (for one thing) but I think you imply that there is another (fixed) duty instead. If I interpreted you correctly, that makes you an 'inherited obligation' thinker. The link (in footnotes) is there to allow you to see the other way (negotiated obligation) as a valid personal choice, held by decent people you'd be happy to call neighbors or friends. Even if you never come to view the world that way yourself.


* I have a source for that, though it is weak, I'll admit. Economic equality is the subject of my favorite TED talk, with facts and figures. But it doesn't make the case that equality is better than statistically meaningless differentiations on standardized college admissions tests. Only that by itself, it brings better health, longer life, higher literacy, higher levels of societal trust, lower crimes, lower mental health issues, and a raft of other improvements to societal statistics. But not necessarily for *your* kid, so yeah.

** "Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say 'How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married?' I dunno, it's your shitty kid, you fuckin' tell 'em. Why is that anyone else's problem? Two guys are in LOVE but they can't get married because YOU don't want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin' minutes?" – comedian Louis CK on gay marriage. (editorial note: maybe it's funny, but also a completely counterproductive liberal asshat thing to say.)

*** "Red Family, Blue Family: Making sense of the values issue"

Comment Re:A stupid issue (Score 2) 1174

That's an interesting perspective. I disagree with many particulars, but I'm not sure they matter.

"A monogamous relationship is a monogamous relationship." True, that. And irrelevant (imho) to legal marriage. Legal marriage is what forces third parties to treat me and my wife in a special way. So, for example, her employer-provided medical insurance covers me, but would not cover her (hypothetical) ten boyfriends. Also, she is on an international assignment, and they limit some of the benefits provided based on family size. I count, but her niece and nephew don't. Since we don't have kids, we don't get the awesome free tuition to an international school near us, and (importantly) we don't get to just pick some random relatives (or even our niece and nephew) to get it instead.

Even my Sam's Club membership automatically includes her, at no extra cost. They leverage the institution of marriage as a way of limiting the scope of the benefit of two people using one membership in a way that mostly works well for the people who act on each other's behalf.

Also, when those monogamous relationships fall apart, there is often disagreement on how commonly held property and (previously) shared responsibilities are split. That can require some form of mediation, especially because there is often a large power/status difference between the parties. That fact does not change if the government gets out of the business of pre authorizing the relationships that get special legal mediation.

So, I know you must be tired of people trying to convince you of the social benefit of legal marriage, but I'm going to try one more tactic. So many people get married and get a benefit from it, both personally (which you dismiss) and socially (which you seem to ignore) that I hope you try to see this from their perspective. Legal marriage will endure whether you join it or not (I hope). Please don't be against it; just don't join it.

Next topic, a particular that I think does matter: Taxes! "I pay taxes so their little snot-nosed kids can go to school, and they get a tax break? Why isn't there a kid tax?"

I don't know why you pay taxes - you could always move to Somalia. But I'll tell you why I feel comfortable with my government forcing you to pay taxes, especially for education. The education is not just for the benefit of the child or parent. That education benefits society. An educated populace can invent new great things for us all to use. An educated populace (in a democracy) is critical for good collective decision making. An educated populace is wealthier and safer to be in. Because you benefit from those things, my government takes a bite out of your wealth, even though you are short-sighted, tight, and stupid, as evidenced by your desire not to support those things. I wish your education had been better, but I can only imagine the horror of your ideas if you hadn't gotten at least as much as you did.

Comment Re:Difficulty in teaching languages / cultures (Score 1) 450

I'm really tempted to ask more about your anti-culturalists. Have they moved around the US a lot? Are they politically active, especially where they have to deal with (i.e. compromise with or attack for political gain) the opposition? Are they devout? Are they privileged in gender identity, sexual orientation, race, gender, weight, wealth, creed, education, (certainly citizenship status!), or handed-ness? [I list these in the order in which being under privileged would imho provide cultural sensitivity.]

Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Your Media Library Safe From Kids? 307

Serenissima writes "I've spent many hours building my Media Library in XBMC and scraping all the DVD Covers and Fanart. And I love it, I can pull up movies on any computer or device in the house. I played a movie for my son the other day so I could get some cleaning done without him being underfoot. I noticed shortly after that the sound coming from the other room was from a different movie than I played for him. I snuck up and watched for a few minutes and saw him use a trackpad to navigate to the stop and play buttons of different movies in his folder. I know it's only a matter of time before he realizes he can see all of the movies. I don't want him to have nightmares because he saw the T-1000 stab someone in the face. The quickest solution I can think is a screen saver with a password. It's mildly inconvenient to me, but would stop him from accessing anything. However, I remember how much more I knew about computers than my parents when I was a kid, and I have a feeling he's going to surprise me one day. There's a lot of ways out there to stop it, the way we do it now is to not let him watch anything unless we're there (but there are only so many times I can watch the same kid's movie). How do YOU guys find yourself dealing with the convenience of running your own server while keeping your media safe from prying eyes?"

Comment Re:Distinguishing conflict from disagreement (Score 2) 1152

Maybe not your point, but no. In my experience vinegar attracts more. As much as I'd usually hate to use a cartoon as a reference:

On to your point: I personally feel that Dawkins has legitimatized a great deal of speaking out against religious stupidity. I hasten to add that a lot of religious stupidity gets called out by other religious thinkers - The Christian Left poking holes in Focus on the Family's agenda. But still, he adds a useful voice for atheists who wish to promote that methodology in public and political life. He is by no means perfect here. For example, he's deeply entrenched in his misogyny, unable to see how his behavior supports the demeaning of women within his community - presumably because he feels it's so much worse in the religious communities he attacks.

But I have to disagree with you (respectfully). What you believe (and also why, and how you come to those conclusions) may be personal, but it is also very much my business too when you act out on those beliefs. No human ant colony required; I'm speaking of real, complex, human societies. I'm a US citizen, and monotheistic, Abraham based religious views inform the majority of our public policy debate. If you engage in those debates then you should expect to have your views challenged.

But I do believe that respectful challenging is more effective than mockery. So while I don't mean to mock your view that it's no one else's business, I still think you're wrong, and I just told you so. And I told you why.



Afghanistan Biometric Data Given To US 108

wisebabo writes "I just noticed that not only are all Afghans going to have their biometric data (fingerprints and iris scans) recorded but the government plans to share it with the U.S. From the article: 'Gathering the data does not stop at Afghanistan's borders, however, since the military shares all of the biometrics it collects with the United States Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security through interconnected databases.' Talk about 'know thine enemy' (or I guess, for now, friend). Does this foretell the near future when the U.S. govt. (and by extension, Chinese hackers) have the biometrics of almost everyone alive?"

Comment LiveScribe Echo (Score 3, Insightful) 425

This doesn't meet the ground rules you laid out, but you could consider taking notes on paper and then getting electronic copies of them.

I'm thinking of the Livescribe products. It's a smart pen/dot paper combination. The big additional win from the Echo or Pulse smartpen is that it will record audio while notetaking. There is an add-on app for the pen that lets you use it as a stylus for your mouse cursor on the laptop (the pen must be tethered to the laptop with a usb cable). I've never used that aspect of the pen.

The recorded audio can be cued up after class by just pointed to the note you wrote at the same time, as well as by more normal play/pause/scrub controls.

Also, the handwritten text can be searched in the base desktop application. There is an additional software that will convert the handwritten image to fully editable text - but again, I haven't bought it or used it.

You can also send complete audio/image combinations to an online account and sync them with your iPad/iPhone, so you don't need to carry around all your notebooks just to read them, though you will need them if you'd like to take new notes (assuming you keep one notebook per class, as intended)

To be honest, I bought this long after school, because I thought it was so damn cool. I haven't had much call to use it, so I can't really be for or against it. Anyone else use it in an actual class?

Comment Re:News for haters? (Score 2) 548

"How Economic Inequality Harms Societies" (video )

I dunno about 'wealth'. This video talks about income instead. Income *is* more evenly distributed in every developed, western-style economy than it is in the US. The UK seems to be a close second in income inequality.

As this video points out at the very beginning, income differences between nations MAKE NO DIFFERENCE in life expectancy (or any of the other measures of societal well-being used in the man's talk). But WITHIN a country, every income group does a bit worse than the income group just above.

In addition, countries with high inequality do worse (example used in video: child mortality) at all income levels than a country with with lower inequality (given comparable GDP/capita). Yes, the difference is large at the bottom and small at the top, but it is consistent across the whole income gradient.

So, go ahead and sneer that people who want greater income equality are just ungrateful, greedy, lazy, stupid, confused or whatever. But the fight for greater income equality has the data to show that it is a *cause* of negative social outcomes, and the data to show that it hurts the rich too (just not as much as it hurts the poor).

I don't vote for the leader of the world. I do vote for the leader of my country and several representatives for my state in the national legislative body. So I have limited influence on income inequality across the whole world. I support open borders, free trade, reduced agricultural subsidies, and anything else that would help raise the world's poor out of the trap they live in. But you are suggesting that I should let my version of "The American Dream" be better realized in Denmark than in the US (social mobility is highest in Denmark, lowest in US). I don't know what kind of country you want to live in - but daddy's income shouldn't be the most important thing in *your* income. It should be about how hard you work. That happens in more equal societies, not in the US.

Ignorance about how the world works is curable - but now you have no excuse.

Comment Re:This is one of those (Score 1) 548

Well, according to a old Planet Money episode I recently listened to, innovation and productivity in the financial sector is finding new (and efficient) ways to find capital for new businesses. Or, conversely, finding investment opportunities for existing capital. Banks have historically done this one way: They guarantee depositors a fixed interest rate (attracting small amounts of capital from large numbers of risk averse investors) and give loans, presumably with a mixture of risk profiles. Of course they also have support roles too: processing transactions for businesses for a fee, checking/debit card accounts for consumers. Most of these support roles are not big money makers for banks. (That matters because finding ways to cover costs helps make those checking account "fee-free" - that helps the lower income levels a lot more than it helps rich people's bank accounts.)

Saying "banking isn't an industry - they don't produce anything" is like saying "hair styling isn't an industry - they don't produce anything". Banking could well be a growth industry - it makes no sense to limit bonuses based on that line of reasoning.

You got it totally wrong, and this matters to me because if you say something this silly too many times, people who matter (unlike me or you) may come to believe that the whole idea is stupid. And then they won't implement the idea. The real reason (according to Taleb) to forbid bonuses is because of the asymmetry of knowledge. I've read his book, "The Black Swan"; it was fascinating, you should read it too. If you can grant me that there will *always* be opportunities to hide low-probability large-loss risks in the system, then bonuses give exactly the WRONG incentive. That's true whether or not 'banking' is a growth industry or a support process.

Of course, you might think I've got it wrong - so we can have a polite conversation about our analogies or reasoning or such. I'm assuming you're a swell person who just has a bit of flawed understanding.

Between "The Black Swan" (book) and "How Economic Inequality Harms Societies" (video ) I'm thinking this is the most important thing we have to do in our nation.

Comment What is cheating? (Score 2) 333

What is cheating, really? I mean this to be completely serious. There are some interesting stories here already on how someone cheated on this or that test. Some of them sound like 'studying' to me (like working every sample problem until the answers are memorized? Cheating!?). Some of them just sound like study groups.

I got a B.A. in 1992 and I recall only one or two times where instructors gave any guidance at all about what level of cooperation among classmates was appropriate. Since that had never happened in high school, I had no experience applying those guidelines. So with only one or two classes as exceptions, I did all of my homework alone. The one large study group I attended regularly was a logic class in the Math Dept. that had tremendous overlap (in subject matter, not students) with a formal logic class I had already taken in the Philosophy Dept. I would *always* do the proofs first, in my room, then join the study group. I acted more like a TA, trying to explain why something was, or was not, a proof. I was probably more rigorous than was necessary (imho: Mathematicians use logic as a tool, like an Engineer uses math; Philosophers study logic as a subject, like Mathematicians study math) because of my prior exposure.

I remember most clearly how worried I was that I was cheating with my fellow classmates. I didn't know the boundary lines.

I also worried I was cheating when I was not the leading light in a class and I needed help, badly. Since I didn't know how much help was too much, I never asked. When I took a class where I was completely over my head, I simply sank like a stone.

With social skills that come from loving Logic like a Philosopher, it's clear that I needed *practice* with group work. The few sentences at the beginning of the course from the prof simply do not cut it when you're halfway through a Data Structures assignment and need help (serious help) just getting the $%^&* code to compile. When the guideline is vague ("You may discuss assignments outside of class, but I expect you to turn in code that is your own") is it cheating to ask the code-god in your residence suite to just find the syntax error and just tell you what it is? Don't explain it, I won't understand, just tell me!

The original article says their survey included the option I "received unpermitted help". You tell me? Did I cheat?

Comment Re:What was the point of this exercise? (Score 5, Insightful) 943

Ah, but you're all just ACs. Just trolling, I guess, rather than interested in learning any new truths. For everyone else reading this, I thought I'd include a standard rejoinder about the nature of scientific 'proof', just in case.

When one does not have proof, one need not avoid any conclusions; evidence is sufficient. Most of the evidence suggests that there is no imaginary friend; all of the evidence otherwise is provided by anecdote, fallacy, fraud, or fiction. There is evidence that his friend is imaginary, in one sense of the word. There are indicators in the brain that are associated with religious activity; literally faith is all in your head.

I'll believe in god when there is more evidence in favor of its existence than there is against it. I won't do it because some random clown on the the street with a bullhorn (or on the Internet) yells about it. That isn't evidence. You believe; too bad for you. If I knew more about you, I might even be able to explain why you believe (probably because you were raised with the notion of god as a child, but perhaps not). But your belief is not evidence.

See? An open mind that evaluates evidence and comes to a conclusion using the best data available. That's how you have to deal with the scientific worldview.

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