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Comment Re:There's an obvious alternative explanation (Score 1) 273

Thanks, interesting. I'm an avid meat and seafood eater, so I'm kinda vague with the term "meat". Another interesting point is the biomechanics of our lower leg and foot, which make us efficient runners -- not fast runners, just efficient -- which with the loss of hair, for sweating and cooling, makes us good for endurance running and running down large animals. Well, I wish, being at a desk all day. Anyway, it would be interesting how we actually got the initial start, whether it was on the savannah, or living by the shores of water bodies, or some combination of both.

Comment Re:There's an obvious alternative explanation (Score 2) 273

Lierre Keith makes a good point, that returning to natural grazing cows would be a huge benefit for the environment. Yes, I'm a methane fart denier. But her concern is with biodiversity, and all that tofu and grain is coming from stripping the land back to monocultures. I'm all for eating meat grown in a lab, if needed, but as humans, we have small digestive systems and big brains, and we didn't evolve that way eating veggies. But that's evolution for you, a lot of trial and error. Like this with the babies. Apparently there's a case that if the baby comes out "clean" via cesarian, its biome won't get booted up properly and it'll end up with various conditions later in life. So ya have to smear the face with mommy juices and poop. Because nature is just not interested in whether something looks disgusting, nor whether it is a competition between hunter and prey, nature just works how it works. That's my thought for the day, methinks.

Comment Re: Hell no (Score 1) 381

I imagine that's something like how constructing buildings (architecture) relies on engineering, and often it helps to know why a column has to be where it is, and what other possibilities there may be, to support the floor in some other way, but most of what the architect does is actually planning the layouts and elevations and how the building relates to the site and the people and their activities.

So I would imagine that a lot of the "discipline" in large projects isn't so much about pure engineering, it is often more about organising parts into systems which can be developed over time.

Like how the architect knows that where they put the hotel restaurant is going to affect where the kitchen goes and therefore where the store room goes and hence where the service entrance will likely be, and that you don't want to end up having to tear up the plan and start again because you've ended up with the service entrance being located right next to the main entrance.

Comment Re:Why did you let them do this? (Score 1) 134

Brits, why did you let them do this? You're letting them take your freedom and letting them grant themselves powers that will keep you out of the loop and perpetuate their own power, preventing you from being able to do anything about it in the future...

I could as easily ask "Yanks, why did you let them do this?" about any number of assaults on freedom and privacy committed by the US government. The US has been running headlong down the same road for 15 years and change, with nary a peep from Joe and Jane Average.

Every time the government of a supposed 'free' country pulls shit like this, two things happen. First, the fact that the terrorists have already won their war against free countries becomes more and more obvious. Second, the differences between the 'free' nations and the terrorist states becomes harder and harder to discern.

There is a difference though between, the government's physical power (police, surveillance, etc.) and what they use it for.

USA has its share of people who value owning guns, and although that gives the individual a level of power which the Brits might think of as, well, just plain obsessive and weird, a citizen of USA can maintain that they have no bad intentions around how they use that power. And that is a fair point.

Same principle goes for how we say, "oppressive dictatorship" to distinguish from beneficial ones, or "Islamic terrorism" to distinguish from plain ordinary peoples' Islam.

Put it this way, if a nation seriously needs a well organised militia to keep its leaders in check, then that nation is already so far down the plug hole that you may as well "nuke it from orbit", as they comically say.

It really all comes back to how in the West we often see the view that it is OK for USA and UK and France to have nukes, but not OK for Iran or North Korea to have them. It isn't about the physical power, it is about the intentions.

And I dunno if the UK can be trusted with this level of surveillance. We hope their intentions are generally OK.

So it is really a technical issue about, can it be implemented and people still be able to do ordinary business? Or does breaking everyone's comms just F**k things up too much?

Comment Re:Why did you let them do this? (Score 1) 134

But, but,but they have free health care. And one day, in the future, they'll get all of their energy from unicorn farts. Just believe and it will come true.

Free at point of delivery.

We charged you earlier, we charged you later, but we didn't charge you when you turned up with a life-critical wound from a horrific accident involving Christmas lights, brussels sprouts, and grandma's hairpin.

Not that I don't have sympathy with the view that I shouldn't be contributing to the 20 billion a year it costs to look after diabetes, whilst I take care with my own diet so that I never become such a burden on the system. But I see the issue there as being more about all the bad public heath advice which caused a diabetes epidemic, and not that I should not be paying for others' faults.

Anyway, my life has been saved by the NHS, and yeah it costs something like 2000 GBP per person. But I'd be interested to see that adjusted for income brackets.

Comment Re:Agent Smith (Score 3, Interesting) 85

In fact, every organism expands to the limits of the resources and competition. Living on the edge of starvation is the default condition.

      In fact, only until the agricultural revolution was this ever any other way. This enabled a massive population increase. The second occurrence was the industrial revolution, which yielded another massive population increase from which the world is still undergoing.

        The former yielded the first kings, etc, because it permitted a small fraction of the population to live above subsistence. The industrial revolution and modern economics (capitalism) was the first time in the existence of any population that large fractions of a species lived in a state better than that.

Agriculture, from the point of view of human diet, was a huge compromise, it now seems, if you follow the Paleo movement. We started evolving maybe 2 million years ago, and in all that time we grew to become adapted to hunting and some gathering, but essentially, we are very fit for sweaty long distance running, and with some tracking, can eventually run other big animals to death. But then we invented agriculture, which was only 10 or 12 thousand years ago. Then with modern farming we changed the nature of the stuff we were growing even further. And all this is taken as a *hint* that we are not adapted to modern diets largely comprised of industrially grown grains and sugars. Those paleo ancestors didn't have to carb load to run the distances they did, their bodies were adapted to run on fat stores, and modern athletes are starting to experiment with this and discover that yeah, you really can burn better on fat. So then, was agriculture a huge mistake?

Well, it got us here, it allowed our populations to grow, allowed more people to live together, and as you say, have Kings and later Parliaments, and so the whole social structure adapted and evolved to the need to integrate ever larger numbers. Empires worked for thousands of years but they eventually crumbled under the sheer weight of their own expansive and "too hard to administer" centralised control.

So we eventually created the "individual" and say that the individual should have more power to make local decisions, and so you have the notion that, in a modern economy, the brain power is more distributed, and so can process more variables, more local differences, and so the system still manages to work, when an empire would have crumbled already.

So that brings me to the point of this, and that is, agriculture and industrialisation, Empires and Democracies, have got us this far, but what is next?

The world is still developing, but many of the cultures are still recoiling at globalisation and development. People compare humanity to a petri dish and imagine that we will at some point reach the edge of the dish, and having consumed everything, collapse. Because, you know, humans have the brain power of an amoeba.

I think what is closer to the truth is that we have always and always shall be faced with the problem of survival. We faced it when we were hunter gatherers, we faced it when we were dying of the plague in medieval Europe, we faced it again and again and always shall face it. We are living biological machines in an environment which is nicely-called "Nature" but nature is a bitch.

So the question is how to survive, and a fashionable answer is that we should stop consuming. Well, that's like trying to breathe more slowly when you are trapped in a hole with limited air. Sure... that'll buy you some time, but that is not sustainable. The real answers are about inventing a way to get out of the hole.

As humans we have imagination and creativity and reason and intuition, and "sustainability" means inventing a heck of a lot of new stuff, yes, stuff, which will then make life easier for everyone. The natural birth rate for people, women if their children survive, is 2 children per couple. We don't overpopulate because we have too much stuff, we overpopulate because we have too little stuff and it is a desperate survival strategy. Having more stuff allows us to ease back and stop popping out babies and wearing out women's bodies. Do people think women want to have six children?

But we are in a transition period, still, and still paying the price in our health, for the compromise of agriculture, as did all those Egyptians who had awful tooth decay from eating grains. But the answer isn't to just stop eating, stop consuming, stop living. We have to continue to invent new and better stuff, and lots of it.

Fortunately most of the world will continue to do that even if it has become fashionable in the West to get all down about progress (thanks Romantics! thanks Derrida!)

So I imagine or hope that one day, every human on the planet will live in a humanistically informed culture, have plenty of time to devote themselves to whatever interests them, and have a lot of control over their own lives, and have resources to support that, and the technology will have reduced dependence on the leviathan state, and people's ethics will have evolved to live globally and peacefully. And it'll be powered by a lot more energy than we use now. A *lot* more.

Comment The Chinese Mind (Score 1) 204

I'd like to see people from China commenting. I take it their culture and history are quite different to the West. They see themselves as a civilisation and there is a lot of nuance around morality and ethics. To our ears, as the post tag says, this is all quite *strange* But when you have a growing middle class of what, 250 million? and a desire to reduce corruption at all levels, this whole social capital thing might make more sense... just not in a way we understand. I mean, as a Westerner I just think, Brazil (the film) and ludicrous bureaucracy. But to Chinese, it might work in a different way.

Comment Re: Nuclear power is proven safe... (Score 1) 302

Any tall building has the capacity to kill thousands of people. But we don't generally think of tall buildings as dangerous or having "high severity". In the context of a tall building, it is only "dangerous" if it wasn't done right. Yet with nuclear, this sort of reasoning doesn't seem to apply? Like, it doesn't matter how "done right" it may be, we always focus on the "severity" and "capacity", as if "doing it right" had no impact on those? And one could ask, yeah well where's the evidence that they're "done right"?? And as the earlier poster says, just look at the 450 or so existing plants around the world and take that as evidence that they are being done right. Because if you mitigate the risk, then that's an actual outcome. It means people won't die. Like how flying is safer, even though the potential for horrific crashes is much greater. The risk is actually smaller, even if the "potential" is greater. But the "potential" is something your and my imagination are processing, just like the potential for becoming a millionaire is what drives people to play the lottery, even though the objective "risk" of winning is tiny. The fact that 450 plants are running, that's something about reality. The "potential for catastrophic failure" is more about the imagination. If anything, we ought to be looking at the safety culture, like the airline industry does. They don't just say, oh you must not fly, there is huge potential for crashing, no, they say, let's look at the culture and the systems and keep trying to better understand how to improve actual safety. In effect, nuclear is great, and let's keep trying to improve it.

Comment Re:It disarms Western criticism (Score 1) 251

Making massively over the top false equivalences doesn't help. If anything it weakens the argument.

Is the snoopers charter bad? Yes.

Does it make us like the places listed? No. I can still say that Theresa May is a dreadful pm with impunity. No one will arrest me. Literally nothing will happen to me as a result. That is why we are nothing like North Korea.

This is a very interesting and nuanced point. We could say, that in principle, we should not trust the government. However, if you actually take that to its full conclusion, then you end up with mafias... as nobody trusts the government and so everyone has to find their own way of enforcing contracts and order. It takes you back to tribal warlords. So actually, we do trust the government in many ways, with police and taxes and so on. The "leviathan" as some call it. So we don't simply say that the government's powers must remain limited, as history shows that regimes with even less power were still able to f**k up their countries. What really matters is how that power is used, the culture and ethos and values of the people in charge. So it is really a test of a nation's average "intelligence" and values and ethics. Like how you trust your doctor, to a large extent, with your life. Because something about that profession's average culture and values tends to guarantee that they won't do something awful, that they are safe and trustworthy, even though they have enormous power over you for a while. So it isn't the objective laws which make two nations the same, it is the comparison of the people and what they are like, their intentions and motivations. And that is hard to gauge, but it is still an important difference.

Comment Re:The priesthood has spoken (Score 4, Insightful) 249

Hah. Given most people are simply not interested in climate change, this is all moot. [1]

But seeing as this is Slashdot, and a Friday, the thing is, most "climate change deniers" don't have an issue with any of those points. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and mankind releases CO2, and greenhouses do indeed get hot (why this last one is on the list is beyond me, as "greenhouse" is just an analogy here).

The point which EVERYBODY is up in arms about, is how much warming will actually come from feedbacks, and not from CO2 itself.

The mainstream respectable "in the field" "non-denialist" expert view is that the feedbacks could give you 4 or even oh I dunno as it is a feedback who can say where it would stop maybe 8C for all we know... and the denialist view is that this is ludicrous as why didn't the Earth just accidentally cook itself already.

The science issues are really all about feedbacks, not "basic physics". And the people and politics issues are really all about values. [2]

[1] So much for superordinate goals which could appeal to the different values systems of the global population.

[2] Human beings grow through about 6 or 7 major stages of worldview, each with its own values-system. This is why everyone is usually quite sure that their own way of looking at the world is the "right" way. Climate change isn't just science. Climate change is often really about trying to get the world to adopt a particular values-system. (And then when this values-system gets rejected by people, we end up thinking about them as "selfish", "consumerist", etc.) And in many ways climate change is about bringing forward a better set of values for the world. But because nobody seems to know that values cannot simply be imposed, like how you can't impose democracy on Iraq by bombing the old regime out of office, ie. because people actually grow through values in a particular way, in an organic, life experience kind of way, and cannot be made to change, even if the planet is burning or whatever, then the fact remains, most of the world does not care about climate change, because the way climate change is framed, it is all about a particular set of values, and most people are not at that stage of values. They just aren't. And if climate change proponents would stop being so narrow minded, they might see that. Someone somewhere made a huge blunder in trying to tie a new values system to a science theory (theory in the strong sense of the word). The values system should have been made subject of philosophy and ethics and even religion. But no, it was tied to a science theory, as if "reality" would force you to change how you value things. Which is just not how human beings work. So climate change will fail. It has been failing. It'll continue to fail. It'll really not be going anywhere, it is so failed (you Americans seem to like this kind of phrasing!) But as I say, this is Slashdot and a Friday, so who cares anyway.

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