I voted sceptic. Which frankly I feel every self respecting scientist should do. [...] Saying you "believe it" is bad science. It is a belief. It isn't evidence or data based. Saying you're sceptical but the evidence up to this point shows X, Y, and Z keeps you a neutral observer which is an important position within the field.
I'm a scientist, specialising in empirical inference.
The word "belief" is a well-defined term in probability theory, and hence in data analysis. When I say "I belief in climate change", I mean that I have access to noisy data providing strong evidence in favor of the hypothesis that humans are changing the planet's climate. Saying "every scientist should be a sceptic" is bad science. Yours is the nihilistic logic of orthodox statistics, by which it is impossible to discover anything, only possible to disprove hypotheses. While there is no way to ultimately _prove_ the existence of any physical effect, given sufficent amounts of data, it is possible to collect evidence in favor of one hypothesis over others.
But there is a second point in here, already made implicitly by others above: Our belief in favor or against the hypothesis of climate change is only the inference step of a decision problem: What matters is what we do, not what we believe. The problem here is that the loss from doing nothing if climate change is real is far worse than the loss from acting if climate change should turn out to be false. So, even if you assign equal evidence to the hypotheses of "false" and "true", the rational decision is to almost act as if climate change were known to be true. Sadly, we humans are very bad at rational decision making. Our brains are just not build that way.
I also think it's quite realistic to expect to strike a balance where society's poorest members can be helped in times of need without bankrupting the entire nation.
Okay, you are asking for differing opinions, so let's have a serious debate. My household is not located in the US but, at purchasing power parity, its income falls within the top 3% of US households (two working young professionals). As a member of that income bracket, I can tell you that making money gets easier the more you already have. That's because you have more "disposable" (i.e. investable) income, you can afford a good tax advisor, unemployment is a very small risk, disability insurance is cheap for white-collar workers, etc. I can also tell you that professional success, while impossible without hard work and determination, is also to considerable extent a question of luck and good starting conditions.
The upshot is that capitalism is a positive feedback system. That's not just an old Marxist meme, it's actually true. If you accept that, then you have two options: Either you prefer a system in which the rich have it easier than the poor, and society separates itself over time into the lazy rich and the working poor, with no middle class. Personally, I find that option morally unacceptable. Alternatively, you have to accept that the states' role is more than just to provide emergency assistance for those who have fallen upon hard times, but to create a dynamic equilibrium, in which everyone has not just the right, but also an actual chance to pursue happiness. And that it is the duty of the fortunate ones in a society to contribute more of their labour to the common good than others.
You can probably guess from this, my socialist viewpoint, that I'm European. I find it genuinely sad that the nation who used to hold the right to pursue happiness a self-evident truth -- to which Europeans like me have looked up to, up until very recently, as the pinnacle of freedom and fairness -- has recently developed such a misanthropic stance.
That's a pretty widely misunderstood principle though.
No, it's a moral principle widely adopted by decent people.
after that small amount of time, I grew bored of it and didn't consider it a viable or necessary communication channel. Of course, I'm not trying to write code with someone on the other side of the world either.
Just recently, I was trying to write code (Matlab code, and the resulting academic paper in LaTeX) with someone on the other end of the continent, so we gave Wave a try. Within minutes I realised that it's useless even for this, the task it was seemingly built for.
The reason: It's a sandbox. If you write code, you like to be able to save it, and compile it. To do either of the two you have to, literally, select, copy and paste your code from the wave into your IDE / text editor / local file system. That of course breaks the whole "keep everything in sync in one place in the cloud" idea.
So I guess there is one, and only one use case for wave: If you want to write unformatted text in collaboration with others, for the sole purpose of notetaking and, eventually, printing it on a piece of scrap paper. I guess there are not that many people out there in the world who actually need this sort of functionality. For everyone else, Wave is a hassle.
Now here's what would be awesome: If I could share a window in my text editor / IDE with someone else on the planet, edit a piece of source together in real time, and still be able to save and compile directly from within the software. Oh, wait...
Doing that gets the Daily show a lot of viewers, I would think that doing the same thing in a more rigorous journalistic environment would get you a lot of eyeballs.
This is exactly what I do not understand about online journalism. At the moment, newspapers seem to be in a race to the bottom, with each trying to publish the same sort of crap before everyone else; mostly rehashed press-releases, all the while complaining that nobody wants to pay for their news online.
Maybe I am part of a small target group. But, dear newspaper publishers: Please give me a website that
1. pays talented journalists a decent salary to go out and investigate complex stories, actually reveal novel information, and then come back and write lucid, enlightening stories.
2. does not show any ads, thereby making itself independent from corporations for revenue, turning the readers into the sole customers.
3. has a calm, clean layout, accessible from both the desktop and mobile devices, hassle free. Oh, and please actually fill my damn screen with text and images, instead of using 20% of its width to show 50-line articles broken into 5 pages, filling the rest with horrible flash ads.
I am willing to pay, say, 200$ a year for a subscription to this site (I currently pay a similar amount for print subscriptions to a weekly and a monthly paper). It doesn't have to have hourly updates, all I want is something to read for an hour in bed every evening. I don't understand why such a website doesn't exist yet. I know, ads are an important part of traditional publishing, but web publishing is cheaper (printing presses and paper boys are more expensive than servers and bandwidth), and there are great economies of scale: The first publisher to establish a high-quality online news service will be able to attract readers from the entire English-speaking world.
Seriously, I don't get it. Why is everyone still trying to make money with ads?
Information is easier to share than at any other point in history. News is replicated and spread in seconds now, and people, not just the young kids, are used to it for FREE. The only way this "may" be possible is if every single news media group put up walls at the same time... AND noone found a way to bypass this. It's just not feasible.
Maybe I'm part of a very small group in this regard, but I would be very happy to pay for online news that is well researched, provides in-depth, intelligent analysis, and presented through a convenient, ad-free front-end. I currently can not get this online, so I pay for a print subscription.
The times have changed so that content en masse is no longer valuable, just the content itself. Good news, strong stories... well written... that's what matters now.
You say that, but can you point out a single good online news source that provides the journalistic rigour of the likes of the New Yorker or the Economist? I don't think so. If you don't know what I mean, buy an edition of those newspapers at the newsstand and compare it to your favourite online news outlet. Bad journalism has become so commonplace online these days that many people have forgotten what a good newspaper reads like. There is just not enough money in online news to pay for the sort of work required, and the interface in its current form (mobile phones / desktop computers) is not amenable to long stretches of text. Maybe the iPad will change this, but I'm not holding my breadth. I was never worried about music, or the film industry, even in the hayday of Napster. But I am seriously worried that, over time, print will die out, and we will all be left with the current tornado of dumbed-down, superficial, spin-doctored soundbites out of the big news agencies, and that will be a serious loss for democracy.
What they really mean by "fair representation" would be more accurately described as "damn voters won't vote for the people we want them to, so we're screwing with the rules."
Well, it's pretty much the opposite. Cumulative voting is a system for elections involving party lists (such as city councils, in some jurisdictions). The point is that you get to assign your votes to the candidates you actually want to elect, rather than having to vote for a list of candidates that some party drew up for you, while still giving the parties a chance to nominate candidates and suggest to (not force upon) the voter a ranking among them.
This system is commonly used in local elections in Switzerland and Germany. Works well there.
In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle