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Comment Re: The Republicans want to make everyone work (Score 1) 1141

"Doing" and "nothing" are how you define them -- a hunter gatherer "does" a hunt, using his nature given ability to run (no stick needed, just run the animal to death). I suppose that looks like hard work, but then society doesn't allow that anymore because of nation states and everybody owns something and there's no vast free plains anymore. On the other hand, that hunter gatherer was at the mercy of the elements, and migration patterns, and disease. Yet, he or she might only have hunted twice a week, and spent the rest of the time "doing nothing". Our world is very human made, and "doing something" might one day just be signing a document to say you want a free basic income for life. And "basic" is going to change. I mean, here's your basic income of half a goat, and now you just have to do the rest. What's that, you can't get electricity and internet using your goat meat? Well, now you want internet and healthcare and a house made of bricks too? The standards are always changing depending on what we manage to invent. Cotton used to be a luxury and nowadays even the poorest in the world have cotton t-shirts. The problem as aways with social welfare is, how do you help people live long and prosper? If there is a moral issue, I think it is, are you helping people grow and develop? And that's possibly a big criticism with the markets and so on, where many are "doing something" yet stuck in dead end jobs which don't develop them in any way, and consequently, are something of a drag on the progress of civilisation. People should be "doing something" but not because laziness is a sin according to some ancient goat herder, but because most progress depends on people's creativity.

Comment Re:Environmental impacts? (Score 1) 321

The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre Keith

Everyone has to figure out what works for them, and as a former high carb bread pasta potatoes guy, I've felt so much better on the "real foods" of meat, fish, eggs, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, salads, greens, cheese, and some nuts.

Easy to maintain (8 years). Better mood, better sleep, more energy, feel lighter, lost weight, etc.

But of course nobody knows what's true on the internet, and people can only try it for themselves.

Comment Re:Quit it already! (Score 1) 470

Or maybe

"People are messing with Nature" therefore GMO is bad.
"People are messing with Nature" therefore global warming is bad.

You ask for strict rules for establishing truth, but both these issues involve RISK about the future. So then, people worry that global temperatures will reach catastrophic levels... in the future, and people worry that genes and monoculture may create disaster... in the future. And as nobody has a time machine, people judge it by their feelings and values and politics.

If you follow most of the "reasoning" around global warming, it is that we cannot afford to take the risk, given the "scenarios" are so catastrophic looking. This is exactly the same Precautionary Principle.

But it is funny to see the same people who may have held up placards at airport runways, to block air travel, saying "we come armed only with peer reviewed research" now have to dismiss science on GMO safety.

Comment The Ultimate Computer (Score 0) 441

Captain James T. Kirk: Evaluation of M-5 performance. It'll be necessary for the log.
Mr. Spock: The ship reacted more rapidly than human control could have maneuvered her. Tactics, deployment of weapons, all indicate an immense sophistication in computer control.
Captain James T. Kirk: Machine over man, Spock? It was impressive. Might even be practical.
Mr. Spock: Practical, Captain? Perhaps. But not desirable. Computers make excellent and efficient servants; but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain, a starship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it, or him.

Comment Re:News at 5... (Score 1) 451

I dunno what they teach in ethics, but it is something which could be worked out. There is a general model that some people are more selfish than others, and as people grow, their selfishness diminishes. Then it is a little confusing because some people act selflessly, because they were taught unquestioningly to do so, whilst other may act more selfishly, because they are thinking it through more with their intellect and free will. That's where "morality" is really a whole bag of different possibilities. For example, a religious family may demand that doctors do everything to save granny, but a more reasonable family, free of dogma, might say that heroic medical interventions will only prolong agonising suffering, for little extra gain in time, and so it is better to let granny go. Anyway, how these cars are programmed is going to say a lot about where we are as people. At some point, society has to decide whether abortion is ok or not, and the more dogmatic people will fight it tooth and nail. No doubt the Jehova's Witnesses will refuse to get into a car because only God decides who lives and dies, or something like that, or just because AI's are an abomination, and so on. The Jains will pick the "don't run over any ants" option, and the car will logically refuse to move.

Comment Re:From a very far on looker (Score 1) 1592

From the perspective of a very far on looker (a Canadian living in China), the result of the referendum is very unfortunate. Since WWII, generations and generations of people, with long term vision for a stable and peaceful Europe, had put their weight to form the Union. It's certainly not perfect, but it's better, by a long measure, than the situation in the first half of the 20th century. I am quite amazed that more older generation stand by the Leave camp.

The project may have started as cooperation-for-peace, but it changed, as movements do, as others came in and developed it. Britain is not about to declare war on Germany, by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is Britain about to start expelling foreigners. I think the reason the older generation went Brexit is precisely because they know the difference between, being in a state of war, and being locked into dodgy deals with competing interests. An older lady at the bus stop this morning, for example, said she voted for the common market back in 75 or whatever, but since then it changed and is now about Brussels taking more power. That's kinda it really. The common Europe was lacking common sense. Too much central planning, Europe trying to throw its weight around, which may actually be more of a risk.

Comment Re: Rationale aside... (Score 1) 1592

The Germans pushed for the Euro because they benefitted hugely from artificially devaluing their currency and stimulating exports

I don't get this argument. Devaluing your currency isn't difficult. The Germans, of all people, are aware of that.

As to Greece, they had two problems.
One: they were able to borrow cheaply, and instead of investing it in things like infrastructure and training they pissed half of it up the wall and used the rest to speculate on property.
Two: none of them paid any tax.

They were "in" the EU when all this happened, yet the EU couldn't in any meaningful sense stop them screwing up?

Comment Re:Good for them (Score 1) 1592

But populist nationalism?

A few years ago UKIP had (regrettably) as much as 4 million votes. But with Brexit we had 17 million voting to leave. I can't imagine they were all "populist nationalists". One thing I haven't heard much is whether the EU is too big, too complex, and too opaque. I'm personally a European at heart, and am a mix of nationalities, but that doesn't mean I know that the EU, as a political system, works.

Comment Re:Citation please (Score 3, Interesting) 263

So long as "smart grid" isn't like "smart bomb", ie. yeah it's better, but innocents still die, as it were. The so-called "renewables" can help in some places, but not enough to really make a difference? ie. replace fossil fuels. And it is up to the enthusiasts for renewables to show that they could. I want my green paradise Earth as much as anyone. And humanity is like a cancer that will keep eating everything. So unless renewables actually do work, people will simply keep using coal or whatever they can afford, and nobody can stop that. It isn't a question of whether people are willing to get with the program, it is that when people are stressed, they'll resort to whatever means they can, and if that means completely abandoning green initiatives, then they'll do that. So the first question is just, do renewables actually work to replace base load? It'll only make it harder later if they don't. It is up to champions of renewable energy to SHOW that they can.

Comment Re:Radicalized through Islam (Score 1) 404

The problem with blaming "Islam" is there's a ton of people who consider themselves followers of "Islam" who have virtually nothing in common with this guy.

Just to reply to this point, with such a large group, any generalisation is going to be indeed problematic. And likewise, anyone who doesn't like "western values" is making a generalisation—which values are "western"? many Westerners don't have "western" values, etc. And we also know that under communism, not everyone was a "communist". And that there are many different kinds of "feminists". Etc. There's lots of variables.

But there's also a certain amount of stuff which can happen in concert, which can then combine in very bad ways.

If a religion based on blind belief in a creator, tends to dull the mind a bit, and it also teaches that homosexuality is bad, and that religion is also largely embroiled in cold wars in the Middle East between competing factions (Iran and Saudi Arabia), and combined with the other things that religion teaches, and tends to be heavy handed about oppressing many instincts, in combination with local cultures (in Pakistan it is common to kick dogs if they sniff each other (so I hear)), and on to pof all that, you're gay, and the pressure to conform is heavy, and there's an inclusion of "honour" codes, inherited from tribal times, then perhaps all that sends someone who's already a bit unstable, over the edge, and a question is, who or what is to blame, and the answer is, all that stuff contributed to some degree. Just like, when Pinker asks, how come much of the world seems to have become more peaceful, he has to look at lots of possible contributing factors like, the invention of the modern novel, which often told stories which allowed people to start to identify more with others, and so contributed to a growth in empathy.

And that's the problem: something like religion is both very distant from any particular attack, yet precisely because religion covers so many aspects of life and development (after all, that's why people are religious, it is to better themselves) so religion is also much more involved than we often admit.

And whilst it would be very bad if we tarnished everyone with the same brush, and I have to say I wasn't a fan of Christian fundamentalists any more than any other kind of fundamentalist, it is nevertheless shocking that in a modern age, people will still resort to "faith" as a "reason" for their opinion on this or that issue.

And it's no exaggeration to say that most religions contribute to that. In that sense, even a Jain, insofar as they practice a blind belief, are contributing to the culture of blind belief in other religions, even if the specifics are different. But modernity knows this already. If every blind belief was docile and "just be happy" there would be no problem, although we wouldn't have much technology, but we would have peace. The problem is blind belief can't pick and choose what it is getting indoctrinated with, because it isn't supposed to question, it is just supposed to obey God's laws, which makes it a horror show when combined with ideologies and nuclear weapons.

It is all a matter of degrees, and Islam is just a worse version of monotheism, even whilst it itself maintains that, it is the best version of monotheism, the most pure version, and even if all of its teachings in the texts were peaceful, all of them, it would still be to blame for any blind belief inspired bigotry and violence, simply because it perpetuates blind belief in the laws of an unseen and perfect divinity. It perpetuates the habit, just as much of New Age perpetuates this habit of anti-reason.

Some say that if Jesus came back, he wouldn't be a Christian, and some say that Buddha started with reason, that he took all the beliefs and threw them out and said, wait, what can we actually find out about human nature? Even though, all these religions end up perpetuating cultures of blind belief in this or that when the become corporate. So if you like the big questions, fine, but blind beliefs are not answers, and we're way past needing them.

You don't have to look far to see people who maintain that their own religion cannot be bad because they personally blindly believe that their religion is good. That's just not modern nor rational.

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