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Comment Re:futurist (Score 1) 522

I also wonder when people think that we can somehow figure out a way to travel at light speeds to get to another planet. The alternative is to spend thousands of years traveling to another planet and potentially find it uninhabitable or die on the way. Any other planet would have a distinctly different gravity - one on which we have not evolved. How would we enable a breathable atmosphere? How would we remove toxins from the environment. It's quite probable that most of the environment would in one way or another be toxic.

How would we get a significant number of people to this planet? We would need to apply and quickly adapt the most cutting edge technology to survive - would we only take scientists, engineers and mathematicians? How would we successfully synthesize soil quickly enough? How would be know what kind of weather patterns to expect and how would we cope with them? Category 5 hurricanes could be a daily occurrence. Would we get enough sunlight? How would we make sure the temperatures do not exceed tolerable limits?

Why not stay here on earth and gradually reduce the human population to around 500 million people. 500 million people could maintain a high standard of living without making Earth uninhabitable. We could allow large areas such as South America to go back to being forests and live in those areas that are most conducive for human life. And we could use space technology to mine asteroids to provide additional raw materials. We could even start removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and eventually bring it down to historic levels. 500 million people are few enough that we could all eat a lot of meat and it still would be sustainable.

And we need a conversation about who does and does not care. The Middle East does not care about the planet. Neither does India or China or Indonesia or most of Africa. India's population has almost caught up with China. Regardless of reducing the world population or escaping the planet, how would we do this if most of the planet is not on board?

Comment Apple products = showing off (Score 1) 106

Until about three months ago I did not properly understand the Apple phenomenon. I have always been an early adopter of tech enjoying the features for their own sake. However I am circumspect when I buy new technology as I peruse the specs and look at user reviews. With the exception of the early MacBook Airs that had no lightweight competition, and the iPhones until 2011, it has never made any financial sense to buy Apple products. They have always been 20% to 40% more expensive than the their competitors.

I did buy the original iPhone 3G when it came out. It was clearly the best product on the market and was a new way of using the internet. I loved it. However, the Android OS quickly advanced after it was bought by Google. By Ice Cream Sandwich Android was competitively stable. By Jelly Bean it started to outfeature iOS. And Android was versatile. An iPhone could not be used as a USB flash drive, whereas an Android based phone could be. Android was so much more configurable. And it could be rooted with Google's permission unlike Apple's aversion to jailbreaking. I could store all manner of file types and have different music players on my Android device. I was not chained to iTunes.

So I switched to high end Android devices. And I could not understand why others did not. But this summer and early this fall I met some new acquaintances and after hearing them insist that they would only have a iPhone I understood that Apple products were status symbols and that they wanted to show off. They want their MacBook to be seen when they used it in a coffee shop. They wants the 'oohs' that come with the flashy logo. The phone in their hand signaled style.

Of course, these are often (not always) the same people who often parrot the mainstream mantra about us being too 'materialistic' (no matter that real median household income is only about 10% above what it was in 1973 and people under 35 are poorer despite being better educated than in 1973 with much larger real housing costs). They seem to think that if they buy no name brand clothes and spend their saved money on Apple products, somehow they are no longer materialistic. They talk about environmentalism as being core to their being and ignore the planned obsolescence that is core to Apple's products. I tried to assist a friend with a three year old Apple laptop. It needed more memory because it had become quite slow as software had advanced. We went to the Apple store and were gently laughed at when we tried to buy new ram - we were told they did not stock it any more and that they should buy a new laptop instead.

So now when I see a hipster-greenie hypocrite conspicuously or otherwise using their Apple product in public I see a cynical manipulative liar.

Comment The developing world is not so innocent (Score 1) 208

And no country is contributing to Global Warming the way the US is. Most of the pollution in the "3rd world countries" is from the production of goods for the US (and allies), often by US companies operating on foreign soil to run around regulations..

Those countries choose to produce that stuff. The people there like the new higher paying jobs. It enables them to develop and raises living standards as has happened in India and China. They aren't innocent victims. And they do make choices as to how they want to allocate resources. China could be more environmentally conscious where it to stop increasing the size of it military and spend the money on green energy instead. And it's important to remember that there are many more environmentally safe technologies in 2016 than there were in the nineteenth century or in the 1950s - if you are building out an industrial infrastructure from scratch now it's much easier to be green than before. Solar electricity was not around 100 years ago.

And what would you have the US do about it? Raise tariffs on third world produced goods? Do you propose a 500% tariff on goods from China? I would remind you that bossing around third world countries is also rejected as neocolonialism.

And you seem to be ignoring the emissions released by burning forests in Indonesia and Brazil. The forest fires in Indonesia last year released 11.3 million tonnes of carbon per day, exceeding the daily rate of 8.9 million tonnes of carbon emissions from the whole of the European Union. Predictions for future deforestation in Central Africa estimate that by 2050 forest clearance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will release a total of up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2, roughly equivalent to the UK’s CO2 emissions over the last sixty years.

But that doesn't fit into a convenient narrative of blaming the West, does it?

Comment I forgot that being rockstar is so elementary (Score 1) 269

And if all else fails, just become a "rock star,"

As if it was that easy. This reminds me of when I explained that the cost of housing was too high and a friend said 'people should just earn more money'. Don't you think they aren't already trying?

How much of the advice out there is for a very select few able, talented, healthy, and driven individuals. What about the other 99.5% of us? The ordinary folk. The very best of us don't need advice. They will virtually always find a way to succeed.

What is wrong people that they would dish out such myopic 'advice'?

Comment China will steal all the IP and Trade Secrets (Score 1, Interesting) 19

Given what is known about China and how they literally have pulled the biggest heist since in human history I do not understand why Apply is doing this. The annual losses in IP that the US experiences are comparable to the current annual level of U.S. exports to Asia—over $300 billion. According to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, If IP were to receive the same protection overseas that it does here, the American economy would add millions of jobs. Countless companies have moved to China and within a decade seen competitors steal their trade secrets and come out with almost identical products. What is even more baffling is that Apple is obsessed with secrecy. Does it not care that both the Chinese government and industry are hellbent on nullifying it?

Its iBooks and movies were disallowed early in 2016. The Chinese government uses 'security audits' to hack both Apple and the US government. In Beijing, a municipal tribunal issued an injunction earlier this year barring the sale of its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Beijing's Intellectual Property Office ruled against Apple in a patent dispute brought by a smaller Chinese handset maker. Both cases were fictitious. As a matter of fact (something monumentally unimportant to the Chinese government) it was clear that Apple developed the technology first.

Perhaps this is some attempt to stop the Chinese state from openly discriminating against Apple? I very much doubt this will work over the long run. I highly doubt that in 2026 Apple will be flourishing commercially in China.

I once had a lengthy conversation with a member of China's elite. She came from a wealthy family and her fiance had been a Harvard engineering grad student. She was exceptionally well read and well traveled. She even knew about the contributions of Otto von Bismarck . (How many Americans would know the same?) I asked her whether the US could come to some arrangement with China and even cede the South China Sea and East Asia as a sphere of influence including the artificial islands in it. And that after each country had satisfied each others needs they could cooperate for world peace and stability. She responded that China was a rising power and the US was a declining one, that it was for China to 'take' whatever it wanted, that war was inevitable between such nations, and that she had no wish for dialogue. She exemplified the ruthless determination for hegemony that is widespread throughout the Chinese elite, be it economic, political, cultural, or military.

I wish American companies would get with reality on this issue. People in 100 years will look back at the Monroe Doctrine in the nineteenth century or even the brief period of US hegemony from 1989 through 2003 and perceive those periods as golden ages when compared with the ruthless Chinese subjugation that is only just beginning.

Comment Re:Goodbye (Score 1) 79

Signal (recommended by Edward Snowden) works over both Wifi and SMS. It's completely secure (as much as anything can be) and they don't keep a copy of your message on their servers. The message is encrypted to point that even the NSA cannot read it. Total privacy. I don't understand why more people don't use it. Maybe because teens want to use 'cool' stuff like WhatsApp?

Comment Re:Public Access requirement (Score 2) 191

While there a good reasons to be wary of paying to publish where there is an incentive to publish lousy articles because the publisher wants the money, the current system is abusive and is tantamount to theft. I worked part time in a lab for 3 years. I was not paid - and yes I asked for money but they said they could not afford to pay me. However I did get a paper out of it! Yay! Except that even though it was my research, my labor, my stressing out over repeating the experiments many times to convince my PI that my results were legitimate, if I want a legal copy of the paper, I have to pay for it. Just because I was an undergraduate does not mean that I lacked basic civil rights or the right to property. So at the very least the people who busted their asses should be able to get a free copy of the paper and that should be a legal property right.

Then I went to graduate school and of course I was able to get access to journal articles. Later on after grad school I was working and lost access. But I was still interested in some research ideas. And eventually I talked to some people and that led to me going back to do research at a university. But in that interim I had no legal way of getting papers. I paid for them. Some cost around $25 to $30 each. Some cost $80! - the medical ones. But I used that to do research to help humanity for which I was paid very little and I had to pay money for the right to do the groundwork for that research. That is complete crap! At the very least I should get my money back which adds up to a few hundred dollars.

As to university libraries - even elite institutions are finding it ever harder to afford the costs of for profit journals that force secrecy in their contracts. So one college literally often pays 4 or 5 times what another pays for exactly the same subscription in the same country. The price of journal subscriptions has been rising ahead of inflation for decades and the higher the impact factor the worse the problem. And because copyright grants a monopoly, the publishing industry has been able to collect extreme amounts of economic rent. Normally the answer would be to regulate natural monopolies such as what happens in the power industry. It's quite obvious to me that this is what needs to happen in academic publishing.

We also need a way for people who are outside of academic institutions to gain access to journal articles. I am not saying that for profit drug companies should not have to pay. But if I am a tax payer and paying for the research then it is not alright for me to have to pay twice. And realistically at $25 - $50 per article that means that it's just impossible to read or merely peruse 10 or 20 articles a month. And often I might need to look at referenced articles in the footnotes of another article and so I might need to look briefly at another 100 articles in a month. I and indeed 99% of people do not have $50,000 a year to spend on that. And often someone might want to help the economy out with a start up idea. I did ask around if there was a way to buy in to a university's subscription or to get similar mass access by paying a realistic annual fee of say $500 and was told such a concept did not exist.

If someone has a rare disease and wishes to peruse the literature, they typically cannot. And often sick people are quite poor anyway. What if someone serves on a local school board or is a member of municipal government and want to affect improvements in public policy. This happened to me when I was trying to assist my town in making some important fiscal decisions. There was no legal mechanism to obtain the 50 papers I wanted without paying out of pocket. And my position was unpaid. The sheer cost of paying a la carte makes reading the literature prohibitive. You might say that you could go to a university. The problem is that in recent years it has become almost impossible to do so without a valid university ID. And just getting there and finding a place to park is complicated if you are not affiliated with the institution.

In short, individuals who are not using the research for a for profit organization need a legal mechanism to access peer reviewed research. The current system is immoral.

Comment Re:The 0.01% (Score 4, Insightful) 218

Comparing the salaries of people in completely different classes of society is not very useful.

Your argument is very worrying not only because it is tautological but because we can never stop ever increasing income inequality if people 'accept it'. The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay is about 350. In 1965 it was 20. The committee that decides executive compensation is stacked so that people serve on each others compensation committees guaranteeing extravagant salaries. They also prevent a more meritocratic search going out to the general population. It also is one of the reasons why average pay has fallen or stagnated for most people in the US - money spent on executives means less cash for the workers.

And you might also want to think about pay in terms of productivity. Since 1973 it has gone up by about 100% in the US. And yet wages for many people have fallen in real terms. Median household income should be double what it is and perhaps more given that the number of working adults per household has increased as women have gone to work full time.

In terms of finding 'good people'. I have personally met outstanding people who not only are smart and well educated but have excellent communications and people skills. They made good money - mid six figures. I am certain they could have done a better job than Marissa Mayer running Yahoo and they would have agreed to do it for a mere $1 million. Yet they are never seriously considered because of the tight knit and self referential world of executives.

What's so sad is that this is a bum deal for shareholders - even if you are capitalist and don't have any compassion on people getting poorer you should at least be bothered by the fact that awful CEOs like Marissa Mayer and Steve Ballmer get to destroy value at a company and get paid 8 figures to do so. Imagine that instead of hiring Steve Ballmer, Microsoft would have merely hired an average MIT PhD engineering graduate in their 30s or 40s with some business and management experience. Think about how much better off Microsoft would have been in 2013 when Ballmer did finally leave.

Comment Re: Tax Inversion (Score 3, Interesting) 456

I agree that capital gains should be inflation adjusted. So if you buy $100,000 of stock and sell it for $300,000 and in inflation adjusted terms it's only worth $250,000 then you should only pay capital gains on $150,000. But you should pay the full income tax even if you held the stock for 3 years. And you should pay Social Security and Medicare. And I don't care about the whole notion of double taxation because there we have a 35% rate in name only - they only pay 12.6% of worldwide income and Amazon, Google and Apple get away with murder. For example:

An investigation by the U.S. Senate showed Apple had paid just 2 percent tax on income of $74 billion over 2010-2012, largely by exploiting an unusual loophole in Ireland's tax code. In 2011 Google paid a rate of 11.9 percent, while Yahoo paid 11.6 percent and Microsoft paid 18.9 percent. Xerox paid 7.3 percent of its income in taxes, while Amazon paid only 3.5 percent.

In 1952, corporate taxes accounted for 5.9 percent of GDP, a figure that has fallen to 1.6 percent today. We need to have them start paying 5.9 percent again because if they don't pay it, then we will and we certainly don't have the cash.

Comment Bigger picture of opposing whaling per se (Score 0) 214

Please correct me if I am wrong but whale populations in the world have been recovering. And multiple species are less than a decade away from not being endangered any more. So the opposition to whaling is from people who don't want to kill whales per se. I am not arguing for premature killing of whales that leads to extinction and I know that has been as issue in the past. But that problem for most areas is going away. And it really only remains a big problem in Oceania. But if you eat meat and your culture eats whales why not eat them? I know that many people here don't eat meat and that is increasing in the Bay Area but consider that not everyone lives in that cultural bubble.

And using whale products for other purposes such as for their skins and oil is much better for the environment than making synthetic products from crude oil. Generally animal products produce fewer allergies and have fewer carcinogens than synthetic materials.

So isn't all the griping here just a matter of people who never want sustainable whaling to resume. But they don't have that right. If they don't want to eat whales or use their skins - that's fine - but they don't have the right to ram down their viewpoints down everyone else's throats, particularly other countries. It reminds me of abortion - if you don't like it, then don't have one but leave other people alone.

Comment Extraterritorial jurisdiction gone amuck (Score 2) 728

This is what happens when extraterritoriality expands unchecked. If you are not a citizen of Germany, you did not consent to be governed by the German government. Their laws should not apply to you. If they want to rule you they should give you citizenship along with all the rights of a German citizen and have you consent to that arrangement.

Of course the USA is no different. In 2009, Gary Kaplan, the boss of London-based gambling company BetOnSports, fell foul of a US law that bans Americans from placing bets online even on websites outside the US. He was jailed for four years. In 2006, three British former NatWest bankers were extradited to the US to face fraud charges, in a case that frieked out the British business community. At the time, the bankers said their crimes had taken place in the UK and the victim was a UK bank hence they wanted to be tried in Britain.

Of course to some degree you need jurisdiction preventing piracy at sea and so international treaties are needed in this case that allow countries to consent to having their citizens tried in another country.

Here, perhaps Facebook could block content using IP addresses, but in the case of the EU 'Right to be forgotten', the European Commission wants Google's search results censored throughout the world. That is absurd! And claiming that "It doesn't matter that we, because of historical reasons, have a stricter interpretation of freedom of speech than the United States does" is a legitimate legal argument for limiting free speech means that for all practical purposes the first amendment is gutted. China could ban the Wikipedia page on Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent mass killings by the Chinese army. Christian sites could be banned by Islamic regimes. Anything to do with psychology or science that offends any regime would be censored. We would be back in the dark ages.

I think there is another point. Some rights are inalienable - meaning they are incapable of being alienated and surrendered. Free speech is one of those rights. The fact that the EU fails to recognize this fact, does not change it. Indeed this concept was hinted at during shortly after founding of the UN when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was unanimously agreed. The preamble states:

Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.

Comment Re:All bullshit (Score 1) 265

I completely disagree with the premise that early-age sex is either psychologically or physically healthy behavior.

1. We are all descended from hunter gatherers who had sex as teenagers and then bore children. You imply that the entire genesis of the human race was psychologically and physically unhealthy. We evolved that way, it is the way we are designed. Of course it's healthy.

2. If you look at data looking at the ease of child birth and the health of semen, if is obvious that people biologically should be having children from their mid to late teens to early twenties. Pregnancies are easy in a 18 year old body. By age 30, they are a lot harder. Semen is of a much better quality at age 18 than at age 30.

3. Teens desire sex because nature evolved that way. They are supposed to have sex. They are not supposed to be practicing abstinence. Doing so is psychologically unhealthy!

When I read statements like the one from I quoted from I really think humanity is f@@@ed. No amount of science, logic, data or common sense can help us - saying that teens should not have sex is unscientific, puritanical crap.

Comment Re:Good news, and all... (Score 1) 363

IMHO this impacts digital recording of people. Imagine someone is arrested and while that happens if the police decide to beat the the arrestee up. Or imagine if they commit another crime like stealing their stuff, or planting evidence, or admitting that they are going to lie to a judge to secure a conviction. This happened recently and the arrestee was prosecuted for illegally recording someone without their permission. Well how are you going to get permission from the police while they secretly beat you up in a can or a police station?

We need to have a broad exception for recording without permission when either a law is being broken, a government official is engaging in corruption, a law enforcement officer or judge is abusing their authority or activity that undermines the justice system, a government agent is engaging in extra judicial activity such as 'rendition', when a private company is violating its employees rights, or when a person needs to collect information to protect themselves against someone trying to defraud them.

I also think that this story reflects the fact that a significant minority of people out there get way more outraged by cruelty to animals that cruelty to humans. I find this attitude quite sickening.

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