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Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 4, Insightful) 779

manning is a traitor. HE will always be viewed as such.

Snowden too.

By stupid rednecks, sure. The type of people who think (ok, that's a legal fiction) that they are right not because of their actions, but by default. The type who "thinks" that there is a finite supply of bad people in the world, and that we can solve all our problems by killing or incarcerating them, never mind the collateral damage. The type who may have heard of human rights, but does not understand that they apply to all humans, even those that disagree with them.

I'm not a big fan of Assange, but he wrote an excellent statement on the Manning case, quoting John Adams: "“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know.” He does not quote the second part, but I find it just as applicable: "...but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers."

If you look at how Manning was treated both pre- and post-trial, its "as incontrovertible as geometry to any enlightened community of minds" that the people responsible for that treatment are guilty of severe crimes under both national and international laws - regardless of what Manning had done. But, as the presidential election has shown, "this community is an insult to the world" (to steal from Henry Drummond/Spencer Tracy), and so the chance for actual justice is remote.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 4, Insightful) 779

IWould prefer a trial where he would be allowed to make his case. Manning wasn't afforded that opportunity either.

Huh? Manning was convicted - hence there was a trial. What use would another trial be?

Well for one it would be a trial against Snowden, not against Manning. And the request was for "a trial where [the defendant] would be allowed to make his case", not a secret trial by a Mickey Mouse court with a pre-determined outcome.

Comment Re: Please, No Exponential Algorithms! (Score 1) 218

If universities didn't charge for school up front with fixed tuition costs guaranteed by government, but instead worked out agreements with student where students all pay 10% of income for set number of years after leaving school, it would completely flip the education system from paper mill to skills society needs in numbers the job market supports. Then it would allow for industries, be it software or journalism to define needs. Universities would have to focused on teaching what is needed/useful, not what is comfortable/easy for professors or simply fun for students. In such a model good teaching programs and involved students win ... While poor professors, useless degree programs fail, which is what you want. It's really interesting to me how poorly educated college graduates are today, it isn't just that they don't know things. It is that they believe things that are no longer true or only worked that way in theory. It's awesome when students fail to understand that some applications differ greatly from conceptual models they were preached.

In that case your optimisation goal is not skill, or what society needs, it's x-year (discounted) earning potential. In other words, you don't optimise actual skills, you optimise marketability. And you prefer short-lived technologies to deeper understanding. You'd also completely gut long term basic research.

A university should teach universal skills and knowledge. General problem solving, not Java Enterprise Edition 3.1415 or SharePoint 2.71. Relational models, not Oracle. Emacs and make, not Eclipse or Visual Studio. ;-)

Comment Re: Good luck getting contracts! (Score 1) 234

It does. But at the moment, getting 5% or even 7% for a small time investor seems to be unlikely. And the compound interest effect is contributing less if, realistically, your income increases over time as you get experience and promotions - you're able to safe less in your early career, with lower pay and (often) higher expenses.

Comment Re: Good luck getting contracts! (Score 1) 234

In other words you have a %2.6 chance of being a millionaire in the U.S vs a %1 in France.

Note quite. If you work both hard and at least a little smart in the US you are almost sure to become a millionaire by retirement. It would take less than 10% of median income in retirement savings over a 45 year career to reach millionaire status (in 2017 dollars). Either way for it to be nearly 3x harder to become a millionaire, which is by no means rich for a someone in the developed world, in France vs the USA is a serious problem.

Well, that seems to be dubious math to me. According to this article, median personal income was about US$ 32000/year in 2005, and has mostly gone down since then. 10% of that is US$ 32000, and summed over 45 years, gives you US$ 144000, or US$ 856000 short of the first million. You need a very good return on investment to make up that gap (and that ignores inflation).

Moreover, the basic comparison is skewed. In the US, you mostly rely on your own accumulated funds for retirement. Social security is not a big contributor for high-earners. In France, state pensions kick in at age 62, and you get full benefits after 41 years of employment or at age 67, whichever comes first. State pensions are a significant part of retirement funding, but don't show up as personal wealth. And, IIRC, basic health insurance is free for pensioners - another factual and tangible benefit not accounted for by just looking at personal wealth.

Comment Re:expert? (Score 1) 366

I'm WAY more interested in the real work boston dynamics and others are doing in the feild of robots. I'm WAY more interested in the technology breakthroughs david sodenburg is claiming with liquid metal batteries. The EM drive is definately tickling my fancy right now as well.

I don't know why these kinds of stories pop up. I half figure the editors love science and technology the way I do...these complete tabloid toilet trash stories though about emotions and social issues are really annoying me. None of it has anything to do with hard engineering science or even point to new ideas or possibilities it's just an emotional wank/opinion fest with no content.

It's a bit naive to think that a world with robots will be just like our world, only with robots, or that a world with much better batteries will be just like our world, only with better batteries. The human and social implications and moral questions of technology are just as hard, and just as important, and just as interesting as the pure science and technology. Science Fiction learned that in the 60s.

Better robots will destroy more manufacturing jobs. Better AI will destroy more simple office jobs. To quote from Luna: New Moon: The financialised economy didn't need workers and mechanisation was driving the middle class into a race to the bottom.

Alternatively, these techniques will create wealth for all and help us liberate human creativity, as e.g. in Ian M. Bank's Culture. But thinking about which trajectory we are on is anything but boring.

Comment Re:So overpopulation is not an issue? (Score 1) 120

A fair number of posters here despise women, and view anyone who advocates for female empowerment as an SJW who needs to be derided, trolled, threatened with rape, or any other mechanism possible to silence anyone with a vagina.

I have a hard time coming up with somebody less fitting the SJW stereotype than Hitchens. But I'm quite sure he would adopt the term with aplomb.

Comment Re: human race wiped out? (Score 3, Insightful) 364

If we succeed in destroying ourselves as a species on Earth, it will probably be with a nuclear war. But even that is a situation that essentially peaked in the 1980's, and nations have taken steps to back-pedal from it since then.

Well, climate change and nuclear war are not necessarily independent. With Himalaya glaciers shrinking, water supply for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even China will become a lot less stable. There are 3 billion people in these countries, and 3 of the 4 states already have nuclear weapons. If they start to seriously compete for limited water resources, things may easily become very ugly. There is a reason why China is in Tibet, and why India and Pakistan are fighting a slow war over what currently is an extremely inhospitable ice desert.

And what do you think will happen to the stability of the region if a few tens of millions of (mostly Muslim) Bangladeshis will be forced to flee into India because sea level rise is going to flood significant parts of the Bengal delta, one of the most fertile and most densely populated areas of the planet?

Comment Re:Costs $150 per bbl to drill in Arctic (Score 5, Insightful) 338

The key to keeping the price of energy low is to always be ready to increase production. Putting it off for five years would put us five years behind the curve. Look for Obama's order to be replaced by late 2017.

The key to keeping the perceived price of energy low is to externalise a large part of the cost - e.g. the health costs of particulate emissions from burning coal and petrol, the cost of nuclear wast processing and insurance against nuclear accidents, the cost of military intervention to keep oil-rich regions under control, and yes, the cost of climate change. We should really find a way to internalise these costs, so that the consumer price of energy reflects the real cost to society, and we avoid a tragedy of the commons.

Well-operating markets are great tools for optimisation. But in order for them to serve the community, we must set them up to work appropriately. Otherwise the market will gladly optimise the destruction of "free" shared resources.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

Powell counted 69406 to 4

Bullshit. There aren't that many climate researchers in the world. And Stephan, I have a bit of hate for you right now for making me read this stupid piece of shit just so I could refute your argument. Here's the problem right in the methodology:

To find the number of recent articles that reject AGW, I used the following method: [...]

Notice that the author does not actually count climate research papers, doesn't actually find authors who refute or affirm AGW or other climate change theory, and doesn't actually count climate researchers. Waste of my time.

You do understand that by casting a wide net, Powell increases the chance of finding sceptical papers, right?

As for the number of climate scientists, we can do a simple Fermi approximation. There are apparently around 40000 universities in the world (which jibes nicely with a bit over 400 universities for approximately 80 million inhabitants in Germany). Going with the German sample, about 1/4 to 3/4 of these are research universities (depending on your definition) - so call it 20000. Assuming that half of these do climate research and that the average research group has 10 people, we are at 100000 climate scientists just at universities - without counting NASA (which spends approximately US$ 2e9 on Earth sciences - that should pay about 10000 people alone) or NOAA (with a nearly US$ 5e9 budget - another 25000 people) or Max Planck Institutes in Germany or JAXA in Japan, or any of the corresponding organisations in other states. Now neither NASA not NOAA is all scientists, but it should be clear that 69000 is not an implausible number of climate scientists.

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