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Comment Re: social experiments (Score 1) 318

Really? Because I find that most talking about the three "R's" are actually seeking to minimize public education and thus their financial contribution to it and are usually especially anti-science. Even where this is not the case they want to minimize other forms of math like music and art which nurture the type of creative thinking required for engineering, science, and higher math. Most of their arguments tend to be attempts to disguise their negative anti-team player self serving philosophy into arguments proposing practical schooling. They usually fall pretty flat when someone argues for purely practical schooling that would require more funding than is present now rather than less. Oddly, these people don't argue for cutting physical education and sports which have absolutely no educational benefit.

Comment Re: Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"Indeed. But tell me, exactly how many humans are out there today, competing against other animals with only their bare hands? Making force amplifying tools is such an inherent part of what we do, that your completly unarmed human doesn't exist - at leaast as far as I know."

This seems an odd thing to say in response to "Without technology man would be more of a scavenger than a predator but this is all fantasy because where other creatures evolved other strengths man evolved tool usage and some level of organization." Or is it just that you are fond of beating down strawmen? Misconstruing my statements by ignoring context or their entirity might be an effective way to dupe a third party into thinking you've won an argument but nobody else is listening at this point and there is no value to be gained with rheotoric here.

"You don't produce intelligent beings by using teh reproduction strategy of locusts or coral."

You could actually argue that is exactly how you produce intelligent beings. You could just as easily view us as neuron nests rather than as singular intelligent beings. Sure you need all the components to work together but the same is true of a bee hive or ant colony. We used to think our neurons were more static and the brain was a fixed structure but in reality brain cells die, new ones are born, and just as we pass information from generation to generation they behave in a way that does the same on a smaller scale.

"That's because your assessment is just wrong. You take the ultimate end of living things, and make the process that degernerate them and return their building blocks to nature the alpha predators."

Which part of my brown recluse example is consistent with your argument? There is also validity in my contention that true death occurs when the information the composes the being becomes irretrievable even though my argument for insects and microbes does not depend on it, only the argument for a small subclass of them. Since the idea that clinical death is a moving arbitrary line we continue to push blows your mind I'm willing to set that aside altogether. A tiger lies hidden in the jungle, pounces when you walk by, and starts eating chunks of you or feeds those chunks to its young, it breaks those chunks down into component nutrients and uses them to build new cells. The "returning to nature" bit is really just the waste product in all the cases we've mentioned. A brown recluse does much the same thing. Granted, we mostly survive brown recluse bites but in this case death is beside the point, we are brown recluse food and not the other way around. Therefore they are the alpha predator. They are just one example.

"an actual predator must be reclassified as something else, because predators do not gain their nutrients that way"

A predator is really just a being that uses the body of another being as it's food source. HIV does this very effectively and is one of the top 10 causes of death. It would seem that we aren't particularly alpha relative to HIV as a predator either. Remind me again, what is the utility of the current definition of predator other than to draw a useless distinction between some lifeforms that consume the bodies of other lifeforms and others? The problem with isolating micro and macro scales is that the model is not uniform. The macro scale classifications were drawn before we knew much about the micro scale and understood that macro things are actually nothing more than the interactions of much simpler components. As we learn more and more about the pieces that actually make a lifeform tick the macro definitions become more and more abitrary rather than based on relevant pieces of information.

Super predator vs apex predator, it's most a distinction that is only useful for young boys arguing whose favorite beast is cooler. These things only serve to throw up mental obstacles to useful classification that draws equivalence to all lifeforms and looks at the various things they consume for nutrients as simple data points useful for building a balanced system or finding the imbalance in one. It leads us to draw false conclusions like that some lifeforms are more benign than others when all lifeforms consume coldly and greedily so they might live.

Comment Re:social experiments (Score 2) 318

Your reading, writing, and math list is pretty dated unless you are talking about the lower portion of grade school. A purely practical program needs to include science, engineering, and computer programming. Without those things a school curriculum would be pretty useless today. About the only thing you'd be qualified for would be pumping gas or management.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

I'll respond to myself to clarify. A lot of people are arguing the merits the specific examples I choose. I think maybe the timelines, 50's vs now are too long for people to relate to. My point boils down to this, if the real cost of goods has dropped to 1/5th of what it was at a given point, being able to afford 4 of them now might mean a better quality of life but still means you are worse off economically vs those who could afford one before that reduction in costs because you'd need to be able to afford 5 and not 4 to be equally well off economically. For the purpose of determining how we are doing economically it doesn't matter if the things have more bells and whistles, it doesn't matter that people who couldn't afford one before can afford one now, etc. All those things just mean technology has progressed and improved the quality of life for those worse off economically, it doesn't mean they have more raw purchasing power.

Let me take it closer. In the late 80's and early 90's my parents were pizza hut store managers, my father the actual manager and my mother head assistant manager. We had a large 50-60" tv (massive thing) that cost $6k+, we had exotic birds and lizards that cost at least $10k, we had a tanning bed that cost $5k+, we had a telescope that cost about $3k, and a computer that cost $5k+, not to mention thousands of dollars for water beds, funiture, jewelry, the latest games and consoles as they came out, over 2000 movies, etc and two new cars. We could and did get any dental, vision, medical work we needed without substantial issue. My parents were shipped around a lot so we never owned the home but owning is cheaper than renting and they had no issues with credit so they could have afforded to own if it had made sense for them.

Do you think pizza hut managers at the store level could afford that today? No, no they couldn't. I've knew a store manager about 7 years ago who went at least a year with a plastic bag taped over the window of his beater because he couldn't afford to have it fixed. You couldn't afford these goods on that kind of salary today even if the numbers all matched because those goods die and have to replaced every few years, it isn't the cost of the goods, it's the burn rate required to maintain it. You'd need an income of double what my parents made to maintain an equivalent lifestyle today.

Consider the computer for a moment. A modern desktop computer is far more powerful of course and far cheaper. A modern replacement might be as little as $400. So you could buy 12 of them for what our computer cost. Do you think a chain restaurant manager can afford to have and maintain 12 reasonably current computers today? The only way they are even going to come close is if they maintain a high end gaming system and that is all they spend their money on like a mmo addict and even then they aren't going to be able to keep that up forever. We basically just used the thing to keep a list of our movies and track some finances. Someone touched it maybe once a month to update those things.

Comment Re: Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"Having used a heavy old push mower I can assure that whilst on small areas it is no slower than an electric it's much more effort and so on large areas, especially in hot weather, it takes longer."

I should have stated mechanical push mowers but I think your comments are based on that. I would agree that it is more effort and I won't comment on over 60 because I'm not there yet but I think despite being "harder" if you check the clock it still takes roughly the same amount of time relative to modern electric and gas push mowers. Larger commercial mowers and rider mowers are a whole different story as they are a different class of solution that isn't suitable on normal size lawns and are the right answer for large lawns. That said there are certainly lawns that fall inbetween.

I tried to give an example of what a mechanical push mower might look like if we applied modern engineering. The blades would be incredibly sharp and strong and we could engineer them to have flexible joints so they tend to deflect rather than break or chip. The whole thing would actually be too light for the job even built with the same durability and just like you need some weight on a safety razor or to keep a ship upright you'd need some mass strategically added. Since you have to do that anyway you can use a carbon fiber flywheel to be that weight. Modern carbon fiber flywheels can retain energy for years. In the same manner that electric cars use breaking to charge the batteries every time you stop or hit a snag or change direction the momentum can be absorbed by the flywheel and then released to make the pushing easier. You could even design them to charge the flywheel on breaking and steep enough downgrades only engage the flywheel when going uphill. Since a flywheel stores mechanical rotary energy it would actually be far more efficient in this application than the applications most people are looking to use them for where electrical energy is converted to mechancial and back again. This mower would require dramatically less effort to use than the old mechanical push mowers while having the same reliability. Using dry lubricants means the thing wouldn't clog up with in the same way the old ones did with all that oil and that grime also added quite a bit of resistance you had to overcome.

My underlying point wasn't really about the merits of the mower though. My point was that we've progressively moved toward cheaper goods, whether you think that is good or bad, and we've been so successful that having more goods today doesn't mean we are economically better off than those with fewer goods yesterday. The raw steel and hours of human life that go into producing those goods are the bottom line of your spending power, if a factory worker (just picking it because it's roughly the same effort and skill level today as in the 50's) can't purchase goods that amount to the same number of raw resources and labor hours as he could then, he actually isn't as well off economically because his purchasing power has been reduced.

Comment Re: Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"I consider them as alpha predators, just as I wrote, an opinion shared by many. If you domake a distinction between super predators and alpha predators, it is usually based on whether you define it as what a human does without the technology, we have developed, or with it."

Without technology we are actually pretty low on the food chain altogether. That would mean no rocks, pointy sticks, or traps. There are numerous predators in every climate on Earth that could kill us in that case. For that matter most large prey creatures could. We aren't particularly strong, we have no claws, and no teeth. We don't even reproduce quickly enough to have the advantage of being disposable individually and numbers. Without tool usage and organization aka technology the only advantage we really have is that in almost every other species being our size would indicate something far stronger than we are so predators would be inclined to go after what they think would be easier prey but I think that advantage would quickly disappear as predators discovered how weak and easy prey we are (without tools). Further we aren't fast enough or strong enough to catch much in the way of prey. Without technology man would be more of a scavenger than a predator but this is all fantasy because where other creatures evolved other strengths man evolved tool usage and some level of organization.

For the rest. Has it ever occurred to you that I am not ignorant and that I simply disagree with the common assessment and find it to be ignorant and dated? That your definition of death may simply be a bit unimaginative in my assessment? This concept is old, it views the world on a very macro scale and further arrogantly assumes that macro is more important than micro simply because we've largely dominated macro. Who are we to assume that being beneath (too small for) somethings notice makes one less significant than being above (too large for) somethings notice? Eating is nothing more than breaking down the components of a thing and if a thing is not broken down that thing is not truely dead as it may well be possible to revive it... at least it likely would be without the organisms you assess as being at the bottom of the food chain eating them first. To say they are not killing those creatures, including humans, is akin to saying you aren't killing if you take the life of someone who is unconcious or could survive with medical attention. These organisms are doing just that and it is they who deal the true death blow and they do it to eat which is predatory.

More so, you are ignoring the fact that many microbes and insects are in fact lethal even by common and unimaginative definitions of death. Often killing the host, consuming it in various ways in order to use its resources to multiply and reproduce. We use concerted efforts to take down some prey in addition to technology, you can't count that and fail to count the collective activity of a collection of smaller organisms which work as a community to kill and eat. Man has definitely failed to dominate on the insect scale let alone the microscopic scale. If you disagree then you won't have a problem with me taking some time to get a brown recluse colony well established in the walls of your home. Perhaps you'll be suprised when the exterminators only have a small chance of getting them out and you are forced to flee or die, especially when the females go looking for a warm host to plant their next crop of offspring in but I won't be surprised.

Comment Re:How does that work? (Score 1) 106

"Most other countries don't have a constitution that has as many explicit clauses as the US one, and some, such as England, don't even have one. So a constitution per se is not inherently more legally binding than anything else simply because its a constitution."

Other countries have little bearing on the legal system of the United States. In the United States the people fought a rebellion to take power, that power is reserved to the people, a small grant of power was given by the people to establish a central government via the Constititution and to grant the power that state governments derive from (although only in a very token sense because colony/state representatives were the actual authors more so than the people they were supposed to represent). It is the founding document and only source of legal authority for the central government. The only exception is within the judicial where a framework was needed for interpreting law and for this the previously English population turned to "common law" largely based on the magna carta.

The system has been heavily corrupted and the central government does many things beyond the scope of Constitutional authority, many of them with the blessing of blatantly incorrect rulings by the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court can still toss these things out on the basis that they are not within Constitutional authority because that IS the highest law in this country. As for the teeth behind it, there is more than just civil uprising, the military of this nation is sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"The definition of a hero or a saint is someone who sacrifices themselves for the greater good. History is full of these people."

The definition of a hero or a saint is someone who sacrifices themselves because they think it is their best chance for lasting personal glory (self interest), to benefit their children in some way (self interest), due to a foolish belief it will benefit them in the more important after death end game (self interest), or due to plain old mental illness (strange incomprehendable self interest).

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

True but that wasn't really what I was getting at. To be equivalent economically a factory worker would need to be able to buy as many man hours and raw resources worth of "stuff" as the 50's/60's counterpart. They can't. The stuff has simply gotten cheaper, due technological advancement, efficiency, and lowering quality standards. So while that worker likely has more stuff today, it doesn't represent as much labor/raw materials and therefore that worker actually has less purchasing power.

Also, the goods we purchase today are not domestic. Each time you pay $20 for $0.20 worth of disposable razor cartridges you are donating $19.80 to improving the living conditions in China while subtracting $19.80 from the living conditions in the US. The rich in the US are likely taking $15 of it, and the rich in China are probably taking 80% of the rest, that is the screwing the poor part but we'd still be screwing the poor in much the same ways if it were all domestic. Every bit of economic power that China gains comes at the expense of US economic power.

But who knows, maybe I'm the short term thinker. In a few hundred years between our completely unutilized mines and our landfills stuffed with foreign raw resources maybe we'll be the most resource rich nation in the world.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"You aren't saying much that I disagree with (I hate push mowers)."

Fair enough. I don't think we are actually too far apart here.

Bottom line, technology and reduction in quality have made goods so cheap we have more of them than they did in the 50's and 60's but if we had equivalent purchasing power (and therefore could buy equivalent labor hours and raw materials worth of goods) then a single earner lower income factory worker in the US would be able to buy more of those cheaper goods than an upper middle dual income family can buy today in addition to owning their house and car.

I understand that you think we are better off anyway and you make an argument in support of cheaper more disposable goods. The reality is that you are probably right for some things and I am probably right for others. But we could have made that shift in focus domestically and be buying cheaper goods made right here without giving up our purchasing power to buy a higher quality of life in China. Most of the technological innovation has been domestic and/or would become domestic rapidly because we are the largest economy in the world.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

You are comparing styles from the 50's and 60's with modern styles? I'm not sure what that has to do with anything most of it has to do with taste. We also certainly have advanced technology.

We just don't focus that technology on producing things that are made to last and our economy hasn't advanced at the same pace. I gave an example of what it might look like if we applied modern technology to the mechanical push mower, comparitively the push mower of the 50's would certainly be ancient and archaic but it would be far more durable and of higher value than the electric push mowers of today.

The underlying point here was economics. We have more stuff today partly because technology has made stuff so cheap that even though we actually have less economic power it can buy more stuff than in the past and partly because we are making lower quality stuff. The bottom line is that if an assembly line worker had the same economic power (the ability to buy as much in terms of raw resources and labor) as someone did in the 50's toward today's stuff they would have as much stuff as the top 1% do now.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 3, Insightful) 688

'What effect population had on that is harder to say but I don't think that we can seperate the technological and organization growth which made it possible from the change in population if we were to going to play "what if?"'

I do. In the US we are actually poorer than in the 50's and 60's. During those times unskilled workers owned cars and homes, products were manufactured out of more expensive but far more durable materials. The only real constant coins in the world are labor and raw materials. While that same worker might have more cans of soda in your fridge those cans are less durable, contain cheaper and fewer raw materials, and represent less labor expended to serve you. You might say, what do I care, I have more beverages! Well, you should care because that worker hasn't gained the value of those raw materials and labor somewhere else. Even within the United States the labor pool has nearly doubled with the addition of women to the workforce but the household hasn't increased the total value of raw resources and labor it controls where it should have doubled. Technology and process would have improved without globalization. For the most part the rest of the world is really riding on the tails of truely revolution technology invented in the US and Western Europe and that technology was developed before globalization.

People have been duped, they are buying cheap disposable, breakable goods, with planned obsolescence to distract them from how little value they have by showing them the quantity of "stuff" they have. An inexpensive safety razor carries most of it's cost in its raw materials (therefore will not drop in value), can be used for less than $2/yr in consumables, provides fewer cuts/razor burn and provides a closer shave vs disposables. It only takes 2-3 shaves to get used to one. Even a fairly inexpensive one is of such high quality they can passed down generations. Disposables cost hundreds a year, they are so cheap that new ones pass the holes used to save plastic off as stylizing, fake innovations are created to make old models obsolete and custom interfaces for replacement blades are used so they can phase out old blades and force people to buy new bases before even that cheap crap has a chance to break.

Mowers, gas and electric mowers don't do the job any faster than push mowers, again there isn't much material of value in them. Your fancy electric mower will break in 2yrs and doesn't do a better or faster job than an old push mower that will last forever with occasional need for oil and blade sharpening. Modernized these would be carbon fiber, use dry lubricant, possibly have rigid blades that don't need sharpened with a few flexible joints to allow for deflecting on hard objects, they would be so much lighter they'd need a strategic weight which would double as a flywheel to store mechanical energy.

Who is going to make and sell them? Nobody. It isn't worthwhile for the rich to invest in goods that are worth something and last forever unless the price is just as high as it would be for those cheap throw away goods. And if they did that people would realize they can't actually afford the modern day equivalent to grandpas old push mower.

Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 688

"Of course now, if a person is incapable of understanding that their own personal children don't just automatically inherit the half acre of livable real estate left if something comes along and kills the rest of humanity."

Of course not, what do you think the endless warfare is to get us ready for? Taking the livable real estate.

"But if say, as the growing season lengthens in the north, and if the present lower 48 becomes more arid - a possibility - there is a very good chance that the US might lose it's position in the world."

Or crush Canada and relocate. Having the strongest military in the world means we pretty much have our pick of everywhere in the world for where to relocate when that time comes.

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