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Comment Atrazine (Score 4, Interesting) 253

I used to farm... A bit of information that's kind of interesting about atrazine. Locally, at least, it was only ever used on corn, and would pretty much wipe anything else out. It's residual effects are pretty striking, and if we sprayed it on a field of corn, then corn would be the only thing that would grow on the field the next year as well. Anecdotally, I've known some farmers who could only grow corn for *five years* on land that had been sprayed too heavily. It pretty much made the ground sterile for anything else.

I'm off to boycott... FUCK BETA

Comment Re: Seriously - GTFO (Score 1) 401

What gets my eyes rolling the most is this sort of thing:

To those still smoking and in the grips of marketing induced denial...

It really indicates how stupid the writer thinks everyone else is, that despite an endless barrage of information about the deleterious effects of smoking from family, friends, doctors, news programs, newspapers, magazines, sitcoms, movies, cartoons, graffiti, puppet shows, and government literature that somehow the little indirect marketing (tenuously through movies and TV) somehow overrides our ability to make an actual informed decision.

"Denial" is used as a weaselly way to undermine any volitional behaviour which a writer personally disagrees with, and is then used as a justification for maintaining their belief regardless of claims to the contrary.

Personally, I quit and am happy as hell that I did. That doesn't mean I was unaware of the effects, or romanticized smoking, or didn't enjoy it. I did enjoy it, and immediate gratification seemed a fair trade off for the inevitable future outcome. It was a personal/philosophical value decision, and it was no worse than the position I hold now, it's just not the position I happen to hold any more.


Comment Ahh, character assassination (Score 1) 221

That was what we were taught - the lower classes smell. And here, obviously, you are at an impassable barrier. For no feeling of like or dislike is quite so fundamentalas a physical feeling. Race hatred, religious hatred, differences of education, of temperament, of intellect, even differences of moral code, can be got over; but physical repulsion cannot.

Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier

Comment Re:Change we can believe in (Score 1) 569

I don't think fascism fits exactly, either. It's the furthest thing from socialism, though. The Soviets were state capitalists, at least after Stalin came in, and likely before then. That leads a lot of Americans raised in the Cold War zeitgeist to view government control as socialism. Socialism definitionally means that the workers are in control, not capital and its holders, and not government. Socialism is an orthogonal concept to government, just as capitalism is. The closest political concept to socialism would be democracy. Oligarchal Collectivism is a better term for both the Nazis, the corporatist politics of the US, and to a lesser extent, the USSR. In a way, it's feudalism mixed with absurd levels of demagoguery. Orwell chose a good name when he called Goldstein's book "The Theory and Practice of Oligarchal Collectivism".

If in practice, you only have two virtually identical parties to vote for, or in practice only one in ten million people can come from a position of no capital to having their individual say affect policy, you don't have democracy, you have some form of oligarchy.

Comment Re:Thoughts from a real farmer (Score 2, Informative) 435

I'm also a farmer...went back to it after trying programming and hvac controls for a few years. Used to be considered a large farm, but now probably mid-sized (7000 acres at the high point when I was farming with family). I completely agree with all your points. There is a lot of naivete around this issue which looks quite ignorant from those of us who work in the field (pun intended). The hate-on for Monsanto is largely misplaced, IMO. The way farming was done before roundup became so prevalent was much worse. The environmental costs of the fuel and wear and tear on machinery cultivating out (for instance) quack grass, the economic costs of summer fallowing, the use of chemicals which were far, far, far more noxious than Roundup could ever be made for both less environmental and less economically valuable farming. There are many problems with Monsanto, BASF, and basically any of the seed suppliers or chemical companies, such as the IP issues or breeders rights. Roundup resistant weeds is not an issue. There are other chemicals to deal with that if needed. Roundup resistant broadleafs? Just use 2-4D or MCPA. They've been around forever. They're more toxic than Roundup, but they're not particularly bad. Roundup has drastically reduced the amount of toxic chemicals we spray on our land, and GMO strains of seed tend to make for more efficient, less energy consuming, and less chemically toxic farming. I've been drenched (and swallowed) more Roundup in a day than any thousand people will come in contact with in their lives. Sure we could go back to a mythological, pastoral past, but I don't see that happening. And I know I wouldn't want it, nor would anybody who actually understands the crushing labour it entails. If someone wants me to become an organic farmer, sure, I'll do it. But I'm not carrying the cost. Give me a few hundred thousand a year to offset the (inevitable) loss of profits from organic farming, and I'll be all over it. The sky is not falling over Roundup resistant weeds, and it seems silly to me how some people think it is.

Comment Which community... (Score 1) 697 the strictest, though?

I've read radical feminists who would view pretty much any diamond, alcohol, or shampoo commercial I've ever seen as obscenity. Hell, there's an article online (ICBATG) about the Firefly episode "Mrs. Reynolds" by some wingnut (Allecto, IIRC), which talks about it portraying homoeroticism, advocating misogyny, and showing sexual slavery positively/jokingly. I'm quite sure she'd find Firefly obscene.

The problem (well one of them) is that the 'strictest community' is inevitably going to be radical to some degree, and not representative of the larger community. That's pretty much tautological. They'll be a group more interested in changing the mores of society than in actually addressing the individual instance of a crime.

For the fun of it:
One of my favourite Bradbury lines: in Usher II from the Martian Chronicles

Comment Re:Ambigious Emotions (Score 1) 87

If you're uncertain, maybe it was both?

Seriously though, the only time cable hasn't had "undue control on the programming pipeline" in my area was when it only offered about eight channels, and the rabbit ear option picked up five. We're thirty years past that point, though. I suppose satellite TV is cheap enough now, but it's not ubiquitous enough to say cable has lost that control, IMO.

Comment Re:Lake Wobegon Effect (Score 1) 520

So while I agree that many may be overestimating their abilities, /. probably does have a crowd with a higher overall (or at least technical/logical) skill set. How many laborers or unskilled factory workers do you think read /.?

I think it's more likely to work the other way, actually. Manipulating material and tools all day would probably hone one's spatial reasoning far more than dealing with abstract or logical problems. I just got back from a 600 mile solo kayak trip in NW Manitoba a couple of weeks ago, and I only looked at my compass 6 times, twice to set magnetic north, and four times to double check what I already knew. I think growing up on a farm fixing engines, welding broken machinery, or inventing machinery modifications probably did a lot more for my sense of direction and spatial reasoning than calculus, PERL programming, or any other strictly rational activity.

Comment Re:People definitely neglect science... (Score 1) 656

Honestly... I think people who know a lot of science are probably the biggest problem with science education.

I can't remember the exact quote, but in "Down and Out..." Orwell says something like:

"Socialists, like Christians, are generally the worst advertisements for their beliefs"

It's probably true for most people who primarily identify themselves by a shared group belief, really.

Comment I like this poll. (Score 1, Interesting) 860

The poll left out my favourite doctor, though: Granny Weatherwax. I occasionally ask people whom I meet who their favourite fictional character is, and often find out interesting things about them that way. I think it's a better question to ask, compatibility-wise and conversationally, than favourite music or movie type questions. It lets you know more about what personal traits they like or are interested in.

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