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Comment Re:They tell you upfront it isn't going to be good (Score 1) 121

Are all men equal by that definition of "equal"? Or all women exactly like all other women?

"Men" aren't stamped out of some kind of archetypal "man" mold, nor are all women exactly whatever you think a "woman" is or should be. Both men and women are going to be distributed along a normal curve (or maybe log-normal) when it comes to their fitness for some particular job.

So this raises the question: how much overlap do those populations have? The traditionalist view is that there are manly jobs for which no woman is suitable; the radically opposite viewpoint is that there are no differences at all between the populations for any job. But leaving aside jobs like NFL offensive lineman or surrogate mother, I'd say that unless you take one or the other of these extreme positions it's not necessary to have an opinion on precisely how much overlap there is. The only thing that really matters is the individual you are evaluating for the job. If a woman is the best candidate for an engineering position or CEO or whatever, it literally doesn't matter whether or not men are usually better at that sort of thing.

Comment Re:That's absurd. All Macs & iPhones have blue (Score 1) 258

what a weird thing to lie about.

It's not a lie - show me where to plug in lightning earphones into the new mac WITHOUT using a dongle and I'll retract. I've been a loyal mac user for the past decade with a desktop and a laptop both of which are in desperate need of an update and I really just want a new mac. However I am not going to pay full price for a 3 year old Mac Pro machine nor am I going to pay over $4k (Canadian) for a high end laptop with an already out of date CPU and GPU. Apple have dropped the ball so much that I'm doing what would have been unthinkable a year ago: I'm looking at switching to windows and I'm not happy.

Comment Don't just think "change"; think "rate of change". (Score 1) 202

I have known or at least met many environmental luminaries in the course of my career, and as one of them put it: I = P*S/T -- that is to say environmental impact is proportional to population and standard of living, but is inversely proportional to technology.

So the key to avoiding a dystopian future is to keep the rate of technological improvement greater than the rate of population growth. The way to do that is to invest in people. Societies who have lower infant mortality rates have lower birth rates; societies with better education are more innovative.

Will the future way we do things look radically different from today? Yes! Just as the way we do things today look radically different from the past. Change happens in both the environment and human society; it's inevitable. The question is whether it happens at a rate organisms and people can adapt to, and in particular whether we make a conscious decision to direct that change or have it forced upon us.

Comment It gets worse... (Score 5, Insightful) 258

...if you think about the ear phone situation. The new macs still have a 3.5mm jack for ear phones and no special wireless chip. Hence there are no ear phones which will work with both your mac an your iPhone.

People used to claim that Apple was a hardware company but given the current state of their hardware this is hard to believe. I think they are turning into a dongle company where they plan to make their money selling dongles to let you connect all their hardware together.

Comment Re:Expectations (Score 1) 237

At first I assumed the Germans were less friendly, but I was later told that when I did the typical 'American smile' to strangers, the Germans would assume I was attempting to sell them something or otherwise solicit them.

This, by the way, is the end result of marketing-types coopting positive interpersonal gestures and mannerisms for their own sleazy ends. By abusing the tendency for people to take a smile or eye contact (or any of the other aspects that they're destroying) as a sign of friendliness or trust, they strip those gestures of their genuineness.

Comment Re:"I Don't Want Your Money" (Score 1) 237

Virtue signaling is less about actually doing things and more about talking about doing things.

Giving a buck or a sandwich to a beggar on the street is a fairly private affair, so it doesn't really qualify as virtue signaling. Now setting up a charitable foundation and naming it after yourself or donating to a hospital/university/whatever and getting a building or wing named after you is probably the most extreme example that I can think of.

Comment Re:Positive development (Score 1) 168

The abundance of one species does not a healthy ecosystem make. I have a friend whose family owns a 1700 acre island off the coast of New England. It used to support an enormous white tail deer population -- and not coincidentally it had a plague of ticks, because everything in nature is food for something else. You would not have wanted to visit there back in the 1970s because the tick problem was insane. Everyone in his family has had Lyme disease, which also feasted on the swollen deer population.

Then in the 1980s the Western Coyote made it to New England, and a pack swam out to the island. In a single season they took down most of the deer herd, and now the island is a pleasant and sanitary place to live. And this is not some kind of odd aberration; this is how ecology works. If you disturb an ecosystem (say by killing off all the native timber wolves), weed species take over and they end up riddled with disease.

Weed species the ones who by sheer luck can live in conjunction with or off of large human populations. In a healthy ecosystem they may be cute, but an ecosystem dominated by weed animals can be nightmarish. I know lots of natural science geeks, and for the most part animals don't scare them. I once went for a walk with a girl who picked up a rotting coyote head and put it in her jacket pocket. She was TA'ing an anatomy course and wanted to show it to her students. But even she wouldn't go near a racoon, because unchecked by predation suburban raccoons are chock full of leptospirosis, salmonella and roundworm -- not to mention rabies. Those diseases can and do cripple, even kill people.

A world dominated by weed species would be quite horrible to live in.

Comment Re:More condoms less climate change (Score 1) 168

People per se have almost no impact on climate. It's what people do and how much in aggregate they do it.

Environmentalists are often stereotyped as pessimists, but really most of the people I know who've dedicated their careers are optimistic that technology can address many environmental problems. Sure, they'd like to see the global population stabilized, or even somewhat reduced, because that makes the job of preserving the environment much easier. But they actually believe the sustainability problem can be licked, even without reducing the global population by much.

I'll give you one example of how an actual environmentalist thinks. I was at a meeting with the sustainability director of a major sportswear manufacturer, and he was describing the research they were doing into improving the recyclability of polyester fleece clothing. He made the point that scale is critical to assessing the environmental impact. For a small band of hunter-gatherers, wild animal pelts would be the source of clothing with the least impact; wool would have intermediate impact; a chemical plant that reprocesses coke bottles into polyester resins would have a ridiculously large impact. But if you are making hundreds of thousands of garments, the impacts are actually reversed: the chemical plant has the least environmental impact. Once you turn those bottles into fleece you can continually recycle those molecules into more fleece. He describes recycling as "living off your environmental income instead of your capital."

Environmentalists -- by which I mean the people who are actually working on solutions to environmental problems -- generally believe that even with a large population we can make use of the products of ecosystems without disturbing the equilibria that sustain those systems. As one civil engineering environmentalist I know put it: I = P*S/T ; impact is proportional to population and standard of living but inversely proportional to technology. You can reduce the environmental impact of home heating by reducing the number of people; or you could do it by people getting used to being colder. But you can get the same result by insulating your house and heating it with renewable energy.

It's actually the anti-environmentalists who are the pessimists; they don't believe in people's ability to adapt, and they anticipate nothing but suffering from trying to do anything about problems. Their version of "optimism" is to discount any evidence that problems exist, or to convincing themselves if we do nothing everything will work out for the best.

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