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Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

i'm not pretending to not understand. i understand your claims perfectly well. you're just way, way off base. enough so that i'm not really interested in getting into a debate with you, because it's clear you're not interested in logic or reason, but instead have an agenda that must be served. so, instead, this is to correct a few glaringly obvious things for other readers. then i'm done.

you still don't show any understanding of the hard/soft or strong/weak distinctions in types of atheism. both tend to use the term "atheism" unadorned, but have very different logical requirements.
the statement "i do not believe in god" is, on its face, logically weak (an unfortunate term, but there it is): it makes no real claims, and is neutral as to the actual reality. this is what classical atheists believe. it is essentially the same as saying "i'm unconvinced".
the statement "there is no god" is logically strong: it makes a definitive claim as to the condition of reality. as such, it has the same requirements on evidence as the statement "there is a god (or gods)". this is the more common usage among modern self-professed "atheists". the logical requirements are not diminished based on the fact that you're asserting a negative.

asserting that the tyranny of atheist rulers is because of an underlying insanity but that the tyranny of theist rulers is because of theism is absurdly intellectually dishonest. why do you get to pick and choose?
even if you were to make that assertion and try to back it up, the disproportionate representation of psychopaths at the head of atheist regimes would leave open a rather interesting question of why that happens. that is, what is it about religion that serves as a check, albeit an imperfect one, on such craziness? that's not the best place to take your argument.

David Hume is absolutely correct, but that passage is totally irrelevant. that is, it applies exactly as well to strong atheist claims as it does to theist claims. you seem to want it to say something it doesn't.

i have no interest in defending the claims of any particular branch of Christianity. you seem, there, to be laboring under the mistaken belief that i give those claims some sort of "free pass" as far as logical constraints go. that's the main reason i'm no sort of proselytizer. turnabout is fair play, i guess, but in doing so you're totally punting on your logical responsibility. and it's a poor punt, given that at no point have i framed things in a "Christianity (of any derivation) vs. atheism" argument.
that cemented, for me, your position as the sort of anit-church zealot your "argument" about the role of religion on human nature has made you out to be. there's no point in arguing or debating with zealots of any stripe. for other readers: when presented with "you don't understand A", asserting "yeah, well you haven't proven B" is not a coherent defense. especially when nobody's made any claims about B.

you lump in "belief in the absence of evidence" with "belief in the face of contrary evidence". this, logically speaking, is an error. your apparent, persistent inability to understand this is likely related (in which direction i do not know) to your inability to differentiate between the claims of two different types of atheists.

and no, i will not do your work for you.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

that's mainly because "act of faith" is pretty loaded. the distinction between the two types of atheists are those that disbelieve claims of god vs. those that believe claims of no god. better than half the self-described atheists in this discussion thread have been of the "there is no god" variety.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

except that's not true. this discussion has lots of people who hold the classical atheist position. the main reason i brought up the issue explicitly is because people were talking past each other, not realizing they were using different definitions.

also, try not to make so many bad assumptions. i'm no flavor of atheist.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

except for the ones that do.

what you're describing is "soft", "weak", or "classical" atheism. it's the more useful and logically coherent version of the term. it is also, unfortunately, the less commonly used meaning, including (in my experience, conversationally and in literature) by self-professed atheists. i'm not sure whether you're making the true/false distinction because you're unaware of the more common meaning or intentionally trying to reshape the language (perhaps admirable; i used to try that, but came to accept it as a lost cause), but regardless, it isn't categorically true.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

so much wrong here. you clearly don't understand the different types of atheism, the logical requirements for different sorts of claims, or what agnosticism is. you're a wonderful example of why zealotry on behalf of any position gets to the same end. just one point that's worth calling out in particular:

...until enough people abandon religion, civilisation will remain shackled by conflict and segregation.

this is just plain stupid and ignorant, much more so than can be excused for someone who claims to have any sort of rational view on the topic. religion is a convenient tool for those interested in conflict and segregation (and a host of other ills), but out species is quite adept at doling them out with or without them. ample evidence can be found in the fields of anthropology (millennia of conflict and slavery in pre-religious humans), ancient history (religiously fueled wars were very much the exception in ancient europe and west asia), and modern history ("strong" atheist societies killed more people in the 20th century than theistic ones), just to pick a few examples. it's human nature that's the problem.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

you are correct that the default position is "i don't know", but that's exactly the classical definition of atheism. it's not "one who believes there is no god", but "one who does not have a belief in god". the difference is substantial. the more common usage today is much newer, and largely the result of propaganda and politicization of the discussion (by both sides).

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

most of your post is... well, not very good. but you hit on one point that results in people talking past each other quite a bit:

Atheism is the default position.

the problem here is that "atheism", as the word is used in english today, has two meanings.
first, there is classical atheism, sometimes called "soft" atheism. this is the older meaning, but is also the less common one when the word is used today. this meaning signifies the lack of belief, and is, as you say, the "default" position in some useful sense. it doesn't really make a claim, in the logical sense; it basically says "i'm unconvinced".
but the second definition, sometimes called "hard" atheism, is the assertion "there is no god". this is how the word is much more commonly used, both among self-professed "atheists" (intentionally lumping the two groups together) and, significantly here, among people of faith.

this is made worse by the co-opting of "agnostic". hard atheists - those that want to use "atheist" to mean "there is no god" - have pushed soft/classical atheists into the agnostic category, which is unfortunate both for the classical atheists and for the agnostics. the correct definition of agnostic (one who doesn't believe we can know about god) isn't even incompatible with a belief one way or the other. one can perfectly well be a theistic or atheistic (of either type) agnostic (although presumably not an evangelical).

Comment a cautionary tale (Score 2, Insightful) 321

as a business-conscious engineer, i'm well aware of the business/marketing reasons for wanting to tweak or set the version numbers. in the commercial world, sadly, these things do actually have impact, so i'm willing to trust people with more experience than me in such psychological fields to have their input. what kills me is when they don't realize that there's actually valid technical reasons for version identifiers, too.

at my last company, i was part of the new R&D department intended to make us no longer reliant on 3rd party contractors and consultants (which had been going poorly for us). we had multiple product lines with no coherence between any names and numbers. we had a product retroactively named Phase 2, an unrelated product retroactively named Phase 3, and its successor named Phase 3 Version 3, all with what amounted to point releases, without any identified version numbers or names. it was often just difficult to tell what we were talking about.

so when we started working on our own stuff, we did better. we went "major.minor (build)". the head of marketing made a compelling case for being able to decide what was "major" and what was "minor" as far as our clients were concerned, and we thought that was fine. when we were on, say, version 2, we'd have a roadmap for the next several feature/fix packages and say "we think this bundle is version 2.1, this next one is 3.0, then 3.1, 3.2, 4.0". we went 2-5 feature/fix bundles into the future. marketing would come back and say something like "we really need a major-number release earlier than some trade show; make that 3.1, 4.0, and 4.1". some of the engineers were unhappy with this, but i think that's mostly because they discount the validity of marketing and psychology in commercial enterprises generally. in reality, it worked fine.

for about 4 months. then the marketing guys decided to start changing things. frequently. they'd discover some other show they needed to get to, or decide one was less important, or a customer would tell them (stupidly) "we're going to wait for the next major version" or "we don't trust .0 releases". so then it became "er, make it 3.0, 3.1, 4.0, 5.0, 5.1....". the numbers got more divorced from any technical input. but at this point, marketing had already started printing literature with version numbers in it, and promising clients "3.2" on a given date, and so on.

the biggest problem for engineering was that, again, it was hard to know what we're talking about. when we met to discuss the feature set to put in 3.2, or the planning for 4.0, which 3.2 was that? no good. so we gave up, told marketing that they could simply have the version number all to themselves, and we came up with a unique identifier series to use ourselves: each feature/fix bundle got a volcano name. we could talk about the features in Koko, or decide Krakatoa was too big and break it into Deccan Traps and Viti. we got everyone - including the head of marketing and the CEO - to agree that these were internal-only, engineering-defined designations for feature sets, not tied to published version numbers or whatnot. marketing got nice numbers to show clients, we got reliable, unambiguous identifiers. worked great.

for a little under two years. then we had a review release for the "Kick 'em Jenny" release, where the head of marketing (yes, same one) "asked" us to change the name. R&D had been using it for about six months, so this was reintroducing the same problem we'd invented them to fight off, so, as the engineering manager on the project, i wasn't happy to see this happening, and asked why.
"well," he says, "we can't very well tell that to clients."
"er, right. that's half the point. these are engineering names, remember?" i responded.
"yes, well, the clients like to know the names. we've been telling them all the earlier ones."
(elided arguing and frustration on all sides)
"okay, okay." i said. "a month or two ago, actually, they discovered a near neighbor to Kick 'em Jenny. i guess we could use that as the name, instead."
"that's fine. what's the new name?" he asked, taking the bait.
"Kick 'em Jack."
then the CEO got involved in the conversation, suggested we come back to it later but that the name would probably have to change to something "presentable", and we moved on. except the feature bundle never got out the door under any name, and the smaller ones to replace it fell flat, and the project progressively fell apart until the company was bought by a competitor. i can't prove a relationship, of course; just sayin'.

i don't really know what lesson to learn here other than "never give marketing any control or power". they don't know how to respect other interests and believe themselves to be more important than they are. keep someone with an engineering mindset overseeing all aspects of technical products.

Comment Re:Their source code is useless (Score 2, Interesting) 324

you're only looking at reputable players here. sure, BofA won't touch GS's code, for a host of very good reasons like those you describe. but for someone looking to game GS's system, being able to run the code is totally unimportant: just reading it could likely be enough to extract exploitable characteristics.

Comment Re:Non-story (Score 4, Interesting) 324

i have a somewhat-better-than-passing knowledge of how these systems work. i'm very unconvinced by your explanation.

you seem to be assuming the intent would be to out-compete Goldman by re-implementing this system, perhaps with some changes/optimizations. for that, sure, you'd need the rest of the environment. but a good understanding of the algorithm and implementation could be obtained without the rest of the environment (like i can read C# code and extract the algorithms without having the rest of the environment). that seems like it would be enough to game Goldman's system (which is a sizable part of the system overall).

note that i am not asserting that this is a catastrophe for Goldman, just that your explanation isn't convincing. i will, however, agree with a previous poster that Goldman's sudden absence from NYSE's 15 most active members, rather than being #1 as they had for a good while, is very suspicious.

Comment Re:Opinion (Score 1) 287

amazing. you give the answer and still totally miss it.

Mortgages were ALWAYS secularized... well, at LEAST since the 80s.

right, the early '80s, when we began a concerted effort to dismantle financial regulation that provided a very stable economy since the end of the Great Depression based on the ascendency of people with a religious devotion to simplistic Free Market ideas. the dismantling has been incremental, but began then and has continued (regardless of which party is in which seats) since.

greed doesn't drive progress, certainly not inherently and certainly not sustainably. i feel like i'm hearing '80s era "greed is good" rallying cries all over again. didn't we learn anything? greed drives short-term paper gains, but is not about production, and therefore not about sustainability or real growth. the dramatic unraveling we've seen over the last year of the greed-based paper gains over the preceding two decades or so has been amazingly illustrative.

Comment Re:Opinion (Score 1) 287

more confusion. mortgages are not financed by mortgage-backed securities, at least not until pretty late on. instead, those provided the drive (in the form of appeal to greed) to write more and more mortgages, regardless of risk.

also, who the customers are doesn't really matter. the fact is that deregulation allowed financial houses to do this more and more. everyone involved was participating in open market operations. the fact that enough of the mortgage-backed securities were not in the hands of central banks can be trivially observed by the scope of the fallout we've seen since late 2008.

the logic of your argument (aside from factual errors) is predicated on the idea that "free market" is an absolute: you either have a perfectly free market, or there's no blame to be aimed at free market principles. that's a cop-out, and, more importantly, is entirely useless in policy discussions for dealing with the current issues.

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