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Comment Re:Solving the problem by ignoring the results. (Score 1) 908

This may fall on deaf ears, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Just because one finds manually-computing equations difficult does not make one dumb.

I was a straight-A student in math right up to Algebra II, after which point my grades suffered -- I went on to get A's again in geometry, trig, and later stats but later again struggled with my advanced Calc classes and struggled terribly in Linear Algebra, to the point where I ended up leaving college after 3.5 years in a computer science program with a 3.0 GPA (only not a 4.0 because my math grades were mediocre at best)

I excelled in all my other courses, and ultimately found a satisfying career as a software developer despite my lack of a degree. I don't regret any of my years in school, but I don't doubt that it would have been an even more rewarding experience if it were possible to tailor the curriculum to my specific interests and talents.

For the most part my difficulties in math all stemmed from my inability to accurately do the algebra *quickly* -- it wasn't that I couldn't do it at all, and in fact I had many epiphanies in math classes while absorbing the concepts being presented -- especially in Linear Algebra -- some of which I find quite useful to this day. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm quite sure I could have done better in most, if not all of my math courses simply given twice as much time to complete my exams -- granted I had the motivation that I actually wanted to learn all that stuff. If I had wanted to become an actor or lawyer, for example, I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered to even try.

It's possible that I may have had a different experience all the way through if I had had a different Algebra II teacher (she wasn't bad, but I sometimes had a rough time following her methods) though I think it's more of a thing with the way my brain works.

Am I dumb? I don't think so. I'm a good visual designer, as well as a competent programmer in any language I need to use. I pick up human languages fairly easily, am a decent cook, and have a knack with most machines. I do my own electrical and plumbing work (to code), and am a passable carpenter, welder and machinist.

My personal experiences aside, it's possible to be a frigging *genius* in one field, and yet unable to find even basic competence in another. I'm sure there are many great composers and choreographers (for instance) considered by not only their peers, but by the world at large to be at the top of their professions, that can't solve complex equations. Does that make them dumb too?

You're also discounting social intelligence, and the myriad other forms of intelligence that humans (and some other animals) can possess.

Humans tend to specialize, and even "generalists" like myself are a kind of specialist in a way. The ability to just pick things up and learn practical things quickly is (in my opinion) a form of intelligence. Granted I may be biased, since I seem to have that one.

We (as a society) need to recognize each other's value: simply as fellow human beings, as well as the specific talents we each possess, particularly when they don't conform to the "curricula" that happen to be in vogue at any moment. The talents to care for the sick and elderly, dance exquisitely or counsel the mentally ill (for just a few examples) are all vitally needed -- and to simply label people who have those important skills "dumb" because they can't reach a particular watermark in an academic discipline that they may, or may not actually need, does them, as well as the world at large a huge disservice.

Comment Re:The description is a lie... (Score 1) 440

A UBI is not really "socialist" at all. In fact one of it's main proponents was one of the world's staunchest conservative capitalists, Milton Friedman:

I think it's an idea to PRESERVE capitalism, which is getting a bit frayed around the edges -- as automation increases (think 100 years from now, not 10) there will be less and less "work" available. The solution will have to be either full-on socialism/collectivism, or continuing the status quo, with something like a UBI added to the mix to ensure that the teeming billions have enough money to actually, you know, buy stuff, not only just to survive, but to keep the economy rolling. See? It's not "socialism" at all, it's actually self-interest. A UBI would amount to a few more (large-ish) crumbs off GDP -- and the current "power elites" get to keep their position and status for another few generations or so without having to live like mole-people in underground bunkers while the rest of us quickly starve in the hell-scape produced by an irrevocable economic collapse -- not that that is a certainty, but it's an ever increasing risk with the status quo.

A couple hundred thousand multi-millionaires and billionaires can't possibly ever spend enough money to keep anything like the current economic system going, even if you forget about the billions of pissed-off proles.

Also think about the projected population stabilization: the economic system we have is predicated on growth. What will happen when the population stops growing?

A UBI would function as a feedback mechanism, to prop up the existing system long enough for humanity to realize an actual (more or less) post-scarcity global society. Without it (or something like it, or a literal miracle) I don't think we'll make it there as a species.

As far as government-collected statistics go for a UBI -- sure, there'd probably be some, but I'd doubt it would be any different than it is now, since we have to file a 1040 with the IRS every year anyway -- and if the information gathering were too much for an individual's sensibilities, I'd hope they'd simply not cash the checks, or opt out of the system, or donate 100% of it to charities, or whatever.

In at least one sense, it may be that something like a UBI would result in LESS government surveillance/data collection, since if the UBI were unconditional, there'd be no need to "check up" on anyone, like has to be done now for welfare and SSI/disability in order to discourage fraud.

As far as the Social Security Administration, et. al., not wanting to shut down, what exactly would they do, once no one is paying into or receiving social security anymore? Their reason for existence would simply go away, and all the funds that supported that edifice would have to go toward the UBI.

I'm actually quite surprised that the strongly fiscally-conservative among us have not glommed onto Friedman's original idea like cats in a toy mouse factory. In one fell swoop, half of what they rail against could be eliminated: the inefficiencies inherent in the "welfare state". I guess it's because they have so little faith in the rest of humanity, and think that the UBI would be widely "abused", generating a large permanent "leecher" class. It seems to me that we already have that "class" of humans (across the entire economic spectrum, as it were) so really, what's the worst that could happen? I'm just optimistic enough to think that maybe we'll get to find out.

Comment Re:They don't need to be up there (Score 0) 135

You're correct that the i3-4330 is similarly priced, and it does outperform (but hardly trounces) the A10-7800 on the cpu side -- but it is still $50 more expensive, and intel motherboards run $20-$30 more -- so there's still a price premium, and idle power draw is very close. At the time I built my current setup, intel's prices on haswell were quite a bit higher than now -- I guess skylake brought down the haswell prices quite a bit...

Comment Re:They don't need to be up there (Score 5, Insightful) 135

This. The A10-7800 in my rig is as power-efficient (at idle) as a similarly spec'd intel i5 box would be, has superior on-die graphics (which admittedly, I barely use) and came in about $300 less for mITX mainboard, proc & memory. I could have paid $1000 or more extra for a high-end intel i7 workstation, which would have given me maybe 30% higher performance (at best), that for the most part I'd never notice. AMD wins as far as I'm concerned, and they should make some inroads in the server space with ZEN.

Comment Movies? (Score 1) 144

Who torrents movies anymore? Or music for that matter. Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services have pretty much solved that one. I suspect that most of the people torrenting movies are either young kids that do it for the lulz, or people who can't afford $20/month to rent DVDs from Netflix, in which case they wouldn't be a customer anyway. If the studios were smart, they'd launch a PR campaign saying how they're not going to prosecute anyone anymore for sharing, generating goodwill and (re)capture some movie theater ticket sales, and then put their entire "loss-prevention" budget into discovering people actually profiting from selling burned blu-rays.

Comment Used Nissan Leaf -- good buy? (Score 1) 111

I've seen reference to this before, that the used market for the Leaf is a buyer's market, because they depreciate much faster than their gasoline-powered brethren; at least that's one way to look at it. I guess the tech-advancement from year-to-year at least partly explains the high depreciation -- but for someone that may be in the market (in the next few years) for a used Leaf, it looks like a boon for me, at least if the current trend holds. As a second car that gets used for a 15 mile (third shift, i.e. the car sits in the driveway all day when the sun is shining) daily commute and occasional shopping trips, combined with a (soon to be installed) on-site solar PV system, a used leaf is looking very attractive, even if it only has a 50-60 mile range, as we also have a gas-powered car for longer trips.

I wonder if other people who work 2nd or 3rd shift have had similar thoughts?

Submission + - An EPIC View of the Moon in Earth's Orbital Embrace (

astroengine writes: As a suitably impressive follow-up to the new “blue marble” image of our world released in July, today NASA shared a gorgeous animation created from pictures captured by NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft positioned nearly a million miles (1.5 million km) away — over four times farther than the moon. In a series of images acquired between 3:50 and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2015, the moon can be seen passing in front of a rotating Earth, the warm gray face of its far side framed by the swirling-cloud-covered blue water of the eastern Pacific Ocean. The north pole is at the 11 o’clock position, illustrating our planet’s 23.5-degree axial tilt.

Comment DIY (Score 1) 73

I use a similar solution (formerly using sipdroid) with a free Google Voice number (there are other free or almost free providers too) -- calling is now built into hangouts -- though it's buggy, it does work, and you can have your google voice number forwarded to your mobile number for when you're not connected to wifi.

It's a clunky solution, but works well enough for me, since I still do 90% of my voice calling on a landline...

Comment Re:Games versus reality (Score 1) 393

Same here, though I don't have kids, and won't ever have kids, though I do have siblings with kids... so the same concept holds -- though poverty is not the only cause of suffering -- I'd imagine there are plenty of "well off" people who live with suffering of some sort, perhaps not so much physical suffering, but suffering nonetheless. So leaving one's kids a large inheritance is hardly a guarantee of them not suffering. I've heard too many horror stories of siblings fighting bitterly over inheritance... which I'm sure causes suffering. Anxiety and fear of losing one's worldly possessions is a form of suffering.

Something like a universal basic income would likely solve the most egregious physical suffering for most that simply lack basic survival necessities, and an actual functioning public mental health system would take care of most who wouldn't benefit from just a basic income.

The other kinds of suffering can only be eliminated by good friends, more advanced medicine, therapy, and personal philosophy or spirituality.

Comment Re:Games versus reality (Score 0) 393

Much of the time when I see a homeless person, I think "There but for the grace of God, go I." -- I can imagine any number of poor choices I could have made earlier in life, or perhaps even just bad luck, that could have led me to a similar situation. It's seldom that I am able to "help" such an individual, though I try make a point of acknowledging them as a fellow human, like I would do with any other person, with a nod, or a smile. Interesting twist of irony: smiling at most homeless people will get you a "Hi" or a smile back, whereas nodding or smiling at random people on the street will often (but not always) get you a glare and a wide berth, I guess some would say that's as it should be.

There's really only a thin veneer separating the homeless from about half of the US population. In fact, I'm sure that there are a lot of people that while having a place to live, are actually worse off than some who are homeless, wintertime in northern climates wholly excepted of course.

So anyway, basically, I agree with you, and what you're doing, though lack the temperament to employ your methods myself -- though I do strive to "consume" as little as possible, just on principle. I've been called "unamerican" (whatever that means, can you be "uncanadian" or "unswedish") for this philosophy, though not by many fellow "yankees" here in rural New England, some of whom still practice the art of frugality for it's own sake.

Americans, on the whole, however, are too willing to say "Those people are just lazy." or "Those people are mentally ill." And while I'm sure those descriptions fit, for some percentage of humans (not just the homeless) more often than not, it seems to me that those two statements are essentially regurgitation of propaganda; platitudes to make us feel less ashamed that we live in a society with so little regard for our brothers and sisters, especially in a supposedly "christian nation", that we allow some of them to languish in the streets, to the detriment of the communities they inhabit, out of some bizarre philosophy that to "give handouts" to them would somehow harm our society. It really is the most twisted logic: damage the culture in order to save it.

Salt Lake City has a program where they're simply providing housing for their homeless population. So far, it's a resounding success, though I'm sure the program isn't perfect (what is?). The city is actually *saving money* since the load on social workers, emergency services and law enforcement is lower. San Fransisco has a similar program, but it hasn't worked as well there, probably for a whole host of reasons.

It seems to me that homelessness is just the tip of the iceberg of America's social ills, a glaring symptom of a root cause that very few are willing to face: monstrous greed produced by a highly-infectious "mental illness", the carriers of which are "neo-liberal" economists and policy makers, convincing us that all we have to do is keep buying shit and working at our jobs that we hate and All Will Be Well, while most of the the imaginary wealth is transferred to a ever smaller sector of the population, as it has done for the better part of a century. It seems they've even deluded themselves into thinking that this can continue indefinitely, by hand-waving away the mathematical absurdities that result if one actually looks at the reality.

I'm not surprised that SimCity has a "virtual homelessness" problem, since the simulation models are probably as absurd as the models used in the real world -- though it has an excuse, it's just supposed to be a fun game, where the outcome doesn't cause real suffering and death for those on the losing side.

Comment Human Rights and Equality (Score 1) 352

1. Universal human rights, including access to clean water and food, or at least arable land and the means to grow food crops.
2. Universal and complete economic and social human equality.
3. Ending (at least virtually) all sickness and disease.
4. Non fossil-fuel-based energy technology.

Once we lick all that we can go out to the other planets and beyond. There would be nothing left to stop us.

Submission + - Hints of Life's Start Found in a Giant Virus (

An anonymous reader writes: In the world of microbes, viruses are small — notoriously small. Pithovirus is not. The largest virus ever discovered, pithovirus is more massive than even some bacteria. Most viruses copy themselves by hijacking their host’s molecular machinery. But pithovirus is much more independent, possessing some replication machinery of its own. Pithovirus’s relatively large number of genes also differentiated it from other viruses, which are often genetically simple — the smallest have a mere four genes. Pithovirus has around 500 genes, and some are used for complex tasks such as making proteins and repairing and replicating DNA. “It was so different from what we were taught about viruses,” Abergel said.

The stunning find, first revealed in March, isn’t just expanding scientists’ notions of what a virus can be. It is reframing the debate over the origins of life.

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