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Comment Re:The terrors of globalization (Score 1) 422

Sure globalization is great if you ignore the niggling minor problems
like pollution and exploitation of desperate workers.

I find it hard to call something "exploitation" when people are voluntarily
flocking to these allegedly horrible jobs. If they really felt exploited, they
could always go back to subsistence farming. The fact that they don't is
evidence that subsistence farming is worse than just about any "exploitative"
industrial job.

Also you would have to arbitrarily decide that dying from chronic
diseases from living older is better than dying younger from acute

Neither "you" nor I need to arbitrarily decide this at all. Clearly, when given
the choice, people choose the former. How many people let their children die of
an acute but preventable disease and say "well, at least she didn't have to
worry about dying of cancer at 90." I'm guessing the answer is "not many."

And of course since there is no objective way to measure quality of life
we'll just assume that people with the most stuff are the happiest.

The simplest thing to do is give people the option to choose what makes them the
happiest. Who are you or I to tell someone what their quality of life should be?

It validates the American lifestyle so Americans, at least, have to
approve to avoid cognitive dissonance. The best thing any government could do
would be to eliminate the formation of "for-profit" corporations.

You do realize that you are typing on a computer made by a for-profit company,
which is processing the characters using a CPU made by a for-profit company,
which are being sent over a network adapter (wired or wireless) made by a
for-profit company, over a network of networks operated (largely) by for-profit
companies, to a website owned and operated by a for-profit company (GKNT on
NASDAQ), which stores your comment on servers made by for-profit companies. They
certainly have their faults, but Moore's law is not driven by love or
solidarity, it's driven by companies relentlessly competing to steal each
other's consumers, benefiting all of us in the process.

Their "it's all about the profit" charters have made them a danger to the
planet. They have used globalization to avoid doing the right thing
environmentally and socially.

So modern medicine, housing, culture, food and plumbing are all "avoid[ing]
doing the right thing" socially? What on earth would the "right thing" be?

They have no conscience because no one in a corporation feels personally
responsible for the negative impacts of the company.

Is it really meaningful to say that anything other than an individual has a
"conscience?" Plus, why is having a conscience so seemingly critical for a
company? If a company consistently does things that people don't like, and there
are better alternatives, that company will go out of business. It happens all
the time, even for the giants.

As they say: "It's not personal, it's just business".

Of course, ripping people off and being a dick is bad, I think we can agree on
that. But to a large extent, this is a feature, not a bug. There is just no way
you could support the number of people there are if all interactions had to be
"personal." The human brain simply lacks the capacity to form personal
relationships with a few thousand people, let alone 7 billion (or whatever the
population is these days). Having to interact with strangers is simply a fact of
modern life that is inseparable from all of the other wondrous benefits it

Globalization is really a corporate phenomena that takes advantage of
foolish people who would rather chase what they want rather than what they

Again, who gets to decide what someone "needs?" I'd say, let the individual
decide what he or she needs. After all, that person is in the best position to
know what he or she needs or wants.

Comment Re:14% increase of $1/hr = $1.14/hr (Score 1) 422

Wow, a whole 14% increase in that per year?

14% a year is huge.

Agreed. That's practically unheard of, though they do have the advantage of starting from way behind, and countries in that situation can grow quickly during their catch-up phase.

My question is how do they control inflation with such fast rising wages?

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon -- Milton Friedman.

Comment Re:Doesn't matter anymore (Score 1) 535

It's no longer a free market when there are such huge returns on rent seeking from the government. If the government is granting particular companies or sectors of the economy (like housing) special favors, you are no longer in a Laissez Faire situation.

Everyone agrees that regulatory capture is bad, and if it is present, you no longer have a free market. Where a lot of people disagree is on what to do about it; either reduce the "regulatory" or reduce the "capture."

Comment Re:The Social Network Scenes (Score 1) 1200

except I'd be using vi instead of emacs.

Heresy! Repent your wicked ways, O vile blasphemer, lest you suffer the eternal wrath of Saint IGNUcius! And furthermore...

Ah, I can't do it anymore. Not only am I too young to have been involved in the Great Editor Wars, I'm just happy to see anyone using a text editor these days. Let us set aside our grievances, for both sides have lost many good men (and women) to the Great Editor Wars, and band together against the new threat: the demon known as the Integrated Devil Eternity (IDE)!

Comment Re:The Social Network Scenes (Score 1) 1200

I actually commented about this to my friend while watching it. Not only did they not use meaningless technobabble, but the KDE window decorations were authentic, the output from wget was exactly accurate, and Emacs actually looked like Emacs. All of the bits of code I saw looked real enough, and Perl would be exactly the thing one would have used then for more complicated web spidering (nowadays, it would probably be Perl, Python, or maybe Ruby).

Aside from getting the jargon correct, I was definitely impressed with the details down to the period-accurate GUI elements. I've just become so jaded to the ubiquitous "swirling, beeping, 3D computers" of most Hollywood stuff that something even remotely realistic (let alone dead-on, like Social Network) seems shocking.

Comment Re:ideology and smarts (Score 1) 395

austerity programs are exactly what government's *shouldnt* do when the economy sags

Well, if you're a Keynesian. Reasonable people disagree. Not that you're necessarily wrong; there are a lot of top economists who subscribe to a Keynesian view of economic downturns, it's just that there isn't anything approaching a consensus as to whether fiscal stimulus is a good course of action during a recession.

Every dollar they cut from a program is a dollar someone isn't going to be spending next year, so tax revenues will drop even further.

But if they also cut that dollar from taxes, then someone will have an extra dollar to spend on the private sector through consumption or savings, and whether that's better depends on your viewpoint (paradox of thrift vs inefficiency of government spending).

A government with any sense would establish a sustainable cost of operations, borrow money when times are bad, and pay off the loans when times are good.

Agreed, but what level that cost should be is subject to a lot of debate. Should it be 20% of GDP? 70%? 7? That's where much of the disagreement comes from. P.S. I agree that science spending is one of the last things you want to cut, especially when it's such a minuscule part of the federal budget as it is now.

Comment Re:Irrelevant .... (Score 1) 536

According to Wikipedia:

There is as yet no satisfactory scientific explanation as to why chlorophyll has evolved to "ignore" green and near-green light, which are a major part of the visible spectrum.

It could be that specific chemical properties of chlorophyll make it more expensive (in terms of the amount of energy required to produce each molecule) to synthesize green-absorbent light is greater than the marginal increase in energy produced. It could be that the current structure of chlorophyll is at a local maximum for efficiency, and that evolving an alternative molecule would require first using a much less-efficient molecule and then improving from there. Evolution and evolutionary processes are great at finding local maxima, but can completely miss higher maxima further away.

As far as "why green?" I imagine that if and when we know why chlorophyll ignores green light, the answer will be something like, "green-ignoring photosynthesizing pigments out-competed the other photosynthesizing pigments because of reason X, and alternative colored pigments are different enough from chlorophyll that photoautotrophs have not jumped to using those alternatives."

The answer to "why reason X?" likely has something to do with the difficulty of the organic systems at the time to produce pigments more efficient than chlorophyll relative to the energy return of the increased efficiency.

Ultimately, some of the "why" depends on the specific emission spectrum of sunlight received at ocean level on the Earth, which is determined by the size and composition of the Sun and the composition of the Earth's atmosphere. The "why" of that is because of the random scattering of interstellar dust which eventually became our solar system. I guess, if you really wanted, you could place some idea of a supernatural being or force there, saying,

god(s) arranged the chaotic interactions of interstellar dust such that one particular blob of dust formed into a G2V-class star with a black body temperature of 5777 K, then seeded one particular planet (through the tendency of certain elements to cluster around Earth as opposed to Mars or Venus, as well as bombardment by asteroids) with a mixture of elements such that a certain kind of organic life arose which evolved photoautotrophs which, because of the relative abundance of certain elements, the relative presence of various wavelengths of light at sea-level, the photosynthetic efficiency of different pigments, and the energy and cellular machinery required to produce said pigments, chlorophyll, which does not efficiently absorb green light, ended up becoming the dominating pigment used in photosynthesis. And that is how god(s) made the grass green.

In other words, a "god(s) of tweaking things at the margins," which doesn't exactly fill me with awe. Plus, given the sheer size of the universe, it's easy to believe that our planet and everything about it arose out of dumb luck. Essentially, a restatement of the weak (tautological) anthropic principle "conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist."

Comment Re:A Way To Get Around Regulations (Score 1) 529

The US has disclosure rules that protect investors in companies that have more than 500 investors. Goldman Sachs is creating a scheme where they are the singular investor, but then other investors buy into their shares of Facebook. This prevents Facebook from having to disclose certain information that is considered critical in deciding to invest in a company or not, and allows them to sell shares without informing the public about what they're buying.

Far be it from me to defend GS, but why do these investors need protecting in the first place? How about if a company has shady financials, looks to be a bubble (100x price/earnings!?), and isn't showing you all of their information, you DON'T INVEST IN THEM? If you think that they are way overvalued and will become the next MySpace, don't give them your money. Nobody is forcing you to do so.

I can sort of understand a certain amount of safety regulation for boring old deposit banks, people need a place to put their money without having to be part-time financial auditors, but if you don't think an investment in Facebook will pay off, then don't make one.

Comment Re:We should remember this next time (Score 3, Informative) 529

...and note that the debt to GDP ratio of the PIIGS are *better* that of the USA. Compared to the PIIGS, the USA is a mismanaged banana republic.

This seemed fishy to me when I first saw it, and it turns out that this is way off. According to the 2010 stats of the CIA World Factbook, the US has the 36th highest (public) debt to GDP ratio at 58.90%. Here are the countries of PIIGS compared to the US:

  • Portugal, 15th, 83.20%
  • Italy, 8th 118.10%
  • Ireland, 11th 98.50%
  • Greece, 5th 144.00%
  • Spain, 27th 63.40%

And, because it was referenced earlier,

  • Iceland, 6th, 123.80%

So, rather than being worse than the PIIGS countries, the US has a lower public debt to GDP ratio than any of them, and, with the exception of Spain, is vastly lower. Also, note that the US's debt to GDP is lower than that of the UK (76.50%), France (83.50%), or Germany (74.80%). Now, that's not to say that this level of public debt is good, or that it shouldn't be lowered (it isn't and it should), but in terms of debt to GDP, the US is better off than most of the large European economies.

Comment Re:Have two forms of flying, safe and unsafe. (Score 1) 1135

That said, an "absolutely no screening" line really is a horrendously stupid idea. Why WOULDN'T they attack it?

Because there are only a few terrorists in the world? Because they're mostly stupid and poorly organized?

I would definitely fly the "absolutely no screening" line, especially after the massive discounts they would likely give out if (in the extremely unlikely event) another attack did occur.

Comment Re:This is stupid (Score 1) 1135

It's easy to say it's a flawed system. What isn't easy is to create a system that isn't flawed.

How about we use the same system that we use for our commuter trains, i.e. nothing? Maybe a few bomb-sniffing dogs wandering around and a metal detector (or a non-functional metal-detector-looking box, for some theater)? How many more people would die from terrorist attacks? Probably fewer than die every day in car crashes. Terrorism just isn't a big deal.

Comment Re:Terrorism is EXTREMELY RARE (Score 1) 1135

And what do you suppose happens when the people we put in charge of public safety say "terrorism is extremely rare" to explain why they did nothing to stop an attack just like the ones that already happened.

If we lived in a country of grown-ups? The TSA would say, "eh, shit happens," and everyone would go about their business, just like we do every day when a few people die somewhere in a car crash.

Comment Re:Not really amazing... (Score 1) 206

I like and agree with the bulk of your post, but took issue to this part:

That's where evolution kicks in, people born in different generations have different ways of interacting and thinking. Some are behind their times while others are ahead which I see as a normal mutation, if you will, that can be a succesful one or a failing one.

That's not an example of evolution at work; no meaningful differences are expected between one or two generations. That is much more an example of social and cultural norms learned early in life remaining relatively static later into life. As the social or cultural norm changes, the next generation learns a slightly different set of norms. No meaningful genetic difference exists between that small a number of generations.

Differences attributable to evolution would only become apparent in a larger population over the course of tens, hundreds, or thousands of generations.

Otherwise, I really like your post.

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