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Comment But it just *feels* plausible. (Score 1) 415

Not to say that there's any sort of scientific or evidence-based reason to believe the simulation theory, but really, who among us can't envision the following scenario:

GM: welcome all, I hope you enjoy playing in this universe I've created. I've been working on it for the last 14 billion years, and I think it's pretty awesome. Now, I've provided you all with the complete set of rules for this universe, but it can get complicated at times, and I'm sure you haven't read through all of them and that's fine. {chuckle}. So, Bob, what character class will you be rolling tonight?

Bob: Scientist.

GM: Really? You don't want to play something more interesting, like maybe Prophet, Eccentric Billionaire, World Leader, maybe we could even make up some sort of weird hybrid class?

Bob: Scientist.

GM: OK, well whatever floats your boat. Now, what's your character doing?

Bob: shining a laser through two slits and looking at the pattern the light makes behind them.

GM: Uhhhhh.... OK, you see the interference pattern that the light waves make.

Bob: Really? I do? Because I remember reading in your rule book about how "light" in your universe is conveyed by these "photon" particles. Wanna explain how these particles are making interference patterns?

GM: {sigh} Fuck you Bob. I'm just trying to run a fun game here. Why do you have to bring your rules-lawyering BS to every damn session? I mean, seriously you guys are no fun. Whatever. I'm retconning everything so that light is now a wavicle that's a wave until you look at it, when it becomes a particle. Happy now?

Bob: OK. My character is now going to invent a new branch of scientific research to study the underlying forces of the universe.

GM: This is gonna suck. I mean really, my last group was *so* much more fun. I could just plop down some burning shrubbery and have it tell them things and they'd be all like "sure, that's cool." and run with it. I don't even know why I game with you anymore. So sure, let's go right ahead, but I'm warning you, I'm starting to think that everything in this universe is based on what I'm calling "string theory" and it's 100% untestable. So suck it.

Comment Re:None (Score 1) 174

I said '1' because of IRC. I can't imagine that it *wouldn't* be considered an instant messaging platform.

Unless when you say 'instant messaging' you only mean things on a smartphone. In which case my answer should probably be '2', since my phone has SMS, and e-mails to me are pretty much instant. Technically I *could* use IRC on my phone, and I have done it, but it's not ideal.

Comment Re:900 is 90 times hotter than Earth? (Score 2) 156

One of the (smaller) reasons I dropped out of the ChemE degree I was pursuing was because one day in one of my classes, there was a number written on the board. We asked the prof what it was, and his reply was "That's the ideal gas constant, R. I wrote it there because we'll be using it today". We looked at him funny and said "No it's not. We use R all the time, and it's not that". "Well.... yes it is, but this is the value of R in the units atmosphere gallons per lbmol rankine."

While I appreciate the value of being metrically multilingual, for some reason that just seems horribly *wrong*.

Comment nitpicking inaccurate title (Score 1) 237

That's cool and all, but they are *not* pledging to end all greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is a greenhouse gas, and if they have a plan to make everyone in the country stop farting, I'd love to hear it (also, on a more realistic note, livestock too) Same goes for CO2, unless they're pledging to hold their breath until the planet cools down. What they're actually pledging to to stop using fossil fuels for energy, which will necessarily lead to a decrease in net CO2 emissions, but is distinctly separate from ending all greenhouse gas emissions.

Comment Not doubting the polling (Score 1) 333

Not doubting the polling, but my experience is very different. I don't know anyone who's donated *anything* to alternative energy research (though, to be fair, I don't know of anyone who's donated to fossil fuel expansion either). And I couldn't get 50% of my HOA to *permit me* to install solar (I live in a state without solar access laws).

So I think a more accurate assessment is that two thirds of americans want *other people* to use alternative energy *somewhere else*. Just like there's strong support for other people to use public transportation so they won't clog up their daily commute.

Comment Really hope they're easy to ship (Score 1) 428

If they're so easy to ship, why does his company say "sorry, we don't operate in your zip code"? Well, that's a shame... could you, I don't know, maybe *ship some to me*? It's not like I live in Siberia, I'm a 10 minute drive from one of the larger cities in the US.

I'm already sold on the whole concept, I just really want them to let me buy their product.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 1) 917

I may be an engineer, but I'm far more old-and-crusty than fresh. :) I'm not saying this would be easy, or even possible, to change in any sort of rapid form, but I think it's worthwhile to try and think about what sort of end states might be stable and what sort of effects radical changes might have. And I think that the most important thing to accept when thinking about this is that the economy is a system in dynamic equilibrium. If you try and hold everything constant and make just one change, you will fail. In this case, however you implement it, a UBI *will* make wages go down and taxes go up, and if you don't build that into the system the system will do it for you (for example, you could fund a UBI by just printing the money for it, which would fuel rampant inflation which would be similar to a 'tax' on every dollar by making each dollar worth less, meaning lower wages and higher taxes, effectively)

And even if it never ever happens, at the very worst, maybe the theoretical economy we're talking about can be used by some sci-fi writer to make a more interesting universe for a cool story, so that's something...

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 2) 917

You're looking at it from an insufficiently revolutionary perspective. Sure, if we leave almost everything the same but try and implement a UBI, it'll be a colossal failure. But if we were to implement a UBI in a way that changes everything drastically, there might be a stable way to do it.

Look at it this way: If you tell businesses that the minimum wage is now $0, and they now have a %50 tax on revenue (not profit, revenue), and that they should take into account both that new tax and the fact that all US citizens will be getting $25k/year when figuring out how they adjust their wages/salaries... sure I just pulled these numbers out of my butt and I'm not at all sure if they'd work, but that's the kind of radical shift in thinking that'd have to happen for a UBI to *be* practical. And maybe there's no combination of numbers that'd make that work, or maybe there are numbers where that'd work, but there's no path from where we are now to get to a stable UBI-based economic system, or maybe there is a path that'd work, but there'd be so much resistance that it's impossible, or maybe there aren't numbers that'd work today, but someday there will be.

But you're right that implementing UBI without simultaneously changing almost everything else would never work. But I think it's worth thinking about how everything *could* be changed in a way that *would* make it work.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 5, Insightful) 917

You incentivise productivity the same way you always have, by paying for it. The UBI just moves the incentive from "I have to do this or I'll die" to "I can do this and make a better life for myself and my family".

I'm generally a pretty conservative/libertarian sort of person, and as such UBI makes me more than a little uncomfortable, but I definitely think it's worth thinking about, and disussing amongst people who won't react to it based on knee-jerk predispositions. And at some point, I think it may well become preferable to the alternatives. What kind of changes (both positive and negative) would we see if we used a UBI to completely replace welfare, SNAP, social security, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and the minimum wage? It's hard to know, but from a basic trade-off standpoint, would the amount of people who decide that living on a UBI is enough for them and permanently slack off balance the amount of people who are afraid that if they get a job, their government checks will stop (whether or not that's a valid fear)? Would the economy find a new equilibrium where every job that Mike Rowe has showcased would suddenly become significantly higher-paying (and much more effort would go into automation for those jobs) because no one *wants* to do them, and people pre-UBI are only willing to if they have no other choices but starvation?

And how would people abuse this system? If everyone has a guaranteed income for life, will people take advantage of the UBI-only "poor" by giving them loans that eat up their entire UBI and leave them just as broke as before? (The answer to that is yes, they will, so the real question is more like "so how do we prevent that from happening?")

In the US, I've heard a lot of people talk about our "Puritan work ethic" that says that work is its own reward. I think a UBI would really put that to the test. If it's true (and I personally believe it is) then people will work, even for next to nothing, with a UBI to keep them afloat. Maybe we even get rid of some of the laws that were enacted to keep workers safe from abuse by their employers, because those laws presuppose that you *have* to work to survive and so if an employer is abusive you don't have the freedom to say "screw you, I quit." (Or the laws are based on the notion that work is a finite resource, so if I'm working 80 hours a week, I'm taking food out of the mouths of someone who *could* be working half of those hours)

All in all, I think it's a fascinating subject, and one that deserves a ton of thought. Unfortunately, it touches so many nerves and goes against so many deeply held beliefs that it's hard to have a conversation about it that doesn't quickly devolve into an ugly mess (see also: this whole slashdot post) And that's a shame.

Comment Re:Baffling (Score 1) 301

Generally, I'll stand by my assertion that masturbation and a loving relationship are different not just in degree and quality, but are categorically different. But for the sake of argument, let me make a small modification to your analogy: "I'm hungry, and you've taken away all of the Doritos and Mt. Dew". "Well, why don't you make your wife grill you a burger, even though she's made it very clear that she has no interest in cooking?"

Comment Baffling (Score 4, Funny) 301

"Just go out and meet someone"

First of all, I have a strong suspicion that "just going out and meeting someone" would be considered a far worse option by my wife than porn watching, just sayin'.

Second, even if I were single, there's no equivalence there. If I go out and meet someone... and by meet someone I mean find someone attractive and stare at them while publicly masturbating, as one might hypothetically do with porn, that's going to be A) probably unsatisfying for me B) almost certainly more than a little bit awkward for them, and C) illegal in most places.

Meeting people and romance and love and actual sex and all that fun stuff is great, but that's not what porn is about. It's like saying "I'm hungry, and you've taken away all the food." "Well, why don't you go out and buy a jacket?" Sure clothing and food fall in the same general category of "necessities", but that doesn't make them interchangeable.

Comment Re:More important... (Score 1) 203

I was about to say the same thing. This would be freaking *huge* if it could do that.

For a long time, what I've really wanted is for municipalities to place "yellow light" posts. Take the length of a yellow light, multiply it by the speed limit, and put up a post that distance before the far side of an intersection. That way, assuming you're going the speed limit, if the light turns yellow after you've passed the post, you know that you can maintain speed and clear the intersection before the light changes. But it might not work well, it'd be a change, and it'd cut down on the red-light-ticket revenue of the municipalities that would need to fund it, so it wouldn't ever happen.

But this could be *so much better!* Your car knows the speed you're driving at, your gps knows your approximate location (and in my experience, it's pretty accurate, though maybe not accurate enough for this application), and if this sort of feed could tell you about an upcoming yellow light change, that has *got* to be useful.

Of course, I know self-driving cars can see light changes, but I'm not sure how much of the self-driving hardware/software would be needed to implement this one feature. But I've got to think that it would be a general win for both safety *and* ticket-avoidance.

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