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Comment Re:The Great Filter (Score 1) 333

Most races that encounter more advanced races benefit (depending how you measure benefit). Sure there is the initial period of contact during which exploitation and and violent conflict are particularly likely, but long run, it is at least arguable that most people descended from more primitive cultures that encountered more advanced cultures are better off today (measured in purely material terms) as a result of it.

Comment Re: As painful as it is... (Score 1) 552

You make a fair point, but there is--I think--a difference between the subjective affection we have for someone we love, which causes us to want to treat them well, and the objective value that ethics demands we extend to individuals.
It may be perfectly natural for me not to give anything to people in another country (because I don't care about them the way I care about my family), but that natural disparity in my affection for my fellow countrymen and for the foreigners doesn't mean that if we go to war I can commit war crimes against the people of that country.
The objective value imposed by ethics should be operative and overriding when making decisions about who lives and dies, because these choices are not just personal choices that primarily affect the person making the decision. If I ever desperately need medical attention and the doctor in triage has to choose who to treat and who to let die, I hope he has a more meaningful standard than whom he personally happens to like more.
And just to be clear, the criticism shouldn't be taken to say that I think it would have been wrong to perform the brain surgery even at risk to the child's life. It was simply the GGP's glib resolution of the question entirely in terms of the family members' affections (not even of the mother's!), as though those alone were were the only consideration and were of themselves sufficient to justify the conclusion.

Comment Re: As painful as it is... (Score 1) 552

I'd rather have the woman I'd known and loved for time, than a fetus I'd not met and hadn't even processed the atmosphere yetæ.now, he's stuck with a vegetable for a wife, and raising a kid on his own.

So the value of a human life is determined by your attachment the person? OR your enjoyment of the person? That seems like both an arbitrary and egotistical standard.

Why didn't they dump the kid and save her for God's sake??? . . . Why was this such a hard choice to me? [sic] Seems a no brainer to me (no pun intended).

For one thing, the neurologists didn't seem to think such a tragedy was likely.
But more to the point, your comment (and GP's) seem to imply that the mother wasn't (or shouldn't have been) the one making the decision, but that she either was or ought to have been entirely passive in this process.
So going back to the first point, maybe she was willing to risk her health to make sure her child could grow up.

Comment Re: Pretty obvious (Score 1) 166

"once no one can tell it's a whole other ball game - at which time, yeah, a lot of people could hold a conversation and be browsing the web at the same time and no one would know it. Most humans are decent at jockeying a screen and a person simultaneously - think of driving, where one can easily hold a conversation with someone in the passenger seat but be mainly paying attention to the view in front of them and operating the vehicle."
I don't think this is true. Most people suck at it. Reading directly competes with listening. Most people just can't do both at once, without failing to grasp on one of the two.
There are lots of activities we can do quite well while talking (e.g., dribbling a basketball, or keeping our car between the lines on the road), but reading isn't one of them.
Some people might be quite good at selective listening (semi-consciously giving feedback at what seem like appropriate times, or listening for key inflections or keywords that indicate the conversation requires full attention). They might be good at judging when the coming few seconds of conversation are predictable, so they can glance away for a second to read a text message without interrupting the conversation. Or they might be good at mentally recording the sounds in a sort of audio buffer while they move their attention to something else for a couple seconds before returning to listen to the buffered audio and rejoin the conversation.
But tying to hold a conversation with someone who is trying to read (continuously, like in browsing the web) through the conversation is impossible.

Comment Re:Crowdfunding? (Score 1) 280

I think the point was that this is a for-profit enterprise asking for donation. If they were organized as a non-profit seeking to provide the world with clean cheap energy, and planning to sell the final product at-cost, or even release the full schematics to the public domain, then it would be a lot easier to make a donation. (BTW, this doesn't mean people couldn't make good money in the process; employees at a non-profit can still draw substantial salaries.)
But presumably (I could be wrong), if this works and they produce a shippable product, it will be sold at the highest price the market will bear and the people asking for donations will become fabulously rich in the process.
It might be short-sighted, but there is still a real dissonance in giving money to a for-profit, even when that for-profit is doing something you consider worthwhile. Imagine a for-profit in any other line (education, medical treatment, medical R&D, feeding the poor etc.), would you be willing to donate to them? Do you donate to the University of Phoenix? Do you donate to Pfizer?

Comment Re:TFM (Score 1) 352

how? the spelling is horrific, the grammar atrocious, and the logic faulty. who doesn't like programming advice who can't program natural language.

You should cut them a little slack; most natural language interpreters will parse anything by aggressively guessing how to correct typos and syntax errors (unless they support the -W or --pedantic flags). It makes it damned hard to debug.

Comment Re:How can the situation be improved? (Score 1) 513

In fact their pricing and services are so similar I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that there isn't some form of collusion going on.

I'm not a fanboi of the telcos, but this just isn't fair. Of course their prices are comparable and move together; it would be utter incompetence if that weren't the case, and no, that is not an indication of collusion. A basic part of being a viable business is tracking your direct competitors' prices to make sure your product is competitive. Do you accuse your local gas stations of collusion if their gas prices are always with 5 cents of each other? How long would any business remain in business if it ignored that fact that its competitors were significantly undercutting them on a directly comparable product in the same market?

Comment Re:No (Score 2) 126

This reminds me of a story I heard once (maybe it was from a movie, or an XKCD, can't track it down right now), in which a pair of guys meet a random girl:

Guy 1: think of a card . . .
Girl: okay
Guy 1: your card is eight of hearts
Girl: no it's 3 of diamonds
Guy 2: Why did you think you knew her card?
Guy 1: I didn't, but I figure I have about a 2% chance of guessing it, and if I do this to everyone I meet then when I do get it right the reaction will be worth all the times I got it wrong.

Comment Re:Decimated (Score 2) 365

Look the word up in practically any modern dictionary ... while your 1/10th definition will probably be there, it will probably have an (archaic) or (obsolete) qualifier on it.

OED lists 4 definition of the verb. All four explicitly have to do with removing 1 in 10. Two of these four are marked "obs."
The last of the four has as second meaning (b) attached marked as "rhetorically or loosely"; only that is not explictly in reference to 1 in ten.

Comment Re:Missing Option : It already is (Score 1) 317

By that logic you actually need something closer to a 500 years ago option, as that is roughly when movable type was invented. Or better yet a "Sometime BC" option as that is when writing was invented. It's not for nothing that in-person instruction has survived many many technological advances that make prerecorded ideas cheaper and easier. Hell even Plato recognized the irreplaceability of being instructed by a living person who understands what he is teaching:

I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves. . . . . Then [the one with understanding] will not seriously incline to "write" his thoughts "in water" with pen and ink, sowing words which can neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others?

Comment Re:Expected it to suck, and it did (Score 1) 788

But the debt is really just a savings account provided by the federal government for people who don't want to spend their money right now. It is rather unfortunate that terms like "debt" are used at all in that context, since they just confuse what is really going on.

MMTers are crackpots.
They can only claim that private savings is equal to the government deficit by redefining 'savings' as 'net savings' which means 'savings less investments', i.e., 'savings that is held in government debt' which of course it a trivial tautology: Obviously the private sector can't acquire a net position in government debt unless the government runs a net deficit.
Did US households have lose their savings when Clinton was running a surplus? Yes, but only if 'savings' means 'government debt'.

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