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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Akili Re:Fallacy (937 comments)

As an American agnostic atheist, I agree with what you said. I like to be mostly right about things, and science is all about reliable knowledge. I may not always be right, but if I'm properly applying the scientific methods to things I want to understand, I'm going to end up being right more often than wrong.

There are things we do not yet know, because our understanding of Everything is incomplete. It is not a cheat or a cop-out when asked 'Is there a God?" to say "I don't know." Admitting to ignorance is important! Only when we admit we don't know something will we try to study or explain it. I'm reasonably sure that leprechauns, unicorns, the Easter Bunny and Russell's Teapot don't exist, but how can I know for sure that they do not? I can't, but until they're proven, I don't behave as though they exist. It's always the burden of the claimant to provide proof.

I've had a lot of discussions with friends who follow a faith, and I've learned that Atheist is sort of a loaded word, at least in America. In trying to reconcile this I discovered that there exist the classifications of 'strong atheists' and 'weak atheists'. The strong variety claim firm knowledge, I.E, there is no God. The weak variety, like myself, say there is no definitive evidence to prove or disprove, but as most positions require proof to accept, I'll simply act as though there is not until satisfactorily demonstrated otherwise.

To my point of view, the strong Atheist statement: 'I affirm there is no God' is, itself, a statement of faith. Proving a negative is really darned hard, and I doubt anyone making that claim has done sufficient work to accomplish that. These individuals might be anti-God, but they're not anti-faith, because they're claiming sourceless, unverifiable knowledge. Y'know, faith.

I accept evidence-based faith, where I hold as reliable due to past history and experience that I will see the sun tomorrow, and that my close friends aren't going to assault me unprovoked one day, knowing even as I say it that I could be wrong. But pure faith, accepting as true something that cannot be tested, or verified, and could be (and if there really is one correct faith, that suggests all the wrong ones were) made up? Nope, that I reject. It too easily leads to being wrong.

I generally refer to myself as an agnostic, since the general public understanding of those I talk to seems to mesh with my point of view which I'm trying to explain to them. If I use the word 'atheist', especially among people of faith, they seem to parse it as 'strong atheist', which only leads to an even longer discussion.

about a month and a half ago
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Sad Day In FarmVille: Facebook's New Game Developer Program

Akili Re:headline (52 comments)

How weird. It's like someone mentioned Candle Jack in this thre

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers?

Akili A Good Place To Start (468 comments)

If you haven't come across this already, this is a good place to start: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/print/9137708/Opinion_The_unspoken_truth_about_managing_geeks?taxonomyName=Management&taxonomyId=14

As an IT worker myself, one of the most difficult things I struggle with is the frequent lack of acknowledgement and respect. I don't mean simple 'thanks for helping me' responses - although those do count, and workplaces where all employees belittle IT will experience a lot of IT turnover - but for the big things. When we break out all the stops to achieve some huge project, or put in extra unpaid time - we're often salaried, after all - to help someone, the reward is sometimes to have expectations raised, rather than to understand that was an exceptional effort. That discourages us from trying so hard next time.

It's difficult for management to understand what we do, and what they don't understand, they sometimes don't respect. Bonuses are nice, as is comp time. But I really just want to keep things working, and it is distinctly aggravating when I can't prevent a recurring problem because it requires changing the behavior of someone superior to me that doesn't care to make a change, as I'll always be there to clean up their mess. In some cases, it feels like not bothering to install toilets in a restroom because that's what the janitor is for.

All of that said, when it comes to weeding out those that aren't contributing anything... some sort of tracking system is essential, for techs to keep tabs on what they've done. They'll rightfully treat it with skepticism if such a system comes from On High, as the plausible reasoning is to find out how much they can shrink the department. But when brought in with the cooperation of the staff and their immediate management, it can be trusted more. It's also a tool to demonstrate to upper management just how much work we ARE doing, and to justify extra manpower. Simply saying that you need an extra hand often goes nowhere, since IT is frequently seen as a money pit.

And, of course, listen to the techs, the experienced ones in particular. They're the ones that can feel that a piece of software isn't working properly, or that a piece of infrastructure is not up to the task. You don't need to do what they're talking about, but consider their opinion. They're here to understand, fix, and instruct people in how to use technology. Knowing that they're being heard, and seeing visible changes in response to that feedback, does a lot to make a tech feel valued.

about 2 years ago
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80% Improvement In Solar Cell Efficiency

Akili Fantastic! (204 comments)

Wonderful! Amazing! ...Just like the other half-dozen or so solar cell improvements I've read about over the past few years.
But unless we can actually BUY these upgraded units soon, I'd like to add one more appropriate adjective: Pointless.
(Okay, maybe not entirely pointless. But that's what it feels like when all of these more-efficient panels never seem to show up anywhere.)

more than 3 years ago
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How has your opinion on the safety of nuclear power changed after the events in Japan?

Akili Re:Seems just as safe as ever... (1148 comments)

I own a 2010 (3rd generation) Prius, and the A/C unit is electric, powered off of the traction battery. So if your main battery is too low, the engine will turn on to recharge the battery, which will then run the A/C... but there is no engine belt connecting the A/C unit to the gasoline engine itself. Also, when the car is in ECO mode, it cuts the power usage of the A/C by about 20% (according to the provided specifications). I don't have the gear to evaluate that percentage myself, but there is a noticeable change in the temperature of the cool air from the vents when I take the car off of that mode. The defroster is also all electric, although it seems to have a higher energy draw.

more than 3 years ago
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How Office Depot Pushes Service Plans On Customers

Akili Re:A former employee (417 comments)

About a decade ago I worked for Staples, in their business center.

I witnessed, firsthand, a 'model' employee taking a printer out of a customer's cart when the customer revealed that they weren't going to buy the money pit of an extended warranty plan! Subsequently telling that same customer that the entire wall of boxed printers was on hold for 'a school' was the icing on that particular cake.

Our store had the best rankings in the district because 'we' flat-out refused to let warranty-able items go out the door without a warranty being purchased. While the official store policy was never to use those sorts of tactics, there was a sheet that was distributed to each store in a given district, posted prominently in the break room, ranking each store by how well they did selling those warranty plans, and the best store got awards and the like. Kind of a we don't condone this behavior, but if it gets results, we'll pretend not to notice arrangement, it seemed.

I got in some hot water for not pushing those warranties - I sold perhaps one a month, usually because the customer wanted it - but I had other good employee qualities that they apparently decided were worth keeping me for.

Anyway. I have no idea if they still do such a thing, but it's not a new idea.

more than 5 years ago

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