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Comments

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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

danaris Re:Timing and Assumptions (652 comments)

By 2035, Americans won't have a 2010 American standard of living. There will be a reality check in the coming decades that America must have more real industry and that internet business and entertainment are not going to keep us in a dominant position in the world forever. The whole world doesn't need to come up to the 2010 American standard of living to mess up the balance, it will be enough of a disaster if even a large percentage of China and India elevate to that level. American diet and hunger for an endless supply of cheap disposable consumer crap is not sustainable on a global scale. Products need to become more expensive in the U.S. and the useful life of the things we buy must increase.

That...is also pretty well completely true. I'm not sure I completely agree with your conclusion (stated in the first sentence), but the argument you make is one I've made myself on numerous occasions.

But while, in the short run, the loss of China and India as endless sources of dirt-cheap consumer goods will be deeply disruptive to the American economy, and cause quite a lot of pain, in the long run, I believe it will be a very good thing. Once we can no longer hide the true cost of the things we consume, the Walmarts of the world will no longer be able to run everybody else out of business nearly as easily.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

danaris Re:Timing and Assumptions (652 comments)

That there is enough solar energy in the "sunniest places worldwide" to power current usage speaks nothing of its feasibility of physical/technological possibility. People will tell you we can build a space elevator as well; it doesn't mean we got space travel on lock-down.

It is feasible with current technology to supply all the energy needs of a modern house in Upstate NY—hardly one of the "sunniest places worldwide"—with solar panels on the roof of the house. I know this, because I personally know people doing it. Granted, they're currently using the grid as a "battery," rather than actually doing local energy storage, but when averaged over a year, they are net producers of energy.

If this can be done in Upstate NY—just a few hours' drive from the Canadian border—then I posit that it can be done in the vast majority of the inhabited world. That's not to say that I think we should rely solely on solar power for the entire world's energy generation needs—wind, hydro, and some other renewables should be in the mix, as well—but it does mean that any suggestion that solar is only feasible in the "sunniest places worldwide" needs to present some kind of very compelling evidence that what I'm seeing here is a fluke.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

danaris Re:Timing and Assumptions (652 comments)

Presumably if the rest of the world gets a similar standard of living then they will have similar views on family size and birthrate will drop.

The single greatest predictor of this, as I understand it, is education level of the mother. So yes, if we manage to raise the standard of living in the rest of the world to something comparable to what we enjoy in what we term "the developed world" today, there is a very high probability that the average worldwide birthrate will also look very much like the birthrate in the current developed world.

But, in all fairness, that doesn't solve the problem in any immediate sense. It just means that we won't be increasingly overpopulating our planet in the future.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

danaris Re:Timing and Assumptions (652 comments)

I think the idea that by 2035, we should expect every country in the world to have a comparable standard of living to America today is nothing short of laughable.

Western Europe is already there. Japan is mostly there. China is getting there. Russia, not so much.

Right, so that's, what, about 1/2 the world's population you just listed? (Off the top of my head.) And with the largest country in the world and the most populated country in the world either "getting there" or "not so much getting there."

"Every country in the world" includes all of Africa, the war-torn Middle East, India (which is, I would say, also "getting there," but certainly not there yet), South America, Southeast Asia...

Sure, there are parts of all these places that have very good standards of living. But there are also very large number of people living in them whose standard of living is no better than a subsistence farmer from Western Europe in the Dark Ages.

(And on a side note, if I were looking to state that everyone should have a high standard of living, I'd pick Western Europe over America. Health care and leisure time are not, in my book, optional extras or luxuries that only the very rich should be able to afford, and the prevailing mood in America seems to disagree with me on that.)

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

danaris Timing and Assumptions (652 comments)

I think the idea that by 2035, we should expect every country in the world to have a comparable standard of living to America today is nothing short of laughable. So that blows a big hole right through the main premise.

Furthermore, aren't there figures that show that we could supply enough energy to power the entire world with a solar farm of a few (few dozen, few hundred, whatever) square miles in the Sahara, or something like that? Obviously that in itself isn't necessarily a practical solution, but it should demonstrate that the idea that we can't provide enough power to the entire world to match America's level of consumption right now is, at best, a shaky one.

It sounds to me like they picked an arbitrary date when we were somehow supposed to get everyone's standard of living up to America's, without considering what would actually be required to do that (hint: it includes stopping an awful lot of violence that's not likely to stop any time soon). If you are going to assume that we can raise everyone's standard of living like that in the first place, why would you not also assume that we can build out solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources to match?

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

danaris Re:Selling your abilities (389 comments)

f you're applying for a programming job, that will never come into contact with customers, why the hell should you need to demonstrate an ability to sell stuff?

To get a job you need to be able to sell someone on the notion that you are a good fit for the job. Sales doesn't just mean being a professional sales person trying to sell a product. The product each and every one of us has to sell is our abilities. If you want a job you have a sales pitch to make. Whether you are comfortable with that or not is irrelevant.

Yes, OK, you have successfully identified the exact same problem I was complaining about.

You, however, seem to view it as an axiom—something inherent in the fundamental concept of having a job. I view it as, at best, a necessary evil, and at worst, a method of enabling sociopathic narcissists in obtaining high-paying jobs, while people with strong job skills—and good interpersonal skills—but poor salesmanship skills are left un- or under-employed.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

danaris Re:Not just college applications (389 comments)

Indeed, because free enterprise has nothing to do with salesmanship. In fact, we could all sit in our cellars and Breed An Egg Of Introvertism. The Eggs would then hatch robots which would do all the work and serve us roasted chickens in a throw-away department, which the Egg-Robots would rebuild every single fecking day.

If you're applying for a sales job, then you need to demonstrate ability to sell stuff.

If you're applying for a programming job, that will never come into contact with customers, why the hell should you need to demonstrate an ability to sell stuff? And yet the job application process is, broadly, the same. Sure, there are some companies that have highly-tailored application and interview processes for programmers (or customer service reps, or salespeople, or whatever other particular job), but far too many just have the entire process run by HR in the exact same way for every single aspect of the business.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

danaris Re:Not just college applications (389 comments)

It's essentially a mechanism to give self-important extraverts with little skill a huge leg up on highly intelligent, diligent introverts who are repulsed by the idea of salesmanship in general, and having to sell oneself in particular.

False dilemma is false. Being intelligent does not require one to be an introvert or a self-diagnosed aspie. There are plenty of intelligent people who are easily extroverted and even *gasp* enjoy things like sports.

It's not a false dilemma, though I can see how it might appear like one. And way to be gratuitously insulting, mate.

Sure, there are intelligent extraverts. I know a number of them. And there are stupid introverts. I know some of them, too.

But my point was, the job application process is heavily biased in favour of extraverts of all intelligence levels—to the point where, if you're good at BS and interviewing with someone who isn't good at picking up on it, you can easily get them to believe you're the best choice they could ever find for a particular position, despite the fact that you don't have the first clue how to do the job, and have no intention of doing anything other than faking your way through it and collecting a paycheck.

And, on the flip side, I have multiple friends who are introverted (but clearly not on the autism spectrum), and very good at what they do, but who have been having serious trouble finding jobs since the recession because they are, in various ways, uncomfortable with selling themselves.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

danaris Not just college applications (389 comments)

College applications, hell; let's throw out the job application process. It's essentially a mechanism to give self-important extraverts with little skill a huge leg up on highly intelligent, diligent introverts who are repulsed by the idea of salesmanship in general, and having to sell oneself in particular.

Unfortunately, as with college applications, I can't easily come up with an alternative that does a better job.

Plus, of course, there's absolutely no way to actually "throw out" either of these processes across the entirety of academia, industry, government, etc. Every private college and for-profit business can do whatever they damn well please in terms of applications, and for many of them, inertia is a way of life.

Dan Aris

about three weeks ago
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The Physics of Space Battles

danaris Re:Weber's Honorverse (470 comments)

Heh, and this is where, as I say, I'm not a physicist, and can't easily check his work to see just how realistic it really is.

As far as that stuff's concerned, I'm content to just read it, and say, "Ooh, pretty explosions!" And not worry about just how much of it is actually realistic.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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The Physics of Space Battles

danaris Re:Weber's Honorverse (470 comments)

he has much too much of a fascination with the French Revolution

I can't say you're wrong, but at least he does it on purpose. The series was supposed to recreate the life of Horatio Nelson (think "Hornblower in space"), and most of the physics "could be"s are chosen so that the battles and diplomacy resemble life at sea in the early 19th century. Of course, the heroine was supposed to die like Nelson did, but I think the story and fans won that battle. It probably explains why she's less present in the later books!

Oh, yes, I'm fully aware! I was never much of a student of that period in history, though (nor did I ever read any of the actual Horatio Hornblower books), so I'm afraid only the most hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-brick bits really get through to me. (Mainly the French Revolution expies, since I do know a bit more about that.)

My understanding as to what caused him to not kill off Honor in the Battle of Manticore was that it was ultimately the partnership with (I think) Eric Flint on the Crown of Slaves spinoff sub-series, which then also led to the new Mesan Alignment plot in the main series.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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The Physics of Space Battles

danaris Weber's Honorverse (470 comments)

I'm no physicist myself, but from what I can tell, David Weber's Honor Harrington series of novels does a pretty good job of getting the physics right. Most battles are missile duels, energy weapons are powerful, but short-range, and when they develop a means of giving missiles multi-stage drives, it changes the game significantly, as they no longer have a single burst of maneuvering speed and then come in ballistic; they can accelerate at their target, burn out the first stage, coast in ballistic for many thousands of kilometers, and then activate the second stage for final maneuvering.

The writing is, in my opinion, readable, but not stellar, and he has much too much of a fascination with the French Revolution (to the point that one of the characters is named Rob S. Pierre) and that era in general, but I'm mildly enjoying reading through the ebook versions of the series (after having gotten them out of the library once, then purchased the most recent one, which had a CD with the ebooks of the rest on it, a year or so ago). I do find that I'm skimming large amounts of mostly irrelevant blather this time around, though ;-)

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

danaris Apple hate and paranoia (504 comments)

why is everybody so full of hate here.

For some, it's because Apple has the audacity to make tech easy for non-techies to use—that is, take away the exclusivity that some of the geeks here feel they should have on being able to use complex electronic devices.

For others, it's because Apple doesn't open up everything so that they can tinker with the innards and customize it to their exacting specifications (at least without jailbreaking).

In these cases, and some similar ones, there's a strong sense that Apple is not serving true geeks, but rather the masses, and therefore they're never going to do anything different that's not cosmetic—shiny, thin devices, pretty UI, that sort of thing. They must be incapable of real, complex, important stuff, because they don't "get" our favorite complex, important stuff.

For still others, though, it's not really about Apple, but rather a general sense that no large organization—company, government, or government agency—is going to act in the best interests of the people they are supposed to be serving (in one way or another), and that they will almost gleefully lie about their nefarious intentions in order to lull the sheeple into a false sense of security.

And sure, it's possible that Apple's lying. That up until now, they have been open about being willing to give your information to the Feds when they ask for it, but now they'll just do it under the table. But that really doesn't pass Occam's Razor. It doesn't even pass Hanlon's Razor—it requires Apple to be both malicious and stupid. But a lot of people believe Apple is exactly that, because Apple's not Their Team—it's Them, not Us, and therefore any and all negative traits are safe to attribute to it.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

danaris Re:No more subsidies (353 comments)

I'm still learning this law stuff, but aren't they are private corporations providing what is essentially a non-essential luxury product? Unless someone proves they are doing something illegal, the government doesn't have any grounds to require any buildout at all. Subsidies are actually good for the consumer in the sense that they are how the government can influence things like buildout and quality service. That is, assuming the ISPs don't just take the money and run. Again.

Well, first off, they fall under the FCC's jurisdiction as telecommunications companies of one stripe or another. So there's a certain amount of power to regulate them there.

Second of all, as you so astutely note, giving them federal funds with strings attached means they are sort of required to abide by the terms of those strings, and from what I understand (though I haven't researched this in-depth), they have, in fact, taken government money to do certain things that they have signally failed to do, which means there ought to at least be some sort of penalty until they do. Money might work—say, 10% of their gross income the first year they fail to comply, increasing to 20% the second year, 30% the third, until they either do their damn jobs or simply bleed to death.

Thirdly, there is a strong argument to be made (whether you agree with it or not; I happen to) that internet service is, at this point, no longer a "non-essential luxury product," but a basic service along the lines of telephone and power. As such, it should be regulated much more strictly than it has been to date. Ideally, the company that owns the physical hardware (the lines going to your house, for instance) should either be government-owned, or should at least be forbidden from actually providing any more than the hardware—they should have to lease the lines at one price to all comers in the ISP market, and have no "value-add services" of their own. That would remove the incentive for them to do anything with their money but invest it in better infrastructure.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

danaris No more subsidies (353 comments)

At this point, the various big ISPs have taken so much taxpayer money, and provided so little in return, that I'd say we should stop providing them with any subsidies, and still require the same level of buildout. They can take the balance out of their execs' bonuses from next quarter—which should be enough to cover a fair amount of infrastructure.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

danaris Re:One Sure Way (275 comments)

because for example a good pair of shoes will last much longer than a bad pair that you'll have to replace much sooner.

Thing is there is no correlation between quality and cost.

There is a correlation, it's just not a perfect one.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

danaris Re:One Sure Way (275 comments)

Yeah, if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Think I've heard that before...

Ummm...what?

That's generally brought up in the context of surveillance. Do you view reviews, by customers, of the products and/or services they've received from companies serving the public as being in the same category as overly broad and privacy-invading surveillance?

'Cause to me, that sounds like the kind of transparency a free market is built upon.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

danaris Re:One Sure Way (275 comments)

Or maybe they are a competitor's shill?

I'm sure that happens too! ^_~

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

danaris One Sure Way (275 comments)

There is one sure way to reduce negative reviews: Make sure your product and/or service is good quality.

Nothing can entirely eliminate negative reviews, because sometimes people just get a lemon product, or the person giving them service was having a bad day, or they're just ornery people who can't be satisfied. But if you do your job right, monitor your employees to make sure they're not slacking off or mistreating your customers—and, of course, the best way to do this is to make sure they're satisfied with their jobs in the first place—and don't skimp monetarily on the quality of your product, service, or employees, then you're likely to get more good reviews than bad.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

danaris Another source (246 comments)

What the heck, I can jump in on this too.

If big corporations decide to pay as many taxes as they can, they'll have to get the money somewhere, so they will raise their prices, and it'll be you and me footing the bill.

Except that that's not always true.

If they're in a monopoly position, sure; they can theoretically raise prices whenever and however much they want. If they're not, however, then they might just have to reduce the execs' bonuses this quarter, instead. (After all, if they could have raised prices before, why didn't they?) If you look at the statistics on where the profits of corporations have been going more and more over the past 40 years or so, you'll see that there's plenty of room for compensation at the top to be reduced to pay for all this sort of thing.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Legend: Tabletop Gaming for a Good Cause

danaris danaris writes  |  more than 2 years ago

danaris writes "On Friday, Rule of Cool gaming released Legend, a d20-derived tabletop roleplaying game system designed to be easy to learn, easy to play, and just really fun. As the names suggest, they recognize that people in an RPG frequently want to be playing epic characters with cool abilities, so they provide that—while making sure that all such characters are reasonably well balanced against characters and monsters of the same level. For a nice overview of the system, there's a review up on RPG.net by one of the playtesters, and another review by a moderator from Reddit's RPG section. The game is initially being distributed as a pay-what-you-want benefit to the Child's Play charity, with all proceeds (not just all profits) going to the charity."
Link to Original Source
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Apple's Response to Lodsys

danaris danaris writes  |  more than 3 years ago

danaris writes "Apple has released their long-awaited reply to Lodsys's spate of patent infringement notices, and it was worth the wait. Choice excerpts:

Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple’s license rights.

Therefore, Apple requests that Lodsys immediately withdraw all notice letters sent to Apple App Makers and cease its false assertions that the App Makers’ use of licensed Apple products and services in any way constitute infringement of any Lodsys patent.

"

Link to Original Source
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Opera Mini Not Really Rejected from iPhone (Yet)

danaris danaris writes  |  more than 5 years ago

danaris writes "John Gruber has done some digging on the reported rejection from the App Store of Opera Mini, and has written up his findings in an informative article of his own. Some choice excerpts:

My understanding, based on information from informed sources who do not wish to be identified because they were not authorized by their employers, is that Opera has developed an iPhone version of Opera Mini — but they haven't even submitted it to Apple, let alone had it be rejected. [...] If what they've done for the iPhone is along the same lines — that they've gotten a Java ME runtime running on the iPhone — it's clearly outside the bounds of the iPhone SDK Agreement. [...] What Opera would need to do to have a version of Opera Mini they could submit to the App Store would be to port the entire client software to the C and Objective-C APIs officially supported on the iPhone. It could well be that even then, Apple would reject it from the App Store on anti-competitive grounds — but contrary to this week's speculation, that has not happened.

So it looks like all may not be exactly as it seems..."

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