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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Re:So What? (641 comments)

That interpretation is actually less of a break from the Old Testament, wherein Lucifer was just an extremely unpleasant Persian king, Satan is only mentioned a couple of times in passing, and God is as terrible as he is great.

Another part of the Old Testament that doesn't get talked about much, but intrigues me greatly is the degree to which it seems to be telling the story of (the followers of) a God who is, at first, fighting for supremacy against various other Gods, but who eventually emerges triumphant. Again, I'm not enough of a theological scholar to be able to speak with any real authority about this, but stuff in the Exodus story (the Egyptian priests being able to perform what were clearly supernatural feats, despite the fact that Moses was able to defeat them), through to Kings (Elijah calls down fire from heaven, while the priests of Baal are unable to do anything similar), and various phrasings (like "you shall have no other God before me") all seem to suggest it.

Dan Aris

yesterday
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Re:So What? (641 comments)

For instance, the modern synthesis of descent with variation has no supernatural guidance, but the Catholic version does.

While that's true, it's something of a misrepresentation of the situation. Catholics (and many other religious people, and most Christians) believe that everything is influenced by their God. Depending on how excited they are about this, they may insist that God is capable of producing any individual result, or that he is responsible for every outcome, but His Hand is supposed to be everywhere, or at the very least, everywhere necessary for His Plan. With All Appropriate Capital Letters, of course.

I think far too many people—not just atheists, but theists of whatever sort who are less familiar with the thinking of Catholics—miss this important point. It's not that God specifically decided to control evolution, and left other stuff alone—it's that He, through whatever means, guides everything, all the time, in accordance with His plan.

Though one thing I've always been somewhat fuzzy on is to what extent free will—both of humans and of Satan—really enters into the equation. Sometimes, it seems like Satan or humans acting badly can mess up God's plan, and other times it seems like everything they try to do just plays back into God's hands. And I'm not aware of any specific blanket pronouncements on the subject within standard doctrine, either clearly stating that humans do have free will or that we don't.

Just part of why I'm much more fond of the theology in the Curse of Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Not only do humans have explicit free will there, the Gods can't even interfere in the material world in more than tiny, subtle ways without humans deliberately surrendering their free will to one or more of the Gods...

Give me something clearly defined like that any day, over the mishmash that is Christian doctrine and theology. ^_^

Dan Aris

yesterday
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Re:So What? (641 comments)

If not who gets to make that call? The Pope?

Ummm...exactly. The Bible is obviously an important part of the Catholic belief system but it's the institution of the Church that has the final say. Catholicism is what the Catholic Church, with the Pope at its head, says it is. It may seem tautological but it actually isn't. For example, for many Protestant (especially Evangelical) sects, a layperson could make an effective argument about a controversial subject by saying "Here is what it says in Bible...", while an argument that appeals to an authority such as a pastor would not be (theologically) persuasive. But to a Catholic, the only real trump card is "The Church says..."

Except that, as I understand it, the Pope doesn't get to just declare which parts of the Bible (which has been accepted doctrine for well over a millennium) are true, which are false, and which are metaphor or allegory as it suits him. He can make pronouncements either about things that aren't directly covered by the Bible, or about rather specific pre- or proscriptions that it makes. If he wants to start chopping up the Bible, though, declaring large chunks to be something other than what has already been decided, I'm pretty sure he has to call some kind of doctrinal convention, like (IIRC) the Council of Carthage in the 4th century.

However, I'm neither a Catholic nor a particular scholar in these matters, so feel free to correct me if you have better information :-)

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Wrong God, I think (641 comments)

he said what the Church has said for some time now: if evolution does exist, it exists God created it.

Which is basically a riff on the god of the gaps argument.

Unless I'm misunderstanding what the GP said, I don't think it's the God of the gaps, I think it's more along the lines of the "watchmaker God," who set up all the mechanisms to produce the results he wanted, then set them in motion and sat back and watched.

Can you explain why God creating the mechanism of evolution (as opposed to the development of certain features and/or species) is a riff on the God of the gaps, in which it is posited that the cause for anything we can't yet explain is God's will?

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

danaris Re:Total nonsense (629 comments)

Far too few people are going to be interested in it.

Until, of course, paying with CurrentC gets you a 2% discount, 10% on select items during an introductory offer*.

( * with regular prices actually gradually going up )

I think you'll find that even for regular discounts, there are a LOT of people who will simply not be willing to give up their bank account and SSN details to retailers. I certainly won't. Not to mention it would still have the problem of being a horrendously clunky system to use.

And finally, don't forget that CurrentC isn't even ready for full deployment yet (various things have been quoting dates in 2015), while Apple Pay is live now, and over a million people signed up with it in the first 3 days. By the time CurrentC can get started, Apple Pay will have a very strong—and, I bet you, loyal, given how easy it is—installed base of users who are just not going to put up with their crap.

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

danaris Sure, I'll pay it. Better than the alternative. (629 comments)

Why would I use it?

Because merchants are probably going to start charging you a fee to use your credit card. They may hide it by jacking up prices then offer a "CurrentC discount" or something (sort of like the so-called "cash discount" at the gas station), since it's still tricky to charge a CC fee, but merchants are getting reamed and are trying hard to find a way to stop it. Where do you think that cash back on your Visa card comes from?

I would rather pay an extra 3-5% on every transaction at one of these retailers (with the option of simply never shopping there, which, at present, I pretty much don't anyway) than expose myself to the possibility of having my entire checking account drained when just one of them manages to get hacked and lose my account information to thieves.

I don't care if they overhaul and rebrand this piece of crap so it's less pathetically insecure and inconvenient—even if they make it as simple to use as Apple Pay is now. As long as they a) demand my bank account number, b) demand my Social Security number, or c) demand to be able to track vast amounts of information about me, there isn't a way in Hell I'm signing up for CurrentC or any service like it.

As it stands, it's just a total no-brainer. I can't understand why anyone would rather use CurrentC than cash or a credit card, let alone Apple Pay.

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

danaris Re:Total nonsense (629 comments)

I would go so far as to say that even if Apple Pay falls flat (which seems like a ludicrous proposition at this point), CurrentC isn't going to go anywhere. Far too few people are going to be interested in it.

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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A Library For Survival Knowledge

danaris Not the politics we *had*... (266 comments)

Maybe something like this?

Chapter 19 - Politics How we did it back then was we gathered up in entities we called "countries". Each country spent a sizable percent of its population's income to build weapons. The strongest countries built so called weapons of mass destruction. Those are the reason you are reading this. End of chapter. 19.

So what you're saying is, you strongly support a significant amount describing what not to do?

Nobody said the chapter on politics had to describe what we had in slavish detail. It should, in fact, explain what would be best based on our current understanding, which should, for example, include explanations of some voting systems that are significantly less prone to devolve into a two-party system with strong incumbent advantage than single-preference, first-past-the-post, winner-take-all like we have now.

Dan Aris

2 days ago
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Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

danaris Re:Good luck with that. (554 comments)

I've never seen an NFC terminal. If it's industry standard where are they?

Are you sure you've never seen one? They look just like other credit card terminals, but have a protruding bump at the top with some of the various NFC brand logos on them, like PayPass, as well as the more generic NFC logo, which looks kind of like a wi-fi logo turned on its side. At least, that's what the ones I've seen usually look like.

There are some newer ones coming out, too, that also have the hoods around the number pad, so that you have privacy when typing your PIN.

If you really haven't seen one, that could range from astonishing to perfectly reasonable, depending on just where you are. In rural Upstate NY, they're not very common, but when I go buy groceries at Wegman's in Syracuse, or visit a Panera, they've all got them in one form or another.

However, the point here is that regardless of their current ubiquity or lack thereof, the technology behind them is an industry standard: any terminal that accepts Apple Pay also accepts Google Wallet and any of the various tap-to-pay NFC-enabled credit cards (like MasterCards with the aforementioned PayPass). Apple's not doing anything fancy and proprietary to communicate the authorization to the bank and merchant, just using the industry standard procedures for tokenized NFC payment.

It's important to remember that just because something is an industry standard (like, say, USB, or Thunderbolt), it won't necessarily show up everywhere immediately. In the US, Apple's a relatively early mover on this technology, despite how common it is in the rest of the developed world (and despite some geekier and less-well-known solutions like Google Wallet using it earlier), so for now, it seems to be a technology linked to Apple, but over the next few years, you'll start to see it more and more around the US.

Dan Aris

3 days ago
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Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

danaris Re:Good luck with that. (554 comments)

And Apple is simple?

I don't understand what the story is really complaining about. All of Apple Pay is opt-in, there's no way to "block" it only ways to enable it.

For people to young to know how things work, stores did not all accept credit cards when they were first introduced either, and for decades afterwords many stores would only accept one type or another. Even today a lot of stores refuse to take Discover. So what's the big deal about not signing up with Apple?

You are misinformed.

Stores do not need to sign up with Apple Pay explicitly, though banks do.

For a store to support Apple Pay, it just needs to have an industry-standard (though slightly less common than a simple swipe-and-sign) NFC payment terminal. In order to disable support for Apple Pay, Rite Aid and CVS have had to disable NFC entirely at their checkouts.

Dan Aris

3 days 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)

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

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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