Casual Observer

Casual Observer

  • Commented on Theme, Fiction, and Empire Games
    Worth pointing out that the WSJ, that notorious Democratic rag, is *also* calling the newly-elected GOP president a liar. This new administration, just a few days in and already building consensus. http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-backs-alternative-facts-1485144074...
  • Commented on Default Option
    You know, Aigarius makes a very good point: there is more to fiscal policy than just Austerity vs Not Austerity. How the government spends its funds, and run its taxes, makes a big difference. In the case of Greece, the...
  • Commented on Default Option
    Seems like a pretty sensible base case ... So if we look at the US example (picking the US because that's where I'm most familiar with the numbers), and gave everyone over 18 a basic income that would keep a...
  • Commented on Default Option
    Just to experiment with specifics a little, and think through how this might work out in practice ... what level of guaranteed basic income, and who's eligible? For instance, is it a fixed amount to all citizens regardless of anything?...
  • Commented on Default Option
    "Radical" doesn't seem like an unfair term for Syriza, considering that Syriza is an acronym for "Coalition of the Radical Left". ("Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás.") That said, being in government is very, very different from being in opposition. So they may...
  • Commented on Cloud cuckoo politics
    I'll take a shot at that explanation-in-very-very-simple-terms. Though naturally I encourage those who are more up on this sort of thing, such as OGH, to check my arithmetic. Simplest argument: that interpretation of his proposal wouldn't be a new policy...
  • Commented on Gods and genre
    Ah, it's good to see I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed by the supposedly daring gender definitions. Couldn't see what the big deal was, it just seemed like an un-story. Maybe it was because I read it in...
  • Commented on Gods and genre
    I don't think there really is a rigorous definition of Hard SF, much less Soft SF? I've usually heard of Hard SF as being SF that both (1) is scrupulous about sticking to what is known about the actual natural...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    "This may be true, but nobody likes a foreign invader: change works best if it comes from within. Which is to say, Iran needs another revolution. It nearly got one in 2007 ..." Couldn't agree more. There are many ways...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    OK, fair enough, I wasn't very careful in phrasing in my earlier post. =) I don't actually *agree* with the idea that the US ought to do that, and if we were talking practical realities, I don't think they would...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    "If you've grown up in a post-1953 Iran the UK and US are rather likely to seem evil." This varies more than one might think. Some of the most pro-foreign-intervention people I've met are Iranian expats who dearly wish the...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    Agree about the false dichotomy and the spectrum. I think the picture of evil as somebody who gets up in the morning and decides to go out and do some EVIL is a red herring. If we look for real-world...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    I don't think we disagree by too much - I agree that people long ago would have had strong codes and condemned those who cross them, I just think that belief in moral absolutes that transcend group identity has grown...
  • Commented on The myth of heroism
    I'd argue that the modern superhero archetype is a combination of two pieces. Only one of which is really rooted in the hardwiring of our brains. The hardwiring part is that we, humans, are basically pack animals. Not unlike dogs....
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    "Well boo-hoo. Sucks to be them. Just because a business model is possible it does not follow that it is legal (or, for that matter, desirable)." Seems the bigger problem is that "right to be forgotten". I'm really not clear...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    I'm not 100% certain, but I think that would run into essentially the same problem OGH pointed out in post #163. If one-time-pads are connected in this way, using each one to encrypt the next, then an attacker that has...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    Sure, tolerance can be a problem, with opioids and various others, but I'm afraid I can't find where I "refused to admit" that? I don't think it's come up before in this thread, not sure how it ties in. Unless...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    Just to stir up some trouble, in a way that is more relevant to our most accommodating host's original post ... One of the obvious scenarios for Edward Snowden was always that he was being manipulated (or employed, or duped,...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    "We already *have* effective processes and systems in place for achieving the objective of "keeping dangerous substances away from casual users" - you go and have the medical experts look you over and based on that you get a prescription....
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    That lack of bounds-checking and etc does have its advantages. C is set up as a tool, and it generally does *exactly* what the spec says it will do. And if that has implications we didn't think about, well, that's...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    Um. It doesn't really require a conspiracy of racial oppression to explain why responsible governments would want to keep drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, opium out of the hands of recreational users. Consider the Opium Wars (from the point...
  • Commented on The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
    If you read the article, the "economic espionage" the CIA director "admits to" might not be what you would expect. I won't cut-and-paste the text, just to avoid messing with copyright. But the key paragraph is in the middle, where...
  • Commented on The prospects of the Space and Freedom Party reconsidered in light of the crisis of 21st century capitalism
    And just to clarify, please don't think that I was supporting the helicopter-rocket-launcher approach to polio problem areas. I just thought the details of the vaccination ploy in Pakistan were interesting enough to dig into. A very big difficulty with...
  • Commented on The prospects of the Space and Freedom Party reconsidered in light of the crisis of 21st century capitalism
    Um, I believe it was hepatitis B, not polio? For whatever that's worth. And just for the sake of storytelling - from the accounts I've heard, it wasn't quite as mad as a James Bond scenario with CIA agents disguised...
  • Commented on Checking in
    Congratulations on your nominations Charlie! And thanks for posting the links. All very interesting. I thought one of the three seemed in a very different camp from the other two ... but maybe that's just my own funny angle on...
  • Commented on Generation Z
    My goodness, but there's a lot of existential dread of the future going on here. Let me offer some alternate hypotheses. (Postscript: this got longer than I originally thought!) Remember, 30-50 years from now is about as far away as...
  • Commented on Why AIs Won't Ascend in the Blink of an Eye - Some Math
    Going back to the original curves, I suspect that it's a red herring to try to read too much out of any manageable function estimating how hard it is to achieve a certain "intelligence level". A definition of intelligence that...
  • Commented on Why AIs Won't Ascend in the Blink of an Eye - Some Math
    That'd depend on what you consider "sensibly low", but I think the main point is that facial-recognition software is not a hypothetical thing in 2014. It's an established technology in widespread use, and it works by fitting a parameterized model...
  • Commented on Why AIs Won't Ascend in the Blink of an Eye - Some Math
    A question for Greg - what makes a "true singularity", the way you're using the term? I suspect that I agree with you on the facts of what will happen over the next couple of decades, I just wouldn't call...
  • Commented on Marking time, more thoughts
    It's an issue that has gotten a lot of attention in economics circles. The developed world at large has been up against it, in one form or another, for quite a while ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labor_fallacy It's not so long ago that...
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