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Everything posted by Tyco

  1. It's so easy to make up / postulate reasons why their is an imbalance of women to men in IT/computing. So I won't bother. But I agree that the imbalance is very much evident in young teens or even earlier, so I doubt the problem (if it is a problem) can really be tackled at college level.
  2. Not necessarily deflation - i said as capital goods increase/improve, people spend a lesser percentage of their income on necessary expenses (or conversely only need a smaller % to spend on luxuries, because they're cheaper). Thus why although LPs cost in dollar amounts much more than they did 40 years ago (due to inflation), people nowadays can afford to buy much more of them. Or why people nowadays carry more computing power in their pocket than what NASA had to control the Apollo moon missions... All wealth ultimately comes from the mind - people having the intelligence to create, refine or seek out things to improve their life. Money is just a way to facilitate exchange of goods. The true wealth of a society has got nothing to do with how many dollars are accumulating in various accounts - just how much you can buy with those dollars.
  3. Purchasing power. Your money is worth more as more or improved capital goods enter the economy, either through people being creative or through accessing new natural resources. Then you can pay all your existing expenses with less % of your money and have some left to spend on new things.
  4. The current situation in Iran is very unfortunate considering the potential the nation has. It's actually one of the most developed middle eastern nations and once militant Islam loses its grip, will be a great ally and investment. As for Iran's supposed involvement in other conflicts, I frankly do not trust any US/NATO intel on this matter after the Iraq WMD debacle. It's also important not to get carried away and make the same mistakes leftists/anti-americans make when they view the slightest CIA involvement with a foreign nation as evidence that American imperialists overthrew a government and installed a puppet dictatorship or whatever. The plausible deniability idea doesn't hold water either. There are too few sources of nuclear weaponry in the world for someone to pass one on and expect it to remain a dirty little secret.
  5. I don't see why we should fear the threat of nuclear weaponry from rogue states: history and common sense has shown us that they will not use them, because it would most certainly mean the end of their own regime, owing to the superior military of NATO countries. Power is what these enemies crave the most, not annihilation of other populations. Of course you could also say that it would be good to act now to remove these regimes before they actually develop a 'nuclear shield' and ensure their long term sovereign security, but you have to balance that against the costs (inspiring/provoking far more terrorist action that we have experienced so far). As we have seen with Libya, it is possible to dislodge a dictatorship by supporting a civil revolution when it comes. Without that revolution to provide the impetus, you're just getting into another Iraq/Vietnam and risking your own soldiers and breeding the contempt of the rest of the world. Also this argument that the blood of civilian deaths is always on the aggressor's (or dictator's) hands does not hold water. If civilians are killed inadvertently during operations against military targets, then that is acceptable in 'total war' terms. That doesn't give you a carte blanche to brutalise the native population until the regime crumbles away.
  6. I don't think it matters really: we can still judge the work she produced, whether enhanced or impaired or unaffected by drug use, on its own merits.
  7. There seems to be some sort of false-dichotomy going about between 'not nuking two cities full of innocent families' and 'ending the war by demostrating superior firepower.'
  8. Interesting fact I heard the other day: the total cost of the bailout given to the banks in 2008/9, at most could be valued at about £700 million. That's less than the tax revenue from 'the city' (London's financial sector) in 2007 alone. Note that I haven't verified this claim. Thought it was a perspective we rarely hear on the news, though.
  9. I think you should give that guy a break, he's arguing fairly eloquently and civilly, and his points are not just leftist rhetoric.
  10. To be honest, I'm inclined to think both 'art' and 'entertainment', talked about in opposition or alone, are floating abstractions and nobody seems to have formulated them into useful concepts. 'Entertainment' at least seems a shallow enough idea that one can use it usefully sometimes, mostly in the same sense as 'liesure' vs. 'work'. Talking about how some sources of amusement/entertainment like music or fiction or tv are not 'art' seems to almost always involve a lot of dubious premises about one's motivation for seeking them, or premises about the value derived from 'real art' that are poorly explained or rather presumptious. Anyway sometimes I listen to things which have very little complexity or intellectual rigour to them, just to affect my mood or shut out other noises. Sometimes i literally just play 'white noise' through my speakers to help me think, or sounds of running water or rainfall, or very slow 'ambient' music. Sometimes I might even listen to the ambient music in the capacity of examining counsciously how well it's constructed in service of relaxing the listener. Other times I play a symphony and focus on every note. Or play songs whose melodies/riffs I like, mostly ignoring the lyrics and instrumental details.
  11. If you forget all other context, the documentaries were at least entertaining on the merit of throwing a few 'colourful' careers into view. Rand actually sounds less eccentric that most of the other intellectuals he dwelt on. Of course, I've got no idea how accurately or fairly he was portraying anybody. The scientist who wrote out a mathematical theory of altruism, converted to Christianity, literarily lived like Jesus, decided altruism didn't really work, then snipped his carotid artery with a pair of scissors... yeah, that was something.
  12. Only one word comes to mind after watching the third and final episode: Wat.
  13. Episode 2 was certainly more ideologically palatable, but it was still epistemologically dubious, and once again narratively ridiculous. The jist of it was that someone conceived of 'the ecosystem', whereby nature has a constant process that finds an equilibrium and stays steady. Some bright sparks applied this idea to human civilization. Some people made theoretical models or computer models to simulate how the global political ecoystem (as they saw/imagined it) would fare in the long run, and concluded we were all headed for economical-political disaster, even though their models were grossly over-simplified (in some cases outright disregarding data that had been collected). Allegedly it all came crashing down when further research showed the basic ideas of ecology were very flawed and that nature in fact was in constant turmoil from a historical perspective, not equilibrium. And of course their models never amounted to anything. Other points of note is that hippies who set up communes to try and realize these equilibrium ideas, but they all failed within a few years. Also the authorities that promoted these equilibrium ideas were far from neutral parties (eg. the racist british colonial rules of South Africa). In general the massive flaw in the theory seemed to be that the global system envisaged did not take into account feedback loops - if a pattern of behaviour is moving people towards disaster/suffering, they will likely adapt and change rather than charge headlong into it. The problem morphs, changes into something else, in a new context. The problem is, I've got no idea how much of this guy's summation of ecology and systems theory is legitemate commentry. For all I know there's ecologists and hippies turning blue in the face watching this thing. He probably didn't misrepresent any of the core ideas, but like the Objectivism episode he probably neglected to mention essential counter-points/rebuttals. And the other problem is I've got no idea how much weight these ideas really carried. He's probably drastically overstating things. Oh and there was some stuff about the internet as a self-regulating ecosystem tacked on- he was saying it was illusory freedom or something. He had examples or Iran and Ukraine and Kazaighstan revolutions which were driven by the internet, but said they all failed in very short order so the internet was not really a benefit. Thing is, he would have made this show before the whole Arab uprising last summer. Bit like how he made his last show Power of Nightmares, about the illusion of terrorism, a few months before the London underground bombings. Having said that, I met some of these hippie ecology nuts recently. They gave a talk and showed a video about hippie squatters being evicted from London housing (they were trying to live as an agrarian commune), had some valid points about anti-freedom laws, and then handed out this technical diagram from Shannon's communication theory without a word of explanation. I was like, wtf. If there's a theme for the series so far it seems to be that ideas of a systematic or mechanistic nature, especially when backed up by computer modelling, lead people astray and leave them in deep trouble... AND are exploited by sinister elites. If he was really genuine there HAS to be an episode about global warming.
  14. First thing is that Objectivism is supposed to be built on pure logic - if you agree that A is A, existence exists, reason is absolute, then all the other stuff about Altruism etc eventually follows. Second thing is that altruism is an evil philosophy/system, but that's not to say everyone who practices it is evil. Certainly not as evil as a serial killer or anything like that. But the broader point is that altruism and collectivism have caused far greater devastation in the world than serial killers or rapists or paedophiles ever will. It is pertinent to point out when collective attitudes and actions have parallels to say Nazi Germany, because that's how we avoid such horrors in the future. The Nazis didn't succeed because of some determined murderers ganging together, they succeeded because their collective/nationalistic/altruistic politics gained widespread support among ordinary people.
  15. “A few silicon valley entrepreneurs admired Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and they like made computers, and banks like used computers, yeah?, and the banks messed up while they were using computers, yeah?, so therefore the financial crisis was caused by silicon valley disciples of Ayn Rand, oh and also by Alan Greenspan who was like best friends with Rand, and was in control of the Federal Reserve, so he presumably tried to implement Randian concepts while in power, yeah?, and that like allowed the financial sector to coast towards disaster, irrevocable catastrophic disaster that is worse than anything else in history and any possible alternative, yeah?, it even happened ten years prior in south-east Asia, who suffered terrible consequences for Westernizing their economy, yeah? and presumably haven't recovered since and are still much worse off than ever before, in fact China helped mastermind the current financial crisis as revenge on the US, yeah? and even right now as we type our thoughts are being commodified by the silicon valley Randian oligarchs, yeah?”
  16. Depends on how much you take, or what strain it is. The mild effect would be feeling very chilled out, but at the same time giggly and overly talkative. And complete loss of short-term memory. But that can be followed by borderline hallucinogenic effects and withdrawal from the world around you into a sort of trance. I only tried i a few times, but I stopped because I decided altering my mindstate was just not something I wanted to pursue. I was also worried about long-term effects on the brain. And it's a bit of a waste of money and not very productive, as I could see from the lives of people who kept using it. 'Getting high' is not one of my goals, I don't want to escape from my mind/self. I do drink alcohol but only in moderation - when you're talking to people it relaxes you slightly, just enough to let conversation flow more freely. Take too much of it and, instead of feeling more relaxed, you just feel sick and/or do stupid things. Even the 'chill out' stage of cannibis is pretty drastic IMO, and I would feel kind of pathetic about wanting to just sit there and do nothing but chill. Maybe to escape from severe stress I would consider it though... but not as a solution or a way of life, just a temporary aid.
  17. You're only 17? Well one thing you don't need to worry about is having squandered any of your life ages 0 - 11 nobody expects anything of you ages 12 - 17 you need to develop general intellectual abilities (just doing a fair bit of reading is probably enough) ages 18+ you need to start developing specific abilities that will serve you well in life and your career. a lot of people mess this up straight away by picking a bad degree, not realizing how important it is to earn money, etc. you;ve not even had a chance to squander any of that time yet. find something to work towards. like being a computer programmer, or an architect, something you enjoy (you may need to try things out) and preferably something lucrative. then you'll never worry about what the future holds or how other people judge you, because you KNOW what your future holds. you need to make your life a journey to a certain destination... don't worry about sense of life, that;s just all the implicit values you pick up along the way. and again, don't worry about not accomplishing things, YET. take the long view
  18. It's regretful that there exists doctrines to lure young men into evil jihad, it's regretful that he planned terrorists attacks, it's regretful that countless lives have been lost trying to apprehend him, regretful that soldiers had to take up arms and extinguish a life at all. When the situation concludes (OBL dying is sort of the conclusion), my overriding impression of the entire affair is one of sadness. When you read the paper and you see that a murderer has been executed in a state prison, do you crack a big smile and feel the need to celebrate? I doubt it. When I read such things, I feel regret that justice needed to be done like this (even though it was fair), compounded perhaps with relief (that there's one less danger in the world) and quiet approval. But certainly not joy or delight.
  19. Killing is a grim business, no matter what. Obviously in this case we all approve of it, it was something that needed to be done, and it was justice. But I've got no idea how you generate the emotion of joy out of a situation so regretful.
  20. I don't get the whole partying in the street thing, frankly. Delighting and revelling in death/killing seems discordant to me (and probably all the British people I know). It's got nothing to do with 'spine' or 'PC.'
  21. Reports say that a woman resident of the house was killed during the firefight when someone used her a human shield. I wonder if it was Bin Laden.
  22. An interesting analogue to this situation is the film 300. (or the old one, perhaps) We like watching the Spartans fighting off the invading hoards because they represent great skill and courage, and most of all freedom (and for the altruists, sacrifice for the greater good). But in reality Sparta was closer to Nazi Germany than any heroic republic: allegedly Sparta subjugated a neighbouring state/city for centuries and as part of their warrior training rituals, sent their teenagers to kill one of these people, as their rite of passage. All 300 of those Spartans must have been murderers. However in reading about the true story of the battle of Thermopylae, filmmakers have obviously discarded these horrible truths, and kept the noble elements, because even though that's not what DID happen, it's what MIGHT have happened, and it makes better art. Similarly Rand saw some inspirational qualities in Hickman (and conversely, some cynical qualities in his accusers), and wondered what sort of story they would make if she left out the evil traits and deeds. If you enjoyed the film 300, or 300 Spartans, then you should be able to sympathize with Rand's perspective. Certainly, liking 300 doesn't make you a Nazi/Fascist.
  23. The thing is, whle he may be smart, in the grand scheme of things I don't think his extra IQ means all that much. He may be able to do 1.5x as much mental heavy lifting as the average academic, but ultimately that's like having a 2.5ghz processor rather than a 1.5ghz processor on your computer: what you achieve is still almost entirely down to how you choose to spend your time and what premises/ethics you start from. I don't 'hate' Christopher Langham at all, I just don't think he's going to be receptive to Objectivist ideas: same way I saw people wonder about Christopher Hitchens on this forum recently, who happened to say in a recent interview that he's a Marxist. On a side note, on the website Quora.com (you guys would probaly like it, check it out), I recently asked a question 'Do programmers overstate the value of abstraction.' One answer was very interesting, saying that as a programmer your always taught that one change to your code could (adversely) affect the entire system, beyond what you intended; whereas in the social sciences and in practical management within communities and institutions etc., people don't tend to map out the workings of the whole system before they go tinkering. Perhaps those fields would benefit from more abstract analysis, like programmers are used to.
  24. Last I heard from that dude, he thought people should need state permission to have children. (To limit the 'problem' of over-population.)
  25. I have no intention of spending more of my life arguing this subject... but you're welcome to read my previously published/posted thoughts on the matter if they're any use: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2456296
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