gpl's recent activity

  1. Comment on What did you do this week? in ~talk

    gpl
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    I got into a graduate school I’m happy with, but rejected from a handful of ‘reach’ schools. Expected, but still a bit of a bummer. I’ve gotten into 3 schools so far and there’s a clear choice...

    I got into a graduate school I’m happy with, but rejected from a handful of ‘reach’ schools. Expected, but still a bit of a bummer. I’ve gotten into 3 schools so far and there’s a clear choice right now, but I’m waiting both to hear back from others as well as visiting weekends to decide.

    6 votes
  2. Comment on This simple crib cost $28,885 to make—because it was made with zero fossil fuels in ~enviro

    gpl
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    Just wanted to chime in and say that video was extremely relaxing, and I learned something as well. Loved the ambient noise.

    Just wanted to chime in and say that video was extremely relaxing, and I learned something as well. Loved the ambient noise.

    1 vote
  3. Comment on I got a Ring doorbell camera. It scared the hell out of me. in ~tech

    gpl
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    I don't think anyone has claimed that a security camera is never a solution, but rather is not always one. Namely because there's not always a problem. Of course, if there is a problem you'll wish...

    I don't think anyone has claimed that a security camera is never a solution, but rather is not always one. Namely because there's not always a problem. Of course, if there is a problem you'll wish you had one...

    I actually think the issue is less the presence or even continued operation of the camera and moreso the near-continuous and easy interaction with the camera. This is more or less what the author is pointing out (to quote again from further up in the thread):

    But as entertaining as Neighbors is, it’s haunted by a background sense that maybe you don’t really need to know quite so much about your block, or your neighborhood. Moments you’d never have been aware of without the Ring — a stranger stepping on your stoop, or knocking on your door — mount as evidence of possible danger and urban decay. Even unquestionably innocuous activity, like me unlocking my own door, is lent the frisson of danger thanks to the security-camera-style footage.

    Our monkey brains are wired to game out the what-ifs and hypothetical of any interaction: maybe that rustle in the bush is a predator, maybe that guy I've seen pass a few times on my Ring is staking out his next target. I think the near constant access that these smart cameras provide does little to prevent crime and does everything to stoke paranoia and anxiety. This is not to mention the other personal and societal downsides of near constant surveillance - is it a good thing that Amazon (Ring) is likely building an extensive facial recognition database? Is it good that its trying to make us more suspicious of our neighbors? I don't really think so.

    A dumb camera you use to track down a burglar is a great thing. A smart camera that tries to predict who might be one isn't.

    3 votes
  4. Comment on US to treat Chinese state media like an arm of Beijing's government in ~news

    gpl
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    Sure we do. What you linked to indicates there are ~12 large conglomerates, and numerous child companies in each. Again, I am skeptical of the amount of editorial control each of these umbrella...

    Sure we do. What you linked to indicates there are ~12 large conglomerates, and numerous child companies in each. Again, I am skeptical of the amount of editorial control each of these umbrella corps actually exerts in given news coverage. This is not to say it doesn't happen - there was the egregious case a year or two ago of numerous local news stations essentially reading a script given to them by Sinclair, and surely it happens in less obvious and harder to detect ways. But it certainly isn't every story, and it certainly is not every station.

    None of this is to mention the numerous sources not listed in that chart: many newspapers (NYT, WaPo, WSJ, LA Times, USA Today, ...) and their online multimedia content (such as youtube channels), NPR and local affiliates, AP news, Reuters, etc.

    I'm not arguing the media situation in the US is perfect, or even that great. But it is a far cry from literal state-controlled media and I think equating the two isn't really useful.

    3 votes
  5. Comment on Jeff Bezos' $10 billion pledge to address climate change is the latest example of using philanthropy as a cover for problems exacerbated by Amazon in ~enviro

    gpl
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    The thesis of this article seems to be: (this is not a quote from the article, but rather my paraphrase) Needless to say this is a flawed premise. It is true that there is the possibility that...

    The thesis of this article seems to be:

    Amazon contributes greatly to climate change, and Bezos's pledge is coming from his personal wealth as opposed to the corporation - therefore, it will do no good.

    (this is not a quote from the article, but rather my paraphrase)

    Needless to say this is a flawed premise. It is true that there is the possibility that this pledge will do no good - perhaps it will be mismanaged, perhaps it will fund pseudoscience, perhaps it will not effectively power lobbying efforts, etc. It is also true that this pledge will likely not cancel out the contributions to climate change that arise from Amazon's continued operations (which provides this money in the first place). But neither of those imply that this won't have a positive impact, certainly moreso than would be the case without it. This isn't the same as saying "hey, we should be happy we got something". I think we're perfectly capable of acknowledging both that a $10 billion fund is nothing to shake a stick at, while also acknowledging that it is not enough and more will have to be down to reign in the corporate excesses that have contributed to climate change in the first place.

    I'm no fan of billionaires or corporations, but if this $10 billion leads to positive advances it should be considered a good thing.

    7 votes
  6. Comment on US to treat Chinese state media like an arm of Beijing's government in ~news

    gpl
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    It's very different in my opinion. First of all, we have a range of media stations and channels to choose from, each with their own slant and agenda (some more pronounced than others). But the...

    I mean, isn't this largely true of US media as well?

    It's very different in my opinion. First of all, we have a range of media stations and channels to choose from, each with their own slant and agenda (some more pronounced than others). But the fact is that in a given administration, you can expect one or two of the five largest to be criticizing said administration on a usual basis. That level of criticism already is something you would not expect with a true state-run system.

    Another key difference is that the government cannot unilaterally dictate what stories media can cover. This has surely happened in the past, but we also have plenty of instances of stories being covered that the government obviously would have preferred not to be - the Pentagon Papers, CIA torture, Snowden leaks, etc. These media companies simply do not work "100%" for the US government.

    Obviously the owners of these companies have their own agendas, and they often align or veer from the agendas of the government. But I also tend to believe people overestimate the amount of editorial control media moguls exert on their companies. It certainly happens, and at some places more than at others. But we frequently see stories run that are critical of the owner - Washington Post's coverage of Bezos/Amazon comes to mind. Pretending that this is the same as literal state owned media doesn't really do anyone favors in my opinion.

    6 votes
  7. Comment on At the Green Free School in Copenhagen, you're more likely to find pupils repairing a bicycle or doing urban farming than sitting in front of a blackboard in ~life

    gpl
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    So I definitely think a more direct connection to nature and natural systems is vitally needed for many people today, particularly those living in cities or suburbs (or even rural farmland, which...

    So I definitely think a more direct connection to nature and natural systems is vitally needed for many people today, particularly those living in cities or suburbs (or even rural farmland, which is nearly as transformed as more built up places). Breaking down the mental category of "nature" and "not-nature" is very important in my opinion, and the more people that realize there is nowhere that is not nature, the more people who will be environmentally conscious.

    That being said, I'm not sure schools with this type of curriculum are the way to go about things. There is use for some people in knowing how to forage for mushrooms, or make things out of clay or natural fibers. And certainly a better understanding of ecology would be a net benefit for society. But school also must teach how to live in society and the cultural and historical context that society developed in - i.e., those things provided by a standard curriculum. It's possible this school includes those things, but its not clear at all from the articles. I think kids need to learn math, science, history, geography, etc in order to understand the society they live in. And such understanding is surely as important as an understanding of ecology and environmental factors when it comes to changing said society.

    I think a lot of what is provided by this schools curriculum might be better provided by something like Scouting, which also promotes concern and care for the environment but without sacrificing a standard curriculum to get there.

    3 votes
  8. Comment on Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker in ~life

    gpl
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    I think I generally agree it is a bad strategy at least rhetorically. That being said, it is not illogical or even false really. There are clearly ways in which we can and should treat animals and...

    I think I generally agree it is a bad strategy at least rhetorically. That being said, it is not illogical or even false really. There are clearly ways in which we can and should treat animals and humans differently. I'm not convinced that inflicting unnecessary harm is one of those ways, and comparisons between unnecessary harm to humans and unnecessary harm to animals, while rhetorically disagreeable do highlight a central point in the argument.

    1 vote
  9. Comment on Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker in ~life

    gpl
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    I can't help but feel this is not a fair or even direct comparison. I think we can all agree that in this situation you save the baby. However, a more accurate question (that draws direct analogy...

    I can't help but feel this is not a fair or even direct comparison. I think we can all agree that in this situation you save the baby. However, a more accurate question (that draws direct analogy with killing animals for food) is

    A calf and human baby are standing next to a cliff. You can push one off, but it is not necessary. Legal obligations are irrelevant. Which, if any, do you push?

    The key distinction here is that unnecessary (avoidable) harm comes to pass as a result of a commission (act), as it is the case with factory farming. In the case you provided, necessary (unavoidable) harm only comes to pass as a result of an omission (non-act). The moral character in the two situations isn't the same, and in the example you provided it is in fact different than with factory farming. Surely if we had to choose between eating calves and eating human babies, we would all agree it is better for us to eat calves.

    I will add the big caveat here that necessary harm as the result of a commission of a violent act is different again, and perhaps has even different moral character. This is the case when eating meat is necessary for some reason. The key argument is that in many modern societies, it simply is not. I find that this is a useful framework to think about things.

    9 votes
  10. Comment on Boy Scouts of America file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits in ~finance

    gpl
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    I definitely agree here. Scouting trips and meetings are some of my fondest memories growing up. Even though I'm not personally affected by many of these problematic stances, it hurts to see an...

    I definitely agree here. Scouting trips and meetings are some of my fondest memories growing up. Even though I'm not personally affected by many of these problematic stances, it hurts to see an organization that I know can give so much to people intentionally exclude and harm kids seeking those experiences. I remain hopeful that they can rightly and adequately move past this and develop into a better and more inclusive organization in the coming years.

    3 votes
  11. Comment on Boy Scouts of America file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits in ~finance

    gpl
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    In fact, as of the last few years it is non-gendered. The official name now is Scouts BSA, and while the BSA part still means "Boy Scouts of America", the re brand was meant to emphasize it. Girls...

    Blows my mind that scouting isn't non-gendered in the US.

    In fact, as of the last few years it is non-gendered. The official name now is Scouts BSA, and while the BSA part still means "Boy Scouts of America", the re brand was meant to emphasize it. Girls can and have joined Troops as well. I think part of the reason it took so long was that there were programs meant to be equivalent but for girls, such as the Girl Scouts and to an extent Indian guides. In recent years however it became clear that those programs were simply not offering the same experiences that BSA did, either because they were mismanaged or because they had different aims altogether. Not sure if anything similar existed in the UK.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on How will the Nevada caucuses turn out? (Articles) in ~news

    gpl
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    I'm in the Midwest, though still near a big city, and I agree with this. I will probably vote for Warren in my state's primary, but if she drops out I will vote for Sanders. I know other people in...

    I'm in the Midwest, though still near a big city, and I agree with this. I will probably vote for Warren in my state's primary, but if she drops out I will vote for Sanders. I know other people in my area who intend to do the same. Warren and Sanders are much closer policy-wise than Warren and Buttigieg, so I'm not really sure why supporters of Warren would shift to Pete. Some of course will, but I expect the many people to join the Sanders camp. This admittedly out of date 538 article seems to back this up - the amount of "Sanders-second-choice" Warren supporters is nearly double that of "Pete-second-choice" voters.

    8 votes
  13. Comment on What's the longest running quandary/debate you've had with yourself? in ~talk

    gpl
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    This would probably be my answer too. I was raised (and still am) Catholic, and I have a deep appreciation for the sheer amount of thought that has gone into this question not only by Catholic...

    This would probably be my answer too. I was raised (and still am) Catholic, and I have a deep appreciation for the sheer amount of thought that has gone into this question not only by Catholic thinkers over the last 2000 years, but also people in many other traditions and faiths. As a scientist, I am also skeptical of extraordinary claims without evidence.

    At this point, I think I slightly lean towards some type of metaphysical event/principle being needed for existence. I am far from convinced that whatever that principle is has the same properties that we might call God. For me, the most useful thing has been to reduce the question to the most fundamental formulation, and from there build back up. For me, that has been considering the question of "Why is there something rather than nothing", which has ever so slightly lead me to the aforementioned stance. I am at the least increasingly convinced there cannot be, even in principle, a scientific answer to that question. I guess then my answer to the OP might be: "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

    8 votes
  14. Comment on Build Build Build: When California’s housing crisis slammed into Lafayette, city manager Steve Falk became a convert to a radically simple doctrine in ~life

    gpl
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    Part of the issue is that we currently have an economic setup where a large portion of an individuals net worth is invested in their home, making people very hostile to anything that may decrease...

    Part of the issue is that we currently have an economic setup where a large portion of an individuals net worth is invested in their home, making people very hostile to anything that may decrease the value of said home (low income housing being one). If so much of someone’s estate wasn’t tied up in the value of their home, perhaps we’d see less opposition.

    Obviously this isn’t the only factor at play but it beats mentioning.

    12 votes
  15. Comment on [RESOLVED] Is there a way for me to access the contents of my password protected zip file? in ~comp

    gpl
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    This is a low tech solution, but if you reuse passwords check and see what passwords you used for accounts created near that time. This has helped me more than once.

    This is a low tech solution, but if you reuse passwords check and see what passwords you used for accounts created near that time. This has helped me more than once.

    3 votes
  16. Comment on How the next generation of nuclear reactors could be smaller, greener and safer in ~science

    gpl
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    As far as I know this is only the sodium reactors, which are a subset of the total reactor population. And while the waste is reduced, it still exists and must be managed. Any amount of nuclear...

    As far as I know this is only the sodium reactors, which are a subset of the total reactor population. And while the waste is reduced, it still exists and must be managed. Any amount of nuclear waste is a headache to deal with given its long lifespan.

    1 vote
  17. Comment on How the next generation of nuclear reactors could be smaller, greener and safer in ~science

    gpl
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    The crazy thing is that a lot of the safety improvements on display in these small reactors is decades old at this point. EBR-II demonstrated complete passive safety in a live test in 1994 - close...

    The crazy thing is that a lot of the safety improvements on display in these small reactors is decades old at this point. EBR-II demonstrated complete passive safety in a live test in 1994 - close to 30 years ago at this point. The regulatory process for these things takes so long that there is a huge delay between when these technologies are demonstrated and when they go to market. Often times this leads to companies trying to extend the life of existing reactors as long as possible, which I'm not so sure is great from a safety standpoint.

    That being said, nuclear can and should be only a part of a broader transition to renewable energy. Solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, etc are all mature or maturing technologies that are 100% clean. Nuclear has its place but that place is not everywhere. There is still the thorny issue of what to do with the waste as well, for which there is no clear solution that is both technologically and politically feasible.

    5 votes
  18. Comment on Fitness Weekly Discussion in ~health

    gpl
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    I'm in a real rut with regards to the gym. I don't do much besides running, and when the weather is warm enough I like running outside. I got very used to that and pushed it as long as I could,...

    I'm in a real rut with regards to the gym. I don't do much besides running, and when the weather is warm enough I like running outside. I got very used to that and pushed it as long as I could, but now that it is snowy and cold near me I have to go back to the gym and it's just a struggle. I don't like running on the treadmill much, and the drive there an back just eats up time in my evenings. As a result, I've been going less than I'd like. I can't wait for it to dry up a bit and get a little warmer so I can resume my outdoors runs.

    I'd like to branch out a bit and either start swimming at the gym or lifting, but I'm a horrible swimmer and wouldn't know where to start re: weights (although my GF and some friends might help me plan something out there). That would at least make the drive worth it.

    4 votes
  19. Comment on The Silencing of the Deaf in ~life

    gpl
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    It's also important to keep in mind how much of disability is actually a result of the way that we have decided to set up our society. Not to say there aren't inherent difficulties with not being...

    It's also important to keep in mind how much of disability is actually a result of the way that we have decided to set up our society. Not to say there aren't inherent difficulties with not being able to see, hear, walk, etc, because of course there are. But many, many of the disadvantages we immediately think of are really only disadvantages because of how things are.

    Imagine if society had developed such that our main form of written communication was through colors, perhaps some Morse-style system to denote different symbols. (A contrived example to be sure, but there's really no reason to think things couldn't have happened this way). Surely then we would view being colorblind as a serious disability, much moreso than it is viewed now. A less contrived example would be that someone who has serious tone-deafness has much more of a disability if they are embedded in a society that speaks a tonal language. Hell, even an inability to whistle might be considered as a disability in some societies in some cultures. The biology in these examples is the same as it is now, however we view these 'disabilities' as not very severe. A certain portion of the severity we assign to disabilities has very little to do with the objective nature of the disability itself, but rather has everything to do with the society around the person affected. I think its important to keep this in mind in discussions of disability.

    10 votes