Isn’t it better to invest in clean energy and be wrong about the dangers of climate change than to do nothing and be right?

To be absolutely clear, the climate is changing, humans are the cause (primarily through the mass combustion of fossil fuels), and human civilization is responsible for the eventual outcome.
See: Global CO2 Summary — The Keeling Curve, Seasonal CO2 Cycles, and Global CO2 Distribution


Those who don’t believe that climate change is real (or think it is manageable) think the gamble is in the other direction. Switching the entire planet over to “clean” energy would cost about 20% of global wealth (to emphasize: wealth, not income!) — around £30 trillion. It would cost the United States about $5 trillion just for itself.

Furthermore, the beneficiaries of such infrastructure and investment would not exactly be the same companies which make up the current energy infrastructure. The existing companies (and countries, since many fossil fuel companies are state-owned) would face losses of up to:

  • $85 trillion in proven petroleum reserves
  • $31 trillion in proven coal reserves
  • $468 billion in proven gas reserves
  • > $5.5 trillion in annual industry revenue
  • trillions of dollars in capital, obsolete physical infrastructure, market capitalization, and equity

Yeah, we’ll still need some non-energy petroleum products, and if old-energy companies invested in the clean energy sector then they wouldn’t lose their entire market value. But people have a very hard time agreeing to claims that they (and millions of other people) should lose everything.



American Voting Is Not Rigged

RE: 2016: The Year Americans Found Out Their Elections Are Rigged | Zero Hedge

“We The People” don’t choose our presidents; they are hand-picked by a powerful group of political party insiders – parties that have long since sold out to the highest bidders.


I disagree.

The difference between direct election and indirect election only matters when they differ in the selection.

The essential function of the people working for the parties is to get candidates elected, which includes ensuring that *electable* candidates get nominated to the ticket.

The people whining about the system are almost exclusively those who think the system will go against their preferred candidate. Instead of whining about the whole system, they’d do better to either make a convincing argument that the system is worse for *everyone* (or at least for a majority of the citizenry), or arguing *to* the system that their candidate is in fact the best choice (i.e. “is the most electable”).


What the Hell Are Superdelegates? | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS

This is *great* for Democrats because it lets people with experience correctly determining “who can win an election and how?” add that wisdom to voters’ policy preferences as embodied by their preferred candidates. For now, I trust the superdelegates to eventually back the candidate most likely to win the national election. That is highly correlated with the popular primary voting, but isn’t exactly the same because of the electoral college; the states that will influence the superdelegates’ backing are the swing/purple states:
Clinton handily won over Sanders in FL, OH, NC, VA – the larger swing states with more importance to an eventual electoral victory. Sanders will have to show some promising polling figures between him and the expected Republican nominee in those states if he expects superdelegate support. With Clinton, Trump, and Cruz all with >50% negative favorability ratings, that isn’t unthinkable.


Clearly, the Republican party does not believe that Trump is electable. They probably don’t think Cruz is either. But backing Cruz is a better long-term plan than backing Trump.


Most media just wants viewership and they’re willing to spin the facts to pitch a better story/narrative. Trump as “the political outsider underdog who is fighting for every win” is a more enticing narrative than Trump as “the billionaire winning easily”. Media coverage of the Democrat side is instead split *by* audience. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore is clearly pitching pro-Sanders and has had Sanders on a few times. More establishment media with older, whiter audiences (e.g. CNN) are playing up Hilary instead.

This is not a break in some illusion of choice. This is a symptom of the delusion that an individual’s choice matters – the delusion that we should all be able to vote for our most preferred, least compromising candidate *and* that candidate should have the possibility of being elected even if 60% of our fellow citizens disagree.


If you do not own the software on your device, then you do not own your device.

Consider this situation:

  • A physical device which is dependent on software for its operation is located in the residence of Alice. Alice is the sole user and beneficiary of this device’s purported primary purpose (e.g. cooking food).
  • Bob owns all relevant intellectual property of the software on the device (e.g. patents and copyrights).

Without Alice’s knowledge or consent (because the purchase and use was the “consent”, even if there were no alternatives on the market which did not also demand this consent), Bob can:

  • change the operating parameters of the device — how the device works and is allowed to work
  • temporarily or permanently prevent the software from operating, which prevents the device from operating
  • collect data from any sensors on the device, and resell that data along with customer information about Alice to a third party
  • delete any data stored in the device (e.g. past settings, saved sensor data, device history)

*Without* Bob’s written consent, Alice *may not*:

  • examine the software on the device
  • alter the software on the device
  • replace the software on the device

So, I ask you, “Who owns the device?”.

IMHO, it certainly isn’t Alice. She is at best a renter subject to the whims of Bob.

This is the situation today, and ever more gadgets are getting software embedded into them. We are progressing towards a future where only corporations are permitted to own property in any real/traditional sense of the word “own”.


RE: New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers by Kyle Wiens on, 2015/02/05

Dave paid for the tractor; he owns what’s tangible: the wheels, the metal chassis, the gears and pistons in the engine. But John Deere owns everything else: the programming that propels the tractor, the software that calibrates the engine, the information necessary to fix it. So, who really owns that tractor?

Infant Mortality

The ethical issues that come with crowdfunded healthcare

To choose one, though, also means to choose it over all the others.

Who, out of all the people who have shared their tragedy on the Internet, is the most deserving of money?

the most pressing ethical question surrounding medical crowdfunding is not the inequalities it illuminates, or how donors choose who to fund, or how sites choose who to host—it’s why the practice has become necessary in the first place.

Source: Is It Fair to Ask the Internet to Pay Your Hospital Bill? – The Atlantic


From comments:

Perhaps the phrase of most interest to me in the whole article was “necessary care.” Who defines it, and who should? And does an extremely expensive procedure with a middling chance of success for a child with an extremely rare genetic disease count? This question may reveal the true utility of crowdfunding campaigns–not that they pay for “necessary care,” but that they can be used to pay for extraordinary care that doesn’t meet any objective cost-benefit analysis. They’re an opportunity to say “help me because you love me/ sympathize/ find my story compelling,” even if the procedure can’t be justified as “necessary” in a way that means society as a whole should cover the tab involuntarily.

— Disqus commenter EBennetDarcy



In the 1850s, the infant mortality rate in the United States was estimated at 216.8 per 1,000 babies born for whites and 340.0 per 1,000 for African Americans
— Wikipedia “Infant_mortality” from Sullivan, A., Sheffrin, S. (2003) Economics: Principles in Action, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-063085-3

That rate is from more than 1-in-5 to over a third of children born, dying before they turned 5 years old.

The US infant mortality rate at 6.1 is now called “a national embarrassment” by the Washington Post.
Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment – The Washington Post

The US Federal CDC lists the number of live births in the US as just under 4 million.
FastStats – Births and Natality –

With 4 million births and an infant mortality rate of 6.1, that works out to 24,400 children born last year dying within the following 5 years.

Finland has their rate down to 2.3 though, so we could presumably cut that figure to only 9,200. If we could save half of those (so 4,600 infants) for $250,000 each, then saving their lives would cost $1.15 billion dollars. At $1 million each the total cost would be $4.6 billion.

Paying for exceptional care for exceptional cases does cost an exceptionally large amount per case. However, *because* of their rarity, I don’t think this is as bad as it seems like at first blush/consideration (usually comparing such staggering figures to the annual incomes of normal people).

My opinion is that we can afford this, and should, and a national / universal / single-payer health system (through “insurance”, federally managed/administered, or whatever) would accomplish this. It would be a far better use of the funds than [insert government thing you don’t like here; I’ll pick the F-35].

A hundred and fifty years ago, the only option was “too bad, try again”. We can and should do better now, for everyone.