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Gregory Geller
Works at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Lived in Miami, Florida
339 followers|98,290 views


Gregory Geller

Theory & Ethics  - 
So, I don't consider myself a Libertarian (at least not in the way most self-described Libertarians mean it). 

However, I am interested in starting a dialogue with Libertarians in order to find out exactly what you guys believe. 

I'm happy to read links to articles and even read recommended books but, honestly, I learn best by using the socratic method of asking and answering questions. 

So, with that in mind, here are a couple of initial questions I have for you all:

1) What do you believe is the relationship between government and corporate power? Do you believe the government pulls corporate strings to get what it wants, or do you believe that government is a tool of corporate power?

2) What is the role of fairness in your ethical schema? By fairness I mean something like the concept of getting what you deserve or not being  punished or rewarded for things that are out of your control.

This is the Internet. I tend to get argumentative at times. I'll try not to do that here. I've read the community guidelines and will do my best to adhere to them. I only ask that you do the same.

In particular (and I'm mentioning this because it's something I've witnessed over and over again during any discussion of politics/religion or any topic that people tend to be passionate about):

1. Try not to assume that you know what the other person believes just because they don't believe what you do. For example, I've been accused to being a Republican, Democrat, Communist, Statist, Leftist, Fascist, and every other -ist you can come up with. All without me stating a single belief that I hold (or very very few).

2. Allow people to change their mind or re-state something without insisting that they hold to their initial statement. Writing can be difficult. Words are inherently inaccurate and fuzzy. Sometimes something that is said comes out wrong or is easily misinterpreted. If someone makes that claim about something they said, it should be taken at face value and in good faith.

3. Try to give other people's arguments the benefit of the doubt by giving them the most generous interpretation. If someone says, for example, "Liberals don't want to confiscate guns," that doesn't mean they believe you can prove them wrong by showing one example of a so-called Liberal saying we ought to ban all guns. It's a general statement and not meant to be true for ALL Liberals, and should be treated as such. (BTW, this was just an example, I'm not claiming to be a Liberal or stating my beliefs regarding gun control.)

Of course, I ought to be held to the same standards that I am suggesting above and certainly don't mean to imply that I am exempt.

So, with that, I'm interested in hearing some of your responses to the questions above.

Gregory Geller's profile photoTheodore Minick's profile photoMatthew Barnes's profile photoKenneth Cochran's profile photo
I would add to +Matthew Barnes​ comment by saying that sometimes the link between regulation and corporate interests isn't so difficult to detect. Many bills that eventually become law were actually written by the very corporations that stood to benefit from them with little modification before being proposed by a representative in Congress.

In answer to +Gregory Geller​'s question concerning the example of the adult with the severe mental disability I would point out that a 1st graders are capable of understanding fairly complex concepts. So an adult with such a handicap is still capable of supporting herself with supervision. My cousin is in such a position though her parents income level would disqualify her from this particular thought experiment. My aunt and uncle do have access to quite a bit of charitable organizations that provide help to fill in the gaps in government assistance. In the absence of government assistance it is likely that charities would play a larger role in providing support for the disabled as they did before the rise of government wellfare programs. Mental and physical disabilities are better understood today than they were a century ago so it is unlikely that society would regress to the institutionalization prevalent a century ago.

As the father of a physically handicapped child I am uniquely qualified to answer this second question. My income level excludes my son from all government assistance though it is not so high that I don't feel the financial burden of paying for his medical care. I have only my own income and the generosity of others to provide him adequate care.

Because many in today's society feel helping the disadvantaged is the responsibility of government, fewer people donate to charities than they did before the turn of the 20th century. And more's the pity. While everyone seeks to minimize their own personal contribution to the government, charity has always been an opportunity to voluntarily contribute to a cause you feel is worth while. People are far more involved in helping one another when they see the immediate effect their generosity has on someone else. The recipients of charity also receive the emotional benefits of gratefulness when they receive a gift rather than the soul numbing hopelessness they feel from receiving an entitlement check that will vanish if they make any attempt to improve their own financial situation.

In any case, this lack of generosity constrains the resources of charitable organizations. So most charities focus their limited resources on helping only the extremely poor. Like the government, most focus on making poverty more bearable rather than helping people avoid slipping into poverty in the first place. Never the less, I was able to find a couple that helped me narrowly avoid declaring bankruptcy when I was blindsided by an unexpected medical expense.

It is my belief that with the speed at which information moves today the poor and disabled would be better served by charity and their own self interest than by the wastefulness and bureaucratic overhead of government programs that encourage life long dependence.
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Gregory Geller

Discussion  - 
Question for libertarians:

Given that current society is largely influenced by a long history of violence initiated by the state--such as the destruction of native American people and culture, slavery, destruction of unions and other anti-labor movements, banksterism, etc--how would a libertarian deal with that history moving forward?

Would you address those grievances by acknowledging that they are the result of a past initiation of violence and advocate for reasonable reparations? Or, would you in effect wipe the slate clean and say that the starting line is now and from here out the initiation of violence will no longer be tolerated but we will not address violence initiated or suffered by our ancestors?
Gregory Geller's profile photoTheodore Minick's profile photoErik Buchanan's profile photoKenneth Cochran's profile photo
+Gregory Geller
I'll try rephrase it then.

No person is responsible for the situation into which they are born. They are only responsible for their own actions and reactions. This means that if you are born into poverty it is no one's responsibility but your own if you spend your entire life and die still in poverty.

That being said, your actions and reactions affect more than just yourself. You are also responsible for the effect your actions have on others.

In short you have a responsibility to both yourself and those around you that you can affect. This is a deeply personal responsibility and no one can delegate this responsibility to someone else.

Far too often I see people that take no responsibility for their own actions. Whether those actions be poor decisions that result in bankruptcy or whether they be ignoring the plight of another person in need.

At least, that's my own personal philosophy.
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Bidding question:

Online game at BBO. New partner that I know nothing about. Playing SAYC. I'm sitting South with:


Bidding goes:

W   N   E   S
P  1C  1H  X
P  2C   P    ?

My feeling is that we should be in game but I can't bid NT without a stopper in diamonds. Partner ought to know that I have four spades. So, I choose to bid 2H to show heart support. Partner, rebids clubs. I want to bid 3nt but surely opps will lead a diamond now. Feel like I can't miss game with this hand so I go to 5C. We get doubled and go down 2. Partner had AKJ of diamonds. 

How would you have bid this hand? Do you think it would be acceptable to bid 3nt instead of 2H? Good thing about that is if my partner IS weak in diamonds, we might get a heart lead.

What do you think?
Gregory Geller's profile photoKiat Huang's profile photoMorten Eide's profile photoİ.Ahmet SERDAROĞLU's profile photo
i also play online game in BBO...My nickname "serdarus"..Playing SAYC and/or 2 over 1..Do not hesitate to contact me anytime you want to play with...
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Question. What does the following bidding sequence show in SAYC:

N   E   S  W
P  1C  P  1D
P  2NT

In particular, what can be concluded regarding East's strength?
Nicolas FRANCOIS's profile photoBill Jacky's profile photoPaul Gipson's profile photoIrving Hornic's profile photo
18-19 balance and
4 diamonds may have 4 in a major or 5 diamonds w/o 4 in majors. West may bid 3 lvl major showing 4 cards or bid 3nt or slam based on west strenght.
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Gregory Geller

commented on a video on YouTube.
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Stan the Snail. Why you so crazy??

Gregory Geller

Discussion  - 
Am I unAmerican for posting this?
Dean Al-Sarraf's profile photoEric Hanson (TesseractE)'s profile photoTimothy Collins's profile photoManfred M. Strasser's profile photo
No, you are not un-American! Quite the contrary! He who loves his country, stands up, shows up when something is wrong. Or, as Barbara Ehrenreich ( formulated it: No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
Her book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (2009) is one of the most-read fiction books in Europe (
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Have him in circles
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Gregory Geller

Economic concepts  - 

I have trouble understanding macro concepts when it comes to trade deficits and currency exchanges. I don't understand the relationship between them.

I'm reading a book right now and there's this passage:

"The problem with currency unions, as Argentina was to discover in the late 1990s and Europe in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008, is the simple fact of life that trade and capital flows can remain systematically unbalanced for decades, if not centuries.  Come what may, some regions within a country (e.g. the Stuttgart area in Germany, the Greater London area in Britain, or the Shanghai region in China) will always post a surplus in their trading with other regions (e.g. with eastern Lander, with Yorkshire, or with the western provinces of China). So it is with states within federations: California will never balance its trade with Arizona, and Tasmania will always be in deficit vis-a-vis Victoria and New South Wales. Given that these trade imbalances are chronic, something has to take the slack; something must give.

When each of these entities has its own currency, it is the exchange rate that gradually shifts in order to absorb the strain caused by the trade imbalances. Before the euro was established, Germany's persistent surplus vis-a-vis countries like Greece and Italy resulted in a gradual devaluation of the drachma and the lira relative to the Deutschmark. Thus balance was maintained, as the growing trade asymmetries were cancelled out by analogously deepening imbalances in the exchange rates."

I guess there's a bunch of things here I don't understand:

1) Are trade deficits/surpluses bad in and of themselves? For whom?

2) Pre-EU, when a country like Germany exported goods to Greece, the were paid in Deutschmarks or in Drachmae? 

3) If in Deutschmarks, how did Greece get Marks with which to pay?

4) If in Drachmae, then what does Germany do with those Drachmae if there is a permanent or semi-permanent trade imbalance? (I guess this is the problem). 

5) Why would a trade imbalance imply a pressure on respective currency exchange rates? E.g. why would the above scenario cause pressure on the Drachmae to become weaker relative to the DM?

Am I hopelessly confused?

Peter Kelly's profile photoBill Igoe's profile photo
Nothing mysterious. Think of currency as tradable coupons; just some countries favor one coupon over another. In fact prior to the 1900s, dollars were issued by independent banks and depending of the geographical location each bank's dollar issuances had different exchange rates due to local unfamiliarity.
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Gregory Geller

Linux Commands  - 
Holy cow...I have a problem that is driving me crazy:

lets say I want to run a remote command using awk like this:

# ssh remote-host "chkconfig --list | grep 3:on | awk '{print $1}' "

This give me the same exact output if I had just typed:

# ssh remote-host "chkconfig --list| grep 3:on"

As if the awk didn't happen

If i remove the double-quotes, it "works" but not really because now the print statement is being run on the local host, not the remote host. For example, if I do:

# ssh remote-host chkconfig --list | grep 3:on | awk ''{system("hostname")}'

I get a bunch of lines like


one for each line of output of the sysconfig --list,
instead of the name of the remote-host like I want.

Obviously the command:

# sysconfig --list | grep 3:on | awk '{print $1}'
works on a local machine (without going through ssh)

Any ideas?
Gregory Geller's profile photoTyler Kalevra's profile photoMr. RFKiller's profile photoSascha Heuterer's profile photo
Well its pretty easy, $1 unescaped is a local argument and thus empty, but escaped it will be sent to the server as string, not as value and then converted there.
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Gregory Geller

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Compact and intense, the New Jersey band's songs channel the spirit of punk, but also the density of heavy rock that's had the fat cut out.
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Interesting hand.

Both vulnerable:

East (dealing) passes.
You are South with:


Do you open? What is your bid?

The actual auction went:

W    N    E    S
              P   1H
P   1S   P   2D
P   4H   P   4N
P   5D   P   5H
P   6H   P    P

Is this a reasonable result? Did S grossly overbid their hand?
Gregory Geller's profile photoMatt M.'s profile photoNicolas FRANCOIS's profile photo
+Gregory Geller
E has not enough values to propose slam. And if he wanted to propose, 5D would be more appropriate than 4NT !

Mind you, even a partner with only 14 points composed of 3 red top cards could consider doing some effort before concluding to game. So the "dream hand" should not be considered.

Imagine either A or KC in the N hand. Then you need AS, A and KH, those are all top cards worth considering that could lead N to a FSF (to paraphrase Matt).
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Gregory Geller

Programming  - 
So, I'd like to teach myself how to program in SIMPL. I've got programming experience, but SIMPL is a different type of beast than anything I have seen before.

I've got access to a DM processor, room controller, and a simple 10-button panel.

Any pointers on where/how to start? Are there any good online tutorials/resources that can walk me through a simple project?
Jason Jespersen's profile photoGeorge Tucker's profile photoAlbert Tu's profile photo
Try the search result link at the bottom of this comment: the top link is a step by step "no frills" blog.  I have knowledge that Crestron is aware of it and has not seen a reason to have it modified or removed -(meaning it is 'mostly right').

There are also links to several YouTube videos showing some tips and techniques.
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Gregory Geller

Shared publicly  - 
A case against faith:

If a god tries to test your faith, then that god exists and it is no longer a matter of faith. Now it's just a decision to either obey or disobey.

If it seems to you that god is testing your faith, then it really does come down to a test of faith. If you are wrong, it will be you who are disappointed, either way, not god. Either you chose to obey a god that didn't exist. Or, you chose to not obey a god that does. 

One reason to choose not to obey is because if you do obey a non-existent god, you have literally given up the meaning of your life to a fiction. If you chose not to obey a real god, there is still some wiggle room because you really don't have any idea what might come next. Maybe it was a test to see if you would fall for the first test. Maybe the test isn't really that big of a deal to god. Maybe god was just kidding. Maybe you completely misunderstood what god was all about. Maybe even though god exists, we still all just die in the end.  The point is, there are an infinite number of possibilities. If you mistakenly obey, then you have definitely lost the chance to create an authentic life of meaning and can never get it back.
Gregory Geller's profile photoGeoff Brandt's profile photoKasper Brohus Allerslev's profile photo
This is purely semantics though. The words faith and belief seem to mean different things to different people. No dictionary will change that.
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Have him in circles
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  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
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