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Robert Hirsch
Works at Shandor Engineering
Attended Mostly RPI
Lived in New York
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Robert Hirsch

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In a world where telepathy is fully available to everyone, what compelling reason might there be to speak verbally?

What limitations would you have to put on the telepathy in order to make speech a compelling tool?

On this last one, as an example, I thought perhaps telepathy only works on a 1 to 1 basis and perhaps you can't use it to address crowds.

But I can't think of the answer to the first one


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Would the sound of singing be more beautiful using your ears or telepathically? Could you use telepathy to "talk" to your dog? These might be cases where you would choose to speak verbally....
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I know how this story ends...

The city sends code enforcement or public works to have the house removed.
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Thank you very much +Brian Boring. I just browsed the article quickly and it seems like an interesting concept. I will look into it later and maybe comment on it.

Thank you once again :)
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For decades, China's communist regime has defied predictions of its impending demise by using policy reforms to head off the need for fundamental institutional change. But with few reform rabbits left to pull out of its hat, the regime may now be approaching a dead end.
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Yep. China has an uphill battle for a while, on the economic and freedom fronts. It's going to get ugly over there.
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Despite relentless attacks in American citizens...
Despite over 1000 times so far this acting as judge, jury and executioner...
Despite using tax payer money to fund the fines in the rare cases a murderous cop is found guilty...
Despite being specifically trained to escalate violent situations...
despite having no mandate, whatsoever to actually protect people...
Despite failing to prevent 95% of crimes....
Despite having their authority handed to them unearned...

....People post this. What do you say to someone who still believes this tripe.
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Propaganda tends to paint with an insidiously broad brush.
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This is pretty neat. Anyone see anything strange about this bike?
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I don't have a reveal

:(
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Robert Hirsch

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Busting a few GMO Myths

I'm reposting this from a discussion on my Facebook wall.

A little while back, I posted the attached link about Jane Goodall, and it sparked a conversation about GMOs.  Some of the things that people were saying are frequently-repeated misconceptions about genetic modification, so I think my attempt to clear up the confusion is worth reposting here.  I'll update, maybe, as the conversation evolves.  I'm bolding the (edited) claims, and leaving my responses unformatted.

Claim: Science doesn't say things like "GMOs are safe."  Anyone advocating GMOs is a business person, because scientific claims are more contextual than that, and there's no preponderance of evidence.

Response:

That's absurd. There's a tremendous amount of peer reviewed evidence that GMOs are in no way harmful. Asserting that anyone disputing claims that they pose health risks is a "business person" is just as crazy as saying that anyone claiming that climate change is a real problem is being paid off by the government (or whatever). It's a conspiracy theory, and it's irrational.

The parallels between climate deniers and GMO skeptics are striking and obvious. In both cases, there's a strong scientific consensus about the right answer to some question, along with a popular rejection of that scientific consensus. Virtually every study done on GMOs has shown that they pose absolutely no additional health risk to human beings; asserting that GMOs are safe is absolutely a scientific position. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that "science is contextual." Yes, of course we haven't done every single test possible on the health risks associated with consuming GMOs in every possible circumstance. We don't know if they pose a health risk when consumed on Mars, while standing on your head, while sitting in a bathtub full of homemade gin, and so on; to be skeptical of their general safety on that basis is totally insane, though. 

By every indicator we have, they're perfectly safe, and it's reasonable to base our opinion on the best science we currently have. Claiming that any scientist (that includes me, by the way!) who agrees that GMOs are safe is a shill for agribusiness is exactly the same thing as claiming that any scientist who claims vaccines are safe is a shill for "big pharma." It's a completely unwarranted conspiracy theory. Of course science can't make a claim like "All GMOs are completely risk free for every person in all circumstances," but that's a strawman--no one is making that claim. The claim is that based on all the evidence we have, GMOs are pose no more health risks than non-GMO crops for the majority of people. There are, of course, people out there who might have allergies to some component in GMO foods, just as there are people who have allergies to some components of vaccinations. However, that has absolutely no bearing on their general safety, and (again) we have strong evidence that they are indeed safe.

Just as with climate change, it's really, really important that people keep abreast of the genuine research on this issue before making claims like this. In both cases (as well as with vaccinations), the body of scientific literature is extensive, and the evidence is firmly on one side of the issue. Climate change is real, GMOs are safe, and vaccines save lives. Disputing any of those points is to go against the scientific consensus. In all cases, of course, research is ongoing and always evolving. It's possible that we'll discover some hidden danger associated with GMOs, just as it's possible that we'll discover that we've been entirely mistaken about anthropogenic climate change. Basing beliefs or public policy on the unsupported supposition that future research will overturn the current consensus, though, is crazy.

Claim: Glyphosate is incredibly dangerous.  It's been linked to Celiac disease (citing http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/), as well as the widespread die-off of honeybees.

Response:

The first (and most important) point here is that even if glyphosate is actually dangerous to humans (a claim for which there is virtually no evidence), that's a problem with glyphosate rather than with GMOs. Saying that pesticide resistant GMO crops are inherently dangerous because of the pesticides is absurd--if there's a risk there, it's a risk associated with the pesticide itself, rather than with genetic modification. This is similar to the point about monoculture that I mentioned above--we can say that some of the farming practices associated with GMO agribusiness are suspect without that implying that GMOs themselves are suspect. If I engineer an organism to grow better in the presence of arsenic, and people become sick after consuming the arsenic covered crops, that doesn't show that it was the genetic modification that made people sick--it was the arsenic. Again, there's a strong parallel with climate change here. The fact that some approaches to dealing with global warming (say, geoengineering) carry substantial risks themselves is not evidence that global warming isn't happening, nor is it an argument against trying to deal with the problem in some way.

All that aside, the study that you linked to is itself suspect in a number of different ways. A quick review of the article shows that the authors are basing their conclusions on a single paper out of India from 2009 (http://cropandweed.com/vol5issue1/46.1.html) in which the investigators exposed fish to a "glyphosate containing" (emphasis mine) compound. The researchers found changes in the fish's digestive tract which (in their words) "appeared to resemble Celiac disease." That's not much of a link. I did a little more digging, though, and things are even more suspect. The particular compound that they used in the 2009 study is a commercial compound called "Excel Mera 71" (EM71). EM71 is a terrestrial herbicide--not designed for use in water--that contains, in addition to glyphosate, a number of other compounds--most notably a couple of surfactants. Surfactants aren't used in non-terrestrial applications, as lots of aquatic animal life is known to be vulnerable to it, and the damage associated with surfactants is the sort that the authors noticed in this study. In fact, the National Pesticide Information Center notes that "pure glyphosate is low in toxicity to fish and wildlife, but some products containing glyphosate may be toxic because of the other ingredients in them." Every other study conducted shows that glyphosate is minimally harmful to fish, but compounds that it is mixed with can be harmful, which is why those formulations aren't used in water. The 2009 study on which the Celiac claim is based doesn't take this into account, and fails to control for damage that might have been induced by other compounds in EM71. That's bad science, but jumping from that single study conducted on fish that found damage that looked like Celiac disease to the researchers to the claim that glyphosate causes Celiac disease in humans is beyond bad science: it's fear-mongering that's completely without basis in reality.

So, there are three major things wrong with the claim that GMOs are dangerous because glyphosate might cause Celiac disease: (1) If that's true, it's a risk associated with glyphosate, not GMOs. (2) The proposed glyphosate/Celiac link itself is based on a single study of EM71's damage to fish, and (3) the fish study itself was methodologically suspect. That's very unconvincing.

Honeybee colony collapse disorder is indeed worrying, but I've never seen a single plausible paper suggesting that it's linked to GMOs directly. There are a lot of proposed mechanisms on the table, and we're still trying to figure out what's going on. However, none of the proposed mechanisms blame genetic modification. In fact, the biggest metastudy done on that question (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2169303/) found that there is no discernable link between GMOs and honeybee health. Even when exposed directly (and exclusively) to Bt crops, bee fertility, larvae viability, or adult lifespan. Blaming colony collapse on GMOs is completely unwarranted speculation that isn't backed up by science.

Claim: Saying "GMOs are no more dangerous than other crops" isn't the same as saying "GMOs are safe."  Some GMOs are bred to require more water, or encourage more pesticide use.  Pesticides can run off into the water supply, and that's really bad.

Response:

I suppose "no safer than non-GMO food" isn't the same as "safe," that's true. That seems like sort of a peculiar point, though. There are risks associated with agriculture, especially the large-scale industrial agriculture (which is one of the largest contributors to climate change, incidentally) that we practice in much of the world now. I'm happy to admit that, and I share your concern about water table contamination and water use--I'm quite worried about that stuff as well.

However, I think framing this stuff in terms of GMO vs. non-GMO food muddies the water (so to speak) of the debate, and distracts from the very real problems associated with industrial farming practices. Worrying that genetic modification as a practice is dangerous, or claiming (as Goodall does here) that we're "poisoning ourselves" with GMOs confuses one problem with another, which makes it harder to solve the real problem. Genetically modified food itself poses no health hazard, according to the best scientific evidence we have. GMOs are not poison, or even risky as far as we can tell.

Now, if it's true that some GMO crops need more water to grow (a claim for which I'd like to see a citation), that's a concern. However, framing the problem in terms of an issue with GMOs themselves also blocks off a potential avenue for solving the problem: engineering crops that require less water to thrive. A cursory Google search shows that at least some people are actively working on this idea (http://12.000.scripts.mit.edu/.../genetically-modified.../). That's wonderful. If the public narrative is dominated by claims that GMOs are inherently unsafe, though, that makes it that much harder for these sorts of crops to come into wide use, which makes the problem significantly worse.

Similarly, if we're worried about pesticide runoff into lakes and rivers (which we should be!), framing the problem in terms of a risk associated with genetic modification just makes it that much harder to solve. A significant number of genetic modifications are actually designed to produce crops that don't require pesticides in virtue of allowing the plant itself to produce proteins that harm local pests. This piece from the New York Times discusses one such crop, a genetically modified species of eggplant being grown in some places in Africa, which has been engineered to be toxic to the most pervasive local pest: http://mobile.nytimes.com/.../how-i-got-converted-to-gmo...

Using that crop seems unequivocally great. It's helping the environment by decreasing the use of pesticides, and it's helping a small subsistence farmer make a better living. However, the crop has met with considerable resistance from environmental activists who oppose its use purely on the grounds that it is genetically modified. This reflects a lack of scientific understanding on the part of the activists, and has the potential to do a lot of damage, both environmentally and economically. That's the problem with framing this debate in terms of GMO-associated dangers. It obfuscates the real problem, and can prevent real, helpful solutions that benefit both people and the environment.

Claim: I guess I'll just have to trust you on this

Response: 

No, don't trust me on this! I'm incredibly untrustworthy in general, but at least when it comes to climate change I've done an extensive amount of real original work on the issue, and am an expert in my own right. I'm not an expert on GMOs. However, I am a scientist and I have a tremendous amount of trust in the scientific method and institution. I'm happy to put my faith in my colleagues working on this issue, just as I'd hope that they'd put their trust in me and my fellow climate change researchers when it comes to AGW. I'm basing my claims here on the existence of a strong consensus among those who are experts on this issue. That's the only reasonable position to take with respect to any complicated issue in which I'm not an expert. If the people who know the most about this stuff overwhelmingly say that it's safe, I'm very inclined to believe them.

#GMO   #gmofree   #environmentalism   #scienceeveryday  
Primatologist Jane Goodall is speaking in Salt Lake City at a sold-out event Friday evening about her work and the future of chimpanzees. But in the
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Oh look, they raised minimum wage again.
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+Van D. You need robots for the state to work not people, no matter what label/system it claims itself to be. People are free-willed(for the most part) emotional creatures as opposed to the do as programmed cold logic of machines.
You aren't a technocrat like old Jacques Fresco are you?
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Excellent find. Hey is that a politician without his head up his ass??? Weird.

 
I love this quote ...

"It's a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It's because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn't do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach."
Rep. Ted Lieu lambasts gov't request for more access to encrypted devices.
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Everything in NY and NJ is trash. 







I love you Robby! 
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A take on why rioting gets started (from a philosophical perspective), not so much the mechanics of it. This is why I keep saying, you don't need to condone the rioting, to understand why it happens.

A story with my spawn is in a similar vein. He was being bullied by a kid in school. He told teachers multiple times; the problem persisted, I went to the school and called the school multiple times; problem persisted, I told my spawn to beat the fuck out of the kid which he did the very next time the kid did something to him; problem stopped. But why I am I up at the school listening to a principal tell me how my spawn shouldn't be violent and that violence doesn't help the situation? Because peaceful actions didn't help, and they didn't help for six months. Why is someone finally wanting to get involved in the situation? No, you don't get to tell my spawn or me how it should be, now that you've failed to make a safe environment for him.

If you'd done your job in the first fucking place (police, Mayor, governor, citizens responsible for failure - in the current situation) my spawn wouldn't have needed to be violent. That's victim blaming. No, I don't want my spawn to solve every altercation or disagreement with violence, but other routes were tried and exhausted.

Here's my feelings for those who live in relative comfort, without harassment from a system that is supposed to protect you, without subtle or in your face daily slights telling me how I should behave:

Do Not Tell Me When I Can Be Angry Or Hurt. Do Not Tell Me How I'm Allowed To Express My Rage Or How To Mourn.

You don't get to do that. You are either helping me (us) solve the problem, or you're part of the problem. It isn't just race, there are plenty of our own people (minorities) that don't care, stay quiet, or become part of the system oppressing their own. You just can't stand by and criticize if you aren't helping the problem get resolved.

Disclosure: I have not protested heavily. I've been to some of the Ferguson protests, but I'm not heavily involved. I am spreading the word. I'm giving where I'm able. I vote for those who show a tendency to understand the institutional issues that exist


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I agree, it would be better, but having a yearly contract to be bid out to private security firms would be an improvement over the current system.
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Wow, this is pretty awesome.
 
"This past summer, Overstock’s free-thinking CEO, Patrick Byrne, said that the company was hoping to issue a “cryptosecurity” using bitcoin-like technology, and he hired both the developers and the lawyers needed to do so. Now, he and his company have taken the idea to government regulators."
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne wants to remake the stock market the same way bitcoin remade money.
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I don't understand why it was ever controlled. Because protection?
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Imagine what would happen if rulers weren't actually in the way.
 
How Fast the USA Makes Social Changes.

These graphs are very interesting.

#Marijuana   #Prohibition   #LGBT   #Interracial   #Suffrage   #Abortion  
As the Supreme Court considers extending same-sex marriage rights to all Americans, we look at the patterns of social change that have tranformed the nation.
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Watch what happens when Crowder goes undercover in Dearborn, MI to see if Muslim bakeries will make his gay wedding cake. HILARIOUS intolerance and...
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Not sure what distinguishes a gay wedding cake from a non-gay wedding cake?
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Education
  • Mostly RPI
  • columbia prep
    1982 - 1986
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    1986 - 1992
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All your science belongs to me
Introduction
Look at that ugly mug in the picture. Now for some of you, you may have to imagine some hair on  that head. For others of you, you may have to imagine the tongue on the inside of the mouth. And for some others still, you may be more used to t-shirt, shorts and sandals instead of a tux.
Bragging rights
I recently played Dr. Katastroff in Queen Mabs Enchanted City in Troy New York. I spent a bazzilion years at RPI getting a PhD. I spent two years making creatures for movies in the 90's, woking on movies such as Hook, Radio Flyer, and Operation Dumbo Drop.
Work
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Endoplasm evangelist
Employment
  • Shandor Engineering
    Ectoplasm Manipulator, 2014 - present
  • H2Pump
    Director of Systems Engineering, 2008 - 2014
  • H2Pump
  • MTI microfuel cells
    2001 - 2004
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Previously
New York - Los Angeles - Troy NY - East Hartford CT