Wow, goes a long way to show that when one wants to find reasons for a preconceived opinion, one finds them (but generally looks stupid).
As we're firmly ensconced in a global recession, quickly sliding into a global depression, it does lead to the question -- does a bunch of scientists spending millions of dollars/pounds to smash atoms together have any short-term benefits? If not, does delaying the smashing result in a significant rise in cost?
It should be obvious to you that yes, there's a VERY significant rise in cost of delaying: cost now is people whose job you have to pay for. Stop the costs, you stop the jobs. The people go somewhere else, and in three years time, you just CAN'T find experienced people again without spending years enticing them and paying them WAYYYYY more.
If you had thought about it, you could even have seen this everywhere: private companies too avoid at all costs to get rid of valuable people, even in a recession (firing blue-collars is not the same: the more qualifications you need, the more the company will try and keep you in a downturn so that you're still there when it gets better.
"Spending lots of money on things which have no immediate benefit makes little sense in a rec/depression."
Quite the opposite. In a recession, governments will often spend, spend, spend, just to get counteract the vicious circle of "recession->noone spends money->there's no reason to produce as noone buys->fire people->worsening recession -> noone spends money-> ..."
Of course, spending on something useful may be better, but actually, just spending, even for something utterly useless, actually has a very direct and useful benefit in recession times.
So if you're convinced CERN is useless, well, now is exactly the time when you should complain LESS about the spending.
"Now the medical imaging industry are looking at what we've done, with a view to making combined PET/MRI scanners," adds Gillies. "Of course, it won't make us any money."
Bullshit. What he meant, of course, is that it won't DIRECTLY make them any money. [...]
But like other industries, indirect is hard to measure, so we'll conveniently ignore it.
If you had actually read the thing with an open mind, you'd have realized the guy is actually saying EXACTLY the same as you are. He's precisely making the point that it doesn't make them any direct money, but that it's useful to society as a whole, and thus is making money indirectly. Read again, it's so funny seeing you try to prove the guy is a whiner by precisely explaining the same thing as he.
He of course doesn't "conveniently ignore it". On the opposite, he's using this as one of his main arguments to prove that the research was helpful, indirectly bringing benefits to the society, in return for the money expended.
Oh yes, sing it, brother! "We are the world... We are the children..." Oh, sorry, I got caught up in his "We bring harmony to the world" aura. I'm sure all the web developers out there are happy there are no incompatibilities that require them to test for and design separate code for IE6, IE7, IE8, and Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox. Yes, I know that's not CERN's fault, but it goes to refute his stupid comment about the web not having incompatibilities. In theory, it doesn't. As Tim Berners-Lee designed it, it doesn't. In reality, it does.
You don't know what the web is do you?
Browsers is not the web.
He's talking about the fact that the content is not specific to a private network (like Microsoft tried to do). Minor deviations in the web standards is so far from what you'd have if some private companies had each developped a web (not counting the fact it would probably have taken 10 more years, or even more, to get a critical mass to get it to take off).
It's getting really ludicrous.
And the best:
"As for whether or not the World Wide Web has helped the economy, I won't pretend to know the answer because it's not a clear yes or no. Sure, you have economic successes like amazon.com, but what impact has that had on local economies? You have social networking success stories like myspace and facebook, which at least benefit data centers and probably a small number of employees, but at what economic cost to local economies (since people "meet" on those sites instead meeting in person and frequenting local eateries, entertainment, etc)?"
Wow, that one shows a real, laughable lack of understanding of the economy.
Is life simpler with the web? Yes, there's a clear yes or no to that one. Finding an address? Booking a flight, a hotel? Looking up some obscure information? Contacting someone? Sending information fast and reliably?
All this that you now do through the web saves you hundreds of hours a year. And it also saves hundred of hours of people you'd have made work to get the same result.
At the same time, unemployment had not risen at the same time all those jobs were destroyed (cos' they were, you're right). What does it mean? Well, basically, that's the definition of growth.
If population doesn't grow significantly (and in that case there's no growth 'per head' so it doesn' teven help), how is there any growth in our society? By freeing up people's time, and destroying jobs that can be done more efficiently, so that these people can produce something else instead.
Since as many people were employed after the web revolution as before, you have to realize they just did something else instead of having hundreds of thousands of people employed at booking plane tickets and printing address books and others.
So you got the same thing as before - through the web - and all the things those people now do, which they wouldn't be doing if they still had to do the thankless tasks the web has removed the need for.
Growth, per definition.
Thinking it's not clear whether the web has helped growth because it has destroyed jobs is exactly as stupid as thinking agricultural machines has not clearly helped growth because 80% of pre-existing the jobs were eventually destroyed because of it (going from 90% of farmers to 10%). Hmmm, let me see, I can't really be sure about this. We probably would have had more economic benefits if we'd kept 90% of the population plowing the fields. That HAS to be better than destroying all those jobs, we'd surely be economically be better off...