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Comment Great Leap Forward,it is. (Score 2) 28

I did not know Nazi's were using this phrase. I give rats tail to Nazis. I have seen "Great Leap Forward" being used in this context, to the unknown combination of traits that changed our species from anatomically modern H sapiens to behaviorly modern H sapiens. It is not something I coined. I'm not going to abandon it and cede permanent ownership to the Nazis.




But I did know the Nazis were using the Swastika symbol. So what? I will proudly and happily use the Swastika for what it is, a Hindu symbol and a decorative motif from ancient India. I recently ran into a group Indians and their priest in the Starbucks (@ State College PA) The women were wearing white saris with ornate decorative borders. The motifs in their border? The Swastika and the Star of David alternating in a series!

Not sure how many noticed the irony!

Comment Tide prediction probably saved the human race (Score 5, Interesting) 28

In the evolution of humans, genetics show a bottleneck about 75000 years ago. Some catastrophic global event, probably a volcanic eruption, nearly wiped out all the hominids that were ancestors of Homo sapiens, in Africa. The best evidence suggests the only bands that survived the event clung to life in the east African coast near the southern end of the continent. They seem to have subsisted on shell fish and other crustaceans collected during the low tide. There are some telltale marks of intelligence about that band. Scratches on stone tools that could be decorations or ownership marks, shells with holes punched through them to make garlands of shells, using fire to sharpen and temper their stone tools etc.

In hardly 30,000 years they expanded all across Africa, broke out of Africa, set up nascent populations all across Arabia, Persia, India, Andaman Nicobar Islands (this is important), Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, Papua New Guinea and reached Australia.

Andaman islands is important because the first clade in the cladogram of world languages is Andamanese and Non-Andamanese. It is very clear to me, as a layman, not a strict scientist, the Great Leap Forward that happened 75000 years ago in our history was the development of abstract language and the ability to exploit coastal resources.

So yeah, tide prediction changed our history. But not 75 years ago in Europe, but 75000 years ago in South Eastern Africa.

Comment Re:Subpoena the change management records (Score 1) 419

Sending the email is better than adding comments to the code. The slick boss would later deny giving the instructions. With an email trail it would be more difficult to dodge responsibility. But the these slick bosses don't like being cornered like that. They would retaliate by tough reviews and vindictive job assignments. The company that promotes slick willies as bosses is not a viable long term employer. Leave as much paper trail as possible and dust off the resumes.

Comment Subpoena the change management records (Score 2) 419

May be the top honchos don't know much about the source control procedures. The software engineers can reconstruct the entire change history of how the device was created and implemented. The check-in comments, code comments, pull requests, merge authorizations are all there for ever indelible. The software engineers who are left holding the bag can turn around and finger everyone in their chain of command who knew it, who authorized it, who took care not to leave meeting notes etc.

It should turn out to be a lesson for all top management who think they can throw the nerds under the bus. It should also turn out to be a good lesson for all software engineers to create a complete record of change history. Even if you get a oral order to implement something and the boss refuses to leave *any* paper record, and you are not really in any position to defy the boss, leave it in the source. Leave comments and pull-req messages saying "Adolf and Erwin asked me to make this change".

Comment Is it a surprise? (Score 1) 419

The software engineers created and implemented a strong change management and tracking system where every line every bit of code change done by every engineer can be tracked years after the fact, with absolute certainity.

The upper management has always created documents that are secret, which are lawyered to provide sufficient deniability to people who sign them, if they ever let it get to the level of signature. The whole culture built on "how can I grab as much money as possible" "how can do as little as possible" "how can create escape hatches and set up fall guys to take the blame if this thing blows up" "how can I position myself to take full advantage if the engineering actually delivers what it promised".

Is it any surprise they blame the software engineers?

Let us see, if the software engineers will fall on the sword or they dig up all the check-in comments, pull-requests and approvals and bring down the entire chain of command that authorized it. Couple of rogue software engineers? If that is true, VW has a much larger problem. We can't trust anything in the VW engine control module. It is the job of the upper management drawing humongous salaries to make sure couple of rogue engineers can't pull off anything this big.

I know someone who works in retail. When they close the store, the two employees very very low in the corporate ladder had to attest that one deposited the cash counted by the other. And VW, an ISO-9600 company or whatever had such lax procedures? Would anyone believe this?

Comment Is it a good idea? Remember Chief Ullumongo (Score 1) 169

The island that was later named Peterssen Island is a tiny spec in the vast Pacific Ocean. Barely five feet off the sea level it is nearly invisible even to ships barely three miles away. It had neither bird colonies nor coconut palms. It was very fortunately situated, the atmospheric air currents and ocean currents were such that it would rain regularly like a clockwork every evening at sunset. There was no source of fresh water in two hundred mile radius around that island.

It had a very small band of humans living there, and their Chief Ullumongo had a vision that there are other human beings in the ocean. They came from them, and the other humans are descendants of their ancestors who are searching for them. He ordered that every day at sun rise the islanders should build a bonfire with thick column of smoke that could be seen for several dozens of miles. He was sure if they let them know they are there, they will come.

It took them several decades, Chief Ullumongo was old, frail and infirm, his grandson Amonomongo was the reigning chief when the ship captained by Eric Peterssen saw the column of smoke. The only safe anchorage and fresh water withing 200 miles ... The island was too important to be left to the natives. They were soon wiped out, the story of Chief Ullumongo is buried in some captain's log in some naval museum of Amsterdam.

Is it really wise to let "them" know we are here?

Comment They have GPS anyway (Score 1) 227

Even the hobbyist drones carry GPS receiver and most of them fly a pre programmed flight path. We can make sure the app does not accept any flight path that violates FAA restrictions. They know their GPS coordinates, most of them feed a HD video stream to their controller. They have enough power to transmit their location to ATC in bursts, like a flash in a older camera, they can accumulate charge in a capacitor and discharge them in a burst that can be picked up by ATC radar.

Of course someone would hack the app and circumvent the safeguards. And when they get caught they can be sent to jail. Given a legal and reasonable way to do something, most of the people will follow the law.

Comment Re:Drunk driving, FAA and police (Score 1) 227

It is not FAA's job to reassess the property rights and easement rights. Its job and charter is simple, to promote safety and to promote air travel.

There is nothing to stop Congress from enacting a law and asking FAA to re-evaluate the existing airspace for all users competing for it. Heck, FCC does it all the time in spectrum allocation. It allows free use of the spectrum, with power limits and range limits. Same way, FAA can be mandated to review the airspace allocation policies and come up with a legal way for the drone operators to use it legitimately.

What we can not have is for the drone makers to violated existing regulations because they don't like it. You can think of thousand new and and exciting product offering if you can trample all over the spectra and broadcasting with gay abandon. But that is not legal, that is not conducive to developing services and attracting investments.

Comment But it did not kill all! (Score 5, Insightful) 130

Half the population survived and got immunity to it. These pathogens traveled along the trade routes by land to three large population centers, India, China and Europe, Arabia and the Silk route forming land trading routes. They will leave behind an immunized population but sustain themselves by hitting these population centers and rebounding some 20 years later to find fresh unimmunized populations. And several such iterations strengthened the immunity of all the inhabitants of the old World. In each iteration these pathogens got more and more lethal. When the sea routes opened these pathogens "seeded" multiple locations simultaneously in Europe creating very virulent outbreaks.

When Europeans arrived to colonize the New World, their small population should have been wiped out by the diseases unfamiliar to them in the New World. But they were not. Instead the much larger (than the colonists) New World population got devastated by the Old World diseases.

This explanation came out as a 12 page (The arrow of disease) article by Jared Diamond in 1992 in the Discover magazine. Later it was expanded into a Pulitzer winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel

Mirrors should reflect a little before throwing back images. -- Jean Cocteau