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Comment: Re:can we think bigger picture? (Score 2) 33

Sure, it would be awesome and in useful, in many ways, to have a semi-permanent base on Mars. It probably should be a long term goal, but not a current focus.

Terraforming itself is unrealistic even as an extremely long term goal. Who knows what the technology will render possible, but Mars isn’t a great candidate for terraforming. Its gravitational field is weak and it has little or no magnetosphere to name a few things; both of these factors greatly degrade its capacity to maintain a substantial atmosphere. Even if Mars were a near perfect candidate, the cost, required will, and logistical/technological challenges would be staggering. We can barely make a positive dent in Earth’s biosphere (many would argue we've only had a negative impact despite the fact that our lives depend on it); and we only have vague ideas about how to begin building any kind of atmosphere on Mars, much less an atmosphere conducive to Earth-like biodiversity. An Earth-like atmosphere is just one facet...and so on. It would only be a realistic endeavor for a vastly more technologically advanced humanity, not to mention one that otherwise had its shit together.

I've always held we are more likely to visualize ourselves before we terraform another planet.

Comment: Re:Just Right (Score 1) 135

by Baron von Daren (#46832889) Attached to: Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics

You said:

Given all of these issues, I wouldn't attempt to defend the proposition that "a large moon is necessary for the origin of life". It may be a true proposition, but I don't think that the state of knowledge at the moment allows one to claim it as a fact.

Over to you.

Consider these statements from my last reply:

...I wouldn't argue that a moon like the Moon is necessary for life, nor could I...

and

Is a Moon like moon a necessary condition for advanced sentient species? Probably not...

As such, I'm not sure we disagree significantly on that specific point.

My point is that I once held an fairly optimistic stance regarding the possible numbers of alien civilizations 'out there.' That stance has been tempered and refined as we discover just how many things Earth has going for it. Are all of them strictly necessary? By no means, but there is probably a critical mass in the matrix of variables needed to foster not only life, but an ongoing evolutionary process. Will there be harsh world outliers? Probably so given the number of potential planets out there, but I am simply saying that the known universe is far more inhospitable than I had once imagined.

Just as an aside; I can’t tell you the last time I watched the Discovery channel or its ilk. I do watch Nova and Nature on occasion, and I really enjoyed Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe (which may actually show on Discovery for all I know). I see other things from time to time, but I find most TV shows repetitive and over-simplified, so I stopped watching them, by and large, many years ago.

Comment: Re:Just Right (Score 1) 135

by Baron von Daren (#46825269) Attached to: Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics

Fair enough; of course I would be hard pressed to defend any of this in a rigorous manner as I am neither a trained scientist nor in the habit of reading scholarly papers, journals, etc. The 'scientific' facets of my worldview are largely informed via popular scientific outlets, some more rigorous than others. I certainly haven't scoured the scientific papers on the subject.

On the other hand, I wonder what you mean by 'very popular claim?' Do you mean a claim made often by non-scientist? Perhaps, but there are easily accessible statements by scientist from various disciplines that speak to the Moon's theorized role in Earth's evolutionary process from the stabilization of the axis, to the early tilde affects on Earth's magma (when the Moon was much closer), to decreasing the amount of asteroid and comet hits we take, to regulating ocean tides, etc. Again, these come to me filtered through popularized media, but they are claims made by scientists.

In any case, I wouldn't argue that a moon like the Moon is necessary for life, nor could I, but don't think its unreasonable to argue that it makes Earth a much more hospitable place to live. And again, the Drake equation isn't about just any kind of life, but about sentient life capable of reaching advancement roughly on par with human culture (or beyond of course). Is a Moon like moon a necessary condition for advanced sentient species? Probably not, but there is probably a critical mass of non-necessary conditions that is necessary...if that makes any sense.

Comment: Re:Just Right (Score 1) 135

by Baron von Daren (#46811889) Attached to: Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics
Indeed, but I wasn't commenting on the equation as much as the tendency to plug in optimistic numbers yielding estimates of tens of thousands of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way alone. I don't have the numbers handy (so my memory may be betraying me), but I believe that somewhere around 90% of stars, in our galaxy, reside in areas too violent to support life for the requisite periods of time regardless of all other factors. I'm not qualified in the least to say whether you facter that into R itself, or if fi is more appropriate. Either way, when you start trying to determine a sound value for ne considering myriad variables like magnetosphere, tectonics, temperature, sufficient H2O, etc., I'd guess N is orders of magnitude less than what was in vogue decades ago.

Comment: Just Right (Score 1) 135

by Baron von Daren (#46809287) Attached to: Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics

Just another example on how many factors affect a planet’s ability to support life not to mention sentient species and civilizations. The more we learn, the longer the list becomes (e.g. the right kind of star system with the right kind of star, the right planetary materials in the right zone, the right kind of magnetosphere, the right kind of moon, shepherd planets, the right kind of galaxy/cluster, the right place in place in the galaxy/cluster, the right kind of geological tectonics, the right kind of asteroid/comet hits, the right kind of mass extinctions and evolutionary histories, and so on).

The universe (not to mention a potential multiverse) certainly contains many planets capable of supporting civilizations, but the numbers are certainly bleaker than the old Drake equations.

Comment: Re: Tunnels of Doom (Score 1) 225

by Baron von Daren (#45661209) Attached to: Doom Is Twenty Years Old

Cheers. I loved Tunnels of Doom, but god did I hate that tape drive. It would error out half the time making the 40 minute load time a 60 minute load or worse. I Office Spaced that thing before it was a verb.

Good memories indeed. That and other 'pure' games like Star Raiders (Atari 400/800/1200). Damn if that TI 99 voice synthesizer wasn't made from alien technology. It was very human sounding, and decades later Steven Hawkins still sounded like a 1930s radio drama robot.

Comment: Tunnels of Doom (Score 1) 225

by Baron von Daren (#45660403) Attached to: Doom Is Twenty Years Old

The first 1st personish game I remember on a PC was Tunnels of Doom on the TI 99. It's certainly wasn’t an FPS, but good portion of the game was moving through the hallways (or tunnels I suppose), which was from a 1st person perspective.

Ahh Tunnels of Doom; nothing like sitting around for 40 minutes while the game loaded from a cassette tape drive.

Comment: Re:You have needless conversations. (Score 1) 361

by Baron von Daren (#45413115) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication Skills For Programmers?

Yes I misinterpreted your comment. I think we agree for the most part.

I would say that improving one's social skills, though draining on an introvert, has intrinsic value above and beyond career advancement. Its a fine line; I personally find self-marketing and political maneuvering distasteful as means toward some ends, but if one learns to integrate better social habits in an honest effort to better the self, it can enrich one's life across the board--including by but no limited to career advancement. I might wish to argue that increasing one's social acumen as a means to greater eudaimonia will get one farther in career than 'faking it,' but that's probably idealistic and untrue.

Comment: Re:You have needless conversations. (Score 1) 361

by Baron von Daren (#45403169) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication Skills For Programmers?

This is an intelligent, reasonable comment that I find completely wrong headed. Everyone has their own perspective and stake in a cooperative endeavor. In the case of a business, sure, some owners may want the workplace to be about profit and efficacy to the exclusion of all other factors, but there is more to life than that. We are social organisms, and we spend large portions of our lives in our work environments. Whether we like it or not, most of us have a biological need for these environments to be fulfilling beyond raw monitory concerns. As such and assuming that ‘communication skills’ is code for social skills, that shouldn’t be discounted, belittled or subordinated to profit making. Now that doesn’t mean socially withdrawn people are any less valuable (I’m a mildly autistic and very introverted myself); I’m simply saying that the overall social environment of any collaboration is important.

BTW, I’m not trying to discount stakeholders’ reasonable expectations for efficiency and profit, but just as capital is not the only facet of a business, the needs of the stakeholders do not totally eclipse the needs of those who provide labor, ideas, or even enrichment of the social environment.

Comment: Re:A new clause needed for "public service" (Score 1) 242

by Baron von Daren (#45283683) Attached to: Cable Lobbyist Tom Wheeler Confirmed As New FCC Chief

Creating an elaborate web of rules that attempts to prevent abuses is futile and ultimately counterproductive.

Though the concept of lobbying and private campaign contributions (of any kind) are sound in the abstract; they are simply too easily gamed and abused in practice. The real answer to much of what ills the American political process is the is the abolishment of organized lobbying and a complete revamp of the campaign process to a shorter, solely publicly funded model. Would these changes engender significant negative consequences? Certainly, but the advantages greatly exceed those negative consequences.

On a somewhat tangential note, a logical response to government corruption and ineptitude shouldn’t be hostility to the very idea of government; it should be hostility to those who are corrupting the government and the democratic ouster of inept officials (of course, we seem to have an inept public, so there is that). Contemporary first-world governments, as dysfunctional and corrupt as they may be, are still doing their part to maintain the greatest societies humanity has ever known. Technology and markets certainly have an equal share of the credit, but, as I have said on /. many times, there are numerous examples of societies with small, weak governments and they are not dreamy utopias of human freedom and economic prosperity. Its no accident that the most economically powerful nations with the most civil liberties in history have huge governments: governments work, even when they suck. So, the answer isn’t to be hostile to the idea of government, but to play a citizen's role in helping government more closely approach its ideal potential.

It's better to have a bloated, current government that preforms the function of governance reasonably well, than a lean, clean government that is incapable of doing so. Reality is messy. We would all like perfect solutions, but sometimes we have to live with solutions that provide the most pragmatically positive result.

PS it is appalling nevertheless.

Comment: Same story, different tool. (Score 1) 211

by Baron von Daren (#45058267) Attached to: All Your Child's Data Are Belong To InBloom

News flash: new powerful tool has great potential for both good and ill!

I’m not trying to discount the potential misuse of data-intelligence such as this, but data-tracking will inexorably become ubiquitous in our lives. Djinnis don’t go back into bottles. Not only will it become increasingly difficult to opt out of such data-tracking, the public will to opt out is diminishing as younger generations concept of privacy shifts. (I lazily try to opt out where I can, but I have no illusions.)

Again, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care who has the data or how it’s used; and I know this is the cogent point for many in this thread. My point is simply that one shouldn’t get sidetracked by the tools themselves. Focus on the only realistic solution: that being laws that define how collected data can be used, shared, etc. It’s an imperfect solution, but the problem isn’t going to go way for lack of a perfect solution.

Comment: Re:D.A.R.E has no benefit (Score 3, Interesting) 440

by Baron von Daren (#44748721) Attached to: What Works In Education: Scientific Evidence Gets Ignored

The market forces that bear upon the toy industry do not apply to universal education. If an individual toy company fails, the impact on society is negligible; not so with the national educational system. I made the comparison to emphasis our social value system.

My original point was that proper funding is a necessary condition for a quality educational system, though it is not sufficient. In other words there are reasons our educational system is failing aside from funding, but the answer is not to cease funding the educational system properly.

This is somewhat of a tangent from that point, but since the market comparison has been made, I feel it is important to emphasis the need for public funding of the primary educational system. It is in the public interest to have an educated citizenry, and it is incumbent upon all citizens to both fund the educational system and have a stake in its efficacy. Markets are not well suited to provide a quality universal education system. Markets are excellent at providing quality private schools that augment the base educational system because individuals have a clear and direct incentive to fund the education of kin (kin used here in the broader anthropological sense which exceeds blood relations). There isn’t as clear an incentive to fund the education of perfect strangers. The educational level of perfect strangers, however, is a kind of externality: the educational level of perfect strangers directly impacts the prosperity of the larger society. Moreover, the children who generally need the most educational resources come from families that have the least ability to fund their children’s education.

That isn’t to say that market concepts like incentives, competition, etc. aren’t important in the educational system, but they have to applied in the framework of a publicly funded, universal educational system. Educators should compete for incentives commensurate with the social gravitas of their role. That’s where I got into the point about shared social values; our society underestimates the gravitas of public education when it comes down to things like funding. Educators should be more respected and better compensated, thus incentivizing competent individuals to excel in the service of public education. It’s kind of naive to expect enough educators to excel purely out of a passion to educate (though that shouldn’t be underestimated either).

Comment: Re:D.A.R.E has no benefit (Score 3, Insightful) 440

by Baron von Daren (#44747077) Attached to: What Works In Education: Scientific Evidence Gets Ignored

I don’t want to get into a huge tangent on this topic, but rest assured there are plenty of school districts in the US that don’t have enough money. While I agree that throwing money at these districts indiscriminately won’t solve anything, it’s pretty hard to build a quality educational systems without sufficient funding. This is especially true in districts where the educational system has to contend children who have difficult home lives and parents who are themselves undereducated. Money certainly can't solve the problem, but it is a significant part of the equation.

We live in a society where those who sell children toys make exponentially more than the people who educate children. That a very simplistic statement, but it touches on the matter of our shared social value system. This gets into a lot of issues concerning market based vs universal public education, but, again, that’s a tangent. The major point is simply that when we move beyond lip-service and rhetoric, education isn’t a core value for our society.

Comment: The F*#$ It Attitude (Score 1) 530

by Baron von Daren (#44700491) Attached to: How Human Psychology Holds Back Climate Change Action

I’m always stunned by the hostility and ignorance displayed on /. in regard to climate change. The preponderance of scientific data indicates that human activity is accelerating global climate change. That shouldn’t be a debate within an educated community like this.

The question is, of course, what to do about it? I agree that only systemic change and a dose of directed technology can address the issue; reducing one’s individual footprint, though admirable, is inconsequential. Sadly it has far more impact on one’s ego than the environment. That being said, I’m baffled by the ‘ahhh f*#$ it’ attitude. I’m especially baffled by the hostile FI attitude. I have my theories, but that’s not important.

What is important is that public attitudes change significantly enough that governments and corporations (perhaps forced by governments) begin to change. The FI attitude maintains the status quo. Sure, China and India are huge problems, but saying ‘FI, we aren’t even going to try here until they start trying there’ is simply entering into a suicide pact with those nations. If we change the way our governments, corporations and consumers act, we might have a chance to exert pressure, on multiple fronts, on other nations. It’s the only way to get the ball rolling.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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