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Comment: Re: what if NASA gets the wrong 4 meter-or-so boul (Score 1) 93

I think there's already a 2030 mission in the works to send the boulder back with flowers, chocolates, and an apology letter inscribed on a golden disc that reveals a YouTube compilation of Carl Sagan quotes if placed in a laserdisc player. (The instructions on the sleeve for constructing such a device simply say "This product has been discontinued" in a mixture of pulsar coordinates and atomic oscillations.)

Comment: The Shearing Economy (Score 1) 120

by epine (#49334721) Attached to: Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data

Ugh. All your base R belong to us.

Avec optional appositional phrase:

means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company

Sans optional appositional phrase:

means that Uber can on its way to becoming a Big Data company

With proper parallelism:

means that Uber can become, and is on its way to becoming, a Big Data company

With more visual help to pair the distal commas:

means that Uber can become—and is on its way to becoming—a Big Data company

As it happens, I listened to an EconTalk episode last night dating back to July 2014, which is mainly about Uber.

Michael Munger on the Sharing Economy

This happens to be the audience-favourite EconTalk episode from 2014.

I've never been as much of a Mike Munger fan as many listeners of the show, but I actually thought this episode was well done. It's about 59m30s longer than what fits in an SMS message, so that makes it fairly clear that this episode is not preaching to the Uber choir. It's for those of us north of 30, whose lives are so dismal we sit around and listen to other people converse about how old and dismal we've all become.

Comment: the Lumia mosaic (Score 1) 213

by epine (#49318483) Attached to: Finland's Education System Supersedes "Subjects" With "Topics"

Recently I was reading The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler on my day off. There's a chapter or so devoted to the Lumiar School he founded, which runs on a Mosaic curriculum—a curriculum which discards the traditional subject orientation for learning experiences. Here's an article written about it shortly after the school opened: Learn what you want.

What we need to change to go along with this (if we keep them) are the standardized tests (by subject). I think there need to be many questions offered, from which the student can choose, and the final score needs to be more like tower diving, where your score on what you attempt is presented alongside with the average difficulty rating. Brownose U. could prefer to admit students with a 100% score at the high-school senior difficulty level, while Speed College could prefer to admit students with an 80% score at the level of a third-year undergraduate (in their chosen major)—tailoring their environment appropriately. Survival of the fittest lacks vitality unless there's real diversity in the methods employed.

Once upon a time, the problem with taking this approach is that having some of your brightest students going deep into difficult sub-topics (such as a bright high school math student who takes a shine to number theory), was that too many students would get too far ahead of the teachers, because few high school math teachers (for example) would be able to ace the entire panoply of twenty offered questions.

With the technology of social networking, it's a solvable problem to hook bright students up with teachers with expertise in the subject area, no matter how deep and narrow. If there are ten high-school math prodigies in all of Brazil who take a shine to number theory, you just need one math teacher (available online) who is good at number theory to help shepherd their studies in a productive direction.

No matter what the child wants to learn, find the teacher who can teach it. In a system as large as Brazil (to continue with my Lumiar example) it can't be that hard to have a least one teacher who can keep up with a bright child no matter how unusual the learning passion (excepting all things Narnia, like astrology and phrenology and intelligent design).

We have far less excuse to funnel every child down the same subject-matter cattle chute than ever before.

Comment: Re:Its not mostly diesel (Score 0) 198

1) Modern diesel engines burn cleaner than gasoline.

2) Modern wood-stoves can produce 1/10th the emissions of your granddad's outdoor wood boiler.

I don't know about agriculture as a source of air pollution, though I know the runoff causes massive damage to aquatic ecosystems.

The bigger problem here, we just have too damned many humans. Not too many cars, not too many woodstoves, not fuel-X vs fuel-Y, not farming-method-P vs farming-method-Q. We don't need emissions controls (well, we do, but I consider that secondart); we need population controls.

Nothing short of that will "fix" our pollution problem, our energy needs, our water needs, our space needs. Our planet just can't handle the size of our species.

Comment: Re:Absolutley (Score 3, Interesting) 572

by epine (#49311411) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

If that strike is destroying monuments thousands of years old and causing irreparable damage to a very fragile desert ecosystem - yes, absolutely I would be strongly against ANY entity that did that, but more importantly didn't even consider it to be a problem.

I take it then that you'll be pretty negative toward the American administration who oversaw the destruction or loss of a substantial slice of cultural artifacts held in trust on behalf of the entire Iraqi civilization.

"The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over. And it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase. And you see it 20 times. And you think, my goodness, were there that many vases?" Rumsfeld told reporters. "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

This from the man who likely repeated the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" times beyond measure. My goodness, is it possible that there were any WMD in the whole country?

the true figure was around 15,000 items, including 5,000 extremely valuable cylinder seals

Perhaps Rumsfeld hates all museums with the same uniform, searing passion, but I suspect he might have summarized the matter differently if 15,000 items walked out of the Smithsonian, including personal artifacts brought over to American on the Mayflower that were already so venerable they predated Constantine.

Now to deal with the article at hand:

If this trend continued, the carbon dioxide level would have become too low to support life on Earth.

If he thinks this trend could have continued deep into the extirpation of the chlorophyllosphere, he's badly in need of that new ultrasound treatment used to cure Alzheimer's disease in the mice model.

Epic fail. Crank dismissed.

Comment: Re:Can we stop treating the "IoT" as a real thing? (Score 1) 166

by pla (#49304479) Attached to: Internet of Things Endangered By Inaccurate Network Time, Says NIST
when I tell the house I want 2 eggs over easy a slice of toast and orange juice for breakfast at 6am I do not want eggs at 5am, toast at 6:30 and OJ at 3 in the afternoon

I put the butter in the pan, put the bread in the toaster, put the eggs in the pan, pour the OJ, flip the eggs, take the toast out, and flip the egg onto it. None of that requires Stratum-1 quality time, or even an internet connection.

More importantly - You have apparently confused "magic" for "the internet". The fact that your toaster has its own facebook feed (with 27,000 followers, no doubt!) doesn't mean that it can walk over to the pantry (dodging your robotic frying-pan on its way to get the eggs and butter, of course), take out the bread, remove that pesky little plastic clip without breaking it, take out two slices, put the clip back on (again without breaking it), then cook them for you.

Comment: Can we stop treating the "IoT" as a real thing? (Score 1) 166

by pla (#49303513) Attached to: Internet of Things Endangered By Inaccurate Network Time, Says NIST
Why does my toaster need to know the time more accurately than, say, a five minute window? For that matter, why does my toaster need internet access?

For that matter, why the hell do I want my two-ton thin-metal-shelled death trap visible on the internet while flinging its contents (me) down the highway at 80MPH?

Comment: Re:I just don't care (Score 3, Insightful) 231

by pla (#49303019) Attached to: FTC: Google Altered Search Results For Profit
Still irrelevant - Google doesn't "owe" you free advertising.

Google exists as a publicly-traded for-profit company. They "just happen" to provide a tool for free that lets you find things online, but they have absolutely no obligation to make that tool "fair". If they want to put things that make them money at the top of the list, they can.

If they wanted to sort their search results by the number of cat references per result, they could do that, too. And none of us have the least right to complain about it.

Don't like it? Use Bing.

Comment: Re:The premise -- collectivism (Score 1) 317

by pla (#49302137) Attached to: Fake Suicide Attempt Tests Facebook Prevention Tool, Lands Man In Asylum
As is your idea of "true" suicidal people - most of them can't plan ahead. Most suicide attempts are impulsive.

Way to read your own biases into what I said.

Wanting to talk to someone does not mean the same thing as changing your facebook status to "just took a bottle of pills LOLWTFBBQ".

You also contradict yourself in your stance on this - So most suicides happen impulsively, but they fucking stop to talk about it on Facebook first? Impulsive means "Hey, I had a bad day, and whatd'ya know, I casually walked to the top of this bridge. Hey, I could jump!". Impulsive doesn't mean telling your 1500 closest friends you want to die and then giving them a few hours to make sure enough people read it. In any other context, we would call that proof of premeditated intent, not "impulsive".

Comment: Re:The premise -- collectivism (Score 1) 317

by pla (#49297919) Attached to: Fake Suicide Attempt Tests Facebook Prevention Tool, Lands Man In Asylum
The irony of all this - People who really just want to die don't post to Facebook about it. They get their affairs in order, make sure no one will need to deal with their shit (beyond the trauma of their final exit), and then just go off on a weekend "hiking trip" that they never come back from.

The people posting to Facebook about suicide want/need attention. So how does Facebook deal with this? Socially fucking isolate them??? Well done, Facebook! Now, I personally think more people should "just do it" and quit talking about it, but you've managed to enact a policy that will accomplish that goal far, far better than my own opinions ever could!

A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing but together can decide that nothing can be done. -- Fred Allen