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Comment Re:"Failed" push for renewables? (Score 1) 268

Speaking as someone who, back in the late 80's, out of my own fear due to ignorance and a lack of foresight, voted to shut down Rancho Seco, [...]

If it's any consolation, you were probably right at the time. We can only talk about how good nuclear power is now because of the moratorium on new plants which let us skip a generation of reactor design. If the US had been building nuclear plants in the 80s, your electricity bill today would still mostly be paying off the capital costs.

Comment Is the news cycle the only explanation? (Score 2) 124

Or are there other interpretations that explain why it *seems* bad?

Enduring and worsening (I don't know about the worsening part) income inequality, with automation and globalization likely to make income inequality even worse, and automation predicated by many to lead to widespread under/unemployment?

The environment getting much worse -- mass deforestation, global warming, declining fresh water supplies, much of it abetted by ever-spiraling population growth?

While it's true we don't actually worry about a US/Soviet nuclear exchange every day, the number of states with nuclear weapons has increased and the newer states that have them or are working on having them are less stable or have chaotic or messianic motivations.

The nature of some of our conflicts seems more intractable due to the lack of state actors involved and in some cases leaving states that are marginally viable or stateless altogether (Libya, parts of subsaharan Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria).

It seems too simple to just dismiss a sense of pessamism as human nature and media styles.

Comment Re:How do they measure the dosing? (Score 1) 412

Because a "tab" is a known quantity?

Back in the day you kept track of the picture on the blotter because experience suggested that it might take 3 hits of "globe" to get the job done but if it was "orange sunshine" you really only needed one. And that windowpane? You either got nothing or you lost track of the next 36 hours completely.

Fixed dilution makes sense if you know what you're starting with, but my experience was you didn't really until you had sampled the batch a few times to figure it out.

I read of guys into powdered drugs with good lab skills who test and refine everything they buy so they can get the dose right, but that's almost practical with stuff dosed in the 10-20 mg range. At the microgram range? You'd need a decent starting quantity and a mass spectrometer.

Comment Re:Keto (Score 1) 149

It would be nice to have a low carb replacement for flour that would provide a convincing replacement for bread, chips and pasta. You can kind of do some stuff with almond flour, but I haven't always been impressed with it.

I'd like to see something more interesting done with pork rinds, even. They're not a bad replacment for crunchy chips, but it seems like the only kind you can find are really bad BBQ or "spicy" flavors. It would be nice to have some kind of yellow corn or neutral flavorings that could be used with guacamole or salsa. I stumbled across a decent nacho cheese flavor on a trip -- you can order them online, but there's like a 2 case minimum and that's a lot of commitment.

Comment What happened to Pascal, anyway? (Score 1) 130

I remember in the 1980s it seemed like kind of a big deal, an "advanced" programming language that required a compiler and a more real computer than an Apple ][ (although, yes, there was a Pascal system for the ][, IIRC it was worthless without two disk drives and really not an ideal platform). I knew people writing commercial software in Pascal. They taught it when I was in college. I think "Inside Macintosh" Vols. 1-3 that documented the Macintosh used Pascal.

It was kind of everywhere, and then it wasn't. What happened to it? Was it not really meant to be a "practical" language and meant to be kind of an advanced educational language? Did the growth of Unix-like systems on x86 push everyone into C? Did stuff like the availability of maybe Visual Basic or something grab the users who would have used Pascal?

Circa 1986 or so, you wouldn't have thought "kind of a dead language, nobody uses it for anything anymore" and you wouldn't have thought it would get that way any time soon.

Comment Re:he should know better (Score 3, Insightful) 297

It is incredible how many people bring "free speech!" up in conversation where it is not warranted.

It's actually more incredible how many people think that freedom of speech is only a concept in relation to governmental restrictions on communication.

Obviously private party restrictions on speech aren't a violation of 1st Amendment rights, but it should be more than obvious that freedom of speech can be threatened by private restrictions on speech by refusing access to media, venues or physical places which are commonly accepted as public spaces.

Comment Headline misses a key detail. (Score 4, Informative) 100

The Slashdot headline missed a key detail covered in the article:

Beazley point out that the piracy lawsuit was filed November last year, several days before the December 1, 2014 date the insurance policy began.

It is a bit difficult to file an insurance claim against lawsuit costs when the lawsuit was instigated before the insurance took effect.

Since we love automobile analogies so much: It is like buying car insurance in December to insure against a crash that took place the month before. That's not going to help much.

Or buying a life insurance policy for your recently-deceased relative.

The date insurance coverage began is going to be a far bigger problem than details of what the policy covers.

Comment Re:Education (Score 1) 491

I think part of it is a mindset that every problem has a solution, and that existing problems remain problems only because whoever gets to decide doesn't like the solution.

I'm sure everyone in IT has been at the point where euphemistically the solution to a problem is just to nuke the old system and start over because the problems in the old system are so complex and intractable that fixing it isn't practical on any timescale and replacing it is more time efficient.

I think applying that kind of thinking to political and social problems is probably a very easy step for a lot of people to make.

I also think that engineers are prone to thinking of "correct" and "incorrect" answers -- I've known plenty of IT people who once they latch onto "the correct" answer can't see any other solution -- even ones that solve the same problem -- as correct. There's one right answer. 1 + 1 = 2 and everything else is *wrong*.

Comment Re:Litigious Much (Score 1) 806

I don't want to get into an argument about biblical exegesis (reading ancient texts with our post-Enlightenment mindset is fraught with difficulty at the best of times). My point is that what Ussher did wasn't at all stupid. Actually it was remarkably smart and scientific by the standards of his day, and given what little he had to work with.

Comment Not the first full recovery from space (Score 1) 121

SpaceShip One touched space and all elements were recovered and flew to space again.

BO's demonstration is more publicity than practical rocketry. It doesn't look like the aerodynamic elements of BO's current rocket are suitable for recovery after orbital injection, just after a straight up-down space tourism flight with no potential for orbit, just like SpaceShip One (and Two). They can't put an object in space and have it stay in orbit. They can just take dudes up for a short and expensive view and a little time in zero gee.

It's going to be real history when SpaceX recovers the first stage after an orbital injection, in that it will completely change the economics of getting to space and staying there.

Comment Re:OMFG! (Score 1) 179

OMFG! There was a fluctuation of 2.2 percent in the female employees of a major corporation that has bizzilions of employees that come and go!

No, it was because they cancelled the phone business.

<sexist sarcasm humor> Clearly since they aren't working on phones any more, they don't need the women. They must have used the women to QA those phones so receptionists and secretaries would be satisfied with the phone's shape and comfort on the female face. Now that the phone division is closed they don't need the women any more. </sexist sarcasm humor>

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. - Alan Turing