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Comment The man has vision (Score 5, Interesting) 262

Musk really has the vision and guts to push us in these areas that have languished for years (private space travel, electric cars, and now domestic electric power generation), and seems to be making them working concerns. If he gets even one past the tipping point, it's a lifelong career's worth of accomplishment. He may get the hat trick! Maybe we should pay attention to his alternative to the California high speed rail project...

Comment Magic number 150 (Score 1) 594

I think much of the problem with our current system (and has been seen in the "Occupy" movement as it has grown) is that it doesn't take into account the hard wired limit in our brains when we try to interact with more than about 150 people (as discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in "Tipping Point" for example). Our "representatives" are not accountable or responsive.
My own experience with juries (I have served on four now) is that it is a system that really does work the vast majority of the time. I have found that people who serve on one are not exactly happy to do it, but they understand why they need to, they understand the stakes and consequences, and are generally very conscientious. I would much rather stake my freedom or even my life on the jury system rather than one based on a judge alone. If you have served as well, you may well agree with this point. If so, why does that democracy work and our broader one not? I think a big reason is the rule of 150.
Why not organize at the lowest level in groups (neighborhoods) of no more than 150, then that group selects one representative to serve at the next level of government also limited to 150 representatives, and so on to a third level (which would represent in total no more than 3,375,000 people - roughly equivalent to a state). At each level, the rule of 150 is preserved so that people could actually get to know one another and at least have a chance to work together. Accountability is baked in. Provide a "bill of rights" to ensure the inviolable ones are preserved. Establish the scope of authority so that the first level takes care of neighborhood issues, the second level schools, local roads, zoning, etc. The higher level groups would be unauthorized to establish rules that are within the scope of the lower level (something important that was completely lost in our system somehow).
It would at least be better than the system we have now.

Comment Serious Suggestion (Score 1) 98

I just happen to have a serious and concrete suggestion. http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~eamonn/iSAX/iSAX.html The referenced research paper includes experiments in which significant yet subtle changes in large time series data, such as a full night of EKG recording, can be identified two orders of magnitude faster than previous methods. The approach is relatively simple (the paper isn't heavy on math), and should scale very nicely to a parallel processing attack on the SETI signal detection problem.

Chinese Root Server Shut Down After DNS Problem 91

itwbennett writes "After a networking error first reported on Wednesday last week caused computers in Chile and the US to come under the control of a system that censors the Internet in China, the 'root DNS server associated with the networking problems has been disconnected from the Internet,' writes Robert McMillan. The server's operator, Netnod, has 'withdrawn route announcements' made by the server, according to company CEO Kurt Lindqvist."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

StarCraft II Closed Beta Begins 268

Blizzard announced today that the multiplayer beta test for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is now underway. The client downloader is available through Battle.net for people who have received invites, and the system requirements have been posted as well. A list of known issues is up on the official forums. StarCraft II and the revamped Battle.net are planned for release "in the first half of 2010."

Colliding Particles Can Make Black Holes After All 269

cremeglace writes with this excerpt from ScienceNOW: "You've heard the controversy. Particle physicists predict the world's new highest-energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, might create tiny black holes, which they say would be a fantastic discovery. Some doomsayers fear those black holes might gobble up the Earth — physicists say that's impossible — and have petitioned the United Nations to stop the $5.5 billion LHC. Curiously, though, nobody had ever shown that the prevailing theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of general relativity, actually predicts that a black hole can be made this way. Now a computer model shows conclusively for the first time that a particle collision really can make a black hole." That said, they estimate the required energy for creating a black hole this way to be roughly "a quintillion times higher than the LHC's maximum"; though if one of the theories requiring compact extra dimensions is true, the energy could be lower.

Are Complex Games Doomed To Have Buggy Releases? 362

An anonymous reader points out a recent article at Gamesradar discussing the frequency of major bugs and technical issues in freshly-released video games. While such issues are often fixed with updates, questions remain about the legality and ethics of rushing a game to launch. Quoting: "As angry as you may be about getting a buggy title, would you want the law to get involved? Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner, is putting forward legislation that would legally oblige digital game distributors to give refunds for games, putting games in the same category in consumer law as household appliances. ... This call to arms has been praised by tech expert Andy Tanenbaum, author of books like Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. 'I think the idea that commercial software be judged by the same standards as other commercial products is not so crazy,' he says. 'Cars, TVs, and telephones are all expected to work, and they are full of software. Why not standalone software? I think such legislation would put software makers under pressure to first make sure their software works, then worry about more bells and whistles.'"

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig