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Science

Fossilized Mosquito Has Blood-filled Abdomen 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the life-will-find-a-way dept.
ananyo writes "Jurassic Park's iconic image of a fossilized blood-filled mosquito was thought to be fiction — until now. For the first time, researchers have identified a fossil of a female mosquito with traces of blood in its engorged abdomen. The fossilized mosquito contains molecules that provide strong evidence of blood-feeding among ancient insects back to 46 million years ago (paper abstract). The insect was found not in amber, as depicted in Jurassic Park, but in shale sediments from Montana. After 46 million years, however, any DNA would be long degraded."

Comment: Basically Everyone (Score 1) 322

by JoeFromPhilly (#44322397) Attached to: NSA Admits Searching "3 Hops" From Suspects
On one hand it's a somewhat reasonable choice. Once you're four node hops from someone in a social network the coverage explodes to include a significant percentage of the population. It's very unlikely that the connections at that depth are meaningful. On the other hand, this is still probably tens of thousands of people for each investigated person. If this is done for everyone on a terrorism watch list, it basically covers everyone. Keep in mind that by social network I don't necessarily mean something like facebook, but someone's actual social graph: who are they calling, emailing, etc.

Comment: Re:Welcome to our world (Score 1) 1205

by JoeFromPhilly (#39211443) Attached to: The Specter of Gasoline At $5 a Gallon
You can live and work where you want, but it might not make much economic sense. Suburban areas require more energy expenditure for transportation: they offer few employment possibilities and are too spread out to efficiently import and distribute products made elsewhere. The suburban lifestyle demands cheap energy. The question then becomes, "do you believe that cheap energy is our future or was it more of a historical aberration?" To me, it looks more like the latter.

Comment: Re:What will this really accomplish? (Score 1) 412

by JoeFromPhilly (#27045347) Attached to: Volt Asks Temps To 'Vote" For Microsoft Pay Cut
I have to admit that I was sort of impressed with myself when I wrote that. Feel free to use it if you like! I've always just wanted people to understand that the economy isn't the sort of system that can be manipulated in a predictable fashion. We're not particularly rational actors.

Comment: Re:Sticking with Safari 3 (Score 1) 342

by JoeFromPhilly (#27043011) Attached to: Safari Beta Takeup Tops Firefox, IE and Chrome

I'm basically just trying to move the browser window with a lot of tabs open so that I can see a bit of some other window (a terminal or checkbook, usually). What ends up happening is one of the following:

  1. I forget to click on the active tab as I drag and it selects a new tab. Sometimes.
  2. Once, and I'm not sure how I did this, but the tab detached from the window and became a new window.
  3. Sometimes I click on a tab to activate it, but because my finger wobbles a bit on the track pad it thinks I want to drag the window and so nothing happens.
  4. Other times it does what I want, but even then it doesn't feel right. I drag windows around the desktop by using the title bar drag space. When I click a control, I expect it to have some sort of effect on something. When the two are combined, I have no intuition about what it will do. Will it behave like a control, or a drag space?

I don't feel that the UI confusion is a good trade off for saving a couple pixels, and it adds no new capability that I care about. I hope title bar tabs go the way of the pull out drawer and the awkward gestures associated with it. Or at least that I can turn it off.

Comment: Re:Sticking with Safari 3 (Score 1) 342

by JoeFromPhilly (#27040233) Attached to: Safari Beta Takeup Tops Firefox, IE and Chrome
Agree. There's an ambiguity between "I'm clicking this to drag the window" vs. "I'm clicking this to change the active tab" that's really irritating. Even though it was the only change I didn't like, it was enough to get me to stop using it. Or it would've been if they hadn't preserved a way to get the old tab behavior back via the command line (someone mentions it in another response).

Comment: Re:What will this really accomplish? (Score 5, Insightful) 412

by JoeFromPhilly (#27036439) Attached to: Volt Asks Temps To 'Vote" For Microsoft Pay Cut

Don't these circular relationships represent the defintion of a "downward spiral"?

Absolutely. This is why economists get spooked when they hear the word deflation. Even now they can't bear to say it, and resort to euphemisms.

Are we sure we understand the impact of these actions?

We understand the economy in almost exactly the same sense as we understand the weather.

In the meantime I will buckle under and keep working my ass off.

That's probably the only thing anyone can do. Good luck, this year is going to be a brutal adjustment for a lot of people.

Comment: Re:Rebuild? (Score 2, Funny) 325

by JoeFromPhilly (#26974831) Attached to: NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Mission Fails

But perhaps I'm just nitpicking. :)

Not at all. In fact, to further refine it, I'd say "That's like saying your car broke down because the truck hauling it from the manufacturer to the dealership was actually a rocket propelling it into orbit which failed to separate properly from your car which is actually a satellite and then they crashed into the ocean near Antarctica."

Comment: Re:Maybe I am just lucky.... (Score 2, Interesting) 688

by JoeFromPhilly (#26400645) Attached to: The Recession
I see your point, but consider that investors are almost the same people as savers. They've decided to put money aside for the future instead of spending it right now on whatever frivolous fad is presently sweeping the nation. The difference is a matter of risk tolerance. Even then, most people thought these types of investments were almost as safe as a savings account. So even if they didn't necessarily need a lot of people with savings accounts, the banks still need people who are of the mind to stick money aside for the future instead of spending it right away.

Comment: Re:Actually it is exactly like that (Score 2, Informative) 713

by JoeFromPhilly (#26272487) Attached to: Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax

I'm unfortunately failing to recall the term for a good with an inflexible rate of consumption.

The term most frequently used for this situation is inelastic demand. Gasoline is the poster child for inelastic demand. Consumption only dropped from 9.29 million barrels a day in 2007 to an average of 8.99 million barrels a day in 2008. Perhaps data of finer resolution might show a more interesting drop off, but the high prices of earlier this year appear to have made little difference in the yearly data.

Comment: Re:Reward the deadbeats? Seriously? (Score 1) 873

by JoeFromPhilly (#26204363) Attached to: The US economy is heading toward ...

Honestly, I would have been in favor of letting the banks fail and then (at least temporarily) doing lending from the government so long as the lending requirements were stringent enough. I don't think that the financial industry is that important to the economy. The limited role they have, deciding which investments are worthy of funding, turns out to be something that they aren't particularly good at.

That wouldn't happen, though. It would have lost a lot of rich people too much money. They're already trying to justify a bailout of the Madoff investors. Rich people can't be allowed to lose money on investments the way us regular people do. Who would there be to trickle down on us?

Comment: Re:Want it that badly? (Score 1) 873

by JoeFromPhilly (#26204055) Attached to: The US economy is heading toward ...

Those are all good points. The mortgage interest deduction is of particularly dubious value: not only do renters not get it, so many people factor it into their home buying decision that any value it once had has probably been lost to the inflation in home values that it has caused.

Until recently, I've always thought that most government programs were at least well intentioned. Of course, because of the complexity of human societies most will have unintended side effects. Programs that try to provide incentives for particular behaviors and charity style systems seem to backfire most spectacularly as people alter their behaviors to game the system. But I can definitely see it your way as well: this isn't a well intentioned system backfiring, it was designed that way from the start.

Comment: Re:Reward the deadbeats? Seriously? (Score 1) 873

by JoeFromPhilly (#26200481) Attached to: The US economy is heading toward ...

I really enjoyed your post; it's refreshing to read something written by someone who understands how money works.

That 40 billion in capital is now no longer available to fund someone starting a company out of his garage. It gets taken from car companies like Nissan and Toyota through taxes, so even though they are profitable, they can't expand their factories and employ more people. It can't buy a construction worker a new piece of equipment to make him more productive, and it can't be used to expand his construction firm to employ more people. Instead, government has decided it will just take that money and spend it on inefficient companies that are making cars no one wants.

I have been trying to decide whether I expect this whole mess to turn into a deflationary or inflationary event. It's the sort of government behavior that you've described here that's settled the issue for me on the side of deflation. The fed and the government are pumping hundreds of billions into the economy but it isn't reaching people willing to work for it doing something useful. It's going into the black hole of finance. It's being used to prop up car companies that are going to end up shutting down their production lines anyhow. It's given to people as a one time tax rebates that, while certainly appreciated, does little to help them service more recurring monthly debt. Without an increase in median wages the whole thing seems doomed to slowly fold in on itself.

Your code should be more efficient!

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