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Comment I eat maggots (Score 1) 93

I eat apples with maggots in them -- all the time.

The apple maggot fly (AMF) lays eggs and little tiny larvae burrow through it leaving brown tracks. I have no problem eating those apples, but most of those apples fall off the tree before I get to them, and the remaining apples rot after a short time in storage.

Acetamiprid has allowed me to have a halfway decent apple harvest from a home orchard for two years now. It doesn't seem to kill the adult flies so the fruit is still blemished, but it appears to kill the larvae as there are many fewer brown tracks and the apples keep in my cool basement until mid winter.

The alternatives are organophosphates, which are nerve gas precursors or pyrethroids, which are much more bee toxic.

But the categorical dismissal of the use of pesticides in growing fruit along with the high moderation points -- have people around here ever tried to plant an apple tree and get usable amounts of fruit from it?

Comment Switching lights on and off really fast . . . (Score 1) 224

My Momma always told me not to play with the light switch . . . or "rev" the vacuum cleaner by switching it on and off to make it sound like a Honda.

You would think that if your kid was actually finding some entertainment in sweeping the living room that you would cut some slack to playing with the power switch to make a "cool" sound.

But I digress but only a little bit. The hydrocarbon and nuclear plants are backed up by brother hydrocarbon and nuclear plants. If one goes down and another takes its place, no one notices the difference. If wind cuts out, however, this miasma of partially burnt hydrocarbon fumes and radon gas permeates the land. The whole point of wind is to not burn hydrocarbons or split uranium atoms into dangerously radioactive elements, but it is too expensive to back up wind with excess wind capacity to prevent using those foul backup sources.

Comment Where has all the carbon gone? (Score 1) 269

A little bit more than half of all the carbon emitted from burning fossil fuels and making cement ends up adding to the CO2 in the atmosphere. The fraction is a little bit less than half if you count chopping down rain forest towards human-generated emissions.

Of the "missing" half of emitted carbon, a bit less than half of that is the net carbon flux dissolved into the oceans. We know that by a really clever bit of mass-balance accounting. We can determine to total CO2 emissions from accurate quantification of the ongoing depletion in atmospheric O2. Dissolving CO2 into the ocean in inorganic form does not change O2. Photosynthesis takes up CO2 and in the process releases back O2, but this takes place on a different slope as combustion of fossil fuel on the plot of atmospheric O2 against CO2. The reason for that is that fossil fuels are largely pure hydrocarbons whereas plant matter -- cellulose, lipids -- incorporates substantial oxygen.

So the biosphere, and someone can correct me on this, it is widely regarded that we are talking about the terrestrial biosphere, is soaking up fully one quarter of the emitted CO2. We are talking mass balance here -- there is nowhere else for it to go.

Comment Cargo Cult Science (Score 1) 257

Insufficient (experimental) control.

That is pretty much the charitable explanation that Feynman offered in his notorious public talk on this subject.

That and confirmation bias. The classic example is Millikan's initial but not-quite-accurate measurement of the charge of an electron followed by subsequent results that "drifted" slowly but surely to the more modern measurement value.

Gee, Millikan is way off, but I can't publish this, I need to go over my apparatus and procedures to find what is wrong. In that way, only small changes from the "accepted" value get published until converging on a more accurate value.

Feynman was as much as saying that research in behavioral psychology was a Cargo Cult -- going through the motions that brought the planes and ships to our island without understanding that the arrival of the planes and ships had something to do with a war fought far from the horizon of the island and that actions taken by people on the island have no influence on when that war started, how long it continued, and when it ended.

He pretty much gives the benefit of the doubt on fraud, but he calls them out on experimental control, giving the example of one investigator going to the trouble to isolate the cues rats were relying upon in a maze experiment, finding it to be the sounds their feet made on the wooden boards of the maze floor, suppressing that sound by placing the maze box in sound-dampening sand, and finding the behavior of the rats to be entirely different when deprived of that cue. The amazing thing, to Feynman, was that setting the maze in sand was never adopted by subsequent studies -- the scientists in that "community" just plain didn't care.

Comment Asking the FAA check pilot for his weight (Score 1) 373

I was preparing for my first flight as a student pilot with the senior instructor at flight school in his role as FAA examiner. Even though this early in my training, and the purpose of this flight check was to see if my regular instructor was doing his job, I wanted to make a good impression by following all of the rules -- kinda like not wanting to make rolling "stops" past traffic signs on your driving road test.

Even though in lessons with my regular instructor we never went through weight-and-balance calculations, this was on the basis that a trainer was in proper trim with 2 people and a full tank of gas and we never took any luggage, I knew the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk 2-seat trainer had a stringent gross weight limit. Even though each person, pilot or passenger, was deemed to weight 160 lbs "by the book" for weight-and-balance, the PA-38 only allowed for full gas tanks if the "payload" was at or below 320 lbs -- at least my regular instructor had cautioned me that if go over, you need to offload fuel.

I knew that I weighed 160 lbs "back in college", and whereas the FAA guy wasn't unusually tall, he had the look of the few pounds that comes as we age.

Faced with a diplomatic dilemma, I got up the courage to ask, "If I am to calculate weight-and-balance the right way, I am going to have to know how much you weigh . . " The Examiner barks back at me, "You are to count each person in the aircraft as weighing 160 lbs!"

OK, OK, alright already!

Comment A reasonable expectation of . . .Kentucky (Score 1) 1197

You would think that law enforcement people in the Commonwealth summoned for some guy buzzing another guy's yard with a drone, and guy-with-yard reaching for his varmint gun . . .

Doesn't the law make any allowance for "community standards" anymore?

I mean, what would Sheriff Andy Taylor do? (OK, OK, a different state, but you get the idea.) Sure, Barney would reach for the cuffs, but Andy would try to mediate this dispute, no?

Comment The NSF National Robotics Initiative (Score 1) 342

The NSF has a solicitation for research proposals on human-robot cooperation. The Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society magazine The Bent has an article on this topic, showcasing a product offering by a Norwegian company called Universal Robotics offering a "depowered" robot said to be safe to operate close to humans.

Some of these solicitations come from "on high", and a contract monitor at NSF was doing some eye rolling about the notion that you could truly make an industrial robot safe to work with humans in its working element, or at least was giving speech inflections over the telephone suggestive of rolling one's eyes. A research group in Canada offered a critical take on the claims for the safety of the Universal Robotics offering from the standpoint of other university people taking these claims on face value and putting graduate students into the robot "cage."

A safer robot may need strategies such as "depowering" the robot or offering (as UR does) a depowered "teaching mode" along with control systems to obtain the required accuracy with less power. Beyond that, there is interest in vision and sensors to avoid hitting people with the robot.

But the question is, a chimp (Pan Troglodyte) can tear a person apart, but a chimp has sensors, and a chimp can be trained to be around people. Would you trust that training, would you rely on that training. A robot that has enough power to do the required factory tasks has the power to crush a person, but you can depower the robot depending on the operating mode and you can add sensors. Would you trust the algorithm design and software programming and mechanical safety systems behind such an arrangement to enter the robot cage?

Would you trust a self-driving car as a car has the power to crush someone? I guess with enough sensors and algorithms and testing, but even there, you are not guiding a self-driving car by standing right in front of it as suggested by NSF's co-robots . . . are you?

Comment It's "not just the about the money!" (Score 1) 297

C'mon people, unless you are recording movies, backing up your data (onto multiple thumb drives) is trivial.

The real hassle is backing up your operating systems along with all the software installations and installs.

Sure, we all have the activation keys for every piece of software we installed in a safe place somewhere?

That is also the royal hassle that Microsoft created when they started "authenticating Windows" against hardware configurations. You used to be able to just clone hard disks and take them to another computer when one failed. I know there are people who also build computers from parts, but Microsoft going to that model made building a machine from parts more trouble than its worth. And having a hard disk fail is probably the software industry's model for getting people to buy all the software -- OS, office suite, everything -- from scratch.

Comment They came for (Score 2) 510

the Republican House Leadership, but I was not a Republican serving in the House of Representatives.

They came for lobbyists making a gadzillion dollars representing Turkish interests, but I was not a lobbyist representing Turkish interests.

They came for persons making "structured" bank withdrawals totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I was not making bank widthdrawals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.