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Comment: Re:Prison time (Score 4, Interesting) 271

by Idarubicin (#48230205) Attached to: CHP Officers Steal, Forward Nude Pictures From Arrestee Smartphones

How the fuck is this modded insightful? Even at 0? This is the type of shit that gives SJW ammunition in claiming that IT culture is hostile to women. I like to believe the words that come out of my mouth when I argue that point.

You know, I just put together now that "SJW" is intended to be an acronym for "Social Justice Warrior" (which is in turn intended to be a derogatory phrase meaning, as far as I can tell, "uppity feminist"). For some weeks now, I have been pondering what the internet has against straight (or single) Jewish women. Now it makes a lot more sense.

That the "reasonable" faction of the male IT world - that the parent poster would like to think he represents - seems to believe that the SJW caricature represents a non-trivial force that is conspiring against him is troubling. That the acronym SJW exists and is presumably widely understood in his circles is rather more revealing about (his part of) "IT culture" than he probably thinks.

Don't get me wrong, the parent poster is better than the grandparent asshole who believes all rapes are imaginary--but just being better than the anonymous trolling asshole isn't setting a high bar.

Comment: Re: Exinction (Score 5, Insightful) 128

by jc42 (#48209851) Attached to: Oldest Human Genome Reveals When Our Ancestors Mixed With Neanderthals

My guess is that the fact that no organisms exist with a Neanderthal genome defines them as extinct. Where one draws the line is more art than science I guess ... I know that there are some genetics in us (like the HMG group of proteins) that are ancient, but work so well that we still retain them. That doesn't mean the first species to have evolved them isn't extinct, it just means we evolved from them.

Well, I don't think that quite matches the scientific concept of "species". By your definition, almost all species who were alive 50,000 years ago would be considered extinct, but hardly any biologists would agree with that. It's true that no humans alive today have 100% Neanderthal genes, but it's also nearly certain that there are no living humans with 100% Cro-Magnon genes, either. What happened would be considered a mixing of several human sub-species after migrations of one or more African groups into Eurasia. The Cro-Magnon sub-species disappeared, too, and modern human Caucasian and Asian sub-species are the results of that mixing. This sort of thing happens in species all the time, when conditions allow such genetic mixing, and the result is rarely considered a new species.

The fact is that modern humans are all one species. We can and do interbreed when groups mingle, and there are no groups of modern humans that are genetically incompatible. If sub-species "disappear" by genetic mixing, that is usually not called an extinction event. It's just the routine and normal mingling of subspecies.

An interesting contrast is that most North American duck species are known to hybridize occasionally, and the offspring are usually fertile. Does this mean they're really all one species? No, because they all mingle a lot, but interbreeding is rare. They have "behavioral" species-separation features, mostly based on female mate choice. The females are mostly all mottled brown (protective coloring), and the males often approach females of other species (because they can't tell them apart either ;-). But the females usually only accept males that have the "right" color markings; the others are ugly to them. This suffices to keep the species separate, though there is probably a very low level of genetic interchange between many of the species.

But humans aren't like this. Even if we do generally prefer mates in our own subspecies, most of us do find many members of other subspecies physically attractive, and we'll mate with them given the opportunity. This means that we really are all the same species. We now have good evidence that the Neandertals were merely another subspecies, because when they had the opportunity, they did interbreed with those slender, dark-skinned folks who migrated into their territory. They did so often enough to produce a new subspecies that's physically distinct from either of the earlier two (or three or more).

Comment: Re:In Japan (Score 1) 331

by Idarubicin (#48196623) Attached to: 3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

One beer? You're an idiot. Who'd want to live in a society where job loss and de facto permanent unemployment occurs at the slightest infraction?

When it's an infraction that is easy to avoid? Yeah, sign me up. (And what's this "permanent unemployment" nonsense?)

No one accidentally has a beer, and no one accidentally gets behind the wheel of a car. If there were a way to ensure that selfish assholes only put their own lives at risk, that would be one thing--but this situation isn't that. Incidentally, I feel the same way about the people who think they're still good drivers when they're on their cell phones. (To be clear, that's everyone who is driving while using a portable electronic device. No, you aren't special.)

Comment: Re:Good, it should be that way! (Score 1) 331

by Idarubicin (#48196575) Attached to: 3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison

After all, we need a government-mandated monopoly on violence.

Here in the US, we have democratized violence. Anyone, no matter their station in society, has the God-given right to be violent.

Not quite true. You have to be white, and preferably wealthy or a member of a police force, and preferably directing that violence toward a person of color. Being from a red state helps, too.

Comment: The premise is idiotic. (Score 3, Informative) 252

by jcr (#48178313) Attached to: Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

Microsoft's "Surface" is just the latest round of their "tablet PC" debacle, which had been a continuous failure for over a decade before the iPad was introduced. iPad succeeded because Apple didn't try to shoehorn a desktop OS into a device where it clearly didn't fit.

To suggest that Apple should abandon a successful approach for a failed approach demonstrates that the author should find a different line of work, he's obviously out of his depth writing about the computer industry.

-jcr

Comment: Re:ancient news (Score 1) 87

by jc42 (#48161417) Attached to: Early Childhood Neglect Associated With Altered Brain Structure, ADHD

Decades ago there was an experiment with monkeys deprived of maternal support to varying degrees. Some not allowed to touch or see the mother. Autopsies showed that the deprived monkeys had massive (and obvious to any observer) brain deficiencies. These monkeys were never able to adjust to social settings with others of their kind. Their behavior was obviously abnormal. My impression was that every moment of their life was stressful for them. Sorry I can't recall the source of the video I saw.

This result would be the same for dogs, cats and humans. I can't comprehend why it would be news in the year 2014.

Hmmm ... You seem to have missed the even more "interesting" followup studies. I was a grad student working with some of those reasearchers, so I heard a bit about it. They took their adult solo-raised monkeys, who were highly asocial, and caged them for a while with infant monkeys. After a few months, they took those individuals and put them in the "social" cages with established groups of their own species -- and they behaved like normal, socialized monkeys.

So maybe we could try this with our "deprived" human children. Put them into a social setting (perhaps schools) with younger children, and watch their interactions. They aren't monkeys, of course, but we are all close relatives, so maybe it would work with them, and they'd become at least somewhat better-socialized humans after a while.

Or maybe humans are hopeless. We don't really know until we do such experiments on ourselves. But we do seem to have a population of good test subjects, and the results couldn't be much worse than what we've been doing. Imprisoning such young adults in response to minor mischief would seem to be exactly the wrong thing to do, if those monkey experiments apply to our species, too.

Comment: Re:Obligatoriness Extraordinaire (Score 1) 237

by Idarubicin (#48149739) Attached to: Can the Sun Realistically Power Datacenters?

Agreed. That means for the foreseeable future (twenty years or more as any substantial breakthrough in efficiency would be apparent now for something that would be productized in the next ten years) rooftops are not enough. Ignore the space required for storage and you still have huge amounts of land being chewed up for energy production that are not available for anything else: agriculture, residential, commercial, manufacturing, ...

To give the devil his due, the best locations for solar installs tend to be sites that aren't very valuable for agriculture, residential, commercial, or manufacturing use. They're out in the desert. This isn't to say that desert land is valueless (economically or environmentally) but generally it is a type of land that - until now - we have had very little incentive to exploit, and there is an awful lot of it.

Comment: Re:Obligatoriness Extraordinaire (Score 1) 237

by Idarubicin (#48149543) Attached to: Can the Sun Realistically Power Datacenters?

current numbers. things are only going to get more efficient both on the server side and the solar panel side.

There's a limit to how good things can get on the solar panel side. The best multi-junction photovoltaic cells, at the cost of great complexity, are able to reach about 45% efficiency in the laboratory. The absolute maximum theoretical efficiency is about 85% (requiring materials and manufacturing processes that haven't been discovered and probably don't exist). One server per square meter is still pitifully low density. On the bright side, the cooling problems get to be much easier to deal with, I guess.

As for the per-server power draw decreasing--that's true, though it's happening slowly. And the trend has certainly been to increase the number of servers in a data center (or the number of blades in a rack) much, much faster than the per-server energy consumption has gone down.

This isn't to say that I'm opposed to rooftop solar. The balance between rooftop area and demand is much more favorable if you look at, for instance, suburban homes (which are admittedly otherwise environmentally disastrous). And rooftops are 'dead' space otherwise, that might as well be doing something useful like producing electricity. My point was only that the suggestion that all would be solved if the data centers put solar panels on their rooftops (or even their parking lots and windows) was nonsense. And, incidentally, that the most efficient places to put solar generating facilities are actually a long way from where the majority of people are living.

Comment: Re:Obligatoriness Extraordinaire (Score 3, Insightful) 237

by Idarubicin (#48146975) Attached to: Can the Sun Realistically Power Datacenters?

data centers generally aren't lacking for available roof space so no taking up any more land.

Above the atmosphere, at the equator, the average insolation (that is, the amount of incoming solar energy, averaged over the course of a day) is about 400 watts per square meter. At the bottom of the atmosphere in an ideal location (like the Sahara) it's closer to 300 W/sq. m. In most places where people want to have data centers, the number is closer to 200 W/sq. m...or worse. And the efficiency of commercial solar panels runs about 20%, so you're down to 40 watts per square meter.

200 watts is (optimistically) about the draw of a single server, so you're looking at powering one server for every five square meters of rooftop. If you want to run on rooftop solar, then you're going to have to design a data center with very short racks and very wide aisles.

Comment: Re:No Carriers (Score 4, Insightful) 149

by jc42 (#48143443) Attached to: ISPs Violating Net Neutrality To Block Encryption

They block encryption they are violating the telecommunication laws. And so they are not a carrier anymore.

If you mean "common carrier" then the truth is that they never where one.

Maybe we should be looking at the origins of the "common carrier" concept, and learn how they apply to the current situation. A number of historians have written on this topic, and the history definitely applies to our modern network.

Part of the explanation of how "common carrier" arose is in the well-known phrase "kill the messenger". Centuries ago, this was a very real problem. It wasn't unusual for a prince (or other powerful personage) to respond to the receipt of a message he didn't like by punishing the poor fellow who delivered it. The carrier services replied to this in about the only way they could: They opened and read the messages, and if they thought the recipient would react by harming their carrier, they would "edit" the message. And when dealing with a recipient who had a bad history, they'd often sell the message's content to the enemies of the sender or receiver.

Eventually the smarter princes figured out that a reliable message service was worth more than the temporary enjoyment they got from torturing or killing the messenger. So some of them got together with the message services, and worked out an agreement: If a sender and receiver had both signed on with a message company, they could send "sealed" messages, which the message carriers would promise to deliver unopened. But this would only apply if the sender and receiver had both promised not to damage the carriers employees or equipment, etc., etc.

This worked out to the advantage of the princes who joined in such agreements, so the practice spread, and became known (in English) by the phrase "common carrier".

It's easy to see how this all might apply to our current topic. The ISPs are "carriers", but not "common carriers". They have a record of opening and reading our communications, and selling the contents to "enemies" like marketers and government agencies. We're now engaged in collecting evidence about this behavior, and publishing it openly. We should make it clear that, as long as the ISPs continue acting in such perfidious ways, we will continue to work to expose their behavior to the general public, including people they views as their enemies (or "competitors";-).

The parallels to the original situation aren't exact, but we might benefit by knowing the history and trying to find a similar solution that can work today.

Comment: Re:What about the environment? (Score 1) 367

by jc42 (#48132717) Attached to: PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView"

Yeah exactly! I feel PETA is saying, blah blah blah - use petrol and kill off the animals.

Wait - the "slow food" movement would say "go local."

I'm so confused. Is global warming coming or not?!

Nah; it's not coming at all. It's here. And we're not gonna do a thing about it, so we'll just have to adapt. And migrate inland as our coastal areas slowly flood out.

Here in New England, one of the running jokes for the past decade or so has been for one person to ask what time the robins arrived this year, and another person says "They didn't return; they never left."

Actually, it is a bit more complicated than that. They're one of the many semi-migratory birds now. Part of the population heads south when it gets too cold. But we've seen robins in our yard (in a western suburb of Boston) every month of the year for about 10 years now, while before that, they were almost never seen in December, January or February. This was never exact, though, since their normal winter range did extend to around New York (and southern Nova Scotia ;-), and they were reported around Boston occasionally during warm winters. If you look in older bird books, you can see the robins' winter range ending somewhere south of us, depending on the book, while the current books show it extending to around the New Hampshire border.

But still, they're a locally obvious sign that the climate has shifted north by a hundred miles or so. And a casual search of the topic will make it clear that the US government and most of the population have no intention of doing anything serious to change the trend. The scientists have clearly pinned the blame on human activity, and the engineers point out that this means we now know how to control the climate if we want to. But we (collectively) don't want to.

(Then there's the local joke about all the folks in New Hampshire and Maine who think global warming sounds like a fine idea. Myself, I intend to plant a palm tree in our yard as soon as they become available in the nurseries, which may happen soon. ;-)

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