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Comment: The barrier (Score 1) 191

by RonTheHurler (#47928945) Attached to: Sci-Fi Authors and Scientists Predict an Optimistic Future

There's a TED talk relevant to this. Sorry I don't have the time to look it up.

in a nutshell, the role of sci-fi is to pierce the barrier between what we know and what we don't know. It shines a light into that darkness and says "Hey, there's something interesting here." But that's it. it's just a glimpse.

The scientists and engineers are the true explorers who hack a path into that void. But before they do it, they need a reason to go that particular direction, an inspiration. It also helps to have a framework of language and ideas. The frame may shift, may even be replaced, but it is the starting block upon which the original traction is made.

Sci-fi is not the only path into the unknown. Serendipity and raw curiosity play a part too. Maybe even a bigger part. But why limit ourselves? Let's use all the tools at our disposal. Everyone has their favorite. The world is full of more than just nails. We need wrenches and chisels in addition to our hammers.

But a nice hammer is a wonderful thing to hold. Bang bang Maxwell.

Comment: Re:sort of like Amazon Prime Music (Score 1) 610

Today, a U2 album you didn't really want in the first place.

Tomorrow, the Apple version of the bible (or some such nonsense).

After that, all that spam that used to clog up your email account (hey, you can just delete it. What's the big deal?)

Instead of paying the post office to deliver all that junk mail, now they can just pay apple....

What world do you want to live in?

Take action. Do something. I, for one, will not be buying another apple product (especially after the miserably disappointing experiences [with an 's'] I had with the new Mac Pro trashcan.)

Apple is dead to me.

Comment: Re:Easy solution (Score 1) 348

by RonTheHurler (#47881537) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

. . . although basic science can have colossal economic rewards, they are totally unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of Faraday’s work today must be higher than the capitalization of all shares on the stock exchange. . . . The greatest economic benefits of scientific research have always resulted from advances in fundamental knowledge rather than the search for specific applications . . . transistors were not discovered by the entertainment industry . . . but by people working on wave mechanics and solid state physics. [Nuclear energy] was not discovered by oil companies with large budgets seeking alternative forms of energy, but by scientists like Einstein and Rutherford. . . .
-- Margaret Thatcher

Comment: Re:Asset Bubble verse Rent Seeking (Score 1) 382

by RonTheHurler (#47180705) Attached to: High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

I'm no economics or finance expert, but the more I learn about HFT, the more it sounds, looks and smells like Insider Trading to me.

Insider trading: Where someone profits from knowledge gained through privileged access to information.

HFT: Where someone buys a privileged access to financial networks to gain millisecond advantages in information, then profits from that knowledge. Those networks are not open to anyone, seating is limited and the information in them gives the holders of that information an unfair advantage. Just like the boardroom of any major corporation.

Insider trading is illegal. Frontrunning is illegal. Gambling is not legal in most places. Trading on probabilities and trends in stock prices is more of a gamble than it is like anything else. It is clearly NOT investing.

How about a rule that any securities purchase must be held for at least 24 hours. Better yet, 30 days. That'll put a stop to HFT and daytrading gamblers real fast and won't hurt legitimate investors one whit.

Comment: Or this one. (Score 1) 382

" . . although basic science can have colossal economic rewards, they are totally unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of Faraday’s work today must be higher than the capitalization of all shares on the stock exchange. . . . The greatest economic benefits of scientific research have always resulted from advances in fundamental knowledge rather than the search for specific applications . . . transistors were not discovered by the entertainment industry . . . but by people working on wave mechanics and solid state physics. [Nuclear energy] was not discovered by oil companies with large budgets seeking alternative forms of energy, but by scientists like Einstein and Rutherford. . . "
-- Margaret Thatcher

Economics is critical to the national interest. It takes money to fund an army...

Comment: Have a library at home. (Score 1) 149

by RonTheHurler (#45154137) Attached to: Neil Gaiman On Why Libraries Are the Gates to the Future

I've kept every book anyone ever gave to my kids (three of them, age 7, 9 and 12). Their library has over 300 books on it now, everything from the Bob Books and Dr. Seuss to Harry Potter and the Golden Compass. My kids love to read, and we read to them every night.

There's a quote-- "a writer is a reader moved to emulation." I don't know who said it. But one day a few years ago, the two oldest kids asked me if they could write their own book. I said "of course!", so we did. http://www.amazon.com/My-Sister-Makes-Me-Laugh/dp/0977649725 Now they're published authors and famous in their schools.

But, here's the funny part. The book was immediately banned by the school system. Unfortunately, it has the word "pee pee" in it, and a little bit of rule breaking and trouble making. But more importantly, if a book doesn't come from a select set of only three publishers who are known to only print "safe" books, it has to go through a strict review (at the district level) before it can be approved for a school library. I don't know if it's like that everywhere, but that's how it is here in Texas.

So, public libraries are suspicious to me now. Quiet censorship shaping young minds.

To fight this, my kids take a whole box full of their book into each new grade they go into and give them away to their classmates. The "pee pee" word hasn't produced any anarchists yet, but the experiment is still young...

Comment: Re:Good luck with that (Score 1) 1387

I buy a lot of plywood.

In America, it's measured in 4ft by 8 ft. sheets, with a thickness measured in 64ths of an inch.
The odd thickness is because it's actually manufactured in millimeters, and they convert to the nearest 64th for labeling.

Sometimes I buy European stock.
It's measured in 5ft. by 5ft sheets, with thicknesses in millimeters.

Not 1.5 meters square, 5 feet, exactly. (approx. 1.524 meters) Why?

I asked a friend of mine who does construction in England. He didn't know either, but he told me the stick framing stock is still mostly measured in feet and inches. They use 2x4s* just like we do to build their houses. (at least this one construction crew did. I can't vouch for the whole of Europe.)

So yeah, change is hard. Even after 40 years...

*Note that a 2x4 is actually 1.5" x 3.5". The mill finishing process shaves 1/4" off each face to clear the wood and make all the sticks uniform. Somehow, this doesn't translate well into metric.

Comment: Doing it in your head. (Score 4, Interesting) 351

by RonTheHurler (#41477217) Attached to: Why It's Bad That Smartphones Have Banished Boredom

I like to ask my kids- what would have happened to the United States if Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were hooked on watching The Amazing Race or playing Angry Birds instead of reading history and writing the constitution? That couldn't happen to such smart guys, you say? What if they had been trained from early childhood to just sit and watch whatever was on the TV or to play twitch games instead of doing something constructive?

When I was a kid I built a lot of models, rewired telephones and I watched Star Trek. One scene that helped define my life was when Spock was apparently staring off into space, and Kirk asked: "Shouldn't you be working on that warp implosion equation?" (or something like that) To which Spock replied with utmost confidence, "I am."

I was so impressed with that, that I started looking for problems to solve and solving them in my head -- things like calculating the length of a train based on my speed in the car, the train's speed and how long it took our car to overtake it (this required having my dad match the speed of the train and then drop back far enough to accelerate to a steady speed to overtake it. Good thing I had accommodating parents!) I got so good at this kind of thing that I failed a math test (multiplying matrices) in High School. "But I got all the answers right." I confidently told the teacher. "Yes, but you didn't show any work, at all. There are only answers here. You obviously copied someone else's paper." I reminded her that I was the first to tun mine in, by a long shot. She begrudgingly gave me the 100%.

You can imagine that this skill helped out tremendously in software development.

All I have to say is, if you ever get bored, ever, then you're not doing it right, even if you don't have anything to play with but your wits. Temple run? I tried it once. Once. Boooooooring!

Comment: Re:see also (Score 4, Interesting) 227

by RonTheHurler (#39728771) Attached to: Wind Turbine Extracts Water From Air

That's assuming municipal water is even available. You need to compare to desalinated water. I used to know those numbers but don't quote me. I think this is comparable, and far, far cheaper than bottled water.

However desalinated water produces copious amounts of brine and uses lots of energy -- two big problems. This wind thing seems far superior.

Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 119

by RonTheHurler (#38629562) Attached to: OLPC XO-3 To Debut At CES, Starting Under $100 (But Not For You)

Agreed. They could learn a lesson or two from Toms Shoes. (buy a pair and Toms' donates a pair to a child in an underdeveloped country)
Consequently, when you add in the retail overhead, the shoes cost about four times what they *should* cost, yet people buy them like crazy. Kind of like Macs.

Comment: A word about Neanderthals (Score 1) 112

by RonTheHurler (#37423126) Attached to: Printing a Building

Did you know that Neanderthals had bigger brains than we do?
Do you know why? Because they had a working memory!

"Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are trying to push 3-D printing technology even further. Their goals: create whole working machines and perhaps even buildings. Thus far, 3D printing has been used to make shapes of plastic or metal that can be assembled later. "

Right. How about this:
  http://www.physorg.com/news190873132.html -- printing structures on the moon.

Functional Machines:

The list goes on...

(And -- RIght-on Nimbius!)

Comment: Regarding the predictions of experts. (Score 1) 261

by RonTheHurler (#37363590) Attached to: Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade

This presentation is pretty enlightening.

part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9cReuRThxY
part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3V-TCpX40c
part 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNk1S0w8q-Y
part 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxg33Swcz5A

The experts' guesses are compared to "random darts thrown by monkeys". Guess who is more accurate....

Comment: Re:Don't let One Distributor Control eBooks! (Score 5, Interesting) 450

by RonTheHurler (#36132438) Attached to: Amazon Removes Yaoi Manga Titles From Kindle Store

This is clearly a form of censorship, but it's not an illegal one. Amazon has a right to choose what they carry in their stores, just as any other store does.

There is a worse form of censorship happening in our schools that very few people seem to be aware of. I discovered this when my daughters collaborated to write a book. They are in first and third grade, and when the box of newly printed books arrived, they proudly tried to donate several copies to the school library. The school rejected them.

It was not because of content. The librarian and some teachers all read the book and thought it was fine, and a great example of accomplishment for the other kids. It was not because of price -- we were donating the books. The problem is, the school district only allows books from a specific set of publishers, and since this book was self-published, it could not be allowed in the school. I inquired about the publishers, and there were only three on the list (Scholastic being one, and I'm sorry don't recall the other two.)

Essentially, the schools don't have to censor anymore, they have outsourced that function to a few trusted publishers. In our case, this is a district-wide policy, other districts might be different.

I have a busy life and didn't have the time to become an activist for open libraries in the schools (but I truly wish I could). Instead, I managed to get the kids' book on Amazon and B&N (although not in an e-book format -- It's a picture book that doesn't migrate well to those devices.)

Regarding Kindles, distributors and censorship - the device is not totally dependent on the e-store. I have versions of my daughters' book on my own kindle and in Ibooks too. The formats for publishing on those devices is pretty well known (epub. mobi, pdf, etc.) Distribution is the problem, but only for the technically challenged who can't be bothered to manually transfer the title onto their device - even when it's as simple as sending an email (a service Amazon provides for their Kindles -- it's a slightly bigger challenge for iBooks, but only slightly. I don't have a Nook...)

But I can't hack into my kids' library so easily -- other than to provide books at home for them too. Is there a better solution to this problem? Ultimately, I don't think so. Does anyone have a different opinion?

Comment: Re:Why do we need more efficiency (Score 1) 570

by RonTheHurler (#35572100) Attached to: A Look At the World's Dwindling Food Supply

"The solution is to get our population growth under control"

Thomas Malthus said the same thing over 170 years ago. He was right at the time, but ultimately he was wrong. (Research Malthusian Catastrophe) He failed to take into consideration the effects of technological innovation. Specifically, the Industrial revolution and the "Green" revolution which both saved the world from massive famines.

GM crops may be our next stepping stone, but we may not need it either. Review all the wonderful research of Hans Rosling (Watch the videos an Ted.com) the answer is clear. The best birth control is an educated girl. The best way to control family size is to control infant mortality, and that is best accomplished by an educated mother. The best way to bring about education reform and population control is through economic development, which is best accomplished via education... I'm sure you can see where this is going.

It's not speculation. It's been done. We even did it here in the US with the Tennessee Valley in the 1940's.

Not only that, but educated kids grow up to be problem solvers too. Let's make them part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.

What programs do we need? Only one, Education.

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud