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Comment: 38 States (Score 1) 832

by Rupert (#29142501) Attached to: Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe

People will live where there are economic opportunities, and state lines, where there is a steep gradient in the price or availability of certain items or services due to different state laws, provide those opportunities.
The boundaries of Minnesota are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but moving them will not remove the incentives for liquor stores open on Sundays on the Wisconsin side and fireworks stalls on the South Dakota side (I believe the laws may have changed since I left, but the principle is the same).

Comment: Re:DEFINE: Subjectivity (Score 3, Insightful) 834

by Rupert (#28845023) Attached to: Are Women Getting More Beautiful?

I discussed this with my wife the other day, after she'd been watching the Fashion Channel. The audience for catwalk fashion shows is buyers (mostly commercial) of clothing, and that audience is dominated by thin women and gay men. Whatever the models on the catwalk look like, it doesn't tell you anything about contemporary tastes of heterosexual men.

Comment: Paley beat you to it (Score 1) 921

by Rupert (#27247673) Attached to: Study Finds the Pious Fight Death Hardest

He compared the watch on the heath with a rock. Paley was no geologist, and didn't have any idea that you could actually inspect the structure of the rock, and get a very good idea of how long it had been there, how recently and how many times it has been buried, subducted, uplifted and exposed.

Rocks are beautiful and intricate. They're every bit as designed as life.

Comment: How to do it wrong (Score 1) 585

by Rupert (#26866281) Attached to: Automation May Make Toll Roads More Common

Like they've done it on the new Orewa-Puhoi toll road north of Auckland:

* don't allow credit cards;
* don't allow any form of payment except cash at the toll booths;
* don't put in enough toll booths;
* make the toll booths hard to get to;
* make it hard to get back onto the motorway from the tollbooth;
* don't allow texting your licence plate number to a short code phone number (this is a particularly egregious omission in a country with more cellphones than people);
* put up far too many signs explaining how to pay, but don't *actually* say which forms of payment are accepted where;
* don't allow people to use their own bank's website to transfer money to you, but insist on them giving you their bank details, and promise to keep it secure.

For bonus points, spend 1.2 million dollars on a bridge connecting two dirt roads on private land, and put a gate at both ends.

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.