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Comment Re:Meh, not this guy again. (Score 1) 292

Agree with you very much that biology will drive a lot of progress throughout the 21st century. There will be indescribable advances in genetic engineering of enhancements or replacements to ourselves and artificial organisms. Imagine custom made bacteria for chemical manufacturing, purpose built insects, implantation of additional of genes into humans like the enzymes to digest cellulose like a termite, etc.

I think one day years from now, altering your DNA will be like the current body modifications or tattoos. Anyone can do it in any city in the world, with standard equipment and acceptable risk of side effects (like an infection from a dirty needle).

Comment Re:I hope this solves the problem (Score 1) 232

Same here. I have been using firefox since the 0.x phoenix days and I can recall maybe one time, years ago, where I got bit by a memory leak. I virtually never close the browser and instead leave it open for months with a dozen tabs open, and always just sleep/hibernate the computer. Hosts include practically anything you can name, 2k-7 (32 and 64 bit), OSX (10.5-10.7), Linux (too many to recall, mostly ubuntu).

My memory usage is always great, and has been for at least the past couple of years. It definitely uses less memory than Chrome.

Who are these people and what version of FF are they using? Maybe these people have never heard of Adblock and Flashblock, and maybe there really is a memory leak when you browse the web like a savage without them.

Comment Re:Invisible hand of the free market (Score 1) 435

I have several objections.

First, the US does invest in african infrastructure.

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Malawi and Zambia are set to win hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. infrastructure grants in the next two years due to steady improvements in the way they are run, U.S. aid officials said on Tuesday. ...
The MCC [the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) ], which has committed $5.1 billion to Africa over five years -- most of it in infrastructure investment -- has a $10 million project to reduce corruption and help civil society in Uganda, which it regards as a 'threshold' country.

The problem is the rampant anarchy and thievery destroying those investments. Raw materials being stolen in the middle of the night, improper or no maintenance being done. If African dictatorships have trouble dividing up crates of free food among the populace, what makes you think they can handle taking care of a first-world electrical grid and highway system?

Second, the US does invest in African education.

Primary school enrolment in African countries is among the lowest in the world. Limited funds and a lack of adequate teachers, classrooms, and learning materials adversely affect the educational environment throughout most of Africa. The President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI) is a $600-million multi-year initiative that focuses on increasing access to quality basic education in 39 sub-Saharan countries through scholarships, textbooks, and teacher training programs. Eighty million African children will have benefited from AEI by 2010.

[Parent post:] Since rich nations obviously have an interest in keeping the status quo, there is little actual help.

Finally, and this should be easy because it's so "obvious", but [Citation Needed]. What is it that you think rich nations gain by doing this? Cheap blood diamonds?

Comment Re:and given that assumption is now questioned... (Score 1) 246

While I agree with you and also see the analogies between electrons orbiting in atoms clustered to form cells, and planets, stars and galaxies and wonder, I don't think it's fair to call the SETI guys closed minded for not. You are basically espousing fantasy, not open-mindedness. The speed of light is fundamental, and so is information theory. You can't have intelligent life the size of an electron, there isn't anywhere for their intelligence to be stored. An alien the size of the universe would be impossible to communicate with in any meaningful way for us humans. It would take 14 (90?) billion years just for it to "sense" something with its "nerves" from one side to the other. It's almost pointless to think about it. It is pointless to spend a single dollar investigating.

I firmly believe that, based on the laws of physics, aliens are going to be similar and instantly recognizable to us. Evolution is likely a universal law as well, so I expect them to have recognizable behavior (evolutionary psychology). Co-locating decision making and sensory perception to improve reaction time (i.e. a head) seems likely as well.

Comment Re:Sorry, they are locusts (Score 1) 81

What are the reasons?

Something interesting from the article:

"The giant interneuron and the Kenyon cells form a simple negative feed-back loop: the more strongly it is activated by the Kenyon cell population, the more strongly it curtails their activity in return", explains Laurent. The interneuron itself does not generate any action potentials, but inhibits Kenyon cells via nonspiking and graded release of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).

There is a negative feedback loop. I wonder if this could lead to side-effects like our lowered sensitivity to a smell over time. Some say the smell is just not registering in our conscious, I wonder if the smell is not even registering on the olfactory nerves at all.

Comment Re:Based on the Cover..... (Score 1) 221

Totally unrelated to what you are saying... but here's some more nerd street-cred in the article:

"They had run into a puzzling incongruity: Assange said the data included dispatches from the beginning of 2004 through the end of 2009, but the material on the spreadsheet ended abruptly in April 2009. A considerable amount of material was missing. Assange, slipping naturally into the role of office geek, explained that they had hit the limits of Excel. Open a second spreadsheet, he instructed. They did, and the rest of the data materialized — a total of 92,000 reports from the battlefields of Afghanistan. "

Who else but a nerd would know exactly about excel's row limit. I am amused.

Comment Don't Watch (Score 1) 434

My freedom is in not watching. Why bother with advertising, DRM, subscription fees in the first place? There's hardly anything worth watching anyways. Do you really view all of that stimulation as an inalienable right? With all of this in-fighting and territorial control by companies over "mindshare", viewership, eyeballs, I take it as a sign we're on the wrong track.

Comment Re:Sickening (Score 1) 593

Great post, wish I had mod points. I agree that we need to find a well-defined event, one that is measurable and scientifically derived. However, I fear that it will be a very long time until there is consensus. In my mind this problem is reminiscent of, in AI, defining consciousness in scientific or mathematical terms. It may be that we simply don't have the understanding yet to answer it one way or another, and so are left with the blind leading the blind.

Additionally, thank you for pointing out the obvious. In all my thought regarding other key events such as development of beating heart, brain structure, and birth, etc, I never realized that there was another that occurred so early. Probably because I do not consider an embryo a human, and I was mentally lazy. I like undermining my own prejudices with new information and logic. But opinions aside, formation of unique DNA has a lot going for it, logically.

"Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time." -- a coffee cup