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How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of Frederic Tudor, the man responsible for the modern food industry. "A guy from Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 200 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months. In fact, it's history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the "Ice King of the World." What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world.

Today, the New England ice trade, which Tudor started in Boston's backyard in 1806, sounds cartoonishly old-fashioned. The work of ice-harvesting, which involved cutting massive chunks out of frozen bodies of water, packing them in sawdust for storage and transport, and selling them near and far, seems as archaic as the job of town crier. But scholars in recent years have suggested that we're missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor's big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry."

Comment: San Diego (Score 3, Informative) 281

by ShakaUVM (#48643879) Attached to: Study: Red Light Cameras Don't Improve Safety

I live in San Diego, some of the time, and similar results were posted here, too. The increase in rear-end collisions from people slamming on the brakes negates any benefit from reduced T-bones.

San Diego also reduced yellow light times, sometimes to below the legal limit, in order to boost revenue.

A judge looked at the program in 2001, said, "That's bullshit", and banned it for a year, and then the government finally ended it on its own in 2013.

Comment: Re:freedom 2 b a moron (Score 1) 1051

by ShakaUVM (#48586467) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

>Why? Excluding religion, there is no reason to believe that vaccines cause any harm: literally every study attempting to find otherwise has either failed or been proven fraudulent.

Uh, no. You're grossly misrepresenting the case.

"Any harm" - really? All vaccines (heck, all medicine in general) carry a risk of adverse effects. There are common and minor adverse effects, and rare and serious adverse effects, including febrile seizures, allergy to the eggs used in the formulation, and so forth. What the scientific consensus is is that *vaccines are still worth it despite the risks*. That's why we don't give vaccines any more for viruses no longer in the wild - the benefit is no longer worth the risk.

From the CDC (, adverse effects include:
1) HepB Pain at the injection site (3%-29%)
2) HepB Fever over 100*F (1%-6%)
3) HepB Anaphylaxis (1 in 600,000)
4) MMR Fever over 103*F (5%-15%)
5) MMR Rashes (5%)
6) MMR Joint Pain (3%)
7) MMR Febrile seizures, which caused the vaccine to be reformulate to reduce risk
8) MMR Aseptic meningitis, which led to the vaccine to switch strains in some countries

And so forth. All of these are based on studies, contrary to what you claimed that have found harm in vaccines.

I think you read a headline once that said, "No link between autism and vaccines" and falsely extrapolated that to mean "no reason to believe vaccines cause any harm".

Comment: Re:Metacritic (Score 1) 91

by ShakaUVM (#48521951) Attached to: <em>Dragon Age: Inquisition</em> Reviewed and Benchmarked

>It is a big deal. The game comes with a built-in expiration date, which is a mystery. When EA is done with it, you're done with it. And to rewind...

The multiplayer may very well come with an expiration date. EA is pretty horrible in that respect.

The single player works even if the servers are down, and single player is the focus of the game.

>This is why I don't give money to fuckheads like EA and Ubisoft, and why you shouldn't either, and why I think you're an asshole for doing so. You're helping fuckheads be fuckheads.

I haven't given a dollar to Ubisoft since they implemented UPlay (except once accidentally when I bought a game without checking the publisher). On Origin, I own exactly 2 games (Mass Effect 3 and DA:I). On Steam I own 438. Their DRM system is the main reason why I refuse to support them with my dollars. But as I said, the DA:I DRM isn't as mind-bogglingly stupid as SimCity's.

Comment: Metacritic (Score 2, Informative) 91

by ShakaUVM (#48519327) Attached to: <em>Dragon Age: Inquisition</em> Reviewed and Benchmarked

The user metacritic scores were very low for this game, whereas the critic's reviews were pretty high. This was the first time I can remember in which I've actually sided with the critics over the users. As far as I can tell, the users were just giving it bad scores because of the DRM. Due to debacles like Sim City, people are very, very leery of EA's DRM policies, and in fact DA:I has presented some problems for people doing benchmarks and the like (it detects the hardware changes and locks you out of the game after 4 or 5 changes). That said, DA:I will continue to work even with the EA servers go down (which they have) - you just can't play multiplayer. No big deal.

The game itself is amazing. Great story, amazing graphics, open(-ish) world with non-linear(-ish) design, challenging combats (I'm playing on Hard, can't comment on other modes), and an absolute ton of side missions to do with your companions that ties in back and forth with the non-interactive missions you can send your army on across the world. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes RPGs. It's the best CRPG I've played since Fallout New Vegas.

Comment: Re:So it is not an accurate Documentary Film? (Score 1) 289

by ShakaUVM (#48495321) Attached to: Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

>Just to clarify, I believe Kip Thorne is the physicist who was a consultant on Interstellar, who made efforts to make the move more scientifically accurate than what Nolan could do on his own

And failed utterly. There are so many horribly bad manglings of physics in the movie that he's trying to salvage himself by saying on just one of the two dozen serious errors it's maybe sorta possible that it could be that way.

He should be ashamed of himself for granting the movie his imprimatur.

Comment: Re:Quite the poker player (Score 2) 285

by ShakaUVM (#48373353) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

>China's producing 7.2 tons per person. The US is producing 16.5 tons per person.

Per capita comparisons are ridiculous since a large chunk of China is still non-industrialized. There's a reason why China and India always focus on per-capita numbers - by having lots of poor people living in non-developed areas, they can get lots of extra quota for their highly polluting power plants and factories.

A better comparison is CO2 emitted per kWh produced or per dollar (or RMB) of GDP.

That said, at least China is building out some nuclear capacity. America is frozen on the issue.

Comment: Re:No, it's not time to do that. (Score 1) 299

by ShakaUVM (#48322733) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

I can use some of that. I'm teaching 1st and 2nd semester CS in January, and I don't want to overload them too much with philosophy of programming, but I plan on having code reviews be 20% of their grade. They'll have to come up in front of the class and talk about why they made the design decisions they did, and other students can earn extra credit by finding bugs and pointing out questionable decisions.

But yeah, I was planning on doing a maze solver, so maybe a A* solver might be a little more useful. Thanks for the ideas!

Comment: Re:No, it's not time to do that. (Score 1) 299

by ShakaUVM (#48308203) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

Will do. Thanks for the input!

I plan on using some common computer science job application questions as homework assignments, like Fizzbuzz. A friend of mine applied to Facebook and was asked to test a string for being a palindrome, create a linked list class, and write a method to reverse it.

You do have any suggestions for such homework assignments?

Comment: Re:No, it's not time to do that. (Score 1) 299

by ShakaUVM (#48289185) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

>I can't tell you how many of these bozos who've learned in a "formal" setting can barely manage a coherent if/then statement, much less successfully complete even a small in-house application.

I'm going to start teaching CS in January. My approach will be to have the students writing code every class, which will be automatically tested by code that I write for correctness. If they can't get it done in class, they have until the next class (48 hours later) to finish it.

It is somewhat inspired by the code competitions I used to do. If a CS student can't write code to save his life, why is he taking a programming class?

>Granted, most of the self-taught crowd is weak on specialized algorithms and data structures

This is a bigger weakness than you think. Sure, some concepts like hashing and linked lists can be learned pretty quickly by an auto-didact, but the lack of formal training in discrete math means that their code all too often isn't correct. I can look at a recursive algorithm and immediately see when it was written by someone who never learned to do a proof by induction.

Also, their understanding of big-O notation is often (but not always) weak, and they'll tend to just try to use the one or two structures they understand for everything, which leads to inefficient implementations.

Comment: Re:Why not? (Re:No. Just no.) (Score 1) 206

>strangely enough there's a section in the constitution that actually makes vague laws of no effect. Can't remember the section.

That's funny.

Vague laws are the bread and butter of prosecutors.

If you want to read more on the subject, check out the book Three Felonies a Day.

Comment: Re:Why not? (Re:No. Just no.) (Score 2) 206

by ShakaUVM (#48265649) Attached to: Is the Outrage Over the FBI's Seattle Times Tactics a Knee-Jerk Reaction?

>Does not apply to sting operations...

Your reference says nothing about wire fraud.

Here's the actual law -

"Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both"

It's malleable enough that prosecutors can make it apply to basically anyone.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"