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Comment Re:SG-1 Episode Foreshadowing... (Score 1) 84

This is the flip side of the vaccine debate. I absolutely believe vaccines are effective and on the balance beneficial to society, and everyone should be vaccinated. But stuff like this is why I reluctantly agree the government should never have the power to force people to get vaccinated. You can't just give government powers based on what good things they could do with it. You have to limit government's powers based on the worst thing they could do with it.

Comment Re:incomplete sentence... (Score 3, Informative) 68

The american indians managed the land and it's resources just fine, It's the assholes from europe that wiped out most everything because of stupidity.

They didn't manage the land and its resources. They lived a nomadic lifestyle. Once they'd depleted an area of its resources, they simply picked up everything and moved somewhere else. This had the effect of distributing their environmental impact.

That only works so long as population density is very low. Europeans arrived with a much higher population density. They would've had the same detrimental effect on the North American environment even if they'd lived as the native Americans did.

Comment Re:Why don't taxis just provide good service?! (Score 2) 129

2. Charge reasonable fares. A $6 starting fare, plus $8/mile after that, plus $1 for every 5 seconds idling at a light makes short taxi trips unbearably expensive, and it makes medium and long voyages pretty much impossible. The rates are excessive even if they were providing excellent service. But as we saw in the first point, the taxi customers are paying top dollar for third-world service. Short trips should be competitive with public transit fares. Longer trips should still be within reason. If an airline charges $800 to fly thousands of miles, it should not cost $100 to take a taxi just a few miles to get to the airport to catch that flight!

The relative who was supposed to pick my family up from the airport couldn't make it because of a family emergency. We ended up having to take a taxi home. After we got home (about 40 miles) and paid the fare, out of curiosity we did a little research. It would've been cheaper to hire a limo for the hour our trip took.

Comment Re:Ugly Americanism (Score 1) 129

Here's a suggestion: Talk to the cab driver. Ask him about his home country. You'll probably learn something interesting you never knew about the world, he'll think it's wonderful that an American is interested in the corner of the world he's from. And he'll get to practice his English so his accent will be less pronounced and annoying after a few years. Heck, you may even make a new friend.

I can understand being frustrated with people who are set in their ways and refuse to change. But some of OP's complaints are transitional stages. You can't become a cab driver who knows where to go if you aren't at some point in time a cab driver who doesn't know where to go. You can't become an immigrant who speaks perfect English if you weren't at some point in time an immigrant who spoke poor English. Since these transitional stages are unavoidable, it's counterproductive to complain about them. You eliminate them, and you eliminate the end product (cab drivers who know where to go, immigrants who speak perfect English).

Comment Re:Why does EU need GM? (Score 1) 240

GM also reduces the amount of labor, water, and pollution needed to produce food and makes food cheaper.

That's what makes it insidious. The U.S. and EU subsidize food production to insure there's sufficient excess margin to prevent starvation if there's a crop failure. Part of this involves paying farmers not to grow anything, so that their growing capacity remains in reserve should some disaster befall farmland currently in use (the Dust Bowl of the 1930s literally blew away the topsoil on a lot of farmland). Part of this is guaranteeing a minimum price a farmer will be paid for a crop.

As a consequence of these subsidies, there's an oversupply of food and the market price for food is actually lower than the cost to grow it. That is, if you tried to let the market dictate the prices, the farmers wouldn't make enough money to stay in business. But because the government has set a floor on the price of the food, it buys the food from the farmers, then resells it on the market at a loss. (The food that's sold doesn't actually lose money, but the excess supply that can't be sold is a loss. That's why we come up with other things to do with the excess, like send it overseas as foreign aid, use it as cheap feed for cattle, convert it to HFCS, convert it to ethanol, etc.)

Now comes the insidious part. The price the government sets is based on the amount of crop the typical farmer grows. That's basically to keep the farmers honest - no inflating your production costs by tucking in that vacation to the Bahamas as one of your expenses. If your production costs per ton of crop are higher than the typical farmers', and the price is set based on the typical farmer's expenses, then you make less profit or even take a loss despite selling your entire crop to the government.

Enter Roundup-ready crops. They allow you to produce more tons of crop at less expense (less time spent weeding, less crop choked out by weeds). That increases the amount of crop you can produce per hectare, or per hour of labor. Meaning you raise your overall productivity. This inflates the "typical farmer's" productivity, putting the farmers who don't use Roundup-ready crops at a disadvantage. You cash in on a greater share of the government's food price subsidy than they do. Consequently they feel compelled to use the stuff too. Even though there's no need for it because we already produce way more food than we need.

In other words, with the food subsidies in place, we're already in a position where we produce all the food we need and then some. If there are no Roundup-ready crops, the subsidy money for the crops gets distributed to the farmers in the form of the floor price. But if you allow Roundup-ready crops, the mechanics of the subsidy encourage farmers to use Roundup-ready crops to try to grab a larger share of that subsidy. But the moment every farmer is using it, they're getting the same subsidy as they would've gotten if nobody were using it. That's what's insidious about this - it's an unneeded product, demand for which exists only because of the math of how the food production subsidies are allocated. And once all farmers are using it, they're making less money than they were before they were using it, because now their royalty payments to Monsanto are added to their expenses.

Comment Re:This is not about science. It's about dependenc (Score 1) 240

Actually, I don't think Monsanto's patent on the GM seeds are in and of themselves a problem. What's a problem is that the court decisions revolving around this IP have decoupled the risk from the reward. If you use Monsanto's patented seeds, you have to pay Monsanto. But if you don't want Monsanto's seed but some of it blows onto your farm, Monsanto isn't liable for it. In fact you'll probably be forced to pay Monsanto if you don't detect it and get rid of it yourself.

That's what's broken. If you want a patent on a living, growing organism, I don't really see a problem with that. But like with your kids, you take full responsibility for everything it does - good or bad. Your kid goes and becomes a TV star and makes lots of money, you reap the financial rewards. But if your kid goes and contaminates some organic farm's fields and makes the farmer unable to sell his crop, you pay to compensate the farmer and make him whole again. You want the reward, you pay for the risk.

Comment Re:Not wasted (Score 1) 172

Back in the real world, The Martian was mastered in 2K and hardly anybody noticed. I have a UHD monitor and using RAW still photos I can tell the difference between a photo natively cropped to 3840x2160 and one that's between downscaled to 1920x1080 and back at my typically sitting distance but you need to watch some fine detail. There's no way I'd see anything past 4K.

I use a projector at home on a screen 14 feet away to project a 150" image (about 11 ft x 6.5 ft) in FHD (what I assume you're calling 2k). It sucks. It's blurry in general, and in bright scenes with little motion or with computer images (I play games on it too) you can see the individual pixels. I cannot wait for 4k projectors to come down to a reasonable price so I can replace it. And no, I don't have super-vision. I haven't had an eye exam in 2 years and I estimate my vision is currently about 20/30 with astigmatism.

Comment Re:Encryption (Score 1) 109

Boxcryptor does this and works with most of the popular cloud service providers. Really, this is the only way cloud or off-site storage should be handled. The company storing your data has no business being able to read it. The only risk is if you lose your encryption key. But you only have yourself to blame if that happens.

Comment Re:Yeah, I thought this problem was solved (Score 2, Insightful) 110

and then people who champion nuclear get angry at people like me, and accuse us of not understanding the technology. oh we understand the technology is wonderful. but it is you who doesn't understand humanity

We understand humanity. You don't understand statistics. When there's a nuclear accident, it's big and scary and gets reported by all the press. When there's a coal, wind, or solar accident, it's small and doesn't get reported by the press. If you base your statistics on what's reported on the news, you get a skewed view of the dangers of these power sources. It's like planes vs cars. Every airliner crash gets reported on the national news. But car accident fatalities are rarely recorded. The erroneous reporting bias is large enough that some people are deathly afraid of flying, even though you're statistically more likely to die in a car accident on the way to/from the airport than on the flight itself.

Likewise, nuclear is the safest power source man has invented. Despite the accidents, despite the human failures you cite (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were caused by operator error). It has produced the fewest casualties per unit of power generated of all power sources. Did you know that the month of the Fukushima accident, when zero people were killed by nuclear power, one person was killed by wind power? A school in Ohio forgot to lock the gate to their wind turbine. A student climbed up it, and fell to his death. Human error affects all power sources, not just nuclear. If anything, nuclear is safer because of the increased scrutiny it gets.

Comment Earthrise (Score 2) 91

Interesting to see how many shots they took of the famous "Earthrise" photo. A dozen shots ruined by something in the foreground blurring parts of the picture, and the sequence with the Earth actually rising blown by not pointing the camera in the right direction. Now I feel better about my photography.

Comment Re:What he should have done ... (Score 2) 387

What most people are missing is that they don't need a warrant because you're outside the U.S. wanting in. Supreme Court cases have established that U.S. Constitutional protections apply only to people (both citizens and non-citizens, including illegal immigrants) on U.S. soil. Once you're outside the U.S., all bets are off even if you're a U.S. citizen. That's why Bush built a prison in Guantanamo Bay - that's Cuban soil, not U.S., so prisoners there wouldn't be protected by that pesky Constitution. (The SCotUS eventually decided that because of the degree of control the U.S. had over the base, it was effectively U.S. soil and the prisoners there did have Constitutional protections. At which point the prison camps operated in Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military were turned over to those countries.)

I agree that confiscating his laptop and phone and holding them ransom until he disclosed his password is morally wrong and our agents shouldn't be behaving that way. But until you've been admitted into the U.S., you have very few legal protections no matter who you are.

Comment Re:A very obvious statement (Score 1) 152

If you put any thought into this at all, you realize it is a massive conspiracy.

I reached the opposite conclusion. The EPA has been investigating this since early 2014, and asked VW to address the problem then. VW issued a recall for a software update to attempt to "fix" the problem in Dec 2014. Now, if it's a massive conspiracy, and they knew the EPA was investigating precisely this issue, wouldn't that software update have been the perfect time to erase the defeat device and cover up any evidence that they had been cheating?

Then look at how VW announced they'd been cheating. First they said 480,000 cars in the U.S. were affected. Then a few days later they said 11 million cars worldwide were affected. If this were a massive conspiracy, shouldn't they have known from the beginning that 11 million cars worldwide were affected and announced that on the first day? Instead, their announcements are consistent with a company where most of the management didn't know they were cheating, and it took them a couple days to audit code put into engines outside of the U.S. to confirm they were also affected.

It all points to very few people or almost nobody at VW knowing about this, until it was found and they knew what to look for.

Other automakers add expensive, space consuming devices to eliminate NO pollution. These is no way a single programmer could have made a change and all the engineers would go "Look, we don't need all the extra hardware, it passes the test!"

You're assuming the NOx-reducing devices are necessary to comply with emissions standards. The fact that these engines were able to pass the emissions tests clearly proves that assumption is false. We're not talking about a binary no device = fail test, device present = pass test situation. A diesel engine without a urea injection system can pass the NOx tests with a certain level of engine performance. The urea injection system allows higher engine performance while keeping NOx emissions the same.

Lots of people would notice immediately during the design phase.

Again, you're assuming the default engine state was to pair it with a urea injection system, and lots of people wouldn't noticed during the design phase when an engine without it produces nearly the same power as an engine with it. But the default engine state is to not have the system. Unless they also used the exact same engine model in a car with a urea injection system, there wouldn't have been a comparison which they could refer to to notice the urea wasn't helping the engine's output or reducing the emissions. It wouldn't have been obvious at all that the engine was producing more output "than it should have" at a given emissions level.

Comment Re:will they "cost no more to" buy? (Score 1, Interesting) 180

Gas as energy for cooking and heating has even worse future outcomes (except for power generation due to the polluting nature of coal ie coal dies first, then oil and then gas).

Have you even done any calculations for how much energy is consumed by cooking and heating? My home has a gas stove, gas water heater, and gas heater. During summer my consumption is about 7 therms, which is equivalent to about 205 kWh (my bill is about $15). During winter it's about 10x that.

Using a solar constant of 800 Watts and 22% efficiency panels, 1 square meter of panels will generate 176 Watts peak. Multiply by the average (fixed) PV solar capacity factor for the U.S. of 0.145 and 1 square meter of panels will generate 25.52 Watts on average. Multiply by 730 hours/month and you get 18.63 kWh per month from 1 m^2 of panels.

In other words, just to cover my cooking and water heating needs in summer, I'd need 11 m^2 of solar panels. During winter, I'd need 10x that, or 110 m^2 of solar panels, or about 150 m^2 after factoring in batteries with a combined charge/discharge efficiency of 0.7-0.75. Unlike cooking and showering, I mostly want the house to be heated when the sun isn't up.

We have a long, long way to go before PV solar has any hope of replacing gas for heating.

Comment Re:Bad signs for a long time (Score 1) 55

And on a similar subject, they announced they weren't interested in deploying VoLTE, yet. A perfect opportunity to get people off their legacy 3G network, so they don't have to spend money upgrading it and can focus on LTE, and they say no, folks should keep on making calls over the old 3G network.

Agree with the other stuff, but technically Sprint was the first carrier with VoLTE (or VoIP). They inked a deal with Google several years back where your Sprint phone number became your Google Voice number. Unfortunately the support stopped there. It was PITA to get Google Voice working in Android back then, and I gave up after trying it for a few hours. When Google integrated Google Voice with Hangouts, that's when the magic that should've happened a couple years prior finally happened - I could make and receive calls over IP networks (wifi, LTE, the occasional 3G network with enough bandwidth) using my Sprint number over Hangouts.

Anyway, that's probably why they said they weren't interested in deploying VoLTE. Because technically they already had it, it just wasn't seamless with your phone's regular dialer.

Comment Re:weakly disguised hit-piece (Score 2, Insightful) 319

So is it really a "hit piece" to tell what happened, and put it in proper context?

The facts may be right, but the context it presents seems suspect. AFAIK HP never made its own MP3 player. If the presented context were correct, HP would've made one as soon as their contractual prohibition with Apple expired in 2006. That doesn't seem to have happened.

So the proper context is probably that HP didn't want to make an MP3 player, but they wanted to keep their name recognition up in the MP3 player market just in case they were wrong and it took off. So they inked a deal with the most successful MP3 player maker. And they tricked Jobs into giving additional concessions by agreeing not to build their own MP3 player - something they weren't planning on doing anyway.

If that's what happened, in retrospect HP did the smart thing. The MP3 player market died when phones picked up music playback capability. So HP came out ahead by never devoting resources to developing an MP3 player. Of course they totally missed the boat on smartphones, even though they used to be one of the leaders in the PDA market.

The trouble with a lot of self-made men is that they worship their creator.