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Comment God is to blame for their emissions violations! (Score 1) 353

From what I gather, VW put a lot of money into developing a new Diesel engine that turned out to not balance all the tradeoffs the way they wanted. They can get power, but at the cost of fuel economy and emissions. They can get lower emissions, at the cost of fuel economy and power. They can get fuel economy at the cost of power and emissions. To redesign the engine would have been very costly, so they decided that instead of making a better engine, they'd adjust the tradeoff depending on the operating conditions. So what's going to happen now with the recalls, if they meet emissions requirements, they won't get fuel economy and performance that are competitive with petrol engines, and lots of VW customers are going to be very unhappy, and they're going to lose a lot of business to vehicles that have the performance and fuel economy characteristics people want.

So what's likely to have happened within VW is that they built and tested engines and found that they were never going to meet all the requirements at once. So engineers reported this to managment who made the decision to add "defeat device" software to violate emissions standards under normal operating conditions. And I'm sure it went pretty far up the chain of command, because no one engineer is going to want to bear the weight of that decision, nor can they because all of this would require the involvement of lots of engineers. And since this mechanism was formally added to the design, then they'd have formal testing procedures that ensure it behaves the way they intend, so the testing engineers will also be aware of all of this as well.

So who is at fault? It's a cascade:
- The emissions laws are incompatible with consumer demands.
- The laws of physics make it very hard to meet consumer demands while also meeting emissions standards.
- The engine design engineers produced a design that couldn't balance all the tradeoffs.
- The software developers took carefully planned steps to develop the defeat device.

So, basically, those to blame are God, hardware engineers, software engineers, lawmakers, and consumers. Basically the whole universe.

Comment A few counter examples don't disprove the general (Score 4, Insightful) 281

I'm sure you can find plenty of teams of rockstar coders who can scale in amazing ways. Unfortunately, this does not apply to teams of average programmers. An average programmer knows how to code but is typically much less intuitive about how their components impact other developers. To deal with this, you need to do all this up-front design work that it entirely serial (not scalable) and takes a substantial portion of the total development time.

Comment Re:Better to drink from a leaking garbage bag (Score 1) 568

When I was a kid, I thought my parents were cheap, avoiding juice and watering it down. Now we do that for our own kids. They demand juice, so we give them apple and grape juices that don't taste like ass when you dilute them (can't do that with orange juice). And of course, we only give them the orange juice that has calcium added, and we give them almond milk and coconut (with added calcium), sometimes mixed with the unsweetened kind. The juice is mostly given as a treat... we try really hard to give them mostly water (filtered from the tap) as much as we can. Especially at night, because we don't want the sugar metabolites to damage their teeth.

Something they really enjoy, incidentally, is water kefir. It's like probiotic soda. Not too sweet, with a bit of a yeasty taste (reminds me of beer but without the alcohol). So they get probiotics, and they think it's soda. Same thing with Kombucha. Those are especially good when they pick up a stomach bug.

Comment Are there racial effects on IQ? (Score 1) 445

Let me begin by clearly stating that if you PREJUDGE someone on the basis of ethnicity, then that's prejudiced and wrong. For example, if you believe that Latinos are dumb, and you prevent someone named Fernandez from entering a gifted program (or getting hired to a job they're qualified for, etc.), then that's immoral and also not supported by any science. Although there MAY be some differences in mean IQ between ethnic groups, as one scientist said, the world's greatest mathematician might come out of the poorest slums of India. According to some, Neanderthal DNA that is found in Europeans and Asians MAY give them a statistical advantage over Africans who do not carry those genes, but this is only a statistical advantage, which you cannot use to make a priori judgements about an individual. (In other words, any facts about ethnicity and IQ statistics are interesting to anthropologists but not managers or school administrators.)

However, once you eliminate the prejudices, are there any genetic features that may make one group have a slightly lower probability of generating geniuses than another? I've read scholarly papers that showed, for instance, that Africans have a slightly lower mean IQ than Europeans, who have a slightly lower mean than Asians. (Note that the gap between whites and blacks in America is much smaller because of a lot of mixing.) Mind you, this doesn't account for the variance, where we find that the groups have vastly more overlap than they do difference. It also doesn't account for other adaptations, like how Africans have been shown to have superior social ability, and although it doesn't show up in IQ, it does show up on other measurements that any decent intelligence test should include. We have to keep in mind that we are a single species, and although there are some geographically separated groups, each group is very well adapted to their environments.

Then there are social factors. Parents that aggressively educate their young children before preschool will give those kids an advantage, rightfully pushing many of them into gifted status, regardless of what their IQ might have measured as if other factors had been equal. Regardless of genetics, the human brain is very flexible, and early education can have a profound effect on later intelligence. So your black and hispanic families who whip their kids into doing their homework and learn their ABCs early will outperform kids of lazy white parents, and they should be judged on performance, not probabilities.

It'a also interesting to see how measured intelligence is biased by socioeconomic status. It doesn't matter what color you are -- if you're poor, you're very likely to score lower on intelligence tests. Now, there is surely some interaction between socioeconomic status and gene transfer, and that's interesting once again to anthropologists. But what it really tells us is that people with lower incomes are disadvantaged by more limited educational opportunities (and/or educational aggression from parents), and to improve our society, we need to improve education among the poor. And education is the great equalizer.

Comment Surprised "The Power of the Daleks" was lost (Score 2) 79

I will swear to you up and down that when I was a kid in Tampa, FL, I saw the full episode of "The Power of the Daleks" (first episode of the second doctor). But when I found it again a few years ago, there were only telesnaps. I'm willing to believe that my memory is faulty. But the thing is, the episode plot was totally familiar to me, and I recognized scenes. Also, I would be surprised if any PBS station (either WEDU or WUSF there) would play telesnap episodes.

Comment Re:Or maybe the men would behave *better* (Score 1) 536

YOUR response is a perfect example of the things that will go WRONG with changes in men's attitudes towards women. Do you think every concern or complaint that comes out of a women is bullshit? Only your concerns are valid?

The men who treat women as human beings, with respect and compassion, those are the ones who get sex. Not the assholes who want women to just shut up and put out.

Comment Or maybe the men would behave *better* (Score 2) 536

If you make sex bots that look too realistic, and this causes men to objectify women, then perhaps this would carry over into how they treat real women. (Mind you, in that case, the genes that lead to this behavior would be eliminated from the gene pool.)

On the other hand, some men just have higher sex drive and just need to deal with some physical discomfort, unconnected with their emotional relationships with women. If they get their excess needs met somehow, then they might not be total horn dogs when they are around real women and would treat them with more respect as human beings.

Some artiificial ban on some specific technology isn't going to change people's nature. On the other hand, it might help a lot if we were to educate people from a young age that they need to treat other human beings with dignity and respect.

Comment Medically harmless (Score 2) 414

I don't like the idea of tax money being spent on something that is scientifically verfiable as completely wrong. And I also don't want people with serious illnesses not getting proper medical treatment.

However, people have the freedom to do stupid things, and homeopathy is relatively harmless. I mean, it's just expensive tap water. Also, it's a placebo, and placebos have been shown to have some limited effectiveness.

Remember diamond water? I should start selling silicon water. It's special water that's been infused with computer antivirus software by having had it in a water-cooled rig. The imprint of the antivirus software on the water has great antiviral effects in humans. :)

Comment Scientists are driven by money (Score 1) 127

Science FUNDING is political. Scientists are driven by MONEY.

Whenever someone (usually a creationist) tries to tell me about conspiracies in science, I have to laugh. Whether you're working in industry, a university, a national lab, or in your own garage, most scientific endeavors cost money. And when it comes to funding for science, the money is painfully limited. The rejection rate of NSF proposals is somewhere between 80% and 90%. This means there's fierce competition, and scientsts are as competive as any other group. The instant someone publishes something questionable, others pounce on it and try to verify or discredit it. Discrediting another scientist's work is a great way to eliminate them from the competition pool.

Now, let's say a scientist had some solid, objective evidence that there was some kind of unexplainable gap in evolutionary history (because obviously there are mountains of explanable non-gaps). I think they would have a hard time getting that published, because nobody would believe it.

Accidental conspiracies do happen, because scientists can be really stupid. A friend of mine got a paper rejected once because he pointed out the Dijkstra's shortest path algorithm would be faster than Bellman-Ford for any sizable input set. Because, as any CS undergrad knows, an O(n log n) algorithm will be much faster than an O(n squared) algorithm, even if the constant for the n log n algorithm is relatively huge. However, this one reviewer pointed to earlier work by some idiot who said that Bellman-Ford was faster, and the other reviewers swallowed it without thinking. Of course, he got it published somewhere else, but the point is that science does get wrongfully suppressed sometimes, and it can become wide-spread when a large body of scientists believe something that is incorrect. But people aren't getting together in lodges and making plans to fool the populace into believing something they know is wrong. Many scientists don't even think about that sort of thing, because they lack social inclinations.

Comment x86 isn't the performance bottleneck it once was (Score 2) 54

x86 is no longer a microarchitecture. It's just an ISA. It's a total abstraction, and in mid-range to high-end processors, its translation overhead (logic and latency) is minimal. Only in the lowest-end devices (Atom) is it any kind of burden, and ARM dominates in that space.

Yes, CISC is computersciencely evil, not orthogonal, crufty, and whatever else you want to call it. But these days, x86 is just an intermediate language between the compiler and the REAL execution engine.

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." -- Dr. Seuss