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Comment: Re:Step 1: Think of a rational reason. (Score 1) 288

by Tlosk (#34729592) Attached to: 'Colonizing the Red Planet,' a How-To Guide

No, but the same questions/comparisons apply to near earth orbit as well (what is actually accomplished by maintaining a human settlement there?). Clearly there are benefits, but are they in proportion to the cost and diversion of so many resources?

Another way to frame this problem might be to ask where is the expansionist/explorative boundary where we should stop? Where further action is counterproductive.

A desire to eat surgary/fatty foods to excess helped for a long time, when these things were rare. The same impulse becomes harmful in an environment of prolonged abundance and relative inactivity.

The impulse to explore, to settle, to conquer, has propelled humanity to planetary dominance. Should it apply only to productive areas on the earth? To Antartica and to the ocean floors? To near earth orbit? To the moon, Mars, and Venus? To Jupiter and Pluto? To the surface of the sun? To the space between galaxies? At what point are we scratching an itch that developed in such a different context that there is simply no rational way to justify it anymore?

It's quite human to view our natural impulses and desires as being imbued with some sort of absolute value and integrity, to view our emotions as guided by an unseen truth beyond questioning. But they are tools, tools constrained by the environment in which they were forged over evolutionary time.

Comment: Re:Programmable Number Plates (Score 1) 624

by Tlosk (#32641792) Attached to: California Wants To Put E-Ads On License Plates

...CA sent ~$286,627,000,000 to the Federal Government, on the other hand they received ~$242,023,000,000 dollars worth of federal funding. I'd just like to note that this represents a 44.6 billion dollar disparity.

Ok let me see if I understand you correctly, you're saying that CA, dollar for dollar, got back 85% of the money it paid in federal taxes. So 15% of that money has gone "missing" and you seem to be implying that the only equitable thing is for CA to get back 100% of the money it sent to DC (or perhaps more than 100% wouldn't cause any frowns either right?).

Are you suggesting that people that live in CA should have no part in paying for the two wars we are involved with? That California shouldn't pay for any of the government structure/personnel in Washington DC? That the IRS should figure out a way to do its job without spending any of the money it collects on infrastructure and employees?

I don't disagree with your assessment of CA state tax/spending issues, but what is the magic number you suggest states should get to for dollar in dollar out for federal taxes? Fifteen percent doesn't seem to be to be outside reasonable bounds given our current situation and commitments on the federal level.

Comment: Re:Adblocker (Score 1) 319

by Tlosk (#31588928) Attached to: Malware Delivered By Yahoo, Fox, Google Ads

I think your point is spot on, this is why big reputable sites need to take charge of their own advertising instead of farming everything out to 3rd parties that are getting it wrong a lot lately.

You may save some money in the short term by not having to deal with the overhead yourself, but unless all the content that is getting shoveled your way is reputable you just force your readers to block everything to keep their systems safe.

But realistically what this means is using ads that don't rely on delivery mechanisms with a huge attack surface like flash and active scripting.

Comment: Re:How so "stolen"? (Score 1) 502

by Tlosk (#30443374) Attached to: The Trial of Terry Childs Begins

An even better analogy might be if I get drunk and I start looking like I'm going to drunk-dial my boss and my friend takes my phone away from me until I sober up, should my friend be charged with a crime? Should I be mad at him or grateful?

The 18 months it has taken just to get to this point and the 5 million bail is just ridiculous. It can certainly be argued on both sides which was the better judgment call for Terry to make, but this level of persecution for what he did is just piss and vinegar by people who have the power to do so and isn't justifiable in any rational way.

Especially when you consider that Terry didn't stand to benefit in any way personally from the decision he made, only the network stood to benefit by being shielded from harm.

Comment: Re:Frameless monitors (Score 1) 439

by Tlosk (#29388299) Attached to: AMD's DX11 Radeons Can Drive Six 30" Displays

I move my LCD monitor around a lot and a few months ago the power connector became loose, the solder joints had failed. So I took it apart to resolder it and to add some stress relief straps so it wouldn't happen again. There wasn't a whole lot to the innards, the LCD itself was a self contained metal panel. I could easily see a DIYer being able to construct your own beveless array out of cheap LCD monitors you can pick up at the store. Would probably be an order of magnitude cheaper than buying a ready made array since those are so low volume.

Comment: Re:Convert? (Score 1) 621

by Tlosk (#27691543) Attached to: Time Warner Cable Won't Compete, Seeks Legislation

Seriously, if the people choose to provide the services themselves, why should they be prohibited from doing so?

I know, it's anathema to free-market idealists, but the end result is... better, cheaper service.

Actually it's not anathema at all as you describe it. But what you're describing is closer to a cooperative than a government run service. Where everyone using the service does so voluntarily and the costs are entirely borne by those benefiting from the service.

The only way to maintain a monopoly is through government sanction (or regulations that effectively limit others from entering the market). And the problem with government run services is that it becomes very tempting, once they are up and running, to use that governmental power to shield themselves from competition.

It's essentially a benevolent dictator problem, there's nothing inherently preventing a government from providing high value service at the lowest possible cost, it's just that in the real world it almost never works out that way. Just as a dictator could rule the nation better than any democracy ever could, but in the real world they rarely do (and never for more than one generation).

The more immediate problem here though is that a local government has almost no control over the state and national regulations that tie their hands and keep them from dislodging the controls that set up effective monopolies by the cable and teleco companies. And the only real option they have is to do what they're doing and use their clout and bond status to do what should be possible privately.

Comment: Re:Mental shortcut? (Score 1) 1181

by Tlosk (#22700542) Attached to: Should Scientists Date People Who Believe Astrology?
Think of it as stochastic resonance. You can take a very low power signal and if you add random noise it will raise the signal above the threshold of detection because even though the signal is below threshold, it's still stronger than the background, so the background also gets lifted but not as much.

So astrology could be totally random, and yet still have a powerful effect. By raising motivations from just below the level where they get acted on. So say you like a girl is interested in a guy down the hall but not quite enough to do anything yet. She reads her horoscope and even though its ambiguity and randomness still raise up motivations that were already there past the point where now she decides to go down and flirt with him.

A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing but together can decide that nothing can be done. -- Fred Allen