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Comment Re: Programming (Score 1) 606

math is the manipulation of symbols in a formal language.

coding is the manipulation of symbols in a formal language.

Well said!

Critical reading skills, as developed through a conscious effort to become better at googling, are the manipulation of symbols in a natural language. This is a lot tougher than working in a more abstract formal language, but the skills transfer not only to formal languages but to a lot of frequently encountered natural problems. Such as decisions on which political candidates should get your support, or whether the latest "news" about Saint Hillary's email missives actually has any meaning.

Someone who is a self-taught programmer relying on Google for their course material is likely to be a much more interesting person than most basement dwelling geeks. Just saying.

Comment Re: Programming (Score 1) 606

If you want to learn to think critically, then learn how to use regular expressions effectively. No math involved, but rigorous exercises in analytics and logic.

Those who have developed the ability to think critically could easily pick up programming skills through web searches without any formal study of mathematics. The approach would rely on skills in assessing the value of various authorities instead of the skills developed in wading through proofs of theorems and other tediosities. This kind of assessment skill is not easily learned, but it transfers well to other aspects of life, such as evaluating political candidates, potential marriage partners, schools for the kids, etc.

Comment Accept the limitations of reality (Score 1) 146

Forget about backpacking with all the equipment you will need. It cannot be done yet. The technology is not that advanced.

Invest in a smaller 4WD or AWD vehicle with high ground clearance (critical!) and a 12 volt system. And a good power inverter-- although more and more now you can find electronics that will run directly off 12 V DC. You want a car that is small enough that you've got a good range without draining the bank account to keep the gas tank full-- plus something small can get you past tight spots where behemoth monster trucks cannot go.

While this approach will limit the places you can go, car camping can still get you as far from the madding crowd as you can get, and stay within reasonable Internet connectivity. You can day hike from base camp for delving deeper into the wilderness. You can carry more with you, such as coolers, stoves with more burners, decent dutch ovens. And you can be more mobile-- such as planning much longer trips with occasional stops at towns with grocery stores, showers, and the like.

Believe me, I have thought this through. However I ended up retiring before I figured out all the business angles. I wish you the best of luck.

Comment Re:They shouldn't have shown the images (Score 1) 43

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Of course considering placing Jupiter in some kind of stellar classification is inconsistent and absurd. That was part of the point. But it is no more inconsistent and absurd than the current IAU definition of "planet". Which was the other side of the point.

The IAU has a number of hobgoblins it should really muzzle before their antics further erode the IAU's standing among international bodies of science.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this.

Comment Re:They shouldn't have shown the images (Score 1) 43

Agree fully with parent post.

Additionally, it should be pointed out that if the IAU was going to achieve any kind of consistency in their naming conventions, then Jupiter should not be classified as a planet, as it is either a "failed star", a "brown dwarf" or a "proto star". Which one depends mostly on your guess of what lies in Jupiter's future.

The IAU should really stick to astronomy and ask the experts to provide them with an appropriate classification scheme. Taxonomies are the proper subject of language arts, not astronomy. For proof, witness the mess the IAU has made for itself with its poorly articulated and badly conceived concept of "planet".

(The only valid definition of "planet" these days is the thousand+ year old definition still used in astrology: the visible wanderers, excluding the two luminaries (Sun and Moon). So Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn. Within its context, this definition is succinct and sufficient. Whereas those qualities are sadly lacking in contemporary astronomy's definition, no matter what context is in effect.)

Comment Re:Not the holy grail (Score 1) 396

Albedo

Please google that word. Then, if you can, explain what you mean when you say "Solar also generates heat since it is increasing the albedo of..."

Perhaps that would provide me with an incredibly important insight that could herald a breakthrough in physics. But alas I fear that any attempt to explain that choice of words will fail, and I will remain stuck with the same old physics we've had since Einstein shook things up a bit over a century ago.

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 0) 382

So move everyone inland 20 miles... or 50...

This isn't rocket science...

This isn't any kind of science.

Climatology and meteorology are based on historical statistics. What both are saying right now is that we have moved out of the predictive envelope that can be derived from the data we have been collecting for a couple of hundred years. We have no scientific tools to forecast events.

We know the Earth is a homeostatic mechanism that has now been pushed beyond the responsive range of what historically have been the most reactive mechanisms of adjustment. We don't know which backup mechanisms will be engaged next, nor do we know what kind of shivers and shudders will be part of the shift in mechanisms. We are in for a wild ride, and our science has shut its eyes, unable to look ahead.

Slashdotters, some of them, have an ability that goes beyond the limitations of science. It is called "imagination". Those who train themselves to use it in a disciplined way may find ways to avoid catastrophes. Those who refuse to use their imaginations would be better served by FaceBook than Slashdot, since on FB they can find a compatible group of thinkalikes to comfortably reinforce their point of view. Slashdot, at its best, challenges established world views. Which is never comfortable.

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 1) 382

I am not sure that I fully understand the post I'm responding to (maybe I need more caffeine).

My intended point is that slashdotters should be looking beyond the simplistic models of complex systems that are all that our current level of science can produce. Slashdot can and should be starting to shape our collective imagination to better orient ourselves wrt the highly probable future challenges that can be inferred from the simple models, even though this is all conjecture since the science cannot be done until the changes have manifested. Accepting the conclusion that we will see significant sea level rise, but dismissing it because everybody we know lives far enough away from any beach is inappropriate for a slashdotter. That's more of a FaceBook level of cognition. That's what FB is for: to provide comfortable reassurance that the things you don't like to think about don't much matter.

But thinking about whether a new nuclear power plant should be designed to withstand a couple of superstorm events every year instead of once during its service life now seems appropriate. Also the use of coal to generate electricity is dependent on the viability of railways, and if these become increasingly threatened by flooding and washouts, then what? Now that the science of sea level rise / global warming is firmly enough established, what are the on-the-ground challenges that we might expect, and how should we be influencing design decisions on infrastructure being built today that we expect to have a service life of 25+ years?

We no longer have historical data from which we can develop projections. The rules by which we design major infrastructure have just changed.

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 3, Interesting) 382

Oh, it will be noticed.

A one foot rise in sea level is going to create a lot more shallow water basins and tidal flat areas. All that increase in surface area is going to increase evaporation rates. That will result in an increase in atmospheric water vapor, which is one of the more potent greenhouse gases, which introduces a new positive feedback to global warming.

But in turn the increased atmospheric water vapor will, under some conditions, create an increase in clouds, which will lower the insolation of the land and ocean below them and tend to counter global warming. Since evaporation and cloud formation will be regional, there will be a stronger thermal differential between regions, which will make severe weather incidents more frequent and more intense.

People are going to be displaced by storm damage more than by the simple rise in sea level. If every year 3 to 5 port cities on the East Coast of the USA were hit by an incident on the level of Hurricane Katrina, what would that permanent stream of refugees look like? How could even the wealthiest nation keep up the infrastructure repairs needed to keep those cities functional?

No one knows how to model this, so there can be no scientific talk about it yet. All we can know is that somewhere along the way as the seas rise to 21 feet above their current level, these kinds of effects are going to occur. I think the flooding that will happen with a one foot rise will be enough to change the Earth's weather engine. I may be off by a few feet... or by a few inches. We'll have to wait and see.

Comment Re:I volunteer as tribute. (Score 1) 381

My own anecdotal/intuitive guess is that modern HVAC technology is a major factor in the obesity epidemic.

The human body evolved with a highly sophisticated mechanism for regulating its internal temperature, that had been tightly integrated with technology such as clothing and fire up to about 1970 world wide. Then for most urban and suburban life styles HVAC technology brought about significant change. Before that happened, If it was too hot, you took off clothing, or tied a wet bandanna over your head, and sweated it out. If it was too cold-- the most common thing-- you put on clothing. In either case you burn calories, either in keeping the clothing warm or by increasing the circulation of blood through the scalp, activating perspiration systems, etc. But since 1970 the common way to adjust the internal temperature is to dial the thermostat up or down. This is now true even for farmers in their air conditioned cabs on their tractors. Farm laborers, though, who are out in the weather, do not seem to be part of the obesity epidemic.

My hypothesis is that obesity is strongly determined by the atrophy of the individual's autonomic thermal controls that we once had to use on an hourly basis, that have now been replaced by HVAC systems.

I have just come back from a 7 day / 6 night camping trip that consisted of a few short walks, a lot of sedentary photography, daytime temperatures in the high 80s and night time temperatures in the low 60s. I lost more than 6 pounds on that trip: unhappily stable at 225# before, stable at 219# after (I track my daily weights, just because). And yet I'm more active at home-- if I had not gone camping I would have done 2 or 3 bike rides of 12 to 20 miles each during that time--- and would not have lost any weight. The significant difference is that on that kind of camping trip getting out of the warm sleeping bag into the chill of the morning is a thermal challenge; sweating through several water bottles during the afternoon heat is a different kind of thermal challenge.

Perhaps now that we do not engage in thermal challenges so much as we once did, the mechanisms for controlling those have atrophied and that has led to obesity.

If anyone wants to test this hypothesis, I would be a willing experimental subject. I suggest equipping me with a full set of REI camping gear and sending me to the Hartz Mountain Antelope Preserve in the wilds of eastern Oregon for several months. My dietary needs would be covered by weekly deliveries of a couple of dozen eggs, several pounds of bacon and sausage, seasonal organic veggies from the Canby Farmers Market, assorted breads from Portland's Grand Central Bakery, and a couple of kegs of McMenamin's Terminator Stout. We can work out the other details, like the carrot cakes, cheeses, etc, later. If, with this kind of diet, I came back heavier than I left then that would suggest the hypothesis is flawed. If I weighed the same or less on return, then possibly the hypothesis is true, and someone should set me up to explore it further in a different environment, perhaps in some remote corner of the Oregon coast. But whether the hypothesis is shown to be flawed or is supported by the evidence, I would certainly benefit from the experience.

Comment Re:Can GIMP not read PSD? (Score 1) 233

Wow, you sure know how to take things out of context, don't you?

Last I looked, web work is limited to a subset of the RGB color space, and one that is impossible to define with precision since it depends on what is common among all the different screens that will show your work. If you intend to do web design, you have to throw out everything that Adobe has put into Photoshop over the last 15 years. Because you are working with only a handful of crayons. Gimp cannot do everything that Photoshop can do, when Photoshop is being used with a high grade printer and precisely calibrated monitor. But Photoshop cannot do anything more than the Gimp can do when we are talking about the web.

You young artists need to step back and look at the limitations of the media you are using. The web is medium, and it is quite limiting; playing around in Photoshop might be a lot of fun, but it is not the medium. It is merely the tool. A lesser tool, the Gimp, will work as well, and in its simplicity it will be the more productive choice.

Comment Re: Do what everyone else does in this situation (Score 1) 233

I don't have a dog in this fight, since I'm quite satisfied with the OS I've got and I don't much care what anyone else does.

But as I understand it, Win8 is a messed up dog and there seems to be consensus agreement that anyone running it NEEDS to upgrade to Win10. But those using Win7 can stay with it if they want. It won't bite them in the butt like Win8 will.

The thing about "upgrading" to Win10 is that it is an entirely different licensing scheme similar to paying annual rental fees. Which mount up if you are also using add-on utilities like an office suite, photo manager, etc. Then there is the separate licenses for the Adobe products, which iirc are now also time limited. This is good for the software vendors as it gives them a more stable revenue stream (and without having to do as much work for it) but for a school on a tight budget, not so good. One of those Linux distros must be looking pretty inviting about now.

If the .psd layout file refuses to open or will not display properly in GIMP, then there is something wrong with it and the designer needs to be told to get his act together and not play damnfool games with the all the neat adjustment layers. He needs to be reined in and kept at the task of making good layout templates. He can show off, or teach himself how to do something really kewl, on somebody else's dime.

"Don't tell me I'm burning the candle at both ends -- tell me where to get more wax!!"

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