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Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 4, Informative) 238

by sjames (#46796197) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

What contamination? The grain is heated to 170F long enough to kill anything harmful in it. There has never been a case of this causing a single problem anywhere. Even the FDA admits it doesn't know of any incident that would have been prevented by this proposal. It's like mandatory testing for antimatter contamination in coffee. It never happens.

Perhaps the FDA should focus it's resources on things that have been a problem like fungal contamination in drugs.

Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 2) 238

by sjames (#46795841) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

Funny thing. I am very much to the left of where we are today, but I oppose the FDA implementing this proposal. The FDA in general needs to be curbed. They have made a pattern of expanding regulation without showing cause while at the same time neglecting and failing at their core mission.

+ - The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper 1

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joel Werner writes in Slate that when Citicorp Center was built in 1977 it was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world but no one figured out until after it was built that although the chief structural engineer, William LeMessurier, had properly accounted for perpendicular winds, the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds — in part due to cost-saving changes made to the original plan by the contractor. "According to LeMessurier, in 1978 an undergraduate architecture student contacted him with a bold claim about LeMessurier’s building: that Citicorp Center could blow over in the wind," writes Werner. "LeMessurier realized that a major storm could cause a blackout and render the tuned mass damper inoperable. Without the tuned mass damper, LeMessurier calculated that a storm powerful enough to take out the building hit New York every 16 years." In other words, for every year Citicorp Center was standing, there was about a 1-in-16 chance that it would collapse.

LeMessurier and his team worked with Citicorp to coordinate emergency repairs. With the help of the NYPD, they worked out an evacuation plan spanning a 10-block radius. They had 2,500 Red Cross volunteers on standby, and three different weather services employed 24/7 to keep an eye on potential windstorms. Work began immediately, and continued around the clock for three months. Welders worked all night and quit at daybreak, just as the building occupants returned to work. But all of this happened in secret, even as Hurricane Ella, the strongest hurricane on record in Canadian waters, was racing up the eastern seaboard. The hurricane became stationary for about 24 hours, and later turned to the northeast away from the coast. Hurricane Ella never made landfall. And so the public—including the building’s occupants—were never notified.

Until his death in 2007, LeMessurier talked about the summer of 1978 to his classes at Harvard. The tale, as he told it, is by turns painful, self-deprecating, and self-dramatizing--an engineer who did the right thing. But it also speaks to the larger question of how professional people should behave. "You have a social obligation," LeMessurier reminded his students. "In return for getting a license and being regarded with respect, you're supposed to be self-sacrificing and look beyond the interests of yourself and your client to society as a whole.""

Comment: Re:Cargo ships (Score 1) 67

by Registered Coward v2 (#46794113) Attached to: DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

I've long thought that it would be good if cargo ships were automated and/or remote controlled. Piloting cargo ships ought to be relatively easy compared to remote piloting drones in combat.

Many are. You set Iron Mike on a course and speed and he follows it. You still, however, need someone on watch to watch for and deal with the inevitable unexpected situation.

Comment: Re:Pilots crash planes (Score 1) 67

by Registered Coward v2 (#46794101) Attached to: DARPA Developing the Ultimate Auto-Pilot Software

This is one of the most often repeated misunderstandings in aviation: the vast majority of crashes is caused by pilots, so we should replace them with automation since that's much more reliable. Errr... no, not by a long shot.

Many good examples snipped

It's certainly a good thing that Darpa is trying to make aircraft automation more reliable, but right now pilots are still by far the most important asset for the safety of an airplane.

You make a number of good points. Automation is great when everything is going well; the biggest problem then with automated systems is boredom or an unwillingness to use the system because they didn't chose that career to simply sit back and watch gauges. Automated systems, when everything is working as planned can often do better than a human imply because they can take many more inputs and respond to them than a human.

However, when sensors start sending conflicting information automated systems start having troubles. They can be designed to ignore signals based on rules but they cannot analyze the situation and decide what is the correct course of action; nor can they take unexpected actions that may correct the problem but were not considered by the system designer or that break the rules set by the designer. The problem then becomes the interface between the operator and the machine. How do you present information and train operators how to respond? Pilot error, or operator error in other industries is often the result of a poor interface coupled with inadequate training that leaves them with a system that cannot respond and unsure of what to do to correct things. Pilots and operators sometimes do boneheaded things that cause accidents; but more often they are lead down a path by systems that fail to provide information in ways that support, rather than hinder, decision making. Years ago when I worked on some control room designs I used some work form the aviation industry that was looking at the questions "Are we giving pilots to much information to help them make decisions in an emergency?" and "Is automation driving confusion in the cockpit?" Questions I found interesting, as both a pilot and industrial plant operator who was now involved in designing the next generation control room. The challenge there was to convince the designers we didn't need more information but better information. Having a thousand gauges, sometimes displaying conflicting information, in an all glass control room didn't help me in an emergency, it just added to the confusion at a time when I needed a half dozen parameters, that I knew were accurate, to decide what to do to deal with the emergency.

In the end "pilot (or operator) error often means "poorly designed system and inadequate training lead the poor person at the controls down the primrose path.

+ - Is there a place for me in this world?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "I'm mildly autistic and in my mid 30s. I know I'm not the smartest person ever — not even close — but I'm pretty smart: perfect scores on SAT, etc., way back in high school and a PhD from a private research university you've heard of. I don't consider intelligence a virtue (in contrast to, say, ethical living); it's just what I have, and that's that. There are plenty of things I lack. Anyway, I've made myself very good at applied math and scientific computing. For years, without ever tiring, I've worked approximately 6.5 days a week all but approximately 4 of my waking hours per day. I work at a research university as research staff, and my focus is on producing high-quality, efficient, relevant scientific software. But funding is tough. I'm terrible at selling myself. I have a hard time writing proposals because when I work on mushy tasks, I become depressed and generally bent out of shape. My question: Is it possible to find a place where I can do exactly what I do best and keeps me stable — analyze and develop mathematical algorithms and software — without ever having to do other stuff and, in particular, without being good at presenting myself? I don't care about salary beyond keeping up my frugal lifestyle and saving a sufficient amount to maintain that frugal lifestyle until I die. Ideas? Or do we simply live in a world where we all have to sell what we do no matter what? Thanks for your thoughts."

Comment: Re:Depends on if it is in aggregate. (Score 2) 90

by sjames (#46791627) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

I don't trust any device that insists on reporting to 'the cloud' rather than to a machine of my choosing. Even if it says it only reports to the machine of my choosing, I don't really trust that it doesn't also report to 'the cloud'.

The cloud has no legitimate need to know. That's why my 'smart tv' is a laptop loaded with Linux connected to a not so smart TV.

+ - There's got to be more than the Standard Model

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "The Standard Model of particle physics is perhaps the most successful physical theory of our Universe, and with the discovery and measurement of the Higgs boson, may be all there is as far as fundamental particles accessible through terrestrial accelerator physics. But there are at least five verified observations we've made, many in a variety of ways, that demonstrably show that the Standard Model cannot be all there is to the Universe. Here are the top 5 signs of new physics."

Comment: Re:Been there. (Score 1) 149

by Registered Coward v2 (#46791029) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

Of course, if someone did that to Apple nearly 20 years ago when the stock was in the toilet but they still had a pile of money they would've pretty seriously screwed themselves. Not saying it's never a right choice to do that but it's not always right either.

true, but they are not in it for the long run. They want to make as much as possible today and move on to the next target. It's not so much whether it is the right or worngthing but "can I make enough money doing this instead of something else?"

Comment: Re:Ummm... (Score 1) 149

by Registered Coward v2 (#46791011) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

Except of course that individual current owners of Yahoo would see that the investors would get a 25% return and figure other people would sell at market and they could hang on to their shares for a while to get a chunk of the 25%. The investors would effectively have to pay a portion of the premium. They would also have to deal with the risk that they put the whole deal together and then someone jumps in and buys out Yahoo for a tiny bit more or that Yahoo directors tank the value through poison pills or other actions in response to their attempt.

Yea, theres a lot of risk in such a move. But an investor need nobly buy enough to force the issue with the board.If someone else pays a premium over what they'd get then they'd happy dump their shares. After all, the name of the game os making money not what is best for Yahoo.

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