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Comment: Re:What's Changed (Score 1) 135

by blindseer (#47591279) Attached to: If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

I've heard an argument similar to this one to abolish the minimum wage. Pay people based on what they produce, not how many hours they work. Which is precisely how some businesses have gotten around mandates like minimum wage and Obamacare, every "employee" is an independent contractor and they get paid on units produced or other similar metric.

This does not work well for all industries. Some kinds of work just does not translate well to anything other than an hourly wage. Just about everything can translate to better work resulting in better pay.

Comment: Bad idea (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by blindseer (#47591235) Attached to: How Many Members of Congress Does It Take To Pass a $400MM CS Bill?

When I was in school the "computer" class was not much more than learning to type. We got to play with AppleWorks and some sort of graphics program, the best one could get with 8 bits of color.

I recall a conversation I had with a co-worker about how we need more and better computers in schools or our children will be somehow educationally stunted. I pointed out how the Apple ProDos and Microsoft DOS systems we used reflected the Windows 7, Mac OSX, and Linux systems we use today. Elementary school children don't need fancy computers. I wonder if they need computers at all. I'm sure that skills like typing will be important, I took that in high school. Students will need to understand that computers do what they are told, not what you want them to do, but that is true of many things. Mathematics, physics, and chemistry have similar rules. I could argue that law has similar rigor, words mean things. If the law does not mean what you want it to mean then change the law. Perhaps that is a rant for another time.

Point is that computers are an important part of modern life. Computer technology is still changing fast, whether it is faster or slower now than when I was in grade school is debatable. Rather than teach "computers" to children perhaps we need to find a way to work computers into every subject. Art class should have a portion where students work in PhotoShop, just like they have sections on clay, paint, or colored pencils. Shop class should have a portion on CNC milling. Mathematics has all kinds of options to work in computing. Chemistry and physics classes can work in computers to run simulations and compare to real world experimentation, or do some statistical analysis on data collected in experiments.

I believe that teaching "computer science" at too young of an age is a bad idea. It will do little to prepare children for life as an adult. I suspect most implementations of "computer science" at anything other than college or trade school levels will be twisted into something that is not "computer science". It will be much like what I had in school, an excuse to play with expensive toys and the only real skills derived from it will be learning how to type. It doesn't have to be that way but I believe that is how it will end up because real computer scientists rarely choose to teach, they make more money doing something else. Much of the issues with teachers not getting paid enough has to do with the government funded education system we have now.

Comment: Re: Red Bull (Score 2) 511

I'd say the real gateway drug is milk. Every drug user drank milk, but that wasn't good enough so they went to alcohol.

The whole "gateway" drug idea is a farce. No one moves from one drug to another automatically like there is some progression laid out in the laws of the universe. Alcohol, marijuana, and opiates all work on different receptors in the body. Any drug can be a gateway to another if one seeks to get high and builds up tolerances to every drug they try.

Comment: Re:The only good thing (Score 1) 511

I recall getting the "drugs are bad" slide show in grade school. Among the images were examples of how dirty and poisonous the illegal drugs were. They gave images of how clean the drugs were from hospitals and pharmacies, since they could not say all drugs were bad.

This gave rise to a few questions in my mind. Questions I kept to myself because, while I was curious, I was too timid to outright question what were were told. The first question that came to mind, why would drug dealers put the crap that was shown in the slides into the drugs they sell? I thought that if they were really putting this stuff into the drugs they people buying it would end up dead, and not give them money, or they'd go find drugs from a competing dealer that didn't give them stuff that made them sick. Even at a young age I understood some basic economics. Illegal drugs aren't free from the rules of supply and demand.

Then it came to the images of the clean drugs that came from the pharmacies. If the drug dealers were selling this dangerous stuff then why not get the drugs from the pharmacies. At that age I didn't understand all the legal barriers to get the drugs, or it was not yet explained to me. Of course that is what people are doing. These dealers will buy pills from people with prescriptions to sell it to people that don't, or they rob the pharmacies of the good stuff.

This was about the time that people were trading dirty needles to inject their drugs because the government decided that allowing pharmacies to sell clean needles without a prescription was somehow encouraging drug use. What happened is that people, like my sister with diabetes, had a hard time finding clean needles while the druggies were using dirty ones. Because of this blood born infections went up in both populations. Poor diabetics had to re-use needles because getting clean was got more expensive, and drug addicts were re-using needles because getting clean ones was now illegal.

Yes, my teachers lied to me. The drugs were not killing people, government policies were. The reason these drugs are dangerous is because they were made illegal. They were not made illegal because they were dangerous.

This continued stack of lies being given to children is just one of many reasons why I oppose government funded education. I could rant on public education for a long time but this is not the time and place.

Comment: Re:Vote (Score 1) 200

I don't see how gerrymandering has anything to do with it. Gerrymandering only works if the people vote with their party instead of with their brain. Present yourself as a better candidate than those picked by their party leaders and you are sure to win.

If only that were true. Sadly too many people do vote with their party instead of their brain.

Comment: Re:Desired lethality? (Score 1) 140

by blindseer (#47536531) Attached to: The Army Is 3D Printing Warheads

Have you seen the movie The Big Red One? If you haven't then you should. There is a conversation in that movie about the distinction between killing and murder. Sometimes the people in the different color uniform are acting like animals, these animals are killed, not murdered. Is killing a rabid dog murder? No, because only innocent people can be murdered. All people can be killed. Enemy combatants are not murdered, they are killed before they can murder.

Comment: Re:Bq? (Score 1) 190

Yes, it is important. POTUS was able to name the one American that died on an airplane shot down over disputed territory only hours after it happened. Our modern society has access to information in detail and speed that is mind boggling. If Fukushima was the disaster that people claim it was then it would seem to me that we should be able to know the names, ages, places of residence, and specific cause of death of every person that died from that disaster. If someone cannot so much as give a name then it sounds like rumor to me.

An example is that we know the names of the people that died in the collapse of the towers on 9/11. If I had to I should be able to find the name of a single person that died then and there. Fukushima is another disaster that occurred in a developed nation, with news crews in the vicinity within hours (if not minutes) and remained there for years. Someone knows who was working on that site. If someone developed radiation poisoning from this accident then someone knows and someone went to the news. They may have gone to the news because they'd get piles of cash for the scoop, or they may have gone to the news out of concern for public health. If someone, just one, died from radiation that can be attributed to Fukushima then we should know that person's name.

TLDR: Pics (or names) or it didn't happen.

Comment: Re:Didn't you Know? (Score 2) 342

The DoE was created to fund research into alternatives to foreign oil. What has happened to our reliance on foreign energy since the DoE has been created? I'll give you a hint, it hasn't gone down.

I've been reading articles and watching YouTube videos on alternative energy for years. I've seen a common complaint from people that want to do research in energy, the Department of Energy will not approve their research. These people are not asking for money, they have private investors. What they need is permission from the government to spend their own money. This is because the government has placed restrictions on certain materials and technologies. I'm not talking about restriction on researching the best means by which we can dissolve mountain sides in radioactive acids to find the best means to kill off endangered species and conjure their tortured souls to turn generators. I'm talking about being able to mine rare earth elements so they can be turned into alloys that can make windmills more efficient. These people want to be able to dig up dirt, take out the interesting stuff, then put the dirt back and plant trees on top.

The Department of Energy won't let these people turn worthless dirt into vast piles of energy because they might dig up some thorium. Thorium is mildly radioactive, kind of like how potassium is mildly radioactive. We don't ban potassium mining. We ban rare earth mining because someone decades ago theorized it may be possible to maybe, possibly, if you work real hard at it, use thorium to make a nuclear weapon. No one has actually made a thorium bomb but in theory they are possible. But since thorium exists everywhere that the materials we need to make better magnets we can't dig it up ourselves. So, we buy it from China. Now China is doing all the research on rare earth metals. They get to find the best ways to get this valuable material from the ground and turn it into better windmills, aircraft, ships, cars, light bulbs, and all kinds of interesting ways we can reduce our dependence on foreign energy.

The Department of Energy has become the problem. Any way we can reduce their funding sounds good to me. With less money perhaps they won't be getting in the way of people that are doing the real research.

Comment: Re:Someone has an agenda to push (Score 1) 342

The purpose of a carbon tax is to make carbon emitting-technologies more expensive, so that the market will be encouraged to find alternatives that emit less carbon.

Which raises the prices of energy for those that are already burdened with high energy prices. Where do you think the utilities get the money to pay these taxes? Leprechauns? They get the money from the people that buy the electricity, the working middle class.

Where does this carbon tax money go then? I suspect part of it goes to subsidies for people that buy solar panels to put on their roof. People wealthy enough that they can afford the upfront capital cost of installing solar panels. The carbon taxes take money from the poor to give to the wealthy.

The solution, IMHO, to carbon output is not taxes and subsidies. I believe the solution is eliminating the government nonsense that prevents research and development of alternative energy. How many government agencies need to inspect and approve the construction of a photovoltaic factory? How many different fees, fines, and taxes will they have to pay? How many lawyers and accountants will these people have to hire to keep it all straight so someone doesn't end up in jail? Perhaps the government should make the process of building solar panels cheaper rather than make using coal more expensive.

I've been seeing some very interesting things about waste annihilating molten salt reactors. These are reactors that run on the really bad radioactive stuff that the government wants to get rid of but can't find anyone willing to bury it in their back yard. They really want to get rid of this stuff but for some reason they won't let people do research on the molten salt reactors that can burn it up and make it go away. I'm not suggesting eliminating regulation, or that the government should hand out radioactive waste to anyone with a good PowerPoint presentation. I'm saying the regulations are so restrictive that people with doctorates in nuclear engineering, and piles of private funds, are dying of old age before the federal government completes all the paperwork to build a tiny little research reactor to test their theories.

I don't believe we need to subsidize competition to coal anymore. There are enough people out there that think they have the answer to our energy problems that they can find private funds. Wealthy people will give them piles of money to do their research. Why would they do this? Because if these people do find the solution to the coal problem they will get even bigger piles of money in return.

Comment: Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (Score 1) 342

I have heard some NPR employees say they wish the Feds would defund them.

I'm confused. Is the government somehow forcing them to take the money? If they don't want the money then they shouldn't be taking it.

I see you did say some of the employees say this. I assume these people are not in the position to refuse government funds. If these people want more editorial freedom then perhaps they should seek employment from a place not supported by government funds.

I have a theory. NPR gets funds from the government because it broadcasts what the government wants it to say. Radio stations that carry Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck broadcasts what the people want to hear. These stations get funds from advertisers, advertisers that are buying the ears of people that buy stuff. I suppose the market is people with enough money to buy stuff, the evil rich white guys I suppose.

Both systems are flawed because they both are based on their own variation of democracy. People vote for the people that direct the funds to those that talk on NPR. People with money buy stuff from the people that advertise on radio stations that aren't government funded. Because I enjoy torturing myself I listen to both NPR and the "conservative" talk radio station. I think Rush is an egotistical blowhard, Glenn Beck is an overly religious crybaby, and what I hear on NPR is so far to the left it's maddening. But since I want to know what's going on in the world I find it hard to just turn off the radio.

At least when I listen to privately funded radio they aren't begging me to give them money to listen to what I don't want to hear. NPR keeps asking listeners for money. Makes me wonder what kind of person donates to them. Best theory I have is its people that make money from government funds. I suppose those people are just a different breed of evil rich white guy.

Comment: Re:Incomplete data (Score 1) 174

No, computer science should not be considered engineering. I have a BS in computer engineering and am now trying to get into a local university to take some programming classes to learn some new programming languages. It's a long story on how I ended up in the office of an academic advisor for computer science freshmen, basically they didn't know who else I should talk to for signing up for classes so they sent me there. I'm sitting in her office and we're talking about my plans while she's looking over my transcripts. I have two BS degrees in engineering, some graduate credits, which total something like 180 semester hours. After looking through the classes I took she says. "You need to take more Spanish."

Computer science is a liberal arts discipline. It's applied mathematics. The coursework is geared to teach people that want to do research, become educators, and be well rounded individuals. I've seen people with a BS or BA in computer science know next to nothing about writing good software. Those that do write good software did so because they went beyond the coursework required for their degree. I spoke with some recruiters years ago that were looking for programmers. They wanted engineering students. Engineering students were required to take courses in mathematics on par with any mathematics or computer science student. More importantly they were taught how to be an engineer.

People that want to do programming for a living should not seek out a computer science degree, they need to seek out a software engineering degree. I've seen more and more universities creating software engineering programs because they've discovered that computer science does not prepare people well for writing software.

Some schools do treat computer science like an engineering program but that seems to be the exception than the rule. While an engineering student I sat next to students that were working towards a variety of degrees in many of my classes. One thing for certain though is that while I was taking Engineering 101 there were no computer science majors in that class. That class was for people that wanted to make things. Where were the computer science students while I was in Engineering 101? Probably learning Spanish.

Comment: Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (Score 1) 156

by blindseer (#47513325) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

That is a complete lie. Bio-fuels are here right now. We would be able to buy butanol right now if not for patents.

First you say it's here then you say it is not. Well, I can take you to dozens of operating nuclear reactors in the USA, each one producing megawatts of power every day. Where can I find this megawatt butanol plant? I know the answer, there isn't one.

Nuclear power is now. It's working, making electricity and making money. Bio fuels like ethanol exist only because the government mandates it. It cannot make money because the power out from the power put in is too low to be worth it. The most energy we could get would involve burning the corn in a boiler. But burning our food is stupid, we can eat that.

Nuclear power is cheaper and more reliable energy and it does not involve burning our food. I read my history, civilizations ended by burning their food and I want no part of it.

Comment: Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (Score 1) 156

by blindseer (#47496041) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Bio-fuels are theory, nuclear power is fact. I was a big proponent of bio-fuels until I realized two things.

First, the resources required to create bio-fuels is enormous. Bio-fuels is a means to store solar power into chemical bonds, the biological processes are an intermediary. As an aside there are other means to store solar power in chemical bonds that does not involve biological processes but they suffer many of the same downfalls. Just the land required alone for bio-fuels is problematic. Sure, we can put the collectors on roofs and perhaps even in the roadways but that only adds to the complexity and cost. There are also limits on where these things can be placed, there must be enough sun and temperature extremes means more cost and complexity. Nuclear and fossil power on the other hand is relative compact, can be placed just about anywhere (even on ships at sea), and can tolerate all kinds of weather.

Second, bio-fuels will always compete with food for resources. Whatever it takes to grow algae, sugar beets, switch grasses, or whatever the favored bio-fuel of the day is takes the same land, water, fertilizers, etc. that food does. People need to eat and people need heat and light, bio-fuels will always have the potential to force people to choose between the two. I will admit that non-food plant life does not need to meet the same rigors of sanitation and such that plants for food does. The problem still remains that any area on this earth suitable for growing bio-fuels will also be suitable for growing food.

Wind and solar power share many of the same problems that bio-fuels do in land, sun, weather, and so on. Humans have only been able to rise above subsistence living once we've moved beyond wind, solar, and bio-fuels. I fear that even with the most advance technology we can dream up cannot over come some real limitations to wind, solar, and bio-fuels. With the promise that nuclear power holds I believe there really is no other choice, we cannot maintain our standard of living unless we move to nuclear power.

Comment: Re:Fossil fuel plants get to radiate us all they w (Score 1) 230

by blindseer (#47491973) Attached to: EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power

Yes, all kinds of interesting things can come from nuclear fission. Some of them very valuable precisely because of their interesting radioactive properties.

What's happening here is that the EPA is considering lifting some of the restrictions on some of the radioactive gasses that are difficult to contain and have half lives that are too short or too long to radiate humans in any statistically significant manner. They are not considering changes to the radioactive solids, the stuff that can affect human health.

Calling radiation that has been released from human activity as "natural" does not follow. That radon or other radioactive material from mining would not be in the atmosphere it it was not disturbed. It would have decayed underground where no human would have been exposed. Now that the gasses have been released by mining people have been exposed to increased radiation. But the EPA ignores it because they feel like it.

Point is that nothing exists in a vacuum, and there is no such thing as a free lunch. We can develop nuclear power and reap the rewards it offers, we can keep digging up coal, or we can revert to a nearly cave man existence of wind and solar power. Humans lived on wind, solar, and bio fuels for thousands of years. Much of that supported by slavery. I suspect if we abandon nuclear and fossil power we will revert to things like slavery. We didn't escape from such poverty until we found fossil fuels and made carbon our slave. Unless something better comes along we have a choice, nuclear power, fossil fuels, or Little House on the Prairie.

Comment: Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (Score 1) 156

by blindseer (#47491921) Attached to: Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

Unless that power is from a nuclear reactor the carbon footprint reduction from just burning the fossil fuels in the first place is debatable. The carbon footprint from wind and solar is not great because of the aluminum, concrete, and other carbon intensive materials needed for their use. Nuclear power gets away with it because the concrete is poured once in a century to get a gigawatt of reliable power 24/7.

When it comes to smog you may have a case. Problem then becomes how fuel cell cars compare to battery electrics, hydrogen internal combustion powered cars, or whatever else that might come along.

We've been experimenting with all kinds of different power sources for automobiles for a century. I doubt anyone is going to come up with something that competes with gasoline powered cars on price, convenience, and performance any time soon. I suspect we are going to see synthetic hydrocarbons for fuels before anything else. It solves a lot of problems of infrastructure and carbon footprint. Just use whatever power source you were using to make the hydrogen and use it to synthesize octane. Doesn't solve the smog issues directly but with modern engines it seems to me that the air out of the tail pipe is cleaner than what goes in.

We can predict everything, except the future.

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