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Comment: Re:I saw How We Got To Now too (Score 2) 67

by hey! (#48652689) Attached to: How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market

Old ways of doing things often hang on an unexpectedly long time because a mature technology has the advantages of ubiquity. People are comfortable with it, all the kinks have all been worked out, and its popularity gives it a huge structural cost advantage.

You can't think in terms of how expensive it would be to have a 50 lb block of ice delivered to your doorstep today. The *marginal* cost of having ice delivered is nil when everyone on your street is getting it. Everyone had an actual "icebox", and since it had no moving parts it never needed servicing or replacing. So when electric refrigerators became available it was a choice of keeping your perfectly good icebox with its reliable, regularly scheduled ice delivery, or buy a cranky, complicated, expensive piece of machinery that would pay for itself just in time to need replacing. If the ice industry killed itself by shipping polluted ice, it's probably because they couldn't expand their supply to meet demand.

I'll bet the grandchildren of kids learning to drive today will find the whole concept of a massive, truck-based gasoline distribution network absurdly complicated. But it works because it's massive, and because it's ubiquitous we assume it is simple -- which it is on the consumer end. On the production end it is fantastically complicated and labor intensive.

Speaking of the Boston ice industry, I live a half mile from a 20 acre (8 ha) pond that supported a major ice operation in the 1800s. Pictures show men harvesting blocks of ice eighteen, even twenty-four inches thick for shipment around the world. In the non-winter months the companies operated water-powered mills. Ice was a classic case of exploiting slack resources. Ice meant no head for the water powered mill, and an idle workforce. So electric refrigeration wasn't the only pressure on the ice industry: electric factories would have raised the price of winter labor.

Today that same pond never gets more than a couple of inches of ice, even in last year's "polar vortex" event -- you can't make ice that thick in a couple weeks, you need a cold winter that starts early and doesn't let go for months. When I was a kid this pond iced over in December. Now it ices over in Janurary, or Feburary, or some years not at all except for the lee end. In January I can fish from my canoe on ponds where I would once have been ice-fishing.

Comment: Re:Precious Snowflake (Score 0) 65

by bill_mcgonigle (#48652669) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

A child without physical punishment learns early that all consequence is harmless. Risk becomes a non-existent factor in decision-making. The child becomes a self-entitled asshole or goes to an early grave.

Right, you know more about this than all the neuroscientists who have evidence that your claim is idiotic.

Lemme guess - your parents abused you and you feel a cultural need to love Mommy and Daddy, so you'll claim it was good for you to make the dissonance stop.

Comment: Re:LOL ... w00t? (Score 1) 127

by pla (#48652659) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens
So, on a standard US keyboard, is this sign a minus or a hyphen?: -

Gonna piss off the typography police here, but...

Yes. They mean the same damned thing, and don't give me any crap about one looking a little longer than the other. A hyphen is a dash is a minus sign is any mid-height horizontal line.

Readability scores? Seriously? I will damned well use whatever character comes out when I press the key between "0" and "=" on my keyboard, and to hell with your broken automated readers that can't deal with the default character produced by 99.9% of keyboards in the English-speaking world.

Comment: Re:Precious Snowflake (Score 1, Interesting) 65

by bill_mcgonigle (#48652525) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

And thus the decline of western civilization...

If it's to fall, it'll be due to people who were raised on the idea that physical violence against innocents is a virtue and who thus support societal institutions that use it as their primary means of motivation against adult subjects, contrary to the human drives towards freedom and creativity.

Way to ascribe the cause to the cure.

Comment: Re:LOL ... w00t? (Score 1) 127

by bill_mcgonigle (#48652481) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

Addendum: It turns out the author used the minus sign instead of the hyphen. That (a) looks wrong on the page, (b) breaks screen readers, (c) confuses readability scores and (d) makes this not news.

Ah. What's news then, is that Amazon can't deploy a simple perl script to fix common typography errors such as these. YouTube wants more content creators so it deploys helpers like 'auto-stabilize' and such. Amazon, in contrast, prefers to castigate its contributors for typography errors. Who benefits? Copyeditors.

Comment: Ice House in Chennai, India. (Score 4, Interesting) 67

by 140Mandak262Jamuna (#48651245) Attached to: How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market
To this day, one of the important bus stops in Chennai, India is called The Ice House, (though the building has been renamed now[*]). The Boston ice, packed in sawdust made its way all the way to the tropical heat of Chennai, India. . The whole neighborhood was and sometimes still is called The Ice House, because ice was such a novelty in the tropics. Brief history of ice in chennai

Local politicians in India have this predilection to rename everything. Costs very little financially and works as a kind of vote bank politics. Madras to Chennai, Bangalore to Bengalooru, Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkatta, Orissa to Odisha what the hell? There was guy named A Brito who was well known for his Letters to the Editor, Indian Express, Bangalore. When the local mayor renamed yet another road (which had been named for a British officer) after some local politician he wrote: "... To celebrate his grand achievement of renaming $road, I hereby propose we rename the Queen Victoria statue in the $park Mayor Butte Gowda statue. The resemblance is, after all, so striking that ..."

Comment: What is the resolution? (Score 1) 104

It ca be made pretty high. A wall of LEDs and photodiodes form the basic scanning unit in a flatbed scanner. They easily go 600 dots per inch or even 1200 dots per inch. So the resolution can be high. But, on the other hand, the distance between the source and the detector seems to be rather large and if the laser beams have to be collimated optically it could be come expensive. It is a nice technology.

Comment: Assumptions (Score 1) 381

by bmo (#48648547) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?

So, assuming Microsoft is sincere

That's a pretty fuckin' big assumption there, guy.

>BMO goes back to read the Halloween documents

The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, A Sincere Microsoft Board Member, and a Rabbi (a Rabbi is required in every joke) come to a 4-way stop/intersection at the same time.

Who goes first?

The Rabbi, because the others don't fuckin' exist.


Comment: Re: Sorry, not corporate enough. (Score 5, Informative) 67

You're probably unaware that the GP specifically used 'HSBC' because they were caught laundering trillions of dollars of drug money and nobody was indicted. It's no crime to be ignorant of such things, but just try not to hold any policy positions on the subject.

Comment: Re:"Cultural arrogance" (Score 1) 129

by hey! (#48647795) Attached to: US Seeks China's Help Against North Korean Cyberattacks

Where is the "only public enemy number one" rule written down?

Mockery is what we do to political leaders, our own included. Some of us even mock political leaders we support. And that's the test of whether you truly believe in someone or in a system. Everybody mocks people they disagree with, it takes real confidence to mock people you agree with. At least that's the way Americans view things. A leader who can't take a ribbing is weak, and the more elaborate the display of machismo or military trappings the weaker we think he is.

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977