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Comment Magic (Score 1) 536

We need the computer fairies to handle our errors, that way the beauty of our code will not be marred by mundane things like error checking.

Seriously, error checking is part of the process. It's not the fun part of the process but it's a necessary part. Return values and exceptions work just fine as long as you get off your high horse and realize that your code will not be hung in the Louvre. Working is more important than pretty.

Comment Re:Same war, different day (Score 1) 1055

Yes. We should not accept Climate Change based on a POLL!!!

We should believe scientists because they have DATA to back up their assertions. Science is not a popularity contest or a political race. Polls of what scientists think is not science.

This is my main complaint about the way this issue is framed. We appeal to the high priests (of either side) to tell us what is right, rather than look at the data and what it tells us. It's become just one more shout-fest.

Comment Re:Half of circumference? (Score 1) 332

The culture in the USA tends to be very dependent on where you are. In the larger cities, it's going to be more of the formal cultural stuff you are used to. In the more rural areas the culture tends to center around local events and quieter things.

Unfortunately, those rural areas tend to also be the more 'clannish' areas. It may take them a while to think of you as a local.

Of course, there's always the issue that TV is replacing local culture with pureed culture-like pablum and force feeding it to everyone.

Comment Not a matter of math (Score 2, Interesting) 358

The actual math needed to understand the basics of relativity[1] is actually quite simple. If you've had calculus, you have more than you need.

The hard part is wrapping your brain around the concepts and the fact that the rules you use to interact with the world around you are a subset of the rules of the universe.

A book I have recommended several times for people who want to start learning about physics is 'Asimov on Physics'. Dr. Asimov was a master of explaining difficult science in a way that laymen could understand.

[1] Going beyond the basic, or getting into odder corners of general relativity, is another matter.

Comment Beyond the protection of the law, too (Score 2) 692

It will be interesting the first time a band of pirates (the killing and looting kind, not the sharing kind) storms one of these 'sovereign nations'. I'm guessing they will develop a sudden affection for the country with the nearest naval vessel who can save their bacon.

Comment Re:why are its users so stupid? (Score 4, Insightful) 206

I'm one of those engineers.

I ran windows for a long time and got sick of the crappy OS and security so poor 50% of the CPU power is dedicated to preventing me from getting hacked.

Then I ran Ubuntu for a few years. This time I got tired of the completely crappy/inconsistent interfaces, and having to spend way too much of my time being a sysadmin.

Now I've got a Mac. It's nicely designed, I don't have to mess with it, and I've got a Unix-variant at my fingertips when I'm feeling that command-line itch. I still have to deal with lack of software due to Windows dominance, but I'm learning to live without some stuff.

All of this is on my home machine. At work where I need the real thing it's vterms to a Unix box, baby.

Having said that, I did this because it was MY CHOICE. I didn't hand control over to anyone. I can install just about any software I care to on this machine and Steve Jobs is not going to show up with a baseball bat. OSS paranoia about the big bad corporations coming to steal your compilers doesn't help anything.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923