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Comment: Re:Hispanics replaced by... (Score 1) 104

I hate to break it to you, but the original article stated "The labor shortage spurred Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, one of the country's largest vegetable farmers, to buy a Spanish startup", and its link to the company website brings up a page that starts off with "Plant Tape is a visionary and innovative company founded in Spain".

The AC responded "So the guys from Mexico will be replace with... hardware from Mexico?"

Why you're mentioning the word "hispanic" is beyond me.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 3, Interesting) 104

Or more to the point, to compete with strawberries grown in other countries under whatever conditions they deem acceptable.

I've long supported the concept of a VAT-equivalent for pollution (PAT = Pollution Added Tax), where goods are taxed at fixed rates for different pollutants embodied by each manufacturing step, goods leaving the PAT zone are rebated, and goods entering the PAT zone are taxed based on an estimate of their embodied pollution, similar to how VAT works with value changes / rebates / taxes. VAT serves as a way to tax goods without unfairly harming the competitiveness of your products and favoring imported goods, and PAT could extend that logic to pollution controls. But maybe PAT isn't enough. Maybe we also need a HRAT, a "Human Rights Added Tax", which imposes extra fees based on things like human rights abuses, poverty wages, etc embodied in the production of a product, to provide a level playing field for countries with higher standards.

One would have to handle things relatively, of course - a poverty wage in southern California is not the same as a poverty wage in Nigeria, for example, and you don't want to make international sales prohibitive for poor countries simply because their per-capita GDP isn't sufficient. But I'd find it fair to add extra costs at the dock for products produced by factories with inhumane working and living conditions, etc, which keep workers trapped in such conditions by all sorts of means (threats of deportation, threats of violence, unpayable "company store"-type debts, etc). So a strawberry farm in Nigeria paying its workers $2,50 an hour wouldn't be seen as abusive (like one in California would) since that's over double the average national wage and easily meets local cost of living expenses - but a Nigerian farm that left its workers exposed to toxic doses of pesticides and threatened to seize everything their workers own if they try to quit would be seen as abusive even if the nominal salary was $2,50 an hour.

Comment: Those not bloated with crapware (Score 1) 448

by Qbertino (#49554269) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

Modern phones and tablets have thge same problem as PCs - they fall victim to loads of crap and bloatware. Don't burden your smartphone with shit and it will stay stable. If you're having trouble doing that use one with a smaller softewaremarket such as the Jolla. If you're unsure about which phone to take I'd actually recommend that one.

Comment: Re:One of many potential causes (Score 1) 90

by Rei (#49550329) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

Yep. It's wierd because the symptoms can correspond with many different causes. For example, the climate change thing makes sense because bees can be tricked into thinking it's spring and start foraging or even swarming in the middle of winter when they really should stay in the winter cluster. The occasional warm day is good for them to be able to get out and void themselves, but longer periods of significantly fluctuating weather can be bad.

But it also matches other problems. Diseased or dying hives often lead to "desperate" swarming where bees start abandoning the hive to try to establish a new, safe place. Most of these swarms, however, will die. The behavior could be seen as a general "exteme stress" behavior. It could also be seen as a neurological disorder from pesticide exposure.

In short, it could match almost any possible cause. And probably is a result of many of them.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 4, Informative) 90

by Rei (#49550295) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I think it's important to ask questions because there's been literally "dozens" of different things "definitively linked" with CCD. The public likes to seize on neonicotinoids, but they're probably one of the least supported of these many different "definitively linked" reasons. Whole countries have gone so far as to outright ban neonicotinoids, with no effect on CCD. France, for example, banned them. The next year they largely switched to blaming the condition on Asian Hornets when the decline rates didn't decrease.

The problem is that when you ban a certain pesticide, people start using others. And going from neonicotinoids to organophosphates is a massive step backwards in terms of general safety, not just to pollinators, but especially to more complex animals as well. But the biggest problem with the neonicotinoid theory is that neonicotinoids are only used in a small fraction of the areas where CCD exists. Bees can only fly several kilometers from the hive, they're not going cross-country and picking up every pesticide in every farmer's arsenal. It even exists among people who are in places where no pesticides at all are used.

It's easy for the general public to latch onto a particular cause. But once you learn more about beekeeping you realize how incredibly much out there is that can utterly f* up a hive. And which have in history regularly collapsed bee populations, far worse than the collapses we have today. Trachael mites once nearly obliterated beekeeping in Europe, saved mainly by the development of the Buckfast bee. Check out this very inexhaustive list of bee pests and diseases. There's even some really counterintuitive effects in that small levels of some pesticides can actually increase hive survival rates, in that they're deadlier to bee pests like mites than to the bees themselves.

The public also tends to totally understand colony collapse disorder in the first place. Normal winter colony death levels are about 15% in most locations (though where I am it's higher). CCD raised the US average to about 30% at its peak. This is painful and expensive to beekeepers, but it has literally no impact on the ability to sustain bee populations. A new beehive can be started with just a queen and a handful of workers. Hives can be made to produce queens en masse through proper management. Hence people can mail order starter hives, and there's never going to be a threat to the ability to produce these starter hives - a single hive can make many dozens per year. Even normal hives not managed for breeding starter hives will naturally produce several swarms every year; beekeepers try to discourage and/or catch these swarms.

In all likelihood, neonicotinoids are one among many different stressors to bees in the modern era that causes CCD. Modern bees are much more "stressed" than bees in the past. We've created an environment where new bee pests and diseases have spread far and wide to bees that never would have encountered them in the wild. We raise them on corn syrup and sugar water in the winter (good for reducing dysintery and increasing honey yields, but robbing them of certain vitamins and minerals). We transport them on flatbed trucks hundreds or thousands of kilometers (these are animals that get confused if you move their hive a couple meters; their ability to navigate by sight is poor, they're best navigating by the sun and dead reckoning). And countless varieties of poisons, even unintentional ones, affect them every day of their lives. There's so many factors now that weaken hives that any "new" factor to an area can push them over the edge.

Comment: Re:The study was flawed (Score 2) 90

by Rei (#49550221) Attached to: Bees Prefer Nectar Laced With Neonicotinoids

I'd really like to read the paper but unfortunately it's down. But for example, do the neonicotinoids add a UV signature to the liquid not present in the sugar water? That would have little to no influence in the case of flowers in nature (where they're not looking at the nectar, and there's all sorts of other chemicals in the nectar). What other chemicals are in the neonicotinoid solution (they're rarely pure, they usually have all sorts of other chemicals to increase their effect)? What's their cleaning and handling procedure for preparing and filling the sample containers? I want to know how they controlled these experiments against factors that humans can't detect but bees absolutely can.

Just the very act of hooking electrodes up to bee neurons I'd have concerns about. Is there any induced electric field involved, or even rubbing against the bee hairs? Bees transfer information to one another via dances, such as the waggle dance. Bees build up an electrostatic charge on their body, and a waggling bee imposes an electrostatic force on the antennae and hairs of all adjacent bees, causing them to feel dance over a short distance. Their stereoscopic sense of the dance lets them know the direction, and that combined with the time allows them to work out a direction to a food source relative to the (moving) direction of the sun. It functions like transferring a memory from one be to another. There's also "negation" behaviors, by other bees who don't like the information giving out; they have a different frequency buzz to say "don't go there", and sometimes different bees may even fight with each other over what's good and what's bad information.

Also note that the linked articles refer to a second study published simultaneously which showed no effect on honeybees next to rapeseed fields sprayed with neonicotinoids versus an altogether unsprayed field. Which is pretty remarkable, because you expect almost *any* pesticide next to your hive to have a profoundly negative effect on it.

Elliptic paraboloids for sale.