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Comment: Re:Did you read the ruling? It's not a ban. (Score 1) 252

by dj245 (#47414247) Attached to: US Tech Firms Recruiting High Schoolers (And Younger)

but there's nothing even close to a ban

The Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with you.

No it doesn't:

The Supreme Court ruled that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, if such tests disparately impact ethnic minority groups, businesses must demonstrate that such tests are "reasonably related" to the job for which the test is required.

You can test people as long as it is "reasonably related" to the job and isn't done in a way that artificially discriminates against a protected class. Difficult, but not a ban.

so then it is indeed close to a ban.

No, it really isn't. I have been learning about this recently as part of MBA classes. All you have to do is look at your current workforce and find some common attributes among your top workers for job X. Maybe your top 5 sales guys all have above-average empathy (just one example, it could be anything). This is your basis for any legal defense later.

You then apply an aptitude test to your hiring process and reject anyone with inferior empathy. You don't need to even consider if this discriminates against a protected class. It is quite possible this DOES discriminate against men since women are usually known to be more empathetic. That doesn't matter though. All that matters is if you can demonstrate that empathy has something to do with a salesperson's success. Since you did your homework up front by looking at success and finding common attributes, anyone who challenges your process is going to lose. It is not close to a ban at all, just a legal provision that tells you what you were supposed to be doing anyway- find a good predictor of good job performance, then (and only then) find a test which tests that predictor.

Comment: Re:You think? (Score 1) 368

Well we have known this for a long long time. Problem is how do we get the government to stop subsidizing fossil fuel?

I know environmentalists can sometimes see issues in only black and white, but a lot of the fossil fuel "subsidies" are programs to develop clean smockestack technology, carbon capture and storage, etc. Carbon capture and storage is, in my opinion as an industry insider, a larger technical challenge than the Manhattan project. Industry sure as heck isn't going to take on a massive engineering projects by itself. If these things were easy or cheap, they would have been done already. I want to leave a good planet to my kids too, but it can't happen overnight. Little steps. We'll get there.

Comment: Re:Different from other revolution celebrations (Score 1) 328

by dj245 (#47380677) Attached to: On 4th of July:

The US was the first colony to successfully rebel against its former master and achieve independence. Everyone else celebrates the victory of one side after a (horrific and brutal) civil war.

And we celebrate our victory over a historical foreign power by lighting incendiary devices manufactured in a future foreign power.

Comment: Re:Scientific research never got anyone anything (Score 1) 225

by dj245 (#47378079) Attached to: Senate Budgetmakers Move To End US Participation In ITER

Except everything we have now. Still I guess there are brown people that need killing, so something had to give.

We have very cheap energy in the US right now. Investing in even cheaper energy is not worthwhile. Why should we pay? Let those countries who have high energy bills now, pay the bill now. Otherwise the US is just subsidizing other countries.

Comment: Re:Americans (Score 1) 198

Their ideas are wrong, but they're hardly a threat. Most people don't take them seriously, and only 80-95% (depending on the disease) of a population needs to be immunized to achieve herd immunity.

I think you are grossly underestimating the ability of people to be complete morons. This link is a little dated, but in 1999, a poll showed that 18 percent of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth. In 2011, seven percent of people said they believe more than half of the federal government's budget goes to public broadcasting. Another four percent thought it was 31 to 50 percent of the budget. Is is easy to get 10-15% of the population to believe in absolute rubbish despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The MMR vaccine has an effectiveness of only around 95%- meaning 5% of people do the right thing, get vaccinated, but could still get the disease. MMR is given at 12-15 months of age, so roughly 1.5% of the population who will get the vaccine hasn't gotten it yet. Some people (no idea what %) are very poor and never go to doctors, even if the vaccine is free. That 5-20% "margin" of herd immunity starts to look awfully shaky if you consider all the people who already can't or don't get a vaccine.

Finally, the anti-vaxxers tend to live in pockets of people who believe as they do. This means the disease can get a foothold in those neighborhoods, and survive. There is a very real risk that some diseases could thrive long enough to mutate enough so that the vaccine doesn't work anymore.

Even if this doesn't become a "big" problem, the consequences can be very damaging on an individual basis. My daughter is only 6 months old. She hasn't gotten many vaccinations yet because she is just too young. If some clown passes on the measles to her, her death is a very real possibility. Can you justify a death like that as not being "a serious threat"? The stakes too high to ignore these idiots.

Comment: Re:Americans (Score 1) 198

The original study linking vaccination to autism was from the UK. The press has really overstated the anti-vaxer thing in the US. I don't remember the exact statistic, but close to 99% of American children are vaccinated (at least partially). Most of the ones who aren't are clustered in immigrant communities, that's why we see the outbreaks. It poses no threat to the general population.

It poses a threat because these terrible ideas of the anti-vaxers get picked up by legitimate sources sometimes. And there are people who can't tell the difference between legitimate science and junk science. Ideas can spread more virulently and rapidly than real diseases. The antivax ideas are a threat, even if the effects of their actions aren't causing significant problems at this moment.

Comment: Re:No, I won the bitcoin auction! (Score 1) 115

by dj245 (#47371613) Attached to: Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction

It seems unwise to claim to the winner. A lot of people who lost money when those bitcoins were seized will be quite upset with this guy. Considering many of the dealt in drugs, weapons and other illegal material I wouldn't like to speculate what they might do to him.

On the other hand, it seems wise to make a statement. Everybody can track those bitcoins anyway. One of the concerns I might have as a buyer of them would be that no exchange would deal with me and I couldn't cash them out. By making a statement which shows he is a "good guy" he might be able to escape the communities anger about the situation and deflect it back on the person who lost them and the government who took them, which is where the blame rightly belongs anyhow.

Comment: Re:4/$2.50 (Score 2) 196

by dj245 (#47371525) Attached to: The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

The power factor on cfls is awful. The only reason consumers save is because the utility doesn't charge them for bad power factor. They will though.

Bad power factor isn't a generation expense. It is a distribution one, and one with relatively fixed infrastructure costs. The solution is to put some capacitor banks in each neighborhood. They are pretty small devices and utility-grade capacitors last a long time. It makes a lot more sense, costwise and environmentally-wise, to install 30-50 year design life capacitors in a neighborhood than to install power factor correcting capacitors in every consumer electronic device.

The cost of installing neighborhood capacitors scales with overall grid capacity, and does not vary based on the amount of power going through a residential meter on a per-kW-hr basis. That is why the utility doesn't charge for bad residental power factor. Unless there is a really pennypinching evil utility out there, you will never see a separate charge for it in the future either.

Comment: Re:How long before... (Score 2) 105

by dj245 (#47335483) Attached to: Fixing Faulty Genes On the Cheap

If it wasn't, that mutation would have been selected out of existence a long time ago.

OK, smartass, what is the evolutionary advantage for stupidity?

Because you'd think we'd have selected that away a long time ago as well.

Hell, we have an appendix. Why do we have an appendix? Why hasn't evolution made that go away?

Evolution is awesome, but it can do some silly things that stick around.

Most people think of evolution as "survival of the fittest", but this is a gross simplification. In a population bottleneck, genetic diversity can shrink rapidly if a large portion of the population dies out. Imagine what would happen if everyone in the world died except a small and distinct group- lets say the Vietnamese people just for example. If the population recovered and repopulated the world, humans would have lost a tremendous amount of genetic diversity which may or may not be beneficial to survival.

Evolution in the traditional sense also only affects characteristics which affect the ability to reproduce. For example, it is impossible for humans to evolve the problem of cataracts or alzheimer's out of our genetic code. By the time these problems show up, the children of those affected have already become self-sufficient. Evolution is about "reproduction of the fittest" not the more general "survival of the fittest".

Comment: Re:This is dumb (Score 4, Interesting) 191

by dj245 (#47335351) Attached to: An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

Getting a medal for it? That's new.

No it isn't. Although some medals are hard to earn, others are handed out like halloween candy. The National Defense Service Medal is automatically handed out to everyone that enlists. I got a Sea Service Ribbon just for SHOWING UP when my unit deployed (the alternative was to go to the brig). Achievement Medals are routinely awarded to people that go a little beyond the ordinary in solving problems or innovating. I was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals during my six years of service in the Marines. What is described in TFA is routine. It happens all the time.

You seem to deride the practice, but handing out halloween candy has a purpose- its a gift to make people want to keep doing what they just did (ie. show up). Small incentives and gifts can be very valuable tools for building relationships. I used to be a field engineer working at power stations. The big thing there was stickers. Millwrights and pipefitters have a tradition (going back probably until the invention of stickers) of collecting stickers and placing them on their hard hats. Stickers are "earned" by attending mandatory safety presentations ("Power Plant XYZ Safety Training 2014"), by belonging to various industry clubs, or just handed out by people (engineers/sales reps) looking to get a favor in the future. A hard hat full of stickers shows that you're an experienced guy who has been around a while. It is a mark of respect and experience. If you work in those professions and don't have a hard hat full of stickers, you're a greenhorn or otherwise somebody who doesn't know what they're doing.

I've shown up to a power station many times with a roll of stickers, and these guys instantly became my best friend and helped me out greatly in achieving the thing I was there to do. Don't underestimate the value of token gifts.

Comment: Re:Anyone know what the real reason for the ban is (Score 1) 532

by dj245 (#47329571) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

Bloomberg is a billionaire. I don't believe for a second he's doing this out of the kindness of his heart. If the guy really gave a flying fark about the poor there's a thousand and one things he could be doing. Maybe this is punishment to the local soda manufacturers? It's just too silly a thing to push when it means going up against companies like Coke & Pepsi, who aren't exactly well known for taking things lying down.

They would make just as much money, if not more, by selling smaller volumes at a not-quite proportionally smaller cost.

Comment: Re:Let them drink! (Score 3, Insightful) 532

by dj245 (#47329557) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

The many other countries in the west with proper healthcare have managed to limit their meddling to a few PSAs urging healthy eating and such.

When is the last time you saw the health police whipping overweight joggers through the streets of London?

If the US taxed corn syrup, instead of subsidizing it, that would be a start. Soft drnks are very modestly sized in every foreign country I have been in. Coincidentally, all those foreign countries use real sugar instead of corn syrup in their fizzy drinks.

Comment: Re:waste of time (Score 4, Informative) 380

by dj245 (#47327625) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel

Ammonia is toxic, but it's not THAT toxic. It is certainly less likely to kill you or leave lasting harm than a hydrogen fire/explosion.

The ammonia in your cleaning bottle is hydrous ammonia, which is a fancy way of saying it is mostly water. Hydrous ammonia is pretty tame stuff. Anhydrous (no water) ammonia, like the kind required for chemical reactions, is nasty nasty stuff. If you breathe the vapors it can cause permanent damage to your lungs. If you get it on your skin, you can easilly get a nasty chemical burn. The vapor is flamable and forms explosive mixtures with air. It reacts violently with a variety of compounds.

Anhydrous ammonia is dangerous. Certainly much more dangerous than you seem to think it is.

Comment: Re:Look to Japan as a model for what not to do (Score 2) 710

by dj245 (#47316979) Attached to: Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy

To see how workaholism saps productivity and rarely leads to better results, look at Japan. Overtime is sacrosanct in Japan, at the company I worked at previously it was a badge of honor that the average amount of overtime was 60 hours a month. Japan has the lowest per-hour output in the G7, and it's a small wonder why. Managers will often times not buy hardware that can increase productivity because hey, you can simply make the workers work longer hours for free, whereas hardware costs money. The result is a populace that is unhappy, unhealthy, and well dying. The low birth rate is well known, what is less well known is that the Japanese have the least amount of sex in the developed world. The technology industry that everyone once thought would rule the world has come to be dominated by the west because managers have very little incentive to innovate, to increase productivity. And as the cherry on the shit sundae, the low productivity means that wages in Japan are lower, i.e. longer hours for less money. Trust me, you don't want to go down this route.

You've got the overall picture, but this isn't pushed down by the companies. It's the unions. There are numerous unions, including for things which are not unionized in other countries, like Engineers. Everybody could work 8 hours a day if they wanted, but there is pressure to stretch out the work. If you aren't booking a similar level of overtime as the other workers, you might get a visit from the union guy. Companies are hesitant to increase wages to eliminate the need for overtime, because there is no guarantee that employees wouldn't just soak up as much overtime as before.

One other odd thing about Japan is that in many professions, the salary curve is an upside down "U" shape. Straight out of college they pay low salaries, mid-career the employee has received salary increases and promotions and so are making a lot more. But as the employees career peaks, so too does their salary. The salary eventually decreases every year until the employee retires. Some companies even have a special "Retiree Consulting Company" where employees work when they reach a certain age (55, 60, etc). The employee takes a big pay cut, is taken off the company payroll, and is then a contractor/consultant, but doing the same job. Usually their hours are ramped down to 3 days/week, 2 days/week, 1 day/week etc until they actually retire from working.

It has benefits in that a person retiring has had a LONG time to prepare, pass on their knowledge, and train the next worker. But it definitely adds perverse incentives to milking the salary when you can because after a certain point, the employee is just making less and less every year.

Comment: Re:DLC? (Score 1) 178

by dj245 (#47316715) Attached to: The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code

pisses me off when they do that. It's why I don't buy games-on-disc anymore, you don't get what you already paid for. If it's not a standalone like KSP or a free persistent MMO like Battlestar Galactica, fucking keep it.

Well, then you don't know the gaming industry. Basically people work on a game and then get laid off.

This was fine back in the days where once you release, you can't patch (which was really helped because consoles of yore were a lot simpler to test for - nowadays you have to check out your 3D models and for glitching that could let players walk through walls because a/b/c/d/e was just right). Then there's the gameplay breaking bugs where if you save at the wrong moment, you can't restore.

Problem is, you can't patch the game if the developers aren't there anymore, and there's about a 2 month leadtime between submission of a game and when it appears on the shelf - pressing discs can easily be a month (your disc is just another one in the big press queue), and distribution another month (from disc factory to factory to distributiors and then to retail warehouses, etc).

So you have a team of devs sitting idle for two months. Well, you could put them on fixing some of the more egregious bugs found (leading to day 1 patches) because they have an extra 2 months to fix it, and the other devs (and artists, etc) can work on making extras (day 1 DLC). Because the moment the game is released, gamers might find a bug and you need to get people fixing it.

Developers can't sit around idle, and if a game's done, either you reallocate them to a new project, or lay them off. Either option doesn't work if you need to fix bugs. That's why you have day 1 patches (extra 2 months to fix bugs), day 1 DLC (2 months to generate content), and day 1 gamebreaking bugs.

And once someone is reassigned to another project, it's damn near impossible to get them to go back and fix issues with the existing code (just getting them back up to speed and building the code can be challenge all in itself).

Very few games get patched after the first month as that gets treated as the official close of the project. Unless there's a business case to keep DLC going in which case you'll have a small team for that. But that's it, and most games on the shelves are dead after the first month.

Day 1 DLC is still idiotic. It raises the cost of entry for the gamer and doesn't do anything to foster goodwill. Have the devs make DLC during the lull time if you must, but delay that DLC until 3-5 months after release.

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel