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Comment: Re:Exinction (Score 1) 116

This seems like circular logic. First one has to define what a "Neanderthal" is before answering that question.

Yep. A lot of taxonomy is like that.

In the process of classifying things they're trying to find or define sharp boundaries on a subject matter that is actually a continuum.

I recall, in my first encounters with the subject, trying to get a coherent definition of the distinctions between species, genus, family etc.. The instructor was utterly uanble to provide one. (Of course this WAS at the junior-high level.)

DNA technology is also substantially revamping the whole field. Previously they had to infer what genes various organisms had by observing their expressions in morphology - which makes it hard to track genes that are there but "turned off". Now that they can actually sequence the DNA (or the expressed protiens when the sample is too old for DNA and RNA to survive) a lot of the classifications are getting rearranged.

Was Neanderthal a species, or something more akin to a colorform? What constitutes extinction when a branch that once interbred with another dies out, but leaves behind a substantial amount of its DNA? Did the two branches actually "speciate", i.e. separate to the point where the COULDN'T interbreed, or at least couldn't produce viable crossbreed offspring that could produce offspring of their own in turn? Or was it just that they mostly DIDN'T interbreed? Were they like the races of the current human species (clusters of different traits but one big gene pool), like horses and donkeys (where crossbreeds are easy but mostly infertile), or like fully-speciated organisms that might try but just can't produce offspring? Did they go extinct, or did most of their traits just gradually (or suddenly, as in a near-extinction event where all the copies of a gene were in the places where everybody died off) get lost from the geneome of the one big human family?

Seems to me it's mostly a matter of definition and partly a subject for more research.

Don't ask me for an authoritative definition. I'm just another observer, not a taxonimist. B-)

Comment: Re:Exinction (Score 1) 116

So by what metric are Neanderthals extinct, if there are Neanderthals who have living descendants with a measurable amount of their genetic makeup?

There is no living population, large enough to produce additional generations of viable offspring, with a full, or substantial, Neanderthal genome.

Comment: Thanks for the cite. (Score 1) 469

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48191563) Attached to: Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

No. In the U.S. cartoon images ARE protected by the First Amendment. This was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002. (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)). Sometimes our Supreme court DOES get it right!

Thanks for the cite!

I'm really happy to be proven wrong on this one.

Comment: Constitutions CAN be useful, if honored. (Score 0) 469

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48188597) Attached to: Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Yeah, this is stupid. You can't sentence people for drawing and using a paper and pen, whatever the content of their drawing, ...

Sure "you" can. This was in the UK. They don't have First Amendment protections, so the law is what's passed and enforced.

Last I heard, some jurisdictions in the US have some similar anti-pornography laws, banning drawn images. In the US the anti-pornography laws are justified against the clear prohibition on such laws in the First Amendment by claiming the purveyors of pornography are part of a conspiracy with the pornographer who abused an underage child by photographing her.

Obviously this justification is bogus when the image is drawn. So while the prohibition is on the books, I understand the authorities are reluctant to actually enforce it against anyone who has enough money to appeal it. So they tend to use such laws only when they can't find (or plant) any actual child pictures on a target(s) they've raided, but still really want to jail them and seize their assets, or as a "pour on the counts" measure when knocking the law down wouldn't do much for the accused.

(I think the underage are underripe and have no personal interest in such fare. So I don't follow the issue closely, except when someone threatens to post such stuff on a system I administer. Maybe somebody else, with more reliable and/or up-to-date knowledge, can comment?)

Comment: How about an insulated box at the counter? (Score 1) 331

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48188411) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

Even if the Nevada health department DID have an objection, what's wrong with having some ice bags in an insulated box at the counter and calling THAT a "cooler" or "icebox"? It wouldn't need to be powered, because it would be kept cold by the steady flow of fresh bags from the supply truck.

You'd have to run it as a FIFO, to avoid having bags sitting there for hours. (Bag porters put 'em in one end, clerks pull them out at the other - or put a moving partition in and run it as a circular buffer, so you don't have to slide them down. No additional communication between counter workers and bag-porters is necessary, because the available open space signals when more bags need to be toted. Only downside I see is that if/when the counter is about to close, you need to signal the porters to stop, to avoid having unsold bags in the cooler that need to be ported back to the truck to keep them from melting during the break.)

Such a local buffer would do all you want, without leaving the ice bags sitting on a counter in the desert. Also: The ice would be seen by the customers to be fresh, rather than partially melted while waiting to be picked up.

Comment: I had one for a while. (Score 2) 324

It was a military surplus rifle that had been "sporterized" (mainly by cutting the stock down to a more civilian profile).

The Enfield has an interesting history: Back in the period leading up to WWII the British mmilitary had a good idea the war was coming. The army was armed mainly wiith the Lee-Enfield bolt action rifles and they knew they needed a good slect fire automatic/semiautomatic rifle to replace them, least they be outgunned. But they debated over WHICH design to pick for so long that, when the Blitzkreig brought the Germans into a faceoff with the British, the autos weren't yet deployed.

It turns out that the Lee-Enfield action has a number of features that make it VERY much faster to operate than other bolt-action military weapons of the time. The bolt has a very small throw angle. It has rear, not front, locking lugs (out where there's lots of clearance and little stress and opportunity for dirt to gum them up). The action is almost glassy-smooth. The bolt ball is located where it can be opened by the thumb, while slapping it closed with the palm, doesn't require accurate positioning of the hand, and guides the hand back to the correct position to fire, letting the user's attention remain on the target scene and sight picture. It cocks on closing (rather than on opening as Mausers do), dedicating essentially all the energy on opening to case extraction, rather than splitting it with spring-cocking and keeping the opening and closing work closer to equal.

The result is that, with a modicum of practice, a rifleman with a Lee-Enfield can achieve higher firing rates than the operator of a machine gun. (Machine gun rates are deliberately limited to make them easier to control and aim, avoid wasting ammunition, and reduce overheating, burnout, and jamming.) It can't keep it up as LONG, because the Lee Enfield has a small, fixed, magazine. But it can fire a couple fast, controlled, bursts - just what is needed in many situations - using a powerful rifle cartridge.

By comparison the Germans were armed with things like the recently developed "assault rifle" - a short-barreled select-fire rifle (for easy handling in cramped hallways or popping up out of a tank hatch), firing a low-powered cartridge. (Militaries had figured out that a gun should be designed to WOUND, not kill: Kill a soldier and you take one out of action - wound him and you use up him, his buddy, a medic, and a lot of infrastructure and supplies taking care of him and shipping him back home.)

The Blitzkreig stormed across much of Europe and encountered only limited resistance, typically armed with the likes of the slower bolt-action Mausers. Then they came up against the British. They knew the Brits were armed with bolt-actions and believed their own propaganda about their lack of resolve. So they expected to sweep them up as they had their previous encounters. They came charging out, and were blasted back, repeatedly, by withering fire. There are records of communications from the front where the officers were claiming all the Brits were armed with machine guns. (I hear one of these records is a recording - with the officer in question being killed in mid-message by a round from one of those Lee-Enfields.)

Comment: Medicare needs a separate number. (Score 1) 59

We have the same thing here in the US, but good luck getting a new SSN if it gets compromised.

What bugs me is I've been refusing to give out my SS# to any operation that didn't have a federal mandate to get it for decades - since at LEAST the '80s.

Then I aged into eligibility for medicare - and other health insurers insist that, since I'm eligible, they'll only pay the difference between my coverage with them and what Medicare pays (which is most of the bill), even if I don't collect from Medicare. Not collecting from Medicare would be a financial disaster.

But Medicare's I.D. is the social security number with a single letter appended to it. Every clerk at every doctor's office, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, etc. that I interact with gets my SS#. Ever such operation's database has my SS#. I went to Costco for a flu shot, so now Costco has my SS#. Every store's database is a chance for a cracker to collect it. Every clerk is a chance for some crook to tempt them and buy it.

There was recently an article wringing its hands over the discovery that people over 65 have a higher incidence of identity theft. Well DUH!

The solution would be fore Medicare to assign a separate medicare number for making claims and otherwise interacting with them - something randomly picked (not algorithmically generated from the SS#, which would return to the current case as soon as the algorithm leaked), and only paired with the SS# (if at all) in a database in the relevant government department.

Comment: Issue was whether there were NEW ones. (Score 2) 376

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48154393) Attached to: Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq

As I understand it (in hindsight):

- Saddam was supposed to stop his production of new WMDs and estroy the old stuff.
  - He apparently complied, at least with stopping new production. (His guys - maybe at his orders, maybe on their own - apparently hid some of the key components of the nuclear program so it could potentially be restarted at some later date without starting from zero.)
  - But a lot of the old stuff was still around.
  - Meanwhile, he had enemies all around, and one of the deterrents was that they thought he had all this nasty weaponry.
  - So to keep them at bay, he made it look to his neighbors like he really was posturing about stopping and destroying, while still having much and making more. ("I got rid of all that stuff." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) As a "good client dictator" he counted on the US diplomatic and intelligence communities to know that he really did it, was tellnig the truth to us, and putting on a show for his neighbors.
  - Unfortunately for him, the show he put on for his neighbors convinced the US that he still had and was still making. Oops!
  - Meanwhile, his neighbors planted stories, disguised as intelligence reports, about his continuation. (One such that hit the press was the forged documents for the "yellowcake" uranium ore purchase. The guy who fabricated it bragged about it after the war.)
  - So the US decided he'd gone (too) rogue and had to be taken out.
  - The US went in looking for the NEW stuff and the CURRENT production and research. Oops! Didn't find it. Found a bunch of old stuff, but that didn't support the argument for going to war. Either it didn't exist (and the US had done a BIG boo-boo) or it was just well enough hidden that it hadn't been found yet.
  - So it was politically expedient for the administration to not mention the old stuff while they kept looking for the new stuff they still believed was there.
  - It was also politically expedient for the opposition to crow about not finding the stuff that was the reason for the war. The old stuff weakened the message, so they didn't mention it.
  - Most of the mainstream press was solidly in the opposition's pocket. So they didn't mention the old stuff, either. This made any reports of it from the remainder of the press look like a pro-administration fabrication.

Thus, if you weren't watching many sources and making really good estimates of what was correct, important, fluff, and/or fabrications, you either didn't hear about the old weaponry or thought such stories were disinformation, and came away with the idea that there wasn't any WMD material to be had in Iraq

Comment: Bunch of stuff... (Score 1) 395

Logically you do not charge electric vehicles at a "commercial vehicle charging station" but at any regularly used parking point via induction charging.

Or you can do both. Going to all/most-cars-are-electric with older battery technology requires multiplying the grid capacity by about a factor of six. Fast charge capability improves on that drastically - for several reasons I'll get to below - but it still involves trippling it or so. As long as you're building it out to feed cars, you might as well build it out selectively, to both good "gas station" sites and to likely sites for charging while parked.

With fast-charging batteries you can ALSO put some charging coils under major roadways to charge them as they drive. (You wouldn't have to electrify the WHOLE roadway, just chunks of it. And you can have the utility handshake with the car's electronics to collect for the power - or refuse to supply it if it's unwanted or payment won't be forthcoming.)

Not all parking spaces and roads are worth electrifying, and people also need service when traveling. So IMHO, with fast enough charging to make it practical, there will still be quite a demand for electrified "gas stations" to fast-charge those cars that didn't have enough opportunity to slow-charge.

Fast charging at home, though would be problematic: You'd have to drastically increase your service, and the infrastructure behind it. There are a LOT of homes, and in some cases a lot of distance to run bigger wires and a lot of transformers to upsize. Building out "filling stations" for fast charging, or doing that first, lets the utilities concentrate their investment. Fast charge at an electric "gas" station while waiting for your neighborhood's turn for upgrade (or just avoiding paying for one) makes considerable sense.

Fast charging enables a substantial mileage improvement, too, especially in stop-and-go traffic or on hilly terrain. It HAS to be very efficient (because any substantial losses would fry the battery). With it being both efficient and fast, you can use it for braking, even rapid braking, and scavenge most of the energy that would otherwise be lost as heat. Current vehicles can recapture a little of the braking energy - if you stop slowly. Fast-charge batteries can get MOST of it - and then recycle it for restarting, or just cruising against wind resistance and friction once you're off the mountain. ... mega battery factories are so financially risky at this time, real battery breakthroughs are coming down the line, that will change everything.

Maybe not so much: As TFA points out, THIS one is pretty much a cheap drop-in, and the resulting battery is so good that it makes the quantitative leap in to the practical. Lithium is really light. So this battery might be so close to optimum that it will be hard to make big enough additional breakthroughs to displace it if it takes market share now and does its own incremental improvements later. Meanwhile, the perfect is the enemy of the adequate. This looks good enough that it's time to adopt it. So "the future" might finally be here.

Not just used in cars of course but also to be used in residential properties to really drive renewable energy sources and people in the burbs being able to escape the grid ...

Right on! Raw generation with solar photovoltaic in sunny locations is already cheaper than grid power. Windmills in windy areas have beaten the pants off it for a long time and in moderaty windy areas has done the same since strong rare-earth magnets became available at reasonable prices. The control electronics participates in the Moore's Law effect and its price will drop even faster, due to economies of scale, if deployments become common. The big rub has alwayd been storage.

High efficiency, high capacity, high charge/discharge rate, many cycle, long calendar life batteries, made of inexpensive, common, non-toxic materials, built in high quantity under substantial price pressure for automotive applications, would fill in the last hole. Further, the capacity appropriate for a car is happens to be great for a house as well. They're a major game changer for yet another game.

Further, if lots of houses go to renewable, they'll have periods where the winds have been calm and/or the sky dark where there isn't enough energy available to charge the car AND avoid a blackout at the house. That's a good time to charge the car at the electric "gas" station. But for that to work the stations must exist.

Comment: Leaving 5,000 doing something interesting. (Score 3, Insightful) 146

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48134855) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million

3.995 million of them are currently collecting dust in the desk drawers of neckbeards.

Leaving 5,000 of them doing something interesting and useful - and probably something that couldn't be done affordably with a brain that cost $800 or more.

If the computer costs just chump change, who CARES if most of them end up gathering dust? The cost of that is trivial, which the benefit of those that DO get used is substantial.

It's like pencil sharpeners (back before cheap automatic pencils): They spend almost all of their time idle. But they're so cheap that it makes more financial sense to have one in every office than to have one for the company and a department scheduling its time-sharing.

(That analogy was acutally used, to get executives to rent a clue, during the transition from central timesharing systems to ubiquitus desktop machines. When a computer costs several million and needs a clean room and dedicated hierarchy, it makes sense to have one and spend a lot of effort rationing it out. When one costs a thousand bucks it's far cheaper to put them on every desk and leave most of them horribly under-utilized. Such a price drop creates a qualitative change to resource allocation strategies.)

Comment: I'm using BeagleBone Black. (Score 2) 146

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48134739) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Sales Approach 4 Million

I'm using BeagleBone Black. Not wedded to it - it was just handy. Any of several others would have worked, but this was available and had the right stuff available, too.

$55, half a gig of RAM, four gig of flash filesystem (plus a socket for adding more).

Runs Linux (and several other OSes with ARM support.). Comes stock with Agngstrom but I installed a port of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and an upgrade to the corresponding kernel version. (The stock Ubuntu port to BBB uses an older kernel, but there's another project that ports later kernels as drop-in replacements.)

The kind of capabilities you are looking for are out there.

Comment: Know your enemy. (Score 1) 187

Holy crap, I can hardly believe this topic. Who in their right mind would want FM opinion on anything? This is really puzzling to me.

There's a saying that applies: Know your enemy.

I doubt anyone will be fooled into thinking his arguments are unbiased, or correct, and adopt the mindset he's pushing. (If nothing else, there will be PLENTY of warnings from posters in the discussions. B-) ) So this is a chance to do a little research: Find out what arguments are being brought into court and congressional cloakrooms by those opposed to innovation and competition from outside of established corporate monoliths, so we can get ready with counter arguments.

Comment: You don't need Florian to answer that. (Score 4, Insightful) 187

As an independent software developer, how can I avoid getting dragged into a patent lawsuit? How can I leverage my rights to ensure others aren't exploiting my patents?

You can't.

A patent is just a license to sue.

It licenses others to sue you if they think you might be infringing their stuff (or they can get you to pay them to go away even if you aren't). It licenses you to sue others who are infringing your patents. That's all it is.

If you want protection for your creations, you have to be ready to put on the armor and walk into the arena to defend them.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!