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Comment What's going to happen? (Score 2) 680

People aren't looking very far ahead. Immediately all the GOP leaders said that they won't confirm a nomination, and many have asked Obama not to make a nomination. On the other hand, Obama immediately said that he will make a nomination. So, that's likely to be the first public thing to happen.

Obama will likely pick somebody with impeccable credentials, but more importantly, a toughness to survive 11 months of vitriolic attacks -- because he's going to insist that the nominee maintain his or her determination to be confirmed. If he nominates somebody who pulls out after a few months, that would be devastating to Obama and the Democrats. And while that might limit the number of nominees to 10% of what they would be in normal (or, perhaps, historic) times, Obama will find somebody. It will likely be somebody who isn't strongly politically polarized.

And the GOP will immediately insist that they won't confirm him or her. Little question about that. That's when it gets interesting.

Obama will likely use the fact that the GOP Senators are blocking a reasonable candidate to attack them, and likely attack the ones who are at most risk to lose their elections this year. If Obama can make these senators look more like jerks -- and I think he probably can -- then things may change.

I think that the most politcally reasonable thing for the GOP to do would be to vote on the nominee, and just vote him or her down. Obama can probably nominate three or four people during the next eight months, the GOP taking a few months to evaluate each one would be typical and easily defensible.

I don't like it, but that's what I think will happen.

Comment Meh.. (Score 1) 325

One thing is that thought has been brout up for over a hundred years now. Thus far it has not been true. One day it might be, but hard to say when. Historically we've managed to develop ambitions to offset the reduction of needed labor of a new advance. We generally couldn't have foreseen how that was going to go down until it happened, so not knowing what that would look like doesn't mean we are at the end of the road.

The real problem is perceiving a world where we need people to work half as hard as they do today a 'threat'. That people should be able to have education, sustenance, shelter, and medicine without worry throughout their lifetime is not something to be avoided, but to be embraced. A number of people worry that people are wired such that this would be devastating to their psyche, and yet people retire all the time, go through college without fretting so much. Yes, once you get into a career you get caught up in it, but spending a good few months away can fix that.

Of course there's also the issue of fairness in a world that is 'partially' post scarcity. If you generally don't need most people to work, but desperately need some of them to, it can be tricky. To some extent reduced hours can alleviate, but some tasks don't lend themselves to such a strategy, and you can only have so-short of time frames for people to work (if you needed 5 minutes of work a week out of the average person, it'd be awkward and highly inefficient to work just for 5 minutes).

Comment Uh huh... (Score 4, Interesting) 213

Some researchers argue that autonomous weapons would commit fewer battlefield atrocities than human beings [...]

No, it's just that if an autonomous weapon does it, it would be more difficult to call it an "atrocity". If a dozen villagers are killed because of a minefield that some idiot decided should go near where they live, the only reason you can't call that a "massacre" is that there was no human making the targeting decision.

In the 1920s, there were some who argued that aerial bombing would be more humane because they could be far more precise than field artillery, hitting only the target that you want to hit. Look how well that worked out.

Comment Re:Future of R, now that programmers use it? (Score 3, Insightful) 161

As a statistician who's not a programmer, but who hangs out sometimes on slashdot and stackoverflow, it feels sometime like it's in danger of becoming just another language for programmers, instead of a tool for statisticians.

As a programmer who used to research programming languages, here's no danger of that at all.

It's not much of a stretch to say that no programmer really uses R. At most, programmers use the high-quality statistical libraries which only work with R. R is basically the best statistical packages every written bound together by one of the worst programming languages ever developed.

Comment Well to be fair... (Score 1) 96

So one, I think bitcoin itself is pretty risky... that said if I were to accept the premise and argue from there.

I would think a 'brain wallet' would be like a 'wallet', i.e. something you have with you at any given time in case you want to spend some cash but can't get to your savings account right now. So you take on some risk on a few hundred dollars in exchange for being to spend it more easily. You move money in and out of it as needed when you get back to where your more secure setup is.

Comment Re:Important Stuff (For the discussion) (Score 1) 577

Yeah, yeah, I know, but be fair. Carly Fiorina's presidential run is not "news for nerds". Carly Fiorina crashing and burning in any capacity, however, is.

It's kind of like "Steve Jobs bought a yacht" isn't news for nerds, but "Steve Jobs died because he thought woo-woo was better than actual medicine" is. Many of us enjoy schadenfreude if it's people we collectively dislike.

Comment Re:6178 acres? (Score 1) 290

This is in California, where the land is probably 10x as valuable. Also about 10 square miles of space, maybe 5 square miles of solar cells. Another three of four square miles of solar cells 5 miles ESE of this spot.

This is desert. Deserts will be covered on solar cells within 20 years.

Comment Re:Sad but... (Score 1) 130

Unless they're really big (Chelyabinsk, Tunguska, Barringer Crater, etc) meteorites don't explode, they're slowed down to whatever their terminal velocity is by the atmosphere (and burned up to some degree in the process).

Assume this thing was the size of a large brick (give or take), it'd hit with about the same force as if it were tossed out of an aeroplane. It's still going to kill you, but you won't explode.

Every film or TV depiction of a meteorite impact I've ever seen (Deep Impact, Smallville, etc) gets it wrong.

Comment Re:Sexual Assault (Score 1) 513

The only true statement in your post is the first and 2nd one the 3rd one reveals that most people make up excuses to feel better about their lame jobs and then the 4th one is completely your own creation.

The second statement is true according to Microsoft.

The fourth is indeed my own creation, based only on my own experience dealing with myself. Not sexual harassment in my case, but we were all young and dumb once.

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