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Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 1) 155

by jfengel (#47563027) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

That is stuff Tolkien actually talked about at more length in the LotR appendices and in material published after his death. It seems reasonable to include it, since this is really intended as an LotR prequel rather than just The Hobbit on its own. I'm not entirely crazy about the way they wrote it, but it's not something they invented out of whole cloth.

I'd have liked to have seen more of Saruman, in fact, but that was limited by Christopher Lee's health. It ties in to the continuation of the Gandalf plot line from the second film.

Comment: Re:Cell and battery production in same plant (Score 1) 93

by jfengel (#47560567) Attached to: Tesla and Panasonic Have Reached an Agreement On the Gigafactory

There's no good reason to do it that way now that the era of cheap labor in China is over.

I really don't know much about that; can you amplify a bit? I mean, economics said that it should happen some day, as all that money washing into China should eventually translate into demands for higher pay, but there were plenty of places to squirrel that money away rather than pay workers. And there were a LOT of potential workers.

So what finally caused the labor rate to rise enough? I gather that the goal was to establish dominance in some kinds of manufacturing so that we'd have to re-establish the industry from scratch, raising the threshold for bringing manufacturing projects back here. Did the achieve that, or what?

Comment: Re:IANAPP (I am not a particle physicist (Score 1) 218

by jfengel (#47519071) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

One pathway for electron/positron collision can produce a neutral Z and a Higgs. In fact, they already tried that at the Large Electron Positron collider, the predecessor to the LHC. It came very close, at 115 GeV. There were hints of the Higgs, and so it came as no real surprise to find it just 10% higher.

This is actually a more efficient way of producing Higgs particles, at lower energies. The LHC produces the Higgs with two quarks, but there are six quarks involved in the proton/proton collision, so a lot of the energy you put in doesn't produce Higgs bosons. (In very rare instances you'll get two Higgs bosons, but most of the time the other quarks just produce other stuff.)

Comment: Re:Not about leaks (Score 1) 282

This is almost certainly about eliminating the risk of contingent workforce being classified as employees.

Sorry, I think this is the point I'm not getting. Is that a tax thing or benefits thing or some other law? Does it incur some sort of penalty, like making them pay some kind of retroactive tax?

Comment: Re:Misleading title (Score 3, Informative) 91

by jfengel (#47470565) Attached to: Researchers Find Evidence of How Higgs Particle Imparts Mass

Yeah, as usual, the summary is terrible. ALL collisions at the LHC are proton-proton collisions, not just the W-W ones.

What they're measuring is one of the higher-order corrections implied by the Higgs mechanism. Without the Higgs field, W bosons wouldn't have mass. Measuring how the Ws interact with each helps verify that the Higgs mechanism for explaining W boson mass is correct. Unfortunately, it's kinda hard to produce a W boson, much less two at once, much less getting them to interact with each other. You have to produce a lot of high-energy collisions to see it happen.

They did, and they got the answer they expected from the Higgs mechanism. Yay, Peter Higgs gets to keep his Nobel prize.

Comment: Re:November? (Score 1) 148

by jfengel (#47470523) Attached to: US House Passes Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes

It was sponsored by over 200 people on both sides. It passed by a "voice vote" which means they didn't track exactly who voted for it or against it, but it was overwhelmingly positive. I gather that a few Democrats voted against it, mostly on the grounds that some states tax it and need it as a revenue source (it's a Republican thing to believe that collecting less taxes somehow magically decreases deficits rather than increasing them), but mostly, it's hard to vote against a tax cut in an election year.

Because of that there's a good chance that it will flounder and die in the Senate. The House is 100% up in November, but the Senators are a bit more responsible about forbidding states from raising revenues, and the Senators from Texas (which lose their exemption under the current moratorium) may ask Reid to spike it.

So arguably, this is more about ending the moratorium than extending it: by voting up a permanent ban they've diminished the chances of extending the temporary one. I don't know all of the inside-baseball on this one and there's more that I'm not seeing, so I can't give a confident prediction.

Comment: Re:We're sorry we got caught? (Score 1) 401

by jfengel (#47468143) Attached to: Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

If so, perhaps they their script from when I quit Comcast. I quit because they couldn't or wouldn't fix a very unreliable connection; don't get me wrong, the service sucked. But canceling it took a few minutes; they asked me why, and I told them, and that was it. They didn't try really hard to retain me.

Perhaps the frequent complaints I'd made popped up a box saying "Customer is a pain in the butt, let them go" or "Customer is at the end of a long last mile with outdated equipment, and it would cost more to fix their problem than we'd make in payments, so give it up." Or maybe it was just my very definite answer about why I was canceling. But it didn't take me very long and I got no real pushback on it.

Comment: Re:Simpler approach... (Score 1) 280

by jfengel (#47467933) Attached to: Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

I find that in effect my password-keeper for sites with onerous restrictions, but used only rarely, is my email. I end up using the password-recovery feature which usually ends up as "we'll email you a link; if you have access to the original email address you signed in with, we'll treat that as proof that you are who you say you are."

Losing access to my email account would be pretty disastrous. That can happen not just by forgetting the password, but with any kind of administrative failure, or even simply being out of range (though fortunately, trying to access a web site usually implies access to my email.)

It's very much an eggs-in-one-basket situation, though fortunately those rarely-used web sites are usually of limited importance to me.

Comment: Re:Not a duty of the Executive Branch (Score 1) 382

by jfengel (#47459375) Attached to: White House Punts On Petition To Allow Tesla Direct Sales

What I find particularly perplexing is that if there was a real significant movement, and the request were possible, the White House would already be doing it. It's hard for me to imagine a President saying, "Gosh, 134,000+ people, you're right. This is a really important issue and I had no idea that people cared about it. Thanks, I'll get right on it."

So I'm confused as to what they hope to accomplish with the site. Maybe, maybe they'd end up going to Congress and saying, "Look, we've got ten million virtual signatures here, and that means I've got a campaign issue next time around. So go do something." But shy of that I don't see it giving anybody anything except a place to vent, followed by a quick civics lesson on the separation of powers.

Comment: Re:Solar panels (Score 1) 238

by jfengel (#47449635) Attached to: Scientists Have Developed a Material So Dark That You Can't See It

Is it that significant of an improvement over the previous blackest thing? I would have expected that solar thermal panels would be limited primarily by the difficulty of generating usable power from the heat differential. I know that there already existed previous really-really-black coatings, though I actually would have thought that compared to the other problems, ordinary black paint would suffice. Is this enough of an improvement to make a difference in that vein?

Comment: Re:Same old song and dance .... (Score 2) 214

by jfengel (#47449393) Attached to: Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

I wonder how much the illegality of it figures into the convenience. The study implies that copying, as currently practiced, has only a limited impact. But that takes place in a world where copying is illegal: people are repeatedly told that it's a bad thing (ad nauseam; I really don't need to be reminded every time I play my legally purchased movie) and the news is full of horror stories of people being harassed by prosecutors when they do get caught.

So I don't know what policy conclusions we could draw from this study. If we made sharing legal, how much would that impact people? Would they continue to want to go to the theater, which has a much larger screen and great sound, but which also costs a fair bit (and even more for any snacks you want, which are actually the theater's primary profit center) and which isn't as convenient in either time or space as having it at home?

I'm not sure how we could guess, aside from actually doing an experiment in which sharing was made legal, and even that is difficult to control (since the entire marketing process would need to change to accommodate it, and it's hard to predict which movies would have been blockbusters at the box office.)

Comment: Re:Wow. (Score 1) 204

by jfengel (#47449165) Attached to: Rocket Scientist Designs "Flare" Pot That Cooks Food 40% Faster

The hammock is probably unnecessary, and in backpacking, you really need to be prepared to do without.

But I wonder if combining the tent and the pack could work, such that the tent poles form the backpack frame and the tent the body. It would be tricky to get the form factor right on both (and if you're humping it for hours, form factor is crucial) but the tent already has an interior and a waterproof exterior. It could shave a kilo or so off your load, and that would be huge.

Folding it every morning would probably suck, but if it could get down to five minutes it might be worth it.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths