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Comment: Evacuated tubes (Score 1) 300

by egarland (#48744799) Attached to: Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

Evacuated tubes have much better economic dynamics than sub-orbital flight. It's high-speed rail without air friction with potentially incredibly fast speeds. You could work in New York and have a lunch at midnight in Tokyo and be back to NY for dinner. It would be amazingly expensive to build, but it could be incredibly cheap to run.

Comment: Re:Does the job still get done? (Score 1) 688

by egarland (#48626535) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Automation replaces work with rent. It's has a negative macroeconomic effect, amplified by the fact that work pays taxes, and rent doesn't. The solution seems obvious, reverse that dynamic. Make things that earn money for their owners pay taxes instead of workers.

Comment: Re:What about long-term data integrity? (Score 1) 438

by egarland (#48463863) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

Drive Writes Per Day is *the* important metric for judging the write load capabilities of a drive. 1 DWPD is perfectly adequate for consumer/desktop use and many fileserver applications but impractical for backing a database, where 5 DWPD is more appropriate. You pay about 50% more for a 5 DWPD drive than a consumer level one, but if it saves you from having to replace the drive 5 times, it's worth it.

Inaccuracies aside, this is an important property of SSD's to keep in mind when procuring them.

Comment: Were pre-mixing humans really modern humans? (Score 1) 128

by egarland (#48209579) Attached to: Oldest Human Genome Reveals When Our Ancestors Mixed With Neanderthals

The summary refers to the time when neanderthals and modern humans intermixed, but can we really call what came before the mixing modern humans? It seems that something about the combination sparked huge evolutionary changes that allowed us to rather rapidly (evolutionarily speaking) develop modern society. As far as I'm concerned, the history of modern humans starts with the mixing.

Comment: Re:The best quote from the article (Score 1) 942

by egarland (#48034947) Attached to: David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

> especially since they all say the exact opposite.

I always find it funny how conservative talk radio hosts seem to like pointing out how much more intelligent they and their listeners are than everyone else, almost as if they think that by saying it enough, it will make it true.

There's no monopoly on intelligence on either side of the isle, and regardless, a right and noble idea supported by stupid people is still right and noble. Arguing that an idea is stupid because it's supporters are stupid is invalid.

Comment: Theism breeds entitlement and apathy (Score 4, Interesting) 937

by egarland (#47899023) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Immorality is much easier to excuse when you believe there is a divine order to things. When someone is poor, or suffering or has had a bad run of luck, belief in a divine plan makes it easy to see that as deserved, instead of unfortunate. When someone is rich, powerful and/or fortunate, you're more likely to see them as superior and deserving of their good fortune if you are religious.

Every time you hear someone thank god that for answering their prayers and blessing them with something, keep in mind that intrinsically behind that statement is the idea that god has made a judgement call and found them deserving of having their prayers answered. It's a round about way of saying "God chose this for me, because he thinks I deserve it." It always rubs me as subtly arrogant to imply that whatever good fortune you are enjoying isn't simply good fortune, but it's a reward you earned because god found you deserving of it, and thusly found everyone else who doesn't receive that same thing, undeserving.

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by egarland (#47222413) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

I thought that evidence was pointing to us being the product of about 9.5 billion years of evolution. Given that we live on a 4.5 billion year old world, life would have had to survive some sort of space-gap before getting to earth.

If sentient life takes 9.5 billion years to evolve, and the universe is only 13.5 billion years old, life would have had to start evolving relatively fast for it to get this far. The earlier you go in the universe's history, the more rare planets become. Even more rare would be a planet orbiting a star hot enough to fuel life, but also in continuous operation for that long. If it really does take 9.5 billion years for life to reach this level of complexity, and in our case it survived the destruction of a planet to spread to a new one, then the Fermi paradox all-but disappears and likelihood that sentient life is currently extremely rare, or even unique to our planet increases dramatically.

Comment: Thats a good name (Score 5, Insightful) 568

Global warming was always a terrible name because the imagery was all wrong.

Global climate change is more accurate, but still nebulous.

Climate disruption evokes a more accurate picture of what seems to be happening. I personally liked the name "Santa's revenge" from this winter's breakdown of the polar vortex. Melt the north pole, and you'll all get a taste of the cold!

Comment: We made it through the great filter. (Score 1) 608

by egarland (#46842189) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?
The universe is 14 billion years old. Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Extrapolation shows that life has likely been evolving for about 9 billion years. We also know that very shortly (in geologic terms) after water arrived on our planet, green slime started spreading. I thought the current dominant theory was that life's origins are extraterrestrial and that somehow it jumped from wherever it started through space to a newly formed earth. If life traveled here aboard the shattered remains of the planet it evolved on, this would seem to indicate that we are the descendants of an extremely unlikely chain of events, which might make us the only life to have survived this long.

Comment: Re:Anything built before 2001 (Score 5, Insightful) 702

by egarland (#46789525) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

We always get a false impression of the reliability and quality of old stuff, because the stuff that sucked and broke got thrown out years ago, and the only things that we still encounter are the ones that were well made. It's true with old houses, old cars, old furniture, pretty much everything. I'm sure there's a law for this phenomenon with some pompous dude's name on it but it's a well established and discussed phenomenon.

How can you work when the system's so crowded?