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Comment: Re:A rightwing wankfest? (Score 1) 92

by eric_harris_76 (#49154957) Attached to: Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech

Well, the only source for new iron is what comes hurtling through the atmosphere from above. Despite this, I'm not worried about running out of iron ore.

The notion of "peak oil", to the extent it's meaningful, is useless. We'll never run out of petroleum. When it gets too hard to pump out of the ground or to separate from shale or whatever, people will use something else to turn into fuel or lubricant or chemical feedstock or pavement. The remaining petroleum will stay in the ground, just like the petroleum that's currently not worth pumping up at about $50/bbl.

Might want to check out this social science known as "economics". Turns out if you ignore the hooey being shoveled (often in an attempt to influence government policy), you'll find some useful concepts with broad applicability.

Doomsday scenarios have appeal, but tend to be false alarms, with no consequences to those who hawk them.

Comment: Re:Simple methodology (Score 1) 341

by eric_harris_76 (#49152135) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

We've had the unpleasant experience of having an estimate being turned into a commitment. The company learned better.

Mostly. Our team recently made our own commitments from our own estimates. We probably should have put some serious fudge factor in our estimates, due to unknown impact from additional non-optional activities, before making those commitments.

On to cheerier things.

A couple of interesting articles on the topic. (especially relevant) (coming at it from a different direction)

Comment: College: soda and beer in a vending machine (Score 1) 162

by eric_harris_76 (#49144565) Attached to: Should a Service Robot Bring an Alcoholic a Drink?

Once upon a time, a soda machine in a fraternity house which shall remain nameless had some of the slots filled with alternating beer bottles and empty bottles.

Pay for a soda, get a soda, if that's what you wanted. Pay for a soda, get an empty bottle, pay for a soda, get a beer bottle, if that's what you wanted. So a beer was twice the price of a soda, without modifying the (ancient) vending machine.

As I recall, the officer in charge of the vending machine was a mechanical engineer. But if so, he was an efficient one. He devised this solution instead of designing a change, modifying the machine, making sure it worked (and kept working), and all that.

Doing all that would have cut into his drinking time.

Comment: "Business As Usual During Alterations" (Score 1) 207

by eric_harris_76 (#49106533) Attached to: Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers

A 1958 science fiction short story addressed -- in an idealized way, over an absurdly short timeframe -- the "problem" of 3D printing -- in a much more advanced form -- pretty nicely. The lesson of the story, after normalizing for the differences between that situation and ours, and that we live in reality rather than in an amusing and thought-provoking fiction, could be applied.

Some changes are going to come as 3D printing becomes cheaper and more capable. The legal and political and economic institutions that are slowly adjusting to the reality of easily copied paper documents and audio and video will also provide some lessons, too.

Some interesting/useful/amusing links:

  • (amateurish, looks bootlegged)
  • (somebody beat me to the punch by almost 5 years)
  • (more links)

Comment: "country" as distinct from "nation" (Score 1) 132

by eric_harris_76 (#49059177) Attached to: Paramedics Use Google Translate While Delivering Baby

My point, which apparently I did not make very clearly, is that nations created as administrative units by empires (e.g. Rwanda) and which later gain independence, and those created in peace treaties (e.g. Yugoslavia) tend to have bloody histories after the colonial powers withdraw.

Countries created by federation (e.g. the 13 colonies of the United States of America, Switzerland) or annexation/consolidation (e.g. the USA, the UK excluding Ireland) tend to be less troubled by ethnic and/or religious conflicts.

Comment: Re:Please take your ignorant attitude somewhere el (Score 1) 132

by eric_harris_76 (#49052707) Attached to: Paramedics Use Google Translate While Delivering Baby

I'm not entirely sure Iraq should be called a country. That's only slightly facetious.

Like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, it was created by treaties between other countries. Czechoslovakia worked out OK (now Slovakia and the Czech Republic) but Yugoslavia fared badly when the colonial power withdrew.

The same could be said for many of the nations of Africa with bloody post-colonial histories.

Comment: Re:Double Irish (Score 1) 825

"The right thing". Does that mean anything, really?

If they broke the law, it's time to prosecute.

If they didn't break the law yet their behavior offends someone to the point they think they government should go after them anyway, either they're too easily offended, or the law is seriously flawed.

Or both.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas