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Comment Self driving means cheap taxis (Score 1) 884 884

Auto ownership has probably hit it's peak, self-driving cars will make the expense of individual ownership less and less appealing in general. And owning an ICE for road trips is ridiculous. Just rent the car.

When did we reach the conclusion that self driving cars is some sort of given fact?

I think it is pretty straight forward that private ownership will decrease though it is not often presented well.

1) Self drive will make taxi's much cheaper by removing the cost of paying the driver.
2) Convenience will increase too, partly through better allocating the available vehicles. This is made easier with self drive since it does not have to link up with an available driver but it is also through better information technology predicting where cars need to be.
3) With cheaper and more convenient taxi's more people will use them. Those that can only marginally justify owning a car will give up their cars. The increased use will also make taxi's more convenient creating a bit of a feedback cycle.

However, I am not convinced that, outside of dense urban areas, the ratio of people who can practically give up their cars even with cheap taxis is high enough to produce the "almost no-one owns a car" utopia. I think most suburban dwellers will still own cars. They just won't drive them. The last driven as much by the cost of insuring a manual drive car as the convenience of autonomous drive.

Comment Re:I wish I could buy GMO seeds (Score 1) 295 295

Crops already are invasive species. The majority of them were originally native to the Middle East and we have modified them through manual selection to grow in other regions just as successfully. We count on them to outcompete native plants (if corn (which was actually from Central America I believe) can't outproduce native prairie grasses in Iowa and Nebraska then we won't have any corn).

The point at which it could become a bad thing has already past

Crops are not invasive species. They are non-native species but that is not the same thing. An invasive species has a survival advantage over native species. Typically, this is an adaption to a threat not present outside its native environment. Crops are not like that. They are modified to produce more/better food for us. That puts them at a disadvantage against native plants (aka "weeds"). They need help to survive. That is exactly the opposite of invasive.

Direct genetic modification makes it easier to improve all crop characteristics but the basic trade-offs remain. It would certainly be possible to engineer a super tomato or super corn that would out-compete native plants and take over the landscape. It wouldn't be of any use to anyone though since the only one to get there is to make the plant nearly useless for food production.

Comment Hangouts can not be removed (Score 2) 202 202

It would appear prudent to uninstall Google Hangouts.

Prudent but not always possible. On some versions of Android, Google Hangouts is a system app part of the os image. It can not be uninstalled. Only updates can be uninstalled, which is not helpful in this case.

This is not the case of my old phone. It runs Gingerbread and Hangouts did not exist when Gingerbread came out. It also not true of my new phone. I'm running a third party "debloated" version of Lollipop that omits Hangouts and other not-necessarily desired apps from the image.

Comment Re:Rolling (Score 1) 319 319

I run a nightly ROM on my phone, but that's only because there's no stable release of it anymore (it's officially "unmaintained" but the nightlies work well).

My laptop runs debian testing, which I update daily. I follow "testing" not "stretch" - so when stretch is released (in 25 years or so), it'll automatically "upgrade" to the next testing.

My desktop runs arch. They use a rolling release, so I update that pretty often as well.

So I guess the whole "how often do you update" thing doesn't apply to rolling OSs.

Sure it does. Just because a release is offered doesn't mean you have to install it. I run gentoo which also does rolling releases. There are pros and cons to keeping up or rather *not* keeping up. The pro is that you don't have to deal with the breakages. The con is that eventually you will need to come up to current and that can be a holy terror. Not only do you have a large number of manual fixes for things that don't settle out on their own but sometimes you can't easily get from the version you have to the version that is current without going through an intermediate version that is not easily determined and may not even be in Portage anymore.

I kind of wish there was an option to update only those packages that have not changed for a week or two. That way, if packages fixes are needed, someone else finds them and the packages is fixed before I have to deal with it.

I'm in the middle of updating an eepc 900 to useably current ubuntu. While not strictly a rolling release, the machine is nearly six years behind so I have to install LTS updates sequentially. No obvious breakages so far but it does take a very long time.

Comment Re:Other opponents (Score 4, Insightful) 446 446

The GMO label means nothing, but those pushing it will use it to imply GMO=unsafe. It then becomes a weapon they can use to advance their agenda to have all GMO removed from the food chain. For no good reason.

Some people falsely believe gluten is bad. Do you support banning labels that tell people that a food contains wheat?

Non-sequitur. Celiac is quite real even if most of the people avoiding gluten don't have it. There is no such thing as "GMO sensitivity". Indeed, there can't be because "GMO" is not a substance.

Comment Re:Other opponents (Score 5, Insightful) 446 446

other opponents of labeling genetically modified foods

Now who the hell considers themselves an opponent of labeling GMO foods unless they have a financial stake in it? Is there anyone walking down the street who has nothing to do with the food industry and considers themselves an opponent of labeling GMO foods?

I have no financial stake it in an I oppose labeling of GMO foods.

This... legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food

So a law that requires that GMO foods are labeled as GMO foods would be a barrier to accurate, consistent information?

Yes. Because "GMO" doesn't tell you anything all. It makes people *think* they are making an informed choice about their health when actually they are choosing randomly and because people have limited time and attention span, adding the label means other, actually important factors, get less attention.

Comment Re:WHAT radioactive materials? (Score 2) 242 242

Elemental tritium would certainly not be spread over any crash site, not unless it was carefully packaged. Otherwise it would head directly for space.

Half right. Tritium is chemically hydrogen. As a gas, it would not spread over the crash site except for a small bit that might bond to solid materials if there is a fire. Most would go into the atmosphere where it would eventually bond with oxygen forming radioactive water. Fun.

Secondary radiation, however, is a different matter. And someone said that the fusion was only a source of neutorns to enhance fission. (That seems like a pretty wierd idea, since we don't currently have fusion working.)

Secondary radiation from the tritium is a non-issue. It is a beta emitter (free electrons) so it can't cause other materials to become radioactive. The neutrons from fusion and the induced fission, on the other hand are quite up to task.

Using fusion as a source of neutrons for fission isn't all that weird. We *do* have fusion working. What we don't have is fusion that produces more energy than it consumes. That is not a problem for a neutron source. It has the advantage over direct fission that bomb making material is never available. If you have a strong enough neutron source, you can fission Uranium 238 directly. No need to breed plutonium, like you would in a breeder reactor.

Comment Re:Illogical (Score 4, Informative) 207 207

"We aren't scientists. We haven't done many experiments to prove how much damage the radiation from Wi-Fi can cause."

If you haven't done any experiments to prove how much damage WiFi can cause, then how do you know that your APs are safe?

More precisely: even if you accept that WiFi damages unborn children, how can you be sure that "pregnant women mode" reduces the danger in any meaningful way if you have not done any experiments?

Comment Re:Equality (Score 1) 490 490

Maybe something's changed in CS. 30 years ago, it was probably more about research into computers. Now, almost everybody who is going into CS has no interest at all in doing computer research. They are mostly interested in doing software development. The entire field has changed focused. More than likely, if you take CS, you'll end up writing code for some thankless corporation who doesn't understand what code is and just wants to churn out stuff as fast as possible. 30 years ago, you'd be much more likely to end up working for NASA, Xerox PARC, IBM, or some other research focused company.

I think you are off by a decade at least. 1985 was just one year before I started college. The atmosphere was much like today but perhaps a bit more optimism. Small computers still fairly new and spreading rapidly. The field was hot. Research organizations were already on the wane. Business data processing ruled. Some things that were different:

1) The volatility of the the computer business was not yet clear. The first major white collar recession was 5 years in the future. The dot.bomb was 15 years out. CS seemed like a much safer choice than it does today.

2) Home computers were far from ubiquitous. Many people started college never having used one. Students taking computer classes mostly did their assignments in the lab, not on their own hardware. So it may have been more social than today.

I'm a little surprised by the 37% number though. It seemed much lower in 1986-1990. At least in computer/electrical engineering. Maybe CS had a better ratio but it has been too long to remember if the CS classes I took were different in the regard.

Comment Homeopathy would not disappear (Score 1) 668 668

Lots of "medicine", especially at places like Whole Foods has this warning:

"*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration"
This product is intended to diagnoise, test, cure or prevent any disease"

At most that would happen is that homeopathy products would get a label similar to this. Doctors would not prescribe homeopathy but do they do that now anyway?

As for why anyone would be a product with this label: because lots of stuff has the label. Some of it is clearly nonsense but others are actually useful, just as not studdied with enough rigor to be labeled as medicine.

Comment Molecular weight that matters, not atomic weight. (Score 2) 20 20

From TFA:

The next most abundant element in giant planet atmosphere is helium (four times heavier, per atom, than hydrogen). That means that these warm Neptunes would have proportionately a lot more helium than planets in our solar system, and in fact may have air that’s mostly helium!

But this is not the right math. Mono-atomic hydrogen is nearly a hypothetical construct. Under nearly all circumstances, hydrogen comes bound in pairs. H2: molecular weight of 2. This is still less than helium (atomic weight of 4), which is nearly always mono-atomic but it not a simple thing that helium stays because it is heavier.

Earth has plenty of hydrogen because it binds so readily with heavier elements. Methane (CH4) has molecular weight of 16. Water is 18. 4 is not enough. Earth's primordial helium escaped long ago. All the helium on earth now is due to alpha particles spit out from the radioactive decay of heavier elements.

Venus is thought to have lost its hydrogen due to intense solar radiation breaking apart complex molecules in the upper atmosphere, allowing the freed hydrogen to escape. It is an interesting balancing act to consider a planet where the radiation is strong enough to strip all the hydrogen from a Neptune size planet yet not strong enough to heat it enough for the helium to also escape.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.