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Comment: Re:We need faster-than-light travel (Score 1) 65

We need cloning bays, and extremely hardened ships. Don't send a person, send a blueprint and some way to raise and teach a first generation. We don't have to get there ourselves as long as our "children" can.

Minor detail- who's going to raise the children in this sci-fi scenario? You're going to have a whole generation of children brought along as frozen embryos, brought to term in artificial womb tanks, then fed and cared for as infants by robots, raised by robots, taught language by robots, getting the "where do babies come from" talk delivered by robots (in this case, they get a really freaky explanation), going through a rebellious teen phase ("What are you talking about? I do not dress like a little slut! All the cool girls dress like this! God! You're so lame! I just want to hang out with my friends at the supply depot! You never let me do anything fun! I hate you Matriarch-371B! You're a terrible parental simulacrum!")... most humans do a terrible job at this, do you really think an AI could handle this kind of stuff? Any AI capable of raising an infant to an adult and doing a good job would find interstellar exploration trivial by comparison.

Comment: Re:Bad actors? (Score 0) 143

I was wondering what was going on here. The NYC subway is plastered with these "Air Bnb is good for New York advertisements", and the CEO/founder recently did an appearance on the Colbert Report. It's not so much a campaign to use the company as a PR campaign to create support, and you definitely got the impression that they were on the defensive, and now we know who they were on the defensive against.

It seems that in NY there are 10000s of hosts. Figuring out the most criminal 1% of these has nothing to do with killing innovation.

It has EVERYTHING to do with killing innovation. Think about it for a second, who benefits? The government is pushing this, but it's almost certainly at the request of the hotel industry who (correctly) see the innovation of Air BnB as a threat to their profit margins. The right wing is fond of arguing that government over-regulation is a major problem for businesses, and it's true. What they fail to mention is that this is often a result of other businesses, who lobby for legislation to regulate their competitors out of business. If you have a good lobbyist, government goes from being a hindrance to a giant hammer to crush your opponent. I guarantee you that NYC's many hotel owners did not sit back casually and go "hey, this new company is innovating to allow individuals to directly compete with us and cut into our profits. Good for them!" They've got lobbyists, and their only job is to talk to people in government to push for regulation favorable to their industry- and unfavorable to their competitors.

Comment: Re:Quarantine vs. being stubborn (Score 1, Insightful) 359

by flyingsquid (#47697395) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

It's probably easier to let these people die of ebola than it is to change the mind of someone who stubbornly believes in things that are false. There have been many information campaigns about the causes and prevention of transmission of ebola, up to and including rap songs, and yet they can't help themselves.

Yeah, they're idiots. I can think of another country where over twenty thousand people a year- far more than the Ebola epidemic- are killed because the ignorant beliefs of the society and lack of education put everyone in danger. People repeatedly try to educate them and show how with a few precautions, they could dramatically reduce the death rate from the epidemic. But no matter how many times you try to show those Americans the statistics on Canada, Australia, and the UK, no matter how many children are gunned down and slaughtered in school shootings, they stubbornly believe that their savage practice of letting everyone walk around with semiautomatic handguns and assault rifles actually makes them safer! But what are you going to do, they cling to their ignorant ideas and stubbornly believe in things that are false. They can't help themselves; it's probably easier to let these people accidentally shoot themselves than it is to change their minds...

Comment: Re:Too much surplus (Score 2) 264

If we have this much surplus, clearly we're buying too much. I know that if I find myself giving away cans of green beans, I make sure I don't buy a whole pallet the next time I'm at Costco.

Not necessarily. Following 9/11, the U.S. began two major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under the Bush administration. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. has withdrawn from Iraq, wound down operations in Afghanistan, and begun to reduce the size of the army. As a result there is going to be a lot of equipment that simply isn't needed anymore; if we're not longer engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq for example, we don't need all those MRAP vehicles anymore. So what do you do with all this crap? One solution is to give it to the local police, but as we seen if you arm them with the tools of an occupying military force, they start acting like one. Another would be to give it to the Iraqis and Afghans or whatever regime we're trying to prop up this week... but as we've seen in Iraq, these weapons have a way of changing hands and now we've got ISIS militants armed with M-16s and driving humvees.

It seems logical to try to find a use for all this material but arguably giving people weaponry tends to fuel conflict. We saw something similar happen after the end of the Cold War. The USSR and Warsaw Pact countries produced millions of AK-47s with the idea that they could hand them out to peasants in case they ever got in a fight with NATO. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, you had all these extra guns nobody needed. Enterprising people figured you could make a lot of money flying them into conflict zones in places like Africa, fueling civil wars and militias.

Eisenhower said that war was humanity hanging on a cross of iron- that "every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." But its worse than that- those billions of dollars spent after 9/11 in the name of defending our freedoms are not just stolen from the American people, but are now being used to oppress them and spy on them.

Comment: Re:meh (Score 1, Troll) 164

by flyingsquid (#47674249) Attached to: Giant Greek Tomb Discovered

I understand the frustration, hell, my first course in egineering, they devoted a big chunk to unit conversions. I just get aggrivated when year after year, story after story, someone starts complaining about units and we get a huge back-patting session where everyone congratulates each for not being from the US. It takes less time to press ctrl+t and type '5ft 6in to cm' in the top bar for a translation than it does to type out a whiny soap-box post like the type we commonly get.

Speaking as a loud, proud AMERICAN, I'll give all you international whiners out there one more reason to learn traditional units. Next time you strike oil, and we elect someone with the IQ of a pygmy marmoset to the presidency, and the CIA gets the intelligence disastrously wrong, what happens next??? The bombs are gonna start raining down on your ASSES, the bullets are gonna start flying... ANDIT AINT GONNA BE IN METRIC!!! You all are gonna be welcome to sit there and sip your expressos with a smug, superior European expression on your faces and lecture all us Americans in your snooty European accents about how REALLY, they should be 226.8 kilogram bombs, and not 500 pound laser guided bombs, and it should be 12.7 millimeter machine gun bullets and not .50 inch, but FRANKLY I wouldn't recommend it. Cause when that happens, and you better BELIEVE it's gonna happen, we are gonna be opening up a big ol' can of American whoop-ass and when we do, well, you better believe that whoop-ass comes in good ol' 1 POUND can, just like the dirt-like substance we proudly sell as ground coffee in the USA, and it sure as freakin' hell DOES NOT COME in a can measured with some INTERNATIONAL system of measurements invented by SOCIALISTS in FRANCE! AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!

Comment: Re:Hamas are Terrorists (Score 1) 402

by flyingsquid (#47594111) Attached to: The High-Tech Warfare Behind the Israel - Hamas Conflict
Terrorism refers to a specific tactic, the deliberate targeting of civilians to create fear and terror in the population rather than for a specific military objective such as the destruction of industry. If Hamas is launching rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, then they are engaging in terrorism, pure and simple. Israel does not have a policy of deliberately targeting civilians, although some days it's pretty hard to tell that from the news. The irony is that while Israel might not be engaging in terrorism as a matter of policy, their military activity does far more to terrorize the civilian population and results in far more civilian deaths that Hamas. So I guess that raises a question- from a moral standpoint, which is worse? Deliberately targeting civilians but not being that good at hitting them? Or deliberately avoiding civilians, but not being that good at missing them?

Comment: Re: 'unreliability' (Score 4, Interesting) 189

by flyingsquid (#47568077) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax
These kinds of myths and frauds aren't unique to Wikipedia. For example, there's a myth out there that prior to the Vietnam War, soldiers were reluctant to kill the enemy, and that during WWII, about half of them would either refuse to fire their guns at the enemy, or would aim to miss. This story is repeated a lot, because it's an appealing idea. It paints human nature in a positive light, it says that fundamentally we don't really want to kill other people, and it takes a lot to get us to do it. In this narrative, people are fundamentally good, until the military corrupts us and turns us into killers. Unfortunately, it's a myth, based on academic fraud. The "discovery" is based on the work of a single researcher, who never published any of the primary data or interviews his conclusions are supposedly based on, and no one- certainly no military historian- has ever found even a shred of evidence to back it up. If you think about it for even a moment, it becomes obvious that it has to be a fraud. The Japanese fought to the death over those little scraps of coral in the Pacific, preferring to commit suicide to surrender. A group of Marines isn't going to be able to take those islands unless every single soldier is fighting with the willingness and intent to kill the enemy. Contemporary accounts of the battles make it clear they were bloody and vicious, and the behavior of American soldiers wasn't always merciful. One diary talks about machine gunners gleefully using parachuting Japanese aviators as target practice, and the skipper got pissed- mostly because they were wasting ammunition.

Years ago, this myth was exposed by an article in the New York Times. And yet the myth keeps getting repeated. A couple of years ago, I saw this nonsense being perpetuated- ironically, in an article in the Times. I wrote the editor of the article to complain that he was repeating something that the Times itself had debunked, and that they should publish a correction; they never did (the Times are a bunch of smug, lazy hacks).

I do think Wikipedia is probably worse for this than most other sources of information, but the bigger problem is that people are insufficiently skeptical. We assess information based on how well it fits what we already know, and what we want to believe- instead of trying to verify it. Slashdot is a perfect example of this- people constantly prefer to pull bullshit facts out of the air to support their opinions, rather than spend two minutes to read the original article or look up a statistic online.

Comment: Re:meanwhile overnight... (Score 1) 503

by flyingsquid (#47486325) Attached to: Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Here's the current list of the top 5 most read articles on the New York Times:

1. Jetliner Explodes Over Ukraine; Struck by Missile, Officials Say

2. Obama Points to Pro-Russia Separatists in Downing of Malaysia Airlines Plane

3. Fallen Bodies, Jet Parts and a Child’s Pink Book

4. Maps of the Crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

5. World Leaders Match Anger With Calls for Inquiry Into Ukraine Plane Crash

I'm going to really go out on a limb say that Putin has already lost the propaganda war here...

Comment: Re:What about range on this smaller car? (Score 2) 247

by flyingsquid (#47383557) Attached to: Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E

People will like the smaller car and lower price,but if it doesn't have the range... they will not flock to it...

A lot of families have more than one car. You could have a large, gasoline powered car to go visit Aunt Mabel or on a camping trip in the Grand Canyon, and a smaller electric car for commuting, runs to the supermarket, etc. The hope is that eventually electric vehicles will have the range, rapid recharge rate, and charging infrastructure that they can compete with and replace gas engines; in the meantime the technology may already be mature enough to compete in particular niches. The nature of disruptive technology is that it initially plays to its strengths and gets a foothold in a market where conventional technology does not perform as well, and as it improves it eventually moves in and takes over from the conventional technology.

That being said, we are a long way away from a fleet that is all-electric or even substantially electric. It's growing rapidly compared to where it was a few years ago (basically, no electric cars), but it's still a tiny segment of the automobile market. According to Wikipedia, .62% of all cars sold in 2013 were electric. Even if that were a much higher figure- say, one-third of all cars sold each year- the average car is around 10 years old. So assume we replace ten percent of the fleet every year, then it would take years to reach a fleet that was one-third electric. Internal combustion engines are not going to go away any time soon. Tesla's stock price is soaring but GM, Ford, and Chevrolet still sell a lot more internal combustion engines than Tesla sells electrics.

Comment: Re:Helpful Genes (Score 0) 133

by flyingsquid (#47377357) Attached to: Tibetans Inherited High-Altitude Gene From Ancient Human
They're both big-game hunters, but had a very different approach to it. Neanderthals had stabbing spears; they basically ran up to their prey and stabbed at it. The problem with this approach is that you have to get very close to the prey. It's hard to get close enough to a horse to kill it with a stabbing spear. It might be easier to get close to a slow-moving animal like a mammoth or wooly rhino, but then you face the problem that if it's in range of you, you're in range of the tusks/horns/feet. It's possible to kill large animals this way- saber-toothed cats did- but dangerous.

When Homo sapiens show up, they've got an entirely new technology- the atlatl, or spear-thrower. They can throw a dart 60 feet with enough force to impale a large animal. This means they don't need to get as close to strike. It also means that when they do strike, the prey can't hit back. The difference in build between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis seems to reflect this different hunting strategy. Neanderthals are short and stocky, like wrestlers. Homo sapiens are long and lanky, like basketball players. For the one, strength is key. For the other, speed, agility and long-distance throwing are key.

This may also explain the different effects that the two had on the fauna. When Neanderthals show up, we don't see any major extinctions. When Homo sapiens show up in Eurasia, we see the disappearance of mammoths, wooly rhinos, Irish elk, etc. The run-up-and-stab it hunting approach of Neanderthals wasn't that different from the hunting strategy of saber-toothed cats from the prey's standpoint. Raining sharp sticks of death down from dozens of meters away was radically different than anything the local fauna had ever faced before.

Comment: Re:Reputational Damage (Score 5, Funny) 346

by flyingsquid (#47377125) Attached to: Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails
So basically what happened is that someone started typing an email to "Joeblow@gs.com" and got as far as "Joeblow@g" before the autocomplete helpfully added "gmail.com". And then they hit "send". Through a combination of carelessness and cluelessness, this employee managed to put hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of customer funds at risk. Well, given what happened the last time Goldman made a mistake of this magnitude, it's clear that there's only one course of action for the company. And that's to give this employee a massive bonus.

Comment: Re:perhaps a slice of crow for the US? (Score 5, Interesting) 86

by flyingsquid (#47361601) Attached to: Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat
It's unquestionable that the U.S. has let this thing loose; the U.S. has perhaps the most advanced cyberwarfare capabilities (at least in terms of offense) as any country on earth, having developed these weapons and techniques they can't complain too much if other countries start using them as well. However the idea is that cyberwarfare, just like conventional warfare, can and should be governed by a code of conduct. The idea would be that targets that would be considered off-limits to conventional attacks would also be off-limits to cyber-attacks. So it would be considered acceptable to attack the enemy's command-and-control network, their radars, their weapons systems, or military shipping and transport... but not to attack civilian infrastructure such as electricity, water supply, trains, banks, the stock market, etc. etc. So far, U.S. actions are consistent with this policy; we have attacked Iran's nuclear facilities but haven't tried to take down their banks or power plants, even though we probably could. You can see this policy in action where the U.S. recently accused a number of Chinese soldiers of engaging in cyberwarfare against the U.S. The issue wasn't that they engaged in cyberwarfare, which we expect the Chinese to do. It was that they were attacking civilian targets for corporate espionage, and the U.S. wanted to send a message that while they expect the military to be attacked by the Chinese, and it's a legitimate target, it's not OK to target U.S. companies.

In the current case, it would appear that Russia doesn't accept the U.S. argument that civilian infrastructure should be off-limits. Whether the U.S. can complain here or not is debatable. The U.S. has targeted civilian infrastructure during conventional operations; they knocked out the power in Serbia during actions in Kosovo, for example. So the Russians could easily argue- and not without merit- that if it's OK to take out the power in Serbia using a stealth bomber and a conventional bomb, it ought to be OK to turn out the lights in the U.S. using a logic bomb.

Comment: Re:Attribution (Score 2) 86

by flyingsquid (#47361437) Attached to: Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat
To establish guilt in a crime, you try to identify who has means, motive, and opportunity. The working hours provide you information on opportunity; not to say that someone from China or North Korea couldn't attack during Eastern European business hours, but this tends to point to Eastern Europe as being the most likely source.

That brings us to means. Who has the capability to launch a campaign of this scope and duration? Anybody can launch a cyberattack, but relatively few countries have the resources to launch attacks against multiple organizations, in multiple countries, over many years. The big players in cyberwarfare are a relatively exclusive club, and would include the United States, Israel, China, North Korea, and Russia. So our suspect is almost certainly one of those countries.

Which brings us to motive. Who might want to attack these countries? The U.S. has a long list of enemies; certainly China, North Korea, or Russia might be interested in attacking the U.S. or at least having the capability to do so. Having the U.S. on this hit list tells us little. But what about the other countries? They include Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Greece, and Serbia. With the exception of Serbia, every single one of those countries is a member of NATO. And NATO was created specifically to counter and deter Russia. So now put it all together: the attacks appear to be coming from Eastern Europe, the only country on the list of cyberwarfare powers in that area is Russia, almost all of the countries are part of a military alliance designed to counter Russia...

Comment: Re:Classic Obama (Score 5, Insightful) 211

Is anybody surprised? Claim to support Net Neutrality and give the power to the Cable lobby. He's done this before and he'll do it again. Hypocrite-in-chief.

I don't know what the hell to think about Obama anymore. The guy we elected was smart, charismatic, capable, articulate; he ran a brilliant campaign that took out the heavily favored Hilary Clinton. He came across as a man with the intelligence, principles, and pragmatism to fix the nations problems... or at least not fuck it up as catastrophically as George W. Bush did. So where the hell did that guy go?

I remember the early Obama speeches when he wasn't just a speaker but an orator, he the fire of a black preacher... he had conviction. That was the inspiring thing about him. Yeah it was pretty words, but he seemed to really believe it. Now he just seems to mouth the speeches, like they're just empty words put there by his speechwriters. At times when people ask him questions he seems barely able to articulate an answer and to fumble for words... more and more, he's that barely-keeping-it-together guy we saw during the second debate against Romney. He seems dejected, run-down... and increasingly it seems like the administration can't do a damn thing right. They're as bad as Bush ever was on drone strikes and warrantless surveillance- worse, in fact- Guantanamo isn't shut, the VA is a clusterfuck, Iraq is falling apart again, the response to the Crimea was half-assed... and now this?

I still like the guy, as a person. I think he means well. But I get the impression that he's burned out, disengaged and depressed, that he spends his days staring at the ceiling of the Oval Office and counting the days until his Presidential Library opens and he gets to take lucrative speaking gigs. And that meanwhile, with the Commander in Chief checked out, the various special interests and agendas are having a field day, and doing what they do best- turning government of the people, for the people, and by the people into the plaything of moneyed special interests, the uber-rich, and the military-industrial complex. Anyway, that's my theory. I think he means well, and he came in trying to fight the machine, but it was one man against an entire machine. And the machine ultimately broke him.

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