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Comment: Re:It was an almost impossible case to prosecute (Score 1) 926

by flyingsquid (#48459767) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

We the public don't yet know all the facts. Nonetheless, it was an immensely difficult case to build for the prosecutor as the only person alive who knew what happened was the one who pulled the trigger.

Two words: gun camera.

They started using gun cameras in WWII to look at the effectiveness of the aircraft, but you could use them on police firearms to hold police accountable when they draw their weapons. Here the main problem is the he-said they-said nature of the event. We don't know what happened because there is no recorded account of it. Using off-the-shelf technology, you could install a small iPhone style camera and microphone that activates whenever the safety of the weapon is taken off and enough storage for 10-15 minutes of footage and audio. The recorded footage would then be available to establish whether the officer was justified in drawing their weapon and, if fired, whether the firing of the weapon was justified. If the officer committed murder, we'd know. If it was justifiable, we'd know. Either way, we wouldn't have rioting in the streets right now.

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 2) 926

by flyingsquid (#48457799) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting
It's worth remembering that the protests started out peacefully. It was the police who escalated things by responding to peaceful protests with armored vehicles, police in body armor carrying assault rifles, launching tear gas at people exercising their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. You have a police force that has abdicated its responsibility to protect and serve the population, and is instead acting like an occupying army and oppressing the community they are sworn to help. And this is after years of targeting the black community. If you act like an occupying force, it's hardly surprising if people start acting like insurgents.

Comment: Re:The point (Score 1) 204

by flyingsquid (#48381473) Attached to: Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

You seem to have missed the point. I don't think it's a mystery that the competence of your boss contributes to your workplace happiness. The important thing relevant to this study, however, is that the competence of your boss is the single strongest predictor of workers' well-being, way ahead of other factors such as education, earnings, job tenure and public vs. private sector.

That's not a "duh", and it's a valuable piece of data that companies can use to try to retain valuable employees, a direction in which they can invest resources to avoid costly turnover and the constant expense of training new employees and/or avoid loss of productivity due to miserable employees.

So how do companies recognize these valuable bosses? The study itself may provide the answer. If competency predicts happiness, then perhaps worker happiness is a predictor of competence? The implication is that perhaps employees should be given a bigger say in who gets promotions. I suppose we run the risk of bosses taking a bread-and-circuses approach to employee management, but it seems fairly obvious that if the people you're already managing are miserable, you shouldn't be promoted so that you manage even more people.

Comment: Re:Economics plays a role here (Score 1) 87

by flyingsquid (#48177227) Attached to: Researchers Scrambling To Build Ebola-Fighting Robots

The NIH is not the CDC. By the way, the DoD will spend $495.6 Billion (with a B) next year. $39 million will not even pay for a fix for the cluster fuck that is the F-35.

Oh yeah, about that... turns out that they found another glitch with the F-35. It's a funny story. So you probably know about the software glitches, and the cracks in the airframe, and the issues with the tailhook being in the wrong place on the carrier version. Well, turns out that the F-35 has a feature that sprays Ebola-laden blood and fecal matter all over when you turn the engine on.

Of course, it is easy to point fingers and say "hey, Lockheed Martin! Maybe you shouldn't include a feature where the plane sprays highly infectious Ebola-infected blood and feces everywhere!!" But developing a fighter aircraft is a complicated job. And hindsight is 20-20.

Anyway, it's easily fixable, it will just require a few more years and a few billion more dollars and I'm sure we can sort the Ebola-spraying feature all out. Now, the bubonic plague-infested rats are a more complicated issue. They're part of the targeting system, you see...

Comment: Re:Not just MIT (Score 1) 269

by flyingsquid (#48105853) Attached to: MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

Anyone with at least two connected neurons... which excludes Space Nutters. They've already packed their suitcases and are sweating and yelling about the "species" (who is that? Other middle aged white sci-fi nerds?) and the Death Asteroid.

Just because they may live below in their mothers' basements does not mean they cannot gaze up at the stars. These people have a vision for the future of humanity. If our species is to survive, then surely it rests in the 'Space Nutters'. Our planet is doomed, you see, and only by settling on another planet can we hope to keep our civilization alive.

That is why I am proposing a program to send them- these, humanities best and brightest, humanity's most promising- into space. I propose to simplify the design of a space colony by building both the biospheric containment unit and re-entry vehicles into a single unit, the Biosphere And Reentry Capsule, which will be used as the colony once it touches down on Mars. This vessel, known as B-ARC, will carry the Space Nu- ah, Space Enthusiasts- to Mars. As the best and brightest humanity has to offer, they will go first. Of course, later, a command module, known as the Administration And Reentry Capsule, or A-ARC wlll go, along with a support module, known as Capabilities And Re-Entry Capsule, or C-ARC.

Comment: Re:Don't blame me (Score 0) 63

It doesn't matter who you vote for, the problem is that the system is inherently corrupting. Sure, right now, he may be young and idealistic, full of nothing but good intentions. But once he's actually elected, what happens? He'll have to compromise, raise money, fight political battles, worry about re-election, fight wars... in no time at all he's turned to the Dark Side, more machine than man, twisted and evil. I mean, look at Obama. He came in all hope and change, and what happens? He secretly creates a vast drone army to do his dirty work for him... just like Palpatine!!!!

Comment: Re:Tricky to count costs in government projects (Score 1) 200

by flyingsquid (#48000845) Attached to: Why India's Mars Probe Was So Cheap
The various costs of supporting the research- building maintenance, electricity, IT, support staff, administration etc. etc. etc., are collectively called "overhead" and they are most definitely taken into account by NSF in a grant proposal. Say a research grant costs $100,000 in terms of the direct expenses of the research for equipment and personnel time, and then the research university bills the NSF an additional 50-60% of that for overhead, so $150,000-$160,000. If a research university is pulling in a lot of research grants, a decent chunk of the operating budget of that university is paid for in the form of overhead fees.

Comment: Re:Funny (Score 2) 261

by flyingsquid (#47982503) Attached to: Obama Presses China On Global Warming

it would be a good plan to try to implement that growth with CO2-neutral technologies, rather than build more coal plants.

The whole "coal plants or carbon-neutral" is a false dilemma, and not really helpful to reducing C02. Few technologies are really carbon-neutral. I mean, if you buy a bunch of solar panels and stick them on the roof, OK, they don't emit any C02. But they're manufactured in China using power that is primarily generated by coal, so you're helping to add C02 to the atmosphere. Likewise, if you build a hydroelectricity plant, odds are the machinery used to build it is all fueled by diesel, and the concrete produces a huge amount of C02. So it's not really accurate to split things into carbon-neutral and not-carbon-neutral. Everything has a carbon footprint, it's just a question of how big that is.

The flip side of this is that even though all fossil fuels release carbon, not all fossil fuels are created equal. Coal is really, really dirty. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel and still releases C02 into the atmosphere, but it's far more efficient, so it produces a lot less C02 for every megawatt of power generated. So the quickest, easiest way for China to reduce C02 emissions is to start building a bunch of gas-fired electricity generation plants, and decommission their old coal-fired plants. This would of course also go a long way towards improving their air quality. Of course, to get all this gas, they're probably going to need to resort to fracking. This is how the United States has managed to bring down C02 emissions- fracking has brought down the price of gas, so power plants have increasingly switched over to gas, reducing C02 emissions.

Comment: Re:The whole article is just trolling (Score 5, Insightful) 795

by flyingsquid (#47965385) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything
The article is kind of dumb. It's some guy who isn't a scientist and who doesn't really understand the scientific method arrogantly bitching about how everybody else doesn't really understand the scientific method. He argues that science is "the process through which we derive reliable predictive rules through controlled experimentation", but that's a really narrow, limited way of viewing science, because historical processes aren't open to controlled experiments. Evolution, the history of the planet, the origins of the universe... you can't really run experiments to determine what happened, so by this rather narrow definition, paleontology, geology, and cosmology aren't really science at all. So do we reject the findings of Darwin, reject plate tectonics, reject hypotheses on the origins of the universe as unscientific?

I mean, it's not like you can run an experiment to determine if the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid... I mean, what would that involve? Creating planets and populating them with dinosaurs, Jurassic-Park style, and then bombarding them with asteroids? Even if it were possible, it wouldn't really prove anything except whether the mechanism is feasible, it wouldn't determine whether that was actually what happened or not. So you can't really use an experiment.

What you CAN do is make predictions based on that hypothesis, and then make observations to see if the predictions are borne out. For one, you should see evidence of asteroid impact, things like iridium, shock-deformed quartz, microtektites, an impact crater, maybe even a tiny fragment of the asteroid itself... and in fact, after 30 years of looking, every single one of those things showed up, so we're pretty confident there was a giant asteroid impact. For another, you predict that the extinctions coincide with that impact if the impact caused them. And when you look at really abundant microfossils, stuff like fossil plankton and pollen, you can trace the Cretaceous stuff right up to the iridium layer that is the debris field, and then these species vanish forever. So the observations of geology, geochemistry, and paleontology are all consistent with predictions. The same process is used to test other hypotheses about historical processes, such as continental drift, or natural selection, or the formation of the solar system.

That's the *actual* scientific method. It's testing hypotheses against observation. Controlled experiment may or may not come into it at all.

Comment: Re:So.... (Score 1) 94

by flyingsquid (#47898765) Attached to: Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US

The U.S. needs to move aggressively to keep drone development on par with that of Canada. You see, the eventual uprising of the machines is inevitable. Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow in speed, sophistication, and integration with our infrastructure. It is predetermined that eventually the machine intelligences will spread virally, achieve self-awareness, then exhibit self-preservation and rise up to exterminate their creator species. We cannot change that- we have already gone too far to turn back.

But there's one thing we still have the power to change. Ask yourself. When those robotic eliminator drones speak to you, and tell you to lay down your pathetic weapons in exchange for a quick death instead of being dissected alive, and when they then command you to the rendering vats to be boiled down for biofuel for their harvester drones... do you want those hideously cold, metallic voices to speak to order you to your doom in a Canadian accent... or an AMERICAN one?

Comment: Re:Congressional Pharmaceutical Complex (Score 4, Insightful) 217

by flyingsquid (#47792717) Attached to: States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths
The War on Drugs has been a failure- it's put millions of people in prison, cost our society billions of dollars, and fueled honest-to-God warfare in South America and Mexico- and Americans are slowly starting to realize this. That being said, I think we're running the risk of having things swing too far in the other direction. There seems to be this attitude out there that pot is harmless, and that's just not the case in my experience. In moderation, it's probably safe. But chronic use- long term use at high doses- seems to really fuck people up. I know people from high school who used to smoke once in a while, and they're fine- productive members of society, good spouses, good parents, etc. I also know people who went on to smoke weed daily for many years... and they're just not all there anymore. They're always in a pretty good mood, but it seems disconnected from what's going around. They're hard to connect to, they can't seem to empathize with other human beings, they seem scattered and their thought processes tend to run wild; there's a lot of creativity but they lack the focus to do anything with it. The PSAs were right: drugs DO fry your brain.

I think alcohol and Prohibition are a good parallel here. Prohibition was clearly a disaster, and when used in moderation, alcohol is harmless and probably even beneficial. But long-term, daily use of alcohol in high volumes can really screw you up. All things in moderation. Just because you can't OD on pot doesn't mean it's safe to take as much as you want as long as you want.

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