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Comment: Re:A dollar in design... (Score 1) 78

by Rei (#49499137) Attached to: Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt

Indeed, the figures Musk cited a couple years ago was that over 80% of the part count of a Falcon 9 is sourced in-house; it's a critical part of their approach to keeping costs down. He wanted to do that with Tesla as well but it proved impossible, only about 20% of their parts (at the time) were produced in-house. Unsurprisingly the biggest problems in their early days came from external suppliers, like the gearbox issue on the Roadster.

Comment: Re:Give the money to Elon Musk (Score 1) 78

by Rei (#49499119) Attached to: Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt

ESAB is a Swedish company. What use is it to NASA to dote largess on a Swedish welding firm?

I'm actually rather disappointed with ESAB here. I have one of their MIG welders from the 1960s and it still works; they're a respectable name.

I feel bad for NASA mind you, in that I don't think many of their problems are their own. They get all sorts of legacy systems forced upon them due to political reasons ("You can't do decision X that would be more efficient because 1000 people in my district would lose their jobs"), they never get the funding to engineer new things from scratch based on lessons learned, etc. I do wonder, mind you, whether their heavy reliance on external contractors is something they could reform.

Comment: Re:Did they mention the yummy GMOs (Score 4) 158

by nbauman (#49498285) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

can you legitimize that accusation please?

Well, going down the list of signers I notice

GIlbert Ross, M.D.
President (Acting) and Executive Director
American Council on Science and Health

I am not completely for or against ACSH. Elizabeth Whelan, their founder, was an advocate for some issues I agreed with and some issues I disagreed with. I met Whelan a couple of times. I liked her. She was adding information about some controversial debates, and she was particularly useful in taking on some politically correct positions that had a weak science base. As I recall she was defending GM food, and also taking money from Monsanto.

Most admirably, she was taking on the cigarette industry when it was still a "controversy," especially in magazines that were getting a lot of cigarette advertising, notably almost all the major women's magazines.

But Whelan was also trying to round up "unrestricted" grants from industry to write supposedly unbiased or objective reports on major controversies. To her credit, they tried to give all the scientific evidence, although they seem to have run into problems with that.

The one I remember was their report on that fat substitute, Olestra This was not a life-or-death issue, but olestra had a few side effects, the most noticeable of which was diarrhea. Procter & Gamble managed to get the FDA to allow them to refer to "diarrhea" by the euphemistic term, "loose stools," which I thought was misleading. At any rate, when I read that report I realized why you can't get an objective report sponsored by a corporation with a financial interest. Whelan couldn't even use straightforward language and arguments to defend olestra, because P&G's lawyers made them follow the FDA-approved wording.

Whelan's big disappointment was that the industry wouldn't support her (the way they do for the more partisan think tanks like the Manhattan Institute), so she gave up that economic model. I don't know where they get their money from now, but I assume they disclose it. In a way it's a shame, because Whelan failed because she was too honest (but not completely candid). Or to put it less flatteringly, you can't be a little bit of a prostitute.

But let's go to the signers at the top.

Henry I. Miller, M.D.
Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy
& Public Policy
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Scott W. Atlas, M.D.
David and Joan Traitel Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Hoover did not deign to include its funding sources in the "About Us" section of its web site, and I'm not going to track it down. But as I recall, when Hoover was first created, the Stanford faculty complained that they were an independent institution using Stanford's name but without academic accountability to Standford, and they were funded by corporations that had a financial stake in some of the areas of their research.

Miller was one of the founding members of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition which was founded by Philip Morris to challenge the evidence of harm from tobacco

I remember reading Miller's defenses of GM food. I happen to think that GM food is (probably, mostly) pretty safe. But if Miller believes in the free market, he ought to let consumers know which foods are GM and which aren't, so they can make their own free-market decisions. I don't know if Miller takes any money directly from those corporations. But the organizations he works for, like the Hoover Institution, ACSH, and ASSC, do. So that's where his paycheck ultimately comes from. So in that sense the parent's accusation is true.

Oz has gone completely off the wall, and if I had to choose between Miller and Oz, I'd have to give my verdict to Miller on this one. Miller correctly calls Oz out for his financial conflicts of interest. So it's appropriate to apply the same test to Miller himself. But let them fight it out. This will inform the public debate.

Comment: Re:Sexes ARE different, thankfully (Score 1) 557

1. That's not "a" study, it's from a metastudy. The simple fact of the matter is, while the news makes a big deal of any study that shows a statistically significant difference between genders, most of these statistically significant differences are barely above the level of noise.

2. Where are you getting that quote from the paper? A search for those words doesn't reveal that.

There absolutely are some very demonstrable differences in certain psychological regards - mainly sexual. The most obvious of these, for example, is the fact that women are more likely to be attracted to men and men to women. But that's far from the majority of studied sexual differences that get so much play in the press. " With very few exceptions, variability within each sex and overlap between the sexes is so extensive that the authors conclude it would be inaccurate to use personality types, attitudes, and psychological indicators as a vehicle for sorting men and women. "

3. Girls are far less likely to get involved in chess to begin with in all countries (again, the fact that children mimic sex distribution of behaviors of the previous generation, no matter what they are in the particular society one is in), so one shouldn't be surprised that this is reflectected in the highest levels. Chess, as a competitive sport, has always been predominantly a "men's sport", internationally. But as XKCD notes, this is changing. The Polgár sisters are a great example. Their upbringing was an experiment by their father; to see what would happen if children were raised with extensive training in a specialist intellectual topic from an early age. One ended up an International Master while the other two ended up as Grand Masters, with Judit ending up one of the world's most powerful players of any gender. Their father's choice removed gender self -selection from the picture.

4. Oh please, you're not seriously going to pretend that there weren't tremendous pressures in Victorian society for women to not be involved in STEM-style careers, or that they weren't usually expressly banned from such. Even women who took them up as hobbies (usually well-to-do women) were often strongly advised against it, that it was harmful to a woman's delicate composition to be mentally straining one's self (a risk of the catch-all Victorian women's distorder "hysteria"; the cure for "hysteria" was to refrain from all serious physical and mental activity). This is the culture that ours came from, and it's been a slow incremental process of moving away from it ever since. The fact that you'd call "citation needed" on that is absurd, that's like "A normal human hand has five digits [citation needed]."

5."I'll see your 50% and raise it to 100%" - how does this even make sense? Women are 50% of the population (roughly). Nobody is talking about disinteresting men from pursuing STEM careers. There's already interest there. The goal is to try to also get more interest from women, to work against the carryover cultural connotations of STEM as "men's work".

6. " Are there laws or even customs, that prevent girls from entering a STEM field and excelling in it" - it's like you didn't even read my post.

7. "But what if it is bilogicial — as seems perfectly probable?" - not according to the actual research. And if one person wastes their time trying to become a physicist when they'd have made a better fry cook? Well whoop-di-freaking-doo. The world is still a better place.

Comment: Re:I like it... (Score 4, Interesting) 100

by Rei (#49497293) Attached to: Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public

I once coded for a game, Eternal Lands, where I discovered a major security bug. The game had a feature where if a person said a URL, it would turn into a clickable link. This was opened via a popen call. No input sanitization. Aka, vulnerable to injection. A person who simply speaks a malicious URL and makes it look like something interesting to click (hiding the insertion command in the path) could run it on anyone's computer who clicks to open the link.

Big problem. Simple fix. But try as I might, I couldn't get them to let me fix it. They were fine with me writing a whole new special effects graphics system for them, but one simple input sanitization, noooo, the popen works, let's not mess with it and possibly "introduce a bug"! Eventually it took me writing a sample command on the forum that would make a file in the user's home directory (which anyone who knows anything about unix commands could make far more malicious) by clicking on the URL. Suddenly they let me patch the system immediately (and deleted the forum thread... I don't blame them).

I didn't want to have to resort to that. But I didn't want a potentially dangerous exploit sitting in the system.

I never got approval to fix all of the other potential exploits in their system. Their networking protocol was terrible. I only ever saw the client code, but there was literally zero authentication that the server was who they said they were and that packets weren't malformed. Their entire security model was "let's initiate a TCP connection to a hard-coded IP and unconditionally trust everything that we receive". I can't imagine what their server code is like. But they wouldn't even let me add in trivial bounds checking to make sure that the packets weren't oversized - the most minimal of sanity checking.

The fear of changes breaking stuff often leads developers to neglect security. Changes to improve gameplay or graphics? Of course, our users will love it! Changes to the protocol? Nonono, the protocol is working, why risk breaking it?

The short of it? Don't have too much faith that that MMORPG you're playing isn't hackable in a way that could be nasty to your system.

Comment: Re:Just say "No". (Score 1) 139

by nbauman (#49496453) Attached to: Google Helps Homeless Street Vendors Get Paid By Cashless Consumers

One of the problems is that under the Faircloth Amendment, federal money can't be used to build new public housing, but it can be used to destroy public housing. http://alexisandjesse.tumblr.c...

So as a result we wind up spending $300 a night to put the poor in welfare hotels, when that same money could build ten times as much public housing.

Comment: Re:Sexes ARE different, thankfully (Score 1) 557

Or, maybe, women and men simply aren't the same?

The anatomy and physiology are demonstrably different.

Obviously what's at hand here is mental differences. Are there demonstrable mental differences? Yes! But there's only one issue with that...

In almost any sentence where people say "Women (verb)..." or "Men (verb)..." and it's about something psychological (as opposed to, say, something involving reproductive organs or a statistical difference in strength / height or the like), 99% of the time it's equally accurate to simply say "People (verb)..." The popular perception of the degree of differences between genders (including the effects of both brain structure and hormones) is often vastly different from the statistical reality. Screw Mars and Venus; men and women are from Earth. Psychologically, we're statistically virtually identical in most measures. And in many cases where there are differences that even manage to meet statistical significance, what differences there are may well be artifacts of culture.

Human children learn through imitating. They adopt role models (such as their parents at an early age) and mimic their behaviors, to the degree that it can even hinder them (one of the sort of psychological tests where chimps perform better than human children is to lay out a puzzle and have an adult solve it in front of the subjects, but insert a bunch of needless time-wasting steps; the human children almost invariably perform all of the time-wasting steps while the chimps catch on quickly that they're pointless and skip them). As a general rule, children most mimic members of their gender, something that socially they're rewarded for. By the very nature of this system, it inherently perpetuates the carryover of any totally non-gender-related but nonetheless gender-segregated activities from the previous generation. If you had a society where eating apples was something almost exclusively done by men, even if you didn't specifically teach the next generation that apples are a "men's fruit", the vast majority of girls wouldn't take up eating apples.

Given this, whether there would be any factual basis or not for women to be better or worse at STEM, the very fact that historically there were fewer women in STEM (a legacy from the old Victorian moral system), this will automatically lead to there being fewer women in STEM in the next generation. Now, one can do nothing and just hope that, after enough generations, the problem will remedy itself. Or, one can decide that having 50% of the human population having a solid interest in the sort of careers most valuable to the improvement of the human condition is a good thing, and maybe we should give a shot at remedying this, even if just on the "offchance" that it's not biological.

Comment: Re: Video from the barge (Score 1) 109

by Rei (#49492993) Attached to: An Engineering Analysis of the Falcon 9 First Stage Landing Failure

Not necessarily. A stronger RCS system would probably have for example saved this last rocket - even though that wasn't the fundamental problem. Again, that's the purpose of backup systems. They're not the primary - they're there for if the primary fails, which it will sooner or later even if you've ironed out the major bugs.

I'd wager that they chose nitrogen not because of the best thrust / mass combination for their needs, but to try to make regulatory approval for landing on land easier.

Comment: Re:Private details about employees (Score 5, Insightful) 137

by Rei (#49492449) Attached to: Wikileaks Publishes Hacked Sony Emails, Documents

It's not like anyone else with Wikileaks (which today amounts to only a handful of people) has any ability to change the head. As Assange put it, "I am the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, p**s off." There were lots of people that tried to get him to step down in late 2010. They are all no longer with Wikileaks, either by choice or by being explicitly kicked out.

Wikileaks could have been something great, long lasting, a major global value to society. In its early days it really looked like it was heading in that direction. Sadly ego can ruin any project. When you feel the need to start blackmailing Amnesty International for nearly a million dollars by threatening to not redact the names of their sources if they don't pay up, you've lost the moral high ground.

Comment: Re:Redacting things is hard, I guess. (Score 1) 137

by Rei (#49492409) Attached to: Wikileaks Publishes Hacked Sony Emails, Documents

I have to say, I have to agree with you. There's still some missing pieces of the Snowden picture and contradictions that need to be resolved to really understand all of his actions and motivations, but overall I think of all of the major leak issues that came up, he handled his the most responsibly.

Still would have rather he avoided Greenwald, who's always been a sensationalist self-aggrandizer, but at least he made sure there'd be some sort of filter to at least try to protect the innocent (I think the filter should have been even tighter, but no question that there needs to be a debate about the fundamental points of the leaks, and it took a leaker to make that happen).

Comment: Re:WikiLeaks are fuckers (Score 3, Insightful) 137

by Rei (#49492381) Attached to: Wikileaks Publishes Hacked Sony Emails, Documents

Huh? Could someone explain to me that it's a bad thing that Sony was investigating subcontractors and a foreign subsidiary for signs of corruption? Not being forced to, not being charged with it, but on their own? Isn't this what we want companies to do when they find evidence that there may be illegal or immoral activity among some of their employees? Or is this some sort of horrible shocking news that a company with 140,000 employees just within the main unit itself might have to police itself?

And let's not pretend that we're idiots here and that this sort of stuff makes up even the tinest fraction of a fraction of a percent of the leaked, non-redacted material full of personal information about regular employees doing nothing wrong.

Comment: Re:Just say "No". (Score 2) 139

by nbauman (#49492265) Attached to: Google Helps Homeless Street Vendors Get Paid By Cashless Consumers

You must live in a nice part of Seattle. I work in the Pioneer Square area, and several of the Real Change sellers in that area and the ID are quite obviously either drunk, high or mentally ill, and pushy to the point of verbal abuse if you try to ignore them.

I do not support Real Change because while it gets the sellers money for a meal and some basic needs, it does not encourage them to go beyond that and get off the street altogether. I want to support organizations that support homeless folks in moving *out* of being homeless, rather than merely making it easier to *be* homeless.

In New York, and several other cities, we found out that the best way to move folks out of being homeless is to give them a home. Then worry about the other things. It's difficult or impossible for someone to get a job, health care, treatment for drug abuse or mental diseases like schizophrenia, if he doesn't have a stable place to live. The best way to give them homes was to go to court and order the City and State to give them housing. There were provisions in the City and State constitutions that said it was the job of the government to provide for the poor.

In my understanding, the reason homeless people are selling newspapers is that it's a legal way to panhandle. When poor people were selling items on the street, the cops hassled them. There was a lawsuit that ruled that they could sell books on the street, because books and magazines are protected by the First Amendment.

Comment: Re:Hasn't this been proven to be junk science? (Score 1) 305

And even if they are, there's the question of why anyone would bother creating mind-clones of a bunch of dead people with overlarge egos. Maybe if you had the head of Einstein, Ghandi, or some other figure who might have something to offer there would be a chance

I think they set up a fund that grows interest at something like 3% a year, and invest a dollar. By the time they're ready to be reanimated, each of them will have accumulated enough interest to be richer than Google.

I for one welcome our new reanimated overlords.

Comment: Re:Alighting on land (Score 1) 109

by Rei (#49491857) Attached to: An Engineering Analysis of the Falcon 9 First Stage Landing Failure

An empty stage with no payload gets about 1 1/2 orders of magnitude more delta-V for its last kilogram of fuel than it got for its first kilogram of fuel when the countdown hit zero at the pad. And on top of that it's already got altitude, and can use the atmosphere to shed unwanted lateral momentum or aerodynamically redirect it to change direction, with little consumption of fuel. Its these things that make flyback a lot easier than it sounds at first glance.

Still not "easy", but a lot easier.

Comment: Re:Hasn't this been proven to be junk science? (Score 1) 305

There's, "Maybe we'll someday be able to do this, and that would be really cool," there's, "This is currently in development and should soon be widely available," and then there's, "This is fundamentally impossible and there is no conceivable way it would ever work."

Cryogenics falls into the last category. This will become especially clear if you read up on what they actually did to the girl's dead body.

I can't imagine how anyone could ever be reanimated after that treatment.

But I do understand their argument, which is, "Given enough time and progress, we'll be able to reverse any damage. Eventually, we'll be able to recreate a new human body and implant the restored brain in it."

They're arguing from infinity. It's hard to argue against infinity.

You can say, "You can't do this any time during the next N years." They say, "Well, you haven't proved that we can't do it in N+1 years."

You say, "Scientists today can't imagine repairing the damage you do to brain cells by freezing." They say, "New technology is always doing things that everyone previously thought was impossible."

I suspect they may run out of time first, when the universe is finally reduced to its final entropy.

Lucky for them, nobody will be around at that time to say, "I told you so."

"You stay here, Audrey -- this is between me and the vegetable!" -- Seymour, from _Little Shop Of Horrors_