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Comment Re:Protein from plants, not animals (Score 1) 381

Late response... Nitrogen can be fixed from the air by legumes. However, plants deplete the soil of phosphorus, potassium, and some calcium and sulfur. If you eat the plants and animals eating from your soils and remove those nutrients via the toilet or by throwing out the bones and waste from butchering, you have a cycle that is unsustainable in the long term. You can transfer the problem to whomever is growing the food for those animals, but those minerals have to come from somewhere - either from fertilizer or by grinding down rocks.

Submission + - Now We Know Why the Hobbit Movies Were So Awful

HughPickens.com writes: Everyone seems to agree that the key to the success of Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy was years of careful planning before production ever began. Now Bryan Bishop writes at The Verge that in what can only be described as the most honest promotional video of all time, we find out why the Hobbit trilogy turned out to be such a boring mess. In the clip Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and other production personnel confess that due to the director changeover — del Toro left the project after nearly two years of pre-production — Jackson hit the ground running but was never able to hit the reset button to get time to establish his own vision. Once the new director was hired, the harried crew members had to scramble to redesign everything to suit Jackson’s vision, but they could barely even keep up with the production schedule, let alone prepare anything in advance. At some junctures in the process, Jackson found himself essentially having to improvise on set because there was nothing really prepared for his actors to do. “You’re going on to a set and you’re winging it, you’ve got these massively complicated scenes, no storyboards and you’re making it up there and then on the spot," said Jackson. "I spent most of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it ][] even from a script point of view Fran [Walsh], Philippa [Boyens] and I hadn’t got the entire scripts written to our satisfaction so that was a very high pressure situation.”

But wait, "Peter has never made a secret of the fact that he took over the Hobbit directing job with very little preparation time remaining before shooting had to begin. It was a challenge he willingly took on. His comments are an honest reflection of his own personal feelings at times during the movie's production." says a spokeman for Jackson. "Somebody has decided to create this cut-down, using only the sections of The Gathering Clouds that discuss the difficulties faced, not the positive ways they were addressed and overcome – which are also covered in this and other featurettes."

Submission + - How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name (theverge.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Codesign has an article by two early Apple designers on how the company has lost its way, and quite frankly, lost its marbles when it comes to user interface design. In the search for minimalist, clean design it has forgotten time honored UI principles and made it harder for people to use their products. As someone who has followed computer UI since the command line and who has used various Apple products for a number of years, their concerns really hit home.

Of course, Apple isn't the only company out there who makes UI mistakes. And it is notable that TFA has totally annoying, unstoppable GIFs that do nothing to improve understanding. User Interfaces are hard, but it would be nice to have every body take a few steps back from the precipice.

Comment Re:Optimum health? (Score 2) 161

"... why we have a "cold and flu" season: once we stop getting sunshine, everyone's D levels drop low enough to depress our immune system."

Citation needed. At least Wikipedia states: "Beyond its use to prevent osteomalacia or rickets, the evidence for other health effects of vitamin D supplementation in the general population is inconsistent.[5][6]"

Comment Re:... and here on slashdot? (Score 1) 231

"no reason to upgrade the code. In fact, I'd prefer if they reverted to one of the older versions from earlier years that has fewer "Web 2.0" stunts and just serves up the damned text."

Here are som reasons to upgrade:

* support unicode,
* get workable access to preferences (if you enable "classic mode?, all kind of stuff breaks, including getting back to default D2 mode.).
* Get a decent mobile view (Can't access it when logged in and it's unworkable anyway on my quad-core, 2 GB RAM phone). That's why I maintain avantslash (see signature).
* Support https.

Soylentnews forked the last public release of slashcode and did a pretty good job. Unfortunately the community is too small to get good discussions going on technical subjects.

Comment Re:False metric (Score 1) 231

"I use Python, but I have never looked at a Python tutorial. The language is simple and the syntax is obvious."

That's how I started as well, but it resulted in horrible C-like constructs, like literal translations of

for (i=m; i<n; ++i) {}

with while and if. And it took a while to figure out how the lack of pointers and the murable/immutable object distinction work in practice.

Comment Re:"Never" is a very long time (Score 1) 378

P.S. in case you're wondering why speed is an issue: the sum of molecular thermal velocity and bulk velocity at the top of the tower must be higher than the escape velocity at that altitude. Escape velocity drops only slowly with altitude: you'd need a tower of10 times the radius of Venus to get the escape velocity down to reasonable thermal velocities. Otherwise you'd need to heat the gas in the tower to ~5000 K, which is not possible using solar energy concentrators because the sun itself is about that temperature.

Comment Re:"Never" is a very long time (Score 1) 378

"solar chimney - basically a giant funnel-shaped greenhouse floating on Venus. The gas accelerates faster and faster the further it rises into the funnel.... velocities of tens of thousands of meters per second could be reached"

I highly doubt that, but maybe I'm missing something. The upward force is buoyancy force from the existing lower-temperature atmosphere. I don't see how that would ever give enough pressure to reach evensupersonic speeds, never mind the escape velocity that is 50x higher than that.

Comment Re:Feedback welcome! (Score 2) 37

in commercial Civ games ramping up the difficulty usually means giving bonuses and cheats to the AI.

It's at least 10 years ago that I last played Freeciv, but I recall that back then, Freeciv AI was also cheating at the higher difficulty levels, by getting resources cheaper and by being able to peek into enemy cities. It didn't matter that much to me, I never got good enough to bother with the higher difficulty levels - and it was still quite a few all-nighters that I pulled playing it.

However, from a brief look at Freeciv AI documentation, I get it that nowadays the AI is not cheating, and just gets handicaps at lower difficulty levels.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."