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Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 381

by hey! (#46796433) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

I don't know if this is nuts. I'd have to see the full arguments on both sides, and so far what we have to go on is a one-sided summary.

If the *only* effect of the proposed regulation would be to increase beer prices, then sure, I agree with you 100%: government is being stupid. But if there's a good reason for the regulation, then I'd disagree with you.

Reading the article, it seems like the idea that this regulation will cause beer prices to spike dramatically seems a bit alarmist. The regulations would require brewers who send waste to farmers as animal feed to keep records. It seems hard to believe that this would significantly raise the price of beer or whiskey given that alcohol production is already highly regulated. On the other hand, it seems like there is no specific concern related to breweries. They were just caught up in a law that was meant to address animal feed.

If you want an example of a regulation free utopia, look no further than China, where adulteration of the food chain is a common problem. If the choice were a regulatory regime that slightly complicates brewers lives, and a regime that allows melamine and cyanuric acid into human food, I'd live with higher beer prices.

Fortunately, we don't have to live with either extreme. We can regulate food adulteration and write exceptions into the regulations for situations that pose little risk. Since presumably the ingredients used in brewing are regulated to be safe for human consumption, the byproducts of brewing are likely to pose no risk in the human food chain.

Comment: Re:LaserJet II and LaserJet 3 (Score 1) 675

by hey! (#46791117) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

The most wear sensitive part of a laser printer is the copy drum. If I recall correctly the old LaserJets had the drum integrated with the toner cartidge, so you replace to most quickly wearing part of the printer four or five thousand pages. It's no wonder they lasted so long. The mechanical parts that move the paper through the printer are pretty robust, so I wouldn't be surprised if the printers go until the capacitors in the electronics dry up, or the internal power connectors go bad.

Comment: Re:A bit of background for slashdotters (Score 4, Informative) 344

by hey! (#46790777) Attached to: VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

This isn't a case "insisted upon by a conservative group". This is Mann suing a journalist for libel, and the journalist requesting info from the university under FOIA to prove his case.

That would be interesting, if it were true. Here's what TFA says:

The ruling is the latest turn in the FOIA request filed in 2011 by Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and the American Tradition Institute to obtain research and e-mails of former U-Va. professor Michael Mann.

"Del." I assume is short for "delegate". According to their website, the American Tradition Institute's tag line is "Free Market Environmentalism through *Litigation*" I assuming this means they aren't pals with Greenpeace, or even The Sierra Club, any more than the National Socialists in Germany were pals with the socialist Republicans in 1930s Spain.

Comment: Re:Why do these people always have something to hi (Score 4, Insightful) 344

by hey! (#46790657) Attached to: VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email

Depends on what you consider "hiding the research". A fishing expedition through a scientist's personal correspondence is an invitation to judge his work on *political* grounds.

In science your personal beliefs, relationships, and biography are irrelevant. There are evangelical Christian climate scientists who believe climate won't change because that would contradict God's will as expressed in the Bible. These scientists may be regarded as religious crackpots by their peers, but that hasn't prevented them from publishing in the same peer-reviewed journals as everyone else. Since their papers invariably are climate-change skeptic, clearly they are publishing work which supports their religious beliefs. But their motivations don't matter. What matters is in their scientific publications.

In 1988, Gary Hart's presidential bid and political career were ruined when he was photographed cavorting on a yacht named "Monkey Business" with a woman that wasn't his wife. Now I didn't care how many bimbos he was boinking, but a lot of people *did*, which made it a political issue (albeit a stupid one in my opinion). Do we really want to use the coercive power of the state to dig through the private lives of controversial scientists?

It's a pretense that that would serve any scientific purpose. Maybe Mann is intent on overthrowing capitalism and creating a socialist utopia. That would be relevant if he were running for dogcatcher, but it's irrelevant to what's in his scientific papers. Scientists publish papers all the time with ulterior motives, not the least of which is that they're being paid to do research that makes corporate sponsors happy. As long as what's in the paper passes muster, it's still science.

Comment: Re:authenticity (Score 1) 55

by hey! (#46789973) Attached to: Lying Eyes: Cyborg Glasses Simulate Eye Expressions

What about acting? Or fiction? These are artificial experiences that evoke real emotional responses. Once the right buttons in your brain are pushed, most of your brain can't tell the difference between what is real and what is synthetic.

Granted, authenticity in human interactions is important, but it's overrated. Fake engagement often is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Situations where people put considerable effort into *seeming* pleasant usually *are* more pleasant than they would be if everyone felt free to paste their indifference to you right on their faces.

So this is a very interesting technology. What's disturbing about it isn't that people might be fooled into thinking the user is truly interested; it's that the user himself no longer puts any effort into creating that illusion. What if that effort is in itself something important? What if fake engagement is often the prelude to real engagement? Maybe you have to start with polite interest and work your way up to the real thing; I suspect the dumber parts of your brain can't tell the difference. If that's true, taking the user's brain out of the interaction means that interaction will automatically be trapped on a superficial level. This already happens in bureaucratic situations where employees are reduce to rules-following automatons. Take the brain out of the equation and indifference follows.

I suspect that the researchers are well aware of these issues; I believe that I discern a certain deadpan, ironic puckishness on their part. People who truly view engagement with other people as an unwelcome burden don't work on technologies that mediate between people.

Comment: Re:Switching from Mercedes to Tesla after $12K bil (Score 1) 353

by hey! (#46786709) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

First you bought an SUV which only an idiot would buy

My late father-in-law designed inertial guidance systems. He worked on the Apollo program and the Trident missile. And he bought a Mercedes SUV, so it's clear it isn't an SUV that only an idiot would buy. He needed a vehicle that could pull a small boat trailer but had reached an age where he wanted a vehicle that was a little easier on the tuckus than a pickup truck. As such it wasn't a bad choice for him, especially as he had the dough to pay the eye-popping maintenance costs.

I prefer small cars myself, but I've driven a few SUVs and the Mercedes wasn't a bad choice for someone who wanted a truck that drives more or less like a car and doesn't care about the cost.

Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1585

by hey! (#46772927) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

It's not a "re-examination". It's a butchering.

You say that like it's necessarily a bad thing.

We've got to stop acting as if the Founding Fathers were like Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Constitution chiseled on a couple of stone tablets. They were brilliant, enlightened men for their day, but the Constitution is not a document of divine inerrancy.

The US Constitution is the COBOL of constitutions. Yes, it was a tremendous intellectual innovation for its time. Yes, it is still being used successfully today. But nobody *today* would write a constitution that way, *even if their intent was exactly the same* as the founders.

For one thing it's full of confusingly pointless ("To promote the Progress of Science") and hoplessly vague ("securing for *limited times*") phraseology that leaves courts wondering exactly what the framers meant, or whether they were just pointlessly editorializing ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State").

It's also helplessly out of date. The Constitution was drafted before the existence of mass media and advertising; before photography even. It was the appearance of photography in newspapers that woke people up to the idea that they might have privacy rights that were being threatened. A Constitution written in 1900 would almost certainly have clauses explicitly recognizing a right to individual privacy and empowering the government to protect that right. A Constitution written in 2000 would almost certainly have clauses restricting the government from violating individual privacy.

And then there is slavery, an outright *evil* which is enshrined in the founder's version of the Constitution. That alone should disqualify any claim they may have had to superhuman morality.

So if we take it as given that the US Constitution is not divinely ordained, it's not necessarily a bad thing that the current generation should choose to butcher what the founders established. Would you re-institute slavery? Allow *states* to deprive citizens of liberty and property without due process? Eliminate direct election of senators?

So it's perfectly reasonable to butcher anything in the Constitution when you're proposing an *amendment* to the Constitution. That's the whole point. We should think for ourselves. In doing so, we're actually carrying on the work the framers themselves were doing. Every generation should learn from its predecessors, but think for itself.

Comment: Re:Hypocrisy abounds (Score 1) 806

by hey! (#46765817) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

What's so hilarious is that to most of the commenters here, the Koch Brothers exemplify the absolute evil in the system whilst (and simultaneously) George Soros is merely 'doing the right thing' and 'helping people speak truth to power'.

So in other words, what somebody says is less important than who says it.

Comment: Re:Tyrant: The computer game (Score 1) 806

by hey! (#46765803) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

While sorta fun, those games are not simulations. All you revealed was the program(mer)'s built-in biases and assumptions, rather than any insight about what happens in reality.

That's true of social science research as well. The difference is that social science research has to pass peer review, and stand up to contrary reearch in the literature.

Comment: Re:I have a degree in computer science. (Score 1) 733

by hey! (#46743175) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Sinews (aka "tendons") are bundles of fibrous collagen bound together with an organic glue of proteins and polysaccharides. Sinews can be pounded to extract those collagen fibers, and then those fibers can be spun into cordage of any desired length.

The process is exactly the same as spinning short wool fibers into skeins of yarn, or transforming cotton bolls into cotton thread. The fibers are bundled together and twisted so they lock together and the axis of the resulting cord cuts across the axis of orientation of the fiber, producing a very strong thread. As the fibers are locked together into a thread, you continually add more bundles of fiber to the loose end. You finish by tying off the end of the thread you've created, or twisting the thread into a multi-strand rope.

Collagen fiber from sinew is an excellent cordage material, but less available in large quantities than plant fibers. For that reason you don't see sinew ropes. Although such a thing would be physically possible, sinew is a costly material so it is only used in specialized, low volume applications like fishing line and bowstrings.

Primitive people are every bit as smart as engineers who design microchips or airplanes; they just express that ingenuity through materials they can harvest and process themselves.

Comment: Re:I have a degree in computer science. (Score 1) 733

by hey! (#46740091) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Well, my first choice would be to use surplus and scavenged materials, like polyester or silk. In the long run as these materials become more difficult to find, I'd go for hemp or flax. Just about any fiber can be spun into a workable cordage. Shredded animal sinew yields extremely strong cordage.

Comment: Re:I have a degree in computer science. (Score 1) 733

by hey! (#46739663) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

You can always concoct a situation in a scenario where your skills aren't important.

You're a farmer? Seems like your skills would be useful but wait -- what if the neighboring tribe burns all your crops and steals your seeds?

You're an emergency room physician? How will that help you when bandits club you to death in your sleep?

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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