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Comment Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense. (Score 1) 132 132

Not really. The judge simply ruled she was bound by precedent that her court did not have sufficient authority to overturn. That's actually a good call, but it has nothing to do with the issue or arguments.

In any case appeals to "common sense" aren't worth squat when that common sense is based on ignorance or inexperience. It's common sense to talk about "the dark side of the Moon" or to think that the next flip of a coin is affected by prior flips.

For 80% of the existence of our species we coexisted with at least one other species that would pass any reasonable philosophical criteria for "person": the Neanderthals. If we were able to use biotechnology to recreate Neanderthals, Jurassic park style, there's no question that if successful the experiment would create people. But would they be legal persons?

It's an important philosophical question because it potentially colors a lot of mundane ethical questions. Do we recognize the rights of others as a kind of tribal convention? Or are we compelled to do so because of something in human nature? If the latter presumably non-human entities would have an equal ethical claim to personhood.

Comment Re:Editors : WTF (Score 0) 257 257

Technically it's giving smaller amounts of something, not taking anything away. Nonetheless marginally it makes perfect sense to talk about "doling out cuts". It means starting with a total net cut and dividing the marginal impact among several parties.

Yes, it will raise a few eyebrows among editorial prigs, but it's perfectly clear what "doling out cuts" means.

Comment Re:Batteries in Cold Weather? (Score 1) 789 789

If you add up all the auxiliary stuff you need to power with electricity and round up generously, it's maybe 2000 watts load. The very best commercially available technology of today can run that load for 45 hours. So the impact of the auxiliary system load is marginal. That means it's only a concern if you're contemplating using close to the maximum range of your car. If you're traveling 15 miles each way in an 84 mile range Leaf, or 80 miles each way in a 250 mile range Tesla S, you don't really need to worry about running the heater and lights, even counting diminished battery capacity.

The average American spends 25 minutes each way commuting; even in NYC the average figure is 34.6. Even double or tripling that commute time due to bad weather and halfing the range due to cold, that's still easy for the Tesla. It's a bit of challenge for the Leaf with its 24 kwh battery and 84 mile range.

If the typical electric cars of ten years from now perform close to the high end of today, then the vast majority of people won't have to worry about cold weather's effect on range. But a sizable minority of Americans are what the US Census characterizes as "extreme commuters": people whose commute takes more than 90 minutes or fifty miles each way. Even at the low end of that spectrum cold weather range won't be an issue, but if you commute from Fargo to Bismarck ND every day it's safe to say you aren't going to be going electric any time soon.

Comment Re:Sounds like he was arrested for shooting. (Score 1) 1151 1151

In general anything that creates a hazard for bystanders would be a bad idea. So even if there isn't a specific ordinance against shooting bows-and-arrows in the city limits, I'm sure the authorities would take a dim view of your clout shooting into your neighbors' yards.

What there should be is a legally mandated remote radio kill switch anyone can trigger that will cause the drone to land, or in the case of the more sophisticated models to return to base. If the switch worked within say a 50' radius it'd pretty much only work on drones buzzing your residence.

Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 1) 295 295

Well, robbery would be a bit tougher than general mayhem. In the foreseeable future you'd probably need a human in the loop, for example to confirm that the victim actually complied with the order to "put ALL the money in the bag." Still that would remove the perpetrator from the scene of the crime. If there were an open or hackable wi-fi access point nearby it'd be tricky to hunt him down.

This kind of remote controlled drone mediated crime is very feasible now. It wouldn't take much technical savvy to figure out how to mount a shotgun shell on a quadcopter and fly it to a particular victim (if you have one). That's a lot less sophisticated than stuff terrorists do already; anyone with moderate technical aptitude could do it with off-the-shelf components. I'm sure we'll see our first non-state-actor controlled drone assassination in the next couple of years. Or maybe a hacktivist will detonate a party popper on the President or something like that.

Within our lifetime it'll surely be feasible for ordinary hackers to build autonomous systems that could fly into a general area and hunt down a particular victim using facial recognition. People have experimented with facial recognition with SBCs like the Raspberry Pi already.

You can forbid states from doing this all you want, but as technology advances the technology to do this won't be exotic. It'll be commonplace stuff used for work and even recreation.

Comment Re:Same likely holds true... (Score 1) 253 253

The same thing could likely be said of all obtrusive advertising: it is a nuisance not a benefit.

They aren't exactly the same, because interstitial ads aren't just obtrustive, they're interfering. You can't simply mentally resolve to ignore them; if you want to continue you've got to either follow the ad or find a way to dismiss it. This presents the user with a Hobson's Choice: physically respond to the ad, or go back.

A lot depends on how motivated you are to get at the content. If it's something you've clicked out of idle curiosity, you'll back away. If it's something you really want to see you'll fight your way through. Since so much traffic on the Internet is driven by idle curiosity, the 69% figure doesn't surprise me at all. What would be interesting is to disaggregate that figure by types of target content.

Comment Re:There's Very Few Things (Score 3, Insightful) 80 80

You are conflating a world that is becoming warmer with a world that just *is* warmer. It may be true (I take no position) that a world that is 4-5 C warmer is better for certain classes of poor people (e.g., subsistence farmers). But a world that is changing rapidly is a calimity to poor people tied to the land, especially in a modern world with national boundaries and private property where you just can't pick up and move like our paleolithic ancestors would have.

Comment Re:If it's not _real_ bacon? (Score 1) 174 174

This guy is entitled to use the word "plant" as he will, but it doesn't agree with modern systematics. For example he calls "kelp" a plant, but it is taxonomically closer to the parasite that causes malaria than it is to land plants.

"Macroalgae" is a multi-phyletic category, including eukaryotes of the Archaeplastida group that includes red algae and green algae and the land plants that evolved from green algae, and of the super-group Chromalveolata that includes red tides, brown algae (such as kelp or Plasmodium). Green algae and land plants are grouped together under the kingdom "Plantae" in modern taxonomies.

So "seaweed" as a category includes organisms which are (cladistically speaking) closely related to land plants (green algae like sea grapes or sea lettuce), middling-related (red algae like nori or carageenan) and not very closely related at all (brown algae like kombu/kelp). Of course all organisms are presumably related to some degree.

The seaweed in question is a kind of dulse, a red algae. It's more closely related to land plants than a brown algae like kelp would be, but less related than sea lettuce. Red algae are specifically not included in the Kingdom Plantae. However, layman are free to call whatever they want a plant, even if it's in fact something else entirely, the way they call any small arthropod a "bug", even through true bugs are one of the 75,000 species in the order Hemiptera (out of over a million insect species).

Comment Re:If it's not _real_ bacon? (Score 1) 174 174

Technically it's not a plant. Its a macroalgae and thus belongs to an entirely distinct taxonomic kingdom from plants and animals. Of course halakhically it probably counts as a plant because Jewish law isn't based on modern scientific concepts.

Many years ago some of my wife's friends inhabited a kosher apartment near her engineering school that had been passed down through generations of orthodox students. A dispute arose over whether a particular bowl was glass or pottery. Finally they called in their buddy the material science major for a scientific ruling. "It's neither," he said. "It's ceramic." Which was technically accurate, but irrelevant to the question of whether it could be kashered.

Comment Re:bumblebees have range? (Score 5, Informative) 225 225

I thought bumblebees are everywhere except maybe the desert?

Bombus sonorus -- the Sonoran Bumblebee -- is a common North American desert species.

To answer your question every critter has it's range. Even you do. Visited Antarctica recently? Or Mars?

If you were a bumblebee you'd have a range of about a quarter of a kilometer from your nest. In rare instances you might go as far as 800m distant. And therein you can see why climate change poses an adaptation challenge to bumblebees.

Bumblebee colonies die every winter. The old queen perishes and the new queens hibernate until the spring then disperse to a new nest site. So you can see that the species can only relocate northward at a fraction of a kilometer per year -- although it may have better luck moving vertically -- to higher altitudes where a convenient mountain is handy.

Species that adapt well to climate change either have individuals with large ranges, or they hitch a ride on critters that travel long distance. For example mosquito species have lifetime ranges on the order of 2-3 km, but the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which breeds in small containers of water, usually spends its life within 100m or so of where it hatches. The Tiger Mosquito species was introduced to the US at Houston in 1985 and fifteen years later it was found all over the United States. How is this possible if an individual lives its entire life within a 100m radius of its hatching place? I went to a presentation at CDC Fort Collins where their arthropod borne disease doyen plotted out the spread of Ae albopictus and showed it followed the route of the US Interstate Highway system. Eggs and pregnant individuals hitched a ride. That's because cars and trucks provide things that mosquitoes are attracted to: people to bite and tiny pools of water trapped in spare tires or crevices of the machine for egg-laying. Note that Ae albopictus larvae are known to arrive in the US in a shipments of that "lucky bamboo" you can buy in Chinatown; those stalks hold maybe 20-30 ml of water. It takes a "container" with only a tablespoon or two of water to transport viable larvae.

Now back to bumblebees. Because bumblebee colonies are small (typically 50 individuals to 50,000 for honeybees) and temporary, bumblebees don't stockpile honey. So unlike honeybees humans have no reason to transport them deliberately. Likewise cars and trucks aren't attractive to bumblebees so it's rare that a new queen will get an accidental ride north with a human. So bumblebees are poorly adapted to a rapidly changing climate.

Comment Re:I get a call EVERY DAY from cardmember services (Score 1) 215 215

It's a scam that's been shut down, but it's impossible to put a nail in its coffin because it's not one company doing it. The FTC tracked down a bunch of companies at the start of this year and forced them to fork over $700,000 in compensation, and it didn't even make a dent in the volume of calls.

"Cardholder service" scams are low success rate, high volume affairs which require only a small number of people to run and thus are easy to shut down and start up again under a different corporate entity. The only way to stop them is to make all low success rate, high volume telemarketing businesses intrinsically unprofitable, and the only way to do that is to charge for all calls.

This can be a nominal amount that wouldn't interfere with normal calls, it just has to be enough to deter calls that have very little chance of accomplishing anything useful. Ten minutes of a US minimum wage employee's time will cost a company $1.20, so let's set the level of pain at less than 1/10 that: every time a call is connected, $0.10 should be deducted from the caller's account and credited to the recipient's account. That way parties that call each other equally will tend to come out even.

Comment Re:pardon my french, but "duh" (Score 4, Insightful) 288 288

Well that may be so. But as you get older you get less patient with people wasting your time.

Let's say you're 90 years old. You're using a webmail system which does everything you need it to do. Then some manager has a brainwave and suddenly all the functions are somewhere else. How much of the 3.99 years the actuarial tables say you've got left do you want to spend dealing with that?

It's not just 90 year-olds. Take a poll of working-age users and find out how many like the MS Office Ribbon; how many people are cool with the regular UI reshuffling that takes place in Windows just to prove you're paying your upgrade fee for software that's "new"?

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson