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Comment: Re:next up: ban cars (Score 1) 95

by hey! (#49790609) Attached to: Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion

Well, driving cars in urban centers generally sucks between the traffic and finding parking. The problem is people are too stubborn to get their act together and provide abundant satellite parking and transit links. Sure, driving your car right up to a store is ideal when you're the only one doing it, but there's a reason malls are built with parking on the periphery and pedestrian access at the core. If parking was the most pleasant and convenient way to get a lot of people into a confined area you'd be able to drive right into Disney World and park your car at Space Mountain.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 2) 95

by hey! (#49790515) Attached to: Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion

Anything that happens inflates someone's bank account. If governments ban CFCs then people with CFC substitutes get a windfall. If governments don't ban CFCs then makers of sunscreen and skin cancer treatments get a windfall.

This is how capitalism works -- how it's supposed to work. Problems attract capital, which generates profits. But it's also how market solutions fall short. It's better for the public if someone makes a killing replacing CFC than if someone else makes a killing treating skin cancer.

Comment: Misses the strategic imperative for Android. (Score 1) 169

by hey! (#49790287) Attached to: The Tricky Road Ahead For Android Gets Even Trickier

Google's core businesses would be seriously damaged if Apple obtained a monopoly on mobile computing. If it breaks even and prevents Apple hegemony it's as much of a success as it needs to be.

As for the supposed switching of Android users to iPhone, notice the tortured stipulations in this sentence: "the 'majority' of those who switched to iPhone had owned a smartphone running Android." It's also no doubt true that the majority of users who switched to new Android phone had owned a smartphone running Android in the past. The vast majority of smartphones out there are Android, and that's been true for years now, so it's not surprising that someone buying a new smartphone of any kind has previously owned *some* android handset.

Comment: Re:It only increases accountability (Score 4, Interesting) 281

by hey! (#49779303) Attached to: Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

Well, speaking of Amtrak employee accountability, I have a story about that. A few years ago my family took a train ride across the country. When we changed trains in Chicago I noticed that the reading light in my sleeping compartment was stuck on, which of course was bad if I wanted to actually sleep. I found the friendly and helpful attendant and reported it, and her reaction was like watching a balloon deflate.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"If we report damage they take it out of our wages," she said.

"What! What do you mean take it out of your wages?" I asked.

"If a car is damaged under my watch I have to pay for it," she said.

"Well," I said, taking out my swiss army knife, "I guess there's nothing to see here."

I have to say that I've never encountered such a nice, enthusiastic, friendly group of people with such an abysmally low morale as the crew of a cross-country train. With passengers they're great, but all through the trip I'd see two or three congregated having low muttered conversations. It didn't take me long to figure out they were talking about management. And while the experience was wonderful, the equipment was in horrible shape. It was like traveling in a third world country.

With management that bad, more data doesn't equal more accountability and better performance. It means scapegoating.

Comment: Re:Maybe science went off the rails... (Score 2) 392

by hey! (#49775243) Attached to: Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

If 99/100 scientists agree one thing is true, it's more likely to be true than the alternative backed by 1/100 scientists.

Which is beside the point. Consensus isn't about truth, it's about burden of proof.

Suppose Alice and Bob both try to make a perpetual motion machine. Alice claims she has failed, but Bob claims he has succeeded. The scientific community treats Alice's claims of failure without skepticism but it automatically assumes that Bob has made a mistake somewhere.

Does that seem unfair to Bob? Well, imagine you're a rich guy and Alice and Bob are both applying to you for a job. Bob says you should give the job to him because he's your long-lost fraternal twin your parents never told you about and which the hospital hushed up for some reason. When you mention this to Alice she freely admits she is not related to you. You automatically believe Alice, so is it fair to Bob to be skeptical of his claims?

It's a case of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In either case Bob can prove his claim, it's more complicated and time consuming because he has to explain what went wrong with all the prior knowledge. Alice's claims in either case are consistent with what you reasonably believe to be true so you can reasonably assume she's correct.

Comment: Re:Is a reduction (Score 5, Informative) 88

by hey! (#49772855) Attached to: Bats' White-Nose Syndrome May Be Cured

As ShanghaiBill says, Bats aren't rodents. I'll just add that bats and rodents are about as taxonomically unrelated as two mammals can possibly be.

Bats are more closely related to horses, bears, rhinos, even whales -- like most mammals they're members of the huge and diverse superorder Laurasiatheria. Rodents are in the much smaller superorder Euarchontoglires, the only non-extinct members of which are: rodents, rabbits, hares, pikas, tree shrews, flying lemurs, and the various primates.

Comment: Re:Okay... (Score 1) 454

by hey! (#49769947) Attached to: D.C. Police Detonate Man's 'Suspicious' Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers have actually made a comeback among foodies. The difference from grandma's pressure cooking style is that times for anything but pot roast are *extremely* short. For example if you're cooking broccoli it's done after two minutes at pressure. Grandma would have kept the broccoli in the pressure cooker for five minutes and removed it as a pale gelatinous goo.

A pressure cooker is a good acquisition when you're setting up a kitchen because even though you might use it only a couple of times a month, if you don't lock down the lid what you have is just a nice, heavy pot. Slow cooked is still the way to go for chili, but if you don't have eight hours you can get passable results in well under an hour with a pressure cooker.

Comment: Re:Funny, that spin... (Score 3, Insightful) 411

by hey! (#49765025) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Spin, sure, but it's a waay bigger minority than I expected. I'd even say even shockingly large.

The genius of Asimov's three laws is that he started by laying out rules that on the face of it rule out the old "robot run amok" stories. He then would write, if not a "run amok" story, one where the implications aren't what you'd expect. I think the implications of an AI that surpasses natural human intelligence are beyond human intelligence to predict, even if we attempt to build strict rules into that AI.

One thing I do believe is that such a development would fundamentally alter human society, provided that the AI was comparably versatile to human intelligence. It's no big deal if an AI is smarter than people at chess; if it's smarter than people at everyday things, plus engineering, business, art and literature, then people will have to reassess the value of human life. Or maybe ask the AI what would give their lives meaning.

Comment: Re:Truth be told... (Score 4, Interesting) 149

by hey! (#49764209) Attached to: Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed

Dear moderators: "Troll" is not a synonym for "I disagree with this".

That said, I disagree with this.

We've known since the investigation of 9/11 that suicide bombers are not necessarily dead-enders except in the literal sense. Economic powerlessness might play a role in the political phenomenon of extremist violence, but it is not a necessary element of the profile of a professional extremist. These people often come from privileged backgrounds and display average to above average job aptitude.

Mohammed Atta's life story makes interesting reading. He was born to privileged parents; at the insistence of his emotionally distant father he wasn't allowed to socialize with other kids his age, and had a lifelong difficulty with relating to his peers. At university he did OK but below the high expectations of his parents. He went to graduate school in urban planning where his thesis was on how impersonal modern high rise buildings ruined the historic old neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

That much is factual; as to why he became an extremist while countless others like him did not, we can only speculate. I imagine that once he decided modernity was the source of his personal dissatisfactions Al Qaeda would be attractive to him. Al Qaeda training provided structure which made interacting with his new "peers" easier than ever before. And martyrdom promised relief from the dissatisfactions of a life spent conscious of his own mediocrity. Altogether he was a miserable and twisted man -- but not economically miserable.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

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