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Comment There's a clear business model here (Score 1) 937

Who is liable if you have a crash in a taxi cab or a state-owned vehicle? The thing this article overlooked is that there is more than one business model for selling cars. Self-driving cars might flourish by allowing companies to provide a lower cost car service for those who either cannot or do not wish to drive themselves. Apps like Sidecar ( and Lyft ( are already pointing in this direction and centrally controlled driverless car services could be a logical next step, especially if companies take on the liability for what happens during a ride -- just as they would in an airline, rideshare or taxi service.

Moreover, even if driverless cars don't become the norm, driver-assist cars may do so and could dramatically reduce accident rates. As a car and driving enthusiast, I am selfishly averse to all these changes, but the safety benefits are hard to argue against.

Comment Can we check our sources, please? (Score 1, Informative) 219

The Reuters article is just one of a couple following the F.L.A.'s inspection of the Foxconn Plant. There is a slightly longer, but much more critical article by the New York Times. Looks as if /. editor's are doing is some editorializing of their own, too. From the "what-is-the-right-question" department, eh? How about from the "now-we-are-shilling-for-apple" department?

Comment Government is too complex? (Score 1) 341

I am at all not convinced by arguments that the problem with the current government of the United States is that it is too complex. During the late 18th century, when the U.S. Constitution was written, debated, signed and ratified, even the most optimistic views of Colonial literacy rates held them at a point 10-15% below current rates. In addition the people who founded the current government were among some of the most distinguished and learned people of the era. Many Congressional delegates were well read in both British Common Law and in old world continental classics -- which they could read in Greek an Latin. So, to use a modern analogy, it would be as if Richard Feynman had participated in the drafting of the Constitution.

The system of checks and balances that operates under the current U.S. system is a commonplace today, but so is the idea that light is both a particle and a wave, inasmuch as both are basic elements of secondary education. While the full math behind quantum theory is not taught, many of the concepts are -- and with general success. So let's please move past this idea that government is too complex and return to the crux of the problem.

The crux of the problem is two-fold:

1) That there are some forms of social organization that our framers did not foresee, both inside and outside of government. It is up to to those of us living today to deal with these directly and it is up to us to determine what is best. Throwback arguments by either the right or the left merely give comfort to hypocritical opportunists who are willing to clothe themselves in a mythic past to conceal the pursuit of their own selfish ends.

2) Most people are too fond of willful ignorance, wishful thinking, and daydreaming to take on the responsibility associated with (1).

User Journal

Journal Journal: Lost in the Sound and Fury

....over debates that are many centuries old are two smaller, perhaps more relevant, and sad facts.

1. The first is that the release of this video was apparently, at least in part, worked out by Haught and Coyne themselves. Haught wrote Coyne a letter [], asking Coyne to post the letter on his own blog and stating that, if Coyne did so, he would agree to have the video released. Coyne, apparently did so [], complying with the letter, at least, of Haught's request.

Comment Contact Existing Programs (Score 1) 157

I would amplify some of the comments suggesting a non-engineering solution by saying that, if you have not already done so, you might capitalize on some existing programs already extant in the state. Among these, there are or two LTER Schoolyard programs in Alaska. Schoolyard is the outreach and education component of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. The Bonanza Creek LTER and their Schoolyard Programis hosted at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and, although the Arctic LTER is hosted at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, their Schoolyard Program does have a local component. Each may have ideas and directions you can use.

Comment The license has already been written (Score 2) 253

This is a really common problem in the academy. So common in fact, that one particular academician has come up with a special license, the Community Research Academic Programming License (aka, the CRAPL). It's worth a look and good for a chuckle:

Comment Good scholar, good citizen, good "netizen", too (Score 5, Insightful) 139

A search of the Auburn Montgomery website, produces several "News & Events" hits which show Dr. Aaij giving public lectures and supporting student scholars. A Google Scholar Search on Michel Aaij shows a regular publication record in peer reviewed journals dating back to the late 1990s, at least. This guy is a good scholar and, from the article, strikes me as a good colleague, even without the Wiki contributions. He deserves tenure. The fact that he found the time for this other form of service/scholarship on top of his other work is very commendable and I'm glad to see it included in his portfolio. The fact that this did make it into his portfolio is better for Wikipedia than it is for Dr. Aaij, who I think wouldn't have gotten tenure no matter what. In any case, I say "Congratulations, Dr. Aaij!"

Comment Comments are telling (Score 1) 220

The journal article on which TFA is based is embargoed behind Kluwer's academic firewall's and my school doesn't have a subscription to this one. So, I can't see the actual article. However, the comments from some of the people who *can* see the article are telling, to wit:

"Only by a stretch of imagination do you see a linear correlation in there. Look at figure 3 ...


"This is only a pilot-study, and should NOT be brought into the media before a larger and more rigorous study has been done. This study has very small sample groups, and they should have had a group with the cellphones at their waste, but turned off. It could be other things than the electromagnetic radiowaves, i.e. the weight of the phones, if there is an effect at all, which a larger study will clarify."

not to mention.....

"This is only a pilot-study, and should NOT be brought into the media before a larger and more rigorous study has been done. This study has very small sample groups, and they should have had a group with the cellphones at their waste, but turned off. It could be other things than the electromagnetic radiowaves, i.e. the weight of the phones, if there is an effect at all, which a larger study will clarify. "


"Also, the study doesn't say if the measurement and calculations were unblinded, and the sample groups were not randomized, and recruited by word of mouth locally. This is just the flaws without looking at the results. Again, please stop writing about pilot studies, unless you are giving it a critical evaluation."

as well as....

"Something is wrong with the user cited charts where the bone density declines on a range from zero to 80,000 hours.

Now at maybe 2000 hours exposure per year, that means 40 years exposure. How could they get that much data?

Chart labels must be wrong. "

followed up by....

"From the method section of the study:

'Men of the first group provided information about the
number of years they had used a mobile cell phone and the number
of hours per day that they carried the phone in the belt pouch. The
number of years of use and the product of years of use and hours per
day each year carrying the phones were used as rough estimates of
cumulative exposure.'

*****In other words*****

A small pilot study with questionable (or at least very simplistic) methods for estimating for cumulative exposure was conducted on a small and apparently undifferentiated sample and a statistically significant result was obtained.

As one of that "strange breed," I was initially concerned. Now, not so much...

User Journal

Submission + - Rain on a thatched roof

ParticleGirl writes: I love the sound, I love the smell, of rain on a thatched roof. I love the way humidity here pervades everything. I even enjoy this kind of loneliness, once in a while.

Comment Re:what the hell? (Score 4, Informative) 232

Can we at some point ditch the meme of American males talking about how they live in a basement etc. etc. just because they post on Slashdot?

Once upon a time the gender bias was real; now it's still perception, if nothing else. I would really love to see this poll re-administered.

That poll is from many years ago (don't remember exactly when, but at more than 1500 polls ago I'm pretty sure we're talking on the order of 10 years.) The internet has changed a lot since then.

The only person who always got his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe.