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Comment Re:How? (Score 1) 359 359

Look, you are talking about the leader of the Conservative Party, a party that claims to be 'for working people', which either demonstrates that to them 'work' means 'the sort of things they do in Wall Street or London City', or they are just full of weasel words; you tell me. My guess is, they don't know and they don't care how this is supposed to work, he is just posturing.

However, I think there is a more realistic side to this - as it is now, there aren't really any rules, or if there are, these sites are getting away with simply ignoring them and hiding behind 'free speech'. The police or other authorities can't do anything against them, because they have to follow the law - so if you see this as a problem and want to tackle it, you have to change the law so police are allowed to take action. As I see it, it is about putting pressure on porn sites to start taking things seriously, because they haven't bothered until now.

Comment Awesome! (Score 1) 481 481

I have to say, my experiences since the release of Windows 10 have been thoroughly positive. Everything just works, applications load fast, all the tools are there from the start, or freely available for easy download. Admittedly, I do run Debian, and this may have influenced my experience somewhat. Windows, you say? I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. A sledgehammer, yes, and with some emphasis, but not a bargepole.

Comment A word to the moderators (Score 1) 255 255

Sorry to change the subject here, but I see a trend recently, where posts - like the one I am replying to - get modded down unreasonably. Modding down simply because you are annoyed that somebody makes a joke about your pet fetish, is petty and immature.

I know there is a feature in /. called 'meta-moderation', but it is too long-wided to use, or it was when I looked last time, so could we have a button beside all posts that have been moderated (up or down), that would allow logged-in users to agree or disagree with the moderation? And then you could use the stats on how people's mods were agreed or disagreed with to affect the standing or karma of modders.

Comment Contentious (Score 4, Informative) 30 30

Having only just skimmed the article, I may have missed some imprtant points, but it seems they are basing this discovery on DNA analysis, which all well and good as far as it goes. What is no doubt valid is that this method yields a classification, but what is less certain - or perhaps highly uncertain - is whether this classification reflects the evolutionary phylogeny of the organisms in the study.

The big problem here is that DNA similarities probably only really match descendancy (or evolutionary relationship) well, when we talk about eukaryotes; this is because eukaryotes have sex: they go through cycles of meiosis/mitosis and all that, in which they recombine their genes in very rigorous way which ensures that DNA is inherited from predecessors. Prokaryotes don't have sex - instead they have different forms of lateral gene transfer, in which genes are acquired from many, seemingly unrelated organisms. The result of this is that the gene pool WITHIN what we perceive as 'a single species' of bacteria, like Eschericia coli, can be wildly different. Presumably there are genes within a single strain, that are fairly constant, and might be used to trace progeny, but I don't think anybody knows which they are yet.

Comment Advertising (Score 2) 378 378

First off, let me clarify: I can actually see the value of good advertising, and there are adverts that I have enjoyed in the past, mostly the ones that manage to be humorous. A good example in UK is the a chain of opticians called Specsavers; they are not actually particularly good, in my view, but the adverts are fabulous. Another one is for a roadside assistance provider (RAC? Blue Flag?) where a guy fills up with the wrong fuel and has a nightmare fantasy about his girlfriend writing a song called 'Piggy Eyes'. Heady stuff.

But the industry should pull their socks up and police their own ranks, because 90% or more is utter, vile crap, that only serves to drive people away from the products they advertise. Or failing that, governments should do it for them, harshly and draconically. It isn't just about protecting consumers, it is about protecting legitimate businesses and their legitimate advertising as well.

Comment Re:Here's a thought... (Score 2) 316 316

Well, good advice, to be sure, but really, just grow up, everybody. When you are teenager, you do embarrassing things - that is what the teens are for. When we grow up, one of the things need to learn is to forgive ourselves and learn to live with having left a trail of evidence. With the right kind of attitude, it can be a great source of experience and humour; it really isn't a big deal - and it ought to be asset.

The problem isn't that we are stupid when we are teenagers - at that age, you need to experiment in order to find out about things, and you have a right to make errors and be forgiven. The real problem is when these things are blown out of all proportion, by employers, political enemies or by the shallow end of the press - I mean, look back at the continuous smear campaigns against one president after another. Does it really matter that Dubya once yelled 'Fuck you' after his mother? Does it matter that Clinton once smoked a joint and maybe even enjoyed it? Of course not - what matters is what they do when they are in office.

Comment Re:Can't be true (Score 5, Insightful) 174 174

I can think of several reasons - different sides of the press are not averse to being selective of their sources, depending on which conclusion they are pursuing, for one thing. There are strong industry interests at play here - the producers of insecticides want to find that they are not guilty, the big bee-keepers want to hear that it has nothing to do with the way they cart bees around etc. So, you cherry-pick your data.

Secondly, it is often seen, in long-running illnesses and epidemics, that there are periods of remission before it starts going the wrong way again. If bee-numbers are up this year, that may be all it is; we will know in the coming years.

I think the truth is that we are seeing a long, slow decline; we won't lose all honey bees in the world, but the industrial scale bee keeping, particularly in the US, will be severaly challenged, and will probably have to change their business model fundamentally, from carting their monocultures around with a heavy load of varroa mites, viruses etc, to being much more locally based. It has for many decades been a common practice to rely only on a very limited number of bee strains with specific properties, like high productivity, low swarming and low agression. It isn't really a surprise that we now find all bee colonies susceptible to emerging diseases, I think. And, of course, queen bees have been posted all over the globe, helping the spread of infections.

This is just a minor part of the more widespread problem, that originates with the industrialisation of agriculture: the tendency to have enormous estates of monocultures. The chemical industry are one of the major culprits in this, in that they have made it possible to mask problems with insect plagues and depletion of nutrition; we must, by necessity, come to a point where these things no longer are effective, and then it is likely to come crashing down. A sensible way out of this would, in my opinion, be to get away from gigantic monocultures and possibly also commercial production for global export.

Comment Re:Honey price (Score 4, Insightful) 174 174

If honey bees are thriving, then why is honey still so expensive?

Even if honey bees are now thriving, which may or may not be the case, honey tends to be harvested in batches that follow the year; so if there are plenty of honey bees this year, we wouldn't expect to see a lot of honey until near the end of the year. On top of that, producers and resellers have a profound interest in keeping the price high for as long as possible; which is why prices go up a lot faster than they come down.

Comment Challenging indeed (Score 1) 82 82

It launched with one of the most challenging of languages,...

Nothing challenging about Chinese - it is pronounced like it's spelled, as the old joke goes. Seriously, though, Chinese is relatively easy to learn, even beyond the elementary stage. There are no grammatical inflections in the way we have in Indo-European languages, for one thing, the grammatical rules are simple and regular (unlike in English), and transcriptions like pinyin represent the sound of the spoken language well, unlike in English: there are many words in the English vocabulary that are pronounced differently from what you'd expect from the spelling, whereas there are virtually none in Chinese.

Comment Re:So, what caused the problem (Score 1) 82 82

What does The Great Firewall have to do with this particular problem.

It is about China - of course the Great Firewall has to be mentioned, otherwise, what's the point of anything? Otherwise we would have to mention things like democracy, freedom of speech or Tibet, and that would be even less relevant. (Note: this was an attempt at sarcasm)

Comment Re:MASS spectrometry? (Score 4, Informative) 82 82

Surely this device has nothing whatsoever to do with a mass-spec?

Of course not - in fact, already the headline should arouse suspicion that somebody in the chain of communication hasn't got a clue: "... chemical composition of anything ...". There no instrument at all in existence on this planet capable of doing this. It may be reasonably easy to measure the relative abundances of chemical elements and their isotopes in a sample, but not with a simple 'near infrared spectrometer', I would have thought, and as for analysing such a spectrum to get the 'chemical composition of anything', the fact is that there are millions or billions of common molecules arounds - such as proteins - and we do not have any simply understanding of what their spectral fingerprint might be. Single atoms have well-defined, discrete spectra, but complex molecules may not even have discrete spectra.

On top of that - even if we were able to calculate and measure spectra perfectly, and assuming that the very limited 'near infrared' bandwidth is sufficient to distinguish all molecules, the analysis part is likely to require massive processing power. All in all - a load of hyped up nonsense.

Comment Re:Does indeed happen. (Score 2) 634 634

I think perhaps a large part of it is that managers feel insecure about managing somebody who is older and more mature - we are brought up to see parents and the older generation as authority, and despite teenage rebellions etc, it sticks deep. In some companies they seem to have cracked it; probably the trick is to get older, more experienced people in as 'team granddads' (I should probably say 'grandparents' in this days and age), who not only have a lot of knowledge to give workwise, but also have the ability to interact with the younger colleagues in a way that contemporaries can't.

As I have become 'old' (hey, I'm still capable of some movement), I find that my colleagues in their 20es to 30es ('mere infants' as I call them) sort of gravitate to me for all sorts of advice, not always work related. Whether it is actually useful is another matter, but I think it serves to reassure or maybe as a testing ground for new thoughts. When you are in your teens, you have a lot of ideas, inspirations and opinions, but not enough experience, so you use your parents as a safe option for trying out your most outrageous behaviours (I certainly did), and when you get a bit older, you expand this to other people that are older than yourself. I think that is a very valuable function, that is often missing in an office.

Economists state their GNP growth projections to the nearest tenth of a percentage point to prove they have a sense of humor. -- Edgar R. Fiedler