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Comment: Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 1) 371 371

Penn & Teller had a great segment on "BULLSHIT!" about recycling. Like most of their stuff, they started with a "reasonable" approach and expanded it to the realm of "ridiculous".

The problem is that recycling costs money, and doesn't really save the environment. We aren't running out of landfill space; at worst, we're running out of landfill space that's a short driving distance from big cities.

Comment: Re:Okaaay. (Score 2) 203 203

If it's in Outlook, save everything in a PST file. Burn the PST file to a DVD, and tell your boss (before you leave) "Bob, eventually you're going to want this stuff. Here you go, and think of me when you open it." Give him the DVD, smile, shake hands, and sail off into the sunset. If Bob gives the DVD to whoever inherits your job, then the knowledge transfer will have been accomplished.

If you're in California, drop me a line; my company sells document management systems. We may be able to hook you up. :-)

Comment: Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032 1032

I certainly agree that history, philosophy, English Literature, Art and all that are important - but the purpose of a UNIVERSITY-level education is to make you a productive member of society. Everything else should contribute to that goal. Anybody can read books; libraries are free, and has thousands of them. Many museums are free, especially while you're in college. Programs like Khan Academy and its many imitators can provide distance learning for virtually any topic on the internet, for the cost of your internet connection.

Most people who ended up with Philosophy of Art History degrees and $250K in debt spent their nights drinking and partying rather than actually STUDYING the philosophy of the history of artists. They took brain-dead simple courses that they could sleep through, because SOMEBODY told them that a degree was a ticket to the corporate high life - and it wasn't true.

I agree with the Instapundit Glenn Reynolds that college loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy - but that the degree-granting institution should be on the hook for 50% of the loan amounts. That would give them some incentive to cut their OWN costs, and to properly determine if a student would have any chance of paying back a proposed loan. As it is, the Federal government is a giant loan shark, granting easy credit to people who never had a prayer of earning enough to pay it back.

Comment: Re:Maybe someday we'll know why we invaded iraq (Score 2) 231 231

"So why was all the intelligence about Iraq wrong? That is an unanswered question. The Republican controlled Congress never stepped up to the plate to ask any hard questions. Gosh, I wonder why? "

WTF are you talking about? EVERY nation's intelligence service agreed that Saddam was working to obtain nuclear weapons, and everybody ALREADY KNEW that he had chemical weapons - because he had already USED them, in Iran and on his own people.

Comment: Re:Fight! (Score 1) 293 293

I've got five dollars that says it won't.

Not because I have any particular expertise in ice or in Antarctica; my degree is in physics, not climatology - but because NONE of these quasi-apocalyptic predictions are true, or have ever come true. Not when predicted, and not after. We were supposed to have been swarmed by a billion starving climate refugees by now. It didn't happen. The Arctic Ocean was supposed to be ice free, and the snows of Kilimanjaro were supposed to all have melted by now. Didn't happen. The snows of the Himalayas were supposed to be melting, and gone completely by 2035; not happening. Not one single climate prediction has come true, and I don't think this one will, either.

Comment: Re:Eff that... (Score 1) 52 52

Science fiction writers Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven often have "real scientists" run the numbers on their stories. Pournelle believes that a big enough laser could launch satellites from the ground into orbit.

Only part of the thrust would be light pressure; a volatile "fuel core" being vaporized by the ground-based laser would provide much of the blast-off thrust. But you'd still have the advantage of having your "engine" here on Earth, being able to repair or replace it as needed, and eliminating having to boost your engine to orbital velocity.

With Moon-based lasers (several of them spaced around the Moon) you could push a lightsail-powered probes to interplanetary distances, and perhaps even to the stars. This is one of the plot elements of the Niven & Pournelle story "The Mote In God's Eye".

Comment: Re:Sagan? Don't you mean Clarke? (Score 1) 52 52

The story was a good one and was anthologized in several collections. But Clarke was a real genius, where Sagan only talked a good game. If Clarke had patented all the innovative ideas that he wrote stories about - like geosynchronous communications satellites or ground-controlled approaches in bad weather - he'd have been richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined.

Comment: Re:There is none other than in a secret service (Score 1) 420 420

Indian and Chinese tech workers are often excellent technically, but run into road blocks trying to talk to Americans over the phone, because their accents are sometimes horrendous. One of our vendor companies has offshored their technical support to India. He was trying to help me with the problem on a remote connection and on the phone, and I couldn't understand 2/3 of what he said. Finally I hung up the phone, opened a Notepad window, and typed "Sorry, my phone just died. We'll have to chat this way." The Indian tech could TYPE English perfectly well - he just couldn't SPEAK it.

Comment: Hands-ON Work (Score 1) 420 420

Get a job, or enter a career that require that YOUR HANDS touch the hardware. If you can use Skype, Webex, LogMeIn or TeamViewer to do your work, your job can be outsourced to India or the Philippines. (The Philippines are taking online-support work away from India because Filipinos often speak excellent English, while Indian and Chinese accents are sometimes unintelligible.)

For example, I work for a document management company that started as a copier company. Our copier techs drive to the customer's location and repair and maintain the machines onsite. I work remotely, but in close consultation with the on-site technicians.

Comment: Tells (Score 1) 93 93

A person can read the "tells", or body language and mannerisms, of another player. The computer cannot. Presumably the computer has no "tells" of its own, but an experienced player should usually win - because poker isn't a game of math, it's a game of psychology. Or rather, it's only PARTLY a game of mathematics and probability.

Comment: Re:Setting up a new planet. (Score 1) 137 137

You're right; all of the people who go to Mars will die.

Of course, all the people who stay here on Earth are ALSO going to die. And while it's quite likely that the ones who go to Mars are likely to die sooner than the ones who stay behind, that isn't quite so certain - and we'll learn lots of stuff about Mars, and about ourselves, in the attempt.

In his book "The Right Stuff", author Tom Wolfe noted that all of the streets at Edwards Air Force Base were named for dead test pilots. Getting out of bed and leaving home, and going into space, or out to sea, or even across town; these things can be dangerous. We can't attempt to avoid all risks and still remain human.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (5) All right, who's the wiseguy who stuck this trigraph stuff in here?