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Comment I love the name... (Score 1) 114 114

You say that group is troublingly named. I say it's the best name ever. If the acronym ICGAG (pronounced "Icy Gag") isn't the most perfectly apropos thing ever I don't know what is. I mean, it combines the "gag" that best describes censorship with the modifier "icy" to remind us of the chilling effects that go along with such censorship.

Comment I've come up with something similar... (Score 1) 150 150

I also have developed a type of invisibility glasses, though they're slightly different in terms of technology and function. Instead of making me "invisible" to certain types of camera, it makes all of *you* invisible to *me* when I'm wearing them. Also everything around you. And also it's really a blindfold. But hey, I like it...

Comment Re:Drive me around = I can get drunk (Score 1) 307 307

For one, I'm not even sure I could get a cab to come out to any bar near me, or to my house. I probably could, but I feel certain that it would be extremely expensive to do so. If you're not quite so rural as me, but not so urban as to have a mature metro system, then it's my understanding that it is a fairly constant problem for some people that there are areas of town that cabs refuse to pick up from and/or drop off at.

Then there's the logistical problems. If you are going out with friends, you may not know beforehand that you will be drinking. That means you may well drive your car (while perfectly sober) to a restaurant/bar or similar place. When you get out, and realize that you're impaired, the first problem is that if you call a cab, that means you're leaving your car overnight. Some places, that means it may be towed (because they don't permit overnight parking), other places it might have a higher chance of being burgled.

Then there's the additional problem that if you leave your car, then you're going to have to come back and get it, which means another cab trip the next day, and some extra time from the next day. That basically means that you can't choose to drink at all on a day that's before a day you have to be somewhere in the morning (like work, or taking kids to school, or what-have-you.)

None of these are insurmountable obstacles, but they are obstacles, and they are annoying, and if you have a self-driving car, they all pretty much go away (so long as the law allows you to ride in a self-driving car while drunk)

Comment Re:Drive me around = I can get drunk (Score 2) 307 307

This is one of the ways in which I think the advent of self-driving cars will be really fascinating. It will drive a wedge into various anti-drunk-driving groups, separating them into those who actually are concerned about the dangers posed by drunk drivers (who will be ecstatic that people who are drunk can now be driven by their own cars) and those who see anti-drunk-driving measures as just another way to fight against drinking in general (and those will fight against self-driving cars, because that will take away another avenue that they would use to fight drinking)

There will be a similar split among people opposed to texting and/or talking on cellphones while driving, between those concerned primarily with safety and those who seem to have a deep seated hatred for cellphones and the people who use them.

Comment Three options that are *almost* right (Score 1) 349 349

"Should be locked in regular hospitals"

s/locked/treated/;s/$/ if symptomatic/

"Should be asked nicely to stay home for a bit"

s/Should/Could/;s/$/ by people willing to donate to them and or their employer to offset the loss of time/

"Should go about their lives, if asymptomatic"

This one seems closest to right, I'm just not sure why someone asymptomatic would be suspected of being a carrier. *I* would suspect someone of being a carrier if they had come into contact with the bodily fluids of a symptomatic patient under less-than-ideal conditions for preventing transmission (lack of protective clothing, poor sterilization of equipment, that sort of thing), in which case I'd think it would be nice to offer them any medical assistance they might want, and maybe check up on them to make sure they're OK now and then. However, I know that there exist people who would suspect someone of being a carrier if they have visited a continent with above average infection rates or come within the same area code of an actual symptomatic patient. That sort of "suspected carrier" should go about their lives. Maybe get a flu shot, because flu shots are awesome.

Comment Agree with the sentiment, disagree with details (Score 4, Interesting) 549 549

On the one hand, I think his number is off, or at least lacking detail. There's significant evidence that around 100k years ago humanity went through a population bottleneck of around 10k humans, so that seems like compelling evidence that a 10k population at least can contain sufficient genetic diversity to allow a species similar to humanity to survive. If you need a million hands to do work, then you could have those 10k people generate offspring, or you could augment their productivity by a factor of 100, or a combination of both, but as for moving people (or genes) from Earth to Mars, you should be able to get away with only moving 10k and still have at least a reasonable chance of being a back-up to our one planet egg basket.

Then there's the idea of needing to send 100k ships to Mars. Unless you're just swimming in delta V, then you should probably launch ships at or near the transfer windows that happen every 26 months. If you're sending a ship every window, then those 100k ships will take over 200 thousand years. A lot can happen in 200,000 years. Like really, a whole lot. If you're sending 1000 ships every launch window, economies of scale work really well for orbital transfers, and you'd be really a lot better off sending a ship 1000 times bigger. It'd still take 200 years, which is still a long time, but not nearly as long as 200,000. And if you only need 10k people, you could send 1000 at a time for the next 20 years, which while still seeming extremely optimistic, at least sounds within some bounds of rationality.

But maybe it's harder to get people interested in reasonable and achievable, but difficult goals than it is to get them excited about the unrealistic monumental ones. Sitting on the couch watching National Geographic, it's a lot more fun to say "I could totally go and climb Mt. Everest myself, I should do that!" than it is to get off the couch and go jogging for 15 minutes.

Comment Re:Chess (Score 1) 274 274

I was going to say pretty much the same thing and you beat me to it. When I was young I loved bridge so much. My parents played duplicate bridge in a local group and taught me to play and let me say, being a bridge-playing only child is incredibly frustrating. The only way I could get a chance to play was if someone came to visit by themselves, who also played bridge, and who didn't mind playing with a young kid. That didn't happen much.

Comment Re:Well then (Score 1) 294 294

This doesn't make any sense to me either. Current pills containing hydrocodone are a mixture with other drugs, mostly other drugs that have a higher toxicity, and part of the reason for that is to keep people from taking too many of them. If you OD on Vicodin, it's not the 5mg of hydrocodone that kills you, it's the 500mg of acetaminophen. For a 50kg person, you can get to a reasonably toxic quantity of acetaminophen (200 mg/kg) with 20 vicodin, which gives you a dose of 100mg of hydrocodone, or 2 mg/kg. Quick googling found this: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+3097 that gives animal toxicity studies showing an LD50 for hydrocodone in the range of 86 mg/kg (mice) to 375 mg/kg (rats). Granted, you certainly don't want to take anything *near* to the LD50 of any drug, but the highest dosage for a Zohydro pill is 50 mg. For a 50kg person to get a dose of 1/4 the mouse LD50 would be over 20 pills. As noted, if those 20 pills were vicodin, then they would also be toxic, but only because of the acetaminophen. And really, if you're downing 20 of *any* prescription painkiller, you almost certainly have a different goal in mind than temporary pain relief. I just really don't see this as causing much harm, and potentially helping a fairly specific set of people who need it.

Comment Nuclear waste (Score 1) 532 532

Nuclear waste. Sure there may be some downsides, but there are certainly some advantages (It's been a while since I read "The Roentgen Standard", but the argument I liked the best was that a strong economy relies on money moving around quickly, and if you make it radioactive, people will be literally dying to get rid of it as fast as they can.)

Comment Re:Movies (Score 1) 322 322

I think there's a subtle difference in how you interpret this question that makes a big difference here... It asks what your favorite medium for sci-fi is, but the answer could be different if you look at it in terms of in which medium your favorite sci-fi exists. If a medium has 99.9% crap, but a small sliver of shining excellence, then my favorite sci-fi might come from that medium, but I wouldn't call it my favorite medium because the average quality is horrible and I'm not expecting the next thing I see there to be any good. That's kind of how I see movies and TV: a few examples are really good, and I think that superlative things *could* be done in the medium, but on average it's generally meh.

There's also a question of volume. There are a lot more sci-fi books than there are sci-fi TV shows, and more TV shows than there are movies. I could concievably watch every single sci-fi movie made in a year. Probably the same with TV shows. I don't think I'd have any chance at reading all the sci-fi published in a year. So if I whittle down what I watch and read by whatever recommendation methods I can bring to bear, and those methods are effective, then maybe I watch the top 10% of movies and TV, and read the top 0.1% of books, so the average quality of what I watch is in the ballpark of the 95th percentile of quality, while every book I read is in the 99th percentile of quality. Thus my perception will be that books are of a higher quality, even if the reality is that there's just a lot more crap that I haven't read.

But the real difference to me is something that I realized not too long ago, and it's something inherent to the medium itself. With books most of all (and to a lesser extent games), I am in control of the rate at which I'm pushing information into my brain. The rate at which I can absorb the important aspects of a story isn't just different from person to person, it's different for me from day to day. If I'm reading, I can keep going at whatever pace my brain can keep up with, and if I hit a spot where I say to myself "woah, wait, what just happened?", I can skip back and re-read (which is also possible in movies and TV watched at home, not so much in theaters.) So this means that for a movie or TV show, if its information density rate isn't just exactly right for me on the day I'm watching it, then it'll either be going too fast and I'll feel lost, or too slow and I'll feel bored. The way those media counteract that is to make sure the information rate is slow enough that most people don't get lost, and then fill the gaps with content that is reasonably interesting, but relatively information-free. That can make for some shows that are fun and entertaining, but end up feeling a little empty. Of course, the counter to that is when you use content as a framework for your playground, and then create your own information density with the help of friends, acquaintances, and eventually strangers with common interests. Thus emerges fandom.

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)

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