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Comment Re:First Name Basis? Rude. (Score 1) 331

Grammer ignorami. Proper nouns should NEVER be preceded by articles.

Oh, the definite article is very commonly used before proper nouns, most often place names or geographical features (e.g. "The Mississippi (River)").

Sometimes "the" is used purely customarily (particularly in names translated from other languages like "The Ukraine" or "The Maghreb" ), but its primary function is to distinguish between nouns referring to specific things a speaker is expected to be aware of, and generic things that are just being introduced into the discourse: "a ball [which I haven't mentioned up until now] broke Mr. Smith's window; Mr. Smith kept the ball [which I just mentioned]."

In particular proper nouns which sound like they might be generic will sometimes customarily get a "the" tacked on to indicate the audience is expected to picture the well-known thing rather than some unknown one ("The United States", "The Great Lakes", "The Big Easy"). "The Donald" is a definite article usage of this type, with an bit of ironic deprecation mixed in.

By the way the plural of "ignoramus" is "ignoramuses", not "ignorami". That is because "ignoramus" was never a noun in Latin; rather it is a conjugation of the verb ignorare (to be unacquainted with, to ignore). "Ignoramus" entered English as a legal term to mean "we take no notice of" (e.g. a witness whose testimony is irrelevant because he has no firsthand knowledge).

Comment Re: I was able to successfully use a docx (Score 1) 98

Yep. I always use LibreOffice to edit and send back documents for work. It usually works OK, but with frequent glitches. I worried about that, so I once asked our admin if she had a problem with the docs I sent back. She said mine were no worse than those she got from everybody else, and she had never realized I wasn't actually using MS word to edit them. Glitches and formatting errors is apparently completely normal even with the same version of MS word on different computers.

Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 337

John Cook (put his blog in your RSS feed if you don't already have it) made a very good point recently: The speed gains from Moore's Law are dwarfed by the speed gains from algorithmic improvements. And unlike Moore's Law, we're not yet seeing a limit approaching for better ways to solve stuff. The post in question: http://www.johndcook.com/blog/...

Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 337

A lot of tasks intrinsically don't scale, or scale only up to some limit. Some people are running into this already in the HPC world, were we have big parallel machines that they can't take full advantage of. Their simulations simply don't scale above a certain number of cores.

This problem is becoming steadily worse, since people want to make models with more detail (that tends to not parallelize well), and simulate much longer timeframes than before. If you're simulating protein interactions over one millisecond, then it might not matter if it takes an hour or two. But if you want to use that to understand LTP in neurons and simulate a second or two, then it becomes a very major problem if your model can't parallelize further and the per-core speed stays put.

Comment Re:last chance to buy quality Sharp products (Score 4, Insightful) 48

Geeks are just as good the world over, whether Japan, Taiwan, EU, US or China. Product quality has nothing to do with the quality of the designers and builders and everything to do with the budget and time constraints they have to do their stuff. And that is all about where their company wants to position itself in the price/quality/reputation landscape.

Sharp has a well-deserved reputation for good quality and sometimes off-beat or niche products that delight a few even if they don't become huge sellers. And that's of course part reason why they've been in trouble for some years now. Foxconn doesn't have a reputation for premium products or for doing their own thing.

I share the worry that Sharp as we know it will disappear, and just become another nameplate pasted on bland, forgettable me-too stuff.

Comment Re:$40K still a lot for most folks (Score 1) 37

The difference is what can be done about it.

If the market decides that it's not important for people to have this, then the only way to change that is for the people who need it to somehow become rich. If the regulators decide people shouldn't have this, then the voters can change that. And if you factor in the increased independence and productivity of the recipients, it might not cost that much.

Of course the way we do it now is we force employers to make accommodations. That's better than nothing, but statistically the public is still paying; the burden is just randomly concentrated on a few unlucky employers.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 668

Since when have we reached the point where you aren't allowed to annoy or offend people?

Since never. You're still allowed to offend people, but it's never been the case you could do that with impunity.

The only thing that has really changed is that communication on a mass scale is literally too cheap to meter. That means putative offenses and the dudgeon that follows on them can spread across the globe in minutes rather than taking days or weeks to spread through your immediate circle of face-to-face acquaintances. So without people changing one bit, the circumstances in which they interact in have changed dramatically. For things to go back to the way they used to be people would actually have to stop being the same as they've always been.

Well good luck with that. People tend to be stubborn idiots. College students tend to be inexperienced stubborn idiots. That means they're trying to find their place in the world, and the way an inexperienced idiot would do that is to try to change the world. And if there's enough of them working together (using cheap global communications?) then they might even succeed. Sometimes that's even a good thing, but it's never pretty.

Comment Re:Controversial? (Score 2) 125

Well, I think this is one of those cases where there's an umbrella rule that serve purpose, but which might also have sensible exceptions. In this case the rule is that selecting embryo sex is something that ought to be discouraged.

There are lots of reasons to discourage selecting offspring sex, some of which a reasonable person might disagree with. For example some would object that it's playing God. Others might say say that it's wrong to value persons of one sex more than others. I don't find those particular objections compelling, but one thing I do find convincing is that changing the almost 1:1 balance of reproductive age men and women could destabilize society in various ways. But note that under that particular objection we could certainly tolerate exceptions that are relatively rare. For example the slight discrepancy between the number of males who identify as gay and the number of females who identify as lesbian has no practical impact on straight people. Clearly an exception in this case would only affect a handful of people and is not a concern under the demographic balance argument.

The knee-jerk controversy that follows any proposal to do something which as a rule of thumb is frowned upon does serve a useful function. Because of confirmation bias, people tend to be blind to unintended consequences of things they've decided to do. Making them address those consequences is, within reason, a good idea.

Anyhow, that explains why restricting this to male embryos is more controversial than allowing either sex. Doing it at all is controversial because of the burden a failure could put on future society and the potential suffering it could cause.

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