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Comment Re:Democracy needs smart people (Score 1) 1138

If twelve years doesn't cut it, I doubt four to eight more will.

Except that those first 12 years were usually spent in local and public schools. The quality of teaching, and perhaps more importantly, what is taught, varies widely based on what community those schools are in (just look at the news about Texas or other bible states gutting science curricula of schools, with ballot measures or legislative decisions).

Higher education, by and large, enjoys the benefit of being a little less public, and can thus teach a curriculum based on science and fact if it wants to, rather than the opinions of the loudest groups in a given district.

Also, many kids travel away from home, or out-of-state to go to school, giving them exposure to a broader range of ideas and cultures.

So yeah, I'm going to say that when arguing that a solid education is important to effective participation in a democracy, it is valid to think four more years might succeed where 12 failed.

Comment Re:Gasoline (Score 2, Interesting) 908

First, hydrogen has an energy density of 142 MJ/kg, whereas your gasoline is 45.8.

Second, huge amounts (~70%) of the energy in a tank of gasoline is wasted as heat, whereas a motor can convert closer to 80 or 90% into motion. So we can slash the tank size if we're not going to burn two thirds of it.

Third: why hot swap batteries? They're big and heavy. A small, ultra-high capacity capacitor can actually hold very high potential for quite awhile, and can charge in seconds.

I appreciate that the simplicity of gasoline and it's relatively high energy density was indeed the best thing for the last century, allowing energy to be moved and used anywhere anytime with relatively simple machines. But I think to assume that because it was the best means it is the best and to ignore newer technologies is to miss a possible solution to a looming catastrophe as the days of the petroleum based economy are certainly dwindling.


Making Old Sound Recordings Audible Again 172

orgelspieler writes "NPR is running a story on a safe way to reproduce sound from ancient phonographs that would otherwise be unplayable. The system, called IRENE, was installed in the Library of Congress last year. It can be used to replay records that are scratched, worn, broken, or just too fragile to play with a needle. It scans the groves optically and processes them into a sound file at speeds approaching real time. IRENE is great at removing pops and skips, but can add some hiss. Researchers are also working on a 3D model that is better at removing hiss."

Submission + - Windows Vista SP1 beta due this week

StonyandCher writes: Computerworld is running a story that says a beta of the first service pack for Windows Vista will be out any day now, with a final release by November.

The blog reported Tuesday in a post that Microsoft 's Windows Driver Kit (WDK) team sent out an e-mail to beta testers that a new build of the WDK was being released to them to coincide "with the recent OS beta release for Vista SP1 Preview," hinting that SP1 beta is soon to be sent to testers.

In an e-mail interview Wednesday one source close to the company said he had been told by insiders that a beta of SP1 would be out by now, so an imminent release is highly likely. And another in an interview over instant messenger said that beta testers report SP1 will definitely be out this week, with a final release coming in November or December.

Submission + - New $298 Wal-Mart PC with, no crapware (

cristarol writes: Wal-Mart has begun selling a $298 Everex IMPACT GC3502 PC. It comes with Windows Vista Home Basic and 2.2, as well as a complete lack of crapware: 'Users accustomed to being bombarded with trialware offers and seeing their would-be pristine Windows desktops littered with shortcuts to AOL and other applications will likely be pleased at their absence from the GC3502. "In creating the eco-friendly GC3602, our main focus was to build a no-compromise, back-to-school PC with all the software applications a typical student would require, without resorting to bundling frivolous trial versions or increasing prices 30 percent," said Everex product manager Eugene Chang.' The hardware is nothing to write home about: a 1.5GHz Via C7 with 1GB of RAM and integrated graphics, but as Ars points out, it should be more than capable of performing basic tasks.

Submission + - 50 Laws of Software Development (

iamdrscience writes: There's no better way to pretend you're smart than quoting an idea thought up by some other smart guy who is now dead or old. This post from the Tucows Developer Blog catalogs 50 Laws of Software Development. In addition to the well-known ideas like Occam's Razor and Clark's Third Law the list includes many other lesser known laws such as Joy's Law ("No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.").

Submission + - Mozilla Patches Firefox; Warns About Using IE (

Growmash writes: Mozilla has rolled out Firefox with patches for a total of 9 nine vulnerabilities, including cover for the controversial IE-to-Firefox code execution attack vector. Even after plugging the hole, Mozilla inserted a blunt message into its alert: "This patch does not fix the vulnerability in Internet Explorer." The open-source group is also urging Web surfers to use Firefox to browse the web "to prevent attackers from exploiting this problem in Internet Explorer."

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall