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Comment: Re:We're talking about a tiny change (Score 1) 421

by neilo_1701D (#49111865) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?

Help me out here. Full disclosure: I'm an AGW skeptic.

The amount of light that you'd have to reflect to counter even the most extreme climate change models is so minor that it is unlikely to be noticeable with the human eye

So for years we've been told that solar variation is too small to cause the climatic changes we see, correct? [Disclosure: I agree with this statement]

So I don't follow this logic: if the change required is so small, how does that compare to solar irradiation changes that we can see and measure (which, btw, are also very small)? And if the changes required are of equal magnitude... how do we come to the conclusion that solar variation isn't the cause of climate change in the first place?

Comment: Re:Don't fuck with Mother Nature (Score 3, Interesting) 421

by neilo_1701D (#49111779) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?

I'd rather have us fuck with Mother Nature after a decade of exhaustive research, debate, and cost benefit analysis

I refer you to the calicivirus experiment in Australia for a truly scary example of exhaustive research, debate and cost-benefit analysis that didn't quite work out as intended.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease, also known as calicivirus, was trialed in Australia to eliminate the rabbit population. Calicivirus can only infect rabbits; there is no interspecies transmission or carrier.

The trial was conducted on Wardang Island, some 2.4 miles off the coast of South Australia in Spencer Gulf. The island was already loaded with rabbits that were cut off from the mainland, and there was no known way for any of these rabbits to cross the water.

In 1991, the virus was introduced to the island. By 1995 it had spread to the mainland, killing 10 million rabbits within 8 weeks of it’s arrival. Those that were left developed immunity.

So, we have an isolated island with a virus that can only be transmitted within a single species; said species can’t swim; certainly not the two miles. Yet, unintended and unforeseen consequences of this carefully planned, carefully modeled and (apparently) highly contained in a very controlled area that was heavily policed by AQIS went horribly awry and made the rabbit plague in Australia much worse, but managed to wipe out huge numbers of pets rabbits..

We can't get it right on the small scale; how do we know we'll get it right on the planetary scale?

Comment: Re:disclosure (Score 1) 448

by neilo_1701D (#49106835) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

Is your point that the salt science was influenced by grant money? Was there a big, rich anti-salt lobby that wanted to destroy salt companies?

There doesn't have to be an anti-anything lobby for fraudulent research to take place. Good old Noble Cause will suffice. Have you heard of Debendox, marketed as Bendectin in the US?

Back in 1961, Dr William McBride wrote about a large number of birth defects in children whose mother was prescribed Thalidomide. He showed that Thalidomide messes up the DNA of dividing cells (which makes it an ideal candidate as an anti-cancer drug, but that's another story). Flushed with funds, grants and awards, he set up Foundation 41to investigate birth defects.

In 1981, he published a paper claiming that Debendox caused birth defects, and went along as an expert witness in the subsequent lawsuits. The problem was, he falsified his results, and when that story broke he lost essentially everything. But he didn't fake his results for the money, prestige, awards or anything like that. He faked his results because he truly believed he was doing the right thing by doing so.

I know that's not the point you were making... but people do bad stuff because they believe the outcomes justify it, not simply because they can make a quick buck.

Comment: Re:Yes and Yes! (Score 1) 716

by neilo_1701D (#49028757) Attached to: Is Modern Linux Becoming Too Complex?

I do agree with you.

In the occasional fit of nostalgia for when life was simpler, cleaner and only occasionally interrupted with a Guru Meditation, I'll boot up an Amiga emulation. It's simpler, cleaner, faster... and utterly frustrating if I want to do anything remotely "modern" with it. Like, you know, browse the web or something. Then I need to be running Workbench 3.something, with a TCP stack etc.

That's me, with an Amiga. Choose your own nostalgia and try.

Operating Systems have got more complex simply because we expect more of them.

Comment: Re:Its even more impressive... (Score 2) 204

by neilo_1701D (#48923279) Attached to: Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record

... when you consider the ZX81 chess was written in Z80 assembler whereas this is in x86 asm and although both have variable sized instructions the x86 will on average be larger.

Why do you say that?

My understanding (and if I'm wrong feel free to correct) is that the Z-80 is a bastard clone of an 8080. So, byte-for-byte there should be no difference between the two (if you keep the x86 in real mode). BIOS calls and the need to implement the boot sector code add some guff to the x86, of course, which makes RSI's achievement that much more impressive.

Comment: Re:Its even more impressive... (Score 1) 204

by neilo_1701D (#48923231) Attached to: Computer Chess Created In 487 Bytes, Breaks 32-Year-Old Record

... when you consider the ZX81 chess was written in Z80 assembler whereas this is in x86 asm and although both have variable sized instructions the x86 will on average be larger.

What sort of onboard computer facilities is the x86 version able to use? I assume the ZX81 version would made used calls to various pre-defined routines in the 8K OS/BASIC ROM (safe to say it would have been absolutely impossible to do in 1KB without that), so it isn't "cheating" for the x86 version to do the same... but it does make it hard to compare if the x86 BIOS or other firmware is far more sophisticated and includes routines that the ZX81 version would have had to implement itself (i.e. within the already constrained space).

Have a look at the ASM for the ZX-81 code. Keep in mind that ROM calls are in the 0..8192 range, and there was no documentation of the system like there is of a modern BIOS today (yes, I'm aware of Ian Logan's Understanding your ZX81 ROM; that book was an introduction to writing assembly on a ZX81, not a ROM dump). From looking at the ZX81 asm (having to stretch my brain to remember Z-80 syntax), it looks to me that the code is completely self-contained. It picks up the display file address (who remembers 2A 0C 40?) from the system variables, but that's ok; all software had to do that. But the rest of the code only calls internal routines.

A ZX-81 ROM does less than you probably think it does.

Comment: Re: Good news (Score 3, Informative) 422

by neilo_1701D (#48887481) Attached to: Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

Star Wars 'ethos' is front and center via the Force, so its harder for JJ to lens flare away the central theme of the story (balance of Light and Dark).

Lightsaber battles with lens flares. Lots of lightsaber battles. And put lens flares on the lightsabre exhaust ports. And the X-Wings speeding over the water; those water droplets surely must interact with light to cause lens flares.

'nuff said.

Comment: Re:Good news (Score 1) 422

by neilo_1701D (#48887435) Attached to: Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

Even when he was out of the loop on TNG, Roddenberry still managed to screw with early Ron Moore screenplays like The Bonding, loudly insisting that "children in the 24th century wouldn't morn their parent's death."

However, The Bonding turned into a very interesting story because of that. Now we have the consequences of someone else's guilt being pushed onto another person - in this age of outrage on behalf of someone else, very topical too.

I agree that generally the scripts and ideas got better as Roddenberry was removing himself from the process - but his overarching vision and narrative framework made the interesting stories possible in the first place. It's that narrative framework that allowed Berman et al to create DS9 and VOY.

As a counter-example to this, I present Enterprise. See what happens to Star Trek stories that are completely outside Roddenberry's influence.

Comment: Re:It's about time. (Score 1) 138

by neilo_1701D (#48875055) Attached to: Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film

That's easy to fix. How about we have Spock come through a wormhole (or somesuch) to a point just before the first movie and nip it in the bud. That way, the existing canon will be wiped out and the series can be rebooted without messing up canon.

Ah shit; that's just too simplistic. No studio will ever fall for a crap idea like that.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley