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Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 1) 257

physics I don't know about, but 15+ years ago I was helping a PhD Biology student (working on a specific heart malfunction in humans, so bio-med or something) write his thesis/dissertation paper. I t turned out that while he thought he was studying the heart problem, his supervisor decided that the mouse that he was engineering to have to heart problem was such an achievement that he told him to write that up instead for the degree.

What does this have to do with the issue? The PhD student was the only one able to create the mouse. Four other groups around the world were trying, but had failed in the endeavor. Not only that, even people in the lab, with the same breeds of mice and the same equipment, under his supervision could not reproduce the mice. His mice could reproduce, so he just bred them and sent them out to other labs working on the heart problem, but no one, by the time I left, had reproduced the mouse. Sooooo.....

Comment Re:"...need to be prepared..." (Score 1) 382

Eg: I live in Tampa FL. About 1 mile from downtown and 13 ft above average sea level right now. If the sea rose two feet in the next few years it would wipe out the most valuable real estate in Tampa Bay, pretty much devastating the economy of the area. Davis and Harbor Islands were manufactured with rubble back a hundred years ago, just one hurricane with a 5 foot storm surge would wash everything out on the islands, including the hospital (Tampa General Hospital). Yeah, this is real, we jeust had a summer of good rains, not hurricanes or tropical storms, just rains, and six of the small towns in the bay area were evacuated at least once. The bayfront properties were all flooded. South Tampa was cut off a few times. And it is getting worse because it is still raining.

Comment Re:He's got company (Score 1) 442

Language is FUN!
Notice the use of the word "tribes." It was passed to us through our civics and history books, that explained why the uneducated, unskilled native American tribes could not compete with the highly skilled and educated European nations. Oh yes, the language tells it all.

"Notice the use of the word 'nations.' It was passed to us through our civics and history books that explained why the uneducated, unskilled native American nations could not compete with the highly skilled and educated European tribes. Oh yes, the language tells it all."

Comment Re:wish this existed in silicon valley (Score 1) 258

I have biked (motor, electric and leg-powered) in Europe, Asia and the US. The US is crazy about going fast, too fast. So fast they must lose everything they gain by going fast when they arrive, change clothes and shower. In other places people slow down, pay attention to the surroundings and don't get into crashes that require a helmet to hold your brainshit in place for the ride to the hospital. They also can walk into work, stress-free and happy from some really useful exercise.

By following the simple rule of going slower than all the Americans around me, I have had a single accident: when a Chinese woman was texting while pulling onto a busy highway and almost ran me over. I had time to jump off, drop my bike safely in front of her car and thereby get a new bike for her stupidity. She lost her license as well BTW.

Comment Re:What the fuck is the summary saying?! (Score 1) 258

I used to work as a copy editor for a very small publisher and could not agree more. Basically, in my experience anyway, the copy editor is the person who actually sets the style, the vocabulary, the syntax and the grammar, while the "author" slings ideas at a blank screen. As the hiring of editors has reduced and the skill of the editors hired has plummeted we are seeing the mess that is publication being sucked down into a miserable hell.

You think this is bad? This is free! Wired is worse and they charge money for it!

Comment Re:Nothing to see here... (Score 1) 83

They needed to do some meta-analysis of existing work first. There is quite a bit, even some existing meta work done on sound systems. Really, I speak Chinese and English and am aware of the similarities and difference. It is interesting about the use of high-pitch in the part of the countryside they were working in (but I would bet that the people in Yunnan might have some different sound options as would people in Xizang, GuangDong or the Manchu or any of the radically different language areas around China.

My students in Suzhou, China considered the highest pitches to be signs of opera, since the sung performances often used very high pitch. As well, I often saw comedians who would use a very high pitch to comic effect. All of these are quite different from what they were talking about since they were not semantic, rather meta-linguistic in themselves, "registering" comedy, or high drama or whatever was normal for that milieu.

I don't think that their direction of study is valid simply because they haven't done the meta-work to actually be prepared for this. If they doubled back and actually did that work then it might be of some use.

Comment Re:Nothing to see here... (Score 1) 83

A "real" linguist here, one who specializes on the complex and semantic sound aspects of English. (in other words, I focus on how sounds are often semantically important in English, as they are in Chinese, but differently semantic)

The mistakes here are all based on not understanding that we have a built-in sound system that uses pitch, pitch change, length of vowel hold and variation in length of vowel change as well as loudness to affect meaning. The simplest example, for native speakers is: "Yeah, right." If I give the "right" part a very low pitch, set both lengths the same and add a higher pitch with a slight rise on the "yeah" part you get a phrase which says the exact opposite of the apparent semantic meaning of "yes, I agree." (as in "no, you are an idiot"). If you reverse the sonic structures (low "yeah" and higher and rising "right") you get the strong semantic meaning.

So, everything they are pointing to has existing semantic meaning in English, which kind of ruins their ideas unless they can show that these structures have the same meaning in all languages(which they don't).

the end of the article is a gentle rebuttal:" “From the data they have, there’s a big jump to the conclusions that they are making. But you have to start somewhere. I’m quite sympathetic with the conclusions.” Sympathetic? How very kind of you.

Comment Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (Score 1) 254

I work in an environment (and have for many years, in many places in the world, doing many different jobs in a similar environment) where I have used Libre and Open office (and even tried Symphony for a short time). I have been able to consistenly provide perfect results with everything I do, whether spreadsheets, presentations or documents. There has never been a question or a problem. In fact, I have been able to often provide better and more consistent results than my colleagues can with MS Office.

EG: I work in an office right now where no one seems to be able to find or use the numbering function for numbered lists. MS Office has apparently hidden it in the ribbon and, perhaps because they don't use it often or at all, it is relegated to the ribbon dungeon.

Now, in none of the places I have worked has anyone shown me a function that MS Office has that Libre/Open office doesn't have THAT THEY USE. Obviously it is the use that is important. Once someone told me that they needed a particular spreadsheet function that LO/OO didn't have, but it seemed to me to be a naming difference rather than a function difference.

Now, this is not to say that there are not tons of edge cases that MS Office meets that LO/OO don't. But I wouldn't know because they don't affect 99% of users.

OK, everybody on the same page with me? So why do people insist that they must have the difficulty and complexity that is modern MS Office?
1) It is all that has been sold/given to them.
2) It must be better since it costs money. (yes, I and other FOSSarians know that this is meaningless, but most people live in a world where cheap or free means trashy and broken. I maintain that many people in this forum say these things about FOSS because they expect it to be trashy and broken , thereby creating an experience of the same. The amount of time I have watched colleagues fight, bitch, moan and struggle with the perfection that everyone agrees is MS Office would make me argue against its wonderfulness.
3) They once had something that they needed to do with something and they knew how to do it with MS Office but couldn't figure out how to do it in another (fill in LO/OO here even though it wasn't) suite.
4) They had a colleague who needed to handle an edge case that LO/OO really doesn't do and therefore they are useless for everyone. All it takes is one person in an office who has always used a particular function to create this situation.

I have seen all these situations in my various workplaces. I always use LO or OO and have never been restrained in what I do, have never been slowed down by my choice (in fact I usually finish first, but that might just be a matter of focus, food and sleep). I am legion, or would be if people just used simple solutions rather than stupidly complex solutions. (Notice that people are really much happier using a stupidly simple photo editor that only has 4 or 5 functions than using photoshop.) It is ease of use, which I think once people get it than they will stay with it, I have.

Comment Re:Wait, what? (Score 1) 361

What I truly find disturbing is that the GM companies have managed the debate to include only the issues mentioned here in this discussion: costs, viability, litigation, effectiveness and humor (as in laughing at the "anti-scientific fools who don't trust science"). I am replying to this post because the P fell into the trap: "the last twenty years."

Well, let grandpappy tell you about the bad old days, when "science" was used to support the growth of an industry that was producing a great product, making it cheaper, tastier and more available to people all over the world who wanted and needed it. People who were advocating government controls, advertising against this "dangerous and harmful" product ("it can cause cancer!") were being laughed at and called scaremongers and health-nuts and all the varieties of names used against the anti-GMO crowd today. The product, like the new GMO products had been around in many forms since the dawn of time and had been used safely by humans for a large part of it.

But, in the 50s and 60s, crop scientists started to mess with it. They also worked on its delivery and how to make it appealing to more people. They advertised to a wider market and made it more .. palatable? ... to more people. It was a wild success and spread around the world faster than a wildfire. Concerns about health risks were knocked down as not being empirical, not being valid and not being "scientific." Marketing was rampant, TV, radio, billboards, everywhere people saw it and bought it. I remember in the 80s, seeing an billboard ad that caught my eye for one of the variety of forms of this product, it involved a subliminal of a nude woman spread-eagled across a small tin of the product. That billboard stayed up for months, nobody said a word, even there within 5 miles of Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church!

If you haven't guessed, the product was tobacco. When I was 7 years old I started smoking, and continued for most of the next 42 years. The science that was argued was the difference between causation and correlation in the incidence of cancer. The original data about correlation was done in the 50s, but it was done by the tobacco companies themselves and they buried it. It was a whistleblower who brought the data out, and he was ruined because of it. It was 30 years or more before the government banned cigarette advertising, but other forms still were advertised into the 90s AFAIK. Scientists could prove that there was no data to support causation, therefore cigarettes were not cancer causing. Correlation data took generations to amass, so by the time we had it we had hundreds of thousands of deaths and mouth and tongue and throat cancers, lung transplants and emphysema, COPA, all from tobacco.

For these reasons I don't feel the need to point to science and say "there is no proof." I do feel the need to be mistrustful and cautious when a mega corp says, "Our scientists can prove it is safe!" I have heard that before and believed it then. But you know the old saw "Fool me once shame on you, etc." I won't be fooled again, no matter what the science that the company produced says. It will be generations before we know what the downside (and there is always a downside to everything that happens) is and how bad it will be.

Comment Re:With all these attacks, (Score 1) 123

which is actually a reasonably low price considering that they have no domestic source for oil.

We should be paying for the cost of lost resources, lost to inefficiencies all through the system. Wise up mericans, we are letting our children and grandchildren get raped by the oil companies while we sit in our SUVs and pickups and blow fumes in the faces of our neighbors "harharhar!!!"

Comment Not me, but another old codger I know of (Score 1) 466

My brother's (recently departed) father-in-law, (apologies if he posted already) designed and built a house in Vermont that was not only entirely DC, but also solar powered. Yes, solar naysayers, in northern Vermont. All his electric came from solar, but he did have a small backup generator for just in case (well really, he was in his 70s when he built the place). I got to visit there once (the wedding) and was blown away. Little tiny pump to pump water to the solar hot water heater and then gravity back down to the shower and kitchen. He hadn't finished and the "switches" were just wires sticking out of the wall that you could twist together by hand. The frig was from a boat, as was the stove I think.

So, it is possible, sounds like fun, enough that I have hopes to build one similar but really small on our property in the blue ridge, up on top of a ridge. No wires, no wires...

Comment Re: Well, sure, but... (Score 1) 295

Yes there is reason to think so: Short term profit is what drives modern corporations like Monsanto, and short term profit planning has nothing to do with "fear-mongering.
For me, the simplest way to explain how untrustworthy Monsanto is: Look at the success of the Phillip Morris Corp.They had a product that they recognized as a danger to user's health in the early 60s/late 50s. Instead of notifying the public they tripled down on advertising and marketing to new markets: women, young adults and foreign countries. They made a massive fortune from it and expanded into the world. By the time the science caught up with them they had divested of tobacco and bought into the global food market. While they still have some cigarette brands, the greatest part of the money went overseas to support their buyin to other things. They paid out some small penalties, but nothing close to what smokers paid out in health costs resulting from smoking addictions.

No, Monsanto has nothing to fear.

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine. -- Andy Warhol