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Comment: Lack of rigour in math teaching made math suck (Score 1) 241

by presidenteloco (#47486613) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

It was all the shortcuts, left out "intuitively obvious" steps, and sloppy use of variable names and symbols that drove me up the wall trying to learn advanced math from (imho crappy) math profs.

Let me tell you about the lecture with no less than three different Epsilons (a rounded one, a less rounded one, and something in between) used in the exposition of the proofs. That and my slight myopia kind of did me in in that class (or would have if I hadn't cribbed notes from my neighbour.)

Or, when, as a math prof, giving an example of applied math used for something like physics, why don't we just pick completely random variable names, instead, of, say, using m for mass consistently, v for velocity, etc.

I understand some kind of need to force people to think only of the form and not imbue terms with more semantics that aren't necessarily there in a particular mathematical formal system, but holy cow, could you be more obscure? Why yes I could. I will use 's' for mass on this page, and r' for mass on this next page, just to see if you are paying attention. !!!

Comment: Re:dumbo (Score 1) 288

by presidenteloco (#47485665) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Sorry, did you say a public debate about the science.

You mean by all those public people properly qualified to assess the process and outputs of science?

Yeah, that sounds like a great idea to assess the truth of the claims of "expert consensus" science.

While your at it, why don't you start a public debate on whether the Higgs Boson exists, and if so,
which God it is the God particle of.

Comment: Re:Why so worked up? Answer. (Score 1) 288

by presidenteloco (#47485585) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Per capita CO2 emissions is the only fair way to assess this:

Tonnes CO2 per person per year
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Australia: 16.75
China: 6.18
India: 1.64

2010 data:

So in summary Australia is 2.7 times as bad a greenhouse gas emissions offender as China and more than 10 times worse than India, on a per person basis.

It's not going to work to say: You poor guys tighten your belts a bit more eh, when the real numbers are as they are shown above.
It's massive hypocrisy to blame China and India for this problem.
Lead by example Australia. Cut your emissions in have to 8 Tonnes CO2 per person, then you might ask China not to grow to more than 8 Tonnes per person.

Comment: A massive carbon tax funding green energy R&D (Score 1) 288

by presidenteloco (#47485377) Attached to: Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

Would be the right kind of carbon tax to have.

The world needs several "Manhattan Project" scale initiatives to invent and commercialize effective zero-greenhouse-emissions energy and transportation technologies.

If it's cheaper to pay the carbon tax than to change your ways (i.e. your industry / transport) then the carbon tax isn't high enough, and hasn't been put into funding effective alternatives to fossil fuel energy infrastructure.

Replicant wisdom applies:
Roy: There's only two of us now.
Pris: Then we're stupid and we'll die.

Comment: Rationale for the ban is??? (Score 3, Insightful) 199

by presidenteloco (#47310229) Attached to: FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones

Presumeably the FAA doesn't think that hobbyists are much more responsible flyers than corporations doing business, so there must be another reason for this ban, yes? What could it be?

a) Corporate business use would amount to greatly increased drone flights, and the FAA just doesn't think its regulatory ability, or the safety aspects of the technology, is ready for prime time wide scale use yet? For example, the interaction of drones and conventional aviation would have to be worked out in great detail for safety, and more technology and rules would be needed.

b) Nuisance aspect of the technology? Noise? If widely deployed?

c) The FAA just likes banning stuff in general, and new stuff in particular?

d) Some vested competing interests (say, trucking industry? teamsters?,...?) are lobbying / bribing FAA senior administrators and/or politicians who have a say?

Comment: Re:GMOs are toxic and will be shown to cause cance (Score 1) 396

by presidenteloco (#47249295) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

A statement like GMOs cause cancer has little more information content than "life causes cancer" which is undoubtedly true but vacuous.

Which GMOs? All of them? Which genetic modification in particular? All of them? One of them? Some class of them, defined somehow?

At the level of generality you state it, you are contributing to the perception that GMO opponents are unscientific.

There are very serious concerns about GMOs and ecosystems. But overstating the case with a pseudo-science statement like "GMOs are toxic" just weakens the legitimate arguments against GMOs. Every genetic manipulation of every different organism species is a different case, and will have different effects.

It's very akin to changing a computer program. What you say is akin to saying "every change to MacOSX is toxic and will cause a worldwide computer virus epidemic". Well that is clearly an uninformed, and frankly, dumb statement, and it undermines the legitimate argument that there are some (relatively few) possible specific types of changes to MacOSX that would in fact cause a worldwide computer virus epidemic.

Comment: Re:GMOs are inherently risky (Score 1) 396

by presidenteloco (#47249169) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

They just may not prioritize the risk above their salary or their company shares value.

A lot of people are content to be engineers and scientists in pretty morally bankrupt enterprises. How could any smart, educated person with a functioning moral compass work as an engineer or scientist in say, the fossil fuel industry these days, with the possible exception of those working on coal carbon-capture and storage.

And yet plenty do. Being book smart in a specialty doesn't mean you are wise or particularly moral.

Who built Dr. Evil's high-tech lair and outfitted his sharks with frickin' lasers, I ask you? I rest my case.

Comment: GMOs are inherently risky (Score 4, Interesting) 396

by presidenteloco (#47247043) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Probably most if not all current GMO food crops do not damage human health.

However, in the abstract, you are engineering (almost arbitrarily modifying) organisms capable of spontaneous reproduction and proliferation, so the level of precautionary principle needed is commensurate with "would it be ok if this escaped into the wild and took over ecosystem niches from more naturally evolved or incrementally bred crops / organisms? Do we have an accurate model of what would happen in that case? Have we tested enough to verify that model? And every case of a different manipulation or in a different organism is different so requires repetition of extensive testing."

The types of risks there run the gamut from destruction of wild varieties and species by competition from the GMO. Substantial alteration of ecosystem by shifting the balance of successful and unsuccessful organisms. Proliferation of and reliance on a GMO monoculture which is then subject to rapid destruction from a single pathogen. etc. etc. Ecological system effects in other words. Very hard to test for.

Again, it will probably be all be fine, until one day when it won't. When something unanticipated will happen and, well, the genie is out of the bottle and doesn't fit back in.

At a minimum, GMO food should be labelled as such, and let people decide for themselves and vote with their pocketbook.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981