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Comment: Very limited test (Score 1) 63

Surviving the estimated 1000 degree centigrade reentry temperature is impressive. The rest of the test - a suborbital flight of 780 seconds - is less so. But I would have expected the seconds of heat to be more deadly to the DNA than light years of cold, so it's still interesting.

Comment: Vocanic Winter (Score 0) 23

by retroworks (#48479211) Attached to: Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights
There's actually a fairly cool and intelligent discussion that could be had about volcanic activity's role in the history of world climate, and how forecasting of volcanic activity can play a role in climate modelling. Too bad I can't anticipate actually having that discussion without an eruption of troll commentary. Merely discussing it amounts to flamebait due to the polarizing of opinions on the issue.

Comment: Creates False Impressions of Opinion Majority (Score 5, Interesting) 359

by retroworks (#48478591) Attached to: Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election
Besides the effect on lawmaking (or failure to pass laws under gridlock), gerrymandering gives people on both sides of issues a sense of majority. "I won in a landslide, I must be right", combined with polarized news programming, has been demonstrated to make people dumber. Harvard Business Review has an interesting article this week on opinion reinforcement and groupthink this week [ ], which compares focus groups from liberal Boulder CO USA and conservative Colorado Springs USA. The researchers documented the negative effects of grouping like-minded people in political discussions. I think gerrymandering has the same effect on political intelligence. Their own conservatism or liberalism appears validated by landslide elections in their districts.

Comment: Extend to Facial Recognition Software? (Score 1) 183

by retroworks (#48474313) Attached to: Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten
This is the big thing. Not just NSA, but retailer cameras selling stuff you literally "browse" by foot in the aisle. According to this article, Google and Facebook have the biggest "face banks" for the facial recognition software. Can they be told to forget that, too? If not, you aren't really "forgotten" just because you don't appear in a search engine. I don't think Europe could pass a law making Google delete the information.

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 1) 509

by retroworks (#48473241) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?
It isn't "crazy" to suppose, as de Tocqueville does, that the free market (like the fisherman of 'rude attainments') may have thought of something we didn't think of. Of course you are right about buildings being several stories tall and not expandable are made of stone. Therefore... the free market makes city buildings out of stone, even in the ignorant USA. Big city buildings are stone, big ocean ships are metal, small homes in countrysides are wood, and small small boats are still made of wood, even in the USA. The broader point is that someone as intelligent as Alexis dT could be surprised, for all his education, that the free market had made a rational decision. The original post is the equivalent of saying that small fishing boats should be made of metal. The argument is whether building codes and other social engineering will outperform the free market. The question is especially dangerous when the code developer has a quasi-religious approach, a moral certitude. It would be an environmental waste to make small boats out of metal boats. They'd be sturdier, but the amount of carbon and fossil fuels wasted by mining and refining ores to make heavy, slow, small metal boats would be a waste (though probably supported by the metal mining industry). USA has other problems with its wooden structure model, such as "urban sprawl"... I don't think the free market is perfect, but "command and control" scares me, especially when it's promoted by factoids and math that dazzle non-engineers, and are used to support a pompous argument over homebuilding material. Your math of finite resources is exactly on point... But you are using the math on finite resources to promote the theory that European command and control will protect those resources better than the free market. That's the argument central to TFA... Was the free market stupid, or would "solving" it just as likely lead to stone buildings in the countryside and small metal boats?

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 1) 509

by retroworks (#48473197) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?
Valid points. But generally, the cost of entrenching is a bet against innovation. Maybe you're right and it's a good bet to bury several billion dollars of copper. I wasn't thinking the innovation would eliminate cable, the analogy to DSL in the home walls was that I'd paid to entrench what turned out to be the wrong kind of cable.

+ - Engineering Groupthink: How Polarized Opinion Works->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "Harvard Business Review (5 free articles until payall warning) has an interesting article about groupthink. The authors describe a study of two focus groups. One is from classically "red state" conservative Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. A second focus group hailed from more liberal leaning Boulder, Colorado. Individually, members of each focus group were surveyed for their opinions before the groups met. Individual members (as anticipated) trended conservatively in Colorado Springs, and liberally in Boulder. Everyone was re-surveyed (anonymously and otherwise) after the groups met. After meeting with their opinionated peers, respondents opinions hardened. Conservatives answered the same surveys responded MORE conservatively, and liberals MORE liberally. When focus groups are randomized (blues and reds in proportion, in the same group), opinions become less polarized. The article discusses the effects on public policy and business decision making when groups assigned a problem to solve self-select and recruit people like themselves. Diversity leads to more intelligent decision making. Or if you are selling a specific (weaker) solution, be obnoxious to reduce participation from competitive views. Incentive-driven opinion benefits from the lack of diversity, protecting its agenda by driving away newbies who avoid trolls.

Maybe this is nothing new... the effect of co-ed dorms vs. single-sex dorms and fraternities has been studied for decades. As someone who has participated in /. for about 15 years, attracted to intelligent discourse, I notice how many mod points must today be spent on flamebait. There is still good debate, but frequently someone making an otherwise very valid counter-argument dilutes its effect with emphatic hostility and ad hominem attacks on the original poster. Is the ratio of "inciteful" to "insightful" going down? It's no way to attract women slashdotters, btw."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 4, Insightful) 509

by retroworks (#48466105) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

As an American married to a European, I've often been asked by puzzled Europeans as to why Americans build houses from wood. Alexis de Tocqueville probably said it best (Democracy in America Vol II, Chapter VIII):

"I accost an American sailor, and I inquire why the ships of his country are built so as to last but for a short time; he answers without hesitation that the art of navigation is every day making such rapid progress, that the finest vessel would become almost useless if it lasted beyond a certain number of years. In these words, which fell accidentally and on a particular subject from a man of rude attainments, I recognize the general and systematic idea upon which a great people directs all its concerns."

Americans regularly get second mortgages and put additions and improvements to their homes, expanding and adapting them. The less this is true (inner cities) the less likely the home is made of wood. And that may turn out to be true of many high-line wires. I'm not sure about power lines, but would assume we'd pay for telephone cables to be buried at the same time, and that seems incredibly wasteful. If the USA paid to put all the telephone cables underground, how will it pay off if everyone goes wireless, as has happened in most rapidly emerging market cities? When I had my home rewired in 1998, I thought it would be wise to pay for double phone lines, put in for DSL cable. I wish I could get that money back and put it into a savings bond.

Comment: Re:The French can be just as Clownish... (Score 1) 373

by retroworks (#48445471) Attached to: Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"

Who can worry about Kitty Cat Memes, with all the Evil Clown crime?

My friends in Denmark and Norway tell me that the word "Friend" in the north is much more reserved, and it has held Facebook back. But like Halloween, differences in culture have a way of being only a generation deep. My mother in law, in southern France, is no slouch with the LOLs.

Comment: What Works and What Doesn't (Score 2) 91

by retroworks (#48443365) Attached to: How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

What works is the "tinkerer's blessing" (opposite of the curse of natural resources). Chronicled in Yuzo Takahashi's history of Japanese radio technicians , development is best done through normal trade with geeks and technicians. South Korea, Singapore, Guangdong, Taiwan, etc. all developed from refurbishing and reverse engineering used technology. Benjamin Franklin was engaged in buying used surplus printing machines and textile machines for reassembly in the USA, Technicians, nerds, repairers, fixers tend to be smart quiet truthful people, and when economies grow from talented knock off (Shanzai in Chinese) to outsourced contracting to ODM, you wind up with Terry Gou, Simon Lin, and Lee Byung-chul.

What has tragically happened in Africa and India is that do gooders and celebrities like Annie Leonard have found a recipe of white guilt and created a bogus "e-waste" crisis which puts African geeks and nerds in prison. FreeHurricaneBenson. Forums like Slashdot, where repair and tinkerers gather, have been important places to assess the ewaste hoax. I lived in Africa in the mid 1980s and have been finding win-win trade with display devices for almost two decades, and see Africans getting increasingly furious at the people making up fake stats, taking pictures of kids at dumps, and making money without sharing. Search Heather Agyepong's "The Gaze on Agbogbloshie", or read Emmanuel Nyaletey's "My Reaction to The E-Waste Tragedy" Emmanuel is an electronics repair technician who grew up a few blocks from Agbogbloshie, Ghana, the scrapyard in a city of 4 million people (Ghana). currently on scholarship for coding at Georgia Tech. I'll put my money on geeks like Emmanuel and the free market over anti-trade rantists and celebrity AID show Bob Geldoffs all day long.

Comment: Source article link biased, but interesting case (Score 1) 1

I didn't know anything about this person, but as the article says, she appears very well known in Pakistan and it was interesting to be made aware of her. Wikipedia article (for now anyway) appears less biased.

+ - Space E-Waste? Or Russian Killer Satellite?->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "Financial Times reports:

"For the past few weeks, amateur astronomers and satellite-trackers in Russia and the west have followed the unusual manoeuvres of Object 2014-28E, watching it guide itself towards other Russian space objects... The object had originally been classed as space debris, propelled into orbit as part of a Russian rocket launch in May to add three Rodnik communications satellites to an existing military constellation. The US military is now tracking it under the Norad designation 39765."

"Its purpose is unknown, and could be civilian: a project to hoover up space junk, for example. Or a vehicle to repair or refuel existing satellites. But interest has been piqued because Russia did not declare its launch – and by the object’s peculiar, and very active, precision movements across the skies. Russia officially mothballed its anti-satellite weaponry programme – Istrebitel Sputnikov or satellite killer – after the fall of the iron curtain, though its expertise has not entirely disappeared. Indeed, military officials have publicly stated in the past that they would restart research in the event of a deterioration in relations with the US over anti-missile defence treaties. In 2010, Oleg Ostapenko, commander of Russia’s space forces, and now head of its space agency, said Russia was again developing “inspection” and “strike” satellites."

For Russian RT coverage, see

To Track the satellite on your own, visit:"

Link to Original Source

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