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Comment: Re:Civil Unrest (Score 1) 164

by Phil Karn (#47771569) Attached to: New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste
And civil unrest becomes vastly more likely in a future with runaway global warming and the climatic changes, floods, draughts, food shortages, rising sea levels, mass extinctions, habitat destruction, economic upheavals and the like it will bring. Nuclear power, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are ALL essential to combat it.

CO2's atmospheric lifetime is something like 1,000 years. How come those who fret about the longevity of nuclear waste never seem to talk about this? With fast reactors that burn the actinides (including plutonium) as fuel, the remaining fission products decay to the level of the original uranium ore (while being considerably more compact) in only a few hundred years, much less than the atmospheric lifetime of CO2.

The hype about "carbon capture" is just that -- hype. But it serves one useful purpose: its utter impracticality shows just how minor the nuclear waste "problem" is by comparison.

Comment: Re:Ridiculous (Score 2) 164

by Phil Karn (#47771537) Attached to: New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste
Not far from Yucca Mountain you will find hundreds if not thousands of craters under which are buried the fission and activation products of decades of US nuclear testing. They're not reprocessed and contained in silica glass, they were simply mixed (quite violently) with the soil and rock. And yet they don't seem to go anywhere. There is no need for Yucca Mountain to contain reactor waste for even a hundred years because it will surely be removed and burned as fuel in fast reactors. Once people wake up to the fact that global warming is a vastly greater threat than nuclear power, and that nuclear power is just as essential as wind, solar, geothermal and hydro in combating it, people will realize that "spent" fuel from light water reactors is far too valuable to just throw away.

Comment: Re:central storage or n^x security guard costs / s (Score 2) 164

by Phil Karn (#47771485) Attached to: New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste
Even with cheap solar and wind we will still need nuclear, at least until somebody perfects a cheap, reliable and long-lived utility scale battery. Otherwise we'll never be able to retire all the CO2-belching fossil-fuel plants to match the varying supply with the varying demand.

Comment: Ridiculous (Score 2, Insightful) 164

by Phil Karn (#47770427) Attached to: New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste
I agree that waste in casks at nuclear power plants is reasonably safe but it would still be better to move it to Yucca Mountain. If nothing else, security would be a lot cheaper. It's utterly ridiculous that all that money was spent on a waste repository that, thanks to NIMBYism on the part of Nevada politicians, doesn't look like it'll be used any time soon. At least nuclear waste is the one form of toxic waste that will eventually go away on its own. Arsenic, mercury, lead, thallium and other chemical poisons remain toxic forever.

Comment: Let's privatize the roads too! (Score 1) 338

by Phil Karn (#47733125) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike
Yeah, and we should also ban municipalities from building roads because they discourage private investment in toll roads. All the roads, including the street in front of your house, ought to be sold to UPS. You'd have to get their permission to drive your car on their roads. Since they'd be private property, they'd be within their rights to make any arbitrary rules they wanted. They could ban certain makes or kinds or colors of cars. They could allow you to drive only to certain pre-approved destinations. And don't even think about trying to create a package delivery service to compete with them.

Comment: Re:"Great minds think alike"... apk (Score 1) 179

by metlin (#47722387) Attached to: Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

I would characterize those areas as IT and software engineering, and not necessarily Computer Science.

I would perhaps state that some areas of computing (e.g., systems design, architecture) are better grouped under software engineering, given their nature.

I almost feel that there needs a distinction between software engineering and computer science. To paraphrase David Parnas, computer science studies the properties of computation in general while software engineering is the design of specific computations to achieve practical goals.

Muddling the two disciplines causes heartache because you have people who are great at designing software, but cannot grok advanced math; and on the other hand, you potentially limit your solutions to what's within the realm of current applicability, without exploring other possibilities (e..g, reinventing new algorithms for quantum computation).

Comment: Re:"Great minds think alike"... apk (Score 1) 179

by metlin (#47722065) Attached to: Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

I would add a nuance to your point and state that real world experience matters in IT, but not in CS.

Computer Science is more about algorithms, systems architecture, and a lot of math. I did very little programming when I did CS in grad school and a whole lot of pretty awesome math (computational complexity, graphics, optimizations etc). Not sure about undergrad, since I did ECE, which, once again, was a whole lot of math (DSP, control systems, engineering electromagnetics, circuit theory, VLSI etc).

In any event, real-world relevance is more important to IT than it is to CS. I would say that it is however somewhat important in engineering, which, once again, is a professional degree.

Comment: Re:Is he a scientist? (Score 3, Informative) 179

by metlin (#47719907) Attached to: Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

B-schools often hire people who are not in academia per se, but have rich real world experience in solving business problems.

For instance, you will often find senior partners from top consulting firms teaching classes, because they bring to bear not just academic knowledge but also practical experience.

People who do their MBA are not there to just learn the latest and greatest management technique from academia -- they also seek to apply that to the real world.

And this is not just true for MBAs -- it is also true for law schools, medical schools, and many other professional degrees. You'll find former judges and lawyers teaching classes, and you'll find doctors and surgeons with real world experience tempering your academic knowledge with their real world experience.

Public policy is another area where you former civil servants often teaching classes.

Comment: Get off my lawn! (Score 1) 198

by hawk (#47717915) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

Does this mean it's time to give up what you kids call "First Edition"?

Nah. I'm still not convinced there's a reason to use those new-fangled books instead of the three books, supplements, and a touch (but not too much!) of Arduin & Spellcaster's Bible.

damn newbies

hawk, off to nuke his dandelions

Comment: Re:I think that this is actually illegal (Score 1) 317

It's not the ripping software, it's the digital recording function, i.e. the ability to write to disk.

Here's what the court said in the RIAA v Diamond Multimedia case: (internal citations removed)

Unlike digital audio tape machines, for example, whose primary purpose is to make digital audio copied recordings, the primary purpose of a computer is to run various programs and to record the data necessary to run those programs and perform various tasks. The legislative history is consistent with this interpretation of the Act's provisions, stating that "the typical personal computer would not fall within the definition of 'digital audio recording device,'" because a personal computer's "recording function is designed and marketed primarily for the recording of data and computer programs." Another portion of the Senate Report states that "[i]f the 'primary purpose' of the recording function is to make objects other than digital audio copied recordings, then the machine or device is not a 'digital audio recording device,' even if the machine or device is technically capable of making such recordings."

So it really depends on what else the car's ability to write to disk is both primarily used for, and what it is primarily marketed for. The latter is probably worse for them; even if the car happens to be writing map or diagnostic information to disk, probably ripping CDs is what is mainly being advertised.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 317

No. Here's the relevant part of the ruling, quoting the Senate report on the bill:

"[i]f the `primary purpose' of the recording function is to make objects other than digital audio copied recordings, then the machine or device is not a `digital audio recording device,' even if the machine or device is technically capable of making such recordings."

What information does the car's system digitally record other than music? That it might display digital information, or play digital information isn't relevant, since those don't involve the recording function.

Computers record lots of stuff to their hard drives. Some of it is music, but the ability to write to disk isn't primarily designed for digital music, nor primarily marketed for that.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 317

No, the car doesn't count.

Let's look at a bit more of the relevant language in the statute:

A âoedigital audio recording deviceâ is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use

It's what the primary purpose of the digital recording function is (or is marketed as) that matters. We disregard the car and the rest of the machine altogether.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 317

I think you really need to go back and read up on Copyright Law (17 USC). The license is implied in Copyright Law.

No, there's no license, particularly no license 'implied in the law,' whatever that means.

You have an inherent free speech right to do anything with a work that you like, except for things that copyright gives an exclusive right to the copyright holder about. A copyright holder can only possibly grant a license for something that he holds a right to; he cannot give you permission to do something you don't need his permission for. And once the copyright on the work expires (no, seriously), you're no longer limited as to the exclusive rights either.

So for example, there is an exclusive right to publicly perform music, but not an exclusive right to privately perform music. Even if you have a stolen CD that was itself made illegally, you can lawfully privately perform it without infringing on copyright. No license or anything.

All this licensing bullshit basically is a side effect of stupid (and largely unnecessary) practices in the software industry. It's mostly folk myths. If there's a license, you'll usually know it: it will almost certainly be pages and pages long, written, and you'll have to expressly agree in some way. Record companies would not sell CDs with some sort of implied license.

No, the CD is the work, it is not the derivative.

Depends. Assuming you just mean an album, and not the piece of plastic, it'll either be a work or a compilation.

You do have a right to transform it.

No, that's preparation of a derivative work, probably; an exclusive right at 17 USC 106(2), and doing it is infringing at 17 USC 501(a). You'll need an exception to copyright, or for the work not to be copyrighted, or a license, in order to just make the derivative, never mind distributing it. And if it's not a derivative work after all (see the definition at 17 USC 101), it's likely an infringement of the reproduction right at 17 USC 106(1).

By definition, Fair Use is not an infringement.

Correct. Though as a practical matter, it's treated like an affirmative defense... it just makes more sense to do it that way, even though it is indeed an exception to copyright.

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