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Comment: Re:Complexity is a feature, not a bug (Score 2) 624

How could the language be made as easy as possible to learn coming from any linguistic background? How could interest in the language be fostered in as many people as possible?

The problem is, people don't want language to work that way. It's not specifically that they want it to be hard to learn, but they want a language with nuance and ambiguity. We like puns and plays on words.

There's also an argument made by some rhetoricians that ambiguity in language (and other places) allows people to break prisoner's dilemma-type games, and we do so constantly as lubrication for our interactions. A simple example: you get a speeding ticket. You can pay the ticket, you can attempt to bribe the officer to not give you a ticket, at tremendous risk if it fails, or you can make an ambiguous statement like "is there some way I can just pay the fine right now and get on my way?" that an honest cop will answer 'no' and you end up having to pay the ticket, but there isn't sufficient information there to successfully accuse you of bribery, whereas a dishonest cop will take the offer. You reduce your risk/reward ratio through ambiguity. The same strategy when applied to relationships is even more successful because they're iterative.
Our communication is inextricably interwoven with ambiguity, so we will invent it out of need if we don't have it.

Comment: Re: Easy grammar (Score 1) 624

Irregular verbs exist for a reason... they're the verbs that get used the most, and the irregularities are how people either eliminate redundancy or add additional shades of meaning that most normal verbs can live without.

Ditto, for "silent letters" in English. They're how we disambiguate homonyms (ex: to/too/two).

If English had official "tones" like Mandarin, we could distinguish between meanings of "fuck" used as a verb in writing, to visually indicate things like sarcasm. Actually, in a way, English *does* have an informal "system" of indicating the equivalent of _tones_ -- quotation marks, underlines, italics, boldface, and wikitext markup.

Any conlang that *really* gets used by **real** people as their "real" language will quickly mutate and become as irregular as English or Spanish.

Japanese only has two irregular verbs that are used often, and another eight or so that are used rarely, and it's an _old_ language spoken by a lot of people. Likewise, Finnish and Chinese both have under five irregular verbs, and Turkish (I'm told) has zero. There are lots of other ways to increase information density per unit of written information to reduce ambiguity. I think that's important for an actual used language, but it doesn't have to be accomplished via irregular verbs. Word location and order, for instance, does a great job of displaying subject/object relationships.
I agree with your point that things like sarcasm, satire, humor, will be expressed by bending language rules, in any actual used language. I just don't think irregular verbs are a necessary emergent property of used languages.

Comment: Hardware easter eggs are still common (Score 1) 290

by smellsofbikes (#49407587) Attached to: Is This the Death of the Easter Egg?

We just finished a chip that has a coworker's picture cut into the top three metal layers, because he died suddenly and we wanted some sort of commemoration. Since it's a flipchip, if you have an unmounted chip you can actually see it without having to decap it. We regularly put stuff in the gutters that our voltage rules require for insulation between the chip and the leadframe. Why not? It takes ten minutes to put into the artwork, at the very end of tapeout, and it costs nothing since it's on useless silicon.

My dad left an easter egg in one of the function generators he designed, that played a fugue in four-part harmony. It became a sales demo that sold a lot of units, because it showed off the machine's arbitrary waveform generation capabilities so spectacularly at trade shows. A good easter egg can be a better advertisement for something than the official demos because it shows an unexpected use, and the designers can do a better job of demonstrating the system's ability than a marketing person who is setting up some demo on a piece of equipment that s/he only knows enough about to sell.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 1) 385

by smellsofbikes (#49357965) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Would it help much? A rogue pilot has the advantage of surprise. They get the first punch - and with a little luck and some practice, one punch is enough. Lock door, punch unsuspecting attendant in the face, pummel them unconscious before they recover.

Or, as I've posted elsewhere, don't even bother with a physical flight. In the US, where two people are required on the flight deck, all flight personnel are automatically eligible to be Federal Flight Deck Officers, meaning that after taking some amount of training they can carry firearms on the plane with them, and other flight officers/staff are prohibited from asking or knowing that they're carrying weapons. If pilots want to crash a plane, it's not going to be difficult for them to succeed.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 1) 385

by smellsofbikes (#49357083) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Much less likely, I'd be more worried about the "depressed narcissistic arsehole" overpowering the stewardess and crashing the plane anyway.

Or just pulling out a gun and shooting the other person in the cockpit, locking the door, and doing the same thing that happened here.
All flight crew members are automatically Federal Flight Deck Officers and are allowed to carry guns on the plane, and other flight officers are prohibited from knowing that their coworkers may be carrying guns.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 3, Insightful) 385

by smellsofbikes (#49356917) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Would this not merely cause people to avoid psychiatric care?

In the case of pilots, there is a legal requirement for the pilot to get checked out medically on a regular basis. For US airline pilots the maximum time between medical checkouts is six months.

However, that statement is completely orthogonal to the other problem, which is that many people who could pass a psychiatric assessment kill themselves or others, and a large number of people who would come out of a psychiatric assessment with a big thick file of observed problems are perfectly reliable individuals in their daily lives and would likely be completely competent pilots.

Comment: Re:They're doing it wrong. (Score 1) 447

Nooope. You have to use at least abit of it. The smaller it is, the more effective it is. Zero doesn't qualify. So, physics says 10^-26 is like zero, mathematics say 10^-26 is > zero. Homeopathy works differently if you re a math guy or a physics guy.

So let's treat it as a reciprocal. The efficacy of homeopathy is 1/amount used, so as the amount used goes to zero, the efficacy goes to infinity, and... beyond!
(Well, okay, for 'beyond' you'd have to use a negative amount, but that's what happens when you get someone else to use yours, I guess?)

Comment: Re:What's wrong with GLS (Score 5, Insightful) 328

I'd be surprised if LED's are ever as cheap as incandescents, a few year back I bought a bulk pack of bulbs - I paid around 35 cents/bulb, and the 100W bulbs were the same price as the 60W bulbs.

LED's have many more components than a light bulb, and are more difficult to assemble.

One thing to consider is total cost of ownership, and over the lifetime of an LED, you would have bought somewhere between 30 and 100 incandescent bulbs.
Another thing to consider is that the one LED will use about 1/8 the power of those incandescents, so unless your power is free, you're now looking at 240-1000x the total operating cost for incandescents compared to LED's.
My next-door neighbor has very little money, so back in 2009 she bought a big SUV because it was $1200, compared to $3000 for a subcompact... and then couldn't afford the gas to get to work. People are really lousy at looking at anything other than the initial purchase price.

A third thing to consider is that as fewer people buy incandescents, the cost of maintaining tungsten-drawing machinery and other lightbulb-specific manufacturing equipment is going to rise. Vacuum tubes are hard to make well, and while we have a century of experience in doing so, silicon is dirt cheap and getting cheaper.

Comment: They're doing it wrong. (Score 5, Funny) 447

If they think Homeopathy doesn't work, they're just not using enough.

Or, wait, sorry, they're using too much.

The less homeopathy you use, the stronger it is.

The logical conclusion is that if you use none at all, you'll see the greatest improvement, especially financially.

Comment: I miss sidewiki (Score 1) 150

by smellsofbikes (#49201447) Attached to: The Abandoned Google Project Memorial Page

Nobody else knew it existed, which meant there wasn't a crapflood of angry reviews everywhere. I used it to put hours of operation notes on a bunch of local businesses that didn't list them, and in the case of one oddly-set-up webpage, instructions on how to get it to work. (Trying to get samples from a company that for whatever reason ships to just about every country in the world save the US, and if you email them about it they say oh yeah register as canadian and give a us address, rather than registering with a us address, submitting the sample request, and simply never getting any sort of response at all.)
Sidewiki would have become useless if it had been popular, but as an almost unknown service, it was extremely useful.

Comment: Re:We almost lost two! (Score 1) 117

by smellsofbikes (#49198843) Attached to: Harrison Ford's Plane Crashes On Golf Course

We did lose a PT-22, though. Real geeks care about stuff like that more than Hollywood actors. Or should I say nerds.

  'Geek' is more the 'script kiddie' version of a nerd. Nerds know what a wire-wrap gun is, even if they're more into grinding lenses for homemade telescopes. Geeks know what's cool right now on websites like Boing Boing.

Geeks make robots. Nerds role-play robots. Dorks dance like robots.

It's entirely possible that plane could be fixed. I've seen much worse aircraft restored, and the PT22 is a particularly simple aircraft. It's an interesting choice for a very, very rich high-time pilot to be flying, in fact: originally without any electrical system at all, implying hand-propping to start it, mechanical flaps, gravity fuel system. Main wingspar made of spruce. It's like someone who can afford a Ferrari choosing to drive a Nash.

Comment: Re:Legitimate use for 3D printing (Score 2) 58

by smellsofbikes (#49147919) Attached to: Researchers Create World's First 3D-Printed Jet Engines

Jet engines are an awful candidate. The tolerances and material requirements to not tear themselves apart are tremendous. We're talking about turbine blades spinning at 5k-45k RPM, at temperatures of several hundred degrees, and pressures far above atmospheric, and an airstream a few hundred MPH in velocity.

The inspection process for the individual blades, and then then for their attachment to the mount, to ensure that an imbalance doesn't destroy the engine is tremendously demanding.

On the other hand, there is a case to be made for an aim-for-the-stars strategy. If you can build a turbine blade you can build anything. I would have thought compressor blades would be a much more likely candidate, but if they can get this to work, more power to them. And maybe 3d printing will give them options they would not otherwise have: internal bleed air cooling channels that follow the leading edge along its curvature, for instance. It's possible that given completely different design and manufacturing capabilities, they'll be able to make something that can do the same job with different tradeoffs.

Comment: Re:Black Mirror (Score 1) 257

by smellsofbikes (#49138579) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

But at some point people will notice that their friends and neighbours are being burnt. The point is that you have to pacify the majority or else they turn on those in power.

In Brave New World, the proles had drugs and sex to keep them happy: it's a much better prediction of the future than 1984 in many ways.

As Martin Niemoller said, in a different context:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist."
and so forth. If they first kill off the homeless, then they kill off the very poor, then they kill off the illegal immigrants, they never have to pacify the majority. They just have to keep them scared enough to not protest.

By the way, Neil Postman wrote an interesting book called "Amusing Ourselves To Death", where he compared the futures predicted by Brave New World and 1984 and talked about why he thought we were heading towards Brave New World. Some of his information is pretty dated -- he totally didn't expect the universal surveillance state we seem to be entering into -- but it's still an excellent exploration of what you're suggesting.

Comment: Does this make sense economically? (Score 1) 245

by smellsofbikes (#49132275) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

If it costs $1B to get a drug through the FDA approval process, and your prize is $2B, you will only play the game if you think you'll get your first or possibly second try through the approval process. If you have to start half a dozen and have them fail at various points through the approval process, you've already spent the potential prize money without winning it.

We might need to look at how safe drugs have to be before they can be FDA-certified. I've harped on this before but I know people who thought Vioxx was a lifesaver in treating their arthritis, and experienced a very significant change in health and happiness when it was taken off the market because of the harm it did to other people. If we insist on drugs that have statistically significant positive effects, with infinitesimal negative effects, we may run out of options and end up dying the way people did in the middle ages, while the drugs we need sit on a shelf somewhere, waiting for a different regulatory environment.

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