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Comment: Re:Even better, reflect true cost of cell phones (Score 2) 72

by swillden (#47536091) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

And are you seriously telling me if she gets an iphone 64 GB 5S it's the same price as if she gets the $20 special?

In many cases... yes. The most expensive phones have an up-front cost in addition to the two-year commitment, but if you get the most expensive phone you can without an up-front fee, then there is no price difference between that one and the cheapest phone.

Yes, this is ridiculous.

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 261

Hallam said it best: there has never been a time when humanity has successfully and peacefully coexisted with nature.

That would be a nice quote, but it contains an implicit assumption which is seriously wrong: That there is any distinction between humanity and nature.

It's not surprising that we tend to see ourselves as distinct from the rest of nature, because we are dramatically different from all other forms of life around us, and not just because we're self-centered, or even because we're objectively hugely more successful than any other species. We're dramatically different because we're the only species we know of that is capable of creating explanatory knowledge, of conjecturing and criticizing ideas, individually and in collaboration, to understand how and why things work. Many species on Earth are capable of learning, but as far as we can tell it's all "behavioral" learning; understanding merely that specific behaviors cause specific results. Sometimes the results of that level of understanding can be quite sophisticated, as in the animals who can create and use tools in complex sequences to accomplish goals, but it's still on a completely different level from the ability that humans have to deduce deep explanations of the structure and nature of the universe, and how to manipulate it.

Regardless of the temptation to view ourselves as separate from nature, though, we're not. That doesn't mean we won't benefit from applying our understanding of the rest of nature to maintain the elements of it that are beneficial to us. Obviously, we're better off if we don't make the world a worse for ourselves -- the flip side of that is that we are better off if we make the world a better place for us, so stasis is not the goal. That's really good because stasis (aka "sustainability") is impossible.

Comment: Re:That's great, but ... (Score 3, Interesting) 119

practical long distance EVs at a reasonable price and/or can recharge in less than half an hour

The price may or may not be reasonable, depending on your budget, though it definitely is for a non-trivial number of people, but the Tesla Model S fulfills the other requirements today.

My Nissan LEAF doesn't, though it's still a very practical car that easily manages all but a small fraction of my driving.

Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 1) 525

by swillden (#47526497) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

shooting which requires both close-up vision (to see the signs) and long range vision (to see the target)

Unless your distance vision is *really* bad, to the point where you can't make out the target at all, distance vision doesn't have much impact on shooting. In a proper sight picture you should be focused on the front sight, and you also need the rear sight to be clear enough that you can verify precise alignment. The target will always be blurry, so having it a little blurrier because of nearsightedness isn't typically a problem.

I often tell the older shooters I teach to wear their reading glasses. Not only does the improved sight alignment help, but I think the inability to see the target clearly strongly discourages them from trying to focus on it, which helps even more.

Comment: Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (Score 5, Insightful) 525

by swillden (#47524941) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

One common technique for people who are close to or have age-induced presbyopia is to perform the surgery on only one eye, or, depending on the prescription, to apply it in different amounts. The idea is to get one eye which is good for near vision and one that is good for far vision. Sort of the same notion as bifocals, but applied directly to the eyes. Apparently the brain adjusts quickly and effectively to this and you end up feeling as though you have good vision at all ranges as long as both eyes are open.

I'm considering doing that. I'm 45 and my eyes have just begun to change. I'm still generally myopic, but so far the change just requires me to take my glasses off when doing close work. I'm going to give it a couple more years to be sure my eyes have more or less settled, then get surgery on one or both, in whatever degrees will give me the best overall visual acuity and flexibility.

If your eyes haven't actually changed yet, then it's something of a crapshoot. The idea is to adjust your vision based on guesses as to how they're going to change. That said, my optometrist says that they can make very good guesses. The only reason he's recommended that I wait is because I'm not far from the point where guessing won't be required, based on my history of general visual stability and current rate of change.

Comment: Re:Mostly done by 1985... (Score 2) 215

by swillden (#47523999) Attached to: Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists
Interesting, but not surprising. It's unlikely that any new idea in cosmology (or anywhere else) is actually truly "new" by the time it garners sufficient support to warrant widespread serious consideration. The process by which knowledge is created -- conjecture and criticism -- almost precludes it. Ideas, even correct ideas, assuming this is and assuming that Greenstein actually had the same idea, not less-correct variant, nearly always come before the knowledge needed to identify them as correct, or at least as more correct than competing ideas. This is why simultaneous invention is so common, because the groundwork is thoroughly well-laid before the crucial bits fall into place that make it possible to put it on a firm foundation.

Comment: Re:SUV vs pickup (Score 1) 205

by swillden (#47503485) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

An SUV does NOT fill the role of a pickup truck unless you don't actually need a pickup truck. You need a pickup when you are toting things that you do not want to carry in the interior of a vehicle like loose dirt, stone, certain bulky supplies, trash, etc. Messy stuff. Very bulky stuff. If you can put what you are likely to carry in an SUV then you don' t actually need a pickup.

An SUV plus a utility trailer does fill the role of a pickup truck.

Why would you "need" a commuter vehicle? The cost of any commuter vehicle is going to hugely outstrip any fuel savings you might possible generate.

The cost of a minivan plus a pickup plus the fuel to commute in the pickup is greater than the cost of an SUV plus a small sedan plus the fuel to commute in the sedan.

Comment: Re: minivan dead? (Score 1) 205

by swillden (#47501935) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

The Minivan is the practical and logical choice

Agreed, unless you also need to tow stuff and/or go off road. Even if you don't do that stuff very much, renting an SUV or truck for those occasions isn't feasible, because as far as I can tell all rental car companies prohibit towing and off-road use. I do tow stuff regularly (boat, camp trailer, ATV trailer, utility trailer), and need to seat at least six people, which has made an SUV the practical and logical choice.

Now that my kids are moving out I no longer need so much seating, so a pickup truck is becoming the practical and logical choice. I'd like to upgrade to a bigger camp trailer, so one with a powerful diesel engine is looking particularly attractive.

Comment: Re:Corporate culture (Score 2) 272

by swillden (#47483303) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

My son is certified as a Microsoft Architect and at one point in his career was a senior Microsoft executive.

He described the upper levels as very political. There was little team spirit.There was a lot of jockeying for position, backstabbing and attempts to degrade people to to elevate yourself.

He eventually left and started his own company (which is doing quite well. He just bought a 40' RV)

I'm honestly not trying to Godwin anything but that sounds alot like career politics in the Third Reich.

With the small difference that in the Third Reich those who failed badly enough at the politics ended up with a bullet in their brain.

It sounds a lot more like career politics in most corporations. Not all, certainly, but most.

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis