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Comment: Re:They should go (Score 2) 198

I wasn't talking about the latest development as related to specific diesel emissions. I was simply commenting on the previous post :

Diesel engines are much more polluting than petrol since the combustion is incomplete.

I already know about the difference between the official trope about diesel pollution and the improvement reached nowadays, but that wasn't the point.

Comment: Re:Hasn't been involved with Greenpeace since 1985 (Score 1) 573

by trenien (#49312197) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic
Equating 'Democrats' (as in "the" party and its members) with the left shows you are, at best, not really aware of the history of that party.

To begin with, until the 50's, there was no such thing as an united Democratic party, the biggest divide being between North and South : ever since the late XIX century, the US statu-quo was to leave the nation as a whole to, mostly, the Republicans, and the South to the pro-segregation Southern Democrats.

Considering their reactions and the way they acted under Roosevelt's presidency, it is quite clear that you should be seen as firmly conservatives.

Comment: Re:They should go (Score 2, Interesting) 198

You don't know what you're talking about, do you?

The diesel problem isn't a combustion one: diesel is more efficient than petrrol. In case you wonder what "more efficient", that is that the combustion rate is higher than that of petrol.

The problem lies with particle emissions / N compounds emissions. That's where diesel pollutes much more than petrol.

Comment: Re:Something completely different... (Score 1) 667

by trenien (#49265505) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'
Actually, in the case of email, what happened with French is a case-study of how a living language works:

- A new thing appears (electronic mail), and through common shortening ends up being named email for English speakers.

- Among many new users of internet are the French who start taking advantage of this new tool. Most of them not being pedant linguist, they don't particularly care about how they name it, they just need to use a word that's both meaningful and non-confusing. Hence, at the start, 'email' works fine.

- Very quickly, again for the sake of simplicity, 'email' gets shortened into 'mail'. People understand what email is (and the word itself), but since the word 'mail' is English and in no way close to its French equivalent (courrier), there is no risk of confusion.

- Enter the linguists invoking the need to stay within the parameters of French, and so to create a specific word that arises from French roots : 'courriel' (the exact counterpart to email : Electromic mail ; Courrier Electronique). That's something that worked in the past, and I actually think the word "ordinateur" (the thing that puts into and rearranges order) is actually a better description of what the machine is than the English 'computer'. However, contrary to what happened 20 years before, global communication interferes with the attempt, and the word 'courriel' has never really caught on (except in some official writings) in France. I don't know about Quebec.

- A last ditch attempt has been made, following the idea that there are no diphtongues in French, the Academie has tried to make people write mail 'mel'. Of course, the reality is that, although it may be true of the official standard French (supposed to be that of the Versaille area), there many regional variations of accent where diphtongues do appear, and I hear as many 'mel' as I do 'mail' in everyday conversations (I won't bother with phonology symbols)

- End of story, 'lo and behold, there is a new word in French, which describes something very specific (electronic mail), and that word is Mail. It may be a while yet before the final official spelling is accepted as such.

Comment: Re: HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by trenien (#49263603) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century
The difference is that in the latter case, you most probably get a much longer available time to realize your mistake and release the wrongfully accused (and maybe the gvt can even somewhat atone for the mistake). Unless you can raise the dead, it doesn't matter for the person whether you understand your mistake once you've murdered them (let's use the proper word, here).

Comment: Re:Hang on WTF? (Score 4, Insightful) 191

by trenien (#48854825) Attached to: Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors
The situation is somewhat incompletely described.

What actually happened was that the guy invented said blue led (on a standard engineer salary), which pretty quickly allowed his company to rake in tens of millions. When he politely complained that the invention which made them huge profits had earned him exactly nothing, his boss basicaly said:

"Oh, that's right. Here is a $300 bonus. Have fun at the bar!"

The problem he is complaining about when he talks about education is probably linked to the pyramidal hierarchy that's ingrained in Japanese people from kindergarten : whatever you do, the group leader is at the forefront. In research, that basically means a department director is the first credited for any discovery, except if he is generous enough to allow whoever did the actual work be awarded the authorship. Considering this also works in case of problems (the one in charge is the one taking the blame), you could say it is a game of give and take.

However in this case the profit only accrued to the boss/owners (I don't know whether the company was privately owned or not), with pretty much nothing for the guy at the source of it all. That's a breach of the unwritten rules of Japanese social interactions, but standard workings of Japanese society would have had him take it and shut up, too bad form him that his higher-ups were dicks. He decided he wouldn't.

Comment: Re:we should not leave the Germains unsupevised (Score 1) 152

by trenien (#40306227) Attached to: How Technology Promotes World Peace
I have to disagree here.

Most European nations do have their own military and France - and Great Britain, to a somewhat lesser extent - do pull their own weight.

Don't confuse imperialism with a benevolent will to protect people : whatever the US military does is first and foremost to further the interest of the US itself (be it through control of specific regions, or simply an increase of budget going toward it). The only difference with previous Imperialist powers is that they have to be somewhat more discreet about it, so the average American can still believe the "we're the good guys" mantra.

Comment: Re:Rich people are most dependent on government (Score 1) 626

Well, that last quote is my point, exactly. How can you have a strong external armed force without a significant amount of taxes, subsidiary to military industry (because otherwise you're not independant, and your military might means nothing)? And of course, you need a significant amount of government to manage all of that

This goes against libertarian professed ideals and pretty much shows how internally inconsistant that standpoint is (except if you just want the Law of the Jungle, where might makes right): or you go right back to Ferguson analysis, with the "elite" free to do as they please - as they're the real creators, operating in a void where only their minds shine (I'm splicing Rand in here) - and the rable having lost any other ability than to work like drones, pay up when necessary, shut up and be happy about it.

At least Ferguson had the courtesy to lament this situation and to insist that such a separation was only the result of the way advanced society works. Heinlein, following Rand, believes that some simply are gifted and should lord over the rest (through being rich without contributing anything back in modern society). That's why I call it drivel : nobody works in a vacuum. If you want quotes, here's one:

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants, by Newton.

Comment: Re:Rich people are most dependent on government (Score 1) 626

Oh dear.

Let's see, where to begin with... Ok, first of all, let me say I aknowledge Heinlein as one of the great SF writers, along the lines of Asimov or Clarke. I also do agree with most of his view on personal freedom (although incest?..)

That said, a great political philosopher he wasn't. Among other inconsistencies, taking on the one hand the libertarian drivel you've quoted here (it could copypasted from Rand), and the fact he was in favor of a strong, military, central government tells me that he either didn't think further than knee-jerk reaction, or he was a conservative who wrote things he didn't believe in to sell books.

And geez, quoting "Time Enough for Love"? One of his most ridiculous books with him, through his main character, rambling on and on about things he had no real clue about (mainly, expanded sexual promiscuity). You'd have been better off quoting from "Friday" or "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (the Professor's speech to the Lunar assembly comes to mind)

Comment: Re:Rich people are most dependent on government (Score 1) 626

Well, that's sound very much like Adam Ferguson's Essay.

From that point of view, beware of slipping down the path of XVIII century's concept of stages of civilization.

On my part, I would say wealth comes from the people, but it's only under a specific number of circumstances that it isn't sucked away by a small minority. The difference is that if you accept Ferguson's point of view, you accept that only the wealthy and privileged - the "better sort", to quote Madison - are real citizens. All the others simply are tools to be used, although they should be taken care of.

The point is, saying that wealth comes from the government is mistaking the source and the controler : case in point, most western societies where, to various degrees, the government has been used by a few to siphon off wealth. Make no mistake, I'm not saying that governments are evil and all that libertarian crap. But the idea of the balance of power clearly mostly has failed; since in the end a government is the ultimate power over a specific land, it also is the ultimate recourse of the people, so they MUST keep its workings under a very tight rein and they musn't believe anybody is, at any point in time, a saint who will do what is good for the others at their own expense.

That means, getting back to the actual problem of that company, if the locals have any way to say or do something about it (which I doubt, even in Northern European countries), they'd make that company keep paying its taxes where it ought to. Unfortunately, the way Europe works right now (encouraging a race to the bottom) means they probably are pretty much screwed.

Comment: Too Bad for Humanity as a Whole... (Score 4, Interesting) 303

by trenien (#40209655) Attached to: The Real-Life Doogie Howser
Am I the only one who thinks that such a genius is bound to make major leaps in whatever field he invests himself in?

As such, the path he has chosen is good news for diseased children. However, humanity as a species isn't affected by those personnal tragedies he decided to focus on. On the other hand, there's a number of subjects in physics, genetics or even medecine that could have had a much wider impact.

Yes, I'm aware such a way of thinking classifies into the cold-hearted bastards category.


MIT Unveils Portable, Solar-Powered Water Desalination System 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the water-the-chances dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Field and Space Robotic Laboratory has designed a new solar-powered water desalination system to provide drinking water to disaster zones and disadvantaged parts of the planet. Desalination systems often require a lot of energy and a large infrastructure to support them, but MIT's compact system is able to cope due to its ingenious design. The system's photovoltaic panel is able to generate power for the pump, which in turn pushes undrinkable seawater through a permeable membrane. MIT's prototype can reportedly produce 80 gallons of drinking water per day, depending on weather conditions."

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"