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Comment: Re:I live in the Netherlands (Score 1) 303

by bzipitidoo (#49158093) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
Is that really something employers should have to do? Instead, we could change our culture so that it's acceptable to be sweaty at work. It's very likely healthier not to shower every day like we do now. Or, until we can stand the thought of body odor and get over this obsessive compulsive disorder towards showering, we could build facilities ourselves, put public showers near workplaces.

Comment: Re:Horribly misleading summary (Score 1) 675

by bzipitidoo (#49109093) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
Some CS grads are shockingly narrow. Too focused on the technical details, and never get a broader education, as can happen with a BS degree rather than a BA. They can bang out C++ code with the best code monkeys, but they are confused about evolution and science itself, can't sort obvious propaganda from fact, and think they aren't being devout if they don't believe in Creationism. Ask them if they think science is just another religion, and they aren't sure. An appropriate course to clear all that up wasn't part of their curriculum. To be fair, they should have learned that in high school. But then, high school fails students on a number of subjects.

Comment: Re:disclosure (Score 2) 446

by Coryoth (#49105731) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

I'm guessing the reason he doesn't take money from the fossil fuel industry is because he just can't be bothered with such trifling sums. The average salary in the US is more like $350k or $400k, IIRC. 120k is for total losers.

I can only presume your talking about research grants combined with salary, despite saying "The average salary" because otherwise you are simply flat wrong. The average salary for (full) professors in the US is $98,974.

Comment: Re:its all about the $$$ (Score 2) 93

Red light cameras are a money grab. Safety is just an excuse. A former CEO of RedFlex, the contractor Chicago engaged to run their red light cameras, as well as an employee of the city of Chicago, and a few others have been indicted on corruption charges over these cameras.

First, make sure the cameras are functioning correctly. That includes stopping authorities from tinkering with them to boost violations. These devices have been very erratic, more erratic than can be explained by technical glitches.

Next, make sure that the yellow is an acceptable duration. There's an informal standard of 1 second per 10 mph of speed limit. Studies show that's not quite enough. There's also a lower limit of 3 seconds, Can't have the yellow shorter than that. The only formal standard on this is circa 1977, a rather involved formula that takes into account the slope of the approaches, as well as the speed limit. May also have something for whether there is a curve on the approach. We don't have anything more, most likely for political reasons. A few times, cities have shortened the yellow, and been caught. Now they search out badly timed lights that already have too short yellows, so they can deny that they shortened the yellow.

Getting punitive about a problem should be the last resort. Every other solution should be tried first. Even worse is making up a problem to get punitive about. There is no epidemic of red light running for the simple reason that nature may deal out a far harsher punishment to violators than a traffic ticket, and everyone understands that. You want to get your car wrecked? Break some bones? Risk death? Then run those red lights! The majority of red light violations are for missing the light by under 1 second, and nearly no violations are over 3 seconds. Punishing people over a 1 second judgment call is unfair. A few more violations are for honestly not seeing the traffic light, and sometimes that can't be entirely blamed on the driver. Years ago, I saw a traffic light a little ways west of the small downtown that was thoroughly obscured by trees (Olney, TX on state hwy 114). It was not visible at more than 20 feet, and the intersection was not in any way distinct from the dozen or so intersections on either side that didn't have traffic lights. The city should have gotten in trouble for that. Only reason I was able to stop for it is because I knew the light was there and was watching for it. Another town (Charles City IA, US 218, before the bypass was built) had 3 lights in a row, in which the 2 at the ends were on arms hanging over the street, but the middle one was on a post and was somewhat camoflaged by buildings, signs, and other lights. Of course they were mistimed so that the middle turned red at the same time the other 2 turned green. Tricky. Only a very few violations are deliberate, and even there, the driver could have good reason, like being on the way to the emergency room.

What happens when intersections are run fairly is that red light violations drop so low that cities take the camers down to save money.

Comment: Re:googling on iPad (Score 1) 237

by bzipitidoo (#49103307) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

People should send their phones back and demand they fix it or give their money back

I wish! We could bring bad actors to heel very, very quickly if we were willing to boycott. But somehow, a whole bunch of people never get word, and a whole bunch more can't be bothered to participate even if they agree. It's really amazing how much people tolerate. Lots still buy gasoline from BP, still let Bank of America invent new charges to drain their bank accounts, still suffer Comcast's dreadful cable TV service. What does it take to drive those customers away?

Comment: Re:Obvious prior art (Score 5, Interesting) 126

by bzipitidoo (#49079929) Attached to: Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth

I've come to a more nuanced view on patent trolls. They aren't themselves so evil, they are basically hackers, but of the law instead of tech. The real evil is the patent system itself, not the hackers who take advantage of it. If by their actions they persuade giants like Samsung that patent law needs major reform, then that's good. It's not their fault that patent law is such a mess, it's the fault of giant corporate backers. They're dancing delicately, trying to have it both ways, that is, little people have to ask them for their patents, but they don't have to ask little people for theirs. The bigs are the reason the scope of patent law has been expanded beyond all sense. Possibly the biggest expansion was that originally a patent was supposed to cover a working implementation. A machine that achieves the same thing through a different method was not in violation. Now patents can cover a vague concept. That kind of patent may be shot down in court, but that it was granted at all is one of the problems.

Hating a small patent troll is like shooting the messenger.

Comment: Re:On a related note: (Score 1) 291

by Coryoth (#49059717) Attached to: Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code?

Should we teach everyone basic first aid and CPR, fundamentals of mechanics, and the basics of how to sew, cook, etc.? Yes, yes we should.

I don't think the "Teach Everyone to Code" movement is about making everyone professional programmers; it's about ensuring that everyone gets exposed the basics of how programming works, just like they get exposed to the basics of a great many other things in their schooling.

Comment: propaganda is not science (Score 1) 958

by bzipitidoo (#48965757) Attached to: Science's Biggest Failure: Everything About Diet and Fitness

Yes. No matter how much propaganda is clothed in science, it is not science. Propagandists know very well that science has a stellar reputation. All the time, they want to pass off their lies as scientific fact. These days, that works far better than claiming that the Bible says so. Science's very reputation works against it in this matter, causes it to be used more than anything else as a vehicle for lies. People have to be constantly on guard to separate lies dressed as science from real science.

The profit motive warps far too much scientific endeavor. Over and over, studies that could finger some chemical or process as harmful are squashed, suppressed before they can be carried out. Obesity is certainly a case in point. The victims have been blamed for being too lazy or gluttonous. Another convenient scapegoat is genetics, which is patently ridiculous as our grandparents weren't suffering obesity in anything like the current percentages. Other explanations were at best overlooked, which would make this one of the biggest and most incredible cases of mass blindness. More like, explanations such as that it's the food, were purposely buried. It took things like the Supersize Me movie to break the silence. Only recently are suspects such as Bisphenol A being noticed. Our cities, especially newer suburban cities, are very hostile to walking, largely for political reasons. Many people want everyone to need a car to get around. Requiring an expensive item is a great way to keep out poor riffraff, and cutting down on opportunities for exercise is just an unfortunate side effect.

People aren't fat because they choose to be that way. No one wants to live with the intense social stigma of being obese. In all the propaganda and politics being flung around, this basic fact get quickly covered up. Why then are people fat? It's because their bodies and environment drive them to eat too much and/or exercise too little, and that in turn is partly caused by disruptions of the body's endocrines, and perhaps also the body's microbiota.

Comment: Re:It'll never happen (Score 1) 333

I can think of several ways we might go extinct. Of course there is unrestrained war with weapons so powerful that they make nuclear war look like a pillow fight. There's the Terminator kind of end. There's also the possibility that there's some extremely dangerous discovery we are near to making. What if some experiment at a particle accelerator creates a miniature black hole that doesn't rapidly decay, but instead lasts long enough to devour the Earth? But I wonder most about boredom. Ennui.

If we discover intelligent extraterrestrial life, it's highly likely to be far, far more technologically advanced than we are. It's been 65 million years since the dinosaurs were wiped out, and we've been civilized for a mere 0.01% of that time. If nearby intelligent aliens exist, it's likely they already know all about us, knew about Earth millions of years ago, and just don't care to communicate.

Comment: Re:Who are you? I'm bat- er, ANON! (Score 1) 413

Let's hope that it stays safe to say things in support of due process, fairness, understanding, and moderation on such a charged subject, and that doing so is not willfully construed as favoring pedophilia. Freedom of speech, right? Some people seem awfully anxious to demonize pedophiles, to the point of mob hysteria. It looks like some of the tough talk on child molestation is out of fear, so that the mob doesn't turn on them. It's like that old SNL skit, the Church Lady, asking her guests if they hate Satan.

Pedophilia has a long history. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, one of their best, had a favorite greek boy. However, Roman Emperors were notorious for excess, and certainly don't make a good choice if one wants average people. There are still older customs. In early Iron Age battles, the winning commander might rape the losing one. Why? Maybe to demonstrate as graphically as possible that he was victorious and to humiliate the loser even more if that was possible, maybe as a severe punishment to further inspire other commanders to do all they could to win or die. The Bible is full of divine punishment for "deviant" sexual behavior, in particular the fates of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Could some instances of pedophilia be consequences of disease? For instance, there's Toxoplasma gondii. I find it amazing that a parasite can hack an animal's brain so subtly, removing the fear of cats and only cats, while largely leaving other brain functions intact. If that's possible, why not a disease that makes people have pedophilic urges?

I can't see anything wrong with using drawings of children, or blow up dolls, or whatever other harmless substitute may be available. Especially if that keeps a pedo from harming real children.

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 1) 304

by bzipitidoo (#48894321) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

It was private railroad limitations and greed that spurred the creation of the public highway system.

Now in the US, all that's left of passenger rail service is Amtrak, plus a small resurgence of local subway and light rail service in large cities. Amtrak is terrible. Very expensive, slow, late, and poor coverrage. To get from California to Texas by passenger rail, they are likely to try to route you the long way around, through Chicago.

Comment: Re:NHTSA Safety standards cock-blocks the idea (Score 2) 128

I've looked into bringing a car from Mexico to the US. Latin America has lots of models that aren't available in the US, such as the Ford Ka. Unfortunately, US safety standards thoroughly "cock block" that idea. It can be done, but it's not worth doing. A car made to Mexican safety standards, such as they are, I think can be driven in the US by Mexican owners, but can't be simply bought and driven by US citizens. A US citizen can't pop down to Mexico, buy one of these cars and just drive it back to the US and get it all properly titled and licensed. No, it has to be brought up to US safety standards, which means thousands of dollars of work to strengthen the B pillars and other areas of the passenger compartment. Then the owner might want to think about hot rodding the car a bit to compensate for all the extra weight those safety modifications added.

The big exception to safety standards is the antique car. It can be heavily modified, but so long as the owner has a title to one of the real things, he can say it counts as whatever the original car was.. A US citizen can legally drive a "T-bucket" (a highly modified Model T). It's dangerous but legal. So what many automobile experimenters do is get the shell of an antique, and stick whatever power train they want in it.

Comment: Re: It all comes down to payroll (Score 1) 271

by bzipitidoo (#48884687) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

You're looking at it wrong. Replace the corporations!

Set up solar and wind power with batteries, disconnect from the grid and fire your scumbag monopolistic electric company. Get an electric car, and destroy your Exxon Mobil credit card. Get a 3D printer and make your own household goods, including robot servants. Join with your neighbors to set up your own ISP as a public utility. Of course, freely download all your entertainment, and ram home the message to Hollywood that copyright is dead. Take a leaf from your great grandparents and have your robots grow your own vegetable garden so you can tell the grocery chain you won't need them any more either. Have the robots do "new homespun" too, and make your clothes for you, in exactly the right size and style and color you want. And put in a well and a septic system so you can tell the city to shove their endless rate hikes for sewage and water. Obtain a robot surgeon and an expert system diagnostician, and tell your doctors that their outrageous billing practices are history.

The disruption is going to be fun!

Comment: Re:Who supports it (Score 1) 60

by bzipitidoo (#48811629) Attached to: Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages

using obscure syntax and constructs to save a couple of lines, sacrificing readability and maintainability.

But that's one of the paradoxes. Saving a couple of lines reduces eye clutter. What's obscure to you may be obvious to an expert in that language. Shorter is usually better.

What makes Perl difficult to read is the same thing that brought Perl to prominence, the regular expressions. People went nuts for regular expressions, and overused them. The Camel book warns readers about that. People are used to skimming through code quickly, because so much of it really is boilerplate. But you can't quickly skim regular expressions except the trivial ones. You have to study each symbol. Miss one backslash, and the entire meaning changes. I think the other big complaint about Perl is that the language overuses sigils. Having a $ in front of every scalar variable name is tiresome for both coder and maintainer. Adds visual clutter. Smacks very much of putting the compiler writer's convenience ahead of the application programmer, a sin committed in many languages. Why couldn't they use plain names? C did that, it's not hard, just need to reserve a few words, for example, don't allow a variable to be named "if".

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.