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Biotech

Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin 403

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-world? dept.
KentuckyFC writes It's 20 years since the FDA approved the Flavr Savr tomato for human consumption, the first genetically engineered food to gain this status. Today, roughly 85 per cent of corn and 90 per cent of soybeans produced in the US are genetically modified. So it's easy to imagine that the scientific debate over the safety of genetically modified organisms has been largely settled. Not for Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and several academic colleagues who say that the risks have been vastly underestimated. They say that genetically modified organisms threaten harm on a global scale, both to ecosystems and to human health. That's different from many conventional risks that threaten harm on a local scale, like nuclear energy for example. They argue that this global threat means that the precautionary principle ought to be applied to severely limit the way genetically modified organisms can be used.
Transportation

What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US? 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the johnny-cab dept.
ashshy writes Tesla, Google, and many other companies are working on self-driving cars. When these autopilot systems become perfected and ubiquitous, the roads should be safer by orders of magnitude. So why doesn't Tesla CEO Elon Musk expect to reach that milestone until 2013 or so? Because the legal framework that supports American road rules is incredibly complex, and actually handled on a state-by-state basis. The Motley Fool explains which authorities Musk and his allies will have to convince before autopilot cars can hit the mainstream, and why the process will take another decade.

Comment: Seriously considering leaving Linux for good. (Score 0) 774

by wiggles (#48092227) Attached to: Systemd Adding Its Own Console To Linux Systems

I have been a consistent Linux user since the 1.x kernel back in the 90's. Before there was even X11 integration, before there was Red Hat even. I have never had a problem with changes to the ecosystem - Switching to Xorg? Fine. Ditching LILO for Grub? OK. But this... this systemd is terrible. It's replacing half the OS, it's fixing stuff that ain't broke, and honestly causing more frustration with trying to troubleshoot compatiblity, daemon startup, and whatnot...

I'm to the point in my career where I no longer need to care about this stuff. My server admin days have given way to more major infrastructure issues. The only things I use Linux for anymore is for my personal file server in my basement, and even that is running old Fedora 17. I've been messing around with SteamOS to play video games in Linux - a long held goal of mine - but I'm asking myself now, do I even care anymore?

I'm done with Linux. Screwing around too much with stuff that doesn't need to be messed with is giving me headaches and sucking up more of my time that I can better spend on other pursuits.

Goodbye, old friend. Maybe we'll meet again once this systemd bullshit passes.

Comment: Re:Hullmetal Plated Armor, Dudes (Score 1) 113

by wiggles (#47757733) Attached to: IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

You're an oddball if you're doing that kind of work.

In most modern IT departments, nobody does custom programming anymore. Solutions are purchased from software vendors, and 90% of those vendors write software for Intel platforms. The long tail uses Sun, IBM, or HP platforms, but those are getting more and more rare as the cost advantages commodity hardware outweigh the performance advantage of proprietary hardware. HP is exiting the business, Sun crashed and burned into an Oracle only platform. The only one left in the space is IBM.

Earth

Fighting Invasive Fish With Forks and Knives 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-tartar dept.
An anonymous reader writes NPR commentator Bonny Wolf has a unique solution to battle the threat of invasive fish species in our waterways. She proposes we fight them with a knife, fork, and a few lemon wedges. From the article: "Take the northern snakehead, which has made its way into tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. It competes with native species for food, and then eats the native species, not to mention the odd frog or bird, with its mouthful of sharp teeth. It's been called "Fishzilla." It breeds fast, has no natural predators and can grow to be 4 feet long. The northern snakehead hangs out in grassy shallows, making it hard to catch. But a couple of years ago, Maryland started promoting the snakehead as an eating fish. Its harvest has increased from zero to 5,000 pounds a year."
Education

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round? 421

Posted by timothy
from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.
Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)

Comment: Re:Check out Detroit (Score 2) 100

by wiggles (#47602103) Attached to: Tesla's Already Shopping For More Office Space

Maybe not Detroit, but definitely not in Northern California - it's way too expensive to do business there. For an R&D/Skunkworks style office, perhaps drawing on the local talent is worth the cost, but putting general office workers and blue collar labor there is silly when you have nice states like Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and Michigan which have friendly labor laws and cheaper labor pools, along with some top minds in places like Austin, Huntsville, Raleigh, and Ann Arbor.

Comment: Re:Space Junk Chain Reaction (Score 1) 150

by wiggles (#47599619) Attached to: Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

All of that is secondary to survival, and until we figure out how to make government leaders stop being such assholes, threatening each others' populations with annihilation, we're going to need plans for defense - and if the enemy leverages space for any tactical or strategic advantage, then so must we.

That said, the article says they're just using telescopes to track stuff in space for military purposes, not building Gundams, so you can untwist your panties now that you know this.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

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