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Comment: Re:The water wars are coming (Score 1) 121

by wired_parrot (#48038933) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Not to be too contrarian, but before we declare this an unmitigated disaster, shouldn't the cost of the destruction of the Aral sea be measured against the benefits of provided by the water that used to flow into it?

The soviet scientists involved with the water diversion were aware that the Aral sea would eventually dry up. In fact, the decline in sea level was observable from the very beginning. It is true the lake drying up was an intended and foreseen consequence.

However, what was unforeseen were the ecological consequences of the lake drying up, that has turned the dry lake bed into a salt desert where dust storms kicking up toxic sediments are a common occurrence. Without a large body of water to moderate the weather, nearby communities now experience hotter summers and colder winters. In effect, one desert has been traded for another.

And while diverting water for agricultural uses might be beneficial, most of the canals used for the diversion are not properly lined, experiencing significant water wastage during transport. And most of this water is being used for water-intensive crops like cotton and rice. Were good irrigation practices used, and if more suitable crops that required less water were used instead, it is likely only a fraction of the water would be needed. It also has to be kept in mind that the economic benefits agricultural irrigation has brought has to be balanced the economic loss resulting from the loss of fishery in the area,loss of tourism (some of the villages were once seaside resorts), and economic hardship resulting from the ecological changes to the landscape

Comment: Re:Mars has no magnetosphere (Score 1) 446

by wired_parrot (#48036359) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

You could colonize a million people in Antarctica for a fraction of the cost of sending a million people to Mars. Unlike Mars, water and air are abundant in Antarctica, and the earth's magnetic field would provide protection from solar radiation. Transportation, not having to deal with leaving a gravity well, would be infinitely cheaper. And there is the possibility of finding oil and coal deposits in Antarctica, something very unlikely to happen in Mars. There would be issues of international law regarding ownership of the southern continent, but then the same issues exist for Mars.

Yet, despite this infinitely easier environment to survive in Antarctica, we've never managed more than seasonal colonies entirely dependent on resupply from the mainland, most of these bases clustered in edge of the continent where they are easily accessible, and none of them having permanent inhabitants. Once we manage to establish a permanent, self-sustaining settlement in the heart of the Antarctic Plateau, then we can discuss establishing a settlement on Mars.

+ - Facebook facing exodus of users to new social network->

Submitted by wired_parrot
wired_parrot (768394) writes "Despite criticisms of its privacy policy and intrusive advertising, Facebook has managed to retain its users and maintain its spot as the top social network. Now, however, it appears that a new social network has exploded in popularity with a large numbers of Facebook users migrating over. The move appears to be spearheaded by artists, performers, and the LGBT community, dissatisfied with Facebook's policy on using real names. Ello, as the new social network is called, promises a pro-privacy stand and to remain ad-free, a claim it emphasizes in its manifesto. Can Ello succeed in dethroning Facebook?"
Link to Original Source

+ - Mystery Signal Could be Dark Matter Hint in ISS Detector->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "Analysis of 41 billion cosmic rays striking the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector aboard the International Space Station shows an unknown phenomena that is “consistent with a dark matter particle” known as a neutralino, researchers announced Thursday. Key to the hunt is the ratio of positrons to electrons and so far the evidence from AMS points in the direction of dark matter. The smoking gun scientists look for is a rise in the ratio of positrons to electrons, followed by a dramatic fall — the telltale sign of dark matter annihilating the Milky Way’s halo, which lies beyond its central disk of stars and dust. However, “we have not found the definitive proof of dark matter,” AMS lead researcher Samuel Ting, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CERN in Switzerland, wrote in an email to Discovery News. “Whereas all the AMS results point in the right direction, we still need to measure how quickly the positron fraction falls off at the highest energies in order to rule out astrophysical sources such as pulsars.” But still, this new finding is a tantalizing step in the dark matter direction."
Link to Original Source

+ - Alice Is Killing Trolls But Patent Lawyers Will Strike Back

Submitted by snydeq
snydeq (1272828) writes "The wheels of justice spin slowly, but they seem finally to be running software patents out of town, writes Simon Phipps in his analysis of how Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the U.S. 'In case after case, the Court of Appeals is using Alice to resolve patent appeals. In each case so far, the Court of Appeals has found the software patents in question to be invalid. ... As PatentlyO points out, the Alice effect is even reaching to lower courts, saving the Court of Appeals from having to strike down patent findings on appeal.' Although the patent industry broadly speaking sees the Alice verdict as a death knell for patents, some expect Alice to turn software patents into 'draftsmen's art because as you and I have seen over the years, every time there's a court ruling it just means that you have to word the patent claims differently.'"

Comment: It's just simple economics (Score 5, Insightful) 112

by wired_parrot (#47926921) Attached to: A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

But some designs defy obsolescence

This isn't about obsolescence or a design that stands the test of time. This is about simple economics. The main reason airliners phase out old airplanes is that their operating costs are too high - their older engines are too fuel consuming compared to newer designs, and may not meet newer noise regulations for most commercial airports. Maintenance also becomes difficult to source with no new spare parts being produced.

Fire fighting aircraft fly under a different set of economics. They fly short flights, and only seasonally, so their fuel expenses are a smaller proportion of their expenses. They don't have to worry about noise regulations, because they don't fly out of commercial airports. And an older model that was produced in large volumes like the DC-10 means there is a large source of cheap junkyard parts to maintain these aircraft.

This isn't about the DC-10 being a good or bad design - it's just simple economics. What's expensive for a commercial airliner can be economical for a fire-fighting operation.

Comment: Re:Stupid (Score 4, Insightful) 561

by wired_parrot (#47663015) Attached to: Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

Problem is you are considered RACIST for suggesting they get a better education and not follow the ghetto culture.

It is racist to apply broad stereotypes to a class of people. The black people applying for those Apple jobs are college graduates, most likely coming from a middle-class background. The average black applicant has as much in common with the "inner-city ghetto culture", as you call it, as the average white applicant has in common with "white trailer-park trash".

Comment: It's about ensuring fairness in hiring (Score 1) 561

by wired_parrot (#47662759) Attached to: Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

There's a lot of misunderstanding here about these statistics. The purpose of releasing these numbers isn't to institute a "quota" system - it's to show that there is fairness in your hiring practice. The biggest criticism here appears to be that one can only hire the talent that is available, whatever race they may be. I agree with this - and if you're hiring practice is fair and open, the demographics of the hirees should closely match the talent pool from which you're hiring from. And for a large enough company (Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc.), the statistical deviation from that mean should be small. Incidentally, in my jurisdiction statistics like these are used to monitor hiring practices and ensure that no discrimination or hidden bias is occurring.

Apple's numbers appear to show a fair hiring practice, as their numbers at a glance match the applicant pools. For example, 10% of US college graduates are black, according to the US census survey, which closely matches their 9% of black non-tech workers. Google's and Yahoo's numbers, on the other hand, showed only 1% of non-tech workers as black. The implication from those numbers is that while the average black college graduate has an equal chance with his white counterpart of getting a job at Apple, he is 10x less likely to obtain a job at Google or Yahoo. That is where the cause for concern arises.

Comment: Re:How much have they spent already? (Score 1) 92

by wired_parrot (#47606137) Attached to: Australia Rebooting Search For MH370
The money isn't being wasted. The search for the plane is creating a detailed oceanographic survey of the Indian ocean in an area of the sea that is not well explored. Even if the plane is never found, I'd say the sonar survey of the ocean bottom that will result from this search will be worth the money spent.

+ - Planes can be hacked via inflight wi-fi, says researcher->

Submitted by wired_parrot
wired_parrot (768394) writes "In a presentation to be shown Thursday at the Black Hat conference, cybersecurity consultant Ruben Santamarta is expected to outline how planes can be hacked via inflight wi-fi. Representatives of in-flight communication systems confirmed his findings but downplayed the risks, noting that physical access to the hardware would still be needed and only the communication system would be affected."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Black box data streaming (Score 1) 503

by wired_parrot (#47481897) Attached to: Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet
Black box data wouldn't help in this case. The data from the black box would likely only show you a perfectly normal flight up to the second in which the missile hit. There's enough evidence to show that it was a missile strike, and the question now is who fired it. That evidence may be found in the debris of the missile that hit the aircraft, and in pinpointing the origin of the missile fire. The flight data recorder may provide supporting evidence that it was a missile strike, but it won't tell you who pulled the trigger.

Comment: Re:This means nothing without context (Score 1) 265

by wired_parrot (#47327943) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

Even taking into account the lowest of your figures of 3.6% black graduates in Computer Science, this would still leave the 1% rate of black employees at Facebook substantially lower than their potential hiring pool. Also consider that Facebook reported that their percentage of black employees among non-tech workers is not any better at a measly 2%. Considering that blacks represent 10% of all college graduates, this would imply that your average black college graduate is 5 times less likely to be hired at Facebook than a person of different ethnicity.

Sorry if that doesn't give your axes a nice fine edge, folks, but the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook don't hire only misogynist racists for their HR departments - In fact, all three soundly beat the above graduation rates, making them arguably biased against hiring white males.

Their hiring numbers for women may be in line with graduation rates in computer science, but their minority hiring is significantly lower than graduation rates, no matter how you look at the numbers. And given their large employee sizes, this a statistically significant hiring bias. Turning a blind eye to the statistical reality won't make the problem go away.

Comment: Re:This means nothing without context (Score 2) 265

by wired_parrot (#47325909) Attached to: Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

What is the percentage of black, women, etc people with the skills and training that google, facebook, etc is looking for?

Are there out of work fully qualified programmers that can't work at facebook because they are black? Maybe the ratio is the way it is simply because there are not enough minorities looking for high end development work (Unlike baseball). That doesn't make it Facebook's fault if it is truly hiring the most qualified workers.

8% of MIT's class is black Among the general college population the numbers are closer to 14%. But even assuming Facebook, Google and Yahoo were exclusively recruiting from the top Ivy-league universities, their numbers should be significantly higher than the mere 1% of black employees that they are showing. If my company were showing such significantly different demographics from the graduate population they are recruiting from, especially among such a large employee base, we'd be under investigation for racial discrimination.

Comment: Re:Ok, next question. (Score 1) 275

by wired_parrot (#47271773) Attached to: Elon Musk: I'll Put a Human On Mars By 2026
The type of person you want on a dangerous and risky mission to mars is one with strong survival instincts, one who will do everything in his means to ensure the survival of the mission. That is the exact opposite of the type of person who'd volunteer for a one-way mission. You do not want a person willing to die in charge of a multi billion dollar endeavour. And if you did volunteer on that mission, you wouldn't want your team members to be suicidally prone.

Comment: Re:Most qualified and motivated candidates? (Score 1) 435

by wired_parrot (#47264143) Attached to: Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

I thought that competitive business was supposed to hire the most qualified and motivated candidates? Seriously, get out there, carve out your own space, and get hired! "Diversity" is just a politically correct buzzword and is not guaranteed to lead to an agile workforce..

Except that African-Americans represent 10% of graduating students and about the same percentage of computer science grads. Even among an Ivy-League technical college like MIT, blacks represent 8% of the college body. I can't expect Yahoo and Google to fix social problems in the US, but I would expect that their employee ethnic makeup roughly reflect the ethnic makeup of the colleges from which they are recruiting from. The fact that their percentage of black students is 8-10 times lower than their available recruiting pool implies to me either a systematic bias or discrimination in their hiring practices.

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