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Comment What goes around comes around... (Score 5, Insightful) 1014

Once we've all been automated out of work...who's going to buy the burgers?

Reminds me of this oft-quoted aphorism, about a UAW official being shown some early auto-plant automation:

Henry Ford II: Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?
Walter Reuther: Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?

(Apparently it wasn't really Henry Ford II. But Ruther confirmed the exchange occurred, with a high Ford official and words roughly equivalent.)

Comment "Partial Taking" (Score 1) 122

The utility can retain ownership of the poles, but the municipality can grant an easement to whomever it wants and it doesn't cost the municipality anything.

Sure does cost the municipality something (if the utility chooses to enforce its rights).

Granting an easement to someone else's property is a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment. Without the easement the utility could charge whatever it pleased for the use of a zone on its poles, refuse to grant it if they thought that was in their interest, insist the attachments occur at a convenient time and manner for them, hire their guys to do the hookup, etc.. With the easement they must let the tenant use that section of the poles at the tenant's convenience, for free or for a government-defined price. This reduces the value of the property, so the government granting the easement must pay the difference.

It's less than just taking over the poles, but it's still not free. (Just for starters it will amount to a substantial fraction of what it cost the utility to put in all those poles.)

See "partial taking" and "regulatory taking". There's a LOT of law there and a simple web search will show you far more than you'll want to read right now. B-)

Comment Re:Too soon? (Score 0) 123

Maybe somebody can correct me, but they need to get rid of the speculative execution pipeline all together.

Or break the side-channel information leak of which cache lines were filled by the speculative execution (which is how the attacker finds out the value of the bits or bytes it shouldn't know).

Or separate the branch predictions per-context (which is how the attacker gets the speculative execution to look at the desired bits or bytes).

I like that last one. IMHO the behavior (especially the target address) of a branch in one context shouldn't be "hinting" about the behavior of a branch in another context. Yes, it might be a useful hint if the branch is in a commonly used shared library, being used the same way by many clients. But when it's in different code in different execution contexts for different users?

Comment Re:The bug isn't all that bad (Score 1) 299

Considering it requires malware to be run on the system, there are better ways to spy out user's passwords (without dumping some 32GB of RAM). So, why bother?

The attacker's malware doesn't have to dump all the physical RAM. It CAN do so, if he feels like it. But it can also read it selectively, RAM style, a bit or byte at a time. So he can just go right to whatever he wants to see.

Given that the side-channel bandwidth is about that of fiber-to-the-curb DSL, rather than a memory bus, that is actually the preferred way for such malware to operate.

Comment Re:Same speed in same lane good, different lane ba (Score 1) 404

Dunno what you teach your drivers over there, but there's generally regarded to be one lane, and multiple "overtaking lanes" in all the terminology for most of the countries I have seen driving-school things for.

  When you have two lanes in the same direction, that terminology, and acting on it, makes sense. When you have, for instance, six lanes in the same direction, it does not. The extra lanes are about increasing capacity, and are intended to be used for long-distance driving rather than just passing slower traffic.

That's the sort of highways we have over here. (Especially in high-population states like California, for instance - I commute on such a 12-lane stretch every day.)

The laws have been adjusted according to this purpose. For instance: Passing on the right is expressly legal in California. On the other hand, excessive lane changes (as you'd have to make to use the "passing" paradigm) are added hazards when the lanes are being used for travel rather than merely passing, and are treated as the infraction called "weaving". Three lane changes (1 1/2 "passes") within one minute is one of the criteria police have used for issuing such citations.

Comment Making trains run on time. (Score -1, Troll) 277

Those were actually Democrats. Learn your history.

While you may be historically accurate, you omit the fact that the Democrats and Republicans have essentially switched ideologies since the Lyndon Johnson administration, if not earlier.

Wrong - at least on civil rights.

But the Democrats have a lock on the media and academia. So (while they used the mechanisms of the Great Society to destroy the black family structure and reduce the bulk of the black population to a government-dependent, jobless, ghetto-dwelling, reliable voting block) they taught that the parties had swapped ideologies - and that the Republicans' attempts to enable people to rise from poverty were self-serving exploitation.

Don't believe it? Look at their voting record on anything REAL relating to freedom and equality before the law, even today.

It's similar to what happened in Italy in WW II. Mussolini didn't REALLY make the trains run on time. He made the newspapers SAY he made the trains run on time.

Comment FTFY (Score -1, Troll) 277

If left-wingers can justify punching out people they disagree with then they can just as easily justify beating the crap out of Pai.

FTFY

(Note that the issue of whether right-wingers can justify punching out people they disagree with doesn't arise in this case. So don't bother following up to discuss whether I'm suggesting that right-wingers are less likely to escalate from discussion to beating the tar out of people or just that they mostly aren't disagreeing with Pai.)

Comment Same speed in same lane good, different lane bad. (Score 3, Informative) 404

Keeping constant spacing and running at a reasonable speed within a lane may be good. But holding the same speed in adjacent same-direction lanes is very bad.

In driving classes, back in the mid-20th century, we were warned against it. You NEVER were to hold the same speed as a car in an adjacent lane. (About a 5 MPH drift, with leftward lanes faster, was close to ideal.) Judging by the behavior of current drivers on California freeways that lore has apparently been lost.

Some of the issues:
  - Adjacent cars form a multi-lane "rolling roadblock". Drivers behind them who wish to travel faster are impeded, collect behind them, and end up "compressed", setting up the conditions for a chain, reaction multicar pileup.
      - With an inter-lane drift a driver wishing to pass a slower car soon has an opening to switch lanes and proceed.
      - With the slowest lane to the right and increasing speed to the left, merges and exits require less speed change and have better timing margins, long-distance traffic proceeds rapidly with little disturbance, and lane changes are easy. Drivers have the opportunity to rapidly distribute themselves among the lanes and drive at a speed where they're comfortable.
  - When driving at the same speed as an adjacent vehicle you increase your risk of collision:
      - If you're in a blind spot you STAY in the blind spot for a long time. The window of opportunity for the adjacent driver to happen to make a lane change into you - or into the space immediately in front of you, becomes much larger than if you had a relative drift.
      - If you hold relative position the other driver's peripheral-vision motion detector doesn't keep him aware of your presence. After a minute or so you're likely to fall out of his attention. Then, if a sudden traffic situation makes him need to change lanes suddenly (or he just wants to change lanes and forgets to do a recheck), he may swerve into you.

(By the way: The two-way two-lane equivalent of the rolling road-block chain-reaction-collision precursor is the "rat pack", a term of art in traffic engineering. It occurs when the first driver goes slightly over the limit and the second driver won't pass because he doesn't want to risk the necessary speed, but follows too closely for following cars to pass in two single-car hops. Fault is primarily on the second driver.)

Comment Re: Like someone else illustrated (Score 1) 440

Fahrenheit designed his scale in 1724. They weren't salting the roads and nobody was going fast enough or on a smooth enough surface for road salt to matter.

I didn't say it was by design. It's a convenient fallout of the arbitrary choices he made when coming up with a scale for his freshly-invented mercury-in-glass thermometer.

Road salt doesn't reduce that point to 0 F. Yes, but it's close. (The scale was originally designed with ammonium chloride, anyhow.) you can't maintain the salt concentration that high. Not a problem: They distribute gravel-sized chunks of salt, which take a while to dissolve even in running water. These melt randomly located and sized holes in the ice, which gives it a non-smooth texture (for traction) and breaks it up (for plowing aside).

Hyperthermia starts at 104 F which (with a basal metabolisim equivalent to running a minimum of a 75-watt bulb in your guts and head) you reach real-soon-now when the temperature is about 100F and you're dehydrated and the real normal body temperature is 98.6 F No, it's not. That's the typical measurement under the tongue - somewhat cooler than the core of the body, thanks largely to mechanisms to cool the brain. Subtract about a degree (97.6) for axilary (underarm) rather than oral, add about a degree (99.6) for rectal - which still isn't the hottest part of your core.

Yes, they're both approximate, so you have to use care as they're approached, as well as when they're exceeded. But how nice that a round number tags the (even if approximate) transition into unusual danger.

Comment The Dutch have done this for a while. B-) (Score 4, Interesting) 141

The Dutch have expanded into the ocean and used wind power for quite a while.

They've expanded their country by building dikes, pumping out water using windmill pumps, and reclaiming the seabed.

Building an artificial island and surrounding it with windmills to generate enormous amounts of electrical energy (rather than, say, building nuclear reactors) is right in character. B-)

(Back in the mid 20th century, one of the Lampoon magazines had a joke conspiracy theory article about the Dutch taking over the world by expanding out into the ocean and pushing the water up onto everybody else's country. It somehow involved people in other countries being awakened by the sound of chainsaws, wielded by invading Dutch military squads, being applied to their kitchen doors (to convert them into the two-segment, house-ventilating, "Dutch doors").)

Comment Re: Like someone else illustrated (Score 2, Insightful) 440

Customary are far more convenient for the tasks they're optimized for.

The Farenhiet scale is another example, where the definitions make the scale a strong mnemonic for certain situations:

  * 100 was set as a best guess at the time for the human body's internal temperature. (They got within a fraction of a degree.) When temperatures approach or exceed 100 F, it isn't enough to just relax when you're getting overheated. You must stay hydrated or suffer heat stroke and risk death.

  * zero was set at the coldest temperature they could easily and repeatedly generate in a lab: The melting point of pure ice saturated with salt (at sea level pressure, etc.) This is important when driving in states that salt their roads in the winter. When the temperature in degrees F goes negative the salt stops working. Drive VERY carefully or you end up in the ditch, risking death.

Given that those situations are deadly AND rare, it'37.s nice that these easy to remember round numbers flag them. Meanwhile, the boiling and freezing points of water (212F and 32F) are used often enough that they get memorized. With C, 100 and zero are boil and freeze, but will you remember 37.777... and -17.7777 as important numbers for heat stroke and deadly road conditions?

Comment Re:Sounds like people need to educate themselves (Score 2, Interesting) 275

Take an active role in your health care and question why you can't use a generic ...

And remember that, for some things, you really shouldn't use the generic - even when the FDA and your insurance company say it's just fine.

For example: Synthroid. This is a drug where:
  - the activity level is critical - you're replacing (all or part of) an important signal in a broken (or degraded) feedback loop with a constant output
  - but (unlike insulin) the tests are not easy enough to do real-time to recreate the feedback loop - so you take them every few months and adjust accordingly
  - being off too far can cause permanent neurological and other damage
  - the generic formulations are often far off the claimed dose, degrade at a different rate than the brand-name drug, or (in some cases) appear to be counterfeit with no activity whatsoever

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