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Comment Certainty about dogs from wolves is very recent (Score 1) 385

Sure, we've known that dogs are related to other canines for a long time, but it's only fairly recent that we've had enough genetic data to be sure that they're descended from wolves, as opposed to other theories about jackals, foxes, coyotes, multiple species of wolves, etc., especially since there's a lot of potential for hybridization (e.g. the recent coywolves in the US, which descended from hybrids of coyote, wolf, and domestic dog) and domestication may have happened in multiple places at multiple times.

Comment Flint before the Crash (Score 2) 393

Flint used to be an ok working-class factory town before they closed the factories, though it's been rapidly downhill since, and of course before the criminally incompetent water administrators poisoned everybody who was left while drinking bottled water at the office.

I've only been there once, back in the 80s, staying overnight because my connecting flight to Exciting Dayton Ohio got cancelled because of fog. If you needed to find a motel near the airport, fast food that was still open, and coffee in the morning, it was as good as anywhere else.

The parts of Detroit and Windsor Ontario I was in around 2007 were ok also - we were bidding on upgrading data center equipment for GMAC (oops, the financial crash trashed that project), and we had some generic office space in some suburb near them. I did drive through the business parts of downtown (which were ok) and went to Windsor for dinner - there's good Middle Eastern food there, and I'd never driving south into Canada before.

Comment Can't use that - some robocalls are my pharmacy (Score 1) 172

I do get a fair number of legitimate robocalls, e.g. from the pharmacy or my dentist's appointment reminder system or whatever. An extra-fancy answering system could probably identify the most common good robocallers and only play that for evil ones, but especially since they keep faking caller id, it's hard to do well enough.

Comment Re:Ask them to put you on "Do Not Call" list first (Score 1) 172

That employee you want me to sympathize with is usually working for a scammer like "Heather From Account Services" or "Microsoft Technical Support" or "The IRS", or at best for "Maybe they really are selling solar panels for your roof but they didn't check the Do Not Call list or their own Don't Call Me Back list or even figure out if they're calling a home or business", so if they aren't thieves themselves they're working for shoddy businesses that waste their time and the time of the people they're calling, so they're probably going to do just as bad a job of providing services to anybody they sucker into buying.

And if you marked them as interested just so they get more calls, you're an asshole who deserved whatever they said to you.

I've occasionally gotten calls from surveys that probably were real Gallup polls, but unfortunately for them I've got no interest in telling them my age or income level, even though I'd happily tell them that I'm planning to vote "other" rather than Democrat or Republican, no, I'm not undecided, yes, I think Obama's done a terrible job but any of the Republicans would be even worse (or, if it's a push poll for one of the candidates or parties or political fund-raising groups, that their questions are so hopeless that there's no way to answer their "Politician X, Threat Or Menace?".)

Comment Re:Does anybody press 1 (Score 1) 172

I much prefer the ones that aren't pretending. And yes, I almost always press 1, because putting a human on the line costs them a lot more per minute than the robocaller bot. If I feel like taking the time, I'll stay on the line; otherwise I'll put the phone down and wait for the telco's hangup tones. (Now that we've got VOIP at work, sometimes it takes me a minute to answer the Lync popup, unmute the speakers, and put on my headset, so sometimes they're gone before I can press 1.)

Comment Press 1 to talk to an agent (Score 1) 172

Many of the robots give you a choice of pressing 1 to talk to an agent or 2/etc. to be on their do not call list (which is worthless, since if you were on the national do not call list and they didn't check it, they also won't check their own.) Always press 1, so they have to connect a more expensive human to the call, and if you don't feel like wasting your own time, just put the phone down.

And I've got no sympathy for the "telemarketers are just people who need jobs" position - Heather From Account Services and Fake Microsoft Technical Support are trying to scam people out of their money, and their victims need that money at least as much as the thieving scammers do. Even for the less scammy companies (e.g. the ones that really do want to sell you solar panels for your roof), if the company doesn't maintain a do not call list and check the national one, they're wasting the time of their agents, and the ones that keep trying to sell me a solar panel for the roof (at my work phone number) haven't done even a half-baked job of validating their lists, and they keep calling back whether I tell them "no, this is a business" or "I'm not the homeowner" or "this is a condo" (which they don't sell to); so far none of them have come by to take a look at the roof (of my 2 million square foot office building) and make a bid, even though I keep cheerfully inviting them.

Comment Hard to File a Complaint if CallerID's Fake (Score 1) 172

.... and the callerid's often fake or blocked, unless it's from some callcenter-heavy small telco or the gateway from some VOIP or conferencing system (e.g. I got a call from a Bluejeans Conferencing gateway that was probably being used by scammers.) My office phone just switched from being on an old Centrex system to a Microsoft Lync VOIP system, and since my real work phone calls are usually on the work cellphone, calls to my office number are usually either from vendors or from spammers that either never called the old number or else never bothered leaving a message (I usually telecommute, so now I'm getting those calls popping up on my computer in real time with caller id. Lots of them are "Unavailable", or random area codes.)

Most of the useful calls on my home landline are from the pharmacy's robot telling me that they've got something for me, or the dentist office's robot calling to say I've got an appointment, or the gas company saying they're doing construction down the street again, or that sort of thing.

Stats

Americans' Evolution Knowledge Isn't That Bad, If You Ask About Elephants (sciencemag.org) 385

sciencehabit writes: In 2014, a poll showed that just 49% of Americans agreed with the statement: "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." But it's difficult to tell whether those numbers measure ignorance about science, because belief in human evolution is closely tied to religious belief, especially in the United States. Yesterday, researchers at the annual meeting of AAAS, previewed data from a recent poll showing that when the word "human" is replaced with "elephant" in the evolution question, 75% of Americans agree — about 25 percentage points higher than before. Plus, the new elephant question does a better job of predicting general science knowledge than the human question, especially among those who say they don't believe in evolution. So it seems that America's dismal performance on past evolution polls can be blamed at least partially on this disbelief, rather than a lack of knowledge.

Comment Re:Explain the fucking acronyms in the summary! (Score 1) 88

Yes, it's nice that if you click the links, you might get some clue what the article's about - what's important is that the summary tell whether you'd be interested in reading it or not. In this case, the summary did a fine job, at least if you know what a Raspberry Pi is - it said this was about tracking helicopter movements at the Davos shindig using a $20 $FOO, a Raspberry Pi, and a $BAR-flavored antenna, so you know it's generally hardware things that might have to do with radio. It didn't say how much of the article would be about the technical nits of how they did it, and how much would be about what they found out about all the rich folks showing up at the shindig, and how much it would be about the social aspects of using cheap hardware to track things about people that used to be harder to track, but if any of them motivates you it ended up being at least slightly relevant.

Comment For Science!! (Score 1) 132

We've been running things like this for a couple of decades, just as SETI@Home searches for little green men, etc. I ran the GIMPS Mersenne prime search software for a couple of years on my work laptop, but it really chewed through battery life, and eventually the desktop CPUs (and GPUs, once those were supported) became enough faster that it wasn't worth contributing.

Comment California BYOD laws - sigh (Score 1) 82

California law says that companies can only let you use BYOD if they're providing you with equipment and service plans. The assumption is that companies will try to rip off their employees by making them bring their own devices, so it should be forbidden. While I understand that, it means that I can;t just bring my own iPad/Android tablet to work to use as an alternative to the company laptop unless the company also buys me a work phone. (Sigh. Eventually they did that, but the IT department's support for Android has never been as good as their iPad support... So I've occasionally had to haul the laptop on a trip instead of just the tablet.)

Comment Pro-cop politician from Apple-heavy Elk Grove (Score 1) 251

Jim Cooper, the Californian, represents a district that includes Elk Grove, site of a big Apple facility, as well as various other parts of the south-of-Sacramento area. His political connections are much more with the Sacramento-area cops than with the Apple employees he represents, unfortunately, and also he's unfortunately a Democrat, so unless he gets a primary challenger, he's going to win re-election. But he's only a first-term Assembly member, so there's still a chance to knock him out.

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