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Comment Re:Bad definition (Score 1) 219

Most people are a bit imprecise about the use of "lunar" when talking about calendars and use it to include lunisolar calendars. That's because almost all real-world calendars are intended to be used for agriculture and have to take the seasons into account. The Islamic calendar is a real oddball for not taking them into account.

Comment Re:bah (Score 1) 312

Cities depend on farms, the reverse is not true.

Farms don't depend on cities only if they're willing to fall back to the level of subsistence agriculture. Modern agriculture is completely dependent on manufactured items that are made in big cities. That's where the trucks, tractors, combines, and other heavy equipment is made. That's where the fuel that heavy equipment needs to run is refined. That's where the fertilizer the crops need to grow is produced. That's where the thousands of common household items, including processed foods, that farmers depend on to make their lives livable are made.

Comment Re:I would rather.... (Score 1) 554

According to the article, this is about employees with unvested shares. That means they don't actually own the shares yet; they're only promised the shares if they meet certain conditions, usually continued employment. If they're at will employees, Zynga has the right to fire them at any time for any reason, including firing them to keep their options from vesting. That may be sleazy and underhanded, and it's likely to cause them serious loss of reputation (more of a problem for the VCs, who will have to deal with other startups, than Zynga), but it's technically legal. Demanding the return of the options is just giving the employees a choice: get fired and lose your options because they haven't vested or keep your job and give up your options as the price of continued employment. Again, it's sleazy enough to make pond scum resent your comparison to Zynga management, but it's probably legal.

Comment Re:Windows itself seems close to being deprecated (Score 1) 226

That may be Microsoft's plan, but it's a real loser for expensive specialty software. At my work, we have plenty of technical apps that cost more than the Windows machine they're running on, even though they require fairly hefty hardware. There's no way a company writing a $10K app is going to be willing to hand over $3K to Microsoft to get it on their appstore. They'd rather port to another, more open platform. Stealing those kinds of apps away from Unix workstations was a big win for Microsoft 10-20 years ago. It will be an equally big loss if they drive them back to Unix/Linux in an attempt to cash in as a gatekeeper.

And that's not the only big loss. Many larger businesses have their own custom apps and packages that they've written in-house and depend on to keep their companies running. Making Windows depend exclusively on something like the appstore to install software will kill that market and push Windows out of big business. Unless there's some kind of Windows for Business solution that lets you set up your own software sources, Microsoft will be killing the golden goose.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 4, Insightful) 427

The Turing test, as originally proposed, wasn't just a test of casual conversation. It was supposed to involve skeptical questioners doing their very best to separate human from AI, with no limit on conversational topic. The hypothetical questions in Turing's original paper included ones about math, chess problems, and poetry. If you held a Turing test under the original rules, with a reward for testers who successfully told human from AI (and for humans who successfully proved their humanity) you would find that no AI would get anywhere close to success. Because everybody knows that, public tests like this one have repeatedly watered down the original concept to make things more interesting. But that just proves how far AI has to come, not that it's getting close to succeeding.

Comment Re:Openness (Score 1) 65

It isn't just the OS that makes the system open or closed; how easily you can do other things is very important. Apple has a much more tightly locked down application environment. Getting an app into the iOS Appstore is much tougher than getting it into the Android Marketplace, and installing unapproved apps is much easier under Android. From a user standpoint, having access to outside apps by setting a single checkbox contributes more to real openness than being able to replace the OS.

Comment Limited utility (Score 3, Interesting) 98

Note that this kind of material only works to increase the heat capacity of the building, so it will only work when the temperature fluctuates across the phase change temperature over the course of the day. You'll still need a heater if it gets cold and stays cold and an air conditioner if it gets hot and stays hot. The big benefit is that the heat capacity only applies across a narrow temperature range, so it's relatively easy to maintain that temperature passively.

Comment Re:Successful Troll is Successful (Score 5, Insightful) 509

No, he's not an academic purist; he's a businessman who's selling a product that competes with MySQL. So he's trying to convince web startups to pay a bunch of money for his product rather than rely on free MySQL because he claims it will help them scale better than Facebook. IOW, businessman trashes competitor's product, claims you should buy from him instead. Nothing to see here.

Comment Re:Why are Libs so enamored with taxes? (Score 1) 623

But we're talking about a state sales tax, and you're talking about a list of services that Amazon doesn't get from the state of California:

Except that they do receive some services from California; that's the point. Amazon has "associates" that are based in California, which is the legal basis for California demanding that Amazon charge sales taxes.

To give a concrete example, I live in California and bought my TV from a California company that most certainly does use state and local services paid for from those sales taxes. But because I bought it through Amazon as an intermediary, there was no sales tax charged at the time of purchase. If I had bought from the same company by going down to their store, I would have had to pay sales tax. That's a pure sales tax avoidance scheme, and it's crazy to let it continue.

FWIW, I am a good citizen who tracks my on-line purchases and pays the use tax for goods when I didn't pay the sales tax at the time I purchased them. I would personally rather have those taxes deducted at the time of purchase rather than wait and pay them later.

Comment Re:Why are Libs so enamored with taxes? (Score 5, Insightful) 623

Yes, Amazon provides some of that lifestyle. Of course Amazon sells it using the DARPA developed internet and ships it on public roads, often using the US Postal Service. They hire programmers who were educated in public schools and at public universities. When they're worried about competition, they sue their competitors in Federal Court, often over patents issued by the USPTO. Their facilities are protected from crime by publicly funded police and from foreign invaders by the US military. If one of their buildings catches fire, it will be put out by publicly funded fire fighters. That's a developed world lifestyle, and it's made possible by the continuous effort of a capable government.

Comment Re:Idiocy... (Score 1) 129

And there are many old games that are still very playable because they did a great job of basic design and were able to crank up to a high enough difficulty to give anyone a real challenge. I think this is true of a lot of the classic arcade games. They're built more around reflexes and hand-eye coordination than thinking and planning. As long as they can't be beaten by memorizing and following a predictable series of moves, they can be just as challenging as they were when they first came out.

Comment Re:You must test the obvious (Score 1) 299

I wouldn't say that common sense is wrong more often than not. I would say that it's wrong often enough that you should do your best to test any common sense idea before building an elaborate theory that depends on it being correct. Common sense can often be a useful guide, but it can lead you into some really unpleasant blind alleys when it's wrong.

Comment Re:It's a Little Boy gun-type bomb (Score 1) 332

I think you'll find that even 239Pu has too high a neutron emission rate (about 20 neutrons/kg sec) to make a reliable gun-type bomb. That gives you hundreds of neutrons per second in the separate subcritical assemblies. Given a critical assembly time on the order of a millisecond, that gives much too high a probability of a fizzle to make a practical design.

Also, given that the half-life of 240Pu is about 1/4 that of 239Pu, just aging your Plutonium is not going to be enough to reduce 240Pu levels to a reasonable level. By the time the 240Pu has decayed to the point it has a lower neutron emission rate than the 239Pu, most of your 239Pu will also have decayed and you'll need to reprocess it to recover enough for a bomb. Not really a practical solution.

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