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Comment Swamped by environmentalist interference. (Score 2, Interesting) 379

... according to the article there has been a three-decade pattern of fires getting worse in the West:

And the reason for that is well known, and has nothing to do with global warming.

It is caused by environmentalist interference in land management. The major factors are;
  - Fuel load: Logging is stopped, or delayed for decades by lawsuits, even of diseased and fallen trees, which are left to rot. Brush clearing, deemed "unnatural", is also stopped. LOTS of little trees and weeds grow up between the big trees. When a fire finally starts, it soreads rapidly and burns big and hot, and is very hard to control. The hot burning sterillizes the ground, killing many types of seeds that would otherwise have fueled a post-fire recovery.
  - Access restriction: Loggers and other visitors to the area are the main source of reports of fires when they're still tiny. With logging stopped and most recreational uses banned the woods are essentially deserted. A fire that would have been spotted in tens of minutes might have as much as days to grow before it is discovered. Once it IS discovered, the lack of roads and lack of clearng of those paths still there impedes fire-fighting: Regular equipment, or even four-wheel-drive SUV-based, fire equipment can't access much of the area, and must leave those areas it can access early, to avoid being trapped.

I think it's ludicrous that the blame for the anthropogenic forest fire severity increase is being deflected from the policies and policy-makers that caused it and simultaneously being used as additional "evidence" for global warming. It's tactics like this that cause people to distrust global warming claims.

Comment Back during the Cold War... (Score 1) 81

I remember, during the Cold War (and the start of the Drug War), when "cruise missles" first came out.

There were two designs - a short-range one, with an engine that destroyed its bearings during the run, and a long-range one, with better bearings so the engine could be stopped and restarted. They both used terrain-following, as well as inertial navigation, with onboard radar and a computer that could figure out the drone's location and path from the topography. VERY advanced computing for the time. They could fly at treetop level and thus avoid ground-based radar until it was too late to do anything about them.

The long-range one could carry a payload of about 2/3 ton (suitable for a substantial H-bomb). It navigated well enough that it could be flown into a larg doorway or window (though it would, of course, go out through the far wall...).

I remember thinking that the range was substantually longer than the distance from Columbia to the southwestern US and that 1,350 pounds is a LOT of cocaine. B-)

The downside, of course, was that if it WAS detected, it would look JUST like a cruise missile flying into the US over the Gulf of Mexico...

Comment It eats smaller spots. (Score 2) 160

What has keep it going all these years?

As I understand it (I DON'T study this, but just recall previous articles):

The Great Red Spot is a big storm. It happens that the dynamics of storms on Jupiter is such that they move east/west at different speeds, and when they collide they combine. So Jupiter usually has a big Borg storm that has been growig by assimilating little storms more than it has been shrinking by "blowing out".

I have also read that such storms, though very long-lived, have died out even in the geologically-short period Jupiter has been observed, and new ones grown up later - not necessarily in the same hemisphere.

I haven't heard of a situation where there have been two or more of them - either one each in the northern and soutern hemisphere or two in the same hemisphere at different lattitudes. But observation of Jupiter is young in terms of the length of its weather cycles.

Similarly, Earth's ocean currents are also apparently "weather" - exhibiting positive feedback and chaotic behavior, not just a constant response to heat sources, sinks, and seabed geometry - but with an even longer time scale than Jupiter's storms.

Comment The problem with calorie restriction. (Score 1) 66

Foods-and-nutrition experts have known for decades that calorie restriction itself is a dead-end - and not for the reasons given so far in this article.

Turns out that, while calorie restriction does retard aging, it also retards the functionality of the immune system.

Calorie-restrict a rat in a lab, where it's protected from most pathogens, and it lives measurably longer and shows signs of aging later, in proportion. Calorie-restrict a rat exposed to an outdoor environment, and it dies young of disease.

This implies that, while there might be mechanisms of aging-retardation discoverable by examining the biochemistry behind calorie restriction and exploitable for life extension, calorie restriction regimes, by themselves, are likely to be counter-productive.

Comment Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (Score 1) 227


My point exactly, which you'd understand if you had read my other posts on the subject.

I said "naive" when referring to net neutrality mandates, because most of the net neutrality proposals don't make this distinction.

And it's a tough one to make - like defining "pornography" while trying to reconcile suppressing it with not suppressing "free speech".

This is why I think the right place to regulate this (if it's regulated at all) is in the justice department under antitrust law, or the federal trade commission as false advertising, not under the FCC as a technical issue.

Comment Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (Score 1) 227

You only need QoS if you have congestion.

And if you have substantial TCP traffic, (for instance, with file transfers), you ALWAYS have congestion. TCP divides bandwidth fairly and attempts to utilize essentially all of it by speeding up until you DO have congstionk, then backing off. That's how it's SUPPOSED to work.

Comment Re:Netflix is a terrible test case (Score 1) 227

With the current packet switched network, when too many people try to call Mexico City at the same time, what will happen instead is that far more connections will be made, but they will not be reliable. ... when it's waaay too many, then no one will get a usable connection at all.

A packet-switched network is great for lots of applications but one can certainly argue that telephone service is not one of them.

Actually, packet switched networks work just fine for this IF they have a "reserved bandwidth" connection-emulation feature. In return for being limited in the number and size of the packets, and having asked first, the packets of the call get to "go to the front of the line", which means they aren't dropped and have little variation in transit time (jitter). The high-bandwidth services that speed up until they hit a bottleneck and back off, dividing all available bandwidth among themselves, then find that "all available bandwidth" is just a little smaller. That way both types of service play together JUST FINE.

But that means treating some packets different than others, which in turn means that "net neutrality" mandates, in a naive form, ban them, leaving the phone calls running in the "best effort" manner you describe.

It also means that the "calls" get a higher priority on the bandwidth, and lock up some for their own use. This makes their handling more valuable, and thus more costly. If that cost is not passed on, the result would be that other services would be re-written to "cheat", improving their own performance by opening a bunch of "calls" to reserve a bunch of bandwidth - losing, for everybody else, the opportunistic maximization of the use of the transport and drastically reducing performance for everybody when essentially everybody is playing the same game to get back on a level playing field.

So the practical and equitable solution is to provide some minimum amount of right-to-reserve-bandwidth - like enough for a call or two - in the flat rate and/or bill excess use at a substantially higher rate (as well as limiting the amount available for reservation and not guaranteeing reservations will be accepted once it's all in use. Then the users can chose (monthly and/or on a call-by-call basis) whether to pay extra for reserved bandwidth, high-quality calls, or save money by taking their chances on call quality using best-effort routing.

Comment The HELL it was. (Score 1) 664

For those civilians that carry weapons for self-defense, no one should have to remind you that the origin of your right to do so was originally one of selflessness, i.e. to protect your defenseless neighbors at risk to your own life or property, either from raiding parties, foreign enemies, crime, or the government.

The HELL it was.

It was to protect yourSELF,your FAMILY, and the property that keeps you and them alive and prospering, first and foremost. Protecting your friends, neighbors, fellow tribesmen/countrymen, defenseless widows and orphans, etc. is, and always has been, farther down the list, and often a side-effect of your higher-priority guard work. (For instance: Crooks avoid houses "that shoot", and to a lesser extent the neighborhoods that contain them, when there are enough of them or enough uncertainty about which is which.)

Altruism is a survival characteristic, but only when it's limited to its proper level. Putting most others above yourself in your priority scheme is a recipe for extinction (though very convenient for others who want to run your life for their own benefit). The law recognizes this, as does the bulk of the population who actually spend time thinking about and researching it. It's time you did, too.

Comment That's a limit on energy DENSITY (Score 3, Insightful) 135

Eventually the laser energy will create a black hole, provided some other exotic effect doesn't occur first.

That's a limit on energy density, not total energy in the laser. In principle you could use a very WIDE laser opterating below the black-hole thrshold and focus the beam externally (which, if it's powerful enough, it might do eventually, by self-gravitation, after leaving the cavity, even if the cavity geometry made it emit a colimated, rather than a converging, beam.) Thus, making a kugelblitz with a (very wide) laser might be theoretically possible (if "some other exotic effect" didn't make the required laser cavity to wide to be physically realizable).

I'd imagine "Some other exotic effects" might include the electric field component of the coherent light becoming strong enough to polarize the vacuum and create particle-antiparticle pairs from multiple photons, dissipating their energy, somewhere WAY below the threshold of gravitic-collapse effects. So you'd need a REALLY WIDE laser and REALLY GOOD optics to make your external-to-the-laser black hole.

Of course the question, being phrased in terms of Bose-Einstein vs. Fermi-Dirac statistics and "infinite" energy was really about energy density in the cavity - just poorly phrased. So you answered the question that was REALLY being asked.

Comment Don't forget the other half of the equation. (Score 4, Insightful) 201

evaluate the cost of a vcr and the amount of time you have to transfer, I cannot provide a value to your time then compare it to the cost of outsourcing and make choice.

Include the cost of your time in dealing with the outsourcing service, too.

There's also the issues of:
  - what values you put on letting others see your tapes,
  - the risk of them making copies,
  - whether anything you want to tansfer is copyright-encumbered and the service wouldn't copy that for you.
  - the relative likelyhood of quality transfers and tape damage when done by a professional service versus do-it-yourself. They have the experience but you have the personal involvement.
You need to evaluate these as well.

(I often do things myself rather than hire them done because I'm more comfortable blaming myself than someone else if something breaks - even if breakage due to my efforts may be more likely. I also enjoy learning new skills and technical trivia, even if I'm unlikely to use them again later, and surprising situations keep coming up where some tidbit turns out to be useful.)

Comment Re:These days I think it's safe to assume (Score 1) 57

... European ... agencies ... in bed with the US surveillance state, ... German, French, Danish, Swedish, ... routinely helping each other out.

One scenario where this would make sense is if the governments of the world see the upcoming conflicts as, not between nation-states or groups of them, but between nation-states as a class and their citizens.

There's been a lot of talk about things like:
  - The Internet gives people news channels that can't be so readily turned into propaganda machines for those in power.
  - Voluntary organization is far more efficient than central planning, including when it comes to organizing political action.
  - Allegedly opposing major political parties are essentially indistinguishable when it comes to their actions when in power.
  - Liberty and libertarian movements, dedicated to reducing the size of governments, having growing political success.
  - Individuals and small groups, driven by ideology or rational thought rather than organized cooperation, having world-shaking effects (example: Snowden). Multiply that by the number of non-governmental individuals who may become active...
  - Governments, as a class, having looted their people to the point of crippling the economy and risking their survival.
and so on.

Suppose governments are taking this talk seriously? They could see this as a repeat of the 18th century overthrow of the various royal families and the replacement of their governmental forms by republics, but with the current institutions playing the part of the royals and voluntary, information-based, anarchy/libertarian/constitutional/etc. movements playing the radicals.

With visions of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror dancing in their heads (and concern that these heads might be abruptly separated from their bodies), wouldn't one expect them to tool up for a conflict? Wouldn't a first step to be collecting intelligence on their possible opposition - to see if it's real and sort out WHICH sheep are becoming wolves?

The same scenario might also work if, for "governments" you substitute power blocks within them (such as "the intelligence community") or outside power groups that allegedly control or strongly influence them (such as "International Mega-Corporations" or "International Bankers / The Financial Community".)

The common thread is "Some international power group as a class, versus the bulk of the people of the world." They don't have to actually be under attack by billions of little people. They just have to believe they might be, now or soon, and have the power to get the intelligence agencies to aid them. ... jurisdiction-laundering through these arrangements: the NSA can spy on Germans because they're foreigners, and then shares data with German intelligence [they couldn't] legally collect on their own citizens. And vice versa, ...

Case in point. Why would they need to bypass the limits unless they fear a threat from within? "Terrorism" is a great excuse. But the threat from international terrorism is a drop in the bucket compared to traffic accidents. Wouldn't detection and suppression of perceived revolutionaries and internal political opponents make more sense?

Comment Re:Misleading Summary (Score 1) 84

2) the patch for this vulnerability was pushed yesterday, out of stream, for all affected browsers, for all Windows OS's back to and including WinXP.

So how do you download it on a windows XP box, now that official support has ended? (I just inherited one, after Microsoft dropped support, and it has mission-critical, windows XP applications on it. B-b )

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