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Comment Re:Had to be said (Score 4, Insightful) 332

The long charging time (1/2 an hour to get enough charge for 3 hours of driving) still seems like a problem. The press release argues that it's not a big loss of time, since you probably want to take a half-hour break every few hours to get some food, go to the bathroom, etc. That's probably true, but it ignores the problem that your car is sitting at the charger for half an hour, so no one else can use it. A single gasoline pump can refuel your car in maybe five minutes, so you can service cars at maybe six times the rate of an electric charger. So if you get there just and there's a line, you could find yourself waiting a long time before you even start to charge.

Comment Re:internet (Score 3, Insightful) 145

I know spam is annoying and all... but you Canadians should really take a moment and consider how amazingly lucky you are. Consider that in your country, the conservatives are shamelessly pandering to homosexuals, instead of trying to deny them the rights everybody else has, and treating homosexuality as some kind of failing to cure with prayer. Maybe some day people in this country will get emails about how Republican politicians have promoted gay rights abroad. It could be 20 or 30 years, as the kids who are now in college move up into political positions. Then again, given how things have changed rapidly on the gay marriage front, it may not be quite so long.

Comment Re:Vegetarian? (Score 2) 342

I call bullshit on this article. So first off, there's nothing to suggest that hominids needed some kind of special adaptation to be able to move out of Africa, after all, they had already done it hundreds of thousands of years before. Homo erectus was the first hominid out of Africa; it's present in Eurasia almost two million years ago, and H. erectus eventually gets as far east as India, China and Indonesia. The Neanderthal-Denisovan lineage then moved out of Africa roughly half a million years ago, with Neanderthals inhabiting Europe and the Middle East, and the Denisovans ultimately going all the way to Siberia. So hominids were already highly adaptable animals, they didn't need some mutation to allow them to persist outside of Africa.

Second of all, the first wave out of Homo sapiens out of Africa actually seem to have taken the coastal route, not an inland route. The first people out of Africa are the australoids, who include the Australian aborigines, Japanese Ainu, probably the Sri Lankan Veddah, and possibly Kennewick Man in Washington. They move out around 70,000 years ago, and since they're today found on islands (Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan) or coastal areas (Washington) they seem to have been early seafarers (the Eurasians move out maybe 30,000 years later, likely taking an overland route). So that doesn't really fit with their idea that the move out of Africa is associated with eating plants and cutting ties with marine resources.

Third, the whole argument is based on the idea that, up to this point, humans are "obligatorily tethered to marine sources". What's the evidence for this? They make some vague claim that early humans in Africa lived "at the margins of lakes, rivers, or seashores in central and eastern Africa." But they don't provide any evidence or argument to explain why humans couldn't have existed anywhere else. Okay, so you get early human remains near lakes, rivers, and oceans... well, for one thing, humans need water, so they camp near lakes, streams, and rivers. Second, fossils get preserved when they are buried in sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks primarily form in lakes, rivers, and oceans. So virtually all fossils are deposited in water. That's just paleontology 101. It's hardly surprising to find early humans in association with water, and you can't from that evidence conclude that humans needed fish to survive.

Comment Re:STEM Visas being held hostage (Score 5, Insightful) 133

I agree than any additional 'supply' will lower the average wage.

That's not necessarily the case. You're assuming that with more people, everyone has to get a smaller slice of the pie. But the size of the pie isn't fixed. People willing to uproot themselves and their families to go halfway around the world tend to be motivated and they tend to be risk-takers. That means they start businesses at a much higher rate than native-born Americans. A recent study found that immigrants are 13% of the population, but 18% of the small business owners. They employed $4.7 million people in 2007. Some of the companies founded by immigrants become big companies as well... Sergei Brin, who was born in the USSR, founded this thing called Google you may have heard of. Immigrants are innovators as well- think of Tesla, Einstein, von Braun. So when you recruit the best and brightest the world has to offer, the technologies and companies these people found will make the economy stronger, and that will increase the number and quality of jobs.

Comment Re:Gridlock is real (Score 5, Insightful) 133

If they cant agree on something as trivial as this, it appears that stopping this freight train before reaching fiscal cliff is a very real impossibility.

Perhaps. But before people go blaming Congress for all the problems with government, consider that congressmen, for the most part, are just doing whatever it takes to get re-elected. The Tea Partiers, for example, were elected on the promise that they wouldn't compromise, wouldn't work with the other side, and wouldn't let the Democrats and Obama ever accomplish anything. And they've lived up to those promises.

The American people are as much to blame as anyone. We constantly demonize the other side and our politics are increasingly polarized, we have special TV programs and web sites that reflect our own biased worldview back at us, and we elect people based on this worldview. Then we act surprised and disappointed when the people we elect can't ever get any legislation passed.

Comment Re:Good ol' Putin (Score 5, Informative) 285

Wonderful. Thank you, Slashdot, for posting an article glorifying this human piece of garbage. I suppose this is supposed to make us forget that Putin has jailed his critics, restricted the press, and rigged the electoral system to guarantee his victory? The man is nothing more than a bully, and these antics just show what a small, pathetic person he really is. The outlandish antics- tiger hunting, shooting whales, bare-chested horseback riding... he's doing it for the same reason as the guy who buys the really expensive, shiny, loud red pickup. He's compensating for deep insecurities. In his heart, he's nothing but a coward. If he weren't, he wouldn't have to spend all his time desperately trying to prove that he's such a badass. A real leader wouldn't spend all his time glorifying himself. And a real man wouldn't be so terrified by a bunch of girls in a punk band that he'd have to send them to prison for standing up to him.

Comment Re:Suprising how? (Score 2, Informative) 771

There's a reason why the same people who deny science also buy into the particular right-wing brand of free-market economics promoted by the Republican Party and libertarians, and the reason is that it's just another form of pseudoscience. It's part of a pattern of thinking (or lack of thinking, to be more accurate) that we see on the right, where people refuse to acknowledge basic realities that don't fit their worldview.

Republicans argue that they can somehow manage to balance the budget. Yet they advocate more tax cuts for the rich, they've signed a pledge that they won't raise taxes, and they won't identify the spending cuts they'll make to bring it all in line. To top it all off, they want to increase military spending. At the end of the day, it somehow has to all add up, and it doesn't. They're denying the basic principles of arithmetic.

Meanwhile the libertarians argue that they can somehow create an economic utopia by unleashing a sociopathic social order in which corporations are free to do whatever they want without oversight by the government. But we've seen what happens without a strong government, and the result is Somalia. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. A strong economy and thriving corporations require a government to provide infrastructure, security, and the rule of law. And we've seen what happens when corporations are allowed to do whatever they want; the result is disasters like the 2008 financial meltdown perpetrated by Wall Street speculators. Their entire premise is that we can just ignore political and economic realities and build a better world by following ideas from a series of poorly written economic fantasy novels.

Healthy political discourse requires disagreement and different views. But one end of the political spectrum just seems to have taken a break from reason. It's not just that they're rejecting science, they have an increasingly shaky hold on reality.

Comment Re:Suprising how? (Score 2) 771

human activity is the likely cause of the increase of CO2

There's no "likely" about it. We know exactly where the C02 increase is coming from. Every year humans pull millions of barrels of oil out of the ground, billions of tons of coal, and trillions of cubic meters of natural gas. Then we burn them, and that releases carbon dioxide. Using the word "likely" implies that there's actually some uncertainty here or reasonable doubt. There are legitimate areas of debate (exactly how much it warm? how fast? what are the costs and benefits of various policies?) but when you question high-school chemistry and mathematics, you're engaging in precisely the kind of pseudoscience that the article is talking about. Implying that it's "likely" that human have added C02 suggests that it's likely humans haven't added C02. Which is an exercise in irrational, paranoid, conspiracy-theory type thinking. It's like saying that it's "likely" that NASA did put a man on the moon instead of staging the Apollo landings, or "likely" that the earth is round, or likely the North Pole is in the North and the South Pole is in the South, or "likely" that the government isn't secretly run by a cabal of powerful warlocks.

Comment Re:Leveling the field (Score 3, Interesting) 71

We should demand that the U.S. behave in an ethical fashion, but I'm not sure what is supposed to be unethical about Stuxnet or Flame. The Iranians have secretly launched a program that will allow them to enrich uranium to weapons grade. Since Iran is swimming in oil and natural gas, this is a pretty clear signal that the regime wants to build a nuclear bomb, or at the very least, they want that option on the table. Rather than bomb the facility, and putting American pilots and Iranian civilians at risk, the U.S. and the Israelis blew up their centrifuges with a virus. That's a hell of a lot more humane than dropping bunker-busters from a B-2. As for Flame, it spies on people... and yeah, espionage is sort of a dirty business, but it's always been that way, long before the internet. I don't see how spying digitally makes it any more unethical than planting a bug in their office. There are weapons that are by their nature unethical- nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, which are indiscriminant and cause a lot of suffering. But cyberwarfare isn't like that, it's capable of being extremely targeted and can neutralize a target without any loss of life or suffering.

Richard Clarke writes about this in his book Cyber War, and it's actually a pretty insightful take on the situation. His argument is that there's no point in some kind of blanket treaty against cyberwarfare. But, he argues, it makes sense to have policy and treaties that prohibit certain kinds of cyberwarfare. He argued that the banking system should be off limits. Civilian targets should be off limits. Attacking power grids and other infrastructure should be off limits, unless you'd already entered into a shooting war. So far, the U.S. appears to have restrained from these sort of attacks. You can't really say the same thing about certain other countries. North Korea has been involved in attacks against banks; Russia has attacked civilian sites, and China has supposedly spent years planting logic bombs that would allow them to turn off the lights in the U.S.

I think this view makes a lot of sense. Talking about banning cyberwarfare is sort of like looking at the Wright Brother's plane and saying that we should ban the use in aircraft in war because civilians might be targeted. First off, it's a legitimate tool of war. Second of all, it's gives you a tremendous military advantage, so it's going to happen, the only question is how. As a good rule of thumb, I think you could argue that if you'd be justified in dropping a bomb on a target, you're certainly justified in taking it out with a piece of code. Likewise, if it's not okay to bomb it, it's not okay to take it out with a logic bomb.

Comment Re:Leveling the field (Score 1) 71

Now other powers like Iran, Israel, Turkey, etc are saying the same thing about cyberattacks: "The Americans did it so it must be okay."

That's not even remotely close to being true- countries have been launching cyberattacks a long time before Stuxnet was discovered. Russia launched cyberattacks against Estonia in 2007 and then against Georgia in 2008 during the war over South Ossetia. North Korea allegedly launched a massive attack on U.S. government sites in 2009. In 2007, the Israelis used a cyberattack to disable Syria's air defenses so they could bomb the Syrian nuclear program. And China's supposedly been planting logic bombs and backdoors that would, in the event of a war, allow them to take down U.S. infrastructure. Cyberwarfare was happening long before Stuxnet became known in 2010.

Comment Re:That's nice (Score -1, Troll) 847

That's why whistleblowers are supposed to be protected by law, which is what Manning should have been.

Most of the stuff Manning revealed didn't provide any evidence of wrongdoing, so he's not protected as a whistleblower. The "collateral murder" video, for instance. A reporter was wandering through an active war zone in the company of insurgents armed with RPGs and AK-47s, and Apache gunship pilots mistook him for an insurgent when he aimed his telephoto lens at them. So they opened fire. It's a horrific tragedy, and a reminder of the costs of war, but it's not criminal. The Apache pilots followed the rules of engagement. Similarly, revealing private, non-criminal communications by diplomats is not protected by whistleblowing laws.

Comment Re:Why bother? (Score 4, Insightful) 847

All reference to these things have largely vanished from the internet

So the fact that there's not a shred of evidence to support any the stuff you're saying proves that there is a huge conspiracy. Because otherwise, there's no way to explain why there isn't anything on the internet to back up what you're saying.

In other words, you're just pulling this stuff out of your ass.

Comment Re:childish swine (Score 1) 257

Thank you, Anonymous Coward, for managing to Godwin the entire discussion. But perhaps we can all agree that whether or not Barack Obama is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, the United States does some pretty bad stuff, and needs to be held accountable. The question is, do we need Wikileaks, or something like it?

Let's take a moment and consider abuses concealed by the U.S. government by the past ten years. I would nominate Abu Ghraib, the CIA black prisons, and the domestic eavesdropping program as the three worst scandals, in the sense of concealed abuses (as opposed to, say, the Iraq War, which was an abuse of power conducted in full view of everyone). In each case, the scandals were broken by traditional news media. Abu Ghraib, for instance, was broken by Seymour Hersh writing in the New Yorker. Old media seems to be doing pretty well in exposing the government. To the point, I would argue, that if you're a regular reader of the New York Times, you have a pretty good idea of what your government is up to. The diplomatic cables only confirmed this, I'd argue. When the lid was taken off the whole thing, it worked pretty much the way it we thought it did.

Traditional media establishments do a decent job of keeping us informed about our government's failures, if we care to be informed about them (many people don't but that's another issue). This seems to be true of western democracies as a whole. Democracies already have mechanisms for collecting leaks (reporters) and distributing the information (newspapers, TV news, websites). Where Wikileaks- or an organization like Wikileaks- could really do a lot of good is in areas where traditional media aren't able to operate freely. That would include places like China, Russia, parts of Africa and much of the Middle East. Whether WikiLeaks is the best way to do this is arguable. Assange and his notoriety are both the organization's biggest asset, and it's biggest liability.

Comment Re:Oh! Look! (Score 3, Interesting) 112

The think I'm mostly wondering about is stability. How do they do that? Hovercrafts are notorious for their instability, especially smaller craft. Flying them is a tough balancing act.

My impression is that it doesn't have good stability. Stability refers to the tendency of an aircraft to correct deviations in its flight path. An aircraft has inherent stability in three axes- pitch, yaw, and roll. Pitch refers to the nose pitching up and down, yaw refers to the nose yawing left and right, and roll is rolling about the long axis. So if a gust of wind rolls one wing up, the plane will automatically compensate and level out-without any action on the part of the pilot. This machine seems to perhaps have decent pitch and yaw stability, but roll stability seems to be pretty minimal. You can watch the machine slowly rolling in the movie; it's presumably the result of having a high center of gravity, like a man standing in a canoe.

As far as I can tell, the machine isn't actually stable, instead the pilot continually makes small adjustments to keep the machine flying level. According to the article, "Aerofex's new proof-of-concept craft keeps itself stable by responding to a human rider's natural sense of balance" and "The company has apparently rectified the issue with the addition of knee-level "control bars" on either side of the vehicle that make the vehicle more responsive to the pilot's movements." So from the video and the article it would seem that they haven't made the machine stable, they've made it controllable, and given the pilot the ability to continually make small adjustments to keep it level. If he gets distracted, of course...

Comment Re:yeah (Score 2, Insightful) 115

It's important science, but even if the telescope works without a hitch and everything goes according to plan, the Webb Space Telescope represents a real failure on the part of NASA administration. According to Wikipedia, the telescope was originally supposed to launch in 2007 for a cost of $500 million; then 2007-2008 for a cost of $1 billion, then 2009 for $1.8 billion, now it's 2018 and 8.7 billion. The Curiosity rover has also had major problems, being two years behind schedule and $1.5 billion over budget.

I support the work NASA does, and I think that we should support projects like the Webb telescope and Curiosity. But it's pretty clear that the current management at NASA is incompetent when we have this situation of projects continually coming in late and massively over budget. The guys in the blue shirts we saw working mission control are doing a great job, but their leadership is failing them. It seems to me that if we could figure out how to reform NASA, reward success and have accountability for failures, we might be able to save money and get more science done at the same time- although I'm not terribly optimistic about that.

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