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Comment Re:A thought... (Score 1) 452

Or better yet, once in court and under questioning invoke the 5th Amendment. It does work once there. It cannot be used to trump a subpoena and skip out on testifying as a witness.

Until they give you a grant of immunity. Then it doesn't work anymore.

There are two kinds of immunity: Transactional immunity (witness can not ever be prosecuted for crimes related to his testimony) and Use immunity (they can't use your testimony, or any evidence they gather based on its information, against you - but if they find other evidence you're fair game.)

Unfortunately the Supreme Court has ruled that Use Immunity is enough to extinguish the 5th Amendment right and federal prosecutors rarely offer Transactional. Some states have more stringent laws, constitutions, or constitutional interpretations and Transactional immunity must be offered before their courts may compel testimony.

Of course prosecution is not the only life risk for a witness. I know of at least one person, here in the disarmed-citizen utopia of California who has stated an intent to "not have seen anything" unless granted a perpetual concealed carry license.

Comment Re:Dolphins and Bats are Mammals (Score 2) 164

they all start with some common underlying mamallian hearing genes and then they tweak them to develop echolocation.

Actually, a lot of animals that aren't credited with using echolocation actually use a variation of it: Sounds from their own motion (such as footsteps) create echoes, which their hearing system processes into a map of nearby objects.

People, for instance, do this. That's why you can "feel" the nearness of walls and objects in the room (especially those near or immediately behind you) without looking, when you're moving.

There's at least one recorded instance of a totally blind child who learned to ride a bicycle and avoid objects, by making clicking sounds with his mouth to provide excitation for this system.

(The hearing system of things like mammals is evolved from the lateral line of fish - which both detects other nearby fish by direction-finding on the sound from their muscle twitches and other sound-reflecting objects by detecting the echoes of muscle twitches of the fish doing the listening. (A flat surface, for instance, would produce an acoustic mirror image of the fish every time it twitched, identifying the return as an echo of the fish itself.) It would not surprise me if the processing for echolocation in other animals is just a revival or slight remapping of this same mechanism.)

Comment While you're at it, ... (Score 1) 478

please, please ... pass on this advice to a Progressive

While you're at it, point out that a lot of their prescriptions INCREASE risk while purporting to reduce it. It's doubly annoying when they work so hard, throwing money, effort, and restrictive laws into trying to solve a problem when the effort and sacrifice actually makes it worse, in a positive feedback loop.

Progressives have no monopoly on this, either. Neocons, consdrvatives, and even Libertarians do it as well. It's easy for all to do things to attack a problem and not see that the indirect effects of the effort cause more harm (even in terms of the problem being attacked) than the first-order effects help.

Some examples:

  - Gun control: Private ownership and carrying of guns REDUCES crime, violence, victimization, and death, while citizen disarmament increases them.

  - Attempts to police the world produce "blowback", creating new and/or motivating existing enemies, increasing, rather than decreasing, the risk and costs to the US from war.

  - Drug prohibition creates more drug use and criminal enterprises, rather than reducing drug use, and harms the drug users more than the drugs do. Its component programs often have counterproductive pathologies of their own. One example is the D.A.R.E. program, which attempts to use peer pressure to encourage kids to ignore peer pressure, and has been shown to increase drug use.

  - Grabbing advances to any program, rather than considering whether achieving goals in the wrong order makes things worse rather than better. (A Libertarian example: They want both open borders and an end to government wealth distribution such as welfare programs. Unfortunately, opening the borders first leads to an influx of social program dependents, making the overall problem worse (and increasing the voting block to preserve and expand the programs), when fixing or eliminating the programs first would remove most of the downsides to opening the borders later.)

Comment There's NOTHING blocking production ramp-up (Score 1) 351

If we extrapolate this curve and assume everything else remains constant, DOOOOOOOOOM!!!!

Darned right. (The authors seem to think the battery makers won't respond to a market for more batteries by building more batteries. Duh!)

As I understand it there's NOTHING blocking production ramp-up for Li-Ion batteries except lack of customer demand, which the auto industry is now rectifying. There's nothing exotic or rare in their composition.

Pretty much ditto for NiMH (except maybe for the price of nickel).

Henry Ford built a bunch of infrastructure to supply his auto company with necessary materials - including building his own steel mills, power plants, and soybean warehousing and processing operations (for early plastics). Any bets on whether Elon Musk would build his own battery plants if the current industry doesn't make him enough (or gouges him on the prices)?

Comment Plastics, too. (Score 1) 351

Sure it can. A process can generate a lot of some material which nobody currently needs. The manufacturer will then go and look for a market which can use this material and try to develop that market.

That was the case long ago for gasoline, it was a useless by-product for a long time there...it was actually thrown causing some environmental problems, till they could finally figure out a use for the stuff.

Other examples:
  - Plastics
  - Asphalt
  - "Coal-tar" dies.
  - Liquified Natural Gas from remote oil fields (like the Middle East).

One of my favorites: Stove Pellets: They're made of sawdust from lumber mills, which used to be disposed of by burning it on site. They can sell them very cheap and still be far ahead of spending money to get rid of them (especially after EPA regs made burning them pricey). As a result, my house heating (in a mild climate place where shipping raises their price substantially) costs me maybe $300-400/year, vs. several thousand if I were still using natural gas. (It's carbon-neutral, too.)

Comment 12 inches per century, max? I'm SO scared. (Score 1) 341

Records and research show that sea level has been steadily rising at a rate of 1 to 2.5 millimeters (0.04 to 0.1 inches) per year since 1900.

Four to ten inches per century. Look out for the tidal wave.

Variation by a factor of 2.5? That's VERY noisy data to use for the extrapolation of rates. How few samples and what level of noise do they have that they can't come up with better error margins?

This rate may be increasing. Since 1992, new methods of satellite altimetry (the measurement of elevation or altitude) indicate a rate of rise of 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) per year.

And with noisy data you occasionally get an outlier on one end or the other. Of course if you want to produce panic you treat the biggest excursion as if it's the average, and extrapolate it out for a century. But even if you do that you're talking a whole 12 inches sea rise in a CENTURY.

It's been less than 2.4 centuries since the American Revolution, a little over five since Columbus made his famous trip. Don't you think that, if the sea level gradually rises by a foot per century the new construction will just be up the hills a little more and the companies will move?

And while we're at it, how OLD are these high-tek companies, and how long before they're replaced by a new generation? Do they actually expect to be in existence and in the same buildings after fifty or a hundred years? The mind boggles.

Comment Prevents emulation. (Score 1) 150

Does this law prevent a "computer product" patent "comprising" a recordable medium containing instructions that when executed by a computer processor perform the steps of: a)
do a software emulation of the non-obvious stuff this hardware did.

That's the wording the company's (US) patent lawyers hung on the end of my hardware patents, to keep people from emulating them in FPGAs or software on a really fast processor.

Comment Sure we do. (Score 1) 119

Nobody born and bred in the U.S of A. ends their correspondence with cheers.

Lots of us do - and have for decades.

I've used it in email practically since there's been email - and I was born and raised almost in the center of the "radio accent" heartland.

It's short and often just the right tone for ending a written communication.

Comment Sure it does. Consider the 1918 Flu Pandemic (Score 4, Informative) 70

Censorship never slows the spread of word where a disease is concerned, it only adds rumor into the mix, to create confusion.

Sure it does. A prime example is the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and president Wilson's reaction to it.

Wilson and his administration saw news of the disease as promoting a public response that would hamper the war effort, and reporting it to be treason. So he had the government suppress the news and spread disinformation. Among the effects:

  - The disease had shown up in one military camp. The commanding officer wanted to quarantine the camp to keep it from spreading throughout the military and the country. But his orders were countermanded from above. Result: Sick and incubating soldiers were shipped all over the country, spreading the disease.

  - Disinformation about the nature of the disease, and how to treat it, was disseminated, using the Public Relations resources of the government, which drowned out more accurate statements from the medical community and others. This amounted to a set of government-created and broadly propagated health frauds, some of which persist today, causing those who believe them to waste money and impair their health. Among them is the theory of "autointoxication": that flu (or other disease) symptoms are the result of toxins produced by intestinal flora (if retained too long) and a resulting illusory need for "regularity" - having daily bowel movements at roughly the same time of day. To this day this theory results in laxative overuse and sometimes addiction, vitamin deficiencies, intestinal irritation, and delays in seeking medical attention when it is needed for a real illness.

So censorship CAN slow, or even suppress, the spread of word where a disease is concerned, bury the truth, and stop appropriate handling of a disease.

Comment Only if they're sports fans. (Score 1) 109

You can go anywhere in the world and tell someone you're from Oakland, and people will respond by saying "oh, you mean where the Raiders play"

You couldn't do that where I grew up unless you happened to be talking to a rabid professional sports fan. "Oakland" was Oakland MI, a large, and often newsworthy, suburb of Detroit.

Comment Re:Since when are digital projectors thousands? (Score 1) 236

I don't think it is "inverse square from the projector to the screen and inverse square back". I think the inverse-square law for light is radiation from a point source, i.e. it describes the drop-off in illumination as the light spreads out, rather than attenuation per se.

The inverse square law is related to light spreading out from a point source. If you have an infinite line source you get inverse first-power. For an infinite plane source it doesn't get dimmer at all.

(That's why the hubble expansion of the starfield and the resulting red shift is important: If the stars were all hanging in there rather than receeding, just about any way you looked you'd see the un-red-shifted surface of a star, which would make your black-body temperature about the average solar surface temperature, rather than a compromise between 4 degrees absolute plus the heating from the sun and the radiant tempreature of the Earth's surface, atmosphere and clouds.)

However, a movie projector is a close approximation to a point source located a few inches behind the projection lens aperture. So it's inverse-square going out to produce a given brightness on any patch of screen.

For any given patch of the screen the light coming back is also inverse-square. If the distant screen were the same size as the close one it would be inverse-fourth-power, as I claimed.

However, the screen in a drive-in is a lot larger than the screen in a theater. Any given retina cell gets the light from the same solid angle regardless of the distance to the screen. This goes up with the square of the distance, exactly canceling the inverse square of the light coming back (assuming both screens use coatings with about the same optical scattering properties). So the effective rule is actually inverse-square, not inverse-fourth-power.

(Inverse fourth-power DOES apply to radar, where the target is the same size regardless of distance and thus doesn't do the cancellation of the inverse-square term on the returning echo.)

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