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Comment Actually, I like the dead trees (Score 4, Interesting) 192

My interest in science and technology was sparked by the college textbooks the prior generation left lying around. I'm not really opposed to ditching dead trees for digital, but I either want my access to the content to be permanent, just like a book, or I want the price to be WAY less than 1/2 the cost of buying the books.

Comment Re:I completely agree. (Score 1) 662

A little, maybe. I'm only going there, though, if and when self-driving cars are provably safer than human drivers. It's not like gun control because that actually removes your ability to protect yourself. This would be like gun control but everyone now has an armed bodyguard. It's not at all like abortion because that one hinges on whether a fetus is a person or not and there already is no liberty to kill persons, aside from self defense.

Comment Re:Other posts? (Score 1) 432

Well, it's a bit harsh to say they brought this on themselves by having the infestation, because it's basically impossible to prevent an occasional infestation. Bedbugs don't spontaneously generate in filth, like people used to think rats did. They are brought in by guests, and even a clean, vigilant hotel is going to have them from time to time.

It seems to me like the hotel did the right things, up to the point where they went ape-shit over the trip advisor review. Yeah, the review was probably not fair, and it's going to hurt business in the short term, but them's the breaks. Into every business a little misfortune must fall. You suck it up and move on, you don't turn it into an ongoing PR disaster.

Bedbugs are disgusting, but they're harmless. They carry no diseases. Yeah, it's no fun finding them and they're a pain to get rid of, but they're not the Mark of Cain on a particular hotel. They're just something unfortunate that happens. Finding them is not proof that a hotel is dirty or lax, but people *will* over-react to bugs of all kinds.

Comment Re:Don't demand perfection in defiance of reality (Score 1) 274

I understand that you can't expect perfection from human beings. However, that doesn't mean you can't expect *anything*. TEPCO management displayed a pattern of proceeding on best-case assumptions, which isn't something you can chalk up to generic human fallibility. It is a *choice*, for which one can hold someone responsible, especially someone who is a professional.

Comment Re:Don't demand perfection in defiance of reality (Score 2) 274

Good point about TEPCO's financing, but you're missing my main point, which isn't just that we keep hearing bad news about Fukushima, but that we keep hearing news about things that weren't supposed to be happening that actually were. This implies a certain disconnect with reality.

Comment Re:But first (Score 1) 662

Those things mostly don't go where I need to. When they do (buses), they take 3x as long because they're taking a herd of other people different places along the way. When they do, they don't take me to the actual destination, just to the nearest bus stop. I'd actually like to take public transportation, but it's so time-inefficient that I can't afford to.

Comment Re:useless Idea (Score 2) 662

Of course it's going to happen. Especially in crowded traffic. In those circumstances I'd much rather my life depend on something with a reaction time that will make the moving cars seem almost stationary.

Here's how this should play out:

1) Smart people with lots of money start developing these (happening now)
2) In real life trials, they work, and are statistically safer than human drivers (looks promising...)
3) In time, they're indisputably a lot safer than human drivers (we'll see, but I think this will happen).

Once you get to 3, not switching to driverless cars becomes rather dumb.

Comment I completely agree. (Score 5, Funny) 662

I don't want to give up my driving freedom. Having seen how the rest of you drive, though, I want all of you to give up your driving freedom because I swear, I'd drive better sleepy, drunk, and texting all at the same time than some of you.

Giving up driving is a price I'm willing to pay if I don't have to risk my life on your competence behind the wheel.

Comment Re:Don't demand perfection in defiance of reality (Score 2) 274

Well, if you put it that way, we don't want to demand perfection in defiance of reality. But let's start by figuring out what "reality" is.

Remember, we're talking about a situation that TEPCO claims doesn't exist -- leaking of contaminated waters. But one of the constant features of this story has been unpleasant surprises. That's bound to happen in most disasters, after all a disaster pretty much by definition is a situation you hadn't planned adequately for. But the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe stands in a class by itself for unpleasant surprises; from day one we have heard one optimistic assessment after another brought low by horrible news. It smacks of management by wishful thinking, starting with the failure of TEPCO to adjust its preparations in response to a revised tsunami risk. During the crisis TEPCO's management was still thinking in terms of salvaging the plant. Fortunately for them they were defined by their own chief engineer onsite, Masao Yoshida, who on his own authority took drastic and irreversible action to cool the reactors.

So if it turns out this problem *does* exist, as researchers from Woods Hole seem to think it does, that shows us that TEPCO's management has still failed to grow enough spine to face unpleasant news. I'm open in this scenario to the possibility that discharging the contaminated water might be the best course of action, but not on TEPCO management's word, because if the problem exists that means their word is no good.

If I were PM, on confirmation this problem exists I'd take the solution out of TEPCO's hands. I'd charter a non-profit authority to direct the securing and cleanup of the plant, funded with TEPCO money.

Comment Re:Why is this on Slashdot? (Score 1) 784

Because he did something which many people believe was a great service to the nation -- and other see as a betrayal. The consequences of that act are of interest to both sides.

I happen to think we as a people are better off for Manning's actions, but I also see a certain recklessness in them. It raises interesting questions about how such a person could have got access to so much sensitive information. Clearly Manning was a deeply alienated young person -- didn't that show up in his (then ... "her" now) background check?

I wonder whether the military ought not be looking to fill these kinds of positions with older workers, people who've lived through the most volatile phases of their lives. It's not like twenty years ago when people over thirty had no knowledge of computers. These days someone who his fifty might well know more about how technology actually works than a twenty year-old.

I don't think being transgendered is a security risk per se, but being wracked with secret fear, uncertainty and shame certainly is. If Manning had been, say, forty years-old; had she already gone through the hormone therapy and surgery, and had come out as a transwoman to her family and associates; then she certainly would have acted differently. Maybe not with different intent, but certainly with more care and deliberation. Older people are less inclined to dramatic gestures, which has its good and bad points, but surely is a good thing in someone entrusted with access to huge volumes of sensitive data.

Comment Re:"Expert" ? (Score 1) 187

It would make a lot more sense to deploy, say, ice-capable military ships

These kinds of criticisms seem to assume that Canada is doing this because it plans to base its entire defense on fleets of stealth snowmobiles. Canada is still acquiring new ships, attack aircraft, AFVs and the like. In fact it's spending billions of dollars on such programs. The question is whether spending a few million mre to investigate the potential of a stealth snowmobile makes sense given the marginal contributions such a weapon might make toward the nation's defense.

The Canadian Army already uses snowmobiles, presumably because it finds them practical for the missions they must prepare for and the conditions they must operate in. A few million dollars to test the potential of a quiet snowmobile seems very reasonable to me, and I'm a left-winger with little tolerance for corporate welfare for defense contractors.

A unit cost of $620,000 for a custom-designed, hand-built engineering prototype just doesn't seem all that extravagant to me. That might be too high for a production vehicle, but when you add up the cost of a team of engineers, mechanics and artisans it'd be very easy to spend a million dollars apiece if you're only building two or three.

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