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Comment Re:Economists aren't Exactly Neutral (Score 5, Insightful) 235

Africa is less than a century out of independence from various European powers.

Using colonialism as an explanation for lack of economic progress isn't supported by the evidence. The African country with the longest and most pervasive colonization was South Africa. The country with the least was Ethiopia, which maintained its independence except for a few years of Italian control in the 1930s. Yet South Africa is near the top of the African economic pile, while Ethiopia is near the bottom. There are plenty of other examples. Countries with long periods of colonization, much interaction between the locals and the colonists, and lasting European-style laws and civil institutions, are doing far better than countries where colonialism was less influential.

Comment Re:That backwards African continent... (Score 5, Insightful) 235

It's not a place that would birth historically powerful, flourishing civilizations whose large-scale engineering feats would be regarded among the "wonders of the world" millennia later.

No, it's not. Any example?

The Egyptian pyramids, and the lighthouse of Alexandria were both considered to be Wonders of the World, and both are/were located in Africa.

Comment Re:That's funny.... (Score 4, Informative) 533

The paper doesn't say anything about the population dropping like flies.

It says that 5.4 additional people died. I would like to see the other 0.6 of the last person to die.

I am not sure if their conjectured mechanism is plausible. We have a ban where I live (San Jose, CA) and plastic bags are still allowed for produce, meat, etc. The law in SF is the similar. So the reusable bag doesn't actually touch the food. It only touches the packaging or wrapping.

Comment Re:What about change? (Score 1) 95

Or, keep driving until you can take over

This would require not just an extremely stupid and incompetent programmer, but also a complete lack of any code review, and no system testing whatsoever. It is conceivable that some stupid people are accepted by Oxford, but exceedingly unlikely that they could comprise an entire team of developers. Do you also worry that buildings might collapse because the architect forgot to specify mortar between the bricks, and nobody noticed?

Comment Re:Google has done this already. (Score 3, Interesting) 95

the LIDAR unit on the top is probably dominating the price. The model in question costs around $75,000

How many LIDAR units are sold every year? Maybe a few thousand? 60 million cars are manufactured each year. That kind of volume can lead to huge price decreases.

expected price decrease in the future would be achieved by going camera-only.

Cameras don't deal well with rain, snow, and fog.

Comment Re:What about change? (Score 3, Interesting) 95

the car announces it's confused and you should take over, whilst zipping down the road.

Unless the people developing this are complete morons, there is no way this could happen. The car knows its safe braking distance, and if it cannot map out a route beyond that distance with an acceptable degree of confidence, it would pull over to the side of the road, come to a stop, and then alert the driver.

Comment Re:This is great, but not very exciting (Score 1) 95

It's news because it's a different approach.

Except that it's not. Other self-driving cars, including Google's, already do route learning and mapping. The difference is that Google integrates that with stored maps, and and lots of other sensory input, including GPS. So these Oxford researchers are not doing something new, they are just doing less. In safety critical systems, removing redundancy is usually not a good idea.

One way to make their system more useful would be to upload learned routes to a server, so they can be auto-downloaded to other vehicles. Then your car could self-drive even on roads you haven't driven on before, as long as someone else has driven them.

Comment Re:Google has done this already. (Score 5, Interesting) 95

Google's self-driving car is probably considerably more expensive at around $250000

That is the cost of an engineering prototype. The cost of massed produced cars would be far lower. I talked to a Google engineer that was demoing one of their cars at the San Jose Fairgrounds. He pointed out a bulky optical rotary encoder on each wheel, about the size of a soda can, and said they cost over $2000 each. He said they were going to soon replace them with a magnetic hall-effect encoder the size of a penny. Cost: $3 each.

Comment Re:Not mentioned in the article... (Score 4, Interesting) 387

agreed. having no experience with beehives on my resume, I find this comment interesting.

Well, I am not a pro or anything. It is just a hobby. I have never sold any honey, but I do give a lot away. Even one hive produces much more than one family needs.

My mom had a few beehives when I was a kid, and everything I know about beekeeping, I learned from her. She gave the bees supplemental sugar during the winter, so I did the same. I just assumed that everyone did that.

It is a fun hobby. I very rarely get stung. The last time was several years ago. My kids enjoy helping out with the honey harvesting. We put it in jars with a chunk of honeycomb and give it as Christmas presents. You can get started for about $200 in supplies.

Comment Re:Taste varies by location (Score 3, Interesting) 387

Like wine and some other food products, honey CAN taste different based on the flowers the bees feed from.

Generally darker honey has a stronger flavor. Honey from white clover is very light and has a mild taste. The darkest honey that I have tasted was from buckwheat blossoms. Buckwheat honey is as dark as molasses, and the taste is fantastic. I keep a beehive in my backyard, and usually plant a patch of buckwheat just for the bees.

Comment Re:Not mentioned in the article... (Score 5, Informative) 387

Most honey farmers will take out so much honey of the hives that they have to feed the bees sugar water to survive the winter.

I have a beehive in my backyard. I always give them some sugar water during the winter. I don't know any other beekeepers that don't do the same. It helps lower the winter die-back, and helps the hive get a strong start in the spring.

This in turn leads to crappier honey next season.

I have never heard this before. The bees eat the sugar, and it is all consumed by the time they start making new honey. I give them their last feeding in February, and they don't start making new honey till April. The sugar is not mixed with honey harvested for human consumption.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 1) 848

Exactly how is requiring groups who engage in lobbying and who presume to weigh in on scientific debate to reveal their actual sources of funding censoring speech in any meaningful sense of the phrase?

Because putting "conditions" on speech is changing it from a fundamental freedom that governments should recognize, into a privilege that governments may (or may not) grant.

they're trying to hide the fact that they're paid whores of the fossil fuel industry.

Whores have rights too.

What's being questioned is their integrity

You have a right to question their integrity. You do not have a right to silence them. Integrity is not, and should not be, a pre-condition for Constitutional rights to apply. Scumbags have rights too.

Comment Re:Of course it protects the small investor (Score 5, Informative) 267

The question here is incorrect.

The question is also misapplied. Trevor Baylis is not a good poster child for "ripped-off" inventors. First of all, he did not invent the wind up radio. He just invented a more practical way of storing the energy (using a constant force spring). But his business partners decided his spring was too expensive, and replaced it with a conventional crank and used batteries to even out the power (the article calls this a "tweak"). In other words they did not use his invention. To suggest he is being "ripped off" because he is not receiving royalties from someone not using his patent is pretty silly.

Comment Re:Big deal... (Score 2) 848

Exactly how is requiring groups who engage in lobbying and who presume to weigh in on scientific debate to reveal their actual sources of funding censoring speech in any meaningful sense of the phrase?

Many people believe that the right to speak anonymously is fundamentally important. This right has been defended by the EFF and ACLU. You might also want to read the American Civil Liberties Union's viewpoint on Citizen's United. It is tempting to reach for a censor's pen, rather than rebutting an argument. But remember, once our rights are gone, they are gone for all of us.

The overwhelming majority ...

The right to express an opinion should not be based on the popularity of that opinion. It is all the more important to defend the expression of dissenting opinions when they are unpopular or go against the consensus.

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