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Comment Re:Many things are worse than bad comment punctuat (Score 3, Insightful) 523

I don't agree with this viewpoint at all.

I have been working on some scientific simulator code and the comments have the math equations that a block of code is based on. It makes it so much easier to understand since it is often not obvious how an equation is mapped into implementation (things like discretization make things far more complex).

Comments should not say what code does it should be why. I don't need you to see that your code is adding up a bunch of numbers but knowing why it is doing it is very important.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 470

Consumers don't know what they actually want.

How do you label a food as GMO? What is GMO exactly?

If you mutate a seed with radiation or you cross breed with chemical mutagens that is currently qualified as organic in the USA and EU. Those are considered to be completely safe and traditional methods of engineering.

Why is using radiation okay but inserting a specific gene at a specific location not okay?

Saying something is GMO tells you nothing and it is just feeding into fear.

Comment I think it depends on the type of job you have (Score 1) 135

I know chemical engineers that where called in to the plant for an actual emergency. It could be anything from a failure that will endanger the surrounding area or something like a piece of equipment is going to fail and they need to do everything they can to shut it down safely. I have even know engineers that where called in to try and save equipment that was worth tens of millions of dollars.

One thing in common with all of those is that in all those cases I haves seen companies more than make up for it afterwards and that the requests are not idle requests. Something on a website not working right is inconvenient and can be fixed the next day. A chemical plant that is about to release deadly gas into the water, air etc is an emergency.

For most jobs I support legally limiting the types of contact you have with work since employers often abuse that. For other types of jobs I really see no way that you can make it off limits to contact people after work. If you are a production engineer at a chemical plant then you have specialized knowledge and may be one of a very small number of people capable of preventing a catastrophe. At the same time you should only be called if it is an actual emergency.

Comment Re:Delete the fucking delete button. Apple would. (Score 1) 348

You are entirely right that the Enter key also changes behavior on a page based on context and that is also a very bad design.

It frustrates me to see people defending bad UI design as somehow better and fixing it as dumbing down. You certainly can dumb down interfaces but this case has nothing to do with that. This is just taking a button that does two different things transparently and destructively and changing that so it does not do the destructive behavior. Enter is the same way and should also be fixed.

Comment Re:Delete the fucking delete button. Apple would. (Score 4, Informative) 348

This one actually seems like a good design decision.

On pc the backspace and delete buttons both exist and they work exactly as they should. Darned if I care what apple does.

On chrome I also see back, forward and refresh/stop just fine.

However the problem with backspace going back is that if you are typing in a textarea and you hit backspace it deletes your text (which is what you want). However if you tab to another control that is not text editable and you hit backspace you have now gone back a page and lost what you where entering. It violates all kinds of UI principles.

Backspace to go back is just a bad UI and fixing it should definitely be done. There is no dumbing down involved.

Comment Re:and it never did (Score 2) 190

The problem is that what is good and bad for you is not as simple as we once thought.

Recommendations where based on the best science we knew at at the time. However, that science was still in the very early stages.

It has only been very recently that we have started to learn how important gut bacteria are and the role they play in your health. Your particular genetic and genetics also play a major role. It is likely there is no one best diet for humans. There won't even be one best diet for certain ethnic groups. In the end we are heading towards figuring out the best die for you.

There are lots of things we can say in general and while they are right on average within people of the similar descent they won't be anywhere close to absolute.

One of the fascinating things about biology is there are experiments I can do 100x and get almost that many different results. Biology has randomness, it has mutations, and nothing is every simple.

In the end what it comes down to is that building a mars colony is simpler than figuring out the right diet. It would be easier to colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn than cure cancer.

Comment Re:Pro-science (Score 1) 740

That is why I advocate that we need real labeling laws where the full information for a product is available online and you just scan something like a QR code with the food. That way you can put in all your food biases into your cell phone and then just scan the food to see if it is okay.

Adding an Organic or GMO label doesn't help you make an informed decision it just makes it easy for you to make a decision that you feel better about but has done nothing for you. The problem is that decisions are being made based on fear and lack of understanding and long term that hurts everyone.

I just can't support playing in to people's fears and giving information that does not actually help in any way.

If this happens the very next thing that anti-GMO people will start saying it that if it was not dangerous it would not have a special label and then they will push to ban it for safety reasons even though no such reasons exist. The anti-GMO thing is almost 100% based on some kind of food religion and not on any science and I do not want to play into that crap.

Food needs to have COMPLETE labels. That means all the chemicals the food is grown with, DNA, protein expression, presiticides, herbicides, heavy metals, location, fair trade etc etc etc. Then you just scan it with a phone. Partway just does more harm than good.

Comment Re:Corn and other grains (Score 2) 740

This statement is completely wrong and that is what makes me sad about this whole debate. People make decisions that they are not qualified to make.

Selective breeding is MUCH less predictable than direct gene editing. With gene editing I know exactly what I am inserting and where it goes and like a computer program I also know what it does.

With selective breeding you are selecting for visible traits and not for the DNA. Selective breeding of tomatoes to make them solid red also dramatically cut their nutrition content. The tomatoes that where red with a little green on the top where healthier for us but selective breeding eliminated healthy parts along with selecting for solid red.

The same has been done with corn and many other foods we eat.

If you want to make a plant more drought resistant then directly add the gene for it, Don't try to selectively breed for it since you will get a lot of other changes to the plant also.

Comment Re:Why conceal it? (Score 3, Interesting) 740

Do you want research and development to be done on seeds that have been engineered to get all or part of their nitrogen from the air? It is a major area of research to make nitrogen fixing plants and it would HEAVILY cut the usage of fertilizers and that would have a HUGE environmental benefit.

If it takes decades to get it to work right and billions of dollars but you can't license the technology you realize we won't get that tech right?

Would it be better for us as a species if the seed company was able to make and license those seeds and tell them at a price where the farmer pays more for the seed that a regular seed but less for fertilizer so in the end the farmer pays less than they do now? The environment is helped and the farmer is better off than before and the research gets done.

There is lots of effort in trying to make the food healthier and better for the environment. All of that would go away if you can't own and license the seeds for at least a limited time. The problem is that this effort takes many billions of dollars and large teams of scientists to do the work. Government is not funding this research on anything other than a trivial scale. If you ever want to see this actually get used then allowing a corp to temporarily own their work and charge for it is the only way.

Monocultures are a huge problem but they are not a GMO problem. Organic and GMO are both grown as monocultures.

Comment Re:Pro-science (Score 1) 740

It is not a data point and it has never been a data point. It is a useless label designed to promote fear.

When you buy Organic potatoes does it tell you that they have been sprayed with heavy metals as a fungicide instead of the much safer chemical methods?

When you buy Organic does it tell you that the seeds where mutated with completely natural and organic radiation to scramble the genome and then grown with expressed traits as the standard for which ones work?

When you buy Organic does it tell you that chemical mutagens where applied to allow two plants to cross breed? Did you think that cross breeding is something actually natural and happens without help?

Does the GMO label tell you what gene was inserted? Does it tell you where it was inserted? Does it tell you how it was inserted? A GMO label tells you absolutely nothing of any value at all and it just promotes fear.

Comment Re:Why memorization? (Score 1) 394

Our focus was on understanding and not on memorization. We solved many problems and had lab classes to get a real understanding of what is reasonable and what isn't.

I remember a lot of the theory for how different separation processes work in chemical engineering and the general pros and cons of different methods and what to look out for etc but I would have to look up the equations to actually solve problems with them. Memorizing the equations doesn't do you any good and most of the times you have many different equations for different pieces of equipment.

The goal is to learn and test understanding. All the facts you can look up. There is no reason to memorize the heat transfer equations for transverse over offset pipes or along offset pipes or the heat capacities of different solutions etc.

The coding example is a good one. I do parameter estimation problems right now and I know lots of different methods for solving problems and when I can use them and when I can't. However, I could not write very many of them from memory and would have to look them up.

Comment Re:Why memorization? (Score 1) 394

You need to know the general ideas you don't have to memorize all the details.

For instance I solve very complex non-linear optimization problems. I need to have a general understanding of what optimization strategies work under different kinds of problems and how the goal impacts the solution. I do not need to memorize the details of all the different solvers, I can trivially look that information up.

Memorization is a waste of time and effort and nothing you do will keep the information anyways. Your brain is very good at realizing what information is easy to find and it will delete the information as soon as you are not constantly using it and trying to keep it in memory.

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