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Comment Re:More likely medical practice, not evolution (Score 1) 273

There are reasons why that's a poor idea. E.g., wider hips pose mobility issues. The system really needs a thorough redesign so that birth doesn't need to fit through the pelvic girdle, but that's far beyond us. The current system was designed for creatures with horizontal body position and small head size. For that it works fine. As it is... it puts strong constraints on development.

Don't think that this is the only place where history impacts evolution, though. Spiders have to drink their dinner because their brain is in a circle around their esophagus (or whatever you call that part of a spider). This worked out fine originally, but spiders became successful, and started growing and getting smarter, so their brains got larger, and now they need a liquid diet. If they get any smarter they won't be able to eat at all.

And speaking of the esophagus, consider the human trachea. Ever have something "go down the wrong pipe"? That's because of a very old design decision that's now apparently impossible to evolve a solution for. The lungs share the plumbing with the gut in the neck and head. There are lots of other similar features calling for a re-factoring of the design, but evolution doesn't work that way. All the intermediates must we not only working, but competitive WRT the prior model. No intermediate regressions allowed. (Except, of course, at times like after a major extinction event, when the selection pressure temporarily becomes quite low.)

Comment Re:You know what? (Score 1) 573

You are correct that it is already too late to prevent global warming. It's been happening to some degree since we started farming rice. OTOH, a mild global warming has been advantageous. Without it we'd be entering an ice age. The ramped-up-on-steroids global warming that we've been pushing since the start of the industrial revolution, however, is something else again. We don't know just how bad it's going to get, but I do know that the actual projections have had the higher ends trimmed to avoid political repercussions. (Were the lower ends also trimmed? If so I haven't heard so.) Some of the model results that were excluded actually DO have Antarctica melting, and not just around the edges. Well, that's a lot worse than the mean projections, but the mean projection is that its going to be more than the 2 degrees Celsius that people talk about, probably closer to 4 degrees. That's nearly 8 degrees Fahrenheit. And that's going to mean LOTS of ice melting, and lots of deserts where there used to be farmland. It means that Canada will probably become good farmland...if it can get enough water. Oh, yes. It also means that the temperatures are going to get so high that we can't rely on any of the current models, because wind and ocean currents will shift too much. So we can't be sure where it's going to be wet, where it's going to be dry, or how wet or how dry.

My personal expectation (I'm no specialist, and a bit of a pessimist) is that we'll see over a meter sea level rise before the end of the century. Please note that this is not more extreme than some of the models predict, as some of them talk about 10's of meters, though I'm not sure of the timeline for that. I'm sort of expecting the Tethy's sea to form again for the first time since the Jurassic, but it would be a pretty shallow sea, I'm guessing less than a meter deep in most places...but how deep, of course, depends on the actual rise in sea levels. Maybe some genetic engineer will recreate the pleasiasaur to swim in it.

Comment Re:Civic society implies civil rights (Score 1) 410

Well, depending on how much you believe the rhetoric, anyone who isn't a white male might feel safer in China. I'm hoping that almost all of it is just rhetoric, but I don't feel any certainty about it. In fact if you believe *some* of the rhetoric anyone who isn't a rich white male might feel safer in China. This strikes me as unlikely, but remembering how a prior German democracy fell it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.

OTOH, there are a lot of signs that Trump is not an actual racial bigot, but merely someone who feels right in taking advantage of any power he can get his hands on. I'd feel happier with this interpretation if his cabinet picks were different.

Comment Re:No Innovation in China (Score 1) 410

It NEVER made sense. Not ever. In the early days it took inventors and coerced them into chasing around the country looking for people who might be infringing on their patents. As companies took over it became more and more about getting patents so vague that nobody could tell for sure what what infringing, and getting the legal decisions that meant that was a case that would be found in favor of the patent holder.

The basic idea was reasonable, but the implementation was flawed from the beginning, and my guess is that the grant of a monopoly was the basic flaw. Perhaps instead it should have been a law that the government would only buy from the holder, or a licensee, of the patent.

Submission + - Clinton campaign tech team made a web platform to help fight Trump (businessinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton may have lost the election, but her campaign's digital arm used technology in innovative, creative ways — it put a live fact-checking interface on the homepage during the debates, created an interactive tool that compared what the two candidates were doing at various years in their lives, and made it easy to find ways to support and connect with the campaign.

Submission + - To promote tech education, Canada's Prime Minister made his own game (gamasutra.com)

Eloking writes: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Twitter account lit up today with a message all too familiar to many indie devs: Mr. Trudeau has made a video game, and he'd like everyone to play it.

It was a cute bit of promotion for Hour of Code, the computer science education event masterminded every year by the Code.org nonprofit. While the Hour of Code websites hosts one-hour tutorials (in 45 languages) for coding all sorts of simple applications, game developers may appreciate that the lion's share appear to be game projects, like the one Trudeau modified into a sort of hockey-themed Breakout variant.

Submission + - Transport employees were secretly paid by the DEA to search travelers bags (economist.com)

schwit1 writes: THERE are many reasons why you might have been stopped at an American transport hub and your bag searched by officials. You might have be chosen at random. Perhaps you matched a profile. Or you could have been flagged by an airline, railroad or security employee who was being secretly paid by the government as a confidential informant to uncover evidence of drug smuggling.

A committee of Congress heard remarkable testimony last week about a long-running programme by the Drug Enforcement Administration. For years, officials from the Department of Justice testified, the DEA has paid millions of dollars to a variety of confidential sources to provide tips on travellers who may be transporting drugs or large sums of money. Those sources include staff at airlines, Amtrak, parcel services and even the Transportation Safety Administration.

The testimony follows a report by the Justice Department that uncovered the DEA programme and detailed its many potential violations. According to that report, airline employees and other informers had an incentive to search more travellers' bags, since they received payment whenever their actions resulted in DEA seizures of cash or contraband. The best-compensated of these appears to have been a parcel company employee who received more than $1m from the DEA over five years. One airline worker, meanwhile, received $617,676 from 2012 to 2015 for tips that led to confiscations. But the DEA itself profited much more from the programme. That well-paid informant got only about 12% of the amount the agency seized as a result of the his tips.

Submission + - Should Federally funded projects require sharing revenue on results? (theatlantic.com)

riskkeyesq writes: The Atlantic is running a story about the patent fight between MIT and Berkeley over the invention of CRISPR.
"This week, the biggest science-patent dispute in decades is getting a hearing at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters. The invention in dispute is the gene-editing technique CRISPR, and at stake are millions, maybe even billions, of dollars for the winning side. CRISPR is the hugely hyped technology that could launch life-saving therapies, novel genetically modified crops, new forms of mosquito control, and more. It could—without much exaggeration—change the world."
Shouldn't Federally funded projects return a portion of the proceeds to the people?

Submission + - Samsung to ditch the headphone jack too.

Pascoea writes: Following close behind Apple, and a number of others, it looks like Samsung will be omitting the headphone jack from the Galaxy S8.

From Business Insider

"Samsung will omit the 3.5mm headphone jack from its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, according to a new report from SamMobile. Instead, the report says, you’ll have to use headphones that connect over USB-C, which Samsung first adopted with the now-defunct Galaxy Note 7, a 3.5mm adapter, or headphones connect wirelessly over Bluetooth."

The article continues:

"While the outrage over Apple’s decision appears to have subsided in the weeks after the iPhone 7’s launch, Bluetooth headphones are still far less popular than traditional pairs, often come at a price premium, and tend to have lesser audio quality."

iPhone owners, has the "outrage" subsided?

Submission + - 2017 Virtual Reality: A Semi-Comprehensive Forecast (virtualrealitypop.com)

goddestroyer writes: "TLDR; 2016 in VR was chock-full of ‘firsts’ as we raced to complete the ground-level VR-building tools across the full spectrum of VR, and in 2017 we will get to see the benefits of developing new content with that wide array of new tools. Namely, higher quality and more quickly built content. Social VR experiences will be the overarching story of the year, and general VR popularity will continue to exponentially grow."

Submission + - Supreme Court sides with Samsung in Apple patent damages dispute (cnbc.com)

mlauzon writes: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled for Samsung in a dispute over damages related to Apple's iPhone design.

The ruling means that Samsung is not liable for $399 million awarded to Apple in a previous lower court ruling for infringing on Apple's iPhone design. That figure represented profits from 11 Samsung smartphone models.

Submission + - With Bioelectronic Medicine, You Can Zap a Nerve to Stop Bleeding (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: A seriously wounded person can bleed out within minutes. So first responders, battlefield medics, and surgeons will all be interested in this new technology: a "neural tourniquet" that stops blood loss by zapping a nerve. The handheld device stimulates the vagus nerve to send an electrical signal through the nerve to the spleen, where the blood cells responsible for forming clots receive instructions. This signal primes the cells so that they form clots faster if they encounter a wound anywhere in the body; a study in pigs showed 40% less bleeding time and 50% less blood loss. A startup called Sanguistat is testing the device first as a treatment for postpartum hemorrhage.

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