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Comment Re:Pedestrian problems? (Score 1) 1173

That whole "pedestrians have the right of way" thing should take care of that. I was in Zurich earlier this year, and the thing that surprised me the most as a pedestrian is how much the cars stop for you. At unsignaled crosswalks, and even at random places on the street that would be considered jaywalking, if I were to stand at the curb and look like I might want to cross, without fail traffic would stop for me. If I *didn't* cross, and motioned for them to pass (as is the norm in L.A.), they would either stay stopped and insist I cross, or give me a confused, slightly irritated look.

Comment Debt != Deficit (Score 2, Insightful) 311

Debt is how much you owe, like how much your credit card balance is.
Deficit is how much you're borrowing/losing/hemorrhaging in a given time, like how much your credit card balance increases in a year.
Cutting the deficit by 1 trillion dollars would save TEN TRILLION DOLLARS in ten years.

I guess, technically, the summary could be valid if we're talking about a ten-year budget, but the national budget is something that's settled upon on an annual basis. Cutting the deficit by "an average of 100 billion dollars per year" would be more accurate.

Comment In other news... (Score 1) 356

In other news, the Business Software Alliance has proposed new standards on compassionate treatment in animal shelters with a clause forbidding use of pirated software in their administration.

Seriously, what business does an organization that claims to be for animal rights have sticking its nose in software development?

Comment Re:To hell with CORN (Score 1) 542

Just because you can grow it, doesn't mean anyone actually wants to buy it.

But that's just the case with corn. There's been so much of it, and it's so darn cheap to grow, that people figured "well, crap, we have all this corn, let's figure out something else to do with it!" and thus the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup, and of using corn as the primary feed for a bunch of animals that had previously eaten grasses and such. Hell, I recall hearing they're feeding corn to FISH now.

Comment Language shouldn't push you past the limit (Score 5, Interesting) 407

Having competed in a handful of collegiate programming contests about 10 years ago, the CPU time limit was never even a passing concern. Granted, we were coding in C++, but even in Python, any solution that hits the CPU limit on these contests is quite likely an unnecessarily complex algorithm. I always considered the CPU limit to be a safeguard against programs with infinite loops or REALLY slow solutions, so that the teams wouldn't claim "no, really, it works!" and drag the contest on for hours insisting that the right answer will reveal itself shortly. If your solution works, but has complexity of O(n!), I'd have a hard time calling it acceptable.

If one of our entries was rejected due to exceeding the CPU limit, it was always due to a problem in our logic that the sample data hadn't triggered, but that the actual test data had.

Comment Re:Perhaps they should write things worth reading (Score 1) 237

[Citation needed]

Click on some of the links here, then read the articles. Seems to be about 50/50.

As for the last part of what you wrote: Ever consider that the decline in human attention span and the commoditization of news media might account for what you wryly observe as "get[ting] all the information you need from the headline"? And you would suggest that this is a good thing?

They are related, but different. I get all the information from a headline when the story has very little news to offer. Visiting Google News, some examples from the first page, and my reactions in parens:

  • Fewer Americans think Obama has advanced race relations, poll shows (fluff)
  • ATTACK ON FLIGHT 253 Accountability sought at terror hearings (more finger-pointing rather that addressing the real issue)
  • Photos Purport to Show Woods at Rehab Center (celebrity fluff)
  • Football legend Archie Griffin raising awareness of H1N1 vaccinations (celebrity fluff)
  • More Men Marrying Wealthier Women (good for them)
  • Palin and McCain will campaign again (and I don't give a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys until 2012. wtf are we doing reporting on presidential elections this year?)
  • Jets-Colts Preview (sports, and not even "what happened" but a bunch of speculative fluff)
  • Americans See Economic Recovery a Long Way Off (Captain Obvious is alive and well on staff at Gallup)

Essentially, I get all the information from the headline when the article is shit, and I read further when the headline suggests a possibility of worthwhile content. I was actually surprised and somewhat more hopeful at how many articles I clicked on while compiling the list above because they seemed possibly interesting.

Then there are inaccurate and misleading headlines. I don't know who is responsible, but a link on Google News for "Michelle Obama Unveils Anti-Obesity Initiative" links to a story called "Michelle Obama's Anti-Obesity Plan," and the article itself says she "is expected to unveil an anti-obesity initiative next month." Another article, entitled "First lady surprises White House visitors," is simply linked to a video of her shaking hands with people on the White House tour. WTF is this doing on the first page of Google News?

Comment Perhaps they should write things worth reading (Score 5, Insightful) 237

A huge portion of newspaper articles (though not as large as the portion of television news segments) are fluff, not worth reading. If you can get all the information you need from the headline, maybe the article wasn't much worth writing anyways.

Maybe if newspapers were to write more articles exposing the horrendous fustercluckery going on locally and abroad, making meaningful commentary on artistic endeavors, giving relevant information on local events, etc. rather than living off press releases, whitewashed statements from politicians, and reprinting AP/Reuters feeds, people might be more inclined to read them.

Hell, one somewhat respected (though less so lately) newspaper in my area reserves the back page of its front section for photographs of its readers holding up a copy of their paper while on vacation. Every day.

The very fact that The Family Circus is still in print is a testament to the utter incompetence and out-of-touchery of newspapers.

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Logic doesn't apply to the real world. -- Marvin Minsky