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Comment Re:All the passengers fault.. (Score 1) 67

That was my first thought. My second thought was..."I wonder how hard it is to recover your laptop when you get back from your trip?" The TSA as a reputation as quite light-fingered, so maybe these are just the ones nobody wanted, because they'd already acquired all they need. Unless you think they are selling them, in which case this is hard to explain.

Comment Re:What is the carbon footprint? (Score 1) 81

You can be pretty sure that the process will use lots of energy (relative to, say, grass). So it's unlikely to be competitive even if there are decent sources of energy available (say you steal chloroplasts from some algae, the way some [were they bacteria] do). I'm quite willing to accept that they've found a more efficient carbohydrate synthesis mechanism, but that's a long way from something that's capable of competition with microbes that have been evolving for 4 billion years (plus or minus a bit). That said, if they were to genegineer it into an existing microbe it might be successful in some environments. And that could be a problem. So when they get ready to do that in 15-40 years be sure they've filled out all their environmental impact reports properly. Including recovery strategies in case of a mistake.

Comment Re:What is the carbon footprint? (Score 1) 81

Just as catalysts usually get poisoned and need to be regenerated, so enzymes usually suffer degradation in use. In living organisms they're usually they're digested and rebuilt rather than just reconditioned.

So the cost of the enzymes is likely to be a real factor. It's also likely to be a small one...but you can't be really sure without knowing how they are acquired/synthesized/reconditioned.

Comment Re:Well there would be a lot of it (Score 1) 66

Chemical reactions slow down remarkably as the temperature drops. I could envision using this as a spore transportation system, but they'd need to pick an asteroid that was either headed out-system (towards another brown dwarf) or headed towards a plausible planet. And the success rate should be expected to be less than that of wind-pollened plants. If they land on a planet they'll be evolving in the kind of environment we know about subject to things like gravity, so they'll probably need to start in an ocean...and we're back where *we* started. (Obviously there are different kinds of planet, and some of them may work, but in each case the evolutionary adaptations required would take a long time and a lot of evolution away from the star-resident form.)

Comment Re:Well there would be a lot of it (Score 1) 66

That's a pretty big "if". The escape velocity of a star, even a brown dwarf, is pretty high, and if you though that the Earth's atmosphere got in the way of space flight, whew! They'd need to go directly to nuclear rocket.

Then there's the question of how large the minimum intelligent entity would be. They need to be diffuse enough to float. Whoops, that means that their brain "cells" need to communicate with each other via wireless transmission. And that implies at each entity would need a huge transmission spectrum. Possibly they could do it at the microwave level, but they might need to go to terahertz or infrared. But the diffuse means that they require an immense volume.

Then there's the question of what they build the vehicle out of. It has to be something that will float in the area of the cloud within which they can live...or they've got to have some kind of remote manipulator.

I really think that space flight is extremely unlikely for this kind of life form. But they might well be able to think extremely well. Possibly they would be "inherently telepathic" to the extent of only having a group mind, as the individual floating entity would probably be too simple to be intelligent.

Comment Re:Just blacklist the keywords of a click bait (Score 1) 114

I don't think that would suffice, though it's certainly a reasonable weighing consideration. And what they specified as the technique wouldn't suffice, either, though it would reduce the fake news considerably. And invite a "fake news" arms race.

At some point verification requires somebody you reasonably trust actually going and checking. I suppose a video might count, but you need to consider that every video is going to provide you with a biased view, selected by the angles from which observation happens. And fake videos aren't unknown, so you need to start including ways to detect whether the video was altered...which invites another arms race.

And you'll never be really sure. You shouldn't be sure of even things that you personally saw, because memory is fallible.

So consider this program as something that improves the signal-to-noise ratio. If that's the goal there are lots of things that can be done, and the early versions should be succeeded by more advanced versions for a long time. And even the early things are useful.

For comparison, consider the progress in e-mail filters. And the twin problems of false positives and false negatives. Now imagine trying to do without ANY e-mail filter.

Comment Re:What. The. Fuck. (Score 1) 552

It's not a new feature. The "story" is because someone who exhibited a ...umh... loose control of his utterances used texting so verbosely during the campaign. Perhaps it was intended as a joke, but it's a joke with a *potential* barb in it.

There's lots of things about the incoming administration where I feel "well, we'll just have to see how things work out.". This is one of the less serious ones, so *I* feel it makes a decent tension relieving joke. When I look at his nominated cabinet, this is the least horrible potentiality of the incoming administration.

Comment Re:I'll move out of the country if Trump wins! (Score 1) 586

You don't want to know how much "*real* affect can the president actually have on one's daily life". The main protection is that he's unlikely to have that as his goal. The executive has been accreting power ever since Lincoln. Probably before, but Lincoln was an inflection point. Currently the "imperial presidency" isn't an overstatement. The checks on his actions are minor, and easily overcome if he's determined.

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