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Comment Re:Anectodal info (Score 1) 130

The point is, if you have job growth of 0.01% and population growth of 1%, then you have a significant under-employment problem. Obviously, between the 13 colonies and today job growth has met or exceeded population growth.

Yes, more people means more demand, which means more jobs. But given that "job growth" is the actual measurement of those jobs created, you're already taking that into account. If there are 100 million jobs and you add 500,000 jobs, you have 0.5% job growth over that period of time. You also added 1 million people to the potential workforce over that time, so even though the job pool grew by 0.5%, you have 500k more people without a job at the end. That is what he means by population making the picture worse.

I think your point is that if you had NOT had population growth of 1 million people, they would not have increased demand and therefore you would not have had job growth either, or perhaps even job decline. Perhaps without those 1 Million extra wannabe-consumers (only half of whom have the money to really participate in the economy), you would have seen 500,000 jobs lost instead of created, and you'd have seen a similar unemployment growth. That's beside the point, though. He's not saying if only we could stop population growth we'd be in good condition; he's saying that if you aren't taking population growth into account then the job growth figures look a lot rosier than they really are.

Comment Re:Reboot how? (Score 2, Insightful) 536

Well, I've never bought a comic book in my life, and I care about relative believability.

It's not just a problem in comic book movies. Every movie you go in needing to accept some (often ludicrous) premise. Heaping coincidences and other unlikelinesses on top of that premise weakens the movie.

For instance, I watched "Untraceable" the other night. It asks you to accept the title premise, that somehow this particular killer's web feed is really untraceable, despite it being easily routed by the internet DNS servers (not to go into details, here, but they pseudo-explain this by saying he's broadcasting his source feed to a bunch of botnet drones, and the DNS entries re changing the one web site URL to a different drone with every request, and for some unexplained reason they can't just bring one of these drones in to see where it is getting it's feed from). Since it's the title of the movie, and I already groaned when I saw that in the trailer, I accepted it. And since it's a serial killer movie, I also accepted that the killer had some unnatural set of skills at hacking bits and hacking people. That's premise. And it's a whopper of a premise, already pushing the boundaries of acceptability. Note: spoilers of a bad movie follow. But then the writers throw in every possible serial killer movie cliche coincidence: the FBI agent who is meticulous about everything lets her daughter surf the net and download apps from "friends" to run on her (presumably secured) home machine which also happens to have all her FBI files sitting on it unprotected; the other FBI agent engaging in blind Internet dates gets targeted by the killer right when he happens to figure out the key to the case; said FBI agent calls heroine but instead of telling her the key to the case tells her he'll tell her later, right before he is snatched by the killer, and the "key" turns out to be two words which he "blinks" in morse code to her; another FBI agent who knows morse code sees the internet-dating agent blinking and "knows" that left eye is dot and right dash so he can get those two words written down .... blah blah blah. At this point, you've blown past the premise and the movie is schlock.

As a general rule, since you asked, a good non-absurdist story will have a central premise of a single unlikely event, perhaps two (kid bitten by spider gets special powers; world is going to end in 2012), and other unlikely events either follow naturally from that one unlikely event or spring from the same cause as the first unlikely event. In today's movie, it is rare for that premise event not to be spelled out in the trailer, so you are guaranteed that the folks who are sitting in the seats have either accepted the premise or are placating someone who accepted the premise. Once the premise has been accepted, additional unrelated unlikely events (various other superheroes/villains spawning due to unrelated accidents; guy happening to come across all the information the 2012 guy comes across AND happens to survive everything even though the information he came across played no part in that, etc) weaken the story, bringing the viewer back "out of" the story.

Again, you don't need to be a comic book geek to care about this. It's a central characteristic of all good non-absurdist writing, that aside from the premise, all facts are internally consistent and believable.

"Absurdist" writing (say, just about anything from Chuck Palahniuk) is the exception, here, as the unlikeliness of what follows is the entire point.

Comment Re:Just because the math works doesn't mean it's t (Score 1) 650

Well, it does make a jump from a fundamental force we can't seem to detect into a latent, emergent phenomenon which we, er, also can't detect the source of.

*EVERYTHING* in the universe is based on some fundamental thing which we "cannot detect the source of". Even something as simple as math, or logic, is based on a set of axioms, or givens, which can never, themselves, be explained in terms of where they come from.

In physics, things like quarks (or if there's something that makes those, then that thing), or the fundamental forces, are all currently unexplained regarding why or how they exist.

What this work does (or at least, claims to do) is connect gravity with the rest of physics.

But your opening line is actually quite wrong:

Well, it does make a jump from a fundamental force we can't seem to detect into a latent, emergent phenomenon which we, er, also can't detect the source of.

Not at all. Presently, gravity is an axiom. It is a thing that exists, and upon which much is built, but below which nothing can be known. With this theory, gravity is just like things built upon gravity (such as orbits, gravitational singularities, etc.), which can all be explained by something below them. At some point, everything ends up as an axiom. This theory removes one of science's present axiom, and any time you can do that, you've done nothing less than fundamentally enhanced our understanding of the universe.

I'd only add one thing.

Before the axiom of Gravity was codified, we had the observation that planets traveled in ellipses around stars, and moons in ellipses around planets (Kepler's laws of planetary motion, which in turn had built off previous models of circular orbits). With the understanding of gravity we can see not only that these are not radically separate observations, and also that the same force (gravity) acting on them can cause perterbations (ie, the moon travels in a perfect ellipse around the Earth except that it gets pulled away by the Sun and so doesn't travel in a perfectly regular path, etc). We still can't model these perterbations accurately (our equations tend to fail us at some level whenever the universe has more than two entities in it, alas), but without an understanding of where these perturbations come from and hence how to predict them and grossly quantify them, we would not have set foot on the Moon.

Whenever we understand the "thing below the axiom" we open up a wealth of practical knowledge not just about that thing but about related things (which we now can see as related). While it may seem quixotic to you (and indeed if your stated goal is "the Ultimate Truth" then you should understand right from the start that Science is a bus that never reaches that particular destination), it is far from useless.

Comment Re:Just because the math works doesn't mean it's t (Score 1) 650

For instance before quantum mechanics was understood things as different as transistors and Bose-Einstein condensate could not be created and used. Now they can be.

I think you are both saying the same thing (I hope so, because I agree with you both!):

The model is all we have, and its not a description of reality, but instead a tool to predict observation.

Comment Re:Just because the math works doesn't mean it's t (Score 1) 650

In addition to the zenith-to-zenith particular (because we are also revolving around the sun, it takes longer to get the sun back at zenith than a full rotation with a non-solar frame of reference), the earth also wobbles slightly due to gravitational effects and has a general long-term decrease in rotational velocity, such that not all rotations are of the exact same duration.

We have defined the second precisely based on atomic vibrations (which are not directly related to the rotational velocity of the Earth), and minutes and hours are a precise number of seconds. It is therefore impossible for every earth day to be exactly 24 hours.

A few hundred years ago, when an hour was by definition 1/24th of the time from zenith to zenith (whatever that happened to be on the particular day in question), you would have been correct. But, today, 1/24th of a (sidereal) day is no longer an accurate description.

Comment Re:Just because the math works doesn't mean it's t (Score 1) 650

And an oblate spheroid isn't entirely accurate either; Earth is somewhat "pear shaped" with longer lines of latitude in the Southern Hemisphere than in the Northern (IIRC).

And even pulling it down to that, you'll not get the circumference at the equator down to the millimeter unless you are somehow grossly smoothing out all the surface features (do you "dip down" in the oceans and take a "tightest string" approach, or remain at the highest point in the surface along the equator, or somehow average all the "heights" from the center of the earth assuming a perfect circle for the equator?

All of which just brings us back to the original point: very few models are ever completely accurate. They may be precise, and they may be useful, but they are rarely completely accurate.

The only models which are "completely accurate" are those which are accurate by definition (such as, prior to the rebasing of the second to a precisely quantifiable atomic vibration, it was completely accurate that there were 24 hours in a day, as an hour was defined as exactly 1/24th of a day... and the distance that light in a vacuum travels in one year is exactly one light year no matter how precisely you measure it...).

Comment Re:FIRST!!!! well almost (Score 3, Informative) 596

Personally, there's a Best Buy around the corner where you can buy one. If you don't want to leave your room, type in your browser and buy it there instead.

Who is better equipped to buy and plug in a more advanced mouse? You or the guy described above?

Keep in mind that on Macs it's not even "go buy another one" anymore; it's "open up System Preferences, click on Mouse, and enable the second button".

Comment Re:FIRST!!!! well almost (Score 1) 596

Now you may consider a two button mouse to make "a confusing interface" but clearly much of the world deals with it without problem and finds the limitations of a single-button mouse annoying. Trying to argue we're wrong by saying two-buttons is closer to five buttons than one button and is therefore worse, is no more logical than saying being in a warm room is closer to burning to death than being in a cold room, therefore a warm room is worse than a cold room.

You may have no trouble with two buttons, but if you have ever worked with people who are new to computers (and a large number of whom still today decide that they would just rather "opt out" of the computer age than figure these things out), you would see that two buttons is far from a "natural" interface.

In short: folks who have gotten past the initial complexity of a computer can be expected to be able to figure out how to buy a more complex mouse (and, yes, one with five buttons isn't a bad option there!) People who are intimidated by the whole setup (again, you may have this idea that these people no longer exist or that they are dying off, but I'm afraid you are very wrong there) are not in a position to figure out what kind of mouse they should be getting and hooking it up.

In all cases, hardware and software, the default setup should always be for the novice user, because we all start out there. As users advance, they can increase the complexity of their setup and gain efficiencies by doing so.

Comment Re:FIRST!!!! well almost (Score 1) 596

I have a loaner PowerBook from 2004-ish. If I tap two fingers on the trackpad instead of one, I get a right-click. Not sure how much easier it could be. The latest MacBook Pros also support this, both in the "soft" click (tap-to-click) and in the "hard" click (push in the button). Again, couldn't be much easier to get a right-click menu.

The reason Apple continues to ship one-button-by-default mice is for people like my sister in law who are constantly pressing the wrong mouse button in Windows and wondering why the thing doesn't work. Plus, devs often need reminding that if they are requiring the second mouse button to perform some task and they aren't a game, they are doing something wrong. I still never know if I should right-click, left-click, or double-click on half of the icons in my Windows taskbar!

Comment Re:On the bright side... (Score 1) 164

How many people has Arianespace put into orbit? Virgin? Hermes was once slated to be a Shuttle equivalent, but was scuttled in 1992 due to chronic cost overruns.

How many scientific missions have been catalogued by Arianespace since 1980?

How much research into launch vehicles has Arianespace made independent of government-funded efforts (they are using "venerable" Soyuz launchers for medium-weight launches, but other vehicles Ariane N and Vega launchers were designed and built with HEAVY government funding by the European Space Agency)?

Comment Re:System tuning... (Score 1) 504

2) Uninstall of any trialware that comes preloaded that is of no real value (I.E. most of the shit preloaded on Toshibas, HPs, etc)

From the article, it sounds like these highly-trained professionals took that instruction to mean "delete the shortcuts to all crapware from the desktop".

If you're going to charge top-dollar for a half hour of work, you'd better have consistency behind it.

More to the point: Best Buy Geek Squad members were not only inconsistent here, but also grossly misrepresented what they actually did.

IMHO, between selling snake-oil, not even doing the basics (uninstall crapware) that would make sense, and completely botching the job in at least one case (the 32% performance degradation), I think the article makes it pretty clear that this really is as much bullshit as everyone is imagining.

Comment Re:How about a couple of.... (Score 1) 361

I like the idea, but also note that everywhere with those moving walkways also has non-moving areas right next to them. I am just guessing here, but some people either can not or refuse to use those moving walkways.

I think that the "open" area being moving walkway, with a (narrower) non-moving area beside it would work. The non-moving area would have a glass door at the end (no handle to the door from the insecure side) and open into a side hallway (ie, go through one door, walk 20 feet, then take a 90 degree left turn at the end, go through the second door, then turn 90 degrees right to head out the same place the folks on the moving walkway got to).

It would be much less likely that someone would "accidentally" go through the exit that way, as well as unlikely that both doors were held open for such an absentminded traveler (because the vast majority of people would be going down the moving walkway).

IMHO, with such precautions in place, the fines/penalties for going "in the out door" can be jacked up commensurate with the havoc such an act causes. Same theory as putting an easily-broken glass guard on the fire alarm: you pull it and there's no doubt it was intentional, and so you are responsible for the emergency response costs.

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