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Comment Re:What's the point of your post (Score 1) 398

I prefer a different glib solution: continue to buy their products and get rid of agricultural subsidies.

Sadly, while I like the spirit behind this, it doesn't always have the effect you hope for. Tiko, Cameroon, is surrounded by plantations (think they are Del Monte owned). Instead of employing locals they give the jobs to immigrants from Equatorial Guinea and pay them less, so that even by southern Cameroonian stands Tiko is poor. It was always a bit depressing to pass through. Most of the money seems to go right into the bosses' pockets. I would focus on purchasing "Fair Trade" products from those countries instead of the standard grocery store fruit by the big companies.

Comment Re:CHON is where it's at (Score 1) 84

My guess is yes. These effects are because of ordering in the system, which means the enthalpic gain is more than the entropic cost. The entropic cost is higher at higher temperatures. So if they display this behavior at room temperature, lowering the temperature to where methane is liquid (even at infinite pressure, the temperature has to be below about 180 K to get a liquid phase, if my memory of the coexistence curve is accurate) is going to reduce the entropic cost even further, which should make them even more likely to self-assemble. So you should at least get some organization, which might be enough to have a cell membrane replacement.

  It would be fun to see a methane-membrane protein. I wonder if you could create it by taking a regular membrane protein and making all the polar residues non-polar and vice versa. That would probably really mess up the folding, though.

Comment Re:CHON is where it's at (Score 2) 84

Sure...the same lipids that are found in the phospholipid bilayer in our own cells. The hydrophilic end is methane-phobic, and the hydrophobic end is methane-philic. This would cause them to organize in the reverse direction so that the hydrocarbon tail is solvent-exposed. There seems to be some work on the subject, perhaps starting with Rand et al, Biochemistry, vol. 29, pp. 76--87 (1990), though it's really not my field so I'm not familiar with all the literature.

Comment Re:Found happiness elsewhere (Score 1) 818

It's funny, I agreed with you about Unity the first couple times I tried it. Then I updated to Ubuntu 11.10, and Unity popped up by default again. I took a few deep breaths, figured out how to fix what was really bothering me (windows always pop up in the upper right, so the top is blocked by the menu bar...holding down alt and clicking anywhere let's me move the window without a thought)...and then I completely forgot about it. In fact, I just had to do a google search to make sure I am still using Unity (turns out I am...Unity 3D, even).

Maybe I just had a shorter list of things that bothered me than you, but I was rabidly against Unity the first couple times I used it. Now I no longer see what the big deal is, and it's as smooth as anything else for me. YMMV, of course.

Comment Re:Elephant metric system (Score 1) 155

Not true. It really depends on your field. eV, kcal/mol, and Hartrees are all common energy units in different areas of chemistry and physics, even though Joules are the SI unit (unless you're equating the metric system with non-SI units, but if so the definition of "metric system" is really unclear to me).

Comment Re:Broadly true. (Score 1) 238

Just take care to cook or bleach vegetables before eating. No synthetic fertilizers means waste products are often used (in some places, human waste). I'm all for reduce, reuse, recycle, but that's a great way to get amoebic dysentery.

Comment Re:Really cool (Score 1) 220

My favorite response to the "natural" people is: Natural? So is arsenic. Doesn't mean I'm going to eat a lot of it.

The more I read about it (in scientific journals), the more I agree with your position (regarding fats and sugars...I've always read the ingredient lists on natural foods to see how healthy they are, and some of them are quite healthy). From what I can tell, it seems to strongly depend on the person. In other words, if cutting calories doesn't help, switch to fats and proteins and see if that does. Are you concerned about cholesterol or kidney problems due to a high fat/protein diet?

Comment Re:Earthquake Shelter? (Score 1) 106

People have covered most of the important points so far, but I'd say another great feature is waking people up in the first place. Here in Japan, the Kobe earthquake in the mid 1990s struck just before 6AM, when many people are still sleeping. Friends have told me that it was not a very fun thing to wake up to. Better to be mentally prepared than in a panicked sleep-fog.

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 1) 689

If you have access to scientific journals, it looks like some of the studies referenced in the introduction of Westercamp and Bailey, AIDS Behav, vol 11, p. 341--355 (2007) might be what you're looking for. I'm not an expert in the field so I can't comment on their validity, but unless someone else can point to a more recent refuting article, I'm willing to believe it.

Comment Re:People need to get out more (Score 1) 467

I always thought the same thing about Coca-cola, but I asked a Chinese friend about it, and he said it's not the case. He actually thought it was quite a clever marketing scheme, since it translated to something like, "Good flavor in the mouth".

Okay, given that "Chinese" is a rather vague term, it's possible that it means "Bite the wax tadpole" (I read a version which used "the" instead of "a", but close enough) in some region. Sadly, it doesn't seem like the horrible marketing decision that I once thought it was. Too bad, because that story is funnier.

Comment Re:Columbus (Score 1) 277

Well, after reading through quite a few of those references, I'm happy to say that I learned something new today.

I am disappointed, though. I thought his book was really fun to read, and it's a big letdown to find out that it has very little basis in fact.

Comment Re:Columbus (Score 1) 277

Of course, one theory is that the Portuguese got that map from the great Chinese treasure fleets before they had ever gone there themselves. I highly recommend the book "1421: The Year China Discovered the World" by Gavin Menzies, in case you haven't read it yet. A lot of what he writes seems to be solid.

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