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Comment Re:Oh for Pete's Sake! (Score 1) 171

I was living abroad once and a family member sent me a care package. A box of food, inside which they had put a card. I guess they originally had planned to just mail the card, because it was in its own envelope and addressed, though it did not have a stamp. When they decided to send a package, they put together the package, slipped the card/envelope inside, and sent it all.

A couple months later, I went to the local post office and was handed the envelope. Addressed, but no stamp. Someone in the post office (or customs) opened up the package, removed the card, kept the package, and sent the card along to the final destination.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. If I had never received the card, at least I could have pretended that the whole package was simply lost. Somehow that feels a bit better than knowing someone stole everything else.

Submission + - House Passes Email Privacy Bill

Obfiscator writes: The US House of Representatives passed a bill to require federal agencies to obtain a warrant before being granted access to email communications. From the article: "This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes."

The full text of the bill is here, although somewhat hard to read since it's a modification of a previous bill. This appears to be the most relevant part: "a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by that service only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure."

Comment Re:For those of you not living in the USA (Score 1) 126

I had always heard that rule and style of play differences allowed American football players to hit harder, thus resulting in a more violent sport.

A little google searching found a 2016 study from the The American Journal of Sports Medicine on injuries in collegiate football and rugby in the US. The authors found, "Overall injury rates were substantially higher in collegiate rugby compared with football. Similarities between sports were observed in the most common injury types (sprains and concussions), locations (lower extremity and head), and mechanisms (direct player contact). Upper extremity injuries were more common in rugby, and the rate of season-ending injuries
was similar between sports.
" (emphasis mine) So it looks like I was wrong, at least at the university level.

Although rates were similar for concussions despite that American football players wear helmets to protect their head. So perhaps they do hit harder and/or at different angles? Either that or the helmets don't actually protect their heads.

The authors note some studies in the introduction which indicate injury rates in professional football may be substantially higher.

Comment Re:San Diego libraries are now homeless shelters (Score 1) 197

I agree with you, libraries have bigger challenges.

However, this is a story about a Google-funded project. I can't imagine Google funding libraries to do things which are not related somehow to computers. While perhaps not every library has the time/interest to participate in this, if some do, more power to them.

Comment Re: Nuclear power is proven safe... (Score 1) 302

To be fair, large hydro infrastructure is built to last for decades, too, and also carries very large safety risks. One good example of this is Kariba Dam on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. There are concerns that the plunge pool is going to undercut the foundation and cause a dam collapse, threatening an estimated 3.5 million people living downstream. So the governments are investing another almost $300 million to reshape the pool. The dam was built before 1960, although part of the powerhouse was upgraded in the past few years. Large dams last for decades, and it seems people are trying to push them to a century or more now.

Or what about Mosul Dam, in Iraq? People debate over which one is more dangerous.

I think large hydro carries the potential for significant loss of human life if not done well. Returning to your original point, though, large hydro does have one advantage over nuclear in this department: the parts with changing technology are not the ones that will cause catastrophic failure. If a turbine fails, you lose power production. It takes a breach of the dam itself to threaten massive amounts of life. I'm not convinced that dam construction has undergone revolutionary changes in the past half century, but I'm happy to be convinced otherwise.

Comment Re:I drink diet coke daily and (Score 1) 172

Amazing, isn't it? People often underestimate the power of walking, veggies, and drinking water. Walking takes longer than more active exercise to burn the same amount of calories, true, but it's easier on the body. Veggies and water don't taste as good as other things. Even after years of doing it, I can't say I enjoy the taste of most veggies. But my body feels better when I eat them. Short-term pleasure vs. long-term satisfaction, I suppose.

I understand that people seem to store calories with varying degrees of efficiency. My body seems bad at storing calories, which means I can eat more than others and not gain weight (although that's changing as I get older). If someone tells me they tried doing this for months and saw no benefits, well, perhaps they are one of those unfortunate people who are super-efficient at storing calories, and therefore need some other method to lose weight. But it seems to me that this is always a good first step to try.

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.

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