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Comment Re: No! (Score 1) 227

These policies are not arbitrary. Obviously an insider could bring in whatever he wanted and leave with all kinds of information that he isn't supposed to remove. Insider threat is very, very difficult to defend against. The reason for the policy is that smart phones with wifi, Bluetooth, internet, camera, and audio recording capabilities, and can be hacked and used by adversaries to steal information, all unbeknownst to the owner, who is a "good guy. "

Comment Re: The real problem of nuclear is close ties to g (Score 1) 36

WIPP was designed, owned, and run by the government, or at least by contractors who may as well be government employees. The problematic waste was packed by employees of Los Alamos National Labs, a government facility. I don't know exactly where you intended to go with this, but I very much doubt anyone involved felt that they were somehow beyond government accountability.

Comment Re: Yeesh (Score 1) 584

I don't know. I'll get back to you after I get home from work and have some time to think about it. One possibility is, as I said in my first comment, economics. It's possible that in very competitive economies with high unemployment and not so great standard of living, women feel pressured to choose more remunerative or stable careers or careers in high demand. Since we're asking questions, why do you believe it's really just culture and not also partially an innate difference? It is uncontroversial that men have (on average) superior spatial reasoning. It seems at least plausible that this difference would lead to men and women choosing different careers, all else being equal. I'm not trying to argue that women shouldn't or can't be engineers or that there are no cultural factors at all. Sex discrimination on an individual basis is wrong, and we should all work harder to get over our prejudices. But that doesn't imply that our goal state should be equal representation. It's entirely possible that at some point along the way to achieving that, a point we've perhaps already sailed past, our encouraging of girls will become more like arm twisting. I'm rambling now, but I worry about what we're communicating to boys with all this stuff. Young children perhaps don't understand why girls are being particularly encouraged. Boys are already about a third less likely to go to college, a problem not many seem very concerned about.

Comment Re:Yeesh (Score 1) 584

Several months ago I read an article about women in STEM in countries that are not known for being particularly egalitarian, like India and Iran. (I may be remembering the countries incorrectly.) The gist was, they are beating out the United States in terms of women achieving parity in STEM careers.

Some take this as a great embarrassment. Iran is beating the US! What a stunning indictment!

The author of the article had a different hypothesis. Maybe the difference is (partially) explained by the fact that women in the United States have more, not less, freedom (social and economic) to choose the careers they want, and the overall result of those freely-made choices is lots of women in health care and so forth and not so many in STEM fields.

Comment Re:99.99%, eh? (Score 1) 600

Approximately 30,000 gun homicides occur per year in the US. Because they don't necessarily involve a homicide or even a shooting, the number of defensive gun uses is much harder to estimate. Wikipedia says that scholarly estimates are as low as 55,000-80,000 per year but may be as high as several million per year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

Comment It goes both ways (Score 0) 371

Engineers frequently are know-it-alls who prioritize what they personally find interesting or meaningful over what's important to the business. Indeed, if business priorities are considered at all, they are thought of as an impediment rather than the reason most of us have paying jobs. Then when their manager tries to redirect their work, they retreat back to their cubes to grumble among themselves (or a few million friends on /.) about how idiotic and hopelessly out-of-touch their managers are with the nitty-gritty technical details or their work. This way of thinking about management is so in-grained and common that there's a very popular comic strip about it.

Maybe if more engineers figured out how to understand and appreciate decision-making on the "business side" or at least gave the same benefit of the doubt that they expect to receive from managers, they would find that their relationships with their companies would not be so adversarial.

Comment Re:Uber is quite retarded (Score 1) 341

Regardless of who has to pay for the medallion, they are an artificial barrier to new competitors who wish to enter the market. They protect established companies at the expense of new ones, which stifles innovation and hurts everyone. Telling me to "get used to it" is silly. Laws can be changed, and when they are unfair or not in the public interest, they should be.

I don't know what you mean when you say "That is how things are!" Are you telling me that there are no ambulances in Berlin, and that when people are near-fatally injured and in serious danger of bleeding to death, they call a taxi to get to the nearest hospital? I admit I've never been to Germany, but I find that very difficult to believe.

Comment Re:Uber is quite retarded (Score 1) 341

Bottom line the extra license for the driver is cheap, perhaps up to 1000Euros, and as it is not a real cab, they don't need the cab permit from the city (AFAIK).

Uber's and Lyft's business model relies on individuals driving their own cars, many of whom do it part time to make a little extra money. A thousand euros is a very significant hurdle to someone like that. Maybe cab drivers should be required to obtain a special, more expensive license, but it's not convincing that this license is no big deal because it costs "only" 1000 euros. I'll take your word for it that Berlin doesn't require any extra permits, but FYI cities in the US usually require cab companies to obtain a so-called "medallion" for each taxi they wish to operate. There are a fixed number of medallions, which limits the total number of taxis. In NYC, when a medallion becomes available, it can go for upwards of a million dollars. In other large cities, the cost can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's clear why both city governments and established taxi companies are fighting tooth and nail to get Uber and Lyft kicked out of their cities.

Why? Because I don't want to bleed to death when a friend flags down a 'cab' and asks to get me to the next hospital and the stupid driver takes the third best route to the second closest hospital or needs 3 minutes to pick one from his navi.

Ridiculous. Regardless of whether an Uber driver is qualified to drive a taxi, a taxi is not an ambulance.

Comment Re:There's more to EU transport than cheapness (Score 1) 341

The EU has a lot of consumer protection laws designed to look after their residents (now there's a thought), a concept that is completely foreign in the US where it seems that only company profits matter.

I'm sure all of these laws exist only and exactly to protect residents rather than established companies, trade unions, professional organizations, and other political donors against upstarts like Uber.

Comment Re:Uber is quite retarded (Score 1) 341

Just because a law applies to everyone equally doesn't make it a good or fair law. I think most people would agree that some regulations of this kind are for the public good, while others only serve to unfairly protect established businesses by making it difficult for new competitors to enter the market.

Comment Re:I never thought about engineering and Fortran (Score 1) 634

I am not a software engineer, so my speculations here should be taken with an extra grain of salt. With that disclaimer out of the way, my understanding is that Fortran is falling out of favor mostly because scientific and engineering software is growing more complex. At the same time, we are depending more on its reliability, and it is being more widely used by people other than the researchers who developed it. Language features like classes and templates that make developing complicated, reusable, and maintainable code more tractable are baked right into C++. Fortran has some of these kinds of features, but they are almost an afterthought, and I've never actually seen an object oriented Fortran code in the wild. The main things Fortran has going for it, like native vector and matrix operations, complex numbers, and (arguably) greater speed, are no longer enough of a selling point.

Comment Re:Fortran is NOT the language of choice (Score 1) 634

I don't understand what you mean, so maybe some explanation is needed. Fortran may be a "scientific" programming language, but it was also the language of choice for engineers for a long time. The advantages that Fortran had over other, lower level languages were things like native complex numbers and built-in transcendental functions, features useful to both scientists and engineers.

Comment Fortran is NOT the language of choice (Score 3, Informative) 634

I have a PhD in engineering, and my dissertation involved writing lots of code. Now I work at a national lab in the US, and I and nearly all of my coworkers work on scientific or engineering codes of some sort. Although there is significant amounts of legacy code that was written in Fortran lying around (a project I work on uses a fortran library written in 1973), very little development is done in that language. It's all C++ or Python.

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I think there's a world market for about five computers. -- attr. Thomas J. Watson (Chairman of the Board, IBM), 1943