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Comment Re:That's not a technical explanation (Score 1) 519

Yep. The NSA has tap rooms that are super-secret (or were). But the FBI has rooms that are only kinda secret, over which they have complete control, with no logs, no oversight, and complete access to the whole network which can do targeted monitoring rather than the NSA's trying to get everything, which is exponentially less efficient.

Comment Re:data range IQ 150 (Score 1) 325

The standard deviation for IQ tests is 15, not 10. While the tests become less reliable at a rate proportional to the rarity of the score, nearly all the inaccuracy is in underestimating IQ, and this is a problem with the specific tests, not the concept of general intelligence. If someone has a score of 150IQ, they are nearly certainly that smart. If they have tested twice at that level, they are almost certainly substantially above 150IQ. Due to the 0.65-0.7 correlation of the tests, getting a second 1 in 1000 score on a different IQ test with just a 150 "real" IQ and 1 prior 150 IQ score will only happen about 15% of the time.

The IQ scale compresses vast differences in ability into the highest scores. There is literally more variation in the top 1% than in the 1st-99th percentiles. Nearly all the ideas that really change things come from that top 1%. No number of merely bright 120IQ people can take the place of one person with 160IQ for really hard new thoughts.

Comment Re:What is IQ? (Score 1) 325

I think the different forms of the Otis-Lennon have an age break at about that age. It would be a perfectly good place for an age break, just after the "corner" in the graph of raw scores with age. The additional mental development is negligible between 13 and 16, equivalent in Rasch CSS measure to 6 months increase at age 6.

Comment Re:Similar results = similar bias (or lack thereof (Score 1) 325

Using just the difference between two very simple perceptual tests to get similar results to other IQ tests would imply that the classic tests are not significantly biased in any factor more complex than used in the simple perceptual tests, which effectively means not biased at all. The correlation of the perceptual test with a long-form IQ test was 0.71, which is at or above the typical correlations of different major IQ tests with each other. It seems like the measuring methodology could be improved to eliminate the meaningless peripheral nervous propagation speed (would likely need EEG/EMG), or the almost meaningless non-choice reaction time (which can be done by just subtracting out the minimum repeated non-choice reaction time from pre-tests.)

If they can be improved even slightly, then perceptual tests would be the gold standard for IQ measurements, and even as it is now will be much cheaper and more convenient than traditional tests while being just as accurate for anybody with reasonably good vision and no confounding neurological diseases such as MS.

Comment Reading his books his best memorial / also Wolfe (Score 4, Interesting) 83

Those who haven't read The Dying Earth series, or Jack Vance's later Lyonesse series really are missing a treat. It isn't for no reason that in 2006 his fans published a meticulously copy-edited 44-volume edition of his works, usually selling for over $3500. (There are cheaper editions, of course.)

Gene Wolfe is a big fan of Jack Vance's writing. Wolfe himself is one of the best writers ever - the Science Fiction Writer's Association named him Grand Master for lifetime achievement this year. (29 named in the last 38 years, 10 still living, Jack Vance was named in 1997)
Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, which made his name, recasts Vance's Dying Earth series, while adding mind-bending depths. Highly recommended.

Comment Re:Bad method (Score 1) 2416

Looking at all taxes, people getting minimum wage pay quite a lot. The effective federal income tax actually paid by someone in the $13-15K/yr income bracket on their adjusted gross income (that's before exemptions and deductions other than student loan interest - the other adjustments basically don't apply at this income level) is slightly lower than you estimated, about 3- 4% ($600 on $15K is 4%), but they also have to pay 12.4% SS, 2.9% Medicare, about 10% in state taxes and duties including sales tax, fees and so forth. Their total tax burden is around 27%.

After paying the average $2.2K/yr for individual insurance, their taxes are 42% of what's left.
Allowing just $700/month for rent and food and all the the other necessities to keep their shitty job, taxes eat all the rest.
(That's assuming full time with paid vacations and holidays - i.e. about $2.3K more than realistic. $600 is a better estimate)

On the other hand, if they pay the 2.5% penalty rather than buy insurance, their effective tax rate drops from 42% to 29% and they can spend $750 to $900 per month. For many minimum-wage workers, that's the difference between impossible and merely difficult.

Comment Re:Tagline: (Score 1) 256

It was not handheld. It weighed over 300 hundred pounds, maybe as much as a tonne. The connection between the barrels and the main box must have been structural, though active and flexible - "a wrist-thick bundle of black tubes and cables" is all he says about that.

It made so many holes that it destroyed the structural integrity of the boat, and the unsupported upper bits started collapsing due to their own weight. The rounds are 0.3mm wide and lets say we need 1km of holes - that's 3.33e6 rounds. If the rounds are 2mm long cylinders made out of uranium, that's exactly 9kg of ammo. Over ten kilometers worth of holes would be possible. This thing was like a waterjet, but using uranium moving at a substantial fraction of orbital velocity.

The power is not impossible given that it's nuclear-powered and is using the ocean as a heat sink. If the rounds are moving at 5km/s and firing 27kg per minute, that's 5.6MW.

Given those numbers, the force is 2250N = 506 lbf. There are four guys, some equipment and supplies and this super-weapon on the raft. It's likely an under-estimate, but let's say 1250 lbs. That's 4m/s acceleration, 0.4 gravity. That would get them up to 23 knots in 3 seconds, if there were no drag. But there is a lot of drag, it's a raft. Just like in the book, they'll move away quickly, but the acceleration will fall off quickly, too. When firing stops, they'll slow down quickly.

Yes, it's extreme. That's the whole point. But it isn't physically impossible.

Comment Re:"biocurators"? (Score 1) 35

I was slightly skeptical until you mentioned the tweed coat, and the elbow patches really nailed it down. You should really invest in some briar pipes and Balkan Sobranie.

This sentence is ambiguous, though: "And despite one (at least) slightly shoddy episode with a fulsome grad student in the early 80's, I've got a stellar reputation in the field." At least one episode, or at least slightly shoddy? Was the the grad student effusive, generous or simply "full and well developed"? Hmm... perhaps the ambiguity is artful.

I agree though that "biocuration" is a barbarous term. Arthur Clarke had a good put-down of that sort of thing in "Silence Please" in Tales From the White Hart:

"....Sound waves consist of alternate compressions and rarefactions."
"Don't you mean 'rarefications'?"
"I do not. I doubt if such a word exists, and if it does, it shouldn't," retorted Purvis, with the aplomb of Sir Alan Herbert dropping a particularly revolting neologism into his killing-bottle.

Comment Re:Because your idea sucks (Score 1) 217

Fidgeting in your chair should be a pretty strong positive signal. Michael Dell came to my Austin boarding school for career night back when he was only worth about $20M. The man simply could not sit still. He fidgeted like a whole third grade class. (He also gave a presentation on managing growth that was not all that useful to anybody there. We need to know how to have some growth before we can manage it.) Steven Weinberg's talk the same night wasn't all that much more helpful, something about how the math in superstring theory was threatening to break his brain. He looked like the results of thirty years of all-nighters. The twelve or so of us who showed up were impressed, but it didn't really help with the career thing. I doubt a VC would have shelled out money to either of them based on that night's performance though.

Where Dell really shone was in salesmanship. My family visited him back when he was selling refurbished computers out of a 2nd floor apartment (not a dorm room). Most people don't know he sold Apple gear in the early days. He had an Apple III there which was apparently just so he could advise people against getting one. This obviously raised the trust level (and if the customer wouldn't take the advice, well, at least Dell could unload the POS.) I think we ended up getting our 2nd hand Lisa from his company later, but it might have been CompuAdd.

I don't think Dell ever needed VC money - he was profitable from day one, and when he had cash flow issues, his loans mostly came from unwitting suppliers, or so I have heard. There's no doubt that he could have gotten VC money, he was just too smart to accept the loss of equity and control he would have had to take.

Comment Re:Tagline: (Score 2) 256

What lack of recoil? p.337-8:

Hiro's feet go out from under him as the raft moves suddenly; he can see Eliot falling down next to him.

He looks up at Bruce Lee's ship and flinches involuntarily as he sees what looks like a dark wave cresting over the rail, washing over the row of standing pirates, starting at the stern of the trawler and working its way forward. But this is just some kind of optical illusion. It is not really a wave at all. Suddenly, they are fifty feet away from the trawler, not twenty feet. ...
"Fucking recoil pushed us halfway to China," Fisheye says appreciatively.

Since I'm on that page, here's the best line:

"I didn't mean to blow it all up. I guess the little bullets just go through everything."
"Sharp thinking, Fisheye," Hiro says

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