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Comment For the scanning, this is an interesting solution (Score 2, Interesting) 235
"Design of an Inexpensive Very High Resolution Scan Camera System".

500 megapixels for $1600 versus scanning-back cameras that cost tens of thousands. Make the error correction a little bit simpler by rotating the scanning back ninety degrees for four 4-color shots (16 exposures), overlaying them, and taking the median pixel values, at the expense of some resolution.

There are four considerable challenges here, though, not just one, and this project could stall on any of them:
Image capture
Projection determination & georeferencing
Digitizing features & establishing topology

Comment Re:One area: Prison population. (Score 1) 222

Outright public acceptance of something like amakudari is present in the US, but only in the DC area. In one form or another, corruption sustains this town - if "corporate lobbying" lost constitutional protection, or civil servants/former politicians/their family were banned from being paid for it, our economy would collapse. The defense department, which has a spectacular number of 'promote or retire' thresholds, is particularly subject to the revolving door phenomena, but we have several thousand positions of political power at any given time which are subject to it.

Comment Re:Already happened (Score 2, Interesting) 350

Books are usually around 1Mb.

How many people listen to music they've downloaded, vs read books they've downloaded? How willing are people to stockpile books they might want to read, versus music they might want to listen to?

I have a friend with more books on his hard drive than my county library system has on their shelves. In case he ever wants to read them. In case of nuclear war. In case of anything. He finds that about half of my new-read requests are fulfilled on the internet, via simple torrent sites which are 1-step removed from the usenet and IRC scene. Surprisingly, this hasn't affected his buying habits.

He told me to start with the Great Science Textbooks 2007 DVD library, which comes in 20 parts (the final one was a few months ago, when the Knowledge-Should-Be-Free-based releaser considered his quest finished and stopped compiling), and covers a lot more than physics and biology. Supplement that with a few science fiction library dumps, some programming stuff in areas you're interested in, and you're golden to read until you die.

Oh, and get Calibre.

Comment Re:It's quite obvious (Score 3, Insightful) 950

First, they graded people based on physical capabilities - who runs the fastest. This had the effect of failing the fat kid.

Then, they graded them based on personal achievement - who has improved their running times the most. This had the effect of failing someone who put in their full effort the first time.

Then, they graded them based on stamina - who made it through the full two miles. This had the effect of failing whoever had the least muscle mass and most weight to carry - again, the fat kid.

Now, their idea may be to grade them based on who raises their heart rate to a specified level - the idea being that this is a more even distribution of effort even if it takes the athletic kid five times as much distance as the fat kid.

Personally, I don't see why we need to grade a bloody PE class.

Comment Re:mileage tax (Score 1) 1006

Actually, not counting the light solar, chemical, and thermal wear that roads suffer, the main process of mechanical road wear is proportional to the fourth power of axle weight. Most residential streets would need no maintenance whatsoever if it weren't for heavy school buses, trash trucks, and delivery vehicles.

Those heavy vehicles happen to chug gasoline or diesel.

To be a fuel efficient passenger vehicle, a requisite condition is a light body and a low axle weight. They contribute virtually nothing to road wear. We can't justify a usage fee on bicycles or pedestrians for using the pavement - and we can't justify a per-mile fee that hits a Prius just as much as an F-350.

Comment Re:Not evolution (Score 1) 216

Evolution includes natural selection and artificial selection. It includes anything that affects the movement of genes through the gene pool from one generation to the next. It is by no means restricted to genetic changes which make an animal reproductively incompatible with a group of its recent ancestors you choose to call a "species". Such distinctions are largely arbitrary, but even if you choose to be straitjacketed by Linnaeun orthodoxy and pinpoint a precise point when one species becomes another, you need some term to explain how genes are selected for within a species. Most of us choose to use "evolution".

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