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Comment Re:Never worked before, will never work now (Score 1) 64

I too find it hard to believe that there is any empirical justification for trying this. That said, I'd like to know what they think indicates this will work. I'm wondering whether they might be dealing with some kind of post hoc ergo propter hoc scenario where cloud seeding efforts coincided with changing rainfall patterns.

In any case, the place they're trying this appears to be Qinhai Province, up on the Tibetan Plateau. The population density there 7.8/km^2 -- roughly similar to Wyoming (5.97/km^2).

Comment Re:The questioner reveals their own dishonesty (Score 1) 295

Under Obama, we stopped counting people as unemployed if they gave up looking for a job. Such people are difficult to track is the argument.

Actually unemployment has always been calculated that way. It's the way economists do the calculation, not some kind of nefarious political innovation.

As for tracking the people who give up looking, the labor department does track them. How else do you know that the participation rate is low? The thing is that while unemployment (as it has always been reckoned) has recovered to pre-Great Recessions levels, participation rates remain unusually low, and that's just something you have to take into account when you're comparing unemployment rates in 2008 to 2016: the denominator has a distinctly different character.

What really gets interesting is if you look at who is not participating. The lions' share of non-participants are Boomers nearing retirement. This isn't a happy statistic, however. I think it reflect the synergistic effects of age discrimination and long-term unemployment. We also have high rates of underemployment as well -- people who are highly skilled working low-skill jobs for example.

The overall picture is mixed, fair-to-good-ish for many but extremely grim for sizable numbers of people.

Comment Re:Who Has EVER Trusted Government Data? (Score 2) 295

Who trust government data? Anybody who uses a USGS map. Or a weather forecast that uses satellite data. Or who uses a GPS (both the satellite signal and the base map, which is compiled by private companies from government sources).

Now any statistic is capable of misleading, if you choose to misinterpret it. Take unemployment. I think that figure is accurate, it just doesn't mean what people think it does. By 2016 unemployment had recovered to where it was before the Great Recession, but if you think that means the government is fraudulently telling you that the job picture is good, that's you misinterpreting what it means. The low unemployment rate masks (a) relatively low labor participation and (b) disastrously low job growth and labor participation in certain regions of the country -- particularly rural and small to middle-sized cities. How do I know this? Well, government data, obviously.

You are conflating "data", with "information" and "opinion". The Food Pyramid is opinion, not data. If you think for yourself and drill down into the facts a bit, you'll find that government data is pretty useful. Opinions, less so.

Comment Re:You just now started worrying? (Score 1) 295

If you think that the Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility I suggest you go back and look at the changes in Federal deficits by fiscal year when they are in charge. Note that if a president takes office in FY X, FY X+1 is the first budget he submits and FY X+2 is the first budget that fully reflects his priorities.

Comment Re:Distances (Score 1) 103

Japan's maglev system is proven technology, already at the low end of the Hyperloop speed range and projected to reach over 900km/h in time. Hyperloop is expected to hit around 1200km/h, so I just can't see the benefit being great enough to outweigh the disadvantages.

The reason to choose Hyperloop over Maglev isn't speed, it's projected cost. Musk thinks he can build the things for $11 million/km. That's about a quarter of what maglev would cost -- assuming that Hyperloop even works.

There isn't a lot to choose between 30 minutes LA to San Francisco and 45 minutes. Over longer haul routes the technology is supposed to eventually go much, much faster than maglev, but the key in the near future will be to beat maglev on cost over medium distances. And to actually work.

As for comfort, Hyperloop proposes to turn intercity travel into something more like a cross city subway ride. In fact (assuming it works) you'll be able to get from New York to Washington DC in less time than it takes to cross Brooklyn on the MTA.

Comment Re:Contrast this with the incoming administration (Score 1) 278

Solar is getting no where near to the price of coal. We're still paying 0.528kWh for solar here in Ontario, the price we were paying for coal when the last plant shut down was 0.043kWh.

Of course when you're shutting down coal power plants the price of coal is going to drop. Canadian coal demand dropped by 45% in the ten years prior to Thunder Bay shutting down, you have to look at those prices in the context of a collapsing domestic market. Coal prices would have been much higher with stable or growing domestic demand.

Latitude and climate also affect the cost of solar, and last time I checked most of the population of the US (which is the country we're talking about here) is south of Ontario. Solar is much, much cheaper in Florida for example. But even where I live in Massachusetts (same latitude as SW Ontario) you can get rooftop solar panels for US $2.50 / watt (6.25 Canadian) if you pay for them yourself and your house is favorably situated. That means to beat the Can $0.043/kwh benchmark, solar panels here in Boston have to run for about ten years. Solar panels have an expected service life of thirty years.

Of course when you get into realistic economics things get complicated. But a lot of my engineer friends have chosen to pull the trigger on rooftop solar, and they aren't afraid of doing ROI calculations. It's not for everyone yet, nor is it a solution for everything. But it's economical for some people in just about every part of the continental US, and that's a significant development.

Comment Re: Why do people keep using Windows? (Score 3, Interesting) 149

For one thing, even without administrative access to a computer, ransomware with full access to an employee's user account can do a lot of damage. For another, administrative access might be the result of a cost-benefit analysis that concluded that avoiding the cost of paying employees to sit and produce no value for the company while waiting for the IT department to complete a review of each application or device driver that each employee requires to do his or her job outweighs the risk of being the next ransomware victim.

Comment Re:Is home Internet a necessity? (Score 1) 68

No body is going to drive to their local library to pay bills for too long.

These purist capitalists would call owning an automobile also a luxury.

Maybe for a few years in college or pre-family style of living, but once life gets super real- you'll need this 'luxury'.

These purist capitalists would recommend that people remain in the "pre-family style of living" by abstaining from sex. There's a reason the "taxed enough already" crowd and the religiously motivated social conservative crowd have found an alliance in legislatures.

Comment E-sports needs free software (Score 1) 287

Games are different because their only utility is as entertainment, and few businesses can derive any benefit from that.

A professional or collegiate e-sports league is a business. Just as a league needs free video editing software to avoid having to pay to license proprietary video editing software, a league needs a free game to avoid having to pay the game's publisher for a license for each machine on which the game is played and for a license to perform the game publicly when streaming the matches.

Comment Re:Skype replacement not needed because ... (Score 1) 93

So, for people who don't want a smartphone, they should get a computer, internet, have both running 24/7 and make the right choice of IM or software phone platform.

Land line users have to get a phone, POTS service, and have both plugged in (and thus implicitly turned on) 24/7. One then sees the value of long distance and international tolls: they represent the cost of avoiding having to "make the right choice".

Everyone is on MSN right? Oh wait, this one died, it belonged to a multi-hundred-billion dollar company but they just closed it down.

MSN Messenger still operates under the name Skype.

Comment Re:Ummm, No (Score 1) 287

The open-source world obviously won't get you any of "the games you see advertised in stores." They have plenty of others though.

Does free software have any of the games that e-sports leagues have chosen to play? I would think that all other things being equal, e-sports would flock to free software, as use of a game composed of free software and free assets avoids having to negotiate public performance rights for streaming matches. But there must be something else stopping notable e-sports leagues from choosing free software.

Comment Chess and Go (Score 1) 163

I'm probably at a 1300 ELO in chess, which means I can probably manage to not completely embarrass myself against the chess club president at Podunk High School, but reliably beat anyone who hasn't given the game some relatively serious study. I've read a dozen or so books about openings and endgames, and I keep some chess engines kicking around the smartphone and computer, but I've never had any serious interest in mastery nor any real hope of it. That said, one of the first things one notices about computer analysis of chess openings is that most paths get pruned *very* quickly. With expert play, it is very easy to turn a positional advantage into a material advantage, and this is true for human experts as well. The distribution of chess openings used in master-level play is extremely similar to the computer ranking of those openings, with the exceptions being the more obviously ridiculous things like 1. a4 ... 2. h4 that no computer would ever consider playing. It's also widely said that chess is the game where the winner is the person who made the second-to-last mistake. So while the theoretical number of possible moves in chess is large, in practice the number of viable positions is much smaller, and as long as you're sufficiently clever when evaluating positions and pruning branches then your average desktop computer will be able to completely evaluate all interesting positions up to 20+ ply (20 half-moves, so 10 moves from each player) in advance of a given position in just a few minutes, even without opening tables or endgame tables. The opening is an even worse example. The opening in chess is not just less complex than go, it's actually completely solved, and it's not inconceivable that at some point in the next century or two that the game could be solved completely. So in terms of how the game is actually played, this means that both chess engines and human players will have an "opening book" and not even start evaluating positions for the first 10-20 moves.

Chess games are as sharply decisive as they are because, I believe, most of the pieces can affect most other pieces, and because captures remove pieces from the board, which tends to further increase any advantage. It's fairly easy to evaluate at any given position, and one can prune branches extremely quickly. I don't personally have any idea how to evaluate a Go position; even on small boards I lose without knowing why. However, if we are to have a single definition of complexity, it must be the mathematical one. Go has more potential positions and more decisions, and whether or not it's easier or harder for computers or humans to actually play it is more of a tangential issue. I'm not sure on quite what basis you can dismiss that definition, but even aside from that, perhaps you can provide any example of a way in which Chess is more complex than Go, because your specific example proved rather the opposite point.

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