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Comment Re:This is why we can't have nice things (Score 1) 223

Actually, there's considerable evidence that early humans routinely engaged in mass slaughter - start a stampede, guide it toward the top of a cliff, and harvest the meat and other useful parts from the bottom. Far easier than trying to kill animals much larger and faster than you directly.

The downside is that you end up killing a LOT more animals than you can use, but the problems with that aren't going to be noticeable in any one person's lifetime - at least not until the species is almost extinct. And even if people eventually noticed the problem, and their own culpability, cultural inertia is likely to have kept things going anyway. Just as it did when the Easter Islanders cut down the last of the trees their society depended on, or when modern humans keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate.

Comment Re: Political implications for "Native Americans" (Score 1) 223

The fact that the genetic markers of earlier migrations seem to have vanished entirely is actually an argument *against* genocide. In any violent conflict there's almost always quite a lot of women claimed as prizes by the conquerors, and their genetics enter the new culture that way.

To complete absence of the earlier markers suggests either intentional genocide, which is very rare and unlikely to have swept across the entirety of two continents - a process that would almost certainly have taken many centuries, or more likely that the earlier immigrants had already died out before the new ones arrived.

Comment Re:Yes, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 214

The problem with software development is that unless you've done that exact same task before, you really have no idea what's involved. And if you HAD done that exact task before, you wouldn't need to be doing it again, as you could re-use most of your previous work. Unlike with, say, constructing a building, once software is well-built once, it doesn't have to be built a second time, at least within the same company, or if its open source.

Management is also to blame on occasion. I put together a schedule for a videogame project for a major publisher, and the schedule was rejected, saying it wasn't detailed enough. They wanted finer-grained breakdowns of tasks, so instead of one to two week tasks, they wanted one or two day tasks. The only problem: the game wasn't even designed yet - only a rough idea of the genre and licensed property we were using. So, someone (not me, thankfully) dutifully put together a bullshit schedule with fine-grained bullshit tasks, and as the due dates arrived, we simply checked off those tasks in our official project management software.

In the meantime, we had our own spreadsheet with our real tasks and timelines that we used internally, although we tried to match up major milestones as best we could. Since it was a hard deadline, we finished the core game systems as soon as possible, ruthlessly cut extraneous features, and still delivered on time. I'm sure the publisher's producers still think it was their detailed scheduling that kept everything on track.

Comment Sure, Uber is evil. (Score 2) 266

It's an anti-social company that's a horrible place to work. Everybody knows that by now.

What nobody can know for sure is why an individual takes his life, or what circumstances would have to be different.

Take Google, which in several recent lists is the best company in America to work for. Google has just shy of 60,000 employees. Given the US suicide rate of 46/100,000, if Google were largely reflective of that you'd expect 28 suicides/year among Google employees. Of course (a) not all Google employees are Americans and (b) Google employees are economically better off than most people in their societies, so you'd expect there to be a lower rate of suicide. But it's safe to assume a dozen Google employees a year take their lives.

And if you look at them as individuals, you'd inevitably suspect work stress was involved, and if you'd look you'd probably find it -- because it's a chicken-or-egg thing. Suicide is a catastrophic loss of coping ability; when you head that way you will find trouble everywhere you turn.

When something like this happens to an individual, everyone feels the need to know why -- even strangers. But that's the one thing you can never know for certain. Now if suicide rates were high for Uber, then statistically you could determine to what degree you should be certain that Uber is a killing its employees with a bad work environment (or perhaps selecting at-risk employees).

I think its inevitable and understandable that this man's family blames Uber. And it's very likely that this will be yet another PR debacle for the company. But the skeptic in me says we just can't know whether Uber has any responsibility for the result.

Comment Re:Funniest part is it's no conspiracy to... apk (Score 1) 182

Of all the conspiracies out there I can count on one hand which ones are true. This one isn't.

And while I agree awareness is good, focusing on the problem means one isn't focused on potential _solutions._

What you are also forgetting is that things are ALLOWED to be the way they are.

i.e. America gets the government it deserves because people won't fucking do a thing to change it. They will bitch, and complain, and then carry on with their life -- letting the government steal the profits of their labor, and then go back to watching the boob tube.

The solution is, and always has been, local community living to a higher standard as a positive role model. Nothing else works.

Comment Re:Wonder how it compares to Airlander (Score 1) 119

That accident sure was a black eye for them... but the design is now better because of it. Also, gotta love having an aircraft whose crashes are in slow motion ;) "Coming soon on World's Least Dramatic Air Crashes!"

I imagine for the pilot it was sort of like when you're driving down a slope on ice and you lose traction, and you end up skidding down the whole slope at a several kilometers per hour: First, alarm and futile attempts to regain control, followed by acceptance, then "Okay, you can stop any time now...."

Comment Re:Going Howard Hughes... (Score 2, Informative) 119

Airships are not party balloons; they don't "pop" when you make a hole in them. They have low overpressure and a huge volume to surface area, so a "bullethole" is just a slow leak; it's not even a reason to land. A helicopter is far more vulnerable to small arms fire than a helium airship.

As for what it buys over a helicopter, show me a helicopter that can move 50-500 tonnes payload at a per-kilogram rate cheaper than a freight truck while flying halfway around the world without refueling. Because that's what people are looking to build with this new generation of airships. Even Airlander 10, which is just a commercial prototype for the Airlander 50, carries more payload than the largest helicopter used by the US military, the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion.

Comment Re:Going Howard Hughes... (Score 2, Interesting) 119

A common usecase for large airships is remote mining operations. They need big, heavy pieces of equipment brought into places without roads. Currently, the first step is to build a road - which is expensive and environmentally destructive. An airship needs only a clearing - and the "skycrane" variants don't even need that.

Another advantage is that it's much easier to design them to carry "bulky" cargoes than airplanes. Again, especially "skycrane" designs where the cargo hangs beneath.

Comment Re:Wonder how it compares to Airlander (Score 2) 119

Given the fact that it's rigid, and given the size of Hangar Two and the fact that the frame is said to take up much of the hangar, it's probably much larger than Airlander 10.

Probably also doesn't look like a giant rear end ;) Even if it's a lifting body, the fact that it's a rigid airship (from the description) means that they can shape it however they want. So probably something like a flattened teardrop, if they go for the hybrid (lifting body) approach. Which generally seems pretty popular these days, for good reason (lots of extra lift at little cost, higher top speeds because you don't have to have as large of a cross section for a given cargo, etc). But of course there's nothing here to suggest whether it's actually a hybrid.

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