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Comment Re:But... (Score 1) 239

While you might be right it is also the case that people generally do not appreciate things that are free. A minimal charge, even if it's only 1 euro, is a better fit for maximising overall benefit for not only the environment but also for all other 'interested parties', passengers, operators, supporting personnel, etc.

As a carrot to get people to change their behaviour, rather than (for the moment anyway) the stick, being a tax to drive within the city - much as London has, I'd say it has a lot going for it.

Comment Re:Correlation between Antibiotics and Obesity? (Score 1) 256

The original reason that farm animals were given antibiotics was to prevent / cure illnesses due to them living together in close proximity, in large numbers. The observation that this led to them gaining weight explains why these animals are now fed with low dose antibiotics.

Since we are animals it is reasonable to assume that, whatever the mechanism behind the observations, the same holds for us too.

Of course it might be a 'virtuous circle' but it seems to me that the GP has a very valid point.

Comment Re:eating less (Score 2) 256

You're missing the point. This is about explaining why the same amount of food (or energy) intake affects people differently

Absolute nonsense. From the Sunday Morning Herald summary (I don't have a Nature subscription):

From the abstract: "Here, we identify an intestinal microbiome signature that persists after successful dieting of obese mice, which contributes to faster weight regain and metabolic aberrations upon re-exposure to obesity-promoting conditions and transmits the accelerated weight regain phenotype upon inter-animal transfer."

So no, not nonsense at all, you did miss the point, and your 'common sense' hypothesis that "the gut microbiome changes have an impact on appetite" is at best a guess and at worst a post facto rationalisation because you didn't like the conclusion the authors drew. You think they went to all the effort to perform the experiments, wrote a paper on it, but somehow didn't think to control for calorific intake? Really?

Comment Re: mdsolar (Score 1) 302

As for the apparent quality of their design, you're applying modern standards of what a prototype should look and feel like to a vastly more adventurous era.

First rule of product design: Fail fast, fail often. Companies that understand this are the ones that bring the 'must-have' products to market. This is true in the modern era too.

It's one of the reasons we made massive strides during the first half of the 20th and now typically make far more incremental advances:

Hmm, maybe, maybe not. An early test / improve loop when creating a product allows for more rapid advancement, and while those advancements are, for that product, all incremental the finished product is more than an incremental step forwards from the point before it existed.

...we're terrified of failure, particularly if there's any risk to any human life.

This is, I'd say, a twofold issue, each of which feeds into the other: the 'nanny state' with its assorted regulations - mostly good, some bad; and the 'special snowflake' psyche, where not trying is better than failing, and risks you're not willing to take simply shouldn't be taken by anyone - for their own safety.
Of course part of the problem is that while you could, working alone in your barn, build something that flies you are unlikely to build a jet plane or a manned rocket, or something that breaks records. Sure.lone inventors do still exist, as do people who are willing to take personal risks, but when it comes to creating something new the low hanging fruit has largely been picked over the last couple of centuries.

We can but hope (or dream) though...

Comment Re:@hyperbolic propaganda (Score 1) 235

I too can personally remember warnings of global cooling in the 70's and, more so, the early 80's, as reported in print media*. I can still hear some of the debates I and my school friends had on the topic (and yes, we were woefully naive).

What I don't remember is reading about consensus (from the scientific community), the intimate details of the science behind it, long term international bodies being set up to assess, inform, and counteract climate change, and many of the other things that characterise informed debate today.

The difference between then and now is huge, and I'd suggest that anyone who compares the two, in an attempt to dismiss current fears of climate change, either has an ulterior motive or is engaged in some serious cognitive dissonance.

*Since it was in national print media there will be copies still in existence. Attempting to deny facts, whichever 'position' you support, is idiotic, and counterproductive.

Comment Re:How many times... (Score 1) 230

Indeed OLED technology has gone nowhere since its inception around 10 years ago.

As for those foldable displays, yeah, they don't exist either... /s

OK, so not all research is immediately practical, not all technical hurdles are easily solved but at least try to remember the things that have made it to market (and are now so common place it seems like they never didn't exist or the technology was never new) as well as the things we're still waiting on...

Comment Re:Modern kids are retarded (literally) (Score 1) 403

I suspect you've hit the nail on the head.

A few years ago I found myself assisting in the delivery of a short external course at HBS. The standard of some of the first year MBA students that attended that course was truly impressive - actually that doesn't do them justice, it was staggeringly impressive.

Whenever I feel disillusioned about the state of education today, or disheartened by what I read, or see firsthand, I find these memories somewhat comforting.

Comment Re:Modern kids are retarded (literally) (Score 1) 403

Purely anecdotally:

As someone who taught secondary school maths, you can take it from me A-levels have got easier. It has got so bad that 'quality' universities are now having to lay on, for want of a better word, remedial classes in certain subjects, including maths, to get their students up to a level where they can start their degree. Well, It's either this or just lower the standards of the degree - but then this is a not-particularly-surprising-outcome when a government sets an arbitrary target (I believe it was 50%) for people in higher education.

It is very difficult to make direct comparisons between the US and UK systems when it comes to education, as depth and breadth vary enormously, however when I was at school we studied calculus for AO level maths, that's roughly at age 15, a couple of years earlier than AP calculus, and a couple of years before calculus is generally taught in secondary schools today. Futhermore the treatment we gave the subject back then was considerably more thorough than is generally given today, in this country at least - I can't comment on the US system..

Having said all that my education barely touched on high level computer programming (well, if machine code wasn't your thing then your options were flavours of BASIC, so no real surprise there) and I'm sure there must be other things that children are taught today that we weren't back then...

Now, I'd like to agree with the OP, that the median child of today is less literate, less numerate, and generally less knowledgeable than the median child of yesteryear but, honestly, I find myself unable to do so, because I have no reliable frame of reference. Not only did I not know most students back when I was one (I saw only the top few percent on a daily basis) even now I can't say for sure that I've seen both the best and worst that current schools have to offer. There's a huge gap between the highest and lowest performing students, and, even discounting these extremes the whole subject is multidimensional - even ignoring the so called soft skills reducing the question to a single better or worse figure renders any answer essentially meaningless. However, I also find myself unable to agree with you. When exam rates show such a consistent year on year increase there are a number of possible explanations: Genetic evolution is making us smarter; Social evolution is making us smarter; The education system is getting better; The exams are getting easier; Some other factor I haven't thought of right now; Some of, if not all of, the previous...

It's probably overly simplistic to use Occam's Razor to arrive at an answer but I've run out of time ;-)

Comment Re:This isn't a mechanical loom we're talking abou (Score 1) 540

A very good post!

However I can think of one 'industry' that is crying out for more people, and that is caring - as in caring for the elderly (especially, given current and near future demographics), the sick, and the young.

Of course I know that people are working their socks off to automate these roles too I just doubt the practicality, and the morality for that matter, of their efforts.

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