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Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 135

The HBO subscription is only worth it if you have a peer group that also has an HBO subscription and so it's important to watch things at the same time as them. I stopped buying DVDs about 10 years ago when renting became a lot cheaper than buying, but I've recently started again with boxed sets. Even if I only watch each episode once, it's cheaper than any of the streaming options, plus they're practically DRM free (as in, the DRM is so broken that it may as well not exist) and I can copy them to a mobile device for watching on long trips. Oh, and I get to wait until there are multiple years of something before I watch it.

I do wonder a bit what would happen to the economics of TV series production if most people did this. You'd expect a TV show to make a loss for the first few years, but then be profitable over a longer time, which is a very different model from the current mode of any profits after the first year are a nice bonus, but not factored into the accounting calculations.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 2) 236

Perhaps, perhaps not. Venus is still very poorly understood. In its high temperature environment its conditions are largely self-sustaining (preventing the sequestration of CO2 in rock), although it's also unstable, prone to broad temperature and pressure swings. It also appears to have undergone a global resurfacing event about 300-500mya, if that gives a clue as to how unstable the planet as a whole is. ;) We don't know what caused it, or really anything about it. Part of the planet's properties are now a result of it having lost its water rather than being a cause, such as its hard crust. Obviously its lack of a magnetic field is responsible for its loss of water, but we don't know exactly when or why it disappeared (there are of course theories... I had always just assumed it was the slow rotation rate, but the last research I read suggested that not enough to account for it). Other issues as to how Venus ended up as it did may be related to size - although it's only a bit smaller than Earth, that may be the initial factor that set its fate in motion - for example, its lithosphere in general appears to be thicker and higher viscosity on Earth, which could have hindered or prevented plate tectonics, and thus subduction of carbonates.

Either way, it's a mess now at the surface (though rather comfy ~55km up ;) ). And I'm not so sure I buy into some of the proposed ways to fix it (terraforming). For example, some have suggest mass drivers ejecting the atmosphere. Let's just say you can pull it off, and then you start building oxygen in the atmosphere - what happens next? The crust is something like 7-9% FEO; it's going to rust away whatever oxygen you make in short order.

Interestingly, I'd argue that this is possibly the salvation to Sagan's airborne-microbe concept for terraforming Venus. The main criticism is that if you engineered some sort of carbon-sequestering microbe on Venus (or artificial equivalent), you'd end up with a deep surface layer of graphite surrounded by some hugely hot, dense oxygen layer, and the atmosphere would explode. But that would never happen; at Venus surface temperatures and pressures, the surface rocks would rust away the oxygen as fast as it was created, even in tiny quantities, with the wind blowing the dust around to collect at low/eddy areas. So you're laying down bands of carbon and iron oxide as you burn through the planet's iron buffer. Where have we seen this before? Right, Earth, ~2,3 billion years ago, banded iron formations. Just like on Earth, you'd eventually burn through the iron and start to accumulate oxygen. But by then the graphite is already underground, buried in iron dust.

It's not a fast process. But it has precedent. Microbes already rusted at least one planet, and that planet's surface conditions weren't nearly as favorable for rusting as Venus's.

Comment Re:Saving the world with a Tax. (Score 4, Insightful) 236

The idea of a tax isn't as silly as you make it sound. The problem with most forms of pollution (from a purely economic standpoint) is that one person or company gains the benefits from polluting, but everyone pays the costs. This is known as an externality. Taxing pollution fixes this and means that the polluting technology becomes more expensive to operate and makes the barrier to entry for non-polluting technologies higher. If something is producing a lot of carbon dioxide but costs $5/widget, and you add a tax that amounts to $2.50/widget, then a replacement technology that doesn't emit any CO_2 but costs $7/widget is now cheaper to use. This means that you can bring it to market before you've got the economies of scale to push the price down below $5/widget.

Comment Re:solar/wind talk is spin - France vs China (Score 1) 236

Size doesn't really matter, because most renewable schemes scale with area. Population density does. France has 116/km^2, China has 145/km^2, so almost a 25% higher overall population density. That translates to a little bit less space for wind, solar, hydro and so on per capita, but not by enough to make it infeasible. Add in nuclear power, and the scaling is quite easy - building a nuclear power plant is hard, but doubling the generating capacity doesn't come close to doubling the land area, as long as you have a supply of uranium (China has uranium mines, France doesn't).

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 0, Troll) 236

I don't know how China managed to melt so much arctic ice, leading to the absurd situation that just a couple days before the winter solstice this year I went on a hike through the snowless mountains in Iceland among chirping songbirds digging for worms. All I have to say to China about this is: Best. Conspiracy. Ever. Well played, China. Well played.

Comment Re:White Power Rangers...ASSEMBLE! (Score 1) 279

A big part of the problem is that race and wealth correlate strongly in the USA and the rhetoric from the Democrats has been about race and not poverty, even though the latter is the real problem. This leaves people who are both poor and white feeling that the party only cares about poverty when it happens to black people and, worse, that it feels middle class black people deserve more help than poor white ones. This is made even worse by the fact that there's a black President: clearly being black isn't a complete barrier to success, but being born poor often is.

Comment Re:How's that feel Texas? (Score 2) 111

The key word in the summary is 'hundreds'. It brings the total that Tesla is planning on hiring to 7,000. Nevada is giving Tesla $1.3bn over 20 years, so that works out at $65m/year, or $10K/worker. It's a pretty big gamble that the state will take $10K/year more in tax revenues per worker than if the factory were not there. They're betting that the existence of the Tesla factory will spur other job-creating manufacturing industry.

Comment Re:so old! (Score 1) 59

1. Do you have to go out of your way and invest significant time and effort to avoid the use of these Oracle-owned libraries when you want to develop software in Java?

I'm quite happy to go out of my way to not add an extra 'use expensive commercial features' flag when I invoke the JVM.

2. Are you able to write good software without the Oracle-owned libraries? (good = robust, efficient, secure, ...)

I'd first like to see an existence proof that robust, efficient, and secure software exists, but assuming that axiom, any Java program that works with OpenJDK (i.e. the reference Java implementation) will work without any Oracle-specific things.

Comment Re:Mac OS based espionage malware (Score 3, Informative) 59

It's also probably difficult to get a user to accidentally install it. Java used to be installed by default on MacOS X, then there was a thing where, on first use, it would prompt the user and ask them if they wanted it. Now there's a thing saying 'you need Java to do this, go to this web page and download and install it, then try again'. Most casual users will say 'that looks hard, I can't be bothered'.

Comment Re: Bradley Manning needs a HOSTS file (Score 1) 361

Yes there is. It's not a right-left test, but there's a near-perfect match between gender and specific neurological features. In a higher than expected number by chance, people who think they are mentally female are female in structural and functional studies. Likewise, people who believe themselves male have a male brain.

I try not to get too annoyed at dogmatic statements, but unless I specifically defer, I have a comprehensive archive of published literature from high-standing sources. Don't rip on me unless you know either my interpretation is wrong (it happens) or you plan on publishing a peer-reviewed rebuttal on each particular of relevance.

The first of those has happened a few times. Let's see if you can bring it up into double digits. Feel free, but remember that you're dealing solely with article facts and my interpretation. Where I used other sources, pick any peer-reviewed paper that covers the same basic aspect of brain development concerned (i.e. neuron type is indicated by chemical transmitter, it is not hardwired into the genome. Doesn't matter if it is the one I used or not. Falsify it. Better yet, falsify it and get the scientist or magazine to retract it for further work.

Ok, you should now be at the point where you accept the data sets I used. That just leaves two options. If the seat of the mind is in the brain, then a female brain must have a female mind, regardless of Y chromosomes, appendages and birty certificate.

The only other option is to falsify that, to argue that the mind is independent of brain. If you choose this, please choose to announce it at a medical school outside the brain surgery department after a very taxing practical, shortly before exams. Contrary views are nothing to worry about.

Finally,You can just let the basis be, the chain of reasoning be, but then you have to accept the conclusion.

Let me know your preference.

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