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Comment Re:On-site service; cargo (Score 2) 201

Yes, but few strength training exercises require sticking your ass up in the air and waving it back and forth like that.

Straight leg dead lift. bent rows, and back hyperextension off the top of my head. And while we're on the subject of distracting and embarrassing, there's always leg abduction.

Anyhow, people are jerks toward anyone who gets serious about anything, whether it's biking, power lifting, or building electronics. You're supposed to be normal, not exceptional. That makes it easy to be a sanctimonious prig toward people who like things you don't have what it takes to try.

Ever go to a gym where there's rules about making too much noise because you'll scare the casuals? It's stupid. There's a woman in my gym, an ex-marine, who can dead lift over 2 1/2 her body weight, which for a woman puts her in the elite range. When I walk into the gym and she's doing it, I have to walk out because she sounds like a harpy ripping the head off a dragon. But it's my problem, not hers. That's what it takes for her to do her thing, and I'm not going to make her feel bad about it because it's awesome. Literally.

Celebrate people who dare to look, sound, or even be ridiculous. Even if it bothers you, that's not the same thing as harming you. The people who do harm are the self-appointed conformity police. The ones who automatically go after anyone who doesn't appear normal. "Normal" is must another word for "mediocre".

Comment Re:Plastic is lower density than water (Score 1) 48

Yeah. And I bet those stupid physical oceanographers don't realize that temperature and salinity gradients in the ocean are continuous either.

I mean it stands to reason. If you had a bathtub half full of cold fresh water and half full of warm salty water, pretty soon you'd end up with a tub full of warm brackish water, right? So the oceans must be the same. Contrariwise, the water in a bathtub has to drain clockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Comment Re: Louisiana is one big sinkhole (Score 2) 301

Well, with a carbon tax the government would set the taxation rate, and it would be like any other tax... and that's the problem with carbon taxes: regulatory capture. In the US people who pay a lot of taxes have outsized influence on tax policy.

This is why some environmentalists prefer cap and trade. In that system the government sets limits based on overall carbon emission goals. You'd first try to meet those caps by developing emission reduction technology, and if you reduced more than necessary you could sell the credit for the extra reduction to someone who was having trouble meeting their cap at a price mutually agreed upon without regulatory oversight. In other words the market would determine carbon credit trading prices.

The economic advantage of this system over carbon taxation is that it is more flexible. Imagine that an overall reduction of, say, 50% in CO2 emissions is technologically feasible, but that doesn't mean every industry can feasibly achieve 50%. Under cap and trade if the airlines have trouble meeting their cap they could buy credits from the industries that can find ways that will save more than 50%.

This leads to the environmental benefit: more carbon reduction. You can tell the airlines they've got to reduce CO2 by 50% but they physically can't do it, they can't. But if the electricity generators could cut their carbon by 75%, they aren't going to do so unless they have a financial reason -- either carbon taxes or the ability to sell the extra reduction. Cap and trade has the same effect as carbon taxes, but it uses a carrot and stick approach.

This leads to the political benefit: carbon reduction will be someone's rice bowl. In a system where money talks loudest, that's important.

Comment Re:Louisiana is one big sinkhole (Score 1) 301

It's time to start considering how much money should be thrown into Louisiana at this point just to buy a little extra time, and if instead we should be considering moving people out of the state altogether.

True, but I see a hitch: exactly how are we going to do this considering? In particular who will make the decision to pull the trigger. Someone is going to have to make the decision to put Louisiana out of its misery if you're going to be "moving people out of the state". Or by "moving people out of state" do you mean letting nature take its course and generating millions of environmental refugees.

I see megaengineering projects in our future -- not because they make sense, but because the political decision to face the consequences is too hard. In part the LA situation is the result of past megaprojects to contain flooding, which is what deposited the soil in coastal LA in the first place. What's more these megaprojects will likewise have an exclusively short-term focus, because facing long-term trends are too politically difficult. Should the project factor in IPCC sea level rise projections? Hah! Good luck with that.

Comment Re:Expensive bullshitmachine (Score 1) 145

Well, it's a matter of perception. Once you've mastered shifting a manual transmission it's not really any harder than an automatic, because the automatic is in your brain. Mindlessness gets a bum rap: the power of habit is that it makes things easy and the smart thing is to harness that power to make your life better. Now there's no reason to prefer a manual transmission over a modern automatic other than the pleasure of shifting if you enjoy such things, but there are plenty of reasons to prefer an Aeropress.

But as for the attraction -- well that's my point. They figured out a story to tell the consumers that sounds compelling, but if you factor in the lack of choice, cost, and waste, and the fact that you can quickly master the Aeropress drill so you can do it in your sleep, it's a bogus story. I used Aeropress as an example because it makes the right amount of conventional coffee quickly with practically no clean up beyond popping out the coffee puck and giving the thing a quick rinse. And if you absolutely must have that extra two minutes of speed it takes to heat the water in an electric tea kettle, spend the money that you would have spent on the Keurig on one of those Japanese tea water gizmos, set the timer to bring the water to temperature just before you wake up, and you can have your first cup ready in under two minutes.

Comment Re:Expensive bullshitmachine (Score 3, Insightful) 145

In other news, VCs can be fucking stupid.

Or they think that consumers are fucking stupid, which is a pretty safe bet. The tricky thing is to find a way in which people will be predictably stupid which nobody has thought of exploiting before.

This thing is pretty much in the right ballpark; it's an attempt to exploit a cultural weakness: people want to add things to their lives that have the same effect as taking things out of their lives -- e.g. they want to eat something that will make them lose weight. Among the few things that actually fits that bill are vegetables. But if you're drinking vegetable juice you aren't eating vegetables any longer; you're eating pre-digested vegetable concentrate.

Trying to get the benefits of vegetables by reducing them to a convenient candy slurry you can slurp down quickly is futile, because many of the key benefits of vegetables that people are pursing are entailed in the fact that they take time to eat and are difficult to digest. But this does't make selling that proposition to consumers a bad idea. Setting consumer off on a futile quest can be profitable, which is why the cosmetic industry doesn't just pitch looking good -- it tells women they need to pursue eternal youth.

The trick is to package futility so it's convenient and price it/pitch it so that it is either an impulse buy or an object of intense longing. That's not easy. Keurig got all the parameters right, starting with the story they tell you about how your life will be different with their product. You get up in the morning in a caffeine-withdrawal fog, you pop the pod into the machine and your coffee comes out. Then you toss the pod in the trash. What they are selling is the will-o-the-wisp of convenience, and they've managed to sell it at a staggering markup. The truth is that it's just as easy to make that cup of coffee with an Aeropress, especially if you have an electric tea kettle, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper.

Comment Re:Do we really need sandwich police? (Score 1) 285

Well, things sold rally ought to be what they're represented as. If someone sells you a 14 kt gold ring, it ought to be exactly that, not gold-plated silver, even if the plating job is really good. Now I, as a smart consumer, might decide that a gold ring with a good enough plating job is good enough because it will be indistinguishable over the lifetime of the intended user, but it's my choice, not the vendor's.

Now foods especially should be what they say they are. Now I agree, there is no reason at all for most people to prefer sandwich with pure chicken filler to a sandwich. In fact there's some reasonable basis for preferring soy, e.g. environmental impact and animal welfare. But it should say soy on the ingredients. There are people with severe enough soy allergies to cause anaphylaxis. Soy also interacts with certain medications. People affected by this kind of thing check labels because soy is so ubiquitous, so those labels ought to be accurate.

Comment Re:Soy tastes like chicken (Score 1) 285

Actually, that makes it weird. You see, the default animal taste is chicken. But any forager or naturalist will tell you the default plant taste is asparagus.

If you eat rattlesnake, it "tastes like chicken" because it's lean and most of the distinctive flavor of a meat is in the fat (and bone -- it's always better to cook a steak or a pork chop bone in). If it's not fatty or bony or gamey or bloody, what you've got left is chicken flavor.

It's a mystery to me though why so many plants taste like asparagus. I've heard the 17 year cicada tastes like asparagus though so that's a kingdom-bender too.

Comment Re:I have a dream (Score 1) 434

I have a dream that we can discuss that topic from the point of view of actual experience... maybe even data, not wishful thinking.

Now I once had to step in and take over a failing team that was mostly Indian H1bs. The team lead could have been the illustrating case for this story. On paper he looked good, and he talked a good game, but couldn't code for real... not at all. And yet further down on that team there was some outstanding talent. There were a couple of kids in particular who were as good as anyone I've ever met in decades of working with programmers.

Here's what's racist: assuming everybody in a large group exactly conforms to the stereotype of the group you superficially perceive them to be in. Let's say Alice and Bob are white Americans. Alice is an artist, and Bob is a math geek. Now let's say you meet Vijay and Padme, and the first thing you notice about them is that they're Indian. But Padme is also a math geek and Vijay, an artist. While they have some things in common with each other, they also have things in common with Alice and Bob, and if you can't see that because your perception of them is overwhelmed by Indian, that's racist. It's also stupid, but I repeat myself.

Even if you can show that stereotypical people exist in a group, you have to allow for human variation within that group. India is a country with 1.2 billion people; over forty major indigenous languages and a half dozen major religious groups. It covers 1.2 million square miles, ranging from steamy tropical rainforest, to scorching sand sea deserts, to frigid alpine villages that are among the coldest inhabited places on Earth. The overwhelming fact of India is diversity.

Now the other overwhelming fact of India is that no matter where you start, there's an unfathomable distance that you can fall. For that reason I'd say the average level of hustle is higher for Indians than Americans -- although individuals vary. So I'm thinking (and I have seen) some people whose ambition to has hustled them beyond where their talent would have taken them. But it's not really any different in America. When I started nearly everyone else I knew who programmed was a math geek -- although some women COBOL programmers started out as keypunchers and figured it out by osmosis, which means they were the ones with the best brains. While the field knows a lot more about constructing software than it did in the 1970s, from the standpoint of averages the current talent pool is unimpressive. As with India, there are a lot of Americans who are trying to be programmers who just don't have the gift. But the best of the American talent pool is better than ever, and they matter more, just as the best of the (huge) Indian talent pool matter more.

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