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Comment Re:How is that supposed to work? (Score 1) 131

Around the second or third time I took apart my dad's wind-up alarm clock (at age 6 or so, the putting back together was well above any competence level I had). After buying a new clock to replace the last clock found in pieces, my dad introduced me to model making kits. Sometimes we'd work together, sometimes not. I do remember it being fun and focused my attention for hours, even if the results were gluey messes with the odd missing part. Model making saved any number of clocks and other household appliances. And peace in the family.

A neighbor down the street, a retired gentleman and a true master model builder, helped me learn patience and technique (where's the glue oozing out? where's the seams? you paint the thing and put it on a display stand?). Too bad that the last real hobby shop in my neck of the woods (south suburbs of Chicago) went out of business about fifteen years ago. No doubt stuff can be found online, but that's not nearly as fun as wandering through a hobby shop. Now that I have the time it would be fun to put together a model again.

I was lucky enough during a nearly forty-year career in industry to be able to work with tools and instruments; even though I held a variety of increasingly higher technical management positions the bosses let me work with my hands; so did the Union guys. And to think it started with one pissed off dad holding a shoe box of alarm clock parts.

Comment Re:Same atoms (Score 3, Interesting) 75

How does this spacecraft find "interstellar matter from beyond our solar system" at a distance of 200,000 miles above the Earth while the Voyagers have found what at how many billions of miles from the sun? Differences in instrumentation? Wouldn't one expect any remaining interstellar matter to be cleared by the solar wind long ago given the range of 200 kMiles? Just asking.

Comment Re:Quark and anti-quark? (Score 1) 164

Quark theory?

How about during the 1970's at SLAC where they hit proton rich targets with relativistic electrons and were surprised by evidence of deep inelastic scattering (think Rutherford and the atomic nucleus for an analogy). Analysis of the experiments indicated that electrons were smashing into something very, very tiny and very, very hard inside protons. These experimental results combined with theoretical work being done at the time opened a whole new understanding of particle physics. Quark theory helped explain the physical results of experiment. (See Michael Riordan's "The Hunting of the Quark: A True Story of Modern Physice [1987].)

Of course, no one can "see" quarks; confidence in the analysis and interpretation of the experimental results must come from many experiments, detailed analysis and much theoretical work, which, by the way, has happened since the turn of last century. Please see Harvard's Peter L. Galison's works "How Experiments End" (1987) and "Image and Logic" (1997) for how physics can claim a high degree of certainty in experimental results. (Note: There may be more recent works on this topic.)

Although not exactly on topic, I must quote someones insightful sig: "In science nobody believes the theory except the theorist and everybody believes the experiment except the experimentalist."

Comment Re:I realize this is Slashdot (Score 1) 87

Story was on air Saturday afternoon in Chicago (wbez) at 3pm Chicago time. And it can be streamed from wbez.org. Also interesting is just how many of these "companies" (IV, LodSys, and the rest) have an identical business address: 140 whatever street, Podunk, Texas. The story goes gives some detail about all the shell companies IV uses to shake down businesses and developers, er, protect inventors rights. . . It's just sick.

Comment Re:I'm sorry Mr. Jackson (Score 1) 628

Take a long look at the SHAPE of his congressional district in the Chicago area. Then ask your self how JJJr and other politicians get them selves elected and re-elected in all those gerrymandered districts (thanks to the U. S. Census and Democratic Party-dominated state legislature). I live in JJJr's district and I'm here to tell you my vote doesn't count.

Comment Re:Monsanto v. Schmeiser (Score 2, Interesting) 435

I heard somewhere that farmers who plant Monsanto soybeans (for example) were under contract to harvest all acreage and not hold back seed stock to plant next year under pain of litigation. That way you had to purchase next year's crop from the "company store." Farmers traditionally reserved some of this year's harvest to plant next year - like farmers have done for hundreds and hundreds of years. But not now, since Monsanto will sue the crap out of farmers that plant Monsanto-patented seeds and hold back enough for next year's planting. Monsanto actively spot checks farms, has sued and prevailed both in court and by the thread of onerous legal fees for defense, driving any number of small family farmers into bankruptcy or out of farming altogether. Nice, Monsanto. Intellectual Property.

Too bad the case to be heard by the Supreme Court will be viewed by the Court very narrowly: did the farmer knowingly harvest - and save for next year - seeds suspected to be from plants cross pollinated from Monsanto IP protected plants? The farmer will lose his appeal and the Supreme Court will dodge the issue of Monsanto's - or other companies marketing GM organisms - business practices.

Note that the current administration has brought on board in a variety of positions in the Department of Agriculture and other agencies lots for former Monsanto lawyers. And MPAA lawyers. And no doubt other corporations' former counsel. These folks are going to be making policy decisions that benefit . . . who? You and me and the public interest?

Comment Re:News for nerds. (Score 1) 763

Left Pants Pocket: Primary car key + house key.

Right Pants Pocket: Car Key + house key, and key to brother-in-law and sister's house. And a separate key ring with garage key, 2 keys to get into my place of employment and my office there, and one mystery key that I've had for 25 years. What it opens is a dim memory long lost in the past. I keep it out of sentimentality or maybe laziness. Also have a RFID card that accesses some doors at work.

In my office: All the other keys needed for various secure areas, desk, file cabinets, lock-out devices, et cetera. They never leave work.

In my home: All the other keys needed for file cabinets, bike, tool shed, my arsenal (gun safe). They never leave the house.

Note: I will NOT get locked out of my car or my house, hence the two sets of keys. The car keys (late model Jeep) are embedded in a keyless entry fob-thing. A pretty potent weapon, if you think about it and if you need it. And if I don't have ready access to my, um, arsenal.

Comment Re:Roomba - the nemesis of cats everywhere (Score 1) 79

Funny, my cats ignore these things (Roomba and Scooba). Except for the first day when one of them decided to perch on Roomba and somehow pushed the on button. She had a real puzzled look as the thing beeped and started into its random walk. . . Actually rode the thing for a little while until finally loosing interest, hopping off to find some sun light. Now the dog, on the other hand, was a different story. The dog didn't pay much attention to Roomba at first until Roomba came by and swept up some of the dog food the damn dog habitually scatters around the food bowl while eating. The dog now considers Roomba to be a food-robbing mortal enemy requiring much barking and growling and carrying on until the cleaning cycle is completed. Doesn't physically attack the robot, just walks along beside it going crazy. I've learned to ignore the dog. While I have to admit neither of the robots do a thorough job, they do keep me from vacuuming and moping as often as I did before they arrived.

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