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Comment Re:How many bees is your childs life worth? (Score 1) 244

It gets weirder. There is evidence that banning DDT in agriculture was overall the right thing to do independent of how harmful to humans it is.
The reason is that it prevented mosquitos from developing immunity too fast through prolonged exposure, so exterminating them for malaria control kept working much longer. (This is rather like the case of using antibiotics on cattle preemptively, only this time we're doing the wrong thing).

Comment Selection bias (Score 1, Insightful) 282

So in other words, pretty much the entire publishing caste, as well as the majority of the population, does not understand selection bias. That is a serious problem, but it's hardly surprising. An awful lot of the scientific studies that someone trumpets around as a confirmation of their pet worldview suffer from similar problems.

Comment Re:Easy grammar (Score 3, Interesting) 626

That's a common and logical-seeming wish, but reality works differently. Every language spoken by humans contains some irregularity, to the point where there is clearly an underlying reason for why perfect regularity isn't optimal for human processing. (Note that you only have difficulty with irregular verbs in foreign languages; no one forgets forms in their mother tongue, and if you're uncertain, both forms usually work equally well for speaker and listener.)

The phenomenon isn't understood completely, but it's too pervasive to be just accidental. Some aspects of it are quite well-understood. For instance, there is a reason why languages resist perfectly phonetic spelling: written text mediates between writers and readers, and while writers would prefer perfectly regular spelling, readers actually profit from a small amount of irregularity, because it allows them to use gestalt perception to recognize some words even faster than sounding them out would be. Note that the most frequent words in English tend to be those with the weirdest spelling, much like the most common verbs have the most irregular past forms.

Clearly, a huge amount of optimization has been going on to shape the language for ever-greater efficiency, at a scale that laughs at any attempt to impose a "simpler" or "better" standard in a top-down way. That doesn't prevent purists and politicians from trying, but you know how well their efforts usually turn out. I'm certain that even Esperanto would acquire a certain amount of irregularity to the extent that it was actually used prominently as a native tongue.

Comment Re:Positive pressure? (Score 1) 378

How about you don't seal the back of the ATM but instead put vents on it and a blower continuously pushing fresh air in? If they thieves try to pump it full of explosive gas, it would blow back out.

The point of an automated teller machine is to save the considerable cost of a human teller. Requiring more always-on moving parts incurs terrible running costs that would offset that gain.

Comment Re:Pay vs. Pirate (Score 1) 437

This complaint is very common. I agree with everything in it, since as a European I am just as affected.

But the solution is not for content owners to wake up and do the obvious. The era of internet-illiterate companies has passed; these days they are very well aware what the technical possibilities are and how they could profit from them. If they don't give us what they want, it is now either because they don't want to give up control, or because they can't because of tangled third-part obligations.

Remember how NVidia was always unable to open-source their graphics drivers, because there was code in them from multiple non-cooperative third parties? The media situation is like that, only much, much worse. Many companies would love to harvest these additional Dollars you and I would be willing to pay, but to do that would require extra negotiations with a near-infinite list of suppliers, who are quite content with the existing, old-fashioned, area-based license agreements. It will take another generation of technical sophistication in all parts of the supply chain to change that. And until that changes, Netflix or ABC will not sell to me and you because it wouldn't generate enough revenue to pay for the nightmare of renegotiation required.

In short, the situation is much worse than many think. Ignorance we can deal with; education does work eventually. Conflicting vested interests, not so much. We can live in hope - after all, eventually someone figured out that people would love a music player with an interface that didn't suck - but don't hold your breath.

Comment Re:Where's the benefit? (Score 1) 482

Why would a man join this site compared with dating sites that let him see photos and don't make him jump through silly hoops?

Because the better user experience for women will attract more and more desirable ones than elsewhere? As everything in life, it's a trade-off. If a site deters a lot of the obnoxious guys that plague the internet, thus bringing the F-to-M ratio up to a sane value, a lot of the non-obnoxious ones might consider it worth to expend more effort to participate there.

Comment Re:Devs don't want to maintain old versions (Score 1) 199

Developers don't like having a lot of different versions of their software out in the world because it means they have to maintain those versions. Adding some sort of default rollback ability implies that devs will have to continue to support those old versions. That's not going to be very popular.

I don't want them to maintain the old version, I just want to get it back! The very reason I want this is that I know the developers are not reponsive. If the developers were responsive, they'd fix the defects, and I would at least be able to work with the next version. But in real life, developers don't care about the problems of one obscure user. That's why I want to go back: the old version worked for me, and the new one doesn't. The developers don't have to do anything further for me, I just want them to not take my working version from me.

Comment Re:I think I speak for us all... (Score 3, Interesting) 335

Seems to me there was something else I heard about that was anonymous, and can be traded for all kinds of illegal things. Oh, yeah. I remember now: cash.

Which is why cash is being so aggressively deprecated in all of its roles (anti-laundering laws, bonuses for loyalty cards, new methods of mobile payment every week...). It's always about control, and politicians love control.

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