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Comment Don't just think "change"; think "rate of change". (Score 1) 128

I have known or at least met many environmental luminaries in the course of my career, and as one of them put it: I = P*S/T -- that is to say environmental impact is proportional to population and standard of living, but is inversely proportional to technology.

So the key to avoiding a dystopian future is to keep the rate of technological improvement greater than the rate of population growth. The way to do that is to invest in people. Societies who have lower infant mortality rates have lower birth rates; societies with better education are more innovative.

Will the future way we do things look radically different from today? Yes! Just as the way we do things today look radically different from the past. Change happens in both the environment and human society; it's inevitable. The question is whether it happens at a rate organisms and people can adapt to, and in particular whether we make a conscious decision to direct that change or have it forced upon us.

Comment What's the inbound provisioning? (Score 1) 109

With a combination of 1 Gig and 10 Gig customers, I have to wonder what the inbound provisioning is. For example, if everyone is downloading 1 Gig videos, when will it max out?

I also wonder if this bandwidth is symmetrical. Could he, for example, offer web hosting, for example (maybe paying a little more for a static IP)?

Comment Re:Positive development (Score 1) 165

The abundance of one species does not a healthy ecosystem make. I have a friend whose family owns a 1700 acre island off the coast of New England. It used to support an enormous white tail deer population -- and not coincidentally it had a plague of ticks, because everything in nature is food for something else. You would not have wanted to visit there back in the 1970s because the tick problem was insane. Everyone in his family has had Lyme disease, which also feasted on the swollen deer population.

Then in the 1980s the Western Coyote made it to New England, and a pack swam out to the island. In a single season they took down most of the deer herd, and now the island is a pleasant and sanitary place to live. And this is not some kind of odd aberration; this is how ecology works. If you disturb an ecosystem (say by killing off all the native timber wolves), weed species take over and they end up riddled with disease.

Weed species the ones who by sheer luck can live in conjunction with or off of large human populations. In a healthy ecosystem they may be cute, but an ecosystem dominated by weed animals can be nightmarish. I know lots of natural science geeks, and for the most part animals don't scare them. I once went for a walk with a girl who picked up a rotting coyote head and put it in her jacket pocket. She was TA'ing an anatomy course and wanted to show it to her students. But even she wouldn't go near a racoon, because unchecked by predation suburban raccoons are chock full of leptospirosis, salmonella and roundworm -- not to mention rabies. Those diseases can and do cripple, even kill people.

A world dominated by weed species would be quite horrible to live in.

Comment Re:Competition of chip vendors is getting thin (Score 1) 34

Sortof, but the Chinese generics are crushing most them in profits. The market forces that are driving the mergers are the same ones that are making things so much better for small and medium sized OEMs. Only the largest OEMs have anything to worry about. You could actually end up with a situation where the largest batch sizes actually more per unit than regular-large quantities! That could happen when there are only a couple mega-suppliers left that can even fill the big orders, but there are a zillion factories offering regular sized batches. You can only get quantity discounts up to the max output of a single supplier; then past that you're paying extra for somebody to scrape together the different batches. And if you need matched parts, then you're paying high prices.

Losing NXP will be a big hit for the small designer, because they sell lots of great chips with quality, easily accessible datasheets. Qualcomm sells expensive chips to exclusive buyers and they protect datasheets as if it is their private laundry. But the overall effects of the mergers might be good for the little guy, mostly because it is a battle that the medium-sized Chinese factories win in the end; and they sell to anybody. And they'll include the datasheet when they have it.

Comment Re:More condoms less climate change (Score 1) 165

People per se have almost no impact on climate. It's what people do and how much in aggregate they do it.

Environmentalists are often stereotyped as pessimists, but really most of the people I know who've dedicated their careers are optimistic that technology can address many environmental problems. Sure, they'd like to see the global population stabilized, or even somewhat reduced, because that makes the job of preserving the environment much easier. But they actually believe the sustainability problem can be licked, even without reducing the global population by much.

I'll give you one example of how an actual environmentalist thinks. I was at a meeting with the sustainability director of a major sportswear manufacturer, and he was describing the research they were doing into improving the recyclability of polyester fleece clothing. He made the point that scale is critical to assessing the environmental impact. For a small band of hunter-gatherers, wild animal pelts would be the source of clothing with the least impact; wool would have intermediate impact; a chemical plant that reprocesses coke bottles into polyester resins would have a ridiculously large impact. But if you are making hundreds of thousands of garments, the impacts are actually reversed: the chemical plant has the least environmental impact. Once you turn those bottles into fleece you can continually recycle those molecules into more fleece. He describes recycling as "living off your environmental income instead of your capital."

Environmentalists -- by which I mean the people who are actually working on solutions to environmental problems -- generally believe that even with a large population we can make use of the products of ecosystems without disturbing the equilibria that sustain those systems. As one civil engineering environmentalist I know put it: I = P*S/T ; impact is proportional to population and standard of living but inversely proportional to technology. You can reduce the environmental impact of home heating by reducing the number of people; or you could do it by people getting used to being colder. But you can get the same result by insulating your house and heating it with renewable energy.

It's actually the anti-environmentalists who are the pessimists; they don't believe in people's ability to adapt, and they anticipate nothing but suffering from trying to do anything about problems. Their version of "optimism" is to discount any evidence that problems exist, or to convincing themselves if we do nothing everything will work out for the best.

Comment Re:Good idea. Andriod should diversify too (Score 1) 34

That's derpy as hell, there is no connection at all between the things called "Android" and "Qualcomm."

If you're going to comment on that basis, you'd have to say words establishing a connection first.

The reason this is bad for android is actually that NXP makes a lot of ARM chips that are important to embedded devices, including ones that run... android! That's what makes your comment extra-derpy. Truly a sad day for android, but no, not because there is some "connection" between android and qualcomm but because qualcomm chips are not usable in this revolution of design accessibility.

Comment Re: Sociopaths gonna sociopath. What's new? (Score 4, Insightful) 235

Yep, GP loses at bad-research bingo. Also, he missed the actual problem with this research: the subjects are divided into classes by self-reporting. So the headline should read, "People who consider themselves above other people pay less attention to others." It's not an un-interesting result, but it is not quite as interesting when you put it that way.

I've worked with people of all classes, and anecdotally at least I've found that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right: the rich aren't like you and me; they have more money. Old money at least lives a little bit like the people you read about in Jane Austen books; a lot of their energy goes into socializing with others of their class. So it would be interesting to look at old money/new money this way. Another interesting confounding factor is urban/rural. Rural people tend to be poorer. Urban people actually get more human interaction per time while participating in less per person encountered.

In most interesting social science research it's not the first and obvious way of dividing up people that draws your attention (e.g. rich/poor, young/old, male/female); it's the second cut. That's because most of our pop-psych deals in the first cuts (men are from Mars, women from Venus); the second cut tells us the ways our intuitions are limited.

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