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Comment Re:Oh boy (Score 1) 377

Really? In light of the server scandal, paid internet trolls, DNC emails showing the placement of various disinformation, and "it depends on what the meaning of is, is", reasoned and intelligent are not the first descriptives that come to my mind concerning the DNC at large.

Above written by someone who has just demonstrated that he is capable of absorbing and truthifying all the reporting that Fox News delivers.


Without Ailes, what is going to happen to all the people for whom Trump is their voice? Will they wither away? Will they be consigned to the state of permanent, terminal confusion?

Comment Re:String theory is just that: a theory (Score 0) 149

I do not disagree with your general argument, but you are taking it too far.

DATA does not "say" dark matter exists. The indirect data we have suggests that as one possible explanation (and so far the only one that has survived critical analysis of numerous experiments).

But please look up the history of the theory of phlogiston. Data from numerous experiments and observations at the time suggested that it existed and went a long way toward describing its characteristics. But later experiments showed that there was no such fluid and that heat was an inherent characteristic of the atoms and molecules that were already somewhat understood.

The phenomena that led us to the ideas of dark matter and dark energy can also arise from a not-as-yet discovered self-organizing characteristic of the matter and energy we do know. While that would have a profound effect on our understanding of thermodynamics --reducing entropy to the same fictional status as centrifugal force-- it would also provide a far better basis for developing theories on how life and consciousness have evolved.

Comment Re:Great news everyone (Score 0) 149

A far simpler explanation is that the universe looks the way it does because we are in the light-distorting turbulent wake of somebody's FTL drive. So far as I know, no one has given much thought as to how to prove or disprove that. Perhaps we are too parochial in our thinking that there really could not be any other species so far advanced that our science might be affected by their unintended artifacts; that our science might be a cargo cult.

On the face of it, that approach seems as reasonable as positing dark matter and dark energy. And possibly it would be easier to frame falsifiable hypotheses with it.

Comment Re:Oh boy (Score 1) 377

I think parent post is correct in saying that about half the Democrats are conservatives. However this statement is wrong:

The democrats run a much more deceptive game than the republicans do because they have to.

Change "deceptive" to "reasoned" or "intelligent" and I would agree with the statement. Most Democrats are more aware of the complexity of the issues than is true of the GOP base, which tends to vote by litmus tests.

I also disagree with the following:

And now it takes a man like Trump to push votes their way, because they put forth such weak, even false "opposition".

While Trump and the sixteen other GOP wannabees were in that dog fight with each other, the Democrats did the smart thing by letting them alone. It was not the case that the Dems "put forth such a weak opposition"; it was instead that the Dems held themselves back while the GOP tore itself to pieces.

The USA functions at its best when there are two healthy political parties. Unfortunately there has only been one healthy party for the last ten years or so. The GOP has been in failing health for longer than Obama has been in office, and the events of the last couple of years suggest that it is on its deathbed.

Comment Xtra code when there is no cost (Score 3, Insightful) 234

Caveat: I am retired. Programming was a major part of my career between 1995 and 2005 but I mostly do HTML/CSS these days, with only enough PHP to glue others' existing scripts together.

What I determined back in the day is that efficient coding is unnecessary for performance when the wetware BKAC would always be the primary limiter on speed. Since virtually all of my work was repurposing documents from old versions of Word, Excel, WordPerfect, Lotus1-2-3, and other outdated apps to newer standards (mostly early HTML), I did not have to worry about shaving off microseconds. The typing speed of the person selecting the raw data had more impact on performance than the programming. So I was much more concerned with whether I would be able to rewrite a handler for a Windows3.11 app to work on a Windows98 version, if that need arose.

So I worked mostly in Perl using the Tk graphic interface and Javascript front ends, which made rapid development and easy revisions to meet new criteria possible. I used explicit declarations, human-readable naming conventions, extra punctuation, and the long way around the barn whenever the shorter routes looked like they might cause head-scratching later on.

If I had been working in an environment where microseconds counted, I would have used a compiled language and a different approach.

My old-timer's advice to you young'uns: Look at the environment you are coding in and match your coding style to fit its shape. Eschew becoming the cleverest code monkey in the cube farm and focus instead on becoming wiser than all the others.

Comment Re:Arguing over the subjective (Score 1) 523

The *only* advantage to object oriented design is more intuitive code organization

And that is one f*ckin' HUGE advantage.

The biggest obstacle to writing good code efficiently is the coder's mind. The biggest costs associated with production and maintenance of software are wetware costs, not software, and not hardware. OOP makes more efficient use of our wetware than structured programming.

While it is true that OOP is only appropriate in a smallish subset of the programming universe, that smallish subset encompasses more than 95% all of the business and commercial applications that ever were, are now, and ever will be.

Comment Re: Arguing over the subjective (Score 2) 523

No, that's wrong.

Good comments say in natural language what the code is intended to do, and what non-obvious reasons make it the way it is. The code in the programming language should be as readable as possible, but that does not negate the value of the comment. Both are needed for efficient bug hunting and validation.

Comment Re:Arguing over the subjective (Score 1) 523

Parent post makes a couple of good points. One of those could use a little sharpening:

The critical difference is not between "programmer" and "software engineer". There are persons with good and bad practices in both camps.

The critical difference is between "code monkey" and "strategic developer". A lot of self-labeled "programmers" are code monkeys who may sometimes be quite clever, but have not acquired the wisdom to do the elegant thing. A lot of newly credentialed "software engineers" are also mere code monkeys. Code monkeys have their place, and they can be quite productive, especially when they are put into closely managed environments where strategic developers set strict rules about comments, naming conventions, and styles. (cue "What Would Linus Do?")

Strategic developers see beyond the limited vision of code monkeys. They are concerned with much more than developing a solution to the immediate coding problem; their vision and scope of action involves long term maintenance; ease of repurposing code to some other project; fitting the product into the target ecosystem of software, and so on. Software engineering curricula are intended to prepare students for this role, but of course they generally fail to do so: I doubt that there are any persons with brand new diplomas who can be entrusted with anything beyond a code monkey's role.

That said, the general purpose of any college course is not to teach particular skill sets (like proper use of regexes, bash scripts, etc) but to encourage students to learn how to learn these skills. The good student will teach himself the necessary skills when he needs them. Instructors do not have to know the specific skill sets to present environments that challenge the student to learn how to learn. The details of how POSIX and PCRE regexes differ are not an appropriate subject; the reasons why Perl has its distinctive shape and feel, and the reasons why POSIX was brought into being should be touched on.

It can be argued that persons with software engineering credentials are more likely to become good strategic developers. But that is not always the case, and it is also true that code monkeys with no formal training have often become good strategic developers.

Comment Re:I would daresay... (Score 1) 801

A significant part of his "billions" is apparently the marketing value he assigns to his own name. Market value is whatever you think you can get when you sell something. Book value is the value of your assets and inventory by their cost. If you are smart, you pay your taxes by book value, not by what you think you will be able to make from their sale.

Trump's tax returns would show his book value. Which could easily be one-tenth or less than what he estimates his market value to be.

Comment Re:I would daresay... (Score 1) 801

Trump is certainly more clever than Carter, but that is not intelligence. His cleverness lies in spotting and exploiting opportunities. To do that as well as he does requires such a large amount of self-interest that there is no brain left for an objective assessment of the current situation, whatever that happens to be.

Trump's cleverness is that even when he steps into a shithole, he will emerge smelling like a rose. He would bring that into the oval office, and if that occurs,,,, well, just sux to be USA. Especially when Trump climbs out of the hole by trampling on everyone he dragged in with him.

Comment Re:Yes, need! (Score 1) 298

losfromla, are you really suggesting that the USA is so close to having a wealthy society with a monthly universal base income that there will not be enough jobs for everyone who wants to work? My imagination does not stretch quite that far.

People who really, truly, want to work and have the capacity to do so have always been able to find jobs--- and no matter what happens that fact is not going to change. I am of course excluding those with mind or brain dysfunctions, including those who have destroyed their ability to learn new jobs and lifestyles through their own poor choices. Those need our pity, and our society has to provide for their basic needs for a number of reasons that span the gamut from noble and altruistic, to totally crass and self-serving.

But we were talking about airplanes, specifically cargo planes. Not about persons who get all huffy about having to move their lifestyle out of the way of the steamroller of improving technologies.

Comment Re:Yes, need! (Score 1) 298

Yes. FedEx is a better example.

But a system of pod-planes will eat the lunch of a fleet of 747s. Just in terms of the cost of turn-around time, the advantages of separating a cargo pod from the airframe, allowing the airframe to be serviced separately and put back into the air quickly, will undercut the 747 freight business.

There is the potential for numerous other cost-saving measures. Not to mention that an airframe designed specifically for hauling cargo pods is bound to be more efficient than an airframe that is designed to haul people (even if it is modified to haul cargo).

Comment Re: Yes, need! (Score 2) 298

There is a lot less infrastructure at an airport's freight terminals than there is at the passenger terminals. The changes needed to handle pod-planes would be the same as the changes needed to handle any new jet with a new configuration of cargo doors and new inspection protocols.

When you take passenger carrying out of the picture, everything becomes a lot simpler.

Comment Yes, need! (Score 2, Interesting) 298

The pod-plane makes a lot of sense for cargo. That should be looked at separately from the case for people transport.

The story underplays the importance of the standardized shipping container when it says it was the most important development in commerce in the last century. By many measures, it is the most important development in commerce, ever. But it is of little use in air freight. But aerodynamic shipping containers ---pods--- that could travel long distances at high speeds without repacking would not only compete successfully with containers for certain goods, but would open new, distant markets for a number of perishable goods. When the shipping distance between pod of large items sealed in Singapore and pod opened in New York City is reduced to overnight, then new things become possible and everyone comes out ahead.

Burt Rutan's WhiteKnight/SpaceShipOne demonstrates we already have the technology to do pod-planes (and much more!). FedEx already demonstrates one successful business model for overnight freight--- using a kind specialized pod.

I expect to see pod-planes for general cargo before 2025.

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