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Comment Ps your sig is intriguing (Score 1) 421

Ps, I noticed your sig. For ten years or so I was planning to be an attorney and I studied law, especially Constitutional law. Then I fell into a career programming and doing network security for 20 years. I bet we could have some interesting discussions. Right now I'm looking at where I want my career to be in ten years. It would be cool if I could somehow indulge my interest in law while taking advantage of my 20 years of programming and information security experience.

Comment 100 years of coerced fingerprints (Score 1) 421

> the question of whether a password or fingerprint is "testimonial" and therefore cannot be coerced

In this case it's a fingerprint, not a password, so:

> the question of whether fingerprint is "testimonial" and therefore cannot be coerced

100 years of fingerprints being taken routinely has established some precendent.

Comment Rs could have run Mufasa against these guys (Score 2) 31

The Republicans could have run Mufasa and beat these Democrats who have been running things the last 8 years, despite the fact that Mufasa is a cartoon character. They did nominate a cartoon character, but somehow they ended up choosing the one who polls worse than Hillary.

Comment Re:What are we forgetting... (Score 1) 201

Big asteroids are a valid concern, and very long-term I do believe humans should work at establishing a human presence on other worlds (starting with the Moon), however asteroid bombardment should *not* be a factor in driving humans to inhabit other worlds.

It would be far, far easier for us to improve our capabilities for detecting large asteroids, and then deflecting them, than to figure out how to live on Mars. Dealing with asteroids is not that hard: first we have to actually invest some resources into looking for the damn things. We do a little of that right now, but not nearly enough, as the strike in Russia a couple years ago proved. This isn't hard; we just need more probes in orbit, or perhaps in Solar orbit closer to the Sun (to spot ones that we can't see from here because the Sun's light drowns them out). Second, we need to develop the capability of deflecting them. With good enough detection, this isn't hard: you just send a big craft up there with some engines (probably ion engines) and a lot of fuel and run them for a long time to push it into a slightly different and safer orbit. If you have enough forewarning, it's not that hard, because a little movement will make a big change in trajectory over a long time. The key here is having enough forewarning; if your detection efforts are so lame that you have very little warning, then you're not going to be able to avert disaster.

Simply put, it'd be a lot easier and cheaper for us to invest in some space-based telescopes optimized for detecting Earth-crossing asteroids than to develop all the technology and infrastructure needed for establishing a colony on Mars. And the end result is better too: instead of some small colony on Mars surviving while the bulk of humanity perishes, along with the most livable planet for humans, we can keep our planet and the entire human race intact.

But if we're too stupid and short-sighted to invest in some telescopes, then maybe we deserve to be wiped out like the dinosaurs.

Comment Re:People ARE what we are sending (Score 1) 201

Not really.

Hawaii is a really nice place for humans to live: the weather is perfect, it's lush and beautiful, there's all kinds of fun things to do like swimming, surfing, scuba diving, exploring rain forests, etc.

If you found yourself magically transported to Hawaii in prehistoric times, perhaps with a small group of intelligent people, you could pretty easily survive there by living off the land. There's wood for making huts and burning, there's extremely fertile land for farming, there's vegetation that can be eaten, there's fish in the ocean nearby that you can fish, you don't have to worry about freezing to death, the air is clean, etc. Or, in modern times, if you can afford it, it's a great place to live too, especially if you can afford a nice house on the beach.

Mars isn't like that at all. You can't go outside, you can't breathe the thin atmosphere, you'll get radiation sickness, you can't easily grow food, there's no liquid water (humans tend to like bodies of water), etc. Maybe if you really like living underground in an artificial habitat, it'll be a nice place for you to live, but if you like being outside, it'll really suck. I suppose if you could make the underground habitats big enough and Earthlike enough (with giant artificial forests and lakes), it wouldn't be so bad, but that'd be quite a project. It'd be a lot easier to just stop messing up this planet so much.

Comment Re:Plant plants (Score 1) 201

Actually, no, it's "boarders" now. The English language is defined by popular usage, and roughly half the American population believes that "boarder" means "a dividing line" (what you think of as "border"). This is seen in every online message board where the topics of "enforcing the boarder", illegal immigration, etc. comes up. When a large enough fraction of the population makes the same mistake, it become the correct usage.

Maybe if we had some decent public education in this country, this wouldn't have happened.

Comment Re:Plant plants (Score 1) 201

That's not that much lower. Here on Earth we have things called "clouds" that reduce our usable sunlight; Mars doesn't have those, nor much of an atmosphere to speak of. We also grow food just fine in cooler months (when there's less sunlight per day), especially when we use greenhouses. This isn't like trying to grow food on Pluto.

At the worst, we could build big greenhouses which have sunlight concentrators on the roof, like giant Fresnel lenses. They wouldn't need to concentrate the light that much, since there's only 50% less sunlight than on Earth, so the area of the roof would only need to be 25-50% larger than the area of the farmland (due to the mitigating factors I mentioned above: no clouds, less atmospheric attenuation, selection of grops that need less sunlight, etc.).

Comment Good point, bad math (Score 1) 350

Okay, you make a fair point in the first half of your post. It had been a long time since I read exactly what he said. I'm assuming that your is accurate.

Quoting you, quoting him:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him

Then you say:

> He says 48-49% of American voters are going to vote for Barrack Obama, no matter what Romney does.

Well no, according to you, he said TWICE 47%. Assuming your numbers for undecided, 5%-6%, that would mean they were neck-and-neck.

Comment Re:Can't outsource or robotize human bodies. (Score 1) 455

You can't outsource or replace with robots services catering to humans and their bodies.

Give it time.

Nor can you outsource or robotize salesmanship, leadership and all the other -ships.

Salesmanship? Amazon made that moot already. Leadership? Only matters if there are still workers left to lead.

And there will probably always be legal reasons why legal services and public administration can't be out given out to foreign employees or machines.

I stand corrected. There's a third category: Government jobs, where you're required to act like a robot.

Comment Re:People ARE what we are sending (Score 2) 201

NASA pays SpaceX primarily to put NASA satellites into orbit, or to send NASA cargo to NASA astronauts on a space station partially built by NASA. They provided some funding to help SpaceX develop that capability. They are continuing to fund SpaceX's development of Dragon v2 (because NASA also wants the ability to send NASA astronauts to the space station) and Falcon 9 Heavy (because NASA wants to improve what NASA satellites SpaceX can put into orbit). NASA is *not* directly funding BFR/BFS development, because they don't want that (the current BFR development was funded with the *profits* from the Falcon 9 flights, just as Falcon 9 reuse was). Note that NASA also pays United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK, and Roscosmos for launch services, and has been funding development in Boeing, ULA, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origin, all of whom are building things NASA wants to be able to buy one day.

The US Air Force and the NRO also pay SpaceX to put their satellites into orbit, and the USAF was among the early funders in SpaceX because they like having redundant means of orbiting satellites. I believe they are funding development of Falcon 9 Heavy in order to have a redundant means of orbiting heavy satellites. They are not funding BFR/BFS development because their job has nothing to do with Mars, unless the Russians start putting guns and soldiers there.

Comment Re:IT and CS need to be split up (Score 1) 455

Really, IMO, there are three separate divisions that are fairly distinct:

  • Theoretical CS: Reducing one NP-Complete problem to another
  • Practical CS: Software architecture and software engineering methodologies
  • IT: Network engineering and server administration

Everyone in each of those tracks needs to know a little bit about the other tracks, but not a lot.

  • Theoretical CS people need to know what's happening in practical CS and IT so that they can come up with interesting new problems to reduce to other problems, and thus benefit the world rather than being in a bubble. However, they don't need to know how to set up a network or write significant amounts of code.
  • Practical CS folks need to know enough about computational complexity to avoid writing O(n^3) algorithms as much as possible. They need to know enough about networks to understand why doing certain things can be slow, and why certain other things can bring the network to its knees. They might toss together their own servers for testing purposes, but if they're deploying something, they'll bring in IT people.
  • IT people need to know a bit about theoretical CS so that they can recognize that loops in network topology are bad. They need to know a bit about practical CS to understand what's going to be done on their servers and how their network will be used, because that enables them to plan better and design setups that will meet their users' needs. However, they aren't likely to do a lot of programming beyond the most basic scripting, or else they'll hire a programmer.

My guess is that each of these sub-fields has a very different makeup in terms of gender diversity, because they're very different fields. One is almost pure math, one mostly involves setting up computer systems, and one mostly involves writing software. Each caters to an entirely different type of personality. This is not to say that folks in one field can't do stuff in the other field, but rather that folks in one field aren't necessarily going to be interested in doing so.

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