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Comments

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400 Million Chinese Cannot Speak Mandarin

Alan R Light Re:Make it easier (562 comments)

From what I've heard the Chinese have been using Roman letters to help their students learn their own language for years now, and especially use roman letters to make it easier to enter Chinese text into a computer.

But there are still good reasons to use their traditional characters - including the fact that although China has many spoken languages, the use of characters allows most of them to share a single written form.

about a year ago
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Gut Bacteria In Slim People Extract More Nutrients

Alan R Light What other factors ... (212 comments)

Curious but not entirely unexpected. We are only beginning to understand the microbiome, but clearly it is important.

I wonder if cold weather might affect our gut bacteria too. I have unintentionally lost a good deal of weight in a short time in a cold, dry environment (at least 30 pounds in three months), but regained it when returning to a hot, humid climate. Of course, the cold weather also burned more calories - but I also ate a good deal more than usual. More notably, I note that people living in hot, humid environments often tend to put on weight more than those in colder climates - but there are likely many other factors.

about a year ago
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To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Alan R Light Re:But that's not the real problem. (1651 comments)

"I cruise upright at ~12mi(~20km) per hour instead of ~18(30) in an aerodynamic hunch-over"

Nothing against mountain bikes, but a recumbent can be an excellent choice too, especially if you don't have many hills. (It would be great in Denver, which is surprisingly flat, and not so good in Seattle, which is surprisingly hilly.)

about 2 years ago
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To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Alan R Light Re:But that's not the real problem. (1651 comments)

Makes me wonder ... will we someday discover that the automobile industry lobbied for these laws?

about 2 years ago
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To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Alan R Light Re:But that's not the real problem. (1651 comments)

"Of course, in those days when you wanted to ride your bike, you just jumped on it and off you went. If we'd had to dress up like quarterbacks every time we wanted to run to the store or a friend's house, we probably would have lost our taste for bicycling, too."

Yes. We all rode bikes everywhere when I was a kid, but I seldom see kids on bikes now. Bicycles weren't just for fun - they were our transportation to friends' houses, or really any location within a mile or two from home.

However, I don't think it is just the helmets (though that plays a part). It is the general trend of children seldom going outdoors, driven largely by helicopter parenting.

More generally - I approve of helmets for highway use, but think we would be better off without helmets for casual cycling on city streets with low speeds. For one thing, most people don't want to carry a bicycle helmet with them everywhere they go, and helmets mess up your hair too - which might seem silly but do you really expect office workers to put up with bad hair every day when they could just drive instead?

about 2 years ago
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Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?

Alan R Light Re:Yes, but when does it do so efficiently? (1010 comments)

On the other hand, some of us just can't do algebra. I've taken plenty of classes, had tutors, understood every step of the problems ... but when I put those steps together, they never come out right. Never.

On the other hand, I frequently astonish people by doing simple math in my head, and by figuring out the math I need from scratch when I need it. When I took geometry, I didn't have to memorize the axioms because they were second nature to me.

I know I would have been a good engineer for almost every purpose, but I never got to the practical stuff because I did so poorly at algebra.

So - is it really helpful to demand that every student know every branch of every field well? Or would we be better served to allow students more latitude to develop their strengths without regard to their weaknesses, and to use their time wisely by learning what they are capable of learning rather than what someone else with different strengths thinks is appropriate for them?

more than 2 years ago
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Did Neandertals Paint Early Cave Art?

Alan R Light Re:Probably not (126 comments)

Um, it looks like they may have started making cave paintings about 5000 years before modern humans moved into the area.

I know that at a distance 5000 years may not seem like much, but in fact a lot can happen in 5000 years.

more than 2 years ago
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Icons That Don't Make Sense Anymore

Alan R Light Re:Technology (713 comments)

We didn't need a remote. There was only the one channel.

more than 2 years ago
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How Would Driver-less Cars Change Motoring?

Alan R Light Re:Sounds great (648 comments)

Here's a thought: combine driverless cars and driverless buses for a commute. One of the chief problems with buses is the sometimes long waits when one needs to change buses, but if a company could assure that one never needed to wait more than two minutes to change from car to bus or bus to car, the advantages in reducing traffic might be well worth it.

Consider, a small queue of buses waits at an interstate entrance ramp - only two or three buses, not enough to waste much time but enough to be sure no one will need to wait long for a delayed replacement vehicle - and most of the cars that would have gone onto the interstate stop and their passengers get onto the bus. At two minute intervals, the bus hits the road - taking probably 30 and perhaps (if a double-decker) over a hundred cars off the road. If this is happening at rush hour and at every major intersection on main routes going into a center city, ten thousand cars could be replaced on the roads by one or two hundred buses. Aside from reduced parking, consider the reduction in traffic in city centers. Add in traffic lights (or other controls) coordinated on the fly with buses, and riders could be assured of a smooth commute into town almost every time.

Of course, not everyone would be going to exactly the same place, but walking two or three blocks is healthy anyway, and not much further from a destination than most parking lots - or for more spread out city centers, more cars could be waiting at the exit ramp - with less than 30 seconds to transfer. With reduced traffic and higher safe speeds, commute times could actually be reduced, and of course commuters could spend their time more productively than driving. Driverless services could include options for breakfast or a snack on the buses, or even bunks to take a nap on long commutes - and of course wi-fi and the like.

more than 2 years ago
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How Would Driver-less Cars Change Motoring?

Alan R Light Re:Driver-less cars would eliminate car ownership (648 comments)

True. I think many families will continue to own cars, because on long drives it's nice to have a comfortable space that is one's own. Also, I keep certain things in my car so I'll have them when I need them - a few basic tools, a flashlight, an extra coat - things like that - and I think that is common. Still, many families that now have two or three cars may discover that they need only one - and even that would free up an awful lot of space and reduce costs considerably.

more than 2 years ago
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How Would Driver-less Cars Change Motoring?

Alan R Light Re:There won't be an end to insurance (648 comments)

True - self-driving cars will make car ownership unnecessary for most people and could reshape cities - a point that Brad Templeton made a long time ago.

http://ideas.4brad.com/robocars-are-future

more than 2 years ago
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How Would Driver-less Cars Change Motoring?

Alan R Light Re:There won't be an end to insurance (648 comments)

Presumably all these driverless cars will have cameras and could report reckless driving - with video footage - to the police in real time.

I imagine that might put an end to such abuses pretty quickly.

more than 2 years ago
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DVDs, Blu-Rays To Show 20-Second Unskippable Govt. Warnings

Alan R Light Re:Educate the public? (587 comments)

Yes. I hate that damned unskippable content so much, maybe I'll finally have to stop getting the authorized releases.

more than 2 years ago
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Researchers Conquer "LED Droop"

Alan R Light Re:Dumb question (113 comments)

The fluorescent fixtures frequently used in offices are already made to replace one or two ceiling tiles. Not only could a new LED fixture do the same, but there are already LED replacement lamps that may increasingly replace the lamps in existing fluorescent fixtures. They're expensive right now, but expect prices to drop.

more than 2 years ago
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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat

Alan R Light Re:I fail to see the point (332 comments)

One of the founders is a specialist in international law.

more than 2 years ago
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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat

Alan R Light Re:I fail to see the point (332 comments)

This isn't about cheap workers. Housing alone will run about $1600 per worker per month (at the low end). This about having the right workers in the right place at the right time.

more than 2 years ago
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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat

Alan R Light Re:I fail to see the point (332 comments)

The exclusive economic zone is 200 miles, but International Waters is only 12 miles out.

The residents can get a business visa to come onshore for business meetings, they just can't perform any actual work in the United States.

It's true that the residents must abide by the whims of the owners, but the owners in this case are businessmen who want to create a good space for business in order to stay in business. That's a lot different from relying on the goodwill of a single eccentric individual.

more than 2 years ago
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What Various Studies Really Reveal About File-Sharing

Alan R Light Re:Facts. (285 comments)

"A fact lots of well educated people don't seem to understand regardless of the number of studies showing this effect."

Obviously this fact conflicts with their world view. I have observed this effect in action, however, on multiple occasions, sometimes to comical effect - such as people believing I said the direct opposite of what I actually just said.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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No early evac for South Pole stroke victim

Alan R Light Alan R Light writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Alan R Light (1277886) writes "South Pole winter site manager Renée-Nicole Douceur has had a stroke. The doctor on site says she needs to be evacuated to get better medical attention as soon as possible. NSF says "Meh."

It is difficult to fly in to Pole before late October, but not impossible to fly in two or three weeks earlier than scheduled, depending on weather. This is Douceur's second winter in Antarctica. In 2009 she was the facilities engineer at McMurdo Station. Even a couple weeks could be critical."

Link to Original Source

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