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Comments

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School Shooting Prompts Legislation To Study Violent Video Games

Artifice_Eternity Classic literature and Saturday morning cartoons (1168 comments)

"They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons."

Classic literature and Saturday morning cartoons are, in many cases, bloody as hell. And people have gotten plenty hysterical about them in the past.

about a year and a half ago
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Tesla Motors Getting $10 Million From California For Model X Production

Artifice_Eternity Re:Cool. (191 comments)

Thank you.

I was making the case for prudent use of debt, not total reliance on debt. And I was explaining why our situation is not nearly as bad as the deficit doomsayers claim.

about 2 years ago
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Tesla Motors Getting $10 Million From California For Model X Production

Artifice_Eternity Re:Cool. (191 comments)

Constantly analogizing the financial position of a government to that of an individual or a household is of limited value. Macroeconomics is not like household economics. On the personal scale, reaching zero debt is a nice goal. For a government, which is immortal, achieving zero debt is unnecessary and actually unwise. Yes, it's best to keep debt down to a low percentage of GDP, but the reality of economic cycles is such that in a down economy, debt will -- and should -- go up, in order to ensure economic continuity, protect society, and lay the foundation for future growth.

That doesn't mean that all debt is good, but in an extraordinary crisis like the one we've just been thru -- the kind of thing that happens maybe twice in a century -- a lot of deficit spending by government will be needed. Sometimes previous administrations have foolishly run up unnecessary debts even before the crisis hits. That still doesn't mean that government austerity is the right answer.

The real question is: How will a high level of deficit spending right now affect you, positively and negatively? The doomsayers have trouble explaining what the precise problem is. They yell "Greece!" But we are not even remotely close to being in the kind of trouble that Greece is in. High debt is bothersome and can be a drag on GDP. But we are not going to get into a Greece-like situation as long as we control our own currency. And we are not going to default, as long as stupid politicians do not intentionally choose to do so.

Another thing: Contrary to the way it's often described, no one is going to present your child or grandchild with a personal bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal debts to be repaid. Our debt is rolling; people are constantly buying newly issued Treasury bills, and the government is continually paying old ones off as they come due. Yet another thing: contra Mitt Romney, most of it is NOT "borrowed from China". Only about 8% of federal debt is held by China. Most of it is held by -- guess who? -- Americans. Yes, mostly the federal debt is money we owe to ourselves.

And right now, Treasury bills are considered by the market to be one of the safest and most favored investment vehicles on the planet. Even with incredibly low rates of return, people are pouring money into US debt. Given inflation, long-term US bonds right now are actually a money-losing proposition -- and yet they are still a wildly popular investment. People are literally paying us for the privilege of buying our debt.

So relax... the sky is not falling. The mistake would be to choke off credit and plunge ourselves into self-inflicted austerity. That's the true danger, and it's playing out right now in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.

about 2 years ago
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End Bonuses For Bankers

Artifice_Eternity We need more inflation (548 comments)

I don't have time to watch a 53-minute YouTube video, but in case you haven't been paying attention, inflation is not a problem in this country right now. Interest rates are at record lows. In fact, rates on some T-bills are negative. This means that people are paying the federal government for the privilege of lending it money.

We could do with a lot more inflation in the near term. It would accelerate economic growth, and it would cause the debt held by many middle-class people to shrink in real terms. This would be good for people with underwater mortgages, massive student loans, or big credit card or medical bills.

Strict anti-inflationism (and the idea that the system is secretly rigged to create inflation) is a viewpoint that tends to be held by gold bugs and other "hard money" obsessives. But inflation is mostly something that hurts people with lots of money. It doesn't hurt ordinary people as much, as long as their incomes keep pace with inflation in the cost of living, and as long as we don't have hyperinflation. And again, inflation actually helps people with debts.

From a macroeconomic perspective, the best thing that both the Fed and the European Central Bank could do right now to jump-start the American and European economies would be to significantly increase inflation.

more than 2 years ago
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Solar Energy Is the Fastest Growing Industry In the US

Artifice_Eternity Re:J/MW? (410 comments)

'Last year, the industry set the ambitious yet achievable goal of installing 10 gigawatts annually by 2015 (PDF) – enough to power 2 million more homes each and every year.'"

10 gigawatts = 8.264463 DeLoreans.

about 3 years ago
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Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

Artifice_Eternity Re:Not the end of HUMAN spaceflight...just AMERICA (365 comments)

SpaceX has already sent an unmanned Dragon capsule into orbit around the Earth. They have a contract with NASA for cargo flights to the ISS, and are developing the manned version of the Dragon with an integrated abort system (see this video for a demonstration).

American spaceflight is NOT coming to an end. It's just not going to be a NASA monopoly any more.

more than 3 years ago
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Can the US Still Lead In Space Despite Shuttle's End?

Artifice_Eternity Re:One Era Ends To Make Way For Another (365 comments)

Yep. SpaceX and Dragon are clearly the emerging future of American human spaceflight. This video is a pretty cool demonstration of how the system is evolving.

Armstrong, Lovell, and Cernan are -- knowingly or unknowingly -- lobbying for an old, failed model of government contracting, not for the continuation of the American space program.

The program continues -- it's just being done in a different (and from everything I can see, better) way.

more than 3 years ago
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Evolution Machine Accelerates Genetic Engineering

Artifice_Eternity Paging Davros! (161 comments)

Mr. Davros to the white courtesy telephone, please:

Davros realizes that contamination from the nuclear and biological weapons used in the war is mutating the Kaled race, and artificially accelerates the process to examine the ultimate evolutionary end product. The mutations are weak and crippled: no more than one-eyed brains with tentacular appendages and with no hope of survival on their own. His solution is to remove all emotions pertaining to weakness, a category in which he groups such emotions as compassion, mercy and kindness, and place the mutants in tank-like "Mark III travel machines" partly based on the design of his wheelchair. He later names these creatures Daleks, an anagram of Kaleds.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Final Cut Pro X Apple's Biggest Mistake In Years?

Artifice_Eternity When Apple screws you, it's always your fault (443 comments)

I love how Apple cultists ritually denounce anyone who dares to want to do something that Apple doesn't allow them to do.

When I bought my MacBook Pro a couple years ago, only a few weeks after Apple stopped shipping them with S-video ports, I was surprised, to say the least. The new video-out port was something I'd never heard of (MiniDisplayPort), that only Apple was using. I bought a $30 MiniDisplayPort-to-VGA adapter (from Apple, of course)... but it turned out that this wouldn't work with most VGA devices, because it wasn't actually converting the digital signal to analog. So I had to buy an actual powered converter box to get my video output into a format I could use with any monitor, TV, or projector that I had access to.

The attitude of the "Geniuses" at the Apple Store was completely arrogant. "No one uses S-video any more -- it's out of date. Why would you want to use an obsolete standard?" It wasn't obsolete a few weeks earlier, apparently -- but when Apple declares it so, it instantly becomes so.

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon Tests a Home-Delivery Service For Groceries

Artifice_Eternity Re:Bwuh? Old news? (176 comments)

You'd get a lot of duplicate orders. Then again, you might get double-billed a lot too.

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon Tests a Home-Delivery Service For Groceries

Artifice_Eternity Cycling in NYC (176 comments)

> I'm curious to see walking, transit and cab use mentioned but cycling left out; is utility cycling uncommon in New York? If so, could you speculate as to why?

A few people do it, but it's not all that common. For one thing, as another commenter said, full-size supermarkets are fairly rare; we mostly have corner groceries, and some undersized supermarkets. Upscale chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joes are starting to penetrate the city, but they still serve relatively few people, mostly in certain Manhattan neighborhoods.

About bikes specifically: NYC has not traditionally been super-friendly to bicyclists. I give Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner credit for massively expanding the bike lane system over the last decade... but they've now encountered so much pushback (mostly from car owners and NIMBYs who just don't want anything changed) that the expansion has slowed to a crawl.

The NYPD is now doing a lot more ticketing of cyclists. Frankly, a lot of this is deserved. I support cycling, and the expansion of bike infrastructure, but I constantly see NYC cyclists flagrantly violating traffic laws and endangering both motorists and pedestrians. Some cyclists here seem to think they have a special status than enables them to glide past everything and everyone else -- including red lights and stop signs -- and to charge thru traffic with impunity.

Basically, the city and the local cyclist community both have some distance yet to go before we have a mature, well-integrated bicycle culture here.

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon Tests a Home-Delivery Service For Groceries

Artifice_Eternity Re:It can succeed -- but it's a local business (176 comments)

P.S. FreshDirect probably benefits from certain unique features of the New York City metro area -- not only the incredible density of the population, but the relatively low percentage of car ownership.

If my wife and I owned a car, we might go to the supermarket ourselves more regularly. As it is, we shop at various local mom-and-pop groceries ("bodegas" in NYC parlance) and a CVS drugstore that we can walk to in our Brooklyn neighborhood, and supplement that with FreshDirect orders every 2-3 weeks.

We have a couple of supermarkets within a 15-minute walk, but it's much easier to order the supermarket-type stuff for delivery.

There are very few places in the US with comparably low rates of car ownership. Even in other dense cities, it's much more common for people to own at least 1 car. Most of our friends in NYC (well-educated professional and creative types) are carless. Walking, public transit, and occasional cab use are more than adequate, and IMO, much preferable.

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon Tests a Home-Delivery Service For Groceries

Artifice_Eternity It can succeed -- but it's a local business (176 comments)

Some packaged grocery items can benefit from national distribution and shipping, but lots of stuff -- produce, meats, cheeses, prepared foods, etc. -- need to be staged (and in some cases, sourced and/or prepared) locally, in a refrigerated facility, then delivered in refrigerated trucks. That means this kind of service will only be available in places where Amazon invests in infrastructure to support it. And that probably means denser metropolitan regions, where there's enough of a customer base in a small area to make the investment cost-effective.

There's a grocery delivery company called FreshDirect that services the NYC area; I've had good experiences with them. But they've been refining and building their business for years. Originally they only served certain neighborhood in Manhattan (their main warehouse is in Queens, just over the 59th St. bridge from midtown Manhattan). Now, years later, they have expanded to serve all 5 boroughs, and some areas outside the city. But this expansion was very slow and deliberate, as they built up their capacity, trained their workforce, etc.

more than 3 years ago
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The Hobbit Filming at 48fps

Artifice_Eternity Re:Videophile. . . (423 comments)

There are various post-production "film look" treatments that can be added to HD video, including a reduction to 24fps or 25fps (the European film speed), higher contrast, added "grain", etc.

If 60fps HD video is treated with all of these, except for the frame rate reduction, it will look a lot more film-like to viewers.

more than 3 years ago
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The Hobbit Filming at 48fps

Artifice_Eternity Re:Videophile. . . (423 comments)

If you're a true videophile, you really have to watch all video on a CRT. The tube adds that analog warmth to the image. A cold, lifeless, digitally perfect LCD screen just can't match it.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"?

Artifice_Eternity Re:monopolies (722 comments)

If you can't recognize the design and functionality of Apple products and services, I guess you have to fall back on the "marketing" theory, i.e., "People who buy Apple are stupid rubes that have been hypnotized."

As I just got done explaining here, I've found my MacBook and iPhone to be superior-quality products.

They're not "magical", as Steve Jobs likes to say. And they're not without limitations (many maddeningly imposed by Apple). But they're still very well-designed and useful.

I am fully capable of separating hype from reality. Apple's DRM policies mean that I won't buy iTunes music and I won't buy an iPad. But there's still a lot more to Apple than marketing.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Apple Turning Into the Next "Evil Empire"?

Artifice_Eternity It's about design, in every sense of the word. (722 comments)

I own an iPhone and a MacBook. My primary home computer is a Windows PC, as is my work computer; I'm no Apple fanboy, and find myself cursing iTunes about 1x/month. I never buy iTunes music because I despise DRM.

But the success of Apple products is not just about "physical attractiveness". My aluminum MacBook is the best-constructed, most durable laptop I have ever owned, used, or even handled. My iPhone (1st gen) is also extremely well put together, and iOS is very well thought out from a functional perspective. The hardware/software integration is world-class. Add to that the "ecosystems" that Apple creates for its products (iTunes Music Store, iPhone/iPad App Store), and you have a whole line of products and services created with a unified vision and crafted according to high standards.

They don't all work flawlessly all the time, and there are many restrictions imposed by Apple that I find maddening. But there is simply no other company that has envisioned and executed such a level of integration and design quality (and by design I'm including all of the stuff referenced above, not just the physical appearance of products).

more than 3 years ago
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NASA's Ares 1 To Be Reborn As the Liberty Commercial Launcher

Artifice_Eternity Re:if we end up renting flight time on these rocke (143 comments)

So what you're saying is:

1) If NASA builds something, they'll waste money.

2) If the private sector does it, they'll overcharge.

3) If they're not overcharging, they're probably cutting corners.

So... what's your solution?

more than 3 years ago
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World's Smallest Battery Created

Artifice_Eternity Re:Wire? (77 comments)

Seriously. That's a disc, not a wire.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Studies Find Harm From Cellular and Wi-fi Signals

Artifice_Eternity Artifice_Eternity writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Artifice_Eternity (306661) writes "I've always tended to dismiss claims of toxicity from cell phone and wi-fi signals as reflecting ignorance about microwave radiation. However, this GQ article cites American and European studies going back decades that have found some level of biological harm caused by these signals. Why haven't they gained more attention? From the article: "Industry-funded studies seem to reflect the result of corporate strong-arming. Lai reviewed 350 studies and found that about half showed bioeffects from EM radiation emitted by cell phones. But when he took into consideration the funding sources for those 350 studies, the results changed dramatically. Only 25 percent of the studies paid for by the industry showed effects, compared with 75 percent of those studies that were independently funded.""
Link to Original Source
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VistA: The VA's Open-Source Health Record Software

Artifice_Eternity Artifice_Eternity writes  |  about 5 years ago

Artifice_Eternity writes "VistA — the open-source electronic health records system developed by the U.S. Veterans Administration — is widely acknowledged as one of the best EHR platforms in the country. Washington Monthly's Philip Longman writes, "The VA's evolving code also has been adapted by providers in many other countries, including Germany, Finland, Malaysia, Brazil, India, and, most recently, Jordan. To date, more than eighty-five countries have sent delegations to study how the VA uses the program, with four to five more coming every week." WorldVistA.org is a hub for extending and improving the VistA system for use outside the VA. Meanwhile, proprietary private systems cost more, can't be improved by users, and are often clunkier and buggier. Longman argues that the $20 billion for EHR systems included in the stimulus bill may end up being wasted on bad products, and should be frozen until a thorough study of VistA's potential is completed next year."
Link to Original Source
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Huge backlash against Doctor Who companion casting

Artifice_Eternity Artifice_Eternity writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Artifice_Eternity (306661) writes "The BBC have announced who will be sharing the TARDIS with David Tennant in season 4 of the new "Doctor Who": Catherine Tate. The sharp-tongued comedienne will be reprising her role as Donna, the "runaway bride" of the 2006 Christmas special. But neither diehard fans nor casual viewers of the show are laughing... in fact, 64 pages of comments on the BBC's site suggest an overwhelmingly negative public reaction to this news. Will Donna become the new Mel (the Sixth Doctor's much-reviled companion)? Should the Beeb have gone with the more likable Carey Mulligan instead, whose star turn in the recent episode Blink has been widely praised?"

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