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"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

Chalnoth Re:From Experience (534 comments)

Er, what? She doesn't employ anybody. She has a class project, gets a couple of boys to do her work for her, and takes the credit. There's nothing about this that is flattering for Barbie or women.

If you're going to say that people who want to be offended will be, you should at least not create a straw-man of peoples' actual complaints.

yesterday
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

Chalnoth Re:Have we discovered all there is to discover? (221 comments)

A couple of points here.

First, we've now sequenced the DNA of so many microorganisms that it would be very, very hard for a new domain of life that uses the same sort of DNA structures to exist. The only likely way for a new form of life to exist is for it to be of a kind that isn't picked up in our DNA tests. That's what is proposed in this article.

Given that, and given that all life (and viruses) found so far speak the same basic DNA language, it's really not unreasonable at all that the domains we've already discovered are the only ones.

There's an outside possibility of new discoveries shaking up the current tree of life, splitting one of our domains in two (as happened with bacteria/archaea). But that's not what is being discussed in this article.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

Chalnoth Re:Discover life? (221 comments)

I honestly have always been annoyed with this rather restrictive definition. It excludes viruses, but I can see no reason why we should consider viruses to be a completely different category than living organisms.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

Chalnoth Re:Have we discovered all there is to discover? (221 comments)

Not quite. They're suggesting that there's a good chance that there's an entirely different domain (or more) of life other than eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea. That's a pretty radical proposition, but not entirely out of bounds, because many of our more modern techniques for detecting life forms check for molecules that may not exist in a fourth (or fifth or sixth) domain of life.

If it turns out to be the case that there are only three domains of cellular life (leaving viruses out of the discussion for now), that doesn't indicate that we know all there is to know. It just means that cellular life can be categorized into three groups. These researchers could be entirely incorrect in their assumptions. For example, the genes they mention could have evolved within the viruses themselves, or could be remnants of a now-extinct branch of eukaryotes.

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

Chalnoth Re:Not exactly (161 comments)

I checked, and electrons accelerated via plasma shocks do indeed emit synchrotron radiation. What is your source for this claim that the energy will be purely additive?

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

Chalnoth Re:Not exactly (161 comments)

There's no problem in daisy chaining them, but I don't think you can guarantee the same energy boost each time. One of the big physics problems here is that accelerating charged particles radiate when they are accelerated, which acts as a sort of friction. The amount that is radiated increases quite dramatically as the particle gets closer to the speed of light (the energy loss scales as (E/(mc^2))^4). In practice, this means that if you dump a bunch of energy into an electron to accelerate it, you'll only add a fraction of that amount to its kinetic energy (the rest will be lost in radiation).

Given this, the naive expectation is that each subsequent box will add less and less to the energy of the particles. The disclaimer here is that I haven't studied the specific physics of plasma shock acceleration, so I don't know how such acceleration scales with energy. I do know, however, that this is the exact same mechanism that is suspected to be behind the "oh my god" particles (single particles with more than ten million times the energy that the LHC can produce): plasma shock fronts in the galaxy accelerate some small fraction of the interstellar protons to unbelievable speeds.

about two weeks ago
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Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory

Chalnoth Re:um no (138 comments)

Before the CMB was emitted, the entire universe was an extremely smoothly-distributed ionized plasma. There were no galaxies or stars or planets: just a smooth plasma whose temperature varied from place to place by about one part in 100,000. We can see an image of the universe when this plasma cooled to the point it became a gas. This image shows a very clear signature of dark matter (in fact, it's the most sensitive detection of dark matter density that exists).

This proposal has the same sort of problem: how would you produce such extremely dense objects when the matter was distributed so evenly?

about two weeks ago
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Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

Chalnoth Re:Technicalities (198 comments)

It is generally true that such studies should be considered preliminary. It's possible that this vaccine won't work for humans, or that the ebola virus will evolve around the vaccine so rapidly that it has no impact.

But clearly this sounds like a very promising start, and the researchers absolutely deserve to have more funding to finish their work. This is exactly the kind of thing that the NIH is designed to fund. But, due to Republican fuckery, NIH funding has been cut.

about two weeks ago
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Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Chalnoth Re:Good luck with that. (558 comments)

The downside of that is far, far cheaper for the consumer than overdrafting a bank account (unless you run high balances for extended periods of time....then the charges obviously start racking up).

The real problem with credit cards (in the US at least) comes with the 0% interest deals. In the US, if you get a 0% interest promotion, be damned sure you pay it off in time. If you don't, then all of the interest for the entire promotional period is charged to you. I bought a computer on a 0% interest deal some years back for something in the range of $1500 or so. If I had let the promotional period expire, I probably would have owed another $400 or so. Fortunately, I paid attention to the fine print and was careful to have it completely paid off a few months in advance.

about three weeks ago
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German Publishers Capitulate, Let Google Post News Snippets

Chalnoth Re:No, wait, do-over! (95 comments)

That doesn't make it not an anti-trust issue. It's an anti-trust issue because Amazon has outsized power in the e-book market, and if Amazon were able to negotiate a discount from Hachette, then that would likely be a discount that other vendors could not get, making it harder for other e-book vendors to compete with Amazon.

about a month ago
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German Publishers Capitulate, Let Google Post News Snippets

Chalnoth Re:No, wait, do-over! (95 comments)

The Amazon-Hachette deal is a completely different situation. Amazon is using its market power to strong-arm Hachette into providing lower prices to Amazon than Hachette offers to other resellers. This is a classic case of collusion, and should be stopped on anti-trust grounds.

about a month ago
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Facebook and Apple Now Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

Chalnoth Re:So... (253 comments)

1. The disparity remains even after correcting for career differences. Women within the same career make substantially less, in virtually every career.

2. The differences in careers between men and women are also a result of sexism. So the headline number of 70 cents on the dollar is the correct one to use.

about a month ago
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Former Infosys Recruiter Says He Was Told Not To Hire US Workers

Chalnoth Re:Corporate Malfeasance (293 comments)

That article states explicitly that women are the majority of domestic violence victims. It's just trying to state that men are more common victims than is frequently believed. Which makes sense. But women still make up a very disproportionate fraction of injuries and murders in domestic violence.

See here for some less-skewed statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E...

In particular: "A Canadian study showed that 7% of women and 6% of men were abused by their current or former partners, but female victims of spousal violence were more than twice as likely to be injured as male victims, three times more likely to fear for their life, twice as likely to be stalked, and twice as likely to experience more than ten incidents of violence."

So yeah, you can twist the numbers to make it look as if men are the victims here. While some are, most are not.

about a month and a half ago
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Former Infosys Recruiter Says He Was Told Not To Hire US Workers

Chalnoth Re:Corporate Malfeasance (293 comments)

What is your evidence for this truly absurd claim?

about a month and a half ago
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Former Infosys Recruiter Says He Was Told Not To Hire US Workers

Chalnoth Re:Corporate Malfeasance (293 comments)

If there was actual harm caused by failing to hire white men, then sure, it would make sense for the government to get involved. If, say, the white men who were hired were harassed or had their careers stunted, that would be a different matter. But if we're just talking about hiring practices, then there is precisely zero harm caused, because said white men have a much higher chance of getting hired in general.

about a month and a half ago
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Former Infosys Recruiter Says He Was Told Not To Hire US Workers

Chalnoth Re:Corporate Malfeasance (293 comments)

I don't really see why. If Infosys is being discriminatory, the non-Indian workers should console themselves that they have significantly better prospects at 99+% of American companies than Indians do. The US government should be focused on claims made by marginalized groups, not worrying about the tiny fraction of cases where white men are discriminated against.

about a month and a half ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

Chalnoth Re:Good luck with that. (652 comments)

Right. This is a truly ridiculous conclusion. It's also completely at odds with the current data which suggest that transforming developed economies to renewable energy won't be very expensive at all: if it won't be that expensive to transition developed economies, then it's probably going to be cheaper for developing economies to expand their energy footprint through renewable resources than it would be for them to try to just use fossil fuels.

about a month and a half ago
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Google's Security Guards Are Now Officially Google Employees

Chalnoth Re:Google's forgoten its obligation to shareholder (134 comments)

It would be pretty trivial for security personnel to give people access who shouldn't have access. They themselves may not know enough to release proprietary information, but they could open the door for somebody else to do so. So yes, it is important that the security be decently-paid and have good job satisfaction. Otherwise they become an easy avenue for access for anybody that wants it.

about a month and a half ago
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FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

Chalnoth Encryption is a security issue. (354 comments)

This isn't just about the government invading peoples' rights. This is also about basic data security.

These days, people often carry quite a lot of sensitive information on their phones (e.g. sensitive pictures). If the contents of the phone are not encrypted, then anybody who gets their hands on the phone can access that information. This is extremely unsafe. I could easily imagine somebody building small, hand-held device which will plug into an iOS or Android phone and download its contents within a minute or two (such devices may already exist, I don't know, I haven't looked). All you'd need is for somebody to leave their phone unattended for a short time, and all of their data could be lost.

So what the FBI is really asking here is for people to never be safe with their data. They're not just asking for the ability to look at your information, if they were to be listened to, your information wouldn't be safe from anybody else either.

about 2 months ago

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