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The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

Cytotoxic Re:whose payroll is the scientist on? It matters (446 comments)

The point is simply saying climate change got 106B may sound like "oh my god climate researchers are getting rich!!!!". .

The argument is not "OHM those climate researchers are getting rich!!!"

The argument is "those evil, rich oil companies have so much more money to throw at creating biased research studies!" The counter argument the GP made was "the GAO says the US alone is spending many orders of magnitude more on climate change research".

yesterday
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Cytotoxic Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

Yeah, that was kinda the entire point.

Or have you considered that the AG office understands basic economics and realizes that these claims of shortages unless we have surge pricing are bullshit?

Yes. Yes I have. And that is without doubt one of the dumbest assertions of all time. Of course there are shortages. That is the entire economics argument. If there were not shortages, raising prices would not work. Your customers would just go to the competition. It is only when demand is inflexible and supply is short that prices spike.

When hurricane Wilma blasted south Florida there was no power for 2 weeks (minimum) for most of the bottom half of the state. Many millions of people were affected. Some folks were without power for over a month. You couldn't lay your hands on a generator anywhere. Demand went from a couple dozen a month per store to a couple thousand per day. Most stores were not open for the first week or so. There was no gas available because the service stations didn't have power to pump the gas.

We have laws against "price gouging". So guess what you didn't see? Tractor trailer loads of generators and portable air conditioners for sale in the parking lot. You did see huge lines for ice from FEMA.

Without price controls you would have been able to get gas if you needed it. You would have been able to buy a generator. You could have gotten ice. All at a steep markup. But you could have gotten it. But we had price controls. So you couldn't get it. Not at any price. And you couldn't drive out to go get it yourself, because you'd run out of gas before you made it far enough to be able to buy gas.

The supplies did show up at Home Depot.... eventually. You had to put your name on a waiting list to buy one. They sold every one before the shipments arrived. Since they had to charge the normal amount, they had to use their normal procurement and shipping procedures. If you turned them loose, how quickly do you think they could have gotten those things over here from China? You think they might have had a fleet of 747 cargo planes moving generators if they could have made $1,000 on each one? The inflexible demand only lasted 2-4 weeks. The shortage lasted for several months as pallets of generators arrived with each weeks shipment and were snapped up by people who lived through the horror of south florida without air conditioning and without a refrigerator.

A fair price is what a willing buyer will pay, and a willing seller will accept. Any other definition of "fair" is made up out of whole cloth. Price controls mean rationing. That is all. The choice is between some people getting what they want at a fixed price, but lots of other people doing without - or lots more people getting what they want but paying a lot more. There is no option for "everybody gets to buy what they want at the original price" when supplies are short.

3 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Cytotoxic Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. But I suppose it also goes to priorities. Is your priority to deliver services to people in need during major disruptive events, or is it to prevent people from having to pay high prices for goods and services during major disruptive events?

If you want people to be able to get supplies and mobility (via Uber), then you'd let prices find their own level. Nobody wants to be out running a car service in a blizzard. But if the price is right? Maybe you get in your SUV and go to work. Higher prices means more supply - until there is enough supply to meet demand. Then prices will fall again as demand wanes and supply increases.

If you need milk, bread, ice and water after a hurricane hits you could wait for FEMA to deploy and deliver while using the law to keep prices stable. Or you could let prices rise until it is worth it for someone with a big truck and a chainsaw for clearing downed trees to drive a load of supplies in from another state.

Politicians are going to respond to the outrage of "Price Gouging", which places the priority on price stability at the expense of delivering needed services.

Uber's model is to allow prices to find their own level. If there are not enough cars to meet demand, prices rise until there are. If there are too many cars chasing too few riders, prices fall until there is balance. This is the best way to ensure that service is delivered to those who need it, but it doesn't guarantee what the price will be.

3 days ago
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Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

Cytotoxic Re:The (in)justice system (291 comments)

One could argue that there's a no need to have a court system. If a cop pulls you over for a traffic violation, you're guilty.

For many traffic violations, this is indeed the case. I know in Georgia the only defense against a radar clocked speeding ticket is one of three questions: Was the officer properly trained? Was the instrument properly calibrated? Was his location proper (not too close to a curve or on too steep of an incline)?

That's it. The court is not supposed to consider any other defenses. "I didn't do it." is not an admissible defense. "I have a video tape showing that I didn't do it" is also not an admissible defense. Or at least it wasn't the last time I interacted with the georgia traffic court system.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Cytotoxic Re:It worked on me (218 comments)

That's exactly the kind of people I am talking about. Just loads of talent, even if it isn't being used properly. Someone who is very skilled in a certain area is impressive in their own right. Like a John Paxon firing in jump shots. If you were a basketball player you could see yourself doing that with enough hard work in practice over enough time. Then you see Jordan take off from the free throw line. And you know instantly that you are never going to be able to do that no matter how hard you work.

  (to the argument about entering a field and doing good work whatever your talent: there are a lot of guys out there with the athleticism to take off from the free throw line and throw it down. There are still very few people mentioned in the same conversation with Jordan. Talent isn't everything. )

about two weeks ago
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Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Cytotoxic Re:It worked on me (218 comments)

Yeah, I have seen all of that. But when I say "speak" math, I don't mean "speak knowledgeably about math". I mean "speak it like a native speaker speaking in his own language". When I was a student I was a musician as well. I played in a couple of working bands and had a few solo gigs. I received several full ride offers to college. But it was because I worked my ass off. I was only modestly talented. When I started meeting people who were really destined to be musicians, the difference was trivial to spot. Where I was feverishly doing math in my head and transposing like a madman, they could do all of that deep in the background. When they played music, they were simply expressing ideas. Those thoughts came out through their hands as easily as you form your thoughts into words. It was both humbling and frustrating.

If you meet real math people, they are the same way. They have an intuitive understanding of the language of math that allows them to explore the world of physics and mathematics the way that you might explore the mall. A lot of it is practice - the hours of hard work that go in to reaching a certain level. But there is something more in a small percentage of people who are particularly gifted for the topic. Their ability to speak math as easily as you speak english allows them to explore their ideas much more rapidly and in a different way than I would. While I am busy translating from english to math and back again, they speak math in the native language. If you ever work with them, you'll know. There is no way to fake your way through it.... any more than Michael Jordan could fake his 44" vertical or Charlie Parker could fake his improv skills. If you are knowledgeable in the field it only takes a few moments to spot a virtuoso.

But you could be right about the kind of people who don't care about such things. Many people reach success because they ignore obstacles, perhaps they are even blind to them. People like Donald Trump come to mind.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Cytotoxic It worked on me (218 comments)

I don't know about women, but it certainly kept me out of theoretical physics. It also delayed my entry into the computer industry by about a decade.

As a student I loved cosmology and particle physics. Then I met the guys who were working on their PhD's. I was good at doing math. They spoke math. It was clear that they were in a different category from me, and even though I might be able to do it with hard work, I would never be one of them. At the time you had to be a math major to get a degree with a concentration in computer science. Again, I met folks who were real math majors. They also spoke math as easily as John Coltrane spoke music. I knew I could never compete in their world. So I didn't.

As it turns out, my friends in comp sci were right to encourage me to join them. Just because I was never going to be the next Alan Turing doesn't mean I couldn't have been doing good work.

Anyway, there is definitely something to the notion that certain fields appear to require a certain type of brilliance. Music. Athletics. Field theory. Topology... Fields like these all appear to require special gifts. LeBron James and Tiger Woods have abilities that 99% of us just don't have. The same goes for Eddie Vedder and John Lennon. Or Alan Guth. But that doesn't mean that you can't participate in athletics if you aren't Michael Jordan. There are gym coaches and trainers all over the place making a living in athletics. There used to be music teachers at all the elementary schools. And there are loads of people working in applied mathematics crunching numbers for companies and governments for various purposes, doing perfectly good work in a field they love without being a 1% talent.

But I certainly didn't believe that when I was 19 and trying to decide where to dedicate my life's work. So I agree with that part of the premise. What in the world that has to do with gender, I don't know.

about two weeks ago
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Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

Cytotoxic Re:I hope they succeed, but... (426 comments)

Tesla's advantage with their charging network is hardly decisive. GM probably could buy Tesla outright with their coffee and bagel budget. Putting up a network of charging stations would not be a challenge for a company with their resources, even on the heels of a bankruptcy.

I'd say execution on the concept will be their biggest challenge. As Jeremy Clarkson once said of an American car - "It's just that everything inside looks like it was made by the lowest bidder." He said it about a Chrysler, but it could easily describe any GM offering as well.

about three weeks ago
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Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

Cytotoxic Re:Only 30 Grand? (426 comments)

I think the Saudis and other OPEC leaders have made it pretty clear that they are targeting low oil prices to kill the new production in North America from shale oil and tar sands. Once they force all those plains state oil operations into bankruptcy, they'll move prices back up.

It seems like they will probably be successful. I am pretty sure I remember reading that $60 per barrel was the point at which these newer oil recovery technologies become profitable.

about three weeks ago
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Fields Medal Winner Manjul Bhargava On the Pythagorean Theorem Controversy

Cytotoxic Re: Umm, no. (187 comments)

I have hired some top people from India. I have also worked with some developers out of India that were extremely... not top people. So, your mileage may vary, I guess.

There do seem to be lots of Indian development groups that will pound out the fastest, sloppiest mess possible to meet a deadline. But I wouldn't put that down to being Indian, I'd say it is more a function of attempting to be an ultra-low-cost vendor. What is it they say about fast, good and cheap?

about three weeks ago
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Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

Cytotoxic Re: Why do I want to upgrade? (437 comments)

This latest update has had some major issues on several devices - particularly the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 and 5. We have a couple of Nexus 4's and they have been rock solid since they came out. Until now. Battery problems and crashes abound. They are improving though, without any updates from google. So I'll surmise that they are due to issues with 3rd party apps.

Still, it is disconcerting to have your phone working as a pocket warmer and running out of juice before lunch.

about three weeks ago
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Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

Cytotoxic Re:MicroSD card? (325 comments)

You don't need to root your device. Android has allowed moving apps to the sdcard for years.

It is pretty complicated though. You have to go into the "Settings" and select "Apps" from the menu. Then you have to select an application and press the "Move to SD" button. At least that's how it worked two phones ago. My Nexus devices don't do the SD card thing, just like Apple devices.

about a month ago
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The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea

Cytotoxic Re:Nobel? (288 comments)

The part about the depiction of Kim Jong-un being perceived as dangerous is very believable. The Vice Guide to North Korea rather powerfully demonstrates the absurd levels of state propoganda in North Korea. The government portrays their dear leaders as a sort of god-man who is regarded as the greatest of all leaders by every nation on earth.

A film that mocks the leader as a buffoon and crybaby would indeed be a very dangerous thing inside that country.

about a month ago
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Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?

Cytotoxic They do have one advantage (232 comments)

Video games have at least one advantage over many of the Olympic sports: They can have clearly defined objectives and scoring. Many of the Olympic sports don't really qualify in my book because they rely on judges to tell us who was better. Even if they were fully objective in every respect, it still smacks of a beauty contest rather than an athletic competition. If we play a match of FIFA 2015 there will be absolutely no question as to who the winner is.

I still think it is silly to talk about video games as an olympic sport, but it is also silly that we have sports like ballroom dance and synchronized swimming in the Olympics. My rule of thumb is "if you have to ask someone else to tell you who the winner is; it isn't a sport, it is a recreational activity."

about a month ago
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Staples: Breach May Have Affected 1.16 Million Customers' Cards

Cytotoxic Network Level (97 comments)

It seems that these POS systems should be more restricted at the network level. In our communications with our banking partners we have single IP address access to the communication server - among other measures (well, dual actually in some cases.... in case of system outages). Only specific IP addresses using specific ports are allowed to traverse the network to even reach the machine. That's before you even start talking about any real security measures.

If that were in effect for the POS systems, the malware would dump its payload down a black hole unless it also compromised the routers along the way. Maybe that's asking a little much for a bunch of retailers, but it is pretty simple to implement.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

Cytotoxic Re:America, land of the free... (720 comments)

I agree with the concepts your are talking about, but I cannot imagine an IT shop failing to check the background of a system administrator who will be working with banking systems, for example. Think about the fallout if Deutsche Bank hired a database administrator with prior convictions for banking fraud, only to see that employee steal 100 million from the bank.

I'm going to bet that criminal convictions are pretty important in the relevant areas, even in Europe. They probably do a better job of discriminating which information is relevant and which positions are sensitive.

The part where they ask about prior history might also be different in Europe. In the US I think a large part of the reason for asking about prior criminal history is to set up a situation where it is easy to terminate an employee if they lie on the application. In Europe they might not have to ask before running a criminal background check. And lying on the application might not make a difference when it comes time to terminate an employee.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can a Felon Work In IT?

Cytotoxic Re:A felon with misdemeanor convictions (720 comments)

It also speaks to prospective employers about a pattern of behavior. A single screw-up when you were in your early 20's is one thing, a string of criminal activity across several years is another. It does increase his difficulty in finding employment.

I'd think it would also depend on the crime and the role you are looking to fill. A felony fraud conviction would not help you find a job as a system administrator for a financial institution, for example. The help desk / admin side has access to passwords and information that is sensitive and any kind of background that suggests you might use that access inappropriately would be relevant to the employer's decision.

A database administrator would similarly be in a position to access all sorts of valuable information.

A string of convictions for assault and battery might hurt your chances in a team situation, or customer service situations, but would probably be easier to overcome than a criminal history that demonstrates a willingness to steal from the company. Then again, we had a couple of situations where unstable people brought the threat of violence into the workplace. With our lawsuit happy culture, you couldn't blame a company from shying away from someone with a proven history of violence. How quick do you think people would be to file a lawsuit if a company hired a person with a violent criminal history and there was an assault of some sort?

A developer position might be easier to get - depending on the type of job and the type of shop. Being the install guy for desktops or servers in a large shop would probably be a lot easier to get - they have tighter controls in place so trust isn't as critical as it is in a small shop where the guy installing the server is also the guy with all the passwords.

In any case, building some sort of history would be key. A good recommendation as a reliable employee for a couple of years would probably overcome a lot of objections - even if it wasn't in a relevant field. But it isn't easy out there for anyone, particularly with low experience, criminal record or not. My ex's father ran the food service at a university and he used his position to help a bunch of newly released prisoners get a fresh start. He said he only had a couple of guys disappoint him over a couple of decades. For him it was a form of ministry - but there are a lot of guys just like him out there who are willing to take a risk. Finding them is the trick, I suppose.

about 2 months ago
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MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

Cytotoxic Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (323 comments)

One of the linked articles hinted at a problem with information flow of supply and demand in this market. Apparently the government is in the middle of the supply chain - farmers sell their futures contracts to the government exchange and the government sells those contracts to the worldwide commodities markets. So the farmers get a price set by their government and the government skims the price increases. (in lean times this could work in reverse - as price supports protecting farmers) Either way, the market signals are muted. The attached article says this means that investments in increasing production will be delayed by at least a year as farmers don't see price increases until next growing season at the earliest. And if their government decides that the market price is higher than they deserve, the farmers won't get the full price their product could demand in a free market.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Measuring the Speed of Light with a Valentine

Cytotoxic Cytotoxic writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Cytotoxic (245301) writes "What to do with all of those leftover Valentine's Day chocolates? — a common problem for the Slashdot crowd. The folks over at Wired magazine have an answer for you in a nice article showing how to measure the speed of light with a microwave and some chocolate. A simple yet surprisingly accurate method that can be used to introduce the scientific method to children and others in need of a scientific education."
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