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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Derec01 Re:But its cooler here... (552 comments)

The ozone layer is regenerating because the use of CFCs was regulated. If we had continued to pump more, it would overcome the sun's rate of production. Therefore I'm not sure of the point you're making; it's a success story for regulation. If we just forgot about it and didn't regulate, it wouldn't be regenerating fast enough.

about a week ago
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Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

Derec01 Re:Another comic book gimmick (588 comments)

Neither of those examples are gimmicks. A gimmick would be an extraordinary occurrence just for the sake of having a female character. If it's an ordinary replacement and it happens to be female I don't see how it's a gimmick.

In the former, it's been established that the "Robin" position gets passed around frequently. There's half a dozen of them. What's gimmicky about one of them being female?

In the latter, Peter Parker was replaced in the Ultimate universe because he *died*. This might be gimmicky in the normal Marvel Universe, where the status quo remains forever, but in the Ultimates universe, iconic heroes die all the time and stay dead. Beast drowned, the Wasp was eaten by the Blob, and so on. Spider-Man wears a mask and is easy to impersonate, what's gimmicky about any random kid with spiderish powers taking up the name?

about two weeks ago
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Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills

Derec01 Re:Useless coins (752 comments)

Actually, can you explain to me the benefits of a $1 coin to the user? Fine, it's more durable; I don't really care, I rarely accidentally destroy $1 bills, so that benefit accrues solely to the mint.

I get the odd comment from European friends about how silly the dollar bill is, which I don't understand. In practice, my experience in the Euro area and in the UK is that my pocket gets so frigging heavy and awkward. Meanwhile I can get a weightless stack of $1s as change in the US. Sure, they could make the dollar coin tiny, but now it will be confused with a dime or nickel, requiring an entire reset of the whole coin system relative sizes and weights.

about two weeks ago
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Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

Derec01 Not exactly green (139 comments)

I'm all for eliminating waste, but if the net effect is that we're removing plastic from landfills and emitting it as CO2, that's not terribly different from digging up crude oil and emitting it as CO2.

Now, I'm sure there's some sort of multiplier here that makes it a bit better - perhaps the plastics are a cleaner source and less energy will be used to process it - but currently this carbon is sequestered in an inert if unattractive form whose dangers are mostly localized.

about a month ago
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Strange New World Discovered: The "Mega Earth"

Derec01 Re:Science Writers: Stop Causing Us Intellectual P (147 comments)

A little bit pedantic, but it certainly matters as they vary as different powers of the radius. Having 2.3 times the radius would be almost 12.2 times the volume. If the volume was only 2.3 times the Earth's volume, then the radius would only be 1.32 times larger.

about 2 months ago
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'The Door Problem' of Game Design

Derec01 Re:Easy answers (305 comments)

Let me guess, you only ever play sandbox games?

The summary questions are essential questions to answering what kind of game you want to design, and you explained the consequences of ignoring them perfectly in your commentary. A game is a combined experience and challenge. That experience needs to fundamentally be finite, if only because you have finite designer time. What you have to do is make the experience finite without throwing arbitrary restrictions at the player when possible. Yet I wouldn't want EVERY game to be set in a featureless canyon rather than a city just because I can't open every door.

Sandbox games aren't bad, per se; it's a good design challenge. Frankly though, I've never played a sandbox game that didn't feel a little soulless (Nethack, GTA, Minecraft, etc.). I prefer games with some narrative thread or plotline, and that inherently will mean balancing the experience and interactivity you want to provide. If I can't open a door that I think I should be able to open, that is a failure, but it's not simply that they shouldn't have put a door there or built a room.

about 3 months ago
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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

Derec01 Re:u can rite any way u want (431 comments)

I don't think you need to be torn between the two. Even though in many cases strict grammar isn't necessary, where would we be without formal rules to provide a sliding scale?

If I fail to communicate effectively in some context, grammar provides a clear standard I can return to in order to iteratively improve my communication. If everyone had conflicting standards, I'd have no shared toolbox to use. Two mathematicians may be perfectly able to talk about their work in common vernacular; if it starts getting miscommunicated, though, they have a shared formal grammar of logic within which to make things clearer.

about 3 months ago
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Doctors Say New Pain Pill Is "Genuinely Frightening"

Derec01 Re:It's just a tool I guess (294 comments)

This seems a little better than that, if I'm understanding it correctly. The drug would never be mass-produced if its approval is revoked, and it's doubtful that the company would let its production method out AND that it would come to someone with the capabilities of producing it illicitly.

It's hard to have a black market if no one makes the drug for any legal use.

about 5 months ago
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How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections

Derec01 Not to defend shortsightedness (269 comments)

Let me play devil's advocate here. While we can ascribe that to "dumb voter shortsightedness", wouldn't it also be true to say that if you can ascribe economic performance to a president at all, their effect on things would be much more heavily weighted towards the recent past anyway?

Early term performance would likely be out of their hands, and my assumption would be that they want to get reelected and would try hard to eke out some benefit before election season. If you can't bring out the big performance before the election, perhaps you don't have anything to offer.

Of course, imagining that your choice of president has a greater effect on your wellbeing than state and local elections or larger economic trends is a bit weird to me anyway.

about 6 months ago
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How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes

Derec01 Re:At the time .... (144 comments)

This is just my take. The average intake of the American consumer has increased steadily, I believe. However, weight gain happens at the margins. If you eat 2200 calories a day and burn 2000, you are gaining weight twice as fast as someone who averages 2100 with the same burn rate, even though your intake is less than 5% higher.

As the average intake passes the burn rate, a little exercise helps. However, with a small percentage-wise increase in your intake, you can double or triple the amount of exercise required to get back to equilibrium. My guess is that in the 60s and 70s, adding exercise worked for many people. Now, the necessary exercise is much, much higher and caloric restriction is necessary in a way it wasn't for the average person 30 years ago.

about 6 months ago
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The "Triple Package" Explains Why Some Cultural Groups Are More Successful

Derec01 Re:What a bunch of baloney! Sample bias buddy. (397 comments)

What you described at the end is exactly sample bias, so I'm confused that you don't consider it so. The claim is roughly that you can look at "successful groups" and determine what makes them culturally superior by assuming their differences account for their success.

Yet if you included a full sample size of that culture from the origin country, the distribution may be (and probably is) no different than a randomly chosen cultural group in the U.S. while still sharing the cultural traits that were assumed to make them superior. Thus an incorrect correlation has been made from a biased sample.

about 6 months ago
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Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

Derec01 Re:Ignorant to their own research (444 comments)

If they are fairly fault tolerant, a reasonable Seagate discount percentage would overcome that higher failure rate, even allowing for installation costs. They can spread that failure out. An individual cannot, therefore I appreciate that they released the statistics.

about 6 months ago
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Why We Think There's a Multiverse, Not Just Our Universe

Derec01 Re:Words, words (458 comments)

I disagree that he's only defined causally disconnected regions; this story actually has a definition of multiverse beyond regions outside of our lightcone. Note one of his later images: a single level 1 universe contained multiple regions which are not causally connected yet are part of the same clump that moved from the false vacuum to dumping energy into matter and radiation.

Any grouping like that is fundamentally isolated because the boundary region that remains in the false vacuum continues to exponentially expand, quickly isolating the clump. Even if the clump itself triggers a conversion of the false vacuum around it, it sounds like the isolation proceeds so much faster that it will be forever isolated by expanding false vacuum regions. With time, we could reach places that are not currently causally connected. It doesn't sound like we could overcome this expansion so easily.

about 6 months ago
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Metal-Free 'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Renewable Grid Energy

Derec01 Re:If it can be scaled up? (131 comments)

I think the reality is that "renewable" is a code word for many things to many people. To some it means local, to others it just means creating an economic incentive for cleaner power *somewhere*, as the credit system would.

For instance, I wouldn't support the allowance for hydroelectric power most of the time because of the tendency to screw up ecosystems more than some solar panels will, but it's still renewable.

about 6 months ago
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Oil Train Explosion Triggers Evacuation In North Dakota

Derec01 Re:Thanks Obama... (199 comments)

That's not true at all. If you are considering *passenger* rail, then yes, it's terrible. But we don't really use much passenger rail. That chicken and egg problem aside, US freight rail is pretty good.

For instance: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21576136-quiet-success-americas-freight-railways-back-track

"Even the American Society of Civil Engineers, which howls incessantly (and predictably) about the awful state of the nation’s infrastructure, shows grudging respect for goods railways in a recent report."

about 7 months ago
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Oil Train Explosion Triggers Evacuation In North Dakota

Derec01 Re:Shouldn't have to run oil by rail (199 comments)

Given your experience, I actually had a question about the pipelines. It would seem most of the failures are caused by a combination of pressure and time. Assuming that you have to operate on a sliding scale of perfect safety for infinite cost and reasonable safety for much lower cost*, is there a way to build pipelines with specific failure points such that you avoid failures at costly points? Something like a fuse in an electrical circuit; you certainly don't want it to blow, but it's there to blow so that worse places don't burn. I've always been a little surprised that discussion of running pipeline through sensitive areas didn't involve a compromise where you just build in a costly but agreed upon sigma of reliability into the region at issue by shunting the risk to an area you're prepared to clean up.

*A possibly erroneous assumption.

about 7 months ago
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Researchers Claim Facebook Is 'Dead and Buried' To Many Young Users

Derec01 Re:The REAL cool kids are all using IRC (457 comments)

I'd imagine the lack of social networking elements is the draw. People assume that today's kids don't care about privacy, but I get the sense that most of them want their social connections to be more ephemeral than Facebook encourages. With Facebook, defriending someone could be slightly embarrassing, so I just accumulate a pile of people I used to know and may not identify with anymore, with potentially added stress if I delete them. With a messaging app, I message you, or I don't. You can add all the privacy features you want to Facebook, but the possibly preferable alternative is not putting all the effort into maintaining a profile.

about 7 months ago
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Researchers Claim Facebook Is 'Dead and Buried' To Many Young Users

Derec01 Re:Too complicated (457 comments)

Whoa, footnote [1] is a little too egregious for me to let it pass unremarked. Why in the world could the insurance company see the picture? How long was it from posting to reaction? Which company was this? (I'm not inclined to reward this kind of behavior)

For one, the logical leap they made is huge, and for another, that's some serious monitoring of online traffic for this to be true. I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical, not that I'm sure they wouldn't love to do this.

about 7 months ago
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Researchers Claim Facebook Is 'Dead and Buried' To Many Young Users

Derec01 Re: Who would believe it? (457 comments)

I think the inefficiency is part of the point, honestly. I personally dislike Facebook exactly because it has tried to be where you contact everyone you know, regardless of the context, and I simply don't want to spend the time to curate a stark divide between sharing with coworkers and friends when I don't share that much on Facebook in the first place. At this point in my life, it's like my contact list, except that it posts cat videos.

The old Facebook dismissal is that if you want share something with your real friends, you pick up the phone. I think that's the slightly wrong way to look at it, but it has a point. It's a bit of signaling, actually, that is accomplished by using the phone or any more involved means of contact. If I take the time to learn your details in a completely new or inefficient contact system, it means that messages from me are more likely to be significant because there's a greater barrier to me contacting you and I clearly put more effort into it that pulling up your profile on Facebook.

about 7 months ago
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Rise of the Super-High-Res Notebook Display

Derec01 Because text size need not be defined by px number (333 comments)

The summary makes the same ridiculous assumption I see repeatedly, which is that a desire for higher resolutions means that I want the text to remain tied to a number of pixels. Of course I don't want the text to get arbitrarily smaller; I just want it to get sharper. And I definitely notice. Every time I take a look at my boss's MacBook Pro I feel my eyes relax a bit compared to the jagged fonts on my Air.

The real problem is that the OSes are terrible at rescaling to take advantage of the increased ppi. OSX is unfortunately bitmap based and many parts look pretty terrible if you turn the HiDef monitor option on. Windows is actually a little better with arbitrary % scaling, but many third party programs will still look awful.

about 7 months ago

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