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Sites Blocked By Smartfilter, Censored in Saudi Arabia

EMeta Re:Internet filters are a joke ... (112 comments)

Well, no. They weren't always that way, as their founder hasn't changed his position: he founded it just to get drinkers off the road.

Furthermore, deaths by drunk drivers have decreased quite significantly since MADD started.

about 8 months ago

Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use

EMeta Re:Basic Statistics (312 comments)

Which is why we should teach statistics to every high schooler. Mostly everyone in the US education system gets trig and not stats. WHY? All of them need to have a decent understanding of statistics to be a useful voter and citizen. Very few of them need trig, and it doesn't enhance their mind in some way that their geometry class didn't. If you don't have space for a stat class after Algebra 2, cut that & put statistics there instead. There is no more important mathematical skill for everyone to have.

about 8 months ago

Have Bad Cars Gone Extinct?

EMeta Re:ask a mechanic (672 comments)

The main difference with cars 'not lasting as long now-days' is the cost of mechanics vs new vehicles. You can find cars of any arbitrary age if you go to Canada or Mexico, etc. where the a mechanic's time is worth relatively less in relation to newer vehicles.

In the US, the efficiencies involved in car manufacture and distribution are amazing. You're really paying for steel and workers' healthcare when you buy a car, and that's about it. Industrial automation makes actual assembly almost a rounding error to the vehicle's cost. Advanced distribution logistics mean that storage and transportation are pretty insignificant as well. Mechanics, on the other hand, are relatively pricey, needing to support the American cost-of-living for an educated laborer.

In Canada, the ratio shifts a little bit, especially as you go farther from the major train hubs. In Mexico, where labor is a minuscule cost, the ratio is distorted such that you see cars on the road from pretty much every year in the last four decades. Take a 10 year-old 110k-mile mid-range car in Ohio. Give it some easily traced electrical or mechanical fault that deploys the airbags. You've just totalled it. The cost of putting the airbags back in is going to be close enough to the value of the car (say $6k) that you insurance company would rather give you that value than pay to fix it. The car then gets junked & sold for parts.

This doesn't happen in Mexico.

about 2 years ago

China Cuts 'Excessive Entertainment' From TV

EMeta Re:And Yet (336 comments)

I'm confused. What are they giving us analogous to free fish that they could later withhold? There's very little manufacturing or textiles done in China that isn't done by its neighbors. We still do buttloads of manufacturing in North America that they don't have even vaguely regional control over, much less Europe. Further, a China without 100s of Billions in exports to the west is a pretty weak country.

After some googling I see that our trade deficit to them is around $250B, which is about a third of their entire federal budget. And that's just us, not the rest of the west.

more than 2 years ago

In the EU, Water Doesn't (Officially) Prevent Dehydration

EMeta Re:And in the US (815 comments)

Yeah, some posts need to be modded +5, offtopic.

more than 2 years ago

Fond Memories of Nerd Camp

EMeta Re:Duke TIP (116 comments)

TIP was really important for me opening up socially too. I still get chills thinking about it. I was there a bit before you (east, term 2, 95-96), but those 6 weeks were easily the most important of my life up to that, and in some ways even since because of the amazing people i met. I shudder to think how disaffected I might have become without it and those connections.

I'll stop the gushing now. But if anyone has the chance to send their kids, do it! It was easily the best investment made in my pre-college life.

more than 2 years ago

Why Doesn't 'Google Kids' Exist?

EMeta Re:Naive Parents (561 comments)

To be fair, there is a [declining] number of smaller libraries that only have Children's and Adult sections, and different libraries treat those lines differently.

Also, while the YA section was mostly skippable while we were those ages, it has an increasing amount of truly excellent material now. I happily read The Bourne Identity and Sphere at 13, but I'd happily recommend a dozen YA books to read along with those to any similar 13-y.o. now days. Furthermore, there's a significant amount of reassignment of previously adult books to the YA shelves: Ender's Game, LotR, Fahrenheit 451, etc. (YLMV)

Otherwise, of course, I completely agree with you.

more than 3 years ago

Why Doesn't 'Google Kids' Exist?

EMeta Re:Bad analogy using libraries (561 comments)

Well it's still illegal to show pornographic content to underage teens and children is it not? I'm no expert on law, but I find it reasonable to believe that the librarian could be held responsible for allowing children to wander into a pornographic section.

The only legal directive librarians follow is CIPA:'s_Internet_Protection_Act, which basically instructs them to give due diligence in filtering computers children have access to. That's it. They only need to follow that if they get certain money from the federal government. Librarians (outside of conceivable special programs) don't have any other requirements with regards to what kids do in libraries. As previous posters said, they're not babysitters. If a parent leaves a child anywhere in a library unsupervised, then that creates an unsupervised child in a library.

Most children's librarians I know (which is a fair number) wouldn't have a problem actually helping kids find any material in the library they asked for, no matter the obscenity level. Some do, but none of the libraries I've lent from have even restricted R-rated movies from anyone who wanted them. It's ALA policy for no books to be restricted by age, and yes, many libraries carry some very racy stuff.

more than 3 years ago

News Corp. Looking To Sell MySpace

EMeta Re:Overvalued ... (146 comments)

To be fair, MySpace (flawed as it was) had a significant chance of cleaning its ugliness up & getting into the position that Facebook is now. While FB's value is still quite arguable, from current profits alone it's certainly at least an order of magnitude above the $600M paid for MySpace. And I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that at least shortly before that purchase, MySpace still had a 10% chance of becoming that big. FB had a lot more savvy people at the helm and was far less afraid to keep making big changes, but that's a hiring issue more than anything else.

more than 3 years ago

Google's Driverless Car and the Logic of Safety

EMeta Re:More tolerent of human error (510 comments)

You're over-complicating it. The answer is for the auto insurance companies to pick up the liability, like they're already doing. You get a driverless car and operate it properly (there will be enough sensors & cameras to know if you're doing something wrong), then the insurance company pays up and settles on its own with the car company, with whom they would have preexisting agreements. Allstate (et al.) would love it because it means they pay a lot less than with human drivers, and they have a lot more documentation to prove their side of events. They're already in court all the time for this kind of stuff. If someone doesn't have insurance, well, that's his fault & his liability.

So: drivers pay less insurance on driverless cars, 'cause some of the savings is passed on to them as an incentive to switch. (Okay, it could be more expensive, with the incentive just being that you don't have to drive, but whatever, incentives are still there.)
Auto insurance companies pay a lot less due to less accidents and recordings of accidents.
Car companies don't sell driverless cars unless you have the special auto insurance covering it. Actually you'd probably need a law to make this happen, but I don't see that being particularly controversial.

Where's the difficulty?

more than 3 years ago

How Mac OS X, 10 Today, Changed Apple's World

EMeta Re:One word makes a phrase now (342 comments)

One word is now a phrase.

I see you've spoken with people from the American South.

more than 3 years ago

Duke Nukem Forever Multiplayer Mode Predictably Controversial

EMeta Re:Well they could take that out... (344 comments)

Ah, I see. Women who have gone through college (and probably have much more debt for it) are finally making more money than men who haven't. That's the conclusion from the article you linked. Well, bully for them. However if you account for education, women are still making 75% of what men do: So forgive me for not celebrating yet.

more than 2 years ago

Is Software Driving a Falling Demand For Brains?

EMeta Re:This is gonna be very rant like (622 comments)

Limits Shmimits.

We need to subsidize birth control to the point where it's effectively opt-out. Start hugely funding male birth control, and make it cheaper than free for women. Because here's the thing, if you only take out unplanned pregnancies, you fix much of the problem. If you delay pregnancies in women's lives, you fix even more of the problem.

And get this: it's cheaper than free to do this! Planned children cost the government enough (a few thousand in tax subsidies each year, plus a low rate of WIC and welfare expenses). Unplanned children have a much higher rate of being subsidized with entitlements, to the degree that paying women to take birth control will save thousands of dollars per woman. Even if all this program does is delay pregnancy a few years for each child, just that alone will provide the parent(s) more time to amass resources they can invest in their children. And do you want to make any guesses about the crime rates as committed by wanted vs. unwanted children?

It's possible that these steps wouldn't be enough, but they'd sure be a lot. And with negative cost, why not start here?

more than 3 years ago

Erdos' Combinatorial Geometry Problem Solved

EMeta Re:Thanks for the Reminder (170 comments)

I hope you're joking. You provide a sizable fraction of the interesting stories here.

more than 3 years ago

Feds Settle Case of Woman Fired Over Facebook Posts

EMeta Re:Beer companies will fire you (316 comments)

Well sure, but if you owned Lake Louie and caught one of your employees drinking Old Milwaukee, wouldn't you have to reevaluate your assessment of his judgement and critical thinking?

more than 3 years ago

Is Setting Up an Offshore IT Help Desk Ethical?

EMeta Re:So all engineering is unethical? (826 comments)

Average car price is a dumb metric. Cars are, on average, a lot nicer than they used to be, and people are proportionally paying more for fancier stuff. Would you rather have a 1989 $15k [new price] car in mint condition or a 2009 car you bought for $15k [even ignoring all inflation]? The amount of maintenance needed on 90% of models has dropped precipitously. Furthermore, the minimum wage has more than doubled in that period.

I certainly agree that banks causing huge problems; growth in the financial sector past a certain point of maturity is deleterious for the rest of the economy.

The world isn't such a big place anymore given how decisions of a random engineer (say, me) in Illinois can affect workers in Cambodia. I think it's not too far-fetched to think of humanity as my 'immediate community.' We certainly have many very shameful interactions with 'people far away' but to think that leaving them alone is going to be best for them rather insults their ability to participate in a global market.

more than 3 years ago

19-Year-Old Makes Homemade Solar Death Ray

EMeta Re:In the Himalayas... (317 comments)

Furthermore, common sources of fuel are much more rare/valuable at those altitudes, further increasing solar cookers' utility.

more than 3 years ago

Egyptians Find New Ways To Get Online

EMeta Re:Erm...there's another way... (202 comments)

And here I thought you were just trying to set someone up for the cunning linguist gag.

On topic, English is one of the two official languages of Egypt and spoken pretty well by much of the populace.

more than 3 years ago


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