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N. Korea Could Face Prosecution For 'Crimes Against Humanity'

jheath314 Re:They're atheists... (325 comments)

Because religious folks would never do anything morally objectionable, like fly planes into buildings, or start wars of choice, or use atomic bombs on cities. Nope... it's only atheists who do awful things.

about 2 months ago

Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

jheath314 Re:Texas Barely Registers (544 comments)

"Dictating what religious values they may or may not teach would itself be a an establishment of religion."

Thanks for being honest enough to call creationism what it is... the teaching of religion.

Here's a radical idea you might like... we could set up whole institutions, independent of the government, whose primary purpose is to teach religion to people. We could amend the Constitution to forbid the government from interfering with these institutions... hell, we could even make them tax exempt, to really drive home the separation. This would nicely solve the problem of which religious viewpoint should be taught in public schools science classes... that would be left up to these newfangled institutions instead!

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are AdBlock's Days Numbered?

jheath314 Here's a radical idea... (731 comments)

If people are blocking your ads, it's probably because they're not interested in seeing the god damn ads. Sneaking past the ad blocker won't result in me going "gee, you got me, I'll be good and click on your ad now." More likely it will piss me off to the point where I stop visiting your site.

Stupid marketers and their "arms race" mentality was what resulted in people developing and using adblock and noscript in the first place. "What do you mean people still aren't clicking on our ads? It's got a dancing monkey with a flashing background and it occupies half the browser window! Fine, we'll make it play music too, and pop up fifty windows... maybe THEN they'll realize the error of their ways and click on it."

about 3 months ago

New Class of "Hypervelocity Stars" Discovered Escaping the Galaxy

jheath314 Re:Not the only supermassive black hole... (150 comments)

It's possible, I suppose. The Andromeda galaxy is the closest large neighbor to the Milky Way, and it is 2.5 million light years away. At "more than a million miles per hour" (0.0015 c) a star would take only one or two billion years to make the trip across the intergalactic void... a long journey, to be sure, but doable within a stellar lifetime. However, because our galaxy occupies less than 1% of the sky as seen from Andromeda, the odds of randomly flung stars hitting our galaxy from that distance away seems pretty low.

about 3 months ago

EdX Drops Plans To Connect MOOC Students With Employers

jheath314 Re:Not Surprising (59 comments)

TL:DR I got kicked out of college for videotaping the lectures without permission.

about 4 months ago

Snowden Document Shows Canada Set Up Spy Posts For NSA

jheath314 Re:Enough (177 comments)

That's been been tried before... the results usually aren't so good.

about 4 months ago

Massive Exoplanet Discovered, Challenges Established Planet Formation Theories

jheath314 Re:Can someone who knows about astronomy fill me i (129 comments)

I'm guessing you meant 1800 arcseconds, unless the moon really let itself go while I wasn't looking and is now several thousand light years across. :)

about 4 months ago

EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet

jheath314 Re:Cop was "in his car"? (1010 comments)

Exactly... he could have done it a hundred times, in which case he would have stolen five whole dollars worth of electricity. This is super serious stuff, people.

about 5 months ago

Disabled Woman Denied Entrance To US Due To Private Medical Records

jheath314 Re:very understandable (784 comments)

Congratulations... by keeping a gun in your home, you've substantially increased the risk that you, your loved ones, or your neighbors will die by accidental shooting, suicide, or homicide. On the other hand, you've done virtually nothing to reduce the risk of being a victim of a crime, nor have you reduced the risk of being injured during a home break-in.

Of course, those are just the statistics... no doubt you are exceptional and much more careful than all those other guys who brought a gun home thinking it would make them safer.

about 5 months ago

No Such Thing As a Tax-Free Lunch At Google?

jheath314 Re:No you don't. (631 comments)

Funny... I use Europe as evidence that the conservative obsession with austerity as a solution for recession is a recipe for failure. The Greeks have been implementing increasingly brutal austerity measures for years, and yet (as Keynes would have predicted) their deficit is only getting worse as revenues collapse faster than they can cut spending.

Nevertheless, despite the abysmal failure of the austerity measures in Europe, the conversation in America is all about cutting spending rather than stimulating growth. It's like conservatives "don't have the ability to learn anything that they haven't been subjected to themselves."

1 year,11 days

Boeing Touts Fighter Jet To Rival F-35 — At Half the Price

jheath314 Re:This is not news (497 comments)

Who is "them"? Seriously... name one country we'd realistically need these planes to fight.

Russia and China have nukes and missiles. Just try "blowing their radars to shit", and watch as the resulting war immediately escalates way beyond the "planes dog-fighting in the air" stage. Besides, war with China simply isn't going to happen... not while they (quite literally) own our asses, and manufacture all our stuff.

So who does that leave? Iran and North Korea are decades behind our existing tech... hell, Iran's latest "stealth fighter" was an obviously fake plastic model. Mighty hard to justify an arms race when the opponent is a one-legged cripple and we've got a 30 year head start.

The only countries that have planes that could possibly dog fight against ours (Europe, Canada, etc.), also happen to be our allies. I guess we could hope one of them turns evil so that we'll finally have an excuse for needing these fancy, useless weapons.

Ever notice how in movies like Top Gun they never really identified which country they were fighting against in the climactic dog-fighting scene? Even in a fictional setting it was too difficult for the writers to identify a realistic enemy for our fighters to play with. In reality, we're much more likely to need ground-support craft like the A10, if not drones, for the kinds of air battles we actually engage in.

about a year ago

Congressman Introduces Bill To Ban Minting of Trillion-Dollar Coin

jheath314 Re:Can't America get its acts together ? (1059 comments)

How did this get moderated insightful? We're not talking about "getting the world to buy" a trillion dollar coin. This isn't even about the willingness of other nations to extend credit to the US and buy American debt, which they're quite willing to do.

This whole mess is about Congress threatening to default on paying for the debts they had previously voted to accumulate via an arcane "debt ceiling" rule, and Obama potentially using a procedural loophole to raise that artificial ceiling and deprive them of that weapon. It's equivalent to moving money from my left pocket to my right... it doesn't actually change how rich or in-debt I am, but it makes a difference procedurally.

Incidentally, I agree that reducing the deficit is important in the long term... ideally we should be running surpluses during times of growth. During times of contraction and crisis, however, it's a remarkably stupid idea to reduce spending by hacking away at the safety net, as we're seeing in Greece in recent years.

about a year ago

US Birthrate Plummets To Record Low

jheath314 Re:Basis of the US economy (567 comments)

This is a problem with the US economy in general - it is based on growth.

If by "growth" you mean primarily population growth, this is balderdash.

Historically speaking, the way the US became an economic giant was by increasing productivity at rates far higher than mere population growth (thereby raising living standards and income per capita.) Things like mechanization, industrialization, automation, and the information age have made it possible for an individual in each successive generation to produce more than individuals from prior generations. If the US economy only grew at the same pace as the population, then on a per capita basis that's the same as standing still, which is clearly not the case for most of US history.

In fact, I'd argue it was the lack of population that fueled American innovation since early colonial times. When confronted with vast resources and a shortage of labor, the early pioneers were forced to develop the technologies that could amplify any one individual's efforts. (At least in the North. In the South they attempted to solve the labor shortage through the importation of slaves.) Contrast this with Europe, which had the inverse problem of large population and limited land, which made increasing individual productivity less of a priority.

If the US population stopped growing today, economic growth would still be fueled by gains in productivity, just as it always has been.

about a year ago

72% of Xbox 360 Gamers Approve of "More Military Drone Strikes"

jheath314 Re:Or... (446 comments)

We weren't in Afghanistan before 9/11, and yet Al Qaeda used it as a base of operations anyway. Furthermore, leaving Afghanistan won't make it suddenly peaceful and terrorist-free... much the opposite, in fact. Premature withdrawal gives us the worst of both worlds: all the hatred engendered by the original invasion and occupation, plus a power vacuum in the region created by leaving the work of reconstruction half-finished. Sounds like the perfect environment for incubating more terrorists. Pretending we can simply walk away without negative consequences is naive at best.

That said, I agree that our meddling in the Middle East has caused enormous problems, and the less meddling we do the better off we'll be. The problem is that there's no easy solution to the current predicament: occupation with troops, drone strikes, or complete withdrawal... they each have drawbacks.

about a year and a half ago

Canadian Spying Case Proves Floppy Drive Isn't Dead Yet

jheath314 Re:Make fun of them all you want. (148 comments)

Maybe not France, they can give up for a very low cost in defense spending.

Number of US soldiers killed before the courageous Americans cut and run from Vietnam: 47,000

Number of French soldiers killed before the army mutinied in WWI (refusing to engage in pointless offensives, fighting only to maintain defense): 978,000

Talk all you like about French cowardice, my dear armchair General, but when the going gets tough it is the Americans who get going... straight for the exits.

about a year and a half ago

Electric Car Environmental Impact: Power Source Matters

jheath314 Re:Captain Obvious (341 comments)

Letâ(TM)s do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, using the Chevy Volt as an example. In electric mode, the Volt gets about 22 kWh / 100 km, (so it is one of the least efficient electric vehicles out there⦠the best ones get 10 kWh / 100 km). Coal power generation produces about 1 kg of CO2 per kWh, so the âoeCO2 efficiencyâ of the Volt on an entirely coal-fed diet is 22 kg CO2 / 100 km.

The closest analog for the Volt that I can find is the Chevy Cruze, which the EPA rated about 9.8 L / 100 km for inner city driving. (Please feel free to correct me if you find a gasoline car which is a closer match for the size / power of the Volt). Burning gasoline produces approximately 2.4 kg of CO2 per L, so the CO2 efficiency of the Cruze is 23 kg CO2 / 100 km. Even given our unrealistic assumption of 100% coal-derived power, the electric vehicle comes out (slightly) ahead.

Keep in mind, coal accounts for only 45% of American electricity, while cleaner-burning natural gas accounts for another 23%. (The remainder comes from nuclear, hydro, wind, etc.) Natural gas produces 0.2 kg CO2 per kWh, as opposed to 1 kg, so in a more realistic calculation the Volt gets about 10 kg CO2 / 100 km, which more than twice as efficient as the gasoline car! The comparison gets even more favorable to electric when you consider other, more efficient electric cars (the Volt is one of the worst).

I should also point out one other way my quick calculation above is biased in favor of gasoline: the CO2 number for electricity includes losses due to transmission and distribution, while the number for gasoline does not (I only counted the CO2 of the gasoline that ends up in your tank.) For a true apples-to-apples comparison, we should include the considerable CO2 emissions that come with refining and shipping petrol.

Iâ(TM)ll admit my numbers are rather simplistic, so if you can point out any errors Iâ(TM)ve made I would welcome the correction. However, it seems to me pretty clear that you have no idea what you're talking about when you say it is "obvious" that electric cars are not greener than their gasoline-burning predecessors.

about a year and a half ago

Copenhagen Suborbitals Seeking $10k In Crowdfunding For New Space Capsule

jheath314 These guys don't screw around (31 comments)

They conduct their launches from a marine platform that they tow out to sea using the fully functional submarine that they built for a previous project.

Also, in reply to the surprising number of negative responses questioning why a bunch of enthusiasts should build a giant rocket...
a) because it's awesome, and
b) because they can. /. is a community of hackers (in the proper sense of the term), and building your own manned rocket qualifies as an epic hack. Technology shouldn't be just a shiny black box made by a corporation somewhere for us to consume in the approved ways... it should be something we tear apart and put back together, modify it and use it to unconventional ways that were never intended.

The world is full of black boxes, and full of people who want to tell us never to peak inside. Good on these guys for ignoring the nay-sayers and having the courage to build something awesome.

about a year and a half ago

Scientists Find Gene That Predicts Happiness In Women

jheath314 Re:Spoilers (323 comments)

For most of human history as it turns out, women were not given much choice on who they'd have sex with, and rape was a viable and commonly-practiced method of procreation.

Now it's your turn to back up your assertions. While I agree that there has been a significant power difference between the genders for most (if not all) of human history, that is different from saying women had not much choice in the matter of who they ended up with. Humans are relatively unique among the primates in using pair-bonding as the dominant reproductive strategy (where almost every male has a chance to pass on his genes), rather than the alpha-male hierarchy seen in chimp, gorilla, and other ape societies. Genghis Khan is notable because he is the exception, rather than the rule, in our social organization.

Moreover, I would argue that human intelligence, and much of the culture that flows from it, is a sexually-selected trait, much like the feathers on a peacock's tail... females are generally attracted to men who can conspicuously show off their mental agility and creativity through displays such as music and dance, or through the accumulation of wealth. If women had no choice in who they mated with, these displays would be pointless from an evolutionary perspective. It is precisely because women had a choice in who they paired with that the selection pressure for intelligence far exceeded what was necessary for mere survival of the species.

about a year and a half ago

Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business?

jheath314 Re:Abused, yes. Most abused, probably not. (287 comments)

Sorry to disappoint you, but a group cannot produce more than the sum of each person.

It depends how you define the "sum", but it is very clear that some ways of organizing labor result in far more productivity than what you would get if each person on the team simply worked on their own. Adam Smith had a very memorable description of a pin factory in his book The Wealth of Nations:

"One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; [...] I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. [...] But if they had all wrought separately and independently, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day"

The division of labor, which later lead to the assembly line, was one of the key innovations behind the spectacular increases in productivity during the Industrial Revolution. Evidently there are ways of organizing teams to produce results greater than the sum of the individual contributors.

about a year and a half ago


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