top It's True: Some People Just Don't Like Music
Richard Feynman said music sounded like noise to him. Didn't make any difference what type of music it was.
He did however, like rhythm which is why he played percussion instruments.
top Internet Shutdown Adds To Venezuela's Woes
Joseph Kennedy sings his praises
top Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse?
...complete with regulators that would end up working for the companies they regulate.
And of course, said regulators would raise the price of entry so that the incumbents would have a natural advantage.
What a novel idea!
top Global-Warming Skepticism Hits 6-Year High
Indian Chief paid $55,000 to attend anti-oil rally.
Synopsis: The Tides Foundation paid $55,000 to a Ltd Corporation that has is owned by another corporation that has changed its name twice in the past four years. The Indian chief is a director of the holding corporation. Tides made 25 different payments to anti-oil sands activists in a single year.
There's nothing wrong with paying money to support a cause you believe in but it's damn fishy when the money is flowing through corporations that are held by other corporations which keep changing their names. It indicates an attempt to hide who is actually receiving the money and how much money is flowing to said individuals.
The Saudis and Russians have a vested interest in stopping oil development in North America so it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them funding anti-oil activists.
about a month and a half ago
top Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case
Back in the day, software was not patentable as it was treated akin to a mathematical formula. The one patent I was aware of was a patent Atari snuck through by designing a circuit that XOR'ed a bit pattern to change the color a TV was displaying to avoid burn in. They patented the circuit and tucked a sentence into the patent that said they also claimed any implementation in software as well but the primary patent was for the circuit. We relied on copyright protection and pretty much ignored patents. Then the Supreme Court made a few rulings that opened the door to the possibility of patenting software.
Following up on the rulings, the Patent Office embarked on a series of "hearings" held around the country ostensibly to see whether it was a good idea to patent software or not. This was sometime in the early 90's. Towards the end of their tour, they finally brought their dog and pony show to San Jose.
Literally, almost *EVERY* developer testified that it was a really bad idea. The one exception that I recall was some idiot with a beauty salon app that would show you what you would look like with various hair styles. The rest of the developers said "No. We don't want this - it's a really, really, bad idea." Several developers made the point that we weren't constrained by a paucity of ideas as much as choosing which ideas to implement well.
The other group that was there in some numbers were attorneys - I recall Borland sent their corporate attorney. To a man, the attorneys all testified in favor of the idea.
Towards the end of the testimony, one of the developers pointed out the fact that the only people who seemed to like the idea were the attorneys. At which point, the Patent Office person (can't remember his name but iirc he headed the department at the time.) grinned and said something to the effect that the attorneys tended to get their way.
And they did. The people whom patents ostensibly protected were ignored in favor of the attorneys.
top Army Laser Passes Drone-Killing Test
How well a reflective surface would work would depend on the laser's power and frequency. Mylar doesn't reflect all frequencies of light and is imperfect at reflecting the ones it does. Pour enough joules onto the target and you don't care that 90% of them are being deflected - the remaining 10% will do the job.
I've always thought that the ideal anti-mortar device would be a radar that told you exactly where the mortar round came from. "You shooting at us? Here, have a little present in return."
top Scientists Says Jellyfish Are Taking Over the Oceans
Restore the plankton and you've restored the bottom of the food chain.
The plankton have
died off by at least 40% over the past 60 years. John Martin at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute hypothesized in the early 90's that the die-off was due to diminishing iron in the ocean surface waters. He was quoted as saying "Give me a freighter full of iron fertilizer and I'll give you an ice age." meaning that spraying iron onto the ocean's surface would re-populate the plankton and they in turn would consume the excess CO2 that's currently acidifying the oceans.
In 2002, MBARI validated his hypothesis that spraying iron fertilizer would engender a
plankton bloom. Subsequent studies have replicated MBARI's results.
Seems to me that if someone were to claim a 100 square mile chunk of ocean, they could fertilize it, seed it with anchovies and start a very profitable aqua farm. They would be harvesting a variety of predator fish such as bass and tuna once they discovered the anchovies feasting on the plankton. Since the farm wouldn't harvest all of the carbon the plankton consumed, it'd be a net carbon sink.
top How Car Dealership Lobbyists Successfully Banned Tesla Motors From Texas
So he spends a good deal of time talking about how contributions are perverting the process and finishes his post with
And if you can spare it, kick in some money to my campaign. Lord knows that after this post, Iâ(TM)m not getting any money from the Texas Automobile Dealers Association.
top Chinese Developer To Build Ocean-Water Thermal Energy System
Hawaii already tried and failed at OTEC back in the late 70's. The difference between surface and deep water temperature determines the max theoretical efficiency and it turned out not to be high enough to make the process work given real-world heat losses.
After the OTEC project shut down, the state had a deep-water pipe off the Kona coast that they were wondering what to do with. Fortunately for Hawaii, at the same time the California Coastal Commission was making life miserable for an abalone farmer in California. He was trying to leverage some aquaculture research done at a marine lab near Monterey by seeking permission to sink a pipe into Monterey Canyon and pull up cold water to water his kelp which he would feed to the abalone. The Coastal Commission denied his request and so he picked up and moved to Hawaii where he started an abalone farm using the failed OTEC infrastructure.
The Commission's stupidity cost California taxes on a lucrative business as well a few jobs - a practice the state continues to this day.
The farm has done very well over the years. This species of kelp when doused with the deep cold water grows on the order of a foot a day. The farm harvests the kelp and chops it into little bits which are fed to baby abalone. The abs are harvested when they're a couple of inches across (way below legal limit if the abs were wild) and are shipped to Japan as an ultra-premium food.
top Tests Show That Deadly New Flu Could Spread Among People
In 2003 when a bird flu was sweeping through Asia,
Maurice Hilleman, a 20th century virologist who created more vaccines than all other virologists combined, said it would not turn into a pandemic. He turned out to be right: the pandemic didn't happen. During his career, Hilleman noticed that the flu pandemics have all been been associated with H1, H2 and H3 hemoglutens. The other 14 hemogluten groups, H4 through H17, haven't been associated with pandemics. Hemogluten is a protein that enables the virus to attach to the throat, and the flu virus has 17 different variants, numbered H1, H2, ...H17.
The other thing Hilleman noticed was that each of the flu pandemics has been separated from its former instance by 68 years. H2 caused pandemics in 1889 and 1957. H3 caused pandemics in 1900 and 1968 and H1 caused pandemics in 1918 and 1986. Based on that pattern, Hilleman thought the next flu pandemic would occur in 2025 when most people who were alive during the H2 1957 pandemic have died.
A key difference between the 1957 instance and the 2025 instance is the fact that the US no longer has any company willing to manufacture vaccines here - they're all overseas. Hilleman spotted the 1957 outbreak before anyone else did and bulldozed the design and manufacture of an effective vaccine in a matter of months. He knew the manufacturers personally and was able to coordinate them into gearing up the necessary production. A lot of what he did then would be impossible today given the FDA's increased power.
top Of 1000 Americans Polled, Most Would Ban Home Printing of Guns
And if you pray,
the contents of your prayers.
top Observed Atmospheric CO2 Hits 400 Parts Per Million
Bringing the numbers closer to human-scale, a 300 parts per million is the same as 3 parts per 10,000. Similarly 400 is 4 parts per 10,000.
So basically, we've gone from 3 molecules per 10,000 to 4 molecules of CO2 per 10,000 molecules of air.
In the same period,
plankton levels have declined over 1% per year since the late 1970's. John Martin at MBARI postulated that the decline was due to a decline of dissolved iron in the oceans. He's quoted as saying "Give me a tanker full of iron and I'll give you an ice age." A series of experiments, IRONEX and SOFEX demonstrated that he was right - adding iron caused the plankton to bloom. The SOFEX bloom lasted longer than the 45 days allotted to collect plankton samples. IRONEX demonstrated that the predators could find the bloom and feed on it.
You want to reduce CO2 levels? Stop hunter-gatherer style fishing and start farming the oceans. Of course, then the problems will be keeping the earth warm enough to avoid another ice age and preventing fish rustlers from making off with your harvest.
top No Such Thing As a Tax-Free Lunch At Google?
I was a majority owner of a software publishing business in the 80's. After we started making money, I decided to have the company buy health insurance for all the employees including myself. Treated the health insurance as an expense just like every other corporation did.
The difference was I was a majority owner of a privately held corporation. In 1989, the IRS decided that people in that situation should pay income tax on the health benefit. My employees weren't taxed, just the three officers/owners of the company were taxed.
Since we were the owners of the business, we decided to make ourselves whole by granting ourselves a raise equivalent to the tax burden. At the time, the federal tax rate was 36%, State taxes were 9% and social security and payroll added another few percent so we were paying close to 50% income tax. That meant for every $100 in additional tax we had to pay, we had to pay ourselves an additional $200 to cover the new tax. The reason was that when we gave ourselves a $100 raise to cover a $100 in taxes, we now had $100 additional income we had to pay 50% income tax on. Give ourselves another $50 raise and we have to pay $25 tax on that and so on.
There's an aphorism in conservative circles that governments tax activities they don't like and subsidize activities they do like. The IRS is saying they don't like Google employees getting their meals paid for even though Google can make an excellent argument for doing so. Doesn't matter.
The IRS has become so onerous in its demands on small businesses that I eventually threw in the towel even though the business was profitable most of the time. I didn't go into business to work for the government but that's basically what ended up happening.
top Man Who Pointed Laser At Aircraft Gets 30-Month Sentence
Somehow, I don't think the idiots who do this kind of thing read
This verdict would have a better chance of having its intended effect if the knuckleheads who think it might be a good idea to point a laser at someone got a flyer with their purchase that said "Point it at someone - go to jail."
top Evidence For Comet-Borne Microfossils Supports Panspermia
Bill Plait's take on this story.
top How Power Failures Corrupt Flash SSD Data
Which makes it difficult for anyone to duplicate the study to see if the results persist.
The author says the power was killed at randomly selected times so perhaps the drives that survived power loss happened to be hit with power loss when they weren't vulnerable to data loss. Without someone replicating the study, it's hard to know if this guy's results mean anything.
top U.S. Reps Chu and Coble Start Intellectual Property Caucus
It doesn't matter who is voted into office, what matters is who is willing to pay for the campaign. It takes money to run for Congress and these creatures are acting no differently than their predecessors or successors.
It takes a small number of people with a strong vested interest to fund a campaign when the opposition is not willing to fund an counter campaign. To wit
Judy Chu, a Democrat, has raised $80,000 from people, pacs and companies associated with the movie industry.
Howard Coble, a Republican, has raised $40,000 from the same sources.
$120,000 tells you why these people are doing this. Slashdot isn't raising $120,000 against the legislation so it goes forward..
This snippet sums it all up,
"I've put in two calls to your PAC director, and I haven't received any return phone calls," the Congressman said, according to Williams. "Now why am I taking this meeting?" The minute he left the office, Williams called his PAC director, and she cut those checks. "
top In 2011, Fracking Was #2 In Causing Greenhouse Gas In US
From the article:
> “We know how to fix many of these problems; we just need to make the decision to do it.”
From this article,
U.S. CO2 emissions are at a 20 year low
Combine the two ideas and you have to wonder if there are people with an agenda to kill fracking no matter what the facts are as opposed to ensuring fracking is done sensibly.
top Facebook Paid 0.3% Taxes On $1.34 Billion Profits
I suspect the poster, as most people, choose not to pay more tax than they're required to pay.
top NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station
It's quite simple really.
You slice off a chunk the size of a suv, attach a metal cylinder to the back of it and drop it into the atmosphere. The rock vaporizes from the reentry heat and the trailing cylinder captures and distills the vapors. The cylinder acts like a refinery column and segregates the various metals according to their heat of vaporization.
The main risk is pirates snagging your cylinder after the refined metals have cooled but other than that it's easy peasy.