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Lunar Mission One Proposes To Take Core Sample, Plant Time Capsule On the Moon

wired_parrot Cynical of promises.... (69 comments)

I'm skeptical of anyone who thinks they can fund a complex lunar exploration mission as a kickstarter project.

All that I foresee coming out of this is a multi-year "consulting study", using the dreams and hopes of space enthusiasts to pay for it. In another words, one space consultant gets a paid multi-year sabatical, with a short assignment report on the Moon at the end as the only result.

But maybe I'm just a cynic when it comes to kickstarter projects and their promises....

about a week ago
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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

wired_parrot Re:Buyer Beware (472 comments)

Kickstarter is best described as a donation.

Kickstarter is best described as panhandling. In a donation, there is still an explicit agreement that the donated funds will go to a certain use. Kickstarter startups are more like a beggar on the street corner - you may give money with the intention for the beggar to buy food, but if he goes off to the liquor store to buy a bottle of booze instead, one shouldn't be surprised.

about a week ago
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US School Installs 'Shooter Detection' System

wired_parrot Re:Lol. (697 comments)

You could even buy them new books, computers, teacher's salaries, decent heating systems, lunch.

Why the number of things a student could more likely benefit from is just amazing!

Yes, and meanwhile a school in Philadelphia has to make do with a $160 budget, while they're debating blowing $100k per school for this system. Also keep in mind that the costs mentioned cover only the installation costs. Because this system requires a dedicated connection to the police, I assume they'll need to pay for a dedicated line, as well as the yearly maintenance costs and costs associated with false alarms.

about two weeks ago
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The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

wired_parrot Re:Uh, simple (246 comments)

Yep. Being a pioneer is all about finding new and interesting ways to die ... or the old ways in new settings.

In all the examples you cited, the pioneers in question didn't set out on a one-way trip to die - they fully intended to live. The explorers who first went to the South Pole, Everest, and other terrestrial extremes all planned on a return trip. In fact, I'd say it was their will to live that drove them on. Most had family and children, and when faced with adversity did all they could to live and return to their loved ones. Shackleton did not intend to die in the South Pole, and thus he was driven to push his men to extremes to overcome his challenges. It was his will to live to drove him on.

If you send a group of people to Mars who signed up to what is essentially a suicide mission, will they show the same will to live that will drive to overcome the first life-or-death challenge they face, or will they just cross their arms and accept their fate? Someone psychologically ready to die is the last person you want in such a trip, or as your crewmate.

about two weeks ago
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Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC

wired_parrot Legalize it, but regulate it (588 comments)

I'm all in favour of legalizing marijuana, but I also believe that it needs to be properly regulated while doing so. Smoking weed needs to be controlled in the same way that smoking tobacco currently is. Legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana needs to be clearly established, and part of the tax revenue from marijuana sales put into safety campaigns against driving while stoned.

This would be of benefit to the marijuana industry as well - establishing proper controls in its use will ensure that it is used in a responsible manner, and avoid a backlash from prohibitionists. All it will take is the image of a toddler killed by a stoned driver to incite the prohibitionists and undo legalization efforts - it would be better for the marijuana industry to seize the initiative now, and establish an image of responsible and controlled adult use.

about three weeks ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

wired_parrot Re:This is silly (720 comments)

It may be good for the economy. It may not be so good for the people who can no longer support themselves because they just lost their minimum wage job to a robot. It may not be good for the people who then get mugged by said hungry person either.!

Automating a job reduces the unit cost of producing that particular good, which is good for all workers. The reduce costs of goods means the purchasing power of every worker increases and therefore their real wages rise. The challenge for the workers made redundant is retraining them into a new economic role, but properly retrained there is no reason they should not be able to support themselves. Historically, since the industrial revolution the net effect of efficiency gains and automation has been economic growth and real wage gains.

about a month ago
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Ebola Does Not Require an "Ebola Czar," Nor Calling Up the National Guard

wired_parrot Creating a czar only creates problems (384 comments)

I've seen this happen at a lot of large bureaucracies, including my own company - problem arises, and CEO feels compelled to appoint a special "czar" to deal with the problem. This only creates additional problems:

- Being appointed directly by the executive, the czar is not responsible to anyone
- The special czar will be appointed without any additional budget, and thus has no power
- Being outside of the conventional hierarchy, no one reports to him, and thus will find difficulty obtaining cooperation from other groups
- Responsibility for the problem will already be clearly defined in the existing hierarchy - appointing a czar will only confuse existing responsibilities and create conflict with the group responsible for the problem.

I foresee the same problems arising here if an "Ebola czar" is created.

about a month ago
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Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

wired_parrot Re:Reasonable (144 comments)

Before this ruling Google ignored that line and treated everyone to the joy of living forever with the consequences of their actions without ever being able to make good. After this ruling, Google are forced to apply some basis for allowing some people to move on.

The problem is European politicians abdicated their responsibility to set clear guidelines for this ruling and left it up to Google to determine who does or doesn't live with the consequences of their actions. If the courts or legislators had set clear standards for applying this rule - such as specifying a period of time, say 7 years, after which records are to be forgotten, I'd be fine with it. As it is, this enormous power is in the hands of individual search companies, each applying their own differing standards. There's no clear framework for the victim of a crime to appeal against a criminal who wants to be forgotten, for example. These are decisions to be made by the courts and by the people through their legislators, not by a private company.

about a month and a half ago
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MIT Study Finds Fault With Mars One Colony Concept

wired_parrot Re:Practice colony in Antarctica first? (269 comments)

And despite all those advantages in Antarctica, we've only be able to establish seasonal colonies in the continent, and those have been entirely dependent on re-supply from outside for almost all their basic needs. And in Antarctica resupply is a infinitesimal fraction of a cost of what it would be in Mars.

Prove to me that we can establish a permanent, self-sufficient settlement in Antarctica first, and then we can consider Mars.

about a month and a half ago
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The flying car I'd like in my garage first:

wired_parrot Plane + car, not flying car (151 comments)

Flying cars are a terrible compromise by design. They're woefully underperforming as airplanes, and have terrible handling as cars. The additional mechanical complication of having a car and airplane in the same design means additional points of failure and reduced reliability. And finally, they're more expensive than buying a separate car and plane. The Terrafugia sells for more than a quarter of a million. One could buy a Cessna and a luxury sports car for a lot less, and still have money leftover for round-trip fare to the local airport on a daily basis for that price.

So, no, I'd rather have a separate car and plane rather than plunking money on a poor compromise.

about a month and a half ago
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Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

wired_parrot Re:The water wars are coming (151 comments)

Not to be too contrarian, but before we declare this an unmitigated disaster, shouldn't the cost of the destruction of the Aral sea be measured against the benefits of provided by the water that used to flow into it?

The soviet scientists involved with the water diversion were aware that the Aral sea would eventually dry up. In fact, the decline in sea level was observable from the very beginning. It is true the lake drying up was an intended and foreseen consequence.

However, what was unforeseen were the ecological consequences of the lake drying up, that has turned the dry lake bed into a salt desert where dust storms kicking up toxic sediments are a common occurrence. Without a large body of water to moderate the weather, nearby communities now experience hotter summers and colder winters. In effect, one desert has been traded for another.

And while diverting water for agricultural uses might be beneficial, most of the canals used for the diversion are not properly lined, experiencing significant water wastage during transport. And most of this water is being used for water-intensive crops like cotton and rice. Were good irrigation practices used, and if more suitable crops that required less water were used instead, it is likely only a fraction of the water would be needed. It also has to be kept in mind that the economic benefits agricultural irrigation has brought has to be balanced the economic loss resulting from the loss of fishery in the area,loss of tourism (some of the villages were once seaside resorts), and economic hardship resulting from the ecological changes to the landscape

about 2 months ago
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Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

wired_parrot Re:Mars has no magnetosphere (549 comments)

You could colonize a million people in Antarctica for a fraction of the cost of sending a million people to Mars. Unlike Mars, water and air are abundant in Antarctica, and the earth's magnetic field would provide protection from solar radiation. Transportation, not having to deal with leaving a gravity well, would be infinitely cheaper. And there is the possibility of finding oil and coal deposits in Antarctica, something very unlikely to happen in Mars. There would be issues of international law regarding ownership of the southern continent, but then the same issues exist for Mars.

Yet, despite this infinitely easier environment to survive in Antarctica, we've never managed more than seasonal colonies entirely dependent on resupply from the mainland, most of these bases clustered in edge of the continent where they are easily accessible, and none of them having permanent inhabitants. Once we manage to establish a permanent, self-sustaining settlement in the heart of the Antarctic Plateau, then we can discuss establishing a settlement on Mars.

about 2 months ago
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A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires

wired_parrot It's just simple economics (112 comments)

But some designs defy obsolescence

This isn't about obsolescence or a design that stands the test of time. This is about simple economics. The main reason airliners phase out old airplanes is that their operating costs are too high - their older engines are too fuel consuming compared to newer designs, and may not meet newer noise regulations for most commercial airports. Maintenance also becomes difficult to source with no new spare parts being produced.

Fire fighting aircraft fly under a different set of economics. They fly short flights, and only seasonally, so their fuel expenses are a smaller proportion of their expenses. They don't have to worry about noise regulations, because they don't fly out of commercial airports. And an older model that was produced in large volumes like the DC-10 means there is a large source of cheap junkyard parts to maintain these aircraft.

This isn't about the DC-10 being a good or bad design - it's just simple economics. What's expensive for a commercial airliner can be economical for a fire-fighting operation.

about 2 months ago
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Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

wired_parrot Re:Stupid (561 comments)

Problem is you are considered RACIST for suggesting they get a better education and not follow the ghetto culture.

It is racist to apply broad stereotypes to a class of people. The black people applying for those Apple jobs are college graduates, most likely coming from a middle-class background. The average black applicant has as much in common with the "inner-city ghetto culture", as you call it, as the average white applicant has in common with "white trailer-park trash".

about 3 months ago
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Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White

wired_parrot It's about ensuring fairness in hiring (561 comments)

There's a lot of misunderstanding here about these statistics. The purpose of releasing these numbers isn't to institute a "quota" system - it's to show that there is fairness in your hiring practice. The biggest criticism here appears to be that one can only hire the talent that is available, whatever race they may be. I agree with this - and if you're hiring practice is fair and open, the demographics of the hirees should closely match the talent pool from which you're hiring from. And for a large enough company (Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc.), the statistical deviation from that mean should be small. Incidentally, in my jurisdiction statistics like these are used to monitor hiring practices and ensure that no discrimination or hidden bias is occurring.

Apple's numbers appear to show a fair hiring practice, as their numbers at a glance match the applicant pools. For example, 10% of US college graduates are black, according to the US census survey, which closely matches their 9% of black non-tech workers. Google's and Yahoo's numbers, on the other hand, showed only 1% of non-tech workers as black. The implication from those numbers is that while the average black college graduate has an equal chance with his white counterpart of getting a job at Apple, he is 10x less likely to obtain a job at Google or Yahoo. That is where the cause for concern arises.

about 3 months ago
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Australia Rebooting Search For MH370

wired_parrot Re:How much have they spent already? (92 comments)

The money isn't being wasted. The search for the plane is creating a detailed oceanographic survey of the Indian ocean in an area of the sea that is not well explored. Even if the plane is never found, I'd say the sonar survey of the ocean bottom that will result from this search will be worth the money spent.

about 4 months ago
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Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

wired_parrot Re:Black box data streaming (503 comments)

Black box data wouldn't help in this case. The data from the black box would likely only show you a perfectly normal flight up to the second in which the missile hit. There's enough evidence to show that it was a missile strike, and the question now is who fired it. That evidence may be found in the debris of the missile that hit the aircraft, and in pinpointing the origin of the missile fire. The flight data recorder may provide supporting evidence that it was a missile strike, but it won't tell you who pulled the trigger.

about 4 months ago
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Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

wired_parrot Re:This means nothing without context (265 comments)

Even taking into account the lowest of your figures of 3.6% black graduates in Computer Science, this would still leave the 1% rate of black employees at Facebook substantially lower than their potential hiring pool. Also consider that Facebook reported that their percentage of black employees among non-tech workers is not any better at a measly 2%. Considering that blacks represent 10% of all college graduates, this would imply that your average black college graduate is 5 times less likely to be hired at Facebook than a person of different ethnicity.

Sorry if that doesn't give your axes a nice fine edge, folks, but the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook don't hire only misogynist racists for their HR departments - In fact, all three soundly beat the above graduation rates, making them arguably biased against hiring white males.

Their hiring numbers for women may be in line with graduation rates in computer science, but their minority hiring is significantly lower than graduation rates, no matter how you look at the numbers. And given their large employee sizes, this a statistically significant hiring bias. Turning a blind eye to the statistical reality won't make the problem go away.

about 4 months ago
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Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo

wired_parrot Re:This means nothing without context (265 comments)

What is the percentage of black, women, etc people with the skills and training that google, facebook, etc is looking for?

Are there out of work fully qualified programmers that can't work at facebook because they are black? Maybe the ratio is the way it is simply because there are not enough minorities looking for high end development work (Unlike baseball). That doesn't make it Facebook's fault if it is truly hiring the most qualified workers.

8% of MIT's class is black Among the general college population the numbers are closer to 14%. But even assuming Facebook, Google and Yahoo were exclusively recruiting from the top Ivy-league universities, their numbers should be significantly higher than the mere 1% of black employees that they are showing. If my company were showing such significantly different demographics from the graduate population they are recruiting from, especially among such a large employee base, we'd be under investigation for racial discrimination.

about 5 months ago
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Elon Musk: I'll Put a Human On Mars By 2026

wired_parrot Re:Ok, next question. (275 comments)

The type of person you want on a dangerous and risky mission to mars is one with strong survival instincts, one who will do everything in his means to ensure the survival of the mission. That is the exact opposite of the type of person who'd volunteer for a one-way mission. You do not want a person willing to die in charge of a multi billion dollar endeavour. And if you did volunteer on that mission, you wouldn't want your team members to be suicidally prone.

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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Warner Brothers announce slew of DC comics movies

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about a month ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "After being criticized for being slow to respond to Marvel's string of blockbuster superhero movies, Warner Brothers finally announced their plan for DC comic universe movie franchise. Yesterday at their annual shareholder meeting, WB announced 10 DC comics movies. The studio has unveiled an ambitious schedule that features two Justice League films, plus standalone titles for Wonder Woman, Flash, Shazam (Captain Marvel), Green Lantern, Cyborg and even Aquaman. Also announced were plans for 3 Lego movies and a three-part Harry Potter spinoff."
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First man to walk in space reveals how mission nearly ended in disaster

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about a month and a half ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "Nearly fifty years after the first spacewalk by soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, he's given a rare interview to the BBC revealing how the mission very nearly ended in disaster. Minutes after he stepped into space, Leonov realised his suit had inflated like a balloon, preventing him from getting back inside. Later on, the cosmonauts narrowly avoided being obliterated in a huge fireball when oxygen levels soared inside the craft. And on the way back to Earth, the crew was exposed to enormous G-forces, landing hundreds of kilometres off target in a remote corner of Siberia populated by wolves and bears."
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Facebook facing exodus of users to new social network

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about 2 months ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "Despite criticisms of its privacy policy and intrusive advertising, Facebook has managed to retain its users and maintain its spot as the top social network. Now, however, it appears that a new social network has exploded in popularity with a large numbers of Facebook users migrating over. The move appears to be spearheaded by artists, performers, and the LGBT community, dissatisfied with Facebook's policy on using real names. Ello, as the new social network is called, promises a pro-privacy stand and to remain ad-free, a claim it emphasizes in its manifesto. Can Ello succeed in dethroning Facebook?"
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Planes can be hacked via inflight wi-fi, says researcher

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about 4 months ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "In a presentation to be shown Thursday at the Black Hat conference, cybersecurity consultant Ruben Santamarta is expected to outline how planes can be hacked via inflight wi-fi. Representatives of in-flight communication systems confirmed his findings but downplayed the risks, noting that physical access to the hardware would still be needed and only the communication system would be affected."
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Thai police: we'll get you for online social media criticism

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about 6 months ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "After a leading protester of the recent military coup in Thailand made several critical posts in Facebook criticizing the military takeover, Thailand's Technology Crime Suppression Division tracked his location through his IP address and promptly arrested him.. The arrested was meant to send a message to Thailand's online community. Said the police: "I want to tell any offenders on social media that police will come get you"."
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NSA tracking movements of americans through cellphone location data

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about a year ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "In the latest Snowden documents leak, the Washington Post is reporting that the NSA is tracking hundreds of millions of cellphone locations worldwide. This data includes a large amount of American cellphone users collected "incidentally". This allows them to track people from afar into confidential business meetings or personal visits to medical facilities, hotel rooms, private homes and other traditionally protected spaces."
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NSA planned to discredit radicals based on web-browsing habits

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  about a year ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "New documents leaked show that the NSA was not only monitoring suspected radical sympathizers, but planned to discredit them based on their web-surfing habits. This includes not only evidence of porn browsing and online sexual activity, as well as extorsion and blackmail based on innapropriate use of funds. At the same time, the document leaked notes that very few of contacts noted were associated with terrorism"
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Air Force believes anti-g suit is cause of F-22's oxygen problems

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  more than 2 years ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "The USAF believes it may have identified the root cause of the F-22 Raptor's oxygen troubles: pilots are running into physiological limitations in attempting to breath oxygen while under high-g loads, leading to a condition know as acceleration atelectasis. This is being aggravated by the anti-g suit worn by pilots, which puts pressure in their chest. It may be that the F-22 has reached the edge of what a human pilot can handle"
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Growth of pseudoscience harming Australian universities

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  more than 2 years ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "The international credibility of Australia’s universities is being undermined by the increase in the “pseudoscientific” health courses they offer, two academics write in a recent article decrying that a third of australian universities now offer courses in such subjects as homeopathy and traditional chinese medicine, which undermines science based medicine. "As the number of alternative practitioners graduating from tertiary education institutions increases, further health-care resources are wasted, while the potential for harm increases.""
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Volkwasgen turns off e-mail after work-hours

wired_parrot wired_parrot writes  |  more than 2 years ago

wired_parrot (768394) writes "Responding to complaints from employees that email outside of working hours was disrupting their lives, Volkswagen has taken the step of shutting their email servers outside work-hours. Other companies have taken similar steps, with at least one taking the extraordinary step of banning internal e-mail altogether. Is this new awareness of the disruption work email brings on employee's personal life a trend?"
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