top Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry
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
top Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity
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.
top A DC-10 Passenger Plane Is Perfect At Fighting Wildfires
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.
top Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White
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 a month and a half ago
top Apple's Diversity Numbers: 70% Male, 55% White
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 a month and a half ago
top Australia Rebooting Search For MH370
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.
top Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet
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.
top Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo
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.
top Tech Workforce Diversity At Facebook Similar To Google And Yahoo
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.
top Elon Musk: I'll Put a Human On Mars By 2026
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.
top Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's
I thought that competitive business was supposed to hire the most qualified and motivated candidates? Seriously, get out there, carve out your own space, and get hired! "Diversity" is just a politically correct buzzword and is not guaranteed to lead to an agile workforce..
Except that African-Americans
represent 10% of graduating students and about the same percentage of computer science grads. Even among an Ivy-League technical college like MIT, blacks represent 8% of the college body. I can't expect Yahoo and Google to fix social problems in the US, but I would expect that their employee ethnic makeup roughly reflect the ethnic makeup of the colleges from which they are recruiting from. The fact that their percentage of black students is 8-10 times lower than their available recruiting pool implies to me either a systematic bias or discrimination in their hiring practices.
top Mayday Anti-PAC On Its Second Round of Funding
At least now, bad as it is, I get to contribute to groups that represent my views, even if imperfectly.
Seriously, with all the abuses of other moneyed interests,(mine, of course never abuse the system) no one has ever even tried to explain something better to me.
Here in Québec we have a campaign contribution limit of $100 per person, and a total campaign spending limit for each party of roughly $1 per elector in the province. This ensured that no one had a disproportionate financial impact in the election, while still allowing me to contribute to the group that I wished. Despite what may seem to be low limits, we had a healthy campaign, with a diverse number of parties. And considering that 4 different parties managed to elect representatives to the assembly, with a high rate of voter turnout, I'd say our democracy is faring better than in the U.S.
So yes, there are better models of campaign financing out there if the US was serious about campaign finance reform
top Group Demonstrates 3,000 Km Electric Car Battery
This is a hybrid system, with the Lithium-Ion battery being used for daily commutes and the Aluminum-Air battery only kicking for long distances. The regular range of an electric car like the Nissan Leaf is 135km, which covers most daily commutes, including yours. If you were only using the car for commuting and regularly charged the Li-Ion battery, the Al-air battery should in theory last indefinitely.
The Aluminum-Air battery will only be drained for those long-distance trips which exceed the range of the Li-Ion battery, and only then for the segments of the trip where the Li-Ion battery wasn't charged. Hence their claim that one ought to be able to extend the 3000km life-cycle of the Al-Air battery over at least 2 years.
top Canadian Teen Arrested For Calling In 30+ Swattings, Bomb Threats
There is huge risk in sending out the swat team, this has been proven time and time again, by far the safer and quicker response is by a properly managed police force and confirmation being sought by 'actively' patrolling police officers. No public call should ever, I repeat ever, activate the swat team, only a request by a senior officer on site should bring the dogs out.
And this appears to be exactly what happened in this case, as the kid is being charged with multiple
attempts at swatting only. The attempted calls to the investigative reporter were defused by calls from the local police department. The police appear to have learned their lesson from previous swatting incidents, and no tactical teams were deployed.
top Canadian Teen Arrested For Calling In 30+ Swattings, Bomb Threats
In the articles linked, it is mentioned that he is being charged with making bomb threats and
attempted swatting. In the case of the investigative reporter targeted, he was targeted three times and each time the situation was defused with a simple phone call from the police department or a drive-by from a beat cop, with no swat team intervention. Thus, despite concerns here about the police overreacting, the police in all cases calmly verified the situation, avoiding the need to send in a tactical team.
In the case of bomb threats, there is no way to properly verify the situation without doing a thorough search and evacuating the building. If you know better way, police departments across North America would like to know.
top Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down
This is why I am critical of the sharing economy. It is is the pinnacle of outsourcing where the management (uber, airbnb) reaps the cream of the profits at little risk, while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses. The responsible and ethical move for these companies would be to properly inform these subcontractors the insurance requirements, legal risks, local workplace standards required for operation, and try to assist them if possible to meet these requirements.
Instead, they prefer to claim ignorance and shoulder all responsibility on their user base. When legal problems inevitably arise, they cast their users/subcontractors adrift, letting them fend for themselves. It's utterly disgraceful.
top Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance
I don't understand the hatred towards Snowden for asking an important question regarding surveillance. From the linked article his question:
"So I'd like to ask you, does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"
It is a perfectly valid question which needs to be asked to all world leaders. While Putin's answer can certainly be seen as pure political spin, the question itself is a legitimate and forceful question to be posed. And by asking it, it forced Putin to provide an answer through which he can be measured against. He has basically said in nationwide tv that if they did have a mass surveillance system, the state would be breaking the law. This public statement can now be used to hold him accountable should evidence surface proving him as lying.
I would also argue that the question is a far more direct one regarding surveillance than any that has been posed to Obama. And unlike Putin, Obama insists such a surveillance program is legal and necessary. One cannot reform the system without admitting the problem first. Were Obama to give the same answer as Putin to that question, the repercussions would be enormous, as it places a moral and legal standard on the role of surveillance in our society from the chief executive of the nation itself.
top Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation
They've gotten themselves into autonomous cars, fiber optic internet, robotics, and Wi-Fi balloons.
That's all great, but if I was shareholder I'd be worried about what their long-term vision for the company is. Sure, their R&D projects are a geek's wet dream, but they are unfocused. They appear to try and cover any and all emerging technologies, from wide variety of disparate sectors. Apple tries to focus on the consumer electronics sector. Google? I'm not quite sure what they are trying to be, and as an investor I'd be wary in investing in a company with such a schizophrenic view of its future.
top Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients
A while back I was prescribed an anti-depressant. The doctor said he didn't know if it would work for me. He said it wasn't even well understood *how* it worked.
You had a bad and uninformed doctor. A good doctor should have at least a general idea of how the medication works, and he certainly shouldn't be prescribing drugs without knowing if they'd work or how!
That confused me because presumably whatever was in the pill was added for a reason, but clearly there's a lot of trial and error. And clearly there are extremely nasty side effects from many drugs.
So many pharmaceuticals' effectiveness may be overrated, as may be their safety. I'm not sure some medicinal plants are necessarily less effective or less safe.
Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work? For example, willow bark has salicin (from whence aspirin came), and has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates.
There may be side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, but they are well understood as a result of the extensive testing they are required to go through, and a lot of effort is made to minimize those side effects. Medicinal plants have the same range of side effects. The difference is herbal medicine doesn't go through scientific testing, it's side effects are not required to be labeled and are not as well understood. Drugs that are isolated from medicinal herbs will typically try to isolate the active ingredient, reducing the chances of side effects from other plant ingredients that may have unwanted pharmacological properties and refining the dosage to the minimum necessary.
The idea of treating the whole person instead of just the symptom is a growing concern in western medicine. This has always been the defining characteristic of homeopathy's holistic approach.
So many homeopathic treatments are almost certainly bunk, but throwing out all homeopathy may be short sighted, just as throwing out all of western medicine would be.
The defining characteristic of homeopathy is the "like cures like" approach, with medicine prepared from repeated dilution. This has been repeatedly proven to be bunk and without merit. If the core fundamentals of their medical approach is false, having been consistently disproven, why shouldn't the whole field be throw out as discredited and without merit?
top Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370
I assume the live-streaming solution you're talking about is the one proposed by FLYHT. Their proposed solution, however, would only send essential data at the moment an event is detected, and it wouldn't supersed a standard flight data recorder. It wouldn't carry cockpit voice recording, for example, which was essential in determining what happened in the case of AF447. With the Air France case as an example, the search for the black box would still have to be carried out to close the investigation. And while it may have narrowed the search area, we already had an idea of where it went down based on transponder and ACARS data. And the ACARS transmissions also provided a good idea of what the precipitating event was in that case. It is therefore unclear what the FLYHT system would have added in value to that event.
As to the MH370 case, as I mentioned it is quite likely that whatever took down ACARS and the transponder systems in the aircraft would have also affected live-streaming by any black box recorder. And even with some data streamed, you would still need to find the cockpit voice and flight data recorder to get a complete picture.