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Comment Re:What are we forgetting... (Score 1) 196

Big asteroids are a valid concern, and very long-term I do believe humans should work at establishing a human presence on other worlds (starting with the Moon), however asteroid bombardment should *not* be a factor in driving humans to inhabit other worlds.

It would be far, far easier for us to improve our capabilities for detecting large asteroids, and then deflecting them, than to figure out how to live on Mars. Dealing with asteroids is not that hard: first we have to actually invest some resources into looking for the damn things. We do a little of that right now, but not nearly enough, as the strike in Russia a couple years ago proved. This isn't hard; we just need more probes in orbit, or perhaps in Solar orbit closer to the Sun (to spot ones that we can't see from here because the Sun's light drowns them out). Second, we need to develop the capability of deflecting them. With good enough detection, this isn't hard: you just send a big craft up there with some engines (probably ion engines) and a lot of fuel and run them for a long time to push it into a slightly different and safer orbit. If you have enough forewarning, it's not that hard, because a little movement will make a big change in trajectory over a long time. The key here is having enough forewarning; if your detection efforts are so lame that you have very little warning, then you're not going to be able to avert disaster.

Simply put, it'd be a lot easier and cheaper for us to invest in some space-based telescopes optimized for detecting Earth-crossing asteroids than to develop all the technology and infrastructure needed for establishing a colony on Mars. And the end result is better too: instead of some small colony on Mars surviving while the bulk of humanity perishes, along with the most livable planet for humans, we can keep our planet and the entire human race intact.

But if we're too stupid and short-sighted to invest in some telescopes, then maybe we deserve to be wiped out like the dinosaurs.

Comment Re:People ARE what we are sending (Score 1) 196

Not really.

Hawaii is a really nice place for humans to live: the weather is perfect, it's lush and beautiful, there's all kinds of fun things to do like swimming, surfing, scuba diving, exploring rain forests, etc.

If you found yourself magically transported to Hawaii in prehistoric times, perhaps with a small group of intelligent people, you could pretty easily survive there by living off the land. There's wood for making huts and burning, there's extremely fertile land for farming, there's vegetation that can be eaten, there's fish in the ocean nearby that you can fish, you don't have to worry about freezing to death, the air is clean, etc. Or, in modern times, if you can afford it, it's a great place to live too, especially if you can afford a nice house on the beach.

Mars isn't like that at all. You can't go outside, you can't breathe the thin atmosphere, you'll get radiation sickness, you can't easily grow food, there's no liquid water (humans tend to like bodies of water), etc. Maybe if you really like living underground in an artificial habitat, it'll be a nice place for you to live, but if you like being outside, it'll really suck. I suppose if you could make the underground habitats big enough and Earthlike enough (with giant artificial forests and lakes), it wouldn't be so bad, but that'd be quite a project. It'd be a lot easier to just stop messing up this planet so much.

Comment Re:Plant plants (Score 1) 196

Actually, no, it's "boarders" now. The English language is defined by popular usage, and roughly half the American population believes that "boarder" means "a dividing line" (what you think of as "border"). This is seen in every online message board where the topics of "enforcing the boarder", illegal immigration, etc. comes up. When a large enough fraction of the population makes the same mistake, it become the correct usage.

Maybe if we had some decent public education in this country, this wouldn't have happened.

Comment Re:Plant plants (Score 1) 196

That's not that much lower. Here on Earth we have things called "clouds" that reduce our usable sunlight; Mars doesn't have those, nor much of an atmosphere to speak of. We also grow food just fine in cooler months (when there's less sunlight per day), especially when we use greenhouses. This isn't like trying to grow food on Pluto.

At the worst, we could build big greenhouses which have sunlight concentrators on the roof, like giant Fresnel lenses. They wouldn't need to concentrate the light that much, since there's only 50% less sunlight than on Earth, so the area of the roof would only need to be 25-50% larger than the area of the farmland (due to the mitigating factors I mentioned above: no clouds, less atmospheric attenuation, selection of grops that need less sunlight, etc.).

Comment Re:It gives me pleasure to introuce you to the fut (Score 2) 147

Well, what's your alternative? Send more human cops in so they can get shot dead by a terrorist who's heavily armed? Sending in a robot with a bomb was a bit extreme, but under those circumstances, it was warranted. If they had had a flying Taser drone, that would have been preferable (maybe, depending on your POV), as it's less-than-lethal and most likely would have incapacitated the shooter instead of killing him.

For extreme situations, I don't see what the problem is here, and a flying Taser makes perfect sense as something to have for such cases. Police have had special weapons for a long, long time: SWAT teams ("SW" is for "special weapons") have been around since the early 1980s, and they're normally only brought out in extreme cases. The fact that they've been overused in recent years in some localities is a failure of governance, but the answer isn't to take all the guns away from all police because then you'll have really serious criminality problems and no police at all; the answer is to get some better politicians, namely at the local levels where they have direct oversight over police departments.

Comment Re:About time. (Score 1) 627

Really? Is there any evidence of this? I have serious doubts that servers and food preparers were any good at this even before the whole GF craze. Just look at how it is for people with severe peanut allergies today: everyone's heard about it now, and knows how dangerous and life-threatening it is for these people to consume them, yet we still have reports of restaurants being sloppy and someone having an attack or even dying because of this. You just can't trust a bunch of underpaid fools in a restaurant kitchen to not cross-contaminate foods, unless that restaurant explicitly specializes in food free of a certain allergen (like a gluten-free bakery for instance). People like that really shouldn't be eating out at all; it's just not safe.

Comment Re:About time. (Score 1) 627

People also specialize a lot more now than in the past. If you are in an office full of programmers and all you ever see are other programmers then the chances of you marrying another programmer is higher than if you are in a mixed environment office.

You might have a point about doctors marrying other doctors, but not programmers. That almost never happens, because there's so few women in programming. 90+% of male programmers are not going to marry female programmers because they simply don't exist.

From my experience, programmers and engineers seem to generally marry women who have absolutely nothing to do with tech. The ones who marry "up" the most will marry lawyers or accountants, the rest seem to marry "down" (i.e. a woman who's not a professional, like a secretary or a stay-at-home wife). And a bunch of them seem to stay perpetually single, because women in this culture generally despise men like this.

I believe age of parents is a risk factor. The other big risk factor is if you have autistic traits yourself. If you have autistic traits then your kids are more likely to have those traits and also more likely to have full blown autism.

Now this I can't disagree with in any way. And perhaps more specialization and people marrying within their profession has a little to do with it, but personally I think age has more. And since professionals/"high IQ" type people also tend to be the people who have kids at older ages, compared to less-educated people, there's going to be a big correlation here.

Comment Re:About time. (Score 1) 627

I'm not disagreeing, as I think you may have a valid point about self-selection and high-IQ people, however what was different in the past 100 years or so about how high-IQ people dated and found partners? Are you alleging that high-IQ people generally married stupider people in the past, before dating sites become popular? (This may very well be true, I'm just posing the question.)

I do think it'd be interesting to do a big study on autism-spectrum kids and look at their parents.

But one factor I think that may be much bigger is the parents' ages. People are having kids later in life now than in the past. Women are waiting until their 30s and even 40s before having kids, whereas 50 years ago they always did it in their 20s. Back then, people married younger, and women frequently didn't go to college, so it was probably perfectly normal for a high-IQ man to go to college, finish up in his early 20s (or mid 20s if he did an advanced degree), and then marry a younger woman who's in her very early 20s, and start popping out kids right away. These days, women are all going to college (colleges are now 60% female, 40% male from what I read), and getting professional careers since they can't count on marrying a man to support them (both because of divorce and also the need for dual incomes to maintain a middle-class lifestyle), so they're waiting until much later. Both sperm and egg quality is affected by age, egg quality moreso since the ova are all generated early in a woman's life and don't regenerate.

Comment Re:About time. (Score 1) 627

My mother was a nurse. I met some of her coworkers, and even worked in the same hospital for a little while as food service worker before college. Not only did they not impress me with their intelligence, I thought it really interesting just how many of these nurses were smokers and had to take regular smoke breaks. My mother complained a lot about how they could take paid time to go outside and smoke, but she wasn't supposed to because she wasn't a smoker.

I'm sorry, but anyone who willingly smokes cigarettes is not someone I'm going to trust over an MD for medical advice.

Comment Re:About time. (Score 1) 627

I've never heard that there's different strains of Measles, and I suspect it's not true.

What *is* true is that getting a vaccine does not necessarily make you immune to the virus. There's a 90-something percent chance it'll work for you, but there's some small chance it won't "take". Nothing's perfect in biology. But this isn't normally a problem because when 90+% of the population is properly vaccinated, we get "herd immunity", and the virus becomes extremely rare or even extinct because there's insufficient vectors to spread it. So if you're one of the unlucky few who don't gain lasting immunity to the virus, you'll probably never notice because the disease is so rare due to herd immunity that you're never exposed to it.

The big problem with these anti-vax morons is that when too many people listen to them, too many people (usually children) go unvaccinated, and the whole herd immunity protection breaks down and we get outbreaks at Disneyland.

And it's not just an unlucky 1% or so who don't gain immunity for some reason, there's also a small portion of the population that's allergic to the vaccine or can't have it for some valid medical reason: those people are also relying on herd immunity to keep them safe from infection, so these anti-vax assholes are putting their lives at risk too.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 126

I spent quite a bit more than that for my phone, but it too was a used phone from Ebay, a Galaxy S5 (about $150). I'm quite happy with it, and a couple of years ago when it was new it was the fanciest phone out there, and still is very, very nice (plus it has great CyanogenMod support, lots of cheap repair parts available in case something breaks, cheap OEM batteries available, etc.). It's still getting regular OS updates too. I'm quite happy with it and don't see why I'd want to pay any more than that for a phone when I can get a barely-used flagship phone for so cheap just by staying a couple years behind the cutting edge. Phones have plateaued technologically anyway, so I don't see how newer phones are really any better; I don't need a 4k screen, when my 1080p screen already looks fantastic. Maybe in 2-3 years I'll upgrade to what's state-of-the-art today.

I agree about Ting too. I have 3 phones on that, and the bill is around $55/month, so less than $20/month per phone. It helps using WiFi calling when I'm at home to keep my usage down.

Comment Re:They are richer (Score 1) 126

That's not necessarily true. I've noticed, and I've seen at least one other comment in this discussion here saying, that a lot of people with the latest iPhones are frequently people who complain about money problems and are not even remotely rich. The monthly payment plan makes it possible for them to afford these phones, even though they really have no business spending that money on a high-end phone when they don't have any savings and probably wouldn't be able to pay their rent if they had a hiccup with their paycheck.

Comment Re:A well known psychological bias (Score 1) 126

MP3s are very lossy, and there really is a difference between 128kbps and 160kbps (not "kps", that's kilometers per second) files, particularly in the upper ranges.

However, if you're talking about actually recoding an existing 128k MP3 to 160k, instead of going back to the lossless version (CD/WAV or FLAC) and re-encoding from that, then yeah, that's really, really stupid. You can't get more information out of less information.

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