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Comment Re:Death To All Jews (Score 2, Interesting) 888

Putting natives population in camps so that you can move somewhere your great-great-great-("...-"*100)-great-grand-father lived is just plain wrong.

I'm not entirely sure that is the argument the Israelis put forward to justify their right to have their own state, but it is certainly the sort of argument you hear from the starry-eyed end-time evangelicals. But if that argument is legitimate, then would also be legitimate for the so-called 'Aryan' Germans to throw the Jews out of Germany with the same argument, or the Celts to 'reclaim' more or less all of Europe etc. Or the American Indians to throw out all of the European immigrants. It's nonsense, and it won't happen for all kinds of real-worl reasons.

Israel's legitimacy stems from the facts on the ground: they have to power to stay, so they will. But at the same time, it is deeply wrong, the way they have treated and still treat the Palestinians; it isn't unreasonable to compare the situation to things like apartheid or the segregation in Alabama in the past - there are many parallels, although there are also significant differences. There's no doubt in my mind that peace could have been achieved long ago, if Israel had acted with more decency and integrety.

Comment Re:Why not go the whole nine yards? (Score 3, Informative) 160

As others have already said, we don't really have a whole, undamaged genome for a mammoth, but an artificial uterus is technologically still very far beyond our capabilities. The only option is to implant the fetus in an existing animal, in which case there may be compatibility issues - the fetus has to be a reasonably close match to the mother, immunologically speaking. A hybrid may be close enough for it to be feasible, and perhaps it is possible to get closer and closer to 100% mammoth by adding more and more for each generation, who knows.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 1) 400

I feel I should make the effort to reply, since you seem to have taken it personally in a way that I didn't intend.

Since you're so willing to callously throw around epithets I'll engage your desires..."you're a moron"

You're welcome. And perhaps you are right - I wouldn't call it callous, though; callous people don't care, and I do. I sometimes start getting rather agitated about these issues, because I feel so many people are being willfully ignorant - they know the facts, but they choose to either ignore or misinterpret them in order to avoid reaching an uncomfortable conclusion.

1) 'resist even thinking about renewable energy'? Seriously, so what's all this solar, wind & other 'renewable energy' technology going in to production at 'record rates' that we keep hearing about?

It is good that there are increasing numbers who are moving that way, certainly. Regrettably, there are still many, who actively work against renewable energy - even people in powerful positions - so I think it is justified when I say that they resist even thinking about renewable energy, and they are also trying to prevent the rest of us from striving in that direction.

2) 'brainless consumerism' - who says its 'brainless'? Exactly what parts of the purchasing & use of products is 'brainless' in regards to people either enjoying their lives more, making it easier to live or being able to support the growing population?

Well, I was being polemic - what better word would you suggest for the fact that we over-produce goods are harmless to our health and the environment, and which to a great extent simply go to waste? Or products that do nothing to improve our lives, but simply drain our resources? It's what you can call stupid luxury: like when people buy expensive luxury foods that they don't like and can't really afford, only to throw it out.

Seriously you actually worry about how or what your grandchildren may have to live through?

It's called parenting instinct - many animals have this. When we have children, we want them to succeed and have good lives, and because as humans we can think far ahead, it is natural to do so. We can, so we should. Nothing religious about it.

As it is now, as long as we remain stuck here, regardless of what we do or don't do about climate change & all the other major issues that could or will cause our demise human kind is doomed anyway...

Getting off this planet may well happen at some point, but I don't think it will happen before we have learned to live sustainably on this planet; and anyway, if we can't live within the very generous resource limits we have here, how would we be able to survive in space or on another planet in the solar system, where things are far less favourable? But as I keep saying, it would really be such a small effort to change our ways.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 369

I can think of lots of things I'd like the house to do, and which are technically feasible.

So can I, but in my case it already does it: provide shelter, give me a private space etc. All this is a matter of taste, of course, but I don't want technology to do things for me, if it means that I will slowly forget elementary skills. A good example, in my view, is the ready-meal culture: what was once an obvious life-skill that everybody would need, is now regarded by some as nearly impossible. The absurd thing is that anybody can learn how to cook a very good meal with little effort and as fast as (or sometimes faster than) the time it takes to unwrap a ready meal, stuff it in the oven and heat it. People have given up the skill, and are now trapped in a situation where they feel they have to expensive, but poor quality food.

But to get back to the point - I wasn't so much talking about whether these products would become common or stay common, even after the fads have died down. It's like the pocket calculator - once they were among the most desirable gadgets in the world, and you could get them with many different features, and they are still popular - but they have settled down to a very limited number of designs; laptops, phones and tablets fulfill most of the needs now, and most pocket calculators are limited to the very basic arithmetics. Same with IoT: I'm sure we will see loads of gadgets that do something that isn't actually all that useful - like being able to turn the heating up or down while you're away from home - but then, when they start breaking, most won't be replaced. The ones that turn out be of real value to people will probably be of a few, relatively simple designs, and they will be robust and/or cheap and easy to replace. My guess is that there will only be a relatively small need for developers in that industry in the long run.

Comment Trust and respect (Score 1) 158

It is easy to criticise this sort of things as intruding on privacy, but I think it misses the mark. Seeing how people in general accept - and sometimes even ask for - more and more CCTV in the public spaces, I think it is clear that privacy isn't the main concern - it's about feeling that you are trusted and respected. Privacy is important in the sense that we all need to have a private space, where we can put our guards down and just be ourselves, but in general, in public and in our workplace, we want to feel that the basic assumtion is that we are honest and trustworthy.

Comment No (Score 1) 369

Two of the reasons for learning C are:

1. It is a good, general programming language that can allow you to produce efficient code.
2. You want to be a good programmer with a good understanding og the HW and the OS

I'm not convinced the growth in IoT thingies is other than an ephemeral fad. There will be a period with a lot of innovation, then it will settle down on the relatively minor subset of gadgets that are actually useful and wanted, and there will no longer be a lot of need for programming skills in that area. But the C language has already demonstrated its staying power (as have certain other languages like FORTRAN and COBOL to the surprise of many), and it will be relevant to know for years to come, no doubt.

Comment Re:Not going to happen (Score 4, Informative) 400

...we really ought to be getting our asses in gear and looking at the impact of mitigation strategies at the 'global environmental engineering' scale, and maybe doing a few local-scale tests to help build better models to aid in the assessments.

The idiocy in this is not only in engaging in dubious and expensive schemes that will either not work, may exacerbates the instability of the climate, could be irreversible, might lead to run-away effects etc etc - but we are doing this to avoid having to simply make a few, easy adjustments to our lifestyles, like cut back on brainless consumerism and the myth that the economy must - or even can - grow forever. We are already living on borrowed time; we are using up limited resources and we still resist even thinking about renewable energy - we are only able to feed the 7+ billion people on the planet by spending lots of energy on producing artificial fetilizers (something like 40% of the nitrogen in our bodies now comes from artificial fertilizer - check for yourself). We are already at the point where it would take just 1 year or so of disruption in our chemical industries to produce a worldwide hunger catastrophe, just to put it into a bit of perspective.

All in all, we really do need to be willing to accept changes - wasting effort on hare-brained shemes is stupid. Climate is only one of the big threats we face, and we can to some extent simply adjust to it, but unless we learn to curb overconsumption in a serious way, it won't matter all that much. Call me alarmist if you will, but I'd much rather be ridiculed by morons today, than have my children and grand-children live through the alternatives.

Comment Re:Desert (Score 1) 455

But there is no alternative to storing water. You either dam the water up somewhere so that you have it available during droughts or you don't. And water takes up space.

But there is more than one way of doing things. Storing water in a huge lake with a large surface open to the air, will lead to large losses to evaporation, for example. And of course, one could also question the wisdom in placing large cities and extensive farming in an area with water scarcity. Or watering crops by spraying water on top of the plants, where much of it will evaporate before it reaches the soil. and so on.

Comment Re:Glad they made amends (Score 1) 250

Well, I can't say I was ever a fan of Playboy, but surely the nude photos were the only interest it had? I think there is a lot to be said for good quality (and perhaps even artistic) erotic photography, and if I remember correctly, Playboy actually tried to achieve that. But I think what let them down was their lack of real taste - there was too much in the way of glitter, fur and high heels, back when I had the opportunity to look at them (I could never be bothered to actually buy it). I'm far more interested in the natural look than in the rather stilted still-lifes I seem to recall.

Comment Re:Most interesting nugget buried at end of story (Score 1) 109

I think beer is simply any drink that is fermented for only a short time and is relatively low in alcohol. The main distinction from wine seems to be mainly about acidity - wine is made from fruit and beer is made from starchy ingredients - which is why beer in many cultures was/is made by chewing stuff: saliva contains ptyalin, which breaks down the starch to glocuse, which can be fermented; the advantage of using malted barley (... wheat, rice, ...) is that the germinating plant has the same effect as chewing, and it is scalable.

Comment Re:Copenhagen Interpretation (Score 1) 82

No, the electron is NOT "in two places at once". That is nonsense. Prior to measurement the electron (and indeed, any quantum particle) simply does not have a well-defined position; rather, there is a set of points in space where it could be found (weighted by the probabilities returned by the* wave function of the electron in the given physical setup ("the potential well")). It is only when a measurement is made that the probabilities resolve to a certainty--and the electron is then found in literally one position in space.

Well, according to the standard interpretation of the theory, that is itself only a model of what we think the world seems to be like. What QM has to say about the subject could also be interpreted as "particles are not actually points in space, and what we see may be an artifact of the way we measure things"; not the orthodox view, I know, but I think it is healthy to try to find a path away from the current orthodoxies, not least because we know that our theories are incomplete. Unless things have moved a lot since I was close to physics, what we are measuring when we do experiments on particles, is not individual interactions, but 'statistically significant' samples of interactions - ie. billions of them - and we extrapolate back to what happened on average, using a model that already makes some strong assumptions about what it is we are looking at. That is OK, as far as it goes, but we have to always keep in mind that we can't speak with any certainty about what is going on in the physical reality; we can at best say that it is consistent with our preferred theory - but there may be other, even better theories. In fact, there must be, all things considered.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong? Pick a number! (Score 1) 110

What could possibly go wrong? Imagine the convenience for your local police officers!

Several things could quite possibly go wrong, and will go wrong, occasionally. But does it make lots of sense to artificially keep the police and other official powers in the stone ages, technologically, when everybody else - including criminals - are going to use the latest technology? It seems to me that the right way is to recognise the potential problems and then work out solutions to them. Privacy concerns are valid, but so are the concerns that unless the police keep up with technology, they will become increasingly unable to deal with crime.

"Suspect 1: Man in red hat, 30 yards away at heading 25 degrees. 12 actionable offenses, probability 65% of jail time. Suspect 2: Woman in brown skirt, 55 yards away at heading 350 degrees. 4 actionable offenses, but she'll probably offer sexual favors for release. Suspect 3: Man in suit, 20 yards away at 55 degrees. 71 felony offenses, but close friend of the mayor, 2% chance of collecting a fine. Select 0 for additional suspects."

Or, perhaps more soberly: "Suspect 1: Name of '...', history of violence, deemed a psychopath, may be armed; handle with care, wait for backup ...". Surprising as it may seem to many, police are supposed to be there to protect ordinary citizens, and in many places, that is exactly what they do. Most of them are not out to get you, but of course, we mostly hear about the rotten apples.

Comment Re:Well of course VIM beat Emacs in a poll (Score 1) 145

There is a reason why an old, rather odd text editor like vi is still so popular, you know. And I do mean vi, not vim; vim is not a bad effort, but most of the really useful functionality is already in classical vi - which is why somebody used it as the basis for vim, of course. (In case you wonder: you can turn vim into classical vi if you put "set compatible" in ~/.vimrc).

I don't mean to criticise emacs, BTW - I just don't know it well enough to have an opinion. But I use vi all the time, and it is really worth learning - it only takes a short while to learn how to use it, and it gives you some very powerful editing commands. To mention just two things: you can combine change, delete or copy ('yank' in the vi terminology) with motion commands - any command that moves the cursor, literally: 'c5w' = 'change 5 words from current position - 5w means 'move 5 words forward'', 'd7/$' = 'delete to the 7th line-ending' , where '7/$' means '7 times search for $ (line-ending)' etc. If you can write code, then you can learn this in less than 1 hour. Another powerful feature is the repeat command: '.' - the dot repeats whichever command you just used. And that is just two of many, powerful features.

On top of all that, vi is on all UNIXes - certainly the ones I have come across - and works the same everywhere. Bash and ksh even have a command line editing mode that understands the same commands: 'set -o vi' activates it - the alternative is emacs, of course.

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