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* Posts by Marshalltown

325 posts • joined 30 Sep 2011

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I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!

Marshalltown
Pint

Re: Sorry

The OP *did* use the word "entitled." True story: Driving along a rural road in California. Rural roads in the Central Valley in California tend to follow Section or Quarter Section lines - a section being nominally one mile on a side. The gotcha is that since the earth's surface is curved, that neat rectilinear projection occasionally has to be as adjusted slightly so the rural road has an occasional right angled zig in it. Unlike mountain roads or some of the roads I've experienced in eastern Europe, California's rural roads, because of the tendency to follow such a nice neat grid, are deceptive to outsiders. I am tooling along at a reasonable pace when a Porsche SUV comes tearing up behind, blowing its horn, the road is two-lane, no passing, and no shoulder, so I can't pullover and let the tailgating knothead by. He doesn't like that. The double line ends. The Porsche driver hits the accelerator and blasts past waving at me with one finger. He's up to 80 MPH before long and dwindling in the distance, when suddenly I see brake lights, some swerving and then a cloud of dust. When I caught up, the Porsche was 100 yards out in a pasture trailing considerable barb wire and a few fence posts. I smiled and waved all my fingers as I negotiated the jog in the road and continued on.

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Marshalltown

Re: Sorry

Heh. I knew that the world had changed when it became clear that the FIRST thought upon seeing an erratic driver was "cell phone" instead of "drunk."

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FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study

Marshalltown

Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

"It could be worse, you could be an illiterate fat, smoking, drinking terrorist!"

Sounds like someone from Idaho, well, except the Mormons. They mostly don't drink officially.

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Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Marshalltown
Headmaster

Re: reducing energy consumption

You are not reading closely. Both parts ARE considered and the truth is that current "renewable" technologies are too expensive and too inefficient to do the job that those who are afraid of AGW ask for. Not only can these technologies NOT do the job, they never will be able to. You are up against the laws of thermodynamics. That is why these engineers are saying that we need a "disruptive new energy technology." Both solar and wind power are, when applied on an industrial scale, environmental catastrophes. Look up for instance the problems with the Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave desert. The "development" of that plant destroyed - yes, destroyed - several thousand acres of desert habitat pushing aside desert tortoise and kit fox, and archaeological remains, not to mention the mining, manufacture, and transportation of the materials to construct it, in order to send power to greater Los Angeles. It has never met the production levels that were "expected" because clouds and dust interfere more than expected. The odds are the plant never will meet those levels for any significant span. A couple of new nuclear plants in the LA basin would have done the job vastly more efficiently with far LESS environmental impact, even considering the threat of earthquakes, which is just as high at Ivanpah as it is in LA.

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Marshalltown

Re: reducing energy consumption

There is a recognized negative correlation between birth rate and wealth and that correlation has been present since the days of Classical Greece at least. Poor people have strong reasons for many children, not least that child mortality increases as wealth decreases. To have any surviving children and thus a family to care for you in your old age, you need more children in proportion to the incidence of child and infant mortality, and that is the case at present in industrial societies. Drop back a few centuries when the majority were agrarian and not only are you worried about your old age but simply getting the harvest in. More children is more working hands and thus lighter work. Overseas Chinese families often operate this way even at present. Even farther back, hunter-gatherers need large families because individual heads where the culture resided - that's what a "traditional society" is, one that operates in head space alone.

The "replacement levels" for the poor are not the same as for the rich. The point here is that the aggregation of large amounts of wealth in a very few hands may indeed cause overpopulation. Not deliberately but just the same.

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Marshalltown

Re: reducing energy consumption

... is wasteful, shameful, and expensive. -- Fixed it.

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Marshalltown
Coat

Consommation???

What, pray, is "consommation?" If it has anything to do with thin, clear soup, it is off topic. Besides, I doubt that consomme is a genuine environmental problem.

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Martha Lane Fox: YEUCH! The Internet is MADE by MEN?!?

Marshalltown

Re: Political Correctness gone MAD I tell you (@ Arnaut the ignorant)

Palin would be a catastrophe in hip boots. Go to Alaska and you encounter the mystery that no one seems willing to admit having voted for her. However you might be right about Palin vs Biden. Palin's handicaps are blatantly obvious while Biden is likely to be far more plausible.

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BOFH: An UNHOLY MATCH forged amid the sweet smell of bullsh*t

Marshalltown
Pint

Re: Still wrong

Well, at least you have a head start on the loathing this week.

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Marshalltown

Re: "Like money on expensive consultants?" I ask

Heh, there is no company on the planet, for profit or NPO that doesn't want to reduce the staffing levels in hopes of a bigger bottom line. You might think NPOs would be immune but that is not true, and in some instances, like healthcare orgs, not even humourous. The plan is inevitably to be "more efficient," keeping the client/patient happy by smiling more (no joke). My SO works in a hospital where the management thought that a patient's stay should be pleasant (in hotel terms of pleasant) and that less face time with nurses for instance could be repaired by the nurses smiling at the patient.

Nurse rushing in to room to turn off call on for half an hour: "There you are Mrs. *****!"

Smiles broadly.

Patient no response: "How are we today??"

Even broader smile: "I'm so sorry it took so very long to respond. There's only me on the floor at the moment, and I was attending to another patient."

Nurse whispers, "They've let go all the attendants."

Patient: No response.

Nurse: "Mrs. *****? Are you awake? I have to take your vitals while I'm here. Oh my gosh!" Hits emergency button.

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Doctor Who trashing the TARDIS, Clara alone, useless UNIT – Death in Heaven

Marshalltown

I am not entirely a fan of the current (later Doctor) series, but still, that has to be a summary by a viewer expecting and finding the worst - confirmation bias in short. First off, and most glaringly, Gavin Clark seems to have missed points, both in this and other episodes involving cybermen that show they aren't precisely perfect. It is clear for instance that the very LAST cyberman in the episode was the revenant of Lethbridge-Stewart, who saved his daughter or grand daughter - I forget and don't really care which. So it wasn't just Danny who was not fully taken over by the hive mind of the cybermen. L-S finally gets a salute from the Doctor too.

Second, and far more potentially important to the storyline (or tangle) is the fact that we DO NOT KNOW what the doctor saw at the coordinates provided by Missy. The audience sees straight out the door into empty space, the Doc is looking down and to the right at something not shown to the audience. We get to look out the door and see nothing, but never get a glimpse of what the Doctor sees. So, was his rage in that scene because he still doesn't know where Gallifrey is, or because Missy, the reincarnation, more or less of his "childhood friend," actually DID tell the truth. That friend, who clearly expressed the need for HER friend, is now gone and the Doctor failed her again.

Third, it is also clear that we still really have no proper clue as to just who (or what) Clara Oswald really is. She was a Dalek once - more faulty technoology, a Victorian governess come Torchwood associate, and once more a school teacher in 21st C London. She has already been dead twice and yet seems to have the endurance of the Energizer rabbit - or a Time Lord. I vote she's really the Rani.

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Yes! It's DRONE PORN. And we don't mean shiny pics of UAVs

Marshalltown
Pirate

Heh, heh, heh

As a native of the Golden State, one of its charms, visible in the video, is Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). I've no problem with it myself, but irritating rashes and even, if it goes systemic, hospital stays are not unknown.

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BOFH: Stop your tiers – when it comes to storage, LESS is MORE

Marshalltown

Re: Jaz drive

Cha ... I liked the Caleb. Cheap media, large capacity, fit a regular 3.5-inch drive bay.

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Plasma-spaffing boffins plan spaceships driven by FRIKKIN' LASERS

Marshalltown

Planetary defense centers or onboard devices

It is pretty clear that a ground-based laser would never work adequately to consistently power a jet. You would need a wide spread network of laser bases - (planetary defense bases when not employed propelling aircraft). The obvious alternative would be an onboard system with a highly efficient power supply. Such a system would have several major advantages. For one thing, the inverse square law says that the nearer the beam source is to the target, the less energy at the source is required to deliver a given amount to a target, so distances of fractions of a meter would be less costly in energy than distances of kilometers. Clearly, small, powerful laser sources would be a better solution than even multitasking planetary defense bases.

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Guns don't scare people, hackers do: Americans fear identity theft more than shooting sprees

Marshalltown

Heh

A similar story comes from Orange County, CA, where a single clerk scared that heck out of five would-be robbers. One ran away, the rest stood with their hands up until police arrived.

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Marshalltown

Re: The media strikes again!

"There's been more in the last decade than in all of US history before 1990 though."

And you can prove this how? You might well be right, but how would you determine it with any confidence? In fact, has the dwell time of children in school increased? If so, has that had an affect on the number of shootings? Prior to WWII there was considerably less demand for "children" to remain in school and get a diploma. A trade that could support a person or a family was more encouraged.

Consider serial killers as another example of truly egregious behavior and our perceptions of them. Modern fiction and media would have you think they are springing up more commonly now than ever before. Yet looking back in history, there were Gilles de Rais, Countess Bathory both remarkably monstrous. No media per se though so no "media" accounts. Burk and Hare, serial killers for profit: limited media. Jack the Ripper (not just a serial killer but also a cannibal) who likely moved to the US and continued his career for years: lots of English media, but it takes serious work to comb through various disparate and geographically remote city news papers to discover that Jack may be been active for a long time after he disappeared in from England. Albert Fish, another cannibal, but US media is coming into its own. Then, the depression and WWII eclipses a good deal of what would otherwise be front page news. The FBI is only starting to keep statistics, Korea, Viet Nam, and Zodiac. All we can be sure of is that the media itself has become remarkably proficient at reporting things and that increased efficiency correlates very well with increased public perception of risks.

It maybe that there really are more shootings. It may be that the media inspires more shootings, or it may be that the incidence is a function of population growth and increased media efficiency combine to create a perception of changes that are illusory.

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Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar

Marshalltown

Re: That reminds me...

Do you remember the monitor and desk?

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Man brings knife to a gun fight and WINS

Marshalltown

Re: "Commands were given for the male to come out"

The "20-foot" (six-meter) rule. Inside that distance, unless a gun is drawn (and even sometimes if it is) the knife has a distinct advantage. That would also pertain to any hand-wielded weapon (e.g. a walking stick for instance). The problem lots of gun users have is the faith that their weapon makes them invulnerable.

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HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist

Marshalltown

Such a relief

They have an "estimate" of the extinction. I wonder if they included that late Pleistocene C-14 dated Megalodon tooth? And, excluding the living ones, what is the estimated date for the extinction of the Ceolacanth?

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You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Marshalltown
Coat

Coin flipping

I once demonstrated to a statistics teacher that coin-flipping is not the ideal example of a random process. More over, the larger the coin, the longer a run could be maintained before breaking. If you are consistent, then when the coin is tossed, it reaches about the same height each time and the rise and fall occupy a consistent span for each toss. If your thumb is consistent in starting the spin, the rate of spin is consistent. If you can maintain the height at which you catch the coin, the number of turns during the rise and fall is consistent. With a larger coin the variation in the spin rate given by your thumb is lower relative to the mass and diameter of the coin meaning the uncertainty in the rate of spin in each toss is less. US Morgan dollars are thus better than US pennies. Good physical skills can control the result with very little error. I've tossed runs of 50 to 100 at a time and won beer money from unsuspecting physics and stat students many times. On a really good day, you can vary the catch height and control to a degree the length of alternate runs. The only uncertainty in a coin toss is during the first toss. You need that first toss to "calibrate." This is why a single coin toss is used to break a stalemate. Three or more and chance may have gone out the window depending upon the "tosser." ;-)

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Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

Marshalltown

Re: Eric Raymond's (in)famous quote

I disagree with Raymond's quote. "Being direct" means telling what's wrong, why, and how to fix it.

The problem takes multiple forms. The worst is equifiniality. There's no effective quality difference in one coder's work, other than the fact that he just doesn't give a rip about making it integrate well with the essential standard being followed by others. Others are just too blind to see that problems their code has. It's broken, buggy, and has too many problems to enumerate. Yet the coder simply cannot believe the fault lies with him. The former is a total pain because he simply cannot accept the premise of cooperative work. The latter is what boot camp is for.

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Marshalltown
Pint

And there it is

Volunteers are not all equal and their abilities are often less than they believe them to be.

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OMG!! With nothing but MACHINE TOOLS, STEEL and PARTS you can make a GUN!!

Marshalltown

"Tell that to the native Americans ..."

This remark reflects a profound historical ignorance and an idealization of "noble savage" status disguised as PC. Let's see, starting with Cortes, myth says he an a handful of conquistadores brought down the Aztecs. Reality was, the Aztecs were detested _cannibals_ (really, no joke, those human sacrifices were governed by a "waste-not, want-not" ethic). Their neighbors hated the ground they walked upon - AND MANY STILL DO. Reality was that Cortez was joined thousands of local indians who allied themselves to the Spaniards. Estimate range from ca. 40K to over 100K took the side of the Spanish.

Or, consider Pizarro. He took on the Incas. Again, history seems to favor this myth that the Spanish did it by themselves, but they arrived during a pause in the expansion of the Inca Empire. The Inca tended to assault a region, and having won, forcibly remove large portions of the population to other areas, similar to the Jewish diaspora but on a larger scale. The conflict between the Spanish and the Inca saw the Spanish joined by numerous "tribes" - the survivors of full-blown civilizations destroyed by the Incas - who happily waged war on the Inca again. There are no good estimates of how many joined in the war, but the Inca Empire was larger than the Aztec's, and their foes were far more sophisticated than many of the societies the Aztecs destroyed.

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Marshalltown
FAIL

Apples and pears

Yes, indeed, firearm related deaths are higher in the US than in the UK. However, the rates are immensely closer when you look at "intentional homicide" instead. That includes all the other weapons around you, including bludgeons, frying pans, poisons - visit the Agatha Christy "poison garden" some time - cars, bare hands, boots, bats (cricket or baseball), and etc. You also fail to mention how many of the UK firearm deaths are instantiated with a legal weapon. The odds are very low that more than a very small fraction are from legal weapons of any kind.

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Marshalltown

Re: Missing the point

"It's difficult to imagine how anyone can think it makes sense for the population to be armed."

Obviously you are not Swiss, are you, AC?

And, please, do expound upon why it is more stupid to allow gun ownership. The reasoning supporting the opinion would be interesting, if it is actually informed.

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So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code

Marshalltown
Pint

Supercalc

I liked it better than Lotus.

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Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Marshalltown

Energy efficiency

Until we can revoke Carnot's theorem we are stuck with engines that operate based upon a disequilibrium between two thermal environments. That remains as true for electrical systems as it does for systems running on combustion sources. So, replacing hydrocarbons as energy sources comes down to how great a gradient can be developed between ho the energy is stored, how it is extracted as work, and how it is dissipated as heat after the work is completed. If you can develop a high energy (battery, fuel cell, photoelectric unit) that can release energy in a flow equivalent to hydrocarbon combustion, and costs no more to fabricate than gasoline costs to extract from petroleum, you might have something.

However, there's very clear evidence from nature that this probably won't happen. Life - as we know it - is carbon based. Primary producers (plants) use hydrocarbons for energy storage as oils, sugars and starches and all the rest of us carbon based life forms consume those very same stored energy sources at one or more removes. Life is not only the movement of energy through the ecosystem, it is the movement of fixed carbon. Less available carbon means - inevitably - less life. There are no ifs, and or buts here. Less carbon means less living mass, regardless of how much light falls on the planet.

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Marshalltown

Re: Corporations paying zero tax, a solution?

The situation is far too complex to depend on taxes as a solution. Besides which, as the author pointed out, governments are hopeful monsters. They tax in hopes of scrambling back into a tenable situation which remains a hope on the horizon. If you are going to try using taxes as a solution, you need to tax even "off-shored" business as if it were on shore. If a multinational doesn't like that, tough. They can do business somewhere else. That would at least open the domestic market to domestic producers. The real problem however is the consumer-based model which, as the author pointed out, requires "consumers" to be idiots who buy stuff to ship to the dump/land fill/tip. The reason that "luxury" goods are expensive is that they arrive at the landfill at much lower rates proportionate to the annual numbers produced. The primary buyers include a disproportionate number who simply want to buy a single item that will last a very long time. Quality goods are excellent drivers of customer loyalty but very hard on profits. Crap goods on the other hand are first class sources of profit but draw very little loyalty. They require monopoly markets before they can be really big.

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

Marshalltown
Pint

Re: Banking Jobs

Just about any business that will be affected by the vote is likely to say this, whether the managerial lot think it or or not. They would not want their customer base changing drastically ahead of the vote. There will doubtless be contingency plans for IF Scotland becomes independent and for IF it does not. Anything said ahead of the vote might be exploited by competitors afterward unless it takes just the right tone. What I want to know whether there will be a new wall marking the border. The old Hadrian's and Antonine walls never worked.

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Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000

Marshalltown
Pint

Re: So, a beer-fulled jolly this most certainly isn't.

Of course there is beer in America, even "good beer," as an English acquaintance said in shocked tones, staring into her glass blankly, "even though its cold!" You just want to avoid stuff made by the big names. For New Mexico check:

http://nmbeer.org/

If you are feeling adventurous you could even try Cave Creek Chili Beer, though I'm pretty sure the beer is made less interesting than the pepper in the bottle.

Besides there are also decent Mexican beers (well, lagers) to had.

In New Mexico just avoid the Hatch chilis. They sell more than they grow.

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BOFH: We CAN do that with a Raspberry Pi, but think of the BODIES

Marshalltown

Re: Dawgs

If your "dawgs" are that nasty, you should see a podiatrist before you get something worse.

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BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

Marshalltown

Re: Budgetary crazyness

Arrrgh! The university I went to was run by folks like that. We would be begging for new gear in the lab - a geology lab needing things like a decent, functioning rock saw for thin sections, or even a microscope cleaned - but the spending decisions went all the way up the chain. A request to purchase a piece of new gear because the old one died would returned back down the chain, denied, not by the department chair but the boss of the entire friggin university. He made the newspapers because he proudly turned back hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state each year, while gear died, roofs leaked - really, we used buckets occasionally - and things generally fell apart. At the same time the university built up a reputation for an excellent business management college.

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ISIS terror fanatics invade Diaspora after Twitter blockade

Marshalltown
Pint

Medieval

You really want to peeve ISIS? Start referring to them as "crusaders." Beer because it contains alcohol, don'tcha know.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Marshalltown

Re: Inefficiency

Hari, you have it exactly backwards. The inefficiencies are primarily due to complexity and the inherent lag between a demand and fulfillment. Many kinds of demands are - more or less - predictable, e.g. how much water an urban area may need in a week, or how much gasoline will be used. But, not even the most consistent demands are fully predictable. There is secular variation due to uncertainty in every estimate of need. For instance no one can say on any given day how many people are in a given city. Smaller settlements are more predictable and less variable over time, but the population placing demands on a large city's infrastructure and supply system can vary by the size of an intermediately sized town or small city over periods of hours to weeks. No command and control system can deal with that with any precision. Instead, "inefficiencies" are largely what dampen systemic oscillations caused by the uncertainty of demand. Then entire concept of "just in time" production and delivery is a communist ideal that works until it breaks, and the breaks can be catastrophic.

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CIA infosec guru: US govt must buy all zero-days and set them free

Marshalltown

Remember

. . . where the internet really began and who released TCP/IP. The 'net may have been a plot from the beginning.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

Marshalltown

Re: No Surprise

"But with all the hoo har about numbers being fudged on both sides of the debate who are we laymen supposed to believe?"

The simplest thing is to go back to the best data, developed without political ambitions or biases either for or against modern life. Look up Geocarb III. You'll disocver that many of the sites that now display the Geocarb curve are now either madly pro or contra GW, but the curve itself doesn't change. about 500-million years ago, atmospheric CO2 was 20 times the preindustrial base RCO2 (that is 20 times 300 ppm, or 6,000 ppm). That's just the mean value, the error is wide. One point worth noting, if per chance you inherit a used time machine, don't, no really, don't head for the Carboniferous. There's so much CO2 in the atmosphere you would fall into acidosis, collapse and die.

During the Permian RCO2 drops to modern levels (so do temps for the "CO2-has-no-effect" crowd), which are pretty much the lowest levels since complex life appeared on the planet. The Permian is terminated in what is often billed as the "biggest" extinction even in geological history - it wasn't, but given the relative diversity of life at the time, it was the "most thorough" extinct event. By the early mid-Mesozoic, say about about 150 million years ago, RCO2 has rebounded to a mere five times modern levels, so about 1,500 ppm. Since then it has been trending downward again to modern/Permian levels.

The take-away? CO2 cannot cause catastrophic global warming because it has not. QED. Should we worry? Oh, yeah. Consider all those "modern extinctions" that folks are happily taking the blame for. Permian? No folks there. We - humanity - might be (probably are) responsible for some modern extinctions. But, since we do not really know what actually triggered the Permian event - (yeah, yeah, Siberian traps, methane, farting trilobites,...) - really, we don't - it is worth asking whether we are actually seeing the beginning of a Permian class die off right now, and whether we get to go along for the ride.

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BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

Marshalltown

Re: I refuse to do backups - on principle

Ah - but then there are folks who expect you to backup "your files" from the server on to "your system." The server of course once in a while seems to "lose" stuff entirely. But then, I shrug and say, "Microsoft, known for eating its own young."

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MYSTERIOUS Siberia CRATER: ALIENS or METEOR not involved, officials insist

Marshalltown
Devil

Size

The pilot and passenger who originally found it estimated a diameter of 870 meters. As to cause, were I to speculate I would suggest pressurized methane beneath permafrost, with failure when pressure exceeded the strength of the permafrost. You can pick either melting permafrost or increasing methane and keep both sides of the GW debate happy.

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Marshalltown

Re: Giant Gofers

Many, many moons ago folks thought that the bones of mammoth were the remains of giant burrowing animals. Apparently that was the rationale for why all mammoth bones were found in burial contexts.

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ISPs 'blindsided' by UK.gov's 'emergency' data retention and investigation powers law

Marshalltown

Re: Get a grip

Citation. .... "Journal of Common sense(1(1):1)

Citation. ibid.

The sole reason that "special laws" are required is simply because the PTB refuse to reason analogically and apply the rational conclusion. Even a communication on paper is ephemeral and could be burnt or shredded by a rational criminal. The reality is that all information is subject to entropy and these laws are an attempt to repeal entropy for what is purported to be public safety at the expense of individual privacy.

Also, the whole "have you anything to hide" counter argument is inane. Suppose that you have a VERY good relationship with you wife, who is also world class. You're on the road, and she forwards you some explict selfies simply to make sure you remember where your interests are and keep you looking forward to getting home. That is not illegal in most jurisdictions; China and Muslim locales may be different. However, it certainly is not something you want some NSA or GCHQ squint drooling over.

You might be member of a nudist club, again not illegal, but they send a mildly encrypted newsletter periodically to let members know of up coming events, and may be it includes pix. Again, not something illegal, but as a politician the info is potentially embarrassing, AND if the news gets out you could lose a chunk of your constituency. Worse, you are expecting to vote on funding for the agency, a quiet visit from agency reps with a copy of info, not illegal but not something you want released, and there you have abuse, extortion in fact. In fact, the Snowden affair ought to make you realize that merely because some agency is supposed to be protecting you doesn't mean they are or really can. There's a reason why Washington, D.C. breathed a collective sigh of relief when JEH kicked off and it had little or nothing to do with fear of exposure of their illegal activities.

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Canuck reader threatens suicide over exact dimensions of SPAAAACE!

Marshalltown

How many "A"'s in space.

Hmmm, I don't think Babcock has really thought about his question systematically. Consider, the earth is in space, English is both spoken and written on earth, as well as used by the occasional astronaut. Looking at only written English, "A" is estimated to have a frequency of slightly over 8% in written English - and note that many European languages also use "A," although they often call it "Ah". So the answer would have to be, a very large number of "A"s are in space. Unfortunately, without better data the figure will remain indeterminate.

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US authorities round up ILLEGAL DINOSAURS for repatriation

Marshalltown

Logic - logic - logic and a little history

The Elgin marbles, as just one instance, left Greece before the modern nation existed. The owners at the time, Ottoman Turks, were letting the marbles disintegrate, so in what way was removing and preserving them immoral? It is rather like agreeing that Argentina has some sort of legal, historical claim on the Falklands. There was no Argentina when the the Brits claimed the islands. So how could Argentina have any form of "claim" let alone a "moral" one? There is a flagrant historical ignorance in much of the politically correct silliness passed off as "morality." No one "go away" with anything. What the Greeks really ought to be demanding back is Constantinople.

What is really pathetic about this story is that there is currently no clear-cut Federal protection for fossils from the US. There are laws that lack regulations - agency policies - and whim. In effect Chinese fossils are safer in the US than the home - ah - fossilized variety.

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'BIGGEST BIRD EVER': 21-foot ripsaw-beaked flying HORROR

Marshalltown
Coat

Anyone notice

... how common the "it shouldn't have been able to get off the ground ..." meme is in paleontology? Apparently the following dialog is very comon:

Paleontologist: I have a really large winged [brid/reptile/?]. How did it fly?

Physicist: What are the dimensions and mass?

Paleontologist: Wing span of 20 feet or more. Estimating from bone thickness, muscle attachment sites on the bones, and comparison to modern birds, about **** kg. The error in that figure will be pretty big.

Physicist: Tappity-tap, tap, tap. It couldn't.

It is pretty obvious that they got off the ground or off the water sufficiently well to appear in the fossil record for several million years. Pterodactyls and pteranodons did too, for that matter, and a few were even bigger. The problem couldn't possibly be the physics could it?

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Would it be BAD if the Amazon rainforest was all FARMS? Well it WAS, once

Marshalltown

That, Stuart, is the question

The fact that the Amazon rain forest as far less extensive than at present has been known for some time. The kinds of earthworks described in the story appear in many other parts of the Amazon, notably in the north, Venezuela for instance. The simplest conclusion is that the rainforest was patchier. That patchiness would tend to increase diversity through isolation and "founder's effects," if the patches are large enough. If the rainforest were only metastable - varying between periods such as the present and periods of patchy, separated islands, the shifting between states might tend to pump selection, increasing diversity much more rapidly than we expected based on commonly held assumptions about speciation rates. Results from evolutionary algorithm implementations in computing suggest that such changes might be very rapid. The reality, is we are profoundly ignorant regarding all complex environmental systems on the planet.

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Marshalltown
FAIL

Re: The rest of the world was heavily forested

In fact, that is not, well, true. Some parts were. Other parts, not so much. The western US for instance supported about one-third the number trees then that it supports at present. Available historical accounts indicate that this was probably true in the eastern US as well, but there's no photographic evidence there like we have for Yosemite. The change is that the present forest is composed of smaller trees growing closer together, in large part due to fire suppression actions since the 19th C.

Southeast Asia, which is pretty heavily enjungled (to coin a phrase) was less vegetated as well. In Thailand, the big complexes like Angor Wat and Angor Thom had to be supported by agricultural products don'tcha know. Currently, based on NASA studies, windblown dust from North Africa fertilizes Amazonia, and studies of oxygen production vs. CO2 fixation indicate that the Amazon just breaks even. Little if any excess O2 is contributed to global systems (again, this according to NASA).

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Google kills its successful social network. Yes, we mean Orkut

Marshalltown
Mushroom

Google - useless "improvements"

What is it with Google and the killing off of perfectly useable elements? Does anyone think that Google+ is really an improvement? All of a sudden everything has to be "social". Well some of us are still really, really antisocial.

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Doctor Who season eight scripts leak online

Marshalltown
Pint

Re: Pathetic

I have never understood the concern with spoilers myself. You might know that "this happened" or "that happened," but the show is not about "this" or "that." It is about the process by which the story comes to "this" or "that." Only a complete lack of imagination can explain the thinking that knowing the "end" is equivalent to knowing the story. But then, I'm known to read stories back to front quite often, when the linear approach becomes too boring.

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Like frozen burgers, 'Bigfoot' DNA samples have a touch of horse

Marshalltown

Re:... glass ....

Likely fiber glass, or is it "fibre glass" yonder? Plant fibers would explain the next. Human hair though, that sounds curious.

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Marshalltown

Re: @Bunbury

"A Himalayan polar bear would probably be much smaller than a modern polar bear. Large animals always become smaller when confined to an island, the Himalayas might as well be an island as far as that's concerned."

Explain this to the Kodiak brown bear please.

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Judge says there's no such thing as a 'Patent Troll'

Marshalltown

Re: Prejudicial? Let's be real here

The entire point of a civil trial is to prejudice the jury to your point of view, civil trials much more so than criminal trials. The sole reason for not calling names in a trial is not to protect the defendant but to protect the image of the lawyer acting for them. That lawyer doesn't want to be seen - publicly - for what they are - defenders of pond scum.

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