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Comment Re:Let vs Lets (Score 1) 123

"Organization do" (singular) is proper British usage and is dominant in most English speaking locales. "Organization does" (singular) is Americanized pidgin.

No, this is completely wrong, regardless of what English-speaking country you live in. First, in a case like "organization do," the implication is still plural, not singular. "Organization" is here interpreted as a collective noun, meaning that while it is singular in form, when used this way it emphasizes the plural nature of the composition of the organization. "Germany is a nation," but "Germany have won the tournament." The latter does not mean that "Germany" is plural, but rather is a collective noun standing in for "members of the German team" which is plural and take a plural verb.

Second, your use of the word pidgin is inaccurate. A pidgin language is a second language, a simplified version of one language used as a form of communication between communities which do not share the same language. Americans do NOT have a different primary language other than English. Therefore, American English by definition cannot be a "pidgin." You can claim it is a dialect, and you can object to characteristics of it, but it's not a "pidgin" language.

Third, in British English the usage of a plural verb in this case is by no means mandatory. For some types of organizations or groups of people, a plural verb is common. For others, a singular verb is more common. Some show a mixture depending on context (whether the collective nature or the individual volition of members is being invoked). Also, corpus studies have shown that the use is dependent on formality, with plural verb forms being more common in very formal language and very informal language, but less common in "everyday" polite language.

Fourth -- and perhaps most importantly -- in this specific case, your claim doesn't accord with examples used prominently in British English journalism. The Pirate Bay *IS* largely considered singular there. Numerous examples at the BBC website, for example, show that the BBC would prefer the singular "American" verb when referring to The Pirate Bay ("The Pirate Bay lets"). A few quick looks on other UK sources seems to indicate that the singular verb form is much more common.

Get some elementary knowledge, stop the uninformed insults, and lose the provincial attitude.

Maybe you could try getting some more advanced knowledge and realizing that your oversimplified statements are wrong.

TL;DR -- Your assertion about British English in general is overbroad and inaccurately phrased. While there is more usage of plural verbs with singular collective nouns outside of the U.S., that usage is not always "proper" -- it depends on the particular noun and context. And regardless, your opinion does not reflect common journalistic practice from the UK regarding the specific word "The Pirate Bay."

Comment Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"? (Score 2) 71

Investing in a diversified selection of index funds and staying the course will beat that vast majority of professional advisers.

While this is certainly true, I do think there is some use for professional advisers, especially if they participate in financial planning (as many do), rather than just managing investments. (If they only do the latter, you really have an "investment manager," rather than a financial adviser.)

Several years ago I was convinced by my spouse to go talk to one of these people. We had a recommendation from a family member who is in the financial sector. What was useful was NOT the possibility of ongoing investment advice (which, the parent said, could mostly be summed up with "diversify" and "track the average with index funds or related securities").

Instead, the utility of financial advice was the overall state of a person's financial "health" in general, and how to get things organized. Stuff like assessing whether you have an adequate liquid "emergency fund," whether you have enough insurance (and of what types), whether you are saving enough for retirement, for kids' education, etc., how to approach making major financial decisions/investments, how to diversify types of assets and accounts to maximize tax advantages, etc.

Sure, you can do all this yourself. I certainly had the ability to research all of this myself, but frankly I hadn't before I met with this adviser. Some of it I just wasn't interested in learning a lot about, some of it was stuff I hadn't really thought about yet (or considered various aspects in managing risk, etc.).

To me, once I knew all the stuff after a few meetings, I could run stuff basically myself. Other people aren't as savvy financially, or they really can't be bothered to sort it out (just like many people can't be bothered to do their own taxes) -- so maybe paying for a periodic consultation and assessment could be helpful.

The problem, from my perspective, is that "financial advisers" focus too much on investments, since their goal is often to grab as much of your assets as possible so they can extract fees for "management," etc. That's where things get stupid. If they really focused on "consultation fees" for providing more comprehensive planning, I think it would be a more legitimate business. But that's hard work. It's much easier to skim a few percent off the top of investment accounts which are "managed" (but really often just designed to track index funds).

Comment Re:Authoritarians will always rule. (Score 1) 456

No rights are absolute. All run up against limits.

Agreed. But generally one's "right not to be killed" is not limited except under really dire circumstances.

It's possible to believe that a fetus has a strong right to live, and the woman has a stronger right to not be pregnant under some circumstances.
I don't hold that position, but it seems plenty consistent to me.

Well, it's only consistent because you introduced a "magical" right that achieves your desired goal. Suppose I wanted to justify the murder of a mother-in-law. Now, of course "it's possible to believe that" a mother-in-law "has a strong right to live," but perhaps it's also "possible to believe that... a woman has a stronger right not to be" a daughter-in-law "under some circumstances."

Thus, a woman has a magical justification to murder her mother-in-law, and it's "plenty consistent" because I created a new "right not to have a mother-in-law" that proves my point.

To get to the heart of the matter, your argument overlooks the entire justification for the pro-life argument in the first place, namely that the "right to live" of the fetus trumps the mother's right of choice. Supposedly (if you believe this), the "sanctity of human life" does not allow the fetus's right to be overturned.

But you're proposing a special exemption to deny a "person" (according to the pro-life side) a fundamental right to live, which comes about not because of anything the fetus did nor the mother did, but rather what a third party did. We used to have justice systems in the world that would punish sons for the crimes of their fathers, but such systems have generally been abolished in the civilized world -- however, you propose to reinstate it.

Let's put this in another way to make the supposition clear. Suppose the child in question is not a fetus but rather a 10-year-old. Suppose the father rapes the mother when the child is 10. The mother is disgusted every time she looks at her child, because it is a perpetual reminder of the evilness of the father who raped her. Should the mother be able to kill her 10-year-old because of the ongoing psychological damage inflicted upon her by being reminded in her offspring of the connection to the father?

I doubt very few people would agree to such a rationalization of murder. Yet those who declare abortion should be banned (which generally requires recognizing some sort of fundamental "right to live" of a fetus) but allow exceptions in cases like incest or murder are making a similar argument.

Either the fetus has a right to live which trumps the mother's right to choose, or the fetus is not granted that right and can be aborted on a mother's whim. The prior action of a third party (father or otherwise) should not be able to trump a person's right not to be killed. Personally, I think those who argue for such exemptions but claim to be "pro-llife" are either being disingenuous and trying to appear less extreme than they really are, or they don't REALLY believe in the assumption of the fetus's "right to live."

(P.S. Not that it should matter in evaluating my argument, but I'm NOT "pro-life.")

Comment Re:A Tad Expensive. (Score 1) 456

The trouble with cheap land is that it's a long way from where you want to be.

Exactly. In the upper 80%+ of the state of New Hampshire, things are a LOT cheaper (with a few notable exceptions of touristy towns in the middle of the state). If you're living in someplace like Nashua, you're essentially paying to live in a Boston suburb.

Comment Re:Exactly what happened to me (Score 1) 176

I was billed by Comcast for a year for a cable modem rental even though I bought my own.


Once upon a time (over a decade ago), I moved between states. Before leaving State 1, I called Comcast and said, "I'm moving. Cancel my service. I'm going to get Comcast in State 2. Should I return my cable modem?"

"No," said the helpful Comcast rep, "Take your modem with you."

I arrived in State 2. The tech who came to set up my "installation" (which was supposed to be free, and said so on the work order) said he'd give me a new modem that was standard in State 2. He collected my old modem, and (thankfully) gave me a receipt.

A month passes. In State 1, I am charged a $200 fee for the modem that was never returned, plus a $50 "lost equipment" fee. In State 2, I am charged a $50 installation fee, even though I was told by multiple people it was free.

I tried calling Comcast. They told me I needed to go to the local center in person and talk to someone there, since they collected my modem and set the local pricing (free install deal, etc.). I went to the local center in person, and they told me they had no power to resolve any of this -- I needed to call.

So, I called Comcast again. Again, I was told they couldn't do anything. I said I needed to speak to a supervisor. They told me that they couldn't transfer me, but they could have one call me back. I objected, but I was told, "That's the way the system works."

Three days later, on a Sunday afternoon, I was called by a Comcast "supervisor." I explained the situation. He proceeded to offer me a year-long "promotional offer" which would net me about $240 in savings. But I told him that I had been billed for $300 erroneously (including $250 for a device that I had documentation for its return), and I would not pay it.

He then told me that HE had "no power" to fix my problems, because only people in "my local market" could fix them. I asked where he was. Somewhere across the country. Okay, so could he transfer me to a supervisor in my "local market"? No -- obviously not! It was Sunday afternoon! Nobody was available in my "local market."

Okay - well, perhaps they could put another request into "the system" to have a supervisor call me back from my "local market" on a day they were available? Nope -- "I'm sorry, the system doesn't work like that."

At this point, it was beyond belief. "Wait," I said, "So, let me get this straight: You're calling me to tell me you can't fix my problem, and there's nothing you can do to put me in touch with a person at your company who could fix my problem?" Yes.

I was in the middle of a Kafka novel.

I gave up. I filed complaints with the FCC, state agencies in both states, and the BBB, sending all of them copies of my documentation. Six months later they finally had sorted it out and I didn't have to pay anything, and the BBB even got them to send me an apology letter.

Moral of the story: Don't talk to Comcast. Be sure you have written records of everything. File complaints with government agencies. Not only is it more efficient, but it also creates government records of how bad Comcast really is.


Comment Re:The moderationg system needs an overhaul. (Score 1) 1829

Actually, being able to easily see the best comments in a 1000-comment thread would be useful.

Sure. That'd be really useful. Except allowing higher scores doesn't do that on any internet forum I've seen. What higher scores do is show the most POPULAR comments, the ones that maximize groupthink. They do not necessarily enable the "best" comments in terms of quality, and certainly not the ones that will maximize discussion of a variety of views.

Other commenting platforms have this feature and it works really well.

It depends on what you want. If you want to see the consensus opinion of the mods, then yes, it works really well. If you want real discussion and lots of opinions, such systems tend to bury less popular ones.

One thing it does is make the time and subthread of posting completely irrelevant. Currently, +5 posts at the bottom of a story are read far less often than those at the top, I believe.

First, the vast majority of stories don't tend to have a lot of +5 posts... maybe a handful or a dozen. If you're browsing at +5, there's not a lot to see except for the one story each day that might get many hundreds of comments.

But regardless, your proposal not only doesn't solve the problem -- it makes the timing effect worse. Time of post is MORE relevant in forums that permit higher scores, since that one post with gets 175 likes in the first hour will always stay on top of those who browse sorting by highest rating, and people will continue to pile on the likes. There's almost no chance of a reversal when it turns out that person was actually full of crap and spouting inaccurate nonsense that just sounded good to the groupthink. But a +5 post can still be nodded down and its influence decreased -- more importantly, a late post in response can gain ground and get up to the same status at least, whereas in the system with an early post with 175 likes, any rational response often gets buried.

I'm not saying the current system is perfect by any means, but I don't think your proposal actually makes things better.

Comment Re:legalism is a crap philosophy. (Score 1) 579

It's only a slight overstatement. My ranking of scumbaggery goes roughly (1) Hitler, Stalin, et al., (2) other mass murderers and serial killers, (3) internet trolls who'd drive a person to suicide just for the lulz, (4) people who drive like jerks in ways that endanger others.

At least lawyers and politicians mostly have self-delusions that they are helping people or society, and even most pedophiles have some warped belief they are acting out of love. Idiots who screech through residential areas showing reckless disregard for the rest of humanity just so they can get to their destination 10 seconds earlier? They have no excuse.

Comment Re:The moderationg system needs an overhaul. (Score 5, Insightful) 1829

Agreed. PLEASE -- Keep the mod cap at +5. It's high enough to make excellent posts stand out, and it's also high enough that a single downmod by someone who just wants to disagree isn't going to make the comment invisible. There's absolutely no reason for higher mod scores except to have a "popularity contest," and that's not what good moderation is about... here it's just about making the decent posts stand out from the herd.

Comment Re:Well, they didn't lie... (Score 1) 159

This is on the right track, but a few clarifications:

As for Flamma, its latin and is a verb there. Go ask them.

No, "flamma" is not a verb. Flamma is a noun, meaning a "blazing fire." Flammo/flammare is a verb. (Well, technically I suppose "flamma" could be an imperative of the verb flammo -- "Be on fire, you heathen!" -- but the normal dictionary entry for the verb is under flammo or flammare.)

There is a fairly clear reason for why both these words carry the same meaning: the prefix in- does not always function as a negative prefix.

Sometimes (and this is one of those times) it serves as an intensifier. Itâ(TM)s fairly obvious how this could lead to problems.

That's not quite right. "In-" is NOT an intensifer. It's derived from the Latin prefix "in" which means "into" or sometimes "on/upon." Hence, in Latin "inflammare" means "to set INTO flames" or "to light on fire," whereas "flammare" simply means "to burn."

(For comparison, think of a word like "intimidate" -- it doesn't mean "more timid." It means to MAKE fearful, to force someone INTO timidity.)

This distinction hasn't really carried over into English in the case of flammable/inflammable, especially since the fire prevention folks started using "flammable" to mean "easily set on fire," which would be a better fit to "inflammable." (If we follow the Latin origin, "flammable" would be better suited to mean, "capable of being burned" (at all).)

Surprisingly, both flammable and inflammable coexisted peacefully in English for hundreds of years before anyone decided to do something about it.

It's not exactly surprising if you know anything about Latin or the history of English. As I just noted, most such pairs actually meant different things. And if you want to see real confusion, read the etymology page for "in-" at the link above. Centuries ago, you had examples like "implume" which mean "to put feathers on" (as in "tar and feathering" or something) from the "in-" = "into" meaning. But "implumed" generally meant "unfeathered," from the "in-" = "not" meaning. THAT was confusing since the same word meant two different things.

But in most cases "in-" was either used in one sense or the other, and when it was used to mean "into," it was generally clearly distinct in meaning from the form without the prefix. (E.g., note that "implume" didn't simply mean "feathered" -- it meant to ADD or put INTO feathers.) I think it's really the fire prevention folks who should be blamed on the confusion, since they took the word "flammable" (which was never popular, never had a clear meaning, and was basically obsolete in the early 1900s) and started using it commonly to mean something that "inflammable" properly should mean.

Comment Re:Eventually... But not yet (Score 5, Insightful) 406

And projectors! How else can I connect to those projectors if not VGA? And their life-span is probably decades. I think the new projectors actually have alternatives to VGA optional, but usually this is HDMI,

THIS. The person who wrote TFA must not do any presentations anywhere ever. Yes, new projectors often have other inputs, but that's often irrelevant in a conference venue or a classroom or whatever, where often there's ONE cable that's presented to you to hook in your laptop -- and it's a VGA cable (often with an audio headphone jack plug, if you need it).

That's the same as it was most places decades ago. If your laptop today doesn't have a VGA port, you get a dongle. Everybody who needs to plug into a projector has a standard VGA one. Switching to another standard would require a major initiative, since this is NOT a place where you can just adopt a different standard on the fly.

Probably tens of thousands of people show up an unfamiliar place every day and expect to be able to plug a laptop into a projector to give a presentation. For better or for worse, everybody knows that you bring a connector for VGA, and if you change that, you need to be darn sure all of your presenters know that (and, even if they do, lots of people who give talks can be old and won't understand if they show up with a laptop that doesn't connect to something else, so you'll be scrambling at the last minute to move stuff to another computer or whatever).

I don't see this standard switching anytime soon -- it tends to be used in high-profile, time-sensitive situations where people expect to be able to plug a computer in and have it work instantly. Unless a venue is going to provide a dongle that fits every possible port on the planet (and most don't), it will be really hard to switch.

The only thing that will eventually allow the switch won't be a new port standard, but rather wireless broadcast of video directly to the projector. It's still quite rare, but it's feasible and the only way to get out of the VGA rut. I doubt HDMI/DP/whatever is EVER going to overcome VGA for such applications -- the next "standard" won't have cables at all.

Comment Re:Archimedes had calculus (Score 1) 153

But the attitude of "Screw this science stuff. We need the parchment for a prayer book." eradicated a lot of earlier knowledge.

You do realize that early books made of parchment were from animal skin, right? So, to put a new page in your book, you had to kill a sheep?

Parchment was extremely valuable. Books required you to slaughter lots of animals. So yeah, people reused the animal skin when they could. It wasn't just reused for "prayer books" -- it was reused for community records, for legal documents, for endpapers to join the spines in new books, etc., etc., etc.

Not until King Ferdinand of Spain figured out that all the stuff the Moors had collected in their libraries might actually be important, the Churches attitude toward knowledge was pretty much indifference.

Huh? That's simply not true. The attitude was: "Here's some valuable material that has a bunch of squiggles on it I can't read. I need paper to make records of new stuff. Let's scrape and reuse."

It's not that they didn't value knowledge -- they didn't value stuff they weren't able to use. That's how life was for most of history for most people. It's only in the past few decades that we've reached a point where production to excess is so great that disposable stuff is everywhere and regular reuse of old stuff isn't necessary.

Very few people in Europe could read Greek for much of the medieval period, so a lot of old manuscripts were scraped off and reused. It's kind of like you came upon an old hard drive which was corrupted and you couldn't read it (and you didn't know what was on it), so you reformatted and started over. That's not "indifference" toward the contents of the drive -- it's just saying, "I need more space, I can't use this thing as-is, so I'll make it so I can reuse it."

On the other hand, there were plenty of books that were kept that maintained knowledge that was important to them. Prayer books were important to them, because without them you might be suffering in eternal torment forever. So, it's kinda like: "I don't have any fresh sheep to kill to make a new book, and here's this skin with squiggles on it I can't read, and if I don't make the new book, I might burn in hell forever."

That's not indifference toward knowledge. That's being practical with materials you have to live your life in a pretty bleak historical period.

Comment Re:Archimedes had calculus (Score 5, Interesting) 153

No. What the church brought was stagnation and illiteracy. Anyone caught translating the bible was burned at the stake.

Another myth. (Note -- before I go on, I'm NOT Catholic, and I have no interest in defending the Catholic Church. But I do think we have a moral duty to accurate history.)

The Catholic Church punished people who translated the Bible AND threatened heresy/schism, etc. Yes, there were some incidents in medieval Europe where translators were punished, but that was because they were associated with political movements against the church. If you wanted to translate the Bible AND lead an insurrection, sure they might kill you.

On the other hand, there are plenty of examples where portions or the entirety of the Bible were translated in the years 1000-1500, and the Church didn't do anything to the translators. It only became a significant controversy after the whole Luther thing and the Counter-Reformation.

By the way, I don't mean this to be argumentative or even that you should have known this. Errors in scholarship have a long life, and there were some influential studies done on this stuff based on incomplete evidence and erroneous interpretations of medieval documents in the early 1900s. That's why this myth endures.

But it's a myth nonetheless.

And illiteracy was just a consequence of lack of utility. Parchment was expensive -- how many animals did you have to kill and skin to make a book? So, why would literacy be common until paper became cheap in the 1400s (due to a sudden excess of scrap linen that could be pulped)?

Preserving the bad ideas of the Greeks may or may not have been a good thing. We might have been better off flushing the whole thing and starting over completely from scratch.

Well, that's all very debatable. Arguably the major medieval renaissance in knowledge was in part driven by reclaiming the knowledge of the ancients, which in turn led to what most people think of as the real "Renaissance," which in turn led to Humanistic enterprises that were no longer dominated by the Church, which led to the Scientific Revolution.

That's only one way of telling the story, of course. But there's some truth to it.

The real problem was not being able to challenge bogus crap for 1000 years.

You really have no idea what medieval Scholasticism was about, then, do you? Medieval universities were largely started by priests and monks. Debates were the norm. Empiricism and logical argument were combined into a new method. Challenging accepted facts was commonplace. In fact, some historians of science actually argue that the reason why the West had a "Scientific Revolution" and other places (e.g., China, the Arab world) didn't was because of the accepted level of scholarly debate that occurred in the West compared to other areas of the world... which didn't have the same kinds of debates.

Comment Re:Archimedes had calculus (Score 1) 153

What made it painful was that it was done without algebra or even the symbol pi. Think long wordy descriptions involving limits and ratios and you end up with 3 pages of text for what takes half a line in modern notation. Heck, even his result takes a couple lines to write.

But that's not the only way to do calculus with geometrical methods. And no, I'm not talking about the idea of integration with rectangles that get thinner and thinner.

Tom Apostol (author of one of the most well-known -- and abstract -- Calculus textbooks ever) highlighted the possible benefits of a geometrical approach years ago. A lot of complex problems are incredibly simple and intuitive to solve, once you get used to geometrical methods.

It's also important to remember that geometry was critical to Newton's conception of calculus too. Read his Principia, and you'll find plenty of geometrical proofs showing things that today we'd do with algebra.

Anyhow, the point is that we tend to think in algebra today because that's primarily how we're taught. There are actually intuitive and simple ways to use geometry to do calculus, and it doesn't surprise me at all if the Babylonians figured some of them out. It would surprise me if it really took a couple thousand years before anyone else did anything like that again -- my guess is that many historians who look at treatises from that period don't always realize what's going on in some historical methods, because we no longer work from a geometry-centric view of mathematics.

Comment Re:ironically (Score 1) 320

However, given what you thought happened does really put it into perspective and I likely would have felt the same. I never had to live with the fear of nuclear war, so it's hard to imagine the kind of stress and fear that could cause.

Indeed. It's a long story but a strange combination of events, a bizarre phone message, and hearing the wrong excerpt of a radio broadcast on 9/11 initially led me to believe that it was likely that thermonuclear devices had been detonated over major U.S. cities. For a minute or more, I was trying to figure out who might be lobbing ICBMs at us, where the nearest major cities were to me, likely direction of prevailing winds and fallout clouds, etc. After turning on the TV and finally hearing it was about a few plane crashes and thousands were dead instead of tens of millions that I was imagining... yeah, I breathed a sigh of relief too. Believe me, you never was to go through a period where you seriously believe that a nuclear war has begun.

Comment Re:BMI is a poor tool (Score 1) 425

Do some research before disagreeing in ignorance. Read some actual studies, which there are many of on the inaccuracies of BMI. Basically, BMI misclassifies at least 25% of the population -- tall people are disproportionately flagged as obese (particularly women), while short people (particularly men) are incorrectly viewed as healthy. If you try to move the thresholds around, it doesn't ever really get better. And there are loads of simple measures that are superior to BMI -- for example, men's waist measurement (regardless of height) has a MUCH higher correlation with obesity-related illness than BMI.

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