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Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 1) 88

by the gnat (#47519539) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

The thing is, fossil fuels run out rather quickly on the cosmic scale. A few centuries and the consequences of pollution become apparent quickly too. A civilization must quickly move to something cleaner or it dies. Either way, the pollution stops. What are the odds that our telescopes will find a planet inhabited by a civilization that just happens to be going through a (likely) one-time few century window of time?

This is an excellent point, but it's also orthogonal to the post I was replying to. You're arguing based on certain physical constraints which are based on reasonable extrapolation from our present circumstances. The GP was arguing that pollution was "illogical", which is just a nonsensical argument. Polluting the planet to the point of species extinction would be illogical, but trace levels of CFCs in the atmosphere don't necessarily indicate a fundamental lack of logic, just a transitional period where a civilization was smart enough to make such things, but not smart enough to realize the long-term impact. (But I agree that this timeframe is not likely to be very long.)

Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 1) 88

by the gnat (#47519505) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

First off, what we can or cannot imagine has absolutely nothing to do with what is or is not real, so it isn't clear why you're bringing this up.

The parent poster was criticizing the making of "assumptions" about how advanced alien life might behave in the process of trying to detect it. If we don't make certain assumptions based on what we can observe firsthand, our imaginations are all we're left with. And I agree this is a shitty way to do science, which was kind of my entire point.

Comment: Re:Advanced? (Score 2) 88

by the gnat (#47519007) Attached to: Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

Would an advanced race actually do something so illogical?

By "advanced", I assume the summary meant "technologically advanced". How would any civilization reach a high level of technology without going through industrialization? It's not like anyone enjoys living downwind of a coal plant, but the messier forms of energy production are convenient, cheap, and don't require any advanced materials or science. Try to imagine an alternate history where we emerged from the industrial revolution with effective, sustainable fusion and solar power without ever polluting the planet.

One of my least-favorite sci-fi tropes is an alien race which is simultaneously technologically adept enough to build starships and aggressive enough to spread through the galaxy meets (much less technologically advanced) humans for the first time and sadly remarks on our lack of environmental consciousness and our propensity for violence. It requires the assumption that exactly none of the circumstances that constrained our development, and none of the evolutionary pressures which drove it, might apply to other species. Yes, we can't be certain that other forms of life aren't so radically different that these rules don't apply - but we have yet to observe such life forms on Earth, at least.

Comment: Disagree (Score 2) 895

by danheskett (#47512853) Attached to: The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

With one myth and conclusion:

"The Myth: Women should just laugh off online harassment and not take it personally. "

The problem is: there are never any police reports to go with this behavior. If anyone is reading this, especially women, and you are threatened online or in person, and the words have: the nature and content to cause or instill fear, have enough specificity to demonstrate actual malice and show intent, and from an anonymous source a crime has been committed. All of the reactions I hear about women doing are the wrong ones. You shouldn't post to Twitter to show you aren't afraid, you shouldn't pen an op-ed denouncing men or the industry or the culture or other women or whatever.

What you should do is preserve the digital evidence, go to your police station, file a police a report, and then take the police report, and go to or travel to the nearest FBI field office and ask them to open an investigation. Every time. If you get a lot of this type of activity, you should get to know the officers who will be taking your reports daily or weekly. You can usually setup a standing appointment.

Brianna Wu would do more to change the environment by retweeting a threatening post followed by a mug shot than writing a hundred shaming articles that only the people who already agree with her are going to read. Showing your solidarity, having catharsis, raising awareness among like minded people has it's value, but it pales in comparison to making them pay. Not metaphorically, by doxing them and giving them a dose of medicine, but you know, like, pay actual fines, do actual jail time, and pay actual damages. Please, women (and men, when the shoe fits) stop "fighting simultaneous urges to hurl my phone across the room in anger and cry" and take actual action.

There is a perception that these people are anonymous, that it's untraceable, but it's a lie. Whatever the medium was - email, blog post, Tumblr, tweet, etc, there are a big companies behind them. A prosecutor or even a cop can often make an automated request through the companies CALEA compliance tool to get identity data when the above criteria is met. It's not controversial or hard. The service providers all comply, and willingly, and fast. The investigators will get the IP information, and then go to the ISP, and get subscriber information. These people are not going through eight layers of tor proxies. They are home, on their Wifi, thinking that a throw-away reddit account is really anonymous. They are wrong.

Comment: Re:Competent (Score 1) 895

by danheskett (#47512789) Attached to: The Daily Harassment of Women In the Game Industry

But at the same time my experience within various organizations is that female programmers weren't treated any differently that I could see. It certainly wasn't ever a living episode of Mad Men.

This is my experience also, but it's somewhat limited because their just aren't that many women programmers out there as a sample size.

What I took from the article was that people in Silcon Valley are not nice, which is generally easily supported by the facts. Just go somewhere else, and you will find nice, non-bubble inflated, non-VC backed, stable businesses that will happily hire women programmers, and treat them as well as anyone else, which is to say, well. You can have a nice life filled with a good stable job doing something you love. You won't be making games, you'll be writing line of business, boring b2b business products, or backend systems that run mid and small sized businesses.

On the other hand you can go to Silicon Valley, or a few other tech spots, and live a life in an industry full of assholes. Gaming, fashion, gossip blogging, entertainment, etc. It's all assholes, all the way down. Your customers are assholes, your co-workers are assholes, the venture capitalists are assholes, the competitors are assholes.

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 3, Insightful) 94

by the gnat (#47503769) Attached to: UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

Actually, we know almost all basic chemistry, and the range of (stable) molecules that silicon can form is orders of magnitude less than for carbon.

Well, yeah, but I didn't want to offend the pedants even further. Unless the laws of physics (and therefore basic chemistry) are very different elsewhere in the galaxy, it's not unreasonable to think that carbon-based, liquid-water-dependent lifeforms are the most probable. In fact, I'd be willing to bet a tidy sum of money that the overwhelming majority of unique forms of life are not terribly dissimilar from ours as far as the underlying chemistry is concerned. They might be fantastically alien in all sorts of other strange ways, but they'll still be based on simple organic polymers. But this is still irrelevant to the discussion at hand, because even if there were different forms of life, we have no idea how we might detect them at astronomical distances.

Comment: Re:Correction (Score 5, Insightful) 94

by the gnat (#47502633) Attached to: UEA Research Shows Oceans Vital For Possibility of Alien Life

I wish I had mod points. Every time I hear about planets not being able to support life, this is my first thought.

And every time a story about extraterrestrial life gets posted on Slashdot, several dozen people say exactly the same thing, as if they've had some brilliantly original insight that the scientists researching the subject missed. No one is explicitly ruling out the possibility that there are gaseous lifeforms living in the clouds of gas giants, or silicon-based rock monsters like the one in Star Trek. Hell, it would be a huge discovery if we found something like that. But since we're presently incapable of observing such lifeforms firsthand, and have no idea what we should be looking for at a distance of light-years, we have to settle for looking for the planetary "signatures" of temperature, oceans, oxygen content, etc. It may not satisfy the pedants, but it's still extremely difficult by itself. When we're capable of actually exploring other solar systems directly, then maybe we can start to look for fantasy lifeforms on frozen airless rocks and methane clouds.

Comment: Re:So depressing. (Score 2) 108

by the gnat (#47500583) Attached to: A Look At NASA's Orion Project

All the hundreds of bases on foreign soil should be liquidated, and the foreign countries that get those back should start footing the bill for their own defense. Then we'll see how much they want to cry about American expansionist policies and so on.

In fairness, it's generally not the South Koreans (to pick one obvious example) complaining about American expansionism.

Comment: Re:Require H1-B visa recipients be paid more (Score 1) 528

Well for one, the AMA is a private organization, and they have tried, and failed to do what you are saying for another similar undertaking that sounds simple but is not.

The problem is that job descriptions are not uniform, and wages are not uniform. So the very thing you are trying to accomplish is technically challenging, and it will be prone to be difficult and challenging circumstances.

Plus, there is every incentive to cheat the system and a bad incentive structure to root out cheating. It's bound to fail, whether or not it's private or public.

Comment: Re:I don't see the problem. (Score 1) 665

by danheskett (#47499931) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

I don't think you are going to find anyone saying that al Qaeda isn't a terrorist syndicate with aggressive goals and activities. It's pretty cut and dried.

The only thing you are going to find is people willing to go back further than the WTC. The primary grievance against the West was the co-operation between the Saudi's (who are a competing religious sect) and the West in stationing and occupying troops in the so-called holy land. It is clearly a reactionary movement. First reacting against the Soviets, and then reacting against the West and the US.

Comment: Re:I don't see the problem. (Score 2) 665

by danheskett (#47499909) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

The World Trade center isn't a government site by any stretch of the imagination.
I agree with that generally. The 9/11 report went into motivations a bit, I think it's mostly as a symbol of economic power.

It is also believed the original intended targets were nuclear power plants which demonstrates these targets were picked to incite fear into Americans.
I don't think this is supported by facts. The facts indicate the last target (the one intended to be destroyed by United 93) was in Washington DC.

but the Pentagon and US Capitol attacks were strategic (foolish, but strategic) and could be classified as freedom fighters since they were fighting against their aggressors, but as soon as they also picked the WTC (along with their motive) and Bali Bombings that crossed the line into terrorism.

Pentagon and US Capitol, I think are fairly clear, are in fact legitimate military targets. It would be nice if you the other side raised a traditional army, landed an invasion force, and rolled up the the streets of Baltimore and into combat, but being asymmetric, legitimate targets.

The disagreement then is over WTC and the use of civilian hijacked planes?

For the planes issue, the collateral damage can't be the deciding factor for freedom fighter vs. terrorism. Otherwise, any military action that has civilian causalities is terrorism. For us Americans, we feel incredible empathy for the 44 Americans who died on United 93. It's a national tragedy and rightly so. Meanwhile, though, that many Iraqi's and Afghan's died every few days from simple mistakes, collateral damage, or accidents. So it's just not that clear how you decide which actions have acceptable civilian deaths and which civilian deaths are terror related.

I don't think you've clarified your position. Is the definition of terrorism only about motivations? Does that make shock & awe in general or Iraq, qualify as terrorism under that definition?

Comment: Re:I don't see the problem. (Score 4, Insightful) 665

by danheskett (#47497395) Attached to: Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

A terrorist's goal is to frighten people into submission by causing fear of harm or death into civilians and attacking civilian's (like 9/11).

A freedom fighter makes statements to the people by attacking appropriate military or government sites

What is the definition of a government site?

The CIA waged war on the Taliban for a decade, and before that, in Afghanistan, throughout the 80's. They also radicalized the latent radicals in many Mid-Eastern countries, and then turned them loose with weapons, as a proxy against Russians and even democratic self-government movements.

Those same people then attacked the US, on US soil, hitting the Pentagon, apparently attempting to hit the US Capitol, and hitting the World Trade Center. The WTC, which by the way, contained offices of the CIA, and DOD, and the NYC government.

I just don't think your definitions are that accurate. The 9/11 terrorists attempted to attack the US seat of political, military, and economic power. Yes, a lot of very innocent civilians died. Is that the definition for terrorism? That's a tough one, it has a lot of very difficult implications behind it.

Comment: Re:NASA has become small indeed... (Score 5, Insightful) 108

by danheskett (#47497361) Attached to: A Look At NASA's Orion Project

From scratch is a term of art. Not a real description. We had been sending stuff into space before Kennedy's speech. We had been working on rocket and control systems for a bit. NASA didn't fall from the sky into existence, but was the culmination of a long-effort.

I am perfectly content at this point to just stop it all. If private individuals want to fund a non-profit organization to do the work of NASA go for it. I am all for a few regulatory changes to let it happen within a few broad parameters.

The challenges are different now, and I think well more than twice as a complex.

BUT you have a point about America:

"We used to make stuff in this country. Now everyone's just got their hand in the next guy's pocket." -- Frank, Season 4, The Wire.

Even the government can't get out of the government's way anymore. There is nothing happening that's not part of a graft racket.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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