Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Good now you go and take care of her judge! (Score 1) 156

by hey! (#48656623) Attached to: Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person"

Okay. So now Sandra is entitled to welfare and liable in civil suits as well as criminally responsible.

Neither necessarily follows as a consequence of personhood. Children cannot be held liable in civil suits and in most cases very young ones cannot be held criminally responsible, not because children aren't human, but because they can't reasonably be expected to take a responsible, independent part in human society.

Welfare for animals is not a consequence of animal personhood, but a consequence of humans taking animals from their natural environment. Once you have custody of an animal, by the norms of our society you are responsible for that animal's welfare. When I catch a fish which I don't plan to release, I pith it with a sharpened screwdriver, not because the fish has human rights, but because letting an animal die a slow and painful death when it's easy to kill it quickly and painlessly is needlessly cruel.

I have thought on this often and equality to humanity should be measured in terms of what sets us apart from Sandra. The ability to abstract and to use language is one part of that. The ability to abstract and to use language is one part of that.

Well, what about people with aphasia? Do they lose their human status because they can't use language? Also, when reasoning about the abstraction capabilities of great apes it's important not to reason from assumptions. I've had the good fortune to work with primate field researchers, and there's good reason to believe that chimpanzees (for example) plan ahead; this necessarily involves a concept of "self" and "other", "now" and "in the future", all of which I think can reasonably be called abstractions, in fact I'd say they're the key ones. "Freedom" means nothing to an animal that has no concept of self or future.

Comment: Re:But an unborn baby is not a person. Riiiiiight. (Score 1) 156

by hey! (#48656445) Attached to: Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person"

It's seems perfectly plausible to me that an adult great ape might be a "person" but a blastula with a couple of dozen cells is not, nor a one ounce fetus at the end of the first trimester. The baby's brain at birth will weigh more than a dozen times that at birth.

Comment: Re:Stone Age diet ? he wants to live all 20 years? (Score 1) 296

by hey! (#48656401) Attached to: How Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel Plans To Live 120 Years

The interesting thing is when researchers did plots of estimated ages of paleolithic skeletons, the population showed exponential decay from the age of maturity. For modern populations in advanced societies the # deaths vs. age of death curve is relatively flat until you start getting into the 60s and 70s.

What this tells you is that paleolithic people didn't die from age related causes. They got picked off by accident, mishap, violence or infections that cut down people in their prime, so it made no difference whether you were 16 or 30, your chances for surviving another year were the same.

So this kind of makes sense; he's looking to move into a population which does not die from age. It's the kind of thing that makes intuitive sense, but often doesn't pan out. What *might* make sense is a counter-intuitive move: fasting, or intermittent fasting where you fast on alternate days. This reproduces the way paleolithic people consumed calories: not three meals a day on the clock, but feasting after a kill and making

Taking HGH is just proof that having money doesn't make you smart or well-informed. He is going to need that cancer cure soon if he keeps that up. His plan is like pouring oil on a smoldering fire and hoping they develop really good fire extinguishers soon. It also seems very un-paleo to me. Paleolithic people went through periods where they had plenty of HGH (feasting) and periods with low HGH levels (fasting). Some researchers believe the fasting period confers many aging related health benefits.

Comment: Re:Cannons? (Score 1) 251

by hey! (#48655339) Attached to: TSA Has Record-Breaking Haul In 2014: Guns, Cannons, and Swords

I'd guess you could successfully hijack a plane with a cannon that was small enough to hand-hold, provided someone else smuggled the shot and powder onboard. Presumably we're talking about a very light cannon here, otherwise it'd exceed the passenger's carry on weight allowance, which is usually about 20-30 pounds.

But that's not the real issue. The real issue is the balance between the thought and expertise we're willing to pay for in an inspector and the common sense you expect from passengers. You *could* in theory pay enough (both in salary and delay) to hire inspectors with the training and education to make a determination whether a historical firearm presents a potential threat, or you can have a simple rule of "if it looks like it can shoot, you can't carry it on," and expect the public to figure out that they should ship their cannon rather than stuff it into their

Comment: Re:How about "no"? (Score 1) 283

by hey! (#48654623) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

Actual parent of kids who turned out be civilized human beings here.

I never felt resentful when ivory-tower experts had an idea about child rearing, because I could always look up their sources and decide for myself whether that evidence was credible. Often I didn't find their claims credible, but other times I did. The problem with the self-appointed "experts" who have no evidence to support this claim. These come in two flavors, those who recast parenting fads as "science", but actually have no evidence to support their claims; and "traditionalists" who advocate corporal punishment. The traditionalist's evidence tends to be, "Dad used to whup the hell out of me, and look how I turned out." Well, you seem OK, but so do a lot of other people who were raised completely differently from you.

The truth is that most people seem to turn out more or less OK. I believe there's a powerful tendency for kids to grow up average-ish that thwarts every parenting philosophy, and rescues kids from some truly awful parenting.

I had a friend growing up whose mother "taught" her children to be careful with fire by burning their hands on the stove when they were toddlers. This was before mandatory reporting, so nobody realized on her youngest that this was the third toddler she'd brought into the emergency room with serious hand burns. She also beat her kids with a razor strap whenever they annoyed her -- who the hell kept a razor strap in their house, even back in the 60s? In the summer she kicked her kids out of the house when she woke up at 7AM and wouldn't let them back in until 7PM, not even to use the bathroom. They used to shit on the street, until my Mom found out and let them use our bathroom. Families in the neighborhood fed them like stray cats. You'd think kids raised that way would be totally dsyfunctional adults, but in fact these kids all grew up to be, apparently, normal. Just like my brothers and sisters. We grew up in a tight-knit, permissive household where physical punishment was never used, and we turned out to be normal, law-abiding adults.

I'm not saying parenting doesn't matter. I'm saying relax and enjoy one of life's great experiences. Do your best to do what's right, but don't worry when people tell you (as they will) that that's wrong. There's more than one way to do it, and you can recover from a few mistakes, or even a lot of mistakes. Parenting is one of the few endeavors where sincere effort counts in itself.

Comment: Re:I don't even... (Score 1) 283

by TapeCutter (#48654401) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline
"Talking" simply means telling the kid what they did was wrong before you punish them, if you haven't told them beforehand then don't punish them. The worst thing you can do as a parent is to be inconsistent, the kids will soon learn the rules are based on your mood and by the tender age of five will be playing you like a fiddle.

Comment: Re:I don't even... (Score 1) 283

by TapeCutter (#48654221) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline
I'm a grandfather, when it comes to things like kicking the cat a 2yo has a pretty good grasp of right and wrong, what they don't understand is that sound travels when they are up to no good. Also I would, and have, encouraged a 2yo to play with woodworking tools and a piece of wood. Yes, they will bang their fingers and scratch their hands, but they will persist because they are hard wired to mimic adults, and if the nail stands up by itself in the wood they get a natural rush of reward chemicals. You certainly don't give a 2yo a nail gun but at the end of the day there isn't a tradesman on earth who hasn't hit himself with a hammer.

Comment: Re:I don't even... (Score 2) 283

by TapeCutter (#48653857) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

I think what they really want are children who are so unruly that their parents can't control them, and they can't function in society. They make for perfect lemmings fully dependent on the government.

If you honestly think it's a government conspiracy then you are at least a little bit "broken, psychotic, or socially maladjusted".

Comment: Re:and they make big bonfires, too (Score 1) 234

by drinkypoo (#48653129) Attached to: The Magic of Pallets

Considering all the other toxic chemicals that a typical palette is treated with, I'm not sure the galvanized nails are the wort of your worries.

That's a valid concern, but in theory pallets are marked so that you can identify what they're made of, and some of them are just made of untreated wood. I would imagine that this mostly applies to domestic-only shipments.

I know welding is a BAD idea without a breather, but is a wood fire even hot enough to cause problems?

Yeah, zinc vaporizes right around a mere 500 degrees, you can easily exceed that by burning a stack of pallets. Whoops! Been to that bonfire already.

Comment: Re:I saw How We Got To Now too (Score 4, Informative) 78

by hey! (#48652689) Attached to: How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market

Old ways of doing things often hang on an unexpectedly long time because a mature technology has the advantages of ubiquity. People are comfortable with it, all the kinks have all been worked out, and its popularity gives it a huge structural cost advantage.

You can't think in terms of how expensive it would be to have a 50 lb block of ice delivered to your doorstep today. The *marginal* cost of having ice delivered is nil when everyone on your street is getting it. Everyone had an actual "icebox", and since it had no moving parts it never needed servicing or replacing. So when electric refrigerators became available it was a choice of keeping your perfectly good icebox with its reliable, regularly scheduled ice delivery, or buy a cranky, complicated, expensive piece of machinery that would pay for itself just in time to need replacing. If the ice industry killed itself by shipping polluted ice, it's probably because they couldn't expand their supply to meet demand.

I'll bet the grandchildren of kids learning to drive today will find the whole concept of a massive, truck-based gasoline distribution network absurdly complicated. But it works because it's massive, and because it's ubiquitous we assume it is simple -- which it is on the consumer end. On the production end it is fantastically complicated and labor intensive.

Speaking of the Boston ice industry, I live a half mile from a 20 acre (8 ha) pond that supported a major ice operation in the 1800s. Pictures show men harvesting blocks of ice eighteen, even twenty-four inches thick for shipment around the world. In the non-winter months the companies operated water-powered mills. Ice was a classic case of exploiting slack resources. Ice meant no head for the water powered mill, and an idle workforce. So electric refrigeration wasn't the only pressure on the ice industry: electric factories would have raised the price of winter labor.

Today that same pond never gets more than a couple of inches of ice, even in last year's "polar vortex" event -- you can't make ice that thick in a couple weeks, you need a cold winter that starts early and doesn't let go for months. When I was a kid this pond iced over in December. Now it ices over in Janurary, or Feburary, or some years not at all except for the lee end. In January I can fish from my canoe on ponds where I would once have been ice-fishing.

It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet