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Submission + - An Online Game of Skill, Played for Money

Capt.Albatross writes: Jason Rohrer, a game developer with an artistic flair (Passage, Sleep is Death) is developing a new game, Cordial Minuet (an anagram of 'demonic ritual'). It is a two-person game of skill, to be played online for money. Rohrer believes that, as a game of skill, it avoids falling foul of U.S. gambling legislation. Emanuel Maiberg's interview of Rohrer discusses the game play, Rohrer's steps to avoid legal problems while monetizing it, and whether games of skill avoid the ethical problems of gambling.

Submission + - Yosemite Wi-Fi Problems

Capt.Albatross writes: Sophos' Naked Security blog is reporting that some users of Apple's OSX 10.10 (Yosemite) operating system are having problems with wi-fi: "Your network works fine for a while, typically between about 30 seconds and five minutes, and then fairly abruptly begins to suffer almost total traffic loss. The network shows up as active, and low-level packets such as PINGs can be sent and received as normal. But traffic such as UDP and TCP just doesn't get through."

Apple's own Support Community has much discussion, and some proposed workarounds, but no definite explanation or solution appears to have emerged yet.

Submission + - Death Valley's Sailing Stones Caught in the Act (

Capt.Albatross writes: The flat surface of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is littered with rocks, some weighing hundreds of kilograms, each at the end of a track indicating that it has somehow slid across the surface. The mechanism behind this has been the subject of much speculation but little evidence, until a trio of scientists caught them in action with cameras and GPS.

Submission + - A Map of Publicly-Funded Creationism Teaching

Capt.Albatross writes: At Slate, Chris Kirk presents a map of schools in the USA that both receive public funding and teach creationism. It also shows public schools in those states where they are allowed to teach creationism (without necessarily implying that creationism is taught in all public schools of those states). There is a brief discussion of the regulations in those states where this occurs, but the amounts involved are not discussed.

Submission + - A Diagnosis for

Capt.Albatross writes: At Slate, David Auerbach reports on Thursday's hearing concerning the debacle. It was "a spectacle of tech illiteracy and buck-passing", he says, which may not elicit much surprise around here. He is particularly scornful of the contractors' obsession with checking off milestones rather than with delivering something that works, their willingness to call something 'done' before having tested it, and their apparent obliviousness to how incompetent this shows them to be.

Submission + - Twitter Buzz as an Election Predictor

Capt.Albatross writes: A study presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting suggests that simply comparing the frequency with which the candidates' names are mentioned in tweets can predict the result of elections almost as well as conventional polls, even without considering the sentiment (for or against the named candidate) of the messages. Furthermore, the correlation seems strongest in close elections.

Additional commentary can be found at the Wall Street Journal and from Indiana University.

Submission + - Thorium Fuel has Proliferation Risk (

Capt.Albatross writes: Thorium has attracted interest as a potentially safer fuel for nuclear power generation. In part, this has been because of the absence of a route to nuclear weapons, but a group of British scientists have identified a path that leads to uranium-233 via protactinium-233 from irradiated thorium. The protactinium separation could possibly be done with standard lab equipment, which would allow it to be done covertly, and deliver the minimum of U233 required for a weapon in less than a year.

The full article is in Nature, paywalled.


Submission + - Promoting Arithmetic and Algebra by Example

Capt.Albatross writes: A couple of months ago, the New York Times published political scientist Andrew Hacker's opinion that teaching algebra is harmful. Today, it has followed up with an article that is clearly intended to indicate the usefulness of basic mathematics by suggesting useful exercises in a variety of 'real-world' topics. While the starter questions in each topic involve formula evaluation rather than symbolic manipulation, the follow-up questions invite readers to delve more deeply.

The value of mathematics education has been a recurring issue in Slashdot.

Submission + - Is Algebra Necessary? -- New York Times

Capt.Albatross writes: Andrew Hacker, a professor of Political Science at the City University of New York and author of 'Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It', attempts to answer this question in the negative in today's New York Times Sunday Review [registration may be required].

His primary claim is that mathematics requirements are prematurely and unreasonably limiting the level of education available to otherwise capable students .

Submission + - Righthaven Redux... With a Difference (

Capt.Albatross writes: At Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza reports that, in an act of delicious irony, Swiss ISP Ort Cloud [sic] has acquired Righthaven's domain name and has relaunched as a web hosting service diametrically opposed to the practices of its original owner, a notorious but ultimately unsuccessful copyright troll. The new owners, in partnership with first amendment lawyer Marc Randazza (who was instrumental in the original Rigthhaven's demise), promise "infrajuridsictional infrastructure" — uptime that would require international cooperation to bring down. "Frivolous plaintiffs will find little comfort here" says Ort Cloud's Stefan Thalberg.

The domain name became available in a court-ordered auction of Righthaven LLC's assets, to pay its creditors.


Submission + - To Learn, Test Yourself (

Capt.Albatross writes: The New York Times summarizes a paper published online by Science:

Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus