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Comment: Re:What they are probably meaning: (Score 1) 152

by ljw1004 (#49364019) Attached to: Graphene Light Bulbs Coming To Stores Soon

That's pretty harsh! What are you going on?

I got the impression that the article was written after interviewing someone from the company in person. Like you, I don't have anything concrete to go on, but that seems the likeliest explanation for the "go to market" date.And I'm sure the rep from the company had earlier been involved in fundraising and as part of that would have had to tell investors his expectations of energy efficiency.

BBC news articles about scientific papers, by contrast, invariably have the words "scientists say" and usually mention the paper's publication...

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 1) 119

Well, I personally take the view that any society that forcibly sterilized 50% of its residents doesn't deserve to continue as a society.

I also don't think Malthus was correct.

Someone insinuated that I'd be ok with Jewish concentration camps if that resulted in a society that survived.

That's a hard question to answer. On one hand, what was done to the Jews was clearly immoral. On the other hand, a society that goes extinct isn't around to argue that it was a moral society. Heinlein noted that survival is somewhat of a precursor to moral behavior.

What we'd like to hope is that the choice between survival and violence against others is a false choice - that there is always a way to both survive and not harm others.

But that may not be the case for all societies in all situations.

It may be that the Native Americans came to the conclusion that you did -- that anything beyond a certain population was unsustainable given the technology level and resources they had available to them.

That may have been an eminently moral choice.

It also means that what they thought doesn't matter today - because there weren't enough of them to defend themselves against an invading society with different ideas.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 2) 119

Another question to wrestle with:

Why didn't the colonization and empire building go the other direction?

Why weren't the native Americans launching ocean going vessels towards Europe? Why, when the Europeans arrived, were the NAs unable to repel them?

Why were there so many top-notch German scientists and engineers in that society in the 1930s and 1940s? Why, given its amazing technological advantages, did Nazi Germany still ultimately lose the war?

If you want a really uncomfortable question: why was South Africa apparently a much nicer place -- for everyone -- under European management with the distasteful Apartheid policy? Why has that society _regressed_ since kicking out the colonial invaders?

There are books on these topics that take varying points of view.

My point is very simple: pining for primitive cultures is romantically appealing but intellectually dishonest. And holding our ancestors to the standards of today is also silly - we can only hold them to the standards of their day --- unless you mean to imply that there has been no human progress.

It is precisely the fact that the Western world has shown dramatic human progress - even at the cost of slowing its own rate of expansion and conquest - that we can be confident that Western Civilization has something to offer the world.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 1) 119

I don't believe that inside Nazi Germany nor in Stalinist Russia, there was the problem of a foreign empire clashing with an indigenous culture.

It seems the best American analogue to the experiences of those regimes was what was done to Japanese Americans in WW2 - which while awful, thankfully, doesn't hold a candle to what was done to the German Jews or the Soviet victims of Stalinism.

The history of the world is filled with violent tribal conflict, usually over the right to settle and tax a given piece of land.

The Jews and Nazis weren't fighting for control over Bavaria.

The Europeans did not set out with the goal of exterminating the native Americans. The NAs had their land taken from them by force, which is how it has always worked on this planet.

There are two general possibilities for how to proceed from here

1) convince people that taking land from other people is immoral

2) find additional land that is both unsettled and desirable

#1 is worth working on, and can show some real improvements, but will ultimately not be enough.

#2 is also worth working on, and why I am a space nutter, and why I am interested in how seasteading plays out.

A mix of #1 and #2 may help humanity not kill each other completely. We've gone almost 70 years with the ability to wipe ourselves out and we haven't done so yet. That's an encouraging indicator.

Comment: Re:Missionaries (Score 5, Interesting) 119

Small Part Native American here. Grandpa and mom are buried on the Res.

Not that my heritage should matter, but some people can't hear the message until they've decided what bucket to put the messenger in....

How is the way of life and/or world view of the Native Americans worth saving?

Same question for impoverished rural Africans?

We are having this conversation only because an objectively superior culture with an objectively superior propensity for technical development has built this amazing medium for our use.

My ancestors were excellent hunters, excellent farmers, and excellent stewards of natural resources. There are many things to admire and respect about what they did.

Ultimately, however, I'm glad I don't live in a house made of animal skin; I'm glad I have modern medicine; I'm glad my other ancestors - my white European ones - have shot themselves into space, and have opened a way for my children to someday get off this rock.

In many ways, Humans of all colors and shapes are still participating in the tribal violence that shaped native Americans and still shapes many Africans.

Some tribes are better run than others, with better results to show for it. Adapt or die.

Comment: Re:Unfair comparison (Score 1) 447

by ljw1004 (#49245901) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

Often people taking placebo, homeopathy, etc. will *report* feeling better - but this does not mean they are better in any meaningful sense of the word.

Curiously, I'd say that's the only meaningful sense of "feel better".

If I took treatment which genuinely cured me of some physical ailment but didn't make me feel better, I honestly wouldn't care for it and wouldn't do it again. If I took a placebo which didn't cure the physical ailment but made me feel better, I'd be all over it. I guess I'd just assumed that this was obvious and everyone would have the same reaction. Apparently you don't.

Maybe I'm influenced by endurance sports (e.g. I've done many 10+ mile swims) where I think many people can physically accomplish it, but their state of mind is the only thing allowing them or preventing them from achieving it.

Comment: Re:As far as I'm considered, this article ends wit (Score 1) 85

by bmajik (#49205297) Attached to: Inside Minerva, a Silicon Valley Bid To Start an Elite College Online

I don't think the distinction you're making is as bright of a line as many people wish it were.

When you think of "for profit" college, do you think of the motivations? The governance? The educational results?

I look at "normal" colleges and I see many examples of
- bad motivations: if you don't think "normal" colleges aren't motivated by the wrong things, look at how much money gets pumped into athletics programs. look at how much money goes to administrative stafff. look at how much money goes to building lavish student unions, extra rec facilities, and all kinds of other things that aren't really related to the "stated" mission of the university. instead, they're related to attracting student enrollment with candy; attracting not the top of the intellectual pyramid, but the broad base, with bread and circuses...

- bad governance. University administration and leadership live like royalty in some places. In my humble state the university chancellor is apparently forcing campus cops to be his personal chauffer. The higher ed system in this state badly misdirects state funds, over and over, and is never held accountable.

  - bad outcomes: plenty of people coming out of "normal" universities with toy degrees that are unemployable, and worse, really have no insight or understanding into anything worthwhile... and yet are saddled with plenty of debt.

Private universities are a response to current realities: many low-risk jobs require a paper degree, but no actual skills. Many traditional universities are needlessly stupid and expensive if all you want is that paper. And there is plenty of free money to go around, irrespective of merit.

I agree that for-profit diploma mills are probably a net negative. My point is that "normal" universities, in broad strokes, may not be any better.

Government

Come and Take It, Texas Gun Enthusiasts (Video) 367

Posted by timothy
from the a-lower-receiver-can-be-an-entire-gun-under-the-law dept.
In Texas, guns are a common sight:gun-racks are visible in the back of many pick-ups, and pistols, cannons, and rifles are part of the state's iconography. Out-of-sight guns are common, too: The state has had legal (though highly regulated) concealed carry for handguns since 1995, though -- contrary to some people's guess, and with some exceptions -- open carry of handguns is not generally legal. One thing that's definitely not a common sight, though, is a group of people manufacturing guns just outside the south gates of the Texas capitol building. But that's just what you would have encountered a few weeks ago, when an organization called CATI (Come and Take It) Texas set up a tent that served as a tech demo as much as an act of social provocation. CATI had on hand one of the same Ghost Gunner CNC mills that FedEx now balks at shipping, and spent hours showing all comers how a "gun" (in the eyes of regulators, at least) can be quickly shaped from a piece of aluminum the ATF classifies as just a piece of aluminum. They came prepared to operate off-grid, and CATI Texas president Murdoch Pizgatti showed for my camera that the Ghost Gunner works just fine operating from a few big batteries -- no mains power required. (They ran the mill at a slower speed, though, to conserve juice.)

Comment: Re:Breaking news! (Score 1) 148

by ljw1004 (#49132943) Attached to: Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games

The article shows a picture of Breakout, and tends to focus on the wrong things entirely... especially the title, trumping that "computers can beat humans". It's fairly impressive that computers can learn the rules of a simple videogame on their own and perform well, but beating humans is not exactly an apples to apples comparison, because while we can formulate strategies to maximize points, we're also prone to making simple mistakes due to our much poorer reflexes and coordination.

Exactly. The article talks about the "advanced strategy" of tunneling a hole through to bounce the ball of the back wall. But that's only a useful strategy to make up for someone who doesn't have the reflexes to bounce the ball with their paddle, or can't be bothered. If the program had good reflexes and didn't get bored, then tunneling in breakout isn't any advantage.

Comment: Re:Christopher Alexander (Score 2) 81

by bmajik (#49116567) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

The last quarter or so of the patterns deal with interior space, but i think you might find it problematic to just apply them in isolation.

The patterns are meant to be applied in order, from largest effect with least detail, to smallest effect and highest detail.

So, for instance, if you take room that doesn't have "light on two sides"

http://www.patternlanguage.com...

there may not be much you can do, interior design wise, to save the room, without first trying some of the suggestions he has for how to deal with the lack of windows...

Comment: Christopher Alexander (Score 5, Interesting) 81

by bmajik (#49112901) Attached to: Ancient and Modern People Followed Same Mathematical Rule To Build Cities

One other AC posted this, but it will probably stay buried at zero.

If you're interested in why some spaces feel nice to you and others don't, there's a series of books you want to read, by "Christopher Alexander"

The first one is "The Timeless Way of Building". The next is "A Pattern Language"

This guy was writing about the human factors in architecture -- why certain spaces make all people feel good, and how that developed over human history, and how it's largely been lost in modern architecture.

His next book, "A Pattern Language", enumerates 253 patterns his team rediscovered that help resolve social problems in architectural spaces.

The problem he noticed is that people could understand if they felt good in a space or not, but it was difficult to predict ahead of time if a building would have this quality or not. And that's obviously a huge problem if you want to build things that people love, because buildings are expensive and stay around a long time. Just cloning old buildings that people like doesn't quite do it either - because people didn't really understand what made those spaces great.

This series of books is what the Gang of Four looked at, and one of them said "hey, this applies to building software also - when the problem looks like this, there's a pattern that can be implemented many different ways to address that problem".

Thus, the design patterns movement in software was born.

If you're at all interested in houses, cities, planning, design, etc, I really recommend the books.

However, read them before you buy/build your next house -- not right after you just moved. You'll start to find explanatinos about where you currently live that explain why you don't use or don't enjoy certain things, and you'll be frustrated and want to start changing things :)

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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