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Comment: Re:Learn something new every day... (Score 2) 141

by Artifakt (#47770881) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

A theory is something that has strong supporting evidence, and if you agree with Popper and Kuhn and various" Historians or Philosophers of Science", something that skilled people have tried to come up with alternatives, tested them, and the theory has survived where they didn't. Ideas that have been proposed, and maybe have a little supporting evidence, but are considered not tested enough, and not studied rigorously to see if they can be falsified, or if some other idea better fits Occam's razor, are called hypothesi (or often just interesting ideas until they get at least a little support). Yes, just who qualifies as skilled, which idea is actually simpler by the razor, how much testing is enough, and 'how much better at predicting what than the competing ideas are' are all somewhat subjective, and individual scientists are not exceptionally flawless at making those judgement calls. But that's true of just about everything. Science works because the method tends to correct for those subjective aspects, not make them more powerful as in so many other areas of human activity.

By this era, the theory that the sun was powered by Fusion of Hydrogen into Helium had a lot of evidence supporting it, such as the abundance of various elements in it and other stars, as determined spectrally. Try a web search for Hans Bethe if you want to know about the first evidence that helped raise this hypothesis to the status of theory, in 1930, although he didn't get the Nobel for his work until 1967. It's interesting to me that people are debating just what counts as a theory, and for this particular case, there's an exact date when a particular paper was published, and widespread agreement that this date and event is when the hypothesis got enough support to start calling it a theory. This is additional evidence that adds more support, and by the Philosophers of Science, ought to mean anyone who thinks they have a better idea will have to gather even more evidence and work even harder if they want their alternative to be taken seriously.
 

Comment: Re:If you don't want science... (Score 1) 523

by Artifakt (#47766507) Attached to: Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

I'm sure that Von Neumann, Lemaître, Dirac, and Minkowski were concerned by the possibility of being put in a cell or killed (by the Spanish Inqusition, I guess).
Even Newton, who really was criticised rather unfairly for his Non-anglican variant Christian religion, apparently didn't feel the existing majority religion was going to lock him away or kill him.
Kepler, now there was a guy who had a real reason to worry, Bruno should have worried more. But since then? Historically, you had one period (the Counter-Reformation), when the Church of one region really had both the power and the intention to persecute non-Christian or variant Christian scientists, philosophers, and such. Evidently, that outweighs a lot of other eras and places. That the Roman Catholic church, 20 years before the trial of Galileo wouldn't, and didn't even have the means to conduct such a trial, and that there were other reasons for the sentence in G's case doesn't mean we should think religions ever act differently.
The sad thing is, most of your other points stand pretty well. If you said that movements like the one driving this proposed law can be compared to the Counter-reformation, or even the Inquisition, you would be on pretty solid ground.

Comment: Re:Slave labor is still the best explanation (Score 2) 202

by Artifakt (#47760539) Attached to: How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

Working on a crew may have been an option the workers got to choose (here's why):
1. When a government taxes peasants, it's sometimes awkward to use the revenues. Imagine you are the guy who has to actually process the payments from a lot of really poor farmer types. Peasants may only be able to pay you with a share of their harvest. If they can't hand you gold coins, or anything easily stored and lasting, you end up having to sell their wheat or whatever to get the taxes into a form you can use.You have limited time to do this before the wheat rots in place. If there's not a lot of durable goods in the hands of the average Joe, and every time you insist on being paid in something easy to handle, it just drives up the price for those things, there gets to be times when nothing the peasants can pay you in is worth collecting.
2. Those same peasants work hard in harvest seasons, but they have idle time in other seasons. In a place like Egypt, where there isn't a real cold season, you can put that idle time to working seasons where the peasants don't have all that much else to do. Wars work for that, but if you get a war started, it may keep going until next planting season (This is serious - it keeps being a factor all the way up to the US civil war. Even that late in history, farming season was still an argument for people who's hitch was up and didn't think they should be delayed mustering out because they needed to get back home to help with the crops).
3. So you need to have a work project that can be stopped when planting and harvest seasons come on, and restarted without much waste, and that the peasants and craftsmen can both contribute to. This way, when all the granaries are full, you can offer people a chance to work off their taxes instead of paying them off in goods. You make the work just easy enough that it looks like a good deal compared to a share of the wheat, animals, and such the farmers raise, give the craftsmen shorter hours or some other perks for making stuff for the project, and you also gain having peasants that are trained to think they have to pay their taxes one way or another. How hard you work the peasants depends in large part on just how many of them you want to take the pay-in-work option instead of the pay-in-goods option - that means you really can't work them as hard as slaves, or too many will pick the pay-in-goods option, but if you make it a token duty, they'll all pick pay-in-work, and you don't want that either, so you set up a system where you pass out some prizes for best team, bonuses in beer, and such so just the right percentage pick work.

It's technically better than slavery. In fact, it's a precurser to modern wage slavery. The Egyptians practically invented giving people a token reward that makes them feel they are doing better than being slaves, but doesn't cost all that much, AND finding something more controllable than a war to occupy the masses idle time.

Comment: Re:They made the blocks into wheels (Score 2) 202

by Artifakt (#47759933) Attached to: How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids

Cradles have actually been found in archaological excavations, as the original article mentions. However, it also says the cradles as found don't have holes for ropes to tie them around the blocks, so we could be looking at a not very efficient design, for example one where the 'cradels" were really rockers which lay loose on the ground, and the workers have to keep building chains of rockers ahead of the blocks, piching up the trail or frockers as the block is moved, etc., or there's something we are missing, or the Egyptians didn't use these things for moving blocks (that last possibility seems really odd since the size of a cradle's straight edge seems to match really well with the correspondiing edge of the blocks). There's just enough ambiguity that professionals don't want to say the question is totally answered. The cradles actually found also don't really explain how bigger blocks, such as the 50 ton+ ones used to form the vaults over the inner chambers, and various statues and pylons were moved, but they could in principle. maybe someday, somebody will find some bigger cradles that match other objects equally well...

I'm going to propose the cradles were assembled around the blocks into rollers, but they were glued on. I have no evidence for that last, but what the hell.
I'd also like to point out, wood is somewhat scarce in that particular environment, and wooden items have both a low rate of preservation over archeological time and a high rate in post-dynastic days of getting burnt for fuel by people who didn't care about old stuff unless they could sell it, so we may never find ways to settle this question.
     

Comment: How is this sentence anything but unsupported? (Score 2) 810

by Artifakt (#47750447) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

"Fundamental changes in the structure of most Linux distributions should not be met with such fervent opposition."

The more fundamental a change is, the more it changes everything - that's basically why we call it 'fundamental'. Making fundamental changes says there's a lot broken. If I said we need a program to fast track educating doctors for rural areas, that's a moderate change to the US medical system, and might a good or bad fix for one specific problem. If I say we need to shoot all existing physicians and substitute Qui-Gong practicioners, that's a fundamental change to American medicine. If someone asserts a change is fundamental, they have also implied the existing system is nearly or totally borked, so they have a very strong burden of proof shifted entirely to them for making that assertion. Unless they can meet that burden of proof, the other side should win any debates.
          The smart thing to do is to claim that a change is not alll that fundamental, and changes only a limited subset of things. For example, I could argue that gay marriage is a limited change, in that it is still based on a moral principle many of us respect (that the people choosing it are consenting adults with normal understanding), and not a more fundamental change (such as throwing out any moral base, including the principle of informed consent, so that pedophilia would somehow become legal). Notice how it's been mostly anti gay marriage advocates that are trying to paint the issue like everything under the sun will change if the other side wins - that's because many people have figured out how this burden of proof stuff works.

Comment: Re:Sigh (Score 1) 743

by Artifakt (#47745749) Attached to: News Aggregator Fark Adds Misogyny Ban

Even identical twins have only about a 50% chance of the second one developing Schizophrenia if the first one does. I guess that means Schizophrenia is a choice. Genetics is an aspect of etiology, and that may or may not include the etiology of sexual orientation. But, it's very risky to start aguing that people have a choice or else there has to be a gene that causes the effect 100% of the time, as nothing genetic works that way.

Comment: Just what constitutes a bad actor? (Score 2) 149

by Artifakt (#47745677) Attached to: Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

I know of one actual Bed and Breakfast that takes in normal clients through one set of ads, and runs other ads in BDSM magazines and such and serves as a dungeon for that clientel. They apparently rely on not scheduling people who don't know what's in the basement at the same time as those who do or something like that - maybe weekends are for whipsters. Is it possible this counts as a "bad actor"?
            Or what about people who are subletting property they only rent, against their rental agreement? Not that that's right, but I could certainly see the New York state authorities focusing only on those cases and ignoring a lot of owner landlords who rent out unsafe property, or worse, the ones who use goons to frighten or actually beat people who are protected from price increases by rent control, to force them to break their leases and free the property to be rented at a higher rate. Leaning on little old ladies is a pretty blatent kind of 'bad acting", but is it even on the radar in this case, or is it all about getting the low hanging fruit of renters who generally can't afford lawyers rather than landlords who can?.

Comment: Re:There has not been any radioactive terror to da (Score 1) 66

by Artifakt (#47661101) Attached to: Scientists Who Smuggle Radioactive Materials

If a group of unaffiliated individuals attack a country, that country has no recourse for nuclear retaliation.

Some governments, at least including the US, various UK states such as Canada and Australia, the PRC, and some continental European powers, have had agents working full time on just getting samples of radionucleotides from various fission plants, and analyzing those samples so that, if those nucleotides turn up in a dirty bomb or worse, an actual fission device, they can tell just where they were made by differences in various isotopic ratios, trace elements, and such. Knowing the source does not always mean those nations would retaliate against an attack from a group of apparently non-affiliated individuals, but it's certainly one piece of evidence in building a case for retaliation that would satisfy at least part of the international community. Nations have some interest therefore in reporting thefts of materials internationally, and various governments have some interest in setting up conditions for such reporting (i.e. in some cases, assuring the reporting country this will be classified and not released, and so hopefully not available for political candidate's uses.)
        I'd say that against groups such as you describe, it may not be possible to respond with nuclear retaliation, or recourses may be limited. It may also be desirable to respond with something less damaging to innocent bystanders, other nations, and the environment, even if a nuclear option is possible. This could go anywhere from a use of actual boosted fission devices within hours of the first event, to a much more measured response, possibly weeks or even longer after the first event.
          By the way, probably the most workable term for 'unaffiliated individuals' in US sources is "non-state actors", relatively short, straight-forward and to the point. In the US, emergency response teams called NEST would be responsible for the first stages of gathering samples from a dirty bomb incident or similar event, but their primary purpose is to stop such events before there is a detonation or risk to the public, if that's still possible when they become involved. NEST now stands for Nuclear Emergency Support Team, but in some older sources, the S stood for Search instead of Support. Calling one a NEST Team is redundant, but occasionally done by the media. NESTs are authorized to respond to incidents both inside and outside US borders, but just what that means in practice is unclear..

Comment: Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (Score 3, Interesting) 240

by Artifakt (#47652889) Attached to: Patents That Kill

The problem I see with any life+ based duration, is it selectively rewards people who have a big hit that keeps coming back into print early in their careers, and then live a long time afterwards, and the converse of that is it punishes the author who doesn't have much success until late in life, or worse, gets his or her career cut short by a fatal illness. You've suggested a system that (sort of) fixes the later case, but it doesn't address the first half of the problem. Also, any life plus system is going to look like a better deal if the author has heirs he or she cares about, and less of a deal if they don't. If the whole goal under the Constitution is to provide an incentive, we have to look very carefully at how some people may or may not feel "incentivised".

          To show you how your system might have worked if it had been in effect all along, lets take two Fantasy/SF/Horror authors:

          First, H. P. Lovecraft. His first real hit of a story was 1926, with Call of Cthulhu. Just about everything that got reprinted when he first gained posthmous popularity was written after that. Then he died of Bright's disease, in 1937. Under the system of that time, most, if not all, of his work was still in copyright. But, it was still the great depression, and after that, there were the wartime paper shortages, so Life +10 would leave his work coming out of copyright just about when there starts being a chance of it getting printed. With your 40 year clause, some of his original copyrights would have lasted until about 1974, by which time he was starting to be reevaluated, and effectively expired just about the time his work finally caught on. Under the system actually in effect, most of his work was still under copyright until well after the first film adaptation (Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee in the Dunwich Horror). He did not have any direct heirs, and probably would not have believed as he wrote his last works that there was any chance he was leaving a literary estate that might actually become worth more than the cost of a cup of coffee. His closest heirs were a pair of aging aunts, and by the time there were payments, they went to very distant relatives indeed.

        Second, Michael Moorcock. He starts writing professionally at 15, and some of his biggest successes were written by the time he was 20. In his 70s now and still going strong, he'd enjoy life +10 on most of his work, and it's not inconceivable that Life +10 might apply even to his most recent books. I don't know if he even has direct heirs, but he has been married a couple of times and had some living relatives, so I suppose it's at least somewhat likely there are children, or perhaps nieces or nephews. Under the existing system, he would theoretically have a longer period of protection, but that may not matter in practical terms. The older US or British systems, current law, or your system are likely to leave him about the same, financially, but current law is, in theory, better for him. However, it's a mystery to many people why his work hasn't been optioned more by Hollywood, to the point of a completed film or six. Your system just might ding him financially, if there are people who are hoping to get film rights cheap after he dies - they could just wait 10 years and let copyright on such Characters as Elric of Melnebone expire completely. Rationally, a shorter term may matter not at all or a great deal to him, but not just for the money.

 

Comment: Re:I don't get it. (Score 2, Interesting) 541

by Artifakt (#47648745) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

First, you can take sample populations that 'exclusively possess" a particular feature, and they turn out not to. That is, it may be common for Danes to be blonde, but you can look at a large group of people from Denmark and see many people who don't have blonde hair, or otherwise don't fit whatever model of how that group should look someone is offering. You can try to filter your sample, for example, looking only at people who have records of descent from natives to that area going back five or ten generations, and that still will give you a population that has many exceptional examples wo don't have all the features you think make up a race. This happens near universally - you can go to more isolated villages or look at whole regions where it is believed the inhabitants lived cut off from other races, and you will still find that there are lots of exceptions. You can test this with 'extreme' examples - If you look at 100 Zulus, maybe half will look like stereotypical Zulus, and there will be 10% that are atypically short, lighter skinned, broader faced, narrower nosed or even with a "roman" nose, etc. (And it won't be the same 10% for each feature). Yeah, you're probably not going to find a blonde Zulu with epicanthic folds that stands 4" 3" as an adult in a sample of just 100, but you will find a lot of people who look not quite like what the standard model Zulu (or Polynesian Islander or Aboriginal Australian is supposed to be.

        Second, those physical racial features have mostly evolved over periods as short as 10,000 years. You can find cases where they may have had longer periods of isolation, but even those are pretty short as regards human evolution. For example, the best estimate for when proto-Asiatic ancestors of the Native Americans crossed the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska might be as high as 20,000 years, but most ethnolgists think that, a) people kept following along on that same route until much more recently, and b) the various Pacific peoples also made it to the New World sometimes by oceanic routes. So, even the differences between a 'typical' North Korean and a "typical" Cherokee probably accrued over less than 10,000 years. (And the differences between "atypical" ones of each group? They took the exact same total time. Try to visualize that.). That's set against an evolutionary history of roughly 100 times as long for the development of tool use, fire, and other innovations that show original thinking, invention, creativity, general intelligence and what some people still call progress. The genes that let some of our ancestors figure out how to make a better clay pot than the last design have been steadily circulating among populations and leaving behind artifacts in all cultures. If those genes are still very rare, then the claim is that genes for being smart, creative, and adaptable don't have any better survival value than the others, as they get into populations the same ways as the genes for short Zulus, but somehow, they are not being selected for, over periods 100's of times as long. In fact, it's a claim that creative intelligence has negative survival value.

The reason this "science" on racial differences is nothing but good old fashioned racism follows from these two points. The argument becomes "Intelligence has no survival value. Nature selects against it except under very special circumstances such as Ice Ages. Inferior genes water down the superior ones unless the superior ones are kept isolated from them." Ultimately, this becomes the "one drop of black blood makes you black" argument of the Civil War era American South. And none of that, from the claim that bad genes can water inherently good genes down until they vanish, to the echoes of apologetics for American slavery, is science.

Comment: Re:It may be too late, (Score 1) 252

by Artifakt (#47643249) Attached to: <em>Babylon 5</em> May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

I hope audiences are not too tired of "dark", because Guardians set audiences up for one of Marvel's darkest ever story lines. "Darker" than the "Dark Phoenix Saga"? Try darker than 14 year old Kitty Pride with inoperable ovarian cancer.

Warning - Spoiler below, but about an old comics series, not about this movie

Jim Starlin loves to draw comics where Death is the punch line. In the Star Reach underground line, he wrote a story titled "The Birth of Death", and one called "Death Building", Marvel gave Starlin the opportunity to reboot a heroic character one time, and he brought Adam Warlock back as a character who swiftly learns that, within a few years at most, he will kill most of his friends and then die by suicide, in the process of creating a timeline where the schizophrenic anti-messiah he will otherwise become doesn't end up creating the most spectacular genocide evah! ).

End of spoiler
                                   

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