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Comment: Re:Its not nothing (Score 1) 594

If physicists don't have a proper answer to "Why is there something rather than nothing" then they should stop pretending they do by the deceit of changing the definition of "nothing".

The issue of whether anyone has a "proper" answer -- indeed, if there is a "proper" answer -- turns on the ambiguity of the word "why". We use that word in three very different senses.

When we ask, "why is the sky blue?", we are asking "by what lower-level phenomena is the sky seen as blue?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that is static (or very short duration) in time and varies over the reductionist depth of phenomena: photons are scattered by air molecules, some of them enter your eye, trigger certain receptors in the retina, this is processed by the nervous system causing a sensation that your brain has been culturally trained to associate with the symbol "blue".

When we ask, "why did the Challenger explode?", we are asking "by what causal chain of events, one after the other, did the Challenger explode?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that extends over time and is fairly static in reductionist depth: politics prompted a launch in cold weather, cold weather caused the O-ring to warp, the warped O-ring caused hot gas to leak, boom. We want a time sequence that (in this instance) stays at the level of everyday experience, doesn't go in to the quantum mechanics of the O-ring or the grand historical narrative of humanity's existence.

When we ask, "why did Alice go the dance with Bob?", we are asking "what motives and values prompted Alice's decision?" We want an explanation of the desires and actions of intelligent agents, not a story about the atoms that make up her body.

When we ask "why is there something rather than nothing?", some people are looking for "God did it" -- the third type of answer. But there can't be an intelligent agent before there is something, so the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

Some people are looking for the second type of answer: they want some cosmological causal chain of events as to how space and energy came to be. But any causal chain of events would be a thing, not nothing, so again the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

What we have here is a proposed answer in the first sense, lower-level phenomena.

If you're looking for cause-over-time or motive as an answer to "why is there something rather than nothing", you've fallen into a linguistic trap around the ambiguity of the word "why".

Comment: Re:If you make this a proof of God... (Score 4, Informative) 594

You are supposed to read it and think "people should act this way",

Yes, with the genocide and the slavery and the misogyny and the mock executions of sons by their fathers, what a fine world it would be if we followed the moral example of the Bible.

Comment: Re:Snowden, that's why it's relevant to /.ers. (Score 5, Insightful) 193

by Mr. Slippery (#46721205) Attached to: Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

Colbert noted. "I see the Norwegians gave Snowden 30 Nobel Prize nominations. The guy's practically a war criminal - I don't understand how they could put him up for the same prize they once gave to Henry Kissinger."

That whooshing sound you hear? That's Colbert's satire going right over your head. If the Kissinger/peace prize reference didn't tip you off, consider that he said it at the same event that he said "I'm sure that under enhanced liberty you can have all the privacy that you want, just like under enhanced interrogation you can breathe all the water you want."

Comment: Re:Level of public funding ? (Score 1) 292

Many Americans don't even accept evolution or global warming yet.

No germane to the point.

Pretending that where we are is the furthest we'll ever get is not constructive and not correct.

A curve which approaches a line asymptotically will make its big progress early (taking t as the horizontal axis) and small gains afterward. It will still get closer, but not in a way that makes a big change. It's a reasonable hypothesis that science will approach the maximum possible knowledge of the world in the same fashion.

There is a limit on how much human beings will ever be able to observe, and how much human beings will be ever to able to calculate. (If we blow it and ruin our spaceship and die off in the next century or two, which is quite possible, we may be close to that limit already.) If science is not approaching this maximum possible knowledge, it's a failure; if it is approaching this maximum possible knowledge, then there is less and less left to possibly know. The amount of possible knowledge is not infinite.

Comment: Re:No she did not win any lawsuit. (Score 1) 640

No. She didn't win a lawsuit.

She filed a lawsuit, "a case where two or more people disagree and one or more of the parties take the case to a court for resolution", an "attempt to gain an end by legal process; a process instituted in a court of law for the recovery of a right or claim". She got what she wanted. How is that not winning a lawsuit?

The actual Kozinski ruling suggests that actors HAVE a copyright in the final work despite decades of copyright law to the contrary.

That's sensible. A film actor is a co-creator of a work; if musicians covering a song have a copyright interest in a sound recording, it is inconsistent for film actors playing a scripted role to not have a copyright interest in a video recording.

This could finally establish the principle that people have a copyright interest in photographs of them in any but the most mundane situations; that's a principle that could resolve issues around "revenge porn" and around people getting upset around photos of them being posted on social media without their consent (see the hostility around Google Glass).

Comment: Re:Completely wrong summary (Score 1) 319

by Mr. Slippery (#46688481) Attached to: SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

It's the amount a willing buyer and a willing seller will agree on if neither is under any external constraint (such as rent controls).

There is no such thing as "if neither is under any external constraint".

The very nature of "property" is that it is an external constraint created and enforced by the state. It's the state saying to the "owner", "Here is a piece of paper that says you own this thing. If anyone uses it without your consent, we will send men with guns to stop them," thus placing a constraint on everyone else.

Comment: Re:Best. Slashdot. Interview. Evar. (Score 2) 124

by Mr. Slippery (#46688125) Attached to: Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

but the rider for giving a simple speech includes such gems as "If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it."

Way to take something out of context. To paraphrase what RMS is saying there: "I'd rather crash at a friendly person's house than stay at a hotel. But I'm allergic to cats, and dogs sometimes freak me out. Parrots are really cool though, and I'd love to visit a house with a parrot. But don't buy a parrot just to impress me, because having a parrot is a big deal, a big commitment, and if you do it wrong that's cruel. And meeting a sad parrot would not be fun."

A large part of what you're referring to as a "rider" is more of a list of hospitality considerations. It's socially awkward, sure, but it would take a really gifted person to maintain the sort of speaking schedule he does without writing up some advance care and feeding instructions.

Comment: Re:What if there is no reason? (Score 1) 393

by Mr. Slippery (#46679457) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?

Couldn't a machine exist like you that did the exact same things you'd do but wasn't conscious at all?

I don't think so, no. An organism that monitors and predicts its own state and the states of the members of its social group has a competitive advantage. When that process is complex enough, looping back to monitor and predict the process of monitoring and predicting -- and monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting, and so on -- we call it consciousness. A machine that wasn't conscious wouldn't be monitoring and predicting its own state and the states of its social group in that complex, looping fashion, and so wouldn't do the exact same things.

Comment: Re:one reason why people hate Linux (Score 1) 641

by Mr. Slippery (#46671775) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Linux doesn't make your dick bigger.

No, and thank goodness for that -- why mess with perfection?

GNU/Linux and Android systems do, however, make your freedom bigger -- not perfectly so, but contrasted with the freedom-shrinking offerings from MS and Apple, Linux is a clear win.

And, more relevantly, on a tech site (this is still one, right?), we ought to expect people -- especially those who ask loaded questions -- to know that Linux is a kernel and is common to both GNU/Linux and Android systems (as well as a few other rarer OSes).

Comment: Re:Freedom of Speech? (Score 1) 328

by Mr. Slippery (#46667495) Attached to: Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

The problem is that generally, in the absence of any other agreement, the photographer owns the copyright to the image and can give that image to whatever site he or she chooses.

And that's the heart of the problem. We need to recognize that interesting photographs of people should be seen by default as a collaboration between the photographer and the subject, and ought not to be publishable without the subject's consent.

My life is an ongoing creative work, and photographs of me are derivatives of that work. A photo of me walking down a public street dressed normally might well fall under fair use, but not so for a photo for which I pose deliberately in all my creative awesomeness.

Comment: Re:informal poll (Score 1) 641

by Mr. Slippery (#46661529) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

i'm not talking all FOSS and this doesn't include Android...I'm asking specifically about the Linux OS

So, you want to know who runs Linux, and you don't know what Linux means. Facepalm.

My desktop runs Fedora, and my laptops run Ubuntu Studio, which are versions of the GNU/Linux OS. My Transformer, my no-name tablet, and my phones run Android, an OS based on Linux.

I also have one cheap second-hand laptop that runs Windows, bought only because I had to make precise changes to the layout of a Word doc for my book. Gross incompetence on the part of the person doing layout for my publisher.

Comment: Re:Im all for human rights... (Score 1) 1482

by Mr. Slippery (#46633925) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

I thought you meant the GRAs were having their beliefs enshrined in law and thus using state power to force their religion on others.

Civil marriage has nothing to do with religion. Your church is free to administer the sacrament of matrimony, or its equivalent, to whoever it likes. There are plenty of legally married hetero couples who are not married in the eyes of the Catholic church...few give a damn. Same sex marriage is no different. Doesn't interfere with anyone's religion.

Comment: Re:Im all for human rights... (Score 4, Informative) 1482

by Mr. Slippery (#46633881) Attached to: OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Especially when the civil union would give the same legal protections as marriage.

No. You are in grievous error. Civil unions do not grant the same protections as civil marriage. They are a second-class sort of union, and are far more discriminatory than merely not being permitted to sit in the front of the bus.

It's later than you think, the joint Russian-American space mission has already begun.