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Comment WeChat (Score 1) 115

I cannot believe nobody here has brought up WeChat. The app is free, is super easy to use, can send both short audio and video messages, as well as text chat, and make audio or video calls. It's far superior to Whatsapp; once you use it, Skype and Whatsapp look like button-mashing clickbait for imbeciles in comparison.

Seriously, people, get your shit sorted out. WeChat fills all his listed requirements. Everyone should be using it for Internet comms.

Comment Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score 1) 445

Glad this got mod points, because most of these programs function mainly as an excuse for the sorry state of public education in the US. Did you know? Private and parochial schools saw huge gains in white enrollment right after desegregation, particularly in the states of the former Confederacy and Jim Crow south. And guess what? "School choice" programs favoring charter schools has had the same effect.

Structural racism is insidious and pernicious, and requires a lot of effort to eradicate. Here's something to consider for all the other people in this thread defending neo-segregation: There are two explanations for the unequal racial representation in our society (say, in the prison population, or corporate CEOs, or application of the death penalty, or encounters with police, or income distribution, etc etc): either we live in a society that distributes its awards and punishments unequally according to the racial background of the recipient, or you believe that there is something intrinsic to different racial backgrounds that account for it. Either we live in a racist society which it is our duty as decent human beings to combat, or you are a racist yourself.

So which is it?

Comment Re:Screw Mars! (Score 1) 156

EDIT: no hope of a breathable atmosphere. Figure out how to sequester all the CO2 on Venus, you could even one day get down to the surface. We will never be able to have open-sky colonies on Mars, but doing so on Venus only requires solving a problem that we're going to have to solve on Earth soon enough anyway. For all the extra solar energy, well, that's not really even a problem from the right point of view.

Comment Re:Screw Mars! (Score 1) 156

whoops. You beat me to it. Yes, I never understood why we'd want to colonize a planet with .4G, no hope of an atmosphere, relatively resource-poor, and further away. You figure out how to keep the platforms buoyant, and you can walk around outside in not too much more than a fireman's suit and a breather mask. Be good practice for doing the same out on Saturn or Neptune.

Comment Re:Only Republicans are too stupid... (Score 1) 84

So, by your logic, competitors should be flooding into every broadband market where Verizon/Comcast/TMC is the only -- and very shitty, and very expensive -- player. Should be happening all the time!

But wait, that's not happening at all, is it? Could it be that entering a market, blowing millions on building up your infrastructure (whether it's internet switches, laying cable, or building widget-factories), costs a lot of money, and only a total dumbass would invest like that when their competition is a giant multinational who has made perfectly clear that they will crush them the minute they open their doors? Could that be it?

Gee, it's almost like you're too stupid to understand how monopolies work, and that people with businesses don't just blindly run into whatever markets exist without actually doing some due diligence on them. It's almost like you've been drinking Ayn Goatfucker Rand's kool-aid all these years, and think that totally unregulated free-market capitalism runs on magic, and not the very depressing principles of human competition. It's almost like you don't bother to look out your window once and a while and see the actual results that occur in every instance when markets get deregulated.

Deregulating banks wan supposed to free up capital and introduce more-efficient financial structures that would more properly react to market needs. What happened instead? A massive implosion of wealth that wipes trillions of dollars in assets off the books and resulted in the single biggest transfer of wealth (and that from poor to rich) in US history. And here we are again, fighting any kind of regulation whatsoever, like none of that happened.

Jeez, you guys make me want to empty this bottle of scotch down my gullet, and then bash my head in with it. The overwhelming stupid is just unbearable.

Comment Re:Dog (Score 1) 327

I really wish you could give more than five points for good commentary. This guy's trying to build a gadget for a toddler, when a trained dog will be much more effective.

Come to think of it, everybody should have dogs instead of gadgets and toddlers. They make us better people (usually, unless we really really suck at being people to begin with).

Comment Re:Musical scales based on math, not on culture (Score 2, Informative) 80

Pedagogy time. Vibrating bodies of any physical type will vibrate at an infinite ascending series of whole number multiples of the base frequency f (so, f, 2f, 3f, etc.) in decreasing -- but not linearly or regularly decreasing -- amplitude (the exact difference in the proportions of the various overtones, among other factors, is why different instruments sound different).

The musical scale used in most music in the Western tradition, however, does not use anything like a harmonic series. Rather, it (presently) uses an equal-tempered scale, such that each note is the same distance from the next. This is a convention adopted to make keyboard music in many different styles and keys more practical to play, but has almost no musical basis per se. To a sensitive ear, a lot of the intervals in an equal-tempered system (most notably the major third) are starkly out of tune from their harmonic manifestations.

Bach did not use, nor attempt to use, equal-tempered scales. This is an error of historical writing that was introduced by a poorly-informed musicologist into the 1890 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music, and has persisted ever since. Bach not only could not have tuned his instruments to a truly equal temperament (the technology to do so was not available until the 1820s), almost everybody of his time agreed that more-equal temperaments sounded generally awful and unmusical. Bach used "Well Temperament," which is a distinct system of temperament (of which there are many variants; just which one he used is subject to debate), that kept most intervals in most keys acceptably approximate, while allowing each key to have a slightly different flavor/color.

I imagine the birds sing notes out of a harmonic series because the intervals are much easier to hear.

Comment Re:s/Identify/Hypothesize/ (Score 1) 103

I agree with you in principle, but I have a couple quibbles with your argument. Firstly, there is, in fact, a branch of theoretical physics that derives particle masses from first principles: Heim Theory (I'm not sure why the article is so short now; I remember it being much more extensive, with discussions of predicted vs. observed masses for most of the basic particles) apparently derived the basic particle masses from fundamental constants. But hardly anybody is working on it now, because it's pretty far out there (among other things, it implies that FTL travel is possible using really big magnets). So there are approaches that would calculate the masses of nuclei, but they're weird and nobody's really sure if they're legit or just hokum. Not for nothing, it also predicts dark matter (but then again, also paranormal phenomena).

Given that the terribly-named Amplituhedron, recently discovered, reduces Feynman calculations that used to require supercomputers to some geometric manipulations you can do on a napkin, I wouldn't be surprised if some fundamental theoretical breakthroughs are going to come out in the next few years.

Comment Re:What about themselves? (Score 1) 206

How strange it is, that once the politicians find themselves on the receiving end of all the surveillance tactics they enthusiastically support for regular citizens, they are up in arms and immediately start issuing bans and prohibitions! "We are shocked -- SHOCKED -- that these consequences of widespread mass surveillance would one day prove to have undesired side-effects! Who could have predicted this outcome???"

Comment Re:Why do opera at all then? (Score 1) 121

Wish I had mod points this week, because this is absolutely correct. The giveaway is right there in TFS:

why not let free enterprise decide the fate of this endeavor instead of...

This is exactly what is driving these decisions. You know why Bayreuth is the only place in the world to do the full Ring cycle every year? Because mounting a 12-hour operatic spectacle is fucking expensive, and only the place with a guaranteed audience for it -- that is, an audience willing to pay a premium to see the opera in the house that was specifically built for this music -- can survivie doing it.

Make no mistake, the trends cited in TFA are not motivated by much creative interest. They are primarily motivated by cost-cutting and standardization drives, which -- you guessed it -- are the consequences of market capitalism. I mostly dislike orchestra unions -- they seriously interfered with a lot of work by myself and my colleages when we tried to compose things for orchestra that they didn't like -- but if we take your arguments and the OP's as valid, then they are protecting a legitimately valuable experience from debasement.

Comment Re:He picked the wrong moment to support amnesty (Score 4, Interesting) 932

"Just that simple"? You like the idea of closing borders, evidently, but do you like the idea of produce prices, meat prices, service-economy costs, and just about every other menial-labor field seeing its labor costs double overnight? Because that's the consequence of requiring that citizens do those jobs. Stoop work is awful, backbreaking work that pays bullshit. It only survives because the immigrants who do it are so desperate for the work that they'll take it.

The moment you kick the immigrants out, you see cases like these ones, where billions of dollars of produce were left to rot in the fields because all the immigrants who would have picked them were driven out by tough anti-immigrant laws.
The US agricultural economy -- and a lot of the service economy -- is built on a steady influx of sub-minimum-wage labor, and only survives because of undocumented immigrants. Take it away, and large swaths of the economy collapse.

You've been Berkeley'ed!