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Comment: Re:Probable cause (Score 4, Insightful) 218

by jc42 (#47419055) Attached to: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

I have nothing to hide, except the pron from my wife (she found it already) so why would I care what the FBI does? They aren't going to act on any of this unless these people actually plan to do something criminal and in that case, they should.

If you think you have nothing to hide, you should probably spend a bit of time studying the history of the FBI. Leading an exemplary life has never been a protection from them, if they suspect you may be part of whatever conspiracy is popular at the time. A few decades ago, it was Communists, and having no connection to any Communist organization was never protection from them or their colleagues in organizations like HUAC. It's quite clear that the "anti-terrorist" push nowadays is no more concerned with whether you have anything to hide; if they need a scapegoat and you're handy (perhaps because your name is vaguely like some name on one of their lists), they'll go after you and make your life a hell on Earth.

Having "nothing to hide" is one of the most naive misconceptions going around, and has been for at least a century. Dig into the history of the FBI and assorted other similar organizations. Google can find a lot of it for you. Then come back and tell us again whether you have anything to hide.

(And they probably already have a copy of your pron collection, added to their own. ;-)

Comment: Re:Hello Americans (Score 1) 340

by jc42 (#47404073) Attached to: On 4th of July:

being assholes is the america way

Now, now; that's a feature of humanity that's spread quite evenly throughout all societies. Yes, it's the American way, but it's also the British way and the Italian way and the Iranian way and the Chinese way and the Tahitian way and ...

Americans have no particularly valid claim on assholeness (assholicity? assholitude?). Look around yourself, and if you don't see any, it's probably because it's you.

Comment: Re:It's Okay (Score 1) 701

by jc42 (#47396623) Attached to: When Beliefs and Facts Collide

Over here in the US, the fascist conservatives equate anything not as fascist as them to be socialists.

Actually, here in the US not one person in a million can tell you anything at all about what fascism stood for. The term is now just one of a growing list of political insult terms with no actual content.

Of course, the fraction of Americans who can actually define socialism or liberalism or any other -ism isn't much larger than one in a million. Such terms are really just the modern equivalent of tribal names. You're expected to hate anyone with a label different from yours, but you're not expected to actually know the meaning of any of the labels. Once you understand this situation, American political rhetoric becomes much more comprehensible.

Comment: Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (Score 0) 200

by jc42 (#47391053) Attached to: The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

Ridiculous? As a pilot I don't want people's toys flying around in my airspace. Hit a plane and there's a real chance you'll kill someone.

If you're a pilot who's "airspace" includes a volume in which a fireworks display is scheduled, please informs us of that fact, because I don't think I'd ever want to be a passenger in a plane controlled by a pilot like you. The possibility that your plane might hit a drone would be the least of my worries. ;-)

Comment: Re:Illegal and Dangerous? (Score 1) 200

by jc42 (#47391043) Attached to: The View From Inside A Fireworks Show

Read about the new ridiculous rules the FAA imposed about drones...

Until some moron flys one into the path of a commercial airliner, small plane, or helicopter, and people die - than it's "why isn't the FAA doing something about this?"

Rules won't stop someone from doing that because it's obviously intended to try to hurt someone. I say try because in a battle between a jet engine with the power to push 400 tons of steel into the sky VS a drone I'm going to put my money on the jet engine lasting long enough for them to turn around and land again.

Wait; there were jet aircraft flying through the fireworks display's volume? How did the drone miss getting a picture of that? That'd have been really fun to watch, especially when the fireworks started hitting the airplane.

(Given that there was a fireworks display going on in that airspace at the time, I'm kinda doubtful that there were any pilots in the area who weren't well aware of them. And I also sorta doubt that there were any children running around under the fireworks. That's usually strongly discouraged at fireworks displays, and this one was over water. ;-)

Comment: How I'm learning German (Score 4, Informative) 75

FWIW, I'm also learning German. It's the fifth language I'm learning as an adult and it's definitely the toughest. I've never found any good software or edu-websites, I just use the old methods. I watch a lot of German telly:


Series are the easiest because you can get to know the characters and then they're kinda predictable so you can't get completely lost. The News is easy enough because there's lots of pictures and you'll know the context of most stories, but it doesn't teach you conversational German. Comedy can be the toughest. On Das Erste, there's a crime drama most Friday and Sunday nights called Tatort which is good because there's also a version for blind people ("hÃrfassung" - o-umlaut between h and r, if that doesn't display right), which has everything of the normal version plus one extra voice describing the visuals, so you hear a lot more words.

I also read German translations of books I've already read. And when I'm cooking I leave on WDR5 talk radio in the background, all to help develop a feel for how the language sounds when used correctly:


And I do tandems with a native German:


Oh, and of course I'm working my way through a book with grammar and exercises.

Yeh, German's a tough nut to crack alright. Unlike Spanish, you have to do a lot of grammar before you can really start building sentences (the declensions are what frustrate me most) but I think it's a language where your effort won't show at first, but then there's the breakthrough later.

Comment: Re:Before you start complaining... (Score 1) 548

by jc42 (#47285389) Attached to: Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative

We are a species that has sexual dimorphism.

Well, yeah, but except for reproduction, most of the differences are essentially trivial. The differences we see are primarily of social origin, not genetic. It is often pointed out that the differences within each sex have a much greater variance than the differences between the sexes. Male and female humans are much more similar to each other than they are to individuals of the same sex in the closest related species (the "great apes" such as chimps, bonobos and gorillas.

Their is a physical muscle mass difference between the genders to the point that all competitive sports are segregated on purpose to not allow a unfair competitive advantage.

It has been often pointed out that the top North American and European female athletes in many sports currently have better performance statistics than the top males in the same sport 50 or so years ago. This supports the claim that the differences are primarily of social origin, not genetic.

There's a useful example of the difficulty of using sports to excuse sexism: American basketball gives a strong advantage to taller players. This is why the pro teams are all male (and now mostly black ;-). But it also excludes 99% of the male population along with 100% of the females. The sensible thing would be to do like the boxing sport has done: Establish height-specific basketball leagues. This would enlarge the sport, and give us some very good players who now can't play on the pro teams at all. And it would likely show a familiar pattern: After some years, we'd have female basketball players who are as good as their male counterparts of the same height. (This idea isn't at all original with me; others have also suggested it. But the sports "industry" ignores it. ;-)

Both male and female brains have the same parts but after being exposed to a different mix of chemicals are wired differently which result in obvious behavioral differences both conscious and not.

Again, aside from questions involving sexuality, there is little if any evidence that these differences are genetic and not social. Human societies tend to impose radical differences in education from birth. If you want to claim that the observed mental differences are genetic and not social, you can't just make the claim without explaining why they can't be the result of social conditions. And again, the larger variance within each sex than the difference between the sexes argues that the observable differences are only slightly genetic, and mostly caused by different socialization and education.

Comment: A big problem, but also the only missing piece (Score 1) 263

by ciaran_o_riordan (#47285263) Attached to: The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

With regard to this, one helpful thing in the ruling is that the Court says that old and ubiquitous technologies don't count when judging if an abstract concept has been transformed into a patentable application of said abstract concept.

(Patent lawyers are up in arms about this, complaining that the Court has "mixed up article 101 (subject matter) with articles 102 (prior art) and 103 (obviousness)". To get more patents, they want to reduce the "abstract ideas" exception to a theoretical concept that only happens inside people's brains any patent application can pass.)

So Timothy's right (as usual), but still, at least we have the Justices acknowledging that algorithms shouldn't be patentable, and that "on a computer" doesn't make a non-patentable concept patentable. All we have to do is bridge that last gap and show them that all software is math:

For Alice v. CLS, more analyses listed at the end of this page:

Comment: Re:Want to code? (Score 3, Informative) 548

by jc42 (#47281749) Attached to: Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative

No, it's more like "why is ~50% of the country not pursuing IT?"

Nah; it's more like 99%. The majority of young men are also not very interested in becoming computer geeks.

The problem is that young women are being systematically discouraged from even trying to be part of the 1%. This is, of course, not restricted to just CS/IT topics.

Comment: Re:Before you start complaining... (Score 2) 548

by jc42 (#47281601) Attached to: Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative

... wait to see if this increases the number of women taking these courses and going into CS. If it does then that suggests that women are interested and just needed the right environment or some encouragement. If it doesn't we can conclude that they just are not interested because of genetics or whatever.

Sorry, but women aren't interested or not interested in CS, or any other topic. A woman might be interested, and another woman might not be interested. But implying that women as a class are or aren't interested is sexist in the extreme.

No matter what we do, many women will never be interested in such geeky stuff, just as many men aren't. To be successful, we should introduce any subject to young people in general, and encourage those who find it interesting, regardless of their sexual organs (which really have little to do with their mental abilities ;-). And for the others, find subjects that they find interesting and encourage them to follow those.

(Of course, to function well in modern society, we should try to instill a bit of understanding of a lot of topics in any young people able to understand them. But that's a different topic than finding those who can go deeply into a specific topic.)

Comment: Re:Chicago Blackhawks too? (Score 1) 646

by jc42 (#47275381) Attached to: Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

The word "slave" originates from the Slavic people and the centuries of oppression and humiliation which we suffered through. I demand that you all stop using it immediately. Also I want reparations.

Yeah, and that's actually an example of another common source of "names for neighbors". In the Slavic languages, the root "slav-'" means "glory". So the Slavs actually refer to themselves as the Glorious People. The other people nearby took the reasonable approach of "Let's call them what they call themselves". In several of the nearby societies, the people who called themselves "Slav" were mostly the ones taken as slaves, so the name took on that meaning in the Slavs' neighbors' languages.

This is a fairly common process for producing names-for-neighbors that are insults.

Comment: I wrote the headline, and it's correct (Score 3, Insightful) 220

I know the headline is correct because Gene Quinn is hopping mad. Quinn makes a living by obtaining software patents and always says he can draft around any limits imposed by the courts, but here's what he's saying today:

"an intellectually bankrupt opinion ... will render many hundreds of thousands of software patents completely useless ... On first read I donâ(TM)t see how any software patent claims written as method or systems claims can survive challenge."

I didn't want to trust my own reading, but I knew it was a big victory when I read Quinn's reaction.

+ - US Supreme Court invalidates patent for being software patent->

Submitted by ciaran_o_riordan
ciaran_o_riordan (662132) writes "The US Supreme Court has just invalidated a patent for being a software patent! To no fanfare, the Court has spent the past months reviewing a case, Alice v. CLS Bank, which posed the question of "Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions ... are directed to patent-eligible subject matter". Their ruling was just published, and what we can say already is that the court was unanimous in finding this particular software patent invalid, saying: "the method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention", and go on to conclude that because "petitioner’s system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, we hold that they too are patent ineligible". The 'End Software Patents' wiki has a page for commenting the key extracts and listing third-party analyses. Analysis will appear there as the day(s) goes on. Careful reading is needed to get an idea of what is clearly invalidated (file formats?), and what areas are left for future rulings. If you can help, well, it's a wiki. Software Freedom Law Center's website will also be worth checking in the near future."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Chicago Blackhawks too? (Score 3, Interesting) 646

by jc42 (#47268181) Attached to: Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

So, the logical question is -- if we are required to change the name of a sports team for referring to the "red skins," shouldn't we also be having a discussion about changing the name of the state Oklahoma?

Because Oklahoma is not normally considered a pejorative. "Redskin" or "injun" usually are.

That's because English-speaking people generally have no idea what "Oklahoma" originally meant.

Going down this path could lead to a lot of problems, though, since the terms in most languages for their neighbors would have to be discarded and replaced by something less offensive to the people described.

Thus, some of my ancestors are Welsh, but they don't call themselves that in the Welsh language, they use forms of the word "Cymru" to refer to their own people. "Welsh" is an old Germanic/Anglo-Saxon word that means "strange" or "foreign" (and still means that in German).

For that matter, the German language has no word similar to "German"; they refer to themselves with various forms of the word "deutsch" (which is related to "teuton" and bsically just means "people"). But my favorite such term is the Russians' word for Germans: "Nemets". Anyone who has taken first-year Russian understands the derivation of this term: it means "no-mind". It's hardly even phonetically reduced; it's just the word "ne" (negative prefix) plus the word "mets" (mind). (The 'n' and 'm' are soft, FWIW. ;-)

While it's hard to be more insulting than that, such names for neighbors are quite common around the world. Often the words go back so far that only a few historians understand the insulting origins. (But the Russian term can't be whitewashed; its meaning is clear to even a beginning student of the language.)

Imagine the fuss if we had to replace all such names that have insulting origins.

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form. -- Stanley J. Randall