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Comment: Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (Score 1) 910

by Kevin Fishburne (#47903799) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

I maintain that our puny little brains aren't even close to capable of "reasoning out" the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

The problem isn't our brain's inability to discover the meaning of the universe. The problem is too many people think there could be meaning to the universe. It is difficult for humans to turn off their deep desire to anthropomorphize everything around them. Just because a human can have intent does not mean that a rock, an apple, or a universe can. When you can tell me why my shirt wants to be blue (convincingly), I will concede it is possible for there to be meaning to the universe.

Asking "why does the universe exist" is no different than asking "what color is 1+6?" Just because a set of words makes up a syntactically correct question does not make it a valid question.

You nailed it there. The act of letting go the belief that people, things and the world have an "official purpose" is a difficult one. I've heard first hand numerous times from religious people when confronted with the idea, and the response is always disturbing. It goes something like this: "Then it doesn't matter what I do. I can break the rules of man and God. There is no reason to be moral or ethical." I can only guess that response is born of the fear and hopelessness felt in that brief moment when they imagine there is no purpose. The concept of purpose is purely human. We as sentient beings ascribe purpose to things (this bed is for sleeping because we built it that way); it's not an innate, natural property.

Comment: Re:Sounds familiar (Score 1) 129

by Kevin Fishburne (#47887445) Attached to: Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light
That is an excellent solution to the proximity problem. They'd also have to use inertial dampeners to simulate the effect of movement when not actually moving (the opposite of what they normally do) and variable gravity plating. I wonder if the holodeck can localize pressure and humidity, or if it's just the entire room. If the safeties were turned off and there was a serious hull breach in one of two shuttlepods how would the holoprojection or deck mechanics depressurize only one of the participants? Perhaps the safeties only pertain to force field injuries and more difficult properties are performed globally. Localizing scent, for example, would be difficult without hiding little scent dispensers. There was a Voyager episode (the one where the holodecks were expanded to encompass multiple decks) where a holodeck-generated explosion actually blew out other parts of the ship. The holodeck concept is awesome and fun to talk about.

Comment: Re:Sounds familiar (Score 1) 129

by Kevin Fishburne (#47886639) Attached to: Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light
I'm guessing the force fields are what allow a hologram to punch you in the face and the photons are what allow you to see the fist coming at you. They're probably generated separately and synchronized for realism. They never really explain in detail how holographic projections work in Star Trek, other than "photons and force fields" and "holoprojectors", which have a limited range and need to be placed strategically (the strategy isn't explained, either). The worst sin of course is how they fail to adequately explain how two people can get farther apart from each other than the diameter of the holodeck/suite, and yet in Voyager talk about expanding the size of the holodeck to accommodate larger simulations. I suppose it's no surprise that the most "holy shit this is awesome" piece of technology in Star Trek is the most difficult to rationally explain.

Comment: Modular seating (Score 1) 818

I don't fly often, but when I do, there are often a fuck ton of empty seats. Why not make the seat rows modular and on rails so individual rows may be removed and the remaining rows adjusted along the rail to fill the free space? If the plane is packed then you're SOL, but for non-capacity flights everyone would feel like they were flying first class.

Comment: Re:The important thing (Score 1) 167

by Kevin Fishburne (#47837015) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification
I read a story once about some idiot buying a bag of caffeine online and passing it around in a club. I believe he took too much and overdosed, dying in a way you wouldn't want to imagine. Other than the obvious, the lesson here is that apparently you can put caffeine on just about anything you like.

Comment: Re:Can we have a [credible] MS Access equivalent? (Score 2) 185

by Kevin Fishburne (#47836921) Attached to: Why Munich Will Stick With Linux
Check out GAMBAS:

It's a VB6 programmer's wet dream, done the right way. The ease with which you could make a GTK or QT app with database I/O would shock you. I'd install from the daily or stable PPA if you use an Ubuntu-based distro. The repo builds are outdated.

Comment: Desegregation? (Score 1) 868

by Kevin Fishburne (#47570349) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline
What, O wise ./ readers, do you think would happen if Israel simply tore down the walls, removed all checkpoints, and allowed any Palestinian who wanted into Israel to just walk, drive, or ride on in, followed by an apology for their use of force and a promise that future violence would be handled by the police and not the military? I think the one thing everyone can agree on is that what they've been doing so far hasn't worked (on both sides). Maybe something flat out crazy should be tried instead; take a few hits to the jaw to show they're serious about peace. I don't think most people in Palestine would think it a sign of weakness and begin their own genocide, despite any charters or lunatic fringe snippets about "killing every Jew", etc. The vast majority of Palestinians aren't savages, and the real terrorists would lose any reason for further support by the Palestinians. Yes, there would be more terrorist attacks in the short-term inside Israel, but those deaths could be the price for an end to a cycle of perpetual violence.

Comment: I live in Atlanta and... (Score 2) 55

by Kevin Fishburne (#47478387) Attached to: More Forgotten Vials of Deadly Diseases Discovered
Just about everything works like this, as in, fails to work. The Postal Service employee who delivers my mail often wears pajamas and nearly ran me off the road a couple of weeks ago with my two year old in the car. Hell, the Atlanta Braves are moving out of the city in a few years. Perhaps it's no coincidence that The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia. All those zombie movies may have been more realistic than we imagined.

Comment: novelty != threat (Score 1) 435

by Kevin Fishburne (#47469983) Attached to: FBI Concerned About Criminals Using Driverless Cars
Embarrassing that our so-called security "professionals" confuse novelty with threat level. After 9/11 they started two wars, greatly amplifying our casualties and economic and political losses. After the shoe bomber they started searching shoes. After the Goodyear blimp crashed into the superbowl they made helium a controlled substance. Now we have to use hydrogen for balloons at birthday parties, which means no more candles on cakes. Why is the response to an attack always worse than the attacks themselves? Maybe that's the point...the enemy counts on our overreaction.

Comment: Re:Ewww... (Score 1) 242

by Kevin Fishburne (#47440793) Attached to: Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water
Until a few years ago I thought this is how things had been done forever. It was a story on ./ that clued me in to the fact that water from plumbing and storm drains was not being purified and pumped back into the water supply. I was shocked at how wasteful our current techniques are and surprised that some people have a problem with purifying waste water for drinking. As cynical as I am now at age 38, I suppose I should have known better. Water reclamation needs to be as closed a system as possible. With the quickly rising population and sea levels along with increasingly erratic weather, we need as much control over the water supply as we can get.

Comment: Re:Slush (Score 1) 49

by Kevin Fishburne (#47317733) Attached to: Searching For Ocean Life On Another World

Well, think of how water freezes on a cold lake. There's a sharp divide because water isn't still. Heat being generated at the core of the moon would ensure warmer fluid would move towards the ice barrier, and colder fluid would move towards the core. This cycle tends to keep 'slush' from forming.

Interesting...didn't think about that. I suppose what got me thinking of the slush idea was the sheer scale of the environment compared to ours here; the entire moon is frozen. Here's some info on theories about Europa's oceans:

And possibly evidence of slush, depending on how you interpret the word "ductile": is predicted that the outer crust of solid ice is approximately 10–30 km (6–19 mi) thick, including a ductile "warm ice" layer...

Guess there's only one way to find out. I personally can't wait!

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb