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Comment: Re:so, I'm in the more than 8 yrs ago camp (Score 1) 242

by Artifakt (#47580319) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

I finally had to tackle an xorg config problem on a machine where I moved an existing hard drive preinstaled with Kubuntu 12.10 and tried to get it to work. Resolution dropped to about 640 x 480 until I worked it out. I've never had to deal with it when installing Linux from CD/DVD since about the StormLinux 2000 era. Linux installs always seemed to find the max resolution the monitor was rated for just fine. Yeah, xorg was a pain, but I only bothered as a learning experience, Reinstalling from disk was always an obvious alternative, and even the lousy resolution was good enough if I had needed to recover other data from that drive first. To be fair, I haven't had any worse experiences with Windows video config since about Win Me. I've been assuming that it takes some pretty odd hardware to get a real video problem anymore in any modern OS, but evidently, someone's milage varied.

Comment: Re:Nazis over Scientology (Score 4, Informative) 161

by Artifakt (#47579899) Attached to: Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So

Where did it say he was a scientologist? They didn't even exist back them. You made that up to pump up your argument.

Jack Parsons was friends with L. Ron Hubbard for a time, and this friendship allegedly failed because Hubbard took off with a great deal of Parsons' money. Again allegedly, Scientology was founded with that money. Malina and Parsons are two major figures in rocketry who did various occult rituals with both Alastair Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard and basically the historical links between those last two are mostly links through the rocket researchers more than direct contacts.

Comment: Re:Legitimate concerns (Score 2) 274

by Artifakt (#47577713) Attached to: UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

I see where you are coming from, and even admire it in a way, but I feel compelled to point out another side of the issue (one other side, there are probably 20 more). Online bullys don't usually just make speech involving insults and putdowns. There's a high degree of these being accompanied by false accusations that can easily count as libel, and by misinformation which is often damaging in other ways. (In fact, for cases where bullying goes on for over 3 months, the chance of one or more of these other actions approaches unity). We've seen cases where, for example, the bully has progressed to claiming that a victim is HIV+, and then giving out a lot of misinformation about HIV in general, falsely claiming to be a doctor or to have gotten the information from one, an/or claiming to having hacked their victim's medical information. These things are generally criminal in and of themselves, and/or have other negative impacts (such as triggering security audits of medical records keeping to make sure the bully's claim isn't genuine), Protecting teens against insults and put downs is a mixed bag, but when you add in protecting them from bad medical and legal advice, and false claims that they can't protect their records if they see a doctor, and so many other things, any sane society is going to opt for some limitations, at least with regard to minors.
          This form of bullying has many interrelated bad effects: Laws get passed, because existing laws don't seem to be stopping the problem behavior. Free speech becomes hard to protect when the test cases are such unsympathetic types - even the ACLU sometimes declines to take a case where the jury is likely to be looking for any chance to convict on anything remotely applicable. Even if a politician actually cares about free speech (I know, I know, but some of them actually do.). The ones that actually try to live up to the Constitution, the UN declaration of rights, or other such inspirational ideas are also the ones who really want to stop these other related abuses, so even they will look to compromise (and for the ones who are just pandering to whatever group will get them elected, that sort of compromise is a no-brainer). Let a creep get away with enough, and everybody wants to see some sort of blowback, and if it looks like that creep is just hiding behind a first amendment claim, then the first amendment starts to be called a "technicality".It takes more character than most have to defend Vlad Adolph McKnife-wielding-Psycho. That's why there are phrases such as "Online Stalker" - behavior analogous to real world stalking, not just insults.
        My feeling is, even if we should let kids naturally develop tougher skins and reognize that free speech includes just the sorts of speech we find ourselves half wishing there was a law against, there's too many real creeps on the net for it to happen. The best way to stop it would be for the laws against slander, libel, and impersonation to be enforced so the things that are not just speech are what we are regulating, but we don't seem to do that, so bad laws WILL get passed instead.

Comment: Re:Equally suspect (Score 1) 301

by CrimsonAvenger (#47570747) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

but calling any of them "legitimate" is shilling so hard you could pence a crown.

I'm trying to figure out the source of the expression "pence a crown" (old British money, obviously, but I'm missing something), and wondering whether the use of "shilling" earlier in the sentence was an intentional or unintentional play on words re:"pence a crown"....

Comment: Re:How do investors react to such info? (Score 1) 232

by CrimsonAvenger (#47564973) Attached to: Comcast Confessions

Would you be more or less inclined to put your money into a company whose seemingly sole focus is profit?

Note that "profit" is misleading in this context. What they seem to mean, based on TFA is "income" or "revenue".

Admittedly, income generates profit (usually. See "loss leader" for an example of income with no profit attached). But they're not synonymous, as any taxman can tell you.

Comment: This can be extremely misleading. (Score 2) 565

by CrimsonAvenger (#47564481) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'


I had a bone-marrow transplant in late 2012.

Over the next year, the Hospital and Insurance companies went round and round, churning out bills and checks.

In one case, the insurance company needed some information from the hospital to process the claim. SNAFU at the hospital left the insurance company without the info for about six months.

Soooo, the hospital sent the bill to a collection agency, which started sending me letters demanding payment. I was, therefore, among the 35%.

The next month, the hospital sent the info to the insurance company, the insurance company cut a check, and the collections agency sent me a "never mind" letter.

So, I never really had any overdue debt, but I would have counted under the methodology of this article as part of the 35%.

Which leads me to wonder what fraction of the 35% might have had debts referred mistakenly to collection agencies....

Comment: Re:Such a Waste (Score 4, Insightful) 156

by Artifakt (#47563707) Attached to: The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released

Some of the Hobbit film bits are supposedly from letters JRRT wrote Christopher about 20 years after LOTR came out, describing how he would like to rewrite the book to make it tie in better with LotR and the limited Silmarillion notes he had at the time. Tolkien was supposedly torn between finishing up the Silmarillion or going back and working on a 'better' hobbit first. I suspect there's some truth to this claim - LotR draws from a great many sources that are fundamental in studying early English literature, from Spencer's Faerie Queen to the "Jack the Giant Killer" stories, to the Song of Roland to Beowulf itself, and the Hobbit's literary roots are mostly in one story - the same one Wagner drew on for Das Rheingold. Some of the dwarf naming and such in the Hobbit seems to connect to Finnish mythological tales and maybe some other Scandinavian sources, but the references are mostly truncated there or limited to a few very short phrases to fit in a children's book.
          I can certainly see JRRT deciding to work in some other bits from classics he couldn't really use in LotR. LotR took so long because Tolkien wanted it to have a certain gravitas as fantasy and so aimed for being really encyclopedic in referring to the roots of Fantasy literature, and at least touching broadly on English literature of the mundane and modern kinds. Tolkien even read some Lovecraft (and liked it), probably before writing the scene of the Watcher at the gate to Moria, possibly afterwards to see how it compared, and read or re-read some of the more esoteric works of T. S. Elliot, R L Stevenson and such, maybe just to have a better idea of where he wanted to steer modern English lit. or maybe to see if he needed to actually address these modern works in what he aimed to make his Magnum Opus. What he did afterwards, planning a next stage after becoming such a success, was doubtless quite technically ambitious.
        I respect people saying they don't like this or that, but some of those people might want to do a little research before they label everything they don't like as not true to Tolkien. In particular, the scenes where the dwarves try to use all the gold to kill the dragon seems to have some real connection to Tolkien's plans for the story, and possibly the way there is more about human 'politics' in Laketown is too. Once people get some idea of what might have been the Hobbit, rewritten for an audience the same age as LotR's, they can rag on the Hobbit equivalents of Elven Shield Surfing twice as hard. (Please! I could have done without half the falls in the Goblin caverns and had the height of the other half quartered, and the extended commercial for the Elven Rafting Riveride at Universal Orlando). Still, not everything here needs to be line for line either.

Comment: Re:For domestic use only (Score 1) 176

by Artifakt (#47561839) Attached to: Senate Bill Would Ban Most Bulk Surveillance

I'd argue that they also cross the line when the spend valuable tax dollars on very low level risks, and when certain foreign governments have volutarily cooperated with needful investigations and are now being treated as though that doesn't matter, as we can get the info whether they work with us or not, so screw international cooperation. American agencies that don't really see any difference between Australia and Afghanistan probably should concern you. Contributing to international accords and then ignoring them probably should concern you. Spending tax dollars that could go to rebuilding much needed infrastructure on building up the threats before we spend more to take them down definitely should concern you.
          Recently declassified documents have revealed that there were years in the 1950s, 60s and 70s when the whole funding for the National Endowment for the Arts was being spent on CIA disinformation campaigns. That''s never been officially investigated by Congress or in any way restricted, and could still be going on now, seventy years after it started.With that as their history, the only thing that concerns you is crossing the domestic line? Doesn't that even suggest they are spending way too much of your taxes on nothing?

Comment: Re:Alright! Go Senate bill (Score 5, Interesting) 176

by CrimsonAvenger (#47560195) Attached to: Senate Bill Would Ban Most Bulk Surveillance

TFS notes that Obama is behind this bill.

I find this interesting, since as head of the Executive Branch, he can order the NSA to do what this bill requires without bothering with a law, since no law exists requiring the NSA to collect telephone records on everyone.

And if such a law existed, it would be pretty clearly unconstitutional, and thus null and void....

Comment: Re:Smokers (Score 1) 155

by Artifakt (#47554919) Attached to: Smoking Mothers May Alter the DNA of Their Children

Why are you even debating the point over smoking, when you (and I) have no idea what the other 'few groups' are? Maybe next on his list is all the Red-headed people because they all didn't even die when Batman knocked them all into that vat of chemicals. Until I hear who the other few groups are, I'm going to assume that mindless hatered and lack of understanding of basic medicine are not even among this niblick's top 10 biggest issues. Hell, the other "few groups" probably include Underweight Belgians, Manx Cat Fanciers and Left Handed Whittlers.

Comment: Re:There have been attempts before (Score 1) 40

by Artifakt (#47553009) Attached to: How Bird Flocks Resemble Liquid Helium

Any hypothesis that doesn''t allow being disproven isn't science. period. That's hardly silly to point out. I may have been too polite by phrasing it in basic English - maybe I should have jumped right on a bunch of working scientists with the bold claim they had departed fully from the basic scientific method, before actually taking the time to read the original paper in detail and recrunching all their numbers, if that would make you feel better. Better yet, why don't you take "Let's You and Him Fight" elsewhere? I'm raising the question of whether the researchers took something into account, not accusing them of not understanding falsifiability as a fundamental of science, and if you want to turn a legitimate question into an accusation that insults both them, and me by the implication I would make it without doing a lot more work than could be done in the few hour since this article was posted, why don't you make that extraordinary claim, and sign your real name to it. A letter to the journal that published the original paer is appropriate there, not discussion in a non-vetted online "news" source. So I didn't spell out that I thought there were implications for falsifiabilty like I was lecturing the thinking impaired, particularly when I would much rather hear just what the paper's creators think are possible tests rather than assume they just didn't think about it.

            This also isn't a question of either whether Jurrassic Park got something scientifically right or whether Michael Crichton was a good author. That was just an example many readers would recognize. I could have used examples they wouldn't have even seen before, but I picked one they might know.

            Tell me, when somebody says there's hugh potential trouble in the nation's underfunded infrastructure, and mentions, as just one example, how many truck drivers are putting in excess hours and falsifying logs, does that make the whole article, in your mind, about trucker's bad penmanship? The real questions (now pay attention this time) are firstly "Do humans have a blind spot in the way they percieve flocking, even though there's 'logical' arguments why they should not, and we aren't bothering to look for evidence of a blind spot because those arguments make it so easy to ignore?", and secondly "Is an experimental model of flocking only going to be scientific if the researchers first make sure they have accounted for that blind spot?" My argument is that both questions need to be answered yes. Since that's my opinion, I'd also argue that a good mathematical model that ignores this, vrs. a bad mathematical model that just knowingly fakes flocking well enough, becomes like a better Planetary Epicycle model vrs. a worse one or even a deliberately false one. It doesn't matter much if the planets don't move in epicycles at all.

          I'd also say it's vitally important to figure out why the human brain seems to have many such blind spots - for just one, watch all the people, on all sides of the debate on the Theory of Evolution, who keep slipping into talking about what "Nature's Goals and Intentions" are. That's either because English (and at least most other languages) has/have a lot of superstitious cruft built in and we need to work at improving that or we will never be able to communicate properly, or it's something more fundamental to the human brain, and if it is the latter, figuring it out is probably going to be the biggest scientific achievement of whatever century it happens.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?