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Comment: Use of drugs (Score 1) 474

by Livius (#47488641) Attached to: World Health Organization Calls For Decriminalization of Drug Use

The use of drugs is not exactly confined in its impact to the immediate use, which is the theory behind why it was a crime in the first place. But the other bad effects can be made illegal separately. A lot of them already are, in the form of some variation of practising pharmacy without a licence. And if a huge pharmaceutical company creates a drug that has virtually no value other than to create addictions (and deducts all the research and marketing expenses on its taxes), then someone should be going to jail.

You can still say drugs are bad, which they are in many cases, but 'bad' does not necessarily mean something the criminal justice system should address. On top of which, a lot of the time it comes down to tastes in substance abuse. Alcohol is bad for all the same reasons, and compared to some drugs is worse.

Comment: They're different? (Score 1) 241

by Livius (#47487505) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Well, of course maths, programming, and natural languages are different, but all of them involve a symbolic language that models something and expresses that model. Kun seems to be focusing just on the differing degrees of precision these symbolic languages employ.

People tend to think of natural language as only a medium of communication, but it is also the way the human mind models whatever it perceives or imagines, and despite the fact we do that mostly instinctively, it is by far the hardest thing about language.

Programming is not math, it is language - a programming language is a language which defines, describes, and expresses an algorithm. Useful programs are frequently express something mathematical, but that is a function of the application, not programming itself.

Maths is just a whole lot of symbolic language. Learning maths is language learning, but it is also learning to describe things with precision and clarity and algorithmically. Some natural language learning is like that (e.g. advanced Latin grammar) and some is not (e.g. introductory conversational courses).

I'm all for computer dating, but I wouldn't want one to marry my sister.