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Comment: Re:Latex outside academia (Score 2) 99

by Mahalalel (#42899669) Attached to: Collaborative LaTeX Editor With Preview In Your Web Browser
I used it recently at work to write a research paper. The formatting and presentation is much more professional than anything created in Word. My wife and I also republished some public domain works, re-typesetting the books and cleaning up the pictures. The Memoir class was invaluable for this. Other than that I guess it's mostly letters and little projects of my own.

Comment: Will the police use these safety devices? (Score 1) 1013

by Mahalalel (#42348631) Attached to: Using Technology To Make Guns Safer
Once the police begin using these "safety" devices that prevent others from using the gun, then it should become widespread.

Extra safety measures sound great until you try to implement them. I don't know of any biometric safety method that is reliable enough to stake your life on. Grip recognition sounds great until the system fails, you don't get your "calm and collected grip", you have to use your other hand, or you get injured somehow. There are some magnetic ones that work if you are wearing a magnetic ring and these seem reliable but only work for revolvers. People who want to impose these measures don't shoot guns themselves apparently. It's like imposing efficiency standards that are unattainable.

When it's reliable enough for the police, it will be reliable enough for everyone else.

Comment: Roger Ebert on Columbine and the Media (Score 2) 1168

by Mahalalel (#42341383) Attached to: School Shooting Prompts Legislation To Study Violent Video Games
I thought Roger Ebert's comments after Columbine were interesting:

"Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy."

Comment: Re:Going out on a limb here... (Score 1) 673

by Mahalalel (#36202492) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do When the Rapture Comes?
That's right. I hardly see why because one guy predicts the end of the world, it's Slashdot worthy. And as is pointed out below, Christians for the last 1900 years have understood the "this generation will not pass away" as referring to the judgement at Jerusalem in the destruction of the temple (a sort of coming of Christ). And keep in mind that some of the best logicians in history have been Christians. There are some in modern times that send their brains on a vacation but Scripture has been well-defended over the years as completely consistent with itself. Every single supposed contradiction has been dealt with if you're willing to give an honest look and not quote out of context.

Comment: Re:I'm no Richard Dawkins, so... (Score 1) 916

by Mahalalel (#36062480) Attached to: Evolution Battle Brews In Texas
You definitely have a favorite adjective...

This type of language doesn't convince anyone of your point, and most of you are preaching to the choir in any event. Though you rail on Christians and their stupidity (or at the very least, religious "nuts"), there are a decent number of agnostic or atheist who find evidence for the evolutionary theory lacking.

Let's get one thing straight: I don't know of anyone who questions micro-evolution so arguments with those examples are straw men. Everyone recognizes changes in successive generations of dogs. However, many, including scientists, are skeptical of macro-evolution, or that a dog will become anything but a dog. Bacteria has been cited. At the end of 10,000 generations it is a different bacteria, yet it is still bacteria.

The problem is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Evolution is a uniform theory that explains the world in a naturalistic way. If you assume it is a purely naturalistic world, it's the only option you've got. Otherwise the only alternative appears to be belief in some higher intelligence or God.

I've searched for evidence. Unbiased evidence. Pored over Wikipedia articles, websites, I read "Origin of the Species", and frankly, the rosy evidence that is presented is shown through rose-colored lenses. The problem is, everything looks like evolution if you assume it, and evolutionists make a priori assumptions just like everyone else. Don't pretend it's purely unbiased science, recognize your assumptions, study your epistemology. Many clever people can make up reasons behind why things happened the way they think it did. Darwin and Dawkins both talk about the eye and explain how it could have evolved step by step. That doesn't prove that it did though, or even prove that it is possible. Darwin's book gives many "stories" of how one thing could have led to another. It's a good explanation of how things got from point A to point B, but it doesn't prove that it actually did. It only looks that way if you assume that's how it happened.

And as a Christian myself, I have absolutely no problem studying the world. I am fascinated by every part of science, by exploration, by discovery. Yet I do so with the base assumption that God made it for our enjoyment. I can think and reason for myself too, but my basic assumptions are different. Are my discoveries then invalid or diminished? What about those of Newton, Henry, Faraday, or Maxwell (all Christians by the way)?

Comment: Re:In a stunning announcement (Score 0) 89

by Mahalalel (#32651194) Attached to: New Fossil Sheds Light On Lucy's Family Tree
Mod me down for a rant AND for being off topic but....

I love how every time a story like this comes out somebody immediately, unprovoked, starts bashing Creationists. Is it because of insecurity or do you think it's cool? Well it isn't. It's puerile.

Oh, and while I'm here, posting something and appending "you insensitive clod" is way too overused. Just like the "3. ?????? 4. Profit!!" used to be.

I appreciate the informative posts that break out of the mold and actually give reasons, rather than an aping conformity to what is posted over and over again.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 2, Interesting) 1324

by Mahalalel (#30937712) Attached to: US Grants Home Schooling German Family Political Asylum
That's a very good concern to have. The great thing about homeschooling in the US today (as opposed to even 25 years ago) is that there is a vast wealth of material to draw from. There are so many companies now competing for offering homeschooling material that there is no reason that a parent couldn't do it. Some of it is quite good in fact. From my own experience, the lessons were well-explained by the material, so much so that I could teach myself (which was excellent preparation for university). For those parents who aren't comfortable with that route or have less self-motivated children, there are video lessons that go through subjects like chemistry, calculus, etc.

My mother never knew beyond high-school math, I was doing basic calculus in jr. high. Many cities have good support groups with classes taught by those knowledgeable in those fields. The best thing is, a parent can give personal attention to a specific need that a public school teacher, with 40+ kids, cannot.

Comment: Or maybe not (Score 1) 387

by Mahalalel (#30903302) Attached to: China Will Lead World Scientific Research By 2020
Leading the world in the number of papers published is not equivalent to leading to world in scientific research.

An old professor of mine has said that he has been shocked by the number of times he's been reading a paper by a Chinese researcher and found large sections of the paper copied verbatim from one of his own. In a country that is so competitive in publishing papers, I'm sure many succumb to the pressure and temptation. That's not to say that there are good, original advances being made, but I'm not quite as optimistic as the news title leads one to believe.

Comment: Re:Good luck in university (Score 1) 1345

by Mahalalel (#29320425) Attached to: Schooling, Homeschooling, and Now, "Unschooling"
My experience is my evidence, but you have yet to cite anything except unjustified opinion and I'm tired of hearing people who are prejudiced right from the start. I even qualified my statement by saying that perhaps it is just that like-minded people hang around each other so maybe I didn't have a broad enough sampling.

It just seems as though you're making broad, all-encompassing statements as though you know exactly what is happening in every home-schooling family. You don't, and neither do I. My main point still stands: you cannot say that "most" parents just goof-off. It's analogous to me telling you that most parents who send their kids to public school don't care about their education. There is nothing to show that. The evidence is quite to the contrary, be it personal experience or statistical.

I'm still not trying to make the claim that home-schooled children will always be better equipped. However, they are not nearly as ill-equipped as some people make them out to be. Keep an open mind.

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.