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Comment: Re:He is linking homeopathy to astrology (Score 2) 320

by Millennium (#49130637) Attached to: Use Astrology To Save Britain's Health System, Says MP

But let's be serious. The placebo effect is one of the most effective thing in medical problems. The problem with it is that if you don't believe in it, it no longer works. Building false theories that makes sense for most people is therefore a skill that can be much more effective than finding real cures.

Only by creating a system in which, in order to work properly, information must be hidden from the patient. This is unacceptable, full stop.

Comment: Re:Shadow? (Score 1) 197

by Millennium (#48863979) Attached to: The Most Popular Passwords Are Still "123456" and "password"

Maybe not with that exact filename, but I can't help but wonder if some people hear that "shadow passwords are more secure" and think this means that changing your password to "shadow" helps.

I mean, why that particular word? Is there another explanation for how it could be that popular? Other than hedgehogs with guns, I mean?

Comment: Re:This guy hasn't done his research. (Score 1) 648

by Millennium (#48857973) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you talking about switching the values of two variables? Python can do that in one line: "a,b = b,a" (no quotes).

Or is this some kind of syntactical thing where you're asking to write "b = a" and having it mean "a = b"? I don't think Python can do that, but I don't know how you do it in VB either.

Comment: Re:Can I have four? (Score 2) 148

by Millennium (#48831639) Attached to: Best current live-action TV show based on comics?

Constantine

I had no idea this was a comic book thing, I just figured it was a TV adaptation of the horrible Keanu Reeves movie. I'll consider checking it out later.

The horrible Keanu Reeves movie was an "adaptation" (albeit a very, very loose one) of the comic. It may help to think of the series as what the movie could have been if it were actually done right.

There is a story arc at one point in the comics where the title character has to deal with a demon created from himself. It's my personal opinion that if the TV show ever does this arc, they should try to get Keanu Reeves to play the demon. It breaks from the comics a bit (since the comic book version of the demon looks exactly like his progenitor), but the fandom-troll would be epic.

Comment: Re:Can I have four? (Score 1) 148

by Millennium (#48831589) Attached to: Best current live-action TV show based on comics?

NBC has been frustratingly ambiguous concerning whether or not Constantine has been cancelled. They refuse to state it one way or the other. They failed to order the back nine episodes for Season 1 (obviously a bad sign), but since that deadline passed, they've gone so far as to give it a much better time slot (obviously a good sign).

The conspiracy theorist in me can't help but wonder if this is some kind of marketing ploy: if they never intended to cancel it, but kept things ambiguous solely to whip up the fanbase.

Comment: Re:selling your vote versus the secret ballot (Score 1) 480

by Millennium (#48811521) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

And continue to be exploited. You left out that piece.

Really? I thought I had that covered by "have long been exploited, and that genie is not going back in the bottle."

My question back is, "Why is secrecy more important than accuracy?"

Because the harm done by vote-forcing and vote-buying far outweighs the harm done by all but the most egregiously inaccurate counts. It takes little more than a cursory glance at modern societies facing these problems to see that.

For a stable society, no "other party" cares enough to force people to vote a particular way. It just doesn't happen...

At best, that assumption is extremely naive. Even in places that practice secret ballots, attempts at vote-selling and coercive schemes are common. In places with a free press, they make the news all the time.

They don't tend to get very far, of course. But that's largely because it's impossible to verify that any given person actually voted in a particular way. There is no point in attempting to coerce someone to do something when all you have to verify that they've done what you wanted. There is no sense in buying votes when there is no way to verify that you've actually gotten the service you paid for. But for this to work, there must well and truly be no way to get that information.

Legal and procedural safeguards are not enough. It must be actually impossible to get this information: in other words, the secret ballot. There is a tradeoff involved, in that counts become marginally less accurate, but given the alternative, this price is worth paying.

Comment: Re:selling your vote versus the secret ballot (Score 1) 480

by Millennium (#48804423) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

So the first 100 years of the USA was a dystopian regime?

It was a heck of a lot closer to one than it is now; that much is certain. And even if it were not, nostalgia for a bygone historical era is irrelevant in the face of current practice. The holes in non-secret ballots have long been exploited, and that genie is not going to go back into the bottle.

Besides which, you have still failed to state why non-secret ballots are any better. What purpose do they serve, other than to make it possible to pressure people to vote the way that some other party wants them to?

Comment: Re:Knuth is right. (Score 1) 149

Electronics are only the substrate on which we (currently) perform (most) computing, not the computer itself. They're not even the first substrate that we've ever used for such things: ENIAC is widely credited as the first all-electric computer, but hybrid electronic-mechanical devices had been in use for several decades before then. Pure mechanical devices have also been used in limited capacities, even if we discount the works of Charles Babbage (since his Analytical Engine was never actually built).

But even mechanical devices are not the only substrate that can be used for computing. For example, fluidics (which replace electronics with flowing fluids of various sorts) see limited application on the macro-scale, but are a growing area of nanotechnology research. We've probably all seen examples of toy "computers" using marbles or billiard balls, and if you haven't then a quick YouTube search can provide some. These aren't fast enough to do many things on a practical time scale (by human standards), but they compute nonetheless.

That's why we say that mathematics defines computing. The actual process can be carried out in a multitude of ways, but the underlying processes are the same, and they are defined by the math of computing.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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