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Comment: Re:Scalia is jumping the shark. (Score 2) 449

by Mr. Slippery (#46823217) Attached to: Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips

Is Scalia seriously suggesting police can act on a tip only after proving that tipster is telling the truth?

As much as I hate to find myself anywhere near Scalia (through he's joined here by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan), police can legitimately act on a tip only after proving that a tipster is *likely* to be telling the truth. In this case, after following the car for five minutes and not seeing anything that gave them suspicion that the driver was drunk, there's no way that they could have reasonable suspicion this guy was a drunk driver. Given the documented existence of SWATing, anonymous tips cannot be considered credible grounds for intrusion into a person's liberty.

Interestingly, in this case the tip was not anonymous, but that fact wasn't brought up in the original prosecution and so the tip is dealt with as anonymous.

Lucky for Scalia most progressives still believe in elections, democracy, rule of law and that SCOTUS interpretation of the constitution is the only legal interpretation.

Really? You believe that most progressives believe that in 1857, no person of African descent could be a citizen of a state, despite zero evidence for this decision in the text of the Constitution? And that in 1896, states could comply with the equal protection clause via "separate but equal" bullshit? Well, it does seem that "progressive" has been defined downwards since Obama came into office.

Human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and SCOTUS decisions, are areas that overlap sometimes but not always. Genuine progressives put human rights before the others.

Comment: Re:*sigh* (Score 1) 351

by Mr. Slippery (#46810453) Attached to: Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

How can you tell if the logic is "faultless" if you don't start with the sort of rigorous and objective definitions that you have in math?

There is nothing objective about mathematics. Trace a mathematical proposition down, and it rest on axioms and definitions -- social and linguistic conventions. Those conventions have historically proven to have pragmatic value, but the question of what's pragmatically valuable is a subjective one; you cannot objectively demonstrate the value of going to the moon, or building a bridge, or even developing a new life-saving medical treatment.

The idea that math is some pure realm of eternal verities is Platonic bullshit.

Comment: Re:not an axe (Score 1) 214

by Mr. Slippery (#46809811) Attached to: Reinventing the Axe

What if you have a rock band, and replace the members one by one, but then the original members re-unite to play their classic tunes, but then both bands go on tour together?

I was delighted to learn that my hometown has a real-life example of the Ship of Theseus conundrum: the USS Constellation.

"Identity" is nothing but a social and mental convention.

Comment: Re:*sigh* (Score 1) 351

by Mr. Slippery (#46809683) Attached to: Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

Which of those would be useful to Google or another company that writes a lot of software?

If you're writing software, you ought to be writing technical documentation. I think English majors would have some useful skills there. I greatly appreciated having tech writers around to clean up my muddied prose (and also to worry about what should be boldface, what should be italic, and the like.)

Comment: Re:Its not nothing (Score 1) 612

If physicists don't have a proper answer to "Why is there something rather than nothing" then they should stop pretending they do by the deceit of changing the definition of "nothing".

The issue of whether anyone has a "proper" answer -- indeed, if there is a "proper" answer -- turns on the ambiguity of the word "why". We use that word in three very different senses.

When we ask, "why is the sky blue?", we are asking "by what lower-level phenomena is the sky seen as blue?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that is static (or very short duration) in time and varies over the reductionist depth of phenomena: photons are scattered by air molecules, some of them enter your eye, trigger certain receptors in the retina, this is processed by the nervous system causing a sensation that your brain has been culturally trained to associate with the symbol "blue".

When we ask, "why did the Challenger explode?", we are asking "by what causal chain of events, one after the other, did the Challenger explode?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that extends over time and is fairly static in reductionist depth: politics prompted a launch in cold weather, cold weather caused the O-ring to warp, the warped O-ring caused hot gas to leak, boom. We want a time sequence that (in this instance) stays at the level of everyday experience, doesn't go in to the quantum mechanics of the O-ring or the grand historical narrative of humanity's existence.

When we ask, "why did Alice go the dance with Bob?", we are asking "what motives and values prompted Alice's decision?" We want an explanation of the desires and actions of intelligent agents, not a story about the atoms that make up her body.

When we ask "why is there something rather than nothing?", some people are looking for "God did it" -- the third type of answer. But there can't be an intelligent agent before there is something, so the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

Some people are looking for the second type of answer: they want some cosmological causal chain of events as to how space and energy came to be. But any causal chain of events would be a thing, not nothing, so again the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

What we have here is a proposed answer in the first sense, lower-level phenomena.

If you're looking for cause-over-time or motive as an answer to "why is there something rather than nothing", you've fallen into a linguistic trap around the ambiguity of the word "why".

Comment: Re:If you make this a proof of God... (Score 4, Informative) 612

You are supposed to read it and think "people should act this way",

Yes, with the genocide and the slavery and the misogyny and the mock executions of sons by their fathers, what a fine world it would be if we followed the moral example of the Bible.

Comment: Re:Snowden, that's why it's relevant to /.ers. (Score 5, Insightful) 193

by Mr. Slippery (#46721205) Attached to: Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

Colbert noted. "I see the Norwegians gave Snowden 30 Nobel Prize nominations. The guy's practically a war criminal - I don't understand how they could put him up for the same prize they once gave to Henry Kissinger."

That whooshing sound you hear? That's Colbert's satire going right over your head. If the Kissinger/peace prize reference didn't tip you off, consider that he said it at the same event that he said "I'm sure that under enhanced liberty you can have all the privacy that you want, just like under enhanced interrogation you can breathe all the water you want."

Comment: Re:Level of public funding ? (Score 1) 292

Many Americans don't even accept evolution or global warming yet.

No germane to the point.

Pretending that where we are is the furthest we'll ever get is not constructive and not correct.

A curve which approaches a line asymptotically will make its big progress early (taking t as the horizontal axis) and small gains afterward. It will still get closer, but not in a way that makes a big change. It's a reasonable hypothesis that science will approach the maximum possible knowledge of the world in the same fashion.

There is a limit on how much human beings will ever be able to observe, and how much human beings will be ever to able to calculate. (If we blow it and ruin our spaceship and die off in the next century or two, which is quite possible, we may be close to that limit already.) If science is not approaching this maximum possible knowledge, it's a failure; if it is approaching this maximum possible knowledge, then there is less and less left to possibly know. The amount of possible knowledge is not infinite.

Comment: Re:No she did not win any lawsuit. (Score 1) 642

No. She didn't win a lawsuit.

She filed a lawsuit, "a case where two or more people disagree and one or more of the parties take the case to a court for resolution", an "attempt to gain an end by legal process; a process instituted in a court of law for the recovery of a right or claim". She got what she wanted. How is that not winning a lawsuit?

The actual Kozinski ruling suggests that actors HAVE a copyright in the final work despite decades of copyright law to the contrary.

That's sensible. A film actor is a co-creator of a work; if musicians covering a song have a copyright interest in a sound recording, it is inconsistent for film actors playing a scripted role to not have a copyright interest in a video recording.

This could finally establish the principle that people have a copyright interest in photographs of them in any but the most mundane situations; that's a principle that could resolve issues around "revenge porn" and around people getting upset around photos of them being posted on social media without their consent (see the hostility around Google Glass).

Comment: Re:Completely wrong summary (Score 1) 319

by Mr. Slippery (#46688481) Attached to: SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

It's the amount a willing buyer and a willing seller will agree on if neither is under any external constraint (such as rent controls).

There is no such thing as "if neither is under any external constraint".

The very nature of "property" is that it is an external constraint created and enforced by the state. It's the state saying to the "owner", "Here is a piece of paper that says you own this thing. If anyone uses it without your consent, we will send men with guns to stop them," thus placing a constraint on everyone else.

Comment: Re:Best. Slashdot. Interview. Evar. (Score 2) 124

by Mr. Slippery (#46688125) Attached to: Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

but the rider for giving a simple speech includes such gems as "If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it."

Way to take something out of context. To paraphrase what RMS is saying there: "I'd rather crash at a friendly person's house than stay at a hotel. But I'm allergic to cats, and dogs sometimes freak me out. Parrots are really cool though, and I'd love to visit a house with a parrot. But don't buy a parrot just to impress me, because having a parrot is a big deal, a big commitment, and if you do it wrong that's cruel. And meeting a sad parrot would not be fun."

A large part of what you're referring to as a "rider" is more of a list of hospitality considerations. It's socially awkward, sure, but it would take a really gifted person to maintain the sort of speaking schedule he does without writing up some advance care and feeding instructions.

Comment: Re:What if there is no reason? (Score 1) 393

by Mr. Slippery (#46679457) Attached to: Why Are We Made of Matter?

Couldn't a machine exist like you that did the exact same things you'd do but wasn't conscious at all?

I don't think so, no. An organism that monitors and predicts its own state and the states of the members of its social group has a competitive advantage. When that process is complex enough, looping back to monitor and predict the process of monitoring and predicting -- and monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting, and so on -- we call it consciousness. A machine that wasn't conscious wouldn't be monitoring and predicting its own state and the states of its social group in that complex, looping fashion, and so wouldn't do the exact same things.

Comment: Re:one reason why people hate Linux (Score 1) 641

by Mr. Slippery (#46671775) Attached to: Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Linux doesn't make your dick bigger.

No, and thank goodness for that -- why mess with perfection?

GNU/Linux and Android systems do, however, make your freedom bigger -- not perfectly so, but contrasted with the freedom-shrinking offerings from MS and Apple, Linux is a clear win.

And, more relevantly, on a tech site (this is still one, right?), we ought to expect people -- especially those who ask loaded questions -- to know that Linux is a kernel and is common to both GNU/Linux and Android systems (as well as a few other rarer OSes).

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

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