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Comment: Re:Your biggest screw up (Score 1) 373 373

Reddit was started as an experiment in free speech.

Wait, what?

I recall Alex coming on Slashdot a lot to promote Reddit when he first launched it. "An experiment in free speech" was not anything I recall being discussed. I also remember him posting on Slashdot while still developing reddit.

What I recall, is promotion of a general interest platform that was more open than Slashdot (unlimited moderations for all!) and less susceptible to vote brigading than Digg.

It was while ago, so I may be a bit foggy on the specifics.

Comment: Re:Dwindling airable land? (Score 1) 166 166

I think what the Libertarians fail to realize is that farmers, as a general rule, are not smart enough to diversify or maintain course.

First, I think that's a ridiculous assertion. Smart farmers don't diversify because the taxpayers bear the risk of their crop failure, or of crashing prices; they have insufficient incentive to diversify.

Second, if we had a true free market, dumb farmers would go out of business and we would be left with smart farmers allocating resources efficiently. Isn't that the point of economic libertarianism?

Note: I am far from libertarian.

Comment: Re:So does this qualify as 'organic'? (Score 1) 166 166

What do you mean by cyclical? Do you mean the livestock/fertilizer/crop/fodder cycle? Do you mean crop rotation? Or something else entirely?

Just curious, since I'm not aware of either cyclical production or crop rotation being a requirement for organic farming (although both are considered best practices).

Comment: Re:Local and small (Score 1) 268 268

This is still a terrible measure, because bible-belt Southerners average close to 7%, while New Englanders average under 3% (source [philanthropy.com]).

It's also a terrible measure because giving to a church is not always the same as giving to a charity. Not saying that all churches aren't charities, just that some spend quite a lot less on charitable works than some other charities.

Comment: Re:Infinity (Score 1) 1067 1067

Well, I think that it could be argued that the *fundamental* theorem of algebra is more fundamental (that's the rule that, when vastly oversimplified, states that polynomials have roots). That being said, the identity that you propose is, as pointed out by the GP, an identity derived from properties of multiplication. It is not really all that fundamental, and one of the hypotheses of the identity is that x is not zero.

Comment: Re:Infinity (Score 1) 1067 1067

In the one-point compactification of the real (or complex) numbers, it makes sense to assign the value infinity to x/0. This is both meaningful and has value (particularly in complex analysis). That being said, the original question is asinine. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of both mathematics and programming.

Comment: Re:How does one tell the difference? (Score 1) 103 103

It can be difficult to tell the difference between rocks that have been modified by people and rocks that have been shaped by natural processes. That being said, there are things to look for.

First is material. From the photographs in the linked article, it appears that the purported tool is made from some kind of fine-grained silicious material (high in silicon, rather than magnesium and iron, as evidenced by the color), whereas the surrounding rock appears to be basalt (mafic, therefor darker in color). If you work in an area, you get to know the geology of the region, and where rocks come from. Seeing rocks far from their sources often indicates human curation. That being said, it seems unlikely to me that anyone would bother to curate a general tool like the ones photographed, so that probably isn't going to be a huge factor in this case.

Second, after seeing hundreds or thousands of stone tools, you get good at identifying them. It is kind of like chicken sexing---it may be difficult to quantify *exactly* why something is a tool, but people get really good at it, none the less. Again, this isn't the whole story, but it gives you an idea about why one might pick up a rock in the field. People who have a lot of experience and training are more likely to recognize potential tools.

Third, there are morphological indications of human modification. Rocks that fall and break naturally tend to have random patterns of flaking, whereas intentionally modified rocks will show flaking that is concentrated in a particular place. This isn't foolproof (indeed, there were purported pre-Clovis tools found in California a few decades ago that, upon closer examination, turned out to be naturally formed), but, again, it is an indication.

Fourth, it is often possible to tell a tool from other contextual clues: is it near a hearth? a pile of animal bones? other easily identified tools? Again, given the age, this is unlikely to be useful in this context, but you asked a more general question, so this is part of a more general answer.

Finally, there are lab tests that can help. One can check for residue (i.e. blood or plant reside that might indicate use in preparing food), or microflaking that might indicate use, for example. These are things that you can't see in the field, and almost certainly can't see in a photograph that was taken in the field.

Comment: Re:Yeah good luck with that... (Score 1) 587 587

Saying "Hey guys, these are the works that I've produced recently that are currently eligible for awards. Vote for me, please!" is not the same as saying, "Hey guys, here is a slate of works by various authors (most of whom are not me) that I think you should vote for."

Comment: Re:Yeah good luck with that... (Score 1) 587 587

Yes, I read that too. I think that you are reading way too much into what is written there. It seems pretty clear to me that he is planning on casting his own ballot on the merits of the works nominated, but that he understands those that would vote against the sad puppy slate on the theory that intentionally disruptive behaviour should not be encouraged. Moreover, even if I granted your interpretation, that would be Scalzi pushing against a given slate, rather than pushing his own slate of nominees, which is what was claimed by ageoffri in the first post to which I replied.

He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.

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