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Comment: Re:print fans (Score 2) 329

by RDW (#48664565) Attached to: Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy

Speaking as a 'print fan', I don't have a problem with adaptations in general, just adaptations done 'badly'. The BBC Radio version of LOTR from the 80s was excellent, but their attempt to do The Hobbit back in the 60s wasn't much good. There's much to enjoy in the Jackson films of LOTR, but the type of flaw that has blighted his version of The Hobbit was already there to a lesser extent in the previous trilogy - good actors saddled with a clunky script, silly additions to the plot, over-emphasised battles, crudely altered characters, cringeworthy attempts at humour, and a general lack of subtlety. An adaptation doesn't have to follow the source slavishly to be good (see Game of Thrones for a really intelligent treatment that frequently takes major liberties with the novels), but it has to preserve something of the spirit of the original to really work for those who love the books (not just the popcorn crowd).

Footnote, after all these years, having read the novels multiple times, once to my daughter before the films first came out, I just recently had an in-story epiphany. It always seemed curious and whimsical that Gandalf was so adamant about Bilbo being included in the quest. But think -- that simple decision set in motion a chain of events that after many years leads to the destruction of the One Ring -- something that probably could not have happened otherwise. How did Gandalf know?

There are hints about this in various places:

Gandalf to Frodo:

'Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was _meant_ to find the Ring, and _not_ by its maker. In which case you also were _meant_ to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.'

Gandalf on planning the quest of Erebor in the Shire:

'It was a strange business. I did no more than follow the lead of "chance", and made many mistakes on the way.'

Gandalf on Thrain's map and key:

'...I suddenly remembered the strange chance that had put them in my hands; and it began now to look less like chance'

Gandalf on his choice of Bilbo:

'I knew in my heart that Bibo must go with him, or the whole quest would be a failure - or, as I should say now, the far more important events by the way would not come to pass'

Gandalf on happening to meet Thorin at just the right time to set everything in motion:

'A chance-meeting, as we say in Middle-earth'.

I think all this implies that apparently random events are getting the occasional nudge from a Higher Power, and that Gandalf in particular (as a member of an 'angelic' order in accord with the Divine Plan, albeit limited by his human incarnation) is getting the odd subtle hint (more of a feeling rather than any sort of direct instruction) on how best to proceed with his mission.

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 1) 191

by RDW (#48611561) Attached to: Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

"Yet beyond monetary damages, the case has zero bearing on the modern technology industry, as both the MP3 music file format and the iPod itself have waned in popularity"

Wait, what? People no longer use MP3s? They don't buy iPods?

They've also technically got it backwards. Neither Apple nor Real were distributing mp3s, but DRM'd music files in other formats - mp3s were never targeted by Apple's countermeasures to Real's hack. Today it's actually possible to get most music in plain mp3 format from Amazon and other online retailers so, if anything, mp3 is now vastly more popular than before (at least as a legitimate distribution format).

Comment: Re:I can sort of see the appeal (Score 1) 433

by RDW (#48594403) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

So might as well get vinyl for the physical copy, and an mp3 (or ogg or flac) for a digital copy, and skip the CD.

Some labels are releasing material exactly this way, with vinyl and download as the only options. If you go for the vinyl, you often also get a download code included.

Comment: Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (Score 2) 323

by RDW (#48397925) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

How much do you think a standard Hershey Bar (plain, 43g) should cost in $USD? Genuinely curious.

I'm no chocolate snob, but you couldn't pay me to eat that stuff. Who ever thought it would be a good idea to add sour milk to perfectly adequate chocolate? It tastes like they've mixed it with baby vomit. As an emergency measure, all cocoa intended for Hershey's production should be seized and used to establish a National Cocoa Reserve. Only manufacturers with a track record of selling an edible product (like Ghirardelli) would then be allowed to draw on it. Sound reasonable?

Comment: Re:yet another duplication of what's out there (Score 1) 105

by RDW (#48376799) Attached to: How YouTube Music Key Will Redefine What We Consider Music

Here's what the pie is. The pie is a market. The pie is cuttable into unlimited slices. Who gets the pie, depends on if they get into the market. Getting into the market guarantees them a slice of the pie. This is why Google entered the market. Because of capitalism, gobbling up as much pie as possible is always desired, even if it's unnecessary and duplicates what's already out there a million times over.

I don't understand! Do you have a car analogy?

Also, does this mean no more free pie? Will google crack down on Youtube downloaders and ad blockers that already give naughty, naughty people most of the advantages of this service for free..?

Comment: Re:Real article is here (Score 4, Interesting) 275

Rather an odd study. Viral DNA apparently present in nearly half the subjects. They went straight to a mouse model before attempting to confirm the (small) effect in a larger, independent human cohort. No evidence that the virus actually infects mammalian cells, which would be an extremely unusual host range (the only precedent of anything similar they could find to cite is in an obscure Ukrainian journal). I'd say 'more research is needed', but maybe that's just the virus talking.

Comment: Re:This is safe? (Score 1) 198

by RDW (#48324357) Attached to: Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

And on that point, has anybody actually isolated and sequenced a confirmed ebola sample from a human subject who died from that specific infection in the affected region?

Yes, there are complete genomes from 78 cases (not necessarily fatal, but with confirmed EVD) in this publication alone:

This genomic sequence cannot be detected in uninfected individuals. It simply isn't there. Run the analysis on a thousand random blood samples from, say, the US or Europe, and you'll never see it. Does that suggest anything to you? (I assume from your language, which is similar to that used by HIV denialists, that it might not!).

Comment: Re:ebola doesn't have DNA - it has RNA (Score 4, Informative) 198

by RDW (#48321847) Attached to: Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

The vaccine vector is an Adenovirus, a DNA virus. The recombinant Ebola virus gene it carries will be in the form of DNA, designed to encode the same protein as the original RNA gene in the Ebola virus. It's the protein that is important, since this what the immune system will raise its response against.

Comment: Re:This is safe? (Score 1) 198

by RDW (#48321729) Attached to: Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys

Viruses are really damned small, and finding the right organism in an infected cell is anything but easy. Cells are full of all kinds of molecule-sized bits and pieces of shit. As of today, it is not even a certainty that the ebola virus has been positively identified, let alone properly categorized; there have been reports of over 250 mutation variants, any of which might be a mutated ebola virus, or maybe just another virus which might just have been present through the isolation process. Maybe just random bits of crap from a previous disease vector or vaccination injection. Nobody really knows for sure. It's pretty murky down there, and determining which organism causes what effects is a sloppy science, and it takes a huge amount of time and energy to even approximate answers.

Viruses are indeed really damned small, but not much else is true in this paragraph, which is mostly FUD. Nobody outside the ranks of medical conspiracy theorists doubts that the Ebola virus has been positively identified. We are about as certain of this are we are about the identity of, say, a tiger or an oak tree. Its genome has been completely sequenced many times. Yes, mutations have been found in viruses from the current epidemic that weren't found in previous outbreaks. There's nothing surprising about this - we see it every time the virus emerges from the animal reservoir and causes a new outbreak. There is no question of this being just some 'random crap' or anything to do with vaccinations. The mutations occur at specific positions within the well-defined sequence of the viral genome, and if you are so inclined you can go along to the UCSC genome website and see exactly where they are:

The specific viral genes selected for insertion into the (adenovirus) vaccine vector weren't chosen at random - the Ebola virus has been studied for decades and there is a great deal of data on the functions of the proteins that its genes encode. Of course we can't know for sure if a new type of vaccine is safe and effective until it is actually tested, but this is a long way from just having some sort of vague hunch that it might be OK, as you seem to be suggesting.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.