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Comment: Thoughts of an author... (Score 1) 72

by Sasayaki (#47347263) Attached to: Want To Resell Your Ebooks? You'd Better Act Fast

I write books for a living (see sig). I've published 7 novels and 20-ish short stories/novellas, whatever.

My gut feeling is that if you paid for anything I wrote, you can resell it, as long as you do it once and delete the original. Yes, I know there is no way I can enforce this, but I also don't really give a shit.

Most authors do not feel this way and I'm not really sure why. I suspect it's because there's a feeling that most people won't do this and will just be reselling books en-masse for their own profit. Obviously, this is bad. If anyone can take a book I wrote and sell hundreds of copies for their own gain, well, that's not good for me. I wrote it, only I can sell it in that manner. If you bought a copy, you can re-sell it, but only that copy. It makes sense to me.

Opposition to re-selling of purchased ebooks (once, and with full transferal of the right to read the ebook) is quite prevalent amongst the author community, but I feel that this fails, largely, to take into account that there are hundreds if not thousands of ebook piracy sites where almost all of our for-pay work is available for free with no such restrictions. Yet I still sell thousands of dollars of books a month.

Accordingly, I still feel confident that I can sell books, for profit, mainly because I price aggressively, and sites like Google Play/Amazon/etc are convenient and people are happy to pay a few bucks for convenience.

If your readers are your enemy you've already lost.

Comment: Re:huh (Score 1) 83

by Sasayaki (#47314375) Attached to: What Happens If You Have a Heart Attack In Space?

Does your average voyage contain a zip-lock bag big enough to house a body?

Weight is a huge concern for space voyages. It's something like $10,000 a pound. Quite a lot for a even a simple bag that doesn't have a dual, or tri, purpose.

I know nuclear submarines don't have airtight bags big enough to hold a body and they're much more free with what they can bring aboard. I was reading an article about one where a guy, what do you know, had a heart attack and died while they were submerged for a long duration. They ended up having a "feast" as a wake, because they cleared out one of the food freezers and chucked him in there.

Comment: Re:huh (Score 5, Insightful) 83

by Sasayaki (#47312029) Attached to: What Happens If You Have a Heart Attack In Space?

It's actually not about that. It's about not having a corpse up in space.

Seriously. A dead body is a significant biohazard and in the cramped, oxygen rich, closed-system environment of a spaceship having a corpse floating around is a serious biohazard. That thing's not going to stay in one piece; it's going to rot, break up, liquefy, and all in zero gravity.

If the crew starts breathing in dead guy, they too are in a lot of trouble.

These ships don't have a morgue or any way to properly dispose of a body. Although the idea of a "burial in space" is appealing, by simply casting the body out into the void, the problem is that this has its own problems. Assuming the vehicle's crew are capable of spacewalks, and they may not be, it's an unplanned excursion which takes up a surprising amount of resources, most notably time. Sure, the body would burn up for most vehicles -- the shuttle sees a temperature of around 1500 C for 15 to 20 minutes which I'm confident would do the job -- but it's a non-trivial exercise. They can't just open the window and toss 'em out.

Then there are the side effects, on crew morale least of all (the types of people picked for these missions tend to be hardy, very pragmatic folk who understand the risks and more than intelligent enough to realise this event was completely unavoidable and they're in no danger), but to the ground crew morale (who often feel extremely protective of the crew and are often, it's said, more nervous and frightened than the actual crew themselves), and to the broader space program in general.

There's also the broader financial implications. Training astronauts is EXPENSIVE. Research on keeping them alive, especially if such research can lead to other medical breakthroughs, is money well spent. Sure, that one guy is never going to fly into space again, but the ground crew for any mission is vast and tends to include other former astronauts. If he dies up there, we lose his experience and skills set, which we've paid a lot of good money for.

Comment: Re:Now think of the implications (Score 1) 649

by Sasayaki (#47278349) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

> militant godbothering atheist

What? That makes no sense. It's like saying militant beef-eating vegetarian.

> Just imagine it: Some child asks Mr Jones in science class in some primary school full of 8 year olds whether God made the world. Jones gives a diplomatic answer. Little Johnny goes home and tells his parents. The next thing Jones hears is that he is now on a disciplinary charge for "teaching Creationism".

Yes. That is exactly what should happen.

If some child asks Mr Jones in science class in a primary school full of 8 year olds whether God made the world, Jones should say, "The verifiable, testable evidence suggests that this is not the case. See here and here and here. Some people believe that a supernatural being, such as God, Vishnu, or Ra did create the world -- they are entitled to their beliefs, but those beliefs do not stand up to scientific rigor."

This is the only reasonable position for a science teacher, in class, to take.

Imagine, for a moment, if some other part of the school curriculum was able to be influence by the religious beliefs of the teachers. Let me give a few examples:

History student: "Mr Jones, is it true that horses were introduced to North America in the 16th century?"
Mormon Mr Jones: "Horses were always in North America, as documented by Nephi in 590 B.C."

English student: "Mr Jones, is it I before E, except after C, or is that rule not taught anymore?"
Muslim Mr Jones: "Actually, Arabic words have holy power and a special relationship with Allah. It is the most holy language and you should write in that instead."

Maths student: "Mr Jones, if the train leaves at 5:30pm, heads west, and goes for months, won't it just circle the world?"
Hindu Mr Jones: "No, of course not. The Earth is flat, as told by NARASINGA PURANA. If you go too far west, you will fall off."

You think it's fine to let other religions do as you want Christianity to do? Let a teacher's religious viewpoints influence what they teach? That's insane.

> This is the intention. This is the design purpose of the law; to permit malicious local atheists to harass church schools.

No. It's not. The purpose is to stop lying for Jesus, where Christians -- slowly but surely confronted with the evidence that their worldview is a fiction -- resort to either deluding themselves ("I choose not to accept the evidence"), or worse, resort to indoctrination of children in order to validate their life-long beliefs.

> And why do people even want to teach Creationism? Because of all the atheists who did trolling tours of the bible belt sneering, "Science proves your religion is a lie! Har har!"

People want to teach Creationism because fundamental, Biblical literalists realized that if they didn't convince people that the Bible is real when they were children and highly susceptible to manipulation, they wouldn't accept it as adults because the tale is, frankly, ludicrous.

The cornerstones of Creationism are:

- Science and evidence are lies/conspiracies/not to be trusted.
- Faith -- believing in something in spite of evidence -- is a virtue and superior to believing in things because of evidence.
- Never change your point of view for any reason, no matter how overwhelming the evidence to the contrary.
- Because we don't know everything, this is justification to prove anything wrong. Except God.

> No society is well served by making ideologically-based denunciations possible.

Science isn't an ideology. It's a search for facts. It makes no moral judgements, no pronouncements, and has no dogma. It is simply facts.

> No society is well-served by trying to prevent members of the world's largest religion - which created our society - from running schools and teaching in them.

Here's a perfect example of why teaching Creationism in schools is wrong.

My initial reply to this question was: "The world's largest religion? You mean Islam, right?"

And then I thought -- no. I don't know that for sure. I should check that. So I googled it. Yep, Christianity is the world's largest religion. So what did I do then?

I changed my position in light of the evidence presented to me.

The truth is not a popularity contest. Even if the facts make you feel uncomfortable -- I, like many others, don't like being wrong -- the facts stand. They are what they are. I may not like Christianity being the dominant religion on this planet. I might love it. I might hate it. I might despise it with all my being and try, with everything I have, to undermine and destroy it at every turn.

None of that changes the fact of the matter, which is that Christianity is the dominant religion on this planet.

The evidence strongly suggets that the Earth was not created 6,000-10,000 years ago by a God. This is fact. It, too, many make people feel uncomfortable -- but the fact stands. The Earth is billions of years old. You might not like this. You might hate it.

It doesn't matter. It is fact.

Creationists don't care about facts. They don't want to know the truth. They just want to create more Christians, either through lying for Jesus or deluding themselves that they'll "eventually" be proven right, even if that has to happen after they die.

> The real story in UK schools is that Moslems are trying to hijack the schools in order to indoctrinate suicide bombers. So the government rushes into action and passes a law ... against the Christians. It's appalling.

I think it's hilarious how badly Christians are reacting to the idea that Muslims are infiltrating schools and influencing kids, indoctrinating them into a religion. They hate it because IT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT TO DO, just for a different religion.

So they're really just jealous that Muslims are doing it better.

Comment: Re:Taliban branch of Science (Score 1) 649

by Sasayaki (#47278071) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

> become so intensely fanatical with their faith-based beliefs, which they force upon everyone, that you actually can't reason with them.

Funny words for someone who, no matter how many times they're told that the Earth is receiving energy from the Sun, continues to say it's a closed system in a vain effort to twist an engineering simplification into a validation of a religious viewpoint.

Comment: Re:Laws of Physics have become Heresy? (Score 1) 649

by Sasayaki (#47278059) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

I posted a very long, clear, polite point about your whole 2nd Law of Thermodynamics claim no more than two jumps away, and you didn't even respond to it, but instead continued to post crap like this.

I wonder how many others have similarly tried to point out the flaws in your argument for you to just continue to use them verbatim elsewhere.

Comment: Re:You show me yours, I'll show you mine (Score 1) 649

by Sasayaki (#47269237) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

> I'd suggest that evidence of creation is found in the fact that anything exists at all

There is a solid working theory for some of why "anything exists", pretty good educated guesses for most of it, and the rest we don't really know but can speculate. Just because we don't know doesn't mean God Did It. Of all the things that are possible explanations for why we are here, "Jesus and God" are way, way down on the unlikely side of things, in-so-far as there's no evidence to suggest that they are the cause, and a lot of evidence to suggest they are not.

> We individually collect what evidence we can come across and in the end, we still choose what we want to believe, whether that choice is based on faith or on something that might conventionally be considered more tangible.

Technically correct, in the same way that we can choose to believe that there are infinitely many prime numbers without having to count them all because we review the evidence and accept it, or we can believe that there are twelve because twelve is the best way to divide pizza (now divisible by 1, 2, 3 AND 4).

> But if you think that faith isn't worth actually basing any beliefs off of, then one is advocating, for instance, that it would be unwise for any married person to believe in the fidelity of their spouse, for example, without almost constant supervision and routine physical exams.

This is a common mistake (or deliberate effort) by apologetics to conflate different meanings of the word "Faith".

Definition #1: Belief without, or in spite of, evidence.
Definition #2: Belief because of evidence.

I trust that my spouse won't have sex with other dudes because she's earned that trust by displaying a pattern of behaviour that indicates that, even if she could "get away with it", she chooses to only have sexytimes with me. I didn't make that assertion for no reason; it was formed from induction and inference based on my interactions with her. In that sense, I have faith in her.

I don't trust that there's an invisible zombie-jew watching my every move and imploring me not to masturbate, because there's no evidence of that. Nothing. Zip. No more than there is for Santa Claus, or Zeus, or Ra, or anyone.

There's a profound difference there.

Comment: Re:Headline should read (Score 1) 649

by Sasayaki (#47269169) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

There are limits to free speech. You cannot claim free speech protection when lying to defraud someone, or speaking the truth to deliberately incite a riot, or lie to cause a panic. This isn't a complete list.

Ergo, if you are a teacher, you are bound to teach the curriculum you were hired to teach. You can't teach something else and claim it was "free speech" and that you shouldn't be fired for exercising your rights.

Comment: Re:You show me yours, I'll show you mine (Score 2) 649

by Sasayaki (#47268747) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

What evidence is there to disprove Zeus?

Millions of people throughout history have believed, totally and completely, in the existence of Zeus as a real, literal God who interfered with the Earth in a direct way. Not as many believe in the Aramaic God, of course, but the truth is not a popularity contest.

Any argument you can use against the existence of Zeus can also be used to argue against the existence of God, except the following:

"I feel a great, personal, tangible connection with God and I know in my heart he is real."

So did the 9/11 hijackers. They felt that Islam and their interpretation of God and his commandments was so real and so true that they killed themselves and thousands of other people. They felt what you feel, equally, or even stronger.

And it's not just Islam. People also felt the same way about Zeus. Or Shiva. Or Ra. People killed for these beliefs. Died for these beliefs, singing the praises of whatever God they believed in on their lips. They believed as you believed.

So that's not evidence of God. It's probably more evidence that, for a significant part of the population, they feel these powerful "feelings" that some interpret as divine inspiration. And these invariably follow cultural norms; people raised in Islamic countries hear the voice of Allah, people raised in western countries hear God, Indians hear Shiva.

So what's more likely? Some kind of tangled, complicated, cryptic "God moves in mysterious ways" incomprehensible wheels-within-wheels justification for why an all-powerful creator God would reveal himself as a totally different entity in different lands, or the idea that a strange quirk in human biology causes us to see connections that aren't really there.

"The Christian/Muslim/Mormon Bible has scientific foreknowledge that proves it to be real!"


"God exists outside of space and time and is completely untestable and unfalsifiable."

If anything exists outside of what we can perceive with our senses and outside of its ability to interact with the universe in any way at all that we can measure with even the best instruments, then, for all practical purposes, it doesn't exist. Christians like to use analogies like: "Well you can't see air, but you'll die if you hold your breath!". This is correct, but we can measure air. It spins our turbines. It cools our bodies. We can perceive it, even if we can't see it.

Neutrinos are extremely hard to detect. They have almost no influence on our existence at all, and only through the most sensitive and carefully planned experiments can we hope to observe them with instruments. Yet if there exists, say, another type of particle which completely defies even our most theoretically sensitive detection methods, then we can neither prove it exists, nor prove it doesn't exist. That doesn't mean we should kneel down and worship it. When dealing with things we cannot observe in any way, such as guesses, hunches, daydreams and Gods, the latter scenario -- non-existence -- is much, much, much more likely than the alternative.

So yeah.

If you're asking the question: "Where is the peer-reviewed evidence that supports the non-existence of a God?", then I'm afraid you've wasted your education and allowing your biases to frame your point of reference. If I told you that a billion light years away an alien race were making space-waffles, you wouldn't demand peer-reviewed evidence that supports the non-existence of the Wafflicons. You'd just dismiss it as ludicrous because that's what it is. You only don't apply the same logic to magical zombie-Jews because you were raised in a Christian country and, I presume, by Christian parents/friends/family who encouraged your beliefs.

So I'd like to ask: Where is the peer-reviewed evidence that supports the non-existence of Santa Claus?

For the same reasons you completely and utterly dismiss my question as rude, offensive, stupid, malformed, and flat out dumb, I also reject your own question.

Comment: Re:Laws of Physics have become Heresy? (Score 2) 649

by Sasayaki (#47268109) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

A post which is signed, but posted as Anonymous Coward, is worth nothing.

This response isn't to the GP, it's to anyone who might read the above and nod along.

There are no "arbitrary system boundaries between the earth and the sun". In truth, between neutrinos and other such space weirdness, there are no truly, perfectly closed systems. But we use the term in every day engineering, physics and chemistry discussions because it is useful. We accept that there are no perfectly spherical frictionless cows, but seemingly ludicrous simplifications like that are made every day.

We use them because they are useful. Not because they are the literal representation of what we are trying to model, but because they allow scientists, physicists, and engineers to make predictions. For example: I predict a perfectly spherical ball on a perfectly flat plane will roll in the direction of that plane's tilt, even if that tilt is infinitesimally small, or remain motionless if that plane is perfectly perpendicular to the sole source of gravametric pull.

Of course, we do not have a perfect sphere, nor a perfectly flat plane, nor a region of space completely devoid of any and all gravity except one source. This doesn't mean that rough spheres on roughly flat planes on Earth will not roll if we tilt that plane a bit.

The model is not perfect -- with a small enough tilt, and enough imperfections in the ball, it might well roll a different way for a time or not move at all -- but this allows us to make predictions.

So. The Earth, although commonly assumed to be a closed system (makes sense, right?) is really not. It's bombarded by radiation of all times, meteor impacts, it passes through the tails of comets and stellar gasses and neutrinos and all manner of things. If you drive out to the countryside the Earth at night might seem quiet and alone, but in reality the Earth is drafty. We eject atmospheric material, matter, energy, and all manner of things into the universe and it regularly bombards us with stuff in return.

The Earth is not a closed system. Evolution completely obeys the laws of physics; insects used to be huge, back when the planet had much more oxygen and could support such life. As the planet's atmosphere changed, creatures grew smaller as -- you guessed it -- the big ones died out, and the little ones survived to pass on their genes. The littler, the more chance of surviving, so insects shrank and shrank until being being smaller presented problems and the size stabilized.

There was no way evolution could conquer this lack of oxygen. Instead, the creatures merely adapted to survive in their new environment. This part's the most important: they didn't change the laws of physics to survive, they changed themselves instead.

That is the most important piece of the puzzle. The laws of physics aren't something that are a problem for evolution; in fact, they're critical to its success.

Side note: Biologists, as a whole, aren't interested in creating new species. That's not their job. Neither is the creation of a device that heals itself, reproduces, or feeds itself in death. Biologists, in general, study things and attempt to know. There are practical implementations of this knowledge, but the quest to create life from nothing is not, in a broad sense, one of them.

Comment: Re: Ignorance usually leads to inequity (Score 2) 649

by Sasayaki (#47267355) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

Sure. And that's fine. You can have religious questions in philosophy class, alongside Greek myths, African tribal legends, etc. If a student chooses to believe Zeus had sex with a swan and had a daughter that's okay, as long as it's not presented to the students by the faculty as plausible.

It's only when the school is presenting any religiously influenced doctrine as true when the scientific consensus disagrees that we have problems.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach