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Comment Totally misleading summary (Score 1) 792

This summary is a blatant attempt to rewrite events and put a spin on what happened. He was "briefly detained" so the police could "determine if he intended for his clock to be perceived as a fake bomb"??? That's certainly not what they said at the time. They actually claimed to have thought it might be a bomb, and that they arrested him as a suspected terrorist. Despite the fact that he never pretended it was a bomb, and told them very clearly from the start that it was just a clock. There was, of course, evidence to indicate they never really believed it was a bomb (like making no attempt to evacuate), but that's what they said.

I don't at all support ridiculous lawsuits, and this has all the hallmarks of a lawyer scenting blood in the water. But let's be honest and not distort what actually happened.

Comment Slashdot autoreloading (Score 1) 491

I'd stop slashdot from automatically reloading the page at random, causing it to suddenly jump away from whatever paragraph I was reading. Drives me crazy. You'll find lots of discussion around the net with people trying to find ways to fix it.


Please slashdot, just get rid of this horrible behavior, or at least give a way to turn it off.

Comment Re:It's still evolution, and it's still uninterest (Score 1) 90

And, before evolution the first "piece" of information rose by "chance"? What does that even mean?

See the definition of information in the summary: "the ability to make predictions with a likelihood better than chance". It doesn't matter where the information came from. As long as you can make predictions, there is information.

That's a key point to understand. It isn't the information that makes predictions. It's you, an outside observer, who makes predictions. If you observe a molecule which has a tendency to reproduce itself, you can immediately make a prediction: that in the future, there will be more molecules like that one. Where did the particular molecule you observed come from? It doesn't matter. Maybe it came into existence just by chance, through a random series of atoms bumping into each other and forming bonds. Or maybe it's the descendant of a long line of self-reproducing molecules. All that matters is that this molecule, the one you just observed, has a tendency to reproduce itself. That fact alone is enough to let you make predictions. That is what "information" means.

Comment Re:Life, the universe and everything (Score 1) 90

No scientist worth his salt would state categorically (and in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary) that 'life is not chemical, it's information'

That claim is decades out of date. Lots of scientists (myself included) view life primarily in terms of information. The core feature of living systems is using energy to maintain themselves indefinitely in a state of low entropy. And entropy is defined in terms of information. Earth based life happens to do that with reactions between a certain collection of organic molecules, but that's an implementation detail.

Comment Re:This is the mystics point of view ... (Score 1) 90

... that the origin of life is spirit. Yes, it's put in different words and there's math behind it to back up the theory, but it's basically the same thing.

Why do you think it's the same thing? How could you even tell if something is the same as "spirit"?

What do you mean by "spirit"? Can you define it? I don't just mean some vague mutterings that define one word in terms of a bunch of other equally vague, undefined words. I mean something rigorous, so we can look at things and clearly say whether they do or don't meet the definition.

Information theorists do have a precise, rigorous definition of information. Mystics spend millennia muttering in their mystical way. Then scientists come along and do something entirely new, rigorous, and well defined. Then the mystics say, "Look, that's exactly the same thing we've been saying all along!" Except it isn't. One is a rigorous theory you can use to make precise predictions, while the other is just a bunch of vague mutterings. No matter what the scientists discover, the mystics will find a way to claim it's the same as what they said.

Comment Re:What city? (Score 1) 275

The US can't take down content hosted in other countries, but I think you'll find those ISIS propaganda sites are illegal in a lot of countries. First identify where it's being hosted, then notify the local authorities. Or do you think ISIS runs their own data centers in the parts of Syria they've occupied? As a general rule, internet connectivity isn't too reliable in most war zones.

Besides, look at the GP post I was replying to:

Yes! Shutdown Facebook! Shut down Twitter!

I suspect ISIS does have accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and uses them to spread propaganda. Do you think we shouldn't try to identify those accounts and get them removed? Sure, they'll create new ones. But if you're having to create a new account every day, it starts getting a lot harder for people to follow you.

Comment Re:What city? (Score 1) 275

I know I'm supposed to be outraged, but in this particular case, I don't see what's so unreasonable about what he's saying. If a website is advocating criminal activity, then I totally agree the government should shut it down and try to track down the people responsible. That's all he actually says in the quote. The rest seems to be people forcing their own spin on it.

And yes, new sites will quickly replace it. As he clearly is aware. But let's be honest: a lot of the people searching for these sites aren't very technologically sophisticated. If they're able to find a site, any competent law enforcement agency should also be able to find it pretty quickly.

Comment Re:Application? (Score 1) 179

The architecture isn't really that different from a GPU, whatever Intel might try to make you believe. It has 512 bit vectors, compared to 1024 bit vectors on NVIDIA, so it's slightly less hurt by divergent flow control, but only slightly. The theoretical maximum teraflops (8 for single, 3 for double), are pretty similar to what NVIDIA is claiming for the just announced M40.

And don't forget, Intel massively hyped the first generation of MIC, and it then turned out to be next to worthless. Hopefully they've fixed their problems this time around, but until we start seeing real world performance on third party codes, I'm going to be skeptical about everything they say.

Comment What does "evil" even mean? (Score 1) 519

This really illustrates what a problematic concept "evil" is. What does it mean? How do you determine what is evil?

He's entirely right that ISIS is doing what they believe to be right. They're fighting a holy war, and they're on the side of God. How do you categorize a person who believes "goodness" consists of doing something you believe is entirely evil? Do you judge them based on their actions? Their beliefs? The consistency between the two? Which is worse, a person who does terrible things because they think that's right, or a person who wants to be evil but accidentally ends up accomplishing good things instead? If someone sincerely believes that killing innocents is the right thing to do, is it better for them to act on their beliefs, or ignore their beliefs out of fear of taking risks? What's the "right" way to judge them?

Answer: you don't judge them. ISIS is dangerous. They're doing a huge amount of harm. Therefore, we need to stop them. But don't pretend that you have any right to cast moral judgements on any other human being.

Comment Re:In line with current US thinking (Score 2) 190

If you spend some time talking to actual liberals instead of believing what you hear on Fox News, you'll find that many of them care very much about the 2nd amendment. They just interpret it "as literally written," including the part about well-regulated militias. They are, in fact, very much in favor of well regulated militias (or as we call them today, "police forces").

Comment Re:National level? (Score 1) 171

by what right should the US get to allocate ownership of stuff it doesn't own?

Clearly, it can't. But what it can do is say, "We won't interfere with your claims to own it." If other countries do object to your claims, then there will be a conflict that needs to get resolved. But I suspect all the other countries with active space programs will be setting up their own asteroid mining programs, so they won't be minded to object. Ultimately it will take international treaties to set out the rules. But those rules will get set out, and they'll almost certainly end up permitting asteroid mining in some way. So this is a first stake in the ground about what the US Senate thinks those rules should be.

Comment Not according to the companies! (Score 1) 622

I just did a web search for "unlimited data plan". Let's see what we find...

Yep, every one of them describes the plan as "UNLIMITED" in big bold letters. Of course, it you search really carefully, you'll sometimes discover some tiny text at the bottom of the page explaining that "unlimited" doesn't actually mean unlimited at all. It's just what they call "false advertising".

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"