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Journal: When Did 'Beta' Become A Dirty Word On /. ? 5

Journal by MonTemplar

Just spotted that people are stuffing comments into various stories here for the sole purpose of complaining about the /. Beta.

Maybe it's because I only occasionally visit here, but are people really that hung up on the current design?

Hell, I can remember when /. didn't even bother with any testing, period, just shoved changes straight onto the production servers. Fun times. (Not)

Having looked at the Beta, it seems to me a damn sight cleaner that some news sites I can think of*. Ok, the comment view controls could use some refining, but that's the whole point of beta-testing, right?

(*I still have nightmares about pre-2000s ZDNet. Makes the current design look almost pleasant by comparison.)

User Journal

Journal: False Memories in Real Time

Journal by DumbSwede
My wife and I enjoy watching the Chinese mini-series "A Taste of China." How clearly I can recall the English narration, spoken in a deep baritone voice and with a strong, but easy to understand, Chinese accent. The narrator's voice, style, and cadence are all very professional -- the only problem with this memory is that it is totally false.

My wife and I were watching the series online on YouTube with our daughter and she asked me to get something from the kitchen. There had been a pause in the narration and while I was in the kitchen it began again. This time though there was no pleasant Chinese accented English, but unintelligible Mandarin. I was startled for a second, then remembered I had been reading subtitles. I returned to the table and continued watching the program. As I sat I was aware I was listening to Mandarin and I was reading subtitles, but the second I reached into my memory to recall what had just happened the English narration returned.

If I had not had this realization and had you asked me a year from now had I watched the series I would have been convinced I had listened to an English dubbed version. This may not seem like a false memory in the traditional sense, I had merely converted the subtitles into an easier to remember and integrate English narrative, but it illustrates how malleable our memories are. My unconscious mind knows I do not know Mandarin and yet I remember words of the narration. I don't believe it was merely being lazy, but resolving the paradox by inventing the remembered narrator's voice.

Sometimes our perception of an event is in conflict with what seems to be fact. Rather than flag the contradiction it seems our memory will often edit the memory to be whatever our subconscious feels to be the most likely internally consistent explanation. None of this is news. However just like 90% of all drivers think they are in the top 10% of safe drivers, most of us believe our memory of events to be superior to those around us. We are startled when our recollections differ and often assume malice or ulterior motives in those who misremember what we remember.

We probably all know someone who either thinks they are never wrong or have a far more altruistic explanation for some past behavior that on the surface seemed quite self-serving or selfish. We intuitively believe their memories are false (which they probably are). We then give ourselves a mental pat on the back for not living in such a self-deluded state. Obviously our own memories are as infallible and as unyielding at the Rock of Gibraltar. The only trouble is that everyone's memory is fallible -- memories are in constant reedit. Evolution didn't evolve memory to be accurate, evolution evolved memory to be useful. Memory is therefore a repository of non-contradictory facts (also non-contradictory as we perceive or wish our personality to be). As new facts become evident, old memories are revised to fit with the facts. Sometimes this can even make them more accurate, say looking at an old photograph and remembering more accurately the Members Only jacket you use to own (a fact your stylish new self may have edited out).

Unfortunately our desire to be part of a clan or to please others can be the motivation to reedit the facts in our memory. We know that lying is wrong, but if our memory is in conflict with what allows us to have what we want, then memory is often what needs to be changed.

I think it would be the truly rare individual whose head isn't full of false memories. The best we can do is to be aware that memories are not the concrete remembrance of past that they seem. Evolution has probably installed a chalkboard in our head not a printing press. Be cautious of believing only what you see on the board.
User Journal

Journal: THE END 8

Journal by MonTemplar

Although I stopped posting stuff here ages ago, I've had the My Amigos feed in Google Reader, and have occasionally wandered in to have a look.

But now I've decided to cut my ties here permanently. So as soon as I've posted this, I'm unsubscribing My Amigos. I've already updated my User Info with how to contact me.

To those few of you who still post here, thanks for the fun times. It's nothing personal, I just need to cut down the amount of time I spend on social networks generally.

-MT. signing off.

The Matrix

Journal: MT has left the building... 3

Journal by MonTemplar

In view of the fact that I hardly come here any more, plus the fact that TPTB here seem intent on fscking up the UI even further :| I've decided to call it a day here.

You can follow my antics over at deviantART or Multiply (sorry, Jorg), or add me on Facebook.

Alternatively, you music lovers can check me on Last.fm, whilst most of my linkage is over on StumbleUpon.

It was fun back in the day, when I had more time to spare, but now... *shrug*

Au revoir!

-MT.

Space

Journal: SETI Fireflies and Lighting

Journal by DumbSwede

This paper has received a new title since being put online. It has had two comments over on Space.com and I now realize that the title gave the wrong idea as to contents and intent. I would like to thank _a_lost_packet_ for being one of the few people to read and reply to my post over at Space.com, but his comments uncovered what I realized would be a common misconception with my essay given its original title (which had the word Supernova in it) and likely few people did more than read the title and jump to some erroneous conclusions about the content. This essay has NOTHING to do with triggering or harnessing Supernova explosions. It is about exploiting the natural occurrence of Supernovas to facilitate the initiation of communications between extraterrestrial civilizations much in the same way fireflies my all flash in unison when lighting strikes. The fireflies don't cause the lightning nor are they close to it, but you would know they would all flash in unison to it. Now replace lightning with Supernova and ET with fireflies and given the immense distances between stars we would see the resulting 'simultaneous' signals spaced years apart (except in certain rare situations outlined below).

_a_lost_packet_ also posits that waiting around for Supernovas isn't what Extraterrestrial civilizations would do -- in this case we would be one of those civilizations waiting around. Since we have already waited 40 plus years without contact, this isn't necessary a matter we have control over. ETs are probably using more than one method to try an communicate with us and others, this would be one more method that if exploited would be long in coming, but efficient and productive when available. If there is more than one civilization within signaling distance, then the times between observable signals would be roughly 100 divided by the number of civilizations within signaling distance (assuming they too participate in this signal synchronizing strategy).

Again with emphasis - this strategy while exploiting the occurrence of Supernovas for reasons of timing does not require the triggering of Supernovas, the channeling of Supernovas nor being close to Supernovas by ether the senders or receivers, they are merely timing aids to narrow search parameters.

There is a large camp, perhaps a majority of people that see SETI research as a waste of time and effort. Considering the world changing implications of finding an ET signal it is hard for me to see this as a waste even if it hasn't as yet provided results. Of course the search itself has provided results and knowledge, just that the results so far have pushed the boundaries of where near technological societies might be farther. How much farther? Well that is a little hard to quantify and is made murkier yet by the problem of synchronicity. Stated simply we have to not only be looking towards where they will be transmitting from, but during a window of time when they will be transmitting -- and this is the problem this paper hopes to address. Many or most people probably think that SETI has been listening to all planetary systems in the Milky Way Galaxy on a more a less continuously for the last 40-50 years and come up with nada. The truth is we have only scrutinized a relatively few close star systems in any great depth and only for relatively limited amounts of time. There are a larger general sky surveys, but they are piggy backed on other general astronomical research and also suffer from problem of synchronicity.

The core problem is the amount of energy needed to send signals across light years of space is quite large, especially omni-directional continuous signals. Even with megawatts of transmitting power, reception is problematic beyond a few dozen of light years distance, and it is only beyond these distances we are likely to encounter other technological civilizations, even if the Milky Way has thousands or millions of such civilizations. Even assuming conventional SETI and being generous and assuming ET could have detected our early radio broadcasts 75 years ago (a very big assumption) then the round trip reply would be possible from less than .000007% of our cosmic brethren. Or put another way, if there are 1,000,000 technological civilizations out there we would have a less than 1 in 10 chance of detecting them even under the most ideal circumstance for a return signal (and it is pretty safe bet our efforts to date have been far less than ideal).

If it were possible to look in the right direction at the right time things would be far simpler for both sender and receiver. But how to determine the best look and send times before communications have been established? Fortunately the universe has provided such synchronization assist mechanisms in the form of various astronomical events; the most familiar and spectacular of these being Supernovas though there are probably others that might also be exploited.

For ETs to make their presence known they would wait for such a spectacular event and set off a large Electromagnet Pulse (EMP) or other highly energetic signal carrier when observed. Assuming we know the distance to the Supernova and the distance to target star systems we can work out when their respective signals would arrive and thus know when to look for them.

While the core concept is simple there are a lot of problems remaining to be ironed out, the chief one would be working out accurately when to observe each target star system. Unfortunately we do not have the distance to even relatively close stars known with great precision as the data below from the Hipparcos satellite shows.

accuracy level -- stars known -- light years
1 percent -- 400 stars -- 30 light years
5 percent -- 7,000 stars -- 150 light years
10 percent --28,000 stars -- 300 light years

Since there are approximately 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, this means we know the distance with 10% accuracy to less than .000028% of them.

Cosine to the Rescue

If we assume an ET on a star system 300 light years away sent a signal 300 years ago, naïvely we would have to observe the system continuously 30 years to detect the signal event if we knew it to coincide with a Supernova event. Even with only .000028% of the Milky Way to look at, that makes for a lot of systems (28,000) to look at continuously.

Supernovas are not only rare, but also most likely to be tens of thousands of light-years distance from us. If we assume the Milky Way is relatively densely populated with ETs then some star systems will lie close to the line along which the Supernova's light is travelling to us. Take the case where a Supernova goes off 2000 light years from us, and there is an ET civilization a mere 1 light year off this line at 1000 light years (I have kept the numbers simple for purposes of illustration). The pulsed signal sent when ET observes the Supernova would arrive 1/3 day later.

Most likely ET will not lie so close along the line we observe the Supernova from, but this does illustrate how powerful the concentration of time can be for signals not too many arc seconds off its path -- whether we know their exact distance or not. If we do know the distance then we can work out the likely window of observation needed, the closer to this line, the much less time is needed.

We can use the Law of Cosines to work out the arrival times for candidate star systems (assuming reasonable guess as to distance, which for even very distant systems can be worked out by various methods, though with very large error bounds).

b^2 == a^2 + c^2 - 2*a*c*cos(B) (where a, b, c are the sides of a triangle and B is the angle opposite side b).

If we keep distances in light-years, then the final delay off a Supernova event is given by: T == d1 + sqrt(d1^2 + d2^2 - 2*d1*d2*cos(B)) - d2 Where d1 is the distance to the target star system, d2 is the distance to the Supernova, B is the angular separation between them and T is the time in years (when B is small, T will probably/hopefully be a small fraction of a year).

It is my hope that Supernova events would trigger a flurry of activity galaxy wide. Not only would this activity be useful in alerting potential fledging civilizations where to concentrate their observational energies, but such signals would be useful as a cosmic surveyor's aids, helping pin down the distances to star systems with greater accuracy.

Assuming dozens if not hundreds or thousands of civilizations take this opportunity to signal their place in the heavens, it would appear as an expanding disc of flashes around a Supernova. While we may not know exactly wherein the disc the flashes might occur, we can still work out statistically the circular arc where 95% plus of the flashes could occur. Observing this disc while it is still small and synchronicity is at is best is probably our best chance of bagging an ET signal. Though we may never be able to communicate directly with the first ones we observe, as they will likely to be many hundreds or thousands of light-years distant -- observing just one such synchronistic event might be proof enough we are not alone -- two or more a dead certainty. More targeted observations can be made of the few hundred thousand stars within say 200 light years. A synchronization signal from them would justify building huge new space based observatories in multiple EM bands to try and detect not just simple hello pulses, but any directed message or stray EM leakage, even it is just reruns of "I Love Lu-C-Prime".

I have the Power

During the Reagan Presidency there was an exotic missile defense scheme posited employing the use of X-Ray lasers to knock out intercontinental ballistic missiles in mid-flight. Such exotic devices were never built, but exist in theory. The X-Ray lasers proposed were essentially focused atomic blasts. A nuclear devise was to be placed in orbit and affixed to it where several long pipe like attachments each one of which could be pointed at an individual incoming missile. When the nuclear devise was detonated the immense initial EM pulse was focused, converted, or caused lasing in the X-Ray portion of the spectrum along these beam pipes. A short intense X-Ray beam would then have streamed out before the devise was obliterated by the blast-wave to follow scant milliseconds later. Here then in theory is at least one devise that could send a strong unmistakably technological in origin signal. I'm not suggesting this is the only way to send a strong pulsed signal on cue, just positing one devise that could work -- though it obviously would be too dangerous a contraption to build in low Earth orbit.

It is possible to generate ultra strong EM pulses with conventional explosives, I imagine they could be focused and harnessed in much the same fashion as the proposed Cold-War X-Ray Laser if needed. In any event we need not obsess on how such signals are generated, we know that they can. Truly gargantuan EMPs could be detonated on the far side of the moon, thus shielding the Earth from any unintended electronic damage fallout. Our intended recipients would of course be seeing a signal many orders of magnitude smaller given the immense distances.

Depending on the technological level of the sending society they may just use some brief omni-directional brief pulse and not worry about focusing on likely candidate worlds. If it is a society with high enough technology to know with certainty which worlds harbor life, they may use directional beams for greater efficiency and signal strength. The signal may last milliseconds or a day or two. Regardless, the onus in now on the receiving world to listen at the right time and in the right direction.

Where to Look Now

While not in the Milky Way proper, but in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Supernova 1987A might still be worth investigating for transient SETI activity in star systems not far off its coordinates. 21 years is a relatively short time astronomically, and with this Supernova being 170,000 light years away there are lots of candidate systems relative close to its sight line that would just now be having a visible synchronized pulse. Similar to our previous example a civilization at 85,021 years away could be 1890 light-years off the Supernova 1987A's sight line and its beacon or pulse would just now become visible. (note 85,021 was chosen so the light would arrive now, 21 years later, so 1890 is the result of sqrt(85021^2 - 85,000^2) )

If we truly want to join an intergalactic community we should put some effort into creating and EMP signal of some sort. I imaging a few million dollars would buy a firecracker of sufficient size to serve as a beacon. More importantly what I hope to emphasize, is we need to be working out what we should be look for and where in the aftermath of a Supernova explosion. The Supernova itself will be a wonderfully informative event, but I hope this paper stirs to action possible tangential discoveries potentially even more important. I speculate we could get some dual use research out of this search. It is likely in the few years after a Supernova it's light will briefly illuminate the interplanetary dust clouds of systems close to it, providing additional astronomical information and a means to refine our galactic yard sticks. Since we might be looking in this direction anyway, we should be alert to the possibility of extremely transient events that might be intelligent in origin.

User Journal

Journal: I'm mostly writing this for reference.

Journal by DaedalusHKX

I've gotten into some interesting arguments on slashdot lately, and I have this funny feeling that I should clarify my stance on this.

I don't have a desire to see the government toppled through violence. I know for a fact that VIOLENCE WILL NOT end tyranny, neither will voting, nor petitioning, nor begging, nor demanding, nor threatening. NONE of these things has stopped tyranny in the past.

[Snipped out a harsh comment.]

I adhere to the age old concept that "those who are ready, will not ask anything of government, neither help, nor peace, like ripened fruit, they shall drop from the vine and find their own way." I've come to that stage in my life, or am fairly close.

I cannot and will not force any of you to adopt any path, be it better or worse, be it mine or someone else's, and all i can ask is that you do not use your "democratic" process to infringe upon my person, thoughts, or rights. As any actual free man (or woman, I haven't forgotten you, ladies) can tell you, of the present or the past: "All rights are reserved, except those expressly waived."

I frankly believe that coercive, involuntary government is an idea whose time is past... Its time was past some 400 years ago or longer.

Judging from some of my arguments here, and the replies I got, my opinion that no one can be "saved" or "convinced" has been upheld. We each "save" or "convince" ourselves.

As the saying goes. "Tyrannical totalitarian government and its various agencies and abuses will not go away when people beg it to leave, it will not be crushed by force of arms when the people rebel against it, or foreigners invade it and bring their government in its place. Government will only disappear when men and women behave as free men and free women and neither ASK anything of it, nor GIVE anything unto government or its agents. Only then, will tyranny and its agencies disappear from among men."

What most collectivist types don't understand is that there is no "collective". Even in the most tightly knit groups, they are not one unit, they are still a group of individuals, joined together in a common endeavor. Regardless, they are still individuals. There is no "society" there is no "government". These are abstracts that people have somehow come to believe are more real than the flesh and blood beings walking right next to them. Regardless of our definition of reality, a piece of paper in a lawyer's drawer (a corporation) is not a living being, it cannot be contracted with, the individual that handles that paperwork is contracted with. HE, is the one you do business with, not the piece of paper he represents. The vast majority of individuals have come to identify with imposed views. "Canadians are like this and we think Americans are that." "Americans are tough and can kick everyone's ass." "We are better than they are."

People identify with abstracts and even into their old age, never search for who they are individually. Many I've met are in a mental limbo, and it seems to start in the cradle and is force fed until the grave. We have lovely things, TV, Radio, Work... lots of mindless, boring, meaningless, uninspiring work. And of course, we have the eternal quest of "following in someone else's footsteps." If you set back and ask "what the fuck is it all for?" People call you crazy. Lazy. Aimless. And yet they don't see themselves scurrying about in a cage, trying to keep up with the Joneses, or being herded like cattle to wherever the puppeteers would have them go.

Whenever an individual or "the few" are sacrificed for "the benefit of the many", without the fully informed consent of those being sacrificed, there is neither freedom, nor justice, nor any kind of pretense at goodness. While the majority will always feel good when crushing the minority, the majority has rarely, if ever, been on the side of "right" or "good". In fact, judging by historic precedent, the majority, regardless of where, have always had several factors in common, and none of them really all that great.

Lack of courage..
Lack of curiosity.
Lack of initiative.
Lack of vitality.

I believe that time is near, when totalitarian, external, coercive government in all its forms will be seen for what it is, and I think it is nearer than most think, but I neither know WHEN such an enlightenment will occur, nor what will trigger it, nor how it will change things. All I can say is that I've used my various methods from the friendly banter to the more rude and argumentative, to observe other people wherever I've traveled, wherever I've chatted, offline and on, and there are some amongst all, even among the socialists, who "kind of" almost get it. I kind of "almost get it" also. And as far as I can tell, when they finally STOP asking for others to be violated on their behalf, they will be free. It isn't something that needs to be forced, however, since everyone comes to that realization sooner or later. Many do it when they're old, decrepit and their bodies are failing. I prefer to have done it now, because it leaves me more of my life ahead to enjoy.

Perhaps this will clear up some things for those of you I've argued with lately. I bear none of you ill will. Now please excuse me... a glass of Rum and a good friend await me near the grill.

User Journal

Journal: Boeing gets 860 million $ deal to deliver "border fence":

Journal by DaedalusHKX

TFA LINK, CLICK HERE

Isn't that amazing?

From TFA:

Boeing was awarded an $860 million contract to provide the technology, physical fences and vehicle barriers.

"Boeing has delivered a system that the Border Patrol currently is operating 24 hours a day," Boeing spokeswoman Deborah Bosick said. She declined further comment.

Project 28 was not intended to be the final, state-of-the-art system for catching illegal immigrants, Giddens said. "I think some people understood that and some didn't. We didn't communicate that well."

Is it just me or is it becoming more visible that if they really wanted to NOT waste 860 million bucks on on more ineffective police state gear, they could've just PAID the companies that hire the so called "illegal" mexicans the difference it would cost to simply hire the legal type? How hard would it be for the overpaid boys and girls in Washington to simply offer H1B Visas for Cabbage Pickers?

I will make a prediction... *gasp*. After TWICE the budgeted 860 million is spent on keeping out "illegal aliens" they will STILL be getting in. Its just a reason to enlarge ANOTHER bureaucracy and increase spending. And who pays for it? The idiots who voted for all this and who still buy the party line... what party line you ask?

Why, the Boot On Your Neck Party, of course.

The Media

Journal: Has anyone noticed?? 5

Journal by DaedalusHKX

There have been 3 mass shootings in the last week (at least the ones being reported by the press)... what is being debated on the back pages??? The Supreme Court is debating whether "the People's right to keep and bear arms" actually means "the People's right to keep and bear arms" or if it means "the Government's Goons right to bear arms and keep them from the People."

Its just like it happened before the Democrat Congress sweep. It looked like the Iraq war alone might not get all the Demoncrats elected... so there were a good half dozen UGLY shootings right before the elections, ramped up and cut off RIGHT before the elections. Democrats went in, and we never heard another shooting again.

Also, is it not curious how all these "Cho Seung Hui" types tend to always follow the proper formula from The Manchurian Candidate? They shoot someone or a bunch of someones and then they give the gun a blowjob? The few that do not, end up vanishing or being "murdered" while in prison. Always before they can talk... remember McVeigh? Remember Oswald?

This shit is becoming so predictable it is amazing that nobody's noticing in the media and that the masses are still so easy to sway when the pattern is so blatantly obvious (it is yet more scary since so many geeks and hacker types who normally oppose government abuse, miss this thing and continue to support socialists and gun control, no differently than the freedom types continue to support organized religion and authoritarian armed forces, whether they be police or armies.)

I predict that if HR 1022 goes up for vote (the massive gun ban proposed last year and brought up for debate) there will be a rash of shootings that will make Columbine and Virginia Tech look like a paintball tourney. And I can pretty much bet 1:100 odds that the authorities will A, be late, and B, find a way to NOT get near the shooter until AFTER the color corrected damage has been done and filmed. Afterwards, the gun control measure will be rammed down the throat of the People, by Congress and regardless of how the results turn out, I can guarantee that no matter where those shootings take place, it will be in a "gun free zone" and yet NOBODY among the cattle will so much as notice.

WTF? Why do these things NEVER occur at shooting ranges or military facilities or even cop shops?

The Media

Journal: Final take on the guns in home safety issue: 1

Journal by DaedalusHKX

And this comes from the Government's own statistics and propaganda outlet, Perry just quotes it.

How nice. There's even a very nice quote from the Colonel (Cooper, not the KFC guy) at the end. How very nice.

EDIT: Here's a snippet you'll like off bat... talks about that forgotten trait... "responsibility for your actions."

Let me offer two caveats. First of all, I have difficulty accepting the term accidental injury/death when it relates to guns. I accept only negligent injury/death. If the four rules of gun safety are adhered to (Will the BATF Seize Cheney's Gun?) there will be no gun accidents. Whoever pulls the trigger is responsible for the placement of the bullet, intentional or otherwise. I'll stick with the improper term accident for this article simply because that's the wording used in the study.

The Media

Journal: Myth of Man The Killer Ape... is it true? Or a "hobgoblin"?

Journal by DaedalusHKX

From the Article (by Eric S. Raymond, of OSS fame, no less!):

Human beings are not natural killers; very, very few ever learn to enjoy murder or torture. Human beings, however, are sufficiently docile that many can eventually be taught to kill, to support killing, or to consent to killing on the command of an alpha male, entirely dissociating themselves from responsibility for the act. Our original sin is not murderousness -- it is obedience.

Myth of Man The Killer Ape and its effect on humanity does a brilliant job of putting the major hobgoblin of the last 1000 years into the proper viewing frame of reference.

The universe is all a spin-off of the Big Bang.

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