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Comment: Re:Looking for a real conversation (Score 1) 218

Those quotes are correct. The problem is that taking them like that completely ignores their context. For example, take by far the most widely known verse advocating such things, known as ayat al-sayf, or the Sword Verse:

"So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

The context of this is a war that Muhammad and his followers are waging against a hostile pagan Arab tribe in Mecca (while Muhammad himself is in Medina, where he escaped from Mecca due to persecution). There was a truce in effect at that time, but it was violated by the Meccans, and Muhammad gave them four months to make amends, or else hostilities would be resumed.

Now, most Muslims today interpret this quote in that context - that it was a specific commandment given to the followers within the boundaries set by that particular conflict, and that it ceased to be relevant afterwards. Some - in particular, Salafi - interpret it the way you did, by saying that the context doesn't matter, and that the commandment is generic and applies to the entire Ummah from there on.

The governments are, in fact, fighting the propaganda war - for example, make the state-approved Islamic authorities condemn such interpretations, and issue fatwas against following them.

Comment: Re:Tax evasion (Score 1) 218

No, it's not. GP is entirely correct, zakat is a tax on Muslims, jizya on non-Muslims.

Also, Islamic rulers in the past have extended the notion of "People of the Book" to pretty much any religion that fell under their control in practice - Zoroastrians, even Hindus. The only ones that they truly cannot tolerate is the ones that appeared after Islam and are derived from it or borrow from it heavily (like Yazidi, Ahmadiyya or Ba'hai).

Comment: Re: But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 218

What made you believe this is meant to target USA? ISIS has killed one American so far, and what, around 10K Syrians and Iraqis?

How about Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq, for instance? I doubt their hygiene and medicine is on par with US - can it combat such a threat?

+ - Hal Finney, PGP and Bitcoin pioneer passes away

Submitted by brokenin2
brokenin2 (103006) writes "Hal Finney, the number two programmer for PGP and the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction has passed away. From the article on Coindesk: "Shortly after collaborating with Nakamoto on early bitcoin code in 2009, Finney announced he was suffering from ALS. Increasing paralysis, which eventually became near-total, forced him to retire from work in early 2011.""

+ - Particle physics to aid nuclear cleanup->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.... [M]uon tomography, is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don’t damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography.

“Everything around you is constantly being radiographed by muons,” says Christopher Morris, who leads the Los Alamos muon tomography team. “All you have to do is set some detectors above and below it, and measure the angles well enough to make a picture.”

By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team’s software creates a three-dimensional picture of what’s inside.... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core.

“When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn’t know about,” says Morris. “They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles.”

Based on that successful test, Toshiba signed an agreement with Los Alamos and later with Decision Sciences to design and manufacture muon-detector components for use at Fukushima Daiichi."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 799

by shutdown -p now (#47786509) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

I can't tell about Vietnam and Americans, but I can assure you that e.g. fighter pilots on both the UN (Americans) and the North Korean (Soviets) side knew full well who they were aiming to. And in Vietnam, it was most certainly presented as an American puppet regime with direct involvement in the USSR, so any Soviet troop fighting there would also know full well that he was killing Americans, not just South Vietnamese (indeed, to him, South Vietnamese would be the people that he came to save from American imperialism).

Comment: Re:Her work (Score 1) 1181

It's not enough to merely show suffering if there's no path to rectify the suffering.

It's a bullshit argument, sorry. Not every piece of entertainment is supposed to be a full-fledged women studies teaching material.

But most importantly, there's a question as to the value of this 'realism', even if it were accurate. A lot of terrible things happen in the world that we see fit to ignore. Physics, for one thing. We also don't seem to care about going to the bathroom, cancer or getting oil changes. We're willing to suspend disbelief; this is probably an area where we could live without the casual gendered violence that we've really become accustomed to.

Different games draw the lines differently here. There are some where dying of old age is a possibility, say, and racing games do include oil changes sometimes. With respect to physics, many games are actually trying to make it as real as possible.

Ultimately, the value of this particular bit of realism as a whole is drawing attention to the problem. You can complain that it's not sufficient, but it's way better than nothing.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 799

by shutdown -p now (#47780935) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

If you think majority of Russians living in Ukraine will consider themselves Russian and be happy to be invaded

Er, what even made you believe that I was making an argument along those lines? What I wrote is pretty much the opposite... the separatists were getting crushed precisely because of what you say - that not even most Russian and russophone Ukrainian population in the areas they claim supports it. Russia actually had step up and send in its own troops, and not just weapons and advisors as they did before, to reverse the tide.

The problem is that fighting spirit and dedication are not enough; you still need artillery and tanks and planes to win a war, and people who know how to strategically apply all this. That's where Ukraine is lagging far behind, especially after the significant build-up that Russia had since 2008. And Russian troops are not exactly lacking in motivation, either - they've been fed propaganda about fascists burning people alive and crucifying children, on one hand, and about the "Russian World" on the other hand, and are itching for a fight.

So, regardless of where the sympathies of the majority of Ukrainians lie, if Putin does give the order, Ukraine will fall with no outside help. And I don't know whether it'll get that help. A few months ago I thought that it would be a given, but then we saw basically nothing done over the annexation of Crimea, and very little done over all the affronts since then... and even today Western newspapers are still mulling over maybe more sanctions (?!!).

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 3, Informative) 799

by shutdown -p now (#47779921) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

It would actually be easier than Georgia, I suspect. The big problem that Ukraine has is that, like most other ex-Soviet states, it let its military deteriorate in the 90s to the point of utter inefficiency (did you see the photos a govt guy just posted of what their BTR reserves look like, in response to a Facebook question as to why volunteers aren't getting vehicles?), but unlike them, it didn't get a wake-up call until now, like Russia itself got in Chechnya, or Georgia got in Ossetia and Abkhazia. So now they have to recover and learn very quickly. There's a lot of enthusiasm on the troop level, but logistics is in shambles, their officers seem to have a poor grasp of tactics (like e.g. ordering an artillery unit to stay in one place while firing... needless to say, they get fucked by counter-battery fire, and the reason why we know about this story is because there were survivors), and their generals don't understand that grand plans they make bear little in common with reality. This, again, is a lot like Russia was during the first conflict in Chechnya, but that was an easier opponent, and consequences of defeat were not as far reaching.

What's going for Ukraine is that their population reserves are bigger, and they retained a larger arsenal as part of the Soviet legacy. Also, the fact that a significant part of Soviet military industry was in Ukraine, so they have experience manufacturing the things they need.

Either way, I think that the only reason why they can still fight effectively, even with large casualties, is because Russian involvement is still undercover. It became noticeably less so over the last week, what with armored columns openly crossing the border (but still with removed flags) etc, and notice how the situation that was so dire for the rebels suddenly became so dire for the Ukrainian troops. If Russia were to go all in, openly, throwing all units that it already converged at the border, I don't think Ukraine stands a chance without outside help.

How long can Russia occupy Ukraine, now, is a different question. That area has a long history of guerrilla warfare against occupiers of all kinds, including Soviets back in WW2 days. And there's a strong resolve to resist among the populace today. An occupying force might win in the field, but find itself facing bullets from every window in the cities at night.

Comment: Re:Still no Unicode? (Score 1) 112

by shutdown -p now (#47779665) Attached to: PHP 5.6.0 Released

iconv lets you convert things, but what are you going to convert it to? UTF-8? Sure, and how many libraries (including core PHP ones) are UTF-8 aware? Most won't use mbstring, they'll just treat strings as arrays of bytes, and you're really lucky if they don't assume byte = char anywhere.

Treating strings as 8-bit clean works well in some cases, but fails pathetically in so many others. Yet that is the game that PHP is trying to play.

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