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Comment: Re:A foretaste of the future (Score 1) 336

by Whibla (#47805625) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

It has to be said, some Sci-fi authors can be very good at positing the "what if" scenarios, and addressing the ramifications in a thought provoking manner.

I read a story with a similar premise, but the outcome was almost the reverse of that which you describe.

When one is permanently 'on display' to any interested party, when all places previously considered private are now viewable to anyone, at any time, the behaviour of people, especially the younger generation, no matter where they were, defaulted to "fuck it, this is me, warts and all". Whereas, previously, someone would behave in a certain way only in private now they will behave like that everywhere. Want to make love to your girlfriend on a park bench for all to see? Well, why not, they can see it wherever you are anyway! It was only the older generations, who had grown up with some expectation of privacy, as well as a certain prurience, that had problems with this. Notions of public decency and, to a lesser degree, morality are, after all, largely a social construct, one that is inculcated in us at an early age, tempered by our own experiences of the world around us.

It was an interesting read, and certainly gave me much to think about as a youth, particularly the notion that dying from old age becomes a 'driver', or at least a necessary factor, for social evolution.

Slightly off-topic, I'll admit, but it's nice to reminisce...

Comment: Re:Well, that's bad news... (Score 1) 465

by Whibla (#47799301) Attached to: Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

... the fact that [1]some scientists are saying that there is no actual "Hiatus" and producing numbers to back up there claims while [2]others are examining the temperature data and looking for new systems and processes that explain the changes they are seeing worries me. It tells me that some in the scientific community have abandon the scientific method and are attempting to make the data fit the hypothesis they have.

First off, the two statements you make ([1] & [2]) are not mutually exclusive. I'm not sure you meant them to appear so, but phrasing it as you did tends to imply a contradiction between 'two schools of thought'. Both can be, and probably are, correct.

Secondly, this doesn't strike me as an abandonment of the scientific method, more a misunderstanding of the situation on your part, one I'd like to correct. (If, on the other hand, I'm misunderstanding the origins of your concerns please accept a preemptive apology, and consider this a request for some clarification of the why you are concerned.)

I'll to preface my explanation with a simplistic summary: Radiative Energy from the Sun >>>-->>> The Earth >>>-->> Re-radiated Energy from the Earth. From measurements taken, at various elevations on the earth's surface as well as in the atmosphere and in space from various satellites, we have determined that there is a difference between the energy coming in and the energy going out. More is coming in. According to our understanding of physics this should cause terrestrial temperatures to rise. Because we think we have a pretty good idea of the raw numbers involved (energy in / energy out), and the basic physics (conservation of energy) we thus expect the rise in temperature to lie within a certain range. Unfortunately, this is not what we have seen. In fact the increase in temperatures has been lower than we expected, and thus we have to ask ourselves: "What have we missed?"

One crucial point to note here is that asking this question, is almost the very definition of definition of science, not, as you seem to suggest, an abandonment of the scientific process.

Possible answers to the question include such things as: Our understanding of the basic physics is wrong (extremely unlikely); Our instrument data, all our measurements of radiation / re-radiation are wrong (unlikely to be out by significant amounts); Our understanding of where the excess energy is being stored is wrong (likely).

Given the possibles (and yes, I'll freely admit there may be others - maybe it's not just my summary which is simplistic) it makes sense to go looking for "new systems and processes that explain the change". In what way is this not science?

Ether way you look at it, the discovery of a new process within the chaotic system of the atmosphere simply adds more data to the mix and allows us to better understand the processes.

Agreed! Well, other than being slightly unsure how mid- to deep oceanic currents count as the atmosphere. :P

Comment: Re:genes dont limit intelligence (Score 1) 227

by Whibla (#47649151) Attached to: About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

so you're saying genetics can limit how intelligent someone can be

He might not be. I do sometimes find it hard to tell what people mean by their posts.

I'll say it though. Someone's genetic make up puts an upper limit on how intelligent* they can be. As does their upbringing, specifically, and especially, things such as diet and stimulation during their formative years. Ask if we can quantify this limit in any sensible fashion, however, and the answer is no, not really. But it would seem that certain of the genetic indicators for this potential have finally been identified.

tell me, what would be good evidence enough for you? ... explain what would be sufficient evidence of your conjecture that 'races' are genetically limited to how intelligent they can be

Before I address this, obviously extremely contentious issue, allow me to point out that I am not the GP.

As it happens I do not believe that intelligence* is racially determined. I think it unlikely that the genetic factors that determine things such as skin or eye colour, or the shape of one's epicanthic folds, would be correlated with the genes that the article identifes as being indicative of superior intellectual performance.

However, I'm prepared to admit I might be wrong. With but a moments consideration I can come up with a number of plausible scenarios where skin colour could be linked with, for example, vitamin intake and uptake which could affect how the brain develops, or how a racially linked food allergy could affect cognitive devolpment. Even if there were mechanisms such as these in play though, I would hazard that the magnitude of any disparity would be trival compared to the general variation within any racial group caused by non-linked genetic, social, economic, motivational, and educational factors.

Of course, I do not know. But then, that's what science is about. Asking questions, making hypotheses, testing them, drawing conclusions, then starting all over again. If you refuse to consider a reasonable sounding hypothesis based on, how shall I put it, moral or ethical convictions, that's not science. That's blind faith.

Which brings me to my question, and I only ask it since you seem so sure of your opinion. What evidence would be good enough for you to reconsider your position?

*The problem with referring to intelligence in such a way is that it's such a catch all term. Are we referring to one's ability to memorise stuff? The speed with which someone can solve an algorithmic problem? The ability to construct a novel and creative solution to a previously insoluble problem? Spatial awareness? Linguistic skill? The list is endless...

Comment: Re:The british government runs on anonymity (Score 1) 282

by Whibla (#47580193) Attached to: UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

However, to extend this simile, the names of the participants at these meetings, as well as their comments, and who said what, are known, or readily available, to all present. Sure, it's forbidden to publicise who actually said what, but there is no real anonymity. If it were decided that there was good reason to disclose that information that information is available.

And that's "all" the proprosal is suggesting. If you want to enter the discussion (interact, in any way, online) then those facilitating that participation should know who you are. To all those outside that select group you are as anonymous as your chosen nickname and the (aggregate) content of your virtual maunderings allow. Again though, if it were decided that there were good reason to disclose that information, your identity is available.

In this respect the government is not suggesting anything in its proposal that its members are not already subject to.

This is not to say that I agree with the proposal. I do not. While I sympathise with the difficulties any rightful authority faces, be they the courts, the police or national security services, the trampling of inviolable rights does not lead to a safer country or a better world. Yes, there will be a reduction in some "bad things", but, as a consequence of the change, a door will open allowing access to other "Bad Things", and where there's an open door sooner or later people will go.

There is also the issue of the power imbalance between rank and file, or rather between those in power or with authority and those with none of either. Any proposal like this simply magnifies the imbalance, whereas the aim of legislation, in any egalitarian society, should be to reduce it. If you empower your population you enable growth, but when you disenfranchise them you should not be suprised when some resort to more destructive outlets for their frustrations.

Comment: Re:So who did it first? MIT or Mythbusters? (Score 1) 138

by Whibla (#47531347) Attached to: Will Your Next Car Be Covered In Morphing Dimples?

Also, aren't dolphins pretty darn smooth?

GP might well have been thinking about sharks, rather than dolphins. Their skin is covered with dermal denticles which can be individually raised or flattened to alter / interrupt laminar flow, making them more efficient swimmers.

I recall an article (in New Scientist I think) from many years ago about a company exploring this idea as a means of improving the efficiency of shipping, but since I haven't seen anything like it in production I guess the technical hurdles were too great to be practical. However, given that dimples in a surface are simply a mirror of ridges on a surface (for certain shapes of dimple and ridge, ofc), and since ships, especially the ones that carry most of the global trade in goods, are much larger than cars, therefore more capabable of efficiently* carrying the machinery necessary to create 'vacuum pockets', and stand to save their owners and operators significant sums of money (11% of fuel costs is huge), I'm suprised that cars are where anyone would be choosing to focus their attention and efforts.

*as a proportion of machinery weight to total vehicle weight

Comment: Re:Sue them for all they're worth (Score 1) 495

by Whibla (#47360499) Attached to: Microsoft Takes Down Domains


No-IP domains are used 93 percent of the time for Bladabindi-Jenxcus infections, which are the most prevalent among the 245 different types of malware currently exploiting No-IP domains.

[Emphasis Mine]

So, Microsoft is alleging that No-IP is assisting (presumably knowingly) in the distribution of malware and that 93% of No-IP's domains are vehicles for malware distribution. Is this true? I don't know, but I kind of doubt it.

What's next, a RICO prosecution for the owners of No-IP?

I'm not sure if you're interpreting that figure in the way that it was intended. It's certainly not the way I'm reading it, which is that of all the Bladabindi-Jenxcus infections that occur 93% of them originate within No-IP's domains, the other 7% originate elsewhere, unspecified. This is substantially different to 93% of their domains are being used to distribute malware.

Still very very suspicious though.

Comment: Re:Should solve water shortage issues... (Score 1) 784

by Whibla (#46988589) Attached to: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

So now with all that burned oil we are at 0.05% CO2 an increase of 0.01%. But you just said tiny percent changes aren't significant...

emphasis mine...

His example: Salinity of 3.5% changes to 3.497% with an increase in ocean levels of 3 meters. This is a relative change of -0.08%. As he said, not significantly different from before.

Your example: 0.039% CO2 changes to 0.05% CO2 after burning the majority of our fossil fuel reserves. This is a relative change of 28.20%. Unlike you imply, this is pretty significant.

Ohh I love math.

There was a reason for Disraeli 's comment about lies, damn lies, and statistics and I suspect he was thinking about someone just like you when he said it.

Comment: Re:Tyranny (Score 2) 252

The analogy can be made to work however...

Imagine a pamphlet, printed in a country that's not Finland, that includes, like many do, a back cover soliciting for donations for some worthy cause. I mention to my Finnish friend an article I happened to read in aforementioned pamphlet, and they say to me "That sounds fascinating, I'd be very interested in reading that article. Can you send it to me?*". So I pop the pamphlet in an envelope, and post it to them. So now a Fin, in Finland, is in possession of something soliciting funds, from an organisation that has not applied for permission to solicit funds within Finland. Uh oh!

Are you suggesting that the organisation that wrote the pamphlet should be held liable for any fines levied by the Finnish courts? Perhaps instead the person who mailed the pamphlet should be held liable, even though they have nothing to do with the organisation doing the soliciting? If neither of these is the case, in what way is this situation different to what is being discussed?

*If it helps you might like to think of this request as akin to the http get request to load the web page in your browser.

Comment: Re:There's video and then there's smart video (Score 1) 192

by Whibla (#46199435) Attached to: Cops With Google Glass: Horrible Idea, Or Good One?

So imagine a world where cops all have smart glasses and are running apps that do face recognition combined with database lookups. So instead of stop-n-frisk based on race, they can stop-n-frisk based on "He's a known convict" or "He once Tweeted that he likes to get high" or "He's unemployed, but walking out of a high-end department store", etc...

You say this like it's a bad thing. I can't help but think that actual person specific data is a better reason to stop an individual, and subject them to a more detailed scrutiny, than the police basing their decision on race, clothing worn, policeman's intuition, or whatever reason takes their fancy at the time. Once we have granted the police the right to stop and search, giving them the ability to focus on those more likely to be breaking the law is a good thing, surely?

Likewise amongst civilians, smart glass apps tied to, sex offender databases or other public records... political contributions, licenses, etc...

I have to say, public records are public records. If the public were not meant to be able to access this data it wouldn't be public. While I'm sure there will be individuals, some of whom won't even be on those lists you mentioned or ashamed of what the web remembers of them, who will object to this instant access on principle I'm struggling to see exactly what that principle is.

I think it's great for cops to be recording what they're doing, as long as their video can't be destroyed (until a standard time-based dump applied to all recordings not being used as evidence),...

I tend to agree. I would hope, however, that any video they do record is both timestamped and watermarked in some way, so as to provide some level of trust in the veracity of any footage.

...and as long as individuals remain free to record cops as well.

And this I emphatically agree with. The occasions when certain police officers have forbidden members of the public from filming them, and even removed cameras from them, is just wrong. There is no justification, and any excuse is generally couched in terms of an appeal to authority. That authority does not exist.

Comment: Re:Resurrecting (Score 1) 2219

by Whibla (#46190239) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

What do you think?

As quite a few others have said, I read /. for the comments. I have been reading the comments, and even, occasionally, the stories, here for over 15 years. And, while I have taken a month off here, a month of there, I keep coming back, to get a feeling for what other people think. I read far more than I comment, and, even when I do comment, half of them seem to be unnecessary, and pedantic, corrections to wiser, or at least more knowledgeable, peoples' posts. Well, sorry for the last part. At least it shows I'm paying attention, if not always to the right things...

Anyway, preamble aside, I'm afraid that somehow I managed to miss both previous occasions when went live, and subsequently died. Clearly the time was not right. Unfortunately, I have no idea if now is the right time either. Will Slashdot beta, and the associated outpouring of venom, create the tipping point you need? Again, that's a question I cannot answer, though I'll certainly throw my weight (all 9 stone something of it) behind any attempt you make to create a better version of Slashdot / replacement for Groklaw.

I have a few concerns however:

Firstly, as Archfield asked above, will any death of the existing Slashdot result in an exodus or a diaspora. I have seen two (so far, I think) other Slashdot alternatives mooted. Weight of numbers is one of the major factors likely to be critical in establishing a viable community, one that will last. Another major factor, as you touched on above, is the provision of content, by which I mean the initial seed, the story, the hook, that gets people talking. How can the issue of submissions, and the editing of them, be addressed and improved?

Secondly, one of the reasons I like Slashhdot, is the fact that I can flag people who post well thought out (infomative, insightful, educational, etc.) comments, whether I agree with them or not, as friends. There's a lot of history here. While I am loathe to lose this I do appreciate that, should Slashdot actually fail, whichever alternative I settle on will have the same problems but, is there any way that this can be mitigated?

Finally (well, far from finally, but...) should you bite the bullet and resurrect again, what's the chance of getting a three digit id?

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter