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Comment: Re:Odor of Corruption (Score 1) 113

by Xtifr (#47766513) Attached to: Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

Indeed, which is why, when I talk to kids about math in school, one of the things I like to point out is that while statistics are, in general, rather boring, it's really important to learn enough to have at least a chance of recognizing when they're being used to lie to you. This argument gets through to a suprising number of them.

Comment: Re:Gravity isn't SF (Score 1) 180

by Xtifr (#47732787) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Heh, depending on how you define "fantasy elements", sure, but then the same thing can be said of mainstream fiction, detective novels, and the movie Gravity. :)

In the context of science fiction and fantasy, the term "fantasy elements" generally refers to pure magic and other impossible things; since OP claimed that Gravity lacked fantasy elements, that seemed like a more plausible interpretation of what he meant.

Comment: Re:So, what controversy? (Score 2, Informative) 180

by Xtifr (#47722739) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

I've read some of what he's written on his blog, and I am more than satisfied that he's a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit who completely deserves all the opprobrium he receives. What's worse, he's one of those crazy religious fanatics who twists the bible into excuses to hate people, like the Westborough folks. As a human, I find him utterly contemptible.

Nevertheless, if I'd been voting on the Hugos this year, I would have judged his work on its own merit. I still find Orson Scott Card an outstanding writer, despite my (milder) contempt for the man himself. Fortunately, I have many friends who were Hugo voters this year, who are also capable of separating their opinion of the artist from their opinion of the art, and they have uniformly told me that the work didn't deserve a nomination, let alone a win. Maybe it wasn't bad enough to end up below no-award--maybe that happened because of Day's vile on-line persona--but the fact that it didn't win seems to me to be fully justified.

Comment: Re:Gravity isn't SF (Score 1) 180

by Xtifr (#47722479) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Gravity isn't science fiction. We actually do send people into space, and that kind of disaster could sort of happen.

"Could happen"--but hasn't. That's what makes it science fiction. "Speculative science" is absolutely not a requirement of SF, and "predictions of the future" is basically what it was. It was at least as plausible a prediction as something like Heinlein's "...If This Goes On". And "fantasy elements", in a lot of people's opinions, loosely including mine, are never an element of actual science fiction.

Space exploration and research still falls basically in the domain of science these days, even though it's a lot more of an everyday activity than it once was. Once tickets to space become affordable to the average person, then maybe we can say that a movie like Gravity is no more SFnal than something like The Fast and the Furious. But until then, I think it qualifies, and a whole lot of people seem to agree with me.

Comment: no longer seems worth it (Score 2) 391

by Xtifr (#47602527) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

I used to build my own, because that was the best way to get the specs I wanted at a good price. Especially since I run Linux. But I'm a software guy, and have always considered futzing with the hardware to be a necessary evil, rather than a goal on its own. Once I was able to get off-the-shelf machines that met my needs, I happily stopped building my own.

I voted 6-8 years ago, because the machine I bought about eight years ago needed some additions and improvements. It wasn't a full DIY, so I'm not sure it counts, but it was the last machine I had that was even partly DIY. Since then, it's seemed like machines that meet my specs are actually cheaper than buying their component parts, and that's before you factor in build time.

Comment: Re:Tricky (Score 1) 152

by Xtifr (#47553637) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

We're talking about streaming media

Who's "we"? Looking throught the comments, I see a lot of people expressing confusion about the point.

Oh, and I'd say that a web-page counts as streaming text. And a lot of people might consider Project Gutenberg's offerings (for example) as more-or-less streaming, if you read them online.

Comment: Re:Not sure... (Score 1) 152

by Xtifr (#47540047) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Thanks. Hadn't thought of that, since it's way, way down on my list of priorities, but that makes a lot of sense. I can't actually moderate, since I've already commented, but please accept this virtual +1 interesting. :)

Still, the fact that there are relatively simple workarounds doesn't mean there aren't region restrictions.

Comment: Re:Not sure... (Score 1) 152

by Xtifr (#47529149) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

I watch a fair amount of YouTube stuff (and appreciate the complete lack of stupid regional restrictions).

It's not actually a complete lack. I haven't been able to watch the last couple of seasons of QI, because the BBC allows them on YouTube only with regional restrictions, and I'm not in the UK, and the BBC hasn't arranged for any other form of distribution of the show in the US. But in general, yeah, it's better than a lot of the alteratives.

(I could probably snag them off some torrent site somewhere, but I don't do that sort of thing in general.)

Comment: Re:Tricky (Score 4, Insightful) 152

by Xtifr (#47529109) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

How about minutes of media? Text doesn't count, as it isn't media.

Text isn't media? You've got a really bizarre definition of media! Even accepting that the word now has a separate meaning aside from its meaning as the plural of medium, the phrases "mass media" or "mainstream media" have always included newspapers and books. Which are, generally, text.

Comment: Tricky (Score 4, Insightful) 152

by Xtifr (#47525803) Attached to: What percentage of your media consumption is streamed?

Most of my video, but almost none of my music. But I'm not sure how those two compare percentage-wise. And what about books? Do those count as media? I certainly don't stream even e-books. (Except, arguably, through O'Reilly's Safari program, which might count.) But then there's news media, which is almost entirely streamed. If you count visiting web-pages as streaming.

Honestly, I'm really not sure. Depending on how I measure, I might be able to come up with a number anywhere from 20 to 80.

Comment: The actual study has somewhat different conclusion (Score 2) 157

by Xtifr (#47441923) Attached to: Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics

Some meta-analysis of the actual study, along with some examination of how the media has generally thoroughly misrepresented the study, is available at Language Log.

Thus Component 1 (23.6% of test variance) was significantly heritable — h2 = 0.538. The symbol h2 is used to denote "narrow-sense heritability", which is the ratio between the variance due to average effects of alleles, and the phenotypic variance as a whole:

$$h^2 = \frac{Var(A)}{Var(P)}$$

In other words, about half of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a quarter of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

Component 3 (10.8% of test variance) was also significantly heritable, with h2 = 0.335. Thus about a third of the variance in a PCA component accounting for about a tenth of the variance in test results was accounted for by genetic variation.

The genetic relationships of components 2 (11.7 of test-score variance) and 4 (8.2% of test-score variance) were not statistically significant.

A quarter plus a tenth of the test results were shown to be related at all (not in whole, but at all) to heritable traits. The grand total overall was just under 16% (a half of a quarter, plus a third of a tenth).

Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't describe 16% as "largely". I'd describe 16% as "partly", or "mildly", or "somewhat". But of course, reporters for Nat'l Geo and The Independent and the like aren't big on math.

It's still an interesting and intriguing study, of course, but so grossly misreported that it boggles the mind. We need a better grade of chimpanzee writing science articles for the general public! :D

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 415

by Xtifr (#47434707) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

In your non-Python language of choice, how do you tell the difference between an error in indentation and an error in marking the beginning and ending of blocks?

Difference? There is no difference! I don't indent! I mark the beginning and end of blocks, and the code is automatically indented to match. I can, with some difficulty, defeat this mechanism, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to.

Comment: Re: another language shoved down your throat (Score 1) 415

by Xtifr (#47434575) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

You're free to dislike the way Python handles blocks and white space.

Thank you. Not that I needed your permission, but I shall indeed continue to consider it an idiotic design.

But if it actually substantially affects your productivity, you're simply not a very good programmer, because it's not a big deal in practice.

Agreed. However the fact that it doesn't noticably harm my productivity doesn't mean it's a good feature.

In any case, we're discussing its potential use as a teaching language here, and people who are just starting to learn to program are, pretty much by definition, not good programers. So its impact on not-good-programmers is still very relevant.

Comment: Re:Well out running the police ... (Score 1) 443

by Xtifr (#47434449) Attached to: The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

Except there are people who survived crashes at much higher speeds.

There are people who have survived jumping out of "perfectly good" airplanes without a functioning parachute. Doesn't mean you should take up skydiving-without-a-parachute as a hobby. :)

There's a reason cases like you mention make the news: surviving a crash at those speeds is an impressive and newsworthy feat. (The reason this case made the news was not the fact that the driver died, but the fact that a Tesla was involved. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty unremarkable story.)

Richard Hammond of Top Gear UK fame survived a crash at 288 mph

And I bet he was buckled in. Remaining in the vehicle during a high-speed crash greatly increases your chances of survival. Exiting a vehicle at 100+ mph is generally contraindicated! (Tip for future reference.) ;)

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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