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Comment Re:What I am opposed to ... (Score 1) 1766

... is the closing of minds
ideas are dangerous to closed minds.

However, an open mind is no reason not to properly categorize things.

The question of what is versus what isn't science is one of philosophy. Science requires certain underlying philosophical assumptions; the question of what assumptions should be used is fair to debate... but is NOT a scientific question.

Assumptions of basic Boolean logical and Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory axioms are exceptionally uncontroversial in philosophy. They allow for construction of most of the familiar mathematics geeks play with. If you make the assumption of the Strong Church-Turing Universe Thesis to bound complexity, you can derive (or, being sensible, read the papers where Wallace/Dowe and Vitanyi/Li derived) a formal relationship between "Minimum Description Length Induction, Bayesianism and Kolmogorov Complexity", which allows for a rigorous definition of science as competitive testing for a very formal sense of "simplest descriptive explanation for all the evidence". And, no, "God Diddit!" doesn't win, because it's insufficiently descriptive of the evidence under the formal criteria.

As such, Intelligent Design becomes a candidate hypothesis rejected because it does not descriptively explain the evidence anywhere near as concisely as Evolution. Intelligent Design is not science, any more than the idea of the Luminiferous Ether is. Perhaps the Search for Intelligent Design might remain a scientific pursuit (as SETI is), but to do so it must admit that it has failed even more miserably than SETI.


Submission + - Mixed news on Wiretapping from 9th Circuit USCoA

abb3w writes: The bad news: the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Al-Haramain lawyers may not submit into evidence their recollections of the top secret document handed to them detailing the warrantless electronic scrutiny they received. "Once properly invoked and judicially blessed, the state secrets privilege is not a half-way proposition." The good news: they have declined to answer and directed the lower court to consider whether "FISA preempts the common law state secrets privilege" with respect to the underlying nature of the program itself... which also keeps alive hopes for the EFF and ACLU to make those responsible answer for their actions.

Coverage at CNET, the NYTimes, and elsewhere; PDF of ruling here.
The Media

Submission + - Journalists Can't Hide News Anymore 2

Hugh Pickens writes: "Robert Niles at the Online Journalism Review comments on the story about the 13-year-old girl who took her own life after making friends with a boy she'd met on MySpace who turned on her. The boy didn't exist. 'He' was the creation of the mother of one of the girl's former friends. But the newspaper didn't name the woman, citing concerns for *her* teen daughter. Bloggers went nuts, and soon uncovered the woman's name, her address, phone number and business registration records and plastered them all over the Web. "The lessons for journalists? First, we can't restrict access to information anymore. The crowd will work together to find whatever we withhold," wrote Niles. "Second, I wonder if that the decision to withhold the other mother's name didn't help enflame the audience, by frustrating it and provoking it to do the work of discovering her identity." Here are links to the original story on the girl's suicide, to one of the bloggers who uncovered the woman's identity, and to another look at the journalistic issues involved in naming names."

Submission + - Turing's unpublished algorithm for normal numbers (

ferespo writes: A group of argentine scientists have given an almost full proof for an algorithm by Alan Turing, hand written by himself on the reverse of the sheets of his original paper about what would later be known as "Turing machines"

"In an unpublished manuscript, Alan Turing gave a computable construction to show that absolutely normal real numbers between 0 and 1 have Lebesgue measure 1; furthermore, he gave an algorithm for computing instances in this set. We complete his manuscript by giving full proofs and correcting minor errors. While doing this, we recreate Turing's ideas as accurately as possible. One of his original lemmas remained unproved, but we have replaced it with a weaker lemma that still allows us to maintain Turing's proof idea and obtain his result."


Submission + - NYC man Arrested for Reciting First Amendment

CWRUisTakingMyMoney writes: 'Reverend Billy' — a cross between a street-corner preacher and an Elvis impersonator (but blond) — was arrested on harassment charges last week while reciting the First Amendment through a megaphone in Manhattan's Union Square. Have we reached the point where we can't even (rather uniquely) recite from our own Constitution without being arrested or shouted down?

Submission + - iPhone root password cracked in three days

Dimentox writes: reports that "The iPhone root password has been cracked, The information came from an an official Apple iPhone restore image (rename as a zip file and extract). The archive contains two .dmg disk images: a password encrypted system image and an unencrypted user image. By delving into the unencrypted image inquisitive hackers were able to discover that all iPhones ship with predefined passwords to the accounts 'mobile' and 'root', the last of which being the name of the privileged administration account on UNIX based systems..."
"The information came from an an official Apple iPhone restore image (rename as a zip file and extract). The archive contains two .dmg disk images: a password encrypted system image and an unencrypted user image. By delving into the unencrypted image inquisitive hackers were able to discover that all iPhones ship with predefined passwords to the accounts 'mobile' and 'root', the last of which being the name of the privileged administration account on UNIX based systems."
The Courts

Submission + - Is RIAA's Linares Affidavit Technically Valid? 1

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "In support of its ex parte, "John Doe", discovery applications against college students, the RIAA has been using a declaration by its "Anti-Piracy" Vice President Carlos Linares" (pdf) to show the Judge that it has a good copyright infringement case against the "John Does". A Boston University student has challenged the validity of Mr. Linares's declaration, and the RIAA is fighting back. Would appreciate the Slashdot community's take on the validity of Mr. Linares's "science"."

Submission + - Apple sued for use of tabs in Mac OS X 10.4

rizzo320 writes: "AppleInsider is reporting that "An Illinois-based company and its Nevada partner have filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleging that Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" treads on an interface patent that affects the operating system's nearly universal use of tabs." The patent in question is 5072412, which was originally issued to Xerox in 1987, but now seems to be owned or licensed to IP Innovation LLC and its parent Technology Licensing Corporation. "Category dividers triggered by Spotlight searches, as well as page tabs in the Safari web browser, bear the closest similarity to the now 20-year-old description." of the patent. IP Innovation is requesting damages in excess of $20 Million, and in addition, an injunction against future sales and distribution of Mac OS X 10.4. Software patent reform can't come soon enough!"

Feed Report: Time Warner Considers Getting Rid Of The Cable (

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Time Warner is looking for ways to reduce its exposure to cable TV. Management is said to be concerned that cable won't always be as lucrative as it is now, particularly as the internet grows as a reliable option for watching video. The company has already spun off its Time Warner Cable unit into a separate company, but it retains a sizable stake in it. The company is unlikely to exit the line entirely, as it remains a steady cash cow. In fact, from a revenue perspective, it's the company's largest line of business. But there's pressure on the firm to invest more heavily into the internet, which represents the company's best hope for future growth. One problem, however, is that by reducing its cable business, it becomes more dependent on its slow-growing content business, such as films and publishing. These remain quite big as well, and could easily prove to be a drag on the company's internet operations. Another worry is that even if the company does invest heavily on the internet, there's no guarantee that it will be prove profitable. Obviously, the company hopes that it can buy or build the next MySpace, but that's a long shot proposition. What's funny about this report is that it comes at the same time that Comcast, a competing cable operator, is raving about its operations, claiming that the cable business is "on fire". Part of it may be that Comcast doesn't have Time Warner's breadth, so it has no choice but to be bullish about cable. It could also be that Time Warner is looking further into the future than Comcast, recognizing that today's good times may not last forever. Then again, the last major move that Time Warner made to bolster its internet business came to be regarded as the most disastrous merger of all time.

Submission + - Oil Production Peak Looms

anthemaniac writes: Oil prices are rising again and 'will move inexorably higher' in the face of 'a stormy geopolitical climate' according to one analyst. We're all used to seeing oil prices rise and fall because of global politics and big-business policies, of course. But what if the amount of oil that can be produced reaches a peak? Talk about a stormy geopolitical climate. That's just what a new Swedish study predicts might happen next year. Fredrik Robelius, a physicist and petroleum engineer, analyzed the production rates of 333 existing giant oil fields known and concludes the global production peak will occur between 2008 and 2018. Caltech physicist David Goodsteinagrees with the methodology and also thinks the peak is near. But the controversial prediction doesn't take into account new extraction technologies and other possible discoveries, critics say.

Submission + - Windows "Patent Tax": $20 per copy

An anonymous reader writes: In light of tax day here in the U.S., a group has calculated the hidden patent costs, or "taxes," in each licensed copy of Windows. Turns out, at least $20 of your money is going to fund other patent holders and defend against patent lawsuits. "If the industry's largest company, with its immense patent portfolio, and its many fine patent attorneys, finds patents to be a bad business, shouldn't the rest of the industry take a hint?" says the article.

Submission + - VA Tech victims include top researcher

GabrielF writes: "As we learn more about the victims of yesterday's massacre at Virginia Tech it is becoming clear that the international community has been dealt a significant blow. Thus far, the identities of three murdered professors have been announced. They are:
  • Kevin Granata — Described as one of the top 5 biomechanics researchers in the US
  • Liviu Librescu — 76, a Romanian-born Israeli Holocaust survivor "recognized internationally for his research in aeronautical engineering". He reportedly saved the lives of his students by throwing himself in front of the shooter when the man tried to enter the classroom
  • G. V. Loganathan — 51, an Indian-born civil engineering professor

God is real, unless declared integer.