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Comment: Re:Brain-controlled? (Score 3, Informative) 50

Well, more like "brain controlled" in that all our physical motions are brain-controlled. They're using the brain's signal to move the prosthetic as well as the nearest muscle. So somebody amputated above the knee would be able to control an artificial leg if normal functions of the leg could be coded into the prosthetic. (When this muscle flexes, move the leg like this, when that one flexes, move it like that.)

Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 0) 243

by afeeney (#49728603) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

A lot of Apple's value to the consumer comes from the perception that one is standing out from the crowd as an Apple product user or for conspicuous consumption. That's the main reason that their headphone cords are white instead of black, for example.

While definitely somebody can talk about having the iTV, it's not the same as being able to carry it around.

Comment: Re:Can't they just... (Score 1) 151

by afeeney (#47466963) Attached to: Mt. Fuji Volcano In 'Critical State' After Quakes
As I understand it, by the time you reach the steam, you've gone deeper than most drilling equipment can go and gotten hot enough to melt most drills. Worse, you can't safely predict the results of releasing that much pressure, especially since there's no reliable way of imaging what you're drilling into at that depth and heat level.

Comment: Re:"Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully." (Score 1) 497

by afeeney (#47415243) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

You know things like "ostracize those who speak to outsiders", "venerate central personality who makes all decisions", or "target and harass ex-members".

In the political sphere, at least, I'd say that does happen. Political compromise gets a lot of scorn poured on it, there are certain political figures/organizations who get venerated and call most of the shots, and while there's very little side-switching in national and state politics, so not quite the equivalence to becoming an ex-member, those who do stray from doctrine get targeted, most definitely.

Comment: Re:"Thus ends "Climategate." Hopefully." (Score 4, Interesting) 497

by afeeney (#47414799) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

The oil companies/heartland institute don't have to create spin anymore, because they've had the most important success possible: making denialism an important part of the identity of a lot of people.

In some ways, it's very cult-like in the way that it forms identity. Denialism gives you victim/threatened status (those evildoers are attacking our beliefs, we need to be warriors), enough victories to think of oneself as a winner but maintain the communal aspects of thinking oneself under threat, charismatic leaders, the companionship of shared beliefs, a sense of superiority to those who disbelieve, and, in the most cult-like aspect, the assurance of being above mere facts, of living in a world where your personal beliefs trump mere objective facts.

Comment: Re:Brand Value? (Score 1) 84

by afeeney (#47065407) Attached to: Google Overtakes Apple As the World's Most Valuable Brand
Google has made so many investments in experimental and developing technology (robotics and energy to name just two examples) that its portfolio of companies and patents is tremendously valuable. It has the money to be almost anything that it wants to be and can afford to take more product development risks. Even if Google Glass turns out to be an absolute failure, the odds are strong that it can redeploy most of the research and lessons learned from developing it for something that will be successful.

Comment: Re:great (Score 2) 128

by afeeney (#43917323) Attached to: GM Crop Producer Monsanto Using Data Analytics To Expand Its Footprint
True for some plants but not others. Most plants with seeds (fruits, grains) need to be delicious and nutritious so their seeds get excreted some distance from the original plant so that they don't compete for light and nutrients. Only leafy plants (the tops of root vegetables like potatoes, spinach, etc.) tend to be bitter or poisonous.

Comment: Destroying priceless sites for petty reasons (Score 3, Interesting) 276

by afeeney (#43719467) Attached to: Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew
This kind of destruction for the pettiest of reasons isn't anything new. In Malta, a group took a bulldozer to the stone temples at Mnajdra, a glorious megalithic site, older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Mnajdra is breathtakingly lovely and enigmatic and fascinating. Fortunately, it's largely been restored and is again open to the public. Why? People had constructed illegal bird-hunting hides on the adjacent land and objected to their hides being destroyed. People will be vicious destructive assholes for any number of reasons, including just because they can. Profit, sheer revelry in destruction (Persepolis), symbolism of dominance or victory (Summer Palace in Beijing), religious fanaticism (Buddha statues), a fanatical dislike of cities (Mongols and most of the cities in their way), to discourage attacks (Carthage), any number of reasons.

Comment: Re:Polygraqph + drugs for death row inmates (Score 1) 308

by afeeney (#43159327) Attached to: Using Truth Serum To Confirm Insanity

It's quite true that many people on death row are innocent; we've seen enough cases where later DNA evidence exonerated them. In many of these cases, the inmates even pleaded guilty, either because they believed that a guilty plea might help their case, they were coerced, or were mentally incapable of understanding the situation.

However, a polygraph is about as scientifically valid as a palm reading. They measure stress levels, which can be affected by existing mental illness, PTSD, fear, emotional stress, or other factors completely unrelated to guilt or innocence. In addition, it's possible that psychopaths or people who believe the murder to be absolutely justifiable may not feel stress when asked about it.

That's one of the strongest reasons to be against the death penalty; for most cases, we have no absolute way of knowing the truth. Even in a case where the police, prosecution, defense, judge, and jury are all intelligent, conscientious, and well-meaning, there can be errors or new findings can come to light (such as everything that the invention of DNA testing allows). We're learning more and more, for example, about how fallible eyewitness testimony is, but we still often go by the rule, "Seeing is believing." It's possible that as we learn more and more about cognition, we might end up formally instructing juries to minimize rather than maximize the value of eyewitness testimony.

Good day to avoid cops. Crawl to work.