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Comment: interesting split developing (Score 3, Interesting) 19

I see at least three common approaches museums are taking to images of their collections:

1. Maximum lockdown: no photos of the collection on the internet, or at most some very low-res ones on the museum's website. The physical museum itself will typically have anti-photography policies to try to enforce this. The goal is to de facto exercise exclusive rights to reproductions of the work (even where the copyright on the work itself has expired), as a revenue source, through e.g. high-quality art books, licensing of images, etc.

2. Disseminate through museum-owned channels. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available to the general public free of charge, via its own website, in at least fairly high-resolution images, a "virtual collection" that anyone can visit. Third-party dissemination may be possible in certain jurisdictions, but the museum either doesn't encourage or actively discourages it. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education, but while maintaining some control/stewardship of the work even online.

3. Maximum dissemination. The museum digitizes its works and makes them available in as many places as possible under a permissive license: its own website, archival repositories run by nonprofits and state institutions, Wikimedia,, news agency file-photo catalogues, etc. The goal is to fulfill its public mission of dissemination/education as widely as possible, and perhaps also achieve some advertising for the museum's collections and the works/artists it conserves, by ensuring that its works are the ones most likely to be used as illustrative examples in Wikipedia articles, books, newspaper/magazine articles, etc.

Comment: Re:Where are the buggy whip dealers? (Score 1) 474

And the other huge problem here with selection bias: he targeted people who'd used both virtual and physical keyboards. In other words, the people who had at one point gone out of their way to buy a physical keyboard when there were other options. Not many people (percentage wise) ever bothered, so the set is very much limited to those who were motivated to like the non-virtual option.

Comment: Re:There have been attempts before (Score 1) 39

by TapeCutter (#47548219) Attached to: How Bird Flocks Resemble Liquid Helium

Can this claim even be proven or disproven?

Silly question on a nerd site, you don't "prove" anything with science, and Jurassic park was a movie, not a scientific model.

Back then the short cut they took probably saved them weeks in rendering time, and as you say, came out looking realistic. A scientific simulation would be comparing real data points to the output, it would be able to identify the "handful of leaders" that initiate each manoeuvre of a real flock, it would definitely not be a bunch of lab coats looking at the pretty pictures and nodding.

Disclaimer: I like Crichton's stories too, but he tends to write in "false document" style and every story has the same "science gone mad" plot.

Comment: Re:Oh, bore off (Score 1) 544

by TapeCutter (#47546291) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine
Yeah right, the infamous "mushroom cloud" comment was all about chemical weapons. Also I'm old enough to recall the attack on the Kurds, it happened in the 80's long before Clinton was elected. The Bush administration lied about nukes and lied about Saddam's connection to 911 because they wanted to "fix" the ME once and for all.

Sure most people wanted Saddam gone but most people could also see the end was not worth the means. The US should have backed down when it did not gain the support of the UN but they did the exact opposite. The US should have kept Iraq's public service intact but they disbanded them on the third day and the entire nation went on a looting rampage from which they still haven't recovered.

Comment: Re:Australia Deserves it. (Score 2) 121

Yes, the proof is in the pudding, the "land of the free" has the highest incarceration rates in the world, roughly 7X the rate of countries like China, Europe, and Australia. They are even more enthusiastic about locking up their own people than Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

As for TFA, most people outside Australia and many inside of it do not understand why this is a perennial issue in parliament. Neither side are serious about these things, they use the issue purely for political gain in the senate.

Aussie governments on both sides have argued both for and against this type of legislation since video cassettes became popular in the 80's. Malcolm Turnbull is not personally in favour of this legislation and Brandis just made a huge "free speech" fuss about changing the racial discrimination act to give people the right to be a bigot (specifically because his own media attack dog was found guilty under the act). However their personal stance is largely irrelevant since I'll bet that there is a minority "balance of power" senator that wants this, my guess is Bob Day from "family first". They were the ones who pushed this issue under the Labour gov, then spat the dummy when their own anti-abortion web sites started appearing on the "leaked" blacklist.

Both sides of government have used this issue as bait for independent senators, they promise to implement if the senator cooperates on other matters, knowing full well the majority of parliamentarians won't accept it when, or rather if, it comes to a vote. They get the senate vote(s) early in their term, then they have endless inquires about how to implement "stupid idea X", people get stirred up, enquires come back with mixed results, the issue goes quiet before the next election. Independent senator loses seat he was luck to win in the first place and is replaced by a new independent from a different electorate with similar ideas and no experience bargaining with a major political party.

In other words unless the pure political cynicism in keeping the status-quo concerns you, then this is a non-story.

Comment: Re:Mill? (Score 1) 71

The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste.

How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy, much easier than with other materials like glass or plastics. Especially in the case where you control the environment and can be assured of its purity, vs. collecting scrap metal or something (but even collecting scrap metal is profitable).

Comment: Re:fundementally impossible (Score 1) 85

by Rosco P. Coltrane (#47539177) Attached to: Nightfall: Can Kalgash Exist?

Have you seen all of nature to affirm without any doubt that something doesn't exist?

Besides, just because the overwhelming majority of something is a certain way doesn't mean it can't exist in another way. For instance, while all known beaches organize themselves as flat expanses of sand, there is still a probability that a wave comes along and spontaneously forms a sandcastle, albeit a vanishingly small one. Nobody's ever seen it, and probably nobody ever will, but it's possible. That's just math.

Comment: Please STFU and show yourself out (Score 4, Insightful) 283

by Just Some Guy (#47538847) Attached to: Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

I support Apple's initiatives and I'm glad they're setting a good example as an industry leader. However, I could not possibly care less that a given cell phone might be accessing a server that isn't "green". Yes, Amazon Fire will be running "on top of" AWS. This is an absolute given. It will also be leaning on servers from Google, Apple, Rackspace, and Joe's Server Shack.

Greenpeace, shoo. You're not involved in these discussions and you're not relevant to the task at hand. It's cute that you want to be a part of the conversation, but this is the adult table.

Comment: Letter from Gaia to humanity on joy of expectation (Score 1) 312

Good point. Going even further, from something I wrote in 1992:
A letter from Gaia to humanity on the joy of expectation

Don't cry for me. When I let you evolve I knew it might cost the
rhino and the tiger. I knew the rain forests would be cut down. I
knew the rivers would be poisoned. I knew the ocean would turn to
filth. I knew it would cost most of the species that are me.

What is the death of most of my species to me? It is only sleep.
In ten million years I will have it all back again and more. This
has happened many times already. Complex and fragile species will
break along with the webs they are in. Robust and widespread
species will persist along with simpler webs. In time these
survivors will radiate to cover the globe in diversity again. Each
time I come back in beauty like a bush pruned and regrown.

Be happy for me. Over and over again I have tried to give birth to
more Gaias. Time and time again I have failed. With you I have
hope. I cannot tell you how happy I am.

Your minds, spacecraft, biospheres, and computers give me new realms
to evolve into. With your minds I evolve as ideas in inner space.
With your technology I can evolve into self replicating habitats in
outer space. Your computers and minds contain model Gaias I can
talk to; they are my first children. Your space craft and
biospheres are a step to spreading Gaias throughout the stars.

Cry, yes. Cry for yourselves. I am sorry those alive now will not
live to see the splendor to come from what you have started. I am
sorry for all the suffering your species and others will endure.
You who live now will remember the tiger and the rain forest and
mourn for them and yourselves. You will know what was lost without
ever knowing what will be gained. I too mourn for them and you.

There is so much joy that awaits us. We must look up and forward.
We must go on to a future - my future, our future. After eons of
barrenness I am finally giving birth. Help me lest it all fall away
and take eons more before I get this close again to having the
children I always wanted.

(Paul D. Fernhout, Lindenhurst, NY 6/92)


The preceeding is something I just scanned in from 1992, written while I was
in the SUNY Stony Brook Ecology and Evolution PhD program (where I had gone
to learn more towards simulating gardens and space habitats). I had learned
there that it took about 10 million years to regenerate lots of biodiversity
from a large asteroid impact event, and this had happened several times in
Earth's history.

The following is a related statement also just scanned in of what inspired
it written at the same time.

--Paul Fernhout (NY Adirondack Park, Oct 2008)


If one accepted that modern industrial civilization has initiated
a great die-off of species comparable to the one sixty-five
million years ago, how should one feel about this?

Is overwhelming sadness and anger the best emotional response? On
the surface it may seem so. Apparently modern civilization and
the accompanying pollution and deforestation are pulling apart a
tapestry woven over billions of years. Anger at the short sighted
and narrow values driving industry may seem well placed.
Certainly feelings of joy and excitement would seem out of place.

Here are a few thoughts that may affect one's feelings. High
levels of biodiversity can be generated from very low ones in
about ten million years. On the time scales of the earth this may
not be a blink of an eye, but it is a short nap. To humans this
may mean a great loss, but Gaia might barely notice. It has after
all been only sixty-five million years since the last die off.

Not all species will be affected equally. A simplification will
occur where the more specialized creatures will be the most likely
to go extinct. Complex food webs will either loose species to
become simpler or they will be replaced entirely by new simpler
webs. This will create opportunities for generalists to move
into vacated niches. It will also produce more robust species and
food webs. In the long term this may make the biosphere healthier
in the same way pruning a bush makes it grow more.

New forms of life existing as ideas are now living and will likely
continue to expand. Language and culture and technology are
possible with humanity's growth. These allow new patterns to be
created and selected for, giving evolution a new canvas. Also
possible are new combinations of ideas and life as philosophies
evolve in combination with ecosystems.

A process that may well lead to the extinction of 30 to 99 percent
of all species has been initiated unintentionally. Conservation
of biodiversity should be done if only for aesthetic and spiritual
reasons. Anger and sadness should not overwhelm one and keep one
from making the best of the inevitable.- Paul D. Fernhout 6/22/92

Comment: Blowback 9/11: Why some young Saudis hate the USA (Score 3, Informative) 125

It's called "Blowback". In order to prevent another 9/11/2001 or worse, it seems important to understand the motivations behind the first one (I'm using the year to distinguish from the US-supported 9/11/1973 coup in Chile). Like you, I also doubt the Saudi government had anything to do directly with funding that 9/11. In fact, that 9/11 seems more a protest against the Saudi government by Saudi citizens, but with the protest directed at the perceived source of funding for the Saudi government by the USA. Let's turn the political situation around hypothetically to try to understand the emotional aspect of it better, imagining what it might be like if the Saudi government was meddling directly in US affairs.

Here is a first cut at trying to understand the social/psychological dynamics of the situation from a different perspective. Imagine Saudi Arabia somehow was sending billions of dollars of campaign donations annually to the USA to keep in power an oppressive administration in the USA (passing laws forcing all US women to wear burkas, only allowing males with brown eyes to hold public office or get university degrees, and with capital punishment on suspicion of premarital sex or homosexuality). Also, imagine that there were millions of Saudi soldiers stationed in US states to ensure a flow of manufactured goods to Saudi Arabia despite strikes and other unrest in the USA and nearby countries. Also imagine that the Saudis were also funding Japanese people who, from fear of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, had moved to Canada, bought a lot of the land, claimed a right to govern all of Canada because some Japanese people had moved to Canada 10,000 years ago across the land bridge from Siberia, and then forced most non-Japanese Canadian citizens in all of Canada to flee to the USA and were killing non-Japanese Canadians who remained and resisted the Japanese occupation. If you are a US citizen in such a hypothetical world, would you be at all upset by such a situation whatever your eye color? Imagine that some very upset and frustrated young US citizens decide to protest this situation by attacking some big buildings in Saudi Arabia by hijacking airliners to show how unhappy they are with Saudi government foreign policy and to show how they felt their hopes and dreams for a good life in the USA had been thwarted by Saudi meddling in US government. Imagine this attack is then used by Saudi Arabia to justify invading Mexico (where some of the hypothetical American hijackers trained) and Brazil (because it is claimed by the Saudis to have WMDs that hypothetical young Americans might use against Saudis). Imagine the Saudis then start supplying "intelligence" to the US government from listening to all US telephone calls about specific US citizens who might be unhappy about the situation and perhaps plotting unrest in the USA or planning more blowback against the Saudis.

Now flip this scenario around and back to reality (US funding Saudis and Israel and US troops in the Middle East) and does the fact the almost all of the 9/11 hijackers were frustrated young Saudi men make more sense?

Soon after 9/11 I saw an analysis in a magazine (maybe the Atlantic or New Yorker) of why the hijackers did what they did. I have not seen many such articles since. The point made there was that these were mostly young men whose hopes for significant advancement in Saudi society had seemed thwarted and they were led to blame the USA for that, because the USA was propping up the Saudi regime and otherwise meddling in the Middle East. Of course, being promised eternal bliss in "paradise" for becoming murderers can not be ignored as a related aspect of religious fundamentalism (including outrage about the occupation of Palestine), so there are layers of complexity here for that and other reasons. The motivations of the hijackers themselves may also be somewhat different than the motivations of the organizers at higher levels.

See also:
"The hijackers in the September 11 attacks were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. ... "

"The 9-11 Commission held its twelfth and final public hearing June 16-17, 2004, in Washington, DC. On June 16 the Commission heard from several of the federal government's top law enforcement and intelligence experts on al Qaeda and the 9-11 plot. It was at this hearing that the question "What motivated them to do it?" was finally asked. Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission said, "I'm interested in the question of motivation of these hijackers, and my question is really directed to the agents. ... what have you found out about why these men did what they did? What motivated them to do it?" The agents looked at each other, apparently not eager to be the one to have to say it. FBI Special Agent Fitzgerald stepped up to the plate and laid out the facts, "I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States." But this testimony was kept out of the 9/11 Commission Report and no recommendation was given to address the main motive for the 9/11 attacks."

So, it was not so much that "they hate us because we were free" (although there were some religious aspects of that). It was more that "they hate us because we fund their oppressors". Granted, there are additional layers of complexity including from religion and economics, but that is part of the bigger picture.

To bring this back to the source original article, it says: "The report also notes the MOI's use of invasive surveillance targeted at political and religious dissidents. But as the State Department publicly catalogued those very abuses, the NSA worked to provide increased surveillance assistance to the ministry that perpetrated them."

So, the USA is left in a difficult situation. Saudi citizens who resent their oppression or other treatment by a government propped up by US support still have reason to dislike the US government. But, if the US government does not help the Saudis via the NSA identify and suppress dissenting Saudi young men, then another 9/11/2001 becomes more likely in the short term, even as such a disaster or much worse becomes more certain in the long term if the USA continues to support a repressive Saudi government and otherwise take sides in Middle Eastern politics. What is the morally and politically correct solution to this dilemma? What policies should a US citizen now support? It's the kind of situation best avoided (see George Washington's farewell address which warned to avoid entanglements in foreign affairs) but it is too late for that. Also, to get to a good resolution, we have to acknowledge the truths behind the conflicts, but often conflicts include suppressing or spinning relevant details like misleadingly claiming "they hate us because we are free".

One thing I feel strongly is that given the increasing power of WMDs including bioweapons, the margin for political error grows smaller and smaller. Given that increasing risk, oppression does not seem like a good long-term strategy to ensure peace and prosperity in the 21st century. So, I feel we need to move instead towards some sort of transcendence of these 20th century (and earlier) conflicts. That included rethinking security to be mutual and intrinsic, like I mention here:

But others have been saying similar things for a long time:

And maybe we could create better software tools to help resolve such conflicts in a healthy way? As I suggested three years ago:
"This suggestion is about how civilians could benefit by have access to the sorts of "sensemaking" tools the intelligence community (as well as corporations) aspire to have, in order to design more joyful, secure, and healthy civilian communities (including through creating a more sustainable and resilient open manufacturing infrastructure for such communities). It outlines (including at a linked elaboration) why the intelligence community should consider funding the creation of such free and open source software (FOSS) "dual use" intelligence applications as a way to reduce global tensions through increased local prosperity, health, and with intrinsic mutual security."

Comment: Re:Vote (Score 1) 198

Here's the key point to all of this: If you only have one option for a phone company that's because it's unprofitable to serve the area you live in.

You're full of shit. I live in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco and have almost no Internet service options (which is what we're talking about in this article - Internet service). Any provider not hamstrung by regulations favoring incumbents would make an absolute killing here. Comcast has the monopoly (I don't care what you call it) on high speed Internet access in my area and has refused to do anything with it except raise prices through the roof while making my Netflix stream play like ass.

While I sympathize with my rural neighbors, I can't think of a single legitimate reason why their choice to live in difficult-to-serve areas means that I have to have shitty, expensive Internet in the heart of the world's high-tech capital.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten