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Comment: Re:Cold Brew FTW (Score 1) 97

Well, I don't want to sound like a shill here but the Filtron kit comes with a plastic bottle that has a secondary built-in measuring section up top: http://www.filtron.com/Filtron...

It's kinda cheaply made (mine cracked after 3 or 4 years), but it's extremely handy. You tilt the bottle around until the top section has as much as you'd like (there are measuring lines), then unscrew the lid on the top section and pour out exactly that amount into the cup. At first it's slightly more cumbersome than using a measuring cup, but much more convenient (no need to keep track of and wash the measuring cup) and you get the hang of it pretty quickly. Just don't constantly change coffee cup sizes and it's extremely easy to do even while half asleep.

It's also pretty nice to be able to make ice coffee on a whim, in under 20 seconds.

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 1) 224

None of those statements are tautologies. A tautology is more along the lines of "If this statement is true then this statement is true."

Also, tautological statements need not useless outside of formal logic / math. The theory of evolution by natural selection hinges on the ramifications of the statement "that which survives and reproduces, survives and reproduces" (and its negation.)

Comment: Cold Brew FTW (Score 1) 97

If you dislike acidic coffee, use a max dark roast (note that for darker roasts the quality of the beans doesn't matter quite as much, though Arabica will still be smoother) and cold brew that stuff overnight (you can buy a kit from a company like Filtron for pretty cheap, or just a DIY setup.)

The stuff comes out like motor oil--thicker than espresso. You store in the fridge, mix a shot of it with water and nuke it whenever you want a cup. Incredibly convenient, and in my experience it really cuts down on the acidity. The end result, when drunk black, has a "crisp" bitterness... not unlike a good beer.

Comment: Don't want to, sometimes need to (Score 1) 84

by foreverdisillusioned (#49761167) Attached to: Death In the Browser Tab
I would say that I needed to see the people jumping off of the World Trade Center. I didn't especially want to, it did not cause me to have a spring in my step for the rest of my day (it was more of a "howling cold wind blowing through your soul" sort of thing) but in an instant it solidified some very important things in my mind.

First, like a bolt of lighting I felt the full weight of human suffering involved and I mused deeply about how depraved someone would have to be in order to inflict this atrocity.

About a minute or two later, I realized that the Patriot Act was coming (of course I didn't know at the time that it would be given such an Orwellian name), and this realization colored every single discussion I had about 9/11 from then on.

Comment: Re:No comparison (Score 1) 84

by foreverdisillusioned (#49761091) Attached to: Death In the Browser Tab

Airing the former on the world stage only aids the terrorists' cause

I'm not sure where this "repeating propaganda only serves to reinforce it" meme has come from, but it's dumb. Reading Mien Kampf can and does serve a purpose other than creating more Nazis. There are many different arguments for the execution videos to be shown, but I think that they are most important as an illustration of ISIS's attitude towards human life, psychological warfare and financing--do not forget, these people were beheaded because a ransom was not paid. Other countries caved in and paid a large ransom and got their hostages back.

The morality of ransom-paying is an extremely important issue that deserves as much examination and exposure as possible, and it's even more important when the kidnapper is a powerful proto-state.

Comment: Re:ICBMs were progress (Score 1) 190

by foreverdisillusioned (#49727935) Attached to: Arab Mars Probe Planned For 2020
I didn't say you were Arabs and I know you don't have ICBMs (yet.) However, the anti-Israel movement has already done very well appealing to other non-Arab Muslims (particularly the Persians) and unlike Iran it doesn't seem like Pakistan is becoming more liberal or less religiously obsessed anytime soon. The Taliban and other fundamentalist groups seem more focused on local rule, but that can change, particularly as the situation re: US foreign interference in your government (read: the billions of dollars in bribes we spend to try to keep less-insane--although just as corrupt--people in power) and/or the rivalry with India evolves over time.

Comment: ICBMs were progress (Score 1) 190

by foreverdisillusioned (#49714537) Attached to: Arab Mars Probe Planned For 2020
I would like to share in this sort of optimism, but the simple fact is modern rocketry developed out of a desire for long range ballistic missiles and most of the other countries that have major space programs tend to be nuclear powers. I don't know offhand how difficult it would be for UAE to get their hands on enriched uranium, (or how difficult it would be for them to sell some large ballistic missiles to, say, Pakistan at some point down the road), but I would tentatively suggest that these details are worth keeping a close eye on as we applaud the official/stated goal of scientific exploration.

Comment: Re: News for nerds (Score 1) 852

by foreverdisillusioned (#49685779) Attached to: Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US

A recent survey found more than a third claim to "have no doubt about Godâ(TM)s existence", a surprisingly extreme position.

This proportion has been trending down for centuries. And take a look at what they mean by "God"--much of the time, they are not talking about the guy Abraham chatted with. Also: Arguably the most important scientist of all time--the inventor of optics, differential calculus and integral calculus--had no doubt about the existence of alchemy. Science is a thing you do or you don't do; it isn't an identity.

Science has nothing to say on the subject of magic

If you want to define your magic and/or your god as a metaphor or something amorphous as to refer to anything, that's true. Science doesn't have much ot say about things that are merely poetically true, metaphorical or too incoherent to mean anything.

But the moment you start making claims about the way things are, the way things were, or the way things will be then science DOES have something to say about that, even if that something is "we do not have any data to reach conclusions or even speculate about X at this time."

Comment: Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284

This doesn't hold nationwide.

Also, I think there is a hard-to-quantify currency of "bad school / bad teachers / bad students." involved here that ensures failure even in cases where the dollars and cents are equalized. Schools get bad reps, well-off parents with (on average) kids doing well in school do their best to avoid them, poor parents can't and parents of hooligans don't care so the reputation continues to spiral downward, teachers prefer not to work with the students because of the stress (exacerbated by standardized testing, which is fine in principle but the accountability of teachers bit is often not set up correctly) and lack of job satisfaction so the teachers that do end up there are the apathetic or incompetent, performance deteriorates even further, etc. This process can operate even if the salaries of teachers remains constant. The annual operating budget also presumably neglects static assets like the value of the buildings (which are usually MUCH shittier, although the location of the land within city limits might offset this a bit.)

I don't necessarily say I have a good solution for this (the "magnet school" program was good in theory but laughable in practice), but 1. I don't blame the liberals. and 2. It could indeed be solved by an extremely (likely prohibitively) large outlay of money to make the buildings themselves attractive and to bring in higher quality teachers.

Comment: Re:A useful link for all of ya ... (Score 1) 1097

That's kind of irrelevant. Jewish and Christian taboos against lending money at interest are well and truly dead, despite the commandments supporting them still being very much there.

I should have mentioned some details here: many Islamic hardliners (primarily in the Arab world) decry TV as unIslamic and as I recall, ISIS has done things like ban the display of mannequins (including clothed male ones, IIRC). So, I didn't mean to imply that no one had this belief in animal/human aniconism any more--it's just that this taboo it isn't being strictly enforced by anyone at the moment, to my knowledge. (Probably on the grounds of it being too inconvenient and socially unpopular.) The concept is still alive; the practice/enforcement remains lax and dormant on purely pragmatic grounds--they have bigger fish to fry, but they certainly have not forgotten.

If you think this is too much of a stretch, I call your attention again to the soft censorship of pigs going on in the UK--my overall point here was simply that the Muhammad thing was simply an easy rallying point for the pro-censorship brigade, and that there is obviously plenty more for them to take offense over even if they won this first battle. The battle isn't over this one taboo; it's over whether or not this kind of offense-taking and sensitivity-showing is compatible with a free society.

Well, one compromise that we have is that we run a content warning ahead of any TV show which is specifically targeted to Indigenous Australians. Does that seem so unreasonable?

Reasonable, yes. Relevant, no. The event was, after all, unambiguously named "Draw the Prophet Muhammad" and I assume there is no significant movement calling on non-Aborigenes to refrain from depicting or naming the dead in private, amongst themselves.

The broader point I'd really like to harp on here is that drawing Muhammad is not an automatic insult against all Muslims. This particular event probably wasn't a great example of this, but just look at Molly Norris--in hiding for the past 5 years after she drew neutral and lighthearted depictions of Muhammad and wound up on some hit lists because of it.

Were legions and legions of non-violent Muslims deeply offended by these neutral drawings? Were they offended by those of the liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz? Were they offended by those of conservative Shia Muslims? None of these three examples were intended to cause offense except (in the case of the first two) offense to violent jihadis.

Communication is a two-way street here. If there is a misunderstanding that causes non-jihadi Muslims to be horribly offended by neutral or positive depictions, then the solution is to educate (or dare I say, "assimilate") them. But if among some Muslims there is no 'misunderstanding' at all and they truly do believe that their religious taboos must be respected by non-believers (including other Muslims who have a different set of beliefs)... then those people are spiritual friends of the jihadis and they should be called out as such.

Very roughly put: "If you're offended, you're my enemy. If you're not offended, then you're not my enemy and this was never directed at you to begin with." This is an oversimplification that misses some caveats and plot twists (like Gellar being an asshole), but it captures the essence of why so many of us think this "indiscriminately punching down" characterization is absurd.

Comment: Re:Controversial because? (Score 1) 284

Umm, sorry to disturb your "conservatives are evil" rant, but then how do you explain the epically failing schools of many american inner cities?

How deep is your head in the sand? Christ almighty, school funding is based on property taxes. These poor-er schools are filled with poor-er teachers and poor-er students--oh yes, this is all obviously the fault of the liberals! Why, it was obviously the liberals who insisted on the geographic school zoning policies that (while obviously sensible from a busing standpoint) prevent strata mixing and perpetuate the stigma of the decaying schools you speak of, making it harder to attract either decent teachers or "school-choice" parents. It was obviously the liberals who insisted on using decaying structures from the 1950s instead of building attractive new campuses (yes, this is shallow but it is still a huge factor for attracting better teachers and choosy parents.)

I am actually much more pro-standardized testing and pro-accountability than most people around here, but to blame run-down schools on the "liberals" instead of the conservative unwillingness to subsidize an infrastructure similar to what the upper middle class suburban kids have access to is laughable.

"Conservatives" are also for school choice, charter schools, school vouchers, all of which are designed to empower parents in those failing inner city districts some hope.

Nonsense. This empowers the middle and upper-middle class, not the parents who do not have the time or money necessary to screw around driving their kids to a different school across town. Accountability is a good thing, but vouchers and school choice is a regressive "solution" that further concentrates and exacerbates the problem among those least able to cope with it.

Now, if you want an actual example of "liberal" (more accurately, "progressive") harm being done, the anti-gentrification and anti-development brigades have plenty of blood on their hands re: inner city decay.

Comment: Re:What I really miss: high quality sprite graphic (Score 1) 175

by foreverdisillusioned (#49682483) Attached to: The Decline of Pixel Art
I'm fuzzy on the details, but Flash animation lends itself to a particular style. The Drawn Together series vs. the standalone movie is an interesting example of someone taking traditional animation and (for the movie) switching to Flash for the cost savings. They tried to keep the style the same and it was fairly similar but when you looked at the movements of the characters they carried the unmistakable hallmark of being Flash animation.

Comment: What I really miss: high quality sprite graphics (Score 2) 175

by foreverdisillusioned (#49679761) Attached to: The Decline of Pixel Art
While I don't actively hate it pixel art, I agree it's overused. If you're not specifically going for a retro vibe, I don't really see it as attractive. I think decrying the decline of this 'art form' is definitely premature at this point.

But the alternative in the 2D universe is all too often Flash or Flash-style animation, which IMO is a harbinger of cheesiness and not very attractive looking at all. It's very garish and cartoony--given the choice between the two I think I'd rather have pixel art, since (for me) it's a bit easier on the eyes, draws less attention to itself once you've been playing it for a bit.

What I really miss is that one art form that has been absolutely massacred by the trio of pixel art, flash graphics and (the ever easier to implement) 3D graphics--high quality sprite artwork. Think late 90s / early 2000s RTSes and CRPGs like Starcraft, Diablo 1/2, Fallout 1/2, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate, etc. If you have any of these games a high resolution makeover (the sad part is, in many cases higher resolution versions of many of the sprites probably existed on the artists' hard drives at the time) and they would look rather good. Improve the animations a bit (either by using 2.5D or by generating 2D sprites from 3D models) and I really think it could rival many of today's 3D games, for at least somewhat less money. (I'm not sure how much quality 2D artists cost vs. high end 3D graphics, so I couldn't say for sure how much less.) Scaling to different resolutions would be an issue, but not an impossible one and on the plus side you wouldn't have to worry about graphics card performance at all...

But alas, the AAA developers simply aren't going to sully themselves with such oldschool nonsense, and the indie developers are inevitably going to gravitate towards pixel art or cartoony Flash art due to the cost savings.

Comment: the selective focus is the bullshit part (Score 1) 950

Fair enough, as long as we don't discriminate for that list of commonplace "addictions": smartphones, Facebook, celebrity gossip, cars, TV shows, fan fiction, antidepressants, sports, bodybuilding, shopping, religion, (over)eating, etc.

While "addiction" is a nebulous and overused concept, I agree that obsession with anything could potentially be harmful. But surely you can see that pathologizing certain popular activities and not others is disingenuous.

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