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Comment: As I understand it... (Score 1) 226

A football match is a commercial entertainment show - somebody has invested money (lots of it, in the case of football) in producing the show, and therefore has at least a legitimate claim to the content. I don't necessarily agree with the whole copyright thinking, but if it illegal to film in cinemas, theatres and at concerts, then the same holds for a sports match; why would it be different? It is not something that happens in the public space - these venues are privately owned.

Personally, I think it is a petty attitude to get up in arms over small clips; I don't think people sharing these things online translates into lost revenue - on the contrary, it is likely to make more people want to go to the next match, whereas making a fuss like this puts people off.

Comment: False dichotomy (Score 3, Informative) 253

by jandersen (#47669477) Attached to: The Benefits of Inequality

Which would you prefer: egalitarianism or totalitarianism?

The question makes little sense - for one thing, egalitarian is not the opposite of totalitarian - to quote Wikipedia:

- "Egalitarianism ... is a trend of thought that favors equality for all people"

- "Totalitarianism or totalitarian state is a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible".

Arguably, the opposite of egalitarianism is elitism; there isn't really a good word for it that I could find. The same holds for totalitarianism - no good antonym, but democratism might be close enough. These concept occupy two, independent spaces, although it may be that totalitarianism is found more with elitism than with egalitarianism.

The other problem with this question is that they are not binary concepts, but define a continuum - IOW there are different degrees of both scales.

When it comes down to it, the choice you make may not be as obvious as you think. New research suggests that in the distant past, groups of hunter-gatherers may have recognized and accepted the benefits of living in hierarchical societies, even if they themselves weren't counted among the well-off. This model could help explain why bands of humans moved from largely egalitarian groups to hierarchical cultures in which social inequality was rife.

There is nothing new in this. Even back in the day, when we can imagine that humans lives like the other, large apes in small groups, there would have been leaders - alpha-males or -females. Or in family groups, one or both parents would have been in charge. This makes sense, since a more experienced, older adult makes better decisions than a younger one, and a physically stronger individual is able to take what he/she wants as well as offering better protection against attackers etc.

But what recent research of the Egyptian culture actually shows is, that hierarchical society developed, not because hierarchy is inherently better, but because the alternatives were worse. If Egypt hadn't been surrounded by desert, people would have moved away, and hierchical society wouldn't have been established that early. Compare to North Europe, where it is possible to live more or less everywhere, and hierchical societies seemingly didn't arise until much later, when population density got high enough.

Comment: Re:here we go again... (Score 0) 75

by jandersen (#47661143) Attached to: Maryam Mirzakhani Is the First Woman Fields Medalist

Of course - it is a great achievement for any mathematician. However, the gender imbalance in Maths is a real thing, and it is a shame - not because it is unfair to women, but because I think mathematical research would benefit from having more women contribute. Mathematical research is highly dependent on creativity, and it seems quite likely to me that women might bring a slightly different perspective.

I don't think it is about women being pushed out - it is probably more about perceptions. Mathematics is often being seen as 'a high and lonely destiny', something very dry and focused on the achievements of single individuals, which probably appeal a good deal more to men than to women. And it doesn't help either, that the Fields Medal is only given to researchers under the age of 40, when many, especially women, feel they have more important things on their minds; perhaps that should be revised upwards, not least because we now expect to live productive lives far longer.

Comment: Re:Are You Kidding? (Score 1) 537

by jandersen (#47653171) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

Scientific discussion of racial differences is not the same as racism.

Well, let us start with the expression "racial differences": here, you presuppose the existence of a meaningful definition of "race". Looking back over history we can see that philosopers and scientists have done everything they can to justify, scientifically, a definition of race based on things like skin colour, and when that didn't really work, on other physical traits. We have had very good reasons to think that the concept didn't actually refer to a deeper reality for a long time, and this is now corroborated by genetic evidence - the genetic variation, even within a single family, is normally far wider than the average variation between supposedly different races, which means that based on the gene map alone, it is not actually possible with any certainty to place any individual in any race, whichever way you define it.

One also has to bear in mind that biological concepts like genus and family are abstractions that are only in use because because they help us understand the reality they describe. The concept of "race" fails in that respect - it doesn't aid our understanding of biology.

It's amazing how afraid some people are of frank discussion about race. They want to shut it down as soon as it begins, typically by denying the question ("there's no such thing as race!!") or personal attacks like you're doing ("you're racist for even suggesting that!!!").

No - they just can't stand yet another, stupid row over something that is so obviously not useful and just reeks of prejudice.

So, you're making your own ridiculous assumptions (good at business = cunning? really? how so?) and ascribing them to the book and then labeling it racist.

I was being sarcastic - I have, over a far too long life, read, heard and encountered so much stupid stereotyping and bigotry: Jews are greedy money-lenders, Germans are humour-less 'Huns', Africans are half-apes etc etc. And drawing a line from "good at business" to "cunning" is not unreasonable. "Cunning" was one ot the characteristics that were often ascribed to the Chinese in the past (think of stories like "Fu Manchu"), and it is easy to see "good at business" as a euphemism for "cunning, devious, ...".

Comment: Re:Are You Kidding? (Score 4, Insightful) 537

by jandersen (#47647825) Attached to: Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

Oh, come on. Political Correctness has no place in discussions that are scientific in nature.

On the other hand, science does, and this book is not science, but opinion, if you want to be polite about it. Racist opinion, to be precise, which have been around in some guise or other since who knows when? This kind of racism-disguised-as-science was common throughout 18th and 19th centuries and generally went along the lines of 'Us White (North-) Europeans Are Better Than The Rest' and was used to justify why we had a moral duty to go out and 'civilize' the inferior races.

Science is not made by taking a hand-picked assortment of data, twist it a few times and going 'Look, I can make the data match my opinon' - for anything to be science, you must have a hypothesis, which suggests a logically coherent explanation of all observed facts, makes testable predictions - and which survives experimental testing. It takes only 1 failed prediction to kill a theory.

Northern Europeans clearly evolved to have fair skin and hair, and they evolved from ancestors who did not have fair skin and hair.

Correct me if I am wrong, but that is hardly the main point of this book, is it? To quote from the article:

In the book, Wade suggests that such genetic differences may help explain why some people live in tribal societies and some in advanced civilizations, why African-Americans are allegedly more violent than whites, and why the Chinese may be good at business.

So, black people are violent (meaning 'primitive'?), Chinese are cunning ('good at business') and The White Man is the epitome of civilisation? And this is not racism - how? This is just a worthless rehash of junk from the days of the colonialism.

Comment: Censorship? (Score 1) 74

by jandersen (#47645463) Attached to: Clever Workaround: Visual Cryptography On Austrian Postage Stamps

Groan. Something about this reminds of the scene in Monty Python's 'The Holy Grail', where a rather pestilential peasant is yelling 'I'm being oppressed'. Look, it's not always censorship when some company or government service refuses to be the medium for somebody's political propaganda; or if you insist on calling it censorship, then I have to say that not all censorship is bad.

But I don't think it applies in this situation - nobody has a right to have things printed for them, not even in a news paper. And just like a paper can refuse to print an article or an advert for any reason they like, the postoffice can do the same, of course. They have to make a business decision - why should they print a postage stamp, if they have reason to believe it may harm their business or their reputation? Freedom of speech doesn't mean that everybody has to help you spread your opinions, it only means that the state guarantees that they will not punish people for doing so.

Comment: Re:Funny money (Score 1) 409

...because China flooded the unholy fuck out of the solar market, ...

Ah, the good old supply and demand, you say? Whatever, but the article argues that because nuclear power is 'more economic' right now, we should stay away from the alternatives, and I think that is a bogus argument. What we should do is use nuclear in the short term, while working hard to replace both fossil fuels and nuclear, as well as minimising our waste of energy and resources, because that is far more sustainable, long term.

That last point is far more important than finding alternative energy sources, because it can have an immediate and dramatic effect, and there are so many easy ways that every person on the planet could employ to cut back on wastage.

Comment: Re:That's more than reversing the effect (Score 1) 105

Mayne will be reading this as saying 'there's a way cure Alzheimer'; actually it isn't a cure, it just covers up some of the symptoms of the still progressing disease. This is comparable to painkillers - they take away some of the pain, which is good, but the underlying cause is still there; not a problem if you have a passing headache, but it can be much more serious if it is something that slowly gets worse, like an infected tooth, a slipped disc - or cancer.

Comment: Re:Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend (Score 1) 353

by jandersen (#47621527) Attached to: Microsoft Tip Leads To Child Porn Arrest In Pennsylvania

A pedophile is nothing more than a person who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children. Not all pedophiles rape or even look at child porn, and not all child rapists are even necessarily pedophiles.

You're just trying to sell the myth that being pedophile is really just innocent, nothing to worry about. But that trivialises the problem to the extent that in fact, most people are 'pedophiles' because they can see the attraction in innocent beauty - what we call pedophilism is a much more sinister and harmful condition: when an adult for whatever reason steps over the border between seeing and doing. It is in many ways parallel to the phenomenon that is called 'paranoid schizophrenia': most people have at least sometimes, a conversation going on in their head - like a voice that comments on what they do and see. They are not called schizophrenic, because they are able to distinguish between their inner voice and what happens outside their own mind.

And being pedophile is not like being gay; pedophiles are made, not born. One can argue that honmosexual behaviour is something that strengthens male bonding and therefore would have been an advantage in a small hunter-gatherer community, whereas it is clear that children who have been sexually molested do not survive that unscathed. Whether the acutal damage is primarily due to the sexual element or the physical and mental abuse that accompanies it, or something different, is not really relevant - the bottom line is that pedophiles harm children; and in fact, one of the outcomes of child abuse is that the child is more likely to become a child abuser as well, which makes the problem all the more serious.

No, it's easy, and that's because there is no logic; just a strong desire for more and more government control over what information is accessible to people.

Playing the 'Evil Govt' card is just your form of voodoo. It is astonishing, the amount of power people can imagine "The Government" has; apparently they are also able to cover up all thes UFO landings all over the place.

Comment: Re:Fatal flaw: China can't adapt (Score 1) 115

by jandersen (#47621269) Attached to: China Bans iPad, MacBook Pro, Other Apple Products For Government Use

China has always been controlled from the center. In past eras, China has had technological and exploration advantages over the West that were wiped out by intrusion and isolation commanded from China's locus of concentrated power - whether via emperors, or the current regime.

Long run (maybe, even near-long-term) this does not bode well for China's prospects, because when one is sealed off from outside ideas and innovation, one will ultimately fall behind and adapt only in suboptimal ways. What results is a waste of social and intellectual capital.

Yes, the good old myths that I used to read about in the 70s, 80s, 90s, ... - and which have been promoted ever since the days of the British Empire. It's a load of nonsense, basically; racism dressed up with cheap self-flattery: 'Us in the West are much better because of "freedom" or "democracy" or whatever'.

History shows us that China, like all other, great civilisations go through periods of progress and stagnation. Right now they are progressing at a staggering pace, while we are beginning to lag behind. And I can't see where you get the idea from that China is 'sealed off from outside ideas', when the truth is that China is investing hugely in education, science and technology, both in China and overseas. Also, I believe I have seen many times over the last couple of years, that people on this very forum keep complaining that new gadgets come out in China before you can get them in the US. In short, they are way ahead of us at the moment, and we should stop pissing in the wind and get ourselves moving, preferably in a forward direction.

Personally, I think we should be more confident in our own ability to take part in cooperation with China and other of the ascending nations. The future is likely to hold much more international cooperation and much less nationalism. Well, one can hope.

Comment: Indeed (Score 1) 138

by jandersen (#47605367) Attached to: Harvesting Wi-Fi Backscatter To Power Internet of Things Sensors

Can you ...

...Imagine a world in which your wristwatch or other wearable device communicates directly with your online profiles, storing information about your daily activities where you can best access it â" all without requiring batteries.

All to well, I'm afraid. What I can't imagine is what the hell I or anybody else would want that? I'm not much of a Luddite, but being constantly online is just not part of my lifestyle, and seeing the quality of the online natterdom, I feel no attraction at all, on the contrary. It's just like having a million TV channels, all of them showing Big Brother and Coronation Street and nothing else, 24/7.

Comment: Re: You're welcome to them. (Score 1) 402

by jandersen (#47587717) Attached to: Comparison: Linux Text Editors

Not everyone uses vi/vim because it's "cool". Many of us use it because it's simply more productive to do so.

Exactly - and it is amazing how good the basic vi functionality is. I always run vim in compatibility mode, not least because I work across many UNIXes, and basic vi is available everywhere.

Another good reason for not using fancy editors is that they support syntax highlighting and spell checking, which are often difficult to off. Yes, there are people to whom it is annoying to have every abbreviation and every word in a foreign language flagged as misspelled, and to whom proper indentation is sufficient to set off the structure of code.

And one final point: the fact that you can apply any standard UNIX command to a range of lines in vi is just amazing. Look it up if you don't already know it, but are interested.

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.