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## Comment Polygraph 2.0 (Score 2)84

The TFA assumes that stylometry gives somewhat reliable results. It doesn't. Something as simple as an editor cleaning up a work can throw off the analysis.

Even in the optimal scenario (an unedited work by a single author who isn't trying to hide or imitate a different style), the best algorithms have abysmally high failure rates.

(KNN)â"50 neighbors: 0.69 success, 0.28 fail
Decision Tree 0.58 success, 0.42 fail
Mean Margins Tree 0.65 success, 0.36 fail

Stylometry is reasonably effective at correctly identifying when two works by the same author have the same style. It is garbage when it comes to determining when two works have different authors. If I were to guess, I'd say the problem is that the variation in style between authors (compared to the variation within a single author's work) is not always wide enough to allow for reliable identification.

Stylometry is interesting, certainly, but the prospect of such an unreliable method being used for important is alarming.

## Comment Re:Necessary anywhere (Score 1)126

How about closer to the sun than the L1 point, so that the radiation pressure is balanced by the gravitational pull of the sun?

Of course, L1 isn't a stable Lagrange point, so you'd have to expend energy to counteract gravitational perturbations from the other planets and fluctuations in solar radiation... but given the amount of solar energy you'd be collecting you'd have plenty of power to spare for manoeuvring.

No, the real problem would be the size of the damn thing. L1 is about four times the distance of the moon from the earth, so to block even 1% of the sun's light you'd need a shade almost half the moon's diameter.

## Comment Re:Stephen Wolfram's greatest talent (Score 5, Informative)105

I myself was curious, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Seems like he educated himself in particle physics when he was very young (started publishing papers at age 15), got accepted early by St. John's College when he applied at age 17, switched to CalTech at age 19, and got his Ph.D. a year later.

Now, obviously he was allowed to fast forward through the years of grinding that are normally required before you can enter college or work on a Ph.D. thesis. Given that he was already publishing widely cited physics papers at the age of 18, that was probably a good call on the part of his instructors.

## Comment Re:Honestly ... (Score 2)65

Even better, companies should stop the rampant collection of non-essential information.

Large databases of sensitive information are just massive breaches waiting to happen. If it's not a SQL injection attack, it will be some other exploit (heartbleed, shellshock, logjam, etc.) Even if you could magically defeat every exploit, the data can get exposed by any malicious or incompetent administrator. If nothing else, authorities with sufficient interest in the data could simply compel the database owners to turn it over.

When it comes to protecting amassed information, the only winning move is not to play.

## Comment Re: So? (Score 1)735

Nope... even if you got 100% of your electricity from dirty, dirty coal, the efficiency of the electric car is still so much higher than that of a standard gasoline ICE that you'll still end up putting less CO2 in the atmosphere for the same distance driven. A big coal-fired generator is a lot more efficient than a lot of small car motors.

## Comment Re:Stupid people are stupid (Score 2)956

Someone with MOHAMMED in their name carries wires and a circuit board and a clock display around in a box, and it makes noise to boot, what do you expect people to think?

Sadly, I'd expect them to do what you just did... leap to idiotic conclusions based on mindless prejudice. Watching people like you in positions of authority has drastically lowered my expectations over the years.

## Comment Re:Why does he waste his time? (Score 2, Informative)172

Will this be useful for solving real-world problems here and now? Probably not.

Does it help us better understand the universe? Absolutely.

The black hole information paradox is important in physics because a pretty fundamental idea of quantum mechanics is that it shouldn't be possible to destroy information. Burn a book? The complete information about all the molecules in the book are still encoded in the wave function of the system. Annihilate it with anti-matter? The information is now carried by the resulting gamma ray photons. You can make it difficult or impossible to recover the information, but the theory says you can't actually destroy the information itself.

This is why black holes are so interesting... having stuff disappear behind a one-way event horizon is basically the same as information destruction. It was a pretty fundamental paradox.

Now, whether you care about advances in theoretical physics is up to you, but to answer your question "who cares?"... I do. Nerds do. Join us... the universe is a wondrous and beautiful place.

## Comment Canadian experts (Score 1)203

In general it's difficult to get excited about Canadian issues, since the news and commentary from our US neighbors tends to be a lot more loud and extreme. However, there are a couple commenters I turn to when I want to catch up on what is happening in my own country:

Michael Geist is an excellent source for tech and intellectual property issues in Canada.

Chantal Hebert is a fantastic political analyst... her columns are regularly insightful and devoid of the partisan screeching that seems to infect a lot of political commentary.

## Comment Re: Prime Scalia - "Words no longer having meaning (Score 1)591

The original designer of the battle flag, William Miles, wrote that slavery was a "divine institution", and the designer of the Confederacy's flag (the battle flag on a white background) wrote that he specifically chose the white background to symbolize the supremacy of the white race.

I suppose you think that the resurgence of the battle flag during the 1950s and 1960s had nothing to do with the reactions to the gains of the Civil Rights movement. That symbol of Southern treason had almost faded into obscurity until Southern whites started to feel threatened, but sure... it's just an innocent symbol, just like the Civil War was all about "states rights" and not slavery, right?

## Comment Re:The mafia state (Score 1)219

I wonder how rigged the elections are in that province. You'd think that using MAFIA-style tactics would have too much risk of backfiring in any place which is not effectively a single-party dictatorship.

Let's see... in 2014 the BJP and allies won a pretty lopsided victory in Uttar Pradesh (73 out of 80 seats). In the three elections before that the results were much more evenly split, with SP beating the BJP in 2004 and 2009. Looks competitive, at least on paper.

It's weird... quietly killing a troublesome journalist is one thing, but burning them alive is usually reserved for sending a very loud message. It's a terror tactic that normally only organized crime or dictatorships can get away with. The minister who ordered the murder must have felt totally untouchable.

## Comment Re: Zero Research (Score 2)300

Homosexuals are just as free to marry someone with the opposite set of genitalia as everyone else, and just a restricted from marring someone with the same genitals as everyone else.

That's a funny sort of equality. Do also tell people in wheelchairs that they're just as free to use the stairs as everyone else? Would you tell your Jewish friends to stop complaining and eat the pork roast you served all your dinner guests, because "equality"?

Love has nothing to do with it. There is no law that requires you to love the person to whom you are married or the person you intend to marry.

Speak for yourself... if the freedom to marry someone you love is unimportant to you, that's your choice. The rest of us value the freedom to love and marry who we choose, and I'll continue to work damn hard against bigots like you to ensure that freedom applies to gay and straight alike.

## Comment Re:Just the kind of places (Score 1)99

We were fools, fools to desire such silence! Silence was never meant to be this clear, this pure, this... quiet. For a few short days, we marveled. Then the... whispers... began.

Were they Aramaic? Hyperborean? Some even more ancient tongue, first spoken by elder races under the red light of dying suns far from here? We do not know, but somehow, slowly... we began to UNDERSTAND.

No, no, please! I don't want to remember! YOU WILL NOT MAKE ME REMEMBER! I saw brave men claw their own eyes out... oh, god, the screaming... the mobs of feral children feasting on corpses, the shadows MOVING, the fires burning in the air! The CHANTING!

DO NOT MOVE INTO THE FOREST!

## Comment Re:Ringworld - beware the Pak (Score 1)85

That was my first thought too, except the ring belongs to a planet (or brown dwarf, at best), not the primary star.

Plus, no matter how cool the Ringworld is as a feat of engineering, it would probably just end up inhabited by a bunch of stupid pre-Industrial savages. /mutters stupid Ringworld Throne...

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