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Comment: Re:No (Score 2) 749

by joelpt (#43251657) Attached to: Can You Really Hear the Difference Between Lossless, Lossy Audio?
'The more that pseudoscience goes unchecked in the world at large, the harder it is for truth to overcome truthiness... even if this is a small and relatively insignificant example.' ~ http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/03/06/0048259/why-distributing-music-as-24-bit192khz-downloads-is-pointless

'For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.' ~ Carl Sagan

Asking for people to behave rationally may not always be the easy way, but in my experience it is almost always worth doing. I think as a species we'd be a lot better off if everyone valued rationality highly, so I think we should encourage that in everyone.

Comment: Re:only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins (Score 1) 600

by joelpt (#42090357) Attached to: Bitcoin Mining Reward About To Halve

They are just numbers. Bitcoins could therefore be subdivided as small as is reasonable or required for actual usage. For example, the main Bitcoin client currently allows you to display bitcoin figures in BTC, mBTC (1/1000 BTC), or BTC (1/1000000 BTC).

I believe the current Bitcoin protocol supports subdivisions up to 8 decimal places. Apparently this can be extended further with minor alterations to the existing Bitcoin protocol.

Comment: Re:This should be illegal (Score 5, Interesting) 171

by joelpt (#38331134) Attached to: Two SOPA Writers Become Entertainment Lobbyists

And that would be exactly the reason you have no right to a negative opinion.

I think non-voters most certainly have a "right" to a negative opinion, whether or not they choose to "voice" that opinion via voting. They simply view voting as a nearly useless (inaudible) way to voice their opinion; or perhaps that increasing the "percent abstained" figure is a more valuable way to express their opinion -- the "vote of no-confidence".

Personally, I would wager that posting my opinion in the Slashdot comments is likely to have at least as much, if not more, of an impact than visiting the voting booth ever will.

"If you don't order chicken or beef from the menu, you don't have a right to discuss the morality of animal consumption." But I'm a vegetarian!

Comment: Re:This is an evil monopoly move, and must be stop (Score 1) 294

by joelpt (#34892264) Attached to: Amazon, Not Developers, Will Set New App Store's Prices
It is a bit of a dirty trick, but the proof will be in the pudding. If putting your app on Amazon's store results in an overall increase in your revenue across all channels, it's worth having your app there. Conversely, if Amazon's sale-pricing of your app ends up over-cannibalizing sales on other channels with higher-percentage returns, the balance sheet will show it.

As I look at it, Amazon is essentially wagering that they can push at least 3.5x more volume of sales of your app (at 20% PPU to the developer) than you get from Google's Android Marketplace (which I believe returns 70% PPU). If they cannot do that, developers will be unlikely to continue publishing their apps there. Amazon will be looking to do this through sale pricing, bundling, coupons, targeted advertising, recommendations, and perhaps an Amazon Android phone.

Comment: Re:Aw thanks... (Score 1) 710

by joelpt (#34706126) Attached to: 4chan Has Been DDOSed

If you think that having a theistic outlook on the world is irrational, prove it. Show me, point by point, exactly why there can't possibly be gods in the universe.

OK, I'll give it a shot.

I originally wrote this for a slightly different audience so please forgive any digressions.

I work strictly from definitions here, because you can be sure something that you reason about from your own definitions is correct. Whether those definitions also accurately describe what they are commonly understood to mean is something we can discuss.


Truth: something which follows from its assumptions (definitions).

  • "Henry VIII reigned for 57 years" is an empirical belief, and cannot ever be known to be true or false.
  • "If Henry VIII ever reigned, then he must have reigned for some time" is a valid truth, since it follows from the used definitions that it cannot be other than true.
  • "I see that black rock there" cannot definitely prove that the black rock was indeed there; it only proves that you saw a black rock there. You cannot prove that you experience anything to any other person, but it is undoubtedly true that you are experiencing what you are experiencing.
  • Truth itself is a definition. It is the word or concept we use to refer to that which follows from other definitions we have made.

Cause: something which has an effect, and "creates" that effect.

Necessary cause: a cause which is necessary for an effect to arise; without the cause, the effect would not occur.

  • Your having a heart is a necessary cause for your continued survival. If you remove the heart, the continued survival does not occur; therefore it is a necessary cause.
  • Me not killing you is a necessary cause for your continued survival.
  • (These may not be literally necessarily true, but you get the idea)

Sufficient cause: a cause which can create an effect, but is not the only possible cause which could do so.

  • Me buying a burrito at Taco Bell is a sufficient cause for them making money today.
  • Me kicking my monitor in is a sufficient cause for it to stop working right.

God: the creator of all things.


Totality: everything without exception. Any thing you might conceive of as being outside of the Totality, is by this definition a part of the Totality.

Thing: some object that can be distinguished from the Totality.

  • That which can be distinguished from what is not that thing.
  • That which has a boundary of some sort delineating it from the Totality.

Finite: not the Totality; bounded. Any thing, as defined, meets this definition of finite.

Infinite: Utterly without boundaries. No thing can be infinite by definition. By this definition, the Totality is infinite -- utterly without boundaries.

  • A finite thing X must have one necessary cause, that cause being that which is not it: not-X.
  • This is because if you remove not-X, then X itself disappears. X relies on not-X to give it boundary and definition. Removing not-X removes that boundary and definition. Therefore not-X is a necessary cause for X.
  • Therefore, any given thing is caused.
  • Therefore, all things are caused, and are also finite.
  • It is interesting to observe that any time we conceive of X, we also have implicitly conceived of what is not X. We draw up a boundary between X and not-X. This conceiving could therefore be called a necessary cause of X's existence.
  • If we conceive of God as an entity of some type, with some attributes, then God is a thing. He has a defined boundary between what is him and what is not him.
  • Therefore, if God is a thing, he is finite.
  • Therefore, if God is a finite thing, he has a cause.
  • Being thusly caused, then by definition, this finite God cannot be the creator of all things, since he himself has a necessary cause (at least, "not-God").
  • More specifically by the drawing-up of a boundary between what is God and what is not God.
  • On the other hand, we could conceive of God as infinite in nature. Then:
  • God has no boundaries from/in the Totality.
  • "God" is therefore identical to (not-other-than) "the Totality".
  • God therefore cannot have any specific properties that we can speak of meaningfully, which would distinguish him from anything else and make him not be identical to the Totality.
  • However, here we could meaningfully think of God as defined, "the creator of all things". Since it is indeed the Totality which is literally "the creator of all things" (all creations and creation is a part of the Totality), then Infinite God and the Totality both satisfy the definition of God as "the creator of all things".
  • The Totality can be said to have a property, that property being that the Totality is not bound in any way, and is not a "part" of reality; it refers to literally all of reality.
  • We could therefore call the Totality a thing, in that it has a property which makes it something other than "not the Totality".
  • But under our definitions it is illogical to do so, because a thing is that which can be delineated from the Totality, so we would be trying to say "the Totality is not the Totality".
  • In our definitions, the Totally literally means "not a thing".
  • More mundanely speaking, common religious conceptions of God are finite, because they think of God as an entity or force which created all things. Those which do not believe their God created all things cannot also logically believe that their God is all-powerful.
  • They also assign various specific attributes to him, such as benevolence. This conception of God is finite because if you say "God cares for people", you must have then an idea of what is "not God".

Comment: Re:Aw thanks... (Score 1) 710

by joelpt (#34690244) Attached to: 4chan Has Been DDOSed

There's absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to adhere to a faith, or to a religion, as long as you recognize that as a choice.

While I agree that we shouldn't deny people the right to believe what they like, it would be negligent to ignore the more serious harm that religious belief causes: a willingness to believe in fantasies with no grounding in reality.

However a person lives their life, they will serve as an example to others. If they live their life believing in fantasies and demonstrably false ideas, they cannot help but encourage, or at the least not discourage, such irrational behavior in others. Consequently it's not really possible to avoid "harming" others in this sense.

Such people are also more susceptible to being manipulated and accepting other baseless ideas as true; witness the audience of FOX News.

Thus I think everyone has a responsibility to eliminate their own irrational beliefs.

This is without even considering the probable benefits that would come from more people striving for a completely rational mindset.

Comment: Re:"IDF’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200" (Score 1) 189

by joelpt (#34674204) Attached to: Did Stuxnet Take Out 1,000 Centrifuges At Natanz?
From TFA, the rumored culprits are "IDF’s Military Intelligence Unit 8200, .... or perhaps the United States. Langer said last week that in his opinion at least two countries were behind Stuxnet."

So yes, the USA is one possible rumoured culprit.

And Unit 8200 is a part of the Israel Defense Forces.

Comment: Re:Dangerous (Score 1) 794

by joelpt (#34444250) Attached to: PayPal Withdraws WikiLeaks Donation Service

Try CrashPlan http://b5.crashplan.com/landing/index.html

I tried half a dozen online backup services before settling on this one, as it's the only one that was stable and not too resource-hungry on Windows. I also ran numbers vs. S3/Jungledisk and for the amount of data I store (~50GB) CrashPlan was much cheaper.

They also have backup agents for Win/Mac/Linux.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!

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