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Comment Re: Ethan doesn't understand relativistic time (Score 1) 139

A philosophical argument on time. Trying to prove nihilism? Gads so hippish. If there is no now, how can anything be measured, or perceived? How would you have a then?

I didn't say "there is no now", I said "there is no universal now"... for two observers who are some relativistically significant distance apart there is no way of agreeing on a "now" they have in common! But that doesn't mean that they can't each have their own separate "nows". I'm decidedly not trying to make a philosophical argument about time, I'm purely stating a consequence of relativity. You can still measure and perceive anything you want, and move along time's arrow, it's just that it's your personal arrow, shared only by those observers and experiments who are also moving together with you in space.

Yes, there is a philosophical argument that time's arrow is also meaningless, that time is space-like, but that's a separate argument.

Comment Ethan doesn't understand relativistic time (Score 2) 139

He starts out with the Yuval Ne’eman quote about how less people understand relativistic time than believe in horoscopes. Correct, it seems a lot less because as he goes on to demonstrate even someone as enlightened as he himself doesn't understand relativistic time!

Others have pointed out that talking about a galaxy moving a near light speed is purely hypothetical and not particularly interesting or different from other time-bending phenomena such as black holes. But the thing that makes this all completely meaningless (and shows that he doesn't really understand it) is that relativity tells us that there is no universal "now". It's pointless to talk about how old someone at another point in space (whether 100 lightyears or 13 billion light years from us) sees the Universe as being because you're only specifying 3 of his (at least) 4 space time coordinates, assuming the forth one to be "right now", but there is no "now". The "now" is just a convenience we use when the difference is so small as not to matter to us, but when any of the dimensions gets larger you have to specify all of them to say anything meaningful. You could specify the time dimension as a specific amount of time "passed since the big bang" (instead of "now"), but then the title of Ethans little essay becomes its own answer, demonstrating the meaninglessness of the whole exercise (i.e. "is everything that exists 13.8 billion years after the big bang the same age"?)

Comment Irony (Score 2) 109

For a distribution presumably targeted at security professionals it is rather ironic that when I try to look a their homepage I get the following:
      Javascript is required. Please enable javascript before you are allowed to see this page.
I have to make myself vulnerable before I am "allowed" to see their homepage? Heh. Nice try.

Comment Ethan didn't read the book... (Score 1) 226

TFA is basically a response to a talk on parallel universes given by Max Tegmark at the recent AAS conference. But it seems Ethan didn't read Max Tegmark's book (Our Mathematical Universe), because he only tries to address one of Tegmarks 4 levels of the Multiverse. The TLDR is that according to Tegmark the Multiverse is infinite, so there are other yous.

Comment Re:Can't forgive. (Score 1) 267

Shouldn't bother to reply to an anonymous coward, but it does help to clarify... it wasn't the moment Gnome 3 was released that the assholes broke my computer. It was the moment I *had* to upgrade from Fedora 14 to something more recent because Fedora 14 wasn't supported any more and there was no way to keep Gnome 2 at the time, and Gnome 3 was still feature incomplete and even just plain crashed on some of my hardware.

At that time MATE wasn't quite ready for primetime, I tried it at the time, but hey the good thing about Open Source is that MATE exists, and it's what I use now. So the Gnome developers can keep doing whatever they want for all I care, but it doesn't make them not assholes. There are some other assholes in Open Source, but not really all that many... most Open Source developers are pretty cool people and though they're often pretty opinionated they do tend to care about their userbase.

Comment Re:Can't forgive. (Score 1) 267

Sorry, but that's nonsense.

First of all, I have contributed code to many Open Source projects, including Gnome (just fixes here and there, but in all it wasn't an insignificant amount of my time). Secondly I'm not complaining about them not implementing features I want... I'm complaining about them wantonly killing a product that I and thousands of others had a lot of investment in. And there's no other way to put it... they killed Gnome 2 and replaced with something completely incompatible and feature-incomplete. Thirdly, most of them are NOT volunteers. They work for RedHat and other companies that pay them for their work on Gnome.

It is YOUR attitude that makes it hard for Linux to gain a strong position in the end-user market (i.e. on the desktop). If you just say "hey, it's free so don't complain" no serious users will want to depend on it.

Anyway, I didn't switch to Microsoft, and when I considered doing so it wasn't because of any principles, it was because I needed something with which I could do my work right NOW at that time.

Comment Can't forgive. (Score 3, Insightful) 267

Gnome 3 may be getting better... and I do think that many of the their engineering decissions were addressing real needs even if I personally would have preferred addressing them differently. But I still don't care for the UI and I can NEVER forgive Gnome for the way they pulled the rug out under my workflow. I had something that worked, that was well tuned to my needs, and these self-righteous ASSHOLES just plain simply and utterly BROKE it. For a year and a half after Gnome 3 went into Fedora I stayed with Gnome 2 by not upgrading my system, but I needed up-to-date apps, security fixes, etc. I did give Gnome 3 a chance... but aside from hating the UI it was missing features I needed and worse, at the time it was unstable on the graphics in my laptop! For a while I ended up using Xfce, which is ok but getting rather stale, then I switched to MATE which I'm still using now.

But the real point of this message is this... by breaking my desktop the Gnome people cost me hundreds of hours of lost productivity, and the same was probably true for tens of thousands of other Linux desktop users, so we're talking about millions of lost hour of productivity, amounting to probably several billion dollars. The sheer arrogance of this is staggering to me. Linus never did anything like this, it was always a principle of Linux development not to break userland exactly for this reason. Yeah, Gnome is "only UI", but it isn't as easy as just switching some habits... people have developed workflows around their UIs, so it amounts to the same thing... breakage.

So I'll never forgive Gnome, I'll never trust my productivity to them again. And I'm that many other Linux desktop uses feel the same way... although most of us are techies, we want to work, not wrestle with our desktop UI. I suspect this debacle has been a massive setback for Linux on the desktop. I'm as hardcore an open source you'll find, I haven't run a closed-source OS in over 20 years, but I was almost ready to throw in the towel and install Windows during the height of this!

Comment Re:Solves nothing (Score 2) 396

Uhm, no.

I live in a very similar place (Bahia in Brazil, which has a mostly African derived culture), and we have the same bananas here. I assure you that they are not the primary calorie source, although they may be a prominent part of the diet. In any case to get those GM bananas into the hands of the people who currently eat the non-GM bananas you're going to have to organize a huge logistical operation of producing millions of GM banana offshoots (remember that bananas have no seeds, they are all clones) and distributing them to millions of subsistence farmers. Possibly doable, but definitely more difficult than distributing papaya seeds (one papaya has hundreds of seeds and they store and sprout very easily!) And they can grow some papayas alongside their bananas... like I said they like the same soil conditions and they actually grow well together.

Also in the case of Uganda by far the easiest solution is make sure there is unprocessed red palm oil available on the local markets and that the people know that it's better for them than the processed oil... it is a superior source beta carotene as well as Vitamin E and some other essential nutrients, and Uganda is a major palm oil producer. Probably today almost all the palm oil produced commercially in Uganda gets processed and exported, which is the real irony in all of this... they probably destroy enough beta carotene in the processing of commercial palm oil to cure Vitamin A deficiency in the whole world!

(To explain the above... the oil plam produces two oils, red oil from the mesocarp and white oil from the kernel. The red oil, unprocessed, is very rich in beta carotene ((which gives the red color)) but has a strong flavor that makes it unsuitable for industrial food use. So they process it to remove the color, smell, and flavor, then the ship it around the world to use in junk food and other delights of civilization.)

Comment Solves nothing (Score 5, Interesting) 396

So the "super" in these bananas is extra Vitamin A (alpha and beta carotene). But in general this solves nothing because those people who are Vitamin A deficient probably can't afford the bananas and/or don't have the resources to grow them... if they did they could just as easily grow (for example) Papayas which grow in the same conditions as Bananas and have more than enough beta carotene without any GM tricks. The problem is that both Bananas and Papayas need very fertile soil (or lots of fertilizer) and plenty of water to grow.

The problem of Vitamin A dificiency may be real enough, but to really solve it you have to first look at the root of the problem. Why are people Vitamin A deficient? Were they always or is there something new happening? In Uganda for example I suspect that it's because people used to get their beta carotene from unprocessed red palm oil which they used to extract themselves and used for all their cooking, and now they are using processed cooking oils which are cheap enough that they just don't bother extracting their own oil anymore but which have all the beta carotene removed! So the problem was created by modern consumer society in the first place! The best solution here is just a bit of education, because the unprocessed red palm oil is probably still available and inexpensive and people have just gotten out the habit of using it. Just tell them to go back to frying their non-GM bananas in red palm oil instead of processed oil and they'll stop being Vitamin A deficient in no time.

In general, people who eat traditional diets are rarely deficient in such important nutrients as Vitamin A unless they simply don't have enough to eat overall. But people are losing their traditional diets due to the relentless onslought of consumerism... for those populations the cheapest and most effective solution to Vitamin A deficiency is education and making sure traditional sources of beta carotine continue to be available. For those who are deficient because of extreme poverty the super bananas (or the golden rice, another frankenfood ultra-solution) solve nothing unless you give them away, in which case you can give away non-GM sources of beta carotene just as easily.

Comment To paraphrase Lincoln... (Score 1) 309

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you haven't /really/ passed the Turing test until you can fool all of the people all of the time.

No really... Eliza fooled some of the people back in 1966. There is nothing really new to see here, move right along.

Comment Better a robot than a human robot? (Score 4, Insightful) 294

The problem with human interaction in much of the service industry today is that most of the corporate employees we have to interact with are so dis-empowered, they really are just robots... they act according to very limited scripts with neither real knowledge about the systems of which they are part nor any real decision making power. So they are just robots with the additional defect that they execute their programs imperfectly because they human and even have hurt feelings when you swear at them because of their incapacity to actually help you. This is frustrating for the customer and dehumanizing for the employee. So better real robots than fake (human) robots, right? Just so long as they understand "let me talk to a human"...

(And then there's the small problem of all the low-end jobs we're eliminating, etc, etc, but hey, progress is progress.)

Comment Re:Port knocking anyone? (Score 1) 349

Like I already said, it isn't very strong security, but it's as much real security as any password ever is. I already said it can be listened in on at the link layer... and a password (shared or not) can always be listened in on somewhere, if you encrypt all your network links I can still listen in on your keyboard, etc.

All security is relative and its usefulness must be evaluated against the types of threats that your trying to protect yourself from. If you're trying to protect yourself from un-targeted attacks (and that's not just unsophisticated script kiddies, but includes large-scale phishing by serious attackers) then the port-knocking concept can provide real security, because you can use it to implement a strong password (strong in the sense of being resistant to brute force attack) for network layer connections. It doesn't even matter if these passwords are shared or if your colleagues put them on sticky notes under their desk... the attackers in this particular threat-model don't have access to your link-layer or your desks.

Comment Port knocking anyone? (Score 2) 349

Like others have said, moving sshd to a high port was never meant to be additional security, just annoyance-reduction to reduce the sheer load in terms of bandwidth and log space. I did that for a while, but then (well over a decade ago) I saw an article about port knocking which is where you (i.e. the sshd) don't answer until the system receives a secret sequence of connection attempts at various ports... i.e. a secret "knock". The secret knock is a kind of password, and can be sent by executing a specialized client, or if you are somewhere where you don't have one available, by manually making telnet attempts, i.e. "telnet 16111; telnet 28123; telnet 22222".

The knock is basically a password for OSI network layer connections. This not only reduces the annoyance level of unsophisticated phishing attacks, but basically eliminates them altogether with a layer of real security. That security is not very strong... in a targeted attack, anyone who can monitor your link layer anywhere along a connection you make can see your secret knock... but it's an easy add-on and better than just playing tag with script-kiddies by moving ssh protocol to a high port.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright

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