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Comment: Re:Troll v Troll (Score 1) 173

by Pfhorrest (#49801747) Attached to: Professional Internet Troll Sues Her Former Employer

It kind of makes me wonder how effective this kind of shilling actually is.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone change their mind because of an argument, on the internet or otherwise. Ok, not anyone every, but the rare occasions I've ever seen of anyone ever having their mind changed about anything involved people who were already very open-minded critical thinkers, being presented with well-reasoned and nuanced arguments, and even those are rare.

Can the kind of mindless name-calling that passes for "argument" in most forums actually change anyone's mind, much less the kind of closed minds that tend to engage in that sort of conflict in the first place? What's the payoff for a big organization to engage in that sort of thing at all?

(Then again, I also frequently get spam that does not mention any products or contain any links or attachments or even complete sentences sometimes, which seems to completely defeat the point of spamming, yet it's been going on for years and years anyway at someone's expense...)

Comment: Re:Propaganda trolls propagandize propaganda artic (Score 4, Insightful) 173

by Pfhorrest (#49801497) Attached to: Professional Internet Troll Sues Her Former Employer

Unless they've been deleted somehow (Slashdot wouldn't do that, would they?), none of the posts prior to yours in this thread appears to be pro-Russian propaganda-trolls. There's a Stalin/Putin comparison (with a OT subthread ranting about Dice), a OT rant about Dice, an "In Soviet Russia" joke, a post distinguishing internet trolling from plain old propaganda (with an OT subthread ranting about Dice), and an AC calling trolling an artform. What's pro-Russian in there?

Comment: Re: C is not what YOU think it means (Score 1) 218

by Pfhorrest (#49794555) Attached to: Ways To Travel Faster Than Light Without Violating Relativity

Other people have already said this, but they're buried in replies to replies so I'll say this up here where it's more noticeable:

The practical upshot that a human can get to anywhere in the universe within their lifetime given enough fuel to keep up acceleration is correct, but from no frame of reference will you appear to have travelled faster than a beam of light.

In your traveling frame of reference, it will appear that the distance you travelled got smaller. That's why you can reach places that seemed too distant to reach in your lifetime before: because they don't seem so distant once you're on your way there.

In the rest of the universe's frame of reference, it will appear that you aged more slowly. That's why you can reach places that seemed too distant to reach in your lifetime before: because your lifetime got prolonged once you were on your way there.

In either frame of reference, when you get where you're going, you will still find that a beam of light sent at the same moment you departed will have arrived at your destination before you, and thus in neither frame of reference did you outrun the light. You just either aged more slowly or travelled less distance, depending on whose frame of reference we're talking about.

In a photon's frame of reference, there is no distance between anything and no at all time elapses to travel it. Given enough fuel you can get arbitrarily close to that and so travel to arbitrary locations with arbitrarily little aging along the way, and so get anywhere in your lifetime. But light can always do that better than you still.

Comment: Re:Democracy and small city states... (Score 2) 387

by Pfhorrest (#49785395) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

We are a representative democracy, and also a republic, and those are not the same thing.

The US is both a democracy and a republic.
The UK is a democracy but not a republic.
North Korea is not a democracy but is a republic.
Saudi Arabia is neither a democracy nor a republic.

Being a democracy or not is about how and by whom the power of the state is exercised. Being a republic or not is about in whose name the power of the state is exercised.

A republic is a state that officially belongs to the people, in whose name its power is exercised. The degree to which the people themselves direct the use of that power can vary from complete (in a direct democracy) to partial (in a representative democracy) to none at all (in an autocracy).

A democracy is a state that is directed and controlled (to at least some extent) by the people, whether the power of that state is in their name (as in a republic) or not (as in a monarchy).

The US is a republic, because the power of the state is officially that of the people (which is why court cases are titled things like "The People vs ..."). But the US is also a democracy, because that power is exercised, indirectly through representatives, by the people themselves, and not held by an autocrat who wields it in their name and ostensibly for their good but without any input from them.

The question of whether computers can think is just like the question of whether submarines can swim. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra