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Comment: Re:What Neil Gaiman said about GoT future (Score 1) 156

The problem is, NG's only partially right. Yes, it's also unreasonable to expect the author to dedicate every waking moment for years - perhaps even decades - of his life to finishing the work on schedule, much less a schedule that exists only on reader's minds. But it's also unreasonable to start releasing a series, start dragging your feet halfway through, and act surprised when the readers treat that as a betrayal. It is; the "to be continued" on the first book is why publishers and readers both tolerated the plot being unfinished and helped drive sales for the next book.

The author is not the reader's bitch, but neither does he get to make a deal, pocket the payoff, fail to deliver his end of the bargain and then act like people vilifying him for that are treating him as one. They aren't, they're treating him as a fraud.

Gaiman simply wants the best of both worlds for the author: the ability to start selling a long work before it's finished, and the freedom to bail out anytime without getting any flak. That's unreasonable, and not going to happen, because at the end of the day, the readers aren't author's bitches, either.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 374

by ultranova (#48946113) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

I'm so thankful I live in states that either don't do inspections, or no sniff tests at least.

But if you did, you wouldn't have to beg for identity reinforcement on online forums. You could protest with your friends against the yoke of oppression at the stairs of the state capitol rather than hope someone provides you with an opponent here.

One can be a rebel without a cause but not without an authority to rebel against.

Life's too short not to enjoy it to the max.

There is something very sad about ending a trolling attempt on Slashdot with such a sentence, especially on Friday night.

Comment: Re:Humans ask the questions. (Score 1) 91

by ultranova (#48945895) Attached to: Cutting Through Data Science Hype

Optimizing business processes like JIT supply chains is a branch of math called "operations research" (logistics if you are american).

Or "garbage in, garbage out" if you've seen the results of mathematically optimized processes encountering physical reality. But hey, someone earned a bonus for implementing them, and its not their fault someone got the flu, a storm delayed a ship, a roadwork delayed a truck which thus arrived just after lunch hour began, the warehouse door got stuck so they had to use another, another company was delivering goods at the same time so ours had to wait in line, the new part didn't fit, half the workforce was "optimized" away so the rest hate your guts and now have a work ethic to match, etc. etc.

Comment: Re:The crime happened to an Indian in India. (Score 1) 205

by ultranova (#48945789) Attached to: Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

This should be obvious, but for some reason, many people are always fixated on interpreting #3 (by far the most common scenario) as #2.

The "some reason" being that if someone goes to jail, the problem is solved - after all, they caught the bad guy, right? He's safely locked away or buried, unable to harm anyone again, and even more importantly, the injustice of an innocent person being victimized was just a temporary glitch that was promptly fixed - dreadful business, but now it's all behind us.

But if person A accuses person B of something horrible - such as a rape - then one of them must be a horrible person. If neither goes to jail, then justice has failed to be served. Occasional failures are inevitable with mere mortals, but no one likes - nor should like - them. The problem is, people don't always deal with such discomfort very well - there's no shortage of glitches in the current unfinished state of the world.

Comment: Re:Shame on them (Score 1) 174

by ultranova (#48945535) Attached to: Mathematicians Uncomfortable With Ties To NSA, But Not Pulling Back

To fail to recognize WWII was a holy war, is to fail to see what is happening now.

To the Nazis it certainly was. And it became that way for everyone towards the end. The entire 1900s were a time of religious warfare between fanatical supporters of various nations and ideologies.

Any ancient Athenian would instantly recognize, say, the American Eagle as the local equivalent of Athena. Which is fine, people need group identities to cooperate effectively, and these group identities will inevitably end up having recognizable personalities. But we'd gain more control over the outcome if we'd acknowledge that nations, ideologies, and anything else that can command people's loyalty is functionally a god and thus follows mythological, rather than rational, patterns.

Currently people aren't really aware of these high-level structures, which is why trying to control or even predict the outcome of various situations is a bit like decompiling a highly optimized program. And often the result ends up simply repeating typical religious patterns, for example with current efforts in Europe to placate the angry god Invisible Hand with public sacrifices - or "austerity", as the clerical cast ("economists") like to call it - to get back economical prosperity. And of course, communists on the other side of the ideological divide insisted that their god should bring forth a paradise on Earth, if only doctrinal purity was maintained. Evidence mattered little, until people finally lost their faith, at which point the Soviet Union fell pretty much overnight.

A god is a superorganism typical for humanity, the equivalent of anthill or beehive, thus every war is a holy war - a clash between rival deities - no matter what its nominal cause. Every member of a particular society has its image in their mind, suggesting courses of action compatible with said society, which then serve to reinforce them in anyone witnessing these actions. All too often that image has been quite beastly, but with greater awareness of these mechanisms, one can exert conscious control over the image - take actions which project the image one wants, hopefully starting a chain reaction that perpetuates the updated image through the entire society. It's about time we take human destiny into human hands under conscious control, rather than leave it to luck and instincts that have outlived their usefulness.

Comment: Re:More ambiguous cruft (Score 4, Insightful) 477

by ultranova (#48940807) Attached to: The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

I'd like to know who first got the public all excited about the terminator gene. It's obviously a self-regulating problem; if the terminator gene somehow crosses over into another population, those plants don't breed and they don't carry the gene forward.

Scenario: terminatored corn is widely succesful and replaces regular corn. Something bad happens to stop Monsanto from delivering more seends. What will the farmers plant? They can't use seeds from terminatored corn since they're infertile, and they can't plant regular corn seeds since they no longer have any. Mass starvation follows.

Planned obsolescence in vital systems is a really bad idea.

Comment: Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 2) 258

That's the beauty of this. While the anti-GMO folks are railing on about imagined long-term consequences, this shows that there really aren't any. It takes out a vast majority of the population for one generation. If you run this program for one year and then stop, these mosquitoes will either come back on their own or their niche will be taken over by other mosquito species. (Remember that not all mosquitoes are the same. There are 80 different mosquito species in Florida. This program is only targeting one of them.) Either way, the ecosystem survives even if this particular species doesn't and if this species survives, the GMO gene doesn't.

Comment: Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 1) 258

The problem is that people see "GMO", think "what's the worst thing that could happen" (whether or not that outcome is likely or even possible), and then assume that this has a strong chance of happening. At the vary least, they assume that scientists haven't ruled it out because the article they are reading online didn't specifically address what they thought of.

For example:

If a female mosquito mates with a GMO mosquito the genetic reactions could cause the next generation of mosquitoes to be twice as big!!!! (You need to include many exclamation points to make it scarier.) Now, the article doesn't specifically say that this can't happen so this means that it's not only possible but likely. If they release these GMO mosquitoes, we'll be overrun with giant, blood-sucking mosquitoes!!!!!!

(Never mind that this isn't genetically possible. It's likely because someone somewhere thought of it.)

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 5, Insightful) 469

Actually, Google has shown that you need to have deep pockets to get over incumbant efforts to keep you out. Many municipal broadband efforts have fizzled because the incumbents muscled them out (sometimes without even serving the area that the municipal broadband network would have covered).

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney