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Comment: Re:Life form? (Score 1) 372

by pspahn (#48638995) Attached to: The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots


When considering the question of "God", it's possible that the god/entity that created us has its own god that created it. Who is to say that our god is the same god as any given alien creature?

Oh, those robots only exist because we were able to build a physical structure and provide a means of power and environmental interaction.

It's also possible that our definition of "artificial" or "synthetic" is not universal. Maybe in the eyes of some alien, we are the ones who are artificial.

Oh, those humans only exist because we were able to build a physical skeleton and provide a means of power and environmental interaction.

Think just for a moment about plant tissue cultures. You take some chunk of a plant, stick it in a dish and give it some food, and ultimately you may end up with an entirely new plant clone from one tissue sample. That tissue sample might be a piece of leaf, but it will still be able to grow other plant tissues like roots, bark, flowers, etc. To me, this is evidence of a form of "engineering" as well as a very interesting lesson in biological recursion.

Comment: Re:But why? (Score 1) 143

by pspahn (#48493825) Attached to: Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013

This is part of it, yes.

The fundamental problem is you have loads of ecommerce sites that were built as turn-key solutions and handed over to an "admin" for the company. They can start creating their own content to add to the site, so they start searching for things to add to their site. They find snake-oil dealers that offer them everything in exchange for a small script element inserted into the DOM.

Additionally, the admins haven't taken the time to learn how to save images for the web properly, and they serve a 900x600 image that's a handful of MBs (x6 for a simple slideshow).

Between the excess of HTTP requests added by the tracking scripts and the excess of MBs being downloaded for images / video, it is not a surprise that ecommerce sites are getting slower. I would expect this trend to continue to some degree.

Comment: Re:Stupid, trucks cause the problem (Score 1) 554

by pspahn (#48392849) Attached to: The Downside to Low Gas Prices

Look at how narrow minded you are. You ride a bike 50km each day to and from work in Germany, therefore everyone across the world should be able to do the same.

I do ride to work every day. It's pretty close, only about 10 minutes after I stop and get morning beverages. For the last week it has been in the single digits F and the roads have been iced over. I actually rode to work on Monday as the roads weren't bad yet (though it was still frigid). I got to work and was surprised to see that 80% of the office was out.

The rest of this week, though, I most definitely got a ride to work instead of riding. I'm already worried enough about distracted drivers and pedestrians not paying attention (I dodge several accidents each week) that adding an icy road and sub-zero temperatures is just asking for trouble.

And really, studded snow tires? That might work for people where the snow stays around for months. Here in Denver, we went from a sunny 70 degree weekend to sub-zero temps in less than 48 hours. In a week's time, we will probably be back up into the 50's with sunshine. Personally, I don't see having to switch your wheelsets out every couple of days before work as an acceptable solution.

Comment: Re:Prove him right some more (Score 1) 263

by pspahn (#48107909) Attached to: Carl Sagan, as "Mr. X," Extolled Benefits of Marijuana

Precisely this. The difference between known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

An ant walks around in the dirt with a sense of the hive and all that, but what if you could ask an ant what it thought about nuclear fusion? Of course, the ant has no concept of nuclear fusion and cannot even come up with a response worthy of note.

Humans have an understanding of nuclear fusion. It's not something we always had, but we do now. I can go to the dumbest 12 year old on the street and ask about nuclear fusion and there will be some acknowledgement of what it sort of is - unless they are freak-like and have studied these things in-depth at the age of 12 - even though the child doesn't *really* know what nuclear fusion is.

The most interesting aspect, though, is that whatever God or *it* is, us humans have the same knowledge of *it* as the ant does of nuclear fusion. The difference is that we wonder if *it* exists whereas the ant hasn't ever bothered to ponder such things.

Comment: Re:1996 called (Score 4, Informative) 263

by pspahn (#48107693) Attached to: Carl Sagan, as "Mr. X," Extolled Benefits of Marijuana

What's even worse is that a story like this is still even news.

I was a senior in high school in 1997 when I did my own research and found the evidence that marijuana prohibition has cost our society dearly. I knew it as truth back then; my paper was called "Be Wise, Legalize".

It's taken over 15 years since then for us humble folks from the cowtown that is Denver to change things. If you've been here even for just the last 3-4 years, you've seen the amazing economic benefits of legalizing cannabis.

How did it take this long to realize this, and why is a 40+ year old quip from a smart person regarding cannabis reform still fucking newsworthy? Has nobody been paying attention?

Comment: Re:They'll have rights (Score 2) 385

by pspahn (#48100381) Attached to: Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

You might just wait a few months then.

Amendment 67 in Colorado is a personhood bill that actually has some support this year. I remember when they were collecting signatures and I saw loads of people signing it that had no idea of the ramifications.

Ask the average nitwit if, "a pregnant woman is hit by a drunk driver, should there be two counts of manslaughter?" The knee-jerk response is "well that at least seems reasonable". That is how they worded it to people. Only by reading the proposal will you see how transparently they're trying to make abortion illegal.

Comment: Re:If yes then what ? (Score 1) 389

by pspahn (#48074763) Attached to: Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

Why would you only have an interaction of two people?

How would you go about identifying students with C grades that maybe never even took the SAT or ACT, yet would do incredibly well in college due to their creativity?

Personally, I would ask the student's teachers. Most high school students will have 10-12 teachers in a single school year. That's on top of counselors, class secretaries, administrators, etc. The question is simple, "Do you have any highly creative, intelligent, but unchallenged students for which the traditional college path is not the best choice?"

Believe it or not, high school teachers can be pretty adept at identifying these things. For two semesters in my senior year, my Econ/Am.Gov't teacher gave me a B each time even though I had a high F or a low D going into the final. The reason for my low grade was that I never did homework. I didn't need to. I paid attention and participated in class. I asked questions. I aced the quizzes. I would even stay after class sometimes to have something clarified. After acing the finals, the teacher recognized my ability and gave me the grade he felt I deserved.

Of course, other teachers might be the opposite. I had a math teacher that once challenged me to a fist fight because I didn't show my work.

Comment: Re:If yes then what ? (Score 1) 389

by pspahn (#48074555) Attached to: Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

... since the creative people have to all go get jobs since they were turned down when they applied to become professional students.

Speaking as someone who considers himself a "creative", I was never "turned down" applying to school. Schools (save some of the elite institutions) aren't in the business of turning down customers. If you show up the folks send the tuition check on time, they don't care if you're creative or not.

Rather, the difference is that a "creative" is likely to not want to go to school but is more interested in discovering their own path to their career goals. That might include school, but not necessarily.

I have interviewed at places where they discriminate *against* folks that went to school and also the other way around. What this says to me is that there are plenty of opportunities for people of varying abilities out there. There is no "brain-dead" workforce, only one that is misled.

If this were not the case, we wouldn't have movies such as Dead Poet's Society, Kill Your Darlings, A Beautiful Mind, and on and on. These movies are interesting because they introduce scenarios where the creatives that have ended up on a path of little creativity are allowed to learn in ways contradictory to the traditional methods.

What improved creativity testing gives us is the ability to identify individuals that test highly in other areas but also test as highly creative. Traditionally, that creativity might not get noticed and they go on to college and flunk out because it's nowhere near stimulating enough. Some of them may still go on to do great things (see the list of college dropout billionaires), but had that creativity been noticed in the first place, they might have chosen a more appropriate path to begin with.

I 100% regret trying (twice) to go back to school after high school. I would have been much better served by jumping into the workforce instead. Literally, the most valuable thing I learned was how to apply for a loan. Everything else was remedial.

Comment: Re:That's odd. (Score 1) 126

by pspahn (#48070305) Attached to: Diners Tend To Eat More If Their Companions Are Overweight

I'm not quite sure.

I'm guessing that some aspect of why people are choosing to eat more is simply because food is life and we are wired to feel like we need to "compete" for food. If we see a spread of food that we are going to eat, and then see fat people near it, we might want to eat more for fear of not getting any. The same could be true for, say, the youngest child of six. Not because of the weight, but because they see their odds of getting food dwindle and they will try and eat as much as they can.

Alcohol is sort of the same, but I don't think for the same reasons. In the presence of someone who is an alcoholic, I don't think you start drinking a lot because you're worried they're going to drink everything, but instead you're drinking more simply to "keep up" in a social sense.

Hold on to the root.