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Comment: Re:But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 223

by quantaman (#47789445) Attached to: Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

I'd be a little more inclined to believe that the person who wrote the document was a real expert if there had been a known case of these guys actually producing a biological weapon. This sounds a whole lot more like people who have never built a biological weapon teaching other people who have never built a biologial weapon how to build a biological weapon. Lots of thought experiments being put on paper as instructions as if they were tried and true methods.

I can do a write up for how to build a nuclear bomb for my terrorist brothers based on my rudimentary undergraduate physics education, but there's no way in hell those instructions would actually produce anything useful.

The Bubonic Plague strikes me as a bit of a red flag. I don't know much about biological warfare but the Bubonic Plague strikes me as something you talk about if you don't know anything about biological warfare and just want something that sounds bad and has historical connotations.

Even if they had a good disease I still think it's a terrible plan.

If they target a western state the health care system will make it mostly useless. If they target a middle eastern state they're at war with it will be worse than useless, the target state will have better health care than the neighbouring ISIS territory, the plague could easily boomerang and devastate the ISIS controlled areas far worse than the target state.

Comment: Re:Could have fooled me (Score 4, Insightful) 205

by quantaman (#47781951) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

I am canadian, and if we are the most scientiically literate. I really pity the rest of you.

I pity us also. Does Canada have lots of relatively successful* politicians with whackadoodle opinions on climate change, Earth's age, and female reproductive biology?

* In terms of votes, not intelligence ranking.

True but it's much more a piece of trivia than a politically relevant fact.

A few years back I remember an article about Stephan Dion and Jack Layton (the then leaders of the 2nd and 3rd largest parties in a minority Parliament) claiming they were both atheists.

I don't know if it was true or not, I honestly didn't care that much. The astounding thing was that was the opinion shared by the overwhelming majority of online comments on the website of what I recall was a right wing paper. A few engaged in mild speculation but no one really cared enough to even dig or get emotional.

These were the 2nd and 3rd most important politicians in the country and the topic of their religious affiliation was so irrelevant people scarcely bothered to investigate.

By contrast the US is so obsessed with religion that congress doesn't have a single open atheist. Not to mention the massive religious examinations of presidential candidates.

Sure this stuff does become relevant, particularly with regards to climate change, but we have nowhere near the culture wars that are going on in the US.

Comment: Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (Score 1) 281

by quantaman (#47756961) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

This is of course assuming a baked potato which has not been augmented with a cup of sour cream, half a cup of butter, half a pound of bacon, and a pound of shredded cheese.

I just had two amusing thoughts about that:

1) That might be a valid paleo meal.

2) If it isn't a paleo meal, probably the only thing they'd disallow was the potato, which happens to be the only thing paleolithic people might have actually eaten.

Comment: Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (Score 1) 281

by quantaman (#47756121) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

In Paleo we say that carbs create cravings, so yes, the less carbs you eat, the less you crave them. I can happily stand in front of a rack of aromatic pastries and don't even recognise them as food. There's more to Paleo than that though. It isn't just about weight loss, it is about a lifestyle you can do forever. What can one eat for the rest of one's life? Once you take the food pyramid out of it, which created this distorted notion that carbs are the bedrock of all nutrition, and just stick to meat, fish, animal fats, oily fish, eggs, lard and butter, vegetables (starchy ones in smallish quantities, rather mostly greens) then, Paleo would say, things fall into place pretty quickly. No need for psychological hypotheses. And believe me, bacon is very tasty. But it isn't a problem, because the fats are satiating, unlike carbs, which make one hungry again.

I'm skeptical that our paleolithic ancestors ate a lot of butter and bacon. I have no objection to the idea that paleo works, just to the idea that it's the only real thing that works or that we have a good idea of what our ancestors ate. Lots of modern subsistence hunters get a ton of their calories from starchy tubers or even honey, why not our paleolithic ancestors?

I don't think the success comes from cutting out carbs, it comes from cutting out highly processed food which are designed to be highly palatable (and often contain a lot of carbs). If paleo is an effective method for you then by all means keep doing it, but the source of the success isn't that fats are good or carbs are bad, it's that the super fattening aromatic pastries are definitely not allowed so you can just cross them off the list.

Comment: Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (Score 1) 281

by quantaman (#47756015) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

Yes, sugar is treated by the brain a bit like cocaine. That's part of the issue, but its not the whole story. High GI foods give you the quick hit of cocaine which wears off quickly. Low GI foods give you a slow burn that keeps you satisfied longer.

I very much disagree that baked potatoes are a weight loss food. You can eat anything if in moderation, but any kind of potatoes is not a great choice in the weight loss stakes.

The potato only diet is an extreme example but definitely shows that potatoes can cause weight loss.

I feel like Gary Taubes and his junk science has gotten a lot of people wrongly obsessed with GI. Protein also has a pretty decent GI load, and a lot of evidence suggests that high protein diets are even more successful than low-carb diets. You're working off the assumption that the body has almost no ability to regulate its own metabolism. But the blood sugar spike is followed by the insulin spike because the body is regulating the metabolism. GI is only a concern for diabetics because they've lost the ability to regulate blood sugar.

The palatability hypothesis explains both pieces of evidence beautifully. It explains why carbs, and particularly sugar, can be very fattening and trigger more cravings. But at the same time why a simple baked potato keeps you satisfied with far fewer calories.

Comment: Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (Score 1) 281

by quantaman (#47754035) Attached to: The Evolution of Diet

People need to stop buying into fad diets and nonsense theories. Barring allergies, most humans are fully capable of assimilating anything they throw at their GI system. Exercise some bloody portion control and get off the couch once in awhile. The rest will take care of itself.

As it turns out not all calories consumed are the same:

Diets that produce lower insulin response give a metabolic advantage and reduce hunger. In the study the advantage of a low-glycemic diet over a low fat one, at the same calorie level, was 125 calories per day. This has matched my own experience, additionally I've seen another 75 calorie per day advantage from hunger reduction when not controlling for total calories. (free feeding) Combined that's roughly equivalent to a 1.5 mile jog for a 200lb adult, nothing to sneeze at.

I don't think it has anything to do with insulin or glycemic index, in fact it's depressingly simpler than that, the palatability hypothesis.

When we're surrounded by highly palatable foots we overeat. And as it turns out mostly highly palatable things have a lot of carbs, hence the association between low-carb or low GI and weight loss. But one of the best weight loss foods is plain baked potatoes, and they're nothing but starch with a ridiculously high GI. That doesn't mean the food can't be tasty, fruit is pretty damn good, but you're not going to be able to get away with a diet of pizza, cookies, chips, and doughnuts because those trigger overeating like crazy. And if you're addicted to them it's not that hard to kill the addiction, just don't have them in the house. Out of sight, out of mind.

I've actually been surprised how avoiding the hyper-palatable foods has improved my cravings. Everyday at work they literally put a plate of cookies on a bookshelf directly in front of my desk and I don't even feel tempted. You don't have to do anything crazy, just keep to simple foods, avoid the super tasty snack foods, and it will make a huge difference.

Comment: Re:Oh it'll happen... (Score 1) 726

by quantaman (#47720725) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

"The day that the various desktop environments decide to cut out the middlemen."

Right. Because a Window Manager is the OS. All that threading, management of processes, filesystems and the like are just uneeded cruft!

He's not entirely wrong. The underpinnings are critical of course, buy they're also sort of generic. But even as someone who primarily uses a CLI the Window Manager is still my primary point of interaction. Application switching, clipboard style, aesthetics, etc, I see the effects of the WM every time I interact with the machine.

"Then I can say to my relatives "Linux? Just go get KDE" and there'll be no confusion anymore. If it's KDE compatible, it's KDE compatible."

You have what you are asking for available today. You just don't know which distribution to recommend. Your recommendation to relatives should be: "Find someone with a clue and they can help you." Your problem is that you are pretending to have when, when you actually don't

Give your relatives a computer sans OS and try recommending : "Just go get Windows!" and see how far they get before they ask Which version? Home? Premium? 7? What is this Server 2008? Or should I get Server 2012? Maybe I want MS-SQL? What's the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit? How many Gigabytes should be CPU be? The Hard Drive is the box with all the cables coming out, right?

Here I agree, I've never seen the plethora of distros as an issue. In fact I see them as a strength as they can very easily tailor and market for a specific audience without diluting their brand. I mean how well does apple actually do in the server space? They shouldn't have any trouble with their Unix underpinnings but I think a lot of people have trouble taking Apple seriously as a server because of their home user market focus.

If someone asks me for advice on installing Linux I generally recommend Fedora or Ubuntu depending on how bleeding edge they want to be (or for a laptop how well the LiveCD works). From a novice user's perspective the distro's are pretty generic.

Comment: Re:Is he a scientist? (Score 1) 179

by quantaman (#47719791) Attached to: Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

Is he an actual scientist? Did he do any scientific research? Did he merit a the title of university professor? Sure, he did make money, but that doesn't automatically mean he should earn a title that few people get after working very hard, usually without extreme luxury or profit.

He's not teaching science, he's teaching business, a subject that as the former CEO of Microsoft he should know a lot about.

And so what if he didn't earn the title the same way a PhD did? (though he won't be a full Professor)

It's not about granting him some privilege, it's about giving the students the best business education and I have to think he's in a good position to do that.

Comment: Re:god dammit. (Score 1) 518

by quantaman (#47714485) Attached to: Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

~3 birds each day seems like a lot of KFC for a power plant....

anyway, seems like the environmental impact is quite less than mining of coal etc etc, and more easily chirps, clicks, etc to scare the birds away? Or maybe a little metal eagle or hawk statue on the roof..

Just wait a while and we'll evolve flame resistant birds.

Comment: Re:Surprise? (Score 1) 579

by quantaman (#47701143) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Well, yes, of course. When Microsoft throws that much software license cuts and maybe a few junkets for the mucky-mucks in exotic places for âoeconferencesâ, well, this is the way it goes.

Is there anyone who really thought it would go any other way?

I love linux as much as anyone on here. But I'm not about to pretend the sky ain't blue just to support my argument. Linux, plain and simple, is not user friendly. The only notable exception is Android. If they tried to just push their own Nix flavor at government types, I'm not surprised that they got complaints. I've never seen a Linux GUI environment that wasn't a tacked on joke. You're still required to go to the command line to do anything meaningful. Control panels that fail at even the most basic tasks, and on and on. If Linux is to ever take off as a desktop environment, someone will need to do a complete overhaul like Google did with Android.

Now queue all the people ranting about how the public is just dumb and don't know how to use Linux. To you I say, you're right... the public is dumb and don't know how to use linux. Yet those same people can use Windows. See the problem? You can have an IQ of a slice of Bacon and still get your mail open in Windows... that's how easy it has to be. Make Linux that easy and you'll have something.

There are three basic levels of users:

1) Complete novices: Don't really understand basic concepts but learn enough repetition to use their programs at a basic level.

2) Competent users: Get the main concepts fairly well, can manage applications and the computer settings fairly well, but they get out of their depth fairly quickly and don't know any coding.

3) Gurus: Whatever the task they'll figure it out eventually.

Group 1 is good with any OS because they're not doing anything more than clicking icons and using apps.

Group 3 will really excel with Linux because of the power and flexibility it gives them.

Group 2 is the Window's base. They're smart enough to master the Window's administration environment but Linux is too complex and text based.

The thing it that group 2 isn't really an issue in a corporate setting. The users, regardless of competency, are basically confined to acting like level 1 novices fiddling with apps but ignoring the OS. And the admin staff will be guru's regardless.

If there is a problem it likely has nothing to do with usability but instead is based on app availability. The big name high quality end user apps are still lacking on Linux, and those are the things people will miss.

Comment: Deflation (Score 1) 267

by quantaman (#47692901) Attached to: Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

One reason I'm rooting for an Altcoin is I'm worried about deflation if Bitcoin wins.

A limited amount of inflation is a good thing, if the cash sitting in your wallet gets progressively less valuable you have a motive to spend it and generate economic activity.

But there's a finite amount bitcoins, which means at some point they'll all be mined. At that point as the economy grows each bitcoin will represent an ever larger portion of the economy. People will be reluctant to spend bitcoin because they'll be forgoing those future price increases and the economy will suffer.

I'm not sure how well any Altcoins solve this problem, but I'd prefer a currency where the money supply grows in pace with the economy.

Comment: Re:Think of the children! (Score 1) 419

by quantaman (#47680759) Attached to: Swedish Dad Takes Gamer Kids To Warzone

To me the problematic part isn't the risk, it's the relationship between the family and the people in the war. He's essentially treating the war and the people suffering it a bit like an educational exhibit and it sounds uncomfortably similar tourists who visit warzones for the experience.

I'm not saying he shouldn't have done it, and I think both his kids and the people they visited will benefit from the exchange. But there's still a slight dehumanizing aspect to the exchange.

Comment: Re:A truly smart person ... (Score 1) 391

by quantaman (#47654457) Attached to: Is "Scorpion" Really a Genius?

Man I wish could flaunt my IQ on the interwebs, but I can't because I'm too damn smart. Typically we of the IQ > 220 crowd keep quiet in public, allowing ourselves only gentle stroking of our nipples and an intolerably arrogant half-grin - well, that and some posting on /. obviously.

How I wish I could share in the pleasures of the simple folk.

We of the 300+ crowd find that somewhere in the range [263.4, 267.2] the nipple stroking becomes intolerable. The harmonic frequency of the human nipple bears a subtle, but undeniable, relationship to the cosmic background radiation. The resulting vibrations enhance our awareness of the approaching heat death of the universe while heightening our sense of ennui.

Unfortunately the only body part we can massage without distress is our left pinky toe. As such we tend to spend much of our time practising yoga to maximally extend our remaining toe stroking years.

You can not win the game, and you are not allowed to stop playing. -- The Third Law Of Thermodynamics