Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Popcorn time! (Score 1, Troll) 376

by radtea (#48888465) Attached to: Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

My friend was at least smart and professional enough to refuse all such advances, not all are so.

Your own answer makes clear what anyone who isn't a sociopath knows: people in positions of power and respect--which includes professors and college instructors--have a professional obligation to refuse all such advances.

There are a whole bunch of reasons for this, but a big one is that even if you can't imagine it[*] people in such positions have a ridiculous amount of influence over some individuals, a degree that amounts to coercion.

[*] though why anyone would think what they can or cannot imagine is interesting or relevant to any question of what is real is unclear... however I've seen some commenters here announce their imaginary ideas as if they were somehow important to the question.

Comment: Re:its nothing new really. (Score 1) 820

by radtea (#48878453) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

To make up for it, and make you feel like our technology is more advanced, we put plastic guards and bezels on top of the engine. It makes the engine look larger for someone who doesnt know what an engine looks like outside of a car or truck, and that sells.

To people who do know what an engine looks like, it looks like your engine is made out of mostly plastic. I've never been able to get used to this.

With regard to sounds, once upon a time engine noise used to be a diagnostic, and it kind of bugs me to see it over-ridden by artifice. But in reality, modern vehicles have so much onboard intelligence and are so much better made than cars of decades past that the lost diagnostic capability in the engine noise is almost irrelevant.

Comment: Re:WTF (Score 3, Interesting) 121

As it (or at least the interesting bit) lasted "the span of a millisecond", those other radio-telescope operators must have acted pretty quick.

It is likely that other processes will be longer-lived. For example, if there are optical emissions associated with the event they likely involve hot matter, which will in most reasonable scenarios take much longer then milliseconds to cool down. Gamma rays from nuclear processes will likewise have lifetimes that can be into the seconds (from intermediate beta decays.)

There is a lot of mystery here. Collapsing neutron stars is on possibility, but getting the details right is going to be interesting. The billion light-year distance seems to come from dispersion measurements, which require that the initial pulse be much narrower than the observed pulse. Interstellar (and intergalactic) plasma slows down different radio wavelengths by slightly different amounts, so it will tend to spread out. By looking at the spread as a function of frequency it is possible to get an estimate of distance, but it depends on a lot of assumptions being correct.

There is still a chance, albeit small, that these are closer than currently believed.

Finally, it is worth noting that the first few detections of these things were all from the same radio telescope, and the scientific community did what we always do when something weird is seen only in one place: put on a side-bet that it was equipment malfunction, because the odds are always good on that.

Comment: Re:Prepare for more (Score 5, Interesting) 257

by radtea (#48824857) Attached to: Belgian Raid Kills 2, Said To Avert "Major Terrorist Attacks"

They'll keep doing it till they're kept so busy at home that they don't have time for this foreign adventurism.

By "kept so busy at home" you mean "engaging in productive trade", right?

Because it certainly wouldn't make any sense to suggest that bombing them, for example, is "keeping them busy" in any materially useful sense, since we have overwhelming empirical data that bombing and any other form of military assault has the primary result of engendering resistance.

Furthermore, "at home" is Belgium for the people involved in this action, and "at home" was France for the blasphemophobes who murdered the blasphemers of Charlie Hebdo.

You are right that this is an asymmetric war, but you don't seem aware that that requires tactics very different from bombing or other military action in many cases. Limited military assaults can serve definite purposes, as the case of ISIS shows, but the real war won't be won on the battlefield any more than the war against the Soviets was won on the battlefield.

In fact, there not being a battlefield in any conventional sense was a requirement for winning against the Soviets. Even setting aside the problem of nuclear weapons, if we had met the Soviets on the battlefield we can say with near certainty that the population would have rallied 'round the commisars, and the Soviet Empire would have never fallen.

As such, our tactical response to Islamists should be primarily--but not exclusively--non-military. It should be economic, political, satirical, even poetical: http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

It took hundreds of years for Christians to let go of blasphemophobia. It may take as long for Muslims to let go of theirs. We should be in this for the long haul, and while we should be willing to kill and die now and then, if anyone suggests those should be the primary activities involved, they are simply expressing a profound ignorance of humans, and history, and warfare (both its costs and its effectiveness, which bellicose emotionalists often get wrong.)

Comment: Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (Score 1) 894

by radtea (#48822307) Attached to: Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

By way of example... Francis said jokingly, throwing a pretend punch his way.

So is it an example, or a joke?

If it's an example, what is it an example of?

If it's a joke, then it's in spectacularly poor taste.

"Ha ha some blasphemophobes have just murdered some blasphemers, let's talk about how funny it is to beat up people who insult your deeply held beliefs."

Blasphemophobia kills, and it's time we started calling it out and saying it is never appropriate to meet blasphemy with violence of any kind: http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

To say otherwise is to be one of those people who claim, "Michael Brown was a bad kid so really, we shouldn't be too hard on the cop who shot him down on the street, because hey, the cop thought that black kid was like an unstoppable demon. Wouldn't you shoot an unarmed man under those circumstances?"

Likewise, "Hey, you'd punch someone out who insulted your mother, wouldn't you? So can't you understand just a little bit how someone could be so angry you insulted their religious beliefs that they'd plan and execute the murder of twelve people who had never done any physical harm to anyone?"

Same lame excuses. Same lame apologetics.

Comment: Re:So they are doing what? (Score 1) 509

by radtea (#48785523) Attached to: Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

So in order to protect the rights of others to freely express opinions they are going to silence people expressing the opinion that certain opinions should not be expressed.

Nope. In order to enforce consistency on assholes they are forcing the assholes to live with the logical consequences of their own world view.

That is: if you believe property is theft, people should be free to steal from you. If you believe free speech is subject to ideological approval, ideologues should be able to take it away from you.

You should treat people according to the views they espouse. This--like tit-for-tat in the prisoner's dilemma--is the only stable solution to the problem of morality.

There is, admittedly, an issue of what the appropriate level of abstraction is, but in general the rules of a) going one level of abstraction above the one at which people posit their moral theories and b) tending toward the level of abstraction that gives the victims of any moral theory the greatest influence will solve that problem. So it really isn't such a big issue after all.

Consequential libertarianism (which is what I call this theory) is the only stable moral theory. It ultimately leads to a relatively generous, live-and-let live, non-violent morality, if carried through consistently.

Comment: Re:Bar fucking barians ... (Score 1) 490

by radtea (#48778201) Attached to: In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages

The difference between Christian terrorists and Muslim terrorists is that the majority of Christians worldwide do not support imposing a system of Christian law on their society. Some do, certainly (these guys: http://www.allaboutworldview.o...) but nothing like the fraction of Muslims in most Muslim-majority nations: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/0...

In the US, proponents of Biblical Law are powerful (http://www.theocracywatch.org/biblical_law2.htm) but have relatively little influence in the face of American secularism. But if Christian terrorists in the US started killing gays, say, I would damned well expect proponents of Biblical Law to stand up and make clear that even though they are in favour of lawfully killing gays (as per Deuteronomy) that they are opposed to unlawfully killing gays.

In the same way, since a very large number of Muslims support Sharia law, and since Sharia law in at least some of its variants imposes a death penalty for blasphemy, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask supporters of Sharia law (that is, a sizable fraction of ordinary Muslims) to stand up and say, "By the way, even though we support laws that would put blasphemers to death, we don't support people who do it freelance like this, in part because they killed people who weren't blasphemers but just bystanders. If we just had Sharia law we could kill the blasphemers cleanly and with much less collateral damage, and we would totally support that, but not this messy ad hoc stuff."

Comment: Re:Bar fucking barians ... (Score 1) 490

by radtea (#48777947) Attached to: In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages

Violence and murder in response to insults and slights against Islam is widely and strongly supported by Muslims.

This is uncontroversially true (http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/) but worded as "support of Sharia law", which technically means that while they support violence they don't support "murder" because murder is unlawful killing, and under some variants of Sharia law it would be lawful to kill people for blasphemy (there are 17 people on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy right now.)

However, what you are saying is irrelevant to the point that many Muslim organizations do condemn these sorts of freelance, unlawful, killings of blasphemers. That they do this is not all that much comfort, unfortunately, because support for Sharia law is only incrementally less horrible, anti-Enlightenment and anti-democratic than support for murder.

Comment: Re:Good Luck (Score 1) 319

by radtea (#48770383) Attached to: How Close Are We To Engineering the Climate?

The only stable configurations that pop out of computer models of the climate are the snowball Earth and the Venus 2.0 scenario.

Since the climate has achieved neither of these equilibria in four billion years, despite massive changes to the solar constant (early quiet sun), atmospheric composition and land-coverage by plants, we can be sure on this basis that the models are wrong. Which is not surprising, because the models are unphysical: they contain small but significant approximations to the true physics that mean it would absolutely astonishing if long term integrations resulted in anything remotely resembling reality.

This is not to say that climate models are useless or "global warming is a hoax", but that we should be extremely cautious in their interpretation. There are excellent reasons to not dump gigatonnes of GHGs into the atmosphere without precise models, and its not as if some gang of left-wing idiots are trying to hijack our need to make relatively modest tweaks to global capitalism and "change everything" in some doomed revolutionary experiment of the kind that failed so frequently and bloodily in the 20th century, so there's really no reasonable impediment to taking modest steps toward a cleaner world, such as replacing some fraction of income tax with carbon taxes.

After all, who but a wealth-hating socialist would oppose reducing the tax on something basically good (income) in favour of a tax on something basically bad (GHG emissions)?

Comment: Re:Sad (Score 1) 512

by radtea (#48768017) Attached to: Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack

Along with that they should declare that every time a reporter working for one of their papers is killed in an attempt to silence them, they will again run Muhammads image on the front page of their papers. The responsibility for the image will be the attackers and they'll burn in hell for their idolatry. Want to stay out of hell? Stop murdering people.

"The satire will continue until the killing stops": http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

We should all be making as much fun of Islamists and their blessed prophet as we can. I like my caricature of Mohammed more than yours, though:

~0:-{=

(complete with bomb in turban, like in the Jyllands-Posten cartoon: http://www.zombietime.com/moha...)

Comment: Re:Best strategy? (Score 1) 512

by radtea (#48766963) Attached to: Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack

Perhaps the best strategy in this case would be for all creative artists and writers to produce as much content as they can and Creative Commons license it, so the content can all be broadcast everywhere and we all agree to post and publish it in every medium on every forum possible.

This.

My own contribution to the cause (CC NC Attribution Share-Alike), a satirical poem based on Lewis Carol's "The Walrus and the Carpenter": http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

The Peaceful Prophetâ(TM)s followers
were shooting infidels,
beheading them with axes
and flinging them down wells
proclaiming, âoeIâ(TM)m for Paradise!â
while making Earth a Hell.

Apologists snapped angrily
because they thought the war
against Enlightenment and law
was all of that and moreâ"
âoeHow rude of people to point out
religionâ(TM)s blood and gore!â ...and so on...

Comment: Re:Trolling apk again's your mistake (Score 1) 58

by radtea (#48751123) Attached to: NASA's Robonaut 2 Can't Use Its Space Legs Upgrade

I'm a deaf person in a hearing person's body and a myopic person's body. There are technological fixes for those things, and I apply them. I don't see why other people with different problems than mine shouldn't apply technological fixes to their issues.

But of course there are always going to be those who scream "FOUR EYES" and otherwise bully the kid with glasses, or hearing aids, or is otherwise using technology to help them be functional and happy in this crazy old world.

Unfortunately, we don't have a technological fix for bitterness and hatred just yet, and people who are full of hatred and bitterness would be unlikely to use it if we did, as they seem to like their bitterness and hatred, which is rather sad, really.

Comment: Re:Particle physics is easy ... (Score 4, Interesting) 109

Either way, I should have it done by lunch time.

Or we could spend some time coming up with additional consequences that might allow indirect tests. For example, does this effect have any consequences for the spectrum of Hawking radiation (just to consider one area were entangled pairs and high gravitational fields are involved)?

How about the structure of the very early universe?

Or are there ridiculously subtle interferometric effects that might allow the detection of the phenomenon? Or other quantum effects?

Consider the Mossbauer Effect as an example of measuring stupidly small energy splittings so many orders of magnitude below any reasonable detector resolution that no doubt some smug bastard made fun of the people doing the hard work of calculating them "because no one will ever be able to measure that!"

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.

Working...