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Comment: Re:The same way many global warming papers got pub (Score 4, Insightful) 109

by hey! (#47383665) Attached to: How Did Those STAP Stem Cell Papers Get Accepted In the First Place?

Peer reviewed. Yeah, right. And just who is reviewing the peers?

Ha! I knew the denialists would come swarming out of the woodwork on this one.

Consider the stem cell paper that we're talking about here. It was published in January and immediately started going down in flames. Here we are six months later, watching scientists gleefully kick the cold corpse of the authors' reputations. And you're still wondering who keeps the reviewers and editors of a scientific journal honest?

Peer review isn't some kind of certification of a paper's truth. It can't reliably weed out misconduct, experimental error, or statistical bad luck. It's just supposed to reduce the frequency of fiascos like this one by examining the reasoning and methods as described in the paper. It doesn't have to be perfect; in fact it's preferable for it to let the occasional clunker through onto the slaughterhouse floor than to squelch dissenting views or innovation.

That's why climate change denialists still get published today, even the ones who disbelieve climate change because it contravenes their view of the Bible. Peer review allows them to keep tugging at the loose threads of the AGW consensus while preventing them from publishing papers making embarrassingly broad claims for which they don't have evidence that has any chance of convincing someone familiar with the past fifty years of furious scientific debate.

Comment: Re:Sad, sad times... (Score 1) 333

Here's what I think is the confounding factor (there always is one): I'd be wondering, "Does that button REALLY deliver a shock, or is it some kind of sham social psychology experiment prop? I bet it's a prop. If it isn't, it won't deliver THAT bad a shock. If it is, I wonder what the researchers will do when I push it?"

The confounding factor is curiosity. They'd have to do *two* sessions with the overly curious.

Comment: Re:Bad media coverage (Score 1) 1316

by hey! (#47356897) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

Except that if you read the majority opinion they actually open up any provision of the law to challenge on the same grounds. They warn that the ruling should not be taken as covering anything covered by insurance, but presumably any such thing could in principle be challenged on the same basis, and depending on the circumstances might likewise be exempted. The majority has opened the door to challenging the application of any provision of this law to a closely held corporation -- indeed any provision of any law. They just don't know how the challenge will turn out.

It's interesting to note that the court broke down almost exactly on religious lines when dealing with contraception. Five of the six Roman Catholic justices voted with the majority, and all three Jews joined by one dissenting Catholic. I think this is significant because the majority opinion, written exclusively by Catholics, seems to treat concerns over contraception as sui generis; and the possibility of objections to the law based on issues important to other religious groups to be remote.

Another big deal in the majority opinion is that it takes another step towards raising for-profit corporations to the same status as natural persons. The quibbling involved is astonishing:

....no conceivable definition of 'person' includes natural persons and non-profit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

Which may be true, but it's irrelevant. The question is whether compelling a for-profit corporation to do something impacts the religious liberties of natural persons in exactly the same way as compelling a church to do that same thing. If there is any difference whatsoever, then then the regulations imposed on the church *must* be less restrictive than the regulations imposed on a business. Logically, this is equivalent to saying the regulations imposed on a business *may* be more restrictive than the regulations imposed on a church.

Comment: Re:Vegetables out of necessity, or out of preferen (Score 2) 151

by hey! (#47324801) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

Some of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam war, which in turn brought us in contact with the long running civil war in Laos. Anti-communist Hmong from Laos fought alongside Americans and after both Vietnam and Laos fell to the Communists many Hmong refugees were resettled here in the US along with their families.

I remember this story about S. nigrum from a newspaper account back in the 80s about foraging by local Hmong refugees. There were lots of stories about Hmong settling in, and because this was pre WWW you read them because you read pretty much everything in the paper that was even vaguely interesting.

Comment: Re:Vegetables out of necessity, or out of preferen (Score 1) 151

by hey! (#47324035) Attached to: Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies

In my experience you tend to crave what you habitually eat. The Hmong forage for Solanum nigrum -- black nightshade -- a plant that is not only inedibly bitter for most people, it's actually poisonous if you haven't spent years working up a tolerance to its toxic alkaloids. And here's the kicker: black nightshade grows wild here in the US and the old folks here go looking for it in the woods, even though they can buy meat and non-toxic vegetables in the supermarket. They grew up with the stuff, so they crave it.

The single most powerful feature our species has is behavioral flexibility. The same plant that is a side dish providing auxiliary nutrients today could be famine food tomorrow if the hunt doesn't go well. If a plant is nutritious and abundant in the environment, I'd expect local humans to eat it with enjoyment.

Comment: What if I don't want to date women smart as me? (Score 1) 561

by hey! (#47323881) Attached to: Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Maybe I'm looking for a woman who is better looking than me and who'll accept the IQ differential in exchange.

</sarcasm>

True story. I took a long bike ride last summer and ended up in a very affluent seaside community. I cross over the causeway to an island that's the most desirable neighborhood. I pass an attractive blonde woman jogging, but I think nothing of it. Then I pass another one. Then another. And another. I notice the women getting in and out of the Land Rovers in front of the Islands quaint shops. They're obviously blonde joggers too. It's like all the women came from the same Jogging Blonde Lady factory then were rigged out with different accessories. None of them look over 30.

So I start looking for men. They're obviously wealthy, but they appear on average 20 years older than the women. In fact, they're just regular, dumpy old shlumps with expensive cars and watches.

It was weird, like having a young, blonde, athletic wife was part of the homeowners' covenant or something. Sorry honey, but we just got a citation from the association and you'll have to move of the island. Heather here will be taking over your duties; be a dear and show her around the old place.

Comment: I bought a Pebble for just one reason (Score 1) 427

by hey! (#47320535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

Calendar reminders. That's it. I don't always keep my phone in my pocket and sometimes I have the thing on silent. It's worked out well for me. I tried the email and facebook notifications, but I really don't care about missing those things. For me the whole point of email over phone calls is that you don't have to drop what you're doing because somebody has something to tell you.

Now I've always worn watches; I like them. I like being able to glance to see the time. I also like the quick, crude analog timing function of a rotating bezel, although I can live with a digital stopwatch. And I like a good looking watch; for me this means simple, functional elegance. I think the best looking watch ever made was the Rolex Submariner, although I'd never spend that kind of money. Generally cheap watches are too cluttered for my taste, but you can find a reasonable Submariner knock-off around $80 (e.g., an Invicta 8926OB).

It's not a matter of impressing people with how much I spend. One of my favorite watches costs only $35 (Timex Expedition T45181). I like it because it is simple, functional, and aesthetically pleasing in a subdued way.

But with the Pebble any question of aesthetic elegance goes right out the window. It's an ugly hunk of plastic. It will not impress anyone. But then, missing an appointment because your phone is in your coat pocket on silent isn't going to impress anyone either. The Pebble does one critical thing (other than tell time) and does it really well. Most of the time that makes it my go-to watch. On weekends I go for my Submariner knock-off, or if I'm doing something that will beat up the watch I'll go for the Timex.

Comment: Re:Haha, nobody will do this. (Score 1) 208

by demachina (#47311531) Attached to: The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of <em>Battlefield</em>

Game engines already exist. People already develop content though you kind of need a working and enjoyable game first, with some content, before people will develop more content for it.

Who funded Linux development in the early days, answer, noone? Would need to be a volunteer effort to some extent.

Hopefully Carmack will be disillusioned with working for Facebook soon and do it for love of gaming and graphics programming.

Kickstarter is the obvious answer if you really want cash.

Comment: Re:Haha, nobody will do this. (Score 1) 208

by demachina (#47310923) Attached to: The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of <em>Battlefield</em>

There is a pretty obvious solution to the steep decline in modern games. Its the same solution that was found to over priced, proprietary, commerical operating systems.

We need an open source gaming system. Its probably the only escape from eternal damnation to over priced, poorly designed, crap games.

Some critical issues need to addressed up front for it to work.

For starters you need to settle on an open source gaming engine. Torque3D would be one possibility, people here could probably name others. It needs to be capable, open source and multi platform, with as few licensing restrictions as possible. You need high caliber game developers, like Carmack to emraced it and work on it, with someone like Linus holding it together.

You need to develop a small number of core games based on the essential archetypes, FPS, MMORPG, Space battle/trading, racing.

You need to create councils for each game selected from game developers and excellent players who set rules, direction, maintain order and hold the game economy together.

As always if a game/council fails to satisfy their constituencey a solution is a fork but you want to ACTIVELY discourage forking when it leads primarily to fragmentation and wasted resources. You want as much wood behind one arrow as possible.

Each game needs to actively support and leverage mods and user developed content. In fact that will be the primary source of content.

The core games need to be designed for extreme longevity, its the content that needs to constantly changing and growing.

Councils need to design intelligent tournament systems and leader boards that actually put the most skilled players at the top, where they belong, not the grinders, scammers and cheats.

I'm a long time gamer who no longer plays games, because the games I loved the most died at the hands of corporate greed and stupidity. In particular they died because decisions were made by executives who were for the most part not gamers and made decisions that were all wrong.

If I could, I would probably still be playing the original EQ, the original WoW and Battlefield 2, Karkand Infantry only.

Battlefield 2, Karkand Infantry only was, in my mind the pinnacle of PVP. If you had evenly matched teams, with evenly matched gear, fighting a battle decided by 1 point there was no better adrenaline rush and it never got old. The map never changed, the rules seldom changed, the thing that constantly changed was the people playing it, their skills, their tactics and strategy. Developing huge maps like PS3 where you can never find an even fight, or in game purchases that allow the fools with the most money to win, developing massively too dense graphics, that are way to expensive to develop, require to much graphics power to run and add no FUN to the game, and adding too many gimicky weapons and gear that cause nothing but unbalanced matches, are just some examples.

If I could have kept the original EQ or WoW and just added a never ended series of new dungeons, quests gear and battlegrounds I would probably still be playing them. The first rule is you NEVER raise the level cap, because as soon as you do the game turns in to a pointless treadmill. New dungeons, gear and PVP is all a game needs to stay fresh.

I'd still be playing BF2 if there were any servers left that didn't suck.

Comment: Re:Administrators (Score 1) 538

by hey! (#47299273) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

I've been to college myself, and I bet MIT would be around 1:1 too. The thing is, a lot of the teaching isn't done by faculty, it's done by graduate students. This includes recitations, answering questions one-on-one, and grading papers.

And there are a ton of administrators too, and they aren't sitting around on their hands doing nothing. They're doing stuff like administering grants and supervising the IT and physical plant people necessary to keep the faculty's lab research running.

The biggest time waster for MIT faculty, as far as I can tell, are other faculty.

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