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Comment: Completely reasonable (Score 2) 740

by roca (#48964109) Attached to: New Jersey Gov. Christie: Parents Should Have Choice In Vaccinations

Even the quote Slate cherry-picked to drive their click-bait headline is innocuous. Parents *do* have a right to decide what's best for their children. That right must be balanced with public health concerns, so it makes sense to make vaccination mandatory (or mandatory-for-public-schoolers) in some cases, but surely not *all* cases as you move down the scale of public health impact. In particular there will be cases where the public interest would be served (a little) by forcing everyone to be vaccinated, but that interest doesn't outweigh the additional dilution of parental rights. That seems to be all Christie said here.

Comment: The response isn't all that good (Score 1) 556

Just because it's from a reputable scientist doesn't make the response brilliant.

The argument that in a universe with different values for constants, life could exist --- just not as we know it --- is weak. Evolution requires heritable traits subject to selection pressure. A serious argument for "life, but not as we know it" needs some thought experiments suggesting how evolution could work in alternative universes, e.g. universes where hydrogen is the only element that can exist. I've read widely in this area but not found such thought experiments. In their absence, it would have been better to leave this argument out.

IMHO by far the biggest problem for the claim that life must be abundant in the universe is Fermi's paradox. Such claim must be accompanied by an explanation for the absence of evidence (not unlike many religious claims!). There are various possible explanations for Fermi's paradox, but the credibility of the life-everywhere hypothesis depends on them so they have to be made. That wouldn't fit into a short letter-to-the-editor rebuttal, which means a short-letter-to-the-editor rebuttal is not a good format for addressing this issue.

Comment: Massively patent-encumbered (Score 5, Informative) 377

by roca (#48570937) Attached to: Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

The problem here is that H.265 and by extension BPG are heavily patent-encumbered. These are not just latent patents but patents that the H.265 contributors are using for a revenue stream.

Bellard suggests "just use the licensed hardware decoder you probably already have" but a) that doesn't make technical sense in lots of cases and b) most people don't, in fact, have such a thing currently and c) the encoding situation is even worse.

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 981

by roca (#47933545) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Christians throughout history have understood that the laws God prescribed for Israel in the Old Testament are not mandatory outside that context, and in particular are not to be applied wholesale to gentiles (i.e. almost everybody). This isn't some modern opportunistic innovation, it's explicit in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 10-11,15).

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 981

by roca (#47933519) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

The Protestant reformers would have objected violently to your characterization. To them, rejecting the human authority of the Pope in favour of 'sola scriptura' was a move *away* from secularism. You're right that ironically it provided room for true secularism to grow.

But the grandparent post is right nevertheless. The Christianity of the New Testament is fundamentally compatible with secularism and pluralism because it grew up as a minority faith in the Roman Empire and took hold through mostly-peaceful implementation of the teachings of Jesus. There have been a lot of deviations from that course but those deviations can be corrected/stripped away without doing violence to the core, and in the modern era have been.

Comment: Re:no thanks (Score 0) 172

by roca (#47511459) Attached to: Firefox 31 Released

> In short, the designers are (willfully?) ignorant of the fact that
> not everyone uses their web browser exactly the same way
> they do.

Aren't you make that mistake yourself? I know our designers collect a lot of data on what many users actually use. More data than individual Slashdot commenters have collected, I expect.

> Any time they change the interface, add an easy-to-find
> checkbox under the options to restore the old functionality.

That leads to an explosion of difficult-to-understand checkboxes in the UI, and an unmaintainable mess under the hood.

"A child is a person who can't understand why someone would give away a perfectly good kitten." -- Doug Larson

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