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Comment Re:he should know better (Score 2) 293

It is incredible how many people bring "free speech!" up in conversation where it is not warranted.

It's actually more incredible how many people think that freedom of speech is only a concept in relation to governmental restrictions on communication.

Obviously private party restrictions on speech aren't a violation of 1st Amendment rights, but it should be more than obvious that freedom of speech can be threatened by private restrictions on speech by refusing access to media, venues or physical places which are commonly accepted as public spaces.

uh, what? what does the first amendment to the US constitution have to do with a group of british theater owners deciding what can and can't be seen on their theater screens, which are located in Britain, and not in the US?

Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 1) 345

Columbus was sponsored by a wealthy and powerful sovereign government.

He was indeed. But many follow on missions were privately funded. Governments funded the development of better compasses, sextants, chronometers, and better ships, as well as the initial voyages. But within a few decades, the spice trade, slave trade, and sugar/rum trade had made oceanic voyages profitable enough for the private sector to dominate.

Careful -- expand your horizons a bit. Your southern europe biases are showing. Government funded development of navigational tech and tools did occur and was helpful, as were the (morally dubious, in the case of the slave trade) motivations of commercial profit.

But -- profit in and of itself is not a sufficient, or indeed, even a necessary condition for exploration. The islands of Polynesia were explored, settled and exploited at least a millenia before Europe even knew the earth was round, using only naked eye observations to navigate.

And what about northern europe's contribution to exploration? When Erik the Red and his kin went a'viking, they took it across at least one ocean, with only their own eyesight to guide them.

Comment Re:Feedback welcome! (Score 1) 37

Hello Andreas,

I've been a happy civ addict for decades now, and I've been playing free civ on my linux based systems since I first heard about it on the civ fanatics site back in the early 2000's. I think civ has had to evolve to remain competitive in the gaming market place, and the producers and developers who assumed the mantle after the initial market success at Microprose have done an excellent job at it. And I certainly include in that all the modders and the fine folks like you who gave us free civ and all the great mods that enhance and improve (and fix!) the game we love so much.

But -- and I would really lilke a dev's opinion on this -- where does Civ go from here? To me, Civ started out as a resource management game, fun and absorbing at the same time. Multiplayer mode in CivNet extended that to something to share with friends and fellow civ fanatics online. But with civ 3, the resource management aspects of the game started to share the limelight with RPG elements. by the time of Civ 4, the resource management aspects of the game seemed to stop evolving, and the RPG elements started to get more and more of the developer's attention. By Civ 5, especially the BE version, the game stopped evolving along resource management lines, and seemed to be focussed by the devs on improving and enhancing the RPG elements. Is Civ going to continue to focus on RPG-style play at the expense of the resource management game?

Comment Re:I just want to charge at the current specs (Score 1) 75

Wake me when vendors actually agree on a common way of drawing the required power from the USB chargers. Sure there's a standard published but when will vendors actually follow the current standard, or in the case of Apple follow any standard at all.

uhh,,,what? not an apple fanboi here, but why does apple need to follow a standard? standards are for companies who are selling products in a competitive market place, but don't want to have to compete on *everything.* Since Apple is really not competing in the same space as LG, Samsung, Motorola, et al, they do not need to follow every standard adopted by those other companies or even a fraction of those standards. standards promote interoperability between market competitors, and that is it, full stop. Standards are useful if you are competing where interoperability gives you a market advantage. That is a battle that Apple has dodged, quite successfully. As Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Mushashi point out again and again, only fight battles you are likely to win. Apple is competing in the design space, not the tech space, and that is probably why they are the wealthiest company in the history of the world, and with just a minuscule market share, to boot. Think: Apple is not about how well the tech works with the competition, but what the tech does for the consumer who purchases it. It's called choosing your battles, and Jobs chose well, dying an incredibly wealthy man.

Comment Re:So ... (Score 1) 171

Well, no. A game, like a movie, is an expensive risk. Going with a proven moneymaker is pretty much why we see sequels and reboots coming out of Hollywood more than we see original work. Ditto games -- the boundary between movie making and game making is getting pretty porous, with game tie-ins for movies and movies based on popular games all too common. All businesses try to reduce and/or mitigate risk, and Squeenix is no exception.

Comment Re:sTEM (Score 1) 219

Get over your puffery and credentialism - no one cares.

The degrees at most universities are a bit misnamed. The CompSci degree is an engineering degree, with a focus on writing software to solve problems. If you're building a repeatable process to solve real-world problems, you're an engineer. The few "Computer Engineering" degrees I've seen have been full of project management BS. I really don't understand the choice of name for that. Maybe it will correct in time.

The tiny percentage of people doing academic research work in the field also have CompSci degrees, and it doesn't really seem like you'd need a different undergrad degree program for that yet, as the work you do for your PhD will create the distinction.

Well, I think that you may be correct now, but there are a lot of us with CS degrees that are definitely not engineering degrees in any shape, form, or fashion. My undergrad CS degree (1998) was mostly discrete math. Courses in graph theory, number theory, theory of computation, computational complexity, algorithm design, and symbolic logic comprised most of my curriculum. Understanding why Godel's Theorem put an absolutely road block on computational AI, and why the Church-Turing hypothesis and NP-completeness constrained the types of problems computers could and could not solve were strongly emphasized in my undergrad program. Coding was pretty much optional in most of those classes -- though, tbh, my algorithm professor (Udi Manber, of agrep fame) expressed some surprise and consternation that I had actually passed his course without submitting a single line of compiled code. Out of >60 units in the upper division classes of my CS major, I had exactly 12 units (three 4-unit classes) from the CS catalog that required me to code (compiler design, software engineering, and operating system design and development.) So, no, my CS degree was definitely not an engineering degree. It was about how to ask questions about computation that could be answered in a rational, reproducible way. Engineering, imho, is about taking those rational, reproducible answers and figuring out how to build a money-making widget with them.

Comment Re:Okay. (Score 1) 139

Some Christians. I am not really the person to defend people whose only defense against the DSM IV definition of delusion is that they are explicitly exempt from it (because else any religion very much fits the definition perfectly), but it should be said that not all of them are THAT delusional. Only a rather tiny minority, and close to 100% of that minority residing in the USA, actually believes that.

That definition was changed in DSM-V. Significantly. The delusion no longer has to be demonstrably false. Now, they can believe that it is true, and still be diagnosed with a mental illness, if their behavior warrants it. But it also means that it is up to the clinician making the diagnosis. Parents who sincerely think praying is going to heal their child should not be penalized for holding that belief if the clinician determines there is no danger to the child. As long as their delusions are doing no harm in the opinion of the clinician, they fit the exemption. But it will be harder to ask for an insanity defense -- they will have to face their crime for what it is if the child dies.

Outside the US, new earth rubbish plays no significant role.

Ahh, yes. But it does play a significant role in the U.S. It is perhaps unlikely, but it is certainly possible, especially if any one of the current GOP candidates for president actually win, that somebody that (emphasis yours) delusional could achieve the highest office in the land. You really, really don't want an American president, a man who can call down a nuclear strike if he thinks it is necessary, to believe the earth is only 6000 years old, and to believe there is an invisible man in the sky telling him to do it... .

Comment Re:buh, bye (Score 1) 495

The other reality and I am not sure even Jeb! gets it is that Trump is the best thing that could have happened to him at least as far as the primaries go.

The whole "anchor baby" conversation the other day with him getting testy isn't good. What Jeb! needs to do if he wants to win is stay the hell out of the spot light. Let Trump continue to suck up all the oxygen.

Trump will flame out sooner or later, he has too. Trump is smart guy but the rules of the game are different in politics there is only one Trump, if one of hits bets does not pay off its over. Its not like the world he is accustom to where if one entity goes bankrupt he has ten more pull capital out of and try another new business. Outspoken as he is eventually he will say something people can't get passed in a careless moment.

As long as Trump stays front an center the votes won't hear jack about any of the other candidates. At some point after Trump craters the voters are going to be left with 14 other candidates they have hardly heard of and a name they know "Bush". That will be enough to win a primary. I don't like it but its true.

No, I don't think Trump will flame out. He is saying things that the xenophobic, racist, Evangelical Christian base of the Republican party wants to hear. The GOP helped create the conditions for a Trump-like candidate, starting with the Southern Strategy that put Nixon in the Whitehouse. Fox News helped too, by mainstreaming the same calculated paranoid, racial fear mongering to its audience. Fox News is the most widely watched program in the US, reaching tens of millions of voters every fucking night. So, no, the Donald is not going to flame out. In fact, the rest of the clown car that is the GOP nomination race are falling over themselves to move to Trump's right. Attacking the 14th Amendment seems to be the current tactic -- two-thirds of the GOP nominees are promising to end jus soli, which is the source of all the "anchor baby" angst that Trump is currently capitalizing on.

Comment NREL tool is a good alternative (Score 1) 105

I used the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's System Advisor Model (SAM) tool when I designed my 16kWdc rooftop array. You can download SAM from the NREL site. They also have a web-based tool called PVWatts that is far less detailed, but is definitely easy to use and produces a very reliable estimate if you are thinking about a PV array.

For what it is worth, rooftop solar is facing stiff opposition from utility companies and energy producers because it directly affects their bottom line. Changes in net metering regulations that favor the existing energy production infrastructure over locally produced alternative energy are becoming more common as the fossil fuel industry fights to retain the status quo. Without going on a rant about it, I watched my seven year ROI on a $42k project evaporate because of changes to Arizona's net metering regulations put in place this year by the bought-and-paid-for-by-Koch Industries Arizona Corporation Commission.

Comment Re:Already propagating (Score 1) 663

Thanks to a complete failure of the media,

I don't know that it is the media's responsibility to report every bad side-effect that a minority of people experience to some common food additive. They'd be so busy reporting on what affects a minority that the main news would never get covered.

Indeed. The bar for food and drugs is 3 sigmas. That is pretty high, but not as high as it could be -- physicists need 5 if they want to claim they've discovered something "new." To put it in perspective: If, in your double blind clinical trials, subjects who use your food additive or drug report negative/adverse/null effects in only 1 case out of 3000 subjects, FDA approval is pretty much a done deal at this point. The FDA already requires disclosure of negative/adverse/null effects on all packaging, so why does the media need to get involved? If you aren't already interested enough in reading the label on the shit you are putting into your one and only body, there is no amount of media that can help you.

Comment Re:Drones (Score 1) 313

One of the things that has consistently mystified me about Americans' complacency with drone warfare is the underlying assumption that our current monopoly on drones is going to last forever. If it's ok for the U.S. to use drones to assassinate "terrorist" anti-American agitators in Yemen, what are we going to say when China starts using drones to assassinate "terrorist" Chinese dissidents on American soil, or Europe, or elsewhere? For all intents and purposes, we're already using killbots, and the really important point here is that airborne killbots can be used (for now) with impunity across borders.

"American Exceptionalism" basically means we allow ourselves to commit war crimes with impunity.

What is there to be mystified about? If any other state actor with drone technology does anything like what you are suggesting, they will cease to exist as a state, period. They know what would happen. The Romans used salt to make sure Carthago delenda est; America will use Strontium 90. America's social order may be iffy, but their ability to come together and destroy other nations when provoked is a matter of historical record. They have more than enough nukes left in their arsenal to pave any ten countries if provoked, and I am pretty certain random drone strikes killing Americans in Des Moines would be provocation enough. You are right about American exceptionalism, in the sense that "He who has the ability to destroy the planet, controls the planet." And before you point out that lots of nations have nukes, ask yourself this one question: In the seven decades since our species developed nuclear weapons, what was the nationality of the only human in history to use a nuclear weapon in anger? Here's a hint: He actually did it twice.

Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 1) 313

This is one of those "You only hear about the failures" situation. No one hears about the crazy kid that was given psychiatric counseling and decided NOT to use an ak47 to kill everyone.

There have not been 4 attempts to do this (Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, North Korea), but 400. We stopped well over 90% of them, but you don't hear about them

As for those people you mentioned, many of them were hamstrung by ethical people whose refusal to kill slowed down their crazy lessons.


1) False equivalence. Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and North Korea's dictator are equal to a kid with an assault rifle? Really?

2) Fallacy of the fourth term. You made a pretty interesting argument with your psychopathic tyrant with an army of amoral killers, but now you are suggesting that it was ethics that slowed them down, not morality. I can see why you made the switch -- unlike morality, ethics can be prescriptive -- but you need to revisit your premise since you introduced a new term.

Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 1) 313

The problem is not the rise of an AI revolution.

Instead, it is the rise of a human psychopathic tyrant working with a force of soldiers that obediently kill at his command, with no chance of moral rebellion within his own force.

morality is often cited as a reason to control technology when it enables behavior that somebody doesn't like. The same class of arguments was used against file sharing twenty years ago, the Pill fifty years ago, and alcohol a hundred years ago, and we all see how successful those arguments were. the problem with hanging your argument on morality is that morality is not a standard of behavior, it is just a description of a certain kind of behavior. So, indeed the problem is not the rise of an AI revolution, but nor is it the rise of a psychopathic tyrant with AI killers at his/her command. The problem is convincing people that living in a world with autonomous weapons is better than living in a world where autonomous weapons are banned.

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."