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Comment: Re:And that is why the Spock/Logic way is incomple (Score 1) 855

by TopherC (#47911663) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

I like that quote, even though it was a bit difficult to digest. The English language has evolved in the past century in a way that demands much less of the reader and conveys much less complexity and accuracy.

I wanted to add, somewhere, my $.02 about "faith." I'm told that early (1st century) Christians used what-we-translate-as-faith to be a kind of radical trust. More verb than noun. A trust in an idea, not fully understood or rationalized, that allowed them to lead lives that were unselfish, bold/foolhardy, non-violent extremists, anti-establishment, share-the-wealth sorts of people. The idea is that for them, faith was incompatible with certainty. Conviction deletes the possibility of faith. They did not have proof of deity, a consistent doctrine, etc. Reason was encouraged and appealed to, but knowledge was known to be incomplete.

What most people think about religion is that it is a doctrine (teaching or authority-based knowledge) that requires unwavering belief without question or reason. (My perspective here is Christianity rather than all religion, but I suspect that most major world religions are similar in this way.) Yet this is probably not a genuine or original form of any given religion but instead what human nature and politics have deformed religions into over time. People want to be told what to believe, and people who desire power cannot help but use fear and shame to great effect. I think modern-day Christianity is more about manipulating people and in most respects is the exact opposite of its earliest incarnations.

Science today has some of the same struggles. Science itself is an art, since the more precisely one tries to define it, the more inaccurate that definition becomes. Scientific knowledge is a little bit of an oxymoron since science can be described as a tool for disproving what is not true more than it is a means of proving what is true. This is true on all scales of complexity, but it's most evident at the reductionist frontier of particle physics and cosmology. The standard model is not logically consistent with general relativity, yet both theories are spectacularly successful. And there are problems of naturalness, etc. It is not tenable, not reasonable or scientific, to think that our most successful scientific theories are set to last. Modifications need to be made, and probably in big, fundamental, philosophically-challenging ways. The history of the development of physics is full of cases like this and physics is by no means "done." But people are eager to philosophize based on "what scientists know", and they are eager for answers from authority.

Authentic science, like authentic religion, is not authority-based. I'm not saying anything negative about consensus, just that there is always room for new theories and new experiments regardless of credentials. Data does not respect authority. And I don't believe there needs to be any contradiction between the two approaches of religion and science, as long as we are referring to religion as a searching process not a placating drug. Both science and religion address the basic problem of doing the best we can today with what little we know. Good scientists know that good questions are better than "right" answers, and good ... what, "religious" folk ??? (atheists included) ... know that it's better to be loving than right.

I suppose most of these ideas come from two books that might seem diametrically-opposed: The Underground Church, and Dreams of a Final Theory.

+ - Ask Slashdot: What to do after digitizing VHS tapes? 2

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Now that I've spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer's worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I've found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They'll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven't gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I'm now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?"

+ - New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails-> 4

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Vice News reports, "The NSA disclosed these new details about its investigation into Snowden in response to a FOIA lawsuit VICE News filed against the NSA earlier this year seeking copies of emails in which Snowden raised concerns about spy programs he believed were unconstitutional..... As part of this investigation, the Agency collected and searched all of Mr. Snowden's email available on NSA's classified and unclassified system. This included sent, received, and deleted email, both in his inboxes still on the networks and email obtained by restoring back-up tapes from Agency networks. Multiple members of the Associate Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence read all of the collected email. Additionally, given that organizational designators appear for each NSA sender and recipient for email transmitted on NSA's classified and unclassified systems, searches of Mr. Snowden's collected email also were done using the organizational designators for the offices most likely to have been recipients of any email written raising concerns about an NSA signals intelligence program. ... Those offices included the NSA's Office of General Counsel, the Office of the Comptroller, and the Signals Intelligence Directorate Office of Oversight and Compliance. Moreover, Sherman said, the NSA tasked the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Director of Compliance to "search for communications to or from Mr. Snowden in which he may have raised concerns about NSA programs." ..."The search did not identify any email written by Mr. Snowden in which he contacted Agency officials to raise concerns about NSA programs," ...""
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+ - Apple Outrages Users by "Automatically" Installing U2's Album on their Devices 3

Submitted by Zanadou
Zanadou (1043400) writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2’s latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it’s also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time.

Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn’t chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an “iTunes in the Cloud” purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your “iTunes in the Cloud” purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list.

Other reactions include rapper, Tyler, The Creator, saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes', while Twitter user Mez pondered 'If Apple can forcefully download a U2 album onto everyone's phone, imagine what else they can do.. and see.'"

+ - Is Adobe dropping all Linux support?->

Submitted by NetAlien
NetAlien (2855345) writes "QUESTION: Is Adobe dropping all Linux support? Flash. Now Reader...

Preparing for US naturalization, one is immediately hindered by the US Government's use of Adobe's PDF XFA format — the form loads only to recommend that the user download Adobe Reader "for Windows, Mac or Linux". Attempting to download Reader, the first option is to select the OS — SURPRISE! Linux is absent. OK... so download a Windows version (I selected 7) and install with Wine. Sigh... that fails.

Another case for free and open formats..."

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+ - Comcast Tells Customers to Stop Using Tor Browser->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Comcast agents have reportedly contacted customers who use Tor, a web browser that is designed to protect the user’s privacy while online, and said their service can get terminated if they don’t stop using Tor. According to Deep.Dot.Web, one of those calls included a Comcast customer service agent named Jeremy..."
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Comment: And that is why the Spock/Logic way is incomplete (Score 1) 855

by Paul Fernhout (#47904609) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

I wish I had understood this better as a teenager. Bertrand Russel said that every philosopher makes at least one assumption, usually not acknowledged, and builds from there. As Albert Einstein said:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/ao...
"It is true that convictions can best be supported with experience and clear thinking. On this point one must agree unreservedly with the extreme rationalist. The weak point of his conception is, however, this, that those convictions which are necessary and determinant for our conduct and judgments cannot be found solely along this solid scientific way.
  For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.
    But it must not be assumed that intelligent thinking can play no part in the formation of the goal and of ethical judgments. When someone realizes that for the achievement of an end certain means would be useful, the means itself becomes thereby an end. Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelation of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations, and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to perform in the social life of man. And if one asks whence derives the authority of such fundamental ends, since they cannot be stated and justified merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgments of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly. ..."

As I see currently it, sets of assumptions ("meme complexes"?) are almost like living beings...

+ - Despite Obama's Pledge to Curb It, NSA Mass Surveillance Wins Rubber Stamp->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the Justice Department's request for another 90-day extension of the National Security Agency's controversial mass surveillance program, exposed publicly last summer by Edward Snowden and authorized under Section 215 of the post-9/11 Patriot Act. The spying authority is next set to expire on Dec. 5.

The extension marks the third of its kind since President Obama pledged in January to reform how the NSA spies on Americans during a major policy speech delivered amid withering scrutiny of the nation's intelligence-gathering practices."

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+ - Linux distro to vampire XP install? 10

Submitted by johnpagenola
johnpagenola (601936) writes "Many people cannot upgrade Windows XP because of driver issues with old peripherals. Would it be possible for a Linux install to reuse the XP drivers sort of like Wine reuses the programs? I am envisioning a Linux install that would scan an XP install, store drivers and programs on a flash drive, wipe the hard disk and then install Linux, reusing the drivers and programs. Is this idea ridiculous?"

+ - Hewlett-Packard pleads guilty to Bribery->

Submitted by Charliemopps
Charliemopps (1157495) writes "Hewlett-Packard and three subsidiaries pleaded guilty Thursday to paying bribes to foreign officials in Russia, Mexico and Poland and agreed to pay $108 million in criminal and regulatory penalties. For over 10 years Hewlett-Packard kept 2 sets of books to track slush-funds they used to bribe government officials for favorable contracts."
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+ - When Scientists Give Up->

Submitted by ferespo
ferespo (899921) writes "Ian Glomski thought he was going to make a difference in the fight to protect people from deadly anthrax germs. He had done everything right — attended one top university, landed an assistant professorship at another.
But Glomski ran head-on into an unpleasant reality: These days, the scramble for money to conduct research has become stultifying.

So, he's giving up on science."

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OS/2 must die!

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