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Comment PIN / password for Apple apps like email (Score 1) 262

I would love it if I could leave my phone unlocked, but with an option to lock the few particular Apple applications where I care about others' access - especially Apple's email, but maybe also the phone, calendar, etc.

Yes, of course I'd like to see it more open, etc. But I take it we're discussing realistic options here.

Comment Pohl's Starburst! (Score 1) 303

This premise, writ large, dates back at least to Frederick Pohl's 1982 novel Starburst . Eight varied, smart people are sent off on a long journey to a distant star. They soon discover there is no star toward which they're heading, and the whole thing was designed to get them to solve a lot of the world's problems.

Not a lot of the SF I read as a kid stayed with me into adulthood, but I still think about that one on occasion. I guess that's partly because of the fantasy that, I'm learning, appeals to so many nerds: that we might finally have time to sit down, without distractions, and "work it all out". (Now that I think of it, like Descartes at the beginning of the Meditations ...)

Comment Re:There's no app for that (Score 2) 301

Actually, there is an app for that: Freedom is a Mac program, if not strictly an "app", that turns off your internet for a time you specify. It can't be turned back on before time is up (they claim) without rebooting. Probably there's a way around it, but better not to try. A friend of mine swears by it.

Myself I agree that Pomodoro-type approaches to discipline are the most helpful. I've benefited a lot from Neil Fiore's The Now Habit.

Comment Re:Thunderbird (Score 1) 464

For some years now I have been getting used to sometimes waiting 10 seconds or more for a (e.g.) 7kB mail coming in. What's it doing there?

Yeah, I too wonder about those long waits. In basic functionality it feels like Thunderbird has gone backwards in the last few years.

Worse, a recent fresh install insisted on guessing spam, and the default is apparently to whisk the fresh, uninformed guesses to Junk automatically, instead of showing me its guesses. That sent tons of false positives - mostly emails from anxious students - out of my sight for a week. (Sure, that week was nice ... but after, not so much.)

I've been a fan of Thunderbird for a long long time, but my eyes have started to wander - and I have to agree with the OP that there aren't better prospects at the dance.

Comment Re:Some Big Problems With This (Score 1) 80

Likewise these markets are not going to reflect the way people vote or feel but they are instead going to reflect their calculated confidence of a political win or a trend. To turn betting on for political topics will tell you absolutely nothing about reality. Instead it's going to tell you what people with $500 to flush down the toilet think the rest of their country thinks. I grew up under the poverty line (you know, the 47%) and I will tell you right now that this system you propose would only reflect what rich people who are loose with their funds think that other people are thinking. It will not give you future insight -- especially if you're talking about an election.

You acknowledge that people will have (financial) incentive to bet only the facts, not their biases, but then you suggest the rich will do stupid, non-fact-based things with their money. This might be, of course, but then that will drive the implied odds away from the actual odds, and you and other better-informed but poorer people can make a regular killing on small stakes. Such easy money will in theory attract many such small bettors, thus driving the implied odds more close to what's suggested by information available. In the long run, the people who bet based on evidence will win and those who do not will lose. This is the whole point of prediction markets: to provide financial incentive for estimating probabilities that reflect information (and not bias, etc).

Comment The role of emotions in persuasion (Score 1) 1142

I think most Slashdotters would agree that beliefs should be held only to the extent there's truth-related reason for the belief. But the psych studies seem to show that all-to-often, even we nerds form our beliefs based on emotional motivations instead; Haidt suggests, for example, that reason is at best the driver on the back of the unruly elephant of the emotions. If so, then what does that mean to you about how we should try to dissuade the religious?

Comment Feyerabend is not a typical philosopher of science (Score 1) 630

I'm a paid philosopher, and I didn't see this mentioned so I thought I'd make it clear: Feyerabend is not a typical philosopher of science. The vast majority of philosophers of science (in the majority "analytic" tradition, anyway) take real science and its successes very seriously. Feyerabend was a deliberate provocateur, and it isn't even clear how seriously he took his own arguments; some suspect he was just pushing devil's advocacy to see how far it would go.

For those who think there is no place where philosophy can inform science, you should let the rest of us know how you already solved problems crucial to science, like the nature of measurement, why we pick simpler theories (and how precisely you measure simplicity), the line between science and pseudo-science (it is not "falsification" - at least, not straightforwardly), the apparently privileged direction of time, the source and nature of physical laws and causation, the nature of explanation, etc. We poor struggling philosophers would really like to know.

Comment Just avoid Dots Gloves (Score 5, Informative) 140

Just please don't buy Dots Gloves. I was excited about them, bought them months ago based on their slick marketing, and finally got them delivered a couple weeks ago - they looked nothing like the ads. They were a pair of the cheapest, thinnest wool gloves you can imagine, with some conductive thread clumsily sewn over the very tips of the thumb and first two fingers. Horrible, horrible, horrible - so bad I've been looking for opportunities to give them bad word of mouth for it.


Louisiana, Intelligent Design, and Science Classes 989

rollcall writes "The Livingston, Louisiana public school district is considering introducing intelligent design into its science curriculum. During the board's meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism. 'Benton said that under provisions of the Science Education Act enacted last year by the Louisiana Legislature, schools can present what she termed "critical thinking and creationism" in science classes. Board Member David Tate quickly responded: "We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can't we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?" Fellow board member Clint Mitchell responded, "I agree...you don't have to be afraid to point out some of the fallacies with the theory of evolution. Teachers should have the freedom to look at creationism and find a way to get it into the classroom."'"

Comment Re:Rubber-banding (Score 1) 404

Like handicapping in golf (and bowling and chess and go ...), I think one way to balance the reward of achievement against the desire for a consistently challenging but not-too-challenging game is to have a rating system, perhaps with exciting tier levels in the ratings with some bling attached. Rating is often done against real humans, of course (like Mario Kart online), but for some reason rarely against AI opponents.

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes