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Comment: Re:Infinity (Score 1) 1064 1064

Well, I think that it could be argued that the *fundamental* theorem of algebra is more fundamental (that's the rule that, when vastly oversimplified, states that polynomials have roots). That being said, the identity that you propose is, as pointed out by the GP, an identity derived from properties of multiplication. It is not really all that fundamental, and one of the hypotheses of the identity is that x is not zero.

Comment: Re:Infinity (Score 1) 1064 1064

In the one-point compactification of the real (or complex) numbers, it makes sense to assign the value infinity to x/0. This is both meaningful and has value (particularly in complex analysis). That being said, the original question is asinine. It betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of both mathematics and programming.

Comment: Re:How does one tell the difference? (Score 1) 103 103

It can be difficult to tell the difference between rocks that have been modified by people and rocks that have been shaped by natural processes. That being said, there are things to look for.

First is material. From the photographs in the linked article, it appears that the purported tool is made from some kind of fine-grained silicious material (high in silicon, rather than magnesium and iron, as evidenced by the color), whereas the surrounding rock appears to be basalt (mafic, therefor darker in color). If you work in an area, you get to know the geology of the region, and where rocks come from. Seeing rocks far from their sources often indicates human curation. That being said, it seems unlikely to me that anyone would bother to curate a general tool like the ones photographed, so that probably isn't going to be a huge factor in this case.

Second, after seeing hundreds or thousands of stone tools, you get good at identifying them. It is kind of like chicken sexing---it may be difficult to quantify *exactly* why something is a tool, but people get really good at it, none the less. Again, this isn't the whole story, but it gives you an idea about why one might pick up a rock in the field. People who have a lot of experience and training are more likely to recognize potential tools.

Third, there are morphological indications of human modification. Rocks that fall and break naturally tend to have random patterns of flaking, whereas intentionally modified rocks will show flaking that is concentrated in a particular place. This isn't foolproof (indeed, there were purported pre-Clovis tools found in California a few decades ago that, upon closer examination, turned out to be naturally formed), but, again, it is an indication.

Fourth, it is often possible to tell a tool from other contextual clues: is it near a hearth? a pile of animal bones? other easily identified tools? Again, given the age, this is unlikely to be useful in this context, but you asked a more general question, so this is part of a more general answer.

Finally, there are lab tests that can help. One can check for residue (i.e. blood or plant reside that might indicate use in preparing food), or microflaking that might indicate use, for example. These are things that you can't see in the field, and almost certainly can't see in a photograph that was taken in the field.

Comment: Re:Yeah good luck with that... (Score 1) 587 587

Saying "Hey guys, these are the works that I've produced recently that are currently eligible for awards. Vote for me, please!" is not the same as saying, "Hey guys, here is a slate of works by various authors (most of whom are not me) that I think you should vote for."

Comment: Re:Yeah good luck with that... (Score 1) 587 587

Yes, I read that too. I think that you are reading way too much into what is written there. It seems pretty clear to me that he is planning on casting his own ballot on the merits of the works nominated, but that he understands those that would vote against the sad puppy slate on the theory that intentionally disruptive behaviour should not be encouraged. Moreover, even if I granted your interpretation, that would be Scalzi pushing against a given slate, rather than pushing his own slate of nominees, which is what was claimed by ageoffri in the first post to which I replied.

Comment: Re:Yeah good luck with that... (Score 3, Informative) 587 587

Citation, please? I've noticed that Scalzi leaves a thread open on his website where people can push their own recommendations or slates, but I don't think that I have ever seen him endorse any particular slate of candidates. Again, my recollection may be flawed and my quick look at the Google may not have turned up whatever you have in mind, so I am more than willing to be shown that I am wrong---but for that to happen, I would need you to point out where Scalzi has posted such a slate (as I seem to be unable to find it myself).

Comment: Re:Your justice system is flawed, too. (Score 1) 1081 1081

I'm not sure I understand what your point is. My point was that the person to whom I responded created a false dichotomy, with life without parole being an option not addressed. I did not claim that "death", "life without parole", and "parole after X years" were the only options (my intention was not to create a false trichotomy, but merely to point out that there were options not considered by the OP).

Comment: Re:Your justice system is flawed, too. (Score 3) 1081 1081

False dichotomy. You are asserting that the option is to execute or parole after some maximum term. You are intentionally neglecting the option of life in prison without the chance of parole. Your argument is rendered almost entirely moot by such a sentencing option.

Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 3, Insightful) 467 467

Since you refuse to clarify, and I, being relatively ignorant, must rely on the dictionary definitions, I don't understand the point you are trying to make:

sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

misanthrope: a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society.

From those definitions, it appears that it is possible to be a misanthrope and not be sociopathic, but that one of the defining characteristics of being a sociopath is some level of misanthropy (or, at least, misanthropic behaviour). Of course, rather than berating the original poster, perhaps you could attempt to bring clarity. On the other hand, perhaps you were trying to exemplify the misanthropy suggested in the original post, in which case I apologize for missing the joke.

Comment: Re:Atheists *are* believers ... (Score 1) 755 755

Agnosticism and theism are not incompatible. Agnosticism and atheism are not incompatible. Gnosticism is a statement of knowledge: I *know* that there is a god. Theism is a statement of belief: I *believe* that there is a god. One can be both atheist and agnostic: I *believe* that there is no god, but I do not *know* this for certain. That being said, it seems perfectly rational to be atheist, in light of the utter lack of evidence that an omnipotent, omniscient entity of any kind exists.

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