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Comment Political Correctness A Coded Word. (Score 1) 662

It seems that all of a sudden being "politically correct" has become a bad thing that must be prevented at all costs. The reason for this is evident for all who take the trouble to notice.

The anxiety and worry that stems from "political correctness" is that "political correctness" establishes a culture in which people who prey on others, who cause disruption through racism, sexism, hate mongering, sowing class or social divisiveness etc. are deemed inappropriate can themselves be castigated and ostracized. Political correctness creates a culture in which, if you have a distasteful idea or socially unworkable idea, you should keep it to yourself.

This anxiety and worry is rooted in the fact that humans do not resolve their differences and social norms in a purely rational fashion, but rely heavily on an emotional filtering of rational thoughts in order to preserve one's concept of oneself. This filtering may be more or less extreme in various circumstances, environments or contexts, even to the point of filtering out rational thought entirely. Consequently, humans have evolved to be particularly acutely tuned to the emotional states of others around them.

Consequently, it's not surprising that those with particularly odious ideas or "radical/extreme/deviant" ideas that they can't otherwise "sell" to their fellow humans will be loathe to see the development of such a culture. Being against "political correctness" means being fundamentally against the notion of strict social consensus, where one's bad ideas have equal footing with other's good ideas and where bad ideas can be still used to leverage selection against those who can be discriminated against for whatever reason in order to preserve perceptions of self-identity.

Comment Re:Perhaps Not Simple but ? (Score 1) 255

If that is the case, then shouldn't it be possible to create a program that pre-cashes all outgoing streams prior to their being sent and then inject meaningless random signals into the stream so that the receiving end simply gets garbled data?

This way one could conceivably "randomize" data except that you specifically wish to transmit. Presumably, such an algorithm would intercept all interrupts, trace their source, and randomize as required. No doubt it would greatly slow the system, but would it not in theory work?

Comment Maybe a little young but (Score 1) 5

Definitely check out the new Wolfram Home edition and student offerings that provide functions that can be very easily used to promote understanding of an extraordinary variety of mathematical concepts with visualization. Since your nephew, perhaps with your help, seems to understand the basics of Python, he already probably understands enough mathematical and foundational computer science to fiddle quite usefully with Mathematica, which will give him the ability to visualize/realize/understand numerous mathematical objects of his own creation and interest with minimal programming. However, once he begins to learn how to use functions together algorithmics will also become familiar, as will fundamental notions such as "function" and "function composition" and the many distinct classes of functions. As his maturity grows, he will have a tool set that he can make practical use of through college and beyond. Wolfram maintains a huge archive of code that can be easily "pasted in" and immediately executed for the student to study specific topics.

Because programming in Mathematica can be purely symbolic, many functions can work directly on seemingly "non-mathematical objects" such as images, as well as provide mathematically exact answers and not just approximations that are generally the case with languages designed for finite-state machines.

Wolfram has a new book (available online) at provides a very gentle introduction to the product and if you read it together, the combination could provide endless topics for conversation and learning. One thing is for sure, had I had a product like this available to me when I was in school, I would have learned much, much, much more mathematics, it would have been fun, and better still would be in a better position to put to good use what I have learned.

Not sure to what extent the Home and Student editions support Wolfram Alpha, but this capability could be used also to study other subject areas beyond mathematics, particular those with strong ties to applied mathematics. Alpha support can be added separately.

The only drawback is that you might start fighting over who gets to use the computer or you wind up buying a separate copy for yourself so that you too can enjoy the fun.

Comment Not Impressed So Far, but Not Bad Either (Score 1) 1

I just bought one of Western Digital's MyCloud 4TB drives. Love the size of the drive and the fact that WD was good at helping me getting it set up after I initially botched it by failing to understand their instructions.

However, I am interfacing with MyCloud over a reasonably fast router connected to a 50MB/sec pipe to the outside using a relatively fast Dell XPS machine with SDD. The software interface to gain access to the drive works well for backup, but for other access it seems sluggish and a bit awkward. Must admit I'm relatively new to cloud computing and am probably not using it to its full potential. The potential to access the device remotely when I am away seems attractive, but I haven't yet tried it. Perhaps more online training videos showing "how it's done right" might help someone like me, who is too busy to spend too much time trying to tweak performance out of the thing.

As I have two other 4TB drives that I use for primary backup and my extended file system, I find I don't use the MyCloud device as much as I had expected I would. These seem to respond far more quickly, perhaps because they are USB 3.0 and directly connected rather than via a wireless access.

Be interested in hearing what other users are experiencing. Love to hear someone tell me how I'm doing it all wrong, so I can get more performance out of the Cloud.

Comment Fighter Jets? (Score 1) 1

Just how does one "escort" a blimp with fighter jets?

Don't they have helicopters to keep lonely blimps company or are they just to slow to impress a wayward blimp that has lost its love of military life? Or perhaps it was already too high for helicopters?

You would think one bullet would be all that would be needed to get a blimp back down to earth with minimal consequence as long as it could be tracked with radar.

Comment Solving the Problem (Score 1) 17

This post is yet another instance of right-wing political idealogues attempting to hack a site that should be primarily focused on addressing technical issues in hardware and software technology and its impact on society. While there is necessarily a correlation between technology and political outcomes, the premise of this post is absurd.

A simple-minded argument is made that vilifies "Lefties" for "not solving the problem", when ironically it is the "Righties", who not only make no effort to solve the the greatest problem facing humanity, anthropogenic climate change. In fact the "Righties" can't even come to grips with the SCIENTIFIC FACT that it is a real phenomenon and that can only be denied by those who are DELUSIONAL enough to refuse to accept scientific methodology or evidence.

When the GOP becomes a leader in addressing global climate change, they can get back to the rest of us about demonstrating that they really can "solve the problem".

Comment Re:Merry pranksters (Score 1) 554

Actually, he would only be stealing if the apartment complex owner decides to press charges. However, the owner may think that having a customer, who is paying say $1000 per month for his or her rental unit, is actually more of a benefit to his bottom line than few bucks of electricity he could save, while he repaints and repairs the place and the cost of advertising to get a new tenant.

This is one of the reasons that many of the more upscale rental complexes now provide free charging stations. Its like an extra perk for the customer that makes good business sense. It makes customers happy and the owner gets to keep his customers for relatively longer and makes more money than the rental owner, who thinks its better to kick people out for minor infractions.

You might be better off if rather than complaining about your neighbor, suggesting to your rental unit owner of the benefit of putting in a few charging stations for those who want/need them. You would benefit by paying about 1/11 th less for miles driven and he would be happily pocketing the money from satisfied customers, while making his rental properties more attractive.

Comment Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice (Score 1) 554

Relative to the cost of petrol, the cost of charging (even if you have to pay for it) is cheap. In the US, it's about 1/11th the cost of using fossil fuels, not including all the hidden costs to the consumer, who gets to breath carcingogenic hydrocarbons, pay for oil spills, and the cost of global warming, which the fossil fuels industry passes on to consumers and every other living thing on the planet. I suspect, in the UK its even more cost effective to go electric, especially since you folks are now having to pay BP's massive fines for more or less permanently mucking up the Gulf of Mexico.

Costs are relative, at least for those of us who don't use the free teletransportaion services that beams us to and from the planet of our choice.

Comment Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice (Score 1) 554

Buying an electric car doesn't mean one must buy a high end Tesla any more than buying an internal combustion based vehicle means you can only drive a BMW or Lexus or Maserati. Nissan sells the leaf at at less than half the cost (about $30,000) of a Tesla (at about $75,000) and sells a lot more of them.

When one saves about $100-$150 per month on fuel, electric cars that can be charged for $10-20 per month for the same mileage, electric vehicles are a good idea. The prices of fuel is about 1/3 the price of a car over it's life, which is substantial. If one drives 100,000 miles at $3 per gallon for a car that gets 25 mi/gal, that's about $12,000. An electric car with a 100 mile range driven for the same 100,000 miles would cost about $1000 in charging costs (less of course, it you get a free charge from a local business that you frequent, say a local grocery store), for a savings of about $11,000 per car just to go the same distance. Of course, this doesn't include all the environmental benefits like not having high levels of carcinogenic hydrocarbons being spewed into one's environment, not to mention not adding to global warming that is rapidly increasing insurance rates and decreasing the availability of food caused by droughts and floods and other factors, such as pollinator/flowering synchronization problems.

Maybe in that context, a little "road rage" isn't such a bad idea. Then again the fossil fuels industry will be more than happy to take people's money, while people are busy being distracted by complaining about not having any "status" relative to the hipsters. Then again, people who buy a Leaf are more like "hippie-sters" rather than hipsters, since they are likely to be able to afford installing a solar charging stations in their home giving them even more "freedom" to keep their own money. It is curious that those who profess to want people to keep "more of their money" by not paying taxes are often the very same folks who are more than happy to see people hand the "savings" to corporations.

Comment Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice (Score 1) 554

Actually, folks who drive electric cars are in some sense better than the rest of us because they have the sense to do more than you and I to shift to much less carbon dioxide emitting vehicles. I'd like to get an electric car, but since charging stations are few and far between and most of my driving is over long distances when I do drive, the present situation makes such a purchase more difficult than I would like.

I very much doubt that people are fighting over "status", since most folks with electric vehicles already have "status" (and problem the money to go with it). Rather, they are fighting over personal time, which they hate to waste because they believe their lives are more important, perhaps mistakenly, than the next guy.

Since as you note, electric car buyers tend to be better healed, businesses put in charging stations to attract customers with the ability to pay. Stores do this all the time because it's good for business. It's a good idea to encourage businesses to help shift American auto buyers away from internal combustion engines and toward a more sustainable future.

The problem here is obviously the need for more charging stations. How they are financed is not as important as the fact that they actually do get financed. California would do well to reduce road rage and encourage more people, like me to shift to electric cars, by providing businesses that provide charging stations with a sizeable tax break to install more charging stations. Business all around would pick up and everyone would be both happy and financially better off, except of course those eager to put every last carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere so it can extinguish human life on planet Earth to satisfy their greed.

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