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Comment: Slow down, cowboy. (Score 3, Insightful) 37

by westlake (#48672837) Attached to: 300 Million Year Old Fossil Fish Likely Had Color Vision

OK, early fish could see in colors. And clearly modern birds (and their dino ancestors) can see in color

The mineralized rods and cones in this fossil fish are the first to be found in any vertebrate fossil. The argument for color vision in dinosaurs is more or less based on the theory that if a sexually attractive feather-like structure was colored, a dino must have seen it in color.

+ - 300 Million Year Old Fossil Fish Likely Had Color Vision ->

Submitted by westlake
westlake (615356) writes "Nature is reporting the discovery of mineralized rods and cones in a 300 million year old fossil fish found in Kansas. The soft tissues of the eye and brain decay rapidly after death, within 64 days and 11 days, respectively, and are almost never preserved in the fossil record — making this is the first discovery of fossil rods and cones in general and the first evidence for color vision in a fossilized vertebrate eye."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Pierre de Coubertin (Score 1) 228

by westlake (#48671419) Attached to: Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?

Get rid of the sports that cannot measure the success of the competitors using the Olympic motto: higher, faster, stronger. That means no figure skating, no synchronized swimming, and, especially, no more rhythmic gymnastics. Essentially, nothing that requires assigning a number to a performance via a panel of judges.

The motto was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin on the creation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894."These three words represent a programme of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible."

I take that as an explicit rejection of the notion that the human element can be taken out of the equation.

That "higher, faster, stronger" implies an aesthetically pleasing and moral achievement, not merely something which can be captured and understood by examining the clock and camera alone.

Coubertin would go on to say that "The most important thing is not to win but to take part!"

Olympic symbols

Comment: Re:WTF UK? (Score 1) 339

by westlake (#48670793) Attached to: UK Man Arrested Over "Offensive" Tweet

the prevailing opinion remains, that any speech should be allowed and countered only with one's own speech.

That is simply not true.

Free Speech in the states has never been interpreted as a right to libel. To shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

The roots of free speech in American law lie deep in the desire for open and civilized debate over public affairs without fear of governmental interference and reprisals. But there can be no debate if the other side is free to shout you down, take control of the mike, drive you off the stage, threaten your life, your family.

Comment: There ain't nothing inevitable but death. (Score 1, Interesting) 109

by westlake (#48668025) Attached to: How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us To Greater Harm

Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software is going to hurt us in the long run. The reason?
Because we're on an irreversible trajectory toward integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves.

The technocrat in every generation sees himself as the undisputed, never-to-be-questioned, master of an irresistible force of nature. It stings when law and society intrudes to set some boundaries of their own.

Comment: "Many brave hearts are asleep in the deep" (Score 1) 438

by westlake (#48655429) Attached to: How Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel Plans To Live 120 Years

Thiel also plans to launch a floating sovereign nation in international waters, freeing him and like-minded thinkers to live by libertarian ideals with no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.

Looser "building" codes?

Traditionally, the sailor's greatest fear has always been fire, not water, but there are countless ways a poorly designed and engineered boat can kill you. Not that drowning is a particularly easy way to go.

No welfare? No minimum wage?

The Potemkin School of Maritine Management:

Rampant incompetence at very top, Long hours. Hard Work. Low Pay. Bad food, Unforgiving and hazardous environments. Not a trace of concern for the sick, injured or aging.

No wonder all those upper-class libertarian idealists on board are packing a rod.

Comment: Re:Welcome to what happens.... (Score 1) 291

by westlake (#48652533) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

Welcome to what happens when you host your content on someone else's systems.

Amazon isn't your host.

It's your printer and publisher --- and both have always had a say in grammar, style and formatting.

The subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, has taken a lot of flack because these mostly self-published (aka vanity press) books have been edited so sloppily they wouldn't pass muster with your high school English teacher.

Comment: Re:Neat (Score 1) 106

by westlake (#48647663) Attached to: Behind the Scenes With the Star Trek Fan Reboot

It would seem that all of their sets are based on the original set plans which were designed for the 4:3 aspect ratio.

I posted earlier about my own growing weariness with fan remakes of Star Trek: TOS.

This slavish obsession with recreating the original sets with all their flaws and limitations being one of the reasons.

Comment: Time for something new. (Score 1) 106

by westlake (#48644299) Attached to: Behind the Scenes With the Star Trek Fan Reboot

I can appreciate the energy and enthusiasm that goes into these projects.

But with 85 years of modern science fiction to explore, with excellent examples available to draw upon in from all media, you would think even the die-hard fan would have grown a little weary of gearing up to prduce yet another retread of Star Trek: TOS.

Comment: Dover Press Books (Score 2) 170

by westlake (#48641591) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

Dover of course used to re-publish the out-of-copyright and out-of-print math and science classics. There was a time when a professor could have a rare out-of-print book, that nobody else could get, and teach an entire class out of that book. Dover put an end to that.

Of course the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act put an end to Dover (or at least their reprint business) by extending the copyright to 100 years after the author's death.

Does anyone ever bother to fact-check their rants before posting them to Slashdot?

Biology and Medicine
Computer Science
Earth Science
General Science

Comment: Re:The right to be presumed innocent? (Score 1) 90

The police can set up a road-block and demand that drivers provide a breath test and proof of their license at any time. Isn't that a presumption of guilt rather than innocence?

The "presumption of innocence" is where you begin in a US criminal trial.

It does not define the geek's every encounter with the law.

Driving a car or truck on the public roads is not a right but a privilege. It has never been out-of-bounds to demand proof of your sobriety or a show of your license.

Comment: Occam's razor. (Score 2) 89

by westlake (#48627819) Attached to: Did Alcatraz Escapees Survive? Computer Program Says They Might Have

Didn't re-offend? You mean, didn't get caught. There's a difference.

The Anglin brothers Alfred Clarence (born May 11, 1931) and John William (born May 2, 1930) were born in Donalsonville, Georgia, and worked as farmers and laborers. Together they started to rob banks in Georgia and were arrested in 1956.

Frank Lee Morris was born in Washington, D.C., on September 1, 1926, and spent most of his early years in foster homes. He was orphaned at age 11 and was convicted of his first crime at the age of 13, and by his late teens had been arrested for crimes ranging from possession of narcotics to armed robbery.

In 2014 researchers at Delft University, using a computer model, concluded that if the men set off approximately at midnight, when the currents might have worked in their favor, they could have made landfall; but if they left in the hours either side, the currents would have been too strong to overcome and they very likely died.

June 1962 Alcatraz escape

In other words, habitual criminals with limited skills and prospects.

Morris, with an IQ of 133. had never found a way to walk away from a crime that would not end in his arrest.

The timing would have had to have been damn near perfect based on computer models constructed some fifty years later.

Comment: Playing with words. (Score 1) 187

by westlake (#48610247) Attached to: Graphene: Fast, Strong, Cheap, and Impossible To Use

And indeed, some of us are. If you drive an electric car and live near a nuclear power plant, you might be one of them.

The atom powered car, ship, train or aircraft as imagined in the late forties, fifties and sixties was powered by an internal nuclear reactor.

The ideal would be a vehicle or a vessel that would never need refueling.

Comment: Re:The Pirate Bay (Score 1) 302

by westlake (#48606617) Attached to: The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

"Intellectual property is neither"

Property is whatever bundle of rights, interests and privileges you hold that the state* defines as property and will defend by force if necessary.

Intangible property is still property.

The geek can live out his entire life defined by endless streams of ones and zeroes stored and processed god knows where and still not see them as property until their loss, theft or abuse affects him personally.

Careless thinking or intellectually dishonest? Your choice.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

What is Intellectual Property?

This is BTW almost word-for-word how IP is defined by the Wikipedia.

In a lifetime of reading I have owned about 6,000 books, fiction and non-fiction. No two of these writers ever spoke in the same voice, and almost all were paid by the word, writing for a popular --- democratic --- audience.

The number of creative talents active in any generation is small, and that is a problem the Pirate Bay cannot solve.

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop