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Comment Re:Crosswalks! (Score 2) 278

Indeed. I actually got into an argument with a former acquaintance regarding this point. He claimed that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way, anywhere, anytime, in any circumstance. I then asked why people can be ticketed for jaywalking. I asked who has legal liability if the pedestrian willfully jumps in front of a car.

His inane response went along these lines: jaywalkers still have the right of way but are ticketed so as to discourage people from getting injured. The driver is always at fault because they have a duty to always look out for potential road hazards. Failure to keep an adequate lookout and safe speed means the driver is liable.

Obviously, CVC does NOT agree with his interpretation of the law.

Every time I visit SF I am surprised by how readily the pedestrians casually cross the streets--they will cross at red lights; they will walk into cross traffic without regard to safety, expecting drivers to stop; and if they do bother to look before crossing, they take their sweet time. If you tried to pull that shit in Southern CA, especially in downtown or west LA, you'd be dead by lunchtime. I also found that drivers in SF are a lot more cautious and less aggressive than LA drivers. LA drivers are scary, especially in the westside. The aggression levels there are insane: drivers cutting each other off, running red lights, not stopping at intersections, and squeezing through narrow openings are extremely common occurrences. I suspect it is a combination of the traffic and culture there: it's a lot of local streets, with almost no relief from constant traffic gridlock; then add in a culture that rewards self-entitlement and conspicuous consumption, and the result is a lot of people behind the wheel with death wishes.

Comment Re:Welcome to the club ... (Score 1) 241

If I could give you mod points I would.

People (and the advertisers and content creators that are vying for their attention) forget that WE are paying--and at least in the US, quite dearly--for the data usage involved in serving those ads. If I use an app or a browser that is offering content for "free," it's not really "free" if I am forced to download gigabytes of video advertisements each month. That's data I could have spent in other ways. So I have a simple proposition: if you are a content provider who wants me to watch your ads to support your revenue model, then YOU pay for the data usage costs to serve those ads to me. Why should I have to pay to watch your commercial? By all means, forward that cost on to the advertiser if that's what you need to do to make money. But as it currently stands, there is NO incentive for advertisers and content providers to limit the amount of data they make US spend pushing their intrusive advertising on us.

Furthermore, many of these content providers do NOT have a method of allowing us to pay to avoid seeing any advertising. So it's facetious to complain that we are taking something for nothing by blocking these ads, because you don't provide us a way to NOT have to see them.

The bottom line is that we will continue to see this arms race escalate because in reality, content providers are stealing from us: they steal our data allotments, our privacy, and our time. They steal it in the name of providing a "free" service. Personally, if the transgression is severe enough, I won't block your ads. I simply DELETE you from my life. If I do block your ads, consider yourself fortunate that I still even care you exist.

Comment Re:Drop origin of life (Score 3, Interesting) 591

And since your educators did not teach you these topics, it very clearly shows through your failure to understand the distinction between "the origin of life" (as you put it) and "the origin of species" (as Darwin put it). The origin of life is, to a large extent, still a scientific unknown, in the sense that science has not yet been able to determine how life on Earth originated. That is not to say that we can never know how life on Earth originated, or that we cannot eventually discover and execute a plausible mechanism for the origin of life. We simply don't know YET.

But the origin of species--that is to say, the theory that explains how living organisms on this planet have adapted and changed in response to changes in their environment, thus leading to the differentiation and EVOLUTION of different forms of life--is by contrast to the former, very much a scientific known. The evidence is so abundant as to be utterly compelling to anyone who has not been blinded by religious dogma. The entire field of genetics was not known before evolution as a theory was proposed, yet those findings have reinforced evolutionary theory countless times.

And then, for your science teach to have said such a thing: "I will teach what can be reproduced in a lab or examined first-hand"--betrays her ignorance of scientific thought and discourse. First-hand examination or reproducible experiments are of course a foundation of good science, but these are not the only means by which science can be done. We cannot, for example, obtain first-hand evidence of the temperature of the core of the Sun. We cannot at this time create an experiment to directly measure the temperature of a coronal mass ejection. Yet we can, through indirect means, infer these things from other information we know about nuclear physics and thermodynamics. That does not mean we know with great precision what those temperatures are, but we can obtain useful models based on scientific reasoning. Insistence on directly observable phenomena as the only form of scientific evidence is such an egregious ignorance of science that I wouldn't consider your "science" teacher worthy of her credential.

Comment So much patting on the back (Score 5, Insightful) 591

...for something that not only should have been in place already, but is tepid in comparison to how science is taught almost everywhere else around the world.

That's how much the religious zealots have been able to twist the narrative in their favor, to the point where every civilized person breathes a sigh a relief when they AREN'T shoving their creationist mythologies in students' faces and indoctrinating them with dogma. Are we supposed to congratulate Alabama for not being backwards fundamentalists? That's the intellectual equivalent of giving them a medal for promising not to lynch any more black people.

Comment Forget the lock (Score 4, Insightful) 220

I don't understand what the big deal is, considering that the failure point is not the lock, but the zipper itself. Zippers are a fastening device. They were never intended to be secure, and you cannot make one secure by attaching a lock on the pull. The problem is that people think that attaching a lock to anything makes it inherently more secure.

The answer is to never put anything in your luggage that has any value to those who might want to steal it. No electronic devices or jewelry should go in checked luggage. Anything valuable must fit in your carry-on. If you *must* travel with something valuable that cannot fit in your carry-on, ship and insure the parcel ahead of time.

Comment Re:What is the point? (Score 1) 103

The way I see it, people who live in heavily urbanized areas with high population density (such as Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London), could see a benefit to this device. It's relatively cheap (unlike a Segway), much more compact (i.e., skateboard size) and therefore more maneuverable, and best of all, it saves SOME effort.

There is a large segment of Japanese society that is aging and not able to walk as far as they once could. My mom fits into that category. She's relatively healthy but when you're pushing 70, it would be nice to be able to enjoy longer walks with one's family and friends.

That it can also go uphill shows it has clear benefits: there is the younger generation--college students, for example--who can now get across campus faster. A skateboard won't go up hills. They can stow the device into their backpack once in class, not needing to take time to lock up a bike.

Just because a person can walk does not mean that they would find it REASONABLE to walk in certain situations. For example, I can walk 12 miles. But I don't WANT to walk 12 miles to and from work every day; it is absurd to think that this is an efficient use of my time. At an average pace of 3 miles per hour, that is 4 hours out of my life. I could cut that in half with this device, making it reasonable, and I don't arrive sweating as I would if I were to RUN at that pace.

Comment Re:Defending scoundrels (Score 1) 410

So, you are suggesting that it is okay to allow ideas and ideologies such as those held by ISIS? That the idea in which one should enforce a caliphate in which people, both children and adults, can be arbitrarily accused of "apostasy" and thereby summarily executed by beheading, is not a dangerous one and that it should be allowed?

Moreover, you are so appalled by Popper's view that you find it "chilling," implying that this quote is in itself a dangerous idea--yet fail to recognize the contradiction.

The notion that there are no dangerous ideas, only dangerous acts, is fundamentally flawed; one that is (and has been) correctly rejected by logically sound philosophical discourse.

Comment Re:Defending scoundrels (Score 1) 410

I will see your H.L. Mencken and raise you a Karl Popper:

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. – In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."

-Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies.

For more information, refer to "the paradox of tolerance."

Comment And as usual, Slashdot commenters miss the point (Score 4, Insightful) 280

"So not by the color of their skin."
"Why is Slashdot so focused on counting penises?"
"Leftie vs. Rightie pitching."
"Diversity can go only so far. There are no women playing in the NFL and no men in the LPGA."


The point, as so many have so persistently failed to grasp, is not simply that there are no female competitors on the US team. It's not simply that the top mathematics students overwhelmingly tend to be male. These are all true, but the point is not that this happens because males are intrinsically better at math. The point is that there is NO EVIDENCE to suggest that the brains of females are any less capable of developing mathematical proficiency and talent in this age group (or any age group, for that matter). Pointing to the existing disparity as evidence is a fallacy: once, not too long ago, there were no black baseball players.

Instead, the point is that there exists a systematic, cultural, and longstanding bias against encouraging and fostering scientific and mathematical proficiency in female students, and the purpose of bringing this up in the context of the IMO is to again remind Western countries such as the US, that this imbalance exists not because women just "happen" to be worse at math, but because women are DISCOURAGED from doing math and continue to be discouraged. And to be absolutely clear about this:

1. That does not necessarily mean that men are treated preferentially (in the sense of being given an easier time in STEM fields), but rather that women who attempt to persist in STEM paths tend to face a higher likelihood of varying degrees of sexism and sex discrimination from both peers and instructors that would not happen if they were male. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is overt, but always, it is treatment that would not have happened if they were male.

2. This cultural attitude against women expressing interest in mathematics and science is not exclusive to men. In fact, it is very often women oppressing other women through peer pressure--in particular, the desire to conform to standards of behavior and personal interests that are more aligned with traditionally "feminine" pursuits. If you are a female teenager interested in math who had the remarkable fortune of not having had your parents ever ask you "why would you want to be a math major? Wouldn't that be too hard," or teachers who didn't think that "girls just don't seem to have the persistence and capability to do the kind of abstract thinking required for mathematics," you would no doubt find that your fellow female friends would almost invariably NOT want to be mathematicians or scientists. And that is also a form of bias that perpetuates the lack of females in mathematics.

The way a lot of guys react to gender inequality really fails to understand the basic problem. When someone calls out institutionalized sexism, that is not an indictment of individual male behavior. It is an attempt to call to attention a structural problem that is being perpetuated by continued obstinacy on the part of people (both male and female) who don't want to take the time to think about what it might be like to be in someone else's shoes for a change.

Comment Why have children? (Score 3, Insightful) 692

The assumption that people will reproduce if given the opportunity to live indefinitely is flawed.

For many people, the urge to reproduce is strongly motivated by the idea that we want something of ourselves to leave behind when we are gone: we want someone to care for us in our old age; someone to carry on our memory. For people in developing countries, having children is a way of having extra labor. If, however, we do not regard death as inevitable, then the motivation for reproduction is also reduced. The need for extra labor is also reduced, in that there will be more healthy adults of working age in the population.

That is not to say that nobody would choose to have children. There may be a period of adjustment where people would still have lots of kids out of habit and out of a desire to hedge one's bets, so to speak, but once people start hitting ages around 150 without signs of slowing down, most will quite likely start to realize they would be better off not reproducing.

But there's always the idea that the only way you can live forever is if you agree to not have children...I'd say there is no shortage of people who would take up that offer.

Comment Re:She has a point. (Score 5, Insightful) 628

My problem with the Lena image has nothing to do with the context. It has to do with the fact that it is an entirely outdated test image with poor properties to visually assess the effects of image processing algorithms. It wasn't chosen carefully (as the historical background indicates) with this purpose in mind. Retrospectively, a variety of academics have justified its suitability (e.g., the fine detail of the feathers, the texture of the hat, contrasted with the smooth skin tone; as well as the uniquely human ability to perceive minute aberrations in facial structure), but this is really a post-hoc rationalization not supported in the face of such facts as the image as it is frequently used is not even color balanced.

I'm well aware that researchers want a way to be able to compare their results with published papers from decades ago, and Lena provides an easy way to do that. But let's be honest here: it's lazy. To truly make reasonable comparisons, you'll invariably need to test algorithms against each other over a wide variety of inputs, not just a single input; therefore, the real work of implementing earlier (even if known to be relatively inefficient, outdated, or poorly performing) algorithms is a necessary part of making those comparisons.

As for the context...honestly, if you don't know what it's like to be a woman living in a male-dominated world, it's not really your place to be able to say "it's just a face" or complain about how "feminazis make a shitshow out of everything." I don't personally object to the image's content. But I absolutely understand why others would. And that's what makes the difference in maturity level.

Comment Re:This is a bug not a feature (Score 4, Interesting) 328

While I agree that the preference for low color temperature illumination indoors is to some extent a matter of past experience, I claim that there is also a physiological basis for this preference, and that this too contributes (although does not entirely explain) to the reason why people like tungsten light.

The Purkinje Effect is the basis for the Kruithof curve which quantifies a relationship between the color temperature and illuminance of a light source that is regarded as pleasing/comfortable for human vision. That is to say, at lower illuminance, human color vision is mesoptic (a blend of photopic or "cone-based" and scotopic "rod-based"), and so is less sensitive to longer visible wavelengths than shorter ones than at high illuminance, where photopic vision dominates. This partly explains why, in a dark room, blue LEDs frequently seem almost painfully bright compared to red ones (another component is that the blue LED may actually be brighter). Therefore, for the purposes of indoor illumination, our eyes tend to find high color temperatures to be "harsh" or "glaring."

Nevertheless, to a certain extent, this perception can be overcome with exposure and time. But I do think that the evidence suggests it is not simply a matter of what generation one grew up in, or that such preferences have no physiological basis.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann