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

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) 628 628

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 It has to do with the fact that it is an entirely outdated test image with poor properties to visually assess the effects of image processing algorithms.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) 328 328

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.

Comment: Re:My two cents... (Score 1) 606 606

Such behavior may not rise to the level of criminality, but there's no reason why OSU should not feel entirely justified in expelling these students. Expulsion is a consequence of either gross academic misconduct, or severely antisocial behavior that is against university policy. OSU isn't the government and its students do not have a legal right to attend. Otherwise, anyone could just decide they want to go there regardless of admissions.

These students did what others did: they applied and were accepted under the condition that they would behave according to university standards. Expulsion is the university's mechanism of saying that they cannot tolerate such behavior, as in their view, what they did was so egregious that their continued enrollment would be critically disruptive to the campus.

It's unfortunate you don't seem to understand the difference between legal action and expulsion. The latter is like getting fired from a job. You violate company policy, you get fired. End of story.

Comment: This is about accountability (Score 5, Insightful) 467 467

The police only investigate serious crimes or imminent threats where either a lot of money or someone's life is on the line, and even then, they aren't fast, accurate, or trustworthy. The legal system does not have the time or the motivation or the resources to deal with what is the online equivalent of schoolyard antics.

That is not to say what these idiots were doing was trivial or harmless. But let's put it this way: suppose every time you had someone come up to you and say something completely disgusting and violent to your face, that your response was to do absolutely NOTHING except file a police report, do you really think that would stop such behavior? If someone punched you, are you just going to stand there and not defend yourself, instead electing to wait until you can go to the nearest station and file a report?

The bottom line is that you cannot reasonably expect to have a free internet while at the same time tell the government or law enforcement that users must be held accountable for their online actions. People suggesting that victims simply shrug off such behavior are either themselves psychopaths or have never themselves been the target of such abuse. And to then call out the victim for vigilantism is the height of delusion. Oh, but what if this opens up a slippery slope of unchecked vigilantism and real-world consequences for people who are the mistaken subject of retaliation?

Um,... I have some news for you: it's already lawless out there. It has always been. You can't simultaneously tell people to shrug off the trolls because "oh well that's the internet for you," yet cry foul when people fight back, saying "but what if innocent people lose their jobs?" That's hypocrisy. People are already suffering real-world consequences of the behaviors of trolls. You are just selectively inured to it because it happens a LOT more often and it's been going on for a lot longer than people successfully fighting back...and when they do fight back, it goes viral and makes the news because so many people are so desperate for a solution that it feels good to see the good guy winning for once.

That should tell you how completely nonexistent civility is in the online realm. People SHOULD be accountable for their actions online. But don't fucking tell me that it's the job of the government to do that for me, because we all know how PERFECTLY that works. What a joke. Accountability is not actually kicking someone in the balls for being a jackass. It's being able to carry out the promise of that consequence.

Comment: Government lawyer = power hungry idiots (Score 5, Informative) 431 431

"We understand the value of door locks and the importance of home security," she said. "But we're very concerned they lead not to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness.'"

Yes, you could get a warrant to enter a person's home, but in theory, only with probable cause--although law enforcement doesn't even bother with that anymore, under the guise of "national security" or "defending freedom" or "imminent terrorist danger" or some other vague excuse. Which is all the MORE reason why encryption is necessary, because unlike physical property, digital property deserves even greater protection from government intrusion, especially when the agents of that government--such as this lawyer--dare to openly speak the way they do. It proves the government is not trustworthy. Our private information is a record of our thoughts and actions in a way that physical property does not and cannot compare.

The fact is, I'd rather risk the vague possibility of a terrorist threat than be subjected to the certainty of a tyrannical government. The real terrorists are those who use fear and propaganda to advance oppressive tactics, repeal individual rights and freedoms, all in order to enshrine power and money for themselves. As I have said about law enforcement: if you don't like that your job is "hard" or "dangerous" or made more so as a consequence of technology, that's your problem. It doesn't mean that law-abiding citizens have any obligation to facilitate the rolling back of progress so that you can stay lazy and expend the absolute minimum amount of effort required.

Comment: As a mathematician... (Score 5, Insightful) 106 106

I find Werthiemer's characterization of this gross oversight to be..."regrettable."

Let's remind the reader and put the role of NSA mathematicians in context: In the world of mathematical research, what the NSA knows is by construction a superset of what the academic community knows. That is to say, NSA researchers have at their disposal the body of all published mathematical literature, in addition to any discoveries they have made internally, whereas non-NSA mathematicians do not have access to the latter. If a flaw in a commonly used cryptographic scheme is discovered by the NSA but is unknown in the public arena, this immediately leads to an exploitable situation.

Thus, when outside researchers discover an issue, this tells us NOTHING about if or when the NSA knew about the same flaw. It also means nothing for NSA mathematicians to apologize or write in public correspondence what their version of events was. Their lack of credibility does not stem from the existence of such flaws; no. Neither does it necessarily follow from the lies they have told in other respects. On this point I must be completely clear. Their lack of credibility stems from the aforementioned and inherent information asymmetry. To attempt to infer the sincerity of the message based on indirect evidence, past behavior, and allusions to glorious historical efforts is to be misled from the fundamental reality, which is that the NSA and its mathematicians are under no obligation to tell the truth because they undoubtedly possess mathematical secrets that the public does not.

That said, I am gratified that many preeminent mathematicians working in the fields of number theory, cryptography, algebra, combinatorial analysis, and cryptanalysis do not choose to work for the NSA and instead remain in the academic community, on the premise that the advancement of humankind necessitates the openness of the process of discovery and the unrestricted dissemination of mathematical research.

Comment: Doesn't matter (Score 1) 340 340

Like those who eat up the partisan politics in the US, or those who refuse to accept evolution as established science, the pro-Putin apologists don't care to be told the evidence was fabricated. That's not going to change their belief that it is genuine. Nothing will shake their beliefs. If you could show them actual video footage of the shooting of the plane by the separatists, if you could bring forth the actual people who shot the plane down and secure their confession in person, the response would be that the video footage was doctored, and the confessions coerced.

The rest of the world knows that Putin is ultimately responsible for this, but history is littered with the resolute convictions of idiots who will stop at nothing to defend the despots they have lionized. But should Putin fall, these people will be the first to disavow their allegiance, saying they were never in support of him in the first place.

Comment: Can't have your cake and eat it too (Score 1) 553 553

Corporations want you to be smart enough to do your job, but not so smart as to challenge them on salary, outsourcing, or mismanagement. Be a well-behaved cog in the machine. Well, you can't have it both ways. If you want your obedient and unquestioning slave labor from India, you can't expect them to have critical thinking skills. If you want your creative, forward-thinking, initiative-taking workers to move your company forward, you better treat them with the respect they deserve and reward them commensurately with the value they bring, or else they will go elsewhere.

What companies have been doing for ages is pit the former group against the latter. The latest incarnation of this phenomenon is to hire loads of H1B workers to depress wages and squeeze the talented people out of the job market until they become willing to work for less money. But they still get treated like crap, so they eventually get disgruntled and leave, but from the company's perspective, hopefully not before some of the magic they brought rubs off on the slave labor. Problem with that is the companies are realizing that this doesn't work so well in the long run.

Comment: Re:American Exceptionalism Strikes Again (Score 1) 384 384

Indeed. Here's a breakdown of all the problems:

1. Hubris. US government agencies (policymakers, public health officers, and elected officials) and private healthcare providers (hospitals) assumed that a substantial driving force for the spread of Ebola in West Africa is due to their lack of a developed healthcare system. In other words, these agencies thought that Ebola could be easily contained were it to occur in the US simply by taking appropriate precautions. That, as we have seen, is incorrect: the infection of two nurses proves that once someone is sick, it takes a great deal of diligence to avoid coming into contact with their infected blood, diarrhea, and vomit. Consider how many US hospitals have a difficult time as it is controlling other infectious diseases that are typically only found in the hospital setting--MRSA, C. difficile, MDR tuberculosis, etc. This demonstrates that establishing a complete barrier is not something most hospitals are either economically or physically equipped to do. Yet officials persist in saying that "Ebola isn't really that easy to trasmit."

2. Failure to consider severity. In insurance, we consider Exposure = Frequency x Severity. Exposure represents exposure to risk. Frequency represents the probability of a loss (or in this case, we might model it as the likelihood of dying of Ebola). Severity represents the costs associated with a loss (in this case, death). The problem is that many people are focused on the minuscule frequency, but the true exposure to risk is not merely quantified by this tiny, tiny probability. Moreover, this simple model must also be expanded to consider that frequency is a time-dependent function of the number at risk and the infectivity of the disease. Epidemiologists can model this much more easily than I can, but I guarantee you that they will have to do some HEAVY revising because what we have seen of the way these recent cases have been handled, the potential for error is enormous. If Ebola gets a foothold here--and this is not a negligibly small probability--then there are going to be some serious problems controlling its spread due to the fact that Americans are a LOT more mobile. Again, we saw this with these two nurses. One got on a flight while sick.

3. Politics and messaging. I think the notion of an "Ebola czar" is absurd. Such a role does not need to exist except for the sole purpose of having someone to be the scapegoat if everything goes tits up, and that's really what this idiot is about. It's about having someone to pin the blame onto. The people talking about how this is all being blown out of proportion have a point, but their opinion is largely based on the current state of affairs--one dead man who flew in from Liberia and two nurses. We need to take into consideration that if things do not shape up in West Africa REAL FAST, and if more American health workers go there and possibly come back infected, we really could lose control here faster than you can blink an eye. We really are on a knife's edge here. I cannot overstate how precarious this situation is. That said, this is not a reason for panic: the public doesn't have any control over the situation, except to not travel to West Africa at this time. But it is definitely a reason to not buy into the messaging that we've been hearing about Ebola, because the politicians keep telling us it's not a big deal that they keep fucking up.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1, Insightful) 393 393

You must be some paid shill, because that wasn't even REMOTELY the point of the GP post. The point is that the existing cost of the Tesla Model S already hits Anderman's price range, so the Model 3, being smaller and another three years out from now to improve battery manufacturing costs, should easily sell for a lower price point. But you wouldn't understand because you need it explained in one-syllable words, written in crayon.

Comment: This is not novel (Score 2) 120 120

The basic idea has been around for a while now, in a number of countries besides Germany. And it has less to do with laziness or luxury, and more to do with maximizing the use of valuable space in areas of high urban density. The only thing that appears to be novel here is the use of a free-moving robot rather than a conveyance that is incorporated into the parking structure itself. Granted, there are other benefits as well--being able to retrieve your car rapidly and efficiently reduces parking structure congestion and environmental pollution from excessive idling.

Comment: Re:Companies don't pay for healthcare, workers do (Score 1) 1330 1330


Health benefits are just that--benefits included as an integral part of an employee's compensation for work performed in service to that company. The employee earns it. It's not charity, and it's not the employer who is paying for the coverage in the sense that the salary for a non-compensated employee would need to be commensurately higher to offset the cost of that employee having to purchase their own insurance. While it is not regarded as taxable income, health benefits are EARNED. It is therefore the employee's constitutional right to have the coverage they have worked for. It isn't a fucking Christian charity that Hobby Lobby thinks it's running, no matter what their greedy asses think they're doing.

Their win is not the least bit surprising: the SCOTUS has long since been run by religious and corporatist ideologues like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito. These dinosaurs need to die off because their hypocritical and self-serving opinions have nothing to do with fact or actual law. Corporations do not have a right to force its employees to use the benefits they rightfully earned with their hard work in only the ways their owners approve. I don't see Hobby Lobby screening every dollar of profit they earn to make sure it wasn't touched by someone who used contraception. They'll gladly take anyone's money.

And the dumbest thing of all is that the form of contraception they are opposed to has been repeatedly shown in scientific studies to not be an abortifacient, but much like the opposition to evidence regarding climate change, their religion-addled minds refuse to accept facts over propaganda. So they are discriminating and imposing their own mistaken beliefs not because there is any evidence that the actual substance of that belief has any merit, but simply because they personally believe these pills are killing unborn babies. More embryos miscarry every year of their own accord than are prevented from implanting by someone taking such contraception. And the Supreme Court's reasoning basically amounts to saying that a company has a right to dictate that the only medical benefits they want to offer its employees is leeches and trepanation.

Comment: Re:Wishful? Trade is a two-way street, is it not? (Score 1) 322 322

I find it rather strange that you are inferring that Krugman's proposal is merely liberal wishful thinking, or "promoting a liberal agenda," when there are numerous fiscal conservatives who would love nothing more than to level the playing field with respect to domestic versus foreign manufacturing. The dirty little secret, though, is that those fiscal conservatives are the blue-collar workers who've been squeezed out of jobs, not the ones who actually run the GOP political machine. The latter are what we might think of as corporate fat cats, ultra-wealthy investors, and the already-made men, for whom the consequences of globalization and foreign investment have been a windfall, rather than the ideologues living in Midwest states and the Bible Belt who buy the GOP "fiscal conservative" propaganda so easily that they are led to vote against their own immediate economic interests.

So, one must be led to wonder how such a proposal could even be branded "liberal" or "conservative" at all--unless by "conservative," one only means "creating wealth by manipulating the market," rather than "honest pay for honest labor."

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.