Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Comment why we don't eat bugs (Score 4, Insightful) 381

We don't eat bugs because historically and culturally, bugs have been a sign of spoilage and infestation. Some cultures do eat mealworms, but this almost exclusively happens in places where agriculture is difficult and high quality protein sources are rare.

Another reason why we are averse to eating bugs is that they are eaten whole. There are few animals that we consume in their entirety.

Ways to get around both of these issues ultimately come down to processing. Chemical processing has the potential to extract the proteins while rendering the result into a form that is unrecognizable as being derived from an insect. But, for my own personal tastes, I am not any more or less inclined to want to eat a mealworm than I am inclined to want to eat the intestine of a cow. It's just that, on a cow, it's a lot easier to separate the muscle tissue from the organs.

Comment Re:Where is there check? (Score 2) 366

Both the captain and co-pilot did separate calculations. They just happened to make two different arithmetic errors that resulted in the same incorrect result, therefore failing to detect the error. The captain failed to carry a 1. The co-pilot type in a 6 instead of a 7.

What this incident shows is that automation or the use of computers to do calculations automatically, does not necessarily improve reliability. Independent and redundant systems are instrumental in reducing error, but basic vigilance and attention to detail frequently is the most effective means in preventing mistakes.

Comment Re:Out of the box idea (Score 1) 444

This. A trillion times this.

The whining of the rich about how difficult it is to be them is nothing more than a weak post hoc rationalization of their hypocrisy. They WANT people to know they are wealthy, because it is not merely the exercise of wealth, but its ostentatious display, that translates to power. The rich would justify that display as simply the consequence of wanting to live well with their "hard-earned" gains. But this is overwhelmingly not the case.

I once dated a trust-fund baby. He was a spoiled, entitled, attention-whoring asshole. Despite his claims that he wants to be treated like anyone else, and that he understood what it was like to be like all the other middle-class people in his life, he really had no clue. He drove around in his Tesla, lived in his multi-million dollar house his parents bought him, and relished the attention that he got as a result. I saw it firsthand. There was scarcely a day when I'd sit in the passenger seat and someone would roll down their window and ask what kind of car he was driving (this was back when the Model S went into production). This is what the obscenely rich do: they are completely delusional about the magnitude of the difference between themselves and the common folk. It is not that wealth does not have its problems, but it is the extent to which they think they are just like everyone else, and consequently, that they deserve equal sympathy for their problems as everyone else's, that is so disgustingly offensive.

Comment Re:Why not eat meat? (Score 1) 317

Humans, like our primate relatives, do eat non-vegetable matter. Moreover, there is a case to be made that it is through our discovery of FIRE that our success as a species really started to take off, because while other animals consume their nutrition raw, the act of cooking one's food to break down plant and animal matter enabled the human digestive system to be simpler and less energy-consuming. We essentially offloaded a good part of the function of digestion into cooking, and this is what allowed us to evolve an increased intellectual and physical activity.

That said, the reason for meat substitutes has little to do with theories as to whether we as a species were/are "intended" or adapted to eat meat. It has a lot more to do with the environmental efficiency and cost of producing large volumes of meat for a very large population of humans; moreover, a greater proportion of the human population is increasing consumption of meat due to the general rising standard of living in developing nations.

Therefore, any discussion of the palatability of artificially synthesized meat (i.e., any meat not systematically produced from the raising and slaughter of live animals), must include a discussion of the efficiency of the process. How much water does it use? How must does it cost to implement at large scales? How much electricity does it use? How much organic/raw material does it need? How much does it pollute, and what are its polluting byproducts? And how good is its nutritional profile? All of these questions should be evaluated in themselves as well as in comparison to existing meat production processes.

Meat consumption will never go away unless the supply disappears completely. What matters is not why we eat it or whether we should stop; what matters is how we can do it in a way that is sustainable from an economic, environmental, and public health perspective.

Comment Like it or not, branding matters (Score 1) 781

Nerds don't understand this fundamental point: just because it sounds clever to YOU doesn't mean that the rest of the world is going to find it just as benign. When your goal is to maximize adoption, the last thing you want to do is pick a bad name.

Object lesson: GIMP. Come on, seriously?

It's not a question of "is it offensive" so much as "is it a STUPID-SOUNDING NAME?" You might say, "well, people need to be less sensitive and grow the fuck up"--but the fact of the matter is that GIMP, despite being free, has never gained widespread adoption as a legitimate competitor to Photoshop, and part of that reason--even if a small part--is because it has a completely ridiculous-sounding name that people who need to use such programs for real work do not want to have to mention in correspondence.

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."

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang