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Comment: Debian GNOME needs some attention (Score 1) 66

by Bruce Perens (#47979731) Attached to: Debian Switching Back To GNOME As the Default Desktop

After something like 20 years I finally found a system that won't run Debian unstable right now. My Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 magnesium tablet + iKey Jumpseat magnesium keyboard. Systemd and GDM break. Bought (for less than full price) because I am a frequent traveler and speaker and really do need something you can drop from 6 feet and pour coffee over have it keep working.

But because of this bug I have ubuntu at the moment, and am not having fun and am eager to return to Debian.

Comment: Network and personal contacts (Score 1) 340

Really it's a matter of who you know not what you know. I lost my job as a PhD chemist when I turned 50. Since I liked programming I spent a couple of weeks learning SQL and HTML and started looking for jobs. Any kind of software dev job. I found something at a crummy little web shop for poor pay. I was there for a couple of years. Worked like a dog learning wed related technologies. When the shop folded up I had a number of good contacts and people were calling looking to hire me for much better positions. In a couple of more years I was a lead with several folks working for me.

Employers LOVE hiring someone that somebody in their shop can vouch for. It makes sense too. You can[t tell squat from a resume.

Comment: Re:Cue "All we are is dust in the wind" (Score 1) 120

by fyngyrz (#47978967) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

Ergo, the universe does not exist.

Assumes facts not in evidence, to wit, that creation is required in the first place. Consider: everything we have and know about was not "created", it was always present in some form or other. Assuming that this is not the case for a time/dimensional configuration for which we have neither evidence or understanding is, at best, fact-free speculation - certainly in no way an inevitable logical conclusion.

Comment: Re:Cue "All we are is dust in the wind" (Score 1) 120

by fyngyrz (#47978931) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

If you can't "wrap your mind around" how your average bunny rabbit could rule a world of vicious, hungry, intelligent tigers, does that make you "appreciate the idea"? Are you willing to extend "blind faith" in this direction as well?

I think the premise that you can "appreciate it" because "you don't get it" is just politically correct appeasement.

Why not just go with "I don't get it" and so "it's not worthy of confidence, only speculation, and that utilizing the knowledge we do have, until or unless I do"?

As to infinity, if you don't understand it, what's the problem? Pizza still tastes like pizza, and science proceeds apace regardless. Not understanding something in no way makes the mythologies of pre-scientific societies in any way likely to provide answers.

Comment: Re:Cue "All we are is dust in the wind" (Score 1) 120

by fyngyrz (#47978881) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

It came from God... God created it.

There is absolutely zero evidence for this, so I see no reason at all to take it seriously.

So, it was always there then. You believe in infinity.

No. I don't "believe" in anything. I was simply correcting the simplistic, errant logic of the post parent to mine.

My confidence rest with the idea that our physics is currently unable to describe what went on prior to a certain point in time, if "time" is the relevant dimensional term, even assuming that we've got the facts straight back that far from the scant evidence that remains. I'm perfectly comfortable with that. I am curious to know the answer(s), if there is/are one/multiples I can understand, but it bothers me not all that I don't presently know, and may never know.

Although I'm comfortable, as I said, I find informed speculation interesting. What I have extremely low confidence in, though, are attempts at answers made up by pre-scientific societies. I find the idea that they had any means to know straight-up ludicrous. Having been raised in a country that positively reeks of Christianity (the USA), I have made it my business to learn as much about it in particular as I could. That process served only to significantly lower my confidence in its basic premise.

Comment: Re:Cue "All we are is dust in the wind" (Score 1) 120

by fyngyrz (#47978745) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

But where did the something it came from, come from. And where did that come from, etc.

Why did it have to come from anywhere? Our existence implies that something was there at any point in our current time, and any point related to that, dimensionally speaking, prior, if indeed "prior" is a relevant term.

Perhaps the universe is infinite in other dimensions (like time) as well as space. If it is, so what? Does Captain Crunch taste any different? No.

The important thing, to me, is to note that we do not know, and therefore it is pointless to claim that we do. Speculation, of course, is very interesting, but only serves to winnow out the things physics tells us are nonsense. Keeping in mind that physics is evolving as well.

Comment: Re:Cue (Score 1) 120

by fyngyrz (#47978683) Attached to: "Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust

No. We can trace the assembly of a loaf of bread just fine from its now-current components. We can't trace the creation of the universe. Our physics makes nonsense of the evidence we have uncovered; therefore, we do not understand that evidence. Until we do, we can't trace the universe any further.

I have no problem with yet to be solved questions, and find no need to make up stories in order to pretend to solve them. I'll wait comfortably until we figure it out, assuming we do, which is also not a given. It may be beyond our capacities, and certainly as far as this universe goes, most of the evidence our current skills allow us to work with has long since dispersed.

However, from a thermodynamics POV, the "logic" does not lead to "god", because that answer solves nothing:

- A god does not come from nothing. Thermodynamics prevents this.
- A god does not create itself. Thermodynamics prevents this.
- A god was not created.

The subtext to either series of reasoning, of course, is the "it was there all the time" sally. The difference: The universe is real, here now, and assuming it was there all the time in some form isn't a huge leap of any kind, it just asserts the status quo in regions we cannot confirm.

God (or gods), however, has/have not been demonstrated to be real, and so three leaps have to be taken: First the existence in the first place, and second, the "there all the time", and third, that this is somehow relevant to us.

I choose the simple answer: The universe, in some form, was there all the time. That could be wrong; but that's what little our current physics seem to imply.

Comment: Re:The article isn't any better. (Score 1) 736

by swillden (#47978545) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

It isn't predictive capacity just in the sense that it will describe how known things happen - it should describe what will happen in a previously unknown situation, which is where experimentation comes in, whether it is contrived or found in nature. Take the theory that angels pushed planets around and that the movement of the stars was governed by the whim of the gods - when a theory came along (Newton's gravitation) that both described current phenomena, and also was able to predict something previously unexpected (the return of Halley's comet) it was a resounding vindication of the theory.

Yes, and the converse is also crucial: For example the Michelson-Moreley experiment observed a phenomenon (or, rather, lack of one) which defied explanation under Newtonian Mechanics. Because Newton's theory is a good explanation there was no way to make minor adjustments to it which could explain the null result. Instead, we got special and then general relativity, which completely changed the explanation to one in which gravitational forces don't really even exist.

To put it another way, what you said is that good explanations have "reach"; they explain more than the phenomenon they were created to explain. Further, they also tell us what those other phenomena are, because the explanation itself implies that reach (though sometimes we don't see all of the implications). And, finally, they are not easily modifiable to account for new observations which don't fit the theory.

This makes explanatory theories far more than simple predictive tools, and is the reason that the empiricist view of science as merely a process for deriving predictive rules is incorrect.

Comment: Re:Because... (Score 1) 234

by KozmoStevnNaut (#47978297) Attached to: Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Before I bought my current phone (Samsung GS4 Mini), I specifically checked for CyanogenMod etc. support. It's just received the update to 4.4, but it's very likely that no more official updates are coming from Samsung's hand, since they're probably focusing on the S5 generation and beyond.

I really didn't want to add to the semi-monoculture of Samsung-made Android phones, but it was objectively the best choice compared to the competition. It has 1.5GB RAM instead of 1GB, a user-replaceable battery, perfect size, known-good build quality, CyanogenMod compatibility and so on, plus it was on half-off sale with no plan attached at a local electronics chain store. But the CM compatibility was the biggest factor.

Comment: Re:Not MAD. (Score 1) 309

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#47977951) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

Nukes also have an easier time leveling buildings than they do utterly decimating populations. The fireball generally is very small, the overpressure that will kill you is a bit bigger, but theres a wide zone of "buildings become unsound" where people suffer much lesser effects.

It's already been said, but it bears repeating. If you want to kill people instead of things you go for radiological warfare, i.e. you rely on fallout, not blast overpressure. (Incidentally, since the military is almost always concerned with other types of targets, they're typically exclusively concerned with blast overpressure, at the exclusion of all other types of effects).

Compare the exercise retold by Stuart Slade where it only took a small portion of the US arsenal to kill as near as all of the Chineese as it wouldn't matter.

Now, that that wouldn't happen, even in a large scale exchange is another matter. Nuclear weapons are far too valuable to use for such a purpose (usually), and there are lots of other strategies that would be tried before a counter population strike.

Comment: Stop requiring people to overpay (Score 2, Insightful) 247

The current IRS regulations effectively require people to overpay their income taxes, which results in nearly everyone getting a refund, which they want processed quickly, because somehow it's okay if the government is holding money you didn't actually owe, until you actually know how much they're holding. If, on the other hand, people have to mail in a check they don't care if it takes the IRS a few months to verify everything.

Simple solution: Eliminate the regulations that require overpayment, such as the regulation that penalizes you for underpaying if your withholdings are inadequate to cover your liabilities and aren't at lease as large as the prior year's withholdings. Some, perhaps many, people will still choose to overpay, as a sort of brain-dead savings plan, but many will reduce their withholdings, and those that still overpay will have no basis for complaint about a slower refund, since it was their choice.

But, then, I think the whole concept of mandatory withholdings is evil and wrong. It's just one of many ways that taxpayers are misled about how much they're paying. It's not the worst of such deceptions, but it's a significant one.

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