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Comment There isn't a scientific law of speech freedom ... (Score 1) 894

... or principal of nature. It is only a cultural construct that has been occasionally been enforced with limits in some societies in far western Eurasia. It exists to the extent that military power allows and the whims of political powers decide. Socrates only got so far - and as a Citizen of Athens he had more freedom of speech then anyone else at the time. It is a privilege provided by force of arms.

When I was a kid on the streets of Brooklyn - Watch GoodFellas I was in the background of the reality of that piece of fiction - you had to take personal responsibility for what you said and did. If someone didn't like it you could get a flat nose, or be spread over several large black plastic bags in the Fountain Ave Dump.

So to all of those who are busy screaming "FUCK YOU". Would you say that if you had to take personal responsibility for that? That old west "Thems fighting words"? Why yes you say, and after the second beating you'll be far more circumspect.

But - you don't have to take that beating for being a jerk, Western Military Power prevents it. Usually And, now, less and less.

Comment Apple has consumers stuck with vender lock in (Score 1) 598

I was looking to buy my daughter a new laptop for college. We bought an ASUS laptop that had good ratings. It was on woot so it wasn't going to cost a fortune if it went bad. It had troubles right away and had to be sent off for repair. Now it seems to be fine. Apple hardware is still the best. Way not cheap. But ... Windows 8.1 is every inch as good as Mavericks, and better then Yosemite. On a laptop the touchscreen is useful - if only marginally. It is not better then Mountain Lion. Almost all of the new "features" in MacOS are useless and there are more and more bugs. I really don't need my computer to ring when I get a call. On Windows 8.1 for every piece of stupidity there is a really nice feature. Getting the Asus to work on the otherwise all Apple network is maddening. Those bugs are not on the MS side.

I feel stuck. You have to pay close to Apple prices to get good hardware, but the software and just plain strangeness of Apple is making me regret buying so much Apple gear. Getting out of the Apple ecosystem is tough and expensive. One thing that hasn't been mentioned - at least as far as I can see, is Time Machine. It has gottne flaky too. When you try to get to your backups, sometimes they are there, and sometimes that slice is grayed out. You have to mount the backup as a drive to get it to work. Sometimes. Not Thrilled. Now my backups are locked, good luck if I need to get something - which is very likely with a big OS switch.

Getting out of the lock in, even if i keep using some apple products, will be long and hard.

Submission + - The New York Times tries to lasso in science reporting, and fails. (

raque writes: I sent my first letter to the editor to the NYTimes on this article/video. I liked it until the very end. Then the author, who is the narrator of the video, says that the hand and the lasso are 'in phase". What!? One of the great problems of science and math writing is the use of words that simply serve to keep out the uninitiated, who now seem to be me. Science is justly determined to be unambiguous in its language. Ergo, "Phase" has one, and only one (or two) meaning. The initiated know what that meaning is, and how that meaning is different from any other meaning (except for the other one). Could someone provide, or point to, a definition of 'in phase" that would be useful here. I did look it up and found ...

The only definitions of "in phase" that Google helps with are the states of matter, and I don't see either the rope or the roper becoming gaseous or liquid (something the roper, I'm sure, is glad of) or if two sine waves have the same peak. I will assume, please correct me if I'm wrong, that two cosine waves having the same peak would be in phase also. But, since cosine is a function of sine ... isn't it? A cosine wave is a sine wave that has been shifted — I think. But the rope is going around ... Since Minute Physics doesn't have a video on this I'm stuck.

The article is different from the video by pointing out that the author of the paper being reported on is the student of another scientist/mathematician who won an Ignoble Prize for why spaghetti breaks when thrown against a wall.

This being Slashdot, I will leave out any other implications of "Whips, chains and ropes". We wouldn't go there.

Comment Re:More like the Paleolithic than 18th Century (Score 1) 470

May I suggest you RTFA.

If you had RTFA you would see that such details are assumed to have been dealt with - or there would be no one to have a space war. You need at least two populations in different parts of "space" for this to happen. Since you count all of the "space" around the and between the population centers in calculating the population density then it is very low per cubic what ever you want to count in.

The first time I came across this math and logic was "Citizen of the Galaxy" by Heinlein. Always recommended. The last really good one was Friday. I never liked it when Lazarus Long would pop up in those last few books.

Comment Re:More like the Paleolithic than 18th Century (Score 1) 470

Any colonization of Space would drop the population density.

We will colonize space in time cubed, but our population increases in exponential time. Colonization of space will not drop the population density.

No. You get separate populations separated by large distances. Think islands. The density of any local population, like Earth, won't change much, but the total density will plummet when you have to include all of the space between Earth and Mars if there are two populations. Hence high local population densities, which will have conflicts much like ours, and a low total density which will have hit and run tactics.

Comment More like the Paleolithic than 18th Century (Score 2) 470

Any colonization of Space would drop the population density. With out a dense population you cannot support a large military. So you have two scenarios, a very local one and a distant one. This is much closer to the Paleolithic then to any modern or near modern history.

The local one would be like what we have today. If everything is one polity then you have police functions. It there is more then one polity then you have militaries. The Blue and Green colonies of Mars fighting over something. What they are doing is trying to change the nature of how power and resources are controlled by the polities. This is some sort of permanent reshuffling. You have to remember that the instability of the Middle East is driven by large, poor, young, male heavy populations.

In a distant scenario you get hit and run tactics. Mars colony wants the ore that Europa colony has, so it launches a raid. Grab the ship and go. It doesn't try to change the nature of Europa's or it's own polity. This is what you see for most warfare in most of human history. This means a totally different kind of technology and tactics.

  I tend to think that Firefly got it most right. Space Wars are Civil Wars and the military exists to maintain the status quo. Fighting will take place within the Polity.

Comment Maybe not art (Score 1) 91

This is a mountain being made out of a mole hill. What we have is evidence that a series of hash marks were made for no reason we can see. Therefore, it must be symbolic. I'm not buying it, even if they are selling.

First, we have to remember that the Neanderthals did not much change their tool set for something like 260,000 years. If you find a Mousterian tool set anywhere you have Neanderthals. That is weird in it's self. Think about it, for 2600 centuries everywhere from Afghanistan to Gibraltar all Neanderthals used the same set of technologies. Not a lot of original thinking going on there. This has all sorts of problems, like where did they all learn the same tool set? Where did that knowledge come from and why didn't it change?

Second, the hash marks are not associated with anything else, nor is it reported that they are repeated anywhere else. One set, one place, once. Walk into a cave, find Mousterian tools, you have Neanderthal. Walk into a cave and it's painted like a '70s Brooklyn subway car, and everything else had been doodled on, the tools set is one of dozens locally, and you have humans.

Third, the definition of art is off. Art may not serve a practical purpose, but does do something specific. The Soluterian culture, which was modern human and followed the Mousterian, would make flint blades several time larger then normal and so thin and delicate that the could never be used as a blade. They are being used as symbols. They are art. What was found is not understood and drawing conclusions is not warranted.

Comment Re:Corroborating Hieroglyphics? (Score 3, Informative) 202

Not in the Old Kingdom. The great extents of the Egyptian Empire are New Kingdom, 2000 or so years later. The Old Kingdom was early Bronze Age. Stone Tools were still the rule, not the exception. Bronze was difficult to make and copper tools were more common in the rare instances when metal tools were used. There are records of the gangs whose job it was to sharpen the copper chisels that were used.

We should remember that this was not the first, or the second, or the third, huge pyramid they built, it was the sixth. They had an extensive knowledge to stone and had to deal with it. The Egyptologist Cyril Aldred had an illustrative story. He was traveling down a side branch of the Nile with a local boat crew. They found their way blocked by a rock fall. He assumed that they would have to go all the way back and find a new way. The crew said they could have it cleared in a few hours and it wasn't a big deal, they do this all of the time. He was astonished to watch then use techniques that he hadn't seen before to clear the stones. They would use mud backs to hold fires in place and either splash or pour cold water on the heated stone to shatter it. That, a few levers, and their knowledge was all that was needed to move tons and tons of stone out of the way.

Comment Re:Scientific American doesn't agree ... (Score 1) 281

That was accounted for in the study. Many mummies are accidental, as in the Chinese Desert Mummies and European Bog Bodies, or, were ritual sacrifices as in the Peruvian ones. The elite of society tend not to sacrifice themselves, that is what everyone else is for. The study also covered a large time frame with no fluctuation in findings. Even if they were elites why would bodies from different times and places have very similar disease profiles as modern western populations?

Comment Scientific American doesn't agree ... (Score 2) 281

The October 2013 issue of Scientific American had an article named "Long Live the Humans". It concerned why humans live so long. Part of the authors analysis was the radiological examination of as many mummies as they could find from all over the world. What that showed was a distribution of chronic diseases very similar to modern populations. This argues against the premise that diet is the root of modern chronic diseases. The article argues they are genetic in their origin.

Here is a link to the article. It is only a preview, they want to to give them money to read it. A point I find reasonable.


Submission + - Mozilla CEO attacked about his views of Gay Marriage.

raque writes: The NYTimes is running this story about Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich being attacked about his views on Gay Marriage. The Times reported that was blocking access to their site for Firefox users.

Is there anything in the ideals of the Open Source community that is relevant to Gay Marriage and LGBT issues in general? Is supporting Gay Marriage a requirement for developing Open Source Software? As I read the story and comments I was wondering how sexual orientation fit into the GPL.

Submission + - Netflix slams big ISPs over Net Neutrality.

raque writes: CNN Money is carrying this story about the conflict between Netflix and the big ISPs.

Netflix is correct is saying that they shouldn't have to pay a fee to ISPs like Comcast and Verizon to do what users, like me, are already paying them to do. I already pay Verizon to provide my bandwidth, and I pay Netflix to access their content. ISPs complaining that services like Netflix generate a lot of traffic ignore the fact that they are already being paid to handle that traffic.

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