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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Rationalism vs Empiricism (Score 1) 128

Actually in the context of epistemology, it means exactly what I said it means. The wikipedia article you refer to conflates rationalism and empiricism, I refer you to my previous post for an explanation of the differences.

You're also ignoring centuries of christian apologists and philosophers, scores of whom were better logicians than either of us: I may single out Descartes and Kant. Faith is an axiom, not necessarily an irrationality. The axioms of Christianity and those of mathematics may differ, but their applicability to the real world is problematic for the exact same reason.

Comment Rationalism vs Empiricism (Score 1) 128

No, it's not about facts.

It's about epistemologies: How you arrive at those facts. Most scientists follow an empirical empistemology. The rest of the world usually follows a more rational one, or historical (i.e. something is true because a book says so).

A rational epistemology holds that anything that can be proved logically is true. An empiricist holds that anything that can be demonstrated experimentally is true. Some statements can be true in either paradigm, but it can make a big difference as to how you arrive at these conclusions.

And it's not that either is necessarily invalid, or even that they're entirely separable. You have tradeoffs: with rationality, you can prove things that aren't necessarily 'true' in the real world. With empiricism, your truths are only valid to the limits of measurement: there's very little in the way of absolute truth to be had.

The clashes between science and the church were epistemological. Only one of these things can be the ultimate test of knowledge. So far the empiricists are winning if you count the fruits of their works, and the rationalists are winning by sheer numbers.

Comment Re:Interesting post from Red Hat employee at Phoro (Score 1) 380

Adam, that really doesn't cut it as an excuse. Yes, it's a new installer, and this fact is well advertised. But if you have so little faith in the installer that you're cautioning people not to upgrade to F18, why the hell would you even release it?

This is becoming too common in the Linux world, with distros being released with half-implemented pet projects of its developers (Unity, PulseAudio, Fedora's new installer) under the guise of a final release. Rough rough rough, and not something people coming from say OS X or even Windows 7 would expect. Yes it's free, but it's also very off-putting and tends to reinforce the idea that you get what you pay for.

First, you're four years late on the PulseAudio rant, Unity works pretty well even if you don't like it, and you definitely didn't let the existence of Windows 8 get in the way of a good rant.

Nevertheless, this isn't exactly a new thing in the software world. It would be easier to find a project that avoided the practice, and in regards to shipping an operating system? Well, you just let me know when you manage to ship a bug free OS.

Red Hat isn't even the worst offender here. I've singled out Win8 already, but (and I apologize for mentioning it to a non-technical audience) Ruby has managed to release a new version of the language with "experimental features". The justification I got was something along the lines of "It's okay because none of the major libraries will rely on them."

However, I would urge everyone to be charitable. Change is good, even if it's rarely a smooth process. To the programmers reading this: let he who has never shipped a bug (or broken an API) throw the first stone. To the non-programmers: "We apologize for the inconvenience."

Comment Permanent Fund Dividend (Score 1) 586

The State of Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend, to which you are no doubt referring, pays between $1000 and $2000 dollars per annum to all natural persons who have [a] resided in the state for at least one year, and [b] applied for it. It is *not* meant to be an income guarantee. The point of the Permanent Fund was that future generations will be deprived of the value of that oil, so it would be nice if someone besides the ludicrously rich oil companies had something to show for it afterwards.

I have no idea whether you're arguing for or against a minimum income, but regardless, the Alaska PFD does not in any meaningful sense qualify.

Comment Tennyson - Ulysses (Score 4, Insightful) 133

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

It is not enough to have the ability to change the world. It is a rare combination of chance and circumstance, far more than any particular genius. Archimedes could not have formulated the questions that led to quantum electrodynamics. Nor is it fair to select a particular point of inflection out of a continuum of progress -- which discovery since the invention of the transistor is responsible for the processor in your computer?

You judge beyond your ken, and far above your station. I hope that you are ashamed of your comment, but console myself that it will likely receive all the attention that it deserves.

Comment Bait and Switch (Score 4, Interesting) 238

Why are you surprised?

There are a couple fundamental issues with capitalism that are failing to be addressed here: monopolies, and natural monopolies.

Capitalism really is less about competition and more about accumulation of capital. The competitive behavior is the goal, but it comes with the built-in problem of monopolies. You can't allow people to 'win' this particular game. Taken to an extreme, you might end up with one company that simply owned everything.

Capitalism in this sense is kind of a bait-and-switch. We're sold on the idea of an efficient competitive marketplace, but end up with monopolies and rent-seeking.

The problem of natural monopolies is even worse. Your ability to start a competing business is almost entirely a function of how much initial capital it takes to enter said market. It's far easier to start a restaurant or web company than to start a company that lays undersea fiber optic cable. This is why people talk about 'barriers to entry' as a bad thing: they reduce the efficiency of the market. Further, there are some services where competition would have negative utility -- no one really needs multiple companies laying water, power, or sewage lines to their home.

The answer to both of these problems is government. The government's purpose is to prevent or eliminate these market failures.

With natural monopolies, there is no real purpose behind allowing them to make a profit. It's a form of taxation, and can justly be called a theft from the public. These markets are the natural purview of government.

We have a slightly larger toolbox for dealing with large companies. We can break them up entirely, levy progressive business taxes, or subsidize potential competitors.

We need to start divorcing the idea of competition from the idea of capitalism: they're not synonymous. Yes, I am anti-capitalist -- but very pro-competition. Which side are you on?

Comment best or best available? (Score 1) 107

'Nice' compared to Amarok, Banshee, etc? Or just nice in that there aren't better alternatives?

Last I checked, iTunes was a contender for the best media library available for Windows. Personally I have always found it to be rather lacking, with a small feature list and limited configuration options. I understand that might actually be a feature in itself for a majority of users. In any case, it's been some time since I've used it.

Comment You forgot $omething in your variables... (Score 0) 430

PHP's original problem was that generating HTML is actually not all that hard. You didn't need all of those fancy real-language features; that would just create a barrier to entry!

"Well, apparently it's a little harder than we thought, so we'll add some things to the language and then it will be okay!"

The recent phenomenon of using Javascript on the server is the exact same pattern.

Comment Re:You mean like your bullshit test on hosts files (Score 1) 263

Hi, APK. How's the life?

I have been working pretty hard on other projects; I haven't had time to set up my new computer let alone the tests we discussed. Really, it's quite depressing.

Your insistence that "the IP stack had to do some work first" is a complete departure from reality. A browser request starts in the browser, and may not even reach the DNS layer -- for instance, if you're requesting a local file (file://), your browser is not going to do a DNS request.

If you're the kind of guy who is going to completely ignore the factual when it suits him, then I'm probably not going to make these benchmark numbers a real priority.

And honestly, if you keep trolling my posts on here, writing a plugin to automatically hide your posts would be at least as much fun to write as doing these benchmarks would be. The next step would be to run a script to automatically post links to said plugin after every post of yours. So let's keep the drama to a minimum, shall we?

Comment These are not the droids you are looking for (Score 1) 185

The problem with your idea is that you are assuming that Linux as it exists today is a bad consumer desktop OS. From a certain perspective this is true.

Linux is not really anything in and of itself. It is a platform for constructing other things. You can use a Linux system to serve web pages, crunch numbers, or throw some eye candy on the screen, but the project itself will always be focused around the ease of use for people who are building such things, and not the end users.

In fact, the versatility of Linux is precisely what conflicts with its ease of use. Leaving aside UI concerns regarding the paradox of choice, it is impossible to optimize of all tasks simultaneously. In a more specific context, much of the graphical stuff that makes your desktop use easier are anti-features in other domains.

I am completely fine with Linux not ever being more than a niche desktop contender. I am even fine with people occasionally turning it into a locked-down playskool user toy every now and then. For people to hold up the toy and say "All Linux should be like this!" is to completely misunderstand the point of both Linux and the toy, and the processes that produced them both.

Slashdot Top Deals

Love makes the world go 'round, with a little help from intrinsic angular momentum.