Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Daylight Saving Time (Score 1) 545

Yeah, the word "data" is plural and "impact" is not a synonym for "affect".

When you insist that the vast majority of a language's speakers are speaking wrongly, you're just spitting into the wind. I've even given up on "begging the question". I used it "correctly" myself, but it's far past the point where only morons use it to mean "brings up the question".

Comment Re:I'm not going through this again... (Score 1) 545

When the Bush-era change happened, I supervised the change in my company,

In case you hadn't noticed, the time zones have been stupid anyway. These days it's a matter of pushing some patches of a sort that have already been agonized over. If we plan well in advance, we can reasonably get those patches installed.

Comment Re:OpenBSD Rocks. (Score 1) 102

Last time I used it, it was a very long time ago, and I had to throw it away because the intel NIC driver that I was using (some kind of 10/100 cards) would choke eventually if you had more than 1 in the system, and I had 4.

Now I shall try it again on my olde timey original Atom netbook (Acer Aspire) which I've been putting off installing with anything for lack of anything modern that I wanted to run on it. This is close enough. I ought to have one machine I can kind of trust.

Comment Re:First Step = ID the smarter people (Score 1) 251

Well, or I grew up in India and walked daily through poverty that most Americans never see or experience in my blind privilege. But it's really hard to tell exactly what life experiences a total stranger has had, isn't it? Look, clearly you think that the top article's search technique is less than ideal, and as I said I might even agree with you, although I have absolutely no idea how one would conduct the "broad survey" you suggest and look for outliers, given the general unreliability of things like IQ tests and the dependence of their results on cultural background and education (see e.g. the Flynn effect). You also have to factor in Bayes' theorem. Just what do you think the prevalence of mathematical genius in the general population is? How would you test for it? What is the false positive/false negative rate of your test?

There could be a Ramanujan living in the Amazonian rainforest today, but the only manifestation of their genius might be their enormous insight into the ways of an environment that would kill either of us overnight plus their skill as a tribal shaman. Or they might be tribal outcasts or dead -- there is some evidence that genius comes at the expense of repurposing cortex devoted to social or other brain function. How would you identify such a person in your survey not just as potentially mathematically competent, but as a mathematical genius? I think you are just plain mistaken when you assert that their selection mechanism is fundamentally incorrect -- at the very least it pulls from a group that is highly filtered by many things, one of which is, without question, intelligence and mathematical ability compared to most (but sure, probably not all) of the general population.

We might also agree that what they are planning to look at with regard to their genetics is narrow and stupid IF that is really ALL they are planning to look at (which I doubt). They really need to run a huge battery of tests on the individuals in their group and in various control groups and in first and second degree relatives of the in-group and more, both genetic and the other kind. I suspect that they will simply replicate the findings of many others who have already conducted similar studies, that intelligence and accomplishment (as outliers) have a tendency to regress back to the mean (within Flynn effect amplification that might be associated with "privilege") between generations.

But none of this is a particularly good reason to make the whole thing into some sort of quasi-racist nazi class war (on their part). Yes, their sample is in some sense at least partially self-selected and hence subject to all sorts of biases. OTOH, the group they are looking for is one that is going to be very difficult to identify any other way, and the educational system of the world has never been MORE egalitarian and blind to privilege than it is today, and the world has never been more affluent than it is today both. That isn't to say that we are even particularly close to a long term goal of complete social and economic equality (of opportunity if nothing else, since so far we cannot do anything about the distribution of abilities and yes, I have a brother with Down's syndrome so don't tell me everybody is a genius if only the proletariat would rise up against their capitalist oppressors) but at this point the pool of the most talented tenured faculty in math and physics worldwide has plenty of members who were not "born to privilege".

I'm sure that there are few there who probably DID only get there because of intelligent and wealthy parents as I've met them (although even they aren't stupid or they wouldn't make the cut into Princeton or MIT or for that matter Duke). And I'm certain that our educational system fails to attract some of the brightest into academia because they'd rather make money or because they attend a really shitty school and never have a chance to succeed (although as I said, real genius has been known to transcend THAT barrier time and again). And even though now we pull students and faculty from all over the world, especially from China and India, there are still parts of the world that are strongly underepresented, and sure, it is quite likely due to poverty and lack of opportunity and the fact that 1/3 of the world is still living in the 17th century socially, politically, economically, religiously. That still doesn't mean that the pool of talented tenured faculty is the moral equivalent of a gold miner's pan with most of the dross washed out. The thing they are looking for, however one defines it, is a lot more likely to be found in this sample than anywhere else. There will be a few rocks mixed in, perhaps some fool's gold, perhaps the pan didn't pull dirt from around the mother lode, but it is a lot more efficient to study this group than to wander down the stream bed picking up 7 billion pebbles one at a time and looking to see if it is gold.

I "do" statistics at the professional level and I share your concerns about the design of the study and various sources of bias and confounding effects, and I will note even further that things are far worse than you suggest because they do not appear to have a double blind control group per se so that the entire process is an open invitation to confirmation bias or amplification of statistical accidents into "significant" correlations. One possible outcome of the study is that they don't find any common genetic factor(s) that can be identified as "mathematical genius" that haven't already long since been identified and that aren't as likely as not projections of social inequity as you suggest. Another possible outcome is that they do find something (correlation) but falsely identify it as causal because of the small size of the study, a lack of understanding of mechanism, and the lack of random selection methods including double blind and pulling from a broad pool instead of a small biased one. We might both be able to design a better way of looking for the same thing. But all of those ways would be a lot more expensive, and I think you are way too focused on "privilege" as being the prime determinant for inclusion into the study group and hence the primary confounding factor in the study. Surely they could control for that a variety of ways, just as they may well have plans for a control group and may well expect to use random numbers in various places to confound confirmation bias. Or they may not -- maybe this whole thing IS a racist, classist, genetic determinist conspiracy.

If so, I doubt they will convince many people with their final product, whatever it is. But when you are looking for genetic factors for rare diseases, you don't screen the general population. If you understand Bayes theorem, you even understand why. You go to a small subgroup of the population where the disease has already manifested itself (and ideally, to several generations of first and second degree relatives and to a control population) and look there. This is SOP for genetic studies of rare conditions, and it is as it is for good reasons. It works even if the disease in question isn't genetic per se at all, but the result of a privileged class using lead pipes for their water supply or having the unsavory habit of marrying brother and sister together in the royal class. I fail to see the validity of your primary complaint if one substitutes the term "mathematical genius disease" for e.g. "Crohn's disease" or any other. Sure, a stupidly done study could easily fail, but the method isn't a priori stupid because they don't screen the general population for either one but rather focus on the group of individuals where the condition (for whatever reason) has already manifested itself, and then one merely has to hope that the people who do the work aren't idiots because you can't fix stupid and you can't fix (or sometimes, easily identify) badly done science. At least until somebody comes along and tries to replicate their results or use them as predictors to see if they succeed or fail.


Comment Re:Bring on the wearable interfaces. (Score 1) 453

Blah blah, I'm now a consultant. And my contract doesn't include endless meetings. In fact I wouldn't take a job like that.

We're not talking about the legal definition of a break here.

You're not talking about any definition of a break. A clue: sitting in a meeing bored is not a break.

Comment Re:Great... (Score 1) 520

First, there is no such thing as an "assault rifle."

From wikipedia:

An assault rifle is a selective fire (selective between semi-automatic, automatic and/or burst fire) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.[1] Assault rifles are the standard service rifles in most modern armies. Note the difference between the assault rifle and the battle rifle. Assault rifles use smaller cartridges and are used at closer ranges than battle rifles. The larger sized rifle cartridges used in battle rifles make fully automatic fire more difficult. Fully automatic fire refers to an ability for a rifle to fire continuously while the trigger is pressed; "burst-capable" fire refers to an ability of a rifle to fire a small yet fixed multiple number of rounds with but one press of the trigger; in contrast, semi-automatic refers to an ability to fire one round per press of a trigger. The presence of selective fire modes on assault rifles permits more efficient use of rounds to be fired for specific needs, versus having a single mode of operation, such as fully automatic, thereby conserving ammunition while maximizing on-target accuracy and effectiveness.

Assault is something you can do with a firearm (or knife, or hands), not a characteristic of the weapon itself.

Well done! You managed to find a ditionary! But on no! You stopped at the first definition.

You know words have multiple, often relared meanings, right?

a. A military attack, such as one launched against a fortified area or place.
b. The concluding stage of an attack in which close combat occurs with the enemy.

An assult rifle is a weapon used commonly in militry assults.

Comment Re:As good as it gets? (Score 1) 666

Pity, it works rather well here, I think the difference is that over here it's set up in such a way that a lower road toll equates to a profit for the state. The idea of a quantitative approach started here in the late 80's and has been widely copied around the world. The statutory injury payouts, compulsory government insurance, the whole thing would probably smell too much like socialism for your average American to stomach, but the results speak for themselves.

Comment Re:The NRA must be pleased (Score 1) 520

If you modified it to have a 60 round magazine you could probably put 60 rounds a minute on target with a Lee Enfield bolt action rifle.

My understanding is that it's feasible to deliver about 30. With training you can load a five round stripper clip in no time atall. I can do it moderately quickly on my Peruvian Mauser and that's not nearly as easy.

Comment Re:Null pointer detection at compile time (Score 1) 470

3 out of 5 compilers are broken. Actually 5 out of 5 compilers are broken. 3 out of 5 are broken in that specific fashion. The problem stems from the mistaken belief that following the standard will result in a compiler that isn't broken. A compiler is code. I think we can agree on that. Let's look at something else that follows the standard but is broken:

printf("My nme id mud\n");

The above statement is supposed to print "My name is mud". It is 100% compliant to the standard, but it is broken. In case you haven't figured it out yet the standard is not bug free either. :-)

Another way to rephrase your original statement is: Don't be surprised if your standards compliant compiler is broken, to which I would add Don't be surprised if your standards compliant code is broken.

Comment Re:Null pointer detection at compile time (Score 1) 470

OK. Fine. I accept that if someone sucks at writing compilers they can follow the standard and do something phenomenally stupid. That has always been the case, of course. Now let's look at it in a non-TL;TD fashion:

Consider the followinf two statements:

1) "Yo, if dat nigga be Ja-Rule, he aint no solid nigga!
2) "If anyone who isn't trustworthy shows up to the party, don't let them in!"

Said statement can be made in two types of environments, the kind where it makes sense (we'll call that one the "Ghetto" platform) and the type where it doesn't (we'll call that one the "Academic" platform.)

Now on the Ghetto platform that statement makes sense and so we can infer something about Ja-Rule and when we do the subsequent statements have complete validity, he isn't trustworthy, and we don't let him in when he shows up at the party. On the "Academic platform that statement makes no sense so we ignore it (i.,e. optimize it away). On the Ghetto platform where we can say something about Ja-Rule based on the statement the statements that follow makes sense and we don't let him in. On the Academic platform we cannot infer anything about Ja-Rule so we do the check and we don't let him in. Since there is no guarantee that the only person showing up at the party will be Ja-Rule we certainly cannot infer from the first statement that there is no need to check each person to see if they are trustworthy before letting them in.

It's that simple. If you infer something from a non-sensical statement and use it to make determinations your compiler is broke. There is no way around it. Another way to say it is that you can have a compiler that may technically conform to the standard, but that doesn't make it any less broken.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 3, Insightful) 351

Wyden already had classified information about this stuff. He wouldn't do anything about it except give vague warnings.

What is so amazing to me are people like you who are always happy to criticize someone who took action for doing it "the wrong way." The problem with that attitude is that everyone has their own version of "the right way." Snowden got results, it ain't perfect but its 1000x more effective than what anyone else has done. He deserves enormous slack for that.

Comment Re:Mozilla can't even do math in PDF (Score 2) 84

Typical open source bug handling - whinging

You're taking a dig at open source, but the only thing to compare it to is closed source. Let me quote some more of your comment:

somebody tries it on OS-X, where it works, someone else demonstrates the failure

You mean somebody actually did something? This is so far ahead of most typical closed source bug reporting which is usually drawn from one of these options:

1. *tumbleweed*

2. Oh yeah, it is a bug. Wait for the next version.

3. Oh yeah it is a bug. Upgrade to the next version which might fix it for $$$$$.

Slashdot Top Deals

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.