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Comment Re:The Problem here is not marriage (Score 1) 1073

Again we see that the Courts are saying that citizen groups do not have standing to support laws placed on the books by their elected officials.

Careful -- these are two separate cases with very different rulings. I don't think they're doing the stuff you're worried about.

The California Supreme Court ruled that anti-gay marriage legislation violated the state constitution. Prop 8 was a California ballot initiative that created a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, thus overriding the state courts. Two couples that were denied marriage licenses sued in a federal district court to overturn the amendment. They had standing because they were harmed by the amendment. State officials refused to defend the amendment, so citizen groups intervened and put up their own legal defense. The district court struck down Prop 8. Then (this is the important part), the *defendant-intervenors* appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court. The circuit court asked the California Supreme Court whether the intervenors had standing under California law to appeal. The California court said yes, so the Ninth Circuit reviewed the case and affirmed the decision. The intervenors then appealed to the Supreme Court. What SCOTUS actually decided was that the Ninth Circuit should never have taken the case because the defendant-intervenors were not harmed by the district court's decision, and thus had no standing to appeal. To quote from the SCOTUS decision (emphasis mine):

The parties do not contest thatrespondents had standing to initiate this case against the Californiaofficials responsible for enforcing Proposition 8. But once the District Court issued its order, respondents no longer had any injury to redress, and the state officials chose not to appeal. The only individuals who sought to appeal were petitioners, who had intervened in the District Court, but they had not been ordered to do or refrain from doing anything. Their only interest was to vindicate the constitutional validity of a generally applicable California law. As this Court has repeatedly held, such a “generalized grievance”—no matter how sincere—is insufficient to confer standing. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 573–574. Petitioners claim that the California Constitution and election laws give them a “ ‘unique,’ ‘special,’ and ‘distinct’ role in the initiative process,” Reply Brief 5, but that is only true during the process of enacting the law. Once Proposition 8 was approved, it became a duly enacted constitutional amendment. Petitioners have no role—special or otherwise—in its enforcement. They therefore have no “personal stake” in defending its enforcement that is distinguishable from the general interest of every California citizen. No matter how deeply committed petitioners may be to upholding Proposition 8, that is not a particularized interest sufficient to create a case or controversy under Article III.

So basically they said you can't ask a federal court to intervene in state law just for fun; you have to be actually harmed to have standing. The intervenors did, however, get to make their case at the district court, and did so quite thoroughly. (Thoroughly badly, that is, but given that there's no actual case against gay marriage...)

Meanwhile, in the DOMA case, the Supreme Court decided that the "citizen group" (actually the House of Representatives) did have standing to defend DOMA. While the Department of Justice (under Obama) did not actively defend the law, they did continue enforcing DOMA throughout the legal process, appealed each decision, and supported the House's standing. This seems to have been a deliberate strategy to give SCOTUS the final say on the law's constitutionality.

In both cases, the executives branches refused to defend the laws because they believed them to be unconstitutional, but continued enforcing the laws until the courts made a decision. That seems like the opposite of imperial to me.

Comment Re:Uncertaintiy principle and Foruier Transforms (Score 2) 158

What do you mean by "the time"?

Frequency (or period, or wavelength) is an inherently non-local idea. It's easy to forget when you're looking at a graph, but mathematically, sine waves are eternal -- they go from t= -inf to +inf. The period is defined such that for all time:

sin(t) = sin(t + period)

If you cut off the sine wave (making a pulse), that's no longer true, and you can't say it has one period (or frequency, or wavelength) anymore. The shorter your sine pulse gets, the less meaningful that single number becomes. Now let's say you cut your pulse down to just part of one cycle -- say, the rising part at the beginning, so your signal is now an eternity of silence with a little bump in the middle. Does it still have a period (or frequency, or wavelength)?

Asking when a pure, eternal sine wave "happens" makes no sense -- it's always "happening". But it does have a well-defined frequency. An infinitesimally short pulse happens at a definite, well-defined time. But it makes no sense to talk about its frequency. In between those two extremes, things get weird.

Fourier Analysis lets us approach this in a more concrete way. It says that a signal can have many frequencies (expressed as sums of pure, eternal sine waves). That infinitesimally short pulse is actually every frequency put together. More complex signals can cover a range of frequencies (approximately finite). As a result of all this, there's an inverse relationship between localization in the time domain and localization in the frequency domain. It's easiest to see with a Gaussian (normal) distribution, which is its own Fourier transform. When the width (standard deviation) expands in the time domain, it narrows in the frequency domain, and vice-versa.

Replace "time" and "frequency" with "position" and "momentum", replace the Gaussian with the statistical distribution of your observations, and you have the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Comment Re:Inflamation - What gives? (Score 1) 159

can someone tell me why so much of modern medicine involves controlling or preventing inflammation?

I'm not a doctor either, but I can help answer this part. Inflammation hurts -- think headaches and pulled muscles. There are also a lot of chronic, painful conditions that involve inflammation, like arthritis. It's a big deal for your quality of life.

Comment Re:Sick of this crap (Score 1) 245

Also, far fewer female auto mechanics. Are they being disciminated against there too?

Just an anecdote, but...

When I was in college I did a co-op at an automotive company. One of the other co-ops was talking about an auto repair shop (I think he worked there for a while?), and how its quality started dropping. He concluded the story with "...and then they put a woman in the shop!", clearly implying that this was the last straw. This was met with general laughter and agreement from the other co-ops.

Just because it's not broadcast from the rooftops doesn't mean it isn't there. A lot of this stuff happens in private. Remember, you're not the target.

Or is it more likely they don't have an interest.

Is it so hard to believe that sexism still exists? Widespread legal discrimination has been gone for less than fifty years. Well over a quarter of the U.S. population is older than that, meaning they were raised in an era where women were, by millennia-old law and custom, inferior to men. Some of those people rejected their upbringing. Some of them didn't. Some of them didn't have strong opinions, but took a lot for granted -- "this is just the way things are". All of those groups had kids, and raised them accordingly. That's a fair bit of cultural inertia. People don't change overnight.

Comment Re:Why not just stick with H.264? (Score 1) 161

But I don't see why we need that at all. What is wrong with H.264? We got major, substantial improvements moving from MPEG-2 to H.264, but going up from there to H.265 is going to give far less performance gains and require far more processing power in return – at a time when portable and low-power computing is increasing in popularity.

H.265 improves compression over H.264 by about a factor of two on average. (H.264 vs. MPEG-2 was likewise about a factor of two.) Decoding will be done in hardware, so processing power isn't really an issue.

Comment Re:Bigotry (Score 1) 814

The only one with solid definition is in regard to biology, and that is with an xx and xy set of chromosomes. Even the phenotype is irrelevant.

The chromosomal definition may be the most solid, but it's also the least important. The X and Y chromosomes were discovered less than 150 years ago. Even today, most people have not had their chromosomes checked to "verify" their sex. (Have you?) Outside of certain narrow medical contexts, your sex chromosomes are utterly irrelevant.

When solutions exist that avoid stepping on others interests, why not take it?

The easiest solution with the least imposition on others is to let people change the value in the database field if they want to.

Techies interests often include minute details of how systems function at low levels, one of the lovely things about computer systems is that you cannot be ambiguous to them ... In general technical people dislike it when solidly defined things get changed to fuzzy wuzzy feelings based items.

They were never solidly defined to begin with. "Male" and "female" have always been ambiguous terms that mix biology, psychology, and culture. Disliking that doesn't make it less true. Even in technical fields, things are rarely solidly defined. (Example: what's a diode?) Idealized concepts are tools, nothing more. The map is not the territory, and people are definitely not computers.

For most people, in most situations, at most times, the fuzzy social definition is the one that matters most. If you want to see for yourself, dress like the opposite sex for a few days. We can (and should) lament that fact, but we still have to live with it for now.

Comment Re:Bigotry (Score 3, Insightful) 814

How is calling a spade a spade bigotry?

Being callously dismissive of other people's lives and concerns for your own personal convenience is often considered bigotry. Are you aware that there's no biological or sociological basis for what you're saying?

While there are some quite inflammatory remarks here, most of them seem to simply be of the not wanting to deal with peoples irrelevant emotional bullshit. People don't give a crap how others act or what they want to call themselves, but the slashdot demographic have a penchant for details, they like to cut through emotional bullshit.

The desire for other people to fit into neat, logical boxes defined only by your own personal experiences is, itself, irrelevant emotional bullshit. It also reflects a privileged sense of self-entitlement. See above re: bigotry.

A man wanting to call himself a lady is more than welcome to.. but he is still a man, your feelings do not change reality.

But yours do? What lets you claim the mantle of objectivity when discussing discussing people you know nothing about? See above re: privilege.

What a lot of people want is to just get by, do/make nice things and cut the crap.

Who are you mentally picturing when you say "a lot of people"? Can these people take it for granted that they will be allowed to define their own identities? Why is defining one's own identity in a way unlike yours "crap"?

I notice a lot of "us vs them" mentality with the people who choose empathy over reality, when really there is no need to fight. There is nothing wrong with wanting to call a spade a spade. If the spade is offended by that then tough.

How did you fit that much cognitive dissonance into such a small space?

What I'd like to see is people embracing whatever they do instead of hiding behind emotional crap. You're transgender? fine, who cares. Don't like being called a man when you are one? why should you care, it is true, don't be ashamed of what you are.

This shows at least a vague and abstract concern for people who are not like you. So that's good. Unfortunately, gender identity (and sexual orientation) are things that people are willing to kill and die over, not to mention a thousand other petty harassments. So "who cares?" isn't really a workable response.

"gender identity" is a complete load of bollocks. It is ascribing behaviours to sexes that are not necessarily the case, since if it were we would not have these issues. To be perfectly clear it would be more accurate to say for instance "I am male, but have behaviours typically attributed to females."

Distinguishing between biology and culture is indeed useful. That sentence is a mouthful, though. Maybe we could use shorter words to distinguish the concepts -- how about "sex" and "gender"? And if we wanted to ask someone what gender *they* think they are, then we'd be talking about their, er... "gender identity". Oops. It would be nice if we didn't need the concept anymore, but see above re: killing/dying/harassment.

Comment Re:The bottlenecks are elsewhere (Score 1) 295

And memresistors are right around the corner and can run at main memory speeds.

That will be great, but I think "right around the corner" is a little ambitious. It takes a long time to implement a new memory technology at the scale needed for PC hard drives. I'd expect memristor USB drives long before SSDs.

How long until 4GB/s cheap SSDs?

My guess? Never. Shrinking flash makes reliability harder (fewer electrons on the floating gates). And manufacturers are already pushing TLC SSDs for density. Both of those affect read and write speeds. And again, you have to look at the overall picture. SATA3 is 600 MB/sec, so for a big speed-up you'll need a new standard, new chipsets, etc. And then you need a 10GbE-capable hub.

We'll get there eventually, but I think my original point stands. There's only so much need for massive sequential data transfers between two computers on a wired home network. Five years, maybe, but not three. If anything's going to change in on-board networking, I'd guess Wi-Fi on desktop motherboards.

Comment Re:The bottlenecks are elsewhere (Score 3, Insightful) 295

You're looking at things backwards. If you've got a 500 MB/s SSD, then you shouldn't look at 10GigE and say "that's twice as fast as I need, it's useless". You should look at the existing GigE and say "my SSD is four times faster, one gigabit is too slow"...

If I want to copy tons of large, sequentially-read files every day, maybe. (Assuming that 500 MB/sec actually hits the wire instead of bottlenecking in the network stack.) But I'm not sure why I would do that. If I have a file server, my big files are already there. If I have a media server, I can already stream because even raw Blu-ray is less than 100 Mbps. If I'm working on huge datasets, it's faster to store them locally. If I really need to transfer tons of data back and forth all the time, I'm probably not a typical home network user. ;-)

Comment The bottlenecks are elsewhere (Score 3, Insightful) 295

Ten gigabits per second is 1,250 megabytes per second. High-end consumer SSDs are advertising ~500 MB/sec. A single PCIe 2.0 lane is 500 MB/sec. Then there's your upstream internet connection, which won't be more than 12.5 MB/sec (100 megabits/sec), much less a hundred times that. I guess you could feed 10GbE from DDR3 RAM through a multi-lane PCIe connection, assuming your DMA and bus bridging are fast enough...

I'm sure a data center could make use of 10GbE, but I don't think consumer hardware will benefit even a few years from now. Seems like an obvious place to save some money in a motherboard design.

Comment Diff Eq is supposed to be hard (Score 2) 656

It sounds like you're used to knowing everything already. Learning is not always easy. Spending three hours on a homework assignment is pretty common in a technical major. Think about how little time that really is and you'll see that it's not such a big deal. You will spend at least that long banging your head against new concepts at work, so you might as well get used to it now.

Differential equations in particular can be hard if you're weak on algebra and calculus. IMHO, the most important thing to master for undergrad math is algebra. You need to be able to rearrange equations in your head. Once you can do that, the calculus stuff isn't very hard. Might be worth dropping the class and taking a refresher algebra course. Another option is to check out a few other textbooks from your university library (yes, they have them). A different presentation can make things much more clear. For the same reason, you might also try asking other professors for help. Try the physics department; they may be better at the intuitive side. I didn't really understand how to use integrals (as opposed to solving them) until a physics professor explained it to me.

Comment Re:Why hate on Wii U? (Score 1) 84

People complain about Steam being DRM all the time. Here are some examples from the last Wii U story:

That being said, Steam is very popular because it's very unobtrusive and almost never causes problems.

Comment Where this is coming from (Score 2) 351

Looking through the article and its links, it seems like this is a response to China, which is deploying MIRVs to counter US-deployed anti-ballistic missile systems. With the Agni-V's extended range, India will be able to strike every city in China. Both sides are also developing submarine-launched missiles, which should hopefully reduce the incentive for a first strike.

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