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Comment Ban them all you want (Score 4, Insightful) 180

Bans will not only not prevent them being developed, probably even by a technologically advanced State that is a signatory to the treaty, but it will also not prevent them being used by rogue or puppet states who don't care about bans, or who use them at the behest of a signatory state that is just using them to do their dirty work.


Electric Stimulation Could Help You Control Your Dreams 138

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A new study suggests that mild current applied to the scalp while sleeping can help people become aware of, and even control, their dreams—a phenomenon called lucid dreaming. Researchers recruited 27 men and women to spend several nights in a German sleep lab. After the volunteers had plunged into REM sleep, a state in which people are unable to move and the most vividly recalled dreams occur, researchers applied electrical current to their skulls near the forehead and temples. This boosted neural activity in the frontotemporal cortex, a brain region associated with conscious self-awareness, which normally gets tamped down during REM. Researchers then woke the participants and asked them to detail any dreams they could remember. People who had received 40 Hz of current were lucid in more than 70% of their reported dreams. The researchers suggest that the technique could potentially be used to help people who suffer from chronic nightmares."

Scientists Create Bacteria With Expanded DNA Code 85

perryizgr8 (1370173) writes "Biologists have managed to create a bacteria with DNA made of the usual A-T, C-G plus an artificial third base pair, thus encoding more data in DNA. From the article: 'The scientists behind the work at the Scripps Research Institute have already formed a company to try to use the technique to develop new antibiotics, vaccines and other products, though a lot more work needs to be done before this is practical. The work also gives some support to the concept that life can exist elsewhere in the universe using genetics different from those on Earth. “This is the first time that you have had a living cell manage an alien genetic alphabet,” said Steven A. Benner, a researcher in the field at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the new work.'"

USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures 152

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"

Comment Re:Perfect Solution Fallacy (Score 1) 107

Indeed, nothing any terrorist could do could cause the United States to cease to exist. Mr. Trollheim here is only correct about that point, but is overblowing the threat by several orders of magnitude.

In the face of an existential threat to the United States, her citizens have a proven track record of rising to the cause (WW1, WW2). Of course, there has been no existential threat to the United States since World War 2, except for maybe the Cold War, but that was an existential threat to all of humanity. So, who knows what Americans would do today? If what I see on TV is any indicator how what Americans think about America, it would not surprise me if American Citizens just laid down and allowed an oppressive regime to march right in and take over, for free stuff..

Comment Perfect Solution Fallacy (Score 2) 107

The perfect solution fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it were implemented. This is an example of black and white thinking, in which a person fails to see the complex interplay between multiple component elements of a situation or problem, and as a result, reduces complex problems to a pair of binary extremes.

It is common for arguments which commit this fallacy to omit any specifics about exactly how, or how badly, a proposed solution is claimed to fall short of acceptability, expressing the rejection in vague terms only. Alternatively, it may be combined with the fallacy of misleading vividness, when a specific example of a solution's failure is described in emotionally powerful detail but base rates are ignored (see availability heuristic).

The fallacy is a type of false dilemma.

Comment Empire? BLASPHEMY! (Score 1) 457

                Which did you like better: Jedi or
                The Empire Strikes Back.



                Empire had the better ending: Luke
                gets his hand cut off, and finds
                out Vader's his father; Han gets
                frozen and taken away by Boba Fett.
                It ends on such a down note. And
                that's life-a series of down
                endings. All Jedi had was a bunch
                of Muppets.

                There was something else going on
                in Jedi. I never noticed it until

        RANDAL follows DANTE as he cleans up around the store.

                What's that?

                All right, Vader's boss...

                The Emperor.

                Right, the Emperor. Now the Emperor
                is kind of a spiritual figure, yes?

                How do you mean?

                Well, he's like the pope for the
                dark side of the Force. He's a holy
                man; a shaman, kind of, albeit an
                evil one.


                I guess.

                Now, he's in charge of the Empire.
                The Imperial government is under
                his control. And the entire galaxy
                is under Imperial rule.


                Then wouldn't that logically mean
                that it's a theocracy? If the head
                of the Empire is a priest of some
                sort, then it stands to reason that
                the government is therefore one
                based on religion.

                It would stand to reason, yes.

                Hence, the Empire was a fascist
                theocracy, and the rebel forces
                were therefore battling religious

                More or less.

                The only problem is that at no
                point in the series did I ever hear
                Leia or any of the rebels declare a
                particular religious belief.

                I think they were Catholics.

        A BLUE-COLLAR MAN half enters the door.

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Are you open?

                Yeah. Come in.

        He goes to the coffee machine and makes a cup of joe.

                You know what else I noticed in Jedi?


                There's more?

                So they build another Death Star,


                Now the first one they built was
                completed and fully operational
                before the Rebels destroyed it.

                Luke blew it up. Give credit where
                it's due.

                And the second one was still being
                built when they blew it up.

                Compliments of Lando Calrissian.

                Something just never sat right with
                me the second time they destroyed
                it. I could never put my finger on
                it-something just wasn't right.

                And you figured it out?

                Well, the thing is, the first Death
                Star was manned by the Imperial
                army-storm troopers, dignitaries-
                the only people onboard were


                So when they blew it up, no prob.
                Evil is punished.

                And the second time around...?


                The second time around, it wasn't
                even finished yet. They were still
                under construction.


                A construction job of that magnitude
                would require a helluva lot more
                manpower than the Imperial army had
                to offer. I'll bet there were
                independent contractors working on
                that thing: plumbers, aluminum
                siders, roofers.

                Not just Imperials, is what you're
                getting at.

                Exactly. In order to get it built
                quickly and quietly they'd hire
                anybody who could do the job. Do
                you think the average storm trooper
                knows how to install a toilet main?
                All they know is killing and white

                All right, so even if independent
                contractors are working on the
                Death Star, why are you uneasy with
                its destruction?

                All those innocent contractors
                hired to do a job were killed-
                casualties of a war they had
                nothing to do with.
                        (notices Dante's confusion)
                All right, look-you're a roofer,
                and some juicy government contract
                comes your way; you got the wife
                and kids and the two-story in
                suburbia-this is a government
                contract, which means all sorts of
                benefits. All of a sudden these
                left-wing militants blast you with
                lasers and wipe out everyone within
                a three-mile radius.


                                RANDAL (CONT'D)
                You didn't ask for that. You have
                no personal politics. You're just
                trying to scrape out a living.

        The BLUE-COLLAR MAN joins them.

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Excuse me. I don't mean to
                interrupt, but what were you
                talking about?

                The ending of Return of the Jedi.

                My friend is trying to convince me
                that any contractors working on the
                uncompleted Death Star were innocent
                victims when the space station was
                destroyed by the rebels.

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Well, I'm a contractor myself. I'm
                a roofer...
                        (digs into pocket and
                        produces business card)
                Dunn and Reddy Home Improvements.
                And speaking as a roofer, I can say
                that a roofer's personal politics
                come heavily into play when choosing

                Like when?

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Three months ago I was offered a
                job up in the hills. A beautiful
                house with tons of property. It was
                a simple reshingling job, but I was
                told that if it was finished within
                a day, my price would be doubled.
                Then I realized whose house it was.

                Whose house was it?

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Dominick Bambino's.

                "Babyface" Bambino? The gangster?


                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                The same. The money was right, but
                the risk was too big. I knew who he
                was, and based on that, I passed
                the job on to a friend of mine.

                Based on personal politics.

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                Right. And that week, the Foresci
                family put a hit on Babyface's
                house. My friend was shot and
                killed. He wasn't even finished

                No way!

                                BLUE-COLLAR MAN
                        (paying for coffee)
                I'm alive because I knew there were
                risks involved taking on that
                particular client. My friend wasn't
                so lucky.
                        (pauses to reflect)
                You know, any contractor willing to
                work on that Death Star knew the
                risks. If they were killed, it was
                their own fault. A roofer listens
                to this...
                        (taps his heart)
                not his wallet.


Stanford Getting Rid of $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock 208

mdsolar sends this report from the NY Times: "Stanford University announced Tuesday that it would divest its $18.7 billion endowment of stock in coal-mining companies, becoming the first major university to lend support to a nationwide campaign to purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments. The university said it acted in accordance with internal guidelines that allow its trustees to consider whether 'corporate policies or practices create substantial social injury' when choosing investments. Coal's status as a major source of carbon pollution linked to climate change persuaded the trustees to remove companies 'whose principal business is coal' from their investment portfolio, the university said."

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