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Comment Re:Is SONY breaking the law with this "defense"? (Score 5, Insightful) 190

If there are any legitmate files hosted on those servers Sony's hired guns are DOSing, a "second amendment analogy" means Sony just fired back at both their opponents and some innocent bystanders. How about that, posters defending Sony's right to use such tactics - does that right include unlimited collateral damage to random bystanders? If sony isn't breaking the law, then does that make the law right even if innocents get caught in the 'crossfire'?

Comment Re:Please (Score 2) 416

I'm far from sure this is just about protecting the public image of MIT or saving face. It's hardly outside the realm of possibility that MIT gets some economic benefits from having those videos on Youtube and has a contract with the professor that passes some of them on to him. For example, the videos are probably calculated in MITs taxes each year as an IP asset, and that makes some of the costs of producing them part of research credits and such that affect MITs filings for years after they are made.Actions such as giving things to the community create real good will, and something called goodwill for taxes, and while both will be reduced if some people find the misbehavior disturbing enough to offset the normal good feelings towards MIT this produces, the impact on the tax version is a real economic consequence.
      I think we are looking at a borderline case, particularly if this is just a single incident of online harrassment. Like where two 16 year olds send naughty photos of themsleves to each other and then a prosecutor says it's technically distribution of pedophilic images and we should immediately try both participants as adults. This situation at least technically counts as triggering a lot of consequences, now should it trigger all of them without any to whether it's really serious enough for that whole automatic process to be just? Or is that what we mean by zero tolerance - borderline cases all trigger maximum consequences.

Comment Re:Watson is a scientist (Score 1) 235

Actually, I think there are some good, sound, scientific reasons that intelligence differences along racial lines are not genetic (at least in major part). Simplest among these is that there is as much evolutionary pressure from problems such as tropical diseases as there is from survival during an ice age, or similar factors that are invoked to "scientifially "explain these differences.
          In general, Science frequently uses Occam's Razor in one of its classic forms "It is vain to explain with more what can be explained with fewer". Explanations that somehow give special weight to the selection pressures that supposedly improved European or Asian migrants and treat the human evolutionary period like Africa was some sort of peaceful paradise where people had no reason not to stay jolly, dumb and lazy, are perfect examples of needless and counter-scientific complexity.
        These are usually offered with pseudo-scientific claims that somehow attacks by diseases or parasites or large predators on the African proto-human population, are not sustained at the right frequency, or in some exact way that was needed, and only survival against one particular stressor caused evolutionary pressure. Sometimes these get very elaborate, with claims that only one thing, such as glaciers, produced the precise combination of stressors needed to trigger evolution - wars, for example, didn't count as an evolutionary driver, unless they were wars against a distinct species offshoot such as the Neandertals, or diseases didn't count because they didn't happen on a yearly cycle like glacial advances, etc. That's special pleading, not science.

With that said Watson did something very good for many people. I'll respect that even where I think he's wrong about something, and even where I might dismiss all somebody's other opinions otherwise.

Comment Re:Of course and duuuuuhhh. . . (Score 1) 417

That's one of Iain M. Banks' "The Culture" novels. Understandable though, it's very easy to get Iain M. Banks and Iain Banks confused, since they even lived in the same city at the time of their unfortunate deaths from similar diseases.

Still, how can The Player of Games be the greatest when one of its sequels is The Hydrogen Sonata?

Comment Re:programming (Score 1) 417

People are probably going to claim that the AI can be programmed to avoid jeopardizing the economic interests of its owner to take care of such things. The problem with that is, such AI puts humans at risk, not because the AI itself will act against them, but the persons owning the AI will become more inclined to harm their fellow humans if those humans don't come with the useful feature of putting their owner's interests above self preservation. Having smart slaves with no sense of self may be possible some day, and even desirable for some applications, but what will it enable sociopaths to do?
          In some ways, AI without self identity is like a gun that automatically sends out press releases saying the target had a history of thuggish behavior and was charging at the gun owner. The things that could replace self identity are often things society has other problems with, such as fanatical devotion to a cause.

Comment Re:How about a straight answer? (Score 0) 329

Maybe, but there are reasons not to just go by the first thing you find on Wikipedia, and you've found a great example.

First, what's pretty definite about the Permian Extinction is that a really big meteor hit near Chicxulub, in the gullf of Mexico, at the right time to contribute to it. What's called the K-Pg boundry Iridium layer supports this.
Second, there's real doubt the big rock from space was enough to cause the known extinctions all by itself, so something else, such as Methane Clathrate release happening about the same time might be needed to explain some of it. That's two mights - we might need to consider more factors, and methane might be one. You're adding a third might, that the Methane might be a key factor, which I take to mean you think it's bigger than most, but not necessarily all of the suggested other factors.. There's lots of other possible factors, such as which continents were recently reconnected by land bridges after aeons of isolation at the time, or what did the evolution of flowering plants contribute, if anything. If you're right, Methane release is more significant than most such possibilities, but that's a long chain of mights, only as strong as its weakest might. .

I'll give you a countervailing wiki entry:
The part about the Deccan Traps gives an alternative source for tremendous amounts of Carbon with a source which could change isotope ratios. Also, while I don't think the meteor itself could have had enough Carbon in its composition to make much difference, it is a known fact that stuff from elsewhere in the solar system can have different isotopic ratios. In fact that's one of the things the recent cometary probe lander was supposed to measure, so I supposes somebody ought to do a few back of the envelope calculations to really rule that possibility out.

Comment Re:Here is a link for 110C superconductivity (Score 2) 80

It's nice, but the compound in question only seems to display superconductivity for a while immediately after annealing, and has to be kept away from water or this quickly stops. This still may lead to a sizeable commercial application someday, but that's not by any means likely.

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 125

Your example would be better proof of your point if there had been similar switching to Kubuntu or any of the other 'buntus that don't use Unity. Especially since there were already people advising switching to Kubuntu over the Gnome 3 issues. Distrowatch only indirectly shows where there may be an actual use trend, and there's several possible reasons more people became/are interested in Mint (the Cinnamon desktop for one).

Comment Re:Mint Debian (Score 1) 125

99.9% may be overstating it a little. I just updated a Mint install, and the way I chose was to manually edit the PPAs by replacing all the references to Ubuntu Quantal with Ubuntu Trusty, running a 3 hour update in the graphics mode, then looking at what was now the new download sources list and editing it again for the sources that had changed naming conventions and weren't being found, looking up source PPAs online for them, etc and running a second update which also added another two hours. This is not the recommended way - Mint thinks people should preferrably back up all their files to some other physical storage device and reinstall from scratch using a newly burned disc, but I didn't really have 3.4 terabytes of physically discrete storage handy. Mint's standard references for updating give a 4 year old link to another, 3rd party page that (sort of) explains how to do it the way I did, while warning it's not for basic users and will probably hose your machine, etc.

          I was updating a Kubuntu box (that was also back on Quantal) at the same time, and it was a matter of command line "sudo apt-get update", "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade", etc., but I could have done it using the graphic updater interface (Muon or whatever it is now). That update took about 1 1/2 hrs total for about the same number of files, but of course, the additional software, machine configuration and such varied.

          Mint appears really comitted to an update model that avoids what they see as safety issues with Ubuntu/Kubuntu updating. I can respect this but it means they aren't the best at supporting more advanced users who can still use the command line when needed or trust some of the graphic updaters out there. The Mint site says there is really no need to upgrade unless the user just wants to be on the cutting edge, but right now, for just one counter-example, running a distro based on Quantal will leave you with a version of Firefox old enough that G-Mail will automatically post a warning saying it's insecure and no longer supported. That combination is bound to be one of the most common for Mint users, and I susspect there are a lot of them wondering how to manually update Firefox from a Tar/gz, or the whole distro the proper Mint way or whatever.

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