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Comment Re:"Minke Whales" ?? (Score 1) 214

Very interesting, I'm a native norwegian speaker with an interest in whaling history, and the minke theory jars with way whales have traditionally been named.

Generally, as you pointed out, the naming is practical and not derived from a person or event, thus right whale (Retthval) is the right one to catch, sperm whale has a head full of semen-like oil etc.

The story of the minke whale would make more sense if seen in this framework as in norwegian the word "minke" is a verb "to lessen or reduce" thus someone mistaking the lesser rorqual (vågehval, literally "daring whale" for it's impudent tendency to come into fjords within sight of the coastal whalers) for the right whale, which is a physically similar but much larger fin whale, might be ridiculed for how his whale had "shrunk"... The story is attributed to a diffuse member of Svend Foyn's crew, but this is roughly eqivalent to something being an Abe Lincoln quote, as Foyn was probably the most famous whaler that ever lived. (at least to the norwegians)

The choice of minke whale was one I came across during the 1992 "No Way Norway" Greenpeace anti-whaling campaign, where I raised the issue of nomenclature and the explanation was given that minke whale was a name that stuck more readily in people's minds and was more easily identifiable, containing the word "whale" and not the diminutive "lesser", also "minke" is cuter than "rorqual"

Mhe reason I say it is japanese is because afaik, (I don't speak japanese) minkku kujira is the official name in japanese.

So I may be wrong, but the idea is certainly not preposterous.

Comment Re:"Minke Whales" ?? (Score 1) 214

I believe you're sincere, AC, but the norwegian name for this whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) is "Vågehval" or more specifically "Sørlig Vågehval"


I have no idea where the minke whale fallacy originated but no-one in Norway uses the term "Minkehval".
So whilst the name may now have become valid in daily english usage, it is still technically incorrect.

Comment Hindsight (Score 2) 197

Every time this comes up I'm struck by the same few thoughts:

If we hadn't succumbed to the commercial desire to mine our real identities and instead had stayed with the early internet's pseudonymity culture, we'd be more able to isolate any online abuse from our real lives.

What happens online should stay online, but this now seems impossible.

The troll is an individual, who wields their (largely illusory) power through manipulative skill and sheer determination to annoy and frustrate. It seems unfair that the victim, also an approximately equal individual on the receiving end should be allowed such disproportionate means of retaliation. Is one against one so unfair?

I know, the world don't work like that, but it should.

Comment Whatever happened to free? (Score 2) 82

Time & time again I experience this: I have a task, I look for a free opensource solution, I find one, only to discover that it's essentially bait for a commercial version, and it is nigh-on impossible to get it to work without coughing up for the pay version, which is almost always ridiculously overpriced, and to add insult to injury, the broken version is covered in ads for the commercial one.

I've wasted my time, the company will never get my money because they pissed me off with a broken "free" version which appears only to exist to satisfy the license of the source they based their product on, and is published in the most obfuscated and undocumented way they can get away with.

I'd be happy with something that worked with a given feature set, and offered more functionality for pay, I'd pay for that. This is not the same as figuring out how to cripple the most core feature in order to force people to buy...

This is not the opensource we were looking for.

Comment streisand etc. (Score 4, Insightful) 107

Siemens claims they don't want their reputation risked by using the motor this way, and threaten to go to the press over it.
Both UK & French authorities have signed off that they find the safety aspect acceptable.

I can't see how this can do anything but harm Siemens' reputation, and the sudden day-of-departure withdrawal of consent stinks a long way.

Some say Siemens is a very risk-averse & conservative company, and it is this that is driving their "better safe than sorry" attitude..

I don't buy it, and neither should you.

Submission + - Lakka: Linux distro turns your PC into a retro console (playerattack.com)

dotarray writes: Something for the Linux fans — Lakka is a new lightweight distro that will turn any PC (no matter how small) into a retro gaming console. It can emulate a pretty serious stack of old gaming hardware, and supports new-fangled things like video streaming, time-rewinding and both PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers.

Submission + - Rats forsake chocolate to save a drowning companion (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: We’ve all heard how rats will abandon a sinking ship. But will the rodents attempt to save their companions in the process? A new study shows that rats will, indeed, rescue their distressed pals from the drink—even when they’re offered chocolate instead. They’re also more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy.

Submission + - Animal Copies Reveal Roots of Individuality (quantamagazine.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Benjamin de Bivort’s lab at Harvard University is Groundhog Day for fruit flies. In de Bivort’s version, a fly must choose to walk down a dark tunnel or a lighted one. Once it has made the choice — THWOOP! — a vacuum sucks the fly back to the starting point, where it has to decide again and again and again.

The contraption, which tracks scores of individual flies, makes it possible to analyze how behavior varies from fly to fly. What de Bivort found when he first used it surprised him: The animals’ behavior varied much more than he expected, even when the flies were more or less genetically identical and raised under the same conditions. “If you hold genetics constant and the environment mostly constant, you still see a lot of variation,” de Bivort said.

De Bivort and his team are now exploring this phenomenon in detail, hoping to discover what drives that unexpected individuality. He’s found that different fly strains show different levels of variability. Some strains are like a troop of well-trained soldiers, with each fly mirroring its neighbor. Other strains resemble a wild group of dancers, with individuals moving to their own beat. By comparing soldier and dancer strains, de Bivort thinks he’s identified both a gene and a neural circuit that may underlie some of these differences.

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