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Comment Re: Good luck... (Score 1) 301

Ad 1. I was thinking of someone taking an affected mouse from New Zealand to Eurasia either as a pet (which is accidentally released, or is allowed to breed and one of the descendants is released) or intentionally to control a local population of mice somewhere. This would probably not be a single isolated event. The special gene is likely to be considered a desirable feature for pets and laboratory animals. By keeping an isolated 'normal' population (for females for breeding), you can ensure a steady supply of male mice with the special gene. They are guaranteed not to get pregnant, and they are guaranteed not to contribute to any problems of the crop-decimating type if released. The ideal pet. As a result, there would probably be continuing pressure through events such as this as long as there is easy access to males with the offending gene on any continent. (Regarding stowaways: I am not sure if they still play a significant role anyway.)

Ad 2. This begins with a valid point - though "not at all clear" is not what I would like to be associated with the fate of any endemic species. As to the bottleneck, this was under very 'optimistic' assumptions for the method's effectiveness - combined with the problems explained in 1. At the point where you accuse me of smoking something and link to Wikipedia, you actually misquote me by lifting a casual "inevitably" concerning extinction of mice in places outside New Zealand, applying it outside its original context to the question of bottlenecks caused by restoration efforts, and extending the scope to worldwide.

>> You'd also need to make sure that nobody releases their pet mouse with the gene after you have started reintroducing mice.

> Again, these buggers last like two years. Modified males will be readily detectable due to the number of offspring mice produce. Also, very few people capture wild house mice as pets (given they are literally $1 at the pet store), let alone capture them and go on to release them later.

I don't see how short lifetime and easy detectability of affected males under controlled conditions invalidates my concern of people continuously releasing small numbers of modified male pet mice. (See 1.)

Regarding your last paragraph: As much as I would like the damage done by messing with the fauna of New Zealand to be undone, I don't think it's responsible to counter it by messing with it in a way that could damage the fauna of almost everywhere else.

Comment Re: Good luck... (Score 1) 301

Let's suppose this works as advertised, and so, almost inevitably, house mice become extinct in Eurasia as well. Before reintroducing them you'd have to wait until they are *completely* extinct there (including on islands and in other remote places), which might take decades during which the lack of house mice might cause serious damage to European ecosystems.

The species normally has a very large population, hence genetic diversity. It's not clear what will happen if you introduce a serious evolutional bottleneck. It's not clear if New Zealand (or any other part of the New World where mice now live) is a precedent for longterm survival of the species after such a bottleneck, as they probably had centuries of genetic diversity arriving regularly on board European ships.

Female house mice are easy to identify. But you also need unaffected male house mice without the engineered gene - and enough of them to get a sufficient degree of variation on the Y chromosome. You need enough unaffected mice to have the genetic diversity required for long-term survival in the mice's original ecosystems, where their niche has been taken over by other species. You need sufficient funding for this without being able to say how many, precisely, you need. You will have to fight against short-sighted agricultural ministers in much the same way that other interests are currently holding up the reintroduction of other species - and effective action to save the planet from climate change.

You'd also need to make sure that nobody releases their pet mouse with the gene after you have started reintroducing mice.

Comment Re:Is it leaked or is it not yet leaked? (Score 3, Insightful) 165

Yes, I know. The rest of the world are just your colonies. Because if we'd try the same kind of stunt the other way round all hell would break lose.

I would call the US a pathetic bully - only the country actually gets away with it, so 'pathetic' isn't really the correct word. But what is worst is that most US citizens seem to be brain-washed to the point that they think this is OK and simultaneously wonder about why it is their country isn't more popular internationally.

Comment Re:This may sound harsh... (Score 1) 379

That's usually true, but unfortunately not always. Two totally different examples:

  • The famous mathematician Felix Hausdorff (aged 73) and his wife and sister-in-law killed themselves in January 1942 rather than wait for their deportation by the Nazis, which was imminent. I don't think they had lost perspective.
  • Neither had the Chinese mother bear who famously killed her cub and then herself in 2011: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... .

Comment Great, exactly what they have been waiting for (Score 1) 369

Finally a weapon they can use on everyone. Normal guns are only for people who could arguably be suspects, and only if they are fleeing or trying to fumble out their papers as instructed. Tasers are at best suitable for men with raised hands. And of course for people in wheelchairs, for pregnant women and for school-aged children, provided these are not following instructions because they couldn't hear them or because they were confusing. That left a dangerous gap in the arsenal: toddlers, pregnant women with raised hands, unconscious diabetics, ... Torturing any of these with a taser generally leads to unfair consequences. (In some cases, officers were even sacked and had to move to a different city to find employment in their chosen vocation.) So there is a serious gap in the arsenal for customer management.

Comment Background (Score 1) 394

Planning for the LiMux project started in 2002 on the initiative of an SPD city councillor. It was about migration from Windows NT to Linux rather than a newer version of Windows. SPD (social democratic party) usually has the majority in the Munich city council, and had it at the time. However, in the 2014 elections SPD has lost 8 seats and CSU (christian social union) has won 3. CSU now has 1 more seat than SPD.

Microsoft obviously never liked LiMux and tried to prevent it by offering very cheap licences. The city decided to carry out the project anyway. After some initial difficulties the project was successful and saved the city a lot of money. While it's hard to assess how much money was saved exactly, this should give an idea: Currently half the computers used by the city administration have a CPU frequency of 500 MHz or below, and most have 256 MB of RAM or less. But today CSU is stronger, and Microsoft has gained additional leverage by moving its German seat to Munich (from nearby Unterschleißheim) - a decision in which the current mayor (SPD) was involved.

Part of the reason CSU gets support from computer users in the city administration is that the users do not have administrator rights on their computers. This is of course by design rather than a defect of Linux. However, it is a defect of Windows that large organisations often have to grant administrator rights to their users because often the simplest things don't work properly on Windows without them, with no reasonable workarounds that don't involve a lot of work by system administrators. So in a sense the users are right to complain about Linux: It prevents them from getting rights they shouldn't have on their work computers in the first place!

Comment Silly season in Germany - some clarifications (Score 1) 280

The occasion for this article was *not* an actual court case. Rather, in the silly season another publication (Finanztest) had re-heated a topic that had been widely discussed before the summer. A pensioner who could not chew had photographed his pureed meals, and someone else had published the photos on a Facebook page whose name translates as "Jürgen takes photos of his meals". Attempts of the nursing home to stifle this obviously backfired. (The pensioner didn't feel treated badly anyway. He just wanted to show other people what it is like when you can only eat pureed food for the rest of your life.)

To make the semblance of a story out of this, Finanztest asked a lawyer whether there is actually any legal hold against people taking photos of the food they are served. And the lawyer said what lawyers everywhere would have said: That yes, theoretically, a very careful composition in a high-class restaurant might be considered a work of art, and thus subject to copyright. However, given that a German court recently decided that a certain porn video did not have copyright protection because someone had merely pointed a camera at a couple having intercourse, with no apparent art, acting or composition involved whatsoever, there seems to be no chance that anyone will ever convince a German judge that some typical fast food is subject to copyright.

As the silly season wasn't quite over yet, Die Welt took up this stupid topic and added another possible reason why taking photos of food might be illegal in some cases. It appears that several years ago(!) an innkeeper in Berlin had posted the following notice (translated from German): "Please do not instagram the food here in this restaurant. (And not this notice, either.)" This was promptly tweeted; possibly as a guerrilla advertising campaign. Such a notice would probably be considered binding by a German court as it does not seem to go beyond reasonable exercise of the innkeeper's property rights. But of course this has never been tested, either, because Germans don't go to court over photos of food in restaurants any more than people elsewhere.

Comment Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

Isn't the reason obvious? The production of snuff films for selling on the Galactinet. They get Helium in return which they need for their children's balloons. They could of course produce Helium themselves, but they need a lot of it and this method of acquiring it is 7 per cent cheaper than any other.

Comment The real problem with Liquid Threads / Flow ... (Score 3, Interesting) 94

... is that it breaks Wikipedia's internal mechanisms by totally and utterly destroying all sense of location in a discussion. In a Wikipedia discussion, each comment has a certain environment that may change, but usually not too drastically. Different discussion pages tend to have different visual flair: Large blocks of texts or lots of short comments, most comments indented on the same level or it keeps changing. 'Hatted' threads and sub-threads (i.e. you have to click to see them). Also, users can freely edit other users' comments.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the traditional wiki discussion style. Advantages include that you can usually see at a glance in which environment a certain comment that put a user into trouble was made, and if you want to be absolutely sure you can go back in the page history. And, very importantly, if you revisit a discussion after months, the visual appearance gives you clues that make it easier to remember what it was about and how it went and maybe even what you were going to say when you got distracted.

The very point of Liquid Threads is to move things around in such a way as to destroy all of that. Places such as Reddit and Stack Exchange have shown that this can work very well. But once you have a big audience and community norms built on a radically different system, I think it's problematic to make that kind of change. When I was still active on Wikipedia, Liquid Threads was already running on some meta-site. I felt that it was absolutely horrible to use because the re-ordering got in the way of exactly the kind of thoughtful discussion which that particular wiki was supposed to be for.

--- In case anyone wonders: After about 26,000 edits, I left Wikipedia in disgust for a year when it became clear that a vast majority of editors supported retaliating against Islamic extremism by angering ordinary, peaceful Muslims on the Muhammad article for no encyclopedic reason. (I would understand one or two Islamic Muhammad depictions to illustrate the fact that they exist - e.g. there is precisely one on the Turkish version of the article -, but half a dozen is way over the top, gives a very misleading - hence 'unencyclopedic' - impression, and seems designed exclusively to alienate Muslim readers and editors. This feeds the inferiority complex that causes some Muslims to become fundamentalists. By the way, I am an atheist and personally consider the Muhammad image ban stupid.)

When I returned I found that for whatever reason my ability to get *anything* done in controversial areas was gone completely. Apparently, using words such as "genital mutilation" in a discussion, applied to a gender for which the media of a large Western nation practising it on a large scale generally doesn't use it, is much worse than actually encouraging it in an article by abusing rules and then simply shutting down all discussion. And so I joined the ranks of ex-editors who complain about abuse by Wikipedia's almost completely uncontrolled admin caste.

Maybe Liquid Threads would even be capable of solving such problems, once it works properly and the community has adapted to it. Its introduction would no doubt cause a severe crisis, which, come to think of it, is probably just what the English Wikipedia needs.

Comment Some speculation (Score 1) 580

I tend not to trust the US government at all, but in this case it seems extremely likely that North Korea is in fact behind this as they say. If that's the case, then we are probably seeing a re-orientation of the US government towards a different enemy. Taking tension out of the relations with Cuba, reassessing the torture stupidity and being more proactive about closing Guantanamo have all been long overdue because all these insanities happen only for reasons of interior policy and hurt the US extremely in terms of international diplomacy.

It would make sense for this event to be connected to the recent confrontation with Russia (who might have provided misleading intelligence to North Korea suggesting the US would not react to such retaliation against Sony for embarrassing North Korea's leader), but in any case the realisation they are en route to two extremely costly wars (with no oil to win) -- both of them close to or in China's sphere of interest -- could have prompted some emergency measures by the US government to try and restore international good will.

If I have analysed the situation correctly, we are just seeing the usual manipulations of international public opinion that are a necessary preparation for war in a (pro-forma or real) democracy. For a war against North Korea, not Russia. To this end, the threat must be exaggerated and connected to an American trauma, rather than treated proportionally.

Comment Reminds me of this TV program: (Score 2) 448

French television made a more thorough experiment that can be watched as a 3-hour documentary on Youtube. They used all the tricks available to film to turn a black family living in Paris into a convincing white one and vice versa. This is worth watching even if you don't understand French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... ("Dans la peau d'un noir").

Comment Re:THEN... (Score 1) 120

Excellent point. It seems unlikely to me that this decision survives the next round, since that would probably imply a reversal on the current jurisdiction around second-level domain names.

Maybe the decision was *designed* to be reverted by a higher court. At least in Germany, it is an open secret that courts sometimes write their decisions intentionally so that they will be overturned - either because they don't want to take responsibility for the correct decision or because the professional judge must write the rationale for a decision in which he was overruled by lay judges. In the present situation, maybe it's a trick for making sure certain arguments cannot be heard in the higher instance?

Comment Re:Systemd (Score 1) 993

The parts of the internet where I spend most of my online time aren't half as bad as what you describe. But those bad parts definitely exist, and when we are talking real-life consequences such as hiring hitmen this is the only thing that matters. I am not at all surprised by what Poettering is complaining about. It's just the logical next step after doxing, calling employers and swatting.

How far someone will go is determined to a large extent by the attitudes of their peers. Many will always go with the average opinion, some will always be a little more moderate, and some will always make sure to be the most extreme person in the room. Once several people of the latter type meet online, it gets dangerous because this results in a one-upmanship competition not unlike that 'game' where two stolen cars race towards a frontal crash and the first driver to brake or turn aside 'loses'. Come to think of it, the idiots playing this 'game' are also on the internet, which should explain a lot.

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