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Comment Re: What cool stuff do you do with 15Mbps ? (Score 1) 290

You get buffering times with 15mbps?

I have "up to 50Mbps" service ("xfinity Blast!"), but yes, there's initial buffering when you start a video on Netflix.

Do you really get [what you pay for]?

During peak usage hours (6-11pm), like right now, I only get around 8Mbps (according to a speedtest I just ran). At other hours, I've had multi-gigabyte Steam downloads go at a sustained 4MB/s (32Mbps). I'm not sure I've ever actually seen a (nontrivial) file download at 50Mbps here.

Upload speed tends to be a problem for us too, uploading photos and backups and whatnot. I pay for "up to 10Mbps" which (surprisingly) is pretty close to what speedtest says I'm getting right now.

The fliers that CenturyLink mails me always say I can get up to 15Mbps, but right now their website says me they have 40Mbps service available at my address. Unfortunately, their website does not list upload speed anywhere; I guess I'd have to call and find out.

Comment Re:What cool stuff do you do with 15Mbps ? (Score 1) 290

If 15 Mbps isn't enough for you, you must be doing some Really Cool Stuff with that extra bandwidth, and I'd be interested to find out what it is.
Watching multiple TV programs at once isn't something I count as cool...

3Mbps may meet the needs of you and whoever else you live with, but my family needs more than 15Mbps to support our normal internet use. My wife complains enough about long video buffering times as it is; I can't imagine going to slower service.

Get the internet service that suits your needs, just don't pretend that other people's needs should not exceed your own, and don't pretend that they should only exceed your own needs if they're doing something "cool".

I suppose "Downloading DVD Linux Distros Instantly" is sort of cool

A far more frequent need is game downloads. I don't want to have to wait overnight to play a game I've purchased on Steam. If we assume that you can get a constant 3Mbps at all times, it would still take you an entire month to download my Steam library (approximately 1TB), doing nothing other than downloading from Steam for the entire month. Even if I were willing to do that, I could not monopolize our internet connection like that without my wife making me sleep on the couch. (It's not so far-fetched to need to re-download my Steam library; e.g. my hard drive could die, or get reformatted intentionally, or get stolen, or whatever.)

monthly download caps, and whether I could get a static IP address, and whether they had any stupid limits on running "servers" at home, i.e. whether they're selling a real Internet connection I can do cool stuff with

I used to run a server at home; a Comcast guy I talked to said they didn't really care so long as I wasn't uploading a lot. I ran irssi in a screen session, and Minecraft, and I traded backup space with someone in Canada. The problem is, my office gets warm enough between my desktop and my wife's desktop without another machine running, so between the cost of power for the server and the cost of extra cooling required, I determined it would be cheaper to use a VPS. Since then I haven't needed or even wanted any of the things you mention.

I don't run a Minecraft server anymore, and my irssi session is running on an EC2 t1.micro that costs me $5/month and has had much better uptime than my home server ever did. In general it has been much easier for me to do "cool stuff" (experiment with new software, test new configurations, whatever) using EC2 instances (which I only need to run for an hour or two) than it was to do those same kinds of experiments on the physical server I was running in my house.

I guess that was just a long-winded explanation for why I don't really care these days whether my ISP gives me a static IP or prohibits running servers. I certainly care about a monthly download cap, but if the ISP can't meet my download speed needs, why should I bother asking about that?

Comment Re:Missing option (Score 1) 290

A few years ago, Verizon was advertising the future availability of FiOS in Kent, and the ads indicated that we should call in to register our interest. When I called, they refused to record my interest because my address was not in their database. By the time I moved into my house, they were no longer planning to offer FiOS in Kent.

Last month, a pair of CenturyLink reps stopped by my house to tell me that they had recently run fiber to the junction box in front of my house, and that as a result they could now offer me 15Mbps DSL (less than half the speed I get from Comcast). I asked if they would sell me fiber, and indicated that I'd be willing to pay them to run fiber the rest of the way to my house or even buy the materials and do the installation myself; they said no.

This is why Comcast has no incentive to offer good service, and why I stay with them anyway.

Submission + - The MOOCs Continue, This Time in SciFi/Fantasy Writing.... 3

An anonymous reader writes: Inexplicably, the MOOC era shows no signs of abating. Beginning June 3 two MOOCs in Science Fiction and Fantasy will begin. The first, coming from well known MOOC provider Coursera, will be taught by University of Michigan professor Eric Rabkin, and will focus on a historical and psychological analysis of the genre, while the second will come from the university creative writing class of NYT bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, best known for his completion of the Wheel of Time book franchise. If this trend keeps up, maybe we can cross our fingers for a MOOC on screen writing from Joss Whedon soon...

Comment Re:As a developer... (Score 1) 393

No, see, you just* run 96 trillion virtual machines, with each VM simulating one neuron, and the network latency between each "neuron" serving to simulate the asynchronous communication between neurons. Isn't this what "the cloud" is for?

I'm mostly sure I'm being sarcastic...

* using a rather generous definition of "just".

Comment Re:Haters Gonna Hate (Score 1) 915

I disagree. If I believe that some particular behavior will damage society at a fundamental level, isn't it reasonable for me to feel a responsibility to try to protect society from the thing I believe will harm it? The fact that other people disagree with me does not, in and of itself, mean I should sit down and shut up, regardless of how many people engage in that behavior.

This only becomes a problem when one side of the debate refuses to address the underlying concerns (does it really cause the perceived harm?) and instead simply throws mud at those who disagree ("if you think it's bad you're an intolerant bigot!").

The problem I see is that (in the case of gay marriage) very few pro-gay-marriage people are actually willing to address the root concern: the belief that having the government officially endorse gay marriage will [further] erode the fundamental building block of society (the family unit).

As a related example, I've never been given an actual answer to this question: "Since psychologically speaking it is most healthy for children to grow up with both a mother and a father, wouldn't it be best for us as a society to place children in homes with both rather than homes with only [two of] one or the other?" The only responses I've gotten have either been insults ("You're just intolerant of gays!") or irrelevant counterquestions ("don't gay couples deserve children?") or irrelevant points ("plenty of single mothers/fathers raise healthy children!"). Wouldn't it be far more productive for us to have an honest, meaningful discussion about the topic, instead of hurling insults at each other and refusing to talk about anything at all?

Comment Re:Haters Gonna Hate (Score 1) 915

Somebody has read The Great Apostasy ;)

For anyone interested, the book is a pretty interesting examination of the doctrinal changes the Catholic Church underwent in the centuries following Christ's death, and the book bases its assessment on writings from early Catholic priests among others.

My personal favorite example of mishandling the Papacy is either the time the Papacy was put up for auction, or the time the Pope had a baby with a prostitute, and then was killed by that prostitute, who put her son on the Papal throne. If memory serves, that young Pope was among the most depraved and immoral to hold that particular office. (I might have some small details wrong, it's been a while since I read the book linked above.)

Comment Re:Haters Gonna Hate (Score 1) 915

Just because something is 2000 years old doesn't make it right.

Doesn't make it wrong, either. The age of an idea is irrelevant to whether it is correct or not. (And in religious debates, whether an idea is "correct" or not is often either impossible to prove or entirely irrelevant... at least, that's true if your goal is something other than hurling insults.)

But where I do have a problem is when the members of the church try to deprive the rights of homosexuals outside of church.

The fundamental problem with arguments about gays and/or homosexuality in general is simple: nobody bothers to agree on terminology up front. If terminology were agreed on before a debate were started, then the nature of these debates would be quite different. This is the mistake you are making.

Suppose I create a club whose only requirement for membership is that every club member must wear a red shirt at all times. Now suppose I tell a club member that I will kick him out if he continues to wear blue shirts. Would you embark on a campaign to get the Red Shirt Club to change its rules so that the member who wants to wear blue shirts can feel included?

Now suppose I create a chain of nonprofit clothing stores using my club's logo, and the store only sells red shirts and red-shirt-related items. How would you respond to salaried store employees who complain that the requirement that they wear red shirts at all times, even off the clock, stifles their freedom of expression?

Suppose I set up a club-funded hospital, and open it to everyone, but only provide red hospital gowns. What would you say if a Blue Shirt Club member comes in for treatment, then later refers to the doctors' unwillingness to provide a blue hospital gown as persecution or intolerance?

Suppose I fund an adoption agency, under the restriction that the adoption agency can only place children in homes where only red shirts are worn (whether or not the prospective family is part of the club). What would you say when a Blue Shirt Club member complains that the Red Shirt Adoption Agency denies their adoption application?

My point is, it's not relevant whether the club's rules are frivolous or even plain stupid. It's not even relevant whether they're right or wrong. What's relevant is that these are the rules applied to club members and people who want certain types of service from club members. Is it really reasonable to force that club to change its fundamental rules in the name of being "open-minded" or "accepting" or "tolerant" or whatever?

It's a waste of time to tell red shirt club members that they're being bigoted or whatever for not allowing blue shirts in their club -- and it misses the point entirely. Furthermore, none of the above scenarios require that the Red Shirt Club members believe themselves superior to anyone else in any way, and it's a mistake to assume otherwise.

In this situation, if you want to argue about something, argue about whether the behavior in question is itself acceptable, not about whether it's acceptable for the group to deny membership to people who engage in it. Of course, at that point you leave the realm of what can be proven as fact and enter the realm of doctrine... That's probably why most non-religious people simply don't try, instead accusing Catholics of bigotry or being anti-gay or whatever, without actually trying to understand what Catholics believe and, more importantly, why.

Personally I don't see why it's a problem for a group that believes a particular behavior is a sin to ask its members to not engage in that behavior, or to prohibit hospitals it funds from providing services it finds morally objectionable, or to go around trying to convince everyone else to share those opinions.

Comment Re:Humility? (Score 1) 915

Many organizations have official spokespeople; is it arrogant of the official spokesperson to think he's the single official conduit for communication from that organization, when that is the role the organization has asked him to fill?

I don't see why a church leader should be viewed any differently.

Comment Re:Here it comes... (Score 1) 540

There's more to the polygamy issue than you make it seem. The practice of polygamy was never "OMG LOTS OF WOMEN FOR SEX", and in many cases it wasn't even about having more children. For example, by all accounts, though Joseph Smith had some dozen wives, the only one he ever slept with was his first wife, Emma. Other men were asked to marry and provide for widowed women who had lost their first husbands.

Also note that even among the early Mormons only a subset of men were asked to marry multiple women; it was not a general commandment for everyone. Furthermore, if polygamy is ever reinstated by the LDS Church as a practice here on earth, I do not believe the Church would mandate it, nor do I believe most Church members would practice it if given the option.

Among Mormons, marriage (when performed under the appropriate authority) is considered eternal. We do not use the phrase "until death do us part" in our marriage ceremonies. We believe it is better for a man to be married to multiple wives than for a woman to go for eternity without a husband.

I'll speculate on why God allowed it one way (polygamy) but not the other (polyandry), but before I do I want to make it absolutely clear that the remainder of this post is my own speculation and is in no way representative of official LDS doctrine.

One possibility is that more women than men are going to make it into heaven. In that case, assuming there is some benefit to being married in heaven, it would be better for some men to have multiple wives, so that all women can be married.

Another: it might be possible for married couples to have some manner of offspring in heaven. (Note that I am not referring to married couples becoming gods, I am merely speculating that since it is possible for married couples to have children during this life, perhaps it is possible in heaven as well.) If this is the case, then polygamy makes sense because a man can have children with multiple women at once, but polyandry does not because a woman can only bear the child of one man at a time; so, for the purposes of bearing children, polyandry offers no benefit over monogamy.

Again, this is my own speculation, and is not representative of LDS doctrine in any way.

At any rate, laugh if you wish. I believe God is omniscient, and I also believe that God has defined certain specific things regarding the practice of marriage. How can I argue with God? (That's rhetorical, please don't bother trying to convince me that I'm deceiving myself.) Experience has taught me on many occasions that God is much smarter than me, so I'm willing to trust Him on this.

Comment Re:Here it comes... (Score 1) 540

Whenever the local courts were unable to dispense justice in the manner the local populace felt was appropriate.

I said "under American law". American law does not permit civilians to mete out their own death penalty just because they are not satisfied with the conclusions of the justice system.

Heresy and sedition, respectively, for the most part. Learn some history. Not even vaguely similar to the situation in Nauvoo or Beaver Island.

You don't think the Mormons were persecuted for heresy? If not, then you clearly don't know anything about Mormon beliefs.

When I said "I don't have the answers", I meant that I cannot understand why people would resort to physical violence merely because someone believes something different. (In some parts of the world, this is known as "intolerance".)

See, Mormons believe that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct beings, each with their own physical bodies. Even now most people don't consider us Christian, for that fact alone, regardless of the fact that we indeed believe in Christ; two hundred years ago, this idea was even more alien to the mostly Protestant Americans than it seems now to the modern Christian world. Even in Joseph Smith's teen years, before he ever mentioned any other doctrine or even the Book of Mormon, he faced persecution for the mere fact that he claimed to have seen God and Christ, and that they were two separate beings.

But no, even though heresy has historically been the excuse for a wide variety of persecution and violence, and even though the Mormons believed something that the majority of the Christian world still considers heresy, heresy could not possibly be the reason that the early Mormons were driven out of their homes time and again.

Even later, when the Mormons went so far as to settle in a desert so that nobody would bother them and so that non-Mormons would have no reason to drive them out, the number one reason that their state (in its various proposed forms) was not permitted entry into the United States was their practice of polygamy. Not a history of thievery or piracy or arson or violence or murder, but because they practiced polygamy and the rest of America viewed the practice as immoral. That didn't die down until years after Mormons renounced the practice.

(Interestingly, despite the widespread acceptance of both the homosexual lifestyle and the sexually-active-but-unmarried-heterosexual lifestyle, and even the tacit acceptance of married-but-unfaithful behavior, Americans still view polygamy as immoral -- even though unmarried but sexually active heterosexual Americans probably have a far larger number of sexual partners than polygamists. Nope, having sex with lots of people is fine, but committing to more than one sexual partner in the form of marriage is not. Go figure.)

Mormons have been persecuted for their religious beliefs, for the most part. Learn some history.

Comment Re:Here it comes... (Score 1) 540

According to Wikipedia, around 12,000 initially followed Strang (which probably was about a third of the church), but most left Strang's church before his death. I would suppose that they realized his teachings did not reflect those of Joseph Smith. I stand corrected... sort of.

Why did mobs continually chase Mormons out of town? Why were the early Christians persecuted by Jews and Romans alike? I don't have these answers.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Mormons were indeed thieves of the worst sort. Would that justify the arson, violence, and murder perpetrated against the Mormons? Since when was vigilante "eye for an eye" justice ever acceptable under American law? It's certainly not acceptable under Christ's teachings. We have a justice system for this exact reason.

Furthermore, if Joseph Smith was such an encourager of nefarious deeds, why would he voluntarily turn himself over to the courts on numerous occasions? Why would the charges continually be dismissed? If his nefarious behavior was so commonly known, why would the people have needed to turn to "mob justice" in order to get rid of Joseph Smith in the end, rather than letting the courts do their jobs?

History does not corroborate the idea that the Mormons were intolerant thieves, arsonists, and so on.

It is interesting to note that when Thomas Reynolds became governor of Missouri, he began efforts to extradite Joseph Smith to Missouri for alleged crimes that Thomas, as a Missouri judge, had dismissed before his ascension to the governorship. It seems likely that he did so due to pressure from the citizens who elected him; it does not seem likely that he simply changed his opinion once he was no longer a judge.

Comment Re:Here it comes... (Score 1) 540

In truth, there wasn't a designated successor; there was a period of confusion among Church members for that very reason. This is why some Church members did not want to follow Brigham Young; many felt that the next prophet should be someone in Joseph Smith's family. At any rate, so far as I am aware, Strang was never a leader in the Church, and in fact, he had only been a member of the Church for four months before Joseph Smith was killed. At least the other "contenders" for Church leadership were already leaders in the Church, and had been for years. The only evidence Strang produced was a letter allegedly written by Joseph Smith appointing him to the office. Only a small subset of Church members followed Strang.

If you compare Strang's actions to the actual doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, you will see that he did not live by them, at least not after Joseph Smith's death. Additionally, the things he taught after that schism were outright contradictions of what Joseph Smith had taught. It is entirely possible that Strang taught what you have described, when he taught his people the Law of Consecration, but if so, it is not something Joseph Smith ever taught, and so not representative of Mormon beliefs at any point in time.

Insisting that Strang's teachings were representative of Mormonism as a whole is rather like saying that the beliefs of Lutherans are representative of Catholicism, merely because the former branched off from the latter and they use the same source material.

So, I fully concur with your opinion of Strang's actions, but you should understand that they were not representative of the things taught by Joseph Smith.

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