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Comment Re:Acid 3 test (Score 2, Interesting) 437

To paraphrase that to fit what Generic Joe will hear:
"You'll have to grin and bear it as you use an internet that wasn't written to use these standards, BUT, if you and lots of other people start using Opera then those websites will be written to comply with those standards and that'll be great!"

Not sure that's a terribly compelling argument to Generic Joe. Some will certainly go for it, willing to bite the bullet to advance humanity a little bit, but a lot of people just want to use the internet.

Comment Re:Acid 3 test (Score 3, Insightful) 437

The more compliant your web browser is, the less likely your web browser will break.

I love webstandards, and wish greatly that all browsers supported them well. But I just don't think that quote is factually true. If your browser adheres to webstandards that IE doesn't then it's quite possible/plausible that your browser will fail to deliver websites that look and function like you and the designer expected it to.

People "should" code to standards, but I just don't think that it's (yet) true that they DO.

Comment Re:What a load of rubbish (Score 1) 313

There are indeed references to major floods in many, though not all ancient cultures around the world.

The timing for them doesn't seem to match up though, they can have very wildly divergent dates.

The simplest explanation is that many different (smaller than global yet still huge to the primitive locals) catastrophic floods happened to people in ancient times, and they each made up their own mythologies about it.

Heck, If I were alive a few millenia ago I could have sat down and created a flood myth just through the judicious use of my creativity. If it was a good enough story it might have caught on, despite having no basis in historical fact.

Comment Re:Scientific Method What? (Score 1) 1038

A major issue with accepting evolution and an old age to the Earth for some is that it takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of The Fall.

If humans have been around in a recognizeable way for 100,000+ years and animals have been eating each other, disease rampant, etc, for billions of years before that... then the wonderful serenity of Eden where all things lived in harmony with each other wasn't true. And if Eden wasn't true, then perhaps mankind didn't fall from a state of grace and are in need of redemption? If we didn't fall, then Jesus' purported purpose on earth seems to be rather superfluous.

Some people can't accept that the stories in the bible are stories because having an omnipotent Dad who's looking out for you and will reward you after you die is extremely comforting to them. The Bible promises them that.
I have a university educated(in physics) friend who claims that yes, the Flood really happened. And Balaam? His donkey talked to him in plain Aramaic.

Comment Re:Disingenuous BS (Score 1) 1161

Reading that comment I'm not sure how much Dawkins you've read. It appears to make numerous claims that are not supported by his written work, nor public speeches.

Dawkins for one has said repeatedly that a belief in evolution is neither neccessary nor sufficient to be an atheist. His opinion is that a good understanding of evolution takes a good deal of wind out of the sails of the arguement from design(an arguement that powerfully influenced many thinkers over the years, leading people who quite likely would have been atheists to instead advocate a form of Deism).

You're right though that Dawkins is indeed intolerant of certain ways of thinking, I don't think he'd disagree with that. Nor would most of the New Atheists that you refer to. They tend to peacefully advocate that one should try one's best to make sure that one's beliefs are true. Beliefs that have no supporting evidence have aren't as likely to be true as beliefs that do have supporting evidence. "You don't have to like or even respect their beliefs, but you must respect the individual's right to believe what they choose." I am not sure where you've seen atheists arguing that we should make belief in Yahweh/Vishnu/Allah/FSM illegal. They tend agree that people have the right to believe whatever they want(up until those beliefs impinge on the rights of others). But that's not a sufficient arguement for saying that they shouldn't be trying to convince people to change their mind.

As Sam Harris tends to say, I do think that you should be allowed to think that Elvis is still alive. But I don't think that means I can't try to peacefully convince you that it's likely he's not. Particularly not if your beliefs in Elvis mean that you close your eyes to evidence in fields such as biology, while trying to keep others from seeing it. Sam does indeed advocate intolerance. Conversation intolerance I believe is the term he uses? In essense, we start using the same intolerance for religions beliefs that have insufficient evidence to support them that we use for people who believe that aliens from Pluto are controlling the president's mind.

Comment Re:What about mind altering drugs? (Score 2, Insightful) 83

Indeed, such commentary typically makes me rage or sigh with exasperation.

We already have medical interventions that can drastically change what a person acts like, thinks and feels.
We've had brain surgeries ranging from incredibly crude to fairly sophisticated, these affect the brains and hence the minds of patients.

As you said, we have psychoactive drugs that can change the activity(or even structure) of the brain, leading to changes in all sorts of stuff.
Hell, sitting down on a couch and talking about your life can have noticeable and significant changes in neurochemistry and we believe the structure of the brain(eg: changes in hippocampal neurogenesis).

If this is an ethical issue(and broadly speaking I think it is) then the development of this new technology isn't why we should be talking about it. It's the fact that we've been able to do this for millenia and have gotten steadily better and better at it. We should already have good answers to such topics because we've been doing it for ages.


Music Industry Conflicted On Guitar Hero, Rock Band 140

Wired is running a story about the friction between the music industry and music-based games, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Despite the fact that these games are very successful and are drawing a great deal of attention to the music represented in the games, the industry is not pleased with the licensing arrangements that allow the games to use their songs. Quoting: "Putting the brakes on music gaming would hurt everyone in the ailing music industry. Instead of demanding greater profit participation, Warner should be angling for creative participation. Thirty years ago, Hollywood took a similar threat — the VCR — and turned it into a new source of revenue, building customer loyalty in the process. The music industry could use new games the same way — but its track record suggests that it won't."

Comment Re:Interesting... (Score 5, Insightful) 242

Here's my personal suggested mechanism.

Enriched environments have long been known to make mice 'happier' in addition to being better at solving various tests, and having larger brains, etc. This stress-reducing effect has been known to be maintained long after the rats are removed from the enriched environment.

The change in the mother rats should fully be expected to be partially shared with the pups. The womb is not a completely separate environment that just happens to exist inside the mother, her experiences shape what sort of chemicals(beneficial or detrimental) are delivered to the baby.

A healthier, less stressed out mother is likely to nurture her babies properly while they're in utero, and uterine environment that's not bathed in stress hormones is generally a preferable one for the baby's neurological development.
TFA also mentions that an opposite effect occurs, where highly stressed mothers had babies that then also abused their pups tend to have pups that themselves are poorer mothers. They don't mention if problem solving tests were given to these rats, but I'd fully expect that they'd show deficits in tests of memory and intelligence.

The researchers in the article say that this is a completely shocking discovery, I'd be shocked if it didn't happen. The stress response affects not only the mother, but also the baby, and those changes can be noticed in their later lives. Quel surprise.

Comment Re:Cause... (Score 2, Insightful) 504

Rather sad commentary on the state of things isn't it? But quite a few people wont bat an eye at it, and for some people that's what they're stuck with.

Need this particular piece of hardware, and it's more convenient to get it with this software and then go through the trouble of "downgrading" than it is to find another place offering the hardware without the New and Improved Software(assuming such a place exists).

The article seemed pretty good, I like his writing style and he seems to be very knowledgeable about such things. Shame the summary distorted his views somewhat.

Comment Re:No more intro pages for porn sites? (Score 1) 251

It's truly astonishing how many people viewing porn were born on January 1st, with the year being whatever a few presses of the "page down" button got you.
Asking people to put in their birth date for viewing porn is not likely to really catch anyone. If it did, they could always just hit back in their browser and plug in a new date.

Comment Re:Good luck with that. (Score 1) 743

Those sensors to help when backing-up are a good idea, but they certainly have some issues. What I preferred was the vehicle I drove a while back that had a small wide-angle camera in back. It then broadcasted its imagery to the GPS/radio screen up front.

Want to know how far away that thing behind you really is? Look at the screen and see for yourself.

I've been muttering about how I wanted one of these for years now. If every 12 year old in the world can have a webcam, why not an SUV/truck/car? It's not like you need a top of the line camera with spectacular video quality. Really looking forward to seeing these become more common.

Comment Re:That's really awesome (Score 5, Informative) 315

If one assumes that all the music on my computer is stuff that the RIAA can sue over(some isn't, not sure the %), and ignores that some of the stuff that I have comes from legal purchases and my own rips(some, but not all that much to be honest), and if one uses the $9,250 per song figure from the summary:

My computer has a value of approximately $207,900,000.

For perspective, the current price of gold is $871.20 USD per troy oz. Alternatively, about $28,000 per kilogram of gold.
$207,900,000 / $28,000/kg = 7425 kg of gold
A Ford F150 truck comes in with a weight of 2,197kg.

My computer is worth almost as much as three and a half Ford F150 trucks made of solid gold

You're right Adult film producer... I feel rich, powerful! Excuse me, I'm going to go buy a bigger basement and a new family now.

Comment Does it always produce true responses? (Score 3, Insightful) 249

I don't play WoW or the MUD mentioned in the article, but I'm curious if the use of torture in these games does/would invariably produce honest factual information from the person/monster being tortured?

Torture has a somewhat speckled history when it comes to getting at what's actually really going on. Torture someone enough and they'll tell you whatever they think will get you to stop the torture, regardless of if it's true or not.

It'd be a bit more interesting I'd think if the torture sometimes works, and sometimes leads you off in directions that aren't at all productive(and might actually weaken you).

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