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Comment Re:The Culture novels. (Score 1) 180

Hear, hear. I'm not surprised that Consider Phlebas is the Banks book on two of the three lists (shame,, shame), since it's the first, but in my opinion it's not the best. Player of Games and Use of Weapons are better. Likewise, the only Niven listed is Ringworld (plus Mote, co-authored), rather than Protector which in my opinion is his best.

Comment Re:What is the "real" universe like? (Score 1) 830

Put another way...

A system of a given size and complexity cannot contain a system of equal size and complexity.

Therefore the universe in which this simulation is running must be larger and/or more complex than the universe that is being simulated.

Therefore we have no way of saying one way or another what is likely in whatever kind of outside universe might possibly create a universe like the one we observe. So to say something is more or less likely is pure speculation ab nihilo. So why bother?

Comment What is the "real" universe like? (Score 1) 830

This seems to hang on whether it's possible to simulate a universe to the same detail that we observe (or think we are observing), and whether the universe is long-lived enough for such sophisticated simulations to be built and run for long enough to simulate what we observe.

I don't think our universe qualifies for such.

But if we are in a simulation, then we know nothing about the real universe. All bets are off. So it's pure speculation to say that such a simulation is possible in whatever the real universe is. If we are in a simulation, then yes it is possible. If we are not, then this notional "real" universe that we are being simulated in does not exist.

So, it's pure guesswork and speculation with no hope of ever giving an answer. Therefore to say it is likely is pure nonsense. NdGT is brilliant, and I respect him hugely, but on this one I think he's let his mouth flap without properly engaging his brain.

Comment This isn't a victory for Behring-Breivik. (Score 3, Insightful) 491

Someone once pointed out that hoping a rapist gets raped in prison isn't a victory for his victim(s), because it somehow gives him what he had coming to him, but it's actually a victory for rape and violence. I wish I could remember who said that, because they are right. The score doesn't go Rapist: 1 World: 1. It goes Rape: 2.

What this man did is unspeakable, and he absolutely deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. If he needs to be kept away from other prisoners as a safety issue, there are ways to do that without keeping him in solitary confinement, which has been shown conclusively to be profoundly cruel and harmful.

Putting him in solitary confinement, as a punitive measure, is not a victory for the good people in the world. It's a victory for inhumane treatment of human beings. This ruling is, in my opinion, very good and very strong for human rights, *precisely* because it was brought by such a despicable and horrible person. It affirms that all of us have basic human rights, even the absolute worst of us on this planet.

Comment Re:A prisoner could just as easily read the works. (Score 0) 527

This "plainly" here is difficult to judge. How can we be sure any unbelievable religious text wasn't some sort of "pointed political statement" or "satire"?

If judging was easy, anyone could be a judge. It's difficult, so we have specialists who are qualified to do it. That's what this judge did. He judged.

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