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Comment Creationists and flat-earthers (Score 4, Insightful) 601

We have this idea in free society that people are entitled to their own opinions and the government should not force people to believe one thing or another. And it’s not like we lack precedents where totalitarian governments actively suppress ideas that might disrupt their regime. So we do need to keep in mind that indvidual people should be free to be wrong and be assholes. That kid in the gorilla costume at Tennessee State was an asshole, but should he be brought up on criminial charges? We need to ensure that “assholes” are not summarily suppressed. Richard Dawkins acts like an asshole but he’s still right about evolution.

Now, when it comes to these nurses, the situation is entirely different. They are entitled to their *personal* opinion. But this is a matter of professional activity. In their capacities as nurses (even on their own time), they represent their employers. As a CS professor, I could be dismissed for a wide range of inappropriate behaviors in my “personal life,” including hooking up with an undergrad and making offensive and racist statements on social media. I can maintain my right to express an opinion, and my employer can exercise their right to not be associated with someone who does not represent their core values. (Although, I will say that I’ve heard that BYU won’t grant tenure to anyone who they see as not sufficiently “Mormon,” and I think that’s reprehensible, so there is some room for debate on this, which is why we have courts.)

There’s also not much room on this subject for “personal opinion.” Science doesn’t have answers for everything, but all attempts to show a solid link between vaccines and autism have failed, and those attempts have been numerous. This isn’t based on a single publication with no replication studies. This topic has been beaten to death. It be shown that their statements are factually wrong. They are also not researchers in this area. If they were, then they would be in a position to conduct further studies to see if they could prove a link. Instead, they are just talking out their arses.

Even more important, they are putting people in danger. And that’s what this is all about. The benefits of vaccines are not in dispute, and the risks are minimal and nebulous. When your scientific illiteracy puts people in danger, you need to be stopped.

Comment Amazon Prime video sucks (Score 2) 44

We do most of our Netflix watching on smart TVs. Amazon video is only on one of them, and the UI SUCKS. When we bought the one TV that had it, we were expecting improved Amazon support over time. The Netflix app has been updated multiple times, while the Amazon one never has. The fact is, Amazon just isn’t trying very hard, so they’re not competitive.

Comment Re: Hipster compliant? (Score 0) 130

Actually, the funny thing is that all these Christians say they want to be more Christ-like, but they’re nothing like Jesus. Yeshu (his real name as well as I can render it in latin script) was a counter-culturalist, hippy, ass-kicker. He mercilessly picked on the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders for being overly legalistic, and both he and the writings of others in the new testament were filled with subtle to blatant fuck-you the conformism of the Romans. It’s amazing how much like the Pharisees so many modern Christians are, espectially the so-called Biblical literalists (who nevertheless seem to cherry-pick as much as the interpretive believers they claim to be superior to).

If Christians were more like Jesus, if they went around challenging the status quo and overly-rigid thinking and pushing people to think critically, then I would really like that religion.

Comment To them, evidence is meaningless (Score 1) 680

Just like Creationists, climate change deniers have a REASON to not want to believe the science. It might be a stupid reason, but they hold a dogma that isn’t going to be swayed by evidence, because they do not WANT to share your conclusions. These people literally live in a fantasy world where evidence is fabricated and evil scientists across the world collude to mislead the public. (Ironic then that the deniers actively collude to mislead the public, many of whom are fully aware that they’re lying, but to this mentality, the ends justify the means.)

Creationists HAVE to have a young earth or else it breaks their religion (original sin and atonement). Climate science deniers are mostly motivated by not wanting to curb their activities because of the economic impact. Supposedly the left is all about entitlement and hand-outs to peolpe who don’t want to work, but this is an example of where the right seriously falls down in terms of personal responsibility. So they invent reasons why their activities are not irresponsible.

Comment Re:Might not be doable open source (Score 1) 186

This isn’t about the technical distinction between Libre and Gratis. This is about the perceptions of companies and software developers with the skills necessary to develop these things and the willingness of such people to develop open source software. Your nit-pick doesn’t change the fact that (a) some developers don’t have interest or skill in certain topics, and (b) if a company invests millions into developing software, they’re not going to share source code, regardless of sticker price.

Comment Might not be doable open source (Score 3, Insightful) 186

There are a few application areas that are specialized and difficult enough that it they may not be doable within the Free Software paradigm. Richard Stallman himself, for instance, was not able to explain to me how you could get the right specialized engineers together to develop a free equivalent to Synopsys design compiler. Enthusiasts in this area don’t tend to be interested in writing software as a hobby, so you’d have to hire engineers, which means you have to pay for all the development.

With automatic speech recognition, it’s not just an AI problem. You need massive labeled datasets that cost money to acquire, and the experts who really know this stuff are moving to on to their next research project. So how are you going to get engineers to learn and implement the esoteric techniques used here? You’d have to pay them. Most people who would be interested in writing free software to do this just don’t know the subject area well enough.

Comment Total bullshit, SEUs are fixable (Score 2) 145

There has been assloads of research on mitigating soft errors going back to the 1970’s. I’ve published some myself. There is no shortage of workable methods on masking transient errors in logic and bit flips in DRAMs. SEUs are a major problem for supercomputers, so their memory systems have sophisticated mechanisms for catching them.

If Cisco is blaming this on SEUs, that just proves their incompetence, since they obvious didn’t spend 5 minutes with Google Scholar looking at hundreds of GOOD papers (in the top conferences and journals) on this topic. Seriously.

PLUS, if something goes wrong, even if it IS a transient error, it’s FAR more likely to be a fixable bug than radiation. We had a weird bug in a DRAM controller whose state kept going invalid. We had to add another circuit to fix that. We *called* is a cosmic ray deflector, but the more likely causes, in order were (a) another bug we couldn’t find, (b) a timing violation caused perhaps by voltage or temperature fluctuation, or (c) crosstalk in the circuit. We would have kept looking, but this deflector circuit made it robust to hundreds of hours of slamming the memory system, so we let it go. (Also, it was graphics memory, so even if it did ultimately suffer a glitch some day, it would go unnoticed.)

Comment The patent’s novelty is not about bags (Score 1) 202

I want to start by saying that I’m never going to buy an iPhone 7. I understand that removing the audio jack saved some room inside the iPhone. But the water proofing argument is stupid, the “courage argument” is bullshit, and the primary benefit is to Apple’s bottom line to sell us more expensive adapters and annoying wireless earphones.

I’ll buy a MacBook Pro because of the extended warranty, the fact that a comparable PC laptop costs only a little less (and looks less cool), industry support for Linux on laptops sucks, and I hate Windows. I bought an iPhone 6+ because I’m too lazy to research to find out which Android phone is the best, I can be sure that the iPhone is at least “good,” and I have an investment already in iPhone apps. But I hope to God (and all the other deities) that Apple fans are smart enough to sit this one out. Apple needs to get smacked hard in the pocketbook for such a stupid decision.

That being said, this patent is not about paper bags. It’s about making a more sturdy glossy white paper (from which you can make a bag) out of recycled materials.

Comment Dedication and hard work (Score 1) 629

I have had chronic fatigue syndrome since 1994. It hit me like a truck and has only very slowly been getting better. Even now, I have to very carefully manage my time and energy. Regardless, I managed to have a successful software engineering and chip design career, then got a PhD, and now I work as a professor at a major public university and research center. To do this, I had to cut things out of my life that others are not willing to give up. For instance, I don’t have much of a social life, and I don’t get to watch much TV or spend time playing video games.

Some of us may disagree with Hillary’s political views or whatnot. Putting that aside, is she healthy enough to do the job? I don’t know the details, but we can see that she has had a successful political career. In public appearances, she seems to be healthy enough (but then again, so do I and I feel like total crap much of the time). Keep in mind that lots of past presidents have had significant health problems that did not stop them from doing the job.

We also have a fall-back plan. Is Tim Kaine any good? Can he take up any slack? If Hillary tanks, can he adequately take over the job? Also keep in mind that Bill Clinton will be around and he will be a very active first-spouse.

Comment Re:Clusterfuck (Score 1) 315

Well, obviously there are different opinions on this. But it’s different from pre-EU or pre-UK-in-EU. For one thing, there are the feelings of abandonment by other members of the EU and concerns about the wisdom and stability of the UK government. It’s like having a friend that you like and might want to have a deeper relationship vs. having had a deeper relationship and then breaking up. The latter interferes with trust around future dealings.

And as many have pointed out, the costs to be an EU member are small compared to the bureaucratic overhead that will be required for all of the new trade treaties, all of the businesses that have to move out of the UK because they are required to be in an EU state, etc.

Comment Clusterfuck (Score 1) 315

As an American, I should appreciate the value of gaining independence from a far-off country who taxes you with a less than desired level of legislative representation. But the truth is the American revolution is as unlike the UK/EU situation as you can get. The UK paid some nominal fees in order to have unfettered travel and trade with the European continent. Brexit is going to completely fuck up the UK economy along with many other major world economies. The Japanese aren’t going to sit back and just watch this happen, and the truth is that the rest of the world’s major governments should speak up as well.

Comment Why fundamentalists can’t accept deep time (Score 3, Interesting) 76

Evolution implies death before sin. If there was death before sin, then “original sin” and Jesus’ atonment for that sin are meaningless. They’re not going to accept something that breaks their religion, because they have a deathly (no pun intended) fear of not having a life after death. They are also wrapped up in fear over some mythical “moral decline” that they believe is caused by moral relativism that they seem to think evolution implies.

What’s interesting is to uncover the inconsistences in their beliefs. They claim to read the Bible literally or “at face value.” But when it comes to original sin, the Bible is only clear about HUMAN SPIRITUAL death as a result of original sin. They extend this to physical death of all animals. But when pressed, they cannot identify specific Bible verses that speak to this. Rather, they fall back on an assumption they make about the meaning of “very good” which they ASSUME (a tendency they say is a problem with evolutionists) means there could have been no animal death before human sin. They presume too much to know the mind of God and what God may have thought was “very good” beyond what their Bible claims while trying to convince us that the primary source of truth should be the Bible.

They go on to create a subculture where evidence is something we can take or leave as we like as it fits or doesn’t fit our preconceptions. Then they turn around and call evolution a preconception. It was Christians who came up with the idea!

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