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Comment Re:first post (Score 1) 451

According to historian Francis Parkman, Amherst first raised the possibility of giving the Indians infected blankets in a letter to Colonel Henry Bouquet, who would lead reinforcements to Fort Pitt. No copy of this letter has come to light, but we do know that Bouquet discussed the matter in a postscript to a letter to Amherst on July 13, 1763:

P.S. I will try to inocculate the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's Method, and hunt them with English Dogs. Supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.

On July 16 Amherst replied, also in a postscript:

P.S. You will Do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. I should be very glad your Scheme for Hunting them Down by Dogs could take Effect, but England is at too great a Distance to think of that at present.

On July 26 Bouquet wrote back:

I received yesterday your Excellency's letters of 16th with their Inclosures. The signal for Indian Messengers, and all your directions will be observed.

We don't know if Bouquet actually put the plan into effect, or if so with what result. We do know that a supply of smallpox-infected blankets was available, since the disease had broken out at Fort Pitt some weeks previously. We also know that the following spring smallpox was reported to be raging among the Indians in the vicinity.

To modern ears, this talk about infecting the natives with smallpox, hunting them down with dogs, etc., sounds over the top. But it's easy to believe Amherst and company were serious. D'Errico provides other quotes from Amherst's correspondence that suggest he considered Native Americans subhumans who ought to be exterminated. Check out his research for yourself at egal/amherst/lord_jeff.html. He not only includes transcriptions but also reproduces the relevant parts of the incriminating letters.

Comment Re:Physics (Score 1) 287

It's impossible to transmit information faster than the speed of light because simultaneity doesn't exist.

Depending on your reference frame, event A might happen before event B, or vice versa. And since there is no rest frame, no one timeline is privileged above the others. The speed of light isn't just a universal speed limit, it places bounds upon causality itself. So when we talk about communication across interstellar distances, we're speaking nonsense: the idea that event A on Earth takes place at the same time as event B on Alpha Centauri just isn't coherent.

Comment Re:Does Minecraft need Dual SLI? 5M users say no. (Score 1) 568

I'd like to see a push to use the extra power of PCs for more than just better graphics. Minecraft is a great example of a game where the fun comes not from the way the game looks, but from the total interactivity of the gameworld. Sure, modern games let you wander through beautiful, expansive environments, but it seems like among many AAA titles there's less and less to do in those places - just a few preset interaction points which guide you down a linear story path. The sandbox games in the tradition of GTA make a few steps in the opposite direction, but the freedom in those games is mainly the freedom to go wherever you want and kill whomever you want: the world is still static.

I imagine a game where every object in the world has multiple possible options for interaction. Where you can walk through a lovely forest as seen in the Cryengine video in TFA, but know that you can pick any plant, cut down, prune or climb any tree, build structures, create crafts, cook food, etc. Currently the only games with this level of environment interaction are roguelikes like the Unreal World and Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, and a couple online games (Wurm Online, Haven and Hearth), every one of which is a pet project of a single person. None of them have remotely close to the amount of resources available to an established development studio.

The idea of a game like this used to be simply wishful thinking, but as PCs get more powerful something along these lines seems a lot more possible. I also think this is a genre uniquely suited to the PC platform, as the console gamepad isn't very good at navigating a complex menu of possible interaction with the same object.

Comment Re:Console vs PC "graphics life cycle" (Score 1) 568

The main difference this time around is that this console generation is going to last a lot longer than previous generations. Five years in to the 8-bit, 16-bit, PS1/N64 and PS2/Xbox generations, we were gearing up for the new generation of consoles to be released. In contrast it's been five years now since the 360/PS3/Wii came out, and it's looking like it's going to be another five or so before we see their successors. PC hardware has surpassed console hardware and the gap will only grow in the coming years, to an unprecedented degree.

But I still don't think we'll see too much of a change in buying habits. The thing is that even though the current generation of consoles is behind in technology, they still can deliver some really snazzy visuals on high-def TVs. So while PCs might get ever more powerful, if amazing-looking games like Uncharted 2 keep coming out on consoles I don't think we'll see large-scale migration back to the PC. In a few years PCs might be multiple times as powerful as a console, but I think the graphics provided by current consoles will continue to be good enough for the average consumer. And console games of course will continue to become slightly better-looking as developers learn to take the best advantage of the hardware - compare early PS2 games like Dark Cloud to something like Shadow of the Colossus for a good example of how graphics can get much better over time even on the same hardware.

Comment Re:The math is wrong - here is the proof: (Score 2, Informative) 981

That sounds great, but if you look closely, you're saying that _outside of the context of the problem _ there's a twice as likely chance for a couple's second child to be the same sex as their first than for it to be different. Obviously if I already have a boy then my second child still has an equal chance of being a girl or a boy... but when you say that boy(1)/boy(2), boy(2)/boy(1), and boy/girl are equally likely, you're saying that when a couple already has a boy, they have a 2/3 chance of having another boy.

Comment Re:Science and Intuition defeating Fun Math (Score 1) 981

Not quite. Let's ignore the restriction that one of the children has to be a boy. Then let's examine all possible outcomes when a family has two children.

Whenever a family has a child, let's say that the probability that it is either a girl or a boy is 50%. (It's slightly different, but that will gum up the conceptual math now; you can factor that into our calculations later if you want to get a slightly different answer.) So a family with one child has two equally weighted possibilities:

girl (50%)
boy (50%)

When this family has a second child, this is another event with two equally likely outcomes: that the second child will be a boy, or that it will be a girl. The probability that the family who had a boy has a second boy is now the same as the probability that that family now has a girl.

Thus "boy-boy" and "boy-girl" are equally likely.

"Girl-boy" and "girl-girl" are also equally likely. Since the first birth was also fifty-fifty, there are now four equally likely outcomes:

Boy/boy (25%)
Boy/girl (25%)
Girl/boy (25%)
Girl/girl (25%)

All this is true BEFORE Gardner's problem begins. When the father says "I have a boy", he's telling us that he isn't among those families who had two girls. The removal of the fourth possible outcome for families with two children doesn't change the fact that the first three were equally likely. So for families with two children, at least one of whom is a boy, we have _three_ equally likely outcomes:

boy/boy (33%)
boy/girl (33%)
girl/boy (33%)

This must be correct because we have derived it from the simple fact that when a family has a child it's roughly equally likely to be a boy or a girl.

Only one of these three outcomes has two boys, so the chance that the father has two sons is 33%.

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