ardent99 writes: According to the New York Times today, Helene Hegemann's first book, has been moving up the best-seller list in Germany and is a finalist for a major book prize. While originally this was notable because Hegemann is only 17 and this is her first book, and so earned her praise as a prodigy, what's interesting now about this story is that she has been caught plagiarizing many passages in the book. Amazingly, she has not denied it, but instead claims there is nothing wrong with it. She claims that she is part of a new generation that has grown up with mixing and sampling in all media, including music and art, and this is legitimate in modern culture. Have we entered a new era where plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal? Is this the ultimate in cynicism, or simply a brash attempt at getting away with something now that she's been caught? Is her claim to legitimacy compromised by the fact that she only admitted it after it was discovered by someone else? And finally, if it is not acceptable in literature, is this reason to rethink the legitimacy of musical sampling?
ardent99 writes: The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable". Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system. Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion. For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court. He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
ardent99 writes: BoingBoing Gadgets blogger Joel Johnson was invited to be a guest on AT&T's Hugh Thompson Show. But before Thompson could get him to talk about gadgets, Johnson diverted the interview to ask what Thompson thought about AT&T's proposed monitoring of all internet packets going over their network. Hugh got flustered, and the producers halted the interview, but Johnson's friend was able to capture the take on video so it couldn't be buried by AT&T. The video is viewable on BoingBoing Gadgets.
ardent99 writes: Why is it that when commenting on Slashdot stories there is consistently a set of people who say essentially "You're an idiot for not knowing x"? Usually it is computer-savvy people who say it about other people using computers (although others do it, too). They say "people should know never to click on that kind of link", or "that person is an idiot for falling for that scheme", or "people should know never to use *that* command in this situation. It's clearly written in the manual! What a schmuck!"
Suppose an architect said "You should have known never to walk down those stairs without ducking or you wouldn't have hit your head! It's so obvious! And changing it would cost a lot and affect the design upstairs." or "That person should never have walked into the big door on the front of the building, they should have read the sign on that small door that says it's the entrance! What a schmuck!"
Suppose an interior designer said to a disabled person who can't get through a door "So what if the desk prevents the door from opening fully? It makes the room look better, and all the people who I expect to be going through that door can fit easily!"
Suppose an auto company said "That person who hit the gas instead of the brake and killed themselves? It was their own fault. We clearly educate every customer that buys our cars that the brake is on the right and gas is on the left. It is more optimal that way, and if they didn't do it right, they just are too stupid to own one of our cars."
Isn't it more reasonable to think "Jeez, I didn't realize there was that failure mode" or "I knew that, but I guess there are other people who have different expectations", or "that design wasn't very good" or even, "boy I'm glad I was knowledgeable enough to avoid that trap, but it's too bad he wasn't"?
Is it a certain kind of arrogance, or lack of empathy that makes people blame the victim? Why is it so common on Slashdot, especially in relation to software and the internet?
ardent99 writes: Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.
The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.
Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.
The Judge Rotenberg center, which serves about 250 adults and children from across the country, has been under fire for more than two decades for its unorthodox behavior-modification treatments, including electric shock treatments.
ardent99 writes: A new study (a meta-study?) shows that most of the past studies about the effectiveness of treating colds with zinc are severely flawed. The article finds that despite 20 years of research, the benefits of zinc lozenges as a therapy for the common cold have not been proven. A new study, published in the Sept. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, currently available online, reviews the 14 placebo-controlled studies from the past two decades and finds significant fault with 10 of the studies. Of the four remaining studies, three reported no therapeutic effect from zinc lozenge or nasal spray, and one study reported positive results from zinc nasal gel.
ardent99 writes: Transcranial magnetic stimulation, a technique for treating clinical depression, uses a device placed on a patient's head that delivers a pulse to the gray matter. Psychiatrists at the American Psychiatric Association meeting here are unabashedly optimistic about its potential for treating tough cases. It's in the final stages of FDA review, and could come to market as soon as the end of the year.
TMS works by creating an electromagnetic pulse that doesn't disturb the skull or scalp, but can reach two to three centimeters into the brain to stimulate the prefrontal cortex and paralimbic blood flow, increasing the serotonin output and the dopamine and norepinephrine functions.
ardent99 writes: The creator of Jabber, Jeremie Miller, is joining Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in building and open-source, community-driven search service called Search Wikia. They believe transparent algorithms and open-source code is a better alternative than proprietary engines. Now, with the addition of Miller, the are expanding the effort to include developing a standardized protocol for exchanging information between search engines, enabling distributed, collaborative search. They anticipate that such a service may have many of the same features, but also weaknesses, as Wikipedia such as the posting of inaccurate information and companies trying to influence what is posted.
ardent99 writes: Roger Parloff, senior editor of Fortune magazine, addresses the theory that has been put forth recently that backdating stock options is technically not illegal if you account for it correctly, thus placing the blame on accounting personnel for any problems arising. The practice of backdating has been so widespread that there are a lot of people making this argument. But Parloff argues that if there were no deception intended it would be pointless to back date, and that accounting for it correctly would actually be very suspicious-looking in itself. He places the blame squarely back on those who are signing documents without the current date on them.