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Comment Science cannot control language (Score 1) 213

The ultimate stupidity of all of this is the misguided notion that language is simply rational, and that it can be defined beforehand in its rational character by a committee decision. The fact of the matter is that language is developed by use. It's stupid that we are told "a spider is not a bug because a bug is an insect and an insect has six legs." Who ever decided that a bug meant a thing with six legs? Certainly "insect" does, but "bug" has always in actual use meant just about anything small. We sometimes even call a germ a "bug." Likewise it's silly that we are told an American bison is not to be called a "buffalo." Again, it may not be what is more rightly called a buffalo, but Americans have been calling it a buffalo so long that it's more its name than "bison." It's just like how a jackrabbit is not really a rabbit but a hare. Normal human language was never designed to be a taxonomical system.

Instead of having a committee-accepted pure definition of "planet" beforehand, the scientific community needs to realize that people will call something a planet for reasons that have little or nothing to do with science. Live with it. Normal people need to be allowed to set the "pure" concept of planet aside as something to work with in its own proper context.

To that extent, I think this new recommendation could be good. The reason why is because it already conforms to an established language pattern; planetary geologists, they say, already consider (some?) moons to be planets. A broader definition should be taken to mean that some things can be considered planets in certain linguistic contexts and not in others.

Comment Re:Before buying the glasses (Score 1) 118

I had increasingly been having discomfort due to the blindingly white color of web pages and apps these days. I was getting headaches and having so much trouble that I went to an eye doctor, only to find that my eyesight was still 20/20. But my eyes are also too dry. Taking antihistamine eye drops (Alaway) made a huge difference for me. In addition, I use Stylish and write styles for the web sites I use most frequently to make the background dark gray and the text off-white.

Comment Re:Surprising (Score 1) 132

Sounds like a fascinating project, though I think you were wise to avoid getting yourself into trouble. Interestingly, from TFA:

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, says that federal and state laws probably don’t pose much of a barrier to those with a desire to upgrade their vehicle to share driving duties. NHTSA has authority over companies selling vehicles and systems used to modify them, but consumers have significant flexibility in making changes to their own vehicle, says Smith, who advises the U.S. Department of Transportation on law and automation.

However, I think this law professor is still giving bad advice. Simply because the NHTSA won't stop you does not mean that you would have immunity or pity if something went wrong, especially if it hurt other people.

Comment Re:Article disagreement (Score 1) 274

On top of that, he should not have told him to "change his password immediately." Since the email was fake, the user's password was not actually compromised. A not-so-savvy aide might have thought that changing the user's password would be a good safeguard, but saying this in context of the supposed typo simply reinforced the user's impression that the email was legitimate.
Honestly, however, it's possible the aide really gave bad advice and is simply calling it a typo to cover it up.

Comment Re:Also kicks out scores from third party purchase (Score 1) 85

It would've been smarter for them to have built in a seller code into the product key system so they could know more clearly where the key came from. Then, if some reviewer are suspected as illegitimate, they can trace the key's source, without necessarily having to block all Humble Bundle purchasers' reviews from counting.

Comment Re:Is using a dead womans voice... (Score 3, Interesting) 145

I miss Firefly too, but I think it's dangerous to assume that we can simply get back to the past. Whenever I watch Next Generation now, I realize how much it is a product of a bygone era, e.g. its extremely optimistic technological future (who would really work without money?). We can artificially bring back names and faces, but it would never be the same show again; in fact, it would probably just annoy the original fans for being different.

Comment Re:Marketing is a four-letter word (Score 1) 195

Is nothing sacred anymore? ...

Of course not. If sex is not sacred anymore, then why would the data concerning it be? Sex itself is sold as a commodity. The sex toy reduces a sacred act to a mere technological-biological process of particular temperatures and intensity settings. There is nothing meaningful in it. So it makes sense that this essentially meaningless but useful data would be collected for further marketing purposes. The essential value of that data, just like human bodies in general today, will be determined by its marketability.

The underlying issue here, then, is not a mere privacy issue. It is the bigger issue of the meaning of the human body. Unless we can see the body as sacred, then nothing else in the world can remain sacred before the press of market pressures.

Comment Re:FB should did it (Score 1) 447

Who are we to pass judgment based on a short article? I admit that my first thought, too, was that they should simply wait her out, but it is not for me to judge without knowing all of the facts--that is why cases need to be handled by the judicial system. The police may have known something that we do not. They may have had reason to fear that she was a direct risk to her children or to other bystanders. They may have intended to wait longer but then fired first because, seeing that her shotgun was aimed at them, they perceived her finger moving to fire. She set up the negotiations to fail. She did not merely verbally threaten, but physically, visibly threatened them. The police made a hard decision. If it was wrong, at least I am not competent to say with such limited information. But at the very least, I am thankful that I myself did not have to make that decision, because I cannot be certain that in split-second timing I would have made the right one. It's easy for me to talk now about what should have been. It would not be so easy if someone were actively pointing a shotgun at me.

Comment Re:NO MONEY (Score 1) 643

Now I'm usually all for a socioeconomic explanation for things, but I think that this argument involves certain assumptions that hint precisely at something much more significant. You argue that people are having less sex because they cannot afford homes and cannot afford to date. But this assumes first and foremost that dating and home ownership are necessary for sex. This shows that in our time, people have certain assumptions about how well-off one needs to be in order to be in a consistent relationship or begin a family. Hence I think that the main reason why young people are having less sex is precisely because so many marry much, much later--especially those who do not attend university, which is a major place to meet a spouse.

Hence the biggest shift is cultural. In the past, people generally married earlier and had assumptions about the necessity of marriage. I would bet that young single mothers, too, were less likely to remain single. It is hard to make very strong and specific cultural claims about thirty years ago, which was itself a discordant and complicated mess of a culture--but at least if we go farther back, it is clear that poor people married and had sex and did so much earlier than people today. So the difference is not that there are poor people--in fact, so many Americans today are not remotely as poor as they would have been 100 years ago or would be in the third world--but that we have very different assumptions about what role one's economic and social situation should play within sex and marriage.

Comment Re:What's the big problem? (Score 1) 675

Exactly. So it seems to me that, from a consumer's point of view, the chip card roll-out was a failure in both convenience and security.

In convenience, it is slower, and it's just awkward to insert the card in the front. It should have been to the side of the machine. Even salespeople are often confused and more than half the time the chip slot is there but disabled and they ask you to slide it anyway.

In security, the main problems are both because of backwards compatibility. We still use signatures, no PINs, and so it's still a farce of a security measure that does not stop people from simply stealing your physical card. Secondly, since the magnetic strips are still usable on the card, and many stores do not even scan the chip, someone who steals the card does not even need to use the chip at all. In fact, I would imagine that it's still possible to clone cards so long as you only use them the magnetic strip scanners. Lastly, how does this at all help to secure Internet purchases, which now make up a huge amount of credit card commerce?

Comment My (academic) perspective (Score 1) 286

It all depends on what kind of notes you take and what for. I am a professor and I tend to jot down lots of quick thoughts that some day I may work into a publication or else post online. I also write down detailed notes on books, i.e. what important thing I found on what page. I tend to hand write notes on color-coded post-its in the book and then I transcribe these on the computer either by typing or by voice.

I used to use OneNote a long time ago because it is very versatile and it's easy to make charts, etc. I switched to Evernote (free) because I wanted my data to be synced and because of the utter simplicity of it. At the time I didn't like how I couldn't do color and formatting on Android and I still hate Evernote's awful tables.

However, I developed a Perl script that allows me to type up my book notes in plain text and then easily format and color-code them. the script then automatically imports the output into Evernote. The API--at least back when I made the script--is not terribly great, but it at least works and I don't have to fuss with stupid VBA. I think I just used a command line script.

I think these recent changes my seriously chase me away from Evernote, because I need more than two devices and the subscription fee is just outrageous. I have seriously thought of paying it before, but it just is not worth it when there's plenty of competition. Evernote is far from a great company; their UIs are often terrible and they hardly ever improve their apps in ways that actually help the users. For example, their UI just keeps getting more and more blinding white, and they will never add any option to be able to make it sensibly dark for those of us who have to stare at it all day. Thankfully I recently found an easy hack that at least improves it a little bit:

Nowadays I take most quick notes--like shopping lists--on my OneNote app on my Windows Phone. It sucks terribly, but it's much quicker than waiting for Evernote to load.

Comment Re:Google Keep (Score 2) 286

I think it's dishonest for Google to name something "Keep." We all know in a few years (or less) when Google inexplicably decides to focus its attention elsewhere, it will screw all of its users and take down the service. At that time I'm sure people will come up with plenty of complaints and puns for the name.

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