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Comment good, non-challenging: Lem and Borges? (Score 1) 164

If you haven't read anything by Stanislaw Lem, you might find he fits the bill. He wrote "Solaris", and I was a fan of both the Russian film version by Tarkovsky and the more recent one with George Clooney. Then, read the book and it was much more interesting, so I started finding more of his work (and more to like). I really like his "Cyberiad" robot fables, which are deceptively childlike but have lots to think about.

Also, for short, very smart fiction, if you haven't read any of his work, try Borges.

Comment Absolutists and Non-Absolutists (Score 1) 254

It is a common problem with absolutists. They think everything is binary when it's nested case statements with table-driven variables.

It's a problem wth all absolutists? ;)

Yes, there are two kinds of binary absolutists: those that can be put into one of two mutually exclusive categories, and those that cannot!

Comment Re:It's incredibly frustrating... (Score 1) 535

...My fix would require local municipalities to operate the Fiber to the home, and bring it all into a COLO facility that provides Service Providers access to the FIOS lines...We don't need legislation to protect the current formula, we need legislation that gives new players opportunity to create new markets, that users are demanding.

I'm not sure if this was your point, but aren't you just describing legislation that requires, not to put too fine a point on it, "network neutrality"? Operated by municipalities instead of companies perhaps, but otherwise the (physical) FIOS lines are paid for by service providers, who (presumably) get access to that infrastructure on an equal (nonpreferential/neutral) basis? Meaning, the municipality can't cut special deals for particular content providers, slowing down others' content... right?

Comment Re:VLC should takedown HBO (Score 1) 364

Actually, maybe VLC should sue HBO for trademark infringement.

After all, shouldn't it be the owner of the VLC software and trademark that does things like enforce IP rights? If someone else tries to enforce my rights without my permission, that seems awfully *confusing* to me... almost by definition, a trademark infringement.

I dunno, worth a shot.

Comment Your Local Community College (Score 2) 263

Consider your local community college when deciding where to put your money. You can probably connect with someone in the college's foundation and get a great tour. Community colleges provide cheap education for geeks and non-geeks alike. They've seen enrollment skyrocket as the economy (and state funding) has tanked.

Connect up with the college's foundation for options. Depending on how much you're talking about, you can do endowments or 1-time gifts, etc. You can set it up to go to one or more departments if you like what the faculty members are doing (CS, math, science, applied tech programs of different kinds), or to student clubs if you like what they're up to, or just set up scholarships for students in technical fields. You could target basic skills (math literacy), specific sciences, computing, even the library.

Comment Teaching about what you don't know (Score 2) 259

about what you don't know?

It's all "what we don't know" which is why it's so neat. I remember the following quote, I just don't remember the source:

"The difference between an old scientific theory and a new one is that the old theory is wrong in more subtle ways."

Science is the process by which we work together to collectively improve our explanations and predictions about the world over time. It's how we develop, test, and explain/record our best guesses. Our current best guesses are likely to be improved in the future (i.e. they are "wrong"), we just don't yet know how.

Teaching science in this spirit means teaching humility as part of the lesson. I suspect the author (and many others involved in learning science, and too many on the teaching side) miss this entirely. They experience "Science" as a body of techniques, terminology, and content-specific knowledge that they struggled to master, when science is more correctly described as the process that got us there.

Comment Monopoly through monopsony? (Score 0) 350

If you have "innovative" agreements with your upstream suppliers that make it impossible for your competitors to bring products like yours to market, then aren't you still a "monopolist" as far as downstream consumers are concerned? Whether you are abusing your monopoly power may be another question, but it still sounds like monopoly to me.

Comment "Do Not Track" (Score 1) 159

Yes, this is the thing that bugs me as well, about the whole concept of social media offered by companies that think information about friends/associations should be a commodity... There's no way to opt out as others provide information about you even if you don't participate.

Maybe we can get "Do Not Track" barcodes tattooed on our foreheads.

I'm half serious about this (OK, maybe not the tattoo part) -- some creative RMS or legal type needs to come up with some shrink-wrap-like default privacy opt-out agreement that subverts all this crap, in the same way that open source licenses turns copyright around.

Example: a single bar code that anyone can place on their shirt, clothes, whatever. The assumption being that any system capable of facial recognition is also capable of reading a barcode... And that the meaning of the barcode - reflected in an online "trackwrap" license - is essentially "this person can not be tracked," or more exactly, "any person/organization voluntarily tracking this person in also agreeing to the terms of the agreement posted online at www.don'ttrackmeblablabla.org"

Anyone want to take a crack at this? I'm willing to pitch in.

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