Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Well, I guess I've got to watch it now. (Score 3, Interesting) 356

I think OP refers to policies against sexual violence that have been enacted of late in many USA universities, based on things like "if you wake up and don't remember the night before than it was rape". Several young males have been thrown out of school and tainted for life without any kind of due process - just badly handled internal procedures carried out inside their academic institution.

There's also the other face of the coin that rapes, especially when undergrads are involved, seems to be a real problem that universities and local police forces seem to be very ill-equipped to address. It's just that handling it exercising draconian justice without presumption of innocence, as far as the school is concerned, while doing nothing outside school in normal courts at the same time, does not seem to offer real justice to either victims or accused.

Especially considering that rape cases are very, very difficult cases. They are terrible tragedies for the sufferer of the crime, which is horrible for them when it happens on one hand, and real nightmares for people who is falsely accused of being a perpetrator. More often than not, they end up in being "my-word-against-yours" cases, where the police and the courts end up making accusations and judgments based on the "character" of the people involved. Quite a mess.

There has been an ongoing debate about this for at least a year in all major media (the NYT had several pieces, both investigative and opinion), and journalistic scandals with sources and false reporting were conveniently thrown in the mix as well (was it Rolling Stone? I'm too lazy to check). Google away to your pleasure!

Comment Re:Precautionary principle at work. (Score 1) 432

I would say that the benefits of leaving the house, once considering an arbitrary sequence of days, would far outweight any possible harm; simply because you would day of starvation in your nice little home, with 100% certainty (no risk involved here!). Unless there's people bringing you food - themselves risking devastating harm by doing so. And who says that you don't risk devastating harm in your home? Floods, fires, tornadoes, whatever. You might be saved by going OUT!

You argument and my response are very interesting, but keep in mind that they bear no link of any kind to the argument given in the paper. In the paper they're talking about risks at global level. For example they consider nuclear meltdowns (not nice stuff) as local risks. Bottom line: nobody cares about you or your house, or me or my house for that matter. Your comparison doesn't hold.

I do not consider the work proposed without flaws, but let's try to criticize it at the right level.

Comment Re:And the biologist on the author list is....? (Score 1) 432

You know, it would help to read the actual paper (I know, I know..), especially if you're a biologist. They devote a whole section to the argument "you're not biologists!!!1!" and make a lot of very reasonable considerations there, especially about the bad use of statistics that is seen in most biology and medical papers.

Their argument by the way is NOT the one you attacked in your post. I myself am mildly pro GMO and against science witch huntings. The paper repeats none of the the usual FrankenFood arguments and instead tries to apply perspective and critical thinking to a rather complex problem. I won't give a summary here because there are already very good posts moderated 5 around the thread doing it already.

I think the bigger takeaway from the paper is not "oh let's stop playing god and never modify organisms again" but that we should apply different techniques and ideas in testing them and deploying them, first of all avoiding global scale diffusion of new engineered crops in short periods of time, which is arguably not very smart.

Comment Re:A mathematician commenting on biology (Score 1) 432

This is NOT the argument in the paper. The argument in the paper is that GMO have a risk of sistemic danger because they ride the most potent distribution mechanism in existence -- hordes of big brained monkeys doing the same thing at the same moment all over the world, e.g. humans planting the same seeds everywhere. The problem in that is that the GMO plant is a technical novelty, which has not been previously tested through trial and error before going global, and this could introduce proteins that are not toxic per se, but they are once introduced in food because of sistemic interactions, and we would all eat them at the same time.

So, two problems with a lot of GMOs:
- not thoroughly tested technological novelties
- deployed on a global scale

The problem is not Vegetable Frankestein Escaping in the Wild and Coming Back to Eat Us.

I myself am against monocultures and against intellectual property over genetic knowledge, and pro research on genetically modified organisms. That said Taleb's argument is intelligent and worth considering I think, in stark constrast against most FrankenFood arguments we heard way too many times.

Comment Re:Start rant here (Score 1) 156

It seems strange to me that the above is modded up. I do not remember the behaviour described and only someone that has been in a cave for thirty years would consider the indentation syle a roadblock for adopting emacs usage anyway: the indentation system is - you betcha - extremely flexible and easily configured. That said there could be good reasons for disliking emacs and choosing to avoid it but indentation is certainly not among them.

Anyway, as long time emacs user, I think that changing the default indentation style is often a good idea. Personal preference and interoperabilty with people using other editors should guide your choice, and I don't particularly like the default GNU style myself. Configuration of indentation styles only requires adding a lines or two to your .emacs file. A five minute search on google/stackoverflow etc will fetch the proper magic formulas for your language and use case; just to get you started (C/C++):

you can choose among several default indentation styles:

(setq c-default-style "linux")
(setq c++-default-style "stroustrup")

or you can configure indentation parameters to obtain the desired results (in this case, no tabs, 4 spaces indentation, braces have no indentation - simple and effective):

(setq c-basic-offset 4)
(setq indent-tabs-mode nil)
(c-set-offset 'substatement-open 0)

Comment Vote secrecy!? (Score 1) 18

I've watched the video. It seems to me that there could be easy ways to circumvent secrecy, since the printed ballot comes out of the printer unfolded, goes in full view of the room to be shown through the webcam, and is put in the ballot box again unfolded. A simple conspiracy between two different ballot workers/volunteers using a mini camera could be enough. Am I missing something?

Comment Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 1) 158

Macro: adjective
1. large-scale; overall.

Not a creationist here. I was using the word macro at a conversational level. When two groups of animals originally belonging to the same species becomes different enough to make interbreeding impossible it sounds as a big modification to me, hence the word macro. The fact that those two different groups of animals could be connected by a chain of animal groups they can interbreed with, even if they can't, and that this sometimes actually happens in nature right now seems pretty amazing to me. That said creationist probably could not recognize a proof of evolution even if it punched them in the face...

Comment Re:What is life? What is a virus? (Score 1) 158

Didn't know about ring species. My mind was definitely blown. It is practically genetic drift and evolution happening on a spatial scale instead of a temporal one, complete with final proof of the fact where the "ring" closes. If this does not prove evolution at the macro scale I don't know what could.

Wish I had mod points. Anonymous comments sometimes rocks.

Slashdot Top Deals

Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.