Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


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:Its All About Power and Money (Score 1) 807

If very small amounts of something aren't dangerous, you wouldn't mind drinking a glass containing the same INCREASE IN concentration of nerve toxin as the INCREASE IN concentration of CO2 from pre-industrial atmosphere, would you?

There, fixed your analogy for you.

I, for one, would accept to drink 1.5 times the amount of nerve toxin you drink, if you are fine after drinking it, and still fine after a few day. Sure, I will take a risk, but it will be small and not mainly linked to the increase in nerve toxin absorbed, but more to the fact that I may be more sensitive to this particular toxin than you are.

Now that I have fixed your analogy, maybe you want to try again and find another one?

Comment Re:I'll stay in my sofa (Score 1) 376

Nope, as soon as you start practizing a sport competitively, you will get hurt. Professional athletes are followed by their own doctors, have tailored diets, and basically do little less than training. They get hurt. A lot. Basically, that's why I didn't said they train continuously: They can't, cause they also spend a lot of time in surgery and re-education. Then they have to stop around 40 at best, and, depending on the sport, are sometimes in bad health compared to general population in their 60...Care to check the average life expectancies for marathon runners? Bicycle champions? Not so great.

Basically, if you exercise only for your health, your doctors will advice walking/light running regularly, maybe 1h each day....and swimming, again long distance low intensity, and not in the sun and try to avoid chlorine....Yuck, booooooring!

I do sport (well, less so now, getting older ;-) ), but for fun....and I was injured a few times, mainly because falls and sometimes muscle injuries...

Comment Re:It's because some car drivers are, frankly, mor (Score 1) 494

Bikes and cars do not share the road easily, it is dangerous and very annoying for the minority (bike or car).
Ever walked behing someone whose natual pace is half of yours, in a narrow corridor where simply passing him is difficult? Incredibly annoying and nervously tiring, most people simply can not slow down their pace and fall into a very nervous stop/go/stop/go....

Well, when you drive a car behind a cyclist (or another very slow car), it is exactly the same. Slowing down your natural pace is always annoying, within a car, on a cycle (these pedestrian ar soooo slow and imprevisible), or just walking. Making overtake manoeuvre difficult or dangerous is not a good idea for any shared way/track/sidewalk....

Comment Re:"Overestimate" WTF? (Score 1) 372

Could not have said it better myself! I addition, how much of active population trains as (professional or volunteer) firefighters? not so much. Does it happen that there are not enough firefighters to deal with a massive fire? Yes, sure....Clearly, we need more firefighters!!! time to raise salaries and enroll everyone that can carry a bucket!!!!...It does not matter that current staff is enough to deal with most fires, that the extra workforce will be usefull maybe once every 20 years, and that training all the time they will have no freetime nor can do other useful jobs...Nobody care about that, at least we will be 100% SAFE from FIRE (instead of 99%, but surely you do not want to have innocent victims on your hands, right? what do you wait to get join your local firefighting team? we can not accept less than 100% safety!!!)

Comment Re:Hello, think a little! (Score 2, Interesting) 372

If it was a credible threat, I would agree with your analysis....However, it was not: The WHO has been issuing warning every last six years with the regularity of a swiss clock, globally, monopolizing media attention for weeks, without the fear materializing even once. This last one is probably the one too much, as it has cost a lot of money to governments in a period where it is scarce, and having a lot of unused vaccines is very bad PR.
It is clear that WHO have incentives to scaremonger continuously, it justify its own existence and can not hurt its budget allocation. However, they also continously become less and less relevant each time they shout "Wolf!". Their utility as a early warning system is thus already compromised, and I wonder if it is still worth it, and budget allocation has to be reviewed....
Now, rightfully, some investigations will occur to check if they are other incentive in the WHO alarmism, in form of accointance with vaccine producers. If it is the case, WHO higher staff has to be fired, the whole stuff reorganised, so that it regain some legitimity and start fresh without the accumulated industry/media links that kill any chance of objectivism and promote bribery...


The State of Ruby VMs — Ruby Renaissance 89

igrigorik writes "In the short span of just a couple of years, the Ruby VM space has evolved to more than just a handful of choices: MRI, JRuby, IronRuby, MacRuby, Rubinius, MagLev, REE and BlueRuby. Four of these VMs will hit 1.0 status in the upcoming year and will open up entirely new possibilities for the language — Mac apps via MacRuby, Ruby in the browser via Silverlight, object persistence via Smalltalk VM, and so forth. This article takes a detailed look at the past year, the progress of each project, and where the community is heading. It's an exciting time to be a Rubyist."

Comment A car is too small/fast for joystick control.... (Score 1) 609

If you look at various vehicles, the smaller it is, the more direct the control is, and there are good reasons for that:

In a small vehicle, there are a lot of feedbacks (vibration, inertial forces, sound) that help the driver control it, in fact it adds a lot of information above just vision and makes fine control possible.
If the vehicle is very small, there is also a direct influence on body position on the handling...This trend of "the smaller your vehicle is, the more direct the controls should be" is evident if you consider those few examples:

skateboard/rollers/ski/snowboard/...: direct control through your feets, huge influence of whole body, more like a different way of running than a vehicle : simulations sucks and are completely useless for mastering those sports

bicycle/motorcyle: direct control without multiplication of steering angle through handle bar, body position very important, need good balance, simulation very poor and almost useless for learning to drive.

quad: like a small car, but input is still direct and body position quite important. Balnaces skilss are not as vital as for 2-wheeled vehicles. Simulation stil not very usefull....

car: direct input with fixed demultiplication, body position mostly not relevant but still a lot of direct feedback. Simulation usefull, but not really for racedrivng or getting used to heavy traffic/different road conditions.

slow moving 4-wheeled vehicles, trucks: body position unimportant, few direct feedback (but still some),: Simulation quite usefull, except for traffic

planes, trains: body position unimportant, few direct feedback besides inertial forces (and approximating those with angling simulation cabins work good for large planes), no direct interraction with other vehicles. simualtion very usefull, you can really learn to pilot this way, because it is in a way a much more abstract and, yes, simpler control (hence the auto-pilot...)

Given that, extending stick driving to trucks may be feasible (but still, they are on the same roads as car)...

For car, it looks like a really really bad idea.

For motorcycles, it is simply suicide....

Comment Re:Have this explanantion been considered? (Score 1) 176

We emulate our peers, especially when their behavior has noticeable positive benefit to them individually. Obviously, the more peers in the network emulate positive behavior with evident benefit, the more likely more peers will follow the example.

If someone in your circle of friends started doing something new, which benefited them greatly, you'd probably be more likely to do it. Right? Compared to if someone in your group started an obviously self-harmful behavior (drug use, dropping out of school, smoking, watching NASCAR and eating bon bons all day). You might not excise the person from your network, but you probably wouldn't do what they do.

Well, my point was that the contagion effect is precisely because the change of lifestyle of this friend automatically remove him from your network, without this reflecting any kind of moral judgement. It is not systematic of course, but I think that the fact that being friend and spending a lot of time together in hobby activities is highly correlated is probably enough to explain in large part the contagion effect.

This is noticeable with the child factor, for example: Few people will look negatively at a friend because he is just having a baby, on the contrary. And few will consiously consider him less a friend because he is now a father (or she is a mother). However, the change of lifestyle are often considerable, and this is enough to either make him drift away from your circle of friend...or add some pressure to become yourself a father, if you want to be still able to spend time together....

  My "theory" predict that family status (married/non-married, with or without children), because they influence lifestyle tremendously, will be highly "contagious" when analyzing social networks...and they are:
Ever noticed the single friend that drifted away from your group of buddies when he got married and had children, but then came back naturally after his divorce?
I have, multiple times, so much that I now expect it...No imitation or change of metric for judging behaviors here, only the fact that lifestyles change in your life for all sort of reasons, and groups of friend/buddies are, with overwhelming majority, sharing lifestyles...
The article was nicely done and they examined multiple explanation for the phenomenon, but I feel they did not considered this "lifestyle" effect with the attention it desserves...

Comment Have this explanantion been considered? (Score 1) 176

Based on my own behavior, I have an alternative explanation, somewhat between real contagion of social habits, and auto-clustering of people when they are more alike...

I think that we have to consider how the habit/behavior/new event would affect the main activities of the group of friends. For example, if you gain weight, it may means you have reduced your sport practice and changed your diet, i.e. some kind of lifestyle change. Then, the friend which stick around you will change their lifestyle and suffer the same effects, or just drift out of friendship just because of lack of common interrest/time spend together. People which were not going to be friend because they had zero desire to spend weekends running around a track suddenly may drift in your circle of friend because they shared your new interrest in home-made cookies...

All of those effect will have strong effect on apparent contagion of habits, but will not be based on change in what you consider "socially acceptable" or change your scales for evaluating body images (like the interpretation for obesity that was given in the article). It is not really contagious behavior either, but only linked to the fact the friendships are often linked to some shared lifestyle and shared activities.

It is a slight twist to the interpretations given in the article, but it may be interresting to look at the contagious effect in this way. For example, the fact that contagion is higher in same-sex friends is normal: identical lifestyle and shared activities are more important between same-sex friends than opposite sex friends of sexual partners. So is the difference between coworker and personal friends.

Under this interpretation, I would expect some behavior to be highly anti-correlated: the tendency to organise things for example (leadership). A group sharing an activity would be more enjoyable for everybody if one good organiser take responsability for organising stuffs while the other are happy following. So I guess that "tendency of organizing stuff" or "leadership" (it would have to be carefully worded to avoid positive/negative bias for lack of the characteristic) would not be contageous, while it should be if the explanantion was mainly through behavioral mimicking...

Comment Re:Extinct (Score 2, Insightful) 338

"giant man-eating birds... a raptor that became extinct just 500 years ago."

I guess it means that finally men won...

Yes, like always: big predator hunting homo sapiens means that the predator is on the fastlane to extinction....Except if it can retreat to a territory where human population is non-existent or very sparse (like polar bear for example), it is doomed....

Comment Re:so... (Score 4, Insightful) 338

You totally forgot New Zealand's only native land mammal, the bat. There's an amazing video of the native bat running, because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

Haasts Eagle bones were identified in 1870 by Julius Von Haast. This thing preyed on the Moa, a 12-foot tall 500lb flightless bird. There is no question that a human would have been a much easier much more defenseless snack than a Moa. It would be unlikely that they didn't eat the occasional human.

A human much easier meal than a moa? The first humans before they knew about Haast eagle maybe, then the occasional child or woman, and then it was over for the easy meals, more likely encounter was full grown Maori males looking for a vengence and the high status of coming back in the tribe with Haast eagle beak, talons and feathers...

Imho it was the occasional human meal was what caused the extinction of Haast eagle, probably more than overhunting of the Moas: No easy meal after the first few unaware victims, and systematic destruction of nests, youngs and preying adults afterwards...just like all other predators meeting the homo sapiens and having the bad idea (well, more the natural idea not yet eradicated by darwinian evolution) of thinking "this naked monkey looks like easy meal".

And not only eat the good old homo sapiens, but also eating any of his food stock would turn a bad idea for long term survival: RIP wolves, american lions, lynx, ...: a top predator sharing territory with a sufficiently dense human population is doomed.

Comment Re:You do the crime, you do the time. (Score 1) 576

Exactly, and there are few cases that merit this kind of apology more than A. Turing. This guy was a great scientist, and has helped tremendously defeating the Axe during WWII, so UK should really be grateful. Typically the kind of guy that bring more that it takes from society....Yet he was judged under a disgusting law (one that condamned people for private action where all participants where willing and free), one law that lowered UK exactly to the same level as the Axe itself. State ingratitude and hypocrite morality at it's finest...
Imho apology is more than deserved, comes much too late (but better late than never), and is much too lenient as a mea culpa (but again, better too little than nothing...especially from governments, as they are notably reluctant to make any apologies... )

Comment Re:Democratic? (Score 1) 278

No kidding.

French is largely stagnant - oddly enough, because the French actively try to keep "un-French" words OUT of their language. There was the idiocy a few years back when the French government actually outlawed the word "e-mail" in official gov't correspondence in favor of the longer "courier electronique" phrase, trying their damndest to keep that "eeevil" english wording out of their parlance. It didn't work well.

Well, you can not say that it didn't work well, and that french is largely stagnant: The fact that it didn't work well (I agree with you on that) proove that french is not stagnant (which is a fact, just look at the spoken form of it, it changes as much as English does).

The only difference is that the "academie francaise" is trying to centrally define an official version of it, but appart from that French and English languages are similar: Huge variation between Quebec french, French french (belgian french and swiss french being much smaller variants), and the various creole spoken in America/Africa...Just like American english, British ones (huge local variation there), Indian one, ...

English is maybe even more butchered, being spoken by so many non-native speakers, but that comes with its global dominance, it's not a feature of the language...

Slashdot Top Deals

Sendmail may be safely run set-user-id to root. -- Eric Allman, "Sendmail Installation Guide"