Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


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:Unlikely (Score 5, Interesting) 292

They'll just use corrupt business laws and politics to rape the "retirement accounts" for their own benefit. Then they'll leave the dangerous corpses of their businesses as a warning to future generations on the stupidity of trusting your future to lowest-common-denominator businessmen.


It's situations like this, and the revelation of how costs were cut on Fukushima's seawall by omitting the datapoint of the big tsunami in the 1800s, that made me realize something that shocked me:

Nuclear power is perfectly safe, ideal, and awesome... but nuclear power built by humans is NOT. As a species we are short-sighted venal lying scammers, so there are many glorious technologies (nanotech anyone?) that become liabilities in our hands.

Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 2) 315

Look at the available evidence - if there was any psychic ability then the chances are that it would already be well documented.

No, that's backwards, because:

Even a slight statistical ability would have big impacts in warfare, commerce and many other areas of life.

Whatever real psychics are out there, they either a) are getting rich in the stock market (etc.) and not talking about it, or b) have all been sucked into various intelligence agencies.

The only way an ordinary member of the ballast like yourself would hear of proven psychic powers, is if they were so common that they could not be kept under wraps.

Comment Re:What a relief (Score 1) 566

I started reading the title of this thread and though "please don't be the US".

After all, we have - global climate change deniers - anti-vaccination groups - paleo diet followers - raw foodism - a museum that claims dinosaurs and cavemen lived together on the newly created 5 thousand year old Earth.

What a relief to know that the US is not the only developed country with a problem of people making up their own reality.

Your attempt at passing off a package deal has been detected by automatic scanners.

"One of these things is not like the other . . . one of these things does not belong . . . "

Comment Re:Threatening? (Score 1) 205

When I read the summary, I thought it was some letter (maybe in the style of Jack Thompson) threatening anyone who published any research related to the lawsuit, thus attempting to create a chilling effect over any impartial researcher who might be studying the field. [...]Most importantly, it doesn't prevent anything from being published, merely requests a 90 day waiting period before publishing anything from the parties in the lawsuit. There could be some funny business going on here, but this letter doesn't show it.

What, did you just arrive on this planet after thumbing a ride on a passing spaceship piloted by a green bug-eyed monster who was headed for the Basingstoke roundabout? What do you think will happen during those 90 days if the studies reach any conclusion that is not "OMG underground diesel exhaust is teh AWESOMES!!!11!"?

Comment Re:So...lawyers blocking publication? (Score 1) 205

It seems to me that this is utterly backwards. The scientific journals should be sending cease-and-desist to the lawyers, saying that a peer reviewed study is pending and all litigation should cease until 90 days after it has been published.

Sound stupid? But the idea that lawyers are the best judge of science is currently having more and more of a throttling effect on the USA. In fact, if you weigh in sociology and experimental psychology, it can be argued that scientists should have more part in law making than at present. Though the concept that people who make laws should have exact knowledge of something might adversely affect some politicians.

You would only think that if you did not work in those fields. Those who do work in those fields (including my best friend) are keenly aware of the comically low quality, the embarrassing irreproducibility, and the appalling "p hunting", that all enter in to studies in psychology, experimental psychology, and sociology. Not to mention the very grave "selection bias" problems that stem from the fact that most psychology and sociology studies are poorly funded and are therefore conducted on fellow psychology and sociology students.

No one who has experienced the state of research in those fields would ever, ever consider basing legislation on such results.

Comment Re:it's (Score 1) 205

So who cares?

Words and punctuation have meaning. If you use them improperly, you change the meaning of what is being said. This matters a lot in contracts as well as everyday communication.

Secondly, this is a website for technically minded people. Presumably, many of us have been programmers at some point, or at least we have some familiarity with coding. If you are not such, let me assure you that a compiler cares about spelling and punctuation. It cares a lot.

The whole idea of "proper spelling" is a recent cultural invention. Prior to the 1800s, writers often spelled things phonetically. And while a misspelling can occasionally "change the meaning of what is being said", I doubt it happens more than rarely that a) a misspelling changes the meaning significantly yet b) the readers don't catch the mistake from context.

In my mind, the best argument to make in favor of proper spelling is: search engines. Today the zeitgeist thinks using search engines, and most search engines (including e.g. the simpler 'find' commands) are not spelling-agnostic. Not yet anyway.

But even then, how often do your search results depend on the difference between "it's" and "its"?

Comment Re:Study in texas.... (Score 4, Interesting) 297

Reminds me of something we say in UI design meetings:

"If 3% of your users screw up, it's a user problem... but if 30% of your users screw up, it's a UI problem."

If the fracking process is not tolerant of hasty, underfunded, undertrained, fly-by-night drilling operations, then the process is not suitable for deployment here in the West.

Comment Re:So... (Score 4, Interesting) 243

No it can't just be ignored. If these laws pass, every EU country will be forced to implement them. The European Commission has very sharp teeth indeed on stuff like this, and does not take kindly to companies trying to ignore its rules.

Yep yep.

As a US citizen now thoroughly ashamed of my society's behavior (esp. regulatory capture, as well as the all-classes corruption of the housing bubble), this news is the first time in my entire life that European society has seemed superior.

It is quite a moment for me, coming as it is at the tail end of twenty years of staunch libertarian patriotism.

Comment Re:Medvedev threatened prosecution (Score 5, Interesting) 451

Russian President Medvedev threatened to prosecute those responsible for the space failures. No surprise that the individuals in question are now looking to blame someone else.

Yeah, THAT will sure attract new talent to their space program! Alex, I'll take Perverse Incentives for 500 rubles, please!

And never mind the equally important point that the current team at least learned something and won't repeat this particular mistake again. Can't say that for the new team.

Comment Re:What else is foul play? (Score 1) 451

That submarine? Pipelines? The military planes which crash and burn at every air show in the world?

Russia still can't get over the fact that, in terms of being some sort of global player they're about as important as Spain. They didn't have any problems when they were sealing dogs in rockets and bunging them into orbit - that's about their level.

I am amused to report that they couldn't even handle that. Laika was accidentally killed very very early in the flight. The rest of her time aboard the capsule, and the gentle story of her demise, was all fiction.

Comment Re:It shouldn't be mandatory (Score 3, Interesting) 273

While I appreciate the need to expose students to computer classes in the same way they're exposed to other subjects, I don't think that something as specific as programming should be a *mandatory* requirement. Programming is a vocation, like many vocations, that some people are cut out for and other people are not. Those with a true passion for it will actively seek it out and those with no interest in it will hate it no matter how many programming classes you force them take. You can't MAKE a great programmer any more than you can MAKE a great engineer, mechanic, etc. Someone has to WANT it first.

I taught my two sons to program. Only one of them liked it, but they both got an astonishing side benefit from it: it taught them to see their own brains as software... with algorithms and bugs. In the context of a broader parent-child discussion of recognizing and dealing with personality bugs, programming seems to make it real, in a way that no amount of lecture can.

Haven't you noticed how few people are introspective, how few are even capable of thinking that their thoughts and feelings may be incorrect?

Comment Re:Fucking ground this fleet. (Score 3, Interesting) 394

Like it or not, there is, and must be, a price on human life.

Yep. Where most people get confused, is by conflating "value of MY life to ME" with "value of one citizen to society". They switch back and forth between these contexts in order to make whatever stupid "if it saves just one life" point they are working.

I think the best way to measure the value of a life to society is to look at per capita GDP.

For that matter, It is actually possible to determine the rational value people place on their lives. Of course you can't ask them directly, because you'll get gibberish... but you can ask it indirectly, by asking how much extra we'd have to pay them to take a job that has x% chance of fatality per annum.

The research has been done. They crunched the numbers and came out with $2-$10 million compensation for a job with 100% risk of fatality. The dollar amount somewhat depended on their current salary level. Interestingly, the dollar amount was pretty close to the average citizen's lifetime per capita GDP.

Comment Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (Score 1) 398

Those concepts are not axiomatic. I can easily conceive of the existence of slavery, in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means.

The essence of slavery is ownership of one person by another. (not in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means). Part of the concept of a right is that everybody has it and can only lose it by violating someone else's right. The basic (and axiomatic) right is the right to one's own life, and from that all other rights are either equivalent or derived. To live, one must be able to act to support one's own life (I am not considering infants and invalids here). To live, one must be able to own (and in some situations trade for) the results of his actions. The first thing he must own is himself, which is equivalent to his right to his own life (I suppose that's debatable, but I think it can be established fairly easily.)

Slavery, the claim of another person to own me, contradicts my self-ownership. Since my self-ownership is a right, there can be no right of another person to own me; slavery is inherently a violation of a human right.

Look, I with agree you, but your arguments still need work. The right to control your body does not obviously follow from right to feed yourself. Nor does self-ownership obviously follow from ownership. Nor does total ownership obviously follow from partial ownership (think your use of a laptop provided by your company).

Your rights derive from MY self-interest, because your rights morally bind me in some way. I can make the argument, perhaps persuasively, that it is obviously right for me to allow you to feed yourself, and even to get ahead, but to disallow you from ruining your life with heroine. From my point of view, I must deny you full self-ownership because my self-interest requires me to defend society from addictive destructive substances.

Or imagine you are arguing with a Roman, who believes he has all rights to the dozen slaves he captured in Lydia. Can you explain to him why his arranement is automatically wrong for all of the players? Remember, the only reason the Roman economy could support such a large empire (i.e. so much border to guard) was via slaves captured on conquests.

Comment Re:Well that's funny, cos my country just (Score 1) 398

Life and liberty fall under the axiomatic concept of self-ownership.

Those concepts are not axiomatic. I can easily conceive of the existence of slavery, in which most aspects of a person are controlled by various means.

Sensible, maybe, but not axiomatic. It may also be impossible to hold together a social pattern without at least some degree of state control over what people do with their bodies. Just look at what the (de facto) freedom to use opium did to China for a century.

Slashdot Top Deals

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.