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Comment Re:It's rock and hard place time for youtube (Score 1) 232

No one is being "constantly affronted by the depravities of deranged fools." What we have is one political faction trying to silence another by declaring it "offensive" and attacking its source of funding by going after advertisers. Now the censors at Google can go wild banning their political opponents under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

Oh dear, you really are taking this hard, aren't you? You have the freedom of speech, even if many would sometimes wish you would stop using it; but you don't have a right to be heard, and you don't have the right to use resources that belong to a private business unless they give you that right. If YouTube's customers (the advertisers) or their goods (the users) complain and start walking away, then it is common sense for them to try to do something about it, and they have every right to do so.

Comment Re:Sea ice extent in Medieval Warm Period? (Score 1) 179

Nope, nothing like this has ever happened before.

Well, strictly speaking, there was a sharp spike in temperatures some 10 million years after the dinosaurs wen't extinct, if I remember correctly, but what is unprecedented, is that it is changing so fast - about 10 times as fast as that spike, and that should be cause for deep concern. We simply don't know that the world's ecosystems will be able to adapt fast enough. Human lifespan is too short for us to really see how fast the changes are - but it does actually come to something when these changes are so rapid that it has changed appreciably within living memory. I remember that we used to have snow every winter that lay on the ground for at least a couple of weeks; now I see the first spring flowers around Christmas. If that was just me and my anecdotes, then it wouldn't matter, but when it is confirmed by everything science can throw at it, then it becomes significant. Especially when we know that these transitions follow something like an exponential curve for the first half of the transition; so when we are seeing temperatures somewhat now, it may be the changes in the future will be much, much faster, at least for a while. We don't really know without doing more science.

Comment Re:It's rock and hard place time for youtube (Score 2) 232

They can either honor the ethos that brought all the eyes to the videos or they can die slowly trying to suck the cock of Wall Street while losing viewers to other video channels. That whole market forces thing is a bitch.

So it is. Just to clarify, the market in this case is the advertisers, not the people who come to YouTube; they are the livestock that they are trying to sell. So, the market is now deciding that they don't want this sort of cattle; they want people that would potentially be interested in becoming customers of the companies they are advertising for. And the thing is - idiots that keep posting extreme materials online constitute only a tiny minority, but they drive away the huge majority, who don't want to be in an environment where they are constantly affronted by the depravities of deranged fools. YouTube's owners are no angels, but they do know where the money comes from.

Comment Re:I don't have any you insensitive clod! (Score 4, Insightful) 187

Easy, if you don't have a social media account, your visa is denied. No skin off our asses.

Ah, yet another 'easy solution'. Yes, I suppose you can be an idiot about if you like, but the thing is, if you consistently behave like an idiot, you will end up being considered an idiot. I can sort of follow the thinking behind this sort of rule, but it is just so heart-breakingly naive. What will happen is that good, honest, well-intentioned people will, as always, be the ones that lose out; the ones that genuinely don't use social media will be under suspicion, whereas if you are an extremist with a busy life on social media, you will just extend the double-life you are probably already living, and have a social media persona that is all about "America is the greatest, Amen, I love democracy, ain't Trump just great?" which they and their pals can laugh themselves silly about, while they continue their real activities under an assumed name. No sweat. And on top of this, the good, patriotic people that make up the majority of the security establishments in the US will loathe being made to act like stupid bullies, so after some time they will probably want to leave - and then all you'll have is the leftovers, the ones that enjoy bullying. How is that good for America?

Comment Re:Stupid (Score 2) 233

It is easy to lose sight of what the actual goal is here: to reduce the number of accidents. Fines or other punishment can have an effect, but only if it motivates drivers to drive more considerately. Something that is used in UK is the idea of adding penalty points to people's license - when you reach 12 points, you generally lose your license, and it does seem to work to some degree, altough there are those who don't care. For them there is the option of banning them from driving, after which you may go to jail, if you are caught driving.

I'm not convinced that using only penalties is the best way - it would be better if there was a carrot to go with the stick, although I can't think of how that would work. There have been experiments with turning off all traffic signals at junctions, and it seems to make drivers much more careful about how they drive, but my suspicion is that it also makes traffic much slower and thus congested.

Comment Re:Digital Rights? (Score 1) 231

I'm not sure whether you are criticising the way DRM is defined at the moment to only favour the big entertainment producers, or you are against DRM in any form. Given the massive, commercial interests that drive much of the internet, I think it is unrealistic to expect that we can get rid of DRM completely, but I agree that it needs to be rebalanced, probably in a quite radical way. However, I think DRM is only a corner of a much wider problem, namely the problem of what information it should be possible to own in general, how and by whom. Scientific research results should, IMO be assumed to be in the public domain as a starting point, unless a good case can be made for ownership, since they are potentially of importance for society as a whole and are often produced with some form of public support, whether it is visible in the form of direct funding or not. On the other hand, what can be broadly called 'entertainment' - ie. books, movies, computer games, paintings etc - are not fundamentally important for society as a whole, but how these should be owned and by whom is open to debate, and I think it is wrong to leave the public - the potential customers - out of that discussion.

Comment Re:In Other Words (Score 1) 412

I also saw somewhere years ago a proof something along the lines that quantum systems mathematically couldn't be built on top of non-quantum systems. I wish I could find that again. Though its possibly-to-likely that it wasn't as solid as it sounded at the time or it (and similar proofs) would be pasted all over the internet.

Well, I suppose it depends on what kind of proof. One of the things about QM is that it is such a horribly complicated mess, mathematically - GR, relatively speaking, is simple: it's just differential geometry, give or take a few bits (not that it isn't hard enough, though). QM is so full of things that have the look and feel of rules-of-thumb or patches to repair holes in the theory, and the maths is still running to catch up. If it is something that interests you (a lot), there are three lecture series on youtube that you might enjoy:

The WE-Heraeus International Winter School on Gravity and Light:
Lectures on Geometrical Anatomy of Theoretical Physics:
Lectures on Quantum Theory:

They are all given by Dr Frederic Schuller, who is a phenomenally good lecturer. What I find refreshing is that he teaches the maths behind modern physics as the primary subject, rather than as something you unfortunately have to deal with to solve the equations. I think it is essential to understand the maths to understand the physics.

Comment Re:In Other Words (Score 1) 412

I feel the same way about string theory, though one thing string theory has produced is some pretty useful mathematical tools

Well, string theory at least starts out along the same lines as Einstein's work with Kaluza and Klein, which I think gives it some credibility, although it is still largely speculative. The thing I object to with theories like the holographic and other, similar speculations, is that they take the quantum mechanical view as dogma and assume without argument, that general relativity must somehow be derived from that - that gravity must be "quantised". The reality is that we already, somewhere, know that both theories are of limited scope - that they are essentially 'wrong' - and that both must be modified. The theory that unites the two will no doubt turn out to not only solve the problems with singularities in GR, but also derive QM's funny bits (like Heisenberg's indeterminacy and the whole business of the collapse of the wave function etc) from deeper structure. My bet is that it will come from some really surprising, but fundamentally continuous geometry of space-time.

Comment "Harmless chemical"? (Score 1) 41

Consider the folowing, quoted from the summary:

...spider's venom... harmless chemical ...shuts down an ion channel... risk of causing hemorrhages.

I think it is irresponsible to talk about things like this in such a cavalier way. A compund that comes from the venom of a funnel-web spider, shuts down ion channels and may cause haemorrhages in the brain is hardly "harmless". Water is harmless, in moderation, just for comparison. Slashdot still tries to sell itself as "news for nerds", so please try to at least not dumbing down science and technology. Your readers are interested in these subjects and are at least trrying to understand, so try to respect that instead of treating us all like idiots.

Comment Re:Morons are running the USA (Score 0) 648

We'd lose a conventional war with China, and going nuclear is too much, even for Donald Trump.

For now; with a president as thin-skinned and paranoid as Trump, who knows what will happen? Just look at the nonsense about Obama "spying" on him; and he has barely started in this job.

As for winning a war - when has the US been involved on the winning side in any war since WWII? Maybe I'm being unfair, but I think you haven't won a war, if you still have an enemy afterwards. WWII was well and truly won, for the most part, but since then, it has at best been an exercise in producing enemies. As for nuclear war - nobody wins a nuclear war, but perhaps China still has a minor advantage, since they have many more people; the chance that there may be stray survivors is higher.

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