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Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 180

Well God never said cussing was a sin. You just can't use his name in vain.

Funny; I tend to think of the word "god" as being a title rather than a name. It's like "lord", "captain", "sir", "lieutenant", etc. By contrast, *names* of gods include "Aphrodite", "Loki", "Yahweh", "Kal-El", "Amaterasu", etc.

I was going to put "Papa Smurf" in the second list when I realized that's not a proper name either.

That's right: Papa Smurf. Bow down and praise him, bitches!

Comment Re:Interesting... (Score 1) 332

excellent. i'm sick of these richard dawkins-types who condescendingly think they have all the answers.

Those types never said they have all answers. (But if you have a counterexample, I would be willing to stand corrected.) And the answers that they do have tend to be pretty well substantiated. Take for example the establishment of common ancestry by comparisons of genomes. But do not mistake the kind of confidence that results from a firm grip on a specific subject for a delusion of omniscience. Also note that these people tend to promote a willingness to change their own opinions when new evidence challenges said opinions.

i'm native myself, and a bit of an animist by choice, as well as a firm believer in science...but who are you to tell me i'm wrong?

What harm do you think is done by calling bullshit? Do you think it's worse than the harm that may result from failing to face up to the nature of reality implied by observable evidence, and if so, why?

Comment Re:Dear FSF (Score 2, Insightful) 1634

It's not defective, RMS et al: it's a CHOICE. You purport to like choice, but no one believes you anymore. Many consumers don't care, and even LIKE, the idea of being locked in to the App Store, because it introduces a significant amount of safety.

So, apparently you think the choice is between (1) being able to download software from Apple's app store and (2) having software distributed directly by 3rd parties to users (as with desktop PCs). Why not give each user the power to decide whether they will choose only (1) or only (2) or both (1) and (2)? Part of the FSF's point is that Apple has taken away some of the user's power of choice.

Comment Re:So a question for you (Score 1) 494

If we leave 1 intact, intellectual works have a far greater benefit to everyone. The challenge is to come up with a way to satisfy 3, without harming 1 and 2. The free-market solution to problems like this is to allow market participants to come up with innovative solutions. Those that solve the problem best stand to make the most profit, so there is incentive.

To me it seems you assume it's possible, under your proposed scenario, for a viable solution to exist for most copyright holders. To many of us it is not obvious that this is the case and it feels natural to assume differently.

IMO, the current system is *close* to being workable for all (or most) parties; the main problem, as I see it, is that the duration of exclusive rights has effectively become infinite when, in the age of instant global distribution, it should probably be no more than something like ten years. (And there are probably a lot of special cases that could reasonably trigger either instant release into Public Domain or a small extension of copyright.)

Also, I think you're missing an item in your list:

4. The probability of creation of a valuable intellectual work is multiplied by the extent to which the would-be creator(s) have a fair opportunity to be compensated for the act of creation.

Note that this sort of feeds into item 2: no one can benefit from a work if it's never created in the first place. So whatever we do, we really, really need something better than your personal faith in the market's ability to heal all that ails. Obviously, the market provides a lot of nice solutions to a lot of problems. I like the market for that reason. But the market does not---cannot---solve every problem. To assume that it can seems akin to assuming that natural selection *necessarily* leads to the "higher functions" of humanity (e.g. language, music, etc.) when in fact it's entirely possible for natural selection to lead many species into extinction. (And reflect on the fact that the vast majority of branches on the tree of life do not reach the present day.) So please do not underestimate the potential of the market to screw people over.

Comment Re:The real story should be. . . (Score 1) 494

Why do I care if someone is irrationally terrified of something?

Because the set of all irrationally terrified people includes voters and some (if not most) of the policy-makers that said voters elect. It is therefore in everyone's interest for better-informed people to demonstrate and make clear the cases where an imagined threat is either (a) not real or (b) not severe enough to warrant action. And those demonstrations must be delivered to the general public, and they must come as earl early and often as possible and grab as much attention as possible.

This is part of the reason why Sagan wrote The Demon-Haunted World.

The Internet

URL Shorteners Get Some Backup 224

URL shorteners are problematical, as everybody knows, but with the rise of Twitter and its ilk they seem to be a necessary part of the landscape. Some of the biggest questions around services such as, TinyURL, and is what happens when they go out of business (as did last August). Now a group of such companies, organized under the auspices of the Internet Archive, has formed a non-profit entity to hold URL-shortening databases in escrow, with the intent of continuing to resolve a member company's links should it get out of the business. At announcement, the 301Works organization has 21 URL-shortener members, including the largest, Many others are not (yet) on board. The members have agreed to cede control of their domain names to should they exit the field, and to back up their URL mappings regularly to the organization.
Operating Systems

Windows 7 Hits RTM At Build 7600.16385 341

An anonymous reader links to Ars Technica's report that (quoting) "Microsoft today announced that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have hit the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) milestone. The software giant still has a lot of work to do, but the bigger responsibility now falls to OEMs that must get PCs ready, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that are testing their new apps, and Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) that are preparing their new hardware. The RTM build is 7600, but it is not the same one that leaked less than two weeks ago (7600.16384). We speculated that Microsoft may end up recompiling build 7600 until it is satisfied, but it only took the company one more shot to get it right: 7600.16385 is the final build number. Microsoft refused to share the full build string, but if you trust leaks from a few days ago, it's '6.1.7600.16385.090713-1255,' which indicates that the final build was compiled over a week ago: July 13, 2009, at 12:45pm. This would be in line with the rumored RTM date but it is also the day Microsoft stated that Windows 7 had not yet hit RTM. Although the final build had been compiled, Microsoft still had to put it through testing before christening it as RTM."

Using Sound Waves For Outpatient Neurosurgery 152

eldavojohn writes "Got a piece of malfunctioning brain tissue in your head? Want to avoid messy lobotomies and skull saws? Well, you're in luck; a study shows that acoustic waves can do the trick and will hopefully treat patients with disorders like Parkinson's disease. A specialist said, 'The groundbreaking finding here is that you can make lesions deep in the brain — through the intact skull and skin — with extreme precision and accuracy and safety.' They focus beams on the part of the brain needing treatment and it absorbs the energy, which turns to heat. The temperature hits about 130 F, and they can burn 10 cubic millimeters at a time. Using an MRI to see areas of heat, they can watch the whole time and target only what needs to be burned. The study consisted of nine subjects suffering from chronic pain that did not subside with medication (normally they need to go in and destroy a small part of the thalamus on these patients). After the outpatient procedure, all nine reported immediate pain relief and none experienced neurological problems or other side effects after surgery."

Original Cast On Board For Ghostbusters 3 444

bowman9991 writes "Dan Aykroyd reveals that all the original cast have now signed on for Ghostbusters 3, including Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. Apparently Bill Murray, who holds a one-fifth controlling interest, was very reluctant at first, not even willing to read a third draft of Aykroyd's script. Aykroyd would like to see Ivan Reitman or Harold Ramis direct, wants to introduce a 'new generation' of Ghostbusters, and believes they could be filming the new Ghostbuster movie by winter."

Right-to-Repair Law To Get DRM Out of Your Car 403

eldavojohn writes "Ralph Nader's back to hounding the automotive industry ... but it's not about safety this time, it's about the pesky DRM in your car. Most cars have a UART in them that allows you to read off diagnostic codes and information about what may be wrong with the vehicle so you can repair it. Late model cars have been getting increasingly complex and dependent on computers which has caused them, as with most things digital, to move towards a proprietary DRM for these tools, diagnostic codes and updated repair information. This has kept independent auto-shops out of the market for fixing your car and relegating you to depend on pricier dealers to get your automotive ailments cured. The bill still has a provision to protect trade secrets but is a step forward to open up the codes and tools necessary to keep your car running."
The Courts

FSF Settles Suit Against Cisco 194

Saint Aardvark writes "The Free Software Foundation has announced that they've settled their lawsuit with Cisco (reported earlier here). In the announcement, they say that Cisco has agreed to appoint a Free Software Director for Linksys, who will report periodically to the FSF; to notify Linksys customers of their rights; and to make a monetary donation to the FSF. An accompanying blog entry explains further: 'Whenever we talk about the work we do to handle violations, we say over and over again that getting compliance with the licenses is always our top priority. The reason this is so important is not only because it provides a goal for us to reach, but also because it gives us a clear guide to choosing our tactics. This is the first time we've had to go to court over a license violation.'"

Space Vulture 73

stoolpigeon writes "In 1953 John Myers brought his friend Gary Wolf a book he had just read, Space Hawk by Anthony Gilmore. The two were already avid readers but this would be their introduction to an entire genre, Science Fiction. They both say that it was Space Hawk that sparked a life long love of all things Sci-Fi. According to both of them, they had an opportunity to re-read it as adults and found that it had not weathered the years well. They decided they would write their own science fiction adventure in the same style, but do a better job. The result is their book Space Vulture." Keep reading for the rest of JR's review.

Comment Re:Embyonic vs. Adult. (Score 1) 429

Ok; so why do you buy into the idea that "I" was a "complete human being" at the point of genotype establishment? What are the foundations of that assertion? What evidence would you cite?

BTW JeanPaulBob, I'm not really asking about biology here; I'm asking about the foundations of why you think the life of a zygote is worth as much as the life of an adult. And merely stating that the would-be adult and the zygote have the same genotype isn't a satisfying answer. And citing the survival needs of the zygote isn't a satisfying answer. There are some drastic practical differences in form and function between zygote and infant, and I'd like to know why those differences shouldn't matter, because there's tons of evidence (particularly from neuroscience) indicating that they *do* matter .

Comment Re:Embyonic vs. Adult. (Score 1) 429

And I don't buy the idea that at any of the stages of your development, you were less than a human organism, or that there's any distinction between human organism and human being, or between human being and "person with rights to be protected".

Ok; so why do you buy into the idea that "I" was a "complete human being" at the point of genotype establishment? What are the foundations of that assertion? What evidence would you cite?

Every time in the past that people have accepted such distinctions, we've come to realize the horror of what we were allowing, endorsing, or even praising.

Regardless of definitions of "human being", "person", and so on: I don't understand what you're talking about. What "horror"? Please describe the nature of suffering that results (potentially or actually) from the destruction of a blastocyst. Or if that's not possible, please explain why you think the horror you mention has some actual referent outside your imagination.

I'm asking because I don't merely want to verbally tear into right-to-lifers; I honestly want to understand where you're coming from, and so far your position doesn't make sense to me, and I don't even see how it makes sense to you.

Also: I recognize that you don't agree with my position (briefly: "components of brain clearly generate components of the mind; therefore 'no brain' strongly indicates 'no person', for some definition of 'person' that includes the existence of emotions, impulses, perceptions and the like"). But do you at least understand how it makes sense to me?

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