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Comment Re:As someone with a masters in this -exact field- (Score 1) 219

If you are a true master, you should be able to explain concepts in a way that even a child can understand

This is, in a word, horse pucky. It's the same reasoning my niece uses to justify her anti-vaxxer beliefs: the quacks and charlatans she listens to are more credible than epidemiologists and immunologists because they're easier to understand. This is the real-life equivalent of the joke about searching for the $20 bill under the street light because where you actually lost it is inconveniently dark.

If it were true that a child could understand anything, there wouldn't be a need for education. You'd just find a "true expert" to explain, say, fluid dynamics to a random bunch of people off the street and then set those randos to work designing aircraft. Or cryptographic systems.

There's an unfortunate cultural trend to devalue anything that requires mental effort and dedication to understand as elitist bullshit. This is a dangerous development, especially when combined with our national vanity: ever since the Moon landing we see technological and scientific leadership as a birthright. It's not. It's something we have to earn, and continue earning every day by dint of hard labor.

The humbling truth is that real understanding in many things requires trekking a long and arduous road. It's a near certainty that you don't actually understand General Relativity; crude analogies about balls and rubber sheets notwithstanding. General Relativity is like a mountain that looks easy to tackle from a great distance, but the fact is it takes years of toil before you can even grasp how arduous the foothills of Mount Einstein are.

Comment Of course... (Score 4, Interesting) 49

Of course, if they hadn't been so greedy and stupid as to design a non-user-replaceable battery into the phone, they would have been able to simply send out a relatively low-cost component to the afflicted users, instead of incurring a 5.3 billion dollar loss and severely inconveniencing every one of their note 7 customers (at the very least.)

It was their insistence on screwing the customer with planned obsolescence that bit them. They deserved to be bitten.

As does any company that designs in a non-replaceable, limited-lifetime component — much less one that is non-replaceable, limited-lifetime, and potentially dangerous.

Comment Re: Not so innocent after all (Score 1) 138

Pretty much my experience of having to go to church as a kid. There were a few fanatical true believers, and everyone else did it because of some variant of Pascal's Wager. I finally dropped out of the whole thing when I was sixteen, not for any noble reason but mainly because I wanted to smoke and have sex, but even at that age at least part of the reason for my rejection was that my family's church had absolutely absurd beliefs, in particular their view on evolution. I had secretly accepted evolution since I was nine years old and had read a book in the school library on the evolution of humans from Australopithecus onward, but nine year olds don't have the personal authority to tell their parents and their religious authorities that they're all full of shit, whereas a sixteen year old has the right combination of hormones and hubris to brazenly tell everyone "Your beliefs are beyond absurd, and border on the criminally idiotic."

It might have gone a bit differently if I were raised in a more mainstream church like Catholicism, Lutheranism or Anglicanism, where they do try to keep the idiocy to a minimum, but in the more wingnut Protestant churches, the maniacal stupidity just drove me away. At the end of it I became I guess what one would describe as a "weak atheist" bordering on agnostic. I know the existence of Yahweh can never be disproven, but I see absolutely no reason at all that such a being need be invoked, and whenever I see Yahweh invoked by Christians, Muslims and Jews, it's often to justify something noxious, or to prop up the weak-minded who need constant reminders that prostrating themselves to the deacon now means eternal salvation.

Comment Re:Tables are turning (Score 1) 432

What hysteria? The arctic was 30 degrees above seasonal norms this winter. The fact is that CO2 has the properties it has, and that means you increase PPM of CO2 you trap more energy in the lower atmosphere. The universe doesn't care about your desire to declare anyone who says anything that makes you feel uncomfortable a "hysteric". AGW is an inevitable consequence of physical laws, and not the state of Wyoming or Donald Trump can do even the tiniest thing to alter those physical laws. Don't want to totally fuck up the Earth's climate by 2100, then stop burning fossil fuels.

Comment Free software assistant... already exists (Score 3, Informative) 91

Free software assistant... already exists

http://mycroft.ai

They've got an RPi image you can download, slap on a card, and be up and running with a USB mic and something to handle the audio out.

Seems to me like the FSF should pay more attention to what is already going on.

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