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Comment Re:Oh Please Edge Detection and Motion Detection (Score 1) 91

history is full of examples of this, When Columbus came to the Americas, many of the natives he encountered could not see the ships because they had no invariant example of "Ship" so they simply couldn't see them.

Ok, I've gotta call 'citation needed' on this. It sounds like urban legand BS.

Another example that comes out in some fields of psychology is the inability of some cultures to be able to distinguish between "Green" and "Blue" simply because in their language there is one word that describes both colors.

This is false. You need to look deeper into the linguistics research on colour words and cognitive psychology. When presented with coloured cards or other objects and asked to identify which have *exactly* the same colour and which differ people from all cultures perform equally well. In other words all people have the same basic colour perceptions.

However a difference emerges when it comes to the ability to *recall* colour differences. In other words if you present a person with the objects then take them away and distract them with other tasks for a while then ask them to recall which objects where, again, *exactly* the same colours the response will depend on the basic colour terms in the language they speak. Interestingly for multilingual people you can influence how they classify colours by priming them in different languages they are fluent in before/during the task.

Comment Re:Good (Score 2) 190

Well, actually Taiwan officially claims to *be* China (specifically they claim to be the 'Republic of China' [ROC] and that they have territorial rights over all of China (and Mongolia and parts of India and parts of Burma and parts of ...)) and that the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] government (the People's Republic of China [PRC]) is illegitimate. Meanwhile the PRC claims Taiwan is a rebel province under their jurisdiction. So they both claim Taiwan is part of China, just they claim it's part of *different* Chinas.

(There has been growing support for officially declaring Taiwan an independent country and no longer holding onto the claim to be the real government of China. But a lot of people in Taiwan oppose this because such a declaration would seriously anger the CCP and could lead to war.)

Comment Re:Our repressed media is bad enough (Score 2) 122

He asks why we invent a word and than decide it is not appropriate to say?


Most (but not all) of our 'dirty words' today were regular anglo-saxon English words prior to the Norman invasion of 1066. After the Norman conquest the elites spoke French while commoners continued to speak English. Over time the elites were assimilated into the English speaking community (similar to how China keeps assimilating their conquerors over and over again (e.g. the Mongols, the Manchu)). But this separation that existed and how the elites adopted English leaves a lot of relics in our language. The vulgar [in linguistics meaning the 'common speech'. Language as it is actually spoken, not as it's written down or used in official functions] speech of the peasants became first vulgar [meaning crude and unrefined] and then vulgar [meaning explicit and offensive]. 'Proper people' would use French-descended terms brought into English. Essentially it was a form of 'class war' in which the elites may have adopted English but they rendered older English vocabulary of the lower classes into something unacceptable.

(Of course all languages have 'improper' words. Having such words makes us able to express anger, frustration, etc that is 'beyond the pale'. Or just so we can be offensive because we want to be. So English would still have such words (although they'd probably be different words) even without the Norman conquest. But nevertheless this is how things evolved and where most of our particular 'vulgar words' came from.)

Similarly this is why English is rather peculiar in how it has in many cases a word for a live animal and a separate word for meat from that animal (e.g. pig - pork, cow - beef, deer - venison). The animal was looked after by the poor and thus retained the original English term while the meat was consumed by the elites who called it by the French word.

Comment Re:The real questions should be different (Score 1) 379

Yea, they do that here. I live in a small town out in the middle of nowhere in southern Manitoba, Canada. The town is surrounded by farm land. Town sewage is pumped into a lagoon where it sits and gets natural 'sewage treatment' through bacteria breaking down wastes. Then every so often the contents of the lagoon is just pumped into nearby fields. (With the full consent of the farmers involved because, hey, free fertilizer.)

This works fine for moderate amounts of sewage. But you'd have to work out quiet a complex system to deal with all the sewage from a decent-sized city. You can't put too much sewage all in one place or you'd overwhelm the ability of the land to deal with it and it starts becoming a liability instead of a resource.

Plus big cities tend to crowd out nearby farm land to make room for suburbs.

Comment Re:Color me weird. I like both. (Score 2) 187

So now I get Google building a standard. Unlocked. Updateable. Frequency agile. GSM. Mobile world wide.

Uh, that's more or less what the Google Nexus (Nexus One, Nexus S, and now currently the Galaxy Nexus) phones are. (Although Google is sometimes a little slow at pushing out updates, but they get there eventually.) The Nexus phones all come with stock Android - no extra vendor software or configuration.

Although I'm not sure about 'Mobile world wide'. Your ability to use your phone somewhere (like, say, another country) will always be dependent on your service provider. But everything else you want is there.

Comment Re:To stop child pornographers and organized crime (Score 1) 215

We didn't do this to ourselves. Less than 40% of voters voted for the Conservatives. Since the turnout rate was just a little over 60% that means that fewer than 25% of eligible Canadian voters actually voted for the Conservatives. Less than 1/4 of the population is dictating all political policy to all Canadians.

I think this should make it official. Canada is no longer a democracy. And it won't be a democracy until we get real electoral reform (such as proportional representation).

Comment Re:Easy fix. (Score 2) 159

I don't think that's really China's view.

The Wikileaks cables have included suggestions that Bejing is willing to accept a unified Korea under the South's government

China is also seriously concerned about an influx of refugees should North Korea 'collapse'.

And that's really everybody's concern. North Korea can't be allowed to simply 'collapse'. (It really already has collapsed economiclly but somehow manages to soldier on politically and socially.) There is too much military hardware there. There are too many people there. It would be a mess for everyone in the region (China, Russia, South Korea, Japan).

But there are several realities in the way of unification:

1) The Northern elites don't want it. This is really the biggest problem because until you can get the North to agree to unification there will be no unification. It's essentially impossible to forcedly unify the country. The people of the North have been so indoctrinated to fear everyone from outside the country. And the North's army remains powerful enough to cause so much destruction - not just to the North but to the South as well - that invasion is simply a no-go. You must somehow convince the rulers of the North to give up control to the South.

2) Unification would ruin the South. Unification is expensive. And it takes a long time. You don't just declare a country unified and all is good. You have to build up the poorer partner and work on social unification as well.

The unification of Germany cost upwards of $1.9 TRILLION. And West Germany was a lot richer than South Korea is. And East Germany wasn't nearly as poor as North Korea is. And socially there is still a gap between former East and West Germans. It will take another few generations to create real social unification.

A similar lesson can be learned by looking at Yemen, which was separated between North and South between the end of WWI until 1990. Yet after declaring unification the social separation between the peoples of the two former nations remained and resulted in civil war and unrest which really still continues today. (Equally note that both North and South Yemen were extremely poor nations, which made unification difficult economiclly as well.)

Really, the best scenario would be for the Northern elites to liberalize - open their economy bit by bit and reveal the truth about the rest of the world to their people bit-by-bit. Spend less on the military and more on developing the country - education, infrastructure, and a Chinese-style economic modernization. Then, as the North slowly climbs out of poverty and absolute self-imposed social isolation then maybe in a few decades unification will look more and more realistic.

And really that's what everyone wants. Everyone outside of the Northern elites that is.

There had been some hope that after Kim Jong-il died that his successor would be more open to the rest of the world, but that seems not to be the case.

Comment Re:He can't win (Score 1) 214

What's wrong with being able to recognize both sides of the man?

I can recognize Gates as a person who used nasty business tactics and questionable technical decisions.

I can also recognize him as the man who really did play a big part in putting 'a computer on every desktop.'

And I can recognize him as the world's greatest philanthropist who has done more to help the health of the poorest people in the world than anyone else in history.

One point does not erase the others. Why can't we recognize him for his full character?

Trying to put a positive spin on things, if I were to meet Bill Gates as I walked down the street tomorrow (a highly unlikely scenario to say the least) I would be far more likely to praise his recent philanthropic work then to damn him for how he ran Microsoft. The man does deserve some congratulations for his recent work. But I might also mutter under my breath a little about the whole MS thing as I walked away.

Comment Re:Misleading to call it "non-copied" (Score 1) 657

Yea because the Egyptian slaves constructing the pyramids were better off.

Just to nitpick, but most historians of ancient Egypt now believe that the pyramids were built by farmers paying their taxes in the form of a few weeks of labour every year. There is plenty of archeological evidence that they were in fact very well treated during that time. Including evidence of very advanced (for the time) medical care.

Comment Re:Misleading to call it "non-copied" (Score 1) 657

I'd say the invention of ... the airplane

The Wright brothers 'fought' a major 'patent war' over the issue of 'who invented the airplane.'


There was a long-running lawsuit over who owned the rights to the patent on the telephone.

electrical generators

Tesla and Edison fought a long battle against each other for AC vs. DC current based electrical generation. Part of this was fought in courts over patents.

Patents have been around for a few hundred years now. (The first patents were granted in Italy during the renaissance.) And they have been bitter contested in courts for the past 200 years. This is not a new issue we are facing.

Comment Re:Culture loss? (Score 1) 404

I hate to nitpick ... wait, no I don't. I love to nitpick. But it's good social graces to claim that you don't ...

The BNA Act didn't 'establish Canadian independence'. It united a few British colonies in North America into one 'super colony'. The new Canadian confederation remained a British colony.

Canada achieved independence not in any one act or by any single action. It slowly evolved over time. (Some would argue that since we still retain the Queen as our head of state that we're still not completely independent. I'm not sure I agree with that, but it's a point worth considering.)

Some steps along that road to independence:

Starting in 1848 the Canadian colonies were granted 'responsible government', meaning that they elected their own local legislative assemblies that could propose and vote on bills but those bills only became law once signed by the governor general which was still appointed by the Queen. (This was in response to the failed rebellions of 1836.)

In 1867 the BNA Act unified the two Canadas and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The new confederation meant there were now local provincial governments and a single federal government. Britain delegated responsibility for almost all local issues to these governments. But foreign affairs remained in the hands of Britain.

Over time Canada was given some ability to manage its own affairs with America. But only as long as that didn't go counter to general British policy. And slowly other areas of foreign policy for Canada also transfered to the Canadian federal government. By 1918 Canada has 'independent enough' to be given its own seat at the Paris conference that ended WWI.

In 1931 the Statue of Westminister finally formally transfered all foreign policy (and various other areas that had previously be reserved in Britain) powers for the 'developed colonies'/dominions from Britain to their respective local governments. So this is what gave Canada (and Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland (which later joined Canada)) [almost] full control over it's own fate. This statute is the one most commonly pointed to as 'establishing Canadian independence' if you must point at just one thing.

In 1982 the Canadian constitution was finally 'brought home'. This required an act of the British parliament but after this point Canada was free to modify its own constitution without having to go to Britain and ask for approval. (This is because there was no amending formula prior to 1982.) This is also sometimes pointed to as the point which 'established Canadian Independence'.

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