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Saturn May Have Given Birth To a Baby Moon

Daetrin Re:Catastrophism (71 comments)

Doesn't a gas giant "giving birth" to a moon count? Hot Venus? Radio signal from Jupiter?

No, it doesn't. Velikovsky theorized that Venus was ejected from Jupiter. We have no good theories for how or why a gas giant would spontaneously produce and then eject a smaller terrestrial planet, not to mention no physical evidence that i've seen that it has ever actually happened.

What is going on here is that some of the material in Saturn's rings has accreted together into a moonlet. It's already been theorized that that's how at least some of Saturn's other 100+ moonlets were formed. The only reason that this is at all a surprise is that A: there's still enough material left in the rings after forming all the other moonlets and B: that we're caught it in the middle of the process . And as for (B), i haven't seen any estimates of how long it's been going on, but i suspect that it's been taking place slowly over millions of years, and we're only seeing it now because we've finally gotten sensitive enough instruments in the right position to detect it.

If so then in one case we have a tiny moon, one of over 100, being formed by a known method over a period of millions of years. And in the other case we have the 2nd largest terrestrial planet, one of just 8 planets total, being formed by an entirely unknown method over the period of a couple thousand years.

The first case provides absolutely no support for the second case.

As for "Hot Venus", that doesn't really provide any evidence for Velikovsky unless you don't believe the greenhouse effect exists.

And i don't know what radio signals from Jupiter have to do with Velikovsky's theories of planetary formation, so i can't really address that.

Even if you doubt his line of reasoning, his predictions are very interesting. Perhaps you can interpret his narrative as, at the very least, a very productive muse.

Oh sure, they're _interesting_. But lots of people make interesting predictions from random theories that aren't based on any solid evidence. Some of those people we call science fiction and fantasy authors, and others we call crackpots, depending on whether they think their "interesting predictions" are actually the truth or just a form of entertainment.

4 days ago

Saturn May Have Given Birth To a Baby Moon

Daetrin Re:Catastrophism (71 comments)

There are certain topics for which simplistic narratives dominate over thorough investigation and rational discourse. These include:

(1) Anything about Velikovsky or mythology: Most people simply assume that mythology = myth. Very few people take the time to investigate any observed correspondences between the stories held by cultures -- and even when suggestions are made for scientific explanations.

You're only half right. These days no one has a problem with proposing that myths may be based on scientific realities. There have been intriguing proposals about the relation between the myth of Atlantis and the erruption of Thera, a similar or identical link to the parting of the Red Sea, and several interesting theories about what might have inspired the various deluge mythologies.

The problem with Velikovsky is that his proposed solutions were batshit crazy. If the Uniformitarians were insisting that 2 + 2 = 3, then Velikovsky was right that they were getting it wrong. But his proposed counter-solution was that 2 + 2 = 10000!

We have pretty good evidence that the solar system is in a fairly stable situation in regards to the major bodies. There's certainly no astronomical record of any significant changes for the past several hundred years. (And i suspect much longer if one takes Chinese astronomical observations into account.)

But we are supposed to believe that between about 10k years ago and approximately 1 AD, the solar system underwent a MASSIVE reconfiguration. One or more new planets were created and several planets, including Earth, significantly changed their orbits, involving several VERY close passes between those planets. Then after all those planets finished swapping places and crossing paths with each other they just settled down into a configuration that just coincidentally also could have been stable for the last several hundred million years, and then haven't budged an inch (metaphorically speaking) since then.

The other theories i mentioned in the first paragraph have good physical evidence to indicate that they are at least plausible. As far as i'm aware Velikovsky had no physical evidence supporting his claims. In fact the full version of his theory is something like "If, in total contradiction to all present appearances, the solar system of a few thousand years ago was an entirely chaotic system, AND we rewrite several portions of recorded history to make points in different timelines line up better, THEN we might be able to explain certain myths." I'm sorry, but Occam's Razor just does not work that way.

5 days ago

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Daetrin FreeTaxUSA (385 comments)

Just to push another free online alternative, i've been using FreeTaxUSA.com for several years. They'll file your federal taxes for free, but charge a fairly small fee to file your state as well. (I believe it was about $10 the last time i paid, but may have gone up since then.)

I used to pay that small fee, but then last year(?) CA started their free efile thing, so now i do my CA taxes for free via the CA website, and my Fed taxes for free via the FreeTaxUSA site. If more and more states start pushing the free efile thing then i expect FreeTaxUSA will have to rejigger their business model, but in the meantime it's a good thing for me.

Of course i have very simple taxes, so i can't say how either system would work for people who actually have credits and loopholes they want to use. Based on the comments i posted at the time it took me 12 minutes to do the state and 27 minutes to do the Fed. (Though it might have taken me a little longer if FreeTaxUSA hadn't saved some of my settings from last year.)

5 days ago

Saturn May Have Given Birth To a Baby Moon

Daetrin Catastrophism (71 comments)

I'm kind of glad neither Velikovsky nor James P Hogan are still alive to blow this out or proportion. Velikovsky had a fundamentally good idea but got carried away with it, and James P Hogan wrote some good books related to the subject before his brain went soft in his old age.

about a week ago

Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

Daetrin Re:Depends on the scale (142 comments)

And thus immediately after he explained how people are bad at comprehending the confluence of small probabilities with large numbers, you demonstrate the principle.

Yes, it might be only a 5% chance that _anyone_ finds that gold coin, not 5% chance per person. The issue is that it's not just one gold coin, there are a bunch of gold coins, each of which only has a 5% chance being found. The odds of someone finding a particular coin are small, but the odds of no one finding any of the coins is even smaller.

The odds of a particular skydiver having a close encounter with a particular meteor are astronomical. However many meteors surive atmospheric entry each day and many people go skydiving each day. The odds that every skydiver that day will be far away from every meteor that day is _much_ lower. Still not common, but much lower. And the odds that it doesn't happen to any skydiver on any day in the year is another couple magnitudes lower.

Then on top of that, what are the odds that a balloonist has a close encounter with a meteor? Or a hang glider?

Instead of a skydiver encountering a meteor, it could have been someone falling out of a plane without a parachute or having their parachute fail but surviving the fall anyways. (It's happened a couple times in history.) Or a meteorite hitting the ground somewhere famous in front of a bunch of tourists. Or an practically infinite number of other very unlikely things that don't involve either rocks or people falling out of the sky. If either of those stories had happened instead we'd still be saying "wow, what were the odds of that happening?"

If you can think of something that has exactly a trillion to one odds of happening to anyone in their lifetime, the odds of it happening to anyone on the planet aren't good. If you come up with a 1000 different things with those odds that are entirely unrelated to each other, then the odds that at least one of them will happen to someone on the planet are pretty high.

about two weeks ago

How Did Bill Nye Become the Science Guy?

Daetrin Re:John Keister (220 comments)

Still to this day, every time the Daily Show starts with "I'm Jon Stewart" i can't help but mentally fill in "here's my report." I really wish they'd put the show out on DVD. I'm glad that you can find some of the sketches on YouTube, but it's a rather limited selection.

And has anyone seen "The (206)" yet? Is it anywhere near as good? If so i need to figure out a way to watch that. (Preferably a legal way that will help convince them there's a demand and keep the show from being canceled.)

about a month ago

Officials: NSA's PRISM Targets Email Addresses, Not Keywords

Daetrin Re:Damn it! (96 comments)

To: terrorist@google.com Subject: Do you want to build a snowman?

about a month ago

Officials: NSA's PRISM Targets Email Addresses, Not Keywords

Daetrin Damn it! (96 comments)

"certain accounts such as terrorist@google.com"

I wish i'd thought of registering that! Not that i'd use it for my primary account, but it would be fun to use on occasion, and i'm sure some really weird stuff gets sent there.

about a month ago

Ice Age Fossils Found During Los Angeles Subway Exploration

Daetrin Re:This is cool but let's not delay commuter rail (64 comments)

I live along Wilshire, the street on (or rather, under) which they're building this subway, the Purple Line extension. They just started a couple months ago. The first stage of the project is currently planned to last 9 years, which will cover 4 miles. A bit of trivia, it only took only ten years for the US to dig the 48 mile Panama canal through jungle and mountainous terrain. (To be fair, the French had already done about 15% of the excavation when the US acquired the project, but that ten year time span includes reviewing the plans and deciding to take a different approach.)

They're currently trying to get a permit to do 24 hour construction, i only know about this because there have been people going around the neighborhood trying to get everyone to sign a petition to block the permit. The people pushing the petition are trying to make it sound like there would be construction going on 24 hours a day every day for the full 9 years. I'm sure that's not actually the case, for if no other reason than if they were doing 24 hour construction every day it would almost certainly take less than 9 years. However LA hasn't made it very clear how much time, if any, they expect to cut off the deadline if they do get the permit.

TLDR: The project is already scheduled to take forever. I don't think it really matters if they stop for awhile to take a look at some fossils. In fact if they're at least halfway competent they could probably work on another section while the fossils are being excavated.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Trust Bitcoin?

Daetrin Re:Kinda implies (631 comments)

Slashdot would also like to know if you've stopped beating your wife.

about 2 months ago

Consumer Reports Says Tesla Model S Is Best Overall Vehicle

Daetrin Really? (318 comments)

"When one thinks of Consumer Reports, refrigerator ratings and car seat reviews usually come to mind"

Actually i bought my subscription to Consumer Reports specifically because of the car reviews, and if i were to name the top two things that come to my mind when i think of them it would probably be cars and TVs.

...wait, they review car seats too?

about 2 months ago

Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer?

Daetrin Re:IDEs are good. UI builders are bad. (627 comments)

I'm an okay programmer (I'd estimate that i'm maybe in the 25-50th percentile, far from a star but still able to provide some value) but my memory for names is horrible. I'll often remember there's a function that does X but not remember the name. With code completion i can narrow in on the right function pretty quickly. Without it i'd have to either go check old code to see what function it was i used in the past or do some searches online to rediscover it, either of which would take much longer.

about 2 months ago

Netflix Blinks, Will Pay Comcast For Network Access

Daetrin Internet Tier Packages (520 comments)

"with grouped together services that vary not just in throughput or quality guarantees, but in what sites you can reach at each service level"

Someone came up with a nice prediction of things to come along those lines: http://i.imgur.com/5RrWm.png

about 2 months ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Daetrin Re:Just be honest - it's not for *US* (2219 comments)

Actually i'm not really sure which is worse, the archived BBC front page or the current BBC front page. Checking some more pages from the archive, in my opinion the 2010 BBC beats out both the modern and 2001 BBCs. The 2005 BBC is rather weak though.

For contrast, the 2001 and 2005 CNN front pages looks decent, but by 2010 it was starting to decline. A lot of sites on the web seem to be heading in a direction that i don't particularly like. Maybe i'm just a stick in the mud or maybe there are a bunch of people who've specialized in web design and UI and feel the need to make things fancy than necessary in order to justify their own existence. (The guy who came up with GMail's new compose springs to mind.)

And one more bit, like many people i browse Slashdot more at work than i probably should. The more "fancy" and the less plain-texty it looks, the less comfortable i feel doing that. Also when at work i use NoScript and block as much scripting as possible (particularly after one site i used to visit started using scripts to refresh itself and link to other sites so often that it threw up some flags in IT and i got me a talking-to from my manager) so needing to enable JavaScript in order to read comments in Beta is _very_ annoying.

about 2 months ago

Can Wolfram Alpha Tell Which Team Will Win the Super Bowl?

Daetrin Re:+5 Informative! (126 comments)

Betteridge's law of headlines strikes again!

I need to spend some time at lunch finding a screencap of Manning's face as the opening snap flies right past his head. It was priceless at the time, and only more so in retrospect as it set the tone for the entire game.

about 3 months ago

How Can Nintendo Recover?

Daetrin Too little or too late (559 comments)

In order to really fix things requires going back in time. They either should have released the Wii U a year or two earlier, or they should have made it much more powerful. A year or two earlier and a Wii that was effectively on par with the PS3 and 360 would have seemed great. Coming out just a year before the much more powerful PS4 and XBOne made it seem pretty weak. On the other hand if they could have gotten it at least into the same ballpark as the PS4 and XBOne in terms of specs they might have been okay. The PS2 was the weakest console of its generation in terms of power, but it was "good enough" and it was the earliest of the surviving consoles to come out so got a big head start.

Of course the only way they could have aforded to do that however would be to ditch the Wii U tablet controller, which is consuming far too much of the cost per console. It's an interesting idea, and there are some cool things you can do with it, but the evidence seems to indicate that it just wasn't worth it. The Wii was revolutionary when it came out, and everyone else copied Nintendo. With the Wii U it was pretty clear that now Nintendo was the one doing the copying.

Maybe there's some other gimick they could have come up with which would have re-created the Wii frenzy all over again, but a pseudo-tablet wasn't it.

And overarching all of this, they need better third party support. They've needed better third party support since the N64 days, and if anything the problem has only gotten worse. People keep telling them they need better third party support, and occasionally they admit they need better third party support and announce some plan to get better third party support, and yet somehow it never gets fixed. Part of the problem is that they've gotten themselves stuck in a viscious circle, no one expects good third party games on Nintendo consoles (as opposed to handhelds) so no one buys third party games, so third parties judge that making games for Nintendo consoles isn't profitable, so no on expects good third party games... But of course Nintendo isn't helping with their often counter-productive approaches toward third parties. I ahve no idea what Nintendo could do to dig them out of the pit they've gotten themselves into in this regard.

Unless things turn around on the Wii U really soon, the best they can possibly do is have a short generation. About three years from now release the Wii U 2, with better stats than the PS4 and XBOne. (Releasing it two years from now would be better, except they'd risk really pissing off everyone who already bought a Wii U, cf. Dreamcast. A 4 year cycle is short, but not unreasonable.) Make it backwards compatible with the Wii and Wii U, but don't include the tablet controller. The only new gimick i can think of that _might_ go over well would be a VR type system, but then they'd be going up against Oculus Rift. (I'm also not convinved that a VR system would be good for gaming. On the other half i didn't think the Wii motion controller or Wii U tablet controller would be good for gaming, so as far as the market is concenred i'm running about 50/50 on my predictions.)

TLDR: For once actually do _something_ to fix relations with third party developers and release a simple but powerful console three years from now.

Actually, here's another idea. When they announce that future console, make it a joint project with Sega. Even if Sega only had a small share (say, 10%) the news that Sega was getting back into the console business would generate a ton of PR. But that's even less likely to happen than Nintendo getting the next console right on their own.

about 2 months ago

North Korea Erases Executed Official From the Internet

Daetrin How does that work? (276 comments)

How is he supposed to serve as a lesson to others if they're busy purging all records of him?

"Remember what happened to Jang Song Thaek before you think about crossing me!"
"Who? I don't remember him at all."

Sounds a bit more like bad comedy than a real threat.

about 4 months ago

Simulations Back Up Theory That Universe Is a Hologram

Daetrin Re:so does this mean.... (433 comments)

Hey, maybe _your_ universe only has ten dimensions, but _my_ universe goes to eleven!

about 4 months ago

New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Daetrin Wrong way of doing things (674 comments)

"two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science."

That is exactly the wrong way to do things. I'm not going to argue whether it is reasonable or not to believe in both science or religion, because regardless of that if you frame an argument as A is wrong and B is right then everyone who already believes in A is going to get defensive and angry and be even _less_ likely to accept B.

If that's not actually a misrepresentation and he's actually approaching the perceived problem by trying to bludgeon the opposing side into adopting his beliefs then he's doomed to failure, and the whole things is really just a "feel good" tour for atheists to feel superior about their "enlightened" beliefs.

about 4 months ago



T-Mobile Merging With MetroPCS

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Last year T-Mobile tried to merge with AT&T but the deal was blocked by the FCC. Now T-Mobile and MetroPCS have agreed to merge in a $1.5 billion deal. There doesn't seem to be much concern that the FCC will disagree with this deal, perhaps because the two companies combined will have a user base of 42.5 million, which will still be smaller than the #3 player Sprint Nextel's 56.4 million. Because the two companies have similar spectrum holdings T-Mobile claims the merger will allow them to offer better coverage. They also say they will continue to offer a range of both on and off-contract plans."
Link to Original Source

Stardock Games Now On Steam

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Seven months ago the sale of Impulse to GameStop was announced. Today Sins of a Solar Empire has been released on Steam with more Stardock games on the way. The games will also be coming to other digital distribution channels as well. Until now Stardock had kept quiet about any legal conditions attached to the sale of Impulse, so this is great news to those interested in Stardock's games but who aren't too fond of GameStop."

Talk Like a Pirate Day Music

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "[Note to editors: Yes, i'm submitting this a day early, just to make sure you have time to see it.] Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and some people like to Sing Like a Pirate as well! You may already be aware of the Talk Like a Pirate music page which has a selection of songs including the official anthem by Tom Smith. More recently the Celtic musician Marc Gunn, under the pseudonym "Captain Black Jack Murphy" has produced an album of pirate music titled "Pogue Mahone Means Kiss My Arse!" and made free copies available. He encourages everyone to support piracy by copying the album and sharing it with their friends. Of course if you like what you hear you should donate at that page or buy some of his other music. This is how many Slashdotters say music ought to be done, so how well will it work in practice? (Beware though, these are (mostly) real sea shanties and drinking songs performed acoustically. If you prefer heavily produced music from the modern labels this is not for you! Also, a couple of the songs are definitely NSFW.)"
Link to Original Source

Nintendo slashes profit forecast and 3DS price

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Nintendo has announced a large loss for the first quarter of the year and lowered its annual profit forecast. In the three months prior to June 30th Nintendo lost 25.5 billion yen ($328 million) and the forecast is being reduced about 80%, from 110 billion yen ($1.4 billion) to 20 billion yen ($257 million.) Nintendo is blaming poor sales of the 3DS and is responding by announcing a price cut from $250 to $170 on August 12. In order to mollify early adopters of the system Nintendo also announced that anyone who has logged into the Nintendo eShop before the price cut will receive 10 free NES games and 10 free GBA games. The GBA games won't be available until later in the year, but Nintendo claims they will be exclusive to the "3DS Ambassadors" and will not be available for purchase on the store in the future."
Link to Original Source

Asus Transformer Now Supports Game Controllers

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "E3 may not have started yet but there's already video game news from over the weekend. Asus has just released an update to add native support for game controllers to the Eee Pad Transformer, and it supports PS3 as well as 360 controllers. Engadget has a video showing the controllers in action. This is great news for fans of emulation on Android, even if you get emulators from an alternate source now."
Link to Original Source

GameStop buys Impulse from Stradock

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  about 3 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "It was announced thursday that Stardock has sold Impulse, the digital game store, to GameStop. And no, it wasn't an early April Fools' joke. Stardock founder Brad Wardell gave an interview to Joystiq talking about the sale and the reasons behind it. GameStop also announced their acquisition of SpawnLabs, a game streaming company. It seems that GameStop is looking to challenge Steam, or at least avoid being cut out of the digital distribution business entirely."
Link to Original Source

Google Debuts Dataing Site

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  about 3 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Have you seen the Google Romance page yet? Particularly the tour? I'm not going to bother writing up a real summary since i'm not creative enough to come up the the right Tweaks, but i'm sure you could find some fun ways to use them while talking about Google's attempt to help us find love/contextualize romance/sell ads :)"
Link to Original Source

Google's Gingerbread Man Has Arrived

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Last weekend Google received the next statue in the sweets-themed series that commemorates the major updates of the Android OS. In the past this has meant that the release of the next SDK was right around the corner. However this time there's some doubt as to what the version number will actually be. Many sites (including Slashdot) have assumed that "Gingerbread" was synonymous with "3.0", but now there's some evidence that everyone may have jumped the gun and the next version will actually be 2.3."

OCRemix no longer accepting new songs

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  about 4 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "The video game music remix site, Overclocked Remix has just announced the "OverClocked ReMixanator," which allows you to choose from among the most commonly remixed songs and apply your own preferred settings to have it produce a custom remix that is perfect for you! Unfortunately this means that human contributions are no longer necessary, and from this point on song submissions are no longer being accepted and all album projects have been canceled."

Daetrin Daetrin writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Daetrin (576516) writes "Square-Enix has just held a press conference announcing the development of Dragon Quest 9: Defender of the Stars. The continuation of one of the most popular and influential series in Japan was no surprise, but in the past Dragon Quest has always been released on the most popular console of the day so many were surprised when it was revealed that the newest iteration will be on Nintendo's DS rather than the PS2 or a "next generation" console. Level 5 will be handling the actual development one again but there will be some big changes to the formula. The new game will be an action RPG instead of turn-based and up to four players will be able to play at once."


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