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Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

Frobnicator Re:I'm shocked. (191 comments)

i'd be surprised if apple didn't win the case.

At the jury level this is expected. The appeal was expected either way. And in the longer term this may turn out differently.

Anti-trust concerns usually do benefit the consumer in the short term. And as the article points out, the jury specifically wrote that the features have an immediate benefit to the consumer.

Usually anti-trust problems are not immediately bad for the consumer. In the short term the consumer sees a lower price, easier access, and other conveniences.

In the long term the market ends up with monopolies and oligopolies, a loss of vibrancy, a slowdown in innovation, less desire to follow expensive advances, and worse customer experiences. Think of your local telco and cable companies as prime examples.

I expect that like so many other technical cases the jury's verdict will be overturned on appeal because juries in the US rarely understand the actual law. While criminal law is usually pretty straightforward for a lay jury, things like IP law and business law are often miscommunicated or misunderstood when handed to a jury of random citizens.

about a week ago

Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

Frobnicator Re: PRIVATE encryption of everything just became.. (379 comments)

But cloud is great, right? They told me cloud is great!

Yes, cloud is great as a convenience for you.

It is also great as a convenience for NSA and other agencies. The text of the bill allows that anything that was encrypted can be kept indefinitely. If your web site says HTTPS then it is fair game for permanent governmental storage.

Also, they can retain it forever for a number of reasons:

From the bill now on its way to the President's desk: "(3)(B) A covered communication shall not be retained in excess of 5 years unless ... (ii) the communication is reasonably believed to constitute evidence of a crime ... (iii) the communication is enciphered or reasonably believed to have a secret meaning; (iv) all parties to the communication are reasonably believed to be non-United States persons;"

#2 should be troubling. Does your communication (which is not limited to just email, but also includes web pages and any other data) have any evidence of a crime? Evidence that you downloaded a movie or software from a warez site, or looked at porn as a minor, or violated any of the policy-made-crimes that even the federal government has declared they are not countable? With an estimate of over 300,000 'regulations-turned-crime', plus laws that incorporate foreign laws (the Lacey Act's criminalization of anything done "in violation of State or foreign law"), pretty much anything you do probably violates some law somewhere in the world. Better preserve it just in case somebody eventually wants to prosecute you for that crime someday.

#3 refers back to a vague definition of "enciphered" that does not just mean encryption. The "secret meaning" could be as simple as data inside a protocol, Who is to say that the seemingly random bytes "d6 0d 9a 5f 26 71 dd a7 04 31..." used as part of a data stream are really not an encrypted message? Better record it just in case.

And of course #4, the law has a careful wording about communications between "non-United States persons". Considering the "internet of things", all those devices talking to other devices are not communications between United States persons. It was your camera (a non-United States person) communicating with a data warehouse (a non-United States person), so better exempt that from the 5-year retention policy as well.

about two weeks ago

Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

Frobnicator Re:PRIVATE encryption of everything just became... (379 comments)

PRIVATE encryption of everything just became mandatory.

Go look back at the bill, start at page 22.

Observe that unencrypted communications can be retained for five years. But any encrypted communications can be kept indefinitely.

Also note that the law doesn't say anything about who enciphered it nor about if they are able to decipher it. If it was encrypted at any point along the journey it qualifies for unlimited retention.

about two weeks ago

Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

Frobnicator Re:No (545 comments)

The last company I worked for gave us comp time in lieu of OT.

That is another classic way to skirt the law, and is often done innocently as a lack of understanding.

Employers can use comp time in some circumstances, but it must be at the overtime rate. That is, if you were at the 1.5x rate they need to compensate you 1.5x the hours, if you were at the 2.0x rate they need to compensate you 2.0x the hours.

Many employers will compensate the hours 1:1. They cannot simply shift the hours from one week to the next and tell you "don't show up for x hours". It needs to be "don't show up for (1.5*x) hours" or whatever your proper overtime rate is.

about two weeks ago

Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

Frobnicator Re:No (545 comments)

For programmers in CA, normally they are non-exempt, although I'm sure many skirt around it. My understanding is if you want a favorable equity package, you'll accept exempt status. If you want an hourly wage and a life, you declare non-exempt.

Both the Department of Labor and the courts disagree with your assessment.

The actual job duties themselves, not the job title, not the method of payment (hourly vs salary), and not the contract, determine if an individual worker is exempt from overtime rules.

This has been challenged time and time again in the courts. The concept of a "working foreman" is often mentioned since management is exempt from overtime. If the individual can show that at least half the time is spent on non-management tasks they are not exempt. If you spend 49% of your time or less doing management tasks you are not exempt. Even if your job title is "Managing Director", even if your contract calls you an exempt worker.

Other companies frequently fight it claiming that since they pay on an annual salary basis rather than an hourly basis they don't track it and therefore don't have to pay. These arguments lose.

Many companies like to skirt around the law since it saves money. Many companies (wrongly) claim that workers on an annual salary are exempt from overtime. Many companies (wrongly) specify that a position is exempt from overtime when legally it should not be. Even if you are paid on a regular salary instead of hourly the company is still obligated by FLSA overtime regulations.

If in doubt, make a phone call to the department of labor or whatever your state's equivalent is. They can ask a few questions and determine your status. Businesses violating the law are generally forced to pay back wages to the individuals and back taxes to the government. Since government really hates to miss tax money they tend to enforce this whenever discovered.

about two weeks ago

18th Century Law Dredged Up To Force Decryption of Devices

Frobnicator Re:Then demanding decryption will not be "reasonab (446 comments)

Google and Apple can help them by making the encryption breakable.

Nope, that battle has already been fought. That would constitute compelled speech.

They can compel the company to provide information (such as source code) for their current data. Subpoenas have been doing that for decades.

They can compel the company to help them perform certain research.

They can even use NSLs to compel the company to intercept certain communications.

But at least so far, they cannot compel the company to modify their product to become defective.They still need to do that themselves, commonly by intercepting shipments or less commonly modifying chips inside the supply chain. Note that both routes are considered clandestine, they don't compel the business to intentionally release a faulty product, instead they just sabotage the results.

about three weeks ago

FBI: Wiper Malware Has Korean Language Packs, Hard Coded Targets

Frobnicator Re:Sony chose to wage war against North Korea (81 comments)

... well-known Hollywood UBER-zionist specifically designed as a psy-op against North Korea and its leadership. ... Sony was ONLY allowed to buy its way into Hollywood when its Japanese supremo's agreed to allow Israel-friendly managers ... their desired propaganda directions ... Japan has been a servant state to Israel ... was FORCED to introduce sanctions ... Saudi Arabia and Egypt (powers in the US sphere of control) ... Sony's vicious attack against North Korea ... serve their zionist masters on their knees. ... Sony is still loathed for daring to think it has a place in Hollywood. ... Most first class cyber-attacks emanate from Israel ... What you 'earn' while you remain ON YOUR KNEES is worthless- a lesson Japan is going to learn the hard way

You started the troll so well with your first paragraph.

At least the remaining portion was fun to read. I'm not quite sure how Sony would need to sell out to Isreal before joining Hollywood, that one is confusing. The claims that the NSA is secretly beholden to Israeli Military was fun. The claim that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are under US control made me especially laugh.

Thanks for the entertainment.

about three weeks ago

Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy

Frobnicator Re:The real reason? (187 comments)

Common Carrier.

Nope, they have fought for decades to avoid that label. The were given the label "Information Service" and that makes all the difference in the world. That enables them to issue poison packets when they suspect things they don't like, to cancel services to people, to double-dip and sometimes triple-dip for communications as seen in cases like Netflix, and more. It has helped them evade lawsuits about discriminatory service on the basis of customers potentially being slightly more expensive, and being able to evade regulation time and time again.

Even as recently as this spring, declaring that since they are not common carriers they can discriminate allowing ISPs to charge Netflix on one side plus also charging customers on the other side.

Reclassification from "Information Service" to "Common Carrier" would be a transformative step for the net neutrality debate, dramatically forwarding the movement. But it would also come with an enormous amount of regulation and the industry really does not want that.

about three weeks ago

Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy

Frobnicator Re:All of this is extralegal (187 comments)

I hope it goes forward.

Not because I want the recording industry to shut them down, but because common carriers are exempt from the responsibility over their traffic. That is really the best solution for ISPs so they are no longer liable for the content that travels over the wire.

ISPs getting reclassified as common carriers is a major step toward net neutrality, as common carriers are not allowed to discriminate over what they carry.

about three weeks ago

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

Frobnicator Re:How did your senator vote? (445 comments)

That's cool... is there some sort of OKCupid interface to it yet, so you can see which representatives match your interests the best, and alerts you when they vote against what you say you're interested in?

Bills are not that simple. By the time they are entered into THOMAS for tracking they have already been through many different groups. Lots of fun little additions have been made. Also by design it is extremely difficult to track down who added what and when; there is no button to track down the details of an individual line like you get with version control; it becomes "these were attached by someone" rather than "Sen. Johnson added line 47 requiring additional oversight, then Sen Smith modified line 47 to remove the oversight". Common citizens do not see the change log, they are only allowed to see specific checkpoints.

Critically, these are NOT little 10-line precise changes. Instead, this is a bill that adds some limits to NSA spying, and a bill that re-authorizes the patriot act, and a bill that gives the Attorney General the ability to rubber stamp "emergency production" of business records acquisition without a judge, and a bill that grants immunity ("liability protection") to those who hand over records without a court order, and a bill that pays people under the table for giving information to the government if they bypass the courts and just hand it over, and a bill that allows the DNI and AG to bypass the requirement to declassify information, that is, a bill to decrease transparency and remove important data from federal reports. And more.

It is 7000 words and 46 pages. Many similar bills exceed 100 pages. Some bills, especially those with critical financial items, grow into the thousand page range with all kinds of ugly growths attached.

Hooking that up with an OKCupid style is quite difficult. Did they reject it because of the NSA spying portion? Did they reject it because of the pen register changes? Did they reject it because of the declassification portion? Did they reject it because of the additional ability to bypass the courts? Did they reject it because it re-authorizes the USA PATRIOT act?

Trying to match it more in an OKCupid style, you may really like the beautiful eyes, but find the cluster of moles and cracked teeth rather ugly, the personal history of high school dropout insufficient, the three aborted teenage pregnancies and collection of STD's rather bothersome, and the extensive criminal history and drug additions are not exactly spouse material ... but those eyes, they are really quite lovely.

about a month ago

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

Frobnicator Re:So basically (445 comments)

It curtailed some domestic spying, but extended it in other areas, and also extended the PATRIOT Act. My guess is you would have criticized him if he voted in favor of it as well.

That's the issue with so many of these bills. Politicians start with an important bill that is very likely to pass, and then attach all kinds of unpalatable features to it.

They are not little 10-line precise changes to policy. This particular bill is 7000 words in a 46-page PDF. Often they are in bills that are tens of thousands of words, sometimes hundreds of thousands of words, and hundreds of pages in length.

It is easy to headline "${PoliticalParty} objects to bill with ${Feature}" but to not mention the fact that the bill included several hundred additional features.

You've got a headline "Thirsty person rejects glass of water", but buried deep down in the details you will read the water is yellow and brown and came from the toilet. The thirsty person will turn that drink down and wait for something a little more palatable.

about a month ago

Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

Frobnicator Re:Silly article, waste of time (335 comments)

Well there's the crux of their whole flawed argument. They're conflating "correct decision" with "best outcome" possible. Human judgement and morals don't work on what will result in the best outcome, but what will result in the most reasonable outcome.

Very true. Also, different humans have different versions of "most reasonable outcome".

Many deaths through history are caused by quite conflicting goals. War, obviously, is different groups killing over conflicting outcomes. Mafia/cartel/gang/etc kill to get their own best outcomes even though other groups strongly reject the premise.

about a month ago

Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

Frobnicator Re:Or just practicing for an actual job (320 comments)

Would using frameworks make you a cheater? Would copying a very know pattern deem you a cheater? ... If you want to stomp out cheaters, come up with problem domains with very unique and strange processes that wouldn't be found in the wild.

The class is algorithms and data structures. The entire point is to learn the internals of common structures. The student needs to write and learn about linked lists, not learn how to use a linked list library. The student needs to write and learn about trees, not learn how to use a tree library. Learn about and implement several different sorting algorithms, not how to use a sorting library.

A student's role is different than a job in industry. A student is attempting to learn the material. They need to learn how the internals work. Many of these algorithms and data structures are used all over inside standard libraries. They are so common that every professional should know them flat-out. For a class about the algorithms and data structures they need to write their own tools. For a class about something else or in the industry they can use a library if they want.

It is the same reason we teach kids times tables and make them do long division rather than just hand them a calculator in the third grade. When the study is covering mastery of the material and understand how things are manipulated they need to do it by hand. This way the student will actually develop the ability to use the knowledge when they need it.

about a month ago

Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

Frobnicator Re:Yeah, right... (459 comments)

Argh, didn't proofread my edits and two links broke the gender gap paragraph. Forgot that greater than and less then signs get treated as html blocks and get eaten.

From various reports the first one in a tab I closed, the second one like this we get stats. Poor mothers, UNDER $25K, usually stay at home. About 45% work. Once the individuals in the family make between $30K to $60K each it is common for both to work, with 77% of mothers in the workforce. But once they enter the "highly paid" range of over $90K of husband's salary the mothers start to tend to stay home, and once the husbands hit $150K it drops back to 43% of the women working. A large part of the gender gap in tech jobs comes from worker choice, not employer bias.

about a month and a half ago

Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

Frobnicator Re:Yeah, right... (459 comments)

Well, according to government statistics, the "Percent Black or African-American" represent about 7.1% of 2011 graduates and about 7.4% of the workforce, and both are trending upwards. Compare the roughly 7.4% of black computer programmers with 10.8% of the general population. So a smaller percent of the population get the training, but those who get the training are not discriminated against for hiring purposes. (Not talking about wages, just hiring diversity.)

From the same report with a 10-year granularity, females make up about 33.9% of the 2011 graduates and about 26.6% of the computer programming workforce. Women are also making up an increasing number of the workforce that changes based on age. The report notes "these estimates could be consistent with an age effect. That is, when women are young, they are more likely to be employed in STEM, but as they age, they move out of STEM employment." The trend lines show 35-year-old females in the group as a growing population, with the growth dropping rapidly by age groups. Compare that with the 48% females in the general national workforce. So in hiring diversity women do make up a lower number by diversity but it is largely by their own choice rather than hiring discrimination.

One of the real problems with the gender gap is that many times it is a sign of wealth or poverty -- that is, in various demographics of wealthy households and poor households women are not part of the workforce. It forms a bell-shaped curve. Poor mothers ($90K) the line starts to rapidly drop again. So splitting out the numbers, if the individuals are making $30K-$50K then often the mother is educated and also the mother works. But once the family has highly paid workers, with the husband highly paid making >$90K then the women again tend to stay home with children rapidly trending back down to about 43% working once you've crossed the roughly $150K husband's income. Since the tech field is very highly paid that puts the gender gap as a voluntary choice, not an involuntary hiring discrimination.

Based both on what I have seen and also what I have read in various reports, the problem (if there is one) is at the source end of the education pipeline. When it comes to "Black or African American" demographics the number of graduates and number of workers is at parity. When it comes to females, the numbers are that women who choose to stick with the field are readily employed and that many women leave as they age at a rate far more rapid than other fields.

about a month and a half ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

Frobnicator Re:Vote by mail. (388 comments)

Yeah, no one could ever tamper with the mail.

So you start with a fairly reliable delivery service, add in severe federal penalties for tampering with the mail, then additional severe federal penalties for interfering with an election.

If you are worried about tampering (or if you didn't send your ballot in time, they must be postmarked the day before the election) you can deliver them yourself to any polling place or the election office on voting day. If you still don't trust that a paper ballot delivered to the polling place will be tampered with, you are more paranoid than most.

And as others have mentioned, compare the risk of a mailed ballot being lost or tampered with versus an electronic vote being lost or tampered with. I have more trust in the mail-based paper system.

about a month and a half ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

Frobnicator Vote by mail. (388 comments)

Meh. I voted by mail a week ago. Got a paper ballot. Had lots of time to look up details on all the issues, including the judges, some obscure issues, and the people I'd never heard of.

Much better solution. No lines. No scheduling around work. Several weeks to study out everything.

I highly recommend it for everybody.

about a month and a half ago

MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

Frobnicator Re:I suppose this means... (357 comments)

Sure you can. Just slip the projector girl $20 and you're golden

I've known projector operators who would do it for free.

about 2 months ago

Is the Outrage Over the FBI's Seattle Times Tactics a Knee-Jerk Reaction?

Frobnicator Re:18 US Code 1343, Wire Fraud (206 comments)

Re:18 US Code 1343, Wire Fraud .... Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud [...]

No fraud took place. Hoax, perhaps, but not fraud...

Keep trying...

So first you demand that people cite actual laws, and you refuse to accept things like "copyright infringement", "slander of title", or "defamation of character".

And then when someone cites chapter and verse of the law you reply with a wikipedia link saying it isn't correct.

No, for the law cited above it was fraud. The definition in that chapter is clear: "For the purposes of this chapter, the term “scheme or artifice to defraud” includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." They were expecting the honest service of the specific newspaper. Instead they received a different service, an intentionally deceptive site that transmits something called a "computer contaminant" in the law. Chapter 63 (criminal fraud) doesn't have any of the now-common exceptions "except for law enforcement as part of an investigation". Officers can commit quite a lot of what would normally be crimes when they get court approval, but fraud is not on that list.

Their malware is covered under at least one of the variations in the state law, RCW 9A.52.110, 120, and 130. Since the government may argue it wasn't done with the intent to commit another crime (since they were intending to enforce laws but accidentally committed crimes in the process) then 110 may be out, but 120 and 130 both apply.

For copyright, you can pick quite a few different laws under title 17. Several of the exclusive rights in 106 were violated, as were 113. Their designs were protected so 1301. You can pick and choose quite a few more under Copyright as well, with a notable absence of court-authorized police action exemption.

For trademarks the newspapers have certainly trademarked their logos, names, and probably a few other distinctive elements.15 USC 1114 seems to have that covered quite thoroughly, including penalties against DNS hijacking. And thanks to 15 USC 122, they cannot claim immunity for that one.

Defamation is pretty strong since their use injures the newspaper's reputation. People will now pause and think "why should I go there since the government hijacks them"? While there is the statute, it is now the court's test that qualifies it. The four-prong test by the court is, first, a false element purported to be fact (in this case, they communicated that the false website was true), second that it was published (clearly the fact was published), third, actual fault on the person making the statement amounting to at least negligence (in fact, it amounts to the level of fraud, as covered above), and fourth, some harm to the subject of the statement (which can be shown as a harm to trust and harm to their stock). Again, there is no "official government action immunity" to commit fraud thanks to 42 USC 1983. Now if they had limited it to the very specific individuals under investigation this one might not apply as a legal intercept, but since they chose to throw a broad net and infected thousands, causing a huge impact to their brand the single authorized intercept exemption doesn't apply.

I'm sure there are many more, but while some laws make exception for court-authorized police action, these specific laws do not.

about 2 months ago

Rosetta Probe Reveals What a Comet Smells Like

Frobnicator Re:So, perfume? (53 comments)

Sounds like a list of ingredients for perfume. Rosetta perfume, anyone?

Sure! I mean, I may not care much for horse urine, but we use components of urine in lots of perfumes.

The combo of eggs, almonds, and vinegar sound tolerable as pickled eggs are a popular dish in many countries. And alcohol scented, no problems there. Sweet ether sounds reasonable, as well.

Time to fire up the marketing machine.

about 2 months ago


Frobnicator hasn't submitted any stories.



From an article about the degradation of the Internet

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 11 years ago

You sell a simpler box where security is the primary factor. A lot of grandmas and older people might go for something that only does AOL, mail, web browsing and maybe printing and digital photos.

That might solve part of the problem (consumer side) but not the issue that the article was about. It does not solve the real issue.

Making a grandma-friendly, secure, e-mail and download-only box would not do what the article suggests is happening. It might keep grandma from getting infected with the latest worm, but she will still get progressively less useful bandwidth from her modem. Grandma might have a 256Kbps DSL modem. She might even be fairly lucky and after dropping the malformed packets and garbage already out there, get a 200Kbps rate right now. But next year it might be 150Kbps, then 100Kbps as a few million script-kiddies are scanning for the next generation of BackOrafice trojans. Then she'll go buy a faster connection, because her Internet connection is slower than she wants. Her new connection will give her more visible speed, but would still be dropping a majority of the packets.

I've seen the issue first hand. I'm with a small business, where we have a shared T1 line. Our upstream provider performs some packet filtering, but not much. After we pay for the data through our T1, we filter it. We drop malformed packets, packets from reserved and unassigned addresses, source-routed packets, and so on. We detect and block portscans and other obvious attacks at that point as well. We average a 7-10% packet loss through that filter daily. Next, we run SpamAssassin at a high filter level (15) along with attachment and virus blocking of emails, which collectively drop thousands of e-mail messages daily. Additionally our computers are running ad-filtering programs that save us a lot of bandwidth, but ads still slip through.

If we were to assume that all the ads also got through, that is about 20-25% of our bandwidth wasted in complete junk, and that percentage has been increasing for the past two years that I have been watching it. Next we have a bunch of legitimate, but unwanted, traffic. That includes file sharing and trojan ports, incoming http, mail, telnet, DNS, ftp, rpc, and other assorted ports. We get a few hundred of these each day, and the number is always growing. Some might be people in the company trying to use NetMeeting or something, even though it is against policy. Some may be legitimate errors, while the remaining others are probably probing for systems to attack.

The article says that the problem is this growing collection of junk -- currently about a quarter of our bandwidth -- which will quickly kill the Internet unless there is a change.

Unfortunately, I agree with the author of the article; unless we see some fundamental changes, it will become unusable. There are a number of good ideas already out there as to what that may be.

One idea that I like is to remove the anonymity of end-to-end, while preserving the end-to-end functionality. Every handler of every packet signs the packet, and drops packets from sources they do not trust or with invalid signatures. The sender cannot deny sending the message, each handler signs the packets and cannot deny that they handled it, each handler can state that they directly know who they received it from, and that all end-points can verify the sources. That allows any message not properly signed and not properly addressed to be dropped, and allow for law enforcement or system admins to find out who the attackers are, or exactly which machines have been compromised.

The only significant drawbacks to that system are the resources involved in all the digital signatures and the loss of anonymity. I can only see a few reasons for anonymous speech (whistle-blowers, victims of crime, etc.) but there are other anonymous outlets for them. Online, I think non-repudiation should be built in, so long as you have encryption tools available. Your boss/government/police/mafia could know that you said something, but not know what it was.

Until that level of fundamental infrastructure change spreads across the Internet, making a grandma-friendly Internet console isn't enough. The DDoS attacks on everything from spam blacklists, litigous companies like RIAA and SCO, honest mistakes like U. Wisconson's time servers, and script-kiddie behavior will continue to degrade the Internet. The spammers clogging up mailboxes and usenet will degrade the Internet. Tomorrows worms, along with todays worms on unpached systems, will continue to degrade the Internet. More people with cable-modems downloading movies will degrade Internet performance. In short, continuing our course will be just a little worse until we hit a very-near critical threshold. Then our performance will be like a figher jet slamming into a wall of jello. We need to change course, or face some serious performance losses.



Musings about a Corpus of Truth

Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 11 years ago This is just some ramblings based on views.

I've had a problem with the corpus of facts that people are willing to allow in their arguments lately. These in turn lead to stupid arguments, that lead to my compliants. So here are the complaints.

The first is:

Mankind has been wrong about science for all of recorded history, why are some people assuming that the newest theory is the absolute, final, last word?

Science is a progressive refinement of ideas. There was a time when the public believed that that maggots came from rotting meat and that frogs came from mud around lakes and streams or that they came from rain. Given the corpus of facts that they could work with, those were perfect, scientific beliefs.

The corpus of truth, or the accepted facts at that time [through Europe, at least] included only what could be viewed by the naked eye, and what was accepted by the Church. Since the Church probably didn't have much to say about maggots and rotting meat, it was a simple observation that (1) you had rotting meat, (2) maggots appeard, therefore maggots came from rotting meat. Similarly, (1) While at a pond there were no frogs, (2) It started raining, (3) the area got muddy, (4) frogs appeared. Sure, modern science has pretty much cleared up the origin of maggots and frogs, but it doesn't stop there.

Newtonian physics was around for quite some time, and they have been succeeded by similar equations based on Relativity. These are being further refined today. But these refined models will probably be succeeded in a few decades by yet another model that more accurately describes the Universe, and our current views will be considered 'Wrong'. But that won't mean that Newtonian models will suddenly stop working, or that the Einstienien models will stop working, just that there are more accurate models that can be used.

The point is that our current scientific views should never be taken as the absolute fact of the thing, but just as another iteration that is better than what was there before. Each of these 'facts' is added to our corpus of truth, which helps us better understand the things around us.

This leads to my second complaint,

Some people claim "Religion cannot be demonstrated by Science". That is a stupid argument.

This comes back to the corpus of truth. What are you willing to give me in my corpus? If you give me only the things I can observe with my naked eye and bare hands, I'll prove that maggots come from rotting meat and frogs come from either rain or mud. But with only my bare hands and my naked eyes, I cannot prove cellular theory, or astronomy, or even how reproduction works. If you give me only what can be observed with the naked eye and manipulated with bare hands, it becomes difficult to prove religion.

If you take one simple thing from a mathematician's corpus of truth, let's say the definition of equality or the definitions of addition and subtraction, they will lose all ability to operate. Sure, it is possible to prove addition and subtraction with advanced math, but that math cannot be proven without addition and subtraction. Similarly, if I require proof that a number is always equal to itself, but I refuse to allow any definition of equality, I can destroy all of mathematics.

The point here is that all science is based on postulates. Things that cannot be proven for whatever reason but are accepted as fact anyway. For most people, things that can be directly observed are postulates -- you cannot prove that what you saw is actually what happened, or even that you observed it, but you accept that it is what you observed, and that it is correct.

If you give just enough postulates, those can be expanded to a corpus of truth that can demonstrate the existance of a higher power.

Finally, there are the people who never accept into their corpus of truth anything that contradicts their world-view.

These are the people I most feel sorry for. Yes, there are many things out there that I may disagree with, but I am willing to accept as a theory into my corpus of truth. I may not accept it as a fact, but at the least, I will accept that you accept it. But as is the way with science, contradictions in your corpus of truth must be resolved, or at least marked as 'further research required' before being accepted as fact. When enough evidence is collected to resolve the things to fact, Science is content.

So to the people who assert that Aliens are near Earth, that Alien UFO's abduct people and return them after performing whatever experiments they had in mind, I look at the body of observations that counter them. Air traffic controllers around the world would likely detect such a vessel. Millitaries and governments would quite likely have seen them. Their motion would be seen by astronomers of all kinds, those paid for by governments, by corporations, and by schools, the students and private researchers, and arm-chair scientists. Anything trying to cover it up would be improbable (not impossible).

Of course, I DO beleve in UFO's. They are simply that -- unidentified flying objects. Individuals cannot identify them. Governments deny them, and often for good reason. Many people saw classified aircraft and the governments denied their existance until they unveiled them publically. These were UFO's. Many people have been exposed to (in many cases illigal) radition tests or toxicity tests or other experiments that governments have denied, only to admit to decades later. Yet other things are not easily explained by governments, but by bizzare acts of nature. Lakes turn over, and can even explode. Mists of a dense fog, carbon dioxide, can form naturally and flood towns with death.

While these things may not be easily explained, theories can be developed, and they can be enterered into the Corpus of Truth, to be later accepted or denied.

But now I have looked at my watch, and looked at the time. I don't want to accept the consequences that my Corpus of Truth says I will likely face if I spend more time on this article, so I am finished now.



Frobnicator Frobnicator writes  |  more than 12 years ago This is here so I have a journal entry.

For anyone interested, the nick "Frobnicator" is a derivative of "frobnicate", which I haven't heard before. I started using the nick in 2000. I take it to mean 'one who frobnicates'. Here is the dictionary.com definition:


/frob'ni-kayt/ (Possibly from frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to frob, but "frobnicate" is recognised as the official full form). To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other 2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also sees the construction "to frob a frob".

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a continuum. "Frob" connotes aimless manipulation; "twiddle" connotes gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting; "tweak" connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant "frobnosticate" has also been reported.

Between '95 and 2000 I used the nick "Ixion" based on the Greek mythological king who did some pretty nasty things, incluing try to bed a god, and was punished.

Before that I went by "Zug", which I got from my older brother, but had to stop when Warcraft II came out and used "Zugzug" as a quote from one of their characters.

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