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I prefer my turkey ...

GrahamCox Left alone (99 comments)

I prefer my Turkey just the way it is. Wedged in between Greece and Iran.

12 hours ago
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Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

GrahamCox It's life Jim, but not as we know it... (304 comments)

If the environment of such worlds has large amounts of gamma radiation, surely whatever life evolves there will naturally be able to cope with it? Maybe our namby-pamby DNA-based life couldn't survive under those circumstances, but it's probable that there are trillions of alternatives.

3 days ago
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A Worm's Mind In a Lego Body

GrahamCox Re:Of course it scales (200 comments)

I take it you never managed to actually get through any of his books

And so many unnecessary assumptions on your part as well. Yes, I've read his book (singular; one was enough). I ploughed through it. I wasn't put off by the maths, just his argument. Perhaps using the term "magic" is oversimplifying, but it's what it amounted to as far as I'm concerned.

You can argue about whether he's right or wrong, but using my opinion as a platform for a personal attack on a total stranger just makes you look like an idiot, I'm afraid.

about two weeks ago
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A Worm's Mind In a Lego Body

GrahamCox Of course it scales (200 comments)

it does suggest that the ghost in the machine is just the machine. The important question is does it scale?

Our own brains are proof that it scales, at least if you get the implementation right. Unless you're of the rather woolly Penrose school of thought, there's nothing "magic" involved in the physical implementation of the mind, it's just physics. The devil is in the software model that it runs. We have no idea how that is architected, but experiments like this will probably help to shed some light.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

GrahamCox Re:You think that's bad? (327 comments)

You wasted your money. Apple themselves simply eliminate the temperature sensor when an SSD is installed, as they run cool no matter what. All you need to do is to short out the sensor input (as Apple do) and the system keeps the HDD fans ramped all the way down. This works on the iMac, not sure about the Macbook.

about two weeks ago
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Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism

GrahamCox Re:Most people don't object to public breast feedi (350 comments)

Breasts may be sexual to you, but that's your problem. Are a cow's udders sexual? Not even to other cows, as far as we can tell. I have never understood men's obsession with breasts, even as a straight man myself. I can only surmise that this stems from prevailing attitudes exactly like the one discussed here, that breast-feeding in public is somehow "inappropriate", which in turn indicates an entrenched prudishness in parts of western culture that is simply baffling. It's like how the sight of an uncovered ankle in Victorian times allegedly excited men, simply because it was something the culture denied them. Same with breasts now. Once all women are comfortable everywhere breastfeeding in public, a new generation of men will grow up (in every sense) not being titillated by them. It's that unwarranted obsession which is "inappropriate".

about two weeks ago
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25th Anniversary: When the Berlin Wall Fell

GrahamCox Teufelsberg listening post (151 comments)

One of the installations made obsolete by the fall of the Berlin Wall was the NSA's listening post on the Teufelsberg (itself an artificial hill built from the millions of tons of rubble cleared after WW2, burying a Nazi training camp and the highest point in the city). This should be on the list of any self-respecting nerd's list of places to visit in Berlin. It's really eerie now, largely abandoned though sort of occupied by some sort of artists' commune. You can get into the radomes which housed the antennae, and the acoustics in there are incredible - a whisper will travel around the room and a sharp clap goes around and around. Rumour has it that the flooded basement rooms, which are currently inaccessible, house some strange and dark secrets. The whole place will give you the shivers (and a great view over the city). I visited last year just after the Snowden revelations, and the overwhelming sentiment was the hope that one day the rest of the NSA will go to ruin in the same way.

about three weeks ago
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Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech

GrahamCox Re:Question (109 comments)

Not really. While many or most fads are memes, not all memes are fads. For example, 'democratic government' is a meme (just to pick a totally random example from the millions out there), and that's still going after 4,000 years.

about three weeks ago
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Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech

GrahamCox Re:Question (109 comments)

Meme

about three weeks ago
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Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

GrahamCox Re:Who fucking wrote this? (594 comments)

Nearly everything you do carries some risk of death with it. That's part of life.

Nearly? Being born carries a 100% risk of death with it. At least for now.

about three weeks ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

GrahamCox Re:Focus on solutions (695 comments)

Who cares? If it's real, then we get it fixed. If it's not real, we have a much more efficient food production system and energy sources.

about three weeks ago
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UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault

GrahamCox Focus on solutions (695 comments)

By the look of it 99% of this thread is arguing about whether they're right or wrong, whether it's political, blah, blah, blah. To be honest, it's all hot air and not helping.

How about focusing on solutions? Whether AGW is real or not makes no difference, possible solutions are actually not that hard to achieve - that's what people need to understand, that the situation isn't hopeless, and doing them will be a good thing anyway.

For example, growing a lot of fast-growing plant matter such as bamboo and charcoalizing it, and then ploughing that charcoal into the soil will sequester massive amounts of carbon in a form that stays locked up and boosts agricultural yield by improving the soil. Applied on a large enough scale, it could cut C02 emission in half. The boost to production alone makes it worth doing even if it had no effect on C02. Another easy win is changing farming habits so that grazing doesn't over-deplete grasslands - graze a small area then let it fully recover instead of allowing cattle and sheep to wander at will. All this takes is fencing. The improved grassland will fix another 50% of the C02 emission problem if applied everywhere that vast grasslands are grazed. A bonus of merely changing your fencing systems is massively improved drought tolerance - it's being tried here in Australia and the results are astounding. There, 100% of the C02 problem fixed without even starting on renewable energy. Doing all these things is good regardless, solving climate change is just a bonus.

about three weeks ago
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Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

GrahamCox Re:So what? (764 comments)

Quite. In fact, being hetero probably means your sex life is far less interesting than many gay people's. Well, I'm probably speaking for myself...

about a month ago
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Tim Cook: "I'm Proud To Be Gay"

GrahamCox Re:Gay? (764 comments)

I've never taken it to mean "proud" as in superior - that's not, and never has been, what pride has meant. Pride is the opposite of shame, and there's no reason to feel shame (as it was in the past) if you're gay, so to say you're proud is simply "not ashamed".

about a month ago
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Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Breached

GrahamCox Elsewhere in the world (265 comments)

It seems that the hoo-hah about CurrentC is local to the USA; I'd never heard of it until this week. Here in Australia most retailers have installed paywave terminals in the last 18 months - it's now almost ubiquitous alongside chip and pin terminals. In fact, it's so ubiquitous that it's becoming a minor annoyance when a retailer hasn't got it yet. I do think that it has reached the point of maximum convenience really - getting your card out and waving it at a terminal is probably about the minimum effort it's ever going to be. Even getting out your phone instead is slightly MORE effort, as it involves (in the case of the iPhone anyway) the extra step of authenticating using the fingerprint scanner. That additional step might be acceptable as it adds a layer of security that your card doesn't have.

However, from what I've read about CurrentC, there's no way that it's going to get any traction. It's nowhere near as convenient and it seems it's nowhere near as secure. It's also conflicted in that it's trying to be attractive to the retailer as well as the consumer - those things can't be easily reconciled. But the killer is that paywave is already here and people are already getting used to that degree of simple convenience - anything that goes backwards now is never going to be popular. The horse has bolted, CurrentC is trying to close the stable door. The fact that some retailers have been forced to turn off paywave because they signed up to support CurrentC betrays their thinking: we know paywave is far more convenient and we haven't got a hope in hell if people get used to it, so let's pretend it never happened.

If I had anything to do with CurrentC, I would be packing my things.

about a month ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

GrahamCox Always amusing (669 comments)

It's always amusing to watch religious people tying themselves into knots trying to fit reality into their various belief systems. The problem with that (and why it's sorta fun to watch, for a while) is that the ONE thing that cannot be allowed to change is the belief system. Those who would argue that science is just another belief system need to understand that if true, then it's at least the only belief system that is flexible and willing to change in response to reality, rather than vice versa.

Anyway, it's pretty easy to logically disprove the concept of god as most religions seem to define him/her/it. Most religions, especially the abrahamic ones, state that god is all-loving, omnipotent and omniscient: he knows all, sees all and is all-powerful (and he loves us all too!) Wow, pretty cool god there. But, says a five-year-old child, if god's so great, why does he allow bad things to happen? Either he is omnipotent, and chooses not to do anything about "bad stuff", like preventing a flood that kills thousands, showing he's not all-loving, or he would do, but didn't know it was happening, showing he's not all-knowing, or did know about it, and looked on helplessly, showing he's not omnipotent. Or maybe god's just an asshole. Or maybe he doesn't exist. I know which conclusion I tend towards.

about a month ago
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Tetris Is Hard To Test

GrahamCox One line? (169 comments)

If anybody wrote code like that for me, they'd be made to sit on the naughty step and think very, very hard about what they'd done.

about a month ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

GrahamCox Re:Sheep (489 comments)

Free speech is about haveing the right to express your opinion without fear of retaliation

Express away, you overprivileged cunt with an overinflated sense of self-worth. You are the scum of the earth and deserve nothing less than to be horribly beaten and raped by a gang of spanner-wielding bikers.

Here's the thing. Free speech does not trump the other basic principle I mention, to do as you please as long as it does not harm others. There is no doubt that in some cases, your free speech can harm others. And I mean harm, not just offend. I agree about not having the right not to be offended, but it's not black-and-white. And if what I wrote above did have some small effect on you, then think about that. Imagine if you were on the receiving end of something like that day in, day out and it really affected you? Some people might not be as robust as you.

Just have a little compassion. Is it really too much to ask?

about a month ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

GrahamCox It's not censorship or more government control (489 comments)

I think a lot of people are misinterpreting the intent of this. Much as I despise the current UK government, and am deeply concerned about surveillance and censorship and erosion of privacy and free speech generally, I think in this case it's not what's being proposed at all.

Basically, I believe in being free to do as you please unless it harms others. There's no doubt that trolling, in some cases, does harm, but right now the punishment isn't very harsh for the worst cases, and most people that indulge in trolling feel they have the "right" to do it (those were the exact words used by a recent troll who attacked the McCanns online and was called out on it by the news media; she later committed suicide. A pretty sad case for everyone concerned). This is confusing the right to free speech with a non-existent right to slander and libel with impugnity. If you are attacked, and it harms you (for some definition of harm) then you should have the right to prosecute the perpetrator to the extent the law allows.

All this is proposing is that harmful trolling is taken more seriously, and I agree with that. A judge will rule on the merit of any case brought, and hand down a sentence as he sees fit. This is merely proposing that the maximum available sentence is extended from 6 months to 2 years, and I agree with that. Note that this has nothing to do with the government having greater powers to monitor online activity - the judiciary have nothing to do with the government in the UK. If someone is trolled online and they feel it has harmed them, it is up to them to report it and press charges, and present their case in court. The government are not involved at all.

about a month ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

GrahamCox Re:So what qualifies? (489 comments)

Who gets to decide what qualifies as trolling?

A judge in a court of law? That's their job.

Presumably if you feel particularly aggrieved by something you've had directed to you online, you can complain to the police and press charges. When it comes to court, the evidence is presented, the defence puts its case and the judge decides.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Einstein thought religion "childish superstiti

GrahamCox GrahamCox writes  |  more than 6 years ago

GrahamCox (741991) writes "The Guardian is running a story about a private letter of Albert Einstein's which is about to come up for auction:
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." So said Albert Einstein, and his famous aphorism has been the source of endless debate between believers and non-believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20th century as their own. A little known letter written by him, however, may help to settle the argument — or at least provoke further controversy about his views. Due to be auctioned this week in London after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, the document leaves no doubt that the theoretical physicist was no supporter of religious beliefs, which he regarded as "childish superstitions"."

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