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Harvard Scientists Say It's Time To Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

HiThere Re:We've been doing it for a long time (313 comments)

How do you get the different countries committed to the same climate change ... and to hold their decision long enough to have a desired effect?

I think the politics are too chaotic and short-sighted to make geoengineering feasible, even if there weren't a great need to avoid mistakes.

2 days ago
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GTK+ Developers Call For Help To Finish Cross-Platform OpenGL Support

HiThere Re:Sorry GTK (89 comments)

GNUStep is very interesting, but every time I've tackled it, I've bounced. Sometimes I literally couldn't figure out how to do things, other times it's just that it was too difficult to bother.

They *REALLY* need better documentation. Probably the toolkit is fine. Every time I worked at it long enough I was able to make it do what I wanted, but the documentation is truely terrible. And it needs to be written by someone who already understands the system.

If the GNUStep documentation had been better, I'd probably be programming in Objective C today. (Well, maybe not, I tend to switch between languages a lot. But I would have used it significantly.)

about a week ago
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GTK+ Developers Call For Help To Finish Cross-Platform OpenGL Support

HiThere Re:Bring out the Krita (89 comments)

Well, I haven't tried it in a few years, but the last time I found it intensely horrible, to the extent that it was unusable. OTOH, for most of what I do I prefer Inkscape over the GIMP.

about a week ago
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Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

HiThere Re: Split Comcast in two (135 comments)

The is only possible if the hardware layer is separated from the rest of the business. The hardware layer is a natural monopoly, in the same way that water pipes are. The ISPs have created monopolies by packaging the hardware layer together with the communication services. They MUST be separated. Even wireless has it's limits, though cellular can get to pretty small cells in dense populations. But that's a part of the hardware layer, as are cable and fiber (and for that matter flocks of pidgeons).

about a week ago
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How To Anesthetize an Octopus

HiThere Re:Paralyzed yet Fully Aware (105 comments)

One of my hypotheses about how anesthesia works is that it prevents the fixation of memories. Certainly they have that effect while you are coming out from under them.

If you combine no permament memories with paralysis you get all the signs that I see WRT anethesia. OTOH, I do understand that there are other tests (brain waves, cortisol, etc.) which indicate that more than that is going on.

about a week ago
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Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes

HiThere Re:Why is this allowed? (201 comments)

Because governmental employees get to decide when to enforce the law.

about a week ago
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Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation

HiThere Re:We already have laws to cover this (301 comments)

Reports so far seem to be that cameras help, even if they can be turned off. But allowing them to be turned off at a whim is clearly a major weakness.

Also, the videos don't need to be watched and evaluated. They need to be cached in a write-once append only memory. And stored in a place untouchable by the police...and perhaps by the courts, only copies are accessible. Thus copies would be available under subpoena.

The question is, should reporters be allowed access? And reporter doesn't mean someone employed by a media company, it includes stringers, muckrakers, and people with an axe to grind. The question is, should they be allowed to post copies of the records. Many of the records shouldn't be available to people without records being kept of who saw them. As has been pointed out that would be valuable information to, e.g., burglars. But there needs to be a way to make the significant information public that has less cost and paperwork than a legal subpoena.

Clearly NONE of the current methods of dealing with this are even approaching what is required, and there are lots of corner cases. But its also clear that while setting up a good system is a big design problem, it not major....except for getting everyone to agree.

about two weeks ago
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Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation

HiThere Re:We already have laws to cover this (301 comments)

Why do you think we don't want that? It's just that in the case of the police, there's a chance that we could get it. As for the officer's "bathroom duties", so what. They don't care much about our privacy, so why should we care about theirs. Still, ok, have the camera be able to be put into a "marking time" mode...but there still needs to be continuous sound recording. It should be a firing offense to disable the camera while acting as a police officer.

about two weeks ago
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President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

HiThere Re:Obama (704 comments)

Do you honestly equate a speech with action?

I'll give him more than passing credit when he actually does something good. The last one I can recall is Romneycare, and even that one is dubious. It didn't cut out the insurance companies, it didn't cut the paperwork, and the funding is insecure.

about two weeks ago
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Scientists Discover a Virus That Changes the Brain To "Make Humans More Stupid"

HiThere Re:First time? (275 comments)

It's a problem, in that it encourages risky behaviors. This, however, isn't the same as either making you smarter or stupider...though it will often result in your acting stupider. There is, however, no evidence that if you stop and think about it, you won't make decisions that are just as intelligent as you would otherwise make. My guess it that it softens the effectiveness of the voice of caution. Another way of saying that is it makes you braver.

It's quite fortunate that it's not as potent on humans as it is on mice, but then brave humans are only rarely eaten by cats, so it has little reason to adapt itself specifically to humans.

about two weeks ago
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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA

HiThere Re:I remember (231 comments)

That, of course, *is* a problem. I don't have unbiased sources. I'm not even sure that such a thing is possible. There are too many different ideas of what is oppressive, and what is liberating.

E.g.: If you are afraid to walk down a street at night because government policy says that they don't police such, is that oppression? Yi! You could equally say it's liberating, and some people would certainly find it so. That's an extreme, but many policies are liberating to one group of people while oppressing another. Do you think that theives and murderers should be oppressed? I do. But not at all costs, and drawing that line is not anything that all people agree on.

about two weeks ago
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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA

HiThere Re:Sue. (231 comments)

Not everyone has a lawyer on retainer just idling his time away, and plenty of money. Even then, I believe that precedent is against her. IIRC it has been ruled that the constitutional guarantees don't apply to people crossing the border (or, for that matter, bein within 200 miles of either a border, an international airport, or a sea port where foreign ships might dock...please note this covers most of the population of the country).

about two weeks ago
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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA

HiThere Re:pretty foolish (231 comments)

It's quite difficult to have less supervisions than the NSA and the CIA. Those are people who can lie to congress under oath, be found out, and still not pay ANY penalty.

about two weeks ago
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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA

HiThere Re:I remember (231 comments)

The US is still a country that isn't oppressive...not measured against a global average. It's just headed the wrong direction, and taking "not currently oppressive" steps that will make the slide into an oppressive state difficult to stop.

E.g., a database identifying everyone by photo and voiceprint isn't, in and of itself, oppressive. It's only when you mix it with authoritarian legislation that it becomes so. Alternatively it could be a database for ensuring that sick or injured people could be treated with due care to avoid medications that they were allergic to.

The problem is that the government is untrustworthy. You can't trust them to have good intentions, so when they do something that has multiple possible uses, you need to expect that they will abuse it. They may also use it beneficially, but here a kind of inequality rears its head: Any one act can do a lot more damage than good. So if you think something will be used for both good and bad, you need to expect that the bad will to a lot more damage than the good heals.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HiThere Re:Prions (221 comments)

Sorry, but you have only identified a subset of prions. The larger number take raw materials put together by cells and fold them into images of themselves...which enables them to do the job needed by the cell. In doing this they are "taking an available resource" and transforming it into a copy of themselves.

Occasionally one will misfold...i.e. suffer a mutation during reproduction. This new copy will also take available resources and transform it into copies of itself. Often these new forms will be either useless or actively harmful to the cell that is building the proteins. Sort of destroying the environment that allowed them to floruish.

It's true I am specifically using words to describe the actions of the prion that are typically used for organisms, and I'm doing it with intent, but they are also accurate descriptions.

Someone else commented about this as an example of "the tyranny of the discontinuous mind", and they're probably exactly correct. This is a case where classifying something as either alive or not alive isn't helpful.

about two weeks ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing

HiThere Re: Nothing? (429 comments)

Yes, but if space and time are non-existant, then there's no time for a quantum transition to happen in. So it can't happen. And there's no place for it to happen. So it can't happen. So I feel that must be a mistake.

So space and time must pre-exist, even if there's nothing in them. And given that, there's little reason to presume that we live in the "first" universe to erupt. But if dark energy (or a Big Crunch) is a built in characteristic of erupting universes, and if they rarely happen, then we would see very little evidence of them. And that would imply that there should be traces of the prior universe at the time of the subsequent universe erupting. But the traces are likely to be minisicule even at the time of the new eruption. Because it's quite difficult to do a thorough cleaning job. This doesn't mean that there will be any way to detect their presence, however.

Unfortunately, this does raise the question of "What do you mean 'time passing' when there's noting present?". The best answer that I have is that if someone were there to measure it they could measure it by noticing virtual pair creation, but they couldn't be there to measure it without disrupting the state of the system. Still, it's a definition, and if space and time exist it should be valid. And it's required to be valid or you couldn't have the kind of large eruption that yields a universe.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HiThere Re:"Generalized Life" (221 comments)

There are a lot of things that fit that rather abstract description that I don't consider life, but which I do consider evolving. Stars for example. More recent generations of stars have evolved to consist of more heavy elements than did the earlier generations. (Granted parentage is a bit difficult to specify, as the parent is generally long dead before the descendant is born. And, of course, the Hydorgen involved is primordial, but then so are the elements of any life form, what matters is the organization...for some meaning of organization.)

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HiThere Re:Discover life? (221 comments)

I think you need to think more carefully about metabolism. If a virus not alive because it externalizes its metabolism? Many forms of life externalize, say, their digestion, and yet we still say they digest their food.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HiThere Re:Discover life? (221 comments)

What do you mean "cheating"? Many parasites can only exist and reproduce in extremely specialized environments.

about two weeks ago
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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

HiThere Re:Have we discovered all there is to discover? (221 comments)

Are Prions a form of life? If not, why not?

They don't use DNA, they use proteins.

OTOH all known Prions are either symbiotes or parasites.

Whether we recognize any particular non-DNA using entity as a form of life is going to depend strongly on what definition we use for life.

about two weeks ago

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