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Newspaper Execs Hold Secret Meeting To Discuss Paywalls

LithiumX Re:One idea... (390 comments)

The problem is that recent history demonstrates one thing: People will gladly accept free crap of virtually no journalistic value over cheap crap that at least has a much higher value.

In the tech field, there is plenty of good free online journalism. Their expenses are relatively small, and are easily supported by advertising. Outside of the tech field, things get more costly due to scope - and the free alternatives either lean heavily on "pro" material (one of the news industries biggest complaints) or else just feed us trash worth about as much as what you get out of any scandal rag.

On the other hand, the previous guy's idea of forcing everyone to pay for some content is extremely distasteful. I think it would be much better to enforce some basic rules on content re-appropriation. While I love getting well-written news for free online, it's also one of the main reasons the people who write that news are going out of business - they don't get paid, and no one sees the ads that would normally fund them (because they're looking at the ads that fund the site that ripped off the content).

Attribution is fine, but in this case I think the newspapers are within their right to cooperate on this matter, because it's not price fixing if there are still going to be many free alternatives.

more than 5 years ago

Study Suggests Crabs Can Feel Pain

LithiumX Re:Required reading (628 comments)

Pain and death are horrible because of your level of awareness of them.

When you stub your toe, the pain is intense. It's a brilliant flash that you'd rather avoid. It can hurt worse than being shot - but being shot has a lot more emotional response associated with it. There's the aggression involved, violence, and of course fear of death or injury. It's the fear of what that pain means that makes it agony, that and the hardware to fully experience it rather than just register and react - more so than pain itself.

I'm pretty damned sure that a fish can be overloaded with pain signals. If you started gutting it alive, it would definitely feel it. But be honest - it wouldn't experience it in the same way that a lizard, or even a frog, would. Fish can display a basic mechanical intelligence, but the thing has no consciousness in a meaningful sense - it doesn't experience the world, it just exists in it. Any pain it feels is along the lines of a stubbed toe - it's reactions are out of reflex, there's no depth.

Do we know a fish has no mind? No, not with any certainty. Maybe everything is aware on some level, and it's wrong to kill anything for your own sustenance, etc etc. But... I don't believe in mysticism - a primitive animal is a primitive animal, and I'm not going to shed any tears for what happens to them. That changes as you go up the ladder, though. I have concern for a cow or a pig's quality of life, but I'm not remotely sorry for their death. I just wouldn't want them to suffer for it, because they're mammals (to be blunt about it). Chickens, I'm not as concerned about, within reason. Reptiles, I give the benefit of the doubt, and same with amphibians - though more grudgingly. Fish and anything lower, as far as I'm concerned, have no "well-being" to worry about.

A crab or lobster is so far down the totem pole that I don't think concepts like misery or torture can apply to them in any form. They react to pain, but that pain does not have the same meaning as when we're talking about something with an actual mind.

Tossing them in boiling water looks gruesome, but it's effective. All this talk of a quick kill ignores the fact that total removal of the head doesn't do a whole lot. You boil them because poison or impact trauma are about the only other alternatives. If you want to be more humanitarian, electrocute them. It's a little like worrying about offending a cockroach though - there's no common-sense in it.

more than 5 years ago

Marijuana Could Prevent Alzheimer's, New Study

LithiumX Re:Rational (807 comments)

I didn't say anything about profit. Growing any plant for profit is a lot of work and effort.

How much effort does it take to germinate a few seeds, plant the healthiest ones (spaced out), identify and weed out the males, and then let the females grow? Cannabis Sativa grows easily - all it needs is sun and water, and it's a much hardier than many of the common houseplants people grow every day. It doesn't take a major undertaking to maintain one or two plants - it doesn't even take skill. True, the THC content won't be as high as something grown by a pro, but if you followed a few easy rules you would have a serviceable home grown product.

No actual equipment is required beyond basic gardening tools. No intensive work is required - they're very pest and disease resistant. You would need an outdoor area to do it naturally, but a significant chunk of the population has that. A single healthy plant could satisfy an occasional smoker if buds are selectively harvested (instead of taking the entire plant like a for-profit operation) - and a single healthy plant takes no real effort compared to the other home hobbyist examples given earlier.

I don't disagree with a single thing you said, but you're arguing a point that I never intended to make. I meant small-scale personal use.

And for the record, I have never tried to actually grow one. Oh but I've dreamed, though. That means there could be something specific I'm overlooking due to inexperience, but I'm also pretty familiar with the process.

more than 5 years ago

Marijuana Could Prevent Alzheimer's, New Study

LithiumX Re:Rational (807 comments)

Please stop making this ridiculous argument. Beer is easy to make at home, but is legal and taxed. Food is easy to grow at home, but is legal and taxed in some (many?) states. Clothes are easy to make at home, but are legal and taxed in some (many) states.

Beer is doable, but not all that easy to make at home. You have to build at least a minimal apparatus, and you have to employ some fairly stringent (for a home environment) anti-contamination protocols. It takes time, and the end result usually ends up tasting a little better than horse piss. It's fun (and mine quit tasting like horse piss after a few tries), but not something that will ever be common. Regardless, you are still limited to a very small setup for tax reasons.

Food is food. Apart from subsidies, the growth of food is not very regulated (if for your own consumption). It's about as fundamental a right as there is. Food is also different - you're taxed on profit, but food itself is largely untaxed. Therefore grow all you like.

Clothes are not easy to make at home, at least nothing you'd wear outside. It takes skill and a minimum of equipment. It's not that difficult to build this skill, and brief "homespun" fads have hit the country many times since the Revolution, but on the whole clothing is something that you can rely on never being made at home - except for the statistically small hobbyist, and those who can't afford new clothes. Also, prohibiting clothes made at home would be extremely difficult to provide a reason for, no matter how much any industry screamed for it.

There are a number of reasons why cannabis was illegalized - and most of the common ones you hear are actually true to one extent or another, but none stand out much on their own. Taxation, immigrant paranoia, easy enforcement results, propaganda, and actual honest public health issues. However, brewers were one of the main original impetuses that got the ball rolling, so protecting profits was a major initial cause.

Note that, even today, the alcohol industry is STILL one of the primary sources of funding for anti-legalization. It's easy to see why.

more than 5 years ago

Interclue and What Going Proprietary Can Do

LithiumX Re:Proprietary solutions (149 comments)

Brother, might I suggest that you read a copy of the new 14th Edition? I noticed you applied an unword in your post. Groupwise goodtalk is doublegood for all. War is unwar. Unthink is strongwise. Crimethink is crimethink. [note: "Freedom is Slavery" is scheduled to be redacted as an Ingsoc motto due to inherent incompatibility with Newspeak]

more than 5 years ago

2009, Year of the Linux Delusion

LithiumX Re:Oranges to oranges, please. (696 comments)

I prefer all my Mac hardware to Windows . Huh?!
And I like my Logitech keyboard better than WordPerfect.

I don't quite get what you mean.

Though this christmas I do hope I get that nice 52" 1080i South Park I've been wishing I could afford. I'd have gotten one already, but I blew too much money on the 6-disc Iron Maiden I installed in my car last month.

more than 5 years ago

2009, Year of the Linux Delusion

LithiumX Re:Think Different! (696 comments)

The thing about OSX is that I'm not sure I actually like it. It's the prettiest OS I've ever used, but I almost never use my Mac anymore.

I got a Mac laptop a few years back - I got it more for the physical design than anything else. It was a little weird using a Mac (after rarely using them since the early 90's), but I got used to it. I also clocked a lot of hours on a more powerful desktop Mac at work. I'd say that's given me plenty of time to get used to the difference between a Mac and a Windows box.

Windows used to piss me off to no end - constantly crashing, making me lose my work. It's been a while since that's been the case though - of course, I'm still an XP user with no intent on migrating to Vista in the near future. I've got a lot of the "cool" features turned off - no transparency, no fade-in boxes or menus, and a generally stripped-down interface.

On the hardware side, I love Macs. Except for the prices I've paid for them, I prefer all my Mac hardware to Windows (except for mice - a single-button mouse is a good example of art over function. I quit using single-button mice on a mac years ago, and hate being stuck on someone else's).

But the operating system, while pretty, just doesn't do it for me - even after years of using it. The standard GUI is too simple to suit my needs, and it's advanced interfaces aren't so well designed as the alternatives. I got to like both KDE and Gnome quickly (they just suffer from a lack of decent apps to make them worth my using them), but I still see Macs, software-wise, as belonging in the domain of unskilled users, and techies who use them just to use a Mac.

All the same, I hope Macs have a bright future - if nothing else than to drive their competition.

more than 5 years ago

Review: Wrath of the Lich King

LithiumX Re:Cheese runner (545 comments)

There's not a lot of brainwashing in public education. What children learn is so watered-down, so politically correct, and so heavily shielded that they really don't come out of high school with anything like an opinion on much of anything.

For instance, instead of arguing over whether Intelligent Design should be taught in school, with the inevitable stalemate and pendulum-swing of opinion, the sensible thing would be to put it where it belongs - Social Studies. Instead, the arguing and wrangling effectively keeps kids from being exposed to any opinions at all - when we should be loading them with many opinions and letting them sort it out for themselves later.

more than 5 years ago

Review: Wrath of the Lich King

LithiumX Re:Cheese runner (545 comments)

Isn't one of the definitions of genocide the act of taking the children away from their families and brainwashing them, as defined by the guy who coined the term back in the late 40's - early 50's?

You mean like MTV?

more than 5 years ago

Scientists Achieve Mental Body-Swapping

LithiumX Re:Simulation (297 comments)

Hmmmm! Nothing like some good sim-stim virtual tree rat sex! The future is bright...

more than 5 years ago

Study Confirms Mobile Phones Distract Drivers

LithiumX Just don't answer (439 comments)

This is why I more or less ignore my cell phone when I'm driving - especially if traffic is tight, complicated, or even just "weird" that day. If it rings, I'll get it when I get the chance.

Most of the people I know who disagree with this tend to either be the same ones who insist they can drive with a few drinks in them (and some of them can, which doesn't make it any less dumb), or who are terminally hooked on their Crackberries and have to respond to every email and call immediately.

Even good drivers tend to drive a bit more like a crackhead when they're on the phone - which is why I simply refrain from it.

more than 5 years ago

Virtual Peace Sim Game Based On America's Army

LithiumX Re:I don't know (186 comments)

I don't know... I saw a few text references to zombie infestations and eradication mixed into hurricane events in Nicaragua.

I think someone's got a sense of humor that they're afraid to show in the video.

more than 5 years ago

Should We Clone a Neanderthal?

LithiumX Re:What line? (990 comments)

The problem is, there is a pretty high probability that a Neanderthal would be considerably more developed than what you're talking about. Judging by their lack of advances, art, and other remains - they probably wouldn't be particularly imaginative, inventive, or even just bright. However, everything we do know would suggest something human enough to either fit in the human category, or categorical limbo. They wouldn't be "mentally challenged" - they're more likely to be functional but simply "dumb". Dumb by our standards, but definitely in the human range.

If a Neanderthal were cloned and allowed to be born, it would be a lifetime commitment. At best, it would need to be supported for the rest of it's life. It probably wouldn't be a very good life... but on the bright side, it could be raised to never really understand that either.

Culturally, the modern variety just isn't ready to handle the reality of this. It's a good example of scientific capability developing far faster than moral capacity.

Cain isn't ready to meet Able yet.

more than 5 years ago

New "Juno" Mission To Jupiter Announced

LithiumX Re:Shame (71 comments)

...or just possibly NASA hasn't forgotten that their mandate includes far more more than chasing after the tantalizing hope of extraterrestrial life.

Most of the researchers there are certainly interested in the potential for life, but ultimately the "possible signs of life" banners are there to keep people interested. I'd love to see more of my tax dollars go towards probing every single body in this system - not to look for what may be useful decades or centuries later, but just to see what's there - which usually gives more interesting results.

Some day, maybe within our lifetimes, a probe will be sent to a nearby star, regardless of how many years such a mission would take. That mission will be expensive, and it will require public support. The ideal pitch is that it would be our very first foray to another star - a significant event in human history in itself. Judging by the past few decades, though, they'll have to resort to "Could There Be Life At Centauri" or similar talk. Sometimes it takes sci-fi dreams to get most people to support basic science.

more than 5 years ago

Mind Control Delusions and the Web

LithiumX Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (631 comments)

If you want to go into the psychology of it, yes... there is a reason for everything people do.

The problem is, you're making that reason more complicated than necessary. There is a deeper reason why some people harass others, treat others poorly. It's the same reason why some people are just plain mean. It's the same reason why most children, even the most angelic, have a streak of cruelty.

We are primates, and cathartic brutality - for it's own sake - is a factor of primate behavior that we are not immune to. Not only do we share it with our relatives, but it becomes more highly developed and intricate as you look at primates with higher intelligence. Monkeys can be mean to other animals - they can be observed stealing food and toys from other species (including cats, dogs, and other non-primates) and placing them where the animal can't reach them. This isn't a survival behavior, and the monkey clearly has no interest in the item itself - it's just denying it's use to the other animal. Chimps take it further - many cases have documented instances where research chimpanzees, unaware that they were being monitored, tormented chickens and other animals. In one case (see Dragon's of Eden, by Sagan) they repeatedly lured chickens to them with the promise of food, then poked them with a wire as soon as the chickens got close. The chickens did not learn, and the chimps were pretty obviously enjoying themselves.

Schadenfreude is a trait we all share, and which socialization aims to suppress for the good of all. Not only does empathy restrain it, but it's also a critical ingredient - you can't get a response from something you can't understand.

Cruelty, even in a healthy individual, results in an intense emotional response. In a properly socialized individual, most of this response is negative (due to empathy). A normal person, though, derives some primitive excitement from seeing the misfortune of another. There are limits to this, but emotional excitement does have a powerful attraction. Ever seen footage of apes going, well, "apeshit", when witnessing the beating of another of their kind? You can see the same thing in humans when they observe a fight. "Drama" is an intellectualized form of this - we watch characters go through unpleasant situations, and while we don't necessarily clap our hands and get excited, we do derive pleasure from the emotional catharsis of watching another's (fictional) misery. The fact that it's fiction makes this permissible. Most sports are also a controlled form of this. It's not something to totally hide or shun - it's core human psychology - but it's also something that has to be controlled in order to have anything like a healthy stable social order - and a desire for this is most of what defines a "healthy" individual.

Don't believe me? Next time you're on the freeway, driving by a wreck, look at all the rubberneckers and tell yourself they're just being cautious.

People who openly derive pleasure from tormenting others do not automatically have a specific disorder. Events that built their character are just cause and effect - we are all the product of our past. The bully who was bullied always had a choice. They do not lack empathy either, or else it wouldn't be cruelty - just aggression. Unless they have a very specific underlying cause, something chemical or biological, they are just an individual who allows themselves to take full pleasure in the same beastial stimulation that we all train ourselves to resist. This desensitizes them, which is why many can become increasingly depraved over time. If the person is low-key in their tastes, they might enjoy harassing someone. If they take it far enough, and are otherwise sane, people die.

We all have a mean streak - it's in our genes. Some people will always be cruel because some people will just never care - and will never understand why the rest of us do.

more than 5 years ago

Mind Control Delusions and the Web

LithiumX Re:Filed Under the NYT's "Fashion & Style?" (631 comments)

I wonder if I could make a product selling an aluminum-lined series of hats - look fashionable on the outside, but protect you from mind control on the inside.

Scariest thing is, reading some of the websites referenced by the article, I can easily see the "new web" leading to actual semi-organized persecution happening for real - the dark side of a flash mob. Most normal people would rebel once they saw it happening around them, but there are far too many people out there who would love to harass someone for no reason at all.

more than 5 years ago

Of childhood "building" toys, my favorite is ...

LithiumX Re:mystery. (785 comments)

I used to build scaffolding and benches from popsicle sticks, and my GI Joes would hold Nuremberg trials - with my sister's Barbies as the war criminals (usually with Storm Troopers acting as guards). I also rigged up Castle Greyskull (w/ the trap door) as an effective gallows. The trials were always timed so that the executions commenced as soon as she came home from school. It didn't help that I had a minor habit of retrieving her discarded Barbie's from the trash and modifying them (melting the heads so that they were stuck hanging to the side - like their necks were broken).

Eventually she learned that the best revenge was for me to find my He-Man figures taking tea with her toys, in frilly dresses.

After a few years of this, a truce was ultimately declared, over the fallout from her "borrowing" my legos - right in the middle of one of my extensive lego robot sagas.

more than 5 years ago

Jack Thompson Disbarred

LithiumX Re:Hallelujah! (522 comments)

Fat chance. Now he'll have his own talk show on Fox

The man doesn't appear to be entirely sane. It's near-impossible to tell if his ravings are the product of delusions - or just attempts to apply ANY potential perversion of logic to avoid the crop he's sown.

With the lunatic rambling this guy uses to defend his arguments, and all of his abuse of supposition in lieu of actual logic, I'm pretty sure no network would dream of giving him his own show.

Wait... did you say Fox?
Forget everything I just said then...

more than 5 years ago

Will Modern Games Stand the Test of Time?

LithiumX Re:What about today's classics (210 comments)

The ability to think quickly, manage a complex and changing battlefield environment, and not only defend the infrastructure to manufacture a large army but also maintain the flow of resources in order to feed that (hungry) tank machine - all add to the appeal of RTS games - and I'm a veteran of both turn-based and RTS wargames.

Turn-based strategy games are intellectually stimulating. It requires deep strategizing and planning, and can result in a good game that lasts days. They are also, regrettably, a bit boring. They lack the same shifting-puzzle nature that makes Chess a classic for the ages. There is a reason why the RTS market completely dominated the TBS market as soon as it became viable.

RTS games are a totally different animal. It's not as dry as a TBS game - the speed and constant activity give you a much more solid connection to the mind you are trying to defeat. Every moment of attention spent in one place is a gamble. There is no boredom - you never have to wait for a slow player. Additionally, it rewards quick thinking and resiliency in ways that TBS just can't compete with. I never broke a sweat during a TBS game, but there is no gaming experience like the nervous tension (often filled with chainsmoking) you experience when you have an entire army poised on the tip of an all-or-nothing assault.

Also, psychology is difficult to employ, and impossible to deploy well, in all but the very best TBS games. On the other hand, even the most poorly-designed RTS game allows for misdirection, confusion, and outright misleading your enemy.

The average RTS games, in my opinion, have generally been superior (in terms of entertainment) to all of the best TBS games I have played (and I have fond memories of Axis and Allies, Risk (if that counts), and of course a blast from the past - Ogre). Risk remains popular largely due to it's simplicity - more complex versions of it have been made for a very long time, but never stand the test of time.

I don't think many individual RTS games will last for long, largely because they are all based on a specific gimmick, story, or appearance. As a format, I think RTS will remain a major theme in games for the foreseeable future. TBS has already fallen by the wayside, no matter how much a few segments of the populations love them. The only way a specific RTS would last is if it were more generic - if it had fewer associations, and fell into the format of "army vs army" with less emphasis on story.

Also, I happen to be a tank rush aficionado. A great many have fallen, sobbing, before the unholy might of my inhuman efficiency.

about 6 years ago


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