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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

Mr. Slippery Re:Its not nothing (589 comments)

If physicists don't have a proper answer to "Why is there something rather than nothing" then they should stop pretending they do by the deceit of changing the definition of "nothing".

The issue of whether anyone has a "proper" answer -- indeed, if there is a "proper" answer -- turns on the ambiguity of the word "why". We use that word in three very different senses.

When we ask, "why is the sky blue?", we are asking "by what lower-level phenomena is the sky seen as blue?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that is static (or very short duration) in time and varies over the reductionist depth of phenomena: photons are scattered by air molecules, some of them enter your eye, trigger certain receptors in the retina, this is processed by the nervous system causing a sensation that your brain has been culturally trained to associate with the symbol "blue".

When we ask, "why did the Challenger explode?", we are asking "by what causal chain of events, one after the other, did the Challenger explode?" We want a causal sequence of explanations that extends over time and is fairly static in reductionist depth: politics prompted a launch in cold weather, cold weather caused the O-ring to warp, the warped O-ring caused hot gas to leak, boom. We want a time sequence that (in this instance) stays at the level of everyday experience, doesn't go in to the quantum mechanics of the O-ring or the grand historical narrative of humanity's existence.

When we ask, "why did Alice go the dance with Bob?", we are asking "what motives and values prompted Alice's decision?" We want an explanation of the desires and actions of intelligent agents, not a story about the atoms that make up her body.

When we ask "why is there something rather than nothing?", some people are looking for "God did it" -- the third type of answer. But there can't be an intelligent agent before there is something, so the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

Some people are looking for the second type of answer: they want some cosmological causal chain of events as to how space and energy came to be. But any causal chain of events would be a thing, not nothing, so again the question in that sense is contradictory and meaningless.

What we have here is a proposed answer in the first sense, lower-level phenomena.

If you're looking for cause-over-time or motive as an answer to "why is there something rather than nothing", you've fallen into a linguistic trap around the ambiguity of the word "why".

5 days ago

Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

Mr. Slippery Re:Snowden, that's why it's relevant to /.ers. (193 comments)

Colbert noted. "I see the Norwegians gave Snowden 30 Nobel Prize nominations. The guy's practically a war criminal - I don't understand how they could put him up for the same prize they once gave to Henry Kissinger."

That whooshing sound you hear? That's Colbert's satire going right over your head. If the Kissinger/peace prize reference didn't tip you off, consider that he said it at the same event that he said "I'm sure that under enhanced liberty you can have all the privacy that you want, just like under enhanced interrogation you can breathe all the water you want."

5 days ago

Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

Mr. Slippery Re:Clinical Genome Sequencing (290 comments)

There have been a small handful of truly major revolutions in the history of medicine (aseptic surgery, vaccines, antibiotics) and clinical genome sequencing will be such a revolution.

Clinical medicine is useful and all, but not great basic science.

5 days ago

Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover

Mr. Slippery Re:Level of public funding ? (290 comments)

Many Americans don't even accept evolution or global warming yet.

No germane to the point.

Pretending that where we are is the furthest we'll ever get is not constructive and not correct.

A curve which approaches a line asymptotically will make its big progress early (taking t as the horizontal axis) and small gains afterward. It will still get closer, but not in a way that makes a big change. It's a reasonable hypothesis that science will approach the maximum possible knowledge of the world in the same fashion.

There is a limit on how much human beings will ever be able to observe, and how much human beings will be ever to able to calculate. (If we blow it and ruin our spaceship and die off in the next century or two, which is quite possible, we may be close to that limit already.) If science is not approaching this maximum possible knowledge, it's a failure; if it is approaching this maximum possible knowledge, then there is less and less left to possibly know. The amount of possible knowledge is not infinite.

5 days ago

Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

Mr. Slippery Re:No she did not win any lawsuit. (639 comments)

No. She didn't win a lawsuit.

She filed a lawsuit, "a case where two or more people disagree and one or more of the parties take the case to a court for resolution", an "attempt to gain an end by legal process; a process instituted in a court of law for the recovery of a right or claim". She got what she wanted. How is that not winning a lawsuit?

The actual Kozinski ruling suggests that actors HAVE a copyright in the final work despite decades of copyright law to the contrary.

That's sensible. A film actor is a co-creator of a work; if musicians covering a song have a copyright interest in a sound recording, it is inconsistent for film actors playing a scripted role to not have a copyright interest in a video recording.

This could finally establish the principle that people have a copyright interest in photographs of them in any but the most mundane situations; that's a principle that could resolve issues around "revenge porn" and around people getting upset around photos of them being posted on social media without their consent (see the hostility around Google Glass).

about a week ago

SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

Mr. Slippery Re:Completely wrong summary (319 comments)

It's the amount a willing buyer and a willing seller will agree on if neither is under any external constraint (such as rent controls).

There is no such thing as "if neither is under any external constraint".

The very nature of "property" is that it is an external constraint created and enforced by the state. It's the state saying to the "owner", "Here is a piece of paper that says you own this thing. If anyone uses it without your consent, we will send men with guns to stop them," thus placing a constraint on everyone else.

about a week ago

Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

Mr. Slippery Re:Best. Slashdot. Interview. Evar. (124 comments)

but the rider for giving a simple speech includes such gems as "If you buy a captured wild parrot, you will promote a cruel and devastating practice, and the parrot will be emotionally scarred before you get it."

Way to take something out of context. To paraphrase what RMS is saying there: "I'd rather crash at a friendly person's house than stay at a hotel. But I'm allergic to cats, and dogs sometimes freak me out. Parrots are really cool though, and I'd love to visit a house with a parrot. But don't buy a parrot just to impress me, because having a parrot is a big deal, a big commitment, and if you do it wrong that's cruel. And meeting a sad parrot would not be fun."

A large part of what you're referring to as a "rider" is more of a list of hospitality considerations. It's socially awkward, sure, but it would take a really gifted person to maintain the sort of speaking schedule he does without writing up some advance care and feeding instructions.

about a week ago

Why Are We Made of Matter?

Mr. Slippery Re:What if there is no reason? (392 comments)

Couldn't a machine exist like you that did the exact same things you'd do but wasn't conscious at all?

I don't think so, no. An organism that monitors and predicts its own state and the states of the members of its social group has a competitive advantage. When that process is complex enough, looping back to monitor and predict the process of monitoring and predicting -- and monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting the process of monitoring and predicting, and so on -- we call it consciousness. A machine that wasn't conscious wouldn't be monitoring and predicting its own state and the states of its social group in that complex, looping fashion, and so wouldn't do the exact same things.

about two weeks ago

Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Mr. Slippery Re:one reason why people hate Linux (641 comments)

Linux doesn't make your dick bigger.

No, and thank goodness for that -- why mess with perfection?

GNU/Linux and Android systems do, however, make your freedom bigger -- not perfectly so, but contrasted with the freedom-shrinking offerings from MS and Apple, Linux is a clear win.

And, more relevantly, on a tech site (this is still one, right?), we ought to expect people -- especially those who ask loaded questions -- to know that Linux is a kernel and is common to both GNU/Linux and Android systems (as well as a few other rarer OSes).

about two weeks ago

Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

Mr. Slippery Re:Freedom of Speech? (328 comments)

The problem is that generally, in the absence of any other agreement, the photographer owns the copyright to the image and can give that image to whatever site he or she chooses.

And that's the heart of the problem. We need to recognize that interesting photographs of people should be seen by default as a collaboration between the photographer and the subject, and ought not to be publishable without the subject's consent.

My life is an ongoing creative work, and photographs of me are derivatives of that work. A photo of me walking down a public street dressed normally might well fall under fair use, but not so for a photo for which I pose deliberately in all my creative awesomeness.

about two weeks ago

Federal Bill Would Criminalize Revenge Porn Websites

Mr. Slippery Re:Freedom of Speech? (328 comments)

Guess who is the Constitutionally appointed authority on the Constitution?

Not the SCOTUS. They assumed that power for themselves with Marbury v. Madison.

about two weeks ago

Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Mr. Slippery Re:informal poll (641 comments)

i'm not talking all FOSS and this doesn't include Android...I'm asking specifically about the Linux OS

So, you want to know who runs Linux, and you don't know what Linux means. Facepalm.

My desktop runs Fedora, and my laptops run Ubuntu Studio, which are versions of the GNU/Linux OS. My Transformer, my no-name tablet, and my phones run Android, an OS based on Linux.

I also have one cheap second-hand laptop that runs Windows, bought only because I had to make precise changes to the layout of a Word doc for my book. Gross incompetence on the part of the person doing layout for my publisher.

about two weeks ago

OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Mr. Slippery Re:Im all for human rights... (1482 comments)

I thought you meant the GRAs were having their beliefs enshrined in law and thus using state power to force their religion on others.

Civil marriage has nothing to do with religion. Your church is free to administer the sacrament of matrimony, or its equivalent, to whoever it likes. There are plenty of legally married hetero couples who are not married in the eyes of the Catholic church...few give a damn. Same sex marriage is no different. Doesn't interfere with anyone's religion.

about two weeks ago

OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Mr. Slippery Re:April Fools stories are gay (1482 comments)

I just don't see why people can't be polite while they disagree, instead of all of this jumping up and down and screaming.

"I like the music of Rick Astly." "I prefer the smooth sounds of Barry Mannilow." "Well, we disagree, but I see no reason to be polite about it."

"I would like to have equal rights under the law." "No. My religion teaches that you are subhuman scum." "Well, get the fuck out of my way because I'm taking equality anyway."

Some things you get to disagree about. Some things you don't. The legal equality of all human beings is in the later category.

about two weeks ago

OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights

Mr. Slippery Re:Wait... wha? (1482 comments)

Your'e free to assert that, but you're not really engaging in the debate.

There's not a debate in which to engage. Under the U.S. Constitution, states must grant equal protection of law to all citizens. That implies making civil marriage available to same-sex couples. When a person can't do something because of the shape of their genitals or the pretense or absence of a Y chromosome, ipso facto that's not equal treatment.

If you (general you, not aimed at DoofusOfDeath) disagree, you're simply wrong, the same as is you claimed that equal protection didn't apply to interracial couples. If you think same-sex couples should be discriminated against, you're a bigot,and debating bigots is as pointless as debating creationists or climate science denialists.

The legal and moral situation is no different than if a state tried to block interracial couples from marrying. Anyone who supports such efforts, including Eich, should be shunned by all decent human beings. Until such time as he issues a public apology and states he's renounced his bigotry, fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

about two weeks ago

Continued Rise In Autism Diagnoses Puzzles Researchers, Galvanizes Advocates

Mr. Slippery Re:really? really. (558 comments)

it's about not having the same brain mapping as "normals"

Being different is not a disease. Pathologizing deviance from the statistical norm is a piss-poor idea.

Yes, some people do have an actual pathology. But the problem is broadening the diagnostic criteria, to the point where everyone can be suffering from some sort of "disorder".

about two weeks ago

Million Jars of Peanut Butter Dumped In New Mexico Landfill

Mr. Slippery Re:Viva USA (440 comments)

Over 20 years ago I watched news video from California plowing a HUGE mountain of perfectly good, edible oranges into the ground.

Goes back a lot farther than 20 years -- there's a passage in The Grapes of Wrath that talks about perfectly good produce being destroyed in order to prop up prices:

The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country. Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

about two weeks ago

How Facebook and Oculus Could Be a Great Combination

Mr. Slippery Re:Depends (151 comments)

Android phones have Google lock-in

How is a device on which I can install CyanogenMod locked-in to Google? Please explain.

about two weeks ago



CentOS back on track

Mr. Slippery Mr. Slippery writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mr. Slippery writes "Following up on the previous story about CentOS: according to the CentOS web site, "The CentOS Development team had a routine meeting today with Lance Davis in attendance. During the meeting a majority of issues were resolved immediately and a working agreement was reached with deadlines for remaining unresolved issues. There should be no impact to any CentOS users going forward. The CentOS project is now in control of the CentOS.org and CentOS.info domains and owns all trademarks, materials, and artwork in the CentOS distributions.""

How we used to vote

Mr. Slippery Mr. Slippery writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mr. Slippery writes "Think hanging chads, illegal purges of the voter rolls, and insecure voting machines were bad? The New Yorker gives a look at how we used to vote back in the good old days: "A man carrying a musket rushed at him. Another threw a brick, knocking him off his feet. George Kyle picked himself up and ran. He never did cast his vote. Nor did his brother, who died of his wounds. The Democratic candidate for Congress, William Harrison, lost to the American Party's Henry Winter Davis. Three months later, when the House of Representatives convened hearings into the election, whose result Harrison contested, Davis's victory was upheld on the ground that any 'man of ordinary courage' could have made his way to the polls." Now I feel like a wuss for complaining about the lack of a voter-verified paper trail."
Link to Original Source

Gandalf is the new Number Two

Mr. Slippery Mr. Slippery writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mr. Slippery writes "According to Variety , "AMC and ITV will remake Patrick McGoohan's cult TV show `The Prisoner' as a six-part mini with Ian McKellen as Number Two and Jim Caviezel as Number Six." There's been talk about remake of The Prisoner for a long time, we'll see if this gets further than past efforts; certainly Sir McKellen's attachment to the project is a reason to hope it won't completely blow chunks."
Link to Original Source

WSU LUG Nerds to auction themselves to women

Mr. Slippery Mr. Slippery writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Mr. Slippery writes "Associated Press reports that Washington State University's LUG is planning to hold a "nerd auction". According to LUG president Ben Ford,"You can buy a nerd and he'll fix your computer, help you with stats homework, or if you're really adventurous, take you to dinner!" To promote the LUG (and comp sci in general) to women, the plan is that a handful of LUG members will get makeovers from a sorority. "The girls get to have their way with them and we'll document each makeover. We'll make a snazzy video and show it over dinner. After the dinner, we'll auction off the now studly nerds.""
Link to Original Source


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