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Red Dwarfs Could Sterilize Alien Worlds of Life

MrLizard If your first thought on reading the headline... (76 comments)

...wasn't "How can I work in a 'smeghead' joke?", Slashdot might not be the forum for you. I think there's ample openings to post over on TMZ or something.

about 5 months ago
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

MrLizard Re:Energy-matter synthesis (223 comments)

Ah, but it can it also create the necessary flavoring to create something which tastes almost, but not entirely, unlike tea?

about 5 months ago
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Adam Carolla Joins Fight Against Podcast Patent Troll

MrLizard Re:slight exaggeration (126 comments)

So-called "protection rackets" are not generally interested in shutting down business (unless they interfere with businesses owned by friends of the Godfather). They want "clients" to stay in business so that they can get paid protection money. Since they want to maximize their revenue, they don't even want to kill the shopkeepers if they don't pay up, just break some bones and maybe smash a few windows. What's more, the normal standard for failing to pay protection is a reasonable "both kneecaps for a first offense", so in most cases the protectors can't inflict enough damages to shut down the deadbeat's life functions.

about 7 months ago
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GOP Bill To Outlaw EPA 'Secret Science' That Is Not Transparent, Reproducible

MrLizard Creationist "science" (618 comments)

So, Creationists have conducted an experiment were, in one test, there is a God, and in the second test, there is NOT a God, and all other conditions are identical, and in the first, life appears, and in the second, it does not?

Or, even more simply, given a population with a mix of genetic traits, and selective pressure applied to make one trait more beneficial, they have shown that the proportion of the population with the selected-for trait does not change over time?

Because, really, that second paragraph is it. That's what would disprove "the theory of evolution by natural selection", which, boiled down, is simply that "changes in species over time are due to the selection of favorable traits". That life on Earth changed over time isn't a subject of theory; it's a direct observation. The theory of evolution provides a causative mechanism for the observed fact of change. To use another example, "People get diseases" is an observed fact. "Diseases are cause by germs" is the theory used to explain this observation, otherwise known as "the germ theory of disease". It makes the prediction that "For a given disease, we will find a given germ.", a prediction that has been well tested. (Not all health issues are diseases, of course.)

about 8 months ago
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How Google Broke Itself and Fixed Itself, Automatically

MrLizard Re:Reminds me of something... (125 comments)

It took 10 minutes for the Skynet joke? Slashdot, I am disappoint.

about 9 months ago
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First 3D Printed Liver Expected In 2014

MrLizard Re:Fantastic! (67 comments)

It's possible each layer printed can seamlessly connect to the next layer, given appropriate nutrients/conditions. I believe (bio class was a long time ago; I think it was when they were still teaching about the humours) that cells can communicate chemically and tell other cells, "hey, join up here". If all the correct cell types are in the mix, each layer should link up to form the necessary structures, especially if the focus is replacing damaged portions of an organ and not building the whole thing as one big lump.

It's too soon to say "Cirrhosis, shmirrohsis, I'll just buy a new liver at Wal-Mart[1]", but this step forward seems far from impractical.

[1]More socially-conscious types may prefer to shop at neighborhood businesses that produce locally-sourced organs printed using fair labor practices. But you'll pay more, and they're not open at 2 AM when you really NEED a new liver.

about 10 months ago
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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

MrLizard Re:Slashdot affect (230 comments)

"Surely spending that kind of money on such a project had some merit, or it wouldn't have cost so much"

You've never studied history or held a job at a corporation, have you? Spending millions, billions, trillions on meritless projects is what any entity large enough to have that kind of money *does*. Constantly. Continuously. All the time.

The division I work(ed) for was just bought by another company, because they wanted to integrate our software and acquired expertise. The buyer, having spent this money, announced all employees would need to re-apply for their existing jobs, which is only a little silly, and also all relocate, which is a LOT silly, since all of us worked remotely, and many of us couldn't relocate even if we wanted to. So, pretty much, they just lost all the accumulated knowledge they just paid for, and what they've got is tens of thousands of lines of mostly undocumented code that's virtually impossible to maintain or understand without spending months stepping through it. (It was developed over a decade by dozens of transient programmers, and in-line documentation varies from "sparse" to "actually false".)

Multiply that little bit of stupidity by tens of thousands of corporations and hundreds of world governments, and you have the world we live in.

about 10 months ago
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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

MrLizard Re:Nothing compared to what the US is spending tod (230 comments)

Yes, but are we doing it by having people sit and wish really, really, hard? There's wasting money in the normal way, and there's wasting money in amazingly stupid ways, even when you consider the "normal way" includes $600.00 hammers and the like. It takes a truly unique and special brand of stupid to waste money in a way that's ridiculous even by the accepted standards of governments world-wide.

about 10 months ago
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Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On "Psychotronic" Arms Race With the US

MrLizard "Uncoventional Science" (230 comments)

So, "unconventional science" is how you say "farkin' bullshit" in Russian. Got it.

It would not surprise me if these "studies" were due to CIA influence to trick the Soviets into wasting their money and effort.

about 10 months ago
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The Reporter's Fifth Amendment Paradox

MrLizard It's all part of the equation... (452 comments)

You're looking for a digital answer in an analog world.

Any system of justice is going to be flawed. Period. That's a given, going in. It's even more certain than "The new MMO is going to have launch day bugs."

So, given that, we (all human societies) work to find the least flawed approach, defined as "the guilty get what's coming to them, and the innocent go free and suffer as little inconvenience as possible". (We're really screwing up that last part, with 2+ year waits for trials in many case, but that's another thread.)

We have the system we have because centuries of history, precedent, and experimentation have shown it works as well as anything else, and the risks of radically altering it outweigh the perceived gains. There's plenty of reasons -- people have historically been tortured into confessing, but not into witnessing. Intimidating witnesses is a lot easier if the witnesses have no legal pressure to *be* witnesses. (IOW, Big Vinnie is arrested. If his boys want to silence the mooks what seen him do it, they have to bribe them/threaten them. Obviously, this does happen, but the cost (the value of the bribe, the severity of the threat) increases when the witness knows he will be compelled to testify and can go to jail if he doesn't. Big Vinnie's boys have to overcome that resistance. Remove that, and it's a lot easier. They probably don't need to EITHER bribe (which saves them money) or directly threaten (which puts them at some risk if one of the mooks has a wire). The mere knowledge that they might not take kindly to someone ratting out Big Vinnie is sufficient for the witnesses to refuse to testify, if said witnesses cannot be pressured or compelled.)

Further, if witnesses must give testimony, it is easier to spot conflicting details that can show a witness to be unreliable (or simply human, as the fact is, most people are unreliable and conflicting eyewitness testimony is rarely as dramatic a proof of a cover-up or a lie as it is on TV). If every witness just says, "Nope, don't feel like answering.", then you have nothing.

Now, an argument can be made that if the justice system is weighted towards innocence, neither of these is overly bad; it will result in fewer convictions. However, this could tip the balance too hard against conviction, and when there is a perception that you can do anything and get away with it, there will be a mass movement to "tighten things up", and swing too hard in the other direction. I'm honestly not sure of the real effect on crime, at least not serious crime, because such crimes are rarely conducted on a rational basis. A study of NYC street criminals showed that, basically, they earn minimum wage in terms of hours worked (waiting for victims, etc.) vs. average "take" -- and faced extremely high occupational risks. Most murders are acts of passion that are unlikely to be repeated, and other than the very few professional hitmen out there, few consider a cost/beneft ratio. Murders committed in the course of other crimes (shooting a store clerk in a robbery) are insanely irrational -- you get a few hundred dollars, maybe, from the cash register, and risk life imprisonment or execution in exchange. The real function of the justice system is not to deter crime, but to remove from society, for a long period of time, those who are so irrational that they WILL risk years, decades, or their life in prison for a very small gain, or are so uncontrolled they will kill or beat someone in a fit of passion. If you accept this premise, then, compelling witnesses helps fulfill the goal of being sure this person is the one who should be removed from society.

It also serves as a protection from an overzealous state. If the only evidence is provided by the state, and the defense cannot compel witnesses, the jury will have no choice but to convict. With zero penalties for failing to speak, witnesses may simply not bother. Why show up at all? (And, in turn, this leads to a possibility of basically bribing witnesses to show up -- not to lie, which is a higher moral bar, but simply to show up in court at all, if they're free to say no.)

None of these arguments are without flaw. I could pick them apart for you myself, but I'm running out of time. :) The real answer is, basically, "Because this system works pretty well, as it is, and the risks of radical change outweigh any proposed benefits." You want to change the system? Don't ask "Why are we doing it this way?", but say, "Here's a BETTER way, and here's WHY it's better." Then, people will have to defend the system as-is against a concrete, defined, alternative, and confront the justifications of the existing system in terms of the problems your new system is supposed to solve.

At a certain level, all social structures are arbitrary and irrational and fueled by inertia. Our society has internalized the flaws in the current system and learned to live with them. Any new system brings with it unknown flaws and a long period of adjustment. When you can offer a high probability your new system will have fewer flaws, and that they can be adapted to relatively quickly, society might embrace it. Until then, "We're doing it this way because it works well enough" is really the answer. You haven't shown a *benefit* for changing. Your entire argument seems to be "But this is just random and arbitrary!" Yes, it is. After thousands of years of civilization, the "design space" for big, sweeping, ideas in justice systems seems to have been explored. What's left is a collection of core ideas shared by most of the world, and fuzzy details at the edges which are basically random picks from multiple choices whose benefits and costs roughly balance.

(The idea of special protection for journalists has justifications, as well -- because systems inevitably become corrupt, because people become corrupt, and one of the checks and balances on this is protecting those who expose corruption... but often, those involved in providing such protection are, themselves, corrupted. Thus, being able to not name witnesses or sources serves as a vital tool for preventing corruption before it becomes too extreme, a pressure valve, if you will. The counterbalance is that anonymous sources come with a lack of credibility, that people will be disinclined to take nothing more than "I know this guy who told me this..." at face value. Anonymous sources who provide verifiable data, OTOH, are vital to the functioning of democracy as we understand it, and protecting all those in the chain of evidence from legal and extra-legal payback provides very high benefit at very low cost.)

about a year ago
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Sound-Based Device Authentication Has Many Possibilities (Video)

MrLizard I'm clearly missing something... (56 comments)

So, it's sound? What's sound, to a computer? A pattern of bytes. What makes this pattern of bytes harder to duplicate/hack than any other pattern of bytes? If I'm following this right, you record a sound, and it's a file on your phone. Someone can steal that file if they could steal any other file. Even more, they can steal it easily when you use it, since the sound will be audible. Isn't this like having to speak your password out loud where anyone can hear it?

If multiple people are using this in a crowded area, how do the audio inputs sort out which sound is the one for the current, active, transaction? Looking for a single sound that fits a given pattern amongst background noise that doesn't seems like a reasonable algorithm to write. Guessing which sound, out of *many* that fit the pattern, is the one you're listening for... that seems a lot harder to me. But i have never written pattern recognition algorithms, or studied them, so I could be way off.

I want to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt and assume I'll be emitting a "D'oh!" when someone explains to me why this is the best idea since the sliced light bulb. Until someone explains my ignorance to me, I can't shake the feeling that the goal is to excite investors who just see "ground floor buzzword of hot new buzzword with buzzword and also buzzword which buzzwords the buzzword!". Tell me why this isn't the case. Use small words, please. What does this offer no existing technology does? How is it faster, safer, more flexible? Given the long time from announcement to commercial product, how will it compete with other methods that will use that time to be come even more entrenched and leapfrog any improvements this may offer?

about a year ago
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Iranian Hackers Probe US Infrastructure Targets

MrLizard Re:So why? (203 comments)

For the same reason we arrest Russian/Chinese/Whatever spies in America, but send our own spies to Russia/China/Whatever.

I mean, seriously? How is this even a question? This got ranked "insightful"? Really, Slashdot?

I don't think anyone (well, anyone even half sane) would argue that it's objectively moral for the US to engage in espionage/cyberwarfare against another country, but objectively immoral for them to do it to us. It's equally moral (or immoral), no matter which direction it goes, so you make sure your side has every advantage, and assume (correctly) the other side(s) are doing the same.

"But, golly! Wouldn't it be nice if we all just agreed to not be big ol' meanies to each other?"

It sure would. And each side is eagerly trying to convince the masses on the other side that this is just what everyone wants, and to urge their governments to stop with all the saber rattling and a-feudin' and a-fussin'. However, a few thousand years of human history have taught us that those who beat their swords into plowshares will do the plowing for those who do not.

about a year ago
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Indiana University Dedicates Biggest College-Owned Supercomputer

MrLizard It would be nice... (83 comments)

...if this got as much attention in the local press as throwing a ball into a basket does.

about a year and a half ago
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Taking the Pain Out of Debugging With Live Programming

MrLizard Prograph (254 comments)

Prograph did this in the early 1990s. Way to innovate, Microsoft!

about a year and a half ago
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Hydrogel Process Creates Transparent Brain For Research

MrLizard Re:Interesting... (46 comments)

Ah, but could you do it to a recently deceased brain, then use a 3-D bioprinter to replicate each neuron and its connections, then place the result in a new host?

about a year and a half ago
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Hydrogel Process Creates Transparent Brain For Research

MrLizard Re:Research proposal (46 comments)

I'd settle for finding the part of the brain implicated in politicians engaging in cronyism, accepting bribes, and the like.

Then we could demand legislation forcing politicians to medicate.

That's called "all of it".

about a year and a half ago
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Why Earth Hour Is a Waste of Time and Energy

MrLizard That can't be true! That's IMPOSSIBLE! (466 comments)

A popular "green" ritual is just an act of empty symbolism designed to make people feel morally superior while actually doing nothing and causing no real inconvenience? No! I refuse to accept that!

about a year and a half ago
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Nature Vs. Nurture: Waging War Over the Soul of Science

MrLizard Oh, please ignore the above (235 comments)

I managed to misread the original summary, which implied generic diversity, in the study, correlated with economic success, rather than the LACK of genetic diversity correlating with economic success.

Which, in turn, implies that the Alabama and other states in the "mah family tree doesn't fork" regions of the US should be the more economically successful. Still doesn't seem right.

about a year and a half ago

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