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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Orgasmatron Re:Pseudoscience Lunacy (359 comments)

So, what you are saying is that you are unaware of the mountain of research into this field, and prefer to rely on something you heard from someone who was equally uninformed, but which sounded "right" to you?

Intelligence is wildly complex, and even the one part of it that we measure as IQ is beyond our current comprehension, so I wouldn't bet much money on the results of selecting for it genetically, based on our current knowledge of the subject. But if you think that IQ is "dubious", you are telling us about your biases, nothing more.

4 days ago
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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Orgasmatron Re:Citation please... (359 comments)

Don't be too hard on him. I read the same story a while back. It may have even been linked up here on /., but I don't remember exactly.

I spent a couple of seconds looking for it too, but can't find it. Doesn't matter though, it was from a soft "science" that places no value in reproducing results, has no tradition of introspection, and a tendency to stretch results (occasionally real, but usually statistical artifact) into sensational claims. And just imagine how much worse it gets when the press gets involved...

Usually these are done by picking a "proxy" for X, a "proxy" for Y, torturing the data until it provides a small p value, and then claiming that X causes Y. Note that you can't reliably determine an infant's political views, so a proxy for Republican-ness is necessary unless you are willing to wait a couple of decades after measuring the thing that you are going to pass off as "fear".

4 days ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Orgasmatron Re:Overrated... (821 comments)

"sit on their money and let it grow" ? Really?

I've got $100 in my wallet right now, and I'm sitting on it. I don't use cash much, so it's been there for ages. But it has not grown and never will. (Though if we had honest money, natural deflation would make things cheaper, which is sorta like growing, but not the same.)

If I want it to grow, I have to take a risk with it. I need to give it to someone else, in return for a promise that they will return it and more. Or I need to spend it myself on something that I think will be a productive asset.

(I'm not making an argument for/against consumption or capital taxes here. I'm just pointing out a gross error in your post and/or thinking.)

4 days ago
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What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014?

Orgasmatron Re:Slackware (302 comments)

You are doing it wrong. Slackware isn't for gurus, it makes them.

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Orgasmatron Re:Why a fixed hostname? (191 comments)

Mostly.

I moved a while back and have fiber now. The ONT is powered by a special UPS, using some unusual power connector. So, I didn't set up the relay box.

But the scripts still run, they still harvest IPs and monitor them. Fortunately, it hasn't needed a reset yet. My few problems have been at the head end: their DHCP server died once, and they had routing problems one other time.

about two weeks ago
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Belkin Router Owners Suffering Massive Outages

Orgasmatron Why a fixed hostname? (191 comments)

Old cable modems sucked. Mine would often lock up, needing a power cycle to resume working. Very annoying when I was at work.

The quick and easy solution is to monitor the connection status and flip a relay to reboot the modem. But how to monitor the connection? Setting a single host or IP seemed like a bad idea because it would have added an extra, and totally unnecessary, single point of failure.

Instead, my home router (slackware box with 2 ethernet cards) collects the IPs that I connect to (by watching the conntrack stuff in /proc/ ), and if it can ping them, adds them to the ping list. It then pings random selections from that list to verify connectivity. IPs are removed if they are unreachable for a while (until it decides the connection is down; no point purging the whole list because of an outage).

Took me a couple of hours to set up and debug, back in like 2002 or 2005 or whenever I wrote it. I presume that there is some free software to do the same task by now.

Monitoring a single fixed hostname is foolish, at best. And this is like the 3rd or 4th big story (that I can think of) about home routers acting badly because of hardcoded values.

about two weeks ago
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Former Department of Defense Chief Expects "30 Year War"

Orgasmatron Re:Two words (424 comments)

Obama already tried that. His decision to pull out without leaving a residual force is why we now have ISIS on the news today.

Are you suggesting that we should invade again, so that we can flee a second time? Or do you think we should pull out-er than we've already pulled out?

P.S. There were no false pretenses and at one point we had won and accomplished something close to political stability. Obama really snatched defeat from the jaws of victory here. I don't know what to make of your other claims.

about two weeks ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

Orgasmatron Re:Communism Inspired Tyranny (652 comments)

Central planning does not work, in general. See Hayek's "The Fatal Conceit" if you are wondering how and why.

Which isn't to say that central planning can never work. A rail network is a large enough project that it more or less must be planned. The question there is who does the planning and who pays for it.

Under capitalism, the people planning it are the ones providing the funding. If they plan it poorly, they lose money, and thus have less ability to make poor decisions in the future. If they plan it well, they profit, and thus have more ability to make good decisions in the future.

about two weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Orgasmatron Erm... (534 comments)

It isn't like we are getting live video from these exoplanets. I find it a bit unlikely that any major (or minor) religions will be shaken by spectrograph squiggles, even if we are pretty sure they are evidence of biology.

about three weeks ago
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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Orgasmatron Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (488 comments)

By counting atoms, it may be thousands of times more common, but in terms of extracting metal, it looks like it'll run into the same problem that lead has. See http://www2.manganese.org/rese...

I'm a firm believer in the ability of industrial mining to get at the things we need, so if we start making batteries using manganese electrodes, we'll come up with the metal, somehow. But when your project requires on the order of 1.6 billion tons of anything, and that thing's experts say that there are probably around a couple billion tons of it around, you've got problems. We certainly aren't going to be extracting most of the currently estimated world's supply of manganese at a price anywhere near today's prices.

(Math on the amount of manganese needed: The lead battery needs 5 billion tons at 15kg per kWh. The Aquion battery needs ~10 kg of NaMnO2 cathode per kWh. About half of the mass of the electrode is elemental manganese, so 5 kg per kWh.)

You can have your electrical storage, and these new batteries can make that cheaper. But you still can't scale this up to a national project.

about three weeks ago
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Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Orgasmatron Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (488 comments)

Read the national battery article again. Unless these batteries use something vastly more plentiful than lead (which seems unlikely, considering the abundance of lead) it won't scale up.

Solar can't average out the night. We would need to store between 60% and 75% of national consumption at an absolute bare minimum. If we used every single mined, mine-able and suspected atom of lead on the planet for a lead acid battery, we get 2%. Using something 10 times as abundant (which doesn't exist) and we are a third or a fourth of the way there.

about three weeks ago
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Outlining Thin Linux

Orgasmatron Re:Sounds like Slackware to me. (221 comments)

Slackware indeed. You'll never know it has a GUI if you don't go looking for it, and architecture decisions are made based on Patrick's desire to keep it stable and sane.

about a month ago
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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Orgasmatron Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (937 comments)

Our brains and minds are a bunch of hacks. We see faces in the static on a TV because we have powerful machinery to detect faces. Ditto shapes in clouds, etc, etc, etc.

When a financial market goes up, or goes down, or goes sideways, we want to know why. We prefer to believe that mysterious and powerful men are manipulating things to our detriment because the notion that "sometimes shit just happens" is abhorrent to our mental machinery.

Turn on any financial news program and watch the parade of rationalizations for a while. Then come back here and talk to me about what is and is not a predominant human trait.

Even better. If you rationally understand that sometimes shit just happens and you don't go seeking to explain every random happening, your body knows that you are faking it, and it will respond to the stress of the unknown.

about a month ago
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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Orgasmatron Re:Great idea! Let's alienate Science even more! (937 comments)

Congratulations, msobkow, your point went over a bunch of heads.

To the four or five people that posted "Nuh uh" in reply, he isn't saying that atheists "should" feel a need to believe, and he's not saying that "you" feel a need to believe.

The human experience gives a clear indication that faith is a near-universal drive. Even if you are really immune rather than delusional, the bulk of your peers do not seem to share your immunity.

G.K. Chesterton may have been engaging in hyperbole when he said "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything." but he doesn't seem to be far off in my experience. Virtually everyone I've met that believes in conspiracy theories, UFOs or sociology papers (to pick some examples of gullibility) are atheists.

While you personally may have high evidentiary standards, and you may have chosen atheism after careful consideration of the options, your peers, by and large, have not and did not.

about a month ago
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Surprise! More Than Twice As Much Mercury In Environment As Thought

Orgasmatron Are we british now? (173 comments)

Where is "Environment"? I've never heard of a place by that name. Or was the headline about ambient mercury in "the environment"?

The good news is that finding out that there is twice as much of it around means that it is half as harmful as we were thinking it was, assuming the retarded LNT model preferred by statists everywhere.

about a month and a half ago
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Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

Orgasmatron Re:Where to draw the line (326 comments)

You must be very confused indeed if you are wondering about Stallman's view of open source.

He doesn't give a shit about "open source". He believes in Free Software.

You should check fsf.org and gnu.org for more info. This page might be a good starting point.

In general, he does not endorse any distribution that includes non-free software. (This is nearly all distributions.) He also makes no distinction between platforms and applications, or system vs. user software. It should, ideally, all be Free Software.

about a month and a half ago
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Comcast Training Materials Leaked

Orgasmatron Very normal (251 comments)

And has been for decades. Every customer contact is a sales opportunity. EVERY contact.

After the dot com bust (the first one), I had bills to pay, so I ended up in a call center for the local cable company. It wasn't quite the low point of my life, but it was in the running.

The call center was brand new, and the high speed data side was briefly allowed to operate normally, but soon company politics pushed out the (technical) director, and replaced him with a MBA (and EEOC-bingo winner).

We were all trained to sell, instructed to sell on every call, and evaluated on selling. This was policy from day one, but widely ignored in my department until the MBA took over.

I earned a reputation for solving problems. Incompetent or uncaring employees would fail to fix things over and over again, pissing off customers. After months of continuing problems, they would call to yell. Usually, they'd end up getting more excuses and empty promises. Sometimes they'd get me (or one of a handful of other fixers).

I'd mute my microphone until they were done venting, then I'd figure out what the hell was wrong, and get it fixed, often with a generous service credit to appease them for the months that we'd dicked them around.

Over a few months, I solved hundreds of problems (some going back for many months or years), probably prevented at least a couple of suicides (monopoly, it was us or nothing) and maybe a mass shooting or two (yes, some of them really were that angry).

One thing I know for sure is that none of those problem calls wanted a fucking sales pitch. "Mr. Smith, now that I've fixed the problem that has prevented you from using the service that you've been paying for these last six months, and you've put your guns away, can I upsell you into a premium package?" Yeah, right. Maybe they'd be interested in an upgrade in a few months, after we'd re-established a bit of trust, but not right away.

One of my randomly selected evaluation calls happened to be one of my problem calls. The recording followed the call through our system, so it started with 20 minutes of him yelling at one of the sales girls, then her calling me in tears asking to transfer the call, then him yelling at me, then me figuring out the problem and fixing it, then him thanking me, almost in tears himself.

I had an awesome score on that call, but still failed the review because selling was mandatory. I told my supervisor that he'd better screen my review calls from then on because I had no intention of following the policy. He could either run interference for me and keep me around until one of my interviews panned out, or he could write me up for my second and third strikes as they came up.

I was gone before my next review came up, so I have no idea what he decided.

I kept in touch with some friends, and still lived in their service area. The call center went downhill from there. They switched to a voice attendant, so even the people that were happy when they dialed their phones were pissed off by the time they managed to talk to a human. I know I always was. (At first they had a backdoor, swearing three times would get you to a human quickly, but word got out and they disabled that feature.)

Moving to a non-monopoly town (three[!] fiber lines in my yard! 75 meg up/down for cheap!) was the wisest move of my internet life.

about 2 months ago
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Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They're Private Corporations, Immune To Oversight

Orgasmatron They might be right (534 comments)

I work for local government (in a different state). A number of cities and counties around the state have banded together to manage custom software projects, etc, using a legal device known as a "Joint Powers Agreement".

The JPA creates a legal entity, much the same way that a contract creates a trust. This entity is essentially a delegation of authority from the various local government entities that constitute it, so it has some strange properties. For example, it has bank accounts, employs staff, rents an office, etc, but does not file tax returns.

It also, as far as our lawyers can tell, is exempt from all data practices laws. This isn't the end run you might seem to think. If a data request comes in to the entity, the staff there tells them to contact the relevant member entity. The requestor can then ask me (for example), and I am obligated to collect the data from my systems, and from the organization.

Basically, the legal reasoning is that the entity doesn't own anything, it merely possesses things on the behalf of the member entities. This is also why it doesn't file tax returns.

I don't know the legal situation in Massachusetts, but these are principles that derive from western jurisprudence in general, rather than from the laws of my state, so I suspect it is pretty similar. No idea where the 501(c)(3) thing comes in. I suspect that is more about being able to accept donations than anything else.

Personally, I think the citizens of that state should ask their legislature to pass a law to require such entities to respond to information requests, if that entity is involved in police operations. It is in the public interest to be able to request data from a consolidated entity of this nature, rather than having to deal with each individual member entity.

about 4 months ago

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