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Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

Pfhorrest Re:Practically alone... (304 comments)

In mathematics "almost" denotes an infinite set minus some finite subset, so if there are only 10 billion galaxies that can support life and the universe is infinite, then the universe is "almost lifeless": infinitely lifeless except some finite subset with potential life.

3 days ago
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Cameron Says People Radicalized By Free Speech; UK ISPs Agree To Censor Button

Pfhorrest Re:The UK doesn't have freedom of speech (316 comments)

What the IRS did was to punish people for speaking.

Punishing people for speaking is tantamount to prohibiting speech. Virtually every law against anything is a declaration to the effect of "if you do this, you will be punished"; so if you can legally be punished for doing something, it is effectively illegal to do it.

about two weeks ago
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ISPs Removing Their Customers' Email Encryption

Pfhorrest Re: DMCA (Defamation) (245 comments)

I like your point, but seriously... "copyright", "copyrited", AND "copywrite" all in one post?

about two weeks ago
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Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech

Pfhorrest Re:biased claims (459 comments)

I feel a twinge of something in your explanation, which is a sort of understanding of the world that I hear people express often. It assumes a just world, that people who don't succeed are either inherently inferior, or not trying.

You might already know this and just not be mentioning the name, but that is called the just-world hypothesis.

about two weeks ago
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Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

Pfhorrest Re:All mandatory licensure is antithetical to libe (231 comments)

I'm in favor of people learning how to drive before they do so, and of testing programs that certify that you do in fact know how to drive safely, and I'm fine with such certifications being used as defensive evidence if someone thought you were driving dangerously and charged you with such. You can show them that you've passed this test that shows you are able to do things like whatever you did safely. Not that that should make it an open-and-shut case, but it's good evidence. "It's ok, I know what I'm doing." Absence of such certification could likewise count against someone: change it from a mere one-time error of judgement to recklessly engaging in activities you have no competence in. But again, the absence of certification wouldn't make it open-and-shut, it's just a piece of evidence, and other factors can outweigh it.

What I'm against is punishing someone who was, despite such certification, operating a vehicle in a safe manner anyway. That is what makes it a license and not just a certification: you're not allowed to (meaning you will be punished if you) do something, even if you do it safely, without someone's prior permission. Note well that requiring licensing doesn't actually preemptively stop people from driving without a license, it just punishes people who do; and it punishes them whether or not they were actually driving unsafely. The ones who were driving unsafely would have been rightly punished anyway even if they did have a license. So the mandate of licensure does nothing but punish those who were driving safely without permission.

about two weeks ago
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I expect to be conventionally alive ...

Pfhorrest Re:Healthy bodies for sale (187 comments)

But what rich and probably white old person is going to want to run around in a dirty brown peasant body?

about two weeks ago
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I expect to be conventionally alive ...

Pfhorrest Re: Ask the damn question (187 comments)

I don't think anyone forgets that. It's like a defining character trait.

about two weeks ago
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Canadian Police Recommend Ending Anonymity On the Internet

Pfhorrest All mandatory licensure is antithetical to liberty (231 comments)

If ever you can be legally punished not because you did something that hurt or even endangered someone, but simply because you didn't ask permission first, liberty has one foot already in the grave.

If someone with a license to do X does X and hurts or endangers somebody anyway despite their license, they get rightly punished for it anyway.

If somebody with a license to do X does X and nobody gets hurt or endangered in any way, they don't get in trouble for anything, as they shouldn't.

If somebody without a license to do X does X and hurts or endangers somebody, they get rightly punished for it too.

But if somebody without a license to do X does X and nobody gets hurt or endangered in any way, they get punished, not for causing any harm or danger, but for having the gall not to ask permission before safely and harmlessly doing something.

The only difference mandatory licensure ever makes is punishing people who wouldn't have been punished otherwise because they weren't doing anything harmful or dangerous. Mandatory licensure, of anything, only ever harms innocents, by punishing them for harmless behavior that they simply didn't ask permission for first.

about two weeks ago
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The Math Behind the Hipster Effect

Pfhorrest Re:I have no problem with individuality. (176 comments)

Or the clothing ad (forget which company, possibly late '90s or early 2000s) with a young lady opining that "I want to be different, just like everybody else."

about two weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Pfhorrest Re:Distrust of the source (282 comments)

Depressingly many instances of communication are effectively just disguised commerials for something or other. People say things to manipulate others into doing something for the speaker's own benefit all the time.

about three weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Pfhorrest Re:never mix science and politics (282 comments)

Political science is not the same thing as politics. You're discussing the latter, not the former.

about three weeks ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

Pfhorrest Re:never mix science and politics (282 comments)

'Until they fail to meet their requirements' would mean 'immediately', as the requirements begin unmet; and if you mean they'd declare a deadline for meeting their requirements, that'd just be letting them set their own term limits. "I promise to [fix all problems] over the next 50 years!" and bam, president-for-life.

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

Pfhorrest Re:"Generalized Life" (221 comments)

Yes, this! The way I like to phrase it is that "life is self-productive machinery", where "productivity" is defined as a property of mechanical work such that that work decreases the entropy of the system it acts upon. Life is then any physical system that transforms some kind of energy flow through it (i.e. is a machine, does work) in a way that causes its internal entropy to decrease (necessarily at the expense of increasing the entropy of the environment). The operating conditions of such a machine are the conditions in which such life can live.

By this definition, all traditional (DNA-based) living things are alive, but viruses are not (despite reproducing), fire is not (despite consuming energy and reproducing), crystals are not (despite reproducing and reducing their internal entropy — because they are not doing the work that reduces their entropy, they don't consume energy to do that, they have to have energy removed from them and then that just happens spontaneously), and perhaps most interestingly, computers are: the processing and storing of information is a reduction of their internal entropy, and they are machines that consume energy to accomplish this. A computer that built other computers that built other computers (etc) would undeniably be artificial life... but then if we add "reproduces" to the requirements, as you say, mules are out, and we definitely want them in, more so I think than we want non-reproducing computers out.

about three weeks ago
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Bounties vs. Extreme Internet Harassment

Pfhorrest Re:Two thoughts (716 comments)

Those internet age demographics you link seem to claim that absolutely nobody on the internet is under the age of 15, which makes me somewhat doubtful about the accuracy of the rest of the breakdown.

about three weeks ago
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Net Neutrality Alone Won't Solve ISP Throttling Abuse, Here's Why

Pfhorrest Republic != Representative Democracy (200 comments)

A republic is not synonymous with representative democracy. Democracy and republicanism are orthogonal concepts; they're akin to the ownership and administration of a business. Democracy is about the state being administered, controlled by, the people, be it directly or indirectly by representatives. Republicanism is about the state being owned by, operating on behalf of and in the name of, the people. It's possible to have one and not the other, or both, or neither.

A great example of this is the United Kingdom, which is a representative democracy because it is administered by ordinary citizens representing other ordinary citizens, but it's not a republic because that government does is not directing the official sovereign power of The People, delegated to it; it is directing the power of The Crown, which power is officially delegated to said Crown by God. An opposite example would be North Korea, which is a republic in that the state officially belongs to and act on behalf of and in the name of The People, but is not democratic because that power is administered solely by the Kim family and their lackeys.

The US is both a (representative) democracy, and a republic, but those do not mean the same thing.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

Pfhorrest Re:no dimocrats (551 comments)

He most certainly is saying that the Libertarian position is being misrepresented, and that it really is X, and that he thinks it's important enough to go on and on about. Furthermore, there are no attempts to distance himself from the points. I feel safe asserting that he actually believes these points.

He is not saying that the libertarian position is being misrepresented or really is anything. He's saying that people who really study the logical consequences of the principles that supposedly underlie the libertarian position reach a certain conclusion. He could be doing that because he thinks that conclusion is absurd, and so discrediting libertarians by showing that their principles, if taken seriously, lead to an absurd conclusion. Or he could be saying "hey, so-called libertarians, if you're really serious about your supposed principles like I am, adopt this position! Don't hold back!"

I do get the feeling that he is leaning more toward the latter, but I would not be surprised if it was the former instead.

Second, he does mention, in all the mass of words, a line-item veto for taxpayers [...] That is the point I choose to address, because while I find many of his ideas incorrect, I find this one particularly easy to refute, yet attractive sounding before any analysis is performed.

This is why I think you didn't comprehend him. He is clearly not advocating that a line-item veto on tax forms should exist, so showing that that would be a stupid idea does not refute him at all. If he is really an anarchist as you suspect, he wouldn't be advocating that tax forms exist at all. But he's not directly advocating for anarchism or the abolition of all taxes there, or the modification of any tax system. He's saying that if a supposed libertarian principle, non-aggression, were taken seriously, then you would be able to elect not to pay for people to do things you don't want anybody doing, like rounding up and "reeducating" gays. In reality, that would happen because you wouldn't have any taxes at all. But if he just said "what if I don't want to pay taxes", there would be a bunch of predictable responses along the lines of "so you don't like having roads, schools, police protection, etc?"

I think it's pretty obvious that to be clear that he's not complaining about having to pay money for things he likes getting, he's positing a hypothetical reprehensible program doing terrible things that nobody should be doing, and saying "What if I don't want to fund just that in particular? What if I play along with the state on everything else, I'm not a general tax protestor, I'm happy to pay for roads and schools and stuff, but I just don't want to pay to have gay people brainwashed? What if I don't want that to happen and I don't want to be coerced into helping make it happen?" And then pointing out that he doesn't get that choice, and that that is in violation of the non-aggression principle: he can be aggressively forced to pay to have terrible things done to people, and that's perfectly legitimate according to any statist philosophy, so non-aggression entails the rejection of states.

Which is either an argument against non-aggression or an argument against states, depending on which branch of the resultant fork you choose. His argument only has the conclusion that such a choice is necessary; the two are not mutually compatible.

about three weeks ago
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Pianist Asks Washington Post To Remove Review Under "Right To Be Forgotten"

Pfhorrest Re:its terrible (257 comments)

You're absolutely right that Marx himself, Marxism per se, is all about the economics; that's why there's the adjective "cultural" marking this as a different thing, and why I described it as applying a "Marxist paradigm" to a different subject matter than Marx himself did; specifically, the paradigm of class conflict and class consciousness. I'm still not defending the concept here mind you, just elucidating what I've seen other people use, but to that end, a frequent example I see of a movement accused of "cultural Marxism" is modern feminism: the accusation is that rather than being subsumed as a special case of liberalism and egalitarianism, arguing only that no individual woman should be specially excepted from the same rules and standards that apply to all individual men, modern feminism instead constructs women as a class as being oppressed by men as a class ("Patriarchy"), and positions itself as the advocate for the former side in that class conflict.

Who the supposed upper and lower classes are supposed to be in each such supposed class conflict looks pretty obvious to me (and I listed a bunch of examples before), but as for how exactly the upper class is supposed to be oppressing or exploiting the lower class in each of those conflicts, you'd have to ask someone concerned with that particular conflict. In any case it's generally not the strict economic exploitation of literal Marxism, between owners and workers, as it's not literal Marxism, but rather (supposedly) the application of some Marxist paradigms to other subjects besides economics.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

Pfhorrest Split ticket turned out Democratic (551 comments)

I always vote a split ticket in every election, in the sense that I never just pick a party and vote for everyone in that party. I research all the candidates independent of their party affiliation, and if there are two candidates I can't decide between at all, I try to vote for the one belonging to a party I haven't cast many votes for yet. I also try to vote for third parties if there's a toss-up between a major party candidate and a third-party candidate.

I was very disappointed this election to find that there were no third-party candidates on my ballot, most of the Democrat and Republican candidates agreed on almost all points almost none of which were of much interest to me, almost nobody had any actually interesting ideas beyond the usual "bad things are bad and I will stand against them!" rhetoric, and the few who did — all Republicans, surprisingly — also had some other horrendous position that I couldn't in good conscience get behind.

So in the end I wound up voting a depressingly straight Democratic ticket, not because any of the Democratic candidates actually sounded good, but just because they tended to run marginally less bad than the Republican candidates that were my only other choices.

It's like I went to a restaurant and the only menu items were a cheddar cheeseburger with pickles or a jack cheeseburger with jalapeños... and well, what I really wanted to get was chicken strips, but if I have to have a burger... well jack sounds more interesting than cheddar but I can't really stomach jalapeños, so I guess I'll have the cheddar burger? Meh.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

Pfhorrest Re:no dimocrats (551 comments)

Apparently you read but didn't comprehend, because they weren't arguing that a line-item tax veto should be the case, but pointing out that states, unlike any other organization, can force you to do things like involuntarily fund a program you find morally abhorrent, using any force up to and including shooting you dead that they deem necessary to do this. And that consequently, people who take non-aggression seriously tend to become effectively anarchists.

He's not arguing that anyone should take that position, but that it's the logical consequence of really taking the non-aggression principle to heart. Which he is also not arguing that anyone should do. Just that if one were to do so, and to follow through with it, that's where they'd end up.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Teacher laid off for telling the truth about Santa

Pfhorrest Pfhorrest writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Pfhorrest writes "The Times Online reports:

A supply teacher has been told not to return to one primary school after she told a class of seven-year-olds that Santa Claus did not exist.

Children at Blackshaw Lane Primary School in Oldham were talking about Christmas when the teacher came out with the news.

Father Christmas was not responsible for delivering their presents on Christmas Eve, the pupils were taught. The teacher, who had been drafted in for just the day, has now been told not to come back.

Parents complained to the school after their children returned home to recount what they had learnt in lessons that day.

With all the contention about teaching religion (or the lack thereof) in schools these days, what do you all think about similar issues regarding more frivolous popular folklore like Santa Claus here? Should a school be able to fire a teacher for telling the truth about something all adults accepts as mere myth?"
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Eternal - Beyond Infinity Lies Destiny

Pfhorrest Pfhorrest writes  |  more than 6 years ago The Xeventh Project is proud to present a Marathon scenario nearly twelve years in the making: Eternal X.

The longest-running Marathon scenario project in history, Eternal began production in 1996 upon the release of Marathon Infinity. Eventually run into the ground and then dormant for many years, it was resurrected in 2004 just in time for a "penultimate" release on Marathon's 10th anniversary, which received over ten thousand downloads. For the past several years since then, a crack team of some of the Marathon community's most skilled artists, musicians, and cartographers has been busy putting the final polish on this ancient project; and now, at long last, Eternal X is complete.

Featuring 52 huge levels, hundreds of new high-resolution textures, over a dozen tracks of original music, a wholly revamed user interface, all new weapons, and several new creatures and characters, alongside the complete cast from the original trilogy and numerous familiar locations, Eternal is one of the largest and most ambitious Marathon scenario projects ever undertaken.

The story of Eternal begins nearly one hundred years after Marathon Infinity, on the S'pht moon K'lia, hanging in orbit over a desolate and ruined Earth. Clearly all is not well with this future, and once again you are the last hope for mankind. The people of this time say that nobody really won in the war with the Pfhor; but now, thanks to recovered Jjaro technology, a plan has been devised to make things right. Paired with another sort of hybrid creature, the former Battleroid known as Hathor, you have been selected to venture back across time, one hundred and eleven years in the past to the U.E.S.C. Marathon. There, you and Hathor are to set in motion a plan that will alter the course of history and bring true victory to mankind. But things don't always go according to plan, and what begins as a mission to right history turns into an epic pursuit which spans not only the stars but also the centuries.

The scenario is available in both a Full Edition, complete with high-resolution graphics and an original soundtrack, and a Lite Edition, which is more amenable to older computers and slower connections. Both the Full Edition and Lite Edition are compatible with all currently supported platforms of Aleph One, including Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

To download Eternal X, please visit <http://eternal.bungie.org/>.

-Forrest Cameranesi
Director of the Xeventh Project


ABOUT MARATHON:
Marathon was a landmark first-person shooter created by Bungie Studios, creators of the acclaimed Halo franchise. Originally released on the Macintosh in 1994, Marathon introduced many new features and concepts to the genre including dual-weilded and dual-function weapons; versatile multiplayer modes such as King of the Hill, Kill the Man with the Ball, and cooperative play; friendly NPCs; and a deep and intricate storyline. The sequel, Marathon 2: Durandal, was released in 1995, improving on the engine technologies and greatly expanding the scope of the story. In 1996, Marathon 2 was ported to Windows 95, and the Marathon Infinity package was released for Macintosh, including a new scenario using a modified Marathon 2 engine, and most importantly, the tools used to build it, Forge and Anvil. In the year 2000, Bungie released the source code to the Marathon 2 engine, and the Marathon Open Source project began, resulting in the new Marathon engine called Aleph One. Finally, in 2005, Bungie authorized free redistribution of the entire Marathon trilogy and all related files. This means that the entire trilogy can now be legally obtained for free and played on nearly any computer. To download the original Marathon trilogy, please visit <http://source.bungie.org/get/>.

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