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Comments

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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Pfhorrest Re:Are scientists ready? (334 comments)

We have had plenty of speculation on the possibility of inorganic life, but to my knowledge (link me if I'm wrong here) there has been no scientific treatise on how a form of life could exist without carbon. It's one thing to say "maybe it's possible", and another thing to say "this is how it would work", and yet another entirely to say "look, here it is!", and without at least one example of the third or a complete explanation of the second, we still just in "maybe" territory, and science treats "maybe" as "assume not until shown otherwise".

8 hours ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Pfhorrest Re:Are scientists ready? (334 comments)

The scientific community would LOVE to discover proof of inorganic life. It would be a huge new field for biologists to explore! Right now we assume life will be carbon-based because that's the only kind of life we know is possible; we haven't yet conceived of how inorganic life might be possible, and we haven't seen empirical evidence that it is, so in absence of that we proceed as though it's not. But if we found empirical evidence that it was, scientists would jump at the research opportunities to figure out how it was. Science hates to be anthropomorphized, but it loves radical new observations that force us to rebuild all new models from scratch, because that's where all the fun is!

9 hours ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Pfhorrest Re:Paging Arthur C. Clarke... (334 comments)

Mormonism is a form of Christianity, so I assume you meant "Neither is any other form of Christianity". Otherwise that's like saying "Cats don't photosynthesize. Neither do mammals."

9 hours ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Pfhorrest Re:If ET shows up proselytizing (334 comments)

Imagine yourself as a native American 500-some years ago, being suddenly greeted by strange-looking beings from a world beyond the horizon, who somehow managed to cross the unfathomable breadth of the entire ocean alive... and they've got a religion they'd like to tell you about.

9 hours ago
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Physicist Claims Black Holes Mathematically Don't Exist

Pfhorrest Re:Counterintuitive (356 comments)

Via Lorentz contraction of electric fields in different frames of reference.

about a week ago
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How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Pfhorrest Re:In lost the will to live ... (794 comments)

Why should you even care about your own personal survival and comfort? Obviously most people do, but that's a far cry from should.

Even if God exists, why should you do what he commands? Even if the answer is back to "because he will punish you if you don't", why should I avoid punishment? That is, come back to the first question up there: why should I care about my own personal survival and comfort?

Most people do care about their own personal survival and comfort, sure. But then a lot of people just do have empathy for others too. Then again, a lot of people do get sadistic pleasure from hurting others too —sometimes the same people as have empathy for others too, just in different circumstances. And a lot of people probably would obey the commands of something they considered God, if not just to avoid punishment, then just because a lot of people just do obey supposed authorities, whether they should or not. (Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment. Or the Nazis who were "just following orders").

Asking what people do do isn't going to tell us anything about what they should do, and when you start asking what people should do and why, "God says so" doesn't really add much to the conversation. Maybe we'd better take a few steps back and start asked what exactly "should" even means, and how the heck we're supposed to assess the truth or falsity of "should" propositions in the first place.

about a week ago
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How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

Pfhorrest Re:In lost the will to live ... (794 comments)

I lost it as soon as he got to "by definition" and making room for God. As soon as you get into arguing about things from definitions you're doing analytic philosophy and if you're just saying "by definition" without offering support for why that is the right definition, you're probably doing it wrong.

about a week ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Pfhorrest Re:Sanity... (504 comments)

Law enforcement began as [any given region's] largest street gang, long before recorded history.

You mean that that was in the brief period where it was a relatively popular idea to make law enforcement something better than that

about two weeks ago
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I think next winter will be:

Pfhorrest Re:I'm on the west coast, and El Niño is buil (148 comments)

As a Californian, it sure would be nice for the drought to end, but the last time El Niño struck, a mountain fell on my house. It's still there, the house holding back the mountain. I'd like to not repeat that experience.

about two weeks ago
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I think next winter will be:

Pfhorrest Re:winter is coming (148 comments)

Here in California we have four seasons just like everywhere else:

Sunny
Hot
Flooding
On Fire ...what, you don't have On Fire where you come from?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

Pfhorrest The true Liberal Arts are mostly math (392 comments)

The original Liberal Arts (a term which literally means, more idiomatically translated from ars liberalis, "skills [needed] of free men") were, funny enough, mostly things that we would consider branches of mathematics today, and thus STEM fields.

First there was the "trivium" (from whence our word "trivial", because these skills were considered so basic and elementary):
- Grammar
- Logic (now considered a branch of mathematics)
- Rhetoric

But then there was the "quadrivium" which followed that:
- Arithmetic (obviously a branch of mathematics)
- Geometry (obviously a branch of mathematics)
- "Music"
- "Astronomy"

The last two are the most interesting ones, because "music" was not about playing instruments or singing, it was essentially harmonics, the study of "number in time"; and likewise, "astronomy" was not about the actual particulars of celestial bodies, but was essentially dynamics, the study of "number in space and time". These complemented geometry as the study of "number in space" and arithmetic as "number in itself".

In short, the quadrivium, which was over half of the original Liberal Arts, was entirely things we'd now consider mathematics; and a third of the remaining portion in the trivium, logic, would also be considered mathematics today. Five sevenths or over 71% of the Liberal Arts were all math subjects.

These were all intended to prepare one for the study of philosophy, which at that time encompassed what would become the natural sciences of today. (In the middle ages philosophy was in turn considered to be essentially in a support role to theology, but of course you'd get that kind of attitude in the continent-wide theocracy that was old Christendom.)

The Liberal Arts were to teach people how to communicate their thoughts coherently, rigorously, and persuasively, and to be able to think quantitatively about things in themselves and also their relations in space and time, all of that for the purpose of conducting the kind of broad and deep critical thinking about of the world we live necessary to live life as a free individual and to preserve the freedom of one's society.

Dismissing all of that for "science lol stem envy much" is the start of the road to serfdom.

about two weeks ago
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To prepare for a coronal mass ejection, I ...

Pfhorrest Re:A cornal what? (151 comments)

Just want to say I love the idea in your sig.

about three weeks ago
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California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

Pfhorrest Re: Mecial Cannabis companies (275 comments)

I would think, if the stuff kept flying off the shelf like that (even is only due to one customer), you would just stock more of it and then sell more of it. Stock enough to let her buy all she wants and still have enough left over for everyone else who wants to buy it to get theirs too.

about three weeks ago
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Ask David Saltzberg About Being The Big Bang Theory's Science Advisor

Pfhorrest Re:Some help, please... (226 comments)

Reference frame is irrelevant to this question. If you, in whatever reference frame, measure travel distance as 80 mile and speed as 80mph, you will measure travel time as 1 hour. Others in other reference frames may measure different travel times, but they will also measure correspondingly different distances and speeds; and whatever they measure as 80 miles will still take what they measure as 1 hour to traverse at what they measure as 80mph.

about a month ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

Pfhorrest Re:That's not how science works (141 comments)

Etymologically, to prove means to test. Hence phrases like "proving grounds" and, more tellingly, "the exception that proves the rule" -- an apparent exception, an anomaly, which puts the rule to the test.

So a well-tested theory is "proven" in an etymologically sound way, just a way that doesn't mean "demonstrated to be true with absolute certainty".

about a month ago
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Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

Pfhorrest Re:Argument by Assertion (141 comments)

To be completely accurate, the sun doesn't produce any energy, it converts energy from one form (rest mass) to another form (electromagnetic radiation), increasing entropy in the process in keeping with the second law. That conversion process itself requires an input of energy (though one less than the energy output by said process) to initialize and sustain, and that energy is in turn supplied, in the form of kinetic energy, by conversion from yet another form (gravitational potential energy) spontaneously, precisely because of the second law of thermodynamics.

At one time in the history of science, it was thought that all of the energy of the sun was converted more or less directly from gravitational potential energy: a cloud of hydrogen collapses under gravity, converting its potential energy into kinetic energy, rendered macroscopically as temperature, causing the ball of collapsing gas to glow incandescently. The problem was that that process can't last for very long, so the sun (and consequently the whole solar system) would have to be pretty young, relatively (still massively old on a human scale) if that's what's making the sun glow. When we discovered that the Earth itself, and space rocks, are much older than the sun would have to be according to that theory, it required that something else be powering the sun on a longer scale. The introduction of nuclear fusion to the model solved that problem, and nowadays almost nobody even remembers that we once thought the sun was just, in effect, gravity-powered.

about a month ago
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Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

Pfhorrest Re:Correlation is not causation (175 comments)

Correlation does not imply causation, but causation does imply correlation.

If A causes B, then A will also correlate with B. It's only the reverse that's false. (A correlating with B doesn't mean A causes B).

about a month ago
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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

Pfhorrest Re:Icarus Beware (521 comments)

You mean like a gigantic array of mirrors in concentric circles around a couple of 40 story towers?

If I were parachuting or hang gliding I'd avoid something that looked like that without even knowing anything about it.

about a month ago
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Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?

Pfhorrest Re:It's not arrogance if... (262 comments)

Except that another place, even another comparable place, would now cost a lot more than $249,999 more than what he paid for his current place.

So if he wants to move to a different but comparable house in a different but comparably priced location, he has to lose a whole lot of money in the process. Meanwhile, people moving frequently to slightly more valuable places continuously over the time he's lived in this one place don't lose anything.

about a month and a half ago
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Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

Pfhorrest Re:Nerd Blackface (442 comments)

As the kids these days say, "This."

Early Sheldon was a character I really liked, for all the reasons E-Rock pointed out. Other characters had friction with him mostly just because he was an insufferable genius who was always technically correct and looked down on everyone else for not living up to his standards of perfection, and ordinary fallible people find that kind of person hard to get along with because it such a person uncompromisingly highlights their own foibles.

But over the years Sheldon has morphed into a socially retarded asshole -- not just someone who awkwardly doesn't understand how best to interact with other people, but someone who thinks he does and yet is constantly wrong and will never hear anyone who tries to tell him so. He is no longer an insufferable genius who is always technically correct. He is an insufferable idiot who arrogantly insists that he is correct even when he is clearly, blatantly not.

And when a person starts to run roughshod over other people because of their own wrongly self-assessed "superiority", it goes from harmless "shamelessly ability to like himself" to dangerous borderline sociopathy as the AC I'm replying to said.

about 2 months 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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