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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

Pseudonym Re:Only in America... (303 comments)

Not in countries that don't let you own pump-action shotguns.

Incidentally, if you're curious why that make and model of shotgun mattered, it's in the paper. They had to factor in that shotguns don't cover a target with an even distribution of shot. In the zombie apocalypse, I think it's going to be simpler to measure the diameter of the motor of my chainsaw. It won't require any importance sampling for a start.

2 hours ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Pseudonym Re:Knowledge (1035 comments)

1. ^ Mike Davis, Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb (Verso: New York, 2007).

about a week ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Pseudonym Re:Knowledge (1035 comments)

Little-known fact: The car bomb was invented by atheists. They were also nihilist anarchists, of course, but atheists nonetheless.

about two weeks ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Pseudonym Re:Knowledge (1035 comments)

If people just adopted my opinions on everything, everyone would be better off. Why can't you all compromise and do what I say?

about two weeks ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

Pseudonym Re:Knowledge (1035 comments)

Actually, there's one key word in the headline (and the story) which I don't see being teased out: "America".

This is an extremely important qualification which can't be under-emphasised. The United States has a quirky form of evangelical fundamentalist protestantism which (until the US started exporting it) basically didn't exist anywhere else in any significant numbers. In the late 70s to early 80s, it became a political tool of the neo-conservatives, which means that it's a bizarre mix of fringe religion and fringe politics. Well, "fringe" by the standards of the rest of the world.

The most similar phenomenon is political Islamism. (According to Adam Curtis, you can even think of them as two sides of the one coin.)

One upshot is that the Internet actually attacks it on two fronts, both the religious front and the political front.

The other factor which is important is that the largest (and fastest-growing) religious group in the English-speaking world is people who self-identify as some kind of Christian but who don't regularly attend a place of worship. This group is even growing faster than atheism. So the Internet may be making people "not religious", but most of those prefix that with "spiritual but". It also explains the rise of "post-evangelicals", especially among young people, in the Internet era.

about two weeks ago
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Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

Pseudonym Re:I think this is bullshit (1744 comments)

In the United States, "communism" means any public policy that Rupert Murdoch doesn't like.

about two weeks ago
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Michael Abrash Joins Oculus, Calls Facebook 'Final Piece of the Puzzle'

Pseudonym Re:Legendary... (232 comments)

The hell it is.

The Dragon Book of graphics is Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice by Foley and van Dam (and later Feiner and Hughes too). Like CG:PP, the other two books that you mention are books for scientists and engineers. The Black Book is for hackers of the early 1990s.

It's a book which describes a world that no longer exists. We don't have non-pipelined 80386 CPUs, non-existent or slow floating point, VGA data latches, or pretty much anything that the book describes in depth. I remember that world, and I remember it well.

The first edition of the Dragon Book has dated, and doesn't cover a lot of modern compiler practice, but over half of it is still relevant. The Gang of Four book also shows its age, but it still serves its purpose as a dictionary, and as a tool for helping you to think in higher-level structures. Very little in the Black Book is useful today as anything other than history.

about three weeks ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Pseudonym Re:No (824 comments)

Neo-Godwin's Law!

about three weeks ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Pseudonym Re:Tarzan need antecedent (824 comments)

To be fair, it didn't work. So it's only attempted oppression.

about three weeks ago
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Creationists Demand Equal Airtime With 'Cosmos'

Pseudonym Re:I demand pigs! (667 comments)

Sorry, they're not kosher.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:English? (230 comments)

Has any new company ever succeeded with Java Enterprise?

If you're old enough, you might remember a company called "eBay". It's apparently still around as a cheap Chinese crap vendor.

But seriously, plenty of new companies have succeeded with Java EE, but most new companies don't make external-facing social media websites. You probably haven't heard of the company that wrote the online banking system used by your financial institution, but chances are good that it's written in either .NET or J2EE.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:English? (230 comments)

Why would you arbitrarily exclude (F)CGI?

Would you use (F)CGI today? If the answer is "no", you have your answer.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:English? (230 comments)

If you don't know why Facebook would be reluctant to fund a compete rewrite of their core money-making software, then you've never worked in industry.

about three weeks ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:static typing is awesome (230 comments)

Hack does type inference. It doesn't do let-polymorphism because that plus subtyping is formally undecidable. But you only have to declare the types of functions, not every variable inside those functions.

about a month ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:English? (230 comments)

To be fair to Facebook, no other languages had those advantages in 2002-2003. Assuming you didn't want to use F/CGI, plugins for Apache or the equivalent, your server-side scripting options were JSP, Asp.NET and PHP.

PHP was a reasonable choice under the circumstances, but they've now reached the limit of what it can do. It's good to see that they're moving to an entirely new and better language which just happens to have a similar syntax. If I was a Facebook engineer, I could live with that; syntax matters, but it doesn't matter as much as semantics and pragmatics.

about a month ago
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Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Pseudonym Re:English? (230 comments)

No. Facebook is developing a new language which is syntactically similar to, and inter-operates with, PHP. Calling Hack a "version of PHP" is like calling Delphi a "version of ALGOL".

about a month ago
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Religion Is Good For Your Brain

Pseudonym Re: Whatever (529 comments)

That's true. If you define "religion" as "that which I don't like" (like Christopher Hitchens did in God is Not Great), then all religions have that in common.

about a month ago
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Religion Is Good For Your Brain

Pseudonym Re: Whatever (529 comments)

Option #3 is a non-option, but I do like the way you think on option #4.

about a month ago
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Religion Is Good For Your Brain

Pseudonym Re:Religion... (529 comments)

Or the NSA.

about a month ago

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