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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

SigmaTao Understanding is a feeling (937 comments)

Understanding is a feeling based on a set of internal mental processes. For anyone who wants to think about anything, they require their feelings as much as any other aspect of their mental expression.
Spock then is a terrible role model for a human to attempt to emulate, as to be successful is to lose the ability to think properly.
Kirk is a seat of the pants creative responder to situations. That kind of activity doesn't lend itself to solve every kind of problem.
The problem with the ideas of god are multifaceted. and cannot be simply dismissed with a poster child for science. This simplifies the problem and to a degree that makes the solution unobtainable.

about 2 months ago
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Aussie Company Planning To Use Drones For Textbook Delivery

SigmaTao Owls (178 comments)

Sure they can come up with a way for them to be called Owls :-)

about a year ago
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Memory Wars May Herald Mobile Devices With Terabytes of Capacity

SigmaTao Re:What would they store? (147 comments)

Remember if you create more resources somewhere in a device someone will come along and find a use for them.
It's worth adding space just so such events can occur.

about a year ago
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NSA Firing 90% of Its Sysadmins

SigmaTao How do you fight the internal misuse of power? (634 comments)

It is my experience that if you reduce the number of people involved in an activity it's easier for one person to subvert the whole system.
Instead of having fewer eyes they should have enough cross checking eyes to prevent one person going rouge (without being detected at least).
Fewer people = more possible abuses of power.

about a year ago
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English High Court Bans Publication of 0-Day Threat To Auto Immobilizers

SigmaTao D'oh (168 comments)

Even *if* they could suppress the details of how it's done across britain, do they not understand that the idea that it is possible, is enough for smart people to figure it out independently of this research?
Why don't they order it to be fixed rather than trying to prevent the information about it to be suppressed "somehow"?
Why don't they take it to another level and have a system implemented for identifying and solving problems like this - something like the air safety board when they investigate accidents? An automakers software / hardware safety council?

about a year ago
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UK ISP Filter Will Censor More Than Porn

SigmaTao You can't know what you don't know... (329 comments)

One of the basic and insidious aspects of filtering is that is comes very possible to prevent all knowledge of an event or idea propagating.
If an event occurs which is filtered across the board, in news networks and media, and now filtering of the Internet itself - how does someone get to know it happened?
It's allows governments to prevent information like the "arab spring" being generally known. How does the populous get to know if something like this happens?
Back in the day, when I used to live in england, there seemed to be a regular series of "sex scandals" where some politician would discovered in fishnet stockings and being spanked before going off to represent his members in the house of commons or lords.
I assume such information, if described in enough detail, is considered porn and therefore blockable. You are then at the mercy of the media which can be ordered or bribed into not publishing or discussing such things. If it is never reported - has it never happened?
If PRISM is considered a national security issue by the government, does that allow them to block it from Internet searches? If such a thing happens and you know that filtering is happening - but not what is being filtered - how do you get to know what you are not being allowed to know?
Is reproducing information of that nature in a blog putting you on a watch list of subversives? Is simply asking these questions doing that? If something is reported in mainstream media in a particular way - and there are dissenting ideas, knowledge and experts - but they are able to be filtered out by the unseen powers that be - how do the people engage in conversations about it?
If something is inappropriately filtered, because something triggers the process or because of human or programmatic errors - how does it get corrected? Is that process not only done - but seen to be done by the people for whom the information that site contains serves.
I am staggered how freedom to privacy and thinking is being systematically eroded by governments across the globe without any apparent reaction by the people they govern. Perhaps the reactions to this are being suppressed and I just don't know it is....

about a year ago
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Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes

SigmaTao Re:Short-term treatment... (931 comments)

Well well... it wasn't my ass cheek I was expecting but I guess each to their own
As I am using a PC rather than android apparently not hell yet.
As for mind reading - I really think you need more practise. Start with something simpler. A imaginary friend should suffice.

about a year and a half ago
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Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes

SigmaTao Re:Short-term treatment... (931 comments)

<presents the other cheek> Come on, right here - you know you want to. Isn't it about time you told me I was destined for hell?
I guess it's futile to say that the article talked about the effect of belief, not about whether a belief was an accurate representation of the reality. There is a difference.
Just as there is a difference between assuming what you meant and trying to find out.
.... "And your mind has nothing much to do with reality."
Such wisdom! Such judgement! You see into my mind like a.. wait let me think about it..oh I know ... "A Higher Power" (tm)
<sighs> Is this what you think will protect your fragile beliefs from examination?

about a year and a half ago
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Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes

SigmaTao Re:Short-term treatment... (931 comments)

Wrong about what specifically?
I certainly know how I would respond to a therapeutic situation which suggested that I would be better off believing in a higher power.
It also appears elsewhere in the comments that the people doing the study are actually religiously biased (they belong to the Templeton Foundation).
Any social or communicative bias causes an effect on the outcome of physiological result (whether they are specifically religiously biases or not).
I don't know how you think about the term "higher power" but to my mind it is very general indeed. It is not aligned to a particular doctrine nor to what higher power is being referred to. In such cases the ones making sense of that words are the individuals interpreting them. I was commenting in the most general of cases I could imagine where no specific higher power was under scrutiny.
Are you suggesting there is no social norm for believing there is a higher power? I suspect at least in America the general statistics would suggest otherwise.
There are no claims in the article that the differences are anything but short term, and there can be a lot of other influences that can have short term effects.
Over and above all that, I suspect by the nature of your generalised response that you are under the sway of your own bias. How will you determine an objective truth if that is the case?

about a year and a half ago
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Belief In God Correlates With Better Mental Health Treatment Outcomes

SigmaTao Short-term treatment... (931 comments)

By passing the size of this study for the moment.
From article: "Of the patients sampled, more than 30 percent claimed no specific religious affiliation yet still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in a higher power was rated as moderately or very high."
No religious affiliation means effectively that the higher power is just a way of imagining something looking out for you, caring for you and loving you.
I am not surprised that if you imagine there is someone caring about you and loving you you are going to feel more positive about life in general. That it is imaginary means it can not disappoint you. That the very act of that imagination is providing a short term positive future.
I'm sure if a patient had an actual love affair with a real human being, the effects would be the similar if not superior.
If on the other hand some therapist suggested to me personally that a I might like to think there is a higher power looking out for me, it would send me into a deeper depression because if that is how they think my mind works I really must despair.
We are also embedded in a culture where believing in a god (of some description) is seen as more socially normal than those who do not.
Normal is sometimes the more attractive option to the depressed than their current state. Simply joining the "belief group" is a social inclusive particularly over the short term.
That this question is being asked inside a treatment context, it's hard to think that that isn't a bias in the way people are treated, and it doesn't take much for such a bias to undermine any other treatment.
I do hope they don't think that taking up the habit of thinking of a higher power is a treatment option. If that is the case, perhaps a drug addiction should be considered a treatment too.

about a year and a half ago
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Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network

SigmaTao Yes it makes a difference who says what and how... (848 comments)

The way a message is delivered makes a difference to how people make sense of it.
If there was a billion dollar campaign saying "People who drink milk are less intelligent than those who don't" - even if there was no science behind that. It would have an influence.
We are already at the mercy of the quality of the available information we get. That occurs before we have a belief about a topic.
One of the reasons science is successful and respected is it's approach to pursuing high quality models of the universe. Blatantly lying and ignoring the facts would destroy it's ability to do that. Why is it acceptable to do it else where?
I know we should be concerned about the thought police and I'm not suggesting that people not be able to think or believe freely. However, they should at least know enough to know the consequences of thinking in a particular way and pursue informed debate about the nature of information.
Otherwise we are all at the whim of those who wish to use the system for their own short term gains.

about 2 years ago
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Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

SigmaTao The only reason we care... (763 comments)

As I understand it, the only reason the body of america cares that the Texas school board makes wacky decisions (apart from their concern for Texan children) is that it affects the books that are available for schools across the country, due to the quantities of books involved.
This basically means it boils down to money. Good accurate books will be more expensive. In an age of digital media, surely the cost of having accurate science texts can be accepted by those schools who actually want to teach children rather than brain-wash them?
I think a sticker saying "This text has been rejected by the Texas school board" should be a mark excellence that is worth paying extra for.
The grander problem is, and has always been of more concern, that the school board is only really reflecting the views of the wider Texan community. If Americans really want to change the facts to fit their own world view how do you get around that?

about 2 years ago
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Australian Spy Agency Seeks Permission To Hack Third-Party Computers

SigmaTao Re:How do we stop them? (210 comments)

I'm guessing it makes it easier for personnel from other agencies (police et al) to be told to ignore what is going on.
I also allows them to legally use resources outside ASIO to do things on their behalf, and redirect information acquired to other entities without finding they are breaking the law.

about 2 years ago
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Australian Spy Agency Seeks Permission To Hack Third-Party Computers

SigmaTao Re:How do we stop them? (210 comments)

This is not hacking from the outside alone. This would validate ASIO entering your home and adding spy software/hardware directly.
Any idea of avoiding this would be very difficult.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao Re:A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

You have no argument. My emotional response to a particular event isn't the basis for a good policy, or don't you understand the reasoning for a judicial system?
After calling me various names, knowing nothing of who I am or what my experiences are, by you own desire, you are happy to have me own a gun.
I'm afraid I can't share that desire.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao Re:A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

My comment about people knowing policies was about the ASIO reference. That you associate my statements as a lack of dissent independent of gun availability are your own projection and opinion and as such have only that weight. In what sense you do not accept the system of government to whom you depend? In what sense are you "maintaining freedom"? What freedom(s) are you maintaining?
It is my point exactly that it is the popular opinion. I am surprised you don't understand the power of that. I guess that is why Americans have an atheist president ... oh yeah they don't...
A lot of this conversation make me wonder why have police. What is their function? You are happy for people to take the position of judge, jury and executioner? In this case with Susan Falls, you are saying she had no other choice what so ever? It was a gun or nothing? That the fact the she was found not guilty in protecting herself should always grant an exception as to the method in which she chose to do that? And I would gather from that, if I was the big guy and I am going to make sure the little woman never gets access to the equalization. Maybe that is just me. I'm sure that never happens...
I am saying that simply owning a gun doesn't empower some one by default. You seem to suggest that criminals will some how be in awe of a gun owner. Dumb criminals perhaps. It becomes another selection pressure to create more gun savvy criminals. I am saying that it just means you create a environment where by gun crimes will prosper.
So the second amendment was to provide for a citizen to protect themselves with guns from any potential threat. Why would there ever be a limitation as to what kind of weapons are made available to the populous then? What limitation should be placed on an individual, if they fundamental right is to over come any threat?
Are you trying to tell me that the situation in Australia in the 1990-200x is the same as America? That we have seen change in the distribution of crime in that interval is independent of gun laws, however, the gun laws were introduced in an attempt to prevent the mass shootings. To that end they have been successful so far. Making particular comments about what you were afraid of when you were young is no an indication that guns made that a difference. You mean if you had a gun on your property today you wouldn't be afraid of bikies? You think that there would be less "glassing" in pubs? I was not suggesting that. I was saying that I don't have to worry my neighbour will go berzerk and shoot people.
I know you have a intense feeling for this woman but you are effectively suggesting all rape will be ended if every one could own a gun. That is simply not true and it is fundamentally untrue. For every woman who gets to protect herself using a gun there would be another who would be raped facilitated by a gun. You are suggesting a woman has to carry a weapon with her always for her own protection. I assume you want men who are at risk of rape to be protected likewise. And altar boys should carry them into church in case the Father gets ideas. In fact all children should own and be taught to use guns so they can ward off paedophiles. At what point to you end that progression? When all rape ends? I am glad that this woman and any other woman out successfully protects themselves from rape by the use of the gun. However more open gun availability is not the solution to rape. I don't know why I would need to say that.
I have a close personal friend, she was in a pub, had a spiked drink and was raped (as far as she can determine). She doesn't remember who and is in counselling now. Having a gun would have make no difference to that experience, with the possible exception that some one else would own it now.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao Re:A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

'We all know about it, unlike your scenario of secret detentions. '
People here would know if they are interested and inquiring. These policies are not hidden or secret. "People" seem to want to know what the Kardashians are thinking more than what affects their freedoms.
'Bradley Manning and everyone else already knew that if you have access to military secrets as part of your job you get in a lot of trouble if you leak them....' and yet they harass a man who has yet to be convicted of anything - why is that? Aren't people supposed to be innocent until proven guilty (even if they work in the military)? Can justice be done if the accused is treated badly by those in authority for months on end, particularly those with psych problems? Isn't the government accountable to the people for the policies they enact and condone?
'Most people don't think...' ..which is exactly my point. If you can lead the majority of people so they are convinced that they need take no action or that they are justified in a position consistent with the desires of the government - then they have won. Dissident talk is like an inoculation - it allows the illusion of freedom while glossing over the fact that actual changes to the government are difficult. You would only get significant change if a critical mass of people act. If you can prevent that then they have won. Look at way global warming is handled in the USA and you see it in action.
'It is clearly impossible to be a traitor to a country of which you are not a citizen....' so you don't like me using - cast as a traitor - how do they see him then - a terrorist? An enemy of the USA? Not kindly in any event or are you arguing to the opposite? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange Calls for Assange's assassination. .
A car is not designed to inflict harm. That is the difference in this metaphor. Just owning a vehicle that isn't road worthy isn't a crime because it poses no threat. The moment it's driven it is a threat, which is why that is not legal (apart from revenue razing of course)).
This description is a false dichotomy. You don't prevent all crime if you arm the citizens, you simply change the nature of it. It is not that her ability to defend herself was removed if she didn't have a gun (well except of course in the USA where there are guns everywhere and you would need it to be on a level playing field). It is that, if a person is lead to believe that societies systems will protect them when they might not. If you arm the victims you, simply arm the attackers. It is the nature of escalation. You noted before no system is perfect. People should be aware that systems fail. That they will be put in situations upon which they themselves will have to have skill to prevail. That is a big commitment of time and resources and in most civilized locations it seems unwarranted. Having a gun doesn't remove that requirement. You might be lucky and meet a stupid unsophisticated attacker and win with your gun. You might be unlucky and have them take you gun from you and use it against you. And once they have that gun - how easy is it for them to prevail against the next victim? Crime is always ugly and messy in this regard. There is no "magic bullet" that will prevent that. To be lulled into the complacent sense of safety I think is the true negligence but it is one that I am myself guilty of.
And, by the way, if this is the reasoning - why refer to the second amendment at all
As I said in my original post - the process of removing guns from the social environment is one that calms the situation over time. However, it must be pursued without creating the black market version of gun purchase where citizens condone access to inappropriate weapons, otherwise you simply repeat the mistakes of the prohibition of alcohol. It is not simple and I see no quick solution to it.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao Re:A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

Hmmmm... guess that is why Julian Assange is held up in an embassy in London scared shitless he will be deported to the USA and tried as a spy. Similarly your suggesting that what is happening to Bradley Manning doesn't have a cooling effect to anyone else in the military who thinks it might be a good idea to leak classified documents?
My impression of what the average joe american wants to do to Assange is not pretty at all. He is not seen as the information freedom advocate but rather cast as a traitor.
They successfully blocked their ability to get funds, and compromised the core of the operation by CIA inflitration. There also seems to be a coldness with regards to the Australian governments support of Assange.
I don't think it would ever get to bombing cities, I think the leaders of dissent would be quietly removed before they ever became a serious concern.
If I use your example with Susan Falls, and she had been driving an unregistered car to effect her self defence - are you claiming the unregistered vehicle should somehow be okay simply because she had to use to it protect herself?
I am personally happy that there are few firearms in the community to contend with, and that those who have them should be registered. People with guns are far more efficient at killing people than without.
Having said all of that - I do hope that where needed a system of government could be changed by the dissent of the people. I just don't think that having a gun would make that more likely or effective. Education, information and the quality of querying of the official view of the world are the most important qualities of dissent.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao Re:A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

So... having access to a few unlicensed semi-automatic weapons on the off chance that you might want to over throw your own government is a good thing then?
If you think guns are what a modern government would use to keep control over you, you might have missed the importance of the control of information.
Not sure if you are aware of this if you want to talk about Australia - but there are laws here empowering ASIO
to bug my computer without my knowledge, take me away without my telling any one, including my family, and if a reporter reports on it the reporter can be thrown into jail.
The use of a modern army is all about the ability of a government to control the context in which their actions are evaluated. The USA went to war with Iraq, for instance, on the basis there was an imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction use. That that was not the case doesn't really seem to worry anybody. No one has been held to account about that. What do you think they would bring to bare if it was a local national issue and not some distant country?
If your government really thought you were likely to lead a rebellion, you would be put at such an informational disadvantage, the use of your weapons could only be seen as acts of terrorism. I would gather the FBI and alike would be watching you way before you considered actually using a gun. If you some how got to the point of using it, the army and all other resources would then be "permitted" to use any and all means at their disposal to put you down.
In the mean time, you are inclined to add an extra level of insurance by having a gun handy because everyone else out there has one - including the people who will break in. I was not suggesting that crime would disappear if the guns were wound back - far from it. However, as long as they are as available as they are - you are in a cycle of having to own them, where you would like to or not. Of the things I like about America - their gun laws are not to be emulated IMHO.

about 2 years ago
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New York Paper Uses Public Records To Publish Gun-Owner Map

SigmaTao A view from out side the USA... (1232 comments)

I live in Australia, and seeing all those dots, seeing the density of them, is astonishing to me.
I noticed the comments from people being upset that these represent a possible "shopping list" for people who wish to acquire a gun, however as is commonly pointed out in other contexts, security via obscurity is very minimal security indeed. If a newspaper can acquire this information, you can safely assume any other interested party can do so.
If my interpretation of the second amendment is along the right lines, it was to intended to make sure that a government could be overthrown by the people, I think you guys need to reevaluate how effective any gun you can own is in a modern age. You would be up against the largest military in history.
If you wish to have no tracking or boundary for gun types, you are effectively creating the environment where there is a constant battle between those who would do harm with guns and those who need to protect themselves. An environment of escalation. If on the other hand you take steps to reduce the overall availability of guns over time, you would at least be slowly calming the situation. Looking at these numbers I can't help feeling it would take decades however. It would have to be carefully done not to create the equivalent of your prohibition of alcohol, where guns become a black marketed item for the general populous.
I feel for you guys - it seems an unenviable situation, particularly when I look to the future of weapons and see them becoming even deadlier with each passing year.

about 2 years ago

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