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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

Stephan Schulz Re:From Jack Brennan's response (769 comments)

It's not something within the remit of voters to approve or disprove.

Of course it is. They can stop reelecting crooks to the office. Or free will does not exist.. Take your pick

Sure they can do something about it, and they are welcome to it. But any approval is morally void by the most basic natural laws, at least according to my morality compass. There is no process that justifies subjecting anybody to this treatment. And whoever is affected has an absolute right to self-defence against such treatment - and I'm hard-pressed not to argue that there even is a right, if not a duty, for others to intervene. If we go there, all claims of moral superiority of the west evaporate, and most "terrorists" suddenly have a valid moral claim. It seems to work fine the other way round - see classics like Rambo 2 or Red Dawn.

about a week ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

Stephan Schulz Re:The sheer stupidity bothers me... (769 comments)

Question: If it's necessary to extract information,[...]

How do you know it's necessary? In all those ticking bomb scenarios, how do you ever know 100% that there is a ticking bomb, and that you have the one person that can tell you where it is, but miss any other useful information?

Apart from the immorality of torture, and the ineffectiveness of it, it also leads to the deterioration of proper police and intelligence work. Why infiltrate organisations, keep your ear on the ground, talk to people, maintain contacts, observe, when you can just grab some schmuck of the street and torture him (or her)? You'll get a lot of information you can sell as a success, wether true or false...

about two weeks ago
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CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

Stephan Schulz Re:From Jack Brennan's response (769 comments)

Well, let's not pretend the voters disapprove, okay?

It's not something within the remit of voters to approve or disprove. Inalienable rights and all that....

about two weeks ago
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James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

Stephan Schulz Re:Is it true... (355 comments)

There must be a way of telling smart people from dumb people... .

  • There must be a way to travel faster than then the speed of light!
  • There must be 3 integers a,b,c, such that a^3+b^3=c^3 and there certainly must be a way to get superscript in Slashdot!
  • There must be a way to determine if an arbitrary computer program halts for a given input!

...and so on. Maybe there is a way of telling smart people from dumb people (Forrest Gump comes to mind), but there is no guarantee that we can always reasonably measure a vaguely defined property like "intelligence".

about two weeks ago
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There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor

Stephan Schulz Re:If it's fast enough, "general purpose" is fine (181 comments)

If a "general purpose" processor solves your problems fast enough, it's good enough.

How the fuck is that "harmful"?

You miss the point. It's not the "general purpose processor" that is harmful per se. What is harmful is the labelling of a certain class of processors as "general purpose", when, in the view of the author, they are not really general purpose, but specialised for executing C code with, at most, mid-sized working sets and little inter-processor communication. By assuming this workload as the default and calling processors good for it "general purpose", we may miss other approaches that might be more suitable for certain classes of problems.

about a month ago
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Russia Takes Down Steve Jobs Memorial After Apple's Tim Cook Comes Out

Stephan Schulz Re:Terrible (430 comments)

Saying that's not how it works implies you know how it works.

Not true. There are many things of which I know how they don't work without knowing how they work. Before the detection of nuclear fusion, we didn't know how the sun was heated. But we did know that it was not a chemical reaction (not enough fuel for the time it had been burning). I don't know how Google indexes keywords. But I do know they are not looking them up via sequential search (too fast for that). I don't know what the annoying traffic light on my way to work is triggered by, but I know its not telepathy - or I wouldn't be standing there forever each day. And so on. Indeed, that's how science works - you formulate hypotheses and then refute them one-by-one. If you can't refute a reasonable one, that's your tentative model of reality.

about a month and a half ago
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The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

Stephan Schulz Re:When is something well-known enough to not cite (81 comments)

Nowadays, most journals will expect the author to provide a camera-ready copy. They don't do any editing or typesetting anymore, they just handle peer-review and publication.

It is the field of biology that you are talking about? That's certainly not the case for my own field (linguistics). The editor still molds the submissions into a house style before it goes to the printer; the author isn't expected to do all the typesetting himself.

Ok, my experience is mostly with computer science, math and physics. Typically, you write your paper in LaTeX with a style provided by the publisher. LaTeX does the actual typesetting, of course. Some journals also have Word templates, but that's much rarer.

about a month and a half ago
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The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

Stephan Schulz Re:When is something well-known enough to not cite (81 comments)

I would have assumed journals would let you err on the side of caution and simply remove your citation if it were unnecessary, but apparently citing too much can block approval.

Nowadays, most journals will expect the author to provide a camera-ready copy. They don't do any editing or typesetting anymore, they just handle peer-review and publication. Authors can modify papers following suggestions from peer review, which may include suggestions on citations. I think Nature and Science still to their own typesetting, and may commission better illustrations, but that's a rare exception. In nearly all cases where the paper has been accepted, the author has the final say about the details (within reason, of course).

about a month and a half ago
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How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

Stephan Schulz Re: Yeah, complete bullshit (296 comments)

You're looking at it from a very technical perspective, which is valid for the few who have the time and knowledge to dick around with a UNIX system to make it things. Apple's user-base isn't that sector, despite the fanboi protests (cue accusations of trolling). Apple shines brightest for people who want to get other things done without worrying about how they get done. For someone in the humanities, there's no better machine for putting together a fast, smooth workflow with an amazingly small learning curve. [....]

I'm regularly attending conferences in the field of theoretical computer science and AI, and about 70% of laptops there are MacBooks. 25% are Linux, and then there are a few researchers paid by Microsoft Research ;-). But Macs are not just for humanities people - a significant draw is "a UNIX box that just works". With Fink or MacPorts, package management is nearly as good as on the best Linux distributions, and the hardware integration is totally trouble-free. And the hardware is nice from a purely physical point of view - smooth, quite, compact, with decent performance and reliability. Of course, most of the people with Mac laptops use Linux servers for nearly everything else.

Another thing that Apple has going for it is consistency. The PC market is gigantic, and if you want to get a good deal, you must spend a lot of time investigating and usually also get lucky. With Apple, the chances of getting a complete lemon are very low, and the choices are limited enough that it's easy to get an overview.

about 2 months ago
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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Re:Stallman is right... (150 comments)

It's not any different with open programs, as no one has the time to read the source code anyway. It always boils down to trust towards the vendor.

That's wrong. Not everyone has that time, but someone usually does have - and for popular programs, many people do take the time. That does not make the system completely fool-proof, but it does make hidden backdoors a lot less of a concern. If neither of two approaches is perfect, it does not mean that one is not vastly superior to the other. Take antibiotics and witchcraft as treatments for pneumonia....

about 2 months ago
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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Re:Stallman is right... (150 comments)

Yes, commercial software is based on trust. We have now found out that Adobe does not respect our privacy and we can simply stop using their products. The system still works.

Maybe you forgot a smiley here? We run this risk every time we install and run a proprietary program - how often do you need your nude pictures, private medical records and credit card information leaked all over the internet?

about 2 months ago
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Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

Stephan Schulz Stallman is right... (150 comments)

Even if he can be hard to handle, this is one of his core arguments. If you don't control your computer, your computer controls you. With proprietary software, you are basically handing control of your computer over to the software company. You can hope that are both honest and competent. Keep those fingers crossed...

about 2 months ago
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Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Stephan Schulz Re:It's getting hotter still! (635 comments)

Somehow a quite conservatively formulated claim (subjunctive mode, "some models, 75% chance, 5-7 years, during some month of the summer") magically morphed into the strong claim "Al Gore said in 5 years time the Arctic will be completely ice free". How much did you pay for that perceptional filter? And can you get a refund?

about 3 months ago
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Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

Stephan Schulz Re:Bikes lanes are nice (213 comments)

[...] on the street [bicycles] interfere with traffic.

Just for your information, bicycles are part of the traffic! As for "interference", the appropriate control situation is not one where the cyclists are magically poofed to New Delhi (or the moon), but one where every cyclist is replaced by yet another car...

about 3 months ago
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How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation

Stephan Schulz Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (770 comments)

It is the job of a "scientist" to present claim and data that supports said claim in such a way that it may be consumed by anyone and still stand on its own, only then is there "consensus."

Well, the job of a "scientist" may be to provide soundbites that so-called think tanks can feed to sympathetic reporters and the uninformed public. But it is not the job of a scientist (no quotes) to present his results in a way that "anyone" can consume them. Scientists need to present their results in a way that an interested, fair-minded, and, most of all, sufficiently educated person (i.e. usually another scientist with a similar speciality) can follow the research.

Some complex research can be presented to the general public (although even then not to everybody), but then it's necessarily simplified and no longer iron-clad. It's a sad illusion to assume that modern science can be spoon-fed to a passive audience in a way that said audience can really understand it. If it were that simple, we would not need universities and Ph.D. programs.

about 3 months ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Stephan Schulz Re:Or we could simply revert to original best prac (643 comments)

  • To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  • ...
  • To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

Isn't that socialism? Or communism? Anyways, that's a wimpy European idea. Proper American heros are more Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer. Civil rights are as quaint as the Geneva Convention. If you're a law-abiding citizen, why would you walk outside your gated community? Or inside after dark? Can't you afford a car? Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius!

about 4 months ago
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U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras

Stephan Schulz Putting the shoe on the other foot.... (643 comments)

I can see the superficial attraction of this, but I think it overreaches. Nobody will work well if under permanent surveillance. On the other hand, why not turn it around? Have the senators wear body cameras during all fund-raisers, committee meetings, and discussions with staff, potential donors, and others.

about 4 months ago
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Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

Stephan Schulz Galileoscope (187 comments)

For a very low-price but useful entry-level telescope, try the Galileoscope. It is an achromatic refractor that has been designed as part of the International Year of Astronomy, and can be had for approximately US$ 50 (or order a box of 6 for US$30 apiece). It comes with an eyepiece that approximates Galileo Galilei's experience, but also with (IIRC) 2 modern eyepieces that are decent enough for the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn's ring. Also, it uses a standard eyepiece adapter, so it can be further upgraded if required. Some assembly required - this is intended as a teaching opportunity ;-). It's cheap enough that it can just be passed on to another kid or a local school if a better instrument is obtained.

about 4 months ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Stephan Schulz Re:The real problem is... (552 comments)

What "geologic indications" are these, exactly? The last time I checked, the global warming proponents were just checking ice cores for CO2 content in the atmosphere. The melting point of most rocks is well above the hottest temperatures encountered in the atmosphere...

You haven't checked very carefully, then. There are several geological proxies for past temperatures. One example is the Oxygen isotope ratio in calcium carbonate.

about 5 months ago
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The Last Three Months Were the Hottest Quarter On Record

Stephan Schulz Re:Heartland Institute (552 comments)

The Heartland Institute's NIPCC reports use the same research papers cited by the IPCC and shows how the IPCC conveniently skews data and ignores all the data in between.

There is a difference in semantics between "shows" and "claims" that you seem to not be aware of. The so-called NIPCC is a front for Heartland, and consists of a changing but minuscule group of well-known deniers. Their report is a transparent piece of propaganda for everyone who has at least a basic scientific understanding.

about 5 months ago

Submissions

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G20 states give US$88000000000 for fossil fuel exploration

Stephan Schulz Stephan Schulz writes  |  about a month ago

Stephan Schulz (948) writes "The G20 states are supporting fossil fuel exploration with around US$ 88 billion per year, in the form of direct investment by state-owned businesses, tax breaks, direct subsidies, and subsidised loans. This is more than twice the US$ 37 billion that the 20 largest private companies in the sector invest. Examples include the US giving 5.1 billion in direct subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, and Germany propping up its coal industry with 2.6 billion. Counting all subsidies, states supported the fossil fuel industry with a staggering US$775 billion in 2012 (not counting environmental degradation or geopolitical interventions), while renewables only were subsidised with around US$ 100 billion. A full report and the executive summary have been published by the Overseas Development Institute, a UK think tank. Additional reporting is at Phys.org, the BBC and the Guardian."
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Politician forces German Wikipedia off the Net

Stephan Schulz Stephan Schulz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Stephan Schulz writes "German Member of parliament for the left-wing party "Die Linken" Lutz Heilmann has obtained a preliminary injunction against the local chapter of the Wikimedia foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., forbidding the forwarding of the popular http://wikipedia.de to the proper http://de.wikipedia.org. Apparently Heilman is not happy with the fact that his Wikipedia article (English version) contains information on his work for the former GDR Stasi, the much-hated internal secret service. Wikimedia Germany displays a page explaining the situation, and has announced that it will file an objection to get the injunction lifted.

The German Wikipedia has more than 800000 pages, and is hosted, like all Wikimedia projects, by the Florida Wikimedia Foundation, and hence beyond the effective reach of at least German politicians and judges."

Link to Original Source
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Mechanical Reasoners battle it out in Sydney today

Stephan Schulz Stephan Schulz writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Stephan Schulz writes "While the Beijing Olympic Games may be the most visible ongoing contest, it is not the geekiest by far. Today, the CADE ATP System Competition will pit about 20 of the worlds most powerful mechanical mathematicians against each other — and for the first time they can win not only honour, but real a monetary prize. The systems will reason against the clock on tasks ranging from undergraduate math problems and Cluedo-like puzzles to figuring out the possible responsibility for terrorist attacks from giant knowledge bases. If you think that is not impressive enough, they are doing it at a rate of 12 problems per hour, all day long. The competition starts at 10 a.m. in Sydney, Australia, which is midnight UTC. Live results will be available at the competition page. For added geek appeal, most of the contenders are available under open source licenses, so if you are weak in logic you can hack up your own brain extension and run it on an iPhone..."
Link to Original Source

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