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Neurologists Shine Light On Near-Death Experiences

Urban Garlic Why must the memories be chronologically faithful? (351 comments)

So the model here seems to be, people coming out of near-death experiences have these memories, and while they're likely not "real", they're a record of some sequence of cognitive states, and the puzzle is, how can we detect these cognitive states? There seems to be an underlying assumption that the memories are a faithful chronological record of something, and the investigation is, what is the something -- what is the brain recording while it's apparently inert.

This may well be right, they seem to have good evidence of apparently-inert brains being not-so-inert, so at this point I suppose I'm quibbling.

But the part I have never understood about discussions of near-death experiences (IANAneurologist) is, why do so many of these stories assume that the memories people wake up with were created during the apparently-inert time? It's true that the memories are subjectively of long duration, people report that they remember spending a lot of time flying towards the light or conversing with the angels, but surely they can be sincere without being right.

We know a fair amount now about how memories can be manipulated, and how recollections depend on the environment -- memories are very slippery things. So, isn't it possible that, during the apparently-inert period of a near-death experience, the brain actually is inert, and not forming memories, and that at the time of recovery, during which there is plenty of obvious brain activity, the memories are all formed in a brief period, but with the subjective sense of having taken place over a longer period? This means the memories are basically wrong, but this seems to me to be a much lower bar to clear than requiring chronologically faithful memory construction in quiescent gray matter.

Any neurologists in the crowd care to comment?

about a year ago
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Illuminating Window-Less Houses With a Plastic Bottle

Urban Garlic Secure, too... (240 comments)

They're completely unhackable!.

Soon they'll be mandatory in Enterprise deployments.

about a year ago
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Queen's WWIII Speech Revealed

Urban Garlic Re:Blatant Lies (147 comments)

Well, in fairness, it was prepared for the Queen, not necessarily by the Queen. It was her advisers who imagined the solemn and awful duty falling to her.

about a year ago
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Yahoo Censors Tumblr Porn

Urban Garlic Re:Not really... (216 comments)

Not only Yahoo's index, they're blocking indexing for Google and Bing also. Presumably via robots.txt or similar.

about a year ago
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HBO Asks Google To Take Down "Infringing" VLC Media Player

Urban Garlic Re:VLC is illegal in the USA (364 comments)

As you hint at, it's the libdvdcss capability that's the main problem under anti-circumvention provisions of the US DMCA.

You can get versions of VLC which only use FOSS and patent-unencumbered codecs. Debian used to (maybe still does, I haven't looked in a while) make this distinction pretty clear, the "main" packaged VLC was unencumbered, and you had to go outside the main package tree to get the other stuff.

So, in most practical installations, you're right, but it's not literally true that "VLC is illegal in the US."

about a year and a half ago
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Japanese Gov't Accidentally Shares Internal Email Over Google Groups

Urban Garlic Security backfire? (25 comments)

So the article and summary hint at a common problem -- "the ministry has its own system for ... sharing documents", which "doesn't always function well outside of Japan". I've seen this in more than one enterprise, where the IT guys meet the need of users to securely move data around by buying or building a secure solution, and they pay very careful attention to the security, but less attention to the usability. Users will go for ease-of-use every time, and aren't thinking about security, so mistakes like this happen.

The obvious solution is to make the secure system easy to use, but usability itself is hard to get right, secure usability is very hard.

about a year and a half ago
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Use Tor, Get Targeted By the NSA

Urban Garlic Re:US Citizens Only (451 comments)

As a naturalized US citizen who actually took a small quiz on this, I am honor-bound to point out that the fine quotation you have provided is actually from the Declaration of Independence, and not the Constitution. While it certainly reflects the aspirations of the founders, and may well represent my or your best hopes, it's not actually the law of the land. The constitution is clearer about its jurisdiction.

about a year and a half ago
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Sophisticated Apache Backdoor In the Wild

Urban Garlic Re:Wow (108 comments)

Any host-based intrusion detection system will have a hash of the executable, and will report when it changes. This is not some new cutting-edge security precaution, it's routine for many, many installations.

about a year and a half ago
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Lawyer Loses It In Letter To Patent Office

Urban Garlic Actual substantive complaint missing... (342 comments)

Seriously, he's a lawyer, in what particular does he think the rejection is wrong?

  The nearest thing to a substantive accusation is that the examiner is simply rejecting the application because he's lazy and that's easy. But it's my understanding that, in fact, patent examiners face a lot of pressure to approve applications, which is faster and easier than rejection, because it takes less effort to justify approval, and because approvals don't generally get appealed by the applicant. So while I am sure laziness afflicts patent examiners from time to time, it's not obvious that this is an example.

As for "doing his job", his job is not to approve applications, it's to examine them and make a determination. Rejection is one possible outcome, and is not by itself proof that the job wasn't done.

So, yeah, faceless bureaucrats are lazy and stupid, ha ha. Tell me again what problem you solved by making this assertion?

about a year and a half ago
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Btrfs Is Getting There, But Not Quite Ready For Production

Urban Garlic Re:Happy with XFS (268 comments)

I've been using it for a long time, too, it's a perfectly respectable choice, and if I had to use it for ten more years, that would be OK.

However, particularly for back-up systems, I am ready for snapshots and block-level deduplication. I tried to deploy something like this with XFS over LVM a few years ago, but discovered that the write performance of LVM snapshots degrades rapidly when there are a lot of them, and it helps a lot if you can guess the size in advance, which is hard. There's also a hard limit of 255 snapshots, but in our environment, performance became unacceptable before we got anywhere near that.

You're right that XFS "ain't broke", but I for one am ready for more features.

about a year and a half ago
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Shuttleworth Calls Ubuntu Performance Art, Calls Out Critics

Urban Garlic Re:He has a point, no? (231 comments)

What you say is likely true for almost all users, but for server management, the network transparency features that come with server-client separation are a huge asset. My own "use-case" is that I frequently need to install commercial scientific software on remote headless systems, e.g. the head node of a computational cluster in the server room. These installers invariably have GUIs, which I use by SSH-ing into the box with a forwarded X connection and just running it.

There are other ways to do this, of course, you can use some kind of remote desktop scheme to accomplish the same goal, but you don't actually need the whole desktop, you really only need to operate the remote GUI on your existing local desktop. X can do this, Wayland (and Windows and Quartz) sacrifice this in order to have better local display performance.

I also worry that it's part of a general trend towards more monolithic software, and towards doing less in order to do it better. Unix (and Linux) were initially attractive to me because of their mind-set of having a good set of powerful, conceptually simple tools that I could chain together to accomplish my goals. Now, it seems like I'm seeing more and more conceptually complex, monolithic applications that are very, very good at solving the most frequent use case, but are somewhere between useless and harmful if you try something the developer didn't anticipate, because it's a niche requirement or a corner case. I'm starting to miss systems that worked in the corner cases.

about a year and a half ago
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BeagleBone Black Released With 1GHz Cortex-A8 For Only $45

Urban Garlic Re:rs-232 (142 comments)

FTFS: "Three serial interfaces are available via the expansion headers." So it's a connector and a few minutes of soldering.

about a year and a half ago
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Bigelow Aerospace Investigating Feasibility of Moon Base for NASA

Urban Garlic Re:Gravity? (140 comments)

Robert Zubrin, the "case for Mars" guy who seems to have thought a lot about months-long space journeys, believes that low-gravity bone loss can be mitigated by exercise. His data point is Shannon Lucid, who spent 179 days on the Mir space station, rigorously followed the prescribed exercise regime, and came back in significantly better physical condition than other members of her crew, who weren't as disciplined with their exercise regimes.

Even if he's wrong, this is a problem to be solved, rather than a reason not to try.

about a year and a half ago
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A Critique of the Boston Bombing News Coverage (Video)

Urban Garlic Re:emt? (175 comments)

Seriously? Emergency medical technician, aka paramedic. The guy in the ambulance who does the cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

about a year ago
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Washington's Exploding Manholes Explained?

Urban Garlic Re:Politicians are all full of crap... (112 comments)

> Government builds capital on swamp ...

It's not, actually.

I suppose the confusion arises because of G. Washington's investments in trying to drain the Great Dismal Swamp, but this on the Virginia-NC border, not the site of Washington DC.

about a year and a half ago
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Google Reader Being Retired

Urban Garlic Re:Petition (386 comments)

> No one fucking cares, I know this because ... its going away and no one is saying loudly 'we can import your google reader feeds, move to us!!!!!'.

Actually, that's exactly what feedly was saying on their home page last night. They seem to have a good feature set, and run on all the platforms I care about, but their servers buckled under the load yesterday, so maybe not.

about 2 years ago
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What Is Your Favorite Polearm?

Urban Garlic The WTF answer -- twitter and Table Titans (469 comments)

So for those wondering how this came up all of a sudden, my guess is that it has to do with the background for this "Table Titans" page, which was (apparently) riffing on a twitter exchange between Rob Donoghue and Logan Bonner.

I don't do the twitter myself, and I'm not affiliated with Table Titans or PVP.

However, unlike you ignorant whippersnappers, I do keep up with the geekly webcomics. You may vacate my lawn at your convenience.

about 2 years ago
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Federal Court OKs Amazon's System of Suggesting Alternative Products

Urban Garlic Re:i dont see (102 comments)

As far as I can tell from the article, the basis of the complaint is that vendors object to the fact that searching on their brand name or model name brings up stuff that's not theirs, and they believe that having these search results show up confuses consumers about who made the products in the search result.

So, if this is the case, then it's like, I go into a physical store, and say to the salesman, "I would like to buy an Apple laptop computer," and the salesman produces a computer, and says "Here is an Inspiron laptop computer, it has many wonderful features." The salesman neglects to mention that the Inspiron is an alternative to, rather than an example of, an Apple computer. The accusation is that the salesman is trading on Apple's good name to sell non-Apple merchandise.

It's similar to when people complain about sponsored search results not being easily distinguished from non-sponsored results.

about 2 years ago

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