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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

alexgieg Re:Just wondering... (416 comments)

[quote]It is pretty unlikely that sexual harassment will ever be considered okay in the future.[/quote]

I've once read a piece of fiction in which a future society had "non-consensual sex" as a standard part of their culture. Hundreds-of-years-old still living (thanks to advances in medical research) 21st century-born citizens shook their head at this, but when they told the youngsters they thought it absurd, they all looked at the oldsters with uncomprehending expressions. That's because thanks to advances in technology it was a non-issue. No resulting psychological traumas, no physical injuries, no pain, no unwanted pregnancies, at most a small inconvenience, and even so only if one's in a hurry. Hence, not a crime, not even a misdemeanor, but mere bad manners.

Rule of thumb: don't try to predict the future. If a current author can already imagine such a scenario, the actual social reality a few centuries down the line might be radically weirder than even his most hallucinating dreams. As ours would be to any 17th century surviver were one still around.

about two weeks ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

alexgieg Re:Google doesn't have a monopoly on ANYTHING. (334 comments)

You have to make up your mind. Either central banks are fundamentalist free market advocates, or they aren't. In this post you seem to be agreeing with my point that they aren't. So, which is it?

The problem with FREE free markets is, that they don't work.

True, which is why I'm actually a distributist, not a libertarian. That however has no bearing on the original argument about what central banks are or aren't.

about a month ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

alexgieg Re:Google doesn't have a monopoly on ANYTHING. (334 comments)

We're not rational, self-interested agents

You're agreeing with one of Austrian Economics' basic axioms. Hayek wrote entire books based on this central fact.

about a month ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

alexgieg Re:Google doesn't have a monopoly on ANYTHING. (334 comments)

Thanks, I liked that article. It expresses many of the same criticisms I have to Rothbard, better than I myself could.

However, that has no bearing on the issue at hand. Central banks are state monopolies that prevent the free market of private currencies. If one's a fundamentalist free-market advocate, then currencies are just a good among others, and monopolizing on their production is anything but being free. Hence, any central bank cannot by definition be a fundamentalist free-market advocate, else they'd advocate for their own monopolies over their respective national currencies to end.

That's why, incidentally, no huge company is ever truly libertarian. Libertarianism is always the position defended by those neither at the bottom nor at the top of the economic pyramid. It's a purely middle-class ideology.

about a month ago
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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

alexgieg Re:writer doesn't get jeopardy, or much of anythin (455 comments)

Whether smarter things than us can exist is an unknown.

It's highly probable though. We can do a lot of pretty awesome stuff running in basically fixed hardware, and hardware full of bugs at that. Build a brain without cognitive biases and it'll be smarter by that alone. Build an intelligence that can dynamically alter its own source code and hardware to optimize for specific tasks and it'll be even more so. There's probably a limit on how much such optimizations can achieve, but in any case we're hardly there, wherever "there" is.

about 1 month ago
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Great Firewall of China Blocks Edgecast CDN, Thousands of Websites Affected

alexgieg Re:Pressure from the *West* (128 comments)

So what you're saying is that governments in the world used to be coerced into behaving differently. Now, governments in those countries now have a greater say over their own future.

FTFY. People rarely, if ever, have a say over anything. They are coerced by their own governments, which in turn can be or not coerced by other governments. In any case however, they are and remain coerced.

about 1 month ago
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'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name

alexgieg Re:No thank you (267 comments)

Yes, a reboot. Each generation is a complete new story, reworking from the ground up characters, replacing several and adding new ones, changing the setting etc. Except for character names a new generation has no relation storywise with previous ones.

1983's Generation 1 is good but at (a very distant) second place compared to G4, with three TV seasons, a few TV specials and a movie.

1997's G2 didn't have a TV series.

2003's G3 and 2009's G3.5 didn't have TV series proper, but had a few kinda boring direct-to-video releases.

2010's G4, the current version, is so good it has four TV seasons, two limited theatrical releases movies, is about to enter its 5th season (with at least four more planned) and to spawn the first season of a spin-off series, has a feature film planned for 2017, and something between 5 and 12 million adult fans worldwide. ;-)

about a month and a half ago
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'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name

alexgieg Re:No thank you (267 comments)

Does this includes cartoons? If so, I'll name My Little Pony. Generation 4 (the current series) is several orders of magnitude better than any of the previous ones.

(Yes, I'm a brony.)

about a month and a half ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing

alexgieg Re:Logically only God could have created.. (429 comments)

PS.: That said, I do like my Goddess and Her sister, a lot, and hope to learn from Them and keep in touch with Them for a long, long time. But I know it won't last. Be prepared for when you, too, will part ways with yours.

about a month and a half ago
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Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing

alexgieg Re:Logically only God could have created.. (429 comments)

Of course there is: Everything appears due to interdependent coorigination. There's no beginning, and no end. All supreme gods are, like us, interdependent cooriginated beings who mistakenly believe themselves eternal and infinite and creators, but who will, in due time, also cease existing like everything, giving thus origin to other causal sequences. Behind it all the only constant is Vacuity, which we can access and become one with by following the eightfold path (right action, right thinking etc.), thus achieving the positive extinction of the self (nirvana).

Also, relying on a god, even a supreme one, is a fools' errand. No matter how many eternities you get to live in bliss in that god's paradise (or in torment in that god's hell), once he himself ceases to exist you're back at the starting point, still bound by causation. The only real escape is nirvana. Everything else is suffering either now, or in future, even if it's a very, very distant future.

That's Buddhism 101 for you. :-)

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

alexgieg Re:Terrible (430 comments)

but ultimately that set pattern holds true

Right. You told us of the history of the thing. Now explain why that having been the case means it should continue being the case.

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

alexgieg Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

Not really. Aristotle assumed this philosophical god of his had some form of "knowledge", yes. However, he concluded it had only knowledge about itself, not about anything else, and particularly not about the stuff over which it caused change to happen. The universe and us existing would be unknown and utterly indifferent to it.

Besides, Aristotle doesn't limit the concept of a first mover to be unique. You can have several first movers, each one completely indifferent to anything but itself, they all causing stuff other than themselves to move, and their different moving abilities interacting with each other to cause, among other things, us. And they'd be ignorant of each other too, since they, being first movers, aren't moved by anything, including other first movers, so there's no way for them to detect other first movers.

For an analogy, think of this like different physical laws interacting while they (the laws themselves) don't change in any way due to such "external" interactions. That basically covers it, except for the fact that first movers are way more "general", so to speak, than "mere" physical laws.

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

alexgieg Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

Why not?

Try it with any discipline. Do like a children and ask from any established knowledge "why?". Then to that answer ask "why?" Proceed a few cycles and you'll reach a point in which you start looping. That's the analogue of the first mover in that knowledge set. If the set you're looking at is "all knowledge about everything", the same will apply: you reach a base point that loops over itself. That's an actual first mover. (And there can be many such.)

Doing this however yields very little information, something like this (using jargon): "a first mover is simple being in pure actuality acting over pure potentiality". And that's it, everyone goes back home happy as there's nothing else to say on the subject. Which is indeed what Aristotle himself did. He spent a few pages on the subject and then moved on to more interesting stuff as there wasn't much else to do with this other than thinking "Neat, that's solved! So, what's next in my todo list?"

This is also why Christians trying to generalize from this Aristotelian "god" to their tribal one makes no sense really.

Why must there have been a base? If that base could be uncaused, why couldn't the universe just be uncaused?

Ah, that's easy! Because the universe is composed of changing stuff, and we're trying to thing that which causes changes but doesn't suffer any change. For example, math fits. All the in-universe changes happen under mathematical laws that don't change no matter how much the stuff "under" them goes around crashing all over itself.

See also my reply to the person who commented above your comment.

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

alexgieg Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

The Greeks were more subtle that you give them credit. It isn't "any form", it's one specific form: the totality of everything. You can have several infinite regresses within it, but not for the whole of it. For example, nothing prevents the universe having infinite causality and thus no beginning in time, so much so that's exactly what Aristotle thought was the case. However, the totality of the universe's set of causes and effects themselves is located "within" the finite set of formal causation extending from Physical laws down to the the basic axioms of logic, and stopping there. In other words, the "first mover" isn't physical, it's at least meta (beyond, outside) physical, and probably beyond even that.

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

alexgieg Re: Haleluja ... (669 comments)

You simply will not have it held against you on judgement day if he is wrong and you follow that bit of being wrong.

The moral problem isn't that being held against someone on judgment day. The moral problem is the notion of a "judgment day".

According Aquinas and other Christian authors, both ancient and recent, during it and afterwards all the saved will rejoice and cheer in utter delight seeing all the condemned, including their own children, spouses, parents etc. being thrown into a furnace of eternal suffering, because it'll be "just". And that'll be so because God will fuck up every saved's minds so that they don't give a damn about billions if not trillions of people being tortured for perpetuity, because "glory" of "justice" being served and whatever.

Oh, and the condemned will all have their minds fucked so as to also believe what they're going through is "just", so that none among them will ever be able to think along the lines of "at least I'm not serving as wired-like zombie under a sadistic tyrant". Nope, they all will "know" they've been infinitely sinful and hence that their infinite torture is somehow "right".

There are modern Christians who reject all of the above? Yep. But not surprisingly, they aren't considered true Christians by the older churches, being instead labeled heretics and, yeah, condemned to Hell by the later unless they repent and start looking forward towards becoming after-death sadistic torture cheerleaders themselves.

So, uhm, no.

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

alexgieg Re:Haleluja ... (669 comments)

who the fuck created your creator? The God God? And then who made him? It's turtles all the way down no matter how you look at it.

That's the whole point. It cannot be turtles all the way down, at some point reality must have some base that is uncaused, and from which everything (causality itself included) arises. Aristotelian philosophy called this a "prime mover", since it's the first thing that "moves" (causes change) to anything else. And then it defined the word "god" as meaning "a prime mover".

Christianity took the idea, which in itself isn't problematic, and said "Oh, nice! We'll take this 'god' of theirs and confuse things by saying it refers to our desert tribal god of war rather than to a generic, neutral, philosophical concept as originally intended! Sweet!" And since then things became very confused indeed. But that's about it.

about 2 months ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

alexgieg Re:Ahhhh.... (489 comments)

A Libertarian will be the ones trying to remove such laws.

Which is why, although I admire libertarian economics, I'm not libertarian myself. I know people who have had their livelihood destroyed by organized cyberbullying built around pure hate for the "wrong" opinions.

For a libertarian, a billionaire that decided to spend millions in a wide multi-front campaign to utterly destroy the life of someone, everyone they love, and their friends and friends of friends, using as many indirect proxies as possible, would be an entirely fine thing provided he didn't use direct violence, only speech.

That's not how a healthy society is build, that's ideology. Libertarians, liberals and conservatives, are all of them, each in his own peculiar way, disconnected from the real world. And we all suffer due to this.

about 2 months ago
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"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

alexgieg Re:Why..... (259 comments)

"Shareholder capitalism is the doctrine that companies exist solely to make money for their shareholders. It is frequently contrasted with stakeholder capitalism, which holds that companies exist for the benefit of their customers, workers and communities, not just for ever-fluctuating number of mostly remote and unengaged passive investors who just happen to own stock in them, often without even being aware that they do.

"The rise of shareholder capitalism in the U.S. is often dated to an influential article in the Journal of Financial Economics in 1976, titled “Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs and Ownership Structure” by Michael C. Jensen and William H. Meckling. They argued that shareholders should demand higher returns from complacent corporate managers. The idea of shareholder value was publicized by a 1981 speech in New York by Jack Welch, who had just taken over General Electric, and by Aflred Rappaport’s 1986 book “Creating Shareholder Value.”

"The shareholder value movement sought to persuade corporate managers to ignore the interests of all stakeholders like workers, customers and the home country, other than shareholders. Granting CEOs stock options, in addition to salaries, was supposed to align their interests with those of the shareholders.

"The theory had an obvious problem: Who are the shareholders and what are their interests? Most publicly traded companies have shares that are bought and sold constantly on behalf of millions of passive investors by mutual funds and other intermediates. Some shareholders invest in a company for the long term; many others allow their shares to be bought and sold quickly by computer software programs.

"Unable to identify what particular shareholders want, CEOs with the encouragement of Wall Street have treated short-term earnings as a reliable proxy for shareholder value. (...)

"Shareholder value capitalism in the U.S. since the 1980s has even failed in its primary purpose — maximizing the growth in shareholder value. As Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto points out in a recent Harvard Business Review article, between 1933 and 1976 shareholders of American companies earned higher returns — 7.6 percent — than they have done in the age of shareholder value from 1977 to 2008 — 5.9 percent a year.

"For his part, Jack Welch has renounced the idea with which he was long associated. In a March 2009 interview with the Financial Times, the former head of GE said: “Strictly speaking, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.”

"In the aftermath of the failed 40-year experiment in shareholder capitalism, Americans need not look solely to other democratic nations for models of successful stakeholder capitalism. The U.S. economy between the New Deal and the 1970s was a version of stakeholder capitalism, in which the gains from superior growth were shared with workers, CEOs were moderately paid and the rich engrossed far less of the economy. In reconnecting with America’s native tradition of stakeholder capitalism, American companies can learn from the example of Johnson & Johnson, whose credo was written by Robert Wood Johnson in 1943:

"We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world.We are responsible to the countries in which we live and work and to the world community as wellWe must be good citizens.and bear our fair share of taxes.We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources.Our final responsibility is to our shareholders.When we operate according to these principles, the shareholders should realize a fair return."

The failure of shareholder capitalism, Salon, Mar 29, 2011

about 2 months ago
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Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days

alexgieg Re:Hoax (986 comments)

Of course not. First, Physics Nobel prizes are given for experimentally tested stuff, not for pure theory, particularly when said theory can (in principle) be subjected to testing at some point. Second, Nobel prizes are never given posthumously. The methods for testing GR were only developed near Einstein's death, and GR was only fully experimentally confirmed after he had already died. Hence, by a+b, no Nobel prize for him. Had he lived a few more years and he'd have won it.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Mendeley Acquired by Elsevier

alexgieg alexgieg writes  |  about a year and a half ago

alexgieg (948359) writes "Academic reference manager Mendeley has announced they're joining Elsevier. They say this won't change anything for Mendeley users and that they're still committed to their Open API efforts, all the while acknowledging that Elsevier's reputation hasn't been the best as of late. If you're currently a Mendeley user will you continue using it from now on? Or will this move prompt you to start evaluating alternatives such as the open source, Firefox-based Zotero?"
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Torment: Tides of Numenera Final Kickstarter Day

alexgieg alexgieg writes  |  about a year and a half ago

alexgieg (948359) writes "In about 24 hours the kickstarter for the Torment: Tides of Numenera computer RPG game, the spiritual sucessor to the acclaimed Planescape: Torment, will finish. So far the pledges have crossed the $3.75 million mark, more than 4 times the initial project goal of $900k, thus funding the game and 15 of the 18 stretch goals. If the pledges reach $4.5 million all the 18 stretch goal will have been funded. Once completed the game will be DRM-free and available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux."
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Polar Ice Caps Recovering

alexgieg alexgieg writes  |  more than 6 years ago

alexgieg writes ". . . reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). . . reveal that almost all the allegedly 'lost' ice has come back. A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels."
Link to Original Source
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Yahoo China sued by International RIAA

alexgieg alexgieg writes  |  about 7 years ago

alexgieg writes "From the article: 'Yahoo China lost another round in a legal battle as a court in Beijing upheld a ruling that the company is infringing on copyright laws by allowing pirated music to be downloaded, according to the industry group suing Yahoo China. (. . .) In the suit, IFPI accused China Yahoo of violating copyrights because it allows links between its search engine and Web sites that have illegally copied songs from artists such as U2 and Destiny's Child.'"
Link to Original Source
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alexgieg alexgieg writes  |  more than 7 years ago

alexgieg writes "Some friend and me are interested in creating a small site where we'll publish voluntary translations of up to 8 texts per month, and I will be responsible for the task of implementing it, since I'm the one among us who know a little about Linux, HTML, CSS and the like.

The features we will need are: support for simple and very light designs, since the site will be almost entirely composed of long texts; an easy way to add and edit these texts, with usernames and passwords for me and my friends; support for tags attributed by the submitter, if possible hierarchical ones (tagging a text "democracy" would automatically tag it "politics" too); ability to display all texts that have/pertains to such and such tags (let's say, selecting "democracy" and "philosophy" would show all articles that have both tags); and maybe ability to integrate with an OSS forum software. What is, or are, good OSS solutions for this?

In regards to the forums, we plan to have a topic for each translation published, as well as generic forums, since our idea is to also grow a community around the site, but not something integrated to the articles themselves, at most a link from the article to the its topic in the forums. However, I've heard a lot about serious bugs and lack of security on some of the most known forum software out there, and as I never installed any of them, I don't know how to choose an effective and secure solution. So, what are your suggestions also in the field of OSS forums?"

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