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This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning

azcoyote Re:simcity 4 is best simcity (103 comments)

I myself miss Sim City 2000 the most, especially for the wacky newspapers.

about three weeks ago

"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

azcoyote Re:My wife will miss Grant. (364 comments)

Grant is the only one I'll miss. I might watch the show again now that the other two are gone.

about a month ago

Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

azcoyote Re:Bad timing? (147 comments)

Nah, they'll be perfect when nuclear winter comes around. ;o)

about 4 months ago

Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery

azcoyote Re:It only can become slavery... (150 comments)

I don't think it will ever be a problem, anyway, inasmuch as free-will is not something that can be developed through a quantitative increase in heuristics and processing power. It is a qualitatively different kind of intelligence, and not something that we can invent. The problem, however, will always be that because people believe that they can endow something with free-will, there will be (A) attempts to create superior robots that mimic free-will to a convincing degree, and (B) people who foolishly believe that their AI has free-will, and therefore should be treated as a person. It's analogous to the way in which many people are convinced that their dogs qualify as persons on the same level as human beings. In the future, it is likely that people will become so attached to AIs that they go so far as to insist that they are people.

about 4 months ago

Virtual Reality: Purpose Beyond Gaming

azcoyote Re:CAD, and Maintenance Manuals (72 comments)

Maintenance manuals are a good idea, but VR editions would probably cost more time and money than a company is willing to spend, especially when they'd rather have to buy something new than fix something old.

about 5 months ago

You Are What You're Tricked Into Eating

azcoyote Possible, but the rhetoric is outlandish (499 comments)

One can argue for increased protein, but the frequent claim that this represents a better, more "natural" way of living is suspect. We have to come to terms with the fact that humanity's natural state is technological. We cannot even survive in most of the climates in which we live without clothing, which is a basic form of technology. The protests against processed food are, in a sense, highly dishonest, because (1) they delude themselves into thinking that the technological aspect of our food is the problem, rather than any issue of self-control, and (2) especially for Americans the call for government regulation shows that while we pretend that the market itself can regulate everything and set the terms of value, we are uneasy with the results, which tend to devalue human life and well-being for the sake of profit.

Besides, I certainly don't need to go to the freezer section to buy unhealthy, fatty food. Some of my favorite homemade meals, such as traditional Mexican enchiladas, are bad enough for me.

about 5 months ago

Comcast Takes 2014 Prize For Worst Company In America

azcoyote Re:Well Deserved (195 comments)

Yeah, every so often they decide once again that the cable modem that I own must somehow belong to them, and they start billing me for renting my own equipment.

about 5 months ago

What's In a Username? the Power of Gamer Tags

azcoyote Re:It's a fine balance (99 comments)


I think there's definitely something about gamertags that impacts the way people respond to you. I remember when playing Gears or War or Halo there seemed to be an unspoken policy of avoiding being on the team of someone with an all-lowercase name, because it at least seemed to often be the case that such a person was a young kid or a newer player. Of course, looks are deceptive. There are many good players who use all-lowercase gamertags. But even if we cognitively know that our assumptions are faulty, that does not stop us from unconsciously acting upon them before we think about it. (Hence Pascal says that human reason is subject to imagination: you could put the world's smartest philosopher on a secure plank hanging over a cliff, and even though he knows that he won't fall, he will probably still be afraid of it.)

The only name change I paid for on Xbox Live was to make my gamertag more interesting and less newbish, so that other experienced players would be less likely to avoid being on my team. You can say that one's skill should speak for itself, but you have to win a game first in order for your skill to speak, and in team-based matches a set of bad teammates can easily make you look like a newb.

So most of them will choose names that give the impression of a callow youth trying to grossly overcompensate for their (obvious) inadequacies. Not only are these individuals easy to spot, their choices are more likely to make them targets for scorn and derision rather than convey the impression they are better than they really are.

I agree. The mark of many newb gamertags will often be that he or she chooses a name that he or she *thinks* is intimidating. It would be better to imitate very closely gamertags of players who *are* intimidating, when these have some distinctive character. I opted for something in the middle, which would not look like it was trying to be too clever but would not immediately appear to be newbish.

about 5 months ago

Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"

azcoyote Re:Huh? (334 comments)

Yeah. One can say that death is merely built into the system if the system itself is considered determinative of all value. Hence one can agree that from a naturalistic and materialistic standpoint, one can no more say that death is wrong than that fly death is wrong, or that evolution itself is wrong. But if we believe in a system of value that extends beyond the raw system of evolution--if we believe that there is anything worthwhile to human life beyond being a mere instantiation of the power of evolution and the endless cycle of life and death--then we can believe that death is wrong.

Not that I think this criticism applies to what Jhon said, but a great inconsistency lies in the fact that many of us cannot help but believe that our lives are worth something, that the people we love should not simply die, but still we profess a nihilistic materialism that cannot of itself ground the value of human life. The question we have to ask then is whether our striving toward improvements in medical science is merely for the sake of showing off the wonders of technology, or whether we really believe that people should live longer. If we answer the latter, are we not implying that life is morally superior to death, that technology is not wrong if it makes us more than another cog in the evolutionary system?

I have read theological attempts to claim that human death is justifiable simply in view of evolution and the cycle of life. They argue that even if we die horrible deaths, at least we are doing good by feeding the worms that eat our bodies. But who can actually profess this view in all honesty apart from depression or mere cynicism? How many of us can really say, "At least the poor worms will have something to eat"?

That aside, I do agree with Jhon that the moral value of extending life is not necessarily the same at that of living forever. Nevertheless, we should not consider death valuable in itself simply because it is a mechanism of evolution. Technology, even if it violates the usual flow of nature, is not thereby something immoral or destructive. We are technological beings and the products of evolution, and the kind of nature-freedom dualism that makes people to think that technology and nature are incompatible simply doesn't make sense.

about 6 months ago

Satoshi Nakamoto Found? Not So Fast

azcoyote Re:I don't understand the logic behind this (182 comments)

True--and, in fact, it makes more sense for someone who really wants to remain anonymous to remain silent and let an imposter be the center of attention. He might have posted to exonerate Dorian because he felt sorry for him, but what does it really matter? It's not like he was under arrest or being investigated by the police. Perhaps he posted to clear Dorian because he didn't like someone else getting credit, even if he won't stand up and take the credit himself. Or maybe Dorian just posted in order to further the confusion and try to trick people into thinking that he isn't the guy.

about 6 months ago

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

azcoyote Except... (745 comments)

1. Any computer storage medium capable of storing all of the data in the universe would have to be larger than the universe itself, even if it only stores the basic state (determinate or indeterminate) of all matter in the universe. That's one heck of a computer.

2. We would have no concept of the 'real' world that was not given by this world to us, so we could hardly even suppose that such a world existed. To even hypothesize such a world is almost certainly to reproduce our own world in slightly different terms, and project it onto a mysterious "other." E.g.: Star Trek, women from other planets just happen to be different colors. Hence the idea of a world that is not so mathematically predictable is dependent from the beginning upon our experience of this world and its mathematical characteristics (notwithstanding the complaints that math is not quite so clear-cut as portrayed).

3. This is just a kind of Idealism which, instead of seeing the world of ideas as being more mathematically simplistic, sees it as less. Yet this view is not for that reason any less Idealism.

about 7 months ago

US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online

azcoyote Re:Why? (578 comments)

Maybe it's not the *idea* of capitalism, but it is the kind of capitalism that we practice.

about 7 months ago

Bloody Rag May Not Have Touched Louis XVI's Severed Head

azcoyote Re:Obvious solution. (87 comments)

It's easy to point broad fingers at multiple centuries of people without any real evidence. To accuse the church of a coverup is just wild hearsay because the church makes an easy villain. In the first place, your premise is faulty: the medieval church did not obtain its power from royal mandate. I recommend reading Eamon Duffy's Saints and Sinners for a better understanding of the complexities of the relationship between church and state in the middle ages.

about a year ago

Unmanned 'Terminator' Robots Kill Jellyfish

azcoyote Re:Robots to kill moon jellyfish (149 comments)

We're getting there. Next we put a woman inside the robot, and send to fight giant space jellyfish and the space pirates who enslave them. Rainbow hyper beam FTW!

about a year ago

Galileo: Right On the Solar System, Wrong On Ice

azcoyote Re:More false history (206 comments)

Your concern is understandable, but history simply is not such a straight-forward a competition between papal authority and glorious, humanistic science. In fact, one classic debate over the scientific method was between Pascal and Descartes. Descartes believed that vacuums could not exist based on accepted philosophical (Aristotelian) principles, whereas Pascal argued that only empirical observation can rule in that area--and so he proved the existence of the vacuum through experiment. So which one was the more faithful Catholic? Pascal, actually. Descartes professed to be Catholic (and was, at least formally), but he generally held views more in line with post-Catholic Enlightenment thought, while Pascal was a die-hard Augustinian who firmly believed in traditional theology as well as papal authority--even though that put him under suspicion for his association with Jansenism.

1 year,23 days

Galileo: Right On the Solar System, Wrong On Ice

azcoyote Re:Right for the wrong reasons (206 comments)

Hmm, that's interesting that he misunderstood the tides--and somewhat surprising, since even in Dante, Aquinas, and others there seems to have been some (admittedly vague) idea that the tides were caused by the moon. A quick Google search brings this up: Here.

1 year,23 days

Don't Fly During Ramadan

azcoyote Re:Why is almost nobody questioning this account? (1233 comments)

Very true. When you analyze the narrative structure of his account it fits a particular kind of mythos that will elicit an emotive response from a particular group of people. This is not to say that the story can be proven false, but it should at least caution people against assuming without any proof that it is true. Part of the appeal of the story is its lack of explanation: no clear reason is given for the intrusive questions about his religion, and his initial reluctance to be scanned does not explain the onslaught of dimwitted and inconsiderate security officials. Open questions allow the story to vary from a too-commonplace story of "my name happened to be on the terrorist watch list," in order to imply that the problems of TSA profiling stretch much farther than simple cases of mistaken identity. In short, one should be skeptical of the story because even while explaining nothing, it accomplishes everything that the audience wants it to. It provides a (groundless, unevidenced) reason for outrage.

The weakest part of the story, in fact, comes at the very end, when the reader (and the author) are already so engaged that the demand for proof is mitigated. His supposed evidence that his apartment was illegally searched is that his photograph went astray. Seriously? What if he simply misplaced it? What if someone else took it? What if his apartment was broken into? We could just as likely believe that Robin Williams broke into his house and stole his photo.

To be fair, I don't like the situation of the TSA either. I have frequently been selected for extra screening because I look Middle Eastern (I'm Mexican) and because, especially when traveling alone, I'm frequently anxious about making it to the plane on time.

1 year,26 days

Scientists Silence Extra Chromosome In Down Syndrome Cells

azcoyote Re:Practicality? (230 comments)

There's no such thing as a neutral term. There is only politics. The above poster was actually conscientious by using the most negative terms for both sides: "anti-life" and "anti-choice," because one side fashions itself "pro-choice" and the other "pro-life." But because of politics, in the media the dominant language used favors one side over the other: "pro-choice" and "anti-abortion." They group pro-lifers along with terrorists who bomb abortion clinics. This is like saying that Martin Luther King Jr. belonged to the Black Panthers.

Certainly it's not fair to call pro-choice "anti-life," but neither is it fair to call pro-life "anti-abortion" or "anti-choice." Pro-choice advocates are not fighting for death but for freedom. But pro-life advocates are not fighting against freedom, but for human dignity--for a child who does not choose to die. So what's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, but politics decides which roses should be considered sweeter.

about a year ago


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