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Bill Watterson (briefly) Returns To Comics

binarstu Re:hmmm (119 comments)

You mean all those stickers on (mostly) trucks that show Calvin pissing on something aren't licensed?

Nope. Watterson never allowed his characters to be licensed for any merchandise beyond his books and a few calenders. Those stickers you see on trucks are all unlicensed ripoffs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C....

about a month and a half ago
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Bill Watterson (briefly) Returns To Comics

binarstu Re:hmmm (119 comments)

If someone offered you a guaranteed paycheck of $125,000 for 5 weeks of your time, and a possibility of $345,000 for 13 weeks if you make it to the finals, what would you do? ... Do the math. You'd whore for the camera too.

Watterson could have made a lot more money than that, doing a lot less. All he'd have needed to do was agree to commercial licensing deals for his Calvin and Hobbes characters, but he always refused because he felt doing so would cheapen his creations. Even now, such deals would probably still be lucrative. And he could no doubt make plenty of money off of speaking engagements. For some people (who, I admit, are very rare), accumulating large amounts of money really is less important than their pride in their work or their privacy.

about a month and a half ago
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Bill Watterson (briefly) Returns To Comics

binarstu Re:hmmm (119 comments)

...I think there's a kernel of reason in the idea that someone of renown -- someone who has made a lot of money and become a familiar name in the process -- is expected to give a little bit back to their "fans" in return for benefiting them so much financially.

That's a good point, for sure. I can certainly understand why Calvin and Hobbes fans might wish that he were more accessible.

about a month and a half ago
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Bill Watterson (briefly) Returns To Comics

binarstu Re:hmmm (119 comments)

I wish I had mod points to give you. From what I've read, Watterson simply values his privacy and his family's privacy, and he has virtually no interest in publicity for its own sake. Apparently, any former celebrity who doesn't so desperately long for attention that they appear on Dancing With the Stars or jump at every chance for an interview or public appearance is so incomprehensible to most people that the only way to make sense of it is to label them a "recluse".

about a month and a half ago
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Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

binarstu Re:Good bye source compatibility (636 comments)

Hey, I'm not a developer/coder/programmer...

And that explains your comments quite nicely.

I don't think there is anyone here who would seriously disagree with you that the best possible scenario for the end user is dedicated UI design that is customized, when appropriate, for each target OS. But in the real world, those of us who must develop and maintain cross-OS applications with limited resources and small teams often don't have the luxury of building custom UIs for each target platform. Off-the-shelf cross-platform UI toolkits, such as Qt, are the only realistic way to support multiples OSs in these cases. It's either that, or only develop for one platform, which will usually have to be windows due to the size of the customer base. That is a far worse option, in my opinion.

So no, the "unified GUI look" that toolkits like Qt strive for across platforms is not ideal. Any serious programmer already knows that. But often times, it's the only practical way to support more than one OS, and for that reason, such toolkits are indispensable. Furthermore, those of us who don't use windows or OSX appreciate the benefits of these toolkits even more (GNU/Linux, in my case), because it means that we have far more software options than we might otherwise.

about 2 months ago
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

binarstu Re:Times sure are changing (147 comments)

And you've missed my point. Perhaps I didn't explain myself well.

I absolutely do not disagree that plenty of people have an irrational fear of genetic technologies. Nor do I disagree that we have lots of other ways to screw the world up (you mention the example of massive automated surveillance). And I wasn't arguing that we shouldn't try to resurrect a mammoth.

The GP seemed to me to be making the argument that 1) negative reaction to "messing with life" is because of antiquated religious sensibilities; and 2) we're gods now, so we should just do whatever the heck we want. I don't find either part of that argument compelling. As for part 1, casting any and all opposition to unbridled genetic experimentation as nothing but religious or cultural fanatacism is a straw man argument, pure and simple. There are lots of very rational reasons to proceed cautiously with certain kinds of genetic experimentation (and plenty of scientists agree with me). Why part 2 is wrong shouldn't require any further explanation, and other commenters have already addressed it.

about 2 months ago
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Efforts To Turn Elephants Into Woolly Mammoths Are Already Underway

binarstu Re:Times sure are changing (147 comments)

Although you seem to think that the debate about genetic experimentation is nothing more than a conflict between science religion, I assure you that is not the case.

"Messing with life", as you call it, has an incredible potential for doing harm if approached carelessly. It doesn't take much imagination to realize this, either: synthetic infectious agents, engineered organisms that displace natural diversity, and so on.

You state, "Humans are the new god on planet earth (and beyond?)." If you really believe that, than surely you must agree that responsibility and caution need to be part of that job description. Science does not, and never should, exist outside of ethical debate.

about 2 months ago
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Single Gene Can Boost IQ By Six Points

binarstu Re:Standard Deviation (199 comments)

Anything within a single standard deviation is rarely considered statistically significant unless the distribution is extremely flat.

That is nonsense. For basic statistical tests (e.g., t-tests), statistical significance depends on the sampling distribution of the statistic, which is a function of both sample size and the source population distribution. For example, a difference in means that is less than the standard deviations of the source populations can easily be statistically significant if the sample sizes are large enough. If you don't believe me, I suggest you try running some simple numeric simulations for normally-distributed populations (e.g., in R).

about 2 months ago
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Mars One Studying How To Maintain Communications With Mars 24/7

binarstu Re:idiocracy (143 comments)

Precisely. If I had mod points, they'd be yours.

about 6 months ago
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White House Calls On Kids To Film High-Tech Education

binarstu Re:Spend more, because kids aren't learning more (95 comments)

Maybe the kids could do a high tech film about how throwing money at technology doesn't actually improve education.

Exactly what I was thinking.

There is a general feeling in the U.S. that public schools are failing (regardless of whether that opinion is justified). It seems to me that buying more technology is the lazy administrator's way of "doing something about it." Purchasing technology also provides a convenient measure of progress, however dubious. Administrators can brag about how they are providing every student with an iPad, or putting smart boards in every classroom, or whatever the current fad is, and claim that they are improving the school.

Are these purchases usually made with a clear plan for how to use the technology, or solid research-based evidence that the new technology will actually improve students' learning? I would guess that most of the time, the answer is "no" on both counts. The fact that we're now having Bill Nye ask K-12 students, "So, you've got all of this cool technology in your school... how is it actually useful?" suggests I might not be wrong.

about 8 months ago
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How MOOC Faculty Exploit People's Desire To Learn

binarstu simple answer (115 comments)

From the original post: "Such behavior is not tolerated in "real" college courses, so why is it tolerated in MOOCs taught by the same faculty?"

TFA answers the question quite nicely: "Despite a couple of years of discussion, the question of monetization remains largely unresolved. MOOCs are about as popular as they were, they still drain resources from the companies hosting them, and they still don’t provide much to those hosts in return." Good or bad, it's an attempt to try to get something useful in return for the effort it takes to create a MOOC course. It's as simple as that, and there's no reason to read anything more sinister into it.

And let's not hyperbolically describe this as "holding the users hostage," okay? Users are free to leave the course whenever they want -- hostage situations don't usually work that way.

about 8 months ago
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Could We "Wikify" Scholarly Canons?

binarstu Re:motivation (63 comments)

Open-access journals and scientific wikis are failing...

Do you have any evidence to support this claim? In the sciences, at least, open access journals are thriving. Take a look at any of the PLoS journals, for instance. These venues are well-respected and scientists are eager to publish in them.

about 8 months ago
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Could We "Wikify" Scholarly Canons?

binarstu please don't throw Wikipedia into this (63 comments)

From TFA: "When academics have been asked why they do not contribute to Wikipedia, or why they do not make their data more easily available, or why they continue to avoid new “open access” publication venues, one of the most common explanations is “not enough time” [7,8]."

The article gets a lot of things right, but that sentence is not one of them. The reasons that academics do not contribute to Wikipedia have been well documented and discussed here and elsewhere. In brief -- you get no credit for your work, and your contributions can be totally wiped out at the whims of editors. The reason experts don't contribute to Wikipedia is not a lack of time; rather, it's because doing so is perceived (quite reasonably) as a waste of time.

In contrast, most scientists I know are quite receptive to publishing in open access journals. Some are still suspicious of them, but I've never heard "I don't have enough time" given as a reason for not publishing open access. Honestly, that objection wouldn't even make sense.

about 8 months ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

binarstu yet 33% in the House opposed it (999 comments)

The bill passed the House, but 144 votes were cast against it -- more than 1/3 of those voting! One can only guess at the careful thought that went into casting those votes. Do these people actually believe that funding "Obamacare" for a few months is worse than letting the federal government default on its loans? There is no acceptable answer to this question. If the answer is "yes," well -- yikes. If the answer is "no," and this is just shameless pandering to the extreme right faction of the GOP/"Tea Party", then -- yikes.

about 9 months ago
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Anti-Chemical Weapon Group Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

binarstu uninspiring choice (61 comments)

While I am not questioning that the OPCW does really great work to make the world a better place, my disappointment with this selection is that it is simply uninspiring. The Nobel committee had nominations for numerous individuals who, at great risk to their own livelihood and safety, did extraordinary things to stand up for what they knew was right and just. Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to such a person would affirm that even today, one individual doing the right thing can make a difference that is felt on a global scale. Regardless of whether the OPCW was most deserving of this year's prize (which is certainly debatable, as attested to by other comments on this story), the choice doesn't really stir much passion.

about 9 months ago
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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy?

binarstu Because of the Web? (374 comments)

Wow -- it has actually been 20 years since Myst came out?? That seems unbelievable. I haven't done any "real" computer gaming in a long time, but I spent many hours working my way through Myst and absolutely loved that game.

I wonder if the popularization of the World Wide Web had something to do with the eventual decline of Myst and games like it. I remember that a big part of the satisfaction of playing Myst and other puzzle-based games, such as the King's Quest series, was that you really needed to struggle through the challenges until you figured them out. For example, a staple of those games was a maze that you had to traverse at some point (remember the little subterranean train thing in Myst?). To solve them, you had to spend considerable time exploring and mapping until you finally figured out how to get where you needed to go. If you were stuck, there wasn't much you could do except try harder until you got it. Sure, the game companies had "hot lines" that you could call for hints, but they charged you for it, and nobody I knew ever used them. As a result, the game was much more rewarding because you had to do it all by yourself. This environment also was conducive to playing the game with others, because two (or more) heads are better than one. My brother and I worked through a number of these games when we were kids, and playing them together added to the fun.

Once the Web became mainstream, the situation changed very quickly. Suddenly, game "walk throughs" were widely available for free, and much of the mystique that led to these games' success disappeared. You need to solve that maze? Just look it up on the walk through and you can be done with it in about two minutes. Once the entire game solution was readily available, the sense of accomplishment from solving the puzzles was greatly diminished, in my opinion.

So, imagine a world where there is no quick, easy way to look up game solutions. It seems terribly quaint now, but that was the environment in which Myst and similar games before it became popular. Once that changed, I think the days were numbered for the puzzle-based games, at least as far as their ability to become blockbusters.

I haven't done any research to compare how well actual market trends correlated with the rise of the Web. This is just my recollection of how the gaming world changed during that time.

about 9 months ago
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Romanian Science Journal Punked By Serbian Academics

binarstu Re:Great idea! (95 comments)

If I had any mod points to give, I'd mod the parent up.

The GP states,

There should not be a place "scientific" journals in modern science. They have no added value whatsoever and in fact harm free sharing of knowledge and information.

Anybody who makes that claim has no real grasp of how science works. Science journals have come under fire for a variety of reasons in recent years, but the peer review process that is central to scientific publishing is why journals are so important. And I am using "journal" in the broadest sense to include open-access, online-only publications. As long as they include quality peer review, they are science journals.

As others have pointed out, the process of taking a paper through peer review often leads to substantial improvements to the original manuscript or reveals shortcomings that must be addressed before the work can be published. And, most of the time, it keeps the really bad work from ever being published at all. Is the process perfect? Of course not. But an anecdotal case of spectacular failure by an obscure mettalurgy journal does not mean the whole concept is worthless. It merely means that journal is bad. The peer-review process is the best method we have for ensuring the quality of scientific work, and without it (and the journals that provide the structure for it), scientific progress would be greatly hindered. Until we come up with a better way to filter the good from the bad, journals will remain an essential part of science.

about 10 months ago
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To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now

binarstu Re:Why bother at all (308 comments)

Both of those things would be easy if anyone cared enough to do them; we've had a permanent presence in Antarctica for decades

Notice the adjective "self-sufficient" in the GP. You think building a self-sufficient settlement in Antarctica is easy, and it's only a problem of nobody wanting to do it? Here's a hint: The "permanent presence in Antarctica" you speak of is nowhere near self-sufficiency. Were it not for a continuing cycle of supplies (food and fuel, primarily) periodically arriving by boat or plane, everyone there would die. So no, not easy at all.

about 10 months ago
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To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now

binarstu Re:Human missions are better for long term health (308 comments)

But why is manned space exploration necessary for any of the progress you describe? To the contrary, it seems to me that if the goal is to create new medical breakthroughs, spending loads of cash on human spaceflight is, at best, a rather inefficient way to achieve that objective. If the goal is to slow aging, preserve vision, or whatever, I can't think of any reason that Earth-based research wouldn't work.

Now, as to your point about the incredible amounts of money we waste on things that ultimately do very little to improve our lives, I wholeheartedly agree!

about 10 months ago
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To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now

binarstu colonizing other planets?? (308 comments)

As the Slate piece points out, the argument about continuing manned (and womanned) space exploration because "we might need to leave Earth in the near future" seems to be quite popular right now, especially with all of the buzz about the Mars One plan to establish a semi-permanent colony on Mars. I was disappointed, though, that the Slate article didn't really address the core of the issue: believing that, if Earth were to actually become uninhabitable, we could simply colonize Mars, or Venus, or any other distant rock, is absolutely preposterous. This idea has been thoroughly discredited.

For an excellent summary of why this is nothing more than magical thinking, I suggest reading physicist Tom Murphy's excellent post on the matter. As he alludes to, if we convince ourselves that we need to spend unfathomable resources on human spaceflight so that we can "save ourselves" some day, we simply avoid fixing the real problems here on Earth, where we are very much stuck for the long haul. Pretending otherwise will only hasten our demise.

about 10 months ago

Submissions

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Fearing government surveillance, U.S. journalists are self-censoring

binarstu binarstu writes  |  about 8 months ago

binarstu (720435) writes "Suzanne Nossel, writing for cnn.com, reports that 'a survey of American writers done in October revealed that nearly one in four has self-censored for fear of government surveillance. They fessed up to curbing their research, not accepting certain assignments, even not discussing certain topics on the phone or via e-mail for fear of being targeted. The subjects they are avoiding are no surprise — mostly matters to do with the Middle East, the military and terrorism.' Yet ordinary Americans, for the most part, seem not to care: 'Surveillance so intrusive it is putting certain subjects out of bounds would seem like cause for alarm in a country that prides itself as the world's most free. Americans have long protested the persecution and constraints on journalists and writers living under repressive regimes abroad, yet many seem ready to accept these new encroachments on their freedom at home.'"
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NSA wants to reveal its secrets to prevent Snowden from revealing them first

binarstu binarstu writes  |  about 8 months ago

binarstu (720435) writes "According to a recent report by Tom Gjelten of NPR, 'NSA officials are bracing for more surveillance disclosures from the documents taken by former contractor Edward Snowden — and they want to get out in front of the story. ... With respect to other information held by Snowden and his allies but not yet publicized, the NSA is now considering a proactive release of some of the less sensitive material, to better manage the debate over its surveillance program.'"
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CIA Pays AT&T Millions to Voluntarily Provide Call Data

binarstu binarstu writes  |  about 9 months ago

binarstu (720435) writes "The New York Times reports that 'The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.'"
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U.S. programmer outsources own job to China

binarstu binarstu writes  |  about a year and a half ago

binarstu (720435) writes "A recent article on cnn.com tells the story of a U.S. programmer who hired software developers in China to do his job so that he could spend his days surfing Ebay and browsing cat videos on Youtube. From the article: "Bob had hired a programming firm in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to do his work. His helpers half a world away worked overnight on a schedule imitating an average 9-to-5 workday in the United States. He paid them one-fifth of his six-figure salary, according to Verizon.""
Link to Original Source
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The truth about the "47%"

binarstu binarstu writes  |  about 2 years ago

binarstu (720435) writes "Mitt Romney's secretly-recorded comments about the "47%" of Americans who he believes are government dependents that "pay no income tax" have fueled new debate about U.S. tax policies. His claims don't hold up so well, however, when confronted with the data. First, as reported in the New York Times, a 2008 study by Cornell University reveals that "nearly all Americans — 96 percent — have relied on the federal government to assist them." And a recent piece in the Washington Post explains why the "47%" analysis is fundamentally flawed. From the latter: "At the heart of the debate over “the 47 percent” is an awful abuse of tax data. This entire conversation is the result of a (largely successful) effort to redefine the debate over taxes from “how much in taxes do you pay” to “how much in federal income taxes do you pay?” This is good framing if you want to cut taxes on the rich. It’s bad framing if you want to have even a basic understanding of who pays how much in taxes.""
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For-Profit College Recruiters Use 'Pain, Fear"

binarstu binarstu writes  |  more than 3 years ago

binarstu (720435) writes "From a recent article on the Huffington Post:
"Newly-released internal training documents from several for-profit colleges illustrate a culture that encourages recruiters to increase enrollment by focusing on emotions such as "pain" and "fear" to attract low-income students who are struggling with adverse personal and financial circumstances. ... The internal training guides shed light on recruitment methods that have long been criticized by student-advocacy groups as preying on uninformed, uneducated students who may have little chance of success once admitted to the schools.""

Link to Original Source

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