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Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

binarstu Re:Nothing's gonna change. (224 comments)

Democrats have fucked Kansas every time they accidentally get elected. No miracles here. This is a red state and going to stay that way, because of that.

You think that's why Brownback got re-elected as governor? If your analysis were even remotely correct, he would have had absolutely no chance at winning on Tuesday: he's led your state to huge upcoming budget deficits, an increased poverty rate, much lower economic growth than all four neighboring states, and a downgraded state credit rating.

Yet, despite all of the above, Brownback still kept his job, because, you know... "liberals and taxes are bad." Never mind if the alternative is flushing your state down the toilet.

about a month ago
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Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months

binarstu Re:Translation (173 comments)

I had the same thought. The cynic in me thinks that the big tech players are pushing these "learn to code" initiatives because they see it as a way to gain much lower operating expenses in the future. If they can eventually flood the labor market with a huge excess of coders, reduced wages and benefits will become the norm.

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

binarstu methods, not new discoveries, win (81 comments)

It looks like the majority of the top 20 most cited papers cover new methods or tools (e.g., a new lab technique or a new software program), not new fundamental scientific discoveries (e.g., the structure of DNA or expansion of the universe). I guess this isn't really surprising, but it is interesting. One could conclude that scientists who want to make a major impact on their field should spend their time inventing new methods for doing fundamental research and let other scientists actually do the research.

about a month and a half ago
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The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows

binarstu Airbus wants to make the whole plane a window (286 comments)

From TFA:

Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers.

What that really means is that Airbus wants to turn the entire cabin into a window.

Also from TFA:

Hope you're not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly — the designers of tomorrow's airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them.

Well, I guess that technically, Airbus would be "getting rid of the windows", but if the end result is that everyone on the plane has a better view, I don't think it supports TFA's argument at all.

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:20 generations (282 comments)

That's correct -- natural selection can only act on heritable traits. The post I was replying to, though, was certainly not making that argument. Instead, it seemed to suggest that the mixing of alleles during sexual reproduction somehow made it impossible to distinguish between "evolution via genes" and "purely environmental factors winnowing a population", and that truly makes no sense.

I am also curious -- can you give us any biologically relevant example of differential reproductive fitness in a population due to entirely non-heritable traits?

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:No, it was not an "active" strategy. (282 comments)

Simply deciding to go up the tree higher, or being forced to in order to find more leaves won't change the foot pads of the animal.

Of course not. Nobody said that individual lizards who decided to spend more time above ground would magically grow larger foot pads. If you read TFA, you will see that the authors observed two phenomena. First, they saw an almost immediate shift in the behavior of the native lizards following the arrival of the invasive anoles -- the native anoles spent more time on higher perches. The second change they observed was the increase in foot pad size that occurred over multiple generations. The first change was most likely a rapid modification of individual lizard's foraging behaviors; the second change was due to natural selection causing the population to shift toward larger foot pads.

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:No, it was not an "active" strategy. (282 comments)

Please read TFA (or even my reply to your original post). The behavioral shift occurred a few months after the invasive anoles arrived. The scientists did not detect, or even look for, any changes in the genome related to this behavioral change. The evidence, as presented in TFA, is squarely in favor of an active change in foraging behavior.

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:How is this surprising? (282 comments)

TFA isn't really an example of evolution per se, it's an example of natural selection--a closely related concept in that they almost always co-occur, but it is not the same thing. We've changed the equilibrium frequencies of various genes, but as far as we know there are no new genes in this population.

I was with you until that. Can you explain why you do not think this is an example of "evolution per se"? If natural selection is changing the frequency of alleles in a population, that population is evolving. The researchers found strong evidence that has happened with the anoles. Whether or not there are "new genes" in the population (whatever that means -- new alleles?) has nothing at all to do with whether evolution is happening.

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:No, it was not an "active" strategy. (282 comments)

How do you know it was not an "active" strategy? You seem to think that the only way such a thing could happen is if the lizards convened and made a group decision to use higher perches. Lizards could individually decide to spend more time on higher perches because that is where they are finding more food. Foraging animals, from insects to mammals, make decisions like that all of the time. The net effect would be that, on average, the population of lizards ends up spending more time on high perches. Thus, the change could be an "active" strategy with no group decision making required. The very short time frame for the initial behavioral shift -- "a few months" -- suggests that it most likely was a deliberate change in foraging behavior by the anoles.

...most do exactly what their parents did.

Again, how do you know that? You are assuming there is virtually no plasticity in an individual lizard's foraging behavior; i.e., that it is completely determined by genetics. I don't study anoles (and I'm guessing you don't, either), but I think that is unlikely. There is a great deal of research showing that many kinds of animals, from arthropods to vertebrates, match their foraging behavior to the distribution of resources in the environment.

about 2 months ago
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High Speed Evolution

binarstu Re:20 generations (282 comments)

That's what makes it hard to determine when evolution via genes is occurring vs purely environmental factors winnowing a current population.

To an evolutionary biologist, that statement doesn't make sense. What, exactly, is the distinction between "evolution via genes" and "purely environmental factors winnowing a population"? "Environmental factors winnowing a population" is natural selection, and that drives "evolution via genes". If the small-footed lizards drop off the trees and fail to reproduce, the frequency of alleles in the lizard population changes -- the alleles that favor large feet are now more common. This is "evolution via genes". Sure, some small-footed lizards might remain in the population, or smaller feet could become dominant if the selective pressures change, but that has nothing at all to do with whether or not "evolution via genes" is occurring.

The passing of genes to the next generation is a separate process that still reshuffles the genes via sex relentlessly regardless of environment.

I don't understand this, either. Selection (e.g., "environmental factors winnowing a population") causes the allelic frequencies for some genes in a population to change over time. "Relentless reshuffling" during recombination and sexual reproduction doesn't somehow negate this. For a simplistic analogy, think of a deck of cards. If you remove half of the red cards (i.e., some of the small-footed lizards die), it doesn't matter how many times you shuffle the deck -- the relative frequencies of red and black cards in "the population" aren't going to change.

about 2 months ago
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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

binarstu Re:So much stupid (269 comments)

There IS no objective measure.

Of course there are objective measures of product quality: Which vehicle is the most energy efficient? Which vehicle, on average, lasts the longest without needing major repairs? Which phone has the best battery life? And on and on. TFA's point was that the products that end up "winning" in the market are not necessarily better than their competitors by these objective standards. That is in perfect agreement with your statement about which products succeed.

No one succeeds without busting their balls and working hard.

Really? It's not very hard to think of counterexamples that disprove that statement. Off the top of my head, some of the "famous for being famous" celebrities come to mind. I guess they might consider filming themselves having sex and then "accidentally" leaking the tape or signing up to star on some insipid reality show as "hard work", but most of us would not.

The more important point is that many people who "bust their balls" and work hard do not succeed. And the reasons why are, in many cases, at least partially stochastic. I think that was all that TFA was saying.

about 2 months ago
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An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

binarstu article summary (342 comments)

Here is a quick summary of the main ideas in the article:

Every time a customer purchases ice at Burning Man, a volunteer must walk to the ice truck, retrieve the ice bags, and bring them to the customer. This wastes time because each customer must wait for his or her ice to be retrieved from the truck. Transactions that require returning change to the customer also take extra time. Therefore, the ice purchasing process would be faster if a) the ice were already at the counter so the customer could pick it up immediately, and b) there were a “turbo line” for people who don't need change. Some nonexperts that BH talked to thought that Nevada health regulations might prohibit a), but they do not.

That's just over 100 words. Does using 1700+ words to communicate these relatively simple ideas really help anyone understand them better?

about 2 months ago
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Confidence Shaken In Open Source Security Idealism

binarstu false premise (265 comments)

TFA starts off with this as the very first sentence:

Hackers have shaken the free-software movement that once symbolized the Web’s idealism.

And then fails to provide any real evidence that this is true. It should take strong evidence to reach the conclusion that an entire "movement" has been "shaken" to the point that it has lost its symbolic meaning. I skimmed the rest of the article, but the authors pretty much lost me after that bit of nonsense.

People (both good and bad) have been finding flaws in open source software for decades. No one in the "movement" was surprised or "shaken" to hear about a few new discoveries. These bugs earned extra attention because of the ubiquity of the software, but still -- nobody has ever said that open source software is somehow, magically, bug free. The "idealism" is that a) people can actually find the bugs by looking at the source rather than reverse engineering; and b) once a bug is found, anyone is free to modify the code to fix it, rather than waiting on a business to decide that it merits patching, perhaps weeks or months later. And, as far as I could tell, this all worked very well with the "Shellshock" vulnerabilities. The bugs were found, and the patches were written and released not long after.

about 2 months ago
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The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

binarstu Re:Read below to see what Bennett has to say. (622 comments)

So funny. Despite all of the calls to "get this crap off of Slashdot", I'll bet I'm not the only one who secretly hopes we keep seeing a BH article every now and then, because the ensuing comments are just too darn entertaining. And, in truth, he has sometimes made some interesting points (despite usually using way too many words to do so) that have led to though-provoking discussion threads. But really, reading the comments is like watching a sitcom where every time a certain character enters the room, his/her entrance is always followed by snarky wisecracks from the other characters.

about 2 months ago
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The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

binarstu Re:Profoundly offensive (622 comments)

Thanks for posting that. I had the same thought. After writing at length about the dangers of making logical errors in argumentation, Haselton ends with this bizarre, irrational outburst. So, if a woman dresses modestly, she 1) is not a "real woman", 2) is "a moron", and 3) subscribes to some fringe, ultra right wing version of Christianity. Methinks he is violating "the rules of consistency and logic". Perhaps he thought this was a joke, but if so, it falls pretty flat given the tone of the rest of his essay.

Then, there's this nugget. Haselton claims that an objective cost/benefit analysis "is, in fact, the only rational defense of any action, ever." No. Doing something because it's the ethical or moral course of action can be perfectly rational, even if it would fail a straightforward cost/benefit analysis. I'd be suspicious of anyone who believes that the only way to make every decision is by approaching it strictly as an economics problem.

about 2 months ago
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What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

binarstu Re:Wind, not still air. (254 comments)

The limiting factor, it would seem to me, is that the ideal course to minimize speed has not been constructed.

As a starting point, I'd suggest making the entire course uphill, covered either with loose scree or extremely dense vegetation (machete not allowed), and have it include at least a few river crossings.

about 2 months ago
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Smart Gun Inspires Smart Mouse Authentification System

binarstu Re:I hold my mouse differently as the day goes on. (60 comments)

Totally agree. Weren't there even some studies a while back suggesting that changing how you hold/use your mouse from time to time could help avoid repetitive stress injuries? I vaguely remember something like that, but don't quote me on it.

It hurts the palm of my hand to hold it the same way all the time.

Anyway, if this "improved" mouse ever becomes widespread, your face might be hurting, too, because you will probably be holding the palm of your hand there most of the time.

about 2 months ago
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Laying the Groundwork For Data-Driven Science

binarstu Re:The problem with data driven science.. (55 comments)

The patterns in data are not data. The data is not the analysis of the data which would be a pattern in the data.

Okay. Against what, exactly, are you arguing? When, at any point, have I claimed that "the data are the analysis of the data" or any such nonsense?

Let me remind you of one of your original claims:

Correlative statistics are not evidence.

Do you not understand that "patterns in data" includes correlative statistics? If not, let me make this clear: You originally claimed that neither data, nor the patterns in data, are "evidence". I've tried to explain why, to scientists, patterns in data, including correlative statistics, most certainly are evidence. That is all. For some reason, instead of responding to any of that, you want to keep arguing about the definition of "data", which, as I've also explained, was never in dispute.

Your lack of basic reading comprehension...

Cheap insults aren't necessary. Look -- your original post simply reflected a misunderstanding of how a particular bit of terminology is used by scientists. I thought it might be helpful to explain why. I apologize if I inadvertently offended you somewhere along the way.

about 3 months ago
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Laying the Groundwork For Data-Driven Science

binarstu Re:The problem with data driven science.. (55 comments)

No, I don't have a different definition of "data". My point was that your original post repeatedly confuses "evidence" and "proof". As I said, data, and more specifically, the patterns in data (correlative statistics are one example), are used as evidence all of the time in science. That is, in a nutshell, how science works. Data provide evidence, not proof, for or against alternative hypotheses. The strength of the evidence depends on the strength of the data, which encompasses all of the potential data problems you discussed in your original post. None of this has anything to do with disputing the definition of "data". Data are pieces of information (just as your Wikipedia article says), and collectively, they can provide evidence for or against scientific hypotheses. Another way to state it is to say that in science, evidence comes from data.

Your blanket statements that "data isn't evidence" and that "correlative statistics are not evidence" are not supported by the way real scientists actually use data. Scientists frequently use the results of statistical analyses, including correlative statistics, as evidence. Evidence does not imply proof of causality or any other underlying explanation, and that is where your original post seemed to get things mixed up. Evidence for a particular hypothesis simply means that the patterns observed in some data are consistent with the hypothesis.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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

binarstu binarstu writes  |  1 year,14 days

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 a year 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 a year 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 2 years 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  |  more than 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.""

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