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Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

bmearns Re:No progress at all... (160 comments)

Looking at a random page from the book, the manuscript is clearly nonsensical

Yeh, you're right. The world's greatest linguists, historians, and cryptographers have been studying this for a century and are still undecided about the nature of the work, but you "looked at a random page" and have a pretty solid grasp on it.

about 6 months ago
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Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

bmearns Re:EUREKA!!! (160 comments)

Lame. femtobyte made a more clever variant of the same joke last month.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Bruce Schneier Be Trusted?

bmearns Re:Easy (330 comments)

Yeh, and for a long time, SSL was considered "good enough".

But honestly, getting two people to assure you that "yes, this is solid, the NSA isn't trying to trick you and certainly hasn't recruited me to play along" is hardly "good enough". A dozen experts, maybe. A hundred independent experts from different institutions around the globe is getting close to "good enough". But I hardly think two people is sufficient.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Bruce Schneier Be Trusted?

bmearns Re:Trust no one (330 comments)

But from whom do you learn the math? A teacher? A textbook? Unless you derive it all yourself from base axioms, you do have to trust someone at some point. Math is logic, pure and simple: that's true, but it is subtle enough and complex enough, especially at the level of cryptography, that you could be taught something which is false and yet verifiable (i.e., internally consistent, but externally incorrect). And of course, beyond outright misinformation, there is the very real possibility that the math is sound but someone has discovered a technique for busting right through it.

But I think the more important point is that our entire society breaks down instantly without trust. Specialization is the basis for all of human advancement, and trust is the basis for specialization. You don't learn to build a car yourself, you trust an auto mfr to do it for you. You don't spend time growing or hunting your own food, you trust the food industry to provide you with safe and sufficient sustenance. If you didn't trust anyone, you'd spend all your own time and resource attending to your most basic needs.

The same goes for cryptography and software: everybody uses crypto these days (TLS, for instance), but the vast majority of people don't have any where close to the expertise to verify even the algorithms, let alone the implementations. Sure, we could have a society of crypto experts and everyone could independently verify every algorithm and every piece of code that they use. But whose going to build the the cars and grow the food?

about 10 months ago
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Syrian Gov't Agrees To Russian Chem-Weapon Turnover Plan

bmearns Good Alibi (362 comments)

I'm concerned primarily with the last point:

...how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile

If Assad makes a big show of turning over his stockpile, but manages to hang onto some anyway, he'll have a good alibi if another attack occurs.

about a year ago
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Book Review: The Healthy Programmer

bmearns Re:Just Stand - sitting is the new smoking (461 comments)

There's basically nothing you can do that isn't bad for some part of you. Living produces wear and tear on your body.

I switched to a primarily standing desk about three years ago and, anecdotally, it's been going great. I don't think I lost any significant amount of weight because of it, but my back doesn't get tired, and I generally feel less lethargic at the end of the day. I also feel like it helps my working because I can more easily pace around my office when I need to work through a tough problem.

Most people who recommend standing recommend alternating between standing and sitting every few hours, to avoid the kinds of issues you mention. But I think part of it has to do with your general fitness level. If your legs are strong, your knees are in good shape, and you're not carrying around too much extra weight, you'll probably hold up a lot better to extended periods of standing. Then again, if you're not really in shape, you may have even more reason not to sit all day.

Personally, I sit while I eat my lunch, I typically sit a bit more on Mondays, and I just generally sit when I feel tired, but I spend most of my work day standing. And you don't need a fancy convertible desk, just a set of cinder blocks to elevate your desk, and a high chair to sit on when you feel like it (the kind you find in electronics labs).

1 year,6 days
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Book Review: The Healthy Programmer

bmearns Literally stopped reading (461 comments)

Why on earth would you misuse the word "literally" on Slashdot of all places? How can I possibly take you seriously after a boner like that?

1 year,6 days
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re: Really?!? (1448 comments)

The burden of proof should be on the challengers of the current laws.

The burden of proof is always on the one making the claim. You're claiming that gay marriage erodes marriage. Now offer any kind of argument for how it does this.

The face that divorce is up and marriages are on the decline is a good indicator of what I said before about the destruction of the family.

I can totally agree to this, but it is in no way caused by gay marriage, that was my whole point.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

I am all for civil unions and I don't have a problem with what people do inside or outside the bedroom, but devaluing marriage does impact me.

Firstly, it impacts you because you choose to let it impact you emotionally. Allowing someone else to get married has no direct effect on your life. Gay marriage laws in no way impact your ability to get married or any of your other rights. Laws are crafted to protect people's rights, not to stop them from being upset because they don't feel comfortable with what someone else is doing.

Secondly, the burden of proof is on you to show that allowing gays to marry in anyway devalues marriage. If you're really worried about the sanctity of marriage, you'd should be focusing on quickie marriages, serial marriages, and divorce rates, all of which have been trending up since long before any state passed gay marriage. If there's a threat to marriage, it's that people aren't interested anymore, or else don't take the commitment seriously. How is more people wanting to participate a threat to the institution?

It boggles my mind that you can't draw parallels between your own biracial marriage and gay marriage issues. Forty or fifty years ago, a biracial marriage was at least as taboo as a gay marriage is today, and until 1967, was illegal throughout much of the US, including many of the same states that are now trying to prevent gay marriage. Back then, people made the same arguments: biracial marriage was a threat to society, a threat to family values, a threat to the institution of marriage. Did you marry a black woman because you were trying to overturn marriage? Of course not. Open your brain for half a second, and try to imagine that gay couples today are going through the exact same thing. They are being targeted, harassed, and vilified simply for being in love.

And if nothing else, just recognize that you're on the wrong damn side of history. In thirty of forty more years, gay marriage will be legal in every state and will be widely accepted, just as biracial marriage is today. And the children of that age will look back and think how ignorant and how bigoted it was to try to block that.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

Ah ha! Now I see the problem. You think we're judging him as moral shit simply because he has a different opinion. That's not it at all. It's the specific opinion he that he holds that we judge him for. And more to the point, it's the actions he takes as a result of those opinions that we judge him for. I don't judge him based on whether we have the same taste in food or music or art. I judge him because he has expressed a desire to take away the rights of another group.

And, again, you really are just wrong about the definition of prejudice. It absolutely requires judging without evidence. That's where the "pre" comes in. It's unrelated to his rationale or his other opinions. Now, for instance, if I assumed that because he's a homophobe he's also a racist, that would be prejudice. If I assumed he's a racist because he expressed his opinion that black people are inferior to whites, that's not prejudice, it's just standard garden variety judgement.

I've no doubt that Card has some rationale for why he wants to take away the rights of gays. But just because you have a reason for being a certain way, doesn't mean you aren't that way. If he's a homophobe, then he's a homophobe regardless of his reason, just like if you're Christian, then you're Christian regardless of your reasons. So again, if he has confirmed himself as a homophobe, which he has, then judging him as such is not prejudice, no matter what rationale he has.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Tolerate whoever you like (1448 comments)

Bold statements. I won't argue any more on this point, we'll just agree to disagree. But just to summarize: you think it's a good idea to hang out with neonazis in order to "broaden your view of life", that you can't judge an artist until you've experienced every last drop of their work, and that you wouldn't have qualms about paying money to Hitler because it probably wouldn't make that much of a contribution to his efforts at exterminating the Jews, besides which he's been demonized by society.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

Why do you need to DO anything to Orson Scott Card, regardless of whether you can? If you feel strongly about gay marriage, go advocate for gay marriage. You can do that without targeting people.

Sure and why did the US need to get involved in liberating Nazi concentration camps during WWII? We could have advocated for Jewish rights without specifically targeting anybody. But that would have been a pretty hollow and pathetic gesture under the circumstances.

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. When someone is actively campaigning to take away a person's civil rights, the most effective way to defend those rights is to stop whoever is trying to take them away. If I came to your house and demanded all your money, would you go out and campaign for your right to keep your money, or would you throw me the hell out of your house?

He used his fame and money to advocate a bigoted point of view

There are famous and rich people advocating for gay marriage as well.

Yes, and there are bananas for sale at my local grocery store, but that's not relevant either. The point is that he's using his money and fame to do something that we believe is wrong (specifically, trying to take away people's rights), and now he's asking us to just ignore that and support him anyway. He wants us to see his movie to make him more famous and more wealthy so he can use that against us. It'd be like asking the Westboro Baptist Church to fund the gay pride parade. Only difference is that the gay pride parade doesn't challenge anybody's rights.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

I think you mean the latter, but yet, I get your point. I should pay more attention to user names, I probably would not have made that mistake on your other post =)

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:I presume by bigot you mean... (1448 comments)

My apologies. You're right, I did misunderstand what you were saying.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

No, sweety, it's not. But I'm not sure I can make it any clearer. Judgement is always based on your opinions, that's why it's called "judgement", not "fact finding". Prejudice is a particular form of judgement where your opinions are based on unfounded assumptions. Since Card has made it quite clear how he feels about gay rights, assumptions that he is anti-gay are well founded.

Or if you meant that judging somebody because of that person's opinions is prejudice, well then you're still wrong. Again, it would only be prejudiced if you were judging based on unfounded assumptions about that person's opinions. For instance, if I judged you to be a bigot because I assumed you were anti-gay, that would be prejudice, since you haven't specifically expressed your feelings about gay rights. But, one more time now, Card has clearly expressed his feelings about gay rights, and so judging him based on those expressed feelings is no prejudice.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

Subtle difference, JackieBrown. You're protesting to stop people from doing something that doesn't impact you, as opposed to protesting against people who are actively trying to take away someone's civil rights.

I realize you were probably being rhetorical and you may not actually demonstrate against gay marriage, but your point was still stupid.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

I don't support gay marriage, but honestly it's never even occurred to me to boycott movies by director who do support gay marriage. I mean who cares?

Ah, but there's the difference between you and Card. He's actively trying to stop people from doing something that doesn't effect anyone else, and then bemoaning the prospect that anyone might try to stop him from doing something that negatively effects other people. You may be satisfied to sit quietly with your bigotry, but Card, apparently, is not.

Oh, and off topic but: I don't support your right to marry, either.

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Tolerate whoever you like (1448 comments)

Good point. In fact, you better go attend some KKK meetings to make sure you're not walling yourself off from ideas that are different from yours.

Your implicit argument is based on the assumption that they haven't already been exposed to Card's ideas. In reality, they have been, and have rejected them. They haven't built a wall around their mental garden, but they have revoked Card's access to it.

Hitler was a painter. If he was still alive and had an art exhibit, can you honestly say that you would consider going, knowing that the money you pay would most likely fund his antisemitic campaigns?

about a year ago
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Orson Scott Card Pleads 'Tolerance' For Ender's Game Movie

bmearns Re:Really?!? (1448 comments)

Nicely put. "Intellectual bully" is right on the nose. Everyone's always yammering about their damned first amendment rights: well it goes both way. You may have the right to say what you want, but I have the right to respond, and to think you're an asshole for saying what you said. (The proverbial "you", that was not directed at the parent comment).

about a year ago

Submissions

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Another possible Voynich breakthrough, this time not by botanists

bmearns bmearns writes  |  about 6 months ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "Over the past few weeks we've been hearing a lot about a possible breakthrough in decoding the infamous Voynich manuscript, made by a team of botanists who suggested that the plants depicted in the manuscrit may have been from the New World and the mysterious writing could be a form of an Aztec language. But the latest development comes from linguist Stephen Bax, of Bedfordshire University, who believes he has identified some proper names (including of the constellation "Taurus") in the manuscript and is using these as a crib to begin deciphering the rest of the text, which he believes comes from the near east or Asia."
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Voynich Manuscript may have originated in New World

bmearns bmearns writes  |  about 7 months ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "The Voynich Manuscript is every geek's favorite "indecipherable" illuminated manuscript. It's bizarre depictions of strange plants and animals, astrological diagrams, and hordes of tiny naked women bathing in a system of interconnected tubs that bare an uneasy resemblance to the human digestive system, have inspired numerous essays and doctoral theses', plus one XKCD comic. Now a team of botanists (yes, botanists) may have uncovered an important clue as to its origin and content, by identifying several of the plants and animals depicted, and linking them to the Spanish territories in Central America."
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Ray Dolby Dies at 80

bmearns bmearns writes  |  about a year ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "NPR is reporting that audio pioneer Ray Dolby has died, at age 80. Dolby is best known for inventing an important noise reduction technique for audio called Dolby SR, and for founding Dolby Laboratories which contributed immensely to the development of surround sound technology."
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Full moon may effect sleep after all

bmearns bmearns writes  |  1 year,25 days

bmearns (1691628) writes "NPR is reporting that new statistical research by Swiss scientist Christian Cajochen suggests that the full moon may actually have an impact on human sleep, both in terms of duration and quality. "We found that people who entered the lab during a full moon slept, on average, 20 minutes less than people who came in during the new moon phase," says Cajochen. The results were statistically significant, but Cajochen admits that he is still skeptical of the conclusion."
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Ask Slashdot: How to store data in hardcopy

bmearns bmearns writes  |  about a year ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "I have some simple plain-text files (e.g., account information) that I want to print on paper and store in my firebox as a backup to my backup. What's the best way to encode the data for print so that it can later be restored to digital form? I've considered just printing it as text and using OCR to recover it. The upsides are that it's easy and I can even access the information without a computer if necessary. Downsides are data density, no encryption, no error correction, and how well does OCR work, anyway? Another option is printing 2D barcodes. Upsides are density, error correction, I could encrypt the data before printing. Downsides are that I'll need to split it up into multiple barcodes due to maximum capacity of popular barcode formats, and I can't access the data without a computer. Did I miss any options? What do slashdotters suggest?"
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Greater Boston Shutdown for Massive Manhunt of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

bmearns bmearns writes  |  about a year ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "Two suspects in Monday's Boston Marathon Bombing have been identified, one is dead after an overnight a shootout in Watertown, MA, the other is on the run and considered armed and extremely dangerous. A massive manhunt is underway for the remaining suspect, identified as 19 year old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev of Cambridge, leading to a shelter-in-place order for all of Boston and a number of surrounding towns and cities."
Link to Original Source
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No Rapture for Christmas Station

bmearns bmearns writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bmearns (1691628) writes "It's past 6PM on May 21, 2011 at XMAS geological station on Kiritimati Island, and 0 earthquakes have been detected. (Warning, crazy slow loading site: may be a fair ton of traffic. Importantly, the site is still responding.)."
Link to Original Source

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