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61.9% of Undergraduates Cybercheat

demi Re:Schools need to be reformed. (484 comments)

I wanted to say something similar, and you said it better, but I also wanted to point out that the particulars in each of the GP's list are also different: namely, it's not generally permissible in business to pass others' work off as your own, and in fact in "business" there are often legal protections against doing just that, depending on the situation (rather than violating some kind of academic code of conduct, you may be committing fraud or violating a patent or license). Obviously it varies, but for me the more equivalent situation is when you base a survey or analysis on other sources, which you properly interpret and cite; this is more or less what you might do in "business" as well.

Also, "Cheating - adjusting grades == Business - Creative accounting." Only someone who totally does not understand accounting, and whose understanding of the field is based on punditry and headline-skimming could possibly think this. There are a very large number of rules about what constitutes proper accounting, rules which, in many cases, can't be broken without violating the law--again, a much more serious infraction than "cheating". Are all criminals caught? All incompetent CPAs delicensed or sued? Of course not. But to think that because some criminals get away with crime we should encourage or tolerate some kind of corresponding behavior among students is an attitude that boggles the mind.

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed at how little emphasis is placed on rote learning these days. Analysis and "teaching people to think" is well and good, but without a solid foundation of factual knowledge--not a list of Google results, but actual interrelated nuggets of knowledge that reside in ones' mind--the quality of analysis, induction and insight is poor. Also, while we have obviously made many strides in our ability to gather information, and can use technology to gain same, do you really think the quality of thinking has gone up since the 19th century? That's a genuine question.

more than 3 years ago

Jeopardy-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

demi Why Watson will win (220 comments)

The reason Watson will win, even though it's probably not a better player than either Jennings or Rutter, is that Jennings and Rutter are playing against each other as well as Watson. I'm basing this gut evaluation on the scores for the practice game and the Watson "demo" that you can play online. In a game like Jeopardy with its three-player dynamics, it's harder to say that one player is better than another, based on a single game, than in a game like chess.

more than 3 years ago

Oracle Asks OpenOffice Community Members To Leave

demi Re:No force? (589 comments)

Well, I'm reading you wrong, perhaps, or we have different understandings of what "back room" means. In any case, the TDF members ignored any substantive questions put to them, in particular the perfectly straightforward:

(21:33:59) Andreas_UX: ... you guys even have [your] own agenda for conferences now. what will you promote there?
(21:34:12) Andreas_UX: or LibreOffice?

Well, which is it? Why can't the question be answered? From the perspective of the body under discussion, the answer would have to be OO.o. And if there's reason to think the answer would be otherwise, then there is indeed a conflict of interest.

more than 3 years ago

The Brain's Secret For Sleeping Like a Log

demi Re:Not so awesome as you might think (259 comments)

Thanks, I wanted to point out to the GP that what he describes is not "sleeping like a log." I'm not sure what it is, but, like the person who's signing up for credit cards "in their sleep", then it's not sound sleeping, it's some variation on sleepwalking or something. Not being able to wake up and deal with things like falling out of bed, wetting oneself, emergencies, and that kind of thing--that's a pathology, if genuine. Not relevant to the subject of the article.

more than 4 years ago

Human Rights Groups Join Criticism of WikiLeaks

demi Re:Info sec, trust, access control. (578 comments)

That's the same line of thinking that says "Well you didn't shovel your walk -- so it's YOUR fault I slipped and fell.". Nobody made Assange post the documents. His actions are his own responsibility; no matter what fingers are pointed or what excuses are given, he is the one that published them.

Sure, and by the same token, you obviously agree that any negative consequence of the publishing of the documents are the sole responsibility of the actors involved, and not Wikileaks or Assange--if some tribal leader is dragged from his home and murdered in retaliation for secret cooperation with the U.S., for example.

more than 4 years ago

The iPad As In-Car Entertainment System Killer

demi Re:I do not get it... (415 comments)

Some of us on here are even parents, believe it or not. I just finished a 8200-mile, five-week cross-country road trip with my six-year-old. He had loads of toys in the backseat, there were two parents, and he did have a portable DVD player as well as a Leapster (that's like a "semi-educational" portable game thing).

The DVD player stopped working in the first week and he never really showed much interest in the Leapster. Most of the toys he brought didn't appeal much in the car and for the parent who wasn't driving, keeping up a constant show of entertainment wasn't an option. What really made the difference is that he's just really well-adjusted on road trips, which we have been taking him on since he was very young. Probably the most effective "entertainments" were the same silly road games we all remember playing: eye spy, twenty questions, categories, car-counting games and, of course, just having conversations about what we were seeing and doing.

There's no moral stand here, all kids are different and need different things in a car. An in-car DVD system would have been better than what we had because it wouldn't have been as fragile and wouldn't have been another item of clutter in an enormously packed car; but I don't think we would have used it that much more. We got the DVD player working again, basically, about halfway through, but he only watched another couple of movies out of the many many hours of driving.

For those people who think absolute attention is a necessity for safe driving: Ideally, maybe; but only race car drivers actually drive that way. For normal driving, one's attention is constantly divided. Even when alone, you're thinking about things other than driving, such as where you're going, what you're doing that day and whether to make a side stop. Part of being a safe driver is being able to carry out normal activities compatible with safe driving, such as having a conversation or making plans about where you're going.

more than 4 years ago

Aussie Attorney General Says Gamers Are Scarier Than Biker Gangs

demi Re:Bwahahaha! (409 comments)

If you trap and kill the cats, the remaining feral fertile cats mate with each other, producing a new generation of kittens.

If you trap and sterilize the cats, and release them back into the wild population, the remaining feral fertile cats mate with them (at least sometimes), and fewer kittens result.

more than 4 years ago

Aussie Attorney General Says Gamers Are Scarier Than Biker Gangs

demi Re:Bwahahaha! (409 comments)

The reason neutering works better is because the dead cats don't mate, but the neutered ones do (and produce no issue).

more than 4 years ago

Air Canada Ordered To Provide Nut-Free Zone

demi Re:Peanut Hysteria is more of a psychological issu (643 comments)

I'm sorry, and I mean no offense, but that's not evidence. The problem with parents who tell these tales about how peanuts are like kryptonite to their kids or they're allergic to X in food is also he reason why we shouldn't base public policy on anecdotal evidence (there's another comment below about someone "who knows a family with a son who...")--so please don't take this as if I'm targeting you specifically or questioning he veracity of what you're relating; I'm just pointing that this is isn't how we gather evidence on public health issues and the stories told by parents shouldn't form the basis of public health policies.

The thing is, in the scenarios you're describing, you have a son who is quite allergic to nuts, I'm going to guess because he had something with peanuts actually in it at some point, or came into contact with the oil, and after that happened a couple of times with an allergic reaction, you figured out he was allergic. And people at the school and around him basically know this, too.

So now, when your son doesn't feel well, on a field trip, or at school, everyone looks around for the nuts. And lo and behold, you're next to a peanut farm. Or a kid at the table is having a PB&J. Or you find out his playmate had peanut butter pancakes that morning, or a snack made in a facility processing pine nuts. Or whatever. And you have your "explanation."

Except that you don't actually know how frequently your son is exposed to "peanut dust" or "contaminated surfaces" or whatever, and doesn't have a reaction. Maybe he's allergic to something else, or maybe not. Or maybe it goes down exactly as you suspect. The problem is that in the absence of a controlled study, we just can't tell. And while it makes sense (maybe) for you to just be on the safe side with regard to nuts, it doesn't make sense to make rules, regulations and laws with significant costs for others without that peer-reviewed, study-based justification.

Anyway, I hope people take this as the call for more information and for better study of the public health implications of allergies that it is, and not as an attack on a dad and his son, which it certainly isn't intended to be.

more than 4 years ago

Scientists Create Artificial Meat

demi Re:The question is about labeling? (820 comments)

Regarding #2: livestock is expensive to raise, but the costs aren't necessarily borne by the producers. Livestock may be raised on public lands, fed subsidized feed from companies profiting by corporate welfare, or not held liable for various consequences of consuming their product: all of these are externalities to the producer and may not be reflected in the retail price of the product. I'm not making an argument for any of these items specifically but I could see an artificial meat process that cost less overall than livestock raising, slaughter and processing; yet resulted in a higher market price.

With respect to labeling, an interesting question will be what kinds of marketing will be viable for artificial meat producers. For example, livestock producers would probably object to advertising claims that their animals suffer or that there's anything wrong with meat production. If artificial meat producers are unable to make this claim and don't have very low prices on their side, then this cedes an important competitive advantage, and it will be interesting to see the result.

I'm reminded of the "Better Cheese comes from Happy Cows" and "Happy Cows come from California" marketing campaigns (the cartoonish idea in the ads was that warm California was a more happening place than cold Wisconsin, another cheese-producing state), which were challenged by some group (PETA, possibly) on the grounds that the cheese producers were not actually making cheese from milk produced by happy cows. Talk radio pundits and the like laughed about the excessive silliness of PETA (or whoever) in bringing the challenge to the campaign. But the problem I have with it is this: if we establish that any claim of relative happiness among livestock must be comic, and can be made by anyone without regard to the treatment of their livestock, then that removes from the marketplace a potential competitive advantage that a theoretical milk producer who did try to use a higher ethical standard might try to take advantage of. In short, while I hardly agree with a lot of PETA says or does, and I don't necessarily think the decision in this case should have gone their way, I don't think the idea that some livestock could be happier than others is laughable, nor the idea that claiming that your cows are happier than the competitions' is a marketing claim that needs to be supported with evidence.

more than 4 years ago

Scientists Create Artificial Meat

demi Re:Tasteless (820 comments)

Not just the fat, but the connective tissue and to a lesser extent dermal layers and blood vessels and the way that muscle near the bone is different--in short, all the various anatomy to a cut of meat that would be lacking in the most naïvely-produced artificial meat.

However, eating a roast, chop or steak is an acid test that artificial meat doesn't really need to pass for many uses. People eat a huge amount of processed meat in nugget, sausage and additive form. Artificial meat can start there while coming up with generations of improved matrixes and structures that allow it to come closer to fine animal-sourced meat.

more than 4 years ago

Hacker McKinnon To Be Extradited To US

demi Re:He Isn't Entitled To A Jury of His Peers (571 comments)

That's an interesting link, but it doesn't point to more information about Leipold's paper. I don't disagree with the conclusion, necessarily, but it's hard to see how comparing jury and judge trials could result in useful information, because there's no reason to think that those populations of cases are of equal merit (superficially, to rule out, for example, the possibility that guilty defendants demand jury trials and innocent ones don't). There's no way to "objectively" establish guilt or innocence, so... it's hard to see how you could even conduct a useful study with that premise.

When I look at the satisfaction people seem to take in making life miserable for others, the conclusion doesn't surprise me at all, though.

more than 4 years ago

IT Snake Oil — Six Tech Cure-Alls That Went Bunk

demi Re:Virtualization is not bunk. (483 comments)

A lot of what I see virtualization used for has to do with failures of software engineering, in the sense of being able to keep instances separate. Due to the overhead issues you mention, it would be better to support different software environments and applications on one host OS. For example, you have four physical web servers and want to replace it with one physical server. Why not just run one OS instance and four instances of your webserver? Almost every OS has features that allow you to pin process groups to processors or limit memory or do whatever other resource management you're using virtualization for, while avoiding having to lose capacity to OS instances and preallocations.

The reason, often, is that the application is engineered poorly to work this way. Innumerable little details like fixed port numbers, hardcoded configuration file locations, a robust way of logicalizing ("logicalizing"--I like that as an alternative to "virtualizing") the way a piece of software sees its environment--these all make it "hard" to have a bunch of software instances running together.

Another thing that virtualization "helps" with is deployment--the idea that instead of deploying an application package, you deploy a (probably partly) preconfigured full OS image that matches what you built, QAed and demonstrated. But again, this is a kind of workaround that sidesteps the issue that you're not packaging your software well--repeatedly, reliably, stably.

Virtualization has its place, but these are the uses to which I'm actually seeing it put (I work at a large IT outsourcing company). And it makes me a bit sad because it's failures of software engineering that make it needed.

more than 4 years ago

IT Snake Oil — Six Tech Cure-Alls That Went Bunk

demi Re:In Defense of Artificial Intelligence (483 comments)

Well in fact they do end up hiring programmers, but they might call them something else and they might not be employees: they might call their job "customization" or "configuration" or whatever.

This is the whole thing that bugs me about ERPs and other "enterprise" packaged software, encapsulated in the "buy vs. build" debate. It's never "buy" vs. "build": it's always "buy and build" (in the form of integration, customization and configuration--you always need to supply the logic yourself), or "build".

more than 4 years ago

Bad PC Sales Staff Exposed

demi Re:Yes, but it's still betrayal of trust (650 comments)

I think your expectations are unrealistic.

First of all, you need to distinguish between people who are professionals, and who have a professionals' responsibility and duty of care; and those who don't. You can't lump dentists, doctors, lawyers and other professionals in with service people like cabbies and sales people. In the latter case, there's no reasonable expectation of "trust".

It's realistic to expect that most people (professionals aside) who get money based on what you spend will try to get you to spend that money, and as much of it as possible; and dealing with them in ignorance is very much asking for a fleece job. This is true whether it's a mechanic or a repairman or a computer or mobile phone salesman.

What I find strange is that dear old grandpa probably understands this very well when dealing with mechanics and plumbers and car salesman. I don't understand why people expect the rules to magically change when they're buying a computer.

more than 4 years ago

Researcher Trolls MMO, Surprised When Players Hate Him

demi Re:This reveals a problem in the game's rules... (895 comments)

Thanks for pointing this out. I also don't know City of Heroes very well, but it seems like there's a need for an OOC zone and a PVP zone that are separate, as exists in almost all of the multiplayer games I've played (admittedly, all MUDs and MUSHes, no graphical MMORPGs). Similarly, if there were a single opponent-beating tactic like Twixt's, that points to a mechanical problem with game balance.

more than 5 years ago

The Myth of the Mathematics Gender Gap

demi Re:...or maybe (588 comments)

These career path selections are never made in a vacuum, either. If you're interested in two or three career paths, and one is full of sexist bullshit and one is not, more women may go into a second choice.

more than 5 years ago

Nine Words From Science Which Originated In Science Fiction

demi Re:other potential things (433 comments)

I don't know why you would bet that. It seems as likely to me that it would be called "entangled replication" or "time drive" or "teleportation"; or perhaps be named after the yet-to-be-discovered phenomena or law that allows us to do such a thing; or originate in a non-English language. Fact is, we don't know and I actually think conventional notions of driving something through space propulsively are likely as not not to apply to such a thing.

Science fiction can further science by inviting us to imagine the not-yet-possible, but I think we need to be wary of the ways in which the demands of human narrative can limit our imagination as well.

more than 5 years ago

Colbert Wins Space Station Name Contest

demi Re:Honorable Way Out for NASA (471 comments)

Why would they need a way out? NASA had the chance to honor a scientist or engineer, but decided not to--Serenity doesn't honor anything but entertainment, and neither does Colbert, or Tek Jansen for that matter.

more than 5 years ago

Mathematics Reading List For High School Students?

demi Four Colors Suffice (630 comments)

It's strictly "popular", but I find the history of intellectual development always fascinating, and it introduces the concept and problems relating to computer-assisted proofs.

more than 5 years ago


demi hasn't submitted any stories.



demi demi writes  |  more than 7 years ago

From time to time, I dimly remember something I posted on slashdot but can never find it again. Here are some posts. Apparently I like talking about parenting and giving job advice.


demi demi writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Viewing a certain commercial this evening prompted this tongue twister--try saying it five times fast:

Even pathetic shut-ins shun John Stamos


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Surely the limerick is the lowest form of humor. My first one is not dirty, though I would expect future ones to be.

Exposed to a plague rat bubonical,
A man didn't find it so comical,
When a doctor from France
Said, "Please pay in advance:
If the plague doesn't kill you my tonic'll."

Note: try as I might, I can't get the limerick formatted properly using the limited HTML allowed by slashdot. And this one is not just formatted improperly, but it's dirty.

There was a lithe young Peruvian,
With fetishes antediluvian,
He buggered women and men,
Over threescore and ten,
With a heat that was downright Vesuvian.


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

When was still going, I submitted this story, which was apparently rejected. This is really old, but I thought I would preserve it here.

Vegetarian Mob Plants TVP Horse's Head in Prosecutor's Bed, FBI Says

LOS ANGELES -- Yesterday a federal prosecutor found that a horse's head made from textured vegetable protein (TVP), a meat substitute, had been placed in his bed.

U.S. Attorney Henry Chambers recently empaneled a grand jury to seek indictment of Sammy "The Vegan" Piatti on several counts of extortion and cruelty-free racketeering. Los Angeles-based FBI agent Peter McMurtry described the act of vandalism as a death threat by the Piatti vegetarian crime family.

"We've had threats from this group of criminals before; the audacity of this move just proves we're finally close to shutting them down." said McMurtry at a press conference this morning. In an unguarded moment, the obviously angry McMurtry referred to the mobsters as "f**king neatballs."

In a similar incident a year ago, a strangled Tofurky was left on the front doorstep of area lawman Frank Weller, along with a note that threatened a "falafel necktie" for the officer. The perpetrator of that threat was eventually apprehended and found guilty of peddling brown rice and hummus within 1000 yards of a school and is serving four years at Corcoran State Penitentiary.


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

On the Straight Dope, someone started a thread imagining what the Lord of the Rings would be like if written by another author. I made a small contribution late in the game, but I reproduce it here in case the thread gets archived or my post is taken down. Also, they won't allow me to edit posts there, and I have corrected a couple of minor mistakes.

Strider scanned the Pony quicksville, figuring the players and slotting conclusions. First conclusion: the shitstorm in the West was stirring up business for Butterbur. Foregone conclusion: Big man Butterbur was into rackets up to his eyeballs. Pipeweed, dice, renting rooms by the half-hour for farmers' sons digging halfling cooze. BIG conclusion: too much curiousity by some of the customers. BIGGER conclusion: Black Riders sniffing around. BIGGEST: Four shit-kicking hobbits from the Shire renting rooms--THEM.

He lit up his own pipe, took two quick hits and scanned more carefully this time, riding the 'weed tingle behind his eyes. Spies in the corner: too many eyes in here to take them out. Midget voices, loud: THEM, bullshitting about the Shire--THEIR home. TOO loud: eyeball men slipping out the door. Strider crooked a finger at THEIR leader: HIM. He cracked his knuckles, making fists and motioning HIM to sit down.

"I'm Strider." Hushed voice--sotto fucking voce. "Mr. Underhill"--crooked smile. The smile says "I know YOU." The smile says "I know who YOU are." The smile says "I know YOU have IT." His eyes: not smiling. Frodo's eyes: look away, can't take the heat.

"Your friends have big mouths." Strider leaned back, cracked his knuckles. "Blotto and talking is not a good combination." Frodo nodded and looked over at Sam and Pippin: one blabbing--slurred-speech stories bullshit begging for the next drink. The other one looked back at Frodo.

Strider NEW conclusion: Sam fruit-hinky on Frodo--a complication. Babysitting four midgets a BIG THING now, Strider reconsidering his deal: Gandalf, mover, shaker, shakedown artist--you bring the four halflings to Rivendell or I snitch you to Elrond for Arwen. Gandalf: big time Elf juice, one of the Wise--no way out. Arwen images floated in behind the pipeweed: forbidden fruit BIG TIME. More conclusions: Elves do not like Men getting Elf trim. Second conclusion: Elrond ran the Elf operation in the North, he ESPECIALLY does not like Men getting Elf trim. Make it three: Gandalf makes the call, two days later he is nailed to a tree with Elf arrows through his ball sack.

Three options: grab Arwen and split. No go: Elrond is Outfit, he has juice everywhere. Gandalf has juice everywhere. Second option: do as Gandalf says, hand-hold hapless homo halflings to Rivendell. Third option, VERY TEMPTING: snitch the Ring to Sauron in return for Arwen, Sauron brings the black curtain down over the West; Elrond neutralized; Gandalf neutralized; Elves neutralized. Brain jump: Sauron would promise ANYTHING for Ring. Brain jump: Arwen and Strider living the squarejohn life in Sauron territory--FUNNY.

Dig: Pippin talking too much. Dig: Frodo jumps up on the table and starts singing. Strider takes a loooooong hit. Feeling goooooood. He goofs on the dancing midget. Watch him dance! Watch him sing! Watch him FUCKING DISAPPEAR! Too stupid: Option three and a half coming into focus--Black Riders/Weathertop/Four dead midgets.

Funnily enough, since I wrote this there has been some competition. You can decide which is better. And another, of better quality.


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I found a googlewhack: pusillanimous_corbels, but as soon as I submitted to, it acquired a duplicate. It made's cut, but it was oh so fleeting.

Thu Jan 2 22:01:42 PST 2003: Another one! This one is trappist_dystopias, and let's hope it sticks.

Thu Jan 2 22:56:55 PST 2003: Yet another: vomitus_companionways.

Fri Jan 3 18:56:29 PST 2003: And another: bathyscaphe_utterances.

Wed Jun 25 16:01:48 PDT 2003: Three more, two of which were erroneously rejected by understated_cloacae, sesquipedalians_rubric, and urethral_chirruping (Two of these now have duplicates)..


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Mon Nov 20 15:32:00 PST 2002: demi writes "This is a couple of days old, but the BBC is reporting that extremely dense strange quark matter may have penetrated the earth twice in 1993. Time for the foil hat."

Mon Jan 20 12:53:17 PST 2003: A friend reminded me of this excellent article about Excite@Home; it's not timely but dead on and a great response to a lot of opinion's I've heard about the "real" problem with Excite@Home.

Wed Jul 16 13:40:35 PDT 2003 All your bass are belong to us

demi writes, "Metallica is suing a Canadian rock band for illegal use of the E and F chords (found originally on Fark). Further comment is unneeded."


demi demi writes  |  more than 11 years ago

The term "microconvenience" refers to a small convenience that requires a great deal of work to implement for a very small benefit. An example is the feature of my answering machine, which doesn't record a message when the caller hangs up. It would be easy for me to delete the empty messages, but someone took the time to write the firmware to determine if the message was just a dial tone and not record a message if so. A microconvenience.

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