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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

dpilot Re:Not really. (236 comments)

There's a bit more to it than that. My tops would be two points.
First, we're memetically infectuous. Plant a new idea here, and someone will run with it, most likely in some direction you never wished for. Many of our memetic infections are downright dangerous, lethal, destructive, etc. Contact might well be considered irresponsible, no matter how well intended.
Second, there's the thing I mentioned about our reverse-engineering technology. They might accidentally give us more capability than they wanted to. Not that we'd be any threat to them, but we've been sitting here for however long with the Doomsday Clock close to midnight. Give us something new that can be weaponized, (We've been able to turn just about everything into a weapon, perhaps the most resistant invention was the "death ray", the laser - it's had so darned many peaceful uses and has been very hard to make into aweapon.) and we will do so. Perhaps that weapon might be what tips the scale, ticks the clock, or whatever metaphor you like.

2 days ago
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Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

dpilot Re:Not really. (236 comments)

First, it doesn't explain Fermi's Paradox, it merely adds another term to it. In all of those various probabilities, apparently there is something like a 10% chance of not getting taken out by a gamma burst in half-a-billion years. I would also expect the odds to get better as a given galaxy "settles down", generating fewer big, hot stars and more smaller, calmer ones. Some neighborhoods are probably rougher too. I wouldn't wait around to settle Trantor, near the center of our galaxy.

Second, I wouldn't consider intergalactic contact in any serious way - the distances are bad enough for interstellar, do we really want to add a few more orders of magnitude?

Third, our presence establishes our galaxy as one of the more benign ones. There is at least one neighborhood that has been sufficiently peaceful for the last half-billion hears. Last I knew, there were no supernova candidates close enough to cause that kind of trouble any time soon, either.

Fourth, I'll focus on your word "silliness", which I think you meant as an understatement. There is conceivably a chance that we are under observation, and rank as "too silly" for any contact. The Earth has had an oxygen atmosphere for the last half-billion years, and we're on the verge of being able to detect other such atmospheres on other worlds such as Kepler has found. It's not a bad assumption that any civilization capable of interstellar travel is also better at planetary surveys than us. If they're there and within a few thousand light-years, they know something worth seeing is probably here.

At this point in physics we're stuck at the Standard Model. We have many theories that move beyond, but no facts to select among them, and many of the experiments would be incredibly expensive. But let's say one day we saw a "warp signature", it's quite possible that we could immediately discard half of those theories. (By "warp signature" I really mean physical evidence of truly advanced technology.) IF there were here watching us, and seeing our "silliness" as well as the scientific acumen of some, they would be especially careful that we see no such evidence.

2 days ago
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Scientists Determine New Way To Untangle Proteins By Unboiling an Egg

dpilot Re:Cryptography is lost (155 comments)

Cars made of memory metals will spoil that one, too. Heat the wreckage to the right temperature, and have it spring back into a car.

4 days ago
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Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film

dpilot Re:It's about time. (138 comments)

Hmmmm.... I wonder how far The Culture is from Roddenberry's ideals? In some ways, The Culture seems to me to be a far more realistic post-Singularity type of civilization than the Federation. The trappings are far more fantastic, (GSVs, anyone?) but TOS tended to underestimate many things. As one example, the communicators were basically phones, and other than communicating with an orbiting starship instead of a local tower, they only do a fraction of what today's smartphones do.

Plus even The Culture gets to have explosions. I'm currently re-reading "Surface States". The first time I read it, I particularly liked one Ship giving a fairly complex blow-by-blow account of a space battle that was only something like 15 microseconds long.

about a week ago
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Moot Retires From 4chan

dpilot Re:Really? (184 comments)

I was rather amused by the titles of the Tanya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan newsgroups, though to be honest I don't remember the titles any more and never read them. I just remember ".whack.whack.whack" being the tail end of one.

I actually did follow and post to technical newsgroups.

about two weeks ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

dpilot Re:GeekDesk! (348 comments)

So is your desk a standing-only desk, or one of those that moves up and down? My wife has been looking at one of the latter.

about two weeks ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

dpilot Re:Ten years behind but catching up! (348 comments)

However in Europe you've been warned. In the US we walked (or sat?) way too far down this path before discovering how bad it is. Now that we all know better, you can change your path before getting where we are.

OTOH, my wife are generally stupified looking at twenty-somethings smoking. Our parents didn't know better, and in fact during WWII the Army included cigarettes with meal rations. During our generation (I'm a later Boomer.) we sort-of knew better, but the cigarette companies didn't actually admit they were lying until well into my adulthood. For this generation there's no doubt about how bad cigarettes are, but if anything smoking seems to be on the rise.

I wonder if Hari Seldon would have said that masses of people are stupid, as well as predictable.

about two weeks ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

dpilot Re:GeekDesk! (348 comments)

I wonder how much a standing desk would really help. Absent the standing desk, I would suspect that normally standing implies some other measure of activity besides just not-sitting. I would suspect just-standing as you would at a standing desk is better than sitting, if only because of micro-movements involved in remaing standing. But I'm guessing that simply moving to standing desks won't fully erase the bad effects of too much sitting, it'll lessen them to the bad effects of too much just-standing.

Movement is a spectrum, the question here is where is just-standing on that spectrum between sitting and the known-good brisk walk. Also, how do you fit onto that spectrum the known-good and known-bad thresholds?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

dpilot Or Slackware, Gentoo, or Devuan (403 comments)

The three distros in the Subject line do not use systemd, though Gentoo does offer it. They may well be the dig-in-the-heels distros that will stay that way, driven by people like you. Moving to one of those distros is a smaller/easier move for you, and doesn't preclude moving to a BSD in the future.

Years back I thought about moving my server to OpenBSD, based on reputation. However after some thinking I realized that potentially the safest server is the one you know best how to administer. I was probably better off knowing how to administer Linux well across my home cluster than to divide my efforts. I know OpenBSD is supposed to be "secure by default", but don't know how I might accidentally mess that up by mis-applying Linux knowledge to it.

about two weeks ago
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The Legacy of CPU Features Since 1980s

dpilot Re:Yeah, I remember when VMWare first came out... (180 comments)

I remember when the 8086 came out, Intel also brought out the 8087 FPU and the 8089 I/O Processor. The former got bundled into the CPU a few generations later. I don't rememeber details of the 8089, but it seems to have withered away. Nor does Wikipedia say much about it, once you differentiate it from the Hoth Wampa Cave Lego set.

about two weeks ago
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SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't

dpilot Re: Minor setback (213 comments)

I liked David Brin's "Tank Farm Dynamo", which featured a space station made from used external tanks. Part of the premise was that ETs were deliberately discarded the way they were, so that they'd burn on reentry and not become space debris. For negligible cost they could be brought the rest of the way to orbit, available for use there.

about three weeks ago
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SpaceX Rocket Launch Succeeds, But Landing Test Doesn't

dpilot Re: Minor setback (213 comments)

Every first stage ever made and flown has been simply thrown away after one use. FIrst stages are quite a bit different from whatever is on the top of the stack.

For that matter, "lander on legs" is a different thing on Earth than it is on the moon or Mars.

I will agree that there is a decided anti-NASA attitude around here, though.

about three weeks ago
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New Implant Lets Paralyzed Rats Walk Again

dpilot Re:Thank god (35 comments)

Right up there with seeing a perfectly healthy person with two free hands hit the handicapped door opener button, rather than open the door by hand.

about three weeks ago
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Heinlein's 'All You Zombies' Now a Sci-Fi Movie Head Trip

dpilot Re:All You Zombies... (254 comments)

Ever read "The House in November", by Keith Laumer? Kind of the same thing, but more story to it. "All You Zombies" was short, sweet, and to the point.

about three weeks ago
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Microbe Found In Grassy Field Contains Powerful Antibiotic

dpilot Re:The hard part is yet to come (84 comments)

I thought I read that they tested it against cultured human cells in a petri dish, without bad side-effects. That's not whole-animal testing, but it's better than no human testing at all.

about three weeks ago
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Hubble Takes Amazing New Images of Andromeda, Pillars of Creation

dpilot Re:Leading Edge? (97 comments)

First question... Is such a dust cloud inconsistent with a sun-like star somewhere inside the boundaries?
Second question... If a sun-like star can exist there, is such a dust cloud inconsistent with that star having a planetary system like ours?
Third question... Assuming the first two questions pass, and that there could be an Earth-like planet there with life that could look up into the sky and wonder, what would they see?

In other words, is that dust really still a hard vacuum, just seen from a different perspective, or is it really something denser that would alter the view from within?

about three weeks ago
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Hubble Takes Amazing New Images of Andromeda, Pillars of Creation

dpilot Re:Stars or noise (97 comments)

But the Earth had an oxygen (potentially biosculpted) atmosphere some 500 million years ago. So if someone there has been able to observe Earth and know something about its atmosphere, they'd know that there might be life here. We would count as "interesting".

I've read more recently that there may be other ways to have significant amounts of free oxygen in a planetary atmosphere besides biological processes. I have no idea how probable those ways are compared to life, how stable they are, how "interesting" they are compared to life, etc.

But for the remote sensing schemes we've used on exoplanets, as well as foreseeable improvements to those schemes, Earth would definitely count as "interesting".

about three weeks ago
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NSA Says They Have VPNs In a 'Vulcan Death Grip'

dpilot Re: What IP address ranges are in the US? (234 comments)

Not irrelevant. The parent poster was concerned about protecting his system, then proceeded to discuss protecting from the US without considering other threats.

about a month ago
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NSA Says They Have VPNs In a 'Vulcan Death Grip'

dpilot Re: What IP address ranges are in the US? (234 comments)

Plus don't forget, the NSA simply must be the only agency in the world trying to do this sort of thing. I'm sure that no other nation has any interest whatsoever in gathering this type or depth of information, for any reason at all.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Blog of Helios writer facing cancer deadline

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 2 years ago

dpilot writes "This story has been through "submitted stories" twice this weekend that I've seen on Slashdot, and not made it to the front page.

Slashdot is about "News for Nerds", and Ken Stark passes the geek-test as well as anyone. This is also where Geek meets Politics, and the bad things that can happen there. Perhaps begging for his life on the internet isn't the thing to do — perhaps begging for money to write a trivial app is far more so — I don't think so.

So this is really a "Death Panel". So far Ken Stark has lost the first two Death Panel rounds to the editors. As is said in Congress, let's bring this to the floor — if it's a Death Panel, let's make it public, and stand behind your words. I'll stand behind mine — it's a sickening shame that he is in this position. I've already donated."

Link to Original Source
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Background for "American Gods"

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 3 years ago

dpilot (134227) writes "This weekend I heard Neil Gaiman speaking on "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" on public radio, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of "American Gods." I got the book in hardcover when it first came out, and felt that I was getting strafed by fighter jets, there were so many Norse mythology references going "Whoosh!" over my head. I enjoyed it as best I could, but know I could have gotten much more out of it, had I been more familiar with the underlying material.

I took a Greco-Roman mythology course in high school, so am fairly well founded there. But my Norse mythology comes mostly from reading, "The Mighty Thor" from Marvel Comics. Since the 10th anniversary is as good a reason as any, I'd like to reread "American Gods," but I'd like to do a little reference reading first. Can anyone recommend a book or two of Norse mythology for getting up to speed, without making it a career path?"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Democracy is a sheep and two wolves

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 9 years ago

>Democracy is a sheep and two wolves deciding what to have for lunch. Freedom is a well armed sheep contesting the issue.

I fear it's more like, "Democracy is 48 sheep and 52 wolves deciding what to have for lunch. Well armed sheep contesting the issue is, 'traitorous liberal domestic terrorism.'"

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Journals, friends, foes, fans, freaks ??

dpilot dpilot writes  |  more than 12 years ago

There seem to be some new features, though they may have crept in a year ago, considering the attention I've been paying. I can guess what friends, foes, and fans are, but I wonder about freaks.

I don't really have time for this, so this journal entry is my investment, for the moment.

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