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Comments

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Feces-Filled Capsules Treat Bacterial Infection

jandersen Re:Dunno about you but (135 comments)

Whatever! Eat shit and, er, ... live?

about two weeks ago
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Pro-Democracy Websites In Hong Kong Targeted With and Serving Malware

jandersen Re:Foolish (44 comments)

That move seems just really childish for a government. Couldn't the government just take down the DNS entries of those sites, rather than install malware? Also, this will only help to legitimize the pro-democracy movement. It makes more sense that this was done by script kiddies with an agenda.

Indeed. Whatever one can say for or against the Chinese government, fools they are not. And whatever one can say about the CIA/NSA or whatever they are called these days, fanatical proponents of freedom and democracy wouldn't' top the list. My expectation of the Chinese government is that they wish to deal with these problems calmly and pragmatically, whereas the American secret services have a track record for stirring up shit. I may be wrong, of course.

Democracy is a very good idea, even for a government. It is much easier to govern a nation, if the citizens feel they are stakeholders rather than captives. The Chinese government are well aware of this, and as far as I can tell from me more than 10 years of regular travel to China, the majority of Chinese have a lot of faith in their central government. The protests that keep occurring are generally against corrupt local officials colluding with rich business owners; I think people in America recognize the situation.

The problem with democracy is not that it is unpredictable (as Americans will know, it is very easy to manipulate, any way), but that it takes a long time to educate people about what it is and how it works. Democracy didn't happen overnight in Europe - it several generations for it to unfold, and embarrassingly, it was still being discussed whether it was a good idea at all up towards WWII. On that background, I think it is optimistic, not to say hopelessly naive, to imagine that China could just say, "Yeah, OK, we'll start having democracy tomorrow". Just look around in the world and see how often that has simply ended in civil war, because the osing factions didn't get what they wanted, or because the winners on think about what benefits their own supporters. Democracy can not work, unless everybody understands the implications and are willing to accept that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; and that whoever wins has to govern for the benefit of the whole of the population, even their opponents.

Is Hong Kong there yet? Have the population been educated to accept the rules of the game yet? I don't know - but if we in the West, and especially the American secret services, keep fanning the flames of unrest, then it will never happen. No government can sit idle by and let protest become civil war.

about two weeks ago
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Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs In China and Germany

jandersen Re:well duh (228 comments)

Isn't this EXACTLY what the NSA's job is?

It probably is - what I am worried about is not spying, in the sense of gathering intelligence, or even stealing industrial secrets - it's the complete lack of transparency and real oversight. And the very real and likely possibility, that agencies lie NSA and CIA instigate civil unrest in other countries. Take the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre - there has been persistent rumours ever since, that this was largely a CIA operation that blew up. It may or may not have been the case, but the point is: we just don't know, and with these revelations all the time, we can't even say that it sounds unlikely. And are they at it again in Hong Kong now?

Trust takes long and hard work to build up, but it can be blown apart in an instant. And it seems that we send our most immature and narrow-minded people out there to do this kind of hugely sensitive jobs; what could possibly go wrong?

about two weeks ago
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Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

jandersen Re:Pixie Dust (252 comments)

Aww, how sweet - my original post got modded down as 'Troll'! - simply for suggesting that people should be reasonable and level headed, and not let the fact that an unpopular organization like Greenpeace is mentioned, confuse their judgement.

So, to your questions:

1: Yes, I drive - why not? I am not the one claiming that everything done by oil companies is by definition "EVIL!!!!" - I just say, they are not our friends, even if they try to sell that image to us. They have resisted any movement towards producing more efficient car engines, sustainbale energy etc - in fact, anything that might affect their bottom -line. It is the logical thing for them to; they only exist to generate profit for their shareholders. Popular pressure has been among the things that have persuaded them to modify their actions. If you had read and understood what I wrote originally, you would have realised that I don't say we must all stop driving cars. But it makes very good sense to me at least, that we should try to get away from our dependency on fossil fuels as soon as possible. I am willing to give up some of my luxuries to get there.

2: Extraordinary people are just ordinary people who made a decision to no longer just following the beaten path and simply do as they are told. It isn't easy, of course - if it were, then it wouldn't be extraordinary. But everybody can do it, it just requires courage. Not the idiotic 'courage' to drink yourself legless and play chicken across a busy motorway, but the real courage to open up your mind and risk having to confront your own dishonesty, and probably having to leave behind all the old fallacies that you used to believe in. As an American you ought to be in a better position to understand this than us tired, old Europeans; it's only been a century and a bit since your nation was established by ordinary people, who had no other choice than becoming extraordinary.

No, ordinary DO make a difference, if they dare to stand up against those in power, for what they really believe in.

about two weeks ago
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Carl Sagan, as "Mr. X," Extolled Benefits of Marijuana

jandersen Re:Prove him right some more (263 comments)

I mean this in the nicest possible way - go smoke some weed and stare up into the stars. It helps put things into perspective.

Space out, as it were.

about two weeks ago
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Scientists Coax Human Embryonic Stem Cells Into Making Insulin

jandersen Re:seems like good news, but really? (100 comments)

Because, how much easier does it get than lifting stuff from a dead guy?

Price, as you mentin, is an important factor, of course, but taking out just the insuling producing cells from a pancreas isn't extremely easy, as they are embedded in other tissue (from Wikipedia):

The part of the pancreas with endocrine function is made up of approximately a million[7] cell clusters called islets of Langerhans. Four main cell types exist in the islets. They are relatively difficult to distinguish using standard staining techniques, but they can be classified by their secretion: α alpha cells secrete glucagon (increase glucose in blood), Î beta cells secrete insulin (decrease glucose in blood), Î" delta cells secrete somatostatin (regulates/stops α and Î cells) and PP cells, or Î (gamma) cells, secrete pancreatic polypeptide.[8]

The islets are themselves not necessarily easy to transplant, as one would have re-establish the necessary blood supply for each, I suspect; and distinguishing - let alone separating - the four main cell types is probably not trivial either.

about two weeks ago
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Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

jandersen Re:Pixie Dust (252 comments)

People shouldn't let their prejudices against Greenpeace, 'tree-huggers', 'hippies', climate change or whatever blind them to the fact that:

1. Big, polluting corporations need to be challenged. The oil-industry is not really your friend, and I doubt the changes we have seen in pollution levels since the 50es would have happened without somebody putting serious pressure on them.

2. Whether you like Greenpeace or not, their example shows us that it is possible for ordinary people to make a difference, if they are able to work together. Is that not something worth knowing?

about two weeks ago
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

jandersen What this isn't about... (385 comments)

A brief scan through the comments on slashdot so far comes up the usual, lame list of "reasons why this is just so stupid, like".

So, this is not about whether chimpanzees should get the vote.
It isn't about whether they should be considered human.
It isn't about whether they should be allowed/forced to take part in human society on an equal footing.

What it is about, is how we treat the animals in our care; part of that has to touch on whether animals have anything like personality: do they 'feel' rather than simply 'react'? Do they have wishes, intentions, thoughts, or are they simply 'flesh machines'? As our insight grows, it becomes harder and harder to deny that many, if not most, animals are like ourselves in that respect; what separates us is a matter of degrees rather than something fundamental: humans are more intelligent etc, but there is no reason to think we have a 'soul' which other animals don't have.

The other part of the problem is to decide what we ourselves are, or want to be. When we don't want to torture prisoners, when we don't just get out the popcorn and watch the Ebola epidemic etc, it is because we as a society have the choice to care about others. It wasn't always so, and not everybody agrees. But we have chosen to be the kind of people who care and therefore we find it hard to deliberately cause suffering.

Whether legislation is the right way, I don't know; in my experience people often resent rules and laws that are imposed on them, even if they agree on the sentiment behind them. Basically, it is about respect; we should certainly respect other animals on their terms, but having rules imposed on you doesn't feel very respectful.

about two weeks ago
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Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

jandersen Why? (249 comments)

Because the advertisers overreach and try to push stuff that their audience is unlikely to want. Advertising is full of wishful thinking about how powerful adverts are etc - many advertisers seem to believe that it is simply a matter of "targeting" their adverts and then people will invariably buy, no matter whether they like, need or can afford the product. The reality, meanwhile, is probably that by far the largest part of adverts are unwelcome, simply because people were not looking to buy and they feel affronted, when they are being slapped in the face with some irrelevant distraction. If you want to sell a product, you have to persuade your customer to like you, but nobody likes SPAM, whether it comes in emails, inserted into your favourite tv-program or through your letter box, and all that kind of advertising achieves is to alienate huge numbers of potential customers.

about two weeks ago
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Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School

jandersen Re:Intelligence (154 comments)

Well, I suppose it is because we want to find an universal measure of 'mental ability'. When we look at people across populations, we find that there seems to be at least some element of 'mental ability' or 'intelligence' that is universal - some individuals seem very good at learning, thinking, others seem less so - across cultures. (As you can already see, I am not an expert, and others will no doubt have more insight) The big question as I see it is whether this 'intelligence' is all context or not; it probably doesn't matter too much in practical terms, but it is very interesting.

about two weeks ago
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A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

jandersen Re:Rules for aircraft are much stricter (203 comments)

So a small bingle in a flying car means it instantly becomes just a car until repaired and approved for flight.

Oh, no, because it will be unambiguously proven that flying your car around is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution.

about two weeks ago
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Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School

jandersen Intelligence (154 comments)

I don't think this is entirely unexpected; there has long been controversy over what intelligence is or indeed whether it is a meaningful concept at all. It has certainly proved difficult to construct a practical test that doesn't depend on things like cultural context etc.

about two weeks ago
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Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School

jandersen Re:STOP THE VIDEO ADS SLASHDOT! (154 comments)

Just in case you aren't aware: You can block all that if you use Firefox and a few add-ons: AdBlock Plus, AniDisableHacked and NoScript. They allow me to block out video, among other things.

about two weeks ago
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Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming

jandersen Re:What happens to that heat? (423 comments)

:-)

Interesting. So I should have read the article, after all. It makes sense, what you say, of course.

about two weeks ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

jandersen Re:Polo? (276 comments)

Heh, I keep forgetting that when you comment on things in slashdot, you are dealing with a largely hostile audience. Thanks for reminding me.

Marco Polo's parents also went by the name Polo

You are missing the point - 'Polo' would be understood as a reference to the family, not the person. Of course, a brilliant individual like you wouldn't have missed that.

about two weeks ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

jandersen Polo? (276 comments)

Hmm, it always grates against my soul when people use names without checking whether it is usage; I'm probably just being pedantic.

So, historically things like last names were not commonly used the way we do now; I don't recall when they came into use. So, you would call people by their personal names + perhaps a description - 'John the Baptist', 'Leonardo da Vinci', 'Genghis Khan' etc. The last is not really a name as much as a title: 'Great Khan' - his name was Temüjin, but still you see him referred to as 'Khan', as if it were his last name. Sigh. And then, of course, Marco Polo. I suspect it is a resonably safe guess that 'Polo' is not the correct way to refer to him - he should be called 'Marco'.

about two weeks ago
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Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming

jandersen Re:What happens to that heat? (423 comments)

I wonder what happens to all the heat that's being taken up by the oceans.

Ah - the only intelligent comment on this issue on /. so far, on this fine morning. This is very likely what climatologists are thinking about too; heat, being energy, doesn't disappear, so it must be somewhere. My guess is that it isn't perhaps so much about where the heat went as it is about by how much the temperature increase has been underestimated - IOW, that the water was somewhat colder before than what we guessed. That is of course one of our problems: when we don't have enough observations, we have to make educated guesses, and sometimes we guess wrong. It's just one of those things that happen in science; now we will have to improve the models again.

about two weeks ago
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It's Not Just How Smart You Are: Curiosity Is Key To Learning

jandersen Re:.. and this is new ? (83 comments)

Isn't this some of those things that kind of is a 'given' ?

Of course it is. For some reason, all popular science articles try to spin everything as 'A Great, New Discovery'. Scientific research is almost always about checking and measuring the details in the big picture we already know - that is why they keep measuring the gravitational constant, the speed of light etc. And the other side of the coin is the scientific method: you state a theory, then test its predictions. In this case the farily obvious seeming prediction, that curiosity makes you better at learning. In fact, this is not quite as trivial as it may sound: curiosity makes you want to learn, but does your objective ability to learn increase measurably?

about three weeks ago
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Intel Drops Gamasutra Sponsorship Over Controversial Editorials

jandersen Big issues, small issues... (724 comments)

I think it was C.S.Lewis who once said that political infighting amongst academics often become so vicious, not because the stakes are big, but exactly because they are so small. And looking at the comments in the discussion here seems to confirm this - it's just about games. Recreation, in other words - when you are an adult, there are other things in life that ought to be more important.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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10 TB cloud storage for free

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year ago

jandersen (462034) writes "Chinese Tencent are going to launch a free, 10TB cloud storage service:

http://pandodaily.com/2013/11/18/tencent-to-launch-international-version-of-free-10tb-storage-service-new-photo-sharing-app-coming-soon-to-us/

10TB is some 5000 times more than Dropbox, and 666 times more than what you get with Google (Yes, I know, that number keeps cropping up, doesn't it?)

What will no doubt worry people is that it is a Chinese company, although they are planning to store the data outside of China. I guess, with the NSA scandal unfolding, it is just a question of choosing your poison."
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Arctic thaw may be first in cascade of tipping points

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen writes "Here's an article from New Scientist that's guaranteed to arouse yet another controversy (from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729064.500-arctic-thaw-may-be-first-in-cascade-of-tipping-points.html):

ONE climate domino has fallen, and it may start toppling others. A recent study outlined an interconnected web of climate tipping points, some of which make the next ones more likely. Now, an analysis of data from the last 23 years suggests we passed the first of these tipping points in 2007, when Arctic sea ice flipped into a new, less stable state. That may speed the world towards the next tipping point – the thaw of a vast expanse of Siberian permafrost.

New Scientist is sometimes criticised for being sensationalist, but this article seems sober to me: it is well referenced, and they try to include opposing viewpoints to balance it. If what they say is true, we may be in for a series of increasingly dramatic changes, and sooner rather than later."
Link to Original Source

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EU to spend 1 billion euro on graphene and brain research

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jandersen (462034) writes "The EU is going to spend 100 million per year over the next 10 years to boost research and interdisciplinary cooperation by launching two flagship projects in March:

- The Human Brain Project: Aims "to develop a large-scale ICT infrastructure for the specific purpose of understanding the brain and its diseases, and of translating this knowledge into new computing technology." Basically, they want to build a working computer model of a human brain. (http://www.humanbrainproject.eu/in_brief.html)

- The Graphene Flagship: Aims "to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe." (http://www.graphene-flagship.eu/GF/index.php)

How cool is that? For more info, see http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ict/programme/fet/flagship/home_en.html — but be warned: this is EU, and understanding the whole setup is fiendishly complicated."
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Ask Slashdot: Server room toolbox?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  about 2 years ago

jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea.

Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx (here for the whole range of strange screwdriver standards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives). But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."
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The revolution is coming

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 2 years ago

jandersen writes "According to Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut, we may be heading towards serious, social unrest within a decade (article on New Scientist — registration (free) required: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528781.800-calculated-violence-numbers-that-predict-revolutions.html?full=true):

The mathematics underpinning the rise and fall of empires suggest that the US faces imminent and bloody unrest. How worried should we be?

Is he on to something? Note, this is not a head-in-the-clouds-prophet speaking, but a real scientist, who proposes a real theory: a falsifiable hypothesis; and as he says ""It is easier to predict timing than the height of the peak. My feeling is that it's going to be worse than we expect. Hopefully I'm wrong — I have to live through this."."
Link to Original Source

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A sad tale: US gov online visa app

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 4 years ago

jandersen (462034) writes "It was recently my fortune to have to assist in applying for a US visa for a Chinese citizen living in London. This turned out to be a very painful journey, not least because of the online application form — give it a whirl yourselves:

https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/

- and here is the video that introduces it:

http://www.youtube.com/user/USEmbassyLondon#p/u/1/LSd6gYr-aSs

Don't worry, it isn't dangerous, and the effects can mostly be fixed with counselling, eventually.

On top of the horrors of this supremely inept piece of code, you get to be treated with a mixture of hostility and indifference at the embassy plus constant demands for further documents about trivial nonsense — like "You state that you went to primary school x until such and such date, but didn't enter secondary school until 6 months later; what did you do in that time?"; presumably they have words like "training camp" rolling around the vast empty spaces in their heads (makes you wonder what they would think of an American teenager who has been to "boot camp" — now there's damning evidence if ever there was)

And what do they expect to hear when they ask "Are you coming over to commit terrorist offences?" — "Oh dear, it's a fair cop, they've caught me now, right enough. And there was I, wondering if terrorism would require a work permit.""
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What Open Source Forum SW is best

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jandersen writes "I want to do something about improving morale and team-spirit in the company where I am the UNIX manager; and I thought it might be good to run some sort of social forum where people can engage in intellectual discussions on a high level, just like on Slashdot. People will, of course, waste time there — at least if you ask management — but I don't think of it as wasted. After all, people tend to "waste time" talking about sport and solving the great problems of the world any way, so why not put it on a server? And the thing is — this is a global company, and we don't really know our colleagues in India, China, Europe and so on. But which software should I choose? There seems to be a lot of for forum/BSS software around; what I want is something similar to /. — I like the concept of users being able to mod each others up and down — and it has to be open source, rather not Java, and run on Linux. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. What does the people think?"
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Non-violent, cooperative games?

jandersen jandersen writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jandersen writes "While I generally don't really play computer games, I do occasionally play games like Crossfire or The Mana World, because they have more of a story line and allow you to go at your own pace; they require a little bit more intellect and less testosterone, perhaps. What I don't care much about, though, is that they are still basically about killing monsters and amassing wealth, and it gets very tedious after a while.

Are there really no games where the goal isn't so much about increasing your own power and defeating others, but where you instead grow by doing things that benefit others, where enemies shouldn't be killed out of hand, but befriended, where learning, teaching, research and social skills are more important than killing and conquering? Would people be interested in a game of that nature?"

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