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Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

martyros Re:Gender neutral? (462 comments)

"It's not you, it's me."

"It" here still isn't (or shouldn't be) referring to a human. Normally it means, "The problem in our relationship isn't you; the problem is me."

about 2 months ago
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Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

martyros Re:Gender neutral? (462 comments)

nrén = woman

Hmm, Slashdot seems to have eaten the characters it wasn't familiar with. That should be nuren and nuhaizi (tone 3).

about 2 months ago
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Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

martyros Re:Gender neutral? (462 comments)

Regarding "they", English speakers have been using "they" as an ungendered third person singular for hundreds of years.

Language is defined by its speakers, not by some committee somewhere; each of us gets a vote. In some cases I persistently vote against change if I think it's a bad idea (for example, I will make fun of people who use the word "literally" when speaking figuratively as long as I can get away with it); but in this case, I think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and I have purposely chosen to use "they" in this way.

about 2 months ago
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Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices

martyros Re:Gender neutral? (462 comments)

English is perhaps the most gender neutral language currently in use.

I cannot tell you how ignorant that sounds to me. Of the four languages I know to various degrees (English, French, Turkish, Mandarin), two of them are far less gendered than English. In both Turkish and Chinese, there is no "he/she" distinction -- there is a single pronoun which can be used for any person. Additionally, in the base for "person" and for "child" is ungendered, and to specify "man/woman" or "boy/girl" you have to add a gender tag. Chinese: rén = person, nánrén = man, nrén = woman. háizi = child, nánháizi = boy, nháizi = girl. (Turkish was too long ago for me to remember the actual words.) Turkish is the same for brother/sister. (Chinese have cutesy reduplicatives for sibling relationships -- gge, dìdi, mèimei, jijie -- so the "add a gender" thing wouldn't fit.) I never got to actor/actress, waiter/waitress, &c in Turkish, but in Chinese they're all ungendered as well. (And nouns are genderless in both languages too.)

Seriously dude -- if you don't know Chinese or Turkish, that's fine; but then don't make a claim about all languages "currently in use".

about 2 months ago
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It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

martyros Re:So can I sue my college? (206 comments)

Indeed: if you look at m-w or any other dictionary then you may notice that the modern use have two opposite meanings. That belongs to the richness and sophistication of modern language.

No, that's because most dictionaries are descriptive rather than prescriptive: they're trying to help people understand what someone might be saying, not trying to tell you what the right answer is. And in general, I agree with them -- language is defined by its speakers and develops over time.

But the fact is that using "literally" when you actually mean "figuratively" is stupid. It's not only evidence of sloppy thinking, but it actively degrades the language. The fact that it's in M-W reflects the fact that a significant minority of people use it this way; but the fact remains that the majority of speakers oppose this change and think that it's stupid and wrong. By making fun of people who use the word "literally", I am "voting" to keep the old definition and keep the new definition from becoming accepted, and I will do so as long as it is practical.

about 3 months ago
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It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information

martyros Re:So can I sue my college? (206 comments)

There were two answers common to all of us: project management and English writing. We are all in management now, not practical engineering, and need words more than we need numbers and formulae. An English writing course should be required for all pure and applied science majors, in my opinion.

I represented computer science at an elementary-school tech fair a few months ago. Many of the students had been given papers they were supposed to fill out by asking us questions; one of the questions was, "How often do you use writing in your job?" And they were all surprised when I answered, "Every day". I need to discuss design, bugs, performance, releases, strategy, &c &c, and all over e-mail. Writing (and typing) is a core skill for me.

about 3 months ago
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Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits

martyros Re:supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults (554 comments)

Note that the studies do not say multivitamins are worthless, nor does it address any other health areas except those three. That is just the headline sensationalism.

Did you miss the part where the TFA's title said "Stop wasting money on supplements"? The article itself is trying to make the argument that it's a waste for most people to take multivitamins. But the reason given is that it doesn't prevent death, heart attacks, cancer, or dementia.

Guess what? Hiring policemen don't prevent natural death, heart attacks, cancer or dementia either. Neither does wearing a seatbelt. Neither do all those safety regulations on cars and aircraft. Are they going to write an editorial next saying that we should "Stop wasting money on police, seatbelts, safety regulation", and cite studies showing that they don't prevent natural death, heart attacks, cancer, or dementia?

Vitamin deficiency causes all kinds of random problems that are often not quickly diagnosed. Do a cost-benefits analisys. It's a low probability that I'll have a vitamin deficiency, but if I do, vitamins will help a lot. Given how little they cost, it seems like a no-brainer.

about 4 months ago
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German Court Invalidates Microsoft FAT Patent

martyros Re:Licensees should be able to recover their payme (192 comments)

What would be better is if the US patent office had to repay the royalties (or perhaps a percentage of them). Then there would actually be incentive for them to be careful about the patents they approved. As it is, they get money for any patent they approve, and no negative consequences for approving patents which are later overturned.

about 4 months ago
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Imagining the Post-Antibiotic Future

martyros Re:terrorism! ha! (453 comments)

Cuts and scrapes get soap and bandages.

Of course, and that's the right thing to do -- until such time as you discover that your leg has actually been infected, and that you need antibiotics. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it can be incredibly dangerous. I don't know what the rate of bacterial infection is for falling out of a tree, but let's say it was 1 in 1,000. No antibiotics means that goes from "1 in 1000 children who scrape their knee hospitalized" to "1 in 1000 children who scrape their knee die", which is pretty bad.

about 5 months ago
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US Postal Service To Make Sunday Deliveries For Amazon

martyros Re:what? (258 comments)

And of course, there's the insane requirement enacted in 2006 that the USPS pre-pay healthcare benefits 50 years in advance

According to the Times, the real financial problem facing the Post Office may have been created by Congress in the first place through the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The law required the service to begin prefunding the healthcare benefits of future retirees 50 years in advance. The requirement costs about $5.6 billion a year, and it caused the Postal Service to lose $5.1 billion the first year after it was enacted.

So for the last 7 years, they've had a $5B handicap -- limiting what they can do wrt expanding into other markets, upgrading services, and so on. I'd say they're doing pretty amazing.

about 5 months ago
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Billion Year Storage Media

martyros Re:Data (204 comments)

It would be akin (because of the vast separation in time) to our finding forty thousand versions of "Damn, Og just missed small deer. ... No, wait, he return. ... Damn, Og just missed small deer."

Your example contains "damn", which could help you track exposure to religion, attitudes towards swearing, and so on. The existence of "small deer" could help you track the change of population and determine exactly when a species became extinct / sacred / in high demand. Even when not mentioned, a historian might be able to deduce that Og was using a ranged weapon here rather than a close-combat one, to help study ancient technology, correlating it with other evidence to track the rise and fall of different tribes or races. That all sounds like a potential treasure-trove of information to me.

about 6 months ago
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Billion Year Storage Media

martyros Re:Data (204 comments)

Most of our data are totally uninteresting pieces of garbage. Think of it, a future species recovers an archive of present tweets and facebook comments.

Said by someone who obviously has never done much looking at history. The fact that "uninteresting pieces of garbage", that either everyone knew and assumed or thought didn't need to be said, were *not* written down, makes it a lot harder to understand the context in which the things we *do* have were said. Having a handful of people's full FB / twitter records will be a treasure trove of information for 50th-century historians trying to figure out what life was actually like in the 20th century.

about 6 months ago
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Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS

martyros Re:Amazing (510 comments)

Let us never confuse creating value with capturing value; somehow we have to get them better aligned.

Do we? Because you know, I was under the impression that not everybody measured value and success by the fatness of one's wallet.

This isn't about Linus. I'm sure that Linus is at least as happy, if not far happier, than Ballmer, Elop, or Fiorina. It's about us as society. Money is power, after all -- it's people with money that decide what buildings are built, what movies get made, what devices are produced, and so on. Giving that power to Ballmer and Elop, who are good at "capturing value" while destroying it, is bad for society.

about 7 months ago
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New Operating System Seeks To Replace Linux In the Cloud

martyros Re:Cue Linus in 3..2..1 (335 comments)

Where are they "badmouthing" Linux? All they said was that Linux is over-kill for running a single application within a VM. Linux and OSv are different tools for different purposes.

Especially since Linux was the first hypervisor they ported to, and has the best support at the moment.

about 7 months ago
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New Operating System Seeks To Replace Linux In the Cloud

martyros Re:GPL trumps BSD as a usable open source licence (335 comments)

Additionally unfounded. Given that BSD sources can be downloaded, modified, and their changes never see the light of day the loss of information is virtually guaranteed. Not to say it doesn't happen with the GPL, but it's actually a legal risk to allow it to happen.

In practice, the vast majority of the time GPL and BSD are functionally equivalent. The reason is this: if a company takes a GPL project, makes changes, but doesn't do the work to upsteam them, and then just publishes their changes as patches on their own website, there is a very low probability that those patches will ever make it either upstream, or into a competitor's product. Publishing the patches on your website is not considered "contributing to the community"; actually doing the work of upstreaming is. A company that doesn't upstream anything but only publishes patches on their website is considered a "taker" by the community. The major things driving contributions to upstream are the pain of having to rebase local modifications in order to pull new code from upstream, and the benefits of being seen to "give back" to the community. These both would work the same for a BSD project.

However, just like any time you're working with other people, "what happens in the worst case" is important, and has a material impact on how you relate when there are disadgreements. If the situation becomes tense with your wife, you'll act differently if you know that in the event of a divorce she'll get half of your considerable property than if you know she can't touch a dime. Similarly, the fact that I could take those published patches and upstream them myself is important to me. And although companies like BSD when they're the only one contributing to a project, it seems to me that GPL provides a much better "worst case scenario" for you if you're working with a competitor.

about 7 months ago
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London Tube Cleaners Don't Want Fingerprint Clock-in

martyros Re:BFD (351 comments)

If you don't want to be demeaned, don't work in a job where your role includes cleaning up human excrement and vomit from trains.

Or, we as society could stop demeaning people for doing good work and making the world a better place. Do you want to be able to take a subway without the place reeking of shit and puke? Then be thankful for the people cleaning it up; give them respect, good working conditions, and a living wage. Anyone who is creating value for society deserves that much, whether they're designing the next iPhone or washing the piss smell of a public lavatory. And if you don't give them any of that, don't be surprised if they don't deliver very much value to you.

Besides, the demeaning argument could be applied to any kind of time keeping system. So you use your finger to clock on instead of a card. So what?

If the card is exactly the same, then why go through the expense of the fancy new equipment?

If the fingerprint system really is cheaper / more robust / maintainable / whatever, then it may make sense to upgrade. If, as I suspect, it is is more expensive, and they're doing it not to reduce costs and increase efficiency of processing but to have more control over people. Either that's not necessary, in which case it's demeaning, or it is necessary, in which case (it seems to me) they're doing something else really wrong.

about 7 months ago
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London Tube Cleaners Don't Want Fingerprint Clock-in

martyros Re:BFD (351 comments)

well the reason they don't want the scanners is that then they can't as easily sell their job when they move on - or have their cousin cover for them on a sick day.

Possibly, but another very good reason they don't want scanners is that it's demeaning and insulting.

Unless there are significant problems (and not just "significant bending of the rules", but "significant extra expense or reduction in quality"), there is no reason to treat people like criminals.

And if there are significant problems, there's a better solution: Hire people you trust, and then trust the people you hire; and don't judge them by stupid metrics like "has been physically present exactly N hours?", but by metrics like, "Is the area they were responsible for clean?" If it would take an average person working at a reasonable rate 8 hours to clean a certain area, and because of me the area is now clean, then pay me for 8 hours worth of work, whether it took me 8 hours or three hours.

about 7 months ago
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Jury Finds Google Guilty of Standards-Essential Patents Abuse Against MS

martyros Re:Missing Groklaw (278 comments)

That's a post from August 13, about the ruling going into this trial -- not about the actual trial or the verdict itself, which is what this article was about.

about 7 months ago
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Jury Finds Google Guilty of Standards-Essential Patents Abuse Against MS

martyros Missing Groklaw (278 comments)

I really miss Groklaw's coverage and analysis of this whole thing.

about 7 months ago
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Measles Outbreak Tied To Texas Megachurch

martyros Re:Muhahaha (622 comments)

Where is your god now??

Giving people's choices dignity and meaning by allowing them (and others around them) to experience consequences for those choices.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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The effect of illegal downloads on authors

martyros martyros writes  |  more than 3 years ago

martyros (588782) writes "An Author's perspective on illegal downloads of their work, with actual numbers. From the article: "It’s going out of print in hardcover because demand for it has dwindled to 10 or so copies a month. This means I will never get a royalty check for this book. By all appearances, nobody wants it anymore. But those appearances are deceiving. According to one download site’s stats, people are downloading SHADOWED SUMMER at a rate of 800 copies a week. When the book first came out, it topped out at 3000+ downloads a week. If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list. ...And let me tell you guys the sales figures on SHADOWED SUMMER had a seriously detrimental effect on my career. It took me almost two years to sell another book. I very nearly had to change my name and start over.""
Link to Original Source
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Cocaine Vaccine in the Works

martyros martyros writes  |  more than 6 years ago

martyros (588782) writes "Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine are performing clinical trials of a cocaine vaccine which teaches the immune system to attack cocaine, preventing it from giving a high. The vaccine is made by attaching inactivated cocaine molecules to the outside of inactivated cholera protiens. When the immune system attacks the cholera protiens, it also "learns" the cocaine molecules as well. The result is that the immune system "recognizes the potent naked drug when it's ingested. The antibodies bind to the cocaine and prevent it from reaching the brain, where it normally would generate the highs that are so addictive.""
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martyros martyros writes  |  about 7 years ago

martyros (588782) writes "According to a recent study by a psychology study at the University of Michigan, a fleeting look of anger is actually a reward for people with high testosterone levels. In the study, they first measured testosterone levels of the participants, then had the participants perform a "learning task" in which complex key sequences were followed by either an angry face, a neutral face, or no face at all. Participants with high testosterone levels compared to the group learned the key sequence with the angry face faster than the other sequences, while participants with moderate or lower testosterone did not. The effect emerged even more strongly when the angry faces were presented subliminally (i.e., too fast for conscious identification). According to Michelle Wirth, lead author of the study, "Better learning of a task associated with anger faces indicates that the anger faces were rewarding, as in a rat that learns to press a lever in order to receive a tasty treat. In that sense, anger faces seemed to be rewarding for high-testosterone people, but aversive for low-testosterone people.""

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