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For-Profit, Illegal Movie Download Sites Threaten MPAA

mindbrane Re:Irony Of Ironies (387 comments)

No thank you Humpty, even if you're calling yourself by another name. You're still just dumping a big pile of shit and saying it's yours so it can't possibly stink, but it does to me. Better you just get over your self and blow it out your ass when you're the only one who has to put up with the stink.

more than 3 years ago
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For-Profit, Illegal Movie Download Sites Threaten MPAA

mindbrane Irony Of Ironies (387 comments)

'Sometimes these sites look better than the legitimate sites,' Huntsberry said. 'That's the irony.'

Irony is one of those slippery words that seems to have be given meaning by Humpty Dumpty. Merriam Webster provides the following:

1 : a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning --called also Socratic irony

2 a : the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b : a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c : an ironic expression or utterance

3 a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity b : incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play --called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

I'd rather just go to Humpty Dumpty in 'Alice Through The Looking Glass':

Humpty appears in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (1872), where he discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice.

"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't--till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master that's all."
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
"They've a temper, some of them--particularly verbs, they're the proudest--adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs--however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

more than 3 years ago
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Getty's Flickr Sales, Money Spinner Or Ripoff?

mindbrane Re:Looks like Flickr and Getty making out (98 comments)

I agree with your post but as an old school photographer I'm no longer sure what staying relevant entails. I came to define photography as the interplay of light and form, but when colour and content are factored in, composition gets overlayed with endless details and syntax. When I shot wildlife and wilderness scenery with a Pentax MX I used a landscape viewfinder and imagined crossed diagonals as a way to frame and compose shots, but when shooting wildlife using a 300 mm manual lens and pulling focus on an animal's eye to eyeball depth of field composition pretty much goes out the window. Now the classical ideas of composition probably aren't studied and the approach is basically a Rambo automatic fire mode which means many neophytes are likely to capture good shots that can be touched up by software. Good on them and I'm glad they have a means to pick up some pocket change in addition to having had the good luck to be in the right place at the right time.

I think pros still have to learn the basics and even go back to the ideas that came out of the Paris exposition that introduced Japanese ideas contained in the works of Hokusai and Hiroshige to artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh and can be seen in works like the Samurai Trilogy and Lady Snowblood. But like I pointed out above, I'm not sure how those classical ideas and works can be integrated with the DSLs and software available today. I'm glad to have started out with a K1000 shooting black and white asa 100 and having to learn the hard way.

just my loose change

more than 3 years ago
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Harry Reid Pushes Nevada As "Saudi Arabia of Geothermal Energy"

mindbrane Yellowstone Caldera? (369 comments)

I don't pretend to any knowledge on the subject, but wouldn't the Yellowstone Caldera be the picture perfect place for the development of geothermal energy?

more than 2 years ago
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A Battle of Wits On the Net's Effect On the Mind

mindbrane Stuffs (218 comments)

Intelligence, IIRC, comes from two Latin words, inter and legere(sp?), basically meaning to choose between. Knowledge, for my working purposes, is declarative as regards the naming of things and technical as regards how things work. Wit or invention is knowledge used in an innovative way that captivates, perhaps instructs and, even, furthers knowledge by inventing new, lasting understanding. Declarative knowledge as I see it today is still largely a hold over from the Heroic age. Religions, especially the Mediterranean death cults, are big on declarative knowledge, especially as regards the lengthy recitation of Gospel. Homer's work (Homer was most likely not an historical figure), 'The Odyssey' and the 'Iliad', are examples of declarative knowledge accompanied by intelligence that displays wit or invention. In my world there is Bach then there is music, and, for me, Bach's works are, for me, today the outstanding example of intelligence, knowledge and invention as practised in the last hay days of the Heroic age. Robert Grave's book 'The White Goddess', while historically inaccurate, is an interesting and worthwhile insight into intelligence, knowledge and wit as practised for status and profit in premodern Europe. Lengthy recitations with invention, or witty exploitation of what otherwise might have remained a mistake, are the intellectuals equivalent of feats of strength.

My question would be to what extent we in the modern world need to reinforce, with practice, lengthy recitations of declarative knowledge. It's not unlike considering the need to have physical strength in today's world. One could go further down that path and question whether technology will nullify or so enhance our physical attributes that the old ways will be irrelevant and lost to us. Knowledge, as a choosing, can't but be enhanced by the Internet.

Invention, wit, creativity, plasticity and debates as to nature versus nurture are a different kettle of fish. I don't think we've the knowledge to settle the debate. My own thoughts on the matter are unsupportable. An overview suggests that each of us needs to be plugged in. We're highly social creatures. Our success and failures, to a great degree, rely upon our highly social nature. I rely currently on a metaphor utilizing apoptosis (programmed cell death) to think about plasticity as displayed in invention. Cells carry out a programmed death when they don't receive communications from other cells to go on living. I use this as a metaphor to examine how each of us seek out communications that tell us to go on living. Although this is highly simplified, it's not unapparent in our day to day lives. Stretching the metaphor beyond tolerance permits a view of plasticity that runs somewhat parallel to the developmental programmes we call infancy, puberty and adolescence. In cultures where any one individual can't plug in they'll tend to innovate and invent. Puberty and adolescence are are periods of experimentation and innovation that when ended tend to leave one for the most part fixed as to type. There are, for the purposes of this post, conservative types and liberal types ,and, artistic types. Perhaps here genetic predisposition can be pointed to. Conservative and liberal types find a niche fairly easily, artistic types, high inventive, are often troubled and labeled with syndromes like bipolar and schizophrenic. While there are underlying physiological states for such diseases, and, genetic predispositions, such people tend to thrash about a great deal looking for ways to plug in even though they may be constitutionally incapable of doing so in their culture. Such people can be endless trouble to themselves and others and win Noble prizes too. People, like Bach, tend to exemplify a near Goldilock's solution to the problem of artistic natures, others, less so.

The above is a quick cheap shot at a complex, fascinating something or other.

more than 3 years ago
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Doctors Reverse With Drugs Autism-Linked Fragile X Syndrome In Mice

mindbrane Tea Parties In Rabbit Holes (63 comments)

I read the wiki article. Epistemology, thus neuroscience, is a main area of interest for me. I'm very reticent about jumping on the band wagon for stuff like this just because what we call mind and behaviour is very complex. The American biologist, Gregory Bateson wrote a couple of wonderful, thought provoking books, 'Steps to an Ecology of the Mind', and, 'Mind and Nature'. In 'Mind and Nature' Bateson referenced an idea made famous by A. Korzybski that Bateson put as, "The Map Is Not The Territory, And The Name Is Not The Thing Named". Science, to my mind, is, for the most part, a process of elegant, rigorous, robust mapping. That having been said, I can't see that we're anywhere near being able to celebrate having reliably mapped something like autism, the more so because behaviour is so much a socially derived and defined thing. Just to further my point, there is currently (sorry not enough time to track down the links) an area of research suggesting that during conception sperm and egg can wage chemical warfare. The sperm wages war to ensure a fertilized egg is given the most resources the female has available for the fetus, while the egg can wage chemical warfare to limit the amount of resources a fetus is given because the female may not see the offspring to be "worthy" of her full allocation of resources. The outcome can demonstrate aberrant states like schizophrenia.

This stuff is like anti-psychotic medicines that target the dopamine system in schizophrenics. It can show benefits but only with potentially, highly detrimental side effects, and is nowhere near representing a clear understanding of the disease.

not at all my bailiwick, but just thought I'd throw my two pennies in the pot

more than 3 years ago
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Tearing Apart a Hard-Sell Anti-Virus Ad

mindbrane Re:Takes one to know one. (192 comments)

This is a needless article that is preaching to the choir.

uhmmm, ya maybe, but me, i think of it as more of a contrapuntal invention inviting the choir to join in, but then, that's how i see most /. articles.

more than 3 years ago
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German Researchers Show Off a Gesture-Based Interface

mindbrane German Researchers? (69 comments)

German Researchers Show Off a Gesture-Based Interface

Shurley you jest sir, this could only have been invented by the Italians. OTOH this would be the equivalent of a mute button for the Brits.

more than 3 years ago
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Quantifying, and Dealing With, the Deepwater Spill

mindbrane Buy Cheap? (343 comments)

I've a long standing record as a strong environmentalist and I can't think of any legal remedy too harsh for BP. That aside, is anyone buying BP stock? Does anyone know if it's downside has been discounted enough to warrant buying the stock? The above may seem OT but it's not really because we're all gonna end up paying for this catastrophe. Since, President Obama's declarations aside, tax dollars, and, perhaps, cost at the pumps is going to pass the cost along to all of us, it might be a good idea to recouping some of that cost by buying BP stock. As a matter of course I'm all for a conservative investment strategy that relies on safer saving/investment instruments than stocks provide, but, if you've got your backside covered to handle contingencies for 18 months or so, and, you want to invest, then wouldn't investing in BP (given the stock has been adequately discounted (big given)) be a good hedge? It would, if nothing else, be a classic education in the basics of stock valuation.

just my loose change

more than 3 years ago
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Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline

mindbrane Go Figure (506 comments)

This is the kind of finding I've the greatest trouble with. 1st, I didn't RTFA (I'm a /.er now; I don't do that). Putting that aside my problems centre on the complex issues that are couched in a few words that are presumed to carry very specific findings in the broad meaning of those words. "alertness", really? Someone has a definition for the word alertness that carries a one to one correspondence with their findings in organic chemistry. What about caffeine as a drug and a genetic predisposition to an uncommon response to caffeine? What about cultural conditioning? What about the complexity of the endocrine system? How to you isolate all the factors impinging upon a broad term like alertness and map it onto a number of cups of coffee or tea? There should be science tabloids, like those pop star, supermarket lineup tabloids, that pander to findings just as these.

The public is asked not only to have the rudimentary knowledge base to understand the article but to be able to critique findings that speak to terms like alertness.

more than 3 years ago
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Earthlink Announces It Must Honor Comcast Cap

mindbrane Bait And Switch (306 comments)

I live in a metropolitan area with one cable provider and a dsl provider. A few years ago, short on cash, I discovered I could sign up for a six month special with the cable provider (1/2 price), then at the end of 6 months opt out before the full price kicked in. The telco offered a similar 1/2 price, 6 month deal with an opt out at the end of the 6 month period. The good part was both providers allowed me to sign up for another 1/2 price deal after I'd been off their service for 6 months. I played one off the other for about 18 months. It's a bit off topic in terms of bandwidth but if you're getting screwed by the big guys (and you are) you might see if you can play one provider off another in a similar fashion. just thought it might help anyone penny pinching.

more than 3 years ago
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Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Benchmarked and Reviewed

mindbrane Re:Upgrading in place from the previous LTS? (164 comments)

Last Saturday I was really bored and got around to updating my acer Aspire One N270, netbook running 9.10. I was watching the upgrades when I noticed the Ubuntu 10.04 install button, so, bored, I did what my dad would do and clicked on it. It took 5 hours to complete and so far I've had only the one painful issue. Mauve, really mauvy purple with white shinny highlights. What's next? brightly coloured ponies and unicorns? I run a lot of stuff on my little netbook and so far so good. Maybe Ubuntu has become the, for now, ultimate net OS. just say'n.

Although it wasn't an 8.04 LTS to 10.04 LTS upgrade it went well and runs well. Long may it run.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Online Privacy Is Broken

mindbrane You inc. (220 comments)

This dance has been in full swing for a while now and seems not to be going anywhere but round and round, which is OK as far as dancing goes. There are informed people who have made informed posts from various countries but I keep coming back to two main points. One: if social sites, or, any person or company is profiting from your personal information then that information has value. If your personal information has value and you contract for it's use then it's up to you to limit the use the other contracting party can make of your personal information and the consideration you should receive for giving up your personal information. Capacity (old enough to contract), Consideration (value received) and Agency (legal right to contract for the goods and services) are fundamental. Basic contract law, like basic statistics, is fundamental to negotiating one's way in a modern world. It must be part of any grade school curriculum. Evidently most people are as woefully ignorant of the basics of contract law as they are of statistics and aren't able to competently navigate a modern market place. One option might be for everyone to incorporate and seed their Me corp. with their private information as an asset. I recognize this is in some ways an outlandish proposition but OTOH it may be a good way to instruct individuals from the age of majority in how to conduct their affairs in a market place where contracts have an air of sanctity and much legal weight. Secondly, (just as an aside I don't have a face book account, no myspace, no youtube) the whole social networking scene reminds me of ancient news reels from the 20s and 30s when people sat atop flagpoles and swallowed live goldfish just to get their mugs front and centre on a newsreel and make a splash in the shallow end of the new medium. Don't dismiss the possibility that all they big market cap social networking sites will just die off like personal web sites from the late 90s. As people realize they're being ripped off and as people become versed in technology the reliance on big social sites might fade as fast as they appeared and the content they hosted will be, for the most part, lost and forgotten.

more than 3 years ago
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Nero Files Antitrust Complaint Against MPEG-LA

mindbrane Re:I didn't know Nero AG had time for this (247 comments)

There are other completely free products that have matched Nero's (former) minimalist approach.

I don't disagree and would add in CDex as another example, but Nero is one of the few for profit companies that seem to have made an effort to put out a good product at a fair price. There's always been a few companies whose PC products are reasonably priced and worth the cost. Norton Utilities was perhaps the most shining example. I almost always get a free light version of Nero software when I buy a high end optical drive or a TV card/ripper. I'll pick up their latest full suite when it pops up on my radar screen at half price because the lite version still measures up well against the free stuff. One of the biggest problems vendors like Nero face is that MS knows it has to keep adding brain candy apps for the point and click crowd and MS will drive niche vendors out of business to keep their OS/Office products afloat. It's just a temporary bother because an OS in 10 years time will come with a full suite of audio video scrapbook apps for mom and pop and the kids to play with.

just my loose change

more than 3 years ago
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BP Prepares Complex "Top Kill" Bid To Plug Well

mindbrane Re:And how would you do that? (365 comments)

I've little to no idea of the procedures and parts you wrote of but I think it speaks eloquently to the Scientific American article that points out BP is the only entity with what is seen as viable technology and the know how to implement it. Any forced change over from BP to U.S. government control of the spill catastrophe might interfere with technical management and solution deployment. I would like to see BP made to comply with total transparency and openness as regards all information requirements necessary to fully understand the entire incident.

more than 3 years ago
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Scientific R&D At Home?

mindbrane Re:Arrest! (398 comments)

Have you developed your own commonsense protocols for working in your home lab environment or do you follow established protocols from professional labs. I live in a high density metropolitan area and don't own anything other than a bbq that could create unpleasant externalities for my neighbours, and, I find working in a necessarily protocol heavy lab environment tiring YMMV. I prefer to maybe murder cats in gedenken gas chambers.

more than 3 years ago
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Researchers Restore Youthful Memory In Aging Mice

mindbrane Lie A Lot (145 comments)

Lying a lot helps a lot. Try, say, cheating on your S.O. with a disastrous divorce as a consequence and just keep track of all the particulars of the lies you tell. It's as much or more conditioning and impetus as it is genes.

more than 3 years ago
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Cannibal Galaxy the Biggest In the Near Universe

mindbrane Expanding? Runaway? Collapsing? (118 comments)

Much like the initial debate over the existence of black holes there seems to be lots of wiggle room when it comes to declaring whether the Universe is in a runaway state, whether it's just expanding, or, whether it will collapse. This Standford Uni link gives a quick overview and suggests in ~15bn years it'll collapse to the size of a proton. The Yale Astrophysics Course, IIRC, is strongly steeped in black hole theory and so speaks to the same issues.

more than 2 years ago
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How Do You Handle Your Keys?

mindbrane I'm in the same leeky boat (763 comments)

Keys, plus a Swiss army knife and a couple of key cards. Invariably they eat a hole in a pants pocket. I tried wearing a photographers vest with rugged Velcro, lock down pockets but found it overly warm and bulky. I tried wearing the clutter around my neck, but again it was awkward, especially as a just so length to the necklace was never amenable to a Goldilocks' Solution. It even prompted me to look into the market for a type of light weight yoke with removable features like pockets and clips (ammo and otherwise :)). If you factor in all the wifi gear it's begs for a geeky, money making solution. I really think a pliable, extensible yoke with an extended capability for addons would be a good solution.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Mr. M.S. Fixit

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "The Beeb has a sidebar about 'Microsoft debuts 'fix it' program'. Originally available for Windows 7, a beta of the program is now available for Vista and XP users. "The package also tries to anticipate how security updates will affect a PC before they are installed." The software calls home to update known issues and checks the host machine to see if a fix is available. There also seems to be something like a bad boy HCL and software list with references to known issues. If you're already running Microsoft Security Essentials the fix it program may be welcome."
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NSA Official Faces Prison

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  about 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Wired is running an article about an NSA official facing prison for leaking top secret information to a Newspaper reporter. The article goes into some depth and so gives a quick tech footprint the NSA official left.

"Thomas Andrews Drake, 52, was a high-ranking NSA employee with access to signals intelligence documents when he repeatedly leaked classified information to the unnamed reporter, who ran stories based on the leaks between February 2006 and November 2007, the indictment alleges."

""The damage to our national security caused by leaks won't stop until we see a couple of perpetrators in orange jump suits", said Senator Kit Bond (R — Missouri), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a press release praising the indictment."
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Biologist E.O. Wilson Pens Fiction Science: FiSci

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  about 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Wired is running a short interview with noted naturalist and biologist E.O. Wilson as he speaks to the publication of his first novel.

"Anthill tells the parallel stories of Raff Cody, a southern lawyer trying to preserve the wilderness of his youth, and the epic territorial wars among the ants that inhabit that land. Wilson has argued that our behavior is governed by genetics and evolutionary imperatives. In Anthill, he turns that conviction into a narrative technique, writing about human nature with the same detachment he uses when explaining how worker ants lick the secretions of their larvae for nourishment. But Wilson’s novel is also an emotional plea to safeguard wild landscapes. Wilson talked to Wired about ants, evolution, and the creative aspects of the scientific process."

I'm especially interested in Wilson's effort because I think, rather than SciFi, we're looking at a new genre, FiSci. Fiction Science comes into play when science gives us enough of a framework to allow the warp and woof of a tapestry that tells a story. SciFi spoke to us from fiction peppered with science but FiSci speaks from science peppered with fiction. A short quote from the interview speaks to the difference. "In Anthill, you describe human interactions with the same scientific terminology that you use to describe the ants. For example, you have Raff size up a future girlfriend by analyzing bone structure and hip-to-waist ratio."

E.O. Wilson sums up his effort by stating, "We constantly hear about the creative arts being linked to the scientific imagination. But we haven’t been very successful in making that link. Anthill is my attempt in that direction.""
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Possible New Homonid Species Remains Discovered

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  about 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "The BBC is reporting on fossil finds "...uncovered in cave deposits near Malapa in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site near Johannesburg." The fossils of a mature female and juvenile male have "...small teeth, projecting nose, very advanced pelvis, and long legs..." suggesting more modern forms. "And yet its very long arms and small brain case might echo the much older Australopithecine group to which Professor Berger and colleagues have assigned it."

Aside from the debate as to classification the find is note worth in that it's discovery came about "...thanks to the "virtual globe" software Google Earth, which allowed the group to map and visualise the most promising fossil grounds in the World Heritage Site." Further the find in a cave bears the hallmarks of chance that often plays so large a part in fossilisation. "Their bones were laid down with the remains of other dead animals, including a sabre-toothed cat, antelope, mice and rabbits. The fact that none of the bodies appear to have been scavenged indicates that all died suddenly and were entombed rapidly.

"We think that there must have been some sort of calamity taking place at the time that caused all of these fossils to come down together into the cave where they got trapped and ultimately buried,"""
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The Short Arm Of The Law

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  about 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "CNN takes a look at when companies are too big to for the legal system to handle.

" Imagine being charged with a crime, but an imaginary friend takes the rap for you. That is essentially what happened when Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, was caught illegally marketing Bextra, a painkiller that was taken off the market in 2005 because of safety concerns."

The article takes a hard look at what happens when a mega company breaks the law, when sales people are let off their leash and when breaking the law is just one more cost of doing business for large corporations. IBM may have cast the mold for this sort of thing in it's 1970's antitrust case but the recurrence of similar cases speaks to ongoing concerns for legal systems."
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Oldest footprints on Earth

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "CNN has an piece that ups the ante in bets per millions of years ago that the first tetrapods walked the earth. The discovery of the footprints in a former quarry in the Holy Cross Mountains in south-eastern Poland are thought to be 395-million years old — 18 million years older than the earliest tetrapod (a vertebrate with limbs rather than fins) body fossils." The footprints about 26 centimeters wide suggest an animal around 2.5 meters in length. The find pushes back the presumed date tetrapods walked the earth by 18 million years. It also shows evidence of a gait more like that of a salamander with front and back legs and no evidence of a dragging body. Unfortunately no fossils have been found to date but the fossilized footprints provides a powerful impetus to substantiate the findings and implications with fossils."
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Plagiarize Or Perish

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "The BBC has a sidebar on ghost-written academic papers in mainland China.

"More than $100m (£63m) changes hands in China every year for ghost-written academic papers, according to research by a Chinese university." The extent of the problem seems to be growing and has the well known publish or perish impetus. "The market in buying and selling scientific papers has grown five-fold in the past three years. Critics say part of the problem lies in the official requirement on academic publication for degrees and job promotions." If, as the article points out, "...the root cause lies in the erosion of an academic code of conduct."; then the mainland Chinese are going to have to look to themselves as a people when ".. debating why no scholars from mainland China have won the Nobel Prize...""
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U.S. National Debt For Nerds

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "CNN has a nerdy little bit on those who calculate the US national debt and the seemingly arcane software they use to get the job done. CNN tracks their nerdy quarry to inauspicious offices in Parkersburg, West Virginia. There "Jaime Saling watches over roughly 6,500 pieces of data and trillions of dollars each day." The article goes on to make an interesting observation of the make up of the debt and how it articulates. "Saling put forth. "In that $12 trillion you have both debt held by the public and intragovernmental holdings. In other words, the debt held by those outside the government and debt the government owes to itself, such as money borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund. At the end of November, $7.7 trillion was debt held by the public and $4.4 trillion was intragovernmental holdings.Saling sees a heartbeat in the numbers. "It's actually helping us operate government.""

The software used to get the job done is described as PARS, "Even so, the program looks like it's from another time, with a black screen and neon-colored letters that recall computer monitors of the "War Games" era. "It is outdated," Saling says of the font. But she insists the program itself still operates well." ..."PARS is a custom program, designed in the early '90s to check and double-check the constant buying and selling of U.S. debt. Thanks in part to the debt software, what used to take 100 people a month to compute now is done by 15 people in a day." But there's the rub, I can't seem to come up with much of anything on this venerable piece of code. I Googled it, I Binged it, I Creative Commonsed it, I even Yahoo!ed it. Not much came up. The most interesting document, PARS Privacy Impact Assessment (pdf) didn't clarify the ownership nature of the software. A terse quote gives some hint of what is expected from the software.

" PARS is a fully integrated, automated accounting system that is capable of receiving data from a variety of sources and responds easily to governmental accounting changes. On a daily basis, summarized data is received from multiple Federal Reserve banks via on-line terminal and ConnectDirect transactions, as well as from internal Public Debt entities acting as fiscal agents for Public Debt.""

/. is rife with comments on neolithic software that just keeps chugg'n along as long as you keep plug'n in data. Are there beneficial commonalities amenable to a wide consensus and open to porting and extension, or, are such programs just sweet spots kept up and running by a limited number of knowledgeable users and an expert maintenance staff?"
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Large Hadron Collider Scientist Arrested

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "A scientist working as a subcontractor on a peripheral LHC project has been arrested as a terrorist. The CBC is running a story outlining the arrest of a man on Thursday in south-east France for suspected al-Qaeda links. "CERN officials said the man, whose name has not been revealed, was working under contract with an outside institute and said he had no contact with anything that could have been used for terrorism. He had been at CERN since 2003, officials said."

"The news that someone with terrorist connections might have worked at the facility is likely to cause concern because of both the high profile of the giant physics experiment and also the technology in use, which has made some members of the public nervous."

"Before it started in September 2008, the particle collider drew protests from Europeans worried it would trigger a disaster, with some scenarios suggesting the accelerator would create a black hole that would swallow the Earth. Physicists and CERN officials dismissed the concerns, with the LHC project leader saying in 2008, "Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on.""

Other than sabotage of the LHC and the creation of a world destroying black hole, the arrest begs the question what possible collateral damage could a terrorist achieve?"
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Learning and Problem Solving Skills

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane writes "Learning and problem solving skills reflect the adage, "Give someone a fish and they'll eat for a day, teach them to fish and they'll eat for the rest of their lives". Learning skills and problem solving tactics can be seen as complementary, and, perhaps in some cases, identical. Today every edge is needed when facing the onslaught of information, hypotheses and theories embedded in even a high school education or something as mundane as the nightly news. Such skills and techniques suggest abstractions applicable across disciplines. Such abstractions, even as collected lore, might serve working professionals as well as students. We're creatures of context, habit and attention both given and received. What was alien a century ago is now commonplace and a myriad of everyday markers help us construct monologues and dialogues incorporating difficult and abstruse ideas and ideologies. Framing questions about learning and problem solving skills can be kept as simple as, "whaddaya know 'bout this stuff?", or, overloaded with background and links. The cognitive work load and amount of material students face today are almost better complemented by extensive background coverage and mention of the current ideologies that impinge on learning theory and problem solving because the myriad background and ideologies reflect the torrents of information and knowledge they must inspect and assimilate but I thought students, and even hardened professionals, might benefit from the questions being posted for discussion.

The American anthropologist, Gregory Bateson developed a concept he called deutro-learning and wrote of in neoplatonist terms such as "the pattern that connects". He suggested deutro-learning is something like binocular vision wherein new information, depth, emerges from the overlaying of separate information sets. He went on to suggest one could learn to learn, and, even learn to learn to learn, (whatever that means). My own take on his ideas is exemplified by the accelerated, learning abilities children of immigrants sometimes display. I presume such accelerated learning stems from having two cultural paradigms to overlay on one another and thus generate novel perspectives and solutions. By way of a personal example, my favoured learning skill is to attack a new discipline from as many different avenues, media and venues as necessary to shed light on the subject matter. Many students seem to take the approach that if the designated textbook is profoundly alien to them then they must be at fault. I find the prejudices of teachers and textbook writers to be strong enough to warrant searching out alternative presentations if I don't immediately find the course textbook tractable. When tackling problems I tend to go with a micro/macro approach wherein I test my ability to see all the necessary particulars while being able to relate the particulars to the overarching theories. If I can imaginatively, readily move from micro to macro and back and forth, then I feel I know the particulars and the theory well enough to do work.

After all is said in done it comes down to a few simple questions, the answers to which may help a new generation of students come to grips with education and work requirements. What are your most heavily relied upon learning skills? What are your most heavily relied upon problem solving techniques? Does it just come down to common sense and logging the hours manipulating the material? Can the tricks of your trade be abstracted to help others? Lastly,as this is Slashdot, are they're algorithms, protocols, software, and hardware that you've found to be indispensable to learning and problem solving? Are you a pencil and paper theoretician? Do you go nowhere without a scientific calculator? Has a smart phone or a netbook replaced your calculator wristwatch?"
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Hanging Gardens of New Babylon

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Wired's running a short piece on making a greener world one high rise at a time. As a boy Patrick Blanc would hang plants from his bedroom wall and run their roots into a fish tank. "Blanc uses a kind of techno-trellis as the underlying structure: A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies"

Blanc recently completed a facade for the Athenaeum hotel in London. The idea of economies of scale could suggest the underutilized surface areas of our buildings would make for a more eco friendly and inviting urban life style."
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UK ISPs Angry With Proposed New File Sharing Laws

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Once in a while a sidebar will throw a lot of light on a difficult problem. The BBC has a short piece on British ISPs anger over proposed new laws governing file sharing in the UK. Proposed new laws would include cutting repeat offenders off from the Internet. Response suggests such tactics would fail. "UK ISP Talk Talk said the recommendations were likely to "breach fundamental rights" and would not work. ...Virgin said that "persuasion not coercion" was key in the fight to crack down on the estimated six million file-sharers in the UK. ...TalkTalk's director of regulation Andrew Heaney told the BBC News the ISP was as keen as anyone to clamp down on illegal file-sharers. ..."This is best done by making sure there are legal alternatives and educating people, writing letters to alleged file-sharers and, if necessary, taking them to court."" Another interesting bit suggested "internet service providers (ISPs) are obliged to take action against repeat infringers and suggests that the cost of tracking down persistent pirates be shared 50:50 between ISPs and rights holders.", and, seconded by right holders... "The proposal has been welcomed by the BPI, which represents the recorded music industry in Britain." I fear an unholy alliance is in the making."
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Brainier Birds Get Chicks

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Scientists have found male birds with greater problem solving abilities are more attractive mates. "Scientists studied satin bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) living in the forest just south of Brisbane in Australia. Bowerbirds are famous for their complex courtship behaviour and construction of elaborate bowers..."Females may have evolved to choose males who are cognitively superior and so observe behaviours of males during courtship that indicate how 'intelligent' a male is."" This of course begs the question why Slashdot posters who, not infrequently, strive to demonstrate their intellectual prowess seem to also chronically complain about not being able to get laid."
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Selfish Genes

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Given a choice would you:

1. Remain an eternal virgin surfing porn out of your mom's basement?

2. Do it the old fashioned way and end up married with children?

3. Clone yourself and raise your clone to be a better you?

4. Raise your clone for spare body parts?

5. Other?"
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Self Assembling DNA Nano Machines

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane (1548037) writes "Wired is running a piece on 'Self-Assembling DNA Makes Super 3-D Nano Machines'. From the article it suggests DNA is maximized for such purposes because, ..."Nature just positions all these different functional elements exactly right in three-dimensional space in order to create this bacterial photosynthesis machine," she said. "And no self-assembling system can rival what DNA can do in terms of positioning."

"DNA structures are the 'smart' materials which we use to assemble 'dumb' materials, but these dumb materials can have other interesting properties," said Duke University chemist/computer scientist Thom LaBean, who is currently working on tiny DNA-templated wires and single-electron transistors that could convert DNA scaffolds into nanoscale circuitboards."

"I think the general idea of being able to control the fine structure of matter... could potentially affect a lot of areas of technological interest," Shih said. "We need some more killer applications, and then we'll punch through the threshold, and there will be more general appreciation for this field.""
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Artificial Brain

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mindbrane writes "The BBC is running a story on the proposed creation of an artificial brain. 'Artificial brain '10 years away'' is a proposition by Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project. The article states his team "has already built elements of a rat brain." and, " has focused on the neocortical column — repetitive units of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex." The neocortical column likely refers to a repetitive structure found in the neocortex that seems to have been pressed into service by evolution for many functions. The article goes onto suggest, "For example, they can show the brain a picture — say, of a flower — and follow the electrical activity in the machine."You excite the system and it actually creates its own representation," he said. Ultimately, the aim would be to extract that representation and project it so that researchers could see directly how a brain perceives the world.""

Journals

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The Price Of Intelligence

mindbrane mindbrane writes  |  more than 4 years ago

We are the Universe on a course of self discovery. Some years ago I wrote the preceding sentence in one of my notebooks. I don't remember having come across it elsewhere and believe it's one of my twisted creations. The idea behind the sentence is twofold. First, as intelligent beings, how does our existence define the Universe, using the implications of our existence as an initial entry point to arriving at a definition of the Universe. What is information? What is knowledge? How are either dependent upon co-evolution and communication? Is science the Universe on a course of self discovery? If it can be said, we are the Universe on a course of self discovery, then, is the statement trivial? Secondly what price should we willingly pay to ensure the process that is science continues? What price is too high to pay for intelligence? Is there any price too high, short of the extinction of the species? If there is no price too high to pay for knowledge and science then can we push forward putting technological advance ahead of ecological and larger social concerns? These questions will be the focus of this Journal entry. The reason I'm making these entries is it allows me to take a break from work. :)

Science, as I understand it, suggests the statement, "We are the Universe on a course of self discovery", is trivial; but, for social animals such as ourselves, the implications of the statement being shown to be trivial are important. For my purposes I define science as a process of predictive modeling premised upon falsification. Karl Popper developed the idea of falsification as an underlying method enabling modern science, and, he also suggested modern man can be characterized as being able to let his hypotheses die in his stead. There are other important characteristics of science such as theories being non trivial, elegant, rigorous and robust, but my needs are limited to how science as an expression of intelligence can be said to warrant a value that might heavily conflict with other modern, necessary values.

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