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The Man Who Invented the 26th Dimension

niado Re:String theory is not science! (259 comments)

"String theory is untestable" is one of those easy to remember phrases that keeps you away from a great amount of interesting information:

1) "String theory" is actually a family of related theories that make different predictions, where they're advanced enough to do so 2) They're neither as a class, nor individually, a priori untestable 3) They're theories of high energy physics, so what predictions they do make will be difficult to test on currently existing hardware 4) The mathematical tools to make sense of the theories and make predictions are novel themselves

String theory is at a stage kind of like parachuting early-20th-century physics into the 15th century. It's not relevant at length scales where we can easily make observations, but we don't have the necessary cognative or physical tools to write it off either. Have we been handed relativity, or the aether? We can't say because we're not smart enough yet.

Now, as a matter of expediency I'd argue that any self-respective physicist should dedicate himself to advanced models that are a little closer to home and might act as stepping stones to string theory's energy scales, but since when has any self-respecting scientist been led away from a beautiful hypothesis by pragmatism? Much less a physicist?

If I could give out a "comment of the day" award, this one would win it.

about two weeks ago
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Poetry For Sysadmins: Shall I Compare Thee To a Lumbering Bear?

niado Re:Speaking as a sysadmin (31 comments)

Smaller organisations have not enough servers or users to justify separate staff, so it's not uncommon to see a sysadmin who also does support, or support staff who also admin the couple of servers the office needs.

I would say this situation is not just "not uncommon", but ubiquitous.

I would even say that most people whose job title is some derivative of "system administrator" do at least some end-user or desktop support as part of their day-to-day job duties.

about three weeks ago
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Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

niado Re: I am Woman! (590 comments)

I don't get it how they say that is not Thor as the character but at the same time say that it is Thor as if Thor was some title.

like, I could understand if the plot took Peter Parker down on some road and someone else started saying that he/she was Spiderman. but that marvel would take Peter Parker, say that the plot makes him do something and some woman just starts calling her Peter Parker and that she is now the Peter Parker of the marvel universe..

like, wtf. why not label it as it is apparently in the plot: some woman starts wielding the mjolnir and calling herself Thor.

This is not uncommon among comic book super heroes. There are numerous different persons who assume the identity of particular heroes (and villains). Significant examples include DC's Green Lantern, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Marvel's Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Patriot. Continuity is famously not a concern among comics outside of individual story arcs, so some of these divergent identities operate in the same fictional universes and some do not.

about a month ago
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French Blogger Fined For Negative Restaurant Review

niado Re:Do as they do in job references (424 comments)

Sounds to me like the best thing to do, then, might be to just hang up as soon as you discover they are calling in regards to a job reference. Or is that against the law too?

No. It is generally considered rude, however, and it unnecessary.

And this is not a "reference". This is your prospective employer calling to verify employment. If you provide an individual (even a former boss or owner of a company that you used to work for) as a reference, they can generally say whatever they want. Normally this is only done for those you trust to provide a positive reference.

Many employers will contact previous employers to "verify employment". As AK Marc mentioned, the information they are legally allowed to request and the previous employer is legally allowed to provide is limited. They can verify dates of employment, job title, supervisory status, and whether the individual is eligible for rehire. The last bit can be very significant, and is often the reason that employees give notice and otherwise attempt to leave a company smoothly. Of course, some commit misconduct by providing either positive or negative opinions on the employees job performance or other matters, especially because the people involved (HR personnel or business owners operating in the same locality) often know each other.

about a month ago
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Alleged 'Bigfoot' DNA Samples Sequenced, Turn Out To Be Horses, Dogs, and Bears

niado Re:Bigfoot doesn't exist (198 comments)

Seriously, we have never found any corpses from this beast and with the amount that man has spread out, I am 100% certain we would have found the beast by now.

At the risk of sounding like a tinfoil hat wearing lunatic, just a few years ago I remember seeing several scientists stating on camera that they believed that every large mammal on earth was already documented and known to science. Not long after that I read a news piece reporting the discovery of several previously unknown species of mammals including a species of deer that reportedly weighs in at 150lb. Another example is a species of whale native to the Southern Arctic that is only known from a few DNA samples obtained from whalers. The point being that even though it is fun to ridicule crypto zoologists, there are numerous examples even in this day and age of unknown species hiding right under our noses.

Here are some relevant lists for your perusal:

List of megafauna discovered in modern times
List of recently discovered mammals
List of cryptids

Not very many on the second list that I would consider "large" (scientific definition of "large" in the context of megafauna is somewhat ambiguous, though often bounded on the lower end at 100 pounds). Most of the creatures on these lists are very similar to already known and described species (the giant peccary, for example), and aren't very impressive discoveries from a lay viewpoint. Notice on the "list of cryptids" there is only one creature with "confirmed" status - the Okapi, discovered over a century ago.

about a month and a half ago
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Baton Bob Strikes Back Against Police That Coerced Facebook Post From Him

niado Re:lol mimes (203 comments)

I disagree. They are providing a performance and many people like it. if you don't like it, you don't have to pay. Only Obama makes you pay for things you don't want or need.

Yes, only Obama.

Thanks Obama! >:(

about a month and a half ago
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Scientists Successfully Grow Full Head of Hair On Bald Man

niado Re:AIDS (109 comments)

It's a universal anti-lymphocite agent which basically induces a state similar to AIDS, by killing off lymphocytes and leaving the door open for serious infections or diseases, so not exactly safe either.

Tofacitinib is a JAK inhibitor, which is not exactly an anti-lymphocite agent. These drugs function by interfering with the JAK-STAT_signaling_pathway, not by killing off lymphocytes.

These drugs definitely are are immunosuppressive. They are generally considered safe for most patients, though they certainly increase the risk of opportunistic infections (example: tuberculosis).

about a month ago
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Scientists Successfully Grow Full Head of Hair On Bald Man

niado Re:title should be... (109 comments)

Or "Yet again scientist stare another bucket of evidence that inflammation underlays many human ailments from cancer to heart disease to hair loss and treating the underlying inflammation for one thing is effective in more ways than they expected"

Interesting observation. JAK inhibitors and TNF inhibitors (including monoclonal antibodies), are commonly used to treat various forms of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis (in it's varying manifestations), psoriasis, IBS, ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's. These autoimmune diseases have a high rate of comorbidity and often respond to the same or similar treatments.

Alopecia was already thought to be an autoimmune disorder, so the observed results should not be very surprising. It seems to be only newsworthy since the treatment happened to be a total cure for a very rare disease.

about a month ago
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Steve Wozniak Endorses Lessig's Mayday Super PAC

niado Re:Funding options: (209 comments)

Spoken like a true Win^H^H^H Loser

I think the word you are looking for is "pragmatist".

about a month ago
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Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

niado Re: Most qualified and motivated candidates? (435 comments)

You are correct in aggregate - of course companies cannot hire people who don't exist - but I really struggle to believe that *Google* has 17% female application rates after controlling for education.

Why do you struggle to believe this?

The 17% figure reported is for tech workers only - their overall and non-tech numbers are much better, with 30% and 48% women respectively. You can see their released numbers here.

From this publication by the ASEE: "...females accounted for 18.4 percent of [engineering] bachelor’s degrees, up slightly from 18.1 percent in 2010. The percentage of master’s degrees awarded to women remained unchanged at 22.6 percent; while that of doctoral degrees decreased about 1 percent from 22.9 percent in 2010 to 21.8 percent in 2011. The proportion of engineering degrees awarded to females should remain stable over the next few years, since women represent 18.2 percent of all bachelor enrollees, 22.7 percent of master’s enrollees, and 21.6 percent of doctoral enrollees."

"The percentage of black students also decreased slightly at all levels, bringing the percent of [engineering] degrees awarded from around 4.5 percent to closer to 4 percent."

And regarding computer science, according to this infographic, 18% of computer science undergraduate degree recipients were female (14% at major research universities), and 19% of the highschool AP computer science test-takers were female. Also according to the infographic, percentage of female computer science undergraduates has dropped dramatically (by 79%!!) since 2000.

I definitely agree that the under-representation of women in the tech sector is a serious problem. However, this under-representation seems to be caused by a number of poorly understood socioeconomic and cultural factors, and the data doesn't indicate particular misogyny on Google's part.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Ask "The King of Kong" Billy Mitchell About Classic Video Games

niado A Lost Era (122 comments)

Every arcade that I have been inside in the last 10 years or so has been filled with terrible ticket-churning games. The commoditization of gaming hardware seems to have permanently killed off the classic arcade. Do you think this is an accurate observation, and do you see any way that the arcade-game scene could be rejuvenated?

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:The devil is in the details (932 comments)

I would be interested in what the voter/incumbent ratio is in those other democracies. I would be interested in their taxation model, and their services model. I would be interested if their leaders are directly elected or elector-elected. Obviously your two Senators cannot do everything that needs to get done, so are they going to appoint people to handle the local details?

Obviously it would be ideal to adjust details such as number of senators and etc. if there were no state governments. There are a lot of things that would need to be adjusted, but without the gigantic bureaucracy of 50 state governments a lot could be done.

We would end up with massive cronyism with 6 years to wait to get rid of them...if we could.

We already have massive cronyism in federal government, and this problem is significantly worse in many current state governments.

I think the local governments are incompetent and poor because the lions share of the tax money is going to the Federal government.

Interesting thought. The federal government will always get more tax money than the state governments. We have gone dramatically too far down that road to turn back. We are currently spending over 700 billion dollars each on military and social security. These two gigantic budget items are each a bit larger than the total tax revenue from all 50 states combined. These two items not going away anytime soon (admittedly, neither are state governments, so this entire discussion is basically moot).

We could afford and feel entitled to the best people in our local governments if they were the ones controlling the dispersment of tax revenues. Last I heard, the pentagon could not account for a trillion dollars. Thats a lot of schools, hospitals, roads, and jobs that were lost.

"Not able to account for" is not the same as "missing". But yes, I do not see any reason to argue whether the federal government is inefficient and/or spends too much money. This behavior seems to be a foundational requirement for all governments. My position is that state governments are more wasteful, and less functional than the federal government.

I do not feel inclined to give control of any more tax revenue to the state governments who have already proven to be inept and/or malicious in their handling of funds at a truly ludicrous level. I think the most logical conclusion, based on my observations of state governments, that if we transferred a significant portion of federal funds to state control, the currently pervasive financial misconduct would only increase by a factor of how much more money was available.

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:They have to live with the monster they unleash (932 comments)

state governments are because we're not all one people or one regions. for example, contiguous US vs alaska and hawaii. smaller entities can be more nimble and responsive than larger entities.

Yes because state governments, in reality, are so much more nimble and responsive...

But thank you for the informative bit about US geography.

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:Well, democracy kinda requires your vote (932 comments)

I cannot vote for the guys that run the House Committee on this or the Senate Leader on that unless they came from my State.

So if we centralize all the power in the Federal government, we are basically ceding all of our ability to vote for our interests.

What you suggest is insane.

Are you saying that democracy cannot work in a federalized government...? Many existing, successful countries with this system indicate that it is not the case.

I believe that propping up ineffective, incompetent, corrupt, valueless state governments just for the sake of having them is insane.

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:They have to live with the monster they unleash (932 comments)

removing state governments would be the WORST thing in the world to happen to america.

Hyperbole.

I dont want some paper pushers in washington telling me how to live my life. I want the people I live with and me agreeing on how to live our lives.

Why do you make the distinction between "paper pushers" in washing or in your own states capital? Perhaps you are under the illusion that they are more interested in your personal needs and desires - only naïveté will lead down that path. California contains 38 million people. How responsive do you think the California state government is and/or can be to the individual needs of their residents? I would prefer nobody tell me how to live my life, but that's not the way the world works.

When the US was founded, the population is estimated to have been 2.5 million people total. This is less than the current population of Chicago. We are now over 300 million. There is no longer any personal representation anywhere, except perhaps in small municipal or county government situations.

Thats what this country was founded on. Im sorry but if you REALLY feel this way, you are unamerican, and not unamerican in the way politicians use it but unamerican as in you dont believe in the ideals what what make america great

I do not believe in separatism, xenophobia, nepotism, bureaucracy or corruption. If you REALLY feel that these are the ideals that make America great, I'd prefer that you move somewhere else, and leave America to myself and others who love it.

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:They have to live with the monster they unleash (932 comments)

For one, do you NOT see whats going on with the NSA? I for one do not want the government spying on americans. it should not be done. If we didnt have state governemnts to fight the federal government on this issue, they would simply tell us too bad.

I assume that is a rhetorical question, so I will answer it with one of my own: what has yours, mine, or ANY state government done to "fight the federal government" on the NSA surveillance issue? The answer is absolutely nothing.

I understand why states were originally somewhat autonomous, and I certainly understand the ideals behind limiting centralized government, but I am not an idealist, I am a realist and a pragmatist. At this point in our civilization the idea of the states limiting the centralization of our government is a sham. The state governments provide, in most cases, very little value at astronomical cost.

Different people believe differently as such there SHOULD be a choice for americans on how they want to live. People who live in washington and never leave washington have no idea what people in the dakotas or texas or NY need or want. I dont want them deciding for me how to live

But you are okay with the politicians that make up your state legislature and executive branch deciding for you how to live? If you think the people who work in your state government have your best interest at heart, you are being rather shockingly naïve.

All Americans should have the same freedom to choose how they live their lives, regardless of which state they happen to live in. The dramatic variance in state law on a plethora of topics is burdensome to say the least, and in many cases abusive. Eradicating state governments would merely cause all of the philosophical groups who currently maintain a regional majority to live under laws that are decided (in theory, because democracy) by the national majority. This is how all philosophical (usually cultural) minority groups live right now.

about 2 months ago
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House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

niado Re:They have to live with the monster they unleash (932 comments)

federally yes that is what I want and what everyone should want. the federal government should not be doing anything but the bare minimum as intended. Leave the power in the hands of the states and local governments

State governments are largely redundant at this point. They are also largely inefficient, ineffective, and corrupt (yes, even in comparison to the federal government, cue the jokes). If it was feasible to do, I would strongly advocate complete removal of state governments.

What advantage does a fragmented government have over a centralized national government? It does not, in practice, seem to reduce corruption, efficiency, or tyranny. The primary thing that this structure effectively maintains is cultural homogeneity in particular areas, which, to me, is not a positive thing.

about 2 months ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

niado Re:How Would the Author Know? (255 comments)

Nope, not her fault, but the "idiot" on the team. She was probably the idiot a few times, but was unable to recognize her own odor.

It's like the poker adage - if you can't spot this fish at the table...

about 3 months ago
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Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy

niado Re:Wait a sec (772 comments)

In a way, it's just like Arthur - who also had a bunch of followers and who's legend was similarly embellished, although not quite to the same level.

So, yes, Jesus is quite mythical.

The existence of a historical Arthur is somewhat contentious. The existence of a historical Jesus is significantly less so, but otherwise the comparison is workable.

Neither person can be aptly characterized as "mythical", however, unless you determine (or believe) that they did not actually exist. Many of their attributed deeds and characteristics are likely mythical, but this is not grounds to categorize the person themselves as mythical.

about 3 months ago

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