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Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

radtea Re:Popcorn time! (360 comments)

My friend was at least smart and professional enough to refuse all such advances, not all are so.

Your own answer makes clear what anyone who isn't a sociopath knows: people in positions of power and respect--which includes professors and college instructors--have a professional obligation to refuse all such advances.

There are a whole bunch of reasons for this, but a big one is that even if you can't imagine it[*] people in such positions have a ridiculous amount of influence over some individuals, a degree that amounts to coercion.

[*] though why anyone would think what they can or cannot imagine is interesting or relevant to any question of what is real is unclear... however I've seen some commenters here announce their imaginary ideas as if they were somehow important to the question.

2 days ago

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

radtea Re:its nothing new really. (790 comments)

To make up for it, and make you feel like our technology is more advanced, we put plastic guards and bezels on top of the engine. It makes the engine look larger for someone who doesnt know what an engine looks like outside of a car or truck, and that sells.

To people who do know what an engine looks like, it looks like your engine is made out of mostly plastic. I've never been able to get used to this.

With regard to sounds, once upon a time engine noise used to be a diagnostic, and it kind of bugs me to see it over-ridden by artifice. But in reality, modern vehicles have so much onboard intelligence and are so much better made than cars of decades past that the lost diagnostic capability in the engine noise is almost irrelevant.

3 days ago

Canonical Launches Internet-of-Things Version of Ubuntu Core

radtea "Snappy Ubuntu Core" = SUC? (43 comments)

Might be great technology. Not a great acronym.

4 days ago

Astronomers Record Mystery Radio Signals From 5.5 Billion Light Years Away

radtea Re:WTF (121 comments)

As it (or at least the interesting bit) lasted "the span of a millisecond", those other radio-telescope operators must have acted pretty quick.

It is likely that other processes will be longer-lived. For example, if there are optical emissions associated with the event they likely involve hot matter, which will in most reasonable scenarios take much longer then milliseconds to cool down. Gamma rays from nuclear processes will likewise have lifetimes that can be into the seconds (from intermediate beta decays.)

There is a lot of mystery here. Collapsing neutron stars is on possibility, but getting the details right is going to be interesting. The billion light-year distance seems to come from dispersion measurements, which require that the initial pulse be much narrower than the observed pulse. Interstellar (and intergalactic) plasma slows down different radio wavelengths by slightly different amounts, so it will tend to spread out. By looking at the spread as a function of frequency it is possible to get an estimate of distance, but it depends on a lot of assumptions being correct.

There is still a chance, albeit small, that these are closer than currently believed.

Finally, it is worth noting that the first few detections of these things were all from the same radio telescope, and the scientific community did what we always do when something weird is seen only in one place: put on a side-bet that it was equipment malfunction, because the odds are always good on that.

about a week ago

Belgian Raid Kills 2, Said To Avert "Major Terrorist Attacks"

radtea Re:Prepare for more (257 comments)

They'll keep doing it till they're kept so busy at home that they don't have time for this foreign adventurism.

By "kept so busy at home" you mean "engaging in productive trade", right?

Because it certainly wouldn't make any sense to suggest that bombing them, for example, is "keeping them busy" in any materially useful sense, since we have overwhelming empirical data that bombing and any other form of military assault has the primary result of engendering resistance.

Furthermore, "at home" is Belgium for the people involved in this action, and "at home" was France for the blasphemophobes who murdered the blasphemers of Charlie Hebdo.

You are right that this is an asymmetric war, but you don't seem aware that that requires tactics very different from bombing or other military action in many cases. Limited military assaults can serve definite purposes, as the case of ISIS shows, but the real war won't be won on the battlefield any more than the war against the Soviets was won on the battlefield.

In fact, there not being a battlefield in any conventional sense was a requirement for winning against the Soviets. Even setting aside the problem of nuclear weapons, if we had met the Soviets on the battlefield we can say with near certainty that the population would have rallied 'round the commisars, and the Soviet Empire would have never fallen.

As such, our tactical response to Islamists should be primarily--but not exclusively--non-military. It should be economic, political, satirical, even poetical: http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

It took hundreds of years for Christians to let go of blasphemophobia. It may take as long for Muslims to let go of theirs. We should be in this for the long haul, and while we should be willing to kill and die now and then, if anyone suggests those should be the primary activities involved, they are simply expressing a profound ignorance of humans, and history, and warfare (both its costs and its effectiveness, which bellicose emotionalists often get wrong.)

about two weeks ago

Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

radtea Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (874 comments)

By way of example... Francis said jokingly, throwing a pretend punch his way.

So is it an example, or a joke?

If it's an example, what is it an example of?

If it's a joke, then it's in spectacularly poor taste.

"Ha ha some blasphemophobes have just murdered some blasphemers, let's talk about how funny it is to beat up people who insult your deeply held beliefs."

Blasphemophobia kills, and it's time we started calling it out and saying it is never appropriate to meet blasphemy with violence of any kind: http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

To say otherwise is to be one of those people who claim, "Michael Brown was a bad kid so really, we shouldn't be too hard on the cop who shot him down on the street, because hey, the cop thought that black kid was like an unstoppable demon. Wouldn't you shoot an unarmed man under those circumstances?"

Likewise, "Hey, you'd punch someone out who insulted your mother, wouldn't you? So can't you understand just a little bit how someone could be so angry you insulted their religious beliefs that they'd plan and execute the murder of twelve people who had never done any physical harm to anyone?"

Same lame excuses. Same lame apologetics.

about two weeks ago

Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack

radtea Re:So they are doing what? (509 comments)

So in order to protect the rights of others to freely express opinions they are going to silence people expressing the opinion that certain opinions should not be expressed.

Nope. In order to enforce consistency on assholes they are forcing the assholes to live with the logical consequences of their own world view.

That is: if you believe property is theft, people should be free to steal from you. If you believe free speech is subject to ideological approval, ideologues should be able to take it away from you.

You should treat people according to the views they espouse. This--like tit-for-tat in the prisoner's dilemma--is the only stable solution to the problem of morality.

There is, admittedly, an issue of what the appropriate level of abstraction is, but in general the rules of a) going one level of abstraction above the one at which people posit their moral theories and b) tending toward the level of abstraction that gives the victims of any moral theory the greatest influence will solve that problem. So it really isn't such a big issue after all.

Consequential libertarianism (which is what I call this theory) is the only stable moral theory. It ultimately leads to a relatively generous, live-and-let live, non-violent morality, if carried through consistently.

about two weeks ago

In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages

radtea Re:Bar fucking barians ... (490 comments)

The difference between Christian terrorists and Muslim terrorists is that the majority of Christians worldwide do not support imposing a system of Christian law on their society. Some do, certainly (these guys: http://www.allaboutworldview.o...) but nothing like the fraction of Muslims in most Muslim-majority nations: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/0...

In the US, proponents of Biblical Law are powerful (http://www.theocracywatch.org/biblical_law2.htm) but have relatively little influence in the face of American secularism. But if Christian terrorists in the US started killing gays, say, I would damned well expect proponents of Biblical Law to stand up and make clear that even though they are in favour of lawfully killing gays (as per Deuteronomy) that they are opposed to unlawfully killing gays.

In the same way, since a very large number of Muslims support Sharia law, and since Sharia law in at least some of its variants imposes a death penalty for blasphemy, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask supporters of Sharia law (that is, a sizable fraction of ordinary Muslims) to stand up and say, "By the way, even though we support laws that would put blasphemers to death, we don't support people who do it freelance like this, in part because they killed people who weren't blasphemers but just bystanders. If we just had Sharia law we could kill the blasphemers cleanly and with much less collateral damage, and we would totally support that, but not this messy ad hoc stuff."

about two weeks ago

In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages

radtea Re:Bar fucking barians ... (490 comments)

Violence and murder in response to insults and slights against Islam is widely and strongly supported by Muslims.

This is uncontroversially true (http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/) but worded as "support of Sharia law", which technically means that while they support violence they don't support "murder" because murder is unlawful killing, and under some variants of Sharia law it would be lawful to kill people for blasphemy (there are 17 people on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy right now.)

However, what you are saying is irrelevant to the point that many Muslim organizations do condemn these sorts of freelance, unlawful, killings of blasphemers. That they do this is not all that much comfort, unfortunately, because support for Sharia law is only incrementally less horrible, anti-Enlightenment and anti-democratic than support for murder.

about two weeks ago

How Close Are We To Engineering the Climate?

radtea Re:Good Luck (319 comments)

The only stable configurations that pop out of computer models of the climate are the snowball Earth and the Venus 2.0 scenario.

Since the climate has achieved neither of these equilibria in four billion years, despite massive changes to the solar constant (early quiet sun), atmospheric composition and land-coverage by plants, we can be sure on this basis that the models are wrong. Which is not surprising, because the models are unphysical: they contain small but significant approximations to the true physics that mean it would absolutely astonishing if long term integrations resulted in anything remotely resembling reality.

This is not to say that climate models are useless or "global warming is a hoax", but that we should be extremely cautious in their interpretation. There are excellent reasons to not dump gigatonnes of GHGs into the atmosphere without precise models, and its not as if some gang of left-wing idiots are trying to hijack our need to make relatively modest tweaks to global capitalism and "change everything" in some doomed revolutionary experiment of the kind that failed so frequently and bloodily in the 20th century, so there's really no reasonable impediment to taking modest steps toward a cleaner world, such as replacing some fraction of income tax with carbon taxes.

After all, who but a wealth-hating socialist would oppose reducing the tax on something basically good (income) in favour of a tax on something basically bad (GHG emissions)?

about two weeks ago

Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack

radtea Re:Sad (512 comments)

Along with that they should declare that every time a reporter working for one of their papers is killed in an attempt to silence them, they will again run Muhammads image on the front page of their papers. The responsibility for the image will be the attackers and they'll burn in hell for their idolatry. Want to stay out of hell? Stop murdering people.

"The satire will continue until the killing stops": http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

We should all be making as much fun of Islamists and their blessed prophet as we can. I like my caricature of Mohammed more than yours, though:


(complete with bomb in turban, like in the Jyllands-Posten cartoon: http://www.zombietime.com/moha...)

about two weeks ago

Publications Divided On Self-Censorship After Terrorist Attack

radtea Re:Best strategy? (512 comments)

Perhaps the best strategy in this case would be for all creative artists and writers to produce as much content as they can and Creative Commons license it, so the content can all be broadcast everywhere and we all agree to post and publish it in every medium on every forum possible.


My own contribution to the cause (CC NC Attribution Share-Alike), a satirical poem based on Lewis Carol's "The Walrus and the Carpenter": http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

The Peaceful Prophetâ(TM)s followers
were shooting infidels,
beheading them with axes
and flinging them down wells
proclaiming, âoeIâ(TM)m for Paradise!â
while making Earth a Hell.

Apologists snapped angrily
because they thought the war
against Enlightenment and law
was all of that and moreâ"
âoeHow rude of people to point out
religionâ(TM)s blood and gore!â ...and so on...

about two weeks ago

NASA's Robonaut 2 Can't Use Its Space Legs Upgrade

radtea Re:Trolling apk again's your mistake (58 comments)

I'm a deaf person in a hearing person's body and a myopic person's body. There are technological fixes for those things, and I apply them. I don't see why other people with different problems than mine shouldn't apply technological fixes to their issues.

But of course there are always going to be those who scream "FOUR EYES" and otherwise bully the kid with glasses, or hearing aids, or is otherwise using technology to help them be functional and happy in this crazy old world.

Unfortunately, we don't have a technological fix for bitterness and hatred just yet, and people who are full of hatred and bitterness would be unlikely to use it if we did, as they seem to like their bitterness and hatred, which is rather sad, really.

about three weeks ago

Entanglement Makes Quantum Particles Measurably Heavier, Says Quantum Theorist

radtea Re:Particle physics is easy ... (109 comments)

Either way, I should have it done by lunch time.

Or we could spend some time coming up with additional consequences that might allow indirect tests. For example, does this effect have any consequences for the spectrum of Hawking radiation (just to consider one area were entangled pairs and high gravitational fields are involved)?

How about the structure of the very early universe?

Or are there ridiculously subtle interferometric effects that might allow the detection of the phenomenon? Or other quantum effects?

Consider the Mossbauer Effect as an example of measuring stupidly small energy splittings so many orders of magnitude below any reasonable detector resolution that no doubt some smug bastard made fun of the people doing the hard work of calculating them "because no one will ever be able to measure that!"

about three weeks ago

Entanglement Makes Quantum Particles Measurably Heavier, Says Quantum Theorist

radtea Re:FTL communications? (109 comments)

So I think this means that either the no-communication theorem is wrong, or the change in mass of an entangled particle cannot be measured.

That's an interesting point, but on my reading of the paper (which was pretty cursory, admittedly) the extra mass term comes from the joint wavefunction, which means both particles would have to be measured. It looks like the pair has greater mass, not the individual particles.

This makes sense because insofar as they are entangled it doesn't even make sense to talk about the individual particles. Furthermore, if one were to measure either of the particles individually, that would break the entanglement and the extra mass term would fall to zero.

Thing of the highly idealized experiment of two sources on a balance beam, one that emits pairs of non-entangled particles, one that emits pairs of entangled particles. The theory says that the balance will tip toward the side of the entangled pairs, but it does not follow from this that measurements on any of the individual particles will reveal increased mass.

about three weeks ago

Why We're Not Going To See Sub-orbital Airliners

radtea Re:huh? (300 comments)

If it happens or not is not based on just if "because we can." It is going to happen or not based on the actual advantages of being faster, their value, and the final cost.

Exactly, and the thing that extrapolative SF authors are really, really bad at is predicting the future. Why anyone would even bother to consider Stoss's opinions on such matters is unclear.

He certainly has no particular track record of accuracy in predicting the future of aerospace technology. Has he written on the economics of hub/spoke vs alternative route configurations? Non-metalic fuselage technology? Hypersonic propulsion and the various approaches being investigated to reduce wave drag? How about his work on the medium-haul market in the late '90's? Did he invest in Bombardier in '95 and get out in 2000 for a 750% gain?

If you were to build the Concord today the design would be very different, and much more efficient. Expect a number of smaller, lighter, more efficient supersonic transports to be built in the next decade. Expect the same companies to be keeping an eye on hypersonic and sub-orbital research. NYC or LA to Beijing in a few hours would be worth money if the cost/time/safety equation can be balanced, and it's way too soon to say it can't.

My prediction is that before the end of the 21st century a sufficiently rich person will be able to book a regular flight from from NYC to Beijing or Delhi that takes less time than any regular flight from NYC to London or Paris, because hypersonic/suborbital will make economic sense in the former case but not the latter. Meanwhile, delays at airports because of security etc will mean it will be possible to get anywhere in the world in under 10 hours, and nowhere in under three hours.

about three weeks ago

2014: Hottest Year On Record

radtea Re: noooo (560 comments)

How can you expect people to agree on a solution when we can't agree on the problem ?

First we have to agree on what kind of problem we have.

To the post-modernist left climate change is, always has been and always will be a social and moral problem, and the only way to solve it is abstinence.

To post-modernist right (the anti-science, "words mean whatever I want them to" right) climate change is a political problem that needs to be solved by political manipulation (denialism).

To anyone who isn't an ideology-addled moron climate change is a technological problem that can be solved by the usual mix of minor tweaks to tax policy and technology policy that has fixed every major issue the developed world has faced in the past century. Carbon taxes (and concomitantly reduced income taxes, a move that only a wealth-hating socialist could oppose) will actually do most of the job to incentivise industry to move in the right direction, although direct government support for conventional nuclear and advanced nuclear research would help as well.

Since no one on the left or right is much interested in doing anything with climate change except whipping up outrage in their base, not much gets done, but slowly technologists and technocrats will push our focus towards actually solutions to the actual problem.

about three weeks ago

Vast Nazi Facility Uncovered In Austria; Purported A-Bomb Development Site

radtea Re: Hitler and the NAZIs were so stupid. (292 comments)

many countries are socialist.

False. Many countries are social democrat, but no country outside of a tiny number of failed states like Cuba are socialist.

Socialism, as an economic system, is defined by public ownership of the means of production and nothing else. German fascism was "socialist-like" by this definition because corporations were under government control and direction to an extent that was indistinguishable from ownership (the right of use and disposal).

It has become common in recent years to bandy about "socialism" to describe any social democratic system, but this is a debasement of the term and results in a profoundly confused debate, because social democracy is at best a very distant cousin to socialism. Social democracies have thriving private sectors that are heavily regulated but free to pursue business opportunities, capital expansion, etc, within fairly broad constraints.

In a socialist economy, there is no private sector, at least above the cottage-industry scale.

about three weeks ago

Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming

radtea Re:The Pope's doubling-down on irrelevance, I see (341 comments)

Climate change is a non-issue. The temperature has NOT risen since 1998.

You've gotta stop using 1998 as the benchmark year.

We are indeed in a hiatus with respect to the thermodynamically meaningless quantity "global average temperature": http://www.tjradcliffe.com/?p=...

Anyone who claims that the hiatus is a result of cherry picking is a liar or a fool, but like the trained monkeys they are if you use the year 1998 they will bark "cherry picking" just as surely as Pavlov's dog salivated at the bell.

Far better to say, "The temperature has not risen in the past decade or so... the precise point you start with doesn't really matter in the 2002-2004 range." This will probably still get you a "Cherry picking!" response because Warmists are stupid, but they have a better chance of looking stupid when they do so.

Now of course, you also have to admit that any given decade in the past century has reasonable odds of having a temperature profile as flat as the most recent one, so making any very strong inference from the perfectly real, non-cherry-picked hiatus is going to make you look stupid too, but that's what this debate is all about: which side can look the most stupid most of the time?

about three weeks ago



The Future of Publishing?

radtea radtea writes  |  more than 3 years ago

radtea (464814) writes "The "Machine of Death" anathology got its start from a Dinosaur Comics episode that speculated on what the world would be like if there was a machine that could tell people how they were going to die. This led to a call for authors to submit stories, a lengthy winnowing process, and an even more lengthy struggled to get the book published that illuminates many of the issues for writers today. The book is an anthology of unknowns inspired by a Web comic. The pitch to publishers was: the Internet can be an effective marketing tool for complete unknows. It worked for Jonathon Coulton. The question is: is this model reproducible? Will unknown authors in the future be able to bypass most of the traditional publishing industry and effectively market directly to readers, the way musicians are increasingly trying to reach listeners? We know it's a viable hobby, but is it a viable business? (Full disclosure: I am the author of the last story in the book, "Cassandra", but have no direct financial interest in the book's success. That said, you can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Machine-Death-collection-stories-people/dp/0982167121)"
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