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Dealing With 'Advertising Pollution'

readin No ads is wonderful! (394 comments)

I lived in Taiwan for year. I loved not understanding the advertisements! It was so relaxing to stroll down a street without being assaulted by a million words struggling to get my attention.

about two weeks ago
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Dealing With 'Advertising Pollution'

readin Re:Good point (394 comments)

I sat down to watch Paddington Bear with my 19 month old son.

The advert that I couldn't skip was for a horror movie.

Thanks, youtube. That was *fantastic*.

It's not just Youtube. My wife took our elemtary age kids to see a Transformers movie. The pre-movie trailer was for Hostel.

about two weeks ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

readin Re:Local testing works? (778 comments)

Damn right. People can either choose to be poor and work at Wal-Mart and mooch food stamps from the rest of us, or they can simply decide to move to New York and become hedge fund managers. Libertardian: n. 1. An anarchist who wants to do away with government, but expects police protection from his slaves, judicial enforcement of contract law, and the free and unfettered use of a modern and magically maintained infrastructure. 2. Someone blithely unaware of the consequences and logical inconsistencies of the nonsense they're babbling.

Assuming you misspelled "Libertarian", a libertarian would be extremely opposed to slavery. A strict libertarian would expect infrastructure to be paid for by user fees. You're right though that police protection from slavers and other criminals, enforcement of contract law, and free and unfettered access to modern technologcy would be something a libertarian would expect.

Disclaimer: I used to be very libertarian. I'm not anymore because a healthy libertarian society requires people to be intelligent and rational, and long experience has taught me that in general we are neither.

about two weeks ago
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The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI

readin Well... (285 comments)

A guy told me some 20 years ago that he read about an artificial life experiment in which a specially designed operating system was created to allow programs to execute code and, like computer viruses, reproduce themselves while competing for the resources to do so. He said the result was a program that copied itself very efficiently in a manner that the researchers found very hard to understand and was totally unexpected.

Sadly he couldn't explain the details and didn't know the experiment, but if what is says is true, did it pass the Lovelace test? It certainly seems like something that could have occurred given the capabilities of computers at the time.

about three weeks ago
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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls

readin Re:stupid comparison (501 comments)

It would have made more sense to complement the 1000 foot measurement with a measurement in yards. But any physicist crazy enough to propose a huge wall around the American midwest is most likely crazy enough to use metric.

about a month ago
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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls

readin Re:better idea (501 comments)

To keep the guns out of Mexico, eh? Not such a bad idea ...

Yep. Amazing isn't it. The same wall that would keep undocumented people from entering the country would also help keep guns from getting to the drug lords in Mexico, and would also greatly reduce the amount of illegal drugs entering the country, and would prevent many other kinds of contraband from flowing across the border, and would also reduce human trafficking. And it would allow us to amnesty the illegal immigrants already here without fear of encouraging larger waves of future illegal immigrants (like the Reagan amnesty and the illegal Obama Dream Act did).

And if Democrats are to be believed about the usefulness of borrowing and spending, building a secure border would stimulate the economy as well.

However this wonderful border wouldn't help rich people keep wages low so corrupt members of both parties don't want it. And a secure border won't help Democrats tilt demographics in their favor so even the less corrupt Democrats don't want it. Not to mention that if the border were secured and our immigration problems largely solved the Democrats would have one less excuse for falsely accusing their opponents of racism. So we're not getting a secure border anytime soon, if ever.

about a month ago
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An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

readin Re: I started with a Humanities Degree (264 comments)

No. I learned in 4th grade about different thinking styles. I can spell very well when I see things written down or when I'm writing. But listening or speaking is not something I do well. My wife is foreign and used to get very irritated at me when she would ask me what a word meant when she was reading, and I couldn't tell her when she spelled it out loud. It took her a while to learn that she either had to spell it very slowly or let me look at it.

Getting back to the 4th grade spelling test: when the teacher asked me a word and I had to spell it out loud, I suddenly discovered that I couldn't speak and spell at the same time. Translating what I would imagine on the written page into a spoken letter while keeping track of where I was in the word turned out to be extremely difficult for me.

I've improved over the years, but it didn't come naturally.

about 3 months ago
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An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

readin Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (264 comments)

I've never understood why math/science/programming geeks are stereotypically bad at spelling (or language in general). It should be about the same kind of attention to detail in both cases.

Personally I'm excellent at spelling but it often doesn't come through in my writing because I'm in a hurry, I hate writing, and I'm such a critic of writing that I can't stand to go back and read my own stuff. Reading my own writing usually makes me cringe. This means I don't double check my writing. I'll notice someone use used "it's" instead of "its", but since I never read my own stuff I never correct my own stuff.

about 3 months ago
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An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

readin Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (264 comments)

Then earned my IT degree later in life. Hard to eat on a Humanities degree salary.

Still, I can communicate and write better than 90% of my peers, and that gives me a major advantage over them.

Being able to communicate between people is as important as being able to enable communication between two machines.

You make an important distinction. Humanities classes can be good, but a humanities major isn't much use. In the balance of things, we just don't need that many people to study art history, and while knowing some art history is useful it's not as useful as knowing some chemistry, physics or math.

For STEM we've developed a lot of techniques that allow us to g deeper, check our work against reality, provide objective results and in doing so build on previous work. We can put a lot of people to work exploiting these gains to make real progress. With humanities (and it does vary by subject of course) there is too much wheel-spinning and news spinning with people arguing over the meaning of things without being able to prove whose theory looks most right and should serve as the basis for further work..

As for the writing, perhaps you write better than your colleagues because you always could, not because of the classes you took. You decided to get a humanities degree because you were good at writing rather than you're good at writing because you majored in humanities. Perhaps it is some of both. I do wish I had learned more writing. Arguing on the internet has improved my writing more than anything I did in college.

about 3 months ago
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An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

readin Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (264 comments)

A combination of ego and condescension. You may have taken humanities courses, but you did not gain humanity.

So it seems humanities courses aren't very useful.

about 3 months ago
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What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory

readin Re:Not for Nerds (253 comments)

Where I live they seem to play that episode more frequently than the other rerun episodes. It's the only one I'll watch (because it has Summer Glau). They're traveling by train somewhere (no idea where since I never see the beginning) and she's in the same car with them.

about 3 months ago
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What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory

readin Re:Not for Nerds (253 comments)

Klinger wasn't trying to be gay, he was trying to be crazy. Kinger and Radar were sympathetic characters. When something bad happened to them you felt bad.

They've taken the most nerdy of the Big Bang group, Sheldon, and made him a villain like Major Burns. You laugh at his misfortunes because he is such a jerk. The early episodes I remember just had him very logical. He said things that would seem outrageously rude, but only if you didn't realize that he didn't intend them to be rude. He might say something like "well obviously I should handle the money because I'm the best at math" and it was funny because it sounded sooo bad, but you knew he was just being logical and was actually correct in that he was the best at math. In later episodes he became a jerk who would say he was better at math just be be bragging and seem superior. That turned him from a sympathetic character struggling with a vulnerability into Major Burns.

about 3 months ago
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What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory

readin Re:Not for Nerds (253 comments)

Haters gonna hate...that said, please tell me one sitcom (short for situational comedy) that wasn't designed for you to laugh at the cast?

It's more a matter of whether you're laughing out of a sense of superiority and/or malice. Are you thinking "I can't believe their sooo stupid" or "I'm so glad I'm not like that" or "Ha! he deserved that!" as opposed to something more benign like "that's so outrageous" or "they must be confused by this".

Big Bang guys in store-bought super hero outfits are designed to make you feel superior because they guys on the screen are so stupid. Klinger in drag made you laugh because a hairy guy in women's clothing looks outrageous. The misunderstandings of Three's Company didn't make you feel superior to the people experiencing them.

about 3 months ago
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What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory

readin Re:Not for Nerds (253 comments)

In early episodes that I saw, Sheldon was clueless about people and would be clumsy. He would say something about how it made more sense for him to do something because he was smarter than everyone and you felt like he wasn't trying to be mean or arrogant, he was just pointing out an objective fact without stopping to think people might be offended. That was something I could relate to and find funny.

But before too long they just made him mean. In that episode with Summer Glau, when Penny crushes his Japanese puzzle box you feel like he deserves it. He's no longer a sympathetic character whose weaknesses make him endearing. Instead he's a geek that people can feel good about disliking. Instead of giving people reason to reconsider their awful treatment of geeky peers, the show affirms that treatment as being deserved.

In real life I've met very few geeks who were genuinely mean. Most seem to believe in fair play, following the rules, good citizenship, do unto others.., etc.. However at first glance their poor social skills can make them seem uncaring.

The early episodes seemed to get that. They portrayed what geeks see in themselves and in each other.

But soon the show appealed to a wider audience by portraying geeks as non-geeks see them. Clueless Sheldon became arrogant cutthroat spiteful Sheldon. He was no longer rude do to thoughtlessness but instead became a scheming villain

People don't like geeks and this show affirms their feelings.

about 3 months ago
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Siphons Work Due To Gravity, Not Atmospheric Pressure: Now With Peer Review

readin Re:Encyclopedia Brittanica Has It Right (360 comments)

Would the cohesive forces hold the weight regardless of the diameter of the tube?

about 3 months ago
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Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing

readin Material? (302 comments)

One thing I haven't understood yet from what limited reading I've done on 3D printers (I think I'm a pretty typical consumer in that I have not gone out of my way to learn about them) is what material the printed objects are made of. Can I print a decorative button for my coat? If I can, will it have as much strength as the button I'm replacing? Can I have it printed the same color?

Can I print a coffee mug that I can use? That might be cool - I could put whatever engraving I want on it. But again I'm not sure what material I'm dealing with. Is it waterproof? Is it strong? Is it toxic?

Would I be able to use printed objects as hardware? Are they strong enough to act as screws or screwdrivers?

It might be good for kids. I could replace those missing pieces from various board games. Could I print out new D&D dice?

So far my impression is that you get one material - some sort of resin, and you get one color. I don't think I have that many needs for things made of plastic resin.

about 3 months ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

readin Re:The problem is celebrity culture (600 comments)

Where do you get your news from? Celebrity newscasters, celebrity reporters, or newscasters and reporters whose names you don't know and won't remember? Are the latter somehow more reliable?

Or do you travel around from country to country investigating every news story yourself before you believe it?

Do you trust what celebrity physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson tells you about science or do you read most science papers yourself and spot check by re-running some tests to be sure you get the same data?

We can't all investigate everything ourselves so we have to take someone else's word for it hoping that they've done the research and trusting or not based on what little we know about them.

Now when a politician who can't even understand simple economic laws like Supply and Demand and can't understand how evolution-like processes can produce more efficient economies that are as difficult to muck with as any other naturally evolved ecosystem starts to tell me about science, I don't have a lot of confidence in him. But when someone who almost always makes sense tells me about science I tend to have a little more confidence (and even more if he's an expert in the field).

Either way, I'm basing my confidence largely on the person's reputation (i.e. what I know about him as a celebrity).

about 3 months ago
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The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science

readin Re:Shocking... (600 comments)

Climate change: A theory about very complex system to model with the most famous proponent being a politician who stands to make a lot of money if the theory is widely accepted but whose personal behaviors (traveling by private plane, having a huge house) indicate that he's not too worried about how much impact he makes. Of course there will be some doubters

Vaccines are safe and effective: Are people questioning science or are they questioning politicians and pharmaceutical companies? Even good-hearted politicians might be tempted to tell a noble lie about this. If a vaccine isn't safe but it is effective, then the negative effects of killing a few people directly might be considered to be outweighed by the positive effects of indirectly saving even more. And of course pharmaceutical companies have profits to worry about (that they use to bribe politicians). The research funded by those companies says the vaccines are safe? There was a lot research funded by cigarette companies saying smoking was safe too.

The age of the earth and the big bang? It is one thing to know and understand the science, it is another to believe the evidence isn't outweighed by other knowledge. Do I believe dinosaurs existed? Well I believe that we find dinosaur bones in the ground that appear to be millions of years old, and that the science of evolution is sound and explains many things including much human physiology and behavior, and I certainly do make use of that knowledge for understanding animals and other humans. But if you asked me if I "believe" in evolution... well the Bible can be interpreted to say otherwise and I believe God can give us whatever evidence he wants - though I don't know if he would. So such a survey might count me as a doubter of evolution even though I understand and use the theory regularly.


I'm not saying Americans are well-educated about science. I've seen plenty of evidence that they're not. On the other hand I've dealt with a lot of foreigners and their scientific understanding seems pretty limited too. What I'm saying is that these kinds of surveys can be very misleading about people. It's sort of like that question about Obama's religion and the supposed proof that Fox viewers were ignorant because they thought he was Muslim. But those same viewers had been fed plenty of information about his church in Chicago - how could they be as ignorant as people were claiming? What the people pushing the survey were ignoring is that Fox viewers might be well aware of what Obama claimed to be but just didn't believe him because of other things he said and did - while the survey pushers were simply taking everything Obama said at face value without any skepticism.

about 3 months ago
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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

readin Re:Refunds indicate bad tax planning (632 comments)

As a man married to a woman from a foreign country, this is exactly why I have come to oppose intergender marriages.

about 3 months ago

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