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Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

robi5 Fail (206 comments)

I'm a long-time developer too, and I don't equate coding with just putting instructions in a machine the same way I don't equate literacy with cursive writing. Anyone who's done 'coding' knows that the main part isn't the syntax of a particular language, an API or an IDE, but a way of setting goals, decomposing functionality and building it at various levels of abstraction. The word 'coding' is a bit of a misnomer and therefore people come up with false dichotomies like coding vs. 'development' or 'software engineering'.

The benefit of teaching programming to everyone isn't that everyone becomes a software developer, the same way that teaching writing to everyone does not make everyone a creative writer, still nobody argues for the eradication of teaching writing. But it gives the chance to all; gives a powerful problem solving tool for the slightly more academic type (e.g. helping their research); it gives a means of communicating complex relations, and people will gravitate to various levels of competence, including the ability to control ever more complicated home automation.

Ah maybe this guy is a _really_ long time developer and equates coding with punching cards... how is that relevant in today's world.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom from Consequences (894 comments)

> This is not an example of a limit to free speech. Rather, this is an example of consequences of free speech.

You can't alter the consequences of said 'free' speech, i.e. you can't ensure that the speech is free, unless you exercise that very right.

This is what Charlie Hebdo did.

Even if the consequences had been predictable, it would have been necessary and effective to exercise the freedom of speech if the concern was that Islam and other religions (to wildly varying degrees, of course) limit said freedom of speech.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:It happens ... (894 comments)

Knowingly and unknowingly, you probably violate values and beliefs held by billions of people on the Earth, of various religions and other value systems.

Protesting against an avalanche is silly.

Protesting against jihad is a commendable cause.

Both are risky but one is pointless and the other serves self-preservation of a value system (liberalism, secularity etc.). Je suis Charlie.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Two notes (894 comments)

> 2) If we limit freedom of expression, we can as well limit freedom of religion because freedom of religion is a subset of freedom of expression.

I think this will be the eventual effect. A lot of Islamic teachings, interpretations and calls to act will eventually become outlawed, simply as a reaction. However, countries like the UK, France, Germany and Benelux states, where these problems are the worst, will remain defenseless for a long time, letting jihadist pest self-organize and teach themselves before acting (i.e. these countries are partly to blame for not being proactive with this along the lines of your suggestion). It's weird that the perps of the terrorist act have been knowingly associated with terrorist organizations, yet they had free pass to go around as they please, not even proper surveillance. That it is normal that France is networked by jihadist organizations were news to me, because there is remarkably little between this state of affairs and the pervasive control of Mexico by a drug cartel or two. Violence is a very effective way of biasing the system, as the mafia and jihadists correctly recognize.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:And so he validates the violence (894 comments)

> That's like saying there's no real difference between an alcoholic and a person who occasionally goes out drinking on a Friday night.

This. There is a not so fine line between expecting a punch in the face in the spur of the moment, and going in heavily armed with automatic weapons, committing mass murder. So maybe a letter to the editor, with expletives, or running a counter-caricature would have been more balanced responses.

All in all, Charlie Hebdo is a stronger part of the immune system of the Western civilization than Francis Pope.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

Therein lies the problem. What you say is correct - for those subscribing to Western values already (let's call it the Church of Humanism). But there are other religions that teach things that contradict these. E.g. Islam. If you haven't got the memo, Islam isn't only about peaceful coexistence, integration and whatever values the Church of Humanism has. Because it's some other religion. If you look up the definition of jihad, there's no way you can reconcile or integrate that with Western values. Other than maybe eventually making Westerners be as militant and vigorous about their values as jihadists are about their own values.

So your response has two kinds of audience:
- those who already agree with you will continue to agree with you
- those who don't already agree with you will continue to not respect your argument

The Western society can't defend itself if it pretends that its nemesis plays by the same rulebook. Had it played by the same rulebook, there would have been no such separating issues to begin with, and there would only be the _regular_ issues like skin color, lack of immigrant assimilation, socioeconomic status etc. which is also experienced by Far Easterns, blacks etc. But it's not the case.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

> it may be good for his P.R. with the muslem community

Speaking of the extremist end (mind you - the extremist end probably regard themselves as the 'true' muslims) if you appease them, will they become tame? No - social tensions like this, left on their own accord in a demokracy, will be dealt with by pure demographics and the continuing expansion of Islam influence. In other words, Paris and London becoming predominantly Muslim cities, and in theory, nothing prevents an eventual Islamic revolution and Sharla law introduced in the UK, France or the whole of Western Europe. Which actually fits quite nicely into the flow of history despite temporary victories like expelling the Moors from Spain and the Turks from the Balkans.

So tactically he may score a point before his muslim 'talking partners', but strategically and morally he may still have done the suboptimal and wrong thing.

> what impression would Francis give by saying "oh well, no problem for me because I am far more forgiving than the Muslems"

He would set an example.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

> Look, the guy's hardly going to say it's OK to blaspheme, is he? It's just not in his job description. Whatever his personal opinion may be, he's is not at liberty to promote the same viewpoints as Charlie Hebdo.

You're claiming that if he speaks about this subject, his job description may severely constrain him in what he can say. Let's forget about the fact that probably his job description isn't that detailed. He may have simply elected not to share his opinion, or not say as many things as he said. He could have stopped well before the 'punch in the face' argument if he had wanted to, still rejecting violence and promoting tolerance and even sensibility and respect.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

Pretty good argument for stopping the pretense and political correctness and say out loud that some religions like Islam represent danger to mankind, which can only be mitigated by active tools such as mass surveillance and criminalization of certain aspects, rather than pretending that it's simply a poverty problem or ghetto problem or that they will grow out of it under their accord before one of them somehow manage to trigger WW3 (tho the Russians and North Koreans are candidates, too).

I'm NOT claiming that Islam is worse, or more militant than all other religions throughout the entire history (I'm not claiming the opposite either, as I'm no expert in this). But it is a coincidental fact that by the present time, when technology became advanced enough to render the World unstable, it happens to be Islam which demonstrates the most consistent pattern of self-destructing behavior, in the name of their respective god. So the Crusaders in medieval time had no chance to destroy civilization or kill all humans, but rouge states and even terrorist organizations may have the means to bring about a nuclear war. But believe me, simply infecting Paris' water system with some pest and causing the death of thousands will be enough to cause barricades, unbelievable separation and splitting France to two separate countries.

While MAD (mutually assured destruction) can lead to a status quo or equilibrium of sorts on a human's timescale, it assumes rational agents, however fundamentalist believers would be happy to blow up a city or the Earth for the promise of some number of virgins in the afterlife. And Westerners seem tame and patient until they feel threatened, in which case they flock to vote for the most fascist (against Islam, not Jews) party as we can already witness it in Europe.

It is less of a coincidence, that by the time the technology is advanced enough for one mad person to cause massive damage, technology is also cheap and prevalent enough to be deployed for mass surveillance purposes.

So pick your poison:
1. Acknowledge that mass surveillance is kind of OK in the hand of mildly democratic Western governments of today
2. Wait some more, and learn that mass surveillance is even more inevitable in the hands of next wave, xenophobic, fascist governments

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

I think the argument is that
1. Pope Francis said something stupid, wrong or despicable
2. ... however, high priests of the Catholic church can't be trusted, as they repeatedly support and cover up sick, abnormal behavior
3. ... therefore the fact that this is the Pope's opinion (or communication) can be dismissed without even evaluating the statement

This of course does not imply whether his expressed opinion is right or wrong, but who cares about what he says, if the GP (and me) consider his institution discredited and bankrupt.

Well of course, society cares about it, because what he says can have an impact on society despite the above reasoning, even if it is only to give the justification for Jihadists. I.e. he's doubly an irresponsible asshole unable to foresee the negative consequences of what he says, in effect helping Islam take over and end Western civilisation, as we know it.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

The problem is that molesting children by priest rapists is a systemic problem in the Catholic Church. It's not some outliers, or it's not just some crime that is somewhat prevalent in society and is also prevalent in the Church. There is a pattern, and a very strong case of causation. If a problem is systemic, then it has to be addressed by systemic means, be it the legalisation of priest marriage, female priests and mass surveillance of Catholic priests. For it is horrible that those who in theory serve most selflessly and ask for people's trust and support toward their values, and let their children close, stick to a social arrangement is known to result in child rapes by straight, gay and bi priests.

2 days ago
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Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

robi5 Re:Pope Francis - fuck your mother (894 comments)

> If you poke a bear cub with a stick long enough, its mom might come and maul the shit out of you.

And what if you draw a crude picture, illustrating that someone is poking the bear's imaginary cub, and you _don't_ even distribute your drawing among those who aren't interested in it, will it still kill you?

Are you implyng that a Jihadist is worse than animals, because he has way less tolerance for way more abstract things than a dangerous animal? We may have found common ground. Here's my projection: one of them will eventually blow up the Earth and end civilisation.

What should the human civilisation do, if it has to eventually choose between risking the planet and curing or criminalizing a religion?

2 days ago
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Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics

robi5 Re:R wont run on linux soon (105 comments)

Except that, for example,
- video skype and desktop sharing is not available on Linux with more than two participants
- the Linux GUI is a confused mess

3 days ago
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Hands On With Microsoft's Holographic Goggles

robi5 Re:Q. How does one subtract light? (171 comments)

... and neither can reality... it would be as if you wore sunglasses inside

about a week ago
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Hands On With Microsoft's Holographic Goggles

robi5 Re:Q. How does one subtract light? (171 comments)

Transparent LCD does that. Another question is, with what resolution? LCDs can be of fine resolution, but you'd need the equivalent of the viewfinder of a high quality SLR camera to ensure it's in the proper focal plane. I think such an optical pathway would be, by necessity, heavy and of limited FOV and light intensity. So inventing a full VR and projecting the external view seems more appropriate, and the quality (resolution, color scale, lag etc.) of the environmental view and the augmentation would make it blend better, with all the positives and negatives.

Technically you can eventually solve all the technical problems and have human-matching color fidelity, FOV, resolution... but the limitation would be that people wouldn't see one another's eyes.

But of course you can project virtual real eyes to conceal the real virtual eyes. With high enough fidelity, you'll even see the reflection of your own virtual real eyes in the other person's virtual real eyes :-) But kissing will be weird...

about a week ago
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Hands On With Microsoft's Holographic Goggles

robi5 Re:Q. How does one subtract light? (171 comments)

Hmm you and a couple of anons 'don't get it', Macfox is trying to ask a question that is reasonable and not that hard to parse, yet he gets the 'you don't seem to understand the concept' from you. His point is that if the visor is fairly transparent, then light from the environment (e.g. looking at a white table) will interfere with the augmentation. I.e. you can't simulate the covering of white table with black tablecloth, even though you can (more convincingly) cover a black table with white virtual tablecloth.

However wouldn't it be possible to use an LCD screen in the visor, which could selectively block out areas if needed? I understand the visor is not in the correct focal plane for the purpose, but brightly lit, large, contiguous objects with low apparent speed (e.g. a window, the sky, a light source or a white wall) could be blocked out, similar to how smudges on sunglasses have a blurred but very noticeable effect. All it would take is a transparent LCD screen which is old tech and uses very little power.

about a week ago
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The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

robi5 Statistical proof for turtles all the way down (230 comments)

What's science's answer to this one?

1. Any sufficiently advanced civilisation can create a simulation (or more) on a grand scale.
2. In a simulated world, intelligence and construction may arise, eventually leading to sufficiently advanced simulated civilisations
3. (... after some thousands of recursions, also recognising that there is plenty of 'time' for that because time is an internal variable of the universe in question...)

The big Q:

What is the likelihood that in the vast tree of simulated universes, we are sitting at the root?

Could it be that as a simulated civilisation advances, and invents the microscope and the telescope, and intelligent species proliferate, the simulatING civilisation has to throw more and more hardware at the problem? Or has to invent physics on the go? E.g. pre-Newton and pre-radiotelescopes, a Newtonian world would have perfectly worked, from the viewpoint of the humans, with 'rendered' stars; pre-microscope, maybe bacteria etc. didn't need to exist. The simulator just simulated some sickness or reaction. When the loop tightened, they had to invent something.

Maybe science stops when there is enough evidence that some things just can't reconcile with one another, or when more and more investment is needed for less and less impactful findings (bosons, very remote galaxies etc.). Maybe a team of scientists one level up are playing pranks or feeling creative. And some other scientists tie their hands and just start some cellular automaton to see where it leads to.

Isn't thinking this the equivalent of the geocentric or heliocentric world view?

about a week ago
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The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

robi5 Re:"inescapable conclusion" (230 comments)

Nah, it's much simpler. The universe is floating in a sea of vacuum, which seeps through the pores of the universe, i.e. it's statistically unlikely but the energy balance is zero. You can immediately grasp the concept if you think of a squashed sponge ball, which as it expands, it soaks up air from its neighborhood. And of course if physicists are happy to buy into the idea that the Universe just sprang out of nothing, why not think that it sprang out like a sponge ball compressed (or nanoprinted) into a tiny space?

**ducks**

about a week ago
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European Countries Seek Sweeping New Powers To Curb Terrorism

robi5 Re:Be careful what you wish for (219 comments)

> When you're angry, the media is spreading fear, and citizens are demanding action from their government, its all to easy to swing wildly too far in giving up freedom and privacy. We've had more than a decade of that in the US and it isn't pretty.

A lot of us here are in STEM or work with data in some way. How on Earth are you going to prevent shit like this from happening if not by close surveillance? For it is not an individual action but a pattern of individually innocent-looking actions that is predictive of a plot suspicion. With all the liberal whining, let's get real: in the age where even just one (moderately armed) asshole can cause serious damage (e.g. indirectly to freedom of speech), you won't have a real super-duper search warrant until after it's too late. So you are forced to monitor whatever you can to establish patterns among activities that individually aren't suspicious. Just because anger can lead to close surveillance, it does not mean that carefully measured analysis would have lead you somewhere else. Network data analysis 101 welcome to the class of 2015.

about two weeks ago

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