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Member since: Mon Mar 22, 2004, 12:26 PM
Number of posts: 9,995

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How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards

Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fiction's most prestigious award ceremonies. No, you're not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, "The Doctor's Wife." Where Gaiman's face had been were the words, "Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement." What the hell?

Jumping onto Twitter, people who had been watching the livestream began asking what was going on. How could an award ceremony have anything to do with copyright infringement?


And then it began to dawn on people what happened. Gaiman had just gotten an award for his Doctor Who script. Before he took the stage, the Hugo Awards showed clips from his winning episode, along with clips from some other Doctor Who episodes that had been nominated, as well as a Community episode.

Full post: http://io9.com/5940036/how-copyright-enforcement-robots-killed-the-hugo-awards
Posted by salvorhardin | Mon Sep 3, 2012, 03:10 PM (2 replies)

Your PC Just Crashed? Don’t Blame Microsoft

When computers crash, buggy software usually gets the blame. But over the past few years, computer scientists have started taking a hard look at hardware failures, and they’re learning that another type of problem pops up more often than many people realize. That’s right: hardware bugs.

Chipmakers work hard to make sure their products are tested and working properly before they ship, but they don’t like to talk about the fact that it can be a struggle to keep the chips working accurately over time. Since the late 1970s, the industry has known that obscure hardware problems could cause bits to flip inside microprocessor transistors. As transistors have shrunk in size, it’s become even easier for stray particles to bash into them and flip their state. Industry insiders call this the “soft error” problem, and it’s something that’s going to become more pronounced as we move to smaller and smaller transistors where even a single particle can do much more damage.

But these “soft errors” are only part of the problem. Over the past five years, a handful of researchers have taken a long hard look at some very large computing systems, and they’ve realized that in many cases, the computer hardware we use is just plain broken. Heat or manufacturing defects can cause components to wear out over time, leaving electrons leaking from one transistor to another, or channels on the chip that are designed to transmit current simply break down. These are the “hard errors.”

Full article: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/08/chip_errors/all

I had no idea Sheldon Adelson was a lil Murdoch.

He owns Israel's most popular daily newspaper, Israel HaYom. Unsurprisingly, it's "aggressively pro-Netanyahu." Somewhat surprising, it's free, which might help explain how it has become so popular.

Good segment in this week's On The Media.

Turns out Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and, as of late, Mitt Romney supporter, also owns Israel’s most popular daily newspaper, Israel HaYom. Freelance Jerusalem-based journalist Matthew Kalman says the free, aggressively pro-Netanyahu paper has quickly come to dominate the market while its competitors downsize and slash staff.
Link: http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/aug/31/citizen-adelson

Also not to be missed on this week's On The Media is John Sununu literally yelling at Brooke Gladstone. Talk about surreal. When did Sununu become such an angry, partisan hack? I remember him as one of the sane ones in the GOP of yore.

This week, a Romney pollster responded to several critical fact-checks of a campaign ad by saying "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Brooke talks to former New Hampshire governor and former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu about the ad and the institution of fact-checking.
Link: http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/aug/31/were-not-going-let-our-campaign-be-dictated-fact-checkers
Posted by salvorhardin | Sat Sep 1, 2012, 07:43 AM (0 replies)

Dieting Monkeys Don’t Live Longer

Mice and rats are often poor models for complex human biological questions.

New research may dampen the enthusiasm of anyone looking to extend their lifespan by restricting their caloric intake. Though laboratory rats on calorie-restricted diets can live up to 35 percent longer than their gluttonous counterparts, and previous research on rhesus macaques hinted at modest increases in longevity for dieting primates, data from a long-term prospective study on macaques paints a more nuanced picture. Published today (August 29) in Nature, research performed at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that calorie restriction may provide some health benefits, but does not increase lifespan more than a sensible diet.

Full story: http://the-scientist.com/2012/08/29/dieting-monkeys-dont-live-longer

In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

There can be only one -- and that one would be Teddy! No doubt about it. Who would be your picks? You can find Geoff Micks ranking, with detailed explanations, at the link.

One of my most-visited sites on the web is Reddit.com, and one of my favourite subreddits is HistoricalWhatIf, an online community that debates historical hypotheticals. Earlier today someone asked the question, In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why? Someone beat me to the obvious answer that a final showdown would see Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt doing a dagger-wielding version of a Mexican standoff, so I took it too far and walked through how I thought every president would turn out. An hour later the result greatly exceeded the maximum 10,000 character limit for a post, so I’ve decided to blog about it instead.

To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:

  • Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
  • The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the [1] Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
  • Each president has been given one standard-issue [2] Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife [3] presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
  • There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
  • FDR has been outfitted with a [4] Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
  • Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.

Link: http://faceintheblue.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/in-a-mass-knife-fight-to-the-death-between-every-american-president-who-would-win-and-why

Gluten free hosts

From a discussion I saw on a Catholic friend's site about accommodating the gluten intolerant and people with celiac disease at communion:
I have a friend who gets violently ill if she ingests the Body of Christ at communion. It's a heavy cross to bear for her.

Not sure why, but that's got to be the weirdest thing I've seen all week.

Wilhelm Reich and the Sexual Revolution

Excellent interview on Pacifica's Against The Grain with Christopher Turner, author of Adventures In The Orgasmatron, about Wilhelm Reich -- father of the sexual revolution, pseudoscience crank extraordinaire, and poster child for not mixing your politics with your science.

Wilhelm Reich fused Marx with Freud, had an enormous influence on the New Left and the counterculture, and provided the intellectual underpinnings for the sexual revolution. Yet he's almost forgotten today. Writer Christopher Turner discussses the complexities of the psychoanalytic pioneer, who invented the infamous orgone accumulator box -- used by William Burroughs and Norman Mailer amongst others -- and examines his legacy in hindsight.

Listen online at: http://www.againstthegrain.org/program/591/mon-82012-wilhelm-reich-and-sexual-revolution
Download the mp3: http://www.againstthegrain.org/files/files/atg/atg_2012.08.20_wilhelm_reich.mp3

NPR's Andrea Seabrook fed up with all the lies quits

This is a story I completely missed this week. NPR's Congressional reporter of a decade, Andrea Seabrook, got tired of repeating politicians' lies every day so she resigned.

"I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say.


We need to stop coddling lawmakers, stop buying their red team, blue team narrative and ask harder questions of them."

Source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79998.html

She left to found DecodeDC, a blog and podcast where she plans to do reporting that, "will decipher Washington's Byzantine language and procedure, sweeping away what doesn't matter so you can focus on what does."

You can also listen to an interview on WNYC's On The Media with Andrea Seabrook about why she quit her job of 14 years at NPR, what's so wrong about political reporting today, and what her hopes are for DecodeDC.

[div style="background-color:#ffa;"]On edit: Here's a lengthy interview with Andrea Seabrook on NPR too:
[div class="excerpt" style="background-color: #ffa !important;"] "Americans, real people, you have bought this line that we are on two teams in this country. There is a red team, and there is a blue team. When we've gotten to the point where your partisan stripe comes before your American citizenship, our shared culture, our shared values in this country, then we have a real problem at the nation — national, federal level. We vote for people who are going in there to fight red or blue instead of put that stuff down at the end of the election cycle and work on real problems that need to be solved."

[div style="text-align:center;"]

Romney wants to be James K. Polk!?

Romney campaign manager told the Huffington iPad magazine that Mitt Romney's inner circle thinks a Romney presidency could look much like that of President James Polk after tackling issues like the federal debt and entitlement spending.

"Polk, who served from 1845 to 1849, presided over the expansion of the U.S. into a coast-to-coast nation, annexing Texas and winning the Mexican-American war for territories that also included New Mexico and California. He reduced trade barriers and strengthened the Treasury system. And he was a one-term president. Polk is an allegory for Rhoades: He did great things, and then exited the scene, and few remember him. That, Rhoades suggested, could be Romney's legacy as well."

Source: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/08/24/is_romney_seeking_to_be_a_one-termer.html

James K. Polk? Seriously!? Oh my. This will either end badly for Romney, or very badly for us.

The closing of American academia

In most professions, salaries below the poverty line would be cause for alarm. In academia, they are treated as a source of gratitude. Volunteerism is par for the course - literally. Teaching is touted as a "calling", with compensation an afterthought. One American research university offers its PhD students a salary of $1000 per semester for the "opportunity" to design and teach a course for undergraduates, who are each paying about $50,000 in tuition. The university calls this position "Senior Teaching Assistant" because paying an instructor so far below minimum wage is probably illegal.

In addition to teaching, academics conduct research and publish, but they are not paid for this work either. Instead, all proceeds go to for-profit academic publishers, who block academic articles from the public through exorbitant download and subscription fees, making millions for themselves in the process. If authors want to make their research public, they have to pay the publisher an average of $3000 per article. Without an institutional affiliation, an academic cannot access scholarly research without paying, even for articles written by the scholar itself.

It may be hard to summon sympathy for people who walk willingly into such working conditions. "Bart, don't make fun of grad students," Marge told her son on an oft-quoted episode of The Simpsons. "They just made a terrible life choice."


In a searing commentary, political analyst Joshua Foust notes that the unpaid internships that were once limited to show business have now spread to nearly every industry. "It's almost impossible to get a job working on policy in this town without an unpaid internship," he writes from Washington DC, one of the most expensive cities in the country. Even law, once a safety net for American strivers, is now a profession where jobs pay as little as $10,000 a year - unfeasible for all but the wealthy, and devastating for those who have invested more than $100,000 into their degrees. One after another, the occupations that shape American society are becoming impossible for all but the most elite to enter.

Full oped: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/08/2012820102749246453.html
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