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  • May 4th, 2016 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Noah’s Ark

    My favorite explanation for the Flood myth (both the Biblical one and the analogous floods from other traditions) is the hypothesis that what is now the Mediterranean Sea was once an immense - and inhabited - valley, until an earthquake destroyed a natural dam at what is now the Straits of Gibraltar... resulting in a massive inflow of seawater, drowning the entire valley, which could certainly have seemed like the entire world at the time.

    This would also serve to explain the Atlantis myth, but so far as I know, there's nothing in evidence to either confirm or refute the hypothesis.

  • May 1st, 2016 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Not really, no

    However, Prince himself destroyed any chance anyone will "fondly remember him" who didn't grow up in an era where his videos were plastered on MTV every 12 seconds or on the air with this old thing call "radio".
    Possibly relevant:

    I am 37 years old. With the exception of a stop-over in Canada for a few months, I have lived in the USA my entire life; I would estimate that my family has been no worse off than lower-middle-class during that time.

    The first time I remember having ever heard of Prince was during the news-cycle flap over his "The Artist Formerly Known As" name-change.

    The evening after he died, when I was driving home from work, I heard a piece on National Public Radio, on the subject of his legacy. At the very end of it, they played a song, which I presumed was by him.

    So far as I am aware, this was the first time I had ever actually heard any of his songs.

  • Apr 30th, 2016 @ 6:44pm


    According to what I've read, that's actually what he's done. My understanding is that he gave them the password(s) to one device or set of devices, but that he says he doesn't remember the password to the device in question here.

    And in response to the claim that he doesn't remember, he's been jailed for contempt of court - presumably because the judge doesn't believe him.

  • Apr 28th, 2016 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: drinking the Kool Aid

    I believe this is also the reason underlying the wording of the Second Amendment.

    "Because we need to be able to raise an army from the population at short notice, the government may not place restrictions on people owning and carrying weapons" - so that the people can practice with those weapons in peacetime, on their own and for their own purposes, and thereby be experienced with them when it comes time to be called up into a regimented military force.

    Once you abandon the no-standing-military principle, this basis for the Second Amendment largely disappears. Whether this is a good thing or not is a worthy subject for much debate, but as far as I can see it doesn't even seem to be recognized by most of the people who want to argue over the Second Amendment.

  • Apr 27th, 2016 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re:

    I apologize, then; I don't see how it makes sense with the "why are you" meaning, but I'm certainly not any kind of final judge on such matters.

    I had read the headline as being another example of "just quoting Romeo and Juliet because it sounds good, without worrying about the meaning", which in hindsight my previous comment did not really address, but which in most of its occurrences does seem to be the result of people assuming the "where are you" meaning. In fact, when I look at it, the headline doesn't make much sense with that meaning either, so it is indeed at least as plausible that you knew and were intending the other meaning as that you were aiming for the wrong one.

    Sorry to have imputed error where it apparently did not exist.

  • Apr 27th, 2016 @ 9:18am

    (untitled comment)

    Just as a reminder: "wherefore art thou" does not mean "where are you". It means "why is it that you are".

    When Juliet says "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?", she is not asking Romeo where he is; she is asking "Why is it that Romeo (the man I love) is Romeo (the scion of the one family with which mine has insurmountable enmity)?".

    The modern usage, such as in the headline of this article, is simply incorrect, and it always bothers me to see it - particularly in places, such as here, where I have enough respect for the writers to think that they really should know better.

  • Apr 20th, 2016 @ 7:12am

    (untitled comment)

    This is far too late for any chance of a response, but oh well...

    Many authors believe that they must prevent fans from "competing" with them, or else readers will buy the fan's work instead of theirs, resulting in lost sales. This idea sounds good on paper, but it looks strange when you actually try to give an example. Can you imagine a Harry Potter fan saying, "Well, I was going to spend this $10 on Rowling's new book, but I spent that money on a fanfic instead. I guess now I won't buy the next Harry Potter book after all."
    I believe this misses an important angle.

    It does indeed seem at least mildly ludicrous to imagine a fan saying "I won't spend the money on the next book, because I spent it on a fanfic". However, I think the most ludicrous part of it is the idea of spending money on a fanfic - not the idea of using fanfic as a substitute for the original material.

    There are a fair number of settings (mainly movies and TV shows) for which I have never seen the original source material, and do not feel particularly inclined to do so, but from which I read fanfic. In some cases, I am consciously using the fanfic as an alternate source, as the more convenient and - to me - more enjoyable way of being exposed to the setting.

    In the absence of the fanfic, I might never have taken any interest in these settings - or I might have encountered them in their original forms, and (presumably) in such a way that the quote-unquote "original" creators would have received compensation. Instead, the creators have received nothing tangible from me, and may well never do so.

    Returning to the original example, it's much easier to imagine someone saying "I want to read more stories about Harry Potter, and there are plenty of good ones available for free in the form of fanfic, so I won't bother spending money on the next official one at all." - or "I'm satisfied with the way the story came out in these fanfics, and I've heard that the next book does things with the story that I don't like, so I won't bother buying the next book".

    Particularly in that latter case (where the next story in the official series takes things in a direction which the particular fan in question doesn't like), it seems entirely possible that some fans may indeed choose to use fanfic as a substitute for the source material.

    I recall having read an anecdote about someone who was reading a leaked copy of the seventh Harry Potter novel on his computer and had someone glancing over his shoulder mistake it for a fanfic - and one of less than superlative quality, at that.

    If fans can think of some items of fanfic as being of quality equal to or better than the author's own work, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable for the author to be afraid that the fans will choose to go with the fanfic instead of with the official stories - particularly since the fanfic tends to be available for free.

    Thus, there are ways and cases in which fanfic can effectively serve to compete against the original source material, reducing the demand for the latter.

    Whether this effect can be sufficiently strong to justify restricting fanfic is another question, and one where I come down strongly on the side of fanfic, for multiple reasons. The author's position in this question is not as irrational as the article makes it sound, however.

  • Apr 15th, 2016 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "We're forced to pay for cable boxes if we want the higher channels"

    No, that is a condition of the sale. Like saying you're forced to buy gas if you want to use your car.
    When I bought my car, there were no conditions on the sales contract stating that I would have to buy gas in order to use it.

    The need for gasoline in order to use my car is an inherent, unavoidable result of the mechanical design of the car, and of the physics which lets it work at all. All vehicles need energy input of some type; most get it from gasoline, some from diesel, some from more esoteric substances, some in the form of electricity, but they all need it. That's why no one bothers to write any terms about "you must buy fuel in order to use this product" into the sale contract of a vehicle, much less terms restricting it to a specific brand of fuel from a specific supplier.

    By contrast, access to higher channels is not built on an inherent, unavoidable necessity to use the specific set-top box which the provider makes available; many other models of set-top box could work equally well, if the provider would permit it. Unlike a car's requirement for fuel, the requirement for the specific set-top box is artificial.

  • Apr 8th, 2016 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, I agree that any vaguely savvy user is going to find them more annoying than anything else - but unless you notice the new window before closing the one in front (e.g. via a Taskbar entry) and close it before even bringing it to the front, your eyes will inevitably glimpse the window contents at least in peripheral vision... and in the minds of the people who push such ads, that's enough to increase the mindshare of whatever they're pushing.

    (Also, far too many people don't meet even the low bar of "vaguely savvy".)

    Doubly annoying, since any site that merrily wastes my system's resources is also going to get less hits once I work out which is which.
    That's exactly the point, though.

    Yes, people who realize that a site is bothering them with pop-under ads are going to be less likely to visit that site - but the same is true with pop-up ads, and with pop-up ads, you usually notice the ad immediately, making it easy to tell which site triggered the ad.

    With pop-under ads, however, it's far more likely (relatively speaking) that you will fail to notice the new ad in time to directly connect it with the site which triggered it. Thus, the site is less likely to lose your traffic (especially if you're not savvy enough to track the ad back to its trigger by other means), or at least to lose it as soon - and the advertiser still gets the impression, as well as (at least by some lines of reasoning) the mindshare.

    Thus, you have both most of the advantages of a pop-up ad as well as one advantage - that disconnect - which a pop-up does not have. Thus, a reason for advertisers to use pop-under ads, which is what the question was about.

  • Apr 7th, 2016 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re:

    The idea of a pop-under ad is that eventually the user will close the original window, and then the window with the ad will be revealed - so the user still sees it, but it doesn't intrude on their ongoing browsing session.

    Also, because the exposure to the ad is less immediate than with a pop-up ad, it's less likely that the user will A: reflexively close it as soon as they notice it, and B: be able to figure out which site caused it to open.

  • Apr 7th, 2016 @ 6:16am

    (untitled comment)

    I'm a little surprised no one in the comments seems to have explicitly called out this little bit of misleading and inappropriate language.

    "We, AT&T, have a broadband Internet access service that we market to customers that if you agree, if you opt-in, to the use of your data for various reasons, then you get a discount,” Flemming continued.
    "Opt-in" means that you have to choose it, as something other than the default.

    If they're advertising the rate with the "discount" applied and this "service" active, rather than without, that seems to imply that the with-the-"discount" rate is the default - and thus that it is an opt-out, rather than an opt-in, scenario.

    If someone who signs up for new service gets the with-the-discount rate and this "service" unless they go out of their way to request otherwise, that is definitely an opt-out scenario - especially if they don't get proactively asked, during the sign-up process, whether they want the "service".

    If a customer who was subscribed before they began offering the "service" gets it and the "discount" automatically without being asked whether they want it, that is definitely an opt-out scenario.

    To refer to it as "opt-in", if (as seems likely) any of those things is true, is highly misleading and an abuse of the language.

  • Apr 6th, 2016 @ 7:04am

    Re: Is Whatever getting flagged just for being Whatever?

    In this case, I think the "race to the bottom" mudball is what prompted the flagging. It wouldn't be enough on its own to justify such, but in the context of Whatever's history, any slam at the site or the authors (as distinct from critical commentary on the substance of the article) tends to get an "assume bad faith" reaction.

  • Apr 4th, 2016 @ 5:12am

    Re: Erdogan

    It's apparently pronounced something like "Urr-doe-wan", believe it or not. I have no idea how the "g" gets into the spelling, but I've consistently heard it pronounced with the "w"-like sound in the news.

  • Apr 1st, 2016 @ 5:53am


    It's not that it's "worse".

    It's basically an expanded version of "more intense incentives require more extreme deterrents".

    Imagine that you have Person A, Person B, and Person C.

    Person A hates the class of persons to which Person C belongs, but not the class to which Person B belongs.

    The sentence for the basic crime is (in theory and in principle) calculated so that if Person A wants to do something to Person B which would be considered a crime, the anticipated punishment should be enough to make Person A change his/her/etc. mind.

    However, if Person A wants to do something to Person C which would be considered a crime, the established class-of-persons-based hatred means that Person A's motivation for going through with the crime is stronger than it would be in the case of Person B, so the anticipated punishment from the sentence for the basic crime may no longer be enough to make Person A change his/her/etc. mind.

    As such, establishing a separate and more severe class of sentences based on the existence of the class-of-persons hatred should scale up the deterrent effect of the anticipated punishment to match the stronger incentive which that hatred provides.

    It's entirely possible that this theory doesn't stand up in the real world, but I think that's the basic reasoning, and it has nothing to do with the crime being somehow "worse" because of the bias involved; it has to do only with the strength of the incentive to commit the crime.

  • Mar 31st, 2016 @ 7:04am

    Re: Who will have money if its all automated?

    When all needed services (including production) can be provided without employing people, that means there's no longer any need to require people to work in order to live.

    We may never actually get that far, for various reasons not excluding simple entropy - but at some point, you really do reach a point where it makes more sense to give everyone a basic income than to leave those who can't find work with nothing to live on.

  • Mar 27th, 2016 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Amusingly enough, in my usual readily-accessible dictionary (gcide), the definition of "bigot" does not mention race ta all.

    The definition talks first about religious views, and then about opinions in general, particularly including political and moral opinions, and stops there without ever mentioning race.

  • Mar 23rd, 2016 @ 9:47am

    (untitled comment)

    On the one hand, I recognize the importance of the per-market limitation on trademarks, and under that standard this dismissal appears to be correctly decided. I recognize also that in terms of avoiding undesirable results in future cases, this is almost certainly the right thing to do.

    However, speaking as a consumer who does not live in (or anywhere near) that region of the world: if I ran across "Land O Lakes"-branded fishing gear, my first reaction would be "Are they the same people who make the butter?" or "What is a butter brand doing on fishing gear??". (Although I am aware of the presence of the apostrophe in "Land O' Lakes", I doubt that I would have considered its absence significant in this instance, prior to reading this article.)

    As such, there does seem to be some chance of consumer confusion - not between products, but in terms of implied association and thus potential endorsement.

  • Mar 22nd, 2016 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Stark Trek?

    In the mobile-device game Bitcoin Billionaire, one of the fake news-ticker articles refers to an upcoming Stark Trek movie, where the "Stark" appears to be a reference to Game of Thrones...

  • Mar 21st, 2016 @ 7:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Er. I meant speech-to-text, obviously.

  • Mar 21st, 2016 @ 7:06pm


    At risk of spoiling the joke, this looks like - of all things - a text-to-speech flub. He almost certainly meant "without my receiving a single sou", and that final word - which refers to an old French copper coin of tiny value - happens to be pronounced more-or-less identically to "Sioux".

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