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wasoxygen  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sci-Fi club no. 36: The Last Question discussion

    According to his autobiography In Memory Yet Green, Asimov coined the name in imitation of UNIVAC, an early mainframe computer. Asimov had assumed the name "Univac" denoted a computer with a single vacuum tube (it actually is an acronym for "Universal Automatic Computer"), and on the basis that a computer with many such tubes would be more powerful, called his fictional computer "Multivac". His later short story "The Last Question", however, expands the AC suffix to be "analog computer".

Dyson has other things on his mind.

wasoxygen  ·  91 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Running the 2018 Charlevoix Marathon

First finish is always a PR, congratulations! What was your longest distance in training?

Getting one done means you can skip the pre-race jitters next time and start off rested. Finishing without swearing you’ll never do it again is also a promising sign. When’s the next one?

SeanBot  ·  91 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks! My longest distance was 18 miles which I did 13 days prior to the race on a Sunday. The Sunday before that I did 15, and then the Sunday before that I did 13.9. Besides those runs I was just doing anywhere from 5-10 miles for training and pushing myself as hard as I could each run.

    When's the next one?

I think I'm going to do the Detroit half marathon (maybe full) in October and then I'm debating where to do my next full sometime next year. Definitely want to travel, I'm considering Jackson Hole Marathon next year.

wasoxygen  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe you could get thenewgreen to join you in Detroit. Not many races requre travel documents to run across the border.

    If for any reason (for example, emergency, carrying a backpack) you are asked by CBP to identify yourself when crossing the border, you will be expected to present proper identification (WHTI compliant document). CBP actions may delay your re-entry into the U.S. Please note: it is not the intention of CBP to actively or randomly pull runners out of the race to review their documentation.

    Please note, the Ambassador Bridge Company and Detroit Windsor Tunnel LLC policy is to prohibit liquids. Runners are discouraged from carrying items on these portions of the course as they may be asked to either inspect or drop them. However, at the end of the day it is up to the runner’s discretion.

SeanBot  ·  12 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I tried to get thenewgreen to join me in Detroit but he bailed. Maybe he will join me in the Bahamas for their marathon on January 20. Any of you all are welcome to join as well wasoxygen ButterflyEffect WanderingEng I am registered already and will probably be down there for a week or so getting some diving in. Planning to dive with sharks for the first time.

ButterflyEffect  ·  90 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Did you see the runner who was recently detained for crossing the US-Canada border without ID?

wasoxygen  ·  156 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Doing science right: Have there been previous human civilizations on Earth?

    The roughly contemporary architecture at Jericho is devoid of artistic merit or large-scale sculpture, and Çatalhöyük, perhaps the most famous Anatolian Neolithic village, is 2,000 years later.

    At present Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of pre-sedentary society.

historyarch  ·  153 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Klaus Schmidt, who began the excavations, noted similarities in stone tools at Gobeckli Tepe and other sites which was one of his methods for dating. (see: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobekli-tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/). Some of the male figures bear similarities to those found elsewhere as well. So clearly, Gobeckli Tepe was not isolated. From the Gobeckli website, the archaeologists date the most recent phase to be 9,600-8,000 BC (see" https://tepetelegrams.wordpress.com/the-research-project/ which also notes the comparison of carved figures). Dating these sites is imprecise but that could indicate only a 500 year gap which may actually be much less if estimates at Gobeckli Tepe and Çatalhöyük are off-- which is a distinct possibility.

Further, much of Gobeckli Tepe is unexcavated so it is risky to draw too many conclusions. It may have been abandoned in 9,000 or even 8,000 BC. There also may be other as yet undiscovered sites that will establish a clear line of development. Jericho and Çatalhöyük suffered devastating destruction in ancient times, there may have been much more sophisticated artistic endeavors that were destroyed, taken away or have yet to be found. Gobeckli Tepe was intentionally buried which likely means more is preserved.

I agree with everyone here that Gobeckli Tepe is fascinating, leaves us with many more questions than answers and may imply a different societal evolution than previously supposed.

wasoxygen  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Everything you ever need to know about how the eye sees colors

Puffin beaks are fluorescent

    Unlike humans, birds have always known about the extra colours in the puffin bill. That's because they can see a whole other dimension of hues, said Dunning.

    Humans see colours that are a mix of red, blue and green light, he notes, while birds have a fourth colour in the mix — a property called tetrachromatic vision.

wasoxygen  ·  168 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Everything you ever need to know about how the eye sees colors

    But, alas, this color space has some unhelpful properties. For one, not all triplet values (also called tristimulus values) are physically possible. Consider the LMS coordinates (0, 1, 0). To physically achieve this coordinate, we would need to find some way of stimulating the M cones without stimulating the L or S cones at all. Because the M cone’s sensitivity curve significantly overlaps at least one of L or S at all wavelengths, this is impossible!

Impossible color!

wasoxygen  ·  169 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Running an Ethereum node in the Cloud

The idea of a virtual machine doing my bidding in a server farm somewhere intrigued me as well, though it took me a while to think of something to do with it. I used to host a web site on a headless server that lived behind the living room sofa, until one day I realized that I was paying more for electricity than I would for a web hosting service.

wasoxygen  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The first uber self-driving car fatality was the pedestrian's fault

That is a pretty good credit card offer. Barclays is wooing Yankees; their 1.5% rate on savings was enough to get me to finally switch from the account that was paying lunch money once a year.

wasoxygen  ·  186 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: November Has Come

Trivia and Easter eggs

The mountain climber, who fumbled the interview question by responding “What's Aleppo?” was of course Gary Johnson, but I forgot that the “someone else” was Green Party candidate Jill Stein, running with Ajamu Baraka who described Bernie Sanders as “media-driven pseudo-opposition” and “an ideological prop… of the logic and interests of the capitalist-imperialist settler state.” Instead of him we got Pence.

D. B. Cooper was, of course, the hijacker. “Power of strength” was part of a notorious quote: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

Bitcoin was about US$700 at the time.

44.44N 111.1W is just off a National Forest Development Road inside a small sliver of land where Yellowstone National Park overlaps Wyoming. According to a Michigan State University law professor, any crime committed in this area could not be prosecuted.

The site is gone now, but MakeMineCount.org (motto: “Everybody wins. Except Trump.”) was a real site where one could arrange to swap votes with another voter, to try and push swing states toward the desired direction.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary is a real title.

There were a handful of double-voting incidents in Colorado.

A 2015 report said that Florida election officials had to buy Zoom Pocket Modems on eBay to keep voting machines in order.

    Ken Terry, from Allen County, Ohio, told us that he feels like he is living in a technological time warp. When he ordered “Zip Disks” for his central tabulator, the package included literature that was more than a decade old. “When we purchased new Zip Disks in 2012, they had a coupon in the package that expired in 1999.”

The Internet of Things meltdown in October 2016 was apparently caused by a Minecraft scam.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is, to my amazement, real. Participating members of the Electoral College pledge to be faithless when it appears that the popular vote will not be decisive. “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.”

The Republic of Texas was a soverign country from 1836 to 1846. The Six Flags amusement park is named to recognize the various authorities in Texas over the years.

“I am in control here” was the famous claim by Secretary of State Alexander Haig when Ronald Reagan was shot.

From the White House it is a short drive down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Old Post Office which, after years of neglect, was converted into a Trump-branded hotel at 1100 Penn.

The Clinton campaign cancelled a fireworks display scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

CIT 0001 is the application for Canadian citizenship.

wasoxygen  ·  186 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Reduced-calorie diet shows signs of slowing ageing in people

Was 72 hours your longest fast? How was the break-fast?

mk  ·  186 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes, I've done it twice now. Typically I just skip breakfast, and about 1/2 the time, any sort of lunch.

Every couple of weeks or so I'll have breakfast and lunch, just to mix it up.

wasoxygen  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Contra contemporary architecture

Impossible to respond to a subject that generates so many rabbit trails, e.g. Ponte City Tower.

wasoxygen  ·  209 days ago  ·  link  ·  

...which appears in the video for “Makeba”.

wasoxygen  ·  224 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What are your favourite podcasts?

EconTalk can be wonky but often has interesting guests. You (and goobster and BLOB_CASTLE) might enjoy the interview with Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project. She describes the history, how they price tickets, how they catch crashers, how attendees get water and what happens to the waste, and how sales are discouraged.

elizabeth  ·  224 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'll give that a listen, thanks!

The future is here – AlphaZero learns chess

    Approaching chess might still seem unusual. After all, although DeepMind had already shown near revolutionary breakthroughs thanks to Go, that had been a game that had yet to be ‘solved’. Chess already had its Deep Blue 20 years ago, and today even a good smartphone can beat the world number one. What is there to prove exactly?

Would the best mobile phone chess app be a favorite in a match against Carlsen?

    AlphaZero had done more than just master the game, it had attained new heights in ways considered inconceivable. The test is in the pudding of course, so before going into some of the fascinating nitty-gritty details, let’s cut to the chase. It played a match against the latest and greatest version of Stockfish, and won by an incredible score of 64 : 36, and not only that, AlphaZero had zero losses (28 wins and 72 draws)!

    Stockfish needs no introduction to ChessBase readers, but it's worth noting that the program was on a computer that was running nearly 900 times faster! Indeed, AlphaZero was calculating roughly 80 thousand positions per second, while Stockfish, running on a PC with 64 threads (likely a 32-core machine) was running at 70 million positions per second. In spite of this insane deficit, AlphaZero crushed Stockfish 64-36 with no losses at a time control of one minute per move.

    In the diagram above, we can see that in the early games, AlphaZero was quite enthusiastic about playing the French Defense, but after two hours (this so humiliating) began to play it less and less.
Devac  ·  292 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But (from what I gather) Stockfish didn't have an opening book. It plays a big role when it comes to performance and the level of play. It doesn't diminish the achievement, though I wouldn't mind a repeat.

wasoxygen  ·  292 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    GM Hikaru Nakamura ... called the match "dishonest" and pointed out that Stockfish's methodology requires it to have an openings book for optimal performance.

I agree that's a significant handicap, and it would seem fairer to pit the algorithms against each other at full strength, running on equivalent hardware.

Still, it would merely be an exhibition to see which bot is farther along on the road to divinity.

    "I am pretty sure God himself could not beat Stockfish 75 percent of the time with White without certain handicaps."
Devac  ·  292 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Let's not be so darmatic. ;)

wasoxygen  ·  308 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: FCC plans to vote to overturn U.S. net neutrality rules in December

    what if internet is going to go the way of cable tv?

Cable TV greatly improved access to television content compared to over-the-air broadcast, with more and more channels and packages available year after year.

The FCC used a light touch, requiring a "basic tier" of local channels and a few extras, but otherwise practicing literal neutrality: leaving decisions about pricing and packaging of additional content between the providers and their customers.

Cable TV companies created a smorgasbord of options to try and appeal to a broad cross-section of customers. Big content creators like Disney negotiated to get less-popular channels bundled together with popular channels like ESPN.

Customers always complain, but wired cable penetration passed 70% by 2000. Canadians objected to the bundling, so the CRTC required "skinny" TV capped at $25 per month, with additional channels available individually. Customers were not impressed with the results.

    "Am I allowed to laugh?" said Gilda Spitz when asked for her reaction to the prices for the new line-up of stand-alone channels offered by Rogers. Most cost $4 or $7 each.

    ...some industry experts are not surprised by the pick and pay prices. That's because, they say, TV providers are for-profit companies, and their main objective is to protect the bottom line.

    "What did you really expect?" says telecom expert Gerry Wall.

Today, only half of U.S. homes are wired for cable, as more and more households opt to cut the cable and stream online. We have pay-per-view, "catch-up" TV, monthly subscription models, near video on demand, push VOD, and all kinds of telecom bundles and tie-ins with mobile and home telephone service.

Even if you only pay for broadband internet, it is impossible to run out of free stuff to watch.

Is this the kind of "nightmare" scenario you are worried about?

veen  ·  307 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Cable TV greatly improved access to television content compared to over-the-air broadcast, with more and more channels and packages available year after year.

More and more packages - for more and more money, with the good ones of course spread over multiple packages. Check out that graph! It rises 3 times faster than inflation since 1998.

My argument is that the same cost hiking is bound to happen with internet if the FCC is gonna do this. The airline industry might serve as a good corollary to this. Airline seat pricing is time-dependent and, if the airlines had their way, customer-dependent. Do you know the concept of willingness to pay? It's the bread and butter of airline pricing: each person has a dollar value in their head that represents what they are willing to pay for a service: anything above and they won't buy a ticket. The only goal that shareholders want an airline to pursue is to get every person in every single seat to pay as close to that price as possible.

The most lucrative passengers are people who fly for business reasons, since the cost/benefit calculation is nearly always positive. If airlines could charge you more for traveling as a business-passenger they would, but they're not allowed to directly discriminate like that. But pretty much all business passengers want to be home on Friday or Saturday, so one of the best ways for airlines to figure out if you are a tourist or a businessman is to offer a cheap ticket that has your outbound flight before Saturday night and the inbound after. This is called the saturday-night stay, and while good competition can destroy it, the airline industry in the US has consolidated so much that it is pretty much standard now.

My "nightmare" scenario is that price-practices like this will also be adopted by ISPs. They have your internet history anyways, so they can totally figure out how rich you approximately are. Net neutrality also prevents discrimination between customers, if I understand it correctly.

Infrastructure costs are important, but it's not like cable companies aren't making plenty of money - the problem is that they let the customer pay for that kind of stuff, because capitalism. Also, wouldn't it be an argument for net neutrality if internet penetration is larger than TV cable penetration?

wasoxygen  ·  308 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: FCC plans to vote to overturn U.S. net neutrality rules in December

    this offering isn't bad because it is additional choice onto not too bad plans in the first place

Why do you say the plans are not too bad? Do they satisfy a legal standard of non-badness? Or are you comparing them to what is offered by other providers? These plans would have been miraculous a few years ago, and they will be horrible a few years from now.

Satisfying customer demand is the driving force behind offering these options. Profit is the main motivator, no question, and the most successful firms maximize profit by focusing on customer satisfaction.

    what's to stop them from slowing your internet down solely to get you to pay more for 'packages' to 'unlock the full experience'?

What stops any business from degrading product quality, then adding an extra fee to restore the quality? (And then doing so again and again?)

While most people are appropriately cynical about corporate behavior, in this case people are not cynical enough. They have already jacked up the price as much as possible right up to the point where they risk losing profit to the competition. They already provide the very minimum (measured by cost to provide) that they can get away with, before too many customers switch to alternatives.

veen  ·  308 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Alright, let's talk plans. I consider them not-bad partly because of my frame of reference. Another thing is that they are far removed from my imagined 'worst nightmare' non-neutrality situation. I'm sure you've encountered this argument before, but I'm gonna bring it up anyway: what if internet is going to go the way of cable tv?

In this imagined world, companies have slowly persuaded people to get bundles for their most popular apps (like the kinda good deals in the Portugal example). Because people don't want to increase their internet fees too much (or at all), they downgrade their base bundle. So most customers then have a few bundles and a small base bundle. Each bundle has a data limit (because fair use).

There's a bunch of things I don't like about that scenario, which I think is likely to happen. Most notably, it is a world that heavily favours incumbents. You're not going to make it with your film streaming site Flatnix if Netflix is already in a popular bundle. The ISPs would probably ask a nice fee from each company that wants to join a bundle, one that will only make it harder for David to beat Goliath. Hubski would never be in a bundle, so that means I can only 'ski with that smaller bundle.

Secondly, with more bundles to keep in check, there will be more overcharge fees, which are probably super lucrative for ISPs. My mom is on social media all the time, and I had to explain to her that she really needs to turn off LTE and turn on wifi whenever she is at home or at work. Her bill almost double her actual plan for multiple months when I found that out.

Neither of those things are better at satisfying customer demand than our current, net neutral world.

    They already provide the very minimum (measured by cost to provide) that they can get away with, before too many customers switch to alternatives.

This is a good point and I don't have a good comeback to it. But as the above kinda shows, if profit is the main motivator (which we both agree on) customer demand is not the driving force. I think that the current local optimum of value per dollar offered to customers is higher than what we would end up with in a world where all ISPs would do a bundle-like thing like I described. I would much prefer ISPs increasing the price for all customers a little, instead of them increasing the price of visiting sites that they don't care about or don't favor.

wasoxygen  ·  308 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    what if internet is going to go the way of cable tv?

Cable TV greatly improved access to television content compared to over-the-air broadcast, with more and more channels and packages available year after year.

The FCC used a light touch, requiring a "basic tier" of local channels and a few extras, but otherwise practicing literal neutrality: leaving decisions about pricing and packaging of additional content between the providers and their customers.

Cable TV companies created a smorgasbord of options to try and appeal to a broad cross-section of customers. Big content creators like Disney negotiated to get less-popular channels bundled together with popular channels like ESPN.

Customers always complain, but wired cable penetration passed 70% by 2000. Canadians objected to the bundling, so the CRTC required "skinny" TV capped at $25 per month, with additional channels available individually. Customers were not impressed with the results.

    "Am I allowed to laugh?" said Gilda Spitz when asked for her reaction to the prices for the new line-up of stand-alone channels offered by Rogers. Most cost $4 or $7 each.

    ...some industry experts are not surprised by the pick and pay prices. That's because, they say, TV providers are for-profit companies, and their main objective is to protect the bottom line.

    "What did you really expect?" says telecom expert Gerry Wall.

Today, only half of U.S. homes are wired for cable, as more and more households opt to cut the cable and stream online. We have pay-per-view, "catch-up" TV, monthly subscription models, near video on demand, push VOD, and all kinds of telecom bundles and tie-ins with mobile and home telephone service.

Even if you only pay for broadband internet, it is impossible to run out of free stuff to watch.

Is this the kind of "nightmare" scenario you are worried about?

veen  ·  307 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Cable TV greatly improved access to television content compared to over-the-air broadcast, with more and more channels and packages available year after year.

More and more packages - for more and more money, with the good ones of course spread over multiple packages. Check out that graph! It rises 3 times faster than inflation since 1998.

My argument is that the same cost hiking is bound to happen with internet if the FCC is gonna do this. The airline industry might serve as a good corollary to this. Airline seat pricing is time-dependent and, if the airlines had their way, customer-dependent. Do you know the concept of willingness to pay? It's the bread and butter of airline pricing: each person has a dollar value in their head that represents what they are willing to pay for a service: anything above and they won't buy a ticket. The only goal that shareholders want an airline to pursue is to get every person in every single seat to pay as close to that price as possible.

The most lucrative passengers are people who fly for business reasons, since the cost/benefit calculation is nearly always positive. If airlines could charge you more for traveling as a business-passenger they would, but they're not allowed to directly discriminate like that. But pretty much all business passengers want to be home on Friday or Saturday, so one of the best ways for airlines to figure out if you are a tourist or a businessman is to offer a cheap ticket that has your outbound flight before Saturday night and the inbound after. This is called the saturday-night stay, and while good competition can destroy it, the airline industry in the US has consolidated so much that it is pretty much standard now.

My "nightmare" scenario is that price-practices like this will also be adopted by ISPs. They have your internet history anyways, so they can totally figure out how rich you approximately are. Net neutrality also prevents discrimination between customers, if I understand it correctly.

Infrastructure costs are important, but it's not like cable companies aren't making plenty of money - the problem is that they let the customer pay for that kind of stuff, because capitalism. Also, wouldn't it be an argument for net neutrality if internet penetration is larger than TV cable penetration?