Search found 54 matches

by GabrielF
Thu May 12, 2011 2:32 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!
Replies: 226
Views: 176507

Re: xkcd's favourite 100 books - vote now!

No particular order. Cutting this to 20 was painful. 1. The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass 2. The Periodic Table - Primo Levi 3. The Futurological Congress - Stanislaw Lem 4. The Road - Cormac McCarthy 5. The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin 6. The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx 7. Ender's Game - ...
by GabrielF
Tue May 10, 2011 3:09 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: The Cyberiad
Replies: 16
Views: 9298

Re: The Cyberiad

It seems to me that all the Kings and noblemen that the two Constructors come across are tyrants or imbeciles. Their primary concerns are greed and self adulation. They also view the two constructors as entertainment value only, and call on them for only selfish reasons. There isn't anything import...
by GabrielF
Mon May 09, 2011 4:42 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: The Cyberiad
Replies: 16
Views: 9298

Re: The Cyberiad

Yes, it was from The Minds I. Hofstadter and Dennett FTW!
by GabrielF
Sun May 08, 2011 5:59 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: The Cyberiad
Replies: 16
Views: 9298

Re: The Cyberiad

I think I first encountered Lem when I took a philosophy of mind class over the summer in high school and the teacher read us (I think) the Seventh Sally from the Cyberiad. That's the one where Klapaucius and Trurl find a deposed king on an asteroid and build him a complete model kingdom in a box an...
by GabrielF
Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:02 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Is a pack consciousness possible?
Replies: 50
Views: 4451

Re: Is a pack consciousness possible?

How much bandwidth is actually needed to be useful? Remember, there is an awful lot of computing power at each node, which should allow a lot of optimizing of communications. How far would, say, an order of magnitude increase the available bandwidth (about twice the frequency range, twice the frequ...
by GabrielF
Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:31 pm UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Is a pack consciousness possible?
Replies: 50
Views: 4451

Is a pack consciousness possible?

I've been reading a fascinating science fiction novel, A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, and the author describes a species that has a sort of pack consciousness. There are 4-6 individuals per pack and each individual is similar to a dog. The individuals have a collective consciousness that each...
by GabrielF
Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:56 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: homeless people need the Internet too!
Replies: 19
Views: 2133

homeless people need the Internet too!

The Wall Street Journal has a great article about homeless people in SF using the Internet to do the same cool stuff everyone else does - watch movies, share photos, blog, learn programming. Of course they have to be creative to find power and wifi. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124363359881267523...
by GabrielF
Sun May 24, 2009 5:59 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: FBI Thwarts Attacks On NYC Temple, Upstate Airport
Replies: 4
Views: 965

Re: FBI Thwarts Attacks On NYC Temple, Upstate Airport

On that note, who's to say the warrantless wire tapping isnt what made the FBI aware of their ability to place an informant in a stinger missile purchasing position? Well the NYTimes is reporting that they had a guy hanging around a mosque trying to ferret out radicals. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/...
by GabrielF
Sat May 23, 2009 10:40 pm UTC
Forum: Movies and TV Shows
Topic: Israeli Films
Replies: 19
Views: 2092

Re: Israeli Films

I liked Walk on Water, a drama from a few years ago.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0352994/
by GabrielF
Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:15 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Israel
Replies: 1040
Views: 92974

Re: Israel

Be honest, it's not a fence. It's a wall. It's a semantical question, but it's silly calling it a fence when it's a wall. Except for the parts that are not wall, but in fact, fence? I'd say it's the same reason we call it the Berlin wall, even when that was just a fence, or the parts of it that wer...
by GabrielF
Mon Jan 05, 2009 5:20 am UTC
Forum: Movies and TV Shows
Topic: Milk
Replies: 12
Views: 2369

Re: Milk

I really liked it. My only complaint was that I didn't really like that they made Don White into a closet case. From what I've read that isn't accurate and it felt like Hollywood trying to take a complicated guy and package him to make a point. There's an interesting article in SF Weekly from a year...
by GabrielF
Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:43 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Israel
Replies: 1040
Views: 92974

Re: Israel

IMHO what is happening right now is that Hamas is looking to A) inflict casualties on the Israelis to end the blockade and B) prompt retaliation from the Israelis to win international support. Either way the rocket attacks by Hamas hardly constitutes legitimate strategy and is bound to work as well...
by GabrielF
Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:25 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Israel
Replies: 1040
Views: 92974

Re: Israel

It's very likely that Israels actions are terrorism. Terrorism is a violent act intended to coerce a population. Considering Israels lack of consideration for the well being of the citizens of Gaza, the dubious value of the recent bombings in terms of physically preventing the rocket attacks, and t...
by GabrielF
Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:06 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Thank you, President Bush
Replies: 53
Views: 4134

Re: Thank you, President Bush

I have over time become increasingly amused with the parallels between the Lincoln presidency and the second Bush presidency. Both started a war, both suspended habeas corpus , both engaged in detention without trial. Hell, at least President Bush didn't sign arrest papers for a supreme court justi...
by GabrielF
Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:46 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Thank you, President Bush
Replies: 53
Views: 4134

Re: Thank you, President Bush

As far as I know, PEPFAR, the President's initiative on AIDS in Africa was a good idea that didn't manage to become a massive fuckup.

Pretty much everything else seems to have been a miserable failure.
by GabrielF
Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:38 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Concerning Torture & Does Torture Work?
Replies: 49
Views: 6010

Re: Does Torture Work?

My recommendation would be that there should be a policy against torture in all cases. If a case arises that requires torture, the judgment can be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether the torture was legitimate. This should discourage it in all but the most necessary cases, but still permit t...
by GabrielF
Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:43 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Concerning Torture & Does Torture Work?
Replies: 49
Views: 6010

Re: Does Torture Work?

Intelligence gathering rarely gives you information that is guaranteed to be true - a spy or a defector could be a double agent, your adversary could know about your wiretap and be using it to plant false information, etc. Clearly if you're looking for truth beyond a shadow of a doubt than informati...
by GabrielF
Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:42 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: New York's new "Nerd Taxes"
Replies: 51
Views: 4513

Re: New York's new "Nerd Taxes"

I'm not a fan of sin taxes... You could argue that by taxing soda you're fighting obesity which is both a public health issue and a huge cost to the state, but a can of coke isn't a cigarette - you can drink coke without being obese and you can be obese and drink diet coke. You also aren't spewing ...
by GabrielF
Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:03 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Recommended Books on Robotics & AI?
Replies: 20
Views: 3208

Re: Recommended Books on Robotics & AI?

Altercator wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:Are you also interested in fiction about AI and robots?


If they can help, yeah. Do you have anything great in mind?


The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem is a classic.
by GabrielF
Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:59 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: New York's new "Nerd Taxes"
Replies: 51
Views: 4513

Re: New York's new "Nerd Taxes"

I'm not a fan of sin taxes. I'm perfectly okay with an arrangement where if you want some kind of special privilege or service you have to pay a fee to support it - say a bank paying money into the FDIC so that people can get their money back if the bank goes under - but beyond this, the burden of s...
by GabrielF
Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:07 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Bush attacked with shoes
Replies: 95
Views: 8350

Re: Bush attacked with shoes

After watching this, though, I can truly say this is the first time I've been proud of our President. I would've gotten bonked right in the nose. I like the look on Bush's face right after the first shoe is thrown. It's kind of a bemused "really?" Of course, that might be a "I ravage...
by GabrielF
Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:01 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Bush attacked with shoes
Replies: 95
Views: 8350

Re: Bush attacked with shoes

I remembered those lines in The West Wing about Secret Service; namely "the best armed guard in the history of the world" and about how with the assassination attempt, agents apprehended the shooters - an act that required running up five flights of stairs - nine point two seconds after t...
by GabrielF
Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:43 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Violent/Scary/Just Plain Weird Animal Behaviours
Replies: 20
Views: 2543

Re: Violent/Scary/Just Plain Weird Animal Behaviours

Animal behavior was maybe the most fun class I took in college.

Sure, parasitism and murder are fun but my favorite behaviors are probably the bower-building of the bower birds, the bee waggle dance and the lek.
by GabrielF
Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:16 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Neal Stephenson - Anathem
Replies: 80
Views: 24406

Re: Neal Stephenson - Anathem

I've gotten into the habit of calling my iPhone a jeejah.
by GabrielF
Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:13 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Magazines You Read/Subscribe to
Replies: 41
Views: 5587

Re: Magazines You Read/Subscribe to

The only magazine I subscribe to is the New Yorker, which I read on the train. I think it has the best writing out there. There are some culture articles that I have no interest in (a recent piece on bargain stores in NYC comes to mind) but there's usually something brilliant. I used to get the Econ...
by GabrielF
Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:02 am UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Post Cold War sci fi
Replies: 8
Views: 1703

Re: Post Cold War sci fi

The Forever War series was partly an anti-Vietnam statement, while Starship Troopers was the counter-arguement. To nitpick, Starship Troopers came first and was a product of the 30s, 40s and 50s. The Forever War was the counter-argument. As for post cold-war scifi - the best example I can think of ...
by GabrielF
Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:37 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Recommended reading for science newbie, please?
Replies: 29
Views: 3701

Re: Recommended reading for science newbie, please?

I definitely second The Selfish Gene . If you're interested in more literary stuff: The Periodic Table , by Primo Levi is not really a book about science, but it was recently voted the best science book of all time, and its really, really good. Basically, Levi was a chemist and a Holocaust survivor ...
by GabrielF
Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:11 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Possible cognitive psychology question
Replies: 4
Views: 809

Re: Possible neuroscience question

Cognitive psychology looks at internal mental processes, such as perception and memory. It is a very empirical discipline and rejects the kind of introspection that probably leads you to put very little stock in psychology. There's a lot of overlap between cognitive psychology and cognitive neurosci...
by GabrielF
Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:55 am UTC
Forum: Science
Topic: Possible cognitive psychology question
Replies: 4
Views: 809

Re: Possible neuroscience question

It didn't work for me.

FWIW - I think cognitive psychology would probably be more illuminating here than neuroscience.
by GabrielF
Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:58 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Why do Republicans mock "community organizer" role?
Replies: 58
Views: 6647

Re: Why do Republicans mock "community organizer" role?

What really pissed me off about the community organizer crap was that the McCain/Palin campaign lionizes service - the theme for the day before Palin's speech was service - and yet they are perfectly happy to denigrate and mock the service of people like Obama. I'm no Barack Obama, but I just spent ...
by GabrielF
Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:38 am UTC
Forum: Religious Wars
Topic: Antivirus program for windows yes? no? if so which?
Replies: 54
Views: 23301

Re: Antivirus program for windows yes? no? if so which?

All of the machines I supported in my last job were running AVG free 7.5 or 8. A lot of the users were high-risk - either kids or people with limited computing experience. AVG is okay, but I've seen a couple of machines with it get completely crippled by spyware (DNS hijackers, browser hijackers, fa...
by GabrielF
Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:20 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist
Replies: 129
Views: 29847

Re: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist

I can read. I am capable of recognizing pithy and precise language and exacting argumentation.
by GabrielF
Thu Jul 31, 2008 6:45 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist
Replies: 129
Views: 29847

Re: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist

I could post excerpts from neuroimaging articles here out of context and they would make little to no sense to someone outside of the field as well. When I talk about myelin and action potentials to my partner, his eyes glaze over (he is a musician) and I at the same time do not understand his love...
by GabrielF
Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:41 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Self medication
Replies: 24
Views: 3438

Re: Self medication

Who has claimed that we are at the apex of human/societal evolution? Francis Fukuyama, for one, claimed this when he used the phrase "end of history" at the end of the cold war: "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of p...
by GabrielF
Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:33 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Ask a feminist theorist....
Replies: 54
Views: 5789

Re: Ask a feminist theorist....

Also, what I really came to ask is if anybody has a link to the actual study that found that women were paid 77 cents on the dollar to what a man makes. It's just that I swear I've heard that statistic since birth and yet I've never seen the actual study and I'd like to. Not that the study was wron...
by GabrielF
Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:02 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Ask a feminist theorist....
Replies: 54
Views: 5789

Re: Ask a feminist theorist....

As a feminism/neuroscience scholar, I'm curious if you've read The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker and have a response to it. Pinker's main point is that feminism scholars, and others in academia, have been very adamant in rejecting research that demonstrates that genes have a major effect on human beh...
by GabrielF
Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:11 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: When knives just aren't deadly enough
Replies: 69
Views: 5624

Re: When knives just aren't deadly enough

Oh there's worse than sharks.

Here's a new species to live in fear of.
by GabrielF
Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:25 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist
Replies: 129
Views: 29847

Re: Ask (Or just berate) a Literary Theorist

Phil, I think you've made one of the most reasonable and accessible explanations of your field that I've heard. My frustration with theory is that feminism scholars, queer theorists, marxism scholars, et. al. can be tremendously sanctimonious. In the sciences it would be considered Very Bad to study...
by GabrielF
Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:16 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: PickensPlan -> Energy Efficiency
Replies: 94
Views: 9030

Re: PickensPlan

If it were a profitable venture, businesses would have already done it on their own without government prodding. That's a little too simplistic. There are plenty of potential bottlenecks that keep the private sector from doing bold, but potentially profitable things. It may require massive capital ...
by GabrielF
Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:54 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Iran and Israel Exchange Threats
Replies: 76
Views: 6301

Re: Iran and Israel Exchange Threats

Its very difficult for me to imagine any country responding differently to the way Israel responded in the recent Lebanon conflict. Remember that Hezbollah started that one by crossing the border and kidnapping Israeli soldiers, and then firing off barrages of rockets. Israel was left in a position ...

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