* Posts by Michael

17 posts • joined 27 Oct 2007

Mormons demand ICANN plugs net smut hole


Statistics versus Truth

Two themes -- one is an anti-Mormon thread that surfaces from time to time regardless of the topic at hand. I had supposed El Reg readers (or at least respondents) were more mature than many seem to be.

The other is a discussion of the metrics. One claim is that Utah is 58 percent Mormon. That may be so; but you certainly won't see 58 percent of the population in church on Sunday. Another claim is that 1/2 of one percent of broadband subscribers are subscribing to pornography. While no express claim is being made as to an association, it is clear that the author assumes that the 1/2 percent porn subscribers are the 1/2 of the population that is Mormon.

More probably the 1/2 percent are found in the counter-culture. Many Latter-day Saints refused to have the internet whatsoever, and this shifts the statistics toward the counter-culture. Any time you have a dominant culture you are going to find one or more well-established counter-cultures -- as you can see right here with large numbers of almost boiler-plate anti-Mormon rants. Maybe they're coming from a 'bot.

I expect a great many of the most vitriolic anti-Mormon comments to be coming from Mormons or ex-Mormons who have a bone to pick. I hope that most El Reg readers really don't care what one group or another is doing in their backyard.

By Steven Hunter Posted Wednesday 18th March 2009 20:23 GMT Flame " What the hell is wrong with these people?"

I knew a Mormon by the name of Steven Hunter. Shall I assume that this writer is he? You are making too many assumptions here, gentle people. What are "these people"? I have been discussing Mormonism for a great many years, and I believe that I have never found two Mormons with exactly the same beliefs despite a great effort to standardize everything or at least just the core beliefs.

IT Angle

Kinda like the Race Card

In the eastern United States, particularly around Washington DC at the time I lived there, pretty much every news story included the race of the person whose story was being published. It seemed to serve no purpose, but it is what their readers and viewers seemed to demand.

This writer for "The Register" seems to think that you want to know the religion of the CEO of SCO and his followers but only if it can be said, guessed, inferred or imputed that he is a Mormon. All it takes to be a Mormon is to have lived in Utah, or visited there once, or seen it on Google Earth.

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is quite a bit more difficult. It takes a bit of work and study.

As you review the official commandments, link to which is below, perhaps you'll notice that none of them tell members to inflict their religion on their neighbors through political action groups and things like that. Members are encouraged to be engaged in worthy causes of their own free will and, obviously, if you have a majority it will manifest in the democratic process, just as Catholicism works its way into Baltimore's politics and Irish politics are heavily influenced by Catholic versus Protestant ethics.

Since the topic pertains to pornography on the internet, I advise the official church policy is to "avoid" it, but there is no specific, simple rule as to what it is. I find no church rule specifying that we deny others; however, the State of Utah does have a bit of law on the subject. It would be better, therefore, to complain to the State of Utah rather than to Mormons.

I regret that no simple answer exists. Mormon president Spencer W. Kimball wrote: "The very words used to clear up the thinking of one young man can put ideas into the head of another." This was referencing a Bishop who had asked a number of "have you ever..." questions to a young man who didn't even know such things existed, and it "preyed upon his mind" and he went and tried some of these things.



Colonel: Bowman army comms 'astonishingly bad'


Old equipment was good equipment

I've been out of the military for some while so I do not know the current state of affairs; but back in the day the ancient R-390 receiver was absolutely incredible in its sensitivity and selectivity. It had huge banks of ganged tuning coils and gears and cams; a nightmare to tune I'm sure BUT I used to have the receiver tied to the same antenna as a CB radio, and I could transmit CB and listen to a shortwave signal on the R-390 at the same time without an isolator or coupler so long as the receiver was at least 2 megacycles (yes, it was calibrated in good old MC) from the CB frequency. I have never seen a synthesized receiver or transceiver perform as well.


US judge says University can ignore Christian course credits


Purpose by Observation?

I am reminded of Schroedinger's Cat that is, until the moment of observation, simultaneously alive and dead.

Thus while I hold that the objective purpose of a thing exists only in the mind of the purposer, concurrent valid alternate purposes might well exist in the minds of observers and this superposition (multitude of interpretations simultaneously present) does not collapse to a single purpose until the authoritative purpose is made known by the maker.

Therefore I modify my assertions and allow for an *atheist to arrive at a personal (ie, non-binding on anyone else) conclusion as to the purpose of life.

*(In this instance, "atheist" will mean a person that denies the existence of a maker, hence, there can be no authoritative, objective "real" purpose of life).

Since each observer's judgement is non-binding on others, there is not much point ultimately in revealing private, non-binding judgements; while there may yet be value in revealing the *objective* purposes intended by the maker of the object.

As an example, consider the movie "Crockodile Dundee" in which he is trying to figure out the purpose of a bidet. He creates his own interpretation of the function of a bidet; but value exists in finding out what REALLY (objectively) was intended for the purpose of a bidet.

Thus we can suppose that life may have an objective purpose established by its maker, and many alternative purposes envisioned by observers.

The Wikipedia article on Schrodinger's Cat is rather interesting and explores some alternative interpretations; one of which is that quantum mechanics is deterministic (predictable) all the way back to the Big Bang; that everything that has happened or ever will happen has been determined from the very beginning. Maybe not *predictable* but determined. Other interpretations include the many worlds scenario where ALL outcomes simultaneously exist in non-communicating worlds which would be rather infinite in number. Science fiction plays to that theme quite a bit but if these worlds are not communicating then we have a problem with *mass* as each world would need its own mass (to avoid interacting with any other world whose mass might be somewhat different -- we shoot a rocket to Mars in one world, but not another; the mass of the Earth and everything on it will be subtly different).


The Circularity of "Why"

"(1) Why MUST your life have purpose other than "to live"? (2) You have little faith in things if you must have a reason for it. (3) What's "God"'s purpose in living?"

1. One must ask the maker of life why life must have purpose. If you believe there is no maker, then the question loses meaning as there can be, for you, no purposer and hence no purpose.

Realizing this requires "critical thinking", the thing that the University of California said was missing from religious instruction but which obviously is also missing from atheist instruction. Absent a god, we are *nothing* but an accident, with no purpose, no right, no wrong, no good, no evil. What will replace it is what is good FOR YOU and society will fail PDQ when large numbers of its members think that way.

If I make a pot, the reason for it is known only to me, the maker. I don't care if my pots believe in me; they need only to fulfil their purposes.

2. I suppose that by some definitions of faith this is a true statement. I do prefer to have reasons for things and my particular theology embraces knowledge with the motto "the glory of God is intelligence".

3. God's purpose in living is defined by God's maker. Only created things or made things can have a purpose, and the purpose is established by the maker. It is possible for a thing to have different purposes according to each observer who imagines what he or she might be able to do with the thing observed.


Silly daddy, there is no air.

I have to laugh, or I'd be dismayed, at the hypocrisy of the typical atheist. They have as much faith as a true believer, as much tolerance of others as a Southern Baptist, and even "buzz words" or jargon private to their religion: "Fucking hell fundamentalist nutters..." and "flying spaghetti monster".

That's good. Show us the value of secular education.

I am reminded of my daughter when she was little and declared, "silly daddy, there is no air!" I wondered how to prove "air" and decided to wait a bit. You see, it didn't NEED proving right then.

Eventually I used an inverted glass cup in a sink of water, the invisible air in the cup pushing down on the water. Like any convert, my daughter has no memory of ever NOT believing in air. But the evidence of air is somewhat indirect, someone could propose that the glass cup has a special property that pushes water down. In the end, the exasperated parent simply says WHATEVER is pushing the water down, is AIR.

So it is with religion. I do not need to prove god to you, and you do not need to disprove god to me. Should you persist, and many of you do, I will tend to agree that the "straw man" god you have created exists only in your mind and therefore has no other existence.

I love science in any flavor. The possibility that humans are more than mere assemblage of chemicals gives my life joy and purpose. I read National Geographic and Scientific American to see HOW things operate, but nothing in them is WHY they operate.

(Icon "GO" hoping that narrow minded, linguistically offensive persons of any flavor will go somewhere else).


Scientists unravel galactic spaghetti monster


Sheep in clouds?

"You've got to love the irony that, after making up a deity as a protest against intelligent design, science comes around and provides proof of said non-existing deity's existance."

I suppose you see sheep in clouds? This is a fascinating object to be sure, but hardly proof of the Flying Spaghetti Monster whose existence is still speculative.


Game sharer gets £16K fine


New Business Model

"By that justification, I should be able to walk into my nearest Curry's, pick a new TV off the shelf, and wander away muttering some rubbish about "outdated business models"."

Actually, the new business model is if you walked into a nearest Curry's and *cloned* a new TV. You have removed nothing that was not already there, "stolen nothing" in other words.

New business models must take into account this factor, pirates are not rival with your *possession*, but they are rival with sales of intangible *licenses* to operate (the game, music, movie). Successful business models shift the "monetization" to the license itself. It has been so with mainframe software for decades. Alas, while computer programs can be made that require licensing, audio media formats exist that do not and I can think of no way to prevent it -- music is just data (whereas a computer program MUST interact with the central processing unit creating a point of control).

Ah, but what if the *data* is never released? Suppose you come to the data, not the other way round! That is how Google Earth maintains its ability to monetize the otherwise free Google Earth. That is how online games can do it; you cannot copy the game because you never possess the game; you can at most possess only moment-in-time screenshots.

Paying for permission to do ordinary things (the "license") is almost unknown in the USA. When I first encountered the concept of paying for a radio or television receiver I was amazed. What am I paying FOR? The signals are in the air, just reach out and grab some signal. Why should I pay anyone for THAT?

As an aside: Sir Thomas More' explained it quite well 500 years ago in "Utopia", the concept of taxing ordinary behaviors simply because you CAN.

You can make money in two ways (that I can think of right now) in a commons. One is to restrict entry to the commons in the first place and the other is to appeal to a Patron.

The Patron pays for something expensive and what the Patron gets is not always or very often obvious. Michaelangelo had a patron without whom we would have no Sistine Chapel artwork or naked David. Open Office exists because of patrons Sun Microsystems and Star Division GmbH .

Restricting entry to the commons is achieved in various ways. Put a fence around it the easiest (National Parks for example).

Making a part of the commons "uncommon" is the most ancient and proven way. In the original commons, everyone herded sheep or whatever on the same grass. Strong temptation existed for you to herd more sheep than your neighbor and thus gain advantage. The inevitable result is destruction of the commons by overgrazing; and the cure is to fence the commons into little plots, at which point it is no longer a commons; OR put one big fence around the whole commons and appoint a gatekeeper to control entry to the commons.

In the case of video games, the gatekeeper is the web server that controls your access to online games and you never possess the actual game, but you are vicariously in the commons of the playing field.

When you buy a game that can be copied, you are in a commons, and if you cheat, the commons will be destroyed. In the case of games, writers of games will cease to produce games if they really cannot obtain compensation. It is inevitable.

Consider the "Grand Canyon Skywalk". The Grand Canyon itself is too big to fence or restrict in a meaningful way. BUT if you control (or create) a highly desired viewing point, then you can monetize the value of that viewpoint and you can further increase the monetization by not allowing copying -- since it is a "view" that is being sold, prohibiting photography prevents copying the "view" thus: "No Cameras Allowed -- Many visitors have complained about the unusual rule that no cameras are permitted on the skywalk. The tribe claims that this is to protect the glass from being scratched, while critics believe that this is more to preserve their ability to sell postcards and other stock images." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon_Skywalk)

(Penguin, because the commons can contain excellent free software, the free dirt on which value propositions can still be built)


God makes you stupid, researchers claim


IQ attempts to measure problem solving ability

So far as it goes, I tend to agree with the result of this kind of study, but what they are measuring is not religion per se, but acceptance of what they've been told uncritically. It is entirely possible to approach God and religion critically and the outcome is not predictable. For an intelligent, critical thinker, if you have evidence of God, then it cannot be dismissed. If you don't, that too cannot be dismissed.

IQ: I was thoroughly examined when joining the Navy in particular as I was a candidate for the Academy and some sort of Engineering. Portions of these tests examine "learning" and portions test visual and spatial task solving capacity and are not related to learning and culture. I was even tested on my ability to perceive whether two audio tones were the same pitch or different.

I am a very rational person. Facts are important to me; but so is friendship and happiness. These things need not be "rival". I have not yet discovered a basis for Morality that does not involve God.

I had no conspicuous religion growing up. It is the existence of a small miracle in my teenage life that started me on the road to belief. Since then, many more such things have proven to my demanding satisfaction that there is indeed some kind of God; a being that is aware of what I am doing and can suggest alterations in what I am doing with immediate beneficial consequence, but the benefits usually are to someone else. To me, these are facts. For to you they become anecdotes, thrown in a big pot of soup along with everyone else's anecdotes. I don't need you to believe me but it would be nice if atheists would quit calling me and my kind deluded, insane, etc.

You can review the relative merits of atheists on the newsgroup alt.atheism and judge for yourself whether this class of person represents the next stage of human evolution. They are every bit as tied to their beliefs as I am to mine.


New York talks net giants into child pornography crackdown


Long Live Usenet

A wee bit more than 200 years ago some Murricans decided not to conform to British mandates on what Newsgroups were permitted to exist or that it should exist at all. That's a bit of a twist on history, but the idea that one of you dictates what another should see and do is well established by the comments above.

I enjoy Usenet. It is not your place to tell me Usenet should not exist. It is the one and only sure way to escape narcissists; and those writers that want Usenet *gone* must be the aformentioned narcissists who want that I must conform to a blogger's personal bias in order to write my thoughts.

Of course I can always start my own blog, but that is not a *conversation* since now *I* am the censor and no one with a sincerely held, but different, point of view is going to challenge me on my own blog. It is not neutral territory.

I enjoy a bit of surprise, sort of like opening National Geographic. In the photo newsgroups are many surprises. For instance, a batch of photos of someone's trip to Egypt included many very interesting photos out the airplane window. These were vacation trip photos but large and high quality.

I'll admit that Google Earth and Panoramio have started to satisfy my geographical photo interest, but once again you are viewing these things at the whim of an operator.


Holographic storage kingpin turns staff and product into an illusion


Archiving vast quantities

Archiving vast quantities of data is the point. Magnetic storage is ephemeral.


Comcast rolls out brand new bandwidth throttles


The Way It Works

Bit Torrent is a full mesh distribution model that profoundly reduces the burden at any particular measuring point as compared to the client-server model where everyone on the planet that wants the new Linux must get it from one server. In fact, the peculiar nature of Bit Torrent works BETTER the more people want a file such as the new Linux, whereas with a traditional model, trying to download Linux directly from RedHat at the same time ten million other people are doing so is a "non starter". You see, parts of what I am trying to get might be available from people on my same cable segment and thus the "internet" won't be involved whatsoever for those particular parts or chunks of the file I want.

Torrents emanate from a published website and have digital hashes (SHA-1) to ensure file integrity. As such, Bit Torrent is culturally very different from Kazaa or Limewire. Kazaa and LimeWire make no claims about the files you get from total strangers in Tanzania.

With BitTorrent, you *might* get a bit from Tanzania, but not the whole file, so there is no way to infect your computer with an altered file. You only get pieces called "chunks" (A chunk is rather big, typically 256kbytes I've read somewhere). Each chunk has a digital hash to ensure that even the chunk was not altered and you get the list of hashes from the original publisher.

LimeWire/Kazaa: Unsafe, no assurances, easily tampered files, your download speed cannot be faster than the uploader's speed. You expose an entire folder of your own files to the world (did I mention unsafe?).

Bit Torrent: Safer. Usually you can discover the author and provenance of the file. Tampering by middle-men is as close to impossible as makes no difference. Because of distribution, your download speed can be profoundly faster than any particular contributor ("seeders") upload speeds, including your own upload speed. What you are sharing is, by default, ONLY what you are currently downloading; people cannot browse your hard disk.

McAfee antivirus has a mechanism similar to Bit Torrent, they call it "Rumor". The idea is that one PC will download the current antivirus signature files and then publish it on a private webserver that is installed on your PC without a lot of notice to you. Other PC's on your local subnet will get it from whichever one has the most recent files.


SQL string in URL exposes sex offender data


Don't be so arrogant

Why do you think I need an *excuse* for not using parameterized queries? It's a performance enhancer in *certain circumstances* only where you don't mind imposing a burden on the database server rather than the application server, and you don't mind that by doing so you obliterate agility that ought to be in the hands of executives who need ad hoc reports right now.

I accept SQL query on the GET in addition to a variety of reports that are activated by button. This allows "ad hoc" querying by URL. Think about it; a particular executive might be the only person that needs a particular query; give it to him or her as a URL as a icon on the desktop or a folder of icons each representing a query.

This is the "excuse" that some of you think is needed as to why not to use parameterized queries.

I speak of corporate intranets of course, where executives have every right to all of the data anyway so it really doesn't matter WHAT they ask for.

Doing it safely and productively is easier in a language that allows total control of everything, namely, "C".


Pope tells astronomers to pack up their telescopes


Inevitable, I suppose

-- that people that complain about others re-writing history are actually doing so themselves: "After all, the Catholic Church is responsible for majority of bloodshed over the last few hundred years, but that is why you are close to God; it feels good to rewrite history when it suits your agenda, right?"

In point of fact, most bloodshed in the past few hundred years is the consequence of purges and genocides and, I believe, ultimately a manifestation of "Malthusian" scarcity. Malthus predicted that human beings always reproduce to the point that resources become scarce, at which time one group will destroy another to keep the resources for themselves (see also Sir Thomas More's "Utopia", reasons for war) or in a left-wing share alike philosophy, *everyone* will suffer equally. Not very many people actually want to suffer equally so conflict is inevitable and has absolutely nothing to do with any church whatsoever. Having said that, church does provide a framework of organization creating a natural "us versus them" division around which conflict can center. However, the "us versus them" boundary can be drawn over just about any visible characteristic. War is dramatic, but nowhere near as deadly as a good old purge of the wrong ideology or race (Stalin's purges, Pol Pot's purges, genocide in Rwanda and present Darfur). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/03/0308_gorillas.html -- genocide in the Congo, one million persons.


Vista provokes user synaptic collapse


Fine Grained ALC

It does make sense. We once had a domain admin that was slightly challenged about permissions and fairly regularly recursively re-wrote permissions with adverse consequences. To avoid that, we deliberately set up the very situation that produces this error message. (give away ownership and remove domain admins permissions). If you are a smart and good domain administrator you can easily walk around this barrier.

We take advantage of the somewhat illogical, seemingly not-quite-finished nature of the model.

Linux "root" has full access everywhere without needing to alter permissions in the slightest (FC7, SELinux in warn mode, might be different in full enforcing mode). This means that, in Linux as root, you cannot protect yourself from yourself by setting up trivial barriers to get your attention before you do what you are about to do. Microsoft understands that many "administrators" are seeing a computer for the first time in their lives and make modest barriers for this kind.


US judge debenched for jailing entire courtroom


Due Process

A significant problem with the judge's behavior is that it denied "due process of law" to the visitors in the courtroom. http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_duep.html

Fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am5.html

Laws are enacted by legislatures; sometimes by a chief executive (Governor, President). Judges interpret law, but they are not entitle to *make* law and they most certainly are not *the* law.

Presumption of innocence was also violated. http://www.lectlaw.com/def/i047.htm

Great Britain also has a presumption of innocence concept that appears to be in a state of challenge: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=536349

As has been mentioned, I believe the proper thing to have done was clear the courtroom; a thing that *is* entirely within the Judge's jurisdiction.


Museum drops Watson talk in race row


Rational Thinking

The context of the quote is in reference to social policy. *IF* social policies are based on unscientific, religious assumptions (and we know that they are) THEN the outcome will be unexpected should it happen that the assumptions are wrong.

the big assumption is, of course, at the very heart of "political correctness". Now then, those of you with some memory will remember 20 years ago when it was forbidden to suggest that men and women were in any way different; apart from certain obvious physical difference which the experts hastened to assure us had no social meaning.

Then along came "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" and dared declare what pretty much everyone knew all along; but suddenly it was "okay" to accept the differences. Corporate and social policy at the time was rather absurd as you may remember. Next in line was "ADA" -- Americans with Disabilities Act. Anyone can do anything; so long as you hire an aide at twice the cost of the disabled employee. In theory, the Aide could also be disabled -- and you'd have to hire an aide for the aide.

Folks, time to step up to your plates; which is it going to be? If it is evolution and Darwinism, then get scientific, there is no "all men are created equal" because they weren't created AT ALL. On the other hand, if you have a religious plate, then you have quite a lot more freedom since you have a few thousand to choose from. The Indian (as in, the continent of India) has religion and it most certainly does NOT have "all men are created equal". Most of the world simply does not have the Christian concept that all men are created equal, and as we have seen, even people who profess science still revert to a religious belief when it comes to sociology -- and for good reason! Religion is the basis, the reason, the motivation for human equality. Darwinism is NOT about equality; in fact, the very opposite (allowing for the possibility that some kinds of altruism *may* be beneficial to the race to a degree that exceeds its cost to the individual).

So far as it goes, I am compelled to agree with Watson -- basing social policy on American moral assumptions (ie, what is happening in Iraq) is probably not going to work. Never mind whether the factor being discussed is "intelligence" or some other factor; WHATEVER it is, we cannot scientifically assume that geographically diverse races evolved exactly the same; and very small differences lead to large outcomes. I believe arctic and subarctic climates compel a degree of group-think and group-behavior that is not found in equatorial climates. It has nothing to do with race per se, but everything to do with thousands of years of surviving your climate. Iceland is a very good example and they have the most egalitarian, succesfully functioning society I have ever seen (I lived there for two years). The same model would be a disaster in the United States of America or almost anywhere else for that matter. Egalitarianism works ONLY when everyone, or almost everyone, participates in a meaningful way. throw in a bunch of freeloaders and the system collapses.

Religious or not; Darwinism is alive and well and the successful society will be one that CORRECTLY implements social policies in accordance with the capabilities of the population being considered. If you do not consider these capabilities, you will do foolish things.