Search found 1798 matches

by btilly
Wed May 27, 2009 10:19 pm UTC
Forum: Gaming
Topic: finding the statistically best Hangman word
Replies: 62
Views: 20226

Re: finding the statistically best Hangman word

I had a flash of inspiration, based on "wax." How about "Wan"? Once people get the "an", they're likely to waste guesses on the very large list of "An" words. Ban, Can, Fan, LAN, Man, Nan, Pan, Ran, Tan, Van, Wan. As they run down this list, when they come to...
by btilly
Wed May 27, 2009 8:50 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court
Replies: 208
Views: 11267

Re: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court

There are many ways to do this, but one ideal would be to make the court representative of the diversity of our nation. (After all in a truly colorblind country this is what would naturally happen.) In which case about half the court would be women. We'd have 1 black. 1 latino (or latina). Likely 1...
by btilly
Wed May 27, 2009 6:09 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court
Replies: 208
Views: 11267

Re: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court

Again, how do you determine which cultural perspectives are most important, given the limited number of seats on SCOTUS? There are many ways to do this, but one ideal would be to make the court representative of the diversity of our nation. (After all in a truly colorblind country this is what woul...
by btilly
Wed May 27, 2009 5:45 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

I think we overeat. It’s that simple. [...] ...portion sizes have exploded over the last 20 years. For instance, bagels have ballooned from 140 calories to 350 calories. The standard turkey sandwich has gone from 320 calories to 820 calories. So are you saying that bagels have gotten twice as big r...
by btilly
Wed May 27, 2009 2:39 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court
Replies: 208
Views: 11267

Re: Obama Nominates Sotomayor for Supreme Court

sje46 wrote:Wait, you can subscribe to get updates from the president?
Or do you know him on a personal basis?

I get the emails. I assume it is because I got on the list when I donated to his campaign, and I never asked to get off the list.

You can sign up at http://my.barackobama.com/.
by btilly
Tue May 26, 2009 11:29 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Proposition 8 Upheld by CA Supremes
Replies: 28
Views: 1622

Re: Proposition 8 Upheld by CA Supremes

The court ruled that prop 8 is an amendment. However a proposition overturning prop 8 would almost assuredly be a revision. Given how difficult it is to pass a revision, I predict that gay marriage will not pass here in the next decade. Actually, from what I can tell, the Court's reasoning was: Pro...
by btilly
Tue May 26, 2009 10:41 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Proposition 8 Upheld by CA Supremes
Replies: 28
Views: 1622

Re: Proposition 8 Upheld by CA Supremes

The legal argument revolved on the difference between an amendment and a revision. The prop 8 folks said that the California constitution nowhere directly dealt with marriage, so this is an amendment, not a revision. The anti-prop 8 folks said that the courts had ruled that the constitution protecte...
by btilly
Tue May 26, 2009 10:19 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

There are many people who eat normal to too-much, and do very little exercise, and are yet quite thin. I do not think there is much scholarly evidence of this phenomenon yet, but I can provide you with some very real anecdata. There are several gamer guys in my friends group who I have observed and...
by btilly
Sun May 24, 2009 6:49 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

You've asserted that the comparison to drugs is wrong, but you've provided no real arguments backing that up. The effect on the brain of sugar, fat and salt is exactly the same as drugs. What then is the difference? You ingest a substance, it has an effect on the brain, and this drives behavior. I ...
by btilly
Sun May 24, 2009 5:47 pm UTC
Forum: Books
Topic: Discworld for English class
Replies: 60
Views: 7651

Re: Discworld for English class

austin42 wrote:Lucky! I have to read books that I think I would like, but it turns out they are really bad. I wish I could read "Wyrd Sisters" instead of "Macbeth"

If you know Macbeth, then Wyrd Sisters is funnier.
by btilly
Fri May 22, 2009 7:44 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Why is calculus considered so complex?
Replies: 64
Views: 5905

Re: Why is calculus considered so complex?

If you don't want calculus to seem complex then do some real analysis Ironically in complex analysis things wind up much simpler because every differentiable function is analytic. You mean vector calculus? I consider myself very good at calculus, but god that class was horrible. That was pretty muc...
by btilly
Fri May 22, 2009 6:02 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

If they've broken out multiple sweeteners so that sugar can go lower on the list of ingredients for your jelly, then I'd get worried. Strangely, this is not the case in the UK (and I think in the whole of the EU) -- ingredients have to be listed in order of most to least (by mass I think). Hence ma...
by btilly
Fri May 22, 2009 3:57 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Math's role in magic, myths, and legends
Replies: 17
Views: 1844

Re: Math's role in magic, myths, and legends

Math is considered to be the language of the universe, as far as I know. So it seems reasonable to assume that a person in ancient times would see math as having some sort of supernatural power. So I've been thinking, math must have been used for all sorts of things. I can imagine people attempting...
by btilly
Fri May 22, 2009 3:52 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

Let me get this straight. The evil food-making-companies makes tasty food so it is it's fault because now I don't have the will power to eat less? Not exactly. The food they make isn't that tasty. But it does set off our dopamine systems. In animal models this quickly results in extreme obesity. Lo...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 10:03 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

Its clear that the food industry is taking advantage of peoples ignorance in terms of food calorific and nutritional value and satiation points in order to maximise profits. While this is good for the food industry its bad for the people and I think it's fairly obvious that the net societal benefit...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 7:31 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

Tom decides to start a tree trimming business. He takes out a small business loan and buys the tools, a truck, and a trailer. His one man operation is taking too much time, so he decides to hire on a worker. He hires Mary. Mary is awsome at tree trimming. Since this two 'man' team is in constant co...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 6:15 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

Except that apparently, other countries can manage to make discrimination completely illegal without killing small businesses. If anything, the US has MORE of a problem with giant companies having monopolies than elsewhere indicating perhaps a lack of small business success. Look at Starbucks for o...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 3:39 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

Out of curiosity, what is wrong with the idea of applying the rules to small companies, but then letting insurance companies sell insurance against this kind of lawsuit? I like the idea in principle. Sounds like a good idea. It raises a few questions. Do we make it mandatory that small businesses h...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 5:28 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

12 hours later. Just wanted to point out that allowing employees to chokehold small businesses is bad for everyone. I mean, sucks that discrimination happens. But, its a hell of a lot better than forcing everyone in a company to lose their job when accusations are made. Better that one person get '...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 5:25 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

Vaniver wrote:
btilly wrote:Ironically processed food actually tastes worse.
Depends on the process. I'm all for, say, applying heat to meat. :P

Heh, you got me. Some processing clearly is good for us, and tastes good as well.
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 1:56 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

Malice wrote:Wouldn't it be a better compromise to allow lawsuits against discriminatory firings, but put the burden of proof on the employee?

In an at will state isn't that already the situation for larger companies?
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 1:37 am UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)
Replies: 147
Views: 10887

Re: Worker fired for atheism, not legally discrimination (Texas)

As I understand it, small businesses are allowed to hire and fire at will, because it's easy for one bad employee who's not quite bad enough to be fire-worthy to severely damage the company... so the big-business trick of waiting patiently for them to do something (anything) fireable isn't good eno...
by btilly
Tue May 19, 2009 12:29 am UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

So basically, my hunger no longer strictly correlates with my actually needing food anymore, and my desire to keep eating does not correlate with not having had enough food? Replace hunger with "desire for food". And yes. When someone announces that they brought Krispy Kreme donuts in, yo...
by btilly
Mon May 18, 2009 9:23 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Re: Why we are fat

I seem to remember the South Beach Diet starting off with an intense period of 2 weeks or so of not eating any of various foods, in an attempt to reset cravings. It'd be interesting to see if that just weeds out people with low self-control (so the remainder that actually go on the diet are all peo...
by btilly
Mon May 18, 2009 9:06 pm UTC
Forum: Food
Topic: Successful food experiments
Replies: 12
Views: 2066

Successful food experiments

My son and his baby sitter were playing around with grinding oats and trying to make things from them. This got me to experimenting, and we wound up with a type of pancake that I'll be making more often: Apple-Oat Pancakes 1 cup oat flour 1 cup applesauce 1/2 cup milk 1 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp...
by btilly
Mon May 18, 2009 3:58 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Why we are fat
Replies: 195
Views: 17653

Why we are fat

As a society we've done something remarkable, and most of us don't think about it much. We've become fat. To see how dramatic the shift over time is, look at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/. The question is why. Well for a start we can easily rule out straight genetics. If you're...
by btilly
Sun May 17, 2009 9:37 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Math's role in magic, myths, and legends
Replies: 17
Views: 1844

Re: Math's role in magic, myths, and legends

Look up numerology and astrology for examples of math being used in mystical ways.

For a piece of fiction that used computer science in an amusing way, read the Wizard's Bane series.
by btilly
Sun May 17, 2009 9:33 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Discrimatory statistics, is it really discrimination?
Replies: 39
Views: 4528

Re: Discrimatory statistics, is it really discrimination?

Statistics are just a tool. On the one hand without statistics, you can't know how you're doing, or where you need to improve. On the other hand statistics can be used to lead people to bad conclusions. Personally I'm of the opinion that if we are so touchy about a subject that we're not even willin...
by btilly
Sun May 17, 2009 9:10 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: The importance of secrecy in politics
Replies: 6
Views: 1211

Re: The importance of secrecy in politics

Everything I know about the history of politics says that whenever light is shone on a previously dark corner, you can see lots of cockroaches scurrying away. Consequently no matter how valuable secrecy might be in hypothetical situations, I'm all for enforced openness and transparency in government.
by btilly
Sun May 17, 2009 4:38 pm UTC
Forum: Serious Business
Topic: Popperian falsificationism: useful idea, or naïve/outdated?
Replies: 29
Views: 4525

Re: Popperian falsificationism: useful idea, or naïve/outdated?

This is an interesting case, because from a predictive standpoint, both models (Copernicus wound up adding epicycles to his model) are correct. The epicycles are simply a form of two-dimensional Fourier analysis, and if you stack up enough of them, the Copernican model produces Kepler's ellipses, w...
by btilly
Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:10 am UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Proving Limits don't exist
Replies: 22
Views: 2789

Re: Proving Limits don't exist

Finally a random point. If you have some basic common sense about relative orders of magnitude, all standard textbook problems involving L'Hopital's rule are readily solvable without it. (There are some pathological cases where it solves problems that are nearly impossible without it, but they do n...
by btilly
Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:18 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Proving Limits don't exist
Replies: 22
Views: 2789

Re: Proving Limits don't exist

One reason to teach L'Hopital's rule late is that you can't use it to evaluate limits until you understand derivatives, and you won't understand derivatives until you understand limits. Therefore if you want people to understand limits OR derivatives, you have to teach limits first, without L'Hopita...
by btilly
Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:03 pm UTC
Forum: Mathematics
Topic: Trying to come up with a calculus problem
Replies: 7
Views: 1093

Re: Trying to come up with a calculus problem

I've always been fond of asking for the dimensions of the cylinder that encloses a maximum volume with a fixed area. Then go to the store, get a real soup can, compare its dimensions, study its exact shape, and figure out the various reasons why might be better than the apparently optimal shape you ...
by btilly
Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:38 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Obama to Limit CEO Pay to $500K
Replies: 68
Views: 6009

Re: Obama to Limit CEO Pay to $500K

Who else saw the Bank of America's CEO saying that Bank of America won't need another bailout and wondered whether that was connected with this policy? I doubt it. BoA got money the first time mostly to sweeten the takeover deal for ML. They weren't in dire need. With the threat of any decent restr...
by btilly
Fri Feb 06, 2009 8:18 pm UTC
Forum: News & Articles
Topic: Obama to Limit CEO Pay to $500K
Replies: 68
Views: 6009

Re: Obama to Limit CEO Pay to $500K

Who else saw the Bank of America's CEO saying that Bank of America won't need another bailout and wondered whether that was connected with this policy?
by btilly
Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:44 am UTC
Forum: Coding
Topic: Getting Into Programming
Replies: 19
Views: 1841

Re: Getting Into Programming

One point: I don't know what almost everything you're talking about is. Can you put things in stupid people terms whenever possible? The best idea would be to take each word or phrase you don't understand and google for it. However here is a basic introduction that covers some of the terms that you...
by btilly
Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:54 pm UTC
Forum: Coding
Topic: Getting Into Programming
Replies: 19
Views: 1841

Re: Getting Into Programming

I might agree .NET is kind of annoying, but as the platform is more adopted, it's going to become similar to java, where everyone has it installed already (I'd assume most do). You will never get to everyone. The last figures that I saw suggest that Apple has slightly under 10% of the desktop marke...
by btilly
Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:41 pm UTC
Forum: Coding
Topic: Getting Into Programming
Replies: 19
Views: 1841

Re: Getting Into Programming

Take the course now, and you can decide later whether you'd prefer to be taking the Spanish electives, or more programming. Or something else. You're only a freshman, you don't have to have your life planned out yet! Also there are plenty of online resources around if you want to try some programmin...
by btilly
Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:31 pm UTC
Forum: Coding
Topic: worst bugs ever (or your most hated)
Replies: 196
Views: 20449

Re: worst bugs ever (or your most hated)

But come 2038 all 32-bit systems start getting interesting. How hard can it be to make a signed int into an unsigned int? Very. If you turn time_t from signed to unsigned, come January 19, 2038, all programs compiled with the signed version will think it's December 13, 1901. Programs that use time_...
by btilly
Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:39 am UTC
Forum: Coding
Topic: worst bugs ever (or your most hated)
Replies: 196
Views: 20449

Re: worst bugs ever (or your most hated)

But come 2038 all 32-bit systems start getting interesting. How hard can it be to make a signed int into an unsigned int? That pushes the problem off for close to 70 more years... BTW the bug affects 64-bit systems as well because the 32-bit layout for time shows up in places like network protocols...

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