VnutZ's Articles, Page 2 of 78

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18 Dec 15
Newspaper

Virginia Schools Close Over World Religion Course

Americans have once again shoved their heads in the sand and demonstrated the double standard of religious “tolerance.” A Virginia school, as part of a lesson block on world religions, introduced the nature of Islam and the calligraphy forms of Arabic writing. Naturally, as can be expected in America, parents went ape-shit. Some parents were quoted with typical lines such as, “I will not have my children sit under a woman who indoctrinates them with the Islam religion when I am a Christian”.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

18 Dec 15
Newspaper

Humans Keep Hitting Autonomous Cars

Human beings and their unpredictability continue to be the cause of most autonomous vehicle accidents. As a surprising statistic, nearly all of the accidents involving an autonomous vehicle thus far have proven to be the fault of the human. It’s somewhat incredible considering the field is barely a decade old, Stanley only won the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2006. Researchers looking into the current rash of accidents have basically determined the autonomous vehicles are having issues because they obey the laws and humans do not. Much like the though problem from a few years ago regarding how an AI should choose which fatality was the best choice, the new question is whether an autonomous vehicle should break the law in order to behave more safely with humans. The most frequently cited example is high speed merges onto highways where a legal speed will result in getting rear ended.

08 Dec 15
Newspaper

Donald Trump Calls to Ban Muslims from US

Not long after the San Bernadino attacks were declared terrorism related, the political rhetoric began to really heat up. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, while campaigning in the south, openly called to block Muslims from entering the United States. While drawing cheers of support at his campaign rally, the move has drawn ire around the world.

Despite the extreme campaign platform that Trump has run on – he continues to dominate the GOP in terms of voter approval. So while many look at his campaign as a sign of Trump’s own ignorance or hate – is it really or is he just in touch with what America seems to want?

07 Dec 15
Newspaper

Environmental Impact of Christmas

Christmas may be one of the worst holidays for having a terrible impact to the environment. But for the sake of this quick article, let’s ignore the ramifications of wrapping paper, mall traffic, tree destruction, landfill waste, travel, and all the other negatives of consumerism. Instead, let’s focus real quick on just the electrical demands of one piece of the holiday season.

The kill-a-watt is a nice simple product that can tell you exactly how much power a plugged in device is consuming. So I simply attached my Christmas lights to it. My arrangement is simple – just some blue icicle lights in my front facing windows – five total strands. Using the kill-a-watt, I determined a single strand uses 40W of power so I’m using 200W total for the windows. Using a highly unscientific method of guessing, here are my conclusions:

03 Dec 15
Newspaper

Magnetic Invisibility Cloak

Chinese researchers have developed an invisibility cloak … for magnetic fields. Using a superconducting inner shell and a ferromagnetic outershell, the scientists carefully constructed a sphere whose attraction and repulsion properties are perfectly balanced. This in turn prevents magnetic objects inside the sphere from having their fields affect external objects and vice versa. Nefarious applications of the technology would allow ne’er-do-wells to transport metal (firearms) into airports in their undetectable metamaterial spheres. No TSA agent would ever notice the sphere nor its liquid nitrogen tanks for keeping the superconductors at 90K.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Formula E Driverless Racing

Formula E racing began in 2014 and represents a new class of high performance championships. 10 teams are allowed to compete with electric vehicles in a format similar to Formula One racing. Even more interesting, Formula E is about to introduce the RoboRaces where competing AIs (artificial intelligences) will pilot driverless race cars for victory.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

American ISIS Support

ISIS continues to rampage around causing mayhem and trouble. Generally speaking, they’ve kept their trouble making activities overseas away from the homeland. However, the FBI has tracked a number, and growing at that, of domestic ISIS sympathizers in the United States. (To understand that, perhaps eyeball Stupid People Find Nonsense Profound) Much of that support is still in the form of propaganda spreading via numerous handles on Twitter. But it’s only a matter of time before a local decides to act on their own in the name of ISIS – especially considering there are open fatwahs to kill US military, police, and EMS workers.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Padlocks Easily Susceptible to Hammers

Just about every hacker or security researcher at some point explores the art of lock picking. For most, it ends with tumblers but professionals, ardent enthusiasts, and criminals aspire to open everything. Bosnian Bill, as he is known, recently showed that Masterlock padlocks can be opened in under 90 seconds using nothing but a small hammer. The technique was not brute force but a sequence of taps that caused the internal mechanisms to loosen, allowing the shackle to open.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Stupid People Find Nonsense Profound

Gordon Pennycook, a university researcher, conducted a study by generating random, four-word phrases and evaluating how test subjects felt the text was in terms of its profundity. It should come as no surprise that human beings generally found value in meaningless drivel when they suspected it was deep.

Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions [beliefs in things for which there is no empirical evidence (i.e. that prayers have the ability to heal)] and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.

02 Dec 15
Newspaper

Opinions of 2016 Candidates

In a nutshell, as the cards and dust are starting to settle, Americans are basically faced with a final set of candidates going forward into 2016.

Democrats

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Bernie Sanders

Republicans

  • Donald Trump
  • Ben Carson
  • Marco Rubio
26 Nov 15
Newspaper

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Aircraft

Both sides disagree on the circumstances, of course, but the bottom line is the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft along the Syrian border. To further exacerbate the situation, the Russian pilots were shot at while parachuting down from the destroyed aircraft (a violation of the Geneva Convention) which killed one of them. Currently, the United States and France have been unusually quiet on the matter as Turkey is a NATO ally. Despite the incident, bombing runs against ISIS targets have continued.

20 Nov 15
Cup

Unity of Support - Shallow or Effective?

Okay, so in the past week, social media profiles have show “overwhelming support” to France by placing a transparent image of their flag atop a user’s profile picture. Seriously … what good is that?

17 Nov 15
Question

America's Response to Refugees Is?

It’s a simple question really – let Syrian refugees in or not?

There are, of course, the folks that lean towards a total ban on allowing them entry into our country (a view that is mirrored internationally) on the basis that terrorists are hiding among them. This approach was adopted by more than half of the US state governors following the attacks in Paris. On the other hand, there are folks making the case that denying refugees a safe harbor is playing exactly into the hands of ISIS. Again this view is also shared internationally.

10 Nov 15
Cup

State Dictated Child Support Is A Farce

Most of the time when people hear about child support in a negative light, it’s cast as mothers that are struggling to get by while dead-beat dads fail to provide child support. It’s unfortunate that society seems to allow the opposite side of that spectrum basically get away with being dead-beat moms.

Walk with me through a quick scenario. A family of three on a median annual income of $50,000 in the United States is neither wealthy nor poor. But as a national median, nobody could argue the child does not have the opportunity to be provided for (given frugal budgeting and appropriate spending). If the same salary existed for a single parent – $50,000 – there would be no argument to the general public or the court that they deserved a handout.

09 Nov 15
Newspaper

Google Open Sources Machine Learning

Machine Learning is an aspect of computer science related to the construction of algorithms to make predictions or decisions about new data after being trained on a known sample of data. To that end, one of the big names in machine learning research and application is none other than Google. They can leverage the technology for intelligent searching and ad matching as the most obvious applications but it goes deeper into image or video tagging amongst other uses. Nevertheless, Google took the unprecedented move to open source their machine learning engineTensorFlow.

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