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Everything posted by Maarten

  1. SKYPE -- Great Computer Telephony

    I'd like to add a small comparison with some other programs I've used for voice communication. I started talking to my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago, and at first we were using the AIM voice communication program. I don't know how it works for other people, but the quality of the service was not very good. At times it just stopped working altogether for us and it was just frustrating. So, at some point we switched to Google Talk, and I like it much, much more than AIM talk. The connection is very good, you never lose parts of a sentence (which tended to happen quite a lot on AIM) and it's also free (for talking to another computer). Only downside is that the voices sound a little strange... I'm not really sure what that is caused by. Maybe they remove some of the frequencies; it makes your voice sound a little metallic. Oh, we're using really cheap headsets, too
  2. SKYPE -- Great Computer Telephony

    Stephen, what kind of microphone are you using with this SKYPE set-up? I think that the quality of the microphone will definitely affect the quality of the overall calling experience, and judging from your comments you probably have a very good one It might be useful for others who want to try this to know which microphones work very well for these purposes.
  3. Ayaan Hirsi Ali with Bill Maher

    Yeah, the VVD is kind of a mess, but it's the least bad party we have here. And over here, liberalism does mean someone who is for free markets and individual rights, so they are probably much closer to being classical liberals. I'm pretty sure Ayaan was one of the more right-wing (i.e. liberal) political figures here, so I think the leftist statement is a bit off. That doesn't really sound like what she was advocating when she was still active in politics in the Netherlands.
  4. When conceptual thinking stops

    Well, the problem is that there is no single way in which all viruses infect host cells. I think that was what Stephen was referring to, earlier (even though his comment was about cancer, it also applies here). Pretty much every virus affects a slightly different type of cell, and the mechanism by which this is done also differs greatly. From what I remember of the subject, most viruses first bind to a certain receptor to recognize their preferred host cell, and then the virus inserts its genetic material into the host cell. Well, there are god-knows-how-many different receptor molecules that can be (ab)used in this manner, which makes it nigh impossible to attack this mechanism in general. If you could make nanobots that selectively sought out virus particles and destroyed them, then you might have something. But still, it would be extremely difficult to use some method that selectively destroyed each and every type of virus that exists, yet does not touch anything else. I think to sum it up, you have to be careful not to assume that just because certain existents are part of a group they therefore share all characteristics. There is a reason why these things are called viruses or cancers, but if the mechanism by which they work is not their uniting element, then it would be a mistake to assume that they are all the same just because they belong to the same group.
  5. When conceptual thinking stops

    Well, perhaps it's because I am using a stricter definition of vaccine. I don't think it's proper to call something a vaccine against a disease if it only lowers the probability you will get the disease, instead of making you immune to it. This particular vaccine makes you immune to the viruses that commonly cause the disease, but you can still get the disease in other ways. That's why I think it would be more accurate to say that it's a vaccine against the virus (that commonly causes cervical cancer).
  6. Anonymity & free speech: cousins?

    What you are saying here presupposes that there is an objective way to judge whether a person's statement is libel or not. I'm not very comfortable with the idea of some appointed official determining whether what I say is acceptable or not. You'd need very clear rules that state exactly what is acceptable and what isn't to prevent censorship in this way. However, I'm not familiar enough with the American justice system to tell whether or not the current libel laws are clear and objective enough for that purpose.
  7. When conceptual thinking stops

    It's not a vaccine against cancer, but it's a vaccine against a certain virus that most commonly causes that type of cancer. So basically they're tackling one of the ways in which you can get that cancer, but it's not targeted at the cancer itself.
  8. Holland Commits (Partial) Suicide

    I don't watch the news very often, so I hadn't caught this before... This just makes me sad While I may miss some things about the country when I leave, there are many more that I will be glad to leave behind.
  9. Principles & Induction

    But how is the process of verification you describe, by looking at reality, any different than looking at whether the principle furthers your life? That is the ultimate standard one should judge the principle by, so I don't really see where the difference lies. If it is difficult to tell whether or not the principle really furthers your life, then this would also apply to a principle you accepted from another person, rather than one you thought of yourself (as a hypothetical principle). How would you then know whether your principle is actually causing you to be more successful at living, for example? And why, if this is applicable to principle X that you have found by reading Miss Rand's books, is it not applicable to principle Y that I derived on my own? The only difference I can see is that principle X is already demonstrated to be true by other people, but that should not be a substitute for your own verification. After all, you cannot really know whether someone else's verification of the principle was performed correctly or not, and you still have to verify it on your own. Learning a principle from another person and then verifying it seems to be a much more deductive approach at this than what I am describing, but I don't see why it would be any more correct. What are the essential difference between the principle you learn from a very wise person and the one you derive on your own in order to explain something? There is no reason why one should be always better than the other.
  10. Principles & Induction

    But then how does one arrive at the principle in the first place? They don't just grow on trees... I mean, you can't just start out with a certain principle and then verify it; how would you know which principle to choose in the first place, or how could you even choose it if noone had stated it before?
  11. Principles & Induction

    But I do think that, even though it might be more complex, the only way to initially form the principle is by starting out with a hypothesis on it, testing it, and ultimately drawing the causal connections. I cannot really conceive of any other way a principle can be arrived at that does not yet exist.
  12. Principles & Induction

    But alternatively speaking, wouldn't it be possible to accept a certain principle if it does not contradict any other principles you know to be true, even without being able to tell, at that moment, what the principle refers to? I ask that, mainly, because that is the way I initially accepted at least some principles in Objectivism. I do agree that it makes it difficult to apply the principle in question, but I think it can at least be a starting point for truly grasping the principle in question. Up until that point, I would say it's pretty much a rationalistic abstraction. The main problem for me is that with some of the principles in Objectivism, I had no way to directly relate to them when I first found out about them. For the majority, relating them to reality wasn't a problem. But some I definitely accepted in a more purely logical manner, I guess. I figured, if I know that A, B and C are true, and D is consistent with A, B and C, then it should also be true. However, it takes a pretty long time to grasp exactly how to apply these principles, and D especially.
  13. Principles & Induction

    But of course it does, if a (proper) principle is true then it should be life-furthering. If it wasn't, then the principle itself could not be true, I think. That is also why I added the qualification I did. I used "work" here as a synonym for life-furthering, because I am looking at it from the context of Objectivism. If someone has already accepted the right ethical standard, then they should be able to tell whether something they are doing is good for them, or not, even without having identified the principle behind it. The next step, of course, is identifying what exactly about the action makes it life-furthering.
  14. Err, NaCl is just ordinary table salt, so you can use 35g of that, toss it in a liter of water, and heat it to sterilize it. Then just store it in small bottles or something like that, and it should work nicely.
  15. The molarity of sea water is around 0.6 mol/liter NaCl, which comes down to about 35g of NaCl per liter of water. That should be a good concentration that doesn't burn too much.
  16. Eww, that's just gross! Sorry, couldn't resist. My mom actually uses a very similar way to get rid of the mucus from your sinuses and nose. We have like this tiny bottles with a thingie at the top that allows you to slowly let the salt water run out, into your nose. It's very, very effective at getting rid of the mucus, but it burns kind of badly when you use too much salt. My boss said that salt water was very bad for the membranes there, but I don't know if that's true or not. It's probably safe to stay at concentrations below sea water level. When you see what salt does to snails, well, I'd rather not have that happen with the poor membranes in my nose! Does anyone have some hard facts on salt and what it does to the membranes in your nose and mouth?
  17. Having children

    Thank you for your post. This is almost exactly the way I look at it, and it is very encouraging to me to know that with the proper effort and motivation it is possible to do this, and to succeed admirably in the process.
  18. Having children

    Stephen, could you perhaps elaborate some more on the time you spent being the primary caretaker of your child? I'm wondering whether it was difficult to combine this with your work? I guess I am mainly unsure about whether you would be able to use your mind's fullest potential while raising children. Seeing how this might not be a person's primary interest in life, how did you combine this activity with, for example, working on physics? Were there specific things you did to satisfy your love for whatever productive work you did at the time, or was your full attention taken up by taking care of your child?
  19. Who said this?

    You mean the line that starts with something like: "Quo usque tandem, Catilina..." I forgot the exact words, it's been like 4 years, but I do remember the general gist of it, still I think as far as languages go Latin is definitely one of the more interesting ones to know. It's amazing how prevalent latin words are in basically anything you would like to study, and it just makes it much easier to understand if you know what certain words mean. Also, quite a lot of English words have their roots in Latin, and it has helped me a lot in the past when I didn't quite know what a certain English word meant, to think of what the latin words it is derived from mean.
  20. Who said this?

    I studied latin for 5 years in high school, and we spent the entire last year reading Cicero's In Catilinam. It was kind of slow-going, though. I think I have since forgotten most of my latin, because I just don't use it very often, but it is a fascinating language. "O tempora, o mores?", anyone?
  21. Game: Catch 33

    42 seconds on my first attempt, although the next two were slower
  22. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    Merry christmas and a happy new year to you all
  23. Jailtime for computer gaming!

    In the article one of the companies in germany is already quoted as saying that they're going to relocate if this ever becomes law. You oftentimes hear that the problem is that kids these days cannot discern the line between fantasy and reality because of games like these. However, I wonder who is having trouble telling reality from fantasy here?
  24. I am a man; no I am a woman...

    I think that if you can change your gender for no reason other than wanting it very badly, you should also be able to change your race. I mean, I've always wanted to be hispanic, and it's just not fair that the government doesn't recognize my very sincere desire to change my race. I've read that it helps my chances to get certain scholarships, so I figured it was a good choice for my future career I wonder how long it will take until someone takes this crazy idea to its logical conclusion... Hey, I think I've solved the whole animal rights debate. Let's just recognize all animals as human beings by law; I am sure they would love to be one if they had the choice. What are a few annoying facts of reality in the face of someone's feelings to the contrary?