Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment: "One is much scarier than the other, why?" (Score 1) 143

by tlambert (#49752721) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

People fear exotic deaths.

Death by lethal injection or beheading, results are the same. One is much scarier than the other, why?

Well, presumably it's because you happen to know when you've murdered someone, you aren't going to be beheaded for it, but the risk of lethal injection is actually real?

Comment: Re:The absolute #1 contribution of Java (Score 1) 292

by tlambert (#49751643) Attached to: How Java Changed Programming Forever

so you say that java creates an environment where you can hire developers that don't have MIT master's degrees and you can expect them to be able to do useful work?

This is true, to an extent, for some definition of useful. The JVM is an environment where you can do some types of useful work, without having to be a great coder, and not do too much damage.

I suppose a good analogy would be Commodore 64 BASIC.

Comment: The absolute #1 contribution of Java (Score 2) 292

by tlambert (#49750609) Attached to: How Java Changed Programming Forever

The absolute #1 contribution of Java: it has allowed colleges and universities to turn out a generation of coders who are incapable of dealing with pointers, explicit memory management, stack layout, static memory maps, etc., etc..

In other words: a crapload of people with "Computer Science" degrees who could not write an OS or even a trivial part, like the C library signal trampoline, to save their ass, because they are in this walled garden/protected environment where they are "safe" from having to actually deal with real hardware.

Ironically, all of their JVMs on which they are normally running this code are not written in Java, because it's not really practical to do that.

Comment: Re:Thank you - just PR for his presidential run. (Score 4, Interesting) 308

by tlambert (#49748003) Attached to: What Was the Effect of Rand Paul's 10-Hour "Filibuster"?

Two: He also prevented it from passing cloture by unanimous consent, which is really silence. The chair asks a variation of "Without objection, so ordered" and if everyone is silent, it passes. There are no up/down votes, so no up/down vote is recorded

Now people are going to vote yea or nay, and THAT will be on the record for the next election.

Forcing the jackasses to go on the record as to whether or not they support the bill, rather than allowing them plausible deniability on whether or not they would have voted for it is actually a fantastic thing, particularly after the John Oliver interview of Edward Snowden, which basically makes it pretty obvious that the government gets to see you dick/boob picks if the bill is passed.

Comment: Re:Now if only the rest of the country would follo (Score 1) 544

by tlambert (#49744139) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

Our current vaccination rate for measles is not really adequate which allowed an introduced infection to spread a bit and even find a second epicenter due to travel. However, we do have a sufficient immunization rate that it died out fairly quickly. The empirical evidence proves that.

If you are correct, why isn't measles spreading in a big wave across the country right now? Most of the population has never had the measles.

It's not spreading all over because infected people from hot zones like the Philippines are not really doing a lot of traveling to the U.S., and, as I said, after onset of symptoms, people self-quarantine, and after an outbreak, people avoid other people they don't personally know, and avoid large gatherings of people where transmission is more likely.

Vaccination is not 100% effective, but strong border controls on people traveling from hot zones and strict quarantine rules are 100% effective.

Can't have an outbreak without a patient zero...

Comment: Re:Now if only the rest of the country would follo (Score 1) 544

by tlambert (#49702673) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

Not quite. The 'burn rate' is a measure of how quickly an infected person ceases to be a vector of infection (by getting better or dying). I'm talking about probability of getting infected at all. Technically, an immune individual shows a burn rate of infinity since they never carry the infection in spite of exposure.

So mass vaccination increases the effective burn rate as measured over the population.

Only after you hit the HIT (Herd Immunity Threshold); below that, pretty much everyone who can get the disease, will, if it has a long contagious period prior to onset of symptoms, is contagious after symptoms remit and the person is not educated that they need to stay home longer, even if they "feel better", or the disease has asymptomatic carriers. Or some jerk decides to "work through it", and exposes their coworkers.

And as the math proves, measles and pertussis have an HIT too high to be able to pop over the top of the HIT to get to that saddle point. Their only saving grace is that people isolate themselves when they feel ill.

NB: measles is infectious 4 days before onset of symptoms, and up to 4 days after symptoms remit; pertussis, at least, is only infectious after onset of symptoms, and remains infectious for only 3 weeks (but symptoms last longer, if untreated with antibiotics); if treated with antibiotics, pertussis is no longer infectious after about a week. Measles is pretty insidious.

Comment: Re:Now if only the rest of the country would follo (Score 1) 544

by tlambert (#49696569) Attached to: California Senate Approves School Vaccine Bill

Not quite. If you consider that the chance of transmission isn't 100% and that given a well vaccinated population, 61% of those transmissions are stopped, it greatly reduces the spread of the disease.

This slows the burn rate.

Read Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone". The reason Ebola is such a non-problem is that it has a very high burn rate: from acquisition of the disease to death is a short path, and therefore, without outside help, it has a hard time traveling very far before all the carriers are either immune (small percentage) or dead (most of them).

Counterintuitively, a slow burn rate is actually a *bad* thing, for an infectious disease, and the more infectious the disease, the *worse* things are, if the disease has a slow burn rate.

As an historical example: Typhoid Mary's burn rate was 0.

Note how quickly the last measles outbreak died down, even with a depressingly low vaccination rate where it started.

That was primarily due to defacto quarantine, not immunization. When someone is home sick, or in the hospital in isolation sick, they are not in contact with people who are susceptible, but have not yet contracted the disease.

This is an incredibly important effect for hyper-virulent diseases like measles.