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Comment: "Cure Sometimes, Relieve Often... Comfort Always." (Score 1) 736

by Guppy (#46739137) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

People can survive quite well without the care of physicians.

I am not a doctor (but will be in a few more months ;)

In this matter, you are certainly correct. In the past (and in some places, even today), there were human settlements in which there has never been a doctor -- at least not in the modern sense of a doctor. And for the most part, life went on. Humans managed to be born, grow up, and grow old. Occasionally those lives might be cut a bit shorter and harder than otherwise -- but on average, these occurrences were infrequent enough that we could be assured the younger generation would survive to repeat the next turn of the cycle.

Yet, in each of those villages, you would find a healer. A shaman, a medicine-man, or maybe some weird old lady living at the edge of the settlement. Sometimes their herbs and potions would actually be useful; mystical incantations probably somewhat less so. Regardless of how primitive these healers were, they would be summoned to offer up what they could. They were a source of comfort that could be turned to, when a loved one was sick or dying. And they were also one of the few educated people (whether formal education or by traditional teachings) in the village that could be turned to for knowledge and advice (clergy being the other major source).

Many of us on Slashdot do not have families of our own, or at least that's the stereotype. We often have only a dim understanding of what illness can do to the structure and functioning of a marriage, a family, a clan, or even an entire village. When people don't understand what is happening and begin to fear, when they believe nothing can be done and begin to despair -- the social bonds that hold us together fray and rip apart. This dynamic is why healers exist and are so highly valued in society, even in a modern age where miracles are commonplace and expected to occur on demand. And why post-apocalypse, they will continue to be valued.

That being said, I would agree that some doctors would be more useful than others. Rural Medicine, Wilderness Medicine (an uncommon specialty), General Surgery, and Veterinarians would be the most immediately useful. As for the rest of us, at least all doctors go through medical school and internship, have studied anatomy and physiology, dissected cadavers and such -- it might take some retraining, but it should be possible to get at least the more adaptable ones back up to speed on how to remove an inflamed appendix or gallbladder, perform a Cesarean, or set a broken bone. As for our other skills -- the skills of compassion, comforting, and guidance -- hopefully they practice these most basic Physician's skills on a daily basis (although sadly enough, I know not all of us do).

Comment: Re:The feds can have the data from my last flight. (Score 5, Insightful) 78

by Guppy (#46708987) Attached to: In-Flight Wi-Fi Provider Going Above and Beyond To Help Feds Spy

The last time I used gogoinflight I was using it to search for and download freely available academic papers for work. I know I should be appalled at them giving up the data, but I wouldn't use a service like that for anything that I would be worried about the feds looking in on.

In my case, being a medical student -- what if I happen to be studying infectious diseases at the moment? Maybe some novel Influenza strains, or bacterial antibiotic resistance profiles, or epidemiological models of disease spread? Possibly even actual bio-terrorism agents, as these were a pretty big item on my board exams (probably someone at the federal level pushed the NBME/NBOME to emphasize them, there was way too much given the relative clinical utility of the topic).

My colleagues would find those topics perfectly normal and usual items of study, but I'd hate to end up on a watch list because MUH TERRORISM.

Comment: Re:Terrible summary (Score 1) 190

by Guppy (#46649269) Attached to: Scientists Solve the Mystery of Why Zebras Have Stripes

Biting flies can't evolve?

Maybe they have. If you were to obtain some biting flies from however many millions of years ago, back when the striped zebra trait first appeared -- would they be even worse at coping with stripes than their modern counterparts? All we know is that there is still some differential even today.

It's like asking why some arctic predators bothered to evolve white coats, when their prey should have out-evolved the ability to be fooled by the camouflage, or why some insects have eye-spots, when vision systems should have evolved to be able to distinguish real eyes from fake. Your system improves to some point, and then you hit some local maxima.

BTW, there is a type of biting fly trap, where the bait is basically a large dark-colored ball at the end of a pendulum, that swings back and forth. Apparently, the fly vision system is cued to look for the silhouette of a curved body of a certain size, in motion -- in the wild, it was apparently good enough to distinguish a large animal from swaying trees, grass, or other non-animal objects. Would use of such traps -- imagine if they were used widely for a long, long period of time -- lead to fly evolution (perhaps more reliance on scent cues, or CO2 like mosquitos use, perhaps)? Would such alternative cues completely over-ride the former visual system, or would there be a local maxima, at which the probability of being caught in a trap balanced out with enhanced ability to locate a target animal?

Comment: Re:How does this affect dual-system chipsets? (Score 5, Informative) 148

by Guppy (#46648345) Attached to: Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

Newer phones have location chipsets that support both GPS and GLONASS. Do they figure out automatically that the GLONASS information is bad and switch to using GPS exclusively?

To promote their system, Russia decided to make new smartphones without GLONASS support illegal in their country -- so major manufacturers added that capability to all their phones (since there is almost no additional cost to each unit, once the capability is designed into the chipset). Not sure about CDMA chipset, since there is no major CDMA networking in Russia.

Would be nice if we got Galileo GNSS and Beidou support too, but I'm not expecting it to happen unless they pull a similar stunt with their markets (well, China might).


Comment: Re:UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh (Score 1) 357

by Guppy (#46600935) Attached to: Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

My question is this voluntary? How is exactly does one opt out if they prefer traditional care? Doesn't seem to be like a recent victim of gross trauma, can exactly make an informed decision.

Unfortunately, this is the problem with experimental therapies intended to be used on emergency patients in extremis, where most of which will be unable to give meaningful consent. It's a common issue in severe trauma and stroke trials. While implied consent for standard emergency treatment can be assumed, this does not hold for experimental therapies.

In such cases, the researchers will most likely ask a surrogate decision maker (the patient's family) for permission -- as you would for any other non-competent patient who needed a medical decision, and who did not leave written directives beforehand. There will also be an ethics board monitoring the whole thing (as with all human trials, but these types of trials more closely than most).

Comment: Re:DO NOT WANT (Score 5, Insightful) 535

by Guppy (#46578673) Attached to: Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

Actually, let me amend my previous post, on second thought I don't think it's really the end-users that are the true targets of this acquisition.

It's would be the game devs. Imagine a world where all commercial Oculus games are required to be developed in such a way that they have some sort of social-media tie into Facebook. It won't happen at the official public release of course -- that would scare too many people off. I imagine they'll play nice until the Oculus achieves market dominance. Then, Facebook will start to creep into the arrangement, as devs find out they need to jump through more and more hoops to maintain access to the Oculus ecosystem.

Comment: DO NOT WANT (Score 5, Insightful) 535

by Guppy (#46578561) Attached to: Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

So, who wants to bet whether or not the basic Oculus Rift will be permanently tied-into the Facebook ecosystem somehow?

Maybe some "cloud" features (required to access support forums, firmware updates, online configuration page, etc) that will be tied to your Facebook account -- none of which will make much sense, but somehow it will get shoe-horned in there.

+ - Facebook to buy Oculus Rift for $2 billion->

Submitted by sfcrazy
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Facebook is on spending and acquiring spree, after shelling out over $19 billion on WhatsApp the company is now buying the latest sensation Oculus VR for $2 billion. This is the first of its kind hardware purchase for Facebook and it’s not clear what a social networking site is going to do with a VR company, well if arch-rival Google can buy robots why can’t Facebook buy virtual reality specialists?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Malthusianism is only Wrong because we make it so (Score 1) 401

by Guppy (#46496315) Attached to: NASA-Funded Study Investigates Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Yep, and it was crap the last time. For those of us old enough: overpopulation, environmental crisis, the collapse of capitalist societies and others are just boring memes that we've heard before.

Predictions of Global Malthusian Collapse have been proven wrong repeatedly, but only because many intelligent and hardworking humans have labored to prevent it. We defer a certain amount of gratification now, to invest in technologies, infrastructure, and institutions; we use our foresight to plan and avoid inauspicious outcomes.

My fear is that at some point, society as a whole will come to take all these things for granted. We'll pat ourselves on the back and say, "Malthus was and always is wrong because, uhh -- reasons", and we'll stop investing in the future. Because hey, I really need more shinies right now, and my voters are going to the polls right now, and the boss wants better numbers right now. And that's when tomorrow gets Fucked.

Malthusianism is only wrong because we work hard to make it wrong.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234