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Comment Re:well (Score 2) 200

It's even illegal to stare in my front window from the sidewalk, or with binoculars, even if my curtains are open.

I've always wondered what the guidelines are for something like this in various jurisdictions. I live in Phoenix, and for about a year I lived in an apartment complex with some very large and revealing sliding glass doors that all face an interior common area (swimming pool, etc.) — naturally, most residents kept their curtains closed most of the time for privacy. There was one guy, however, who kept his curtains wide open seemingly 24/7, and he always had a bunch of crazy crap on the walls so that you couldn't help but feel your gaze drawn to glance that way while you were going about your business.

The common area was a semi-public area; residents had keys for when the common area was locked, but guests didn't need special permission to be there.

So one day this guy walks out of his apartment onto his patio wearing nothing but a bathrobe and holding an alcoholic beverage in his hand, demanding to know why I'm looking into his apartment (as I had apparently done so multiple times while going to/from my own apartment). Then he demanded, in a slurred and drunken manner, that I not look into his apartment. Putting aside the issue of whether or not my neighbor was in fact guilty of public intoxication, I still don't know if he had a legal leg to stand on. Had I pressed the issue, would a judge have considered his request reasonable? (Demanding that people not look through an unobscured window that is larger than the dimensions of most human beings and is at ground level where pedestrians are likely to travel doesn't seem to be very reasonable or practical, but the law doesn't necessarily have to be written in a reasonable manner.)

Note that I didn't "pause" to watch for an extended period of time, nor did I have binoculars, nor did I have anything like a camera. (Camera phones weren't even a thing at this point in time.) The point being, if someone has a very expansive view of their own privacy rights, they will not be deterred even if the law is not on their side. This is also why photographers are being accosted by security guards more and more frequently under the guise of "no photography" policies in public places (e.g., Grand Central Terminal) where no such policies actually exist. I shudder to think what some Phoenix residents are going to do if this ordinance passes since quadcopters are popular items sold in the Phoenix Metro area.

Comment Re:Can we get a summary of that excerpt, please? (Score 1) 138

I weep for humanity...

"weird writing style" apparently means "written beyond a 6th grade reading level" (which is incidentally what USA Today is written for, by and large — a good reason to aspire to better news periodicals, even though editorial standards are slipping across the board)

Incidentally, the writing style is not that uncommon, and some of the techniques he uses can be found in other great novels of multiple genres (e.g., detective novels). At least one review describes Starfish as a thriller.

I assure you the excerpt makes sense. If you have trouble understanding this, perhaps you should go read more, and in greater variety. They used to teach reading comprehension in schools, but I'm starting to think programs like No Child Left Behind may have de-emphasized that in exchange for teaching kids how to pass more and more standardized tests that focus on bare essentials. I guess you don't need to have excellent English skills to be a good consumer.

Comment Re:Type 1 vs type 2 diabetes (Score 1) 92

And I would be one of those skinny type 2 diabetics. Rail thin, never got above 200 pounds (just under 91 kg) at a height of 6'2" (just over 1.8 m), and am now comfortably around 160 pounds. I'm currently taking metformin and insulin; I've tried actos, but it just didn't help that much (especially considering bladder cancer is a potential side effect), and I discontinued it after starting the insulin.

I've had nurses look at me and innocently say, "Well, you don't look diabetic!" Which is code for, "You don't look fat!"

I struggle to keep my sugar levels in control, even with moderate exercise and diet. I spill ketones at the drop of a hat. (My urine smelling like paint thinner was one of the first clues there was a problem, along with neuropathy.)

I still get neuropathy and other annoying symptoms. So far, no vision changes.

This is a matter of genetics. Almost everyone on my father's side of the family has diabetes; most of the blame can be placed squarely on the family tree not being an acyclic graph.

Comment Re:Type 1 vs type 2 diabetes (Score 1) 92

I get the impression Metformin is more of a block slowing up sugar uptake which reduces the amount of insulin needed to cope with the sugars and carbs.

That's only one of the things that metformin does. Metformin primarily suppresses gluconeogenesis in the liver, and secondarily increases insulin sensitivity. Far down the list is decreased absorption of glucose in the GI tract.

Comment Where did that come from? (Score 2) 470

Jefferson was our second most intelligent president (estimated IQ of 160). We should listen to him.

That's pretty interesting, since Jefferson lived when IQ tests hadn't been invented. Furthermore, I have to wonder if this "estimate" (based on what, exactly?) takes things like the Flynn effect into account.

In point of fact, Nixon has a known IQ of 143 and therefore the highest IQ of all presidents who were actually tested. That is in no way an endorsement of Nixon as the smartest president.

Considering that many biographies of Jefferson place him as the most intelligent of any sitting US president, I have to ask who you think was the most intelligent president, someone who bests Jefferson with an IQ that you estimate at 160?

You also conveniently forget that Jefferson advocated periodic revolutions, whether bloody or bloodless, and by logical extension a new constitution would have to be ratified after each such revolution. (Think of the French, who routinely adopt new constitutions.) So while Jefferson may have been a strict Constitutionalist by our modern reckoning, he also likely did not expect our current constitution to last as long as it did.

On a different tack, it's pretty obvious that your response to smooth wombat was meant to be snarky. You haven't really addressed the fact that he raises a valid point: Laws must stay relevant to their times. If you're going to invoke Jefferson to advocate for a system of governance where nothing ever changes and technical progress is impeded for the sake of preserving an antiquated social and legal framework, well, I'm afraid I can't get on board with that simply because of Jefferson's cyclical view of governments and their founding documents.

Comment Re:And? (Score 1) 185

Although siride did a good job of rebutting your nit picking, I just wanted to point out that "relies on electricity" is a poor definition of electric.

Here are some of the definitions I pulled from for electric as an adjective:

  • pertaining to, derived from, produced by, or involving electricity ("pertaining to" is pretty broad)
  • producing, transmitting, or operated by electric currents
  • electrifying; thrilling; exciting; stirring

All of those senses of the word have examples showing common and accepted usage. The "pertaining to" sense would seem to apply to an "electric bill."

Comment Define "synthetic" (Score 1) 91

Someone already brought up the artificially grown bladder, which was covered earlier this year, so this surgery already seems dubious as a "first synthetic organ" transplant. The BBC article title says first synthetic windpipe, but the subtitle says first synthetic organ. I call shenanigans (and suspect a bit of nationalism at work).

However, what about the Jarvik artificial hearts? Those were developed and transplanted years ago. Don't those qualify as synthetic organs, since they are artificial yet perform a similar function to a real heart?

Comment Re:Document, document, document (Score 1) 96

IANAL, but my understanding is that even if/when the U.S. switches to a "first to file" system, prior art will always remain relevant... it just complicates things because you have to establish that the prior art exists before the filing of the patent, not before the "inventor" claims to have invented the innovation. I guess one could argue this standard would be easier to meet since the act of filing a patent typically comes well after the process of inventing something, except maybe in the case of so-called "submarine" patents.

That said, I'm really unhappy about the U.S. seriously considering moving away from the "first to invent" system. Yes, our system is more litigious, and therefore one can argue it's more costly, but also seems less fair if someone legitimately did invent something first but couldn't afford to beat the other guy to the patent office. I'm hoping someone kills the switchover before it goes into effect.

I have personal memories of documenting every little thing I did at a start-up company in engineering notebooks and composition books where the sheets were all bound by sewing and adhesives -- makes it easy to see if a page has been added or removed. Spiral bound notebooks are not good for documenting stuff you've done, and loose sheets of paper aren't really good either. Digital records are easy to forge. Old school is the best way to document your work should there be a patent challenge.

Comment Re:That's because SciFi sucks (Score 1) 292

I liked your observation better when Theodore Sturgeon made it: 90% of everything is crap. Of course, you seem to be claiming that the value is more like 99%, but we all know that 95% of all statistics are made up on the fly.

News flash: Most other genre fiction is crap, too. For that matter, most mainstream fiction doesn't pass the test of time and is quickly forgotten, if it ever was considered "literature" in the first place.

As for filters, I would suggest that you start paying attention to book reviews. Analog still does reviews of science fiction novels, for example. Amazon posts both user reviews and reviews by established periodicals. If you need something to inform your selection process, book reviews are a good place to start.

If you don't have reviews to go by, or enough reviews to go by, there's always the reputation of the author himself. (If you happen to not like an author who is otherwise well-regarded, that's fine, but authors tend to work hard to earn a reputation.) And if an author is older, sometimes they fall into the category of authors who improve with age, while others fall prey to the Hemingway syndrome (writing their best work first). Find out which category an author falls into and then consume either their back catalog or their latest works, depending.

Comment Re:That's because SciFi sucks (Score 1) 292

Frank Herbert and Heinlein were both proverbial 800 pound gorillas. Both were best when their work was heavily edited. Both later in life got full of themselves and started pumping out works that no editor would dare edit for fear that they'd lose their rock star author.

The first Dune was good, after the first 20 pages or so. It took me about 3 or 4 attempts before I finally got "into" it enough. I wasn't impressed enough to tackle the rest of the series. Just because you happen to think the entire series is great doesn't mean everyone does or even should agree.

Heinlein always struck me as preachy, and his books were a platform for preaching to his audience. Most of Heinlein's followers (and I use that word deliberately) strike me as being very similar to cultists. It could have been Heinlein instead of Hubbard who founded a religion, after all...

As for Asimov... while he's a well-loved author of SF who published over 600 books (Wikipedia claims "over 500," but I have read various estimates from 600 to 800+), it's worth noting a few things. First, Isaac Asimov's best form was the short story, not the novel; the man couldn't do characterization, and it showed in his longer works. Indeed, ideas seem to be the central characters in many of his works. (I have to say, though, The Gods Themselves was a great novel and had OK character development. Not stellar, but not awful either.) Secondly, many of those published works were non-fiction. I don't see this as a detriment, since Asimov is a very entertaining writer with a gift for making complex ideas seem simple. Thirdly, I believe it is because Asimov was so prolific that we have so many examples of his work we can point to as "good science fiction." After all, most of us know he pumped out that many books, but few of us can cite the titles of more than a half dozen to dozen of them.

Comment Re:Stupid (Score 1) 298

You do realize that US$70 is approximately equal to UK£35. (I know the exchange rate fluctuates, but...)

Also, which provider did you try in Orlando (assuming you mean Orlando, Florida, and not one of the other Orlando cities/towns in America)? Because most locales in the States currently have at least 2 competing ISPs. Generally, that's local cable (typically slow upstream and bursty downstream) and the local telco (providing some form of ADSL or, in my case, VDSL). Depending on which one of those you have, and what their policies are, the performance can vary quite a lot. Saying "when I went to America... the internet [was] incredibly slow" isn't really meaningful without further qualification.

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire