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Comment: Re:"The Polar Bears will be fine" (Score 1, Interesting) 141

by ShanghaiBill (#49634775) Attached to: Global Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Monthly Record

As a general rule, if Freeman Dyson doesn't understand something, you don't, either.

Freeman Dyson is not a climatologist, and should not be expected to understand it. He also has a strong contrarian streak, and will oppose almost any viewpoint that he perceives as a consensus. He is not a denier, he is a skeptic. But he is a skeptic of pretty much everything.

Comment: Re:Cuz Minix Dude Was A Old Guy (Score 4, Insightful) 306

by ShanghaiBill (#49632285) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

The reason why Linux eclipsed Minix is obvious, since Minix was never more than an educational tool. But why did Linux triumph over BSD? In the early 1990s, FreeBSD was considerably better, more stable, and had a more liberal license. Here are my theories:

1. FreeBSD required a hardware FPU, at a time when many computers didn't have them.
2. The AT&T lawsuit put a lot of uncertainty over BSD.
3. The user communities were very different. Linux users were very open and helpful to newbies. BSD forums were hostile to anyone that didn't already know everything.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 463

by ShanghaiBill (#49630689) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

I can't remember if it was Germany or a Nordic nation ...

Germany does not have single payer healthcare. They have a multi-payer system where the costs are shared by government, employer, and individual.

... but for them you just showed up for GP visits.

I once got sick on a business trip in Germany. There was a nurse screening patients. The nurse could see that I had a standard bug that was going around, and gave me some pills. I never saw a doctor. This actually seems like a good system, and using nurses to handle the obvious 90%, while doctors focus on the 10%, certainly holds down costs. But I don't think you can just "show up" and see a GP. At least that wasn't how it worked for me.

No system is perfect. Our system is so far from perfect that there are very few changes that could really make it a lot worse.

Agreed. But so far our "reforms" have focused on coverage rather than cost. If we fix the costs, then fixing the coverage will be far easier. Germany's system seemed quite good. I have also used Canada's system, and that was good too.

Comment: Re:To think I once subscribed to this site (Score 1) 228

Well, these allegations just don't pass the common sense test. Almost any organization is going to have at least 5% annual attrition, and many organizations have far higher rates. So out of 1028 employees, about 200 would be expected to leave during the 4 year period covered. Yet they expect us to believe that the actual attrition was ZERO? Somebody is either mangling the statistics, or outright lying.


Two Programmers Expose Dysfunction and Abuse In the Seattle Police Department 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-keep-your-heads-down dept.
reifman writes: Programmers Eric Rachner and Phil Mocek are now the closest thing Seattle has to a civilian police-oversight board. Through shrewd use of Washington's Public Records Act, the two have acquired hundreds of reports, videos, and 911 calls related to the Seattle Police Department's internal investigations of officer misconduct. Among some of Rachner and Mocek's findings: a total of 1,028 SPD employees (including civilian employees) were investigated between 2010 and 2013. (The current number of total SPD staff is 1,820.) Of the 11 most-investigated employees—one was investigated 18 times during the three-year period—every single one of them is still on the force, according to SPD.

In 569 allegations of excessive or inappropriate use of force (arising from 363 incidents), only seven were sustained—meaning 99 percent of cases were dismissed. Exoneration rates were only slightly smaller when looking at all the cases — of the total 2,232 allegations, 284 were sustained. This is partly why the Seattle PD is under a federal consent decree for retraining and oversight. You can check out some of the typically excellent Twitter coverage by Mocek from his #MayDaySea coverage.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 463

by ShanghaiBill (#49629435) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

How is it no options if basically all medical professionals bill to the same entity now, so that the patient can go to essentially any doctor or hospital in the country ...

That is not how socialized medicine works. You can't just go to the doctor whenever you feel like it. Single payer healthcare reduces costs, and people with SPH are generally happier with their care, but there are tradeoffs. Long waiting lists for many ailments, and reduced patient choice, are among those tradeoffs.

Comment: Re:$50 billion is not Huge, anymore (Score 1) 57

by ShanghaiBill (#49626167) Attached to: Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition

That's mostly because we've cut taxes on corps so much that they've got more cash than they know what to do with.

America has one of the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That is the main reason that corporations have been leaving.

I miss the 90% tax bracket. It kept corporate power in check

The 90% tax bracket was an personal rate, that did not apply to corporations. The corporate rate has never been much above 50%, and even that was generally in wartime.

Corporate tax rate by year

Comment: Re:ADA? (Score 4, Interesting) 257

by ShanghaiBill (#49623101) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

COBOL is an excellent example

Is it? How come I never see job ads for COBOL programmers? I know no one who uses it. I have often heard that it is used in "banks" or for "business" programming. But I know several people that work as programmers at banks, and none of them use COBOL or are aware of it being used at all. They are all Java shops. Same for programmers writing business logic. So I think that all these myths about demand for COBOL programmers is a load of hogwash.

Perhaps ADA would be another example?

Ada was oversold in the 1980s, and quickly developed a reputation for poor performance, and heavy resource requirements. Few systems were written in it, and even mission critical military systems (which Ada was designed for) could commonly get an exemption to use something more sensible.

Comment: Re:Come on. What tripe. (Score 4, Informative) 411

by ShanghaiBill (#49622837) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Since you can't measure programming ability "somehow" or otherwise, you don't know what the curve would look like.

Except that you CAN measure it. Just give each person a few programming tasks that should take ten minutes or so. I do that all the time. It is called a "job interview". My experience is that most applicants are incapable of programming even trivial solutions, or even getting the syntax right ... and these are people applying for programming jobs. A fair number can come up with reasonable solutions. Only a few come up with elegant out-of-the-box solutions that I was not expecting.

The distribution is not "U" shaped, and it is not normal (bell shaped). It is high on the left, and slopes downward to the right.

Comment: Re:Morse Code (Score 1) 142

I think Morse needs to come back for data entry. Only one button needed.

Morse code would be one solution, and isn't that hard to learn. Voice input would be another. A small camera that can read sign language might work, but ASL requires two hands and would be hard to read from the wrist of one of the hands. Another solution would be to project a keyboard onto a surface, and then use a camera to read the taps. The watch could detect the wrist movement, and the tension in the tendons, to detect keys as the user typed on an "air" keyboard. But perhaps the best solution would be a cranial probe that could detect the letters or words as the user was thinking them.

Comment: Re:Lives be damned (Score 3, Interesting) 314

I don't know if sloppy practice explains the earthquakes in Oklahoma, though.

The groundwater contamination is a serious issue, that needs to be resolved, probably through more frequent inspections and higher fines. The earthquakes are a trivial problem. They are small, and transitory. Once the frackers move on, the earthquakes will stop. Fracking has generated over a million jobs, adds hundreds of billions of domestic production to the US economy every year, and, by replacing coal with gas, has done more to reduce CO2 emissions than all other efforts combined. If the price of that is a few rattled windows in rural Oklahoma, then so be it.

A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- P. Erdos