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Comment Healthier populations have fewer kids (Score 4, Insightful) 67

And richer populations have fewer kids. If you're not living in an economically depressed malarial hellhole, you can afford birth control and set up a good economy.

Believe it or not, public health and improving people's economic status decreases birth rates.

Personally, I'd rather see worldwide populations limited by birth control and the naturally reduced birthrate that seems to ensue from better economic conditions than populations limited by war, famine, and pestilence.


Comment Malarial mosquitoes are the poster child for this (Score 1) 67

Malaria kills approx. 672k people/year worldwide (WHO:

Malaria cases per year, also very high in human cost, are much higher in number: 207M. AIDS has about 2x the death rate per year.

Maybe try this out on an island population of anopheles mosquitoes?


Comment Re:Another possibility (Score 1) 67

Is this a problem if they introduce MALE Asian Tiger Mosquitoes? Seems like you could completely wipe out anopheles mosquitoes. That said, this effect is probably temporary, because as soon as you cease releases, the anopheles will come back....

Making the mosquito population more fit iff they don't carry malaria seems like a permanent solution that would spread instead of degrading over time.


Comment Temporary moratoriums on certain antibiotics help? (Score 4, Interesting) 135

Maintaining antibiotic resistance is costly, and populations of bacteria which are not exposed to antibiotics will drop the capability after a while or be out-competed by competitors without the baggage.

So maybe a world-wide complete ban on use of some of the older antibiotics that are now mostly useless would help? Bacteria resistant to those old antibiotics might become rare due to lack of selection pressure.

Then, after 20 years of rest, maybe those antibiotics could be rotated back into use, because they've again become useful?


Comment Phage therapy, is it of limited use? (Score 4, Interesting) 135

Phage therapy is essentially the use of viruses against bacteria. This seems like a wonderful idea and quite specific against specific bacteria.

For antibiotics we often want something broad-spectrum, because it takes time and a lab test to determine what germ is causing the problem. Precious time and uncertain results from the lab test.

So right off the bat phage therapy is less useful.

I wonder right also if the human host would mount an immune response to the phages used, effectively defending the very bacteria that the phages were intended to attack. It's a foreign antigen, after all, even a virus, why WOULDN'T your immune system attack it?

So might it be the case that phage therapy would only work once on a given person, for a particular phage?

So I'm not sure phage therapy really would be an effective replacement for the antibiotics we used to have. Helpful, certainly, but of limited use, maybe?


Comment You underestimate the power of greed (Score 4, Informative) 135

Sorry to say it, but "most industrialized countries" feed antibiotics to animals routinely.

There are only a FEW industrialized countries which ban this, notably in Europe, notably NOT in North America (though the Republic of California just enacted a ban.)

It's NOT just a third world practice! Routine feeding of antibiotics to animals makes them gain weight faster. Market win! Industrial farmers LOVE using antibiotics.

Your mistake was underestimating the force of greed-induced stupid.


Comment 30,000 or more dead in the USA per year (Score 5, Insightful) 135

Dead from antibiotics resistant bacterial infections. 3,000 people died in 9/11 in one particular year.

USA spent $2T on subsequent wars.

So it seems that $100T is "justified" in spending to combat antibiotic resistance, right? (Frankly, I'd be happy to see $20B increase.)

And it pretty much has to be Government supported investment, the market case just isn't there for a drug company to develop new antibiotics. How do you make your billions back from a drug which people just take for a little while, while they are sick?

Drug companies just want to develop drugs that make them lots of money, drugs that people will take every day or will take in huge quantities. So if a drug company DOES develop an antibiotic, they'll soon sell it for agricultural use to help animals gain weight--that's the only way they can ever make money.

Free market economics pretty much dictate that antibiotics will be misused if developed at all, that is why we have to have PUBLIC investment in new antibiotics.


Comment Not exactly just as a precaution (Score 5, Informative) 135

Antibiotics are not fed to animals solely as a precaution. Animals that are fed antibiotics gain more weight, faster. This works on people too. Feed people antibiotics and they gain weight.

California, in the USA, recently banned such agricultural use of antibiotics and so have some countries in Europe.

It really is as someone said, greed/lust for profits/need to compete with others using antibiotics is the real reason why resistance is showing up.


Comment Economics of nuclear plants (Score 1) 98


    I have a lot of sympathy for what you're saying. The electrical grid badly needs to be made robust to EMP/solar flares, because even if no one detonates a nuke in orbit, eventually there will be a solar flare that will be powerful enough to have the same effect. Or some sort of cascading failure. Smaller modular grids are inherently more robust, on that you cannot be disputed.

    You are also right that nuclear has much less of a carbon footprint than burning coal or any other fossil fuel. What I'm not confident of is that nuclear power of any sort can be competitive, economically, with alternatives.

    Don't get me wrong, I like nuclear power in principle, but when it comes down to money, people have argued, pretty convincingly, that the fact that you have to generate heat and then convert it to power incurs so much capital expense that direct electrical generation will always be cheaper.

    Direct electrical generation means that the fuel directly spins a turbine or generates electricity, examples of direct conversion:
natural gas fired turbines (the burning gas turns the turbine directly)

All flavors of nuclear power (except possibly aneutronic fusion) heat water which is converted to steam which turns turbines which generates electricity.

Here's the link that goes into the argument more thoroughly:


Comment Zero direct fatalities? Think zombie apocalypse! (Score 4, Interesting) 98

Indirect fatalities are fatalities.

Consider what would happen if the whole electrical network in the US went down. That is the likely effect of an orbital EMP. All electric power would stop and stay stopped. Gas pumps wouldn't work. Refrigeration would fail. Shipments of food would not arrive and mass starvation would ensue. People would be wandering around starving searching for ANY food at all.

If you don't think nuclear retaliation isn't the right response for inflicting THAT upon the USA, what is the point of having a nuclear deterrent?


Comment No encryption means we're not secure vs terrorists (Score 1) 291

When are all these idiots going to realize that if WE the people don't have strong encryption, then TERRORISTS and CRIMINALS will be able to get at OUR vital information to get US?

Security vulnerabilities put the general population at FAR MORE risk of harm than it puts terrorists at risk of being captured!

Even a "government only" back door is just one leak or discovery away from being everyone's security vulnerability.


Comment Re:No Worries (Score 3, Interesting) 342

If you're right, then the web advertising business has screwed itself royally and irrevocably, until Joe User gets a new computer.

Seems like their only hope of coming back is to:
1) Stop being offensive
2) Deal with the fact that the market's shrunk for the next few years at least

and if they ever want me to disable my ad blocker:
3) Sanitize ads and pay for cleanup if they deliver malware.

Because the sad fact is that I was willing to put up with annoying, but I am NOT willing to put up with security risk. The same day that it registered with me that I could protect my computer's security by blocking ads, that's the day I put in an ad blocker.


Comment Re:Raises work in lower-paid jobs as well (Score 1) 500

How about running for Congress? It'd be nice to have someone reasonable for a change, and someone who is interested in the actual success of the country instead of affirming their beliefs in their absolute truths.

I tend to lean liberal, but political philosophy doesn't trump facts--if a conservative proves to me that deregulating something is advantageous, well, let's give it a try, then!


Comment They don't always come if you build it (Score 1) 342

In New Mexico, the Rail Runner connects Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and some other smaller cities.

After 9 years, ridership doesn't pay for operating costs, not even 1/10th of the operating costs, let alone pay for the cost of the capital invested. Add the cost of capital and fares pay only 1/20th of the cost.

California had better think not once, not twice, but ten times about the economic case for their bullet train--if it is as much of a flop as New Mexico's Rail Runner, it'll blow a huge hole in the state's budget.


2 pints = 1 Cavort