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Comment Even party schools get top notch talent (Score 2) 118 118

With the lack of jobs for PhD's in academia (and elsewhere), ANY academic job gets tons of applicants. Only the best of the best get *any* job in academia nowadays.

You can pretty much count on anyone in the US who has a faculty job being one of the best of the best. Furthermore, this person is going to have access to plenty of cheap PhD labor.

Don't be surprised if you see pretty significant accomplishments coming from previously disregarded places.

Comment GMO citrus or no citrus (Score 1) 293 293

GMO? Bring them on. With reasonable safety testing. Because guess what: I like citrus fruits. However, citrus fruits are going extinct thanks to citrus greening.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

It's spreading worldwide, affecting Asia, Israel, and Florida (29% reduced production), and other places. There is no good way to cure citrus greening (you can give a tree antibiotics, but that only works for a while and costs a lot. I'm not a fan of abusing antibiotics in this way, either!)

However, there's a GMO technique for making citrus resistant to citrus greening. No natural citrus plant is resistant. Splicing in some genes from spinach does the trick:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

So pretty soon, it's going to be GMO citrus or no citrus.

Also, it turns out naturally occurring compounds in NATURAL citrus contributes to skin cancer:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/s...

GMO citrus could have those compounds removed and be HEALTHIER (less likely to cause cancer) than natural citrus.

Bottom line, I'm for GMO citrus. It beats "no citrus". Also, it'd be nice if the GMO citrus was less risky for skin cancer too.

Most decidedly unnatural, and most decidedly better--with proper safety testing, I'm all for it.

Furthermore, a deadly fact: our industrial farming monoculture is increasingly vulnerable to this sort of worldwide wipe-out. The banana variety common in USA stores is also going extinct due to a disease. No replacement banana has been bred yet. Coffee and chocolate are going extinct, also due disease, with climate change contributing. There are credible threats to wheat. I'm very afraid that just to feed everyone we're going to need GMO to keep ahead of disease, and also to expand usable farmland via inserted genes for salt and drought tolerance.

I think before too much longer, for many people, it's going to be GMO food or no food.

--PeterM

Comment ID theft is the fault of lenders, credit bureaus (Score 2) 57 57

Your zeal is misplaced. ID theft wouldn't be an issue if LENDERS WERE NOT LAZY ASSHOLES.

    Why should YOU be on the hook for clearing yourself if some LENDER lends "you" money, without actually bothering to really find out it is YOU, and then goes after YOU when it was "you" who actually got the money.

    Seems like the lender didn't do due diligence to me! Same thing with credit bureaus, they accept gossip about YOU and repeat it when it was "you", not YOU who actually did the actions.

    And somehow YOU are the victim?

    Legislation needs to be issued forthwith forbidding ANY lender from putting ANYTHING derogatory in your credit report unless they can PROVE whatever they have a problem with was done by you and no one else. Also, lenders should NOT be able to attempt to collect from a person unless they can prove that self-same person is the person they gave their money to.

ID theft would largely be a thing of the past.

--PM

Comment Pushing on dark matter? (Score 1) 509 509

We're assured there's dark matter everywhere, maybe 5x as much dark matter as normal matter. What if these guys have found a way to interact with dark matter, essentially pushing on it?

It seems like dark matter has mass, and momentum, but it interacts poorly with regular matter. If you were pushing on dark matter somehow, it could just fly out of the chamber. Suddenly your "reactionless" drive is just another rocket that's using particles that happen to be around to push on.

However, if EM waves could interact with dark matter in any way, it shouldn't be "dark". You should see signs of interaction on cosmic scales or near very intense light sources like black holes, right? Or would the influence of such interaction be so small compared to gravitational redshift that it couldn't be noticed?

--PM

Comment You joke, but maybe this is what needs doing (Score 1) 202 202

It's questionable ethics to fix a security flaw for someone by hacking into their system to fix it, but it DOES seem preferable to have a white-hat text patches out to everyone prior to exploit by a bad actor, especially if the fix is relatively simple and low-risk.

Better yet would be if the vendors just took care of it, of course, but given their lack of motivation and alacrity.....

--PM

Comment Re:At what cost (Score 1) 93 93

>Who is it, that you think will invest $2.5B into >something that will take a decade and will almost >certainly fail, on the promise of a 30% profit?

I said, "this is our cost for developing THIS drug, these are our costs for developing FAILED drugs, add 30%". The failures are built into the price I proposed, actually. Let's be more specific about the 30% profit--how about a 30% profit per year capital was tied up? In most sectors of the economy 30% profit is pretty handsome. I don't mind them profiting reasonably from their labors, even if they are profiting from the suffering. What bothers me is them saying to, well, Americans specifically, "this drug is worth half your income potential for the rest of your life. Pay up or suffer."

As for "you have opinions about what they should be allowed to charge", no, that's not what I think. They developed the drug, by law, it's theirs and they can charge what they want for it. I was arguing that the drug should have been the result of public investment and then made available at cost to everyone who needs it, not at the maximum that can be extracted from suffering people.

I was also arguing that extracting money from suffering people according to the maximum that can be gouged rather than according to cost + reasonable profit is pretty awful and should not be done. Corporations are actually allowed to have some ethics instead of being profit maximizing predatory price gougers profiting on human suffering.

I was also arguing that for a company to charge Americans lots of money for the drug so that it is practically out of reach for most, while being willing to cut deals for non-Americans is also pretty awful.

Consider this scenario: there's a natural disaster, water infrastructure is broken, and I have big supply of bottled water that cost me $1.00 each. There are lots of thirsty-to-death people around for me to sell to.

From an arbitrary set of people, namely, those who think it is OK for corporations to charge whatever they want of suffering people in need (I'll call these people "market religionists", I charge them 10% of the rest of their lifetime earnings, and consider myself generous, because I could have demanded more. From everyone else, I charge $1.30 each. And I'm totally indifferent to the suffering of the market religionists as they agonize in thirst.

I mean, charging Americans a lot more than everyone else is actually more arbitrary than charging market religionists a lot more than everyone else--I'm actually treating market religionists according to their own system of ethics, right?

Last, there ARE other drugs and treatments for hepatitis C. It's not like the rest of the world wasn't doing anything for these people until Gilead (actually it wasn't Gilead but a company that Gilead bought) came along.

It's just that the other treatments are not as good--there's even another cure, it's just not as good.

As such, I think Gilead's initial pricing strategy was pretty stupid. They should have charged a low enough price that EVERYONE who has HepC got on the drug, not just the few that the insurance companies and states have decided are so badly off that they are triaged into being given the drug.

--PM

Comment Can the brain live without the body? (Score 2) 60 60

In the movie The Matrix, people who died in the perceived reality died "in real life" even though their bodies had no physical trauma. "The body cannot live without the mind." was the explanation for this given in the movie.

I really wonder if the brain could live without the body. It seems to me this is far more difficult than simply keeping a person healthy without gravity: the body provides the brain with nutrition, sensory input, oxygen and CO2 removal, chemical input like hormones, etc., removal of wastes, fine temperature control, osmotic balance, and probably a lot more I have not mentioned. It seems easier to me to supply a body with gravity in space than to supply a brain with all of that.

Oh, and the brain would still need to be pressurized in space, as well as all the fluid input, so it's not clear you'd save a lot on cabin pressure.

Best,

--PeterM

Comment Re:At what cost (Score 1) 93 93

>>not how much they should sell it for to recoup their costs and make a reasonable profit, but by how much they thought they could/should get

>That's literally the definition of capitalism. You know, that thing our entire way of life is based on.

Maybe YOUR life, but not everyone's. Ever heard of "gouging"? That's where you have gained, through conniving, honest effort, or circumstance, control of something that other people need to live and you charge a very high price for it. Like water post-earthquake. A "good" capitalist would sell water for $100/bottle or more and make a very tidy profit off the desperately thirsty. Fortunately, many people are also guided by morality and would limit their mark-ups on vital commodities like this post-disaster, either taking a loss, selling the commodity at cost, or selling with a reasonable profit like 10%, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE PEOPLE OVER A BARREL. I'd much prefer capitalism tempered by some humanity and morality, thank you very much, than the pure psychotic ideal.

I would not have any complaint at all with the drug company if they had set their prices based on "this is our development cost for the drug, these are our costs for developing failed drugs, +30% profit margin." Not "let's extract as much money as we can from the people we have over a barrel."

>As it stands, this will happen in the late 2020s when sofosbuvir goes off patent. Currently, it is licensed for generic manufacture in 90 developing countries, covering a patient population of 100 million.

In late 2020's instead of RIGHT NOW. D'you realize how much human misery that delay means? Is that really a good route to take, so that a company and their shareholders can make 1000% profit rather than 30%? If they truly did base their price based on recovery of costs and a reasonable profit, then I apologize to the company, however, they magically dropped their prices by huge fractions when the PR hit the fan, which I doubt they'd be willing to do if they were losing money off the new dramatically lowered (yet still very high) prices.

>Currently, it is licensed for generic manufacture in 90 developing countries, covering a patient population of 100 million.

How VERY KIND it is for that company to lower the price to affordability for foreigners while screwing over their own countrymen by charging rates here that challenge even the deepest US pockets. How truly admirable. I mean, wow, this might actually mean that someone in Africa gets the drug that people in America can't afford because their insurance won't cover it, because of the high cost here! I'm sure their decision to lower the prices for foreigners was driven by the realization that they wouldn't get paid their US asking price in most of the world because it couldn't possibly be afforded.

As for raising the NIH budget from $30B to $150B, how about we don't indulge in pre-emptive wars of choice, and take the $2T or more saved and apply a small fraction of that to the NIH? Oh right, that money's already gone. How about the IRS collects more of the tax legitimately owed the Government but not paid? That's $400B right there. Done! NIH budged quintupled! (and $280B more available to say, pay down debt.)

http://www.irs.gov/uac/The-Tax...

--PM

Comment At what cost (Score 1) 93 93

Have you seen the PRICES for these medicines? They can dwarf the costs for MANAGING the disease for 10 years more or less, depending on the severity of the case. I.e., you break even on paying for the cure after saving 10 years of treatment cost.

This price is so steep that states, for fear of going bankrupt, are refusing to pay for the cure from these "big pharma" companies.

Pricing for these drugs were based by the companies figuring out not how much they should sell it for to recoup their costs and make a reasonable profit, but by how much they thought they could/should get.

Personally, I think all drugs ought to be developed with public research dollars. There's less incentive to work on PROFITABLE drugs and work on IMPORTANT drugs. (Think cures for cancer instead of Viagra.) There's less incentive to falsify the result of drug trials so that you can get FDA approval and be able to sell the drugs, whether or not they are harmful and whether or not they actually work. And, when a really cool drug is developed, such as the cure for HepC, EVERYONE gets it immediately, and Hepatitis C is eradicated or nearly eradicated.

--PeterM

Comment You missed a spot (Score 2) 245 245

Suppose a patient comes in for a routine checkup and the doctor finds an advanced cancer and the patient dies. The primary care doctor who had the patient "in for a routine checkup" should not be punished for the poor outcome.

I get the feeling that is not what you meant to happen when you said "losing a patient who was just in for a check-up should count HUGE", but that is what you said. It highlights the difficulty of doing this kind of thing correctly.

--PM

Comment He is right, you are wrong (Score 1) 409 409

You didn't apparently comprehend what he said. He said "building" not "detonating".

BUILDING a U235 bomb DOES NOT involve any fission except the decays normal to uranium. It involves separating isotopes of uranium, either via centrifuge or gas diffusion to concentrate U235 isotope, and non-nuclear work to set up explosives, electronics, and other bomb detonation hardware.

When you BLOW UP the U235 bomb, THAT is when you get lots of fissions.

The poster you were responding to was EXACTLY CORRECT except for the VERY minor omission of the fact that U235 is going to have some natural decay fission going on, which would be almost indistinguishable from background.

Therefore, he was EXACTLY CORRECT in claming that a neutrino detector would have a VERY hard time detecting manufacture of a U235 bomb.

Congratulations on not only being completely wrong, but arrogant and profane on top of it.

--PeterM

Comment Re:The future is coming. (Score 1) 214 214

What about the cost of money? If you borrow at 5%, you're going to be dumping $750 extra per year (or more) in interest on the extra $15k you spend on the Leaf. Also, you need to factor in the battery cost and lifetime.

My friend had a SUV hybrid and the battery dropped dead on him, cost him something like $5k for a new one. (Just after warranty it did this.)

--PM

Comment Re:Not that easy to buy (Score 1) 940 940

I don't have examples, I don't work in the loan business. I have mainstream media articles:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/0...

https://news.google.com/newspa...

http://articles.philly.com/201...

The reasons stated include increased student debt as one of the issues, and short credit histories. However, these are people who would have got loans before either the big garbage loan bubble or the crash, from my read of the article. In general, they are not BAD credit risks, just not completely pristine.

Comment Not that easy to buy (Score 1) 940 940

There are all kinds of restrictions on getting credit. Not everyone is able to buy because of this.

That's one of the things driving the rental market: people who can really afford to buy a house, given their income, but who are frozen out of the mortgage market because the lenders won't lend.

--PM

Comment Re:Oh Boy Chinese Science (Score 3, Insightful) 62 62

The Chinese are getting better every year, year in and year out. How do you climb the tech ladder? The logical way is that first you learn from what others have done, and reproduce it. Then, when you are caught up, you start to lead.

And with a billion people, the Chinese have their share , or maybe more than their share, of first class brains. Their culture doesn't sneer at science, either.

The Chinese are on the fast track to being the dominant world power if their own misgovernment doesn't screw them up.

--PM

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