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Comment Judicial appeal is too slow (Score 3, Interesting) 318

Traditionally, gov't misconduct are redressed through lawsuits and repeated judicial decisions and appeals, until a high court ends the cycle. In the slow motion days of horses and buggies this process used to work reasonably well. But today, with the high speed prosecutorial activism of modern US presidents (from both parties), and the rapid rise of new police technology, this sort of crap has spun out of control. The appeals process simply takes much too long (years or decade). By that time a whole new round of activism and spy tech has arrived and been abused, and The Rule of Law falls even further behind.

Obviously adding more kangaroo courts like FISA to deter presidential/police abuses before they arise doesn't work. So what will?

Comment Could be worse (Score 1) 363

Larson: $279

Poole: $274

Williams: $206

By contrast:

Strang: $66
(Intro to Linear Algebra, 4e, 2009)

But also:

Strang: $322
(Linear Algebra and its Applications, 4e, 2005)

Of course what makes this racket even worse, there's been nothing new in the field of Linear Algebra for over 100 years. A textbook written in 1915 would be just as usable as one written today.

Comment Time to cut the USAF budget by $60B (Score 1) 237

The mission of this aircraft is idiotic. If we use this thing to bomb Russia or China we get nuclear war. Period. As such, the mission of any long range stealth bomber's can be achieved equally well by our simply nuking ourselves. Since we already can do that now, let's cut the USAF budget by $60B and declare "Mission Accomplished".

Comment Does he wear a watch? (Score 1) 161

I also think he's unlikely to adopt a new device, but if he already wears a watch and you can switch it for one of the new smart watches, that might work.

The watch would have to do three things:

1) Generate an audible reminder when it needs to be recharged. You could write an app that measures battery charge and when low, the watch shouts in a loud female voice (travels farther than a male voice) that the watch needs to be plugged in for recharge.

2) Navigate to and from the dining room. This will NOT work with GPS, which requires a clear line of sight to the satellite. But you might be able to combine a timer that knows the interval between each turn with the inertial sensor in the watch to tick off the seconds betqween turns as long as he is moving. If he stops, the timer should stop. That might work pretty well in reporting when to turn. The watch could show an arrow to point out the desired direction and a voice that speaks "turn here" and then say aloud the direction and maybe even say how much distance / steps (or time) to the next turn.

This nav mode should be easy to turn off, perhaps verbally or with big control buttons on the display (on / pause / end).

3) Be a watch. It should look like whatever timepiece is preferred and legible, digital or analog, in whatever color combo works best.

Finally I would emphasize, despite your best efforts, this person almost certainly will not use the device. Few at that age like electronic gadgets, even when their brains are fully operational. If you do this, it will largely be for your own peace of mind, to help you feel like you did your best to help.

In the last couple of months of my 80 year old mother's life, I built a nice little web portal for her laptop that would help her navigate her favorite radio station, TV channel, web sites, and a TV guide. But she never used it. Good luck.

Comment Re:The girl next door. (Score 4, Informative) 200

Agreed. Playboy also brought glamor photograpy to a fine art form. Pompeo Posar, Richard Fegley, Suze Randall, Kem Marcus and others rewrote the book on representing the ideal female figure. Their artistry refined our awareness of fashion's evolution through the years (and their readers' journey to adulthood). In their case, they captured not merely styles of attire but the female form itself, in presentation, fitness, demeanor, and more.

Yes, much of the magazine's appeal was superficial, but for perhaps 40 years its writing ably reflected and refocused the deep changes that befell America's postwar mores and priorities, especially among adult males, and it seldom failed to entertain and illuminate in doing so. No magazine since has earned a comparable iconic status for either gender of reader. Credit Mr Hefner for that. No small feat.

The fact that Playboy's heyday also accompanied the women's revolution of the 1970s made its role as social observer all the more central to the discussion. Fortunately the magazine also attracted many of the best writers of the day, making its contribution to the discourse more than merely a feast for men's eyes.

Farewell dear female fantasy. Your simpler times may be lost but they're not forgotten.

Comment Roddenberry was a child of the Great Depression (Score 1) 563

Born in 1921, Roddenberry's lower middle class childhood must have made him deeply aware of the importance of money and jobs and the hardships that arose from their absence. In inventing a new world order for StarTrek, no doubt he wanted to turn our attention away from such age old Earth-based strife to instead focus upward and outward... to be starry eyed.

Likewise, the timing of the StarTrek series made it a child of the 1960's. It aired only 3 years after the death of Kennedy's Camelot. And it co-ocurred with major reforms like Johnson's Great Society (and Vietnam) and King's civil marches. And only 20 years had passed since the global destabilization that was WWII (and the counter culture engendered by Kerouac and Ginsburg). Hopeful change was in the air.

Repeatedly, StarTrek's episodes dealt with many of the 'social rethink' topics that dominated the 60's (racism, the Vietnam War, democracy and constitutionalism, Nazism and its postwar, totalarianism, rule of law, NASA's race to the Moon, etc). Short term thinking and corporatism had yet to overwhelm America's world view. Thus in 'looking beyond' to seek 'a better world' sought by so many in that post WWII generation, money and the status quo were very much something to rise above.

Thus it was natural for the man and his fantasy world to put worldly travails like money and the trials of a job far behind them. But as to the viability of StarTrek's post-scarcity economic model... that's a fantasy of another color entirely.

Comment Re:Software Development Processes (Score 2) 479

Yes. Exactly. In fact, whenever a regulatory authority is involved, the process of tuning the car to be compliant with regulations is *always* thoroughly documented and revision controlled, usually as a rule of law, just so "he said, she said" can't happen. That's because everyone involved at VW knows the rule of law may send them to jail, and revision control is proof that they complied (or cheated). Like any car company VW surely makes extensive use of safety audit trails during crash testing. I don't believe for a minute that emissions testing doesn't also leave an formal audit trail. These are *Germans* after all.

In the pharmaceutical space, also highly legally regulated, there are lots of strictures and audit trails of 1) what must be done, 2) how it must be done, and 3) many confirmations that for each product, all of this *was* done, both how and when. And a small army of people are required to sign off on each step, well up the chain of command. The price for noncompliance is being fired, fines, jail time, and the company may pay billions in litigation if the drug injures, especially if staff hid tox data.

If an emissions regulatory compliance process was not in place at VW or no official externally audited revision history was kept, then the blame sits squarely at the top of the company, with C-suiters alone. It's they who will go to jail -- unless they can bluff their way past the law.

This latest finger pointing is just an attempt by VW to cut their losses politically or in the court of public opinion. Legally, Mr Horn is screwed.

Comment Seastar or C*? (Score 1) 341

The similarity of the name 'Seastar' to Connection Machines' dataparallel programming language C* can't be an accident. But C* needed to run in shared memory or at least atomic synchrony on low latency distributed memory in order to preserve consistency. And of course, it needed SIMD algorithms (do the same op concurrently on a large pool of data) or it could add no value over using C.

Sounds like a misnomer to me.

Comment Re:Because (Score 1) 65

I hate to admit what you say seems to be true at all big corporations. At the giant pharma where I work I've seen less and less S/W innovation take place internally in the past decade. This has had two big side effects: 1) all our best computing have left, and 2) so has all the interesting work.

There's no longer any interest or even tolerance among managment for novelty or invention in-house (AKA risk). Skill development focuses on the project management side only; no tech. All IT has to be done externally, from data mining to software dev to app integration to sys admin. Nothing is done in-house anymore except invitation of external S/W vendors and external integrators and support, then monitoring their progress until the system is installed. A year-end accomplishment is check-boxed and all worker bees hum with one voice, "Booyah".

Ten years ago computing was different. May IT RIP.

Comment OK, it makes sense now... (Score 2) 403

...look at the source. The caption of the article's main photo tells it all:

"The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture with Fox News' Catherine Herridge (second from left) and executives of INRA and AFCEA at the conclusion of their panel discussion at the Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington on September 10."

The supersilly quotes were directed at Fox News viewers. They were never intended to be taken seriously.

Comment Self promotion. Move on. (Score 4, Informative) 58

1) A camera programmed to identify objects then speak the label aloud is NOT sentient. It isn't even AI. It's computer vision technology from around 1995. An Amazon Fire phone can do far better and nobody claimed it was sentient either.

2) This pair are terminal Master's students in "Professional Studies" and "Software Engineering", not "AI researchers". Clearly their future lies in advertising and politics, not AI.

Blame the Motherboard author. Nothing to report here. Move on.

Comment Re:Actually no (Score 2) 165

I know more about nonhuman studies than clinical, but according to the US HHS (who runs FDA), the breakdown of costs are these:

- $15k/patient for phase I
- $20k/patient for phase 2
- $25k/patient for phases 3 and 4

The cost of the average trial:

- phase 1: $4 million
- phase 2: $13 million
- phase 3: $20 million
- phase 4: $20 million

Some phase 3 trials can be larger and last longer than average, like 20,000 patients over 5 years. Obviously at the average cost of $25k/patient, such a trial would cost $500 million, well over the average. In fact, a long study can greatly increase the per patient cost as well.

Because multiple trials are run in each phase for each drug, these trial costs are multiplied.

The principal cost in any trial are the medical procedures (~25%): drug administration, tests (lab, imaging, biopsy, etc), exams, etc. These are repeated multiple times on each patient during each trial to monitor changes in both efficacy and safety.

Here's a thorough accounting from US HHS:

These costs are set by FDA regulatory standards and the medical laws of each country where the trial is performed. Of course if you want approval for your drug in another country, you must comply with all their rules as well, often repeating studies using their residents (e.g. Japan).

This 2012 Forbes article by Avik Roy offers further insight on why clinical trial costs are rising:

Pharmas must play by these rules, but they don't write them. Lawmakers do that.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig