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Comment: Is this a joke? (Score 4, Informative) 68

by RobinEggs (#46550229) Attached to: Mute Witness: Forensic Sketches From Nothing But DNA
You're really not seeing how a rough picture of the perpetrator could help solve crimes, simply because many people will share the same rough picture and have some similar underlying DNA?

Right now DNA often comes in near the end of an investigation; you have to select people to test based on traditional detective work, and then you must legally acquire their DNA to match with your sample. If suspects don't want to give you DNA simply because you asked nicely, you have to be fairly sure of their guilt - and able to convince a judge of why you're sure - before you can get their DNA involuntarily. If this test became effective, the sample you got at the beginning would show you who among the likely suspects to test against, and probably lower the bar for getting legal clearance to take their DNA.

Not to mention you clearly have no clue how DNA testing really works; if it's important you can and will be able to match a decent sample to one and only one person. There are commonplace genetic tests that can produce 1 in 10 trillion profiles of a person's or sample's DNA to match against. The fact that this DNA processing produced a rough sketch matching X number of people is irrelevant when you'll be able to narrow that group to very few or one with the most basic detective work.

Comment: Sex+Gender = Lots of combinations (Score 1) 462

by RobinEggs (#46245583) Attached to: Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices
A lot of this comes down to sex vs gender.

Sex is your biological status: what organs and hormone levels do you have, and how have they developed? Sounds straight-forward, at least at first.

Gender might be defined as a social role and group identity you take on which is influenced most significantly in most people by their sex. So most people pick from one of the two massively dominant genders, wind up pretty content about it, and have organs matching everyone else in their camp.

But what if you have testes and breasts? And hormone levels pretty much in between the standard man and the standard woman? You might end up legally forced to adopt an 'official' sex based on your chromosome data or what went on your birth certificate, perhaps, but does that help you pick a gender? Does that actually reflect your sex? Probably not. Do you identify more with another sex? What about another gender? If you want to change over, how much will you do and what changes are possible?

The organs you have, the hormone levels you have, and how you feel about them all affect what sex you become and what gender you select. People who aren't comfortable being a traditional man or woman and sleeping with the opposite are simply trying to work out all the permutations and nomenclature now that they're somewhat more free to do so.

If a given person is polite about it and doesn't expect you to memorize a bunch of fluid terms to use for them or coddle their sexuality more than you would anyone else, just let it be and don't worry about the variety of possibilities. They'll work themselves out and they aren't likely to affect you. If they're a dick or an irrational activist about it, and there's plenty of those also, just ignore them and/or fight to keep them from defining your life any more than you're allowed to define theirs.

You can look into the definitions in any Women's or Gender Studies website; or you can ignore it for now and simply be a decent human being to the people you meet, ignoring their chosen combination unless they step on your own rights.

Comment: Guy is a loon (Score 5, Interesting) 543

by RobinEggs (#46043307) Attached to: 20,000 Customers Have Pre-Ordered Over $2,000,000 of Soylent
Go read his blog post about the "results" he experienced. He's giving the full-blown "I now have the body of a 12 year old and my brain increased in efficiency 400%" kind of crap under "qualitative". It's great to feel better after you start eating better, but unless his prior diet was >50% animal product and too much of it for his calorie needs, I'm calling bullshit.

Under quantitative, apparently his blood work improved quite a bit. Yeah, your blood work tends to improve when you eat a simple vegan diet, and that's all soylent contains. Vegan ingredients with a 2 oz mix of fish and vegetable oil per day.

I guess it's nice to have a supremely convenient and very healthy diet that makes you feel better, but he's laying it on pretty fucking thick. Not to mention you could create a diet of the same health benefits with maybe 15 raw ingredients. You could just put the shit in a blender if you wanted...

Comment: Better than absolute shit is now "fairly good"? (Score 0) 64

by RobinEggs (#45779411) Attached to: Don't Expect US Approval of Huge Telecom Mergers

Yes, it's that bad in Canada. You guys in the US actually have it fairly good.

Well that's some heavy relativism. To have it better than the worst market in the first world isn't to "have it fairly good".

We both have total shit for cell phone carriers and internet providers. Your service is worse, but you also have plenty of more important things much, much better than America. I'm sorry, but we really don't pity you.

Comment: Every single one of them is guilty? (Score 2, Insightful) 841

by RobinEggs (#45635295) Attached to: Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA
Everyone is seizing on this "why are you spying on grandma?" line and saying 'Damn right they should be ashamed and demoralized, stupid jackboots!'

Except the NSA has something like 30,000 people. It's hardly as though every one of them are involved in monitoring US civilian communications. Maybe, just maybe, some of them are demoralized because they have not a damn thing to do with anything in the news, yet they're being treated like demons.

They're not the KKK, they're not the Westboro Baptist Church. The agency has redeeming qualities, and being a security organization there are probably *thousands* of them who know nothing more about these surveillance programs than we know. I'd be upset, too, if people were asking me to answer for something I knew absolutely nothing about simply because a huge division of my company two floors down were assholes.

Stop lumping them all together as one giant boogeyman. Look for the people responsible rather than naming the entire agency an inscrutible, invisible hand with nefarious intentions.

Comment: Just straight up bullshit (Score 2) 73

by RobinEggs (#45580405) Attached to: Crowdsourcing the Discovery of New Antibiotics
You are so full of shit I don't even know where to begin.

For one thing, drug resistant infection is quite common, and becoming more so every month. I have no idea what led you to believe antibiotic resistance isn't a serious problem. Cite me a respected public health organization that isn't seriously concerned; I doubt you can even find me one that isn't outright shitting their pants.

And all your pro-market babble toward the end of that giant paragraph is pure sociopathy. "Moreover, undiscovered antibiotics are probably better left undiscovered until we learn our lesson about wasting them on livestock." Fuck planning for the future, right? We can totally outpace organisms that replicate in hours or days once we put the mighty human free-market after it, right?

It's OK if a few hundred million people die agonizing deaths; in the long run you're perfectly confident that the market value of new antibioitics will rise faster than the body count. The rest of us are not confident, and not willing to risk our very lives depending the companies that for the last 20 years have focused on six-figure cancer treatments. lifestyle drugs, and whining for tax breaks.

Comment: And if you fill Tesla a vehicle, with hot air and (Score 1) 284

by RobinEggs (#45486633) Attached to: NHTSA Tells Tesla To Stop Exaggerating Model S Safety Rating
Just because the pollutant isn't literally generated onboard the vehicle doesn't mean *no* pollution was involved. Giving an actual value of "zero" in your claim for emissions is deceptive when 2/3 of the available electrons in America were produced with carbon fuels. Why is Tesla allowed to make weird claims that fully externalize/ignore certain costs when we at Slashdot would bitchslap the US government or a gasoline car company for doing that? How is it a failure of someone's intelligence or a problem reading "natural language" to look a single step up the supply chains and point out this vehicle depends presently on the same types of environmental cost as any other common vehicle?

Comment: Because lung cancer is great for the rural poor! (Score 4, Insightful) 1143

by RobinEggs (#45380671) Attached to: EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal
It's possible to assist the poor with buying better stoves, and the up-front costs of doing so would probably be lower than the residual Medicare and Medicaid payouts for respiratory diseases caused or worsened by their old stoves. A higher quality stove with better fittings would also produce an incredible increase in heat output; replacing an old model can truly make the difference between shivering around the stove at night and being perfectly comfortable anywhere within 25 feet. If they pay for the wood, the stove will definitely pay itself off eventually; even if they cut wood themselves the time savings will be substantial and that time could be put to higher value activities like work, study, or even hunting.

But I guess it's easier to denigrate every federal employee as a rich, do-nothing "busybody" who drives home to their "mansion" after "throwing the poor under the bus" than it is to see an obvious solution where the poor are healthier and more comfortable for less money than we're already putting out, and everyone breathes less soot.

Comment: Many advantages of FlameStower over BioLite (Score 4, Informative) 126

by RobinEggs (#45022289) Attached to: Charge Your Mobile Device With Fire
The BioLite is 2 lbs 1 oz; the FlameStower is 7 oz. Using most canister stoves, you could carry stove, over a week of fuel, and the FlameStower for 8oz less than the BioLite.

You can use the Flamestower where you're not allowed to gather fuel, when there's nothing to burn, or when everything is too wet to burn. One or more of those things is true in tons of national parks, wetlands, deserts, mountains, etc.

The FlameStower is starting at $80 and could still come down; the BioLite is $129.

I've seen at least 3 posts that just said: "Why, you could just get a BioLite?", 1 that pointed out the advantages of the BioLite, and none that pointed out advantages of the FlameStower.

I'm quite disappointed that a group of people who laud critical thinking and informed opinion are so unimaginative about this device's usefulness, and speak as if quite uninformed about the practical necessities of backpacking / survival equipment.

Comment: Apparently Going Postal Means Good Customer Servic (Score 1) 203

Um...what now? If you believe that list reads from worst customer service to best, then you apparently believe that our highway departments and the post office have the best customer service in the entire service and infrastructure industries.

The fairness of price is certainly better as you move up the list, and the quality of service is much more consistent...but let's not delude ourselves into thinking the US postal service or the federal highway administration represent paragons of efficiency and politeness here.

Comment: Re:ask for more than that (Score 4, Informative) 443

by RobinEggs (#41032753) Attached to: Joyent Drops Lifetime Account Holders
For the last time...that 'coffee on the crotch' thing people hold up as the prime example of frivolous lawsuits was probably the most justified lawsuit this country has ever seen.

The woman had fucking third-degree burns throughout her crotch and thighs. A surgeon had to literally rebuild her labia and vagina. Hundreds of people had received second and third degree burns from McDonald's coffee in the years leading up to the suit, including instances when employees spilled the coffee on patrons. McDonald's specifically acknowledged even before that particular incident that the coffee was dangerously hot and unfit for consumption at the time of sale, yet still made a firm and specific corporate policy of setting every coffee maker to that temperature.

It was categorical, institutional recklessness that severely injured hundreds of people over more than a decade, but when one woman actually sues and wins over this everyone dismisses her as a cash-grabbing crackpot. That's what lawsuits are for; when some entity is fucking people over and won't respond to any other pleading or incentive.

Half of the 'frivolous' lawsuits out there are completely reasonable and proper grievances that corporations have sneakily re-framed as whiny bullshit. Because how dare the peons think there's an even playing field for them somewhere?! Courts are for corporations to get things done, not the people! Just because some jerk sues Dairy Queen over melted ice cream - and every comedian or 'human interest' journalist in the nation takes a crack at that moron - doesn't mean you can snidely dismiss every individual vs. corporate lawsuit without a second glance.

Comment: 98% positive feedback (Score 1) 498

Should we be surprised that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive? The owners of the site make money when the feedback is good; the site could die if the feedback was bad. They control the forum, including the ability to delete feedback. Connect the dots.

You wouldn't trust a company that self-reports; a company that controls the forum for user reports has the same underlying power to censor negative anecdotes as any other company that regulates from within.

Comment: Not exactly 90%.... (Score 5, Interesting) 101

by RobinEggs (#40330275) Attached to: Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola
That "kills up to 90% of infected people" comment is something of an exaggeration. From reading Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone", I recall that the dominant families of Ebola virus are the Sudan strain(s) and the Zaire strain(s). The Zaire strain will really fuck you up; that's the one which kills up to 90%. The Sudan strain is much less dangerous (statistically speaking), and kills something like 40-50%. There's even a new strain which broke out in a medical research facility in Reston, VA in 1998 which was contagious only to monkeys.

It sounds pedantic and insensitive to point out that some strains kill only 50% when even that number is horrific, and sounds totally incidental to mention a non-lethal strain, but actually the Reston and Sudan strains are more concerning in many ways than the extremely lethal Zaire varieties.

Extremely contagious, quick, and deadly diseases like Ebola Zaire often go too quickly for their own good. They can kill everyone so fast that even if the victims travel or meet an ignorant medical response, outbreaks wind up limiting themselves because the incubation isn't really that long and you certainly aren't moving around to spread the disease anymore once you're dead. Several times major outbreaks in African villages burnt themselves out with only the most rudimentary quarantine measures, and there were some major scares when people with Zaire strain took international plane rides that should have lead to global devastation if the disease were really that efficient in spreading. (It is astonishingly contagious in certain circumstances and certain phases of infection, but its contagiousness to people in the immediate area is only correlated to it's potential global virulence, not explicitly and solely causal to said potential.)

On the other hand, diseases like Sudan and Reston Ebola might become much worse health threats than the exceptionally deadly types of Ebola. Something like Ebola Sudan, which kills slower and kills relatively fewer people, could travel much farther and wider than the Zaire types. There could be longer periods in which people are shedding virus while they're still largely pre-symptomatic, longer periods of disease and recovery where they're extremely contagious but still require medical care and community to some degree, etc. I don't recall whether it applies to Hemorrhagic fevers, but there are also viruses people carry and periodically shed for life, as well, like herpes viruses. So a disease that kills a smaller percentage and presents less quickly/dramatically can be far more dangerous than the quicker, more brutal members of its pathogenic family

Along the same lines, the Reston variety of Ebola could be the freakiest of all, given some bad cosmic luck. Something very closely related to a lethal human illness can spread in birds, monkeys, pigs, etc. until it's downright common, and then suddenly re-develop the qualities to infect and kill humans. Now you have something which can be unpredictably spread by a population of carriers which can't be quarantined or predicted even half as well as you could manage human beings. That's why they follow the development of flu strains in birds, pigs, monkeys, and ruminants every year; you never know when something will show up that could make the Spanish flu look like a weekend with the sniffles.

So in summary, the headline makes Hemorrhagic fevers look worse than they really are (although even the 'nicest' ones are fucking terrifying), and it's actually the gentler varieties that are most likely to fuck up humanity one day.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas