Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re: It Has Begun! (Score 3, Interesting) 52

by Sarten-X (#49501009) Attached to: Resistance To Antibiotics Found In Isolated Amazonian Tribe

Four comments in, and this discussion is effectively over.

Yes, random mutations happen randomly. Sometimes they happen in hospitals using antibiotics, but usually they happen anywhere else. Sometimes, those mutations happen to survive long enough to become widespread through a population. Sometimes that population is isolated, and the mutation becomes common. Sometimes a particular antibiotic (natural or synthesized) affects the balance of variants in the population.

Very rarely, we humans have suitable circumstances to actually notice.

Comment: Re:Substantiate "biggest vendor" (Score 1) 110

Despite the common misconception, there is actually no general legal requirement that corporations must act to the benefit of their shareholders. Rather, United States law holds only that the company act according to its charter, which may actually have practically any terms the founders see fit. There may be no terms, permitting executives to have free reign over the company, or there may be very restrictive terms detailing precisely how the corporation is to be run, which is particularly useful for incorporated charities.

With that out of the way, why should there be any question about giving away anything for free? I can't recall any large company whose marketing department didn't get a wide variety of samples or freebies to promote the brand. For anything with an engineering department, the offer to make an expensive system work with other expensive systems has been a common sales tactic. These ideas are not new or questionable at all.

Also falling into the "not new" category is Microsoft's ongoing strategy. For the last two decades, Microsoft's primary business model has been to attach their products to existing business dependencies, encourage their use (forming new dependencies), then drop support for the original dependencies in favor of their own new products, leaving their own product as the only upgrade path for a now-locked-in customer.

For several years, Microsoft has clung to a few bad decisions (most notably ignoring the Internet until it was too late, then ignoring the business need for easy provisioning), leaving room for open-source solutions to grow. Having now completed their compatibility phase, Microsoft moves on to encouraging their products' use. A low initial price tag helps that effort.

Comment: Re:Substantiate "biggest vendor" (Score 1) 110

Reading through TFA, the justification seems to be that Microsoft contributes to a large number of open-source projects:

...made it easier for Linux, Java, and other developers to use Azure...

...helped bring Microsoft’s services and APIs to iOS and Android...

...brought Office 365 to the Moodle learning platform...

...collaborating with the industry on standards for HTML5, HTTP/2, and WebRTC/ORTC...

In other words, Microsoft is still Microsoft. They've firmly established the "extend" part of their usual strategy, and now it's time to start slowly dropping support for those old, outdated open technologies in favor of the newest crap spewing forth from Redmond.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 1) 699

by Sarten-X (#49487729) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

If I contribute to an open source project which forms part of the infrastructure for cancer research... do I get tax-exempt status..

If you can convince the government that your open-source project should fall into the 501(c)(3) category (which will involve a good deal of paperwork on your project's behalf), then yes.

What if that work were also part of my day job?

I'm not sure. Ask a lawyer and/or tax professional.

Comment: Re:Wikipedia is convenient, not accurate (Score 1) 186

by Sarten-X (#49485523) Attached to: How Many Hoaxes Are On Wikipedia? No One Knows

My opinion was always that Wikipedia should be treated as a single interview with an expert in a field. It is generally accurate, but almost certainly wrong on a few details, that other unrelated sources should be used to verify.

From that perspective, it's certainly a good starting point for learning about the "unknown unknowns" in a field, and getting a path for further study. It might even be suitable as the main source for a select few kinds of research.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 2) 699

by Sarten-X (#49479231) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

You say "privilege", but the usual word is "freedom".

I am free to choose to support my local homeless shelters more than my local roads, rather than entirely accepting the distribution that my elected representatives have chosen.

It's still not a unilateral election, because to qualify as a "charity", organizations must jump through several bureaucratic hoops to get approval, effectively giving the government a means of control over what's a society-supporting charity or not.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 3, Insightful) 699

by Sarten-X (#49478257) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Why should charity be deductible, for churches or anyone?

Because the point of government is to support the general welfare of the population, and that's what taxes are supposed to be for. If you're doing your share of social support directly, it's rather unfair to also require you to contribute the full amount to the government pool.

Comment: Re:Feds (Score 2) 184

At one point, my job was getting data out of one EHR system and putting it into another.

The standard you're looking for is HL7. Like most standards, it would do its job well enough if everyone agreed to implement it in the same way.

The real problem, however, is finding the data in the first place. A doctor can ask a patient "Who holds your medical data?" and receive a dozen different answers. Pharmacies hold some, hospitals hold more, and a giant corporate data warehouse holds a lot. Patients aren't going to remember the name of their data store, and they certainly aren't likely to remember their identification information. If they've lived in different states, they may not be legally able to even use the same identifier.

Then, of course, there's that whole privacy issue... The patient may authorize a new doctor to get their old records, but they may or may not have authorized their old doctor to release those records. In some jurisdictions, that authorization may not even be perpetual, so the patient might say their records are at a particular warehouse, but when prompted, that warehouse can't even confirm the patient has ever worked with them.

It's easier, cheaper, and usually safer to just ask patients to fill out the forms repeatedly and have a clerk type them in.

Comment: Re: Zoloft is a 1000 times worse (Score 4, Interesting) 187

by Sarten-X (#49469327) Attached to: Acetaminophen Reduces Both Pain and Pleasure, Study Finds

...a psychiatrist told me that the drugs were about balancing the chemicals in the brain, but I eventually realized that he had taken no measurements or anything before throwing any of them at me.

So what balance was out of whack? What effect would the medications have? Oh wait, he didn't know.

He's likely even more annoyed about it than you are.

The problem is that the imbalances may be located in a small part of the brain, and may be on the order of a few dozen molecules, from any of a few thousand chemicals. Thanks to the blood-brain barrier and the localized nature, the only way to actually measure such chemicals is with very invasive (and probably-lethal) brain surgery. There just isn't a simple test where the doctor can prick your finger, put a drop of blood in a magic machine, and tell you which of your neurons are misbehaving.

For much the same reasons, there are no direct treatments. We can't just poke your amygdala until it works like everyone else - and even if we could, the rest of your brain may not accept the change, and your problems could get worse.

Psychopharmacology is not engineering. The cause-and-effect relationships are not simple or direct. Rather than study in vain all of the chemical interactions in your brain, your doctor has studied in depth all of the medications he prescribes, memorizing all of their many side effects (with incidence rates) and known relationships to other medications.

For the actual treatment, yes, it is purely educated guesswork. In your particular case, you may have showed symptoms of X but not Y, so you're a good candidate for treatment 1. That didn't work at all, so treatments 2 and 3 are ruled out, because they work on the same principles. Treatment 4 might be an option, but it only treats symptom Z, which you don't have, but in a certain percentage of cases it does absolutely nothing for Z and causes inverse symptoms to X and Y. Now, that treatment only begins to work after a three-month buildup, so let's start you on that while also trying treatment 5, which starts working immediately and doesn't interfere with treatment 4. Unfortunately the improvement from treatment 5 is very mild, but it can be improved with treatment 6 which amplifies the effects of 5, but does interact negatively with 4.

These concerns were dismissed and antagonized. I was merely a patient, I needed to learn to obey the doctor. So what did I learn?

We learned that you think you know psychopharmacology better than the person who's studied it for several years.

Only sheer chance got me out with relatively little harm.

Or your stubborn attitude provided the push to develop a coping mechanism on your own, which is also a perfectly valid (though sometimes risky) treatment. When done intentionally (usually involving the field of psychiatry, rather than psychopharmacology), it's more an attempt to change the person to fit their condition, rather than fixing the condition to fit the person.

Comment: Re:Shall we play a game? (Score 1) 91

by Sarten-X (#49467881) Attached to: Killer Robots In Plato's Cave

That would mean they'd have a power source that would be rapidly depleted, rendering the mine inert. Considering the difficulty of effectively hiding such a mobile mine, it'd also be more easily detected, allowing for proper cleanup once the conflict is resolved.

In some ways, a randomly-roving land mine is far better than a stationary one.

Comment: Re:Shall we play a game? (Score 1) 91

by Sarten-X (#49467873) Attached to: Killer Robots In Plato's Cave

A technologically unsophisticated but highly determined attacker might trick, brainwash, or coerce children to approach the sentry gun to disarm or destroy it. Ultimately, one would need to ... yep, you guessed it.

I guessed "use the undeniable propaganda to undermine local support for the enemy, while simultaneously increasing the deployment of such weapons, so the enemy has to waste more time trying to find children to pass through territory, and perhaps deploying a few non-lethal everyone-targeting devices nearby to interrupt the clearing process, since such automated sentries are a system for area denial rather than offensive capabilities, and they aren't really expected to stop anyone indefinitely.

What do I win? Another ride down your slippery slope?

Comment: Re:Can we stop pretending this isn't low level war (Score 4, Interesting) 81

It is simply stunningly illogical for China to behave this way against such petty targets. It makes absolutely NO sense for them to flaunt their ability and willingness to do so...

Just like it makes no sense for Americans to bomb the Bikini Atoll, or run new ships on trips around the world. The goal isn't to destroy a Pacific paradise or to wear out the engines, but rather to announce to the political world that we have a new capability, and we're ready to use it as we see fit.

The "petty targets" may be convenient places to point this "Great Cannon"... They provide a noticeable target, and apparently can be analyzed enough to provide some basic details to the rest of the world. Assuming China is behind the attack, we now know that China can run at least this level of attack, and there's no reason to expect that in a full-scale conflict, it wouldn't be turned against more serious targets. We don't know whether the attack can be made even bigger, or if it has different operational modes, or even how quickly such an operation can scale... and that's enough uncertainty to make it a deterrent weapon. It's all political posturing, and from outward appearances, it seems China is showing itself to be fairly powerful, but not yet openly aggressive.

Contrast that with North Korea, which has persistently demonstrated impotent aggression, and our main concern is that they might actually develop a real offensive capability that affects us.

...as the simple course of action the entire reset of the world would take is a simple matter of NULL routing China and going on about their daily business...

...except that a significant part of their daily business has now been null-routed. It's going to be hard to keep that great American economy moving when manufacturers can't contact their contracted suppliers. Without that continuous economic movement, we're facing yet another financial crash, which the United States government probably doesn't want to have happen just yet.

your 'war' would be over before anyone really cared.

On the contrary, an openly-hostile and traceable act (like cleanly disconnecting a major nation) would be the first strike in a bigger escalating conflict, as each side accuses the other of being the guy who really started the fight. Throw in a few false-flag operations and stage a few "exposed" false-flag operations, and it's not a very big leap to having a real war with real weapons and real death.

Frankly, I'd rather just have the political games.

Comment: Re: You know it's just PR (Score 1) 160

by Sarten-X (#49429785) Attached to: NASA's Chief Scientist Predicts Evidence For Life Beyond Earth By 2025

My post assumes that $60K income is a baseline for a leisure society. The exact numeric value is subject to inflation, arbitrary labor valuations, and many similar factors, but the economy scales uniformly.

We can redefine "leisure society" to require driving a cardboard car and eating ramen twice a day, which would significantly lower the economic cost of the redefined leisure. However, if we set the bar at a current American middle-class lifestyle, silly desires and all, then $60K is reasonable.

Comment: Re: You know it's just PR (Score 1) 160

by Sarten-X (#49429051) Attached to: NASA's Chief Scientist Predicts Evidence For Life Beyond Earth By 2025

We really don't have the productive capacity for it. I've done the math before.

The short version is that there are so many people in the world that we each get a very tiny amount of raw materials, and the mass production systems we have now really only support a small fraction of the population. To support a leisure society for everyone, we need to increase global production efficiency by a few hundred percent.

"If anything can go wrong, it will." -- Edsel Murphy

Working...