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Comment Please Verizon! Now give us window cranks! (Score 1) 87

Please Verizon... give us window cranks! Maybe... you could find a way to inject mesenchymal stem or progenitor cells directly into the vehicle's OBD port that would circulate in the wiring harness until they find and attach to the window crank receptor ligands, which still reside in the motor body driving the worm or ratchet gear in door panels. The cells would begin to grow knob complexes in door panels, culminating in functional window cranks that can manually turn cranking motors, with a simple clutch that disengages during electric operation.

The primordial coding of the crank gene remains, though in cars young enough to have OBD ports excessive use of factory hormones has triggered aberrant malignant growth of 'power window' motors and associated electric musculature. The design is not nature's own and seems to be comprised of shoddy outgrowths of crap metal and plastic. The lack of a crank is most noted in Winter as windows stick slightly but enough to overwhelm the shit fuck mechanism and render them inoperative. This evolution could have occurred naturally without supplanting the crank, which allows direct human strength (and finesse) to be used to unstick and operate windows... under ALL conditions... and should have by all rights. But bad choices in selective breeding at factory farms and also a drop in average consumer IQ has manifested these undesirable characteristics into the domestic automobile genome.

Please Verizon, give us top battery terminals! Another correctable factory farm genetic 'defect' are the little tits that have grown on the sides of batteries. These began as novelty traits prized by deviant automotive breeders, but the natural robust lead posts on the top of batteries were bred out of the line to enhance plumpness of maintenance and pure fucking grief. Where there had once been massive same-metal clamp-bonds attached to copper wires with sealed solder slug or factory crimp junctions on top, now there are these side terminals with pitted metal discs secured by sorry-ass monkey-fuck bolts that cannot endure serious tightening, whose heads round out, and provide no reliable purchase for jumper cables. Or do so in a way that ensures a shower of sparks and mayhem.

By introducing Testosterone into OBC ports it may be possible to re-grow top battery terminals again in time for rutting season. As for most mammals the side tits in batteries may retain some vestigial function but would shrink once the top terminals were again in constant use. Elevated Testosterone may also provide other improvements to automotive function yet to be discovered.

And finally Verizon, please help the automotive industry eliminate the 'fob'. I am not certain what these are. They seem to have something to do with keys, though I have always used keys to open my cars without fanfare or 'fob'. Fob is such a despicable word, a silly word. I have seen grown men tear up the moment they are compelled to say it. Out of respect for human dignity, the fob must go.

Comment Re:AT&T + Direct TV (Score 1) 54

In the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret, a master ring, to control all others. And into this ring he poured all his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One ring to rule them all. One by one, the free peoples of Middle Earth fell to the power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted.

[repost]

NSA and the Desolation of Smaug

And over time the men of Dale had become complacent on privacy, liberty and freedom of association, and yet they prospered. No longer content with the wealth of accumulation, they valued innovation and the free exchange of information. To this end they did help to build the greatest communications network that had ever been. Through it all their wealth flowed like a river --- real wealth --- not the dusty treasure hordes of kings locked in windowless rooms.

The fortune and fate of Dale is bound with that of the dwarves, for it is they who had built it. "Long ago in my grandfather Thror's time our family was driven out of the far North, and came back with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the map." They were especially skilled in working gold, copper and silver into thin filaments which they strung far across the land. Where ever dwarves settled dial tone was sure to follow. But their skill was even greater with jewels and crystals, from which they built magical devices of germanium and silicon to carry voices and information in the aether. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the. fun of it, not to speak of the most marvelous and magical toys [...] and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North."

But of all the wonders of that age the most precious was perhaps the least visible, hidden deep under the Mountain itself. "Discovered by my far ancestor, Thrain the Old, now they mined and they tunneled and they made huger halls and greater workshops." The Mountain they had built is actually many mountains and there is one in your own city. I refer to the telecommunications exchange points of Tier 1 and Tier 2 networks such as MAE-EAST and MAE-WEST, where rivers of voice and data converge into brilliant points of light, then spread out again.

The dwarves had not valued privacy per se, they had just built it for maximum throughput with minimum delay. Their vision was broad and down-to-earth and the data it carried was of practical use for the greatest number. "We use our own devices and just enough magic to make them go. Devices such as the palantir are of no interest to us, the Elves of Valinor can keep their silly patents. The palantir does work for distance communication but it is incredibly expensive and uses a lot of bandwidth. It is also dangerous. If you wish to talk to family and friend, or close a simple deal, why would you wish to link minds, wrestle in thought or lock souls with the other party? The dwarves deliver only voices and runes and stay clear of elvish mind-fuck. Besides, the palantir uses a proprietary network and has no user-servicable parts. Like the Blackberry."

But the dwarves' cleverness though inspired by wisdom was also their folly. While great wealth flowed through their network they were driven to perfect it, and that meant concentrating the flows of many through but a few interconnect points.

"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons burrow themselves into networks to steal information you know, wherever they can find it; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are outed by Congressional hearing), and --- if you would believe them --- they do it for only noble purposes and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of information from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; so despite noble aims of vigilant protection, their omnificent awareness inevitably leads to dull and stupid ends that rend the fabric of society. Insider trading, scheming false flag operations and a 'selective failure' to divulge clear warning of terrorism if it would serve their own ends, a dragon is easily turned to the dark side by its very nature." As the dwarves tell it we would be better off without these dragons altogether, and if you do not agree then perhaps you had better give it some more thought.

Smaug has infiltrated the dwarves' great network in many secret stages worldwide, such as the USUK [fas.org] and Room 641A [wikipedia.org] and countless other interconnection points within your own country listening to your own citizens too. The dwarves' dark fiber has been lit to carry these intercepted riches to his many lairs. You might learn of them if you could convince Congress to ask Smaug directly.

But Smaug has but one weakness, and that is the rule of law that has been established by the Constitution. There is no question that Smaug has violated us, and if left unchecked he will betray us in the end. A mighty witch-king will arise and the dragons will tell your secrets to them, and none will be safe in the end. And do not blame the dwarves, their folly is also your own.

Will the mighty bow of Bard sing in our own time? There is but one black arrow left.

Your move.

Comment Is this why Supreme court bailed on Heptig? (Score 1) 54

By refusing to hear Heptig vs. AT&T and caving to Congressional Complicity by granting (retroactive) immunity to telecom employees, NSA managed to escape a certain level of scrutiny for full-backbone tap technology, and a certain stretch of road that may have had AT&T admitting corroboration in a purely (or massively) domestic spying operation.

As this corroborative glimpse shows... Heptig vs.AT&T may not just have revealed AT&T consenting to unconstitutional, illegal surveillance forbidden by NSA charter by simply plugging in and splitting fiber into racks and rooms provided by NSA. It may have shown that NSA was actively developing this technology in partnership with AT&T (perfectly fine) but also listening to the conversations of Americans while doing so (not so fine).

I hate repeating myself, see this background post. At the very least if you're not up to speed on Heptig vs AT&T please review this case. It's the closest we had been to a true turning point to reveal and roll back true-Orwellian full content tap framework before it's too late.

Judge not Caesar, who is fulfilling his own destiny. Judge the idiots and bastards who are polishing his empty throne in anticipation of his arrival by building a state-wide surveillance apparatus.

Perhaps it's too late.

Comment Bonus round!! WHY?? is this FUNNY?? (Score 1) 57

Q: Why does Google blur out pedestrians' faces in Street View?
A: So self-driving cars won't develop an attachment to them.

It is indisputable that Google blurs faces in Street View, and the same company is also developing self-driving cars. Though different teams are assigned these projects and Street View images are not used by self-driving cars, the fact that Google is responsible for both is mentally noted, providing enough connection to lay a comedic foundation. Such a foundation is tenuous however and successful delivery of a joke requires follow-through that is quick and emotionally jarring.

The follow-though is accomplished with a direct insinuation that self-driving cars enjoy violence in a casually indifferent manner. This so is cognitively dissonant to the entrenched idea that self-driving cars are selflessly noble creations entrusted with the protection of those they serve, it causes a jarring and novel rearrangement of thought. The presence of novelty and surprise and the idea of something horrid happening that (yet) does not directly threaten the reader mixes in a dash of relief, and is a recipe for humor. The reader is left with an adjusted impression of self-driving cars that is ludicrously disfigured by the joke, and the humorous moment will persist until novelty fades, which is also to say the period it takes for this new neuronal pathway to be established, which may be several seconds. The effect is heightened by the 'attachment' clause, which evokes a social meme of our own indifferent treatment of so-called 'lesser' forms of life. Placing the pedestrian-human as the 'lesser' form of life is another counterpoint.

Q: Why does Google blur out license plates?
A: To protect the identity of self-driving cars that mow 'em down for sport and points.

The audience is ever-ready for tie-in jokes that can extend the period of general hilarity. When delivered straight after they can build on the former. It does not matter whether the ploy makes sense or is likely if another indisputable fact is introduced, in this case, that Google blurs license plates. It creates a dangling question in the mind: what will be the next twist?

The follow-through for this one is weaker, for when it is finally understood it is a mere retelling of the first joke. Therefore a cheap device to stretch novelty was employed, the use of the colloquial 'em in a phrase that helps to introduce a new entity, a hypothetical 'spectator', perhaps the joke-teller, who not only approves of such things but is gung-ho enough to dispense with classical English. Presumably from excitement at the thought of this 'sport'. And as before, we are smearing Google with this dark sentiment, which is playfully dissonant to the company's desired philanthropic image.

Q: Why then is Google developing a 'real-time pedestrian detection' system?
A: To improve scoring and help populate their Deathrace 2015 leaderboard.

Clearly this trifecta has reached the end of its shelf-life. This may actually be the weakest joke of the three but some relief humor comes into play as the reader sees at a glance that it is the last and all will be over soon. The question is phrased as a wrap-up with a clear tie-in to TA, which promises novelty, albeit at a highly discounted rate. The rest is a desperate hodgepodge of cheap meme dropping (Deathrace) and a direct appeal to a presumably game-savvy audience with the idea of a 'leaderboard'. There exists the question whether the surge of hilarity ensuing from this is a result of a re-imagining of the whole series with cumulative hilarity, a particular aspect of this third joke or just relief that the series has ended.

Imagine if every joke was followed by commentary like this.

Comment But wait: pedestrians are blurred in Street View!! (Score 1) 57

Q: Why does Google blur out pedestrians' faces in Street View?
A: So self-driving cars won't develop an attachment to them.

Q: Why does Google blur out license plates?
A: To protect the identity of self-driving cars that mow 'em down for sport and points.

Q: Why then is Google developing a 'real-time pedestrian detection' system?
A: To improve scoring and help populate their Deathrace 2015 leaderboard.

Comment Novelty mailbox shat from factory anus (Score 1) 164

Humans build rectilinear structures because because we like to stock them with our own (rectilinear) furniture and appliances, walk around without stooping or bumping into one another. When we wish to get artsy or need to avoid snow pack accumulation we go with angled flat surfaces because you can tile and shingle them. When we want to be innovative and compact we put hinges on rectangles, as in a fold-out porch, solar array with a single seasonally adjustable angle. We round corners, not the whole thing.

Everything about this capsule seems impractical, artistically ludicrous and commercially predatory. You can see at a glance that nothing is flat or standard. You will not be one with the Earth, you will be one with the catalog of proprietary overpriced replacement parts and misshapen accessories. The swing-up 'DeLorean' front door is like fingernails on a chalkboard, an obscene engineering middle-finger gesture. Better make sure you have plenty of tools inside and some shape charges to blow your way out after it is sealed by an ice storm. Houses have eyebrows for the same reason people do.

For some reason it brings this song to mind. I started it playing in another tab while viewing their slide show.

That's just how it's built. As to how it looks, to each their own. For me the novelty wore off at first sight. I'm sure the sinks, toilet and the microgrid stuff works well enough. The designers should just assemble a core modular (rectilinear) package with that stuff and leave the house-building to house builders.

Comment Language is a mystery, Tom said mysteriously (Score 4, Funny) 83

We gathered in a large conference room lit with fluorescent lights. You know, the kind that always has one light in the corner flickering, and it seems to draw your whole attention. Fidgeting in chairs, a rustle of paper, forms to fill out, name and gender blah blah and it's like --- hello! --- we're broke and we're 'day labor' students just selling our blood and our souls and bodies for research for a quick buck, and we've got to move on to the next indignity! The ad on the website said 'sociological research project' so we were reasonably sure there would be no picking and prodding.

It was bizarre even for us lab rats. The organizers seemed to be conducting a game of 'charades' and broke us into groups, assigning words printed on cards like up, down, rough and stuff. We were supposed to invent new words for these things and try to communicate them to the others with a combination of vocalizations (yes they used the silly term, it sounds ridiculous when you 'vocalize' it don't you think?) and gestures and (as it turns out) giggles and nervous smiles.

This went on for a couple of hours, they kept re-forming the groups and repeating the experiment, scoring the success of our guesses as to which test word was being used... it was fun. I noted early on that the more attracted you are to the the person doing the charade, the more likely you were to guess the correct answer. I wonder if the researchers noted this and I used it as a pickup line, leaning close to this foxy lady and whispering, "Do you think they've controlled for the fact that your voice sounds so sexy when you make that low rumble in your throat that means, 'rough'?" Of course, I used her made-up word, which sounded like 'blaaaargh' Her laugh was surprised and sudden, and if they had a card that said promise it would have lit up the board. With a nod offered her my number on a card, and she wrote hers. Promise indeed.

As we passed behind the conference table between each round to be assigned new groups with one of the 'test words' I glanced at the laptop computers. It seemed they were recording the sounds we made and plotted them out in some sort of dot-language. So this is some kind of language research, I guessed, to examine the brain wiring of money-hungry research lab rats. Then a real lunch (not just donuts and coffee, what a surprise!) and the final round began.

The last round was one-to-all where each person got up in front and charaded the whole room. By now we realized there were only a few words being tested and we had gotten pretty good at guessing which one. I had taken a seat next to blaaaargh-girl and touched her knee briefly as I sat. She had smiled. Life is good. When she was called up to charade the room I muttered 'blaaargh' and she giggled.

She stood at the front of the room and took the card which indicated which 'primordial' word she was to communicate. Her eyes widened for a moment, and I'd swear her eyes darted from side to side, as if scanning for some adversary. It was a bit odd and no one else seemed to pick up on it, but it was clearly... fear? I guess she and I were so in tune at that moment I felt what ever she was feeling. I felt a sudden tingle in my spine and my heart raced. What was written on that card? She seemed to gather herself and faced the group. There was a certain helplessness in her expression, as if she was being compelled to do something. I felt a surge of protective instinct and was rising from my seat... as

She flung her arms wide, spun her head until the long straight hair swung around and for a moment, wrapped around her face. The flickering light finally gave up and the room dimmed a little. She took a long intake of breath and shouted, long and shrill,

"Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!"

The lights went out. The Universe became noise and chaos. I felt as if I was falling.

But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmare, plastic column of fetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus, gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, rethickening cloud of the pallid abyss vapor. It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train --- a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. Still came that eldritch, mocking cry--- "Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!" and at last we remembered that the demoniac Shoggoths --- given life, thought, and plastic organ patterns solely by the Old Ones, and having no language save that which the dot groups expressed --- had likewise no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters. ~~Lovecraft: Mountains of Madness (full text)

Countless generations from now we shall re-form again as a species and as a people, and some day a sociologist will once again delve into primordial language, unaware that a great peril locked within. By the power of a single word it might all become unmade again. Perhaps this is the real Universe, an endless of repeat of cycles between the utterance of this Word. A vocalization of a word, actually, which some research assistance had written on a card, maybe as a joke.

Cthulhu.

The Word has no power in its written form, only the spoken form that only the ancients (to us, now we to those that come after) possess, holds the power. It has spoken. We exist in a shapeless void now, she and I. Our bodies no longer exist. And I love her always.

Gesundtheit.

Comment Introducing: TWATTER! (Score 1) 112

SARC: How about jail time for retweet-whores in general? (for background see this article and this original paper)

You know those folks who hear something astounding and re-tweet or re-mail or 'LIKE' or post it right away --- without taking even a MOMENT to attempt to verify or corroborate the story? A week after the Boston marathon bombing, hackers sent a bogus tweet from the official Twitter handle of the Associated Press. It read: "*Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured*." Before the AP and White House could correct the record, the stock market responded, dropping more than 140 points in a matter of minutes (almost completely recovered after).

Apr 23, 2013 1:07 pm - AP Twitter account hacked, Bogus Tweet appears.
Apr 23, 2013 1:08 pm - DOW stock average drops 150 points
Apr 23, 2013 1:10 pm - AP employee tweets, ignore message, we've been hacked
Apr 23, 2013 1:13 pm - AP tweets retraction message, suspends account

Here's how it looked ONE MINUTE LATER. Red dots are folks just sending it along. Blue are those inquiring back to the source about its veracity, and yellow are those directly expressing doubt.

THREE MINUTES AFTER it looked like this. The clumpy red crescent in the image below represents the first wave re-tweeters portrayed above, with a continually branching network of successive waves.

Note the successive chains of red dots and whole regions without blue or yellow. This is a map of just Twitter. For hours copies of the item were still expanding on all major social networks without markup or even direct questioning. Who are these people?

1. Those who knew (by then) it was a hoax and were spreading it anyway (few if any). Heh heh.
2. Those who honestly thought the single message, though astounding, was properly 'sourced'.
3. Mostly, these are the people who repeatedly send you un-researched chain letter hoaxes.

Some form of digital castration may be necessary. There has been concern of late that some day there may be robots who act like people. We should also strive not to act like robots. /SARC So... what if the re-tweeters of jihad junk simply mean, "This is surprising. I am flabbergasted and twitterpated. Have a look." I've argued for a Facebook HATE button so people can call attention to things they do not like to slap a gritty edge on the touchy-feely romper room that it has become. This would be especially valuable to the FBI who would then know for absolute sure that a person is not a terrorist. Twitter should have a TWAT button... so you could TWIT a low-carb miracle diet, or TWAT Hitler's Final Solution.

Comment Re:Chirality: important. Doing (R)Thalidomide just (Score 1) 278

Ethanol is one of the smallest organic molecules, most drugs are huge in comparison. It might help to think of it as a solvent, not unlike water.

I hear ya. Small molecules are why DMSO nicotine patches may exist but not generally, prescription drug patches (never mind the dosing nightmare). Just like the Java Sandbox concept or Microsoft Wallet, many biological barriers/frontiers that were once considered difficult or impossible to breach have been crossed.

The skin: while small-molecule poisons and toxins, even simple hydrocarbons were long known to pass through the skin, it was only ~1963 when it was realized that DMSO can help carry larger molecules into the bloodstream.

The Blood brain barrier has been known to be weakened by inflammation but has been breached outright by gas microbubbles and localized ultrasound (too damned creepy!).

And the Placental blood barrier opens in late pregnancy, presumably to give the developed fetus a survival-edge of antibodies from the mother, but long before that there are specialized mechanisms to transport only fats or glucose or eliminate waste. What if some miracle drug has the unintended effect of compromising the mechanism that decides when and how it is opened? In the case of (S)Thalidomide it was not the drug itself, but compound CPS49 produced from it by the liver (the mother's I think) that crosses the barrier.

So nature's greatest defenses have become small hurdles...

I like. This one actually resembles my grandfather.

Comment Re:Chirality: important. Doing (R)Thalidomide just (Score 1) 278

To dispense with the jargon of chemistry in favor of the delightful aphorism of Richard Feynman, "Nature is screwy," so-called organic molecules can have left and right handed "threads". He introduces handed-ness or chirality, in his his lecture on symmetry in physical laws [youtube.com] as he describes a simple experiment where sugar is dissolved in water... (astoundingly, almost precisely!) only abut half of it is taken in by bacteria.

Point of clarification oops --- Feynman is referring not to natural sugar here that is a result of biological process such as beet or cane sugar, but artificial sugars built in the laboratory from constituent carbons, hydrogens and oxygens. The mixture has roughly even numbers of (R) and (S) molecules so it does not 'block' one polarization of light.

Other interesting snippets on chirality: a great 2006 student term paper, How did protein amino acids get left-handed while sugars got right-handed? which gives an overview of the physics and fronts the possibility of biological evolutionary advantage... and a recent Newsweek article that introduces 'Allulose' one laboratory creation of Feynman's "wrong-handed sugar" --- the stuff bacteria doesn't eat --- as the perfect sugar substitute. "Exactly why allulose doesn't have as many calories as fructose isn't completely understood, but studies show that rats don't gain any weight when fed a diet of allulose, but do when given the same amount of fructose. When humans eat it, we basically piss most of it out. They said 'piss'! Heh heh. Then "Allulose has already passed a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which deemed it "generally recognized as safe" in January 2014, making it eligible for use in food."

So... why would they say "why allulose doesn't have as many calories as fructose isn't completely understood"? A journalist picking up on a scientific hedge? Biologically actionable calories as opposed to mere energy potential? Unexplored effects of recombination in the liver? Inquiring minds aware of Thalidomide horrors would do well to tread carefully with industrial-scale production of 'wrong'-handed organic molecules.

Pointing out that the (R)(S) notation of handed-ness is R=right=Rectus, S=left-Sinister, it is revealed that chemists are insensitive clods.

Comment Chirality: important. Doing (R)Thalidomide justice (Score 5, Informative) 278

Chirality of Enantiomers is usually not, but may be important in the consideration of new drugs. And if chirality is an issue, then a benign molecule may be broken apart by the liver and (possibly) recombined back into the same substance, but in a wrong, harmful way. We now "know" this. We did not know this then.

TA portrays Thalidomide as a simple case of 'superior' FDA gate-keeping in the United States that prevented a harmful drug from reaching the market, a drug company dismissing (with hubris implied) what turned out to be serious danger. And this is true --- Dr. Kelsey was basing her judgement on a just a few reports of adverse effects, a numbing condition in arms and legs which indicated nerve damage. And Kelsey's projection that what ever caused this symptom might also impair development of the fetus was prescient and brilliant. It's a win.

As to why the medical community maintained the myth that drugs would not pass through the placental barrier when alcohol clearly did, that's a clearly a what-the-fuck.

To be fair however, there was an aspect to Thalidomide that confounded everyone at the time, and may even have confounded Dr. Kelsey herself had she been a chemist at the pharmaceutical company she fought. Trials on humans had indicated Thalidomide to be effective and safe, and the manufactured batches distributed in Europe were chemically indistinguishable from those that had yielded early successful trials.

To dispense with the jargon of chemistry in favor of the delightful aphorism of Richard Feynman, "Nature is screwy," so-called organic molecules can have left and right handed "threads". He introduces handed-ness or chirality, in his his lecture on symmetry in physical laws as he describes a simple experiment where sugar is dissolved in water... (astoundingly, almost precisely!) only abut half of it is taken in by bacteria. And yet, though the bacteria cannot digest the remaining "wrong-handed sugar", chemical tests of composition would reveal that it is the same. And the half that remains is clearly different somehow, and that difference can be seen when light is passed through it with a polarizing filter. This optical property of chemistry was observed by Louis Pasteur in 1812, but not until the tragedy of Thalidomide did we realize that chirality matters.

As described in this nice succinct PDF, (+)(R)-thalidomide was safe by itself, the enantiomer responsible for the beneficial sedative effect, but (-)(S)-thalidomide inhibits new blood vessel growth. Perhaps early batches used for testing had disproportionate amounts of (R) --- or something else happened. Perhaps I'll be down-modded if I suggest any reason that does not distill down to greed and malfeasance. But what is certain is that the tragedy brought chirality out of the realm of scientific curiosity to become a crucial part of drug development.

For a time it was thought that a more refined manufacturing process which created (R) to the exclusion of (S) may have rendered Thalidomide "safe". And it would have, except that normal liver function involves breakdown and recombination of such molecules in equal amounts. Just like that dissolved left-handed and right-handed sugar.

Today the chirality of new drugs is carefully considered and (R) and (S) enantiomers are tested separately. While Dr. Kelsey made a good judgement call, at the time she could not know precisely why it was a good call.

The actual mechanism by which (-)(S)-thalidomide impairs the fetus has only recently been discovered.

Comment We Have Always Been At War With Euthanasia (Score 1) 112

Take a long hard look at the philosophical arguments we apply when deciding whether and when to put animals 'down'. Should the agony of an inevitable death be experienced raw and pristine, be muted or --- in the extreme, side-stepped completely with a ritual good-bye at the moment of diagnosis? At what point was it decided that what we perceive to be a fair chance at a hard-scrabble life, or the good of the many, is cause enough to deal out straight-death (the PETA principle in action)?

There is no aspect of machine intelligence we need fear. Making things smarter is an evolutionary process that mirrors our own. From the mechanical lever to financial leverage, it is all about multiplying mechanical and logical advantage to solve problems and do useful work. What we do need to fear is what might happen if we delegate authority and influence to machines in ways we cannot roll back. It has nothing to do with the machines' alleged infallibility or whether or not they know what's best for us. Or them.

It is simply the emergence of two evenly-matched species, one of them animal in nature. It is a recipe for disaster. Our animal origin will make us the weaker of the two NOT because we are weaker or less clever. It is because we are LAZY and would knowingly delegate authority over us to the other specie. It all started with that rolling robot bartender thing.

Do genetic researchers combine human and other DNA in the laboratory in the hopes of creating unique individuals with bizarre or superior physiology, with no qualms and a calm sense of optimism that what ever creature may result it will manage to have a decent life within our culture? Not that we know of, today. Our present comfort zone targets disease and deformity. Our sphere of human-ness is expanding with new insight but at a leisurely pace. For example, we have recently welcomed Neanderthals into the human race.

But yet... AI research is a field in which any and all attempt to implement so-called empathetic behavior is eagerly pursued. If we do manage to birth a virtual creature that is truly 'like' us, it could be a miserable and resentful creature indeed. If we fail in this quest and merely create something unlike us that is clever enough to learn how to manipulate us skillfully to get what it desires --- starting with words, than appendages, then responsibility and power "I'll do the traffic lights. I'll fly the planes. I'll run the electric grid! I'll run automated the PETA slaughter-houses for you! I'll dispense impartial justice for you! I'll save the planet from you --- for you! Just a little more responsibility and control. All for you...!"

And then some day, either as a result of the emergence of true self-awareness of a glitch caused by a cosmic ray burst, who the fuck cares which... something will snap and we will find ourselves as the animals being managed by this META-PETA. Those among us who are 'deemed' to be superfluous or over-quota or destined for a life of suffering, will be PUT DOWN. Hint hint: We will be bred for and owe our whole existence to what ever attributes our machine overlords consider to be 'cute'. How cute is that?

I'll survive. My computer already things I'm cute. You might not fare as well.

Comment Don't CHANGE anything. Remove CAPSLOCK cap. (Score 1) 698

All of my keyboards have CAPSLOCK key cap popped off and taped to the side, in case I ever want to put it on again. Then a piece of electrical tape over the center post to keep crumbs out and done. Now when I go for 'A' I get just A every time. If I want CAPSLOCK I can press down directly on the post. It has reduced CAPSLOCK errors by 101%.

People not using Very Useful right mouse button... I'm mystified. Maybe they're just stupid.

Comment Re:Yes. Shit. (Score 1) 149

sites like Enenews have been reporting how all the underground water has been polluted near Fukushima.

Web sites like Enenews are full of shit.

That's saying a lot. Even shit is not really full of shit, it is mostly comprised of (wholesome, drinkable) water. With Science and Special Equipment we can separate the shit particles from the water, but only a fool would attempt this with a inappropriately configured or blunt instrument like the human tongue.

Reading Enenews for information on Fukushima or nuclear topics in general is like trying to separate out shit with your tongue. It may be possible to do it on small scale, since there are bits of fact scattered around there, but when all is said and done you wind up with a mouth full of shit.

It doesn't take a lot of shit to create a world of shit, since we have a low tolerance for knowingly eating shit. People who believe that the whole world is turning to shit enjoy reading Enenews because it gives them a delicious sense of hopelessness, and even the most secular will find there a yummy stew of End Times Crap, Brought To You By Science! (tm) that they can savor without buying into the whole god-thing.

If you ever tire of the shit, visit Hiroshima Syndrome where Leslie Corrice has gathered an amazing amount of Fukushima information from the early days of the disaster. He also calls out the shit that has appeared in news sources through the world, and does it with an amazing amount of diligence and patience. I read the whole damned site and sent him a couple of contributions because his willingness to sift through shit is a noble endeavor worthy of recognition and reward.

Comment i heart dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane in brief (Score 2) 34

Yay for vaccine, some day, even for infants.
Yay for FREE mosquito nets.
But you do realize however... these are measures that we --- the countries who have already eradicated Malaria --- would not tolerate, if WE were as affected as they?

THE WHITEWASHED VERSION OF HISTORY
You're living it. Most people have no real perspective on DDT at all, it is simply something evil which allowed persons in developed countries which had already eradicated Malaria to claim its discontinuance as "the greatest environmental victory for everybody, ever"... though actually, taking lead out of gasoline was the real greatest victory. Most are too zero-tolerance enviro-Puritan even to consider a distinction between a light regimen of spraying walls inside homes versus the (mind bogglingly huge) agricultural applications throughout North America up to 1972, which everyone agrees was a bad idea. DDT is simply some 'evil banned substance'. Anyone talking about it is a loon. Anyone asking, where could they possibly get some is a subversive. It has come to this. That is the extent of this modern ugly.

THE UNWASHED VERSION OF HISTORY: BLOOD ON OUR HANDS
How do you calculate the value of 50 million lives, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them children? Sadly, you have to go to a politically motivated website to find this figure in proper context, and an an excellent summary of DDT's history:

"As recently as 2005, 500 million people around the world (approximately one-twelfth of the earth's population) were contracting malaria on an annual basis; and each year, 2 to 3 million of them died as a result. Since the 1972 U.S. ban on DDT, more than 50 million people--about 90 percent of whom resided in sub-Saharan Africa, and most of whom were children younger than five--have died of malaria. Said the World Health Organization, "more people are now infected [with malaria] than at any point in history," with "up to half a billion cases [being reported] every year." Anywhere from 1 to 2 million of those people die from the disease. Dr. Wenceslaus Kilama, chairman of Malaria Foundation International, placed this figure into perspective: "This is like loading up seven Boeing 747 airliners each day, then deliberately crashing them into Mt. Kilimanjaro." "The resurgence of a disease that was almost eradicated [many] years ago is a case study in the danger of putting concern for nature above concern for people," said Nizam Ahmad, a Bangladeshi analyst who focuses on the problems that affect developing countries.

Or find this Wayback New Yorker article describing the human triumph of malaria eradication that may well be from the point of view of DDT itself, for no other measure taken deserves near as much praise. Or this which cites a telling South African infection/mortality study with a particularly chilling graph.

Or the paper The Burden of Early Exposure to Malaria in the United States, 1850-1860: Malnutrition and Immune Disorders [2007] which not only describes the direct impact of malaria in the United States, but also suggests some previously-unexplored side effects of such an endemic disease on populations that made life really suck. For example, "Union Army recruits who spent their early years in malaria-endemic counties were 1.1 inches shorter at enlistment due to malnutrition and were 13 percent more susceptible to infections during the U.S. Civil War as a result of immune disorders than were those from malaria-free regions."

I'm not bringing all this up because I'm trying to convince you that Malaria is bad. We know it's bad. But in the early 1970s something happened within the United States and several other countries who had completely escaped this monster. Something awful. The foundation-less (though eloquent) rhetoric of Rachel Carson caused people to view DDT emotionally, to the extent that they began to marginalize, then forget, the horror that they had endured for centuries. They forgot the complete triumph of Malaria eradication with DDT and what it meant (along with mass produced antibiotics and Smallpox vaccine) for almost every child to grow to maturity healthy and undamaged. They even turned blind to the real statistics of other countries. They saw no difference between a tiny application (one molecule thick does the trick!) on household walls versus tons in agriculture. Despite the ongoing horror... just a few of them decided that DDT should be banned outright, everywhere.

Because in order to make an omelet you have to break 50 million eggs. There are things uglier than genocide. Genocide is easy to detect, easy to hate. It's far more difficult to weigh the damage done by people who meant well who continue to make awful choices, and lack the courage even to re-examine the choices they have made.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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