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Comment: Dover Press Books (Score 2) 159

by westlake (#48641591) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

Dover of course used to re-publish the out-of-copyright and out-of-print math and science classics. There was a time when a professor could have a rare out-of-print book, that nobody else could get, and teach an entire class out of that book. Dover put an end to that.

Of course the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act put an end to Dover (or at least their reprint business) by extending the copyright to 100 years after the author's death.

Does anyone ever bother to fact-check their rants before posting them to Slashdot?

Biology and Medicine
Computer Science
Earth Science
General Science

Comment: Re:The right to be presumed innocent? (Score 1) 90

The police can set up a road-block and demand that drivers provide a breath test and proof of their license at any time. Isn't that a presumption of guilt rather than innocence?

The "presumption of innocence" is where you begin in a US criminal trial.

It does not define the geek's every encounter with the law.

Driving a car or truck on the public roads is not a right but a privilege. It has never been out-of-bounds to demand proof of your sobriety or a show of your license.

Comment: Occam's razor. (Score 2) 87

by westlake (#48627819) Attached to: Did Alcatraz Escapees Survive? Computer Program Says They Might Have

Didn't re-offend? You mean, didn't get caught. There's a difference.

The Anglin brothers Alfred Clarence (born May 11, 1931) and John William (born May 2, 1930) were born in Donalsonville, Georgia, and worked as farmers and laborers. Together they started to rob banks in Georgia and were arrested in 1956.

Frank Lee Morris was born in Washington, D.C., on September 1, 1926, and spent most of his early years in foster homes. He was orphaned at age 11 and was convicted of his first crime at the age of 13, and by his late teens had been arrested for crimes ranging from possession of narcotics to armed robbery.

In 2014 researchers at Delft University, using a computer model, concluded that if the men set off approximately at midnight, when the currents might have worked in their favor, they could have made landfall; but if they left in the hours either side, the currents would have been too strong to overcome and they very likely died.

June 1962 Alcatraz escape

In other words, habitual criminals with limited skills and prospects.

Morris, with an IQ of 133. had never found a way to walk away from a crime that would not end in his arrest.

The timing would have had to have been damn near perfect based on computer models constructed some fifty years later.

Comment: Playing with words. (Score 1) 187

by westlake (#48610247) Attached to: Graphene: Fast, Strong, Cheap, and Impossible To Use

And indeed, some of us are. If you drive an electric car and live near a nuclear power plant, you might be one of them.

The atom powered car, ship, train or aircraft as imagined in the late forties, fifties and sixties was powered by an internal nuclear reactor.

The ideal would be a vehicle or a vessel that would never need refueling.

Comment: Re:The Pirate Bay (Score 1) 302

by westlake (#48606617) Attached to: The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

"Intellectual property is neither"

Property is whatever bundle of rights, interests and privileges you hold that the state* defines as property and will defend by force if necessary.

Intangible property is still property.

The geek can live out his entire life defined by endless streams of ones and zeroes stored and processed god knows where and still not see them as property until their loss, theft or abuse affects him personally.

Careless thinking or intellectually dishonest? Your choice.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

What is Intellectual Property?

This is BTW almost word-for-word how IP is defined by the Wikipedia.

In a lifetime of reading I have owned about 6,000 books, fiction and non-fiction. No two of these writers ever spoke in the same voice, and almost all were paid by the word, writing for a popular --- democratic --- audience.

The number of creative talents active in any generation is small, and that is a problem the Pirate Bay cannot solve.

Comment: The geek is no fun at parties. (Score 1) 307

the way to address the diversity issue is to dumb everybody down? Sure, that sounds like it would provide a level playing field, but the goddam field would be below sea level.

The geek's natural instinct to assert his god-given superiority at the worst possible moment can ruin the experience for everyone.

This isn't about "dumbing down," it's about getting the know-it-alls, the intellectual bullies, the inflated egos, out of the room, so others can prosper.

Comment: Re:Nitche Market (Score 1) 433

by westlake (#48594357) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

The fact is that given the same source content, high quality digital copies are by far higher quality...

Those who pay the premium for vinyl are getting the best in audio editing, not the cut for FM radio or the 99 cent mp3.

They are also paying for turntables, amps and speakers that cost a bit more and demand more space than the integrated audio of your smartphone or tablet.

Analog audio from its earliest beginnings was marketed as a social experience. In which many elements come into play and "perfection" as a whole is difficult to quantify. There was always a tension between those who would disguise a phonograph as a piece of furniture and those would celebrate its workings openly.

The high end modern turntable is both sculpture and machine.

Comment: Re:Knowledge is the solution (Score 2) 1050

by westlake (#48584443) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

I agree. I'm a big supporter of vaccines but one thing I find annoying is that it's almost impossible to find good numbers for vaccines.

In the United States, the 1952 polio epidemic became the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

Three years later, Dr. Jonas Salk became a national hero when he developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine in 1955 with the support of the March of Dimes. In the two years before the vaccine was widely available, the average number of polio cases in the U.S. was more than 45,000. By 1962, that number had dropped to 910.

Polio History


Chart 1. Reported cases of H. influenzae type b, United States, 1991 - 1997

Chart 2. Hib meningitis in children less than 5 years old according to the National Bacterial Meningitis Reporting System, 1980 through 1991.

Chart 3. Reported cases of measles, United States, 1960-1997

Chart 4. Reported mumps cases, United States, 1968-1997

Chart 5. Reported pertussis cases, United States, 1922-1997

Chart 6. Reported poliomyelitis cases, United States, 1920-1997

Chart 7. Reported rubella cases, United States, 1966-1997

Comment: Not good enough. (Score 1) 1050

by westlake (#48583391) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

I was thinking if you take the exemption and subsequently infect someone you have liability for medical expenses, or criminal liability in the case of death.

I want my kids to live --- not compensation for their death.

Which, by the way, would be almost impossible to link to any single individual ---

even given the relatively simple and modest demands a plaintiff must meet in order to win in a civil case.

Comment: Re:Tough call (Score 1) 1050

by westlake (#48583171) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

While I think not getting vaccinated is incredibly stupid, I also worry about setting a standard of the government being able to force things in to your body.

Historically, there were no limits when it came to the control of infectious defenses.

"Typhoid Mary" Mellon spent 23 years in island hospital quarantine.

In 1907 Mary was taken into custody by police officers, and The Health Department gave her an ultimatum - either have her gall bladder removed (where typhoid carrier germs lived), or be exiled to North Brother Island. She refused the surgical operation, which was risky and unpredictable at the time, and was placed at the hospital for three years. Mallon resided in a bungalow, away from the main hospital buildings, and lived alone except for a dog as a companion.

After a lengthy court battle, where Mary described her life akin to a prisoner's, she was released from the hospital in 1910. She immediately returned to work as a cook under the pseudonym of "Mrs. Brown" at Sloane Maternity Hospital. An outbreak of typhoid that consisted of 25 separate cases was eventually traced back to the cook, and officials identified her as Mary Mallon. She was sent back to North Brother in 1915 to live the rest of her life there.

Riverside Hospital (North Brother Island)

Comment: Re:Perhaps we should throw out the transistor (Score 1) 416

by westlake (#48577721) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

After all, the transistor was invented by William Shockley, a proponent of Eugenics.

That would come later.

Shockley's contributions to the evolution of the transistor and Silicon Valley were more or less complete by the mid to late 50s. There is something about Eugenics that Is attractive to the technocrat in every generation.

Lewin was tossed for abusing his position at MIT and sexually harassing a student.

Lewin at 78 has forfeited the privilege of teaching at MIT. In the time left to him, he has the freedom to do research, to write, lecture, debate or teach in any forum which will have him.

Comment: One of these things is not like the other, (Score 2) 416

by westlake (#48577289) Attached to: MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

Time to toss Richard Wagner's works seeing as how he was a racist.

Richard Wagner is dead.

Lewin is alive and at 78 years old was caught sexually harassing an MIT online student 50 years his junior. In the old days a man like this would have been quietly put out to pasture before his senility caused his school any further embarrassment.

Or ... we could toss the people who makes decisions like this out on their ass, which is a much better idea.

If you are not a sexually responsible adult you have no business being on the physical or online campus. It doesn't matter if you are the frat boy, the jerk jock, the twenty year uber-geek or the eighty year old professor emeritus.

You might have mail.