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Comment: Re:in favor of "space suits" (Score 1) 340

by Will.Woodhull (#48221047) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

The makeshift ebola suits currently in use are epic fail. Persons highly trained in their use have come down with ebola. Probably because the protocols for getting in and out of the suits are so difficult that the protocols themselves are broken, they simply do not work.

Paul Allen-- bless him!-- has just donated $100 million to the ebola effort. But more significantly, he is spearheading the development of a medevac system that will handle medical personnel in Africa who may have been exposed to ebola.

What we need is someone of Paul Allen's stature to design and deploy an effective ebola suit. This would probably be a spacesuit that would protect its occupant from an environment so hostile to life that any ebola on its surface would not survive. It would be used in conjunction with that hostile environment. For example, a suit that would allow a health worker to stand in a bonfire for 15 minutes, or walk through a deadly chemical fog chamber. It needs to be built and used in such a way that getting into and out of it can be done easily, while assuring that any ebola virus on its surface is 100% destroyed.

There is no government agency or institution that could take this on. This is on the scale of a Manhattan Project-- except much worse since we don't have years to do the work. We need something useable in months. So we need someone with the resources and know-how to develop this new technology on a fast track. Burt Rutan. Bill Gates. Maybe Warren Buffett. Someone of that caliber.

I hope someone is stepping up to take this on. Developing an effective ebola suit would be a magnificent legacy. It would put one in company with medical greats like Pasteur, Lister, Fleming, and Salk.

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 340

by Will.Woodhull (#48220455) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Parent post has done an excellent job of summarizing the WHO and CDC statements about the ebola risk. Let me now take this to the next step and put it into terms that are more commonly used on slashdot, the streets, and just about everywhere else in the real world:

If there is no one around you who has ebola, then you are not at risk of being infected. If there is someone around you who has ebola, then you should wear a space suit. If within the last couple of hours no one with ebola has been on the subway platform or the elevator or the taxi, or has handled the coins you are getting as change for your Starbucks frappacino, then you don't have to worry about getting infected.

So it all comes down to simply making sure that you know the status and history of every person and object you come into contact with. Not such a big deal, eh?

Comment: Re:Bennett Haselton on the Ebola outbreak (Score 2) 340

by Will.Woodhull (#48220225) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

So we are now living in a Lewis Carroll world: "I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true."

If indeed there was no risk to anyone until the good doctor decided he was beginning to show symptoms, then why is so much money (and other, more valuable than money, resources) being used to trace down all who might have had contact with him? It would seem that the authorities are not as confident about the risks of transmission during the silent incubation period as they would want the public to believe.

Comment: Re:Oooh ... formally promised ... (Score 1) 164

by Will.Woodhull (#48215671) Attached to: Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

Wait. You're trusting investors and stockholders... to ensure that the company sticks to their profitibility-limiting "benefit corp" goals?

Yes, that seems to be the case.

...investors and stockholders, whose primary goal is to make money...

No, that qualifying phrase does not fit. Investors and stockholders whose primary goal is to make money should be doing something else than involving themselves in a benefit corporation. They also shouldn't be putting a lot of money into Friends Of Trees, endowments of the arts, historical preservation societies, etc.

Benefit corporations are not a part of capitalism. They are not free market entities. Like the FOSS movement that has provided you with the benefits of Linux (which runs the servers of most of the websites you visit), benefit corporations are part of the emerging post-capitalist gift economy.

But I fear that now I may have given some of my readers headaches by jamming into their heads a couple of concepts that are too big for their skulls to contain.

Comment: Re:Oooh ... formally promised ... (Score 1) 164

by Will.Woodhull (#48215585) Attached to: Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

That might be a concern. But I am not addressing that.

Your original comment neglected to mention one pertinent fact: that there is a form of monitoring and control of benefit corporations. My earlier comment only addressed that deficiency.

Whether benefit corporations could actually work as intended is an entirely different issue. I don't have an answer to that. Neither do you. There are not enough data available yet to make any kind of reasoned judgment.

But that does not excuse the deliberate withholding of information just so you can make noise for your opinion. This is slashdot. It is not yet a backroom of Fox News. A modest suggestion: when attempting to push your point of view, find someone else to emulate rather than Rush Limbaugh.

Comment: Re:Oooh ... formally promised ... (Score 2) 164

by Will.Woodhull (#48214033) Attached to: Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

Either poster of parent did not bother to read further, or he is deliberately withholding information (a very nasty form of trolling).

Benefit corporations are required in their Annual Report to stockholders to address their progress toward their stated goals, and their conformance with stated restrictions on activities. These reports are audited the same way any corporation's annual reports are audited.

It is up to the stockholders to use this information to decide whether the corporation's board of directors needs to be replaced, or the company be dissolved, etc. So there is as much control on benefit corporations as on any other corporation, with that control in the hands of the stockholders.

I can't see any other way this could be done. The concept is too new to say whether it will actually work, but the theory looks sound.

Comment: Re:All that money... (Score 4, Insightful) 164

by Will.Woodhull (#48213865) Attached to: Ello Formally Promises To Remain Ad-Free, Raises $5.5M

Any typesetter will tell you that the choice of font is important to getting your message across.

Ello's choice of a mono sans-serif font is significant for indicating that their message is a simple but powerful one. And that they are significantly different from their competitors.

Volkswagen in the 1970s used the same approach to emphasize that their vehicles were so different from USA cars that you could not measure their performance using the same yardstick. Volkswagen was all about mpg and economy when USA car makings were competing on creature comforts and acceleration. Ello's choice of font is emphasizing that its product should not be judged with the same criteria that Facebook wants you to use.

The danger with Ello's choice of font is that if used in conveying any message that is not simple, like instructions or an argument about the evils of advertising, many readers may feel like they are being treated as grade schoolers, and be turned off by the typesetting. Time will tell whether Ello will avoid that pitfall. Hopefully they have already chosen a proportional font for lengthier prose.

Comment: Re:Why Cold Fusion (or something like it) Is Real (Score 1) 349

by Will.Woodhull (#48174601) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

So there can be no such thing as climate science then?

If reproducibility is a criterion of science in one field, then you must apply it to every other "scientific" field. So you would be wise to evaluate the semantics of your statements.

Cold fusion seems improbable. But to say it is impossible is to step beyond the limitations of science.

Comment: Re:Just tell me (Score 1) 463

by Will.Woodhull (#48155983) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

Yes, you are expressing an alternative view, and you are certainly welcome to do that. I do not welcome your attempt to shout down any disagreement with your personal world view, but I recognize that is a not uncommon irrational response when something about your world view is important, and you cannot think of a rational response. There is a four year old in each of us.

The "facts" you cite are disputable. Some of them are just plain wrong. For instance, this is not the same virus as "what has been around since the 70s"; this is a new variant.

You demonstrate a lot more faith in the first world's ability to meet a possible global pandemic than I personally think is reasonable. How much of that faith is hubris? No need to answer; hubris is one of those labels that can only be applied after a disaster. By its very nature, hubris is blind to itself.

Comment: Re:Just tell me (Score 1) 463

by Will.Woodhull (#48155657) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

Perhaps the terms are used differently in different parts of the world. Hmm. Not so easy to show what I mean given Slashdot's limited HTML subset. Here goes:

When I say geometric, I mean each successive term is the same multiple of its previous term.

When I say exponential, I mean each successive term is the previous term raised to some power.

Let Qn be the quantity on the nth day, and C be some constant value. then

In a geometric progression, Qn+1 = Qn * C, such as (when C = 2)

00002, 00004, 00008, 00016, 00032, ...

In an exponential progression, Qn+1 = Qn ** C, such as (again when C = 2)

00002, 00004, 00016, 00256, 65536, ...

I'm using leading zeroes to keep the digits nicely lined up, so each nth term is in the same column in both series.

With regard to the ebola situation, it might well be that the geometric constant will be a higher value than 2 while the exponential constant is a smaller value than 2. Say the geometric increases at 3 while the exponential increases at 1.7. Then (rounding to nearest whole number)

0000003, 0000009, 0000027, 0000081, 0000243, 0000729, 002187, ... (geometric, C=3)

0000002, 0000002, 0000005, 0000014, 0000084, 0001871, 365155, ... (exponential, C=1.7)

I think that shows how dismal Malthus' mathematics is. We need a breakthrough, like the impact the internal combustion engine had on food crops. But you just can't plan on miracles happening when you need them. That isn't part of the human condition.

Comment: Re:Just tell me (Score 2) 463

by Will.Woodhull (#48149671) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

Hold on to that optimistic viewpoint as long as you can. We do not need to incite panic here.

But recognize that the ebola death curve is exponential. Production and distribution of vaccines, and of antibodies by transfusion, is at best geometric, and more likely linear.

It will likely be possible to provide immunity to select communities of several hundred thousand souls. But there are more than seven billion humans on this planet and the math for a good general solution to ebola just will not pencil out. Unless there is some miraculous breakthrough in some medical laboratory in the next three or four months, ebola is going to have a global impact: short of carpet bombing a big chunk of west Africa with nukes it will probably get loose. And the impact of an ebola pandemic will ripple through your neighborhood, even if your city is immunized and the nearest case is several thousand miles away.

This is not panic mongering. But this is a fast moving disease, and some of the persons who read slashdot need to be aware of its realities and we cannot afford to let them live in a fairy tale world. These are the forward-thinkers who can find ways to help us soldier on to what may be a post apocalyptic world.

At this point the question for these persons is not whether ebola is going to affect your personal life. The questions are how might it affect you, personally, and what could you start doing soon to mitigate that impact? Because saving as much of your own future as is possible is likely going to improve every other survivor's future as well. It's kind of a FOSS-like thing.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.

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