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Journal: Chances of being killed by police in the USA

Journal by Space cowboy

So 104 people were killed by police in the USA during August, 2014. To my eyes, that's an absolutely enormous figure. As a Brit, I compare it to the 1 person killed over 3 years by the UK police. Yes, they're two different countries, yes there's a lot more people in the US, yes they have different cultures, yadda yadda yadda; people are dying here.

Let's do some maths:

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 5, Interesting) 471

by Space cowboy (#47947433) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

I live in CA too, and pay similar taxes. I don't have a problem with the taxes.

When I came to the USA, I was taken aback by just how money-orientated the churches are. I'm irreligious, but I attended church as a kid, and it was actually about the message, about community, and definitely not about the money. Church officials (rectors and curates) are pretty poor in the UK, at least where I grew up - they have housing provided for them, and they live on a meagre salary. They are expected to work long hours for low pay. I don't get that sense when I drive past a church in San Jose that has acres (literally) of parking space, flashy electronic signs, and is located in prime real-estate area. It's very different, trust me.

I've lived here in CA for almost a decade, as I said, it's been great. There's been a couple of local school-shootings in the last year or so. Understand that from a Brit's point of view *anyone* getting shot *ever* is big news. National, prime-time TV news, possibly for days. For it to be sufficiently commonplace that it doesn't even make it past local headlines is ... disturbing.

Your point about talking to people is a good one: if I talk to people from outside the US, our views tend to resonate, but if I talk to people who are US-born, there's way less agreement. I'm not sure if it's because this is "normal" to those born here, that they just haven't experienced anything else, that they think somehow "it couldn't happen to me", or what (sometimes it's definitely a case of USA! USA! USA!). Definitely there is a difference in outlook between natives and foreigners.

One more thing: I'm not trying to paint the UK as some sort of panacea - it's not, by a long chalk. Neither am I US-bashing for the sake of it - the above is just my observations over time. The UK has it's own issues no doubt, but bottom line: even as a white male living in an affluent area in the USA, I feel safer in the UK. And I definitely feel my son would be safer at school there. This is the fact that's weighing on me more and more.

Simon

Comment: Re:Everyone loses (Score 5, Insightful) 471

by Space cowboy (#47947089) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Having lived in the US for a decade now, I'm missing the UK more and more.

  - A real non-half-assed health service, that provides long-term care without exception
  - A dearth of mass-murders, especially school-shootings
  - A police service which uses policing-by-consent rather than by-fear
  - A university system that doesn't do its best to keep you in debt for life
  - A foreign policy that doesn't make them hated around the world
  - An attitude that doesn't revolve around "why should my taxes pay for you, just because you desperately need help" ?
  - A church that isn't entirely based around making money for the "reverend" and isn't overwhelmingly politicised.
  - Sensible views on evolution, science in general, abortion, gay marriage, and womens rights.
  - And of course, the marked lack of guns in the general populace. An armed society is a polite society my arse. It's a *fearful* society.

As I said, I've been here for a decade now, and I work for a big company with great perks. It's been good for me, but now that I have a kid, the school-shootings thing is getting more and more worrisome. There's literally nothing I can do to prevent some moron raiding his mother's arsenal and killing my kid if that's how he wants to end his life.

The money is good, the people I meet are friendly, the weather is nice, and that used to be sufficient. But as time goes by, it's seeming more and more like a Faustian bargain.

Simon.

Comment: Crawl, *then* walk (Score 4, Insightful) 122

by Space cowboy (#47934209) Attached to: Scientists Twist Radio Beams To Send Data At 32 Gigabits Per Second

Yeah, I could do with one of those office-space meme's right now.

If all the nay-sayers faux-gasping at the extreme length of 2.5m could shut up, that'd be great.

I'm not sure what people expect these days - this is a major achievement - whether it *can* be extended, or whether it *will* be extended would be different achievements. You could almost apply Jackson's rules of optimisation to this (refresher below) - in that first you *do* it, and only then (if you're an expert) do you try to do it *well*.

Simon

Jackson's rules of optimisation: "The First Rule of Program Optimization: Don't do it. The Second Rule of Program Optimization (for experts only!): Don't do it yet."

Comment: Farmers != Farm Workers (Score 0, Troll) 122

The headline says farmers. The text says farm workers. Very much not the same thing. A farmer is the owner of the farm. A farm worker is generally a hired hand, often (though not always) a migrant, and if so typically from Mexico or farther south.

The story suggests that the multi-drug-resistant bacteria are the result of antibiotic treatment of the animals at the farm. This misses another possibility:

In Mexico, most antibiotics are over-the-counter, much like asprin here in the US. People who feel ill or have some infection often buy and take them. Typically they use them until they no longer show symptoms - then stop, rather than taking a full regimin and killing off all the bacteria. (Why take more of the non-free drug once the symptoms are gone? Waste of money, right?) This is a recipe for creating drug-resistant bacteria.

Of course if an infection is resistant to one antibiotic, a paitent is likely to try another, and another, and so on until they find one that works. THAT's a recipe for maintaining and improving the bug's resistance to the front line antibiotics while breeding resistance to others.

As a result, a substantial fraction of the workers arriving from south of the Mexican border are carriers of multi-drug-resistant baceria.

Meanwhile, a farming operation is likely to give a limited number of antibiotics continuously, so non-resistant infections are wiped out before they can develop resistance, and if they do develop resistance it will be to the particular drugs used, rather than the universe of antibiotics.

Of course, infected workers can infect livestock, just as livestock can infect workers. And infected workers can trade infections around, just as livestock can. (More so, since the livestock tends to be kept separated, to reduce both disease spread and breeding by unintended pairings, limitations that farmers can't impose on their workers - and would be unlikely to try even if they could.)

So it seems to me that responsible researchers would go a bit farther before reporting: Like by doing genetic testing on the strains of bug in the various workers and the livestock, and running models on the results to try to identfy whether the bugs are from the herd or the workers.

I don't see any such work alluded to in this popularized reporting. It seems to just assume that the bugs were developed on the farm and spread to the workers. I hope this is a disconnect between the actual research and the report, rather than an accurate characterization of the research.

Comment: The real problem (Score 1) 124

Yeah, blame it all on the examiners--don't pay any attention to the management which requires them to process and pass as many patents as they can in as little time as possible, because that brings in the most money. It's all the fault of those "lazy" employees who basically do what they're told! :p ;)

If you really want to change things, don't measure performance by how many patents are granted! Because there's no surer way of guaranteeing that bad patents will be passed than that!

Comment: Especially: The paint. (Score 1) 113

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47895641) Attached to: Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

The gas bag itself was flammable; it wouldn't have mattered what gas was in it, when it disintegrated

In particular: The paint. It contained a mix of powdered aluminum and iron oxide pigments, in sufficient concentration to maintain a redox reaction.

You and I know this mixture as "thermite". It's really hard to get the reaction started - but an electric discharge can do it. (They tried to tether it with an electrical storm approaching. That would make one hell of a spark when the charged envelope comes near to connecting to the grounded mast - which is about when the fire started.) Once it's started, the reaction is essentially impossible to extinguish. The aluminum steals the oxygen from the iron oxide. The heats of formation of the two oxides differ so much that the energy released leaves the resulting elemental iron as an orange-glowing liquid and the aluminum oxide incandescent white-hot.

Comment: That is a misreading of the Supremacy Clause: (Score 4, Informative) 213

You are bound by the treaties your country signed.

Yes: You, and the states, and their courts, are bound by them (to the extent they are clear or were implemented by federal enabling legislation).

In fact, they have more legal weight in the US than laws passed by your own Congress.

NO! They have EXACTLY the same weight as federal law. Both treaties and federal law are trumped by the Constitution, and both are also creatures of Congress, They can be modulated, and destroyed (at least in how they are effective within the country) by congressional action.

The idea that they're any stronger or more permanent than federal legislation comes from a (very common) misreading of the Supremacy Clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

This says that the Constitution, Federal Law, and Treaties trump state law in state and federal courts. It says nothing about the relative power among the three.

The misreading is to interpret "all treaties made ... shall be the supreme law of the land ..." to mean that treaties effectively amend the constitution. This is wrong. You can see it by noticing the same kind of misreading also makes federal law equivalent to a constitutional amendment - which it clearly is not.

In fact the Supreme Court has spoken on the relation between the Constitution and treaties: In Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), the Supreme Court held stated that the U.S. Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Treaties are abrogated, at the federal level, all the time, and there are a number of mechanisms for doing so.

Comment: The had them at least as far back as the '50s (Score 1) 275

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47881071) Attached to: California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews

Now they have the guide printed on the box but I can remember when i was a kid they didn't.

Some off them had maps at least as far back as the '50s, and probably much further.

A classic was the "Whitman Sampler" - an assortment of their products with a handy map. In addition to being a tasty and relatively low-priced collection of their products, it let a family divide them up according to their individual preferences, and gave you the names of each, so you could (at least hypotheically) buy boxes of just the ones you like.

(I say hypothetically because I never saw boxes of the individual candies being carried in the stores that sold the samplers.)

Comment: Re:containment (Score 1) 296

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47872185) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

But regardless of the pressure, when the helium leaks out, it will not be displaced by air. It will leave behind a vacuum. The helium will leak out, but nothing will leak in to replace it.

(Except maybe hydrogen, but there's not much of that in your local air.)

So your metal parts vacuum-weld and tear themselves apart starting at the contacting surfaces, and adding lots of hydrogen to the air around the drives just makes the parts become brittle on their way to failure.

Comment: More options! (Score 1) 228

by Xtifr (#47867265) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Geeze, these options lack vision! How about...

Coffee plants that can grow in different climates--underwater might be good, since that may be where many of us will be living soon. :)

Self-brewing coffee plants that you can just drink directly from.

Giant coffee plants that can be used in construction, so your house smells like fresh-brewed coffee at all times.

Super-intelligent mobile coffee plants that can be used as soldiers in my plans to take over the world!

Comment: And the original AC is wrong. (Score 1) 174

What original AC is saying is that our current medicine doesn't resemble Star Trek style ... We drop blanket bombs into our bodies with the expectation that the evil bits will die a whole lot faster than the good bits, and by the time the evil bits are dead, the good bits are still in a good enough shape to regenerate.

No that is NOT what we do for practically anything but chemotherapy for most cancers (where the difference from normal tissue is very small - a few mutations in signaling systems) and the main difference is that being stuck in reproduction mode makes them somewhat less robust.

Antibiotics are all about targeting one or another chemical mechanism that has one form in the target organism when its equivalen has another - or is absent - in human tissue. There are a LOT of drugs that have been discovered or designed, and the collection consists of enormous numbers of "magic bullets" that each target just one, or a small set, of systems found in particular pathogenic lifeforms, with either negligible, or far lower, side-effects on other systems.

Sure many antibiotics hit a wide range of NON-human life - pathogens and others - because THEY share susceptable versions of the target system or contain systems that are strongly side-effected. Sure the doctors sometimes have to pick drugs with bad side-effects because those are the best choices they have. But the characterization of antibiotic and antiviral drugs as "blanket bombing" has been out of date for more than half a century.

Comment: Re:Taste like chicken? (Score 1) 107

Recent research has shown that chickens are the closest living relative of T. Rex.

Do you have a reference for the research?

If it's true that T.rex is closer to chickens than to pheasants, peafowl, and other Phasianinae, it would mean that the Phasianinae family dates back to before the K-T disaster.

This was all over the mainstream press last April. I was echoing their over-simplified characterizatoin of the research.

It's actually "closest living relative among the set of genetic databases they tested", I.e. chickens, sheep, etc. Chickens happened to be a bird they tested, with aminno acid sequences far closer to those of the collagen recovered from T. Rex - nearly identical, in fact, than those of things like mammals. So don't expect this to re-write taxonomy - or to mean that chickens were any closer - or farter - from T. Rex than their close relatives such as phesants.

Of course there's other evidence that birds were around well before T. Rex. So it may turn out that chickens are closer relatives to T. Rex than, say, bluebirds. (Or maybe bluebirds will turn out to be closer, once they're compared.)

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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