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Comment: Re:We like to feel smart (Score 1) 795

by blankinthefill (#47966241) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything
I disagree. I think there is plenty of room in well functioning science for both heroes and authority. As long as there is a strongly held understanding and belief that such heroes and authorities are NOT infallible, and there is a strong drive to question, experiment, and improve on results, even for supposedly 'settled' topics. Scientific heroes and authorities must come with some level of malleability and understanding that our knowledge is basically in constant flux, and what we think is true today may be proven false tomorrow. But there are plenty of people that are at the very forefront of human knowledge, and in their areas, I would argue they certainly are authorities (at least at the moment). This doesn't mean we can't question them, just that yes, they have a body of experience and knowledge that should be influential in their field. In the same vein, we can praise and admire the work of great women and men, and seek to follow their examples, will simultaneously acknowledging that their work is not, CAN NOT, be perfect, and that they will make mistakes. They can still be heroes while being imperfect. Hell, from a mythological standpoint, MOST heroes have major, glaring flaws. But they are still heroes, admired and upheld for their good works. To be honest, I feel like this understanding of authority and heroes in science is more useful than the outright denial of their existence in the first place, as acknowledging that you can do flawed work, but still be great, is an excellent lesson for any scientist to learn.

Comment: Re:Complex? (Score 4, Interesting) 198

I just interviewed with one of the largest healthcare focused tech companies in the US, Epic Systems. On of the more interesting things I learned while I was there was that they use InterSystems Caché, a non-relational system that's built on b-trees instead of tables. The main draw of this system is the speed at which they are able to operate, which is one of the big things they've built their reputation on. They claimed while I was there that roughly 47-49% of Americans are covered by Epic's software at some point. Now, obviously that's not just records stored in databases they designed, implemented, and support, but, especially considering that Epic targets medium to large healthcare companies, with very little involvement with smaller outfits, and the fact that they do their best not to parcel out their software, but to sell integrated top to bottom systems... well, they seem to not only be doing fine without a relational system, but thriving. I don't work for them, so I can't say any more than that since I don't have experience, but I just thought it might be of interest in relation to the relational/non-relational debate in this thread.

Comment: Re:Which company bought this 'new' rule? (Score 5, Insightful) 1143

by blankinthefill (#45380435) Attached to: EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal
Honestly, I don't think is was bought. Wood burning stoves are a huge, huge source of dangerous particulate pollutions in many states in the north, where there is not the option to use gas, and oil is too expensive for many families. Fairbanks, AK, a community of about 100,000k people, has some of the worst particulate pollution in the developed world because of the amount of woodburning that goes on there during the winter.

Comment: I don't know how to feel about this. (Score 5, Interesting) 1143

by blankinthefill (#45380413) Attached to: EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal
I have lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, which has roughly 100,000 people in and around it, and is basically isolated other than that. During the winter, particulate pollution is insanely bad, and even worse when you consider how small the city is. This is due, mainly, to the amount of wood burning stoves that are used to heat houses. Now, it's exacerbated by the valley that the town is in and the extreme cold, but most of it's terribleness comes from the wood burning in the area. After seeing that, I want to support stronger regulations or even bans on wood burning. On the other hand, many of the people in Fairbanks that burn wood do so because it's the cheapest method they can use to heat their houses, and they can't afford other methods (natural gas is not available in Fairbanks for heating, or at least not cheaply). I don't know what they're supposed to do if these regulations increase the cost associated with wood burning very much... not heating your house when it's -50 out is just not an option.

Comment: Re:Rose-tinted view indeed (Score 5, Insightful) 634

by blankinthefill (#45160821) Attached to: British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care
Actually, if you follow international news at all, there has been a strong Conservative/Tory assault on the NHS for several years now. The assault comes in the form of privatization and the introduction of the 'free' market to the health care ecosystem. This system, if anything, is attempting to emulate the system put in place with the ACA, and the right in the UK has made it clear that they would like do what the right in America has been arguing for this whole time in terms of health care. Would the Dems have desired to emulate the original NHS, prior to its evisceration? Yes. Now? Not so much. Here's a bit of light reading on the topic, which is anything but hard to find. (Yes, they do tend to be from more leftwing sources, however, they have good information on what has been done to the NHS recently.)

Comment: Re:It's unfortunate. (Score 2) 699

by blankinthefill (#45117955) Attached to: UK Court Orders Two Sisters Must Receive MMR Vaccine
Unvaccinated persons WERE rare. The Wakefield paper and the bullshit it has produced has changed that significantly. We are actually seeing the results of that in the outbreaks of measles and mumps in the US and the UK, because of the breakdown in herd immunity in certain areas, due entirely to the anti-vaccine movement. We are talking about serious diseases, that have serious, life long consequences, that were all but eradicated until the anti-vac movement sprang up. Here's a story from the WSJ, not exactly known as a publication that indorses government intervention. They don't here, either... but it's pretty clear that they don't hold the hard line on this issue that they generally do.

Comment: Re:teach reasoning, curiosity, specificity in pres (Score -1, Flamebait) 299

by blankinthefill (#44970657) Attached to: How Early Should Kids Learn To Code?
I actually ran across this Kickstarter (Robot Turtles) that I think is super relevant here. It's based on Logo (which has been mentioned a few times), but is a board game. I think it looks fantastic, because it's an engaging game, but it's not on a computer. I feel like removing the distraction of the computer actually helps to do exactly what you're saying. While the instructions in the game do form a non-Turing complete language, the things that I hear people complain about when they learn programing are not present. And the presentation as a game is, I think, inspired. I know when I was learning to program in school, it was frustrating and often not fun because of both issues with the programming itself (seg faults and syntax errors suck), and because many of the programs we were programming just seemed stupid and pointless. But the game avoids these issues, and removes a lot of the real frustrations from learning programing on a computer, while still managing to instill the basic skills and thinking patterns that a programmer needs. Anyways, I'm sure I should just link the game now so you all can check it out for yourselves!

Comment: What about... (Score 1) 308

by blankinthefill (#44898099) Attached to: To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now
What about all the advances that occur because we have to engineer habitats and environments which a human can survive in in space? There have been a very large number of advances in areas that are exceptionally useful here on Earth, and often the only reason the advances were made was due to the need for those systems on a habitable space station/craft. I disagree with the argument on a number of other fronts, but this was the most glaring one, for me. The assumption that many of these things will happen as quickly as they have, or even happen at all, before we reach some crisis point where we MUST have these things seems to be rather groundless, to me.

Comment: Re:Pine beetle (Score 4, Interesting) 193

by blankinthefill (#44739825) Attached to: Global Warming Spreading Pests Far and Wide According To Study
That's why I said ONE of the reasons. The forestry techniques of the last century certainly increased the amount of deadwood and undergrowth. Anyone familiar with the forest situation in Colorado will tell you that the pine beetle is ALSO a huge contributor to the large increase of deadwood in mountainous forests there. The worrisome thing about the pine deadwood, though, is that it's very often standing deadwood, which, unlike living trees, torches easily along it's whole length. This can very easily carry a fire into the crowns of trees, killing them where they may have otherwise survived. No one is denying that what the article from a few days ago said is true. But the increase in deadwood because of the pine beetle hugely exacerbates that situation. With JUST the forestry techniques, or JUST the pine beetle, we would be seeing the increase in destructiveness that we saw 30 or 40 years ago. With both, we end up with the destructiveness we see today. (Note, YES, I know there are also other factors, such as overbuilding, poor building practices, and the proliferation of unintentional fire breaks. However, those are minor issues when you consider that, without the deadwood and undergrowth situation as it is today, those fires would likely not be the problem they are today.)

Comment: Pine beetle (Score 4, Interesting) 193

by blankinthefill (#44739611) Attached to: Global Warming Spreading Pests Far and Wide According To Study
This is actually believed to be one of the main culprits of the explosion of pine beetle infestations in Colorado, as the beetle is now able to survive at higher altitudes than it was previously able to due to increased warming, which has allowed it to infest species of trees which have no natural defense against the pine beetle. This in turn has driven a huge increase in the amount of standing and fallen deadwood in mountainous forests, and is believed to be one of the reasons behind the dramatic increase in the severity of wildfires in those areas.

Comment: Re:Amusing (Score 1) 355

by blankinthefill (#44684625) Attached to: Break Microsoft Up
What gets me is all these people saying that Microsoft needs to innovate and move into new markets, but also believing things like in this article. Moving into new markets, many of which are new only to Microsoft, is going to be costly and time consuming. The ability to spend large quantities of money and easily take losses that others would find devastating is an advantage that Microsoft has over many other companies, and it would allow them to move into basically any entrenched space they want, with the right leadership. I mean, look at Bing. It's lost billions of dollars... but it's been steadily growing for several quarters now, and is on the threshold of breaking even, or even becoming profitable in the next year or so. OSD has historically been a loss for Microsoft, but they played a long game, and they now have a strong presence in the world of search, and are beginning to capitalize on that. To be honest, I think that their performance in online search exemplifies the strength of the company as it is now. What other company would have been willing to go through what Microsoft did to muscle into the entrenched market that is online search? Yet they've been successful, and it's going to start paying off soon. If you consider that they are playing a long game (which they are), they very well could be considering what OSD is going to be doing for them 20 or 30 years down the road... and considering the growth they have been exhibiting, they have built OSD into something that may have the potential to rival their work with Office over that time. This is an advantage and strength that they will need to move into these areas that are new to them, and is something they would give up by breaking the company apart. Now, really utilizing this advantage does mean that they have leadership in place that allows them to innovate in new spaces like a smaller company, but this seems like a much easier problem to solve then resolving the question of how they leverage their strengths if they end up breaking the company up into smaller, more focused parts.

Comment: Re:All Jokes Aside... Still No. (Score 5, Insightful) 250

by blankinthefill (#44335367) Attached to: MIT Uses Machine Learning Algorithm To Make TCP Twice As Fast
I don't think they just drop the questions and run with it. I'm pretty sure that, when we don't understand how things that are useful work, we just implement them... and study them at the same time. I guarantee you that SOMEONE, at least, is studying why an AI antenna works better than our man-designed ones, and they're doing it for the very reasons that you mention. But I think the point the GP was trying to get at is that we've never let out ability to not understand things hinder our adoption of those very things in the past, and as long as we have good evidence that this thing performs correctly, and we can replicate it, then why wouldn't we use it at the same time we study it?

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"