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Comment AMA = Doctor's Union (Score 1) 305

The AMA was founded by doctors. It's main purpose is to promote the welfare of doctors. That is not good or bad thing, but it is a very useful to keep that mission in mind when you hear the AMA speak.

The first question I would ask is that if the AMA is really concerned about health care costs, why does it not push harder to make more drugs like birth control pills available over the counter without a prescription? Or streamline the prescription process for drugs that low potential for abuse or for causing harm (most ED drugs)?

The second question I would have to ask is why is a better-informed consumer a bad thing? If the ads are incorrect or misleading, that obviously need to be addressed, but other than that, why would a patient hearing about a possible new treatment option be a bad thing? Are we not supposed to ever question our doctors? Is a doctor's time really so valuable that they cannot explain treatment options?

There are some serious 1st Amendment issues here as well. 30 years ago, you could have made the argument that public airwaves are a limited resource and that the government should have some say in their use. With cable, that is no longer true. You really have to show that drug ads are a major concern for public health like the cigarette ads were. The fact that drug ads annoy doctors is not a good enough reason.

Comment Re:Not sincerely held (Score 1) 518

Investigation and fraud? Why? Are we never allowed to change our beliefs once they are 'sincerely held'?

Accommodation should never be made exclusively on religious grounds. First, it is not fair and secondly it puts the state in the rather uncomfortable position of evaluating the legitimacy of a religion.

Comment Re:Sodium lamps are more effecient than LEDs (Score 4, Informative) 75

High Pressure Sodium lamp produce somewhere between 50-140 lumens per watt depending on bulb size, bulb age, temperature, and the type of ballast used. LEDs have passed the 300 lumens per watt mark in the lab and real-word LEDs are currently running 70-120 lumens per watt and constantly improving. Unlike HPS lamps, LEDs are directional which can be lead to additional savings.

It is still not clear what the real-world bulb life of LEDs will be so it is difficult to calculate the total cost of operations. Since electrical power is usually abundant at night, power is only a small factor in the cost of operating street light. It is unlikely that further improvements in LED efficiency will have any meaningful impact on operating cost.

In spite of the relatively poor color rendering index of HPS lights, I also find the warm orange from HPS easier on my eyes for night driving. It is also possible (but not cheap!) to filter out most HPS light for sky viewing.

I wish we could re-think the whole idea of street lighting and use if more sparingly. It is very helpful to have intersections marked with lights but there is no need to light every street, every hour of every night. Dark can be quite nice!

Comment Limiting choices works well for Costco (Score 1) 358

Costco does not offer you a lot of choices. Want paper towels? You have two choices, a leading brand or the store brand. Same with toilet paper. Need a vacuum cleaner? There are maybe three to choose from. Jam? One brand, maybe two flavors plus some high-end organic stuff. Pop Tarts? One box, with two mixed flavors.

This model seems to work well for them.

Comment Re:US $40K processor (Score 4, Interesting) 76

Radiation shielding in space is harder than you might think. You can't just add a thin lead sheet or other dense material around critical circuits and be done. When photons get above a certain energy level, they pretty much blast through anything dense. What you really need for shielding for those types of high energy photons is a _really_ thick layer of low density shielding, say several miles of a gas under about 1 atmosphere of pressure. But this is simply not practical on today's spacecraft. There are other approaches to shielding such as layering high and low density materials, but in a spacecraft shielding is always limited by volume and mass constraints.

The other option is to deal with radiation by building chips with redundancy. The idea is that if one part of the circuit gets temporarily zapped, two other parts are still functional and the majority is probably the correct answer. You also build the electronics so that if everything goes south they can reboot and recover.

NASA knows what they are doing here!

Comment Re:Climate modeling (Score 2, Funny) 330

80% predicted value... lets see. Temperature is an absolute quantity. The average temperature of the earths surface is currently about 15C (57F), in absolute terms, that is 295 K.

You will be happy if the models predict average temperature with 80% accuracy, so if the models can predicted average temperature for any given year between 236K (-35F) and 368K (202F) this will pass your test?

Guess what? That can do that!

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.