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Comment: Snopes (Score 1) 190

by cstacy (#46649017) Attached to: Scientists Solve the Mystery of Why Zebras Have Stripes

I remember reading an article on Snopes about this, quite a while ago.

As I understand it, the fly's visual system evolved a beneficial mutation that glitches what they see. Zebras are in reality just black horses (look at their snout), but the fly's retina paints those white stripes on them. This allows the fly to more easily attack the zebra, although not as effectively as if the animal was all white. This effect is well known in our domesticated horses -- horseflies are attracted to light colored animals such as Palominos. Humans are also faked out into thinking there are stripes because we only see zebras on nature documentaries, and a TV cameras have similar scanning artifacts.

That's the way I remember the Snopes article, anyway, and I read it on the Internet so it must be true.

Comment: Re:Expanded Summary (Score 1) 157

by cstacy (#46637837) Attached to: Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

What I don't understand is why you'll have your DNA tested often.

Because (a) it will be a routine part of your examination, and because medical records are not easily shared between providers they can't just look it up in your file and (b) they won't be full genome analysis (just looking at certain different things at different times) and (c) the "raw data" won't be easily available. When the storage and sharing (and privacy) issues with your DNA are technically and legally and procedurally solved someday, then they won't be needing to sample you very often. We're a long way from that in this decade.

Comment: Re:Who Would (or Wouldn't) Want to Know? (Score 1) 157

by cstacy (#46637807) Attached to: Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

Your doctor doesn't tell your insurance agency anything beyond "He had a consult, it costs $X. Pay up."
If he tells the insurance agency anything else, he is liable for a whole mess of lawsuits

The insurance company receives every detail of every procedure and every prescription that you have (as well as how often you fill it, whether you do so at the appropriate intervals, etc.) There is a lot more detail than "a consult". The insurance company then uses sophisticated AI programs to guess (when it isn't already spelled out) what's wrong with you, and what might go wrong with you in the future. They know a lot more than you seem to think. They read and process tremendous amounts of this information in near real-time. They use this knowledge for a variety of purposes. At least, that's what happens in the USA.

Guess how I know. Hint: I can't tell you any details due to NDA.

Comment: Re:Op Out Knowledge? (Score 2) 157

by cstacy (#46637043) Attached to: Should Patients Have the Option To Not Know Their DNA?

The information that they're wondering if they should give you is often faulty, and results in people making bad choices. For example, undergoing preventive therapy that is costly, has serious side effects, and turns out to have been totally unnecessary. You weren't going to get that disease that you decided you needed to be treated for. Meanwhile, it caused you health problems, and untold mental agony, anda lifetime of worrying. Also for your relatives (children and parents). By giving them this information, you have failed to "First, Do No Harm."

If the genetic analysis were more reliable (like everyone reading this story probably assumes), it would be different. But currently, for most of the information that can be given, it's very dicey.

Comment: Misunderstanding Facebook (Score 4, Insightful) 260

by cstacy (#46496493) Attached to: The Era of Facebook Is an Anomaly

Facebook is not a place that everyone goes to. It is merely a hosting platform where people create zillions (of partially overlapping) "places" that they go to. Those millions of people are not on your Friends list. Facebook is millions of "places", not one. (However, George Takei's page is indeed the one single place in the world where everyone goes. But just for his stuff; nobody reads the comments.) As for Facebook "bombarding your news feed with useless information 24x7", ummm, that doesn't happen to me. Get a life?

Comment: Re:Why single out Whole Foods? (Score 1) 794

by cstacy (#46375531) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience


the sellers are con artists and shouldn't be allowed to prey on them

There are con-artist products in every grocery store. Singling out Whole Foods for that is really just an excercise in hippie-punching. If we really want to crack down on false advertising claims, then 1) we should first actually verify them false with research rather than kneejerk skepticism and 2) concentrate on claims most detrimental to public health first, and then after that, those most detrimental to the economy.


Comment: Re:People will always feel threatened (Score 1) 921

by cstacy (#46360073) Attached to: Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

...what will it take for general acceptance to finally take hold?

I doubt it will ever be truly widespread. Isn't it still illegal in most places to record people without prior permission, and threatening to record can also be seen as a threat?

No, it is not. In a public place you have no legal expectation of privacy. People can record you all they want. And they do.

What's going on here is that people don't like that fact. They don't like the government and corporate and even the individuals that are recording them everywhere all the time. They don't like being recorded with cell phones, either. But until now, it has been difficult to object to this "invasion of privacy". Along comes Google Glass, which just brings the reality to the forefront where you can't even pretend it isn't happening. Google Glass is both a symbol of "lost" privacy, and the first on-your-face-in-your-face implementation of the coming privacy-invading cyborg culture. While some embrace this future, others loathe and fear it.

In the case of the girl who was assaulted, battered, and robbed at the bar, there is an additional social factor. The people in that neighborhood bar HATE Google and have been assaulting Google employees on the street on their way to work. Hence the comment from the bar patron, "You people are ruining our city!" This incident was as much about hating Google and yuppie-techies in the city, as it was about privacy.

The (actual) privacy-in-public culture we've been living in was a brief and anomalous period in our history. In earlier days, you did not have much privacy in public places like streets and bars. The town was small, and "everyone knew everyone" (to some approximation). The whole town knew who was out and about, on what business, and talking to whom. And of course you could be overheard in bars. If you wanted privacy, you had to be a lot more discreet. When cities got big, it was possible to "get lost in the crowd" and hide in plain sight. Now things are turning around, and your activity outside your house is potentially exposed to everyone. With our new technology will come a return to the old no-privacy culture.

Society will adapt to provide some kinds of "public privacy" by opening bars that have a no-recording-devices policy. And there will be technological aspects to this. One example might be jamming of mobile devices on the premises. (This is currently illegal, and there are several social and legal issues to address there.) Another example: having to walk through the Device Detector (like a metal detector) gate at the bar entrance.

I have, on my head, a device with which I can access all the worlds knowledge, communicate with everyone on the planet, and record and share my life's experiences. I use it for looking at pictures of cats and picking fights with strangers in bars!

Comment: Re:There won't BE any "general acceptance" (Score 1) 921

by cstacy (#46359503) Attached to: Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

does anybody actually know the laws around recording in public? Obv you can record celebrities because they do it on TMZ. and obv you can record with a security camera. but sometimes a tv show is recording at an airport or whatever and I walk by and there are signs "by passing by this sign you consent to being recorded." so obviously the right to record someone else is not absolute.

Can anybody add any actual information to this vacuum?

You are taking those signs at face value and drawing a conclusion from them. But that's not how the world works. There is no need for the airport or a mall to inform you that you might be recorded in public. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when out in public. The reason for the sign is to intimidate the less-intelligent potential criminals who are going to the airport to steal people's luggage and such. The sign might more accurately read, "Attention Dumbshit: Don't Come In Here For Opportunistic Crime; Of Course You Are Being Recorded By Police Who Are Watching You On The Cameras, Hidden And Visible All Over The Place Here." But that wouldn't be as polite. Sometimes the signs do say things like, "Warning: Police Recording", though.

Quark! Quark! Beware the quantum duck!