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Comment: Re:OK, not annoyed about the Liberian guy any more (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#48231995) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Measles is considered pretty communicable, at a rate of 1.2.

Ebola is a 1.7.

I did manage to find some metrics for disease transmission. There are a variety, but the primary one is R0, the "basic reproduction number". Measles is one of the most communicable diseases, with an R0 of between 12 and 18. Ebola is one of the least communicable diseases, with an R0 between 1 and 2.

Here's a link:

It's Wikipdedia, but contains links to its sources, which are WHO and CDC for the measles number and an international research study published in September for Ebola. The latter suggests that if just half of the Ebola cases could be avoided, the R0 would drop below 1, causing the disease to die out. That means Ebola is so hard to transmit that it's just barely able to continue.

In contrast, Measles is so communicative that it's expected that 90% of the people who come into contact with an infected person will get it.

You're so wrong and so backwards here, it's not even funny.

Comment: Re:OK, not annoyed about the Liberian guy any more (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#48231937) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Cite? I've never heard of, nor have I been able to find, any numeric rating scale for communicability, much less documentation of those two numbers for those two diseases.

Assuming the measure exists, and that those numbers are accurate, I strongly suspect that the scale measures difficulty of transmission, and that lower numbers indicate more communicable diseases. Measles is spread via aerosol transmission, Ebola is not.

Comment: Re:Packages can't be removed? (Score 2) 122

by Waffle Iron (#48227641) Attached to: OwnCloud Dev Requests Removal From Ubuntu Repos Over Security Holes

Because ubuntu dosen't allow new major versions to be added to a distro that has already been released.

Do they allow packages to be ranamed? Then changing only 5 bits woudl rectify the situation.

If they just leave the code as-is, but change the name from "ownCloud" to "pwnCloud", then the actual functionality of the package would be clear to everyone.

Comment: Re:Yeah, right (Score 1) 518

by pla (#48224279) Attached to: Employers Worried About Critical Thinking Skills
Because it seems to me that what they really want are employees who are willing to implement the latest stupid-assed plan a bunch of pointy-haired, mid-management, sociopathic dipshits have come up with, without question or comment.

Right, critical thinking. When the boss says "jump", you don't just blindly lift both feet off the ground, you thoughtfully ask "How high, sir?"

I mean, c'mon, man! Without critical thinking, you might not jump as high as he wanted! Or you might even jump too high, wasting precious company time waiting for gravity to bring you back to the ground so you can take the next jump.

No one wants a "yes" man. They want a "yes SIR" man.

Comment: Re:Steering? (Score 1) 153

by pla (#48223207) Attached to: How To Beat Online Price Discrimination
No, that makes it discrimination.

Although most people don't realize this - Discrimination doesn't break the law, except when done against a very small list of federally protected groups.

Giving senior citizen discounts? Cool. Giving non-senior discounts? Crime! "Ladies' night"? Kosher. "Mens' night"? Treif! Scholarships for blacks? Awesome! Scholarships for whites? You gonna get raped, son.

Unless Amazon specifically has code in place to detect screen readers or "old people typing" or Christian-themed plugins, they can charge whatever the hell they want, moment by moment.

Comment: Re:Confirming the Brady-Curran model (Score 3) 92

by pla (#48222919) Attached to: Decades-old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter
Dark photons, or darkons , emitted by the boundary layer could simultaneously explain the missing mass and energy of the universe. Do I smell a Nobel prize?

Well, perhaps, but the referenced study failed to find any, thus ruling them out as an option.

Granted, science technically treats negative results as equally important to positive ones; society and the Nobel committee, however, have a pesky bias toward positive results.

Comment: Re:Automation and jobs (Score 1) 669

Sadly, the likely outcome is drop in the quality of life for everyone involved.

That makes no sense.

Look at it from a macro-economic perspective: The reason we're moving to automation is because it increases efficiency, allowing us to produce more goods with fewer resources. That will increase average standard of living.

There are a couple of ways it could go wrong, of course. One is that the increased efficiency and therefore increased wealth could end up concentrated in the hands a small percentage of super-wealthy people. We've actually seen a lot of this over the last few decades, but we've seen it previously during other technology-driven economic restructurings as well, and what always happens is that competition eventually drives the margins of the super successful down and in the end the wealth ends up getting spread more broadly.

That points to the other way it could go wrong: The common man only gets his share of the increased wealth by doing something to earn it. Even though increased efficiency means there's more to go around, barring some sort of large scale government-driven redistribution, you still have to work for your share of it... which means you have to be able to do something that others who have wealth consider of sufficient value to pay you. So the other way it could go wrong is that there may simply be nothing available for such people to do.

That last is also a risk we've seen bandied about in past economic shifts, especially the shift from agricultural to industrial labor. What has happened in the past is that we've created new kinds of jobs doing previously unheard-of or even previously-frivolous things. I don't see any reason that this time should be different. I expect the transition to be painful -- and the faster it happens the more painful it will be -- but I don't think there's any end to what people want. People with resources will always want things that people without resources can supply. I don't claim to have any idea what those things will be.

It's also possible that I'm wrong, and that we'll have to take a socialistic approach to distributing the fruits of automation-driven productivity increases. I don't think so, and I think we should be careful not to move that direction too quickly, because it has huge negative impacts on productivity and we're going to need all of the productivity increases we can get, but it is possible.

Comment: Re:Cashiers (Score 1) 669

Wonder if the cashiers would even be able to do that today...

They weren't able to do it back then, either.

Any large order had an almost 100% chance of having an arithmetic error. It was always unfathomable to me how more than a century after the invention of the cash register, a multi-billion dollar company could predicate all of their income on high school students' scribbling. Not to mention having to wait in line while all these errors were tediously generated by the staff then checked over by irate customers.

It was a great thing when McDonalds finally dragged themselves into the 19th century.

Comment: Re:Remember when WSJ had a modicrum of decency? (Score 4, Insightful) 669

Now, I'm not so thick-headed as to imagine that they wouldn't come up with something like this to help franchises with wage costs, but I'm also aware that this tech is coming to all sorts of places other than Seattle where the minimum wage actually went up.

The fact is that it's going to happen regardless of where minimum wages are set, or even if there are legally-mandated minimum wages (as opposed to the market-determined real minimum wages). Anyone who thinks most unskilled jobs aren't going away is crazy. The question is at what rate this change will occur, and it seems quite clear that high minimum wages will make more automation economical sooner, pushing the rate of change.

We're edging towards a major economic restructuring driven by widespread automation. We've had automation-driven restructurings in the past, and dealt with them, and this too will be handled. But when you're talking about widespread elimination of old jobs and creation of new jobs, speed kills. Retraining, and even just adjusting to the new reality, take time, and in the meantime millions upon millions of displaced workers are a huge drain on the economy, not to mention miserable.

I think it's pretty clear that high minimum wages are a forcing function for this transition, and I don't think it's something we really want to force. Ideally, it would be better to slow it down, at least in terms of the human cost, though the most obvious mechanisms for slowing it (labor subsidies) may also dangerously distort the economy.

Comment: Re:die by taser or gas? (Score 3, Insightful) 147

by pla (#48219991) Attached to: Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?
Also, if you can save 400 of 500 in a hostage situation and catch all the 10+ terrorists. Go for it. The terrorists would kill them anyway and if they escape, they can continue their business.

Meanwhile, if you have 5000 peaceful protesters refusing to clear out of a park, hey, so a thousand accidentally die. Meh, go ahead and gas 'em, Lou!

I think you underestimate the mindset of the police. The People had it way better when a cop needed to decide whether you posed enough of a threat to actually shoot you, and then need to justify that decision later. Now, they tase first and ask questions later. 6YO girl crying because you arrested mom? Tase. 85YO confused grannie in a panic over a situation she doesn't understand? Tase. Passenger in a car peacefully insisting you respect his civil rights? Tase.

ICAs will just make it easier for police to apply the same reasoning to large groups, rather than to individuals.

BTW, a clarification on the FP - The "unknown" agent used by Russia consisted of a fentanyl analog - An ultra-strong opiate. For reference, as high as 9% of people have a potentially fatal allergic reaction to opiates; on top of that, individuals have a wide range of responses even when given a known dose; some people can take enough morphine to kill an elephant, while others take half of a Tylenol-II and drool on themselves for the next six hours. Using opiates as crowd control will both cause needless deaths and leave a significant fraction of the crowd basically unimpaired.

Comment: Re:Phones getting too big .. (Score 3, Insightful) 170

by pla (#48219925) Attached to: Preferred smartphone screen size?
for my girly little hands apparently.

As someone with great big manly hands, I still want my phone small, for the simple purpose of using it as a phone. Holding a 6.5x3in wall up to the side of my head works great for blocking the sun, not so great for trying to talk to someone.

I have a tablet. When I want to do some serious web browsing on-the-road, I can use that *juuuust* fine (and as a perk, it doesn't die within two hours of heavy use, unlike my phone). I have a phone because I occasionally need to make or take calls, not because I need yet another, even smaller, web browser.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.