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Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 340

by hey! (#48218699) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

That's because you use ridiculously vaguye language like "easy to transmit". You need to specify the conditions under which the potential transmission takes place. What peoiple don't realize is just how primitive conditions are in Africa, and what a difference it makes. These are countries where medical providers re-use latex gloves, sometimes even hypodermic needles. Granted, this guy was part a medical mission that probably had all the protective equipment, but you have to keep in mind that the primitive conditions that preceded them meant that there have been some TEN THOUSAND cases in the region.

It's immensely labor intensive to take care of an Ebola patient, especially with the precautions required by close contact., but the overwhelming numbers introduces yet another deadly risk factor: fatigue.

So yes, I suppose you could say the medical personnel who contracted Ebola are stupid because they made a mistake under pressure. But what about the rest of us? This epidemic should never have got big enough to pose a global concern. It was our choice to cut the CDC's emergency preparedness budget to a billion dollars below the FY 2002 mark.

Comment: Women prefer male bosses (Score 3, Interesting) 396

by popo (#48189721) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

No really. Before you mod this flamebait, check the studies. It's 100% true. Statistically speaking (well, at least according to several large surveys), most women actually do prefer male authority in the work-place.

And there are thousands of nightmare tales about all female workplaces...

Of course such statistics and stories will forever be dismissed by social justice warriors... And there are many here on Slashdot.

Comment: Re:Trolls are the lowest form of life. . . (Score 1) 487

by hey! (#48183297) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

Well, every generalization has its corner cases that require careful thought. So while I agree that trolling per se shouldn't be outlawed, there may be certain uses of trolling that should be criminalized.

Take the libelous component of cyberstalking. At the very least this could be an aggravating factor in impersonation. Also, the law already recognizes libel as wrong, but it requires the harmed person take civil action. The Internet exposes more people than ever to reputation harm, but not all those people have the money to hire a lawyer. Social media have created a whole new vista for defamation, much of which is *practically* immune from any consequences.

So I do not in principle object to a law that criminalizes *some* forms of defamation, particularly against people who are not protected by the current laws. But I'd have to look at the the specific proposed law carefully. Just because people *claim* a new law would do something doesn't mean it does, or that's all it does.

Comment: Re:Prison population (Score 4, Interesting) 407

by hey! (#48172573) Attached to: As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

Check out this graph.

The nuimbers of prisoners has not declined significantly since 2009. This doesn't mean the bubble hasn't burst, the nature of the bubble resists bursting. People can leave the housing market, but prisoners can't leave the prison market.

Still, anyone who invested big-time in prisons back in 2008 or so on the basis of 30 years of exponential prison population growth was just stupid. We were approaching 1% of the Amercian population incarcerated, how much higher did they expect that to go?

I have no sympathy with a town that bet its financial future on prisons while its schools rate minimally acceptable.

Comment: Re:And he is, probably, right (Score 3) 284

by hey! (#48164185) Attached to: FBI Director Continues His Campaign Against Encryption

and America has always valued the cantankerous Individual above the glorious Collective, that other cultures prefer...

When I was in college I took several courses from the famous scholar of Japanese literature, Howard Hibbet. In one of the classes there was student who liked to talk about Japanese culture's "Samurai values". The professor listened politely to this student, until one day he said somethign that has stuck with me for thirty years: "You should be careful about uncritically accepting the way a culture likes to present itself."

I have found this to be very true, even of corporate cultures.

Comment: Re:What a terrible, terrible idea. (Score 1) 366

by hey! (#48163861) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Example: Hawking: 150ish IQ, John Sununu 190.

Many years ago there was a brief vogue among a few companies for psych testing potential employees. So I paid to have myself tested so I'd know what my potential employers "knew". Among other things, the tests informed me that I have an IQ that is 4.3 standard deviations above the mean.

This got me thinking. Which is more likely, that I'm smarter than 99.999% of the population, or that the test score was bogus? It should be obvious that it's far more likely that my test results were bogus!

Just because we can assign a single number to a person's intelligence the way we can to that person's height or weight doesn't mean that that number is as objective as height or weight is. What IQ tests purport to measure *cannot be observed directly*, and therefore cannot be measured directly. So we must not lose sight of the fact that IQ tests are *devised* by psychologists to correlate with something. How do they do this? By comparing a test's scores against something easy to measure -- rank in school for example. An IQ test that correlates poorly to performance in school would be considered "faulty", but one that correlates strongly to performancve in school would be considered "accurate".

In other words, IQ tests are only as meaningful as the outcomes they're deisgned to correlate with. An IQ test correlated to school success doesn't necessarily correlate precisely with "street smarts", many components of which are evolutionarily important (e.g. reading facial expressions).

Another thing to consider about how the test are calibrated is that the result is bound to be reliable ONLY near the mean, simply because confirmatory data out on the tails of the distribution is necessarily rare. So while I'd lend considerable credence to the 20 point spread between a 90 IQ and aa 110 IQ, I wouldn't lend the same credence to a difference between 140 and 160. I'd lend no credence whatsoever to the difference between a 140 and 160 IQ.

Basically, I consider distinctions betwen IQs over 125 unreliable, and distinctions between IQs over 135 as absolutely meaningless. There's no epistemological justfication for ranking people's intellectual abilities by IQ at that level. It's entirely possible that John Sunnunu would score 2.6 standard deviations higher than Stephen Hawking, but that's an artifact of the test, not reality.

Comment: Holding your own patent is useless to an employer. (Score 1) 224

by hey! (#48155399) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Handling Patented IP In a Job Interview?

Worse than useless in fact.

If I were hiring you I'd be concerned that you would use your patents against me if we have a dispute later on. Of course I can work out a special agreement with you where you agree to automatically license to me any patents you hold. Or... I could hire that other guy I like about the same as you but who doesn't come with any special legal issues to resolve.

As for be *impressed* by the fact that you hold your own patents, I wouldn't be, given some of the silly patents that I've seen. Holding a patent is not, per se, impressive. Inventing something truly novel *that actually gets built into products* is impressive. It's accomplishment, not the recognition of the patent office.

My father-in-law designed the gyros used to guide the Apollo spacecraft. That's impressive, but so far as I know he never applied for any patents on his work. One of my friends from MIT designed a flat transfer case that can be retrofitted onto a transverse mounted front wheel drive car designs to make them 4WD. It's in use on cars by several manufacturers. It's patented, but that's not what makes it impressive. What makes it impressive is that it is a practical solution that nobody every thought of before and other engineers are eager to use.

In fact, I might well terminate a hiring interview if you began describing patents *you personally* held relating to my work. Why? Becuase if I don't hire you I don't want you coming after me for triple damages for knowingly infringing on your patent. Even if that patent won't hold up to litigation, I don't need that problem. It's the same reason that I tell coworkers barging into my office with "Have you seen this patent" on their lips to STFU. If it's really novel then I'm unlikely to infringe on it. If it's a bad patent then I'm better off not knowing about it.

Comment: Sounds like a planned PR stunt to me. (Score 3, Insightful) 622

by popo (#48132083) Attached to: The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers

Oh please. I say this is a massive publicity stunt. How many celebs leaked "sex tapes" back in the day, expressing outrage right up until the months of careful planning and PR were revealed.

Secondly, "sex crime"? Good lord. Women today want everything to be classified as a sex crime. Give me a break.

Comment: Re:Cities (Score 3, Interesting) 147

by hey! (#48131133) Attached to: Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

You got it exactly right. Cities *concentrate* polution. Spreading the same populatioh over a wider area *disperses* the pollution.

Civil engineers used to say "dilution is the solution to pollution", but no longer -- except ironically. That's because there can be offsetting mechanmisms that concentrate a pollutant -- e.g. collecting in streams.

Cities actually make processing pollution and waste more financially efficient, although the price tag in absolute (rather than per capita) terms can be eye-popping. Here in Boston we went through a major shock about 25 years ago. We had had the lowest water and sewer rates in the country, living off massive infrastructure investments made generations prior; but we were dumping minimally treated sewage and sludge into the harbor. A lawsuit forced us to disband the agency which was running the sewage and water system, but also recreation like parks and skating rinks, and form a new quasi-independent authority . After 6.8 billion dollars spent on new treatment plants, we had more expensive than average water. 6.8 billion spread over 2.5 million ratepayers is a LOT of money $2750 / person over a decade or so. But it's cheaper than if those 2.5 million people were spread out evenly along the coast for a few hundred miles.

Comment: Re:Any suffiently advanced tech... (Score 1) 986

The level of power output he's claiming *should* be able to make the device self-sustaining. 1.5 Megawatt-hours over 32 days (768 hours) works out to 1953 watts. On a 120V circuit that'd be the equivalent of drawing 16 amps; 9 amps on a 220v circuilt.

If the *bulk* of the power is coming from fusion, then despite the inefficiencies it should be possible to get this machine to run itself without external power inputs after an initial "bootstrapping".

OR ... scale the machine up to generate more power than a wall outlet can provide, but still "starts" off a wall outlet.

OR .... plug a fast electric tea kettle into the same circuit and see if the breaker trips. The fact that the machine "generates" power in the middle (ish) of the range supplied by a standard electric circuit is suspicious.

Comment: Re:Sheesh, what's the problem? (Score 1) 367

by hey! (#48130485) Attached to: PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView"

It really is unfortunate. Where there is room for a decent, effective animal rights group to help solve problems of animal abuse and cruel treatment, PETA has decided to completely occupy the space with its lunatic and extreme ideals, berating or silencing anyone that dares oppose their just and righteous mission.

Did the ASPCA go out of business?

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.