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Comment: Re:I wish we didn't need something like this (Score 3, Insightful) 582

by hey! (#47749109) Attached to: New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

No need to paint the male gender as a whole as being filled with sociopaths. It's just the law of large numbers at work. There's maybe 30 million American men in the age rage that are likely to pick up srange women; if just 1/10 % of them are sociopathic predators that's 30,000 predators; and since they *are* predators they'll be overrepresented in young women's encounters with men in pick-up scenarios. Small numbers can produce disproportionate problems. In this case it represents numbers the actions of such a small proportion of men that our ideas about how normal people act aren't a reliable guide.

Drink spiking is a very rare crime. Most studies that look for evidence of it find very little. The highest I found was a government study which found date rape drugs in 4.5% of the cases from four sexual assault clinics. Note this is 4.5% of the cases where the assault occurred, so we're not talking about 4.5% of encounters, we're talking 4.5% of rapes. 4.5% is certainly high enough to be a concern in certain situations, like residential parties at a college. In such a situation a date rape drug detector might actually have some utility, even though it addresses relatively rare actions by a tiny proportion of men.

A bigger concern than what we think of as a "date rape drug" is alcohol itself. The same study that found date rape drugs in 4.5% of sexual assault samples found alcohol in 55%. This result is consistently found across studies: alcohol is very frequently associated with sexual assault -- around half of the time. This is especially concerning because some people (men and women both) don't believe that surreptitiously incapacitating someone with alcohol in order to have sex is rape. They don't distinguish ethically between two people getting drunk and having sex and one of them slipping extra alcohol into a drink.

But the fact remains most men wouldn't do something like that. But that doesn't preclude the possibility that a woman might often encounter the few remaining men who would. A typical man has sex with a small number of women many times; a man who has sex with a large number of women only once is bound to be encountered by women disproportionately often.

Comment: Re:A stupid consideration (Score 2) 507

by hey! (#47744757) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

Exactly. If you want to regard yourself as an engineer, you have to start by accepting you are working to serve the interests of the client, not your career. I've seen so many problems occur because programmers want to have a certain technology on their resume. And the sad thing is that it works to get them through the HR filter. If HR is told to look for experience with a particular technology, it doesn't seem to matter whether the candidate's experience with that technology is failure.

Comment: Re:This actually makes perfect sense. (Score 3, Informative) 117

by hey! (#47708377) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Except water vapor is the gaseous form of water; the plankton would have to be transported on individual molecules of water to reach the ionosphere.

If plankton were transportable in microscopic *droplets* in the troposphere as you suggest, a more plausible explanation is that the equipment was contaminated -- both the station itself and the gear used to test it.

Comment: Re:Trust, but verify (Score 1) 170

I disagree. It means trust but don't rely entirely on trust when you have other means at your disposal.

Consider a business deal. You take the contract to your lawyer and he puts all kinds of CYA stuff that supposedly protects you against bad faith. But let me tell you: if the other guy is dealing in bad faith you're going to regret getting mixed up with him, even if you've got the best lawyer in the world working on the contract. So you should only do critical deals with parties you trust.

But if the deal is critical, you should still bring the lawyer in. Why? Because situtations change. Ownership and management change. Stuff can look different when stuff doesn't go the way everyone hoped. People can act differently under pressure. Other people working at the other company might not be as trustworthy as the folks sitting across the table from you. All kinds of reasons.

So you trust, but verify that the other party can't stab you in the back, because neither method is 100% effective. It's common sense in business, and people usually don't take it personally. When they *do*, then that's kind of fishy in my opinion.

Comment: Re:Omission (Score 1) 264

I think you're mixing up programs. The mobile command center is probably not military surplus, it was likely purchased and customized under a homeland security grant.

These things aren't unreasonable purchases for a medium-sized city like Milford. They aren't military vehicles, the're basically mobile office space.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 264

Irrelevant. Cops are SUPPOSED to shoot people because that's what they are paid for.

No they are not supposed to, nor is that what they are paid for. Sometimes they *have* to shoot people, but that is and should be regarded as a failure, albeit sometimes an avoidable one.

Modern policing is governed by the "Peelian Principles" (for Sir Robert Peel). The very first principle: "To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to repression by military force and severity of legal punishment." Furthermore, the principles state that policing is only effective if it can secure the respect and cooperation of the public and "the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives." (principle 4)

So the idea that it's part of a cop's job description to shoot people is rubbish. It's a cop's job to keep the peace, and if a good cop shoots someone it's because it's the lesser of two failures.

Comment: Re:increased mutation rates = survival code kicked (Score 1) 116

by hey! (#47686389) Attached to: Fukushima's Biological Legacy

On the other hand, an idea that can explain anything isn't really scientific. There's no question that evolution by natural selection is a scientific idea, but somehow it gets garbled in translation into an "organism trying to find a variation". In other cases (visible in this discussion) it's seen as benign intelligent force that will compensate for our mistakes. You can purge the white-bearded sky god from your iconography, but it's harder to get him out of your thinking.

Comment: Re:begs FFS (Score 5, Interesting) 186

by hey! (#47668613) Attached to: Entire South Korean Space Programme Shuts Down As Sole Astronaut Quits

Sometimes the loss of an awkward construction is a gain for language.

"Begging the question" was never a very good choice of terminology -- a half-baked translation from the Latin petitio principii. You might as well use the Latin because you have to know what the term means to have an chance of decoding its meaning; the words give no clue. "Asking ill-founded questions" or "asking premature questions" would have been better.

"Begging the question" has *always* misled most readers and hearers, and we're better off with the new meaning, which *everybody* understands (although many dislike).

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