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Comment: Re:A little misleading (Score 1) 1007

by infalliable (#39659097) Attached to: Lack of Vaccination Sends Babies In Oregon To the Hospital

It is misleading. The slashdot summary is setup to imply that parents are preventing their kids from getting the vaccine b/c the parents are stupid.

In only a small fraction of the total cases is the reason for getting the disease b/c the parents declined to have their kids vaccinated. From the actual article: "Of those who were completely unvaccinated, 86% were because the parents declined vaccination." However, the vast majority of cases were for kids who were too young to be fully vaccinated.

Sure, vaccinating everyone against it would eliminate the risk, but to date this vaccine is not often recommended for the general adult population.

Comment: Re:Here's an idea (Score 1) 1007

by infalliable (#39658727) Attached to: Lack of Vaccination Sends Babies In Oregon To the Hospital

This vaccine is not recommended for newborns/infants. It's not that people are saying "OMG, this will hurt my kid if they get the vaccine." ...At least not in all cases.

The disease however, is probably most dangerous to newborns/infants. There is the crux of the issue. It poses little risk to parents and adults...so few naturally get the vaccine.

Comment: A little misleading (Score 1) 1007

by infalliable (#39658623) Attached to: Lack of Vaccination Sends Babies In Oregon To the Hospital

This is somewhat misleading.

In general, the pertussis vaccine is not recommended for small infants. They need to be a few weeks/months old before receiving it. However, infants are probably the most succeptible group to complications from it.

It is recommended that adults get the vaccine to prevent them from passing it to their children. Again though, this vaccine is not always covered by insurance and the disease poses little threat to adults.

Comment: Re:Better to eliminate them altogether (Score 1) 274

by infalliable (#36398870) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Reducing Software Patent Life-Spans?

Companies do research because there is a problem (with a market) that needs solved. You never research purely with the goal of a patent. A patent w/o a product to apply it to is useless to a legitimate company.

You don't require patents. Other factors such as better implementation and first to market are huge bonuses for whoever invents a technology (software or not). Copiers will always be one step behind you.

The other thing with software patents is that the provide poor notice of what they actually cover. Because software is an abstract thing, describing the limits and details in a patent is hard. As a result, the boundaries of what is covered by a software patent tend to be very fuzzy. This is primarily why there is such a huge rise in software patent lawsuits. Even if one was very diligent in researching past patents, it's almost impossible to really know if you're in the clear.

Comment: Re:You must test the obvious (Score 1) 299

by infalliable (#36318748) Attached to: Why We Have So Much "Duh" Science

The other issue with this is the poor reporting of what was actually measured.

To use an example, often, the study will look into "how much more likely thin men are to be married than overweight ones?" What is the "tipping point?" Is it effected by X (X=race, religion, age, country)? Those are more interesting conclusions that are likely to come of the research, and not obvious at all.

The news report will latch onto the shallow conclusions and say that "thin men get married more" when there is really much more.

Comment: Re:Meet the New Boss (Score 1) 350

by infalliable (#36190378) Attached to: Congress Makes Deal To Renew Patriot Act For 4 Years

He's right though, people care more about avoid some improbable act of terror and want to feel all warm and fuzzy.

Just go look at any comments thread on the TSA on any major newspaper. Most of what the TSA does is economically retarded (spend a ton for minimal benefit), has little effectiveness (they've never stopped a terror plot and probably won't), is a very likely violation of the 4th ammendment, and is just a knee jerk reaction to what was tried last time.

Those threads are littered with comments about how great they are for keeping us safe and cost and rights be damned.

Comment: Re:I would support it if... (Score 1) 932

by infalliable (#36041384) Attached to: Draft Proposal Would Create Agency To Tax Cars By the Mile
RTFM before being a smart ass.

The article specifically mentions the use of electronic monitors on vehicles with the information automatically transferred to a reader.

Among other things, CBO suggested that a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax could be tracked by installing electronic equipment on each car to determine how many miles were driven; payment could take place electronically at filling stations.

Comment: Re:Bad. (Score 2) 932

by infalliable (#36038802) Attached to: Draft Proposal Would Create Agency To Tax Cars By the Mile

ecnomically, it's not really similar.

For one, it encourages different behavior than a gas tax.

Second, the amount of percent of tax paid by the public turned into revenue available for the government is significantly different. The costs for the mileage monitoring system mentioned in the article are VERY high. You have the costs of purchasing AND installing a monitoring device on every vehicle in the USA. You have the R&D costs to ensure the system is reliable, accurate, functional on every type of vehicle on the market, etc. You have the "customer service" and administrative costs to process all the transactions (every vehicle vs. every gas station) and deal with defective or broken systems (which there will be many). There are on the order of 250 million passengar vehicles in the USA. Even at a 1% failure rate per year, that's 2.5 million per year. You also that many more "taxpayers" to deal with than you did with a gas tax

For a gas tax, you basically just set the rate and forget it (with a little monitoring to ensure compliance).

Comment: Re:I would support it if... (Score 1) 932

by infalliable (#36038584) Attached to: Draft Proposal Would Create Agency To Tax Cars By the Mile

Yes, but to date it is not worth worrying about. The fraction of vehicles that fit that mold are miniscule.

On the whole, that's a position that is generally something that the government wants to support. Improved fuel economy is good.

The biggest problem with the solution proposed in the article is that it's extremely complex and expensive to implement. You put a new electronic device on each vehicle at $X each so you need to offset that much expenditure before seeing a return (plus R&D costs, reader costs at whatever locations are chosen, administrative costs, "customer service" costs and replacement costs). They're also a moderately complex item, so it's prone to breaking and fraud.

A straight gas tax is easier. It encourages responsible driving, as a mileage tax does. It encourages efficient vehicles, which a mileage tax doesn't. It's mostly hidden from the public within the price of gas. It also costs (the government) essentially nothing to change.

Comment: Re:Entry barriers are set to low (Score 1) 487

by infalliable (#35941690) Attached to: Reform the PhD System or Close It Down

The failure rate is a bad metric to look at. Few people "fail" out. People know they're not going to pass X metric and choose to change their degree goals.

A conciliatory masters is very common for those who do not meet expectations, and most people are given multiple tries.

If you look at a "wash out" rate at many schools, that can be as high as 40-50% of those who enter the programs.

Comment: Re:"irrelevant to the world beyond academia" (Score 1) 487

by infalliable (#35941592) Attached to: Reform the PhD System or Close It Down

For humanities and social sciences, yes b/c those are (mostly) the only jobs that exist for PhDs in those fields.

For science and engineering, it means you want to do research more than anything. Academia is a viable option, but it shows that you are capable of doing productive research on new topics. Less than 1/2 the people I did my studies with ended up in academia (and did so by choice).

Comment: Re:"irrelevant to the world beyond academia" (Score 1) 487

by infalliable (#35941502) Attached to: Reform the PhD System or Close It Down

It depends entirely on the field of study.

For the humanities and social sciences, there is little outside of acedemia for a PhD to do. The job market just doesn't support a large number of PhDs in those fields and government funding for them is limited.

For biology and to some extent chemistry, PhDs can get decent jobs in industry. If you want to have significant responsibility, you probably need one as there are so many people with BS degrees in those fields. Jobs do exist in significant numbers outside academia. There also isn't much interest in people with MS degrees as those are seen as people who washed out of PhD programs in these fields (esp. biology).

For engineering and the hard sciences in general, there is a large amount of possible jobs out there. Government labs, industry, the tech sector, startups, and acedemia all hire significant numbers.

Now, it is likely that you will not end up doing what you did in grad school after you get into the work place. Typically, grad work just doesn't correlate directly into what the job market needs as a result of the overspecialization in intellectually curious things for your thesis. However, that doens't mean that the skills aren't valuable.

Comment: Re:"Bulletproof glass" mistake? (Score 1) 308

by infalliable (#35736874) Attached to: MythBuster Developing Light-Weight Vehicle Armor

Yeah, this is what most people don't realize.

There is a hell of large difference between different calibers and even different types of ammunition at the same caliber.

Saying something is bulletproof only means something if you specify against what projectile AND what projectile velocity.

You can get away with much thinner than 6" for .30 cal, but it's still a fairly thick piece of armor.

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