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Comment: So this means ... (Score 1) 82

... All affected members will receive letters of apology, offering two years of free credit monitoring and identity threat protection as compensation, ...

So they're saying that they have such monitoring/protection, but members who aren't explicitly paying extra for such monitoring/protection aren't being protected from identity theft in any way?

Somehow, I don't find this surprising. But I'm a bit surprised that they'd admit it so blatantly and openly.

(Actually, I'm a bit dubious about their implicit claim to have such monitoring/protection already. But it's fairly common for companies to make such claims for PR purposes, without bothering to actually implement what they're claiming to supply until something like this hits them. Maybe they had another similar incident happen sometime in the past, and are finally getting around to doing something about it?)

(And what exactly does "identity threat protection" mean? Google doesn't seem to have any matches for that phrase, and automatically replaces it with "identity theft protection", which doesn't sound like the same thing at all. ;-)

Comment: Re:The "edge" of the universe? (Score 1) 64


Definition 1) Farther

Heh; I think you've got it. ;-)

This is one of the favorite "language peevery" examples that get discussed often in (English) language forums (or fora if you prefer ;-). The confusion about any purported difference goes back to before there were any actual English dictionaries, and probably 99% of the world's native speakers of English treat them as synonyms. The few that don't can't hardly agree about what their "correct" usages should be. But that doesn't stop such people from harrassing the rest of us about our "misusage". Mostly, it's just a thing they can feel superior about, while the rest of us casually ignore them.

It is a bit curious to see such peevery pop up in a discussion in which General Relativity pretty much rules. Trying to make a strict distinction between distance and time in such discussions is mostly just funny, as well as a signal that the writer lacks understanding of something important to the discussion. But language peevery is rarely based on reality; it's more about some small crowd's attempts to impose strict rules on a language with many dialects and hundreds of millions of speakers.

Now let's all join in singing a round of "Farther along" ... (in which the phrase clearly refers to time. ;-)

Comment: Re:The song remains the same (Score 1) 201

by jc42 (#49716881) Attached to: Baton Bob Receives $20,000 Settlement For Coerced Facebook Post

Who pays then, when the government elected by the people do misdeeds?

So where in the US are the police elected by the local citizens? I've never heard of this happening. It certainly hasn't been the practice in or near any place I've ever lived.

I've also never seen any candidate in any election running on a promise to do "misdeeds", so I've never actually been able to vote for or against a candidate on that basis. It'd be interesting to know where this is done, and why it isn't done where I've lived.

Comment: The "edge" of the universe? (Score 0) 64

So how do they know that the "background" microwaves are from the edge of the universe? I thought that the primordial microwaves are scattered throughout the universe, so what we see when we look in some direction is the sum of all the background microwaves coming from that direction.

If we're actually seeing the edge, doesn't that shoot down the idea that the universe doesn't actually have an edge, and everywhere appears to be at the "center" of the universe? How was this idea disproved? I seem to have missed the discovery of an actual edge, somehow.

Comment: Re:Scary side of US (Score 1) 649

by jc42 (#49710441) Attached to: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty In Boston Marathon Bombing

What country has 52 states? Is this one of those 87.3 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot things?

The OP was probably counting DC and PR as "states". After all, they satisfy most of the legal requirements for the term, except for their residents being denied representation in Congress.

OTOH, one of the fun US trivia questions is "Legally speaking, how many 'states" are there in the US?" The answer, of course, is 46, because four of them officially call themselves a "commonwealth" rather than a "state". The next trivia question is: Can you name those four "commonwealths" without consulting google or wikipedia?

(Note that PR is also officially a "commonwealth". ;-)

Comment: Re:"If you have nothing to hide..." (Score 1) 203

by jc42 (#49606397) Attached to: Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies On Baltimore's Rioters

How are they not terrorist? I mean using violence and the threat of violence against the civilian populations in order to influence actions of government is pretty much the definition of terrorism.

Nah; in the US, the term has been "re-purposed". It now means "Anyone that the people currently in power don't like." That definition successfully explains almost all uses of the word "terrorist" now, while the original, obsolete definition you quote doesn't.

Comment: Just out of curiosity ... (Score 2) 301

How many papers can we find that have been rejected because all the authors are male?

I wouldn't be surprised if it had happened, but I don't remember reading of any examples. Maybe it's my forgetful male memory? ;-)

In any case, can anyone cite other examples (in either direction)? If they exist, it might be interesting to look into the stories.

Comment: Re:false positives (Score 1) 174

You missed the GP's point: the problem is not that true negatives were found; the problem is that they were not published. Because they were not published, future researchers might waste more effort re-discovering them.

Indeed, though there is often a more insidious effect. Suppose there's a claim that treatment T is effective for medical condition C, but it's actually a "placebo effect". If one study showed a (perhaps small) effect, and other studies showing no effect aren't published, a lot of money can be made selling T to customers. If the true negative results are published, the makers (and prescribers) of T lose that income.

This is one of many reasons for the low level of publishing "negative" results. Another reason is linguistic: In English and most other human languages, it's hard to make a clear distinction between "Our study showed no effect" and "Our study didn't show any effect". Most listeners won't hear a difference between negating the object and negating the verb, and the media frequently reports the former as the latter. Managers of scientific organizations are as prone to this problem as the rest of us are. "We want studies that show results, not studies that don't."

And, of course, there's the general cultural resistance to "negativity". This easily explains why many pseudo-scientific beliefs persist centuries after they've been disproved.

Comment: false positives (Score 4, Insightful) 174

'This makes it hard to dismiss that there are still a lot of false positives in the literature.'

An even more widespread problem is that there are a lot of true negatives that aren't in the literature.

Of course, this is a problem in most scientific fields, not just the "soft sciences" like psychology. I'm occasionally impressed by a researcher who publishes descriptions of things studied and found to be not significant, but this doesn't happen very often.

Comment: Re:People with artificial lenses can already see U (Score 5, Interesting) 137

by jc42 (#49462895) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness

Turns out the biological lens of your eye blocks UV light, but if you get an artificial lens, your retinas can register UV light.

There's some natural variation....

This has been understood for some time. As others have mentioned, various military orgs have used teams with varied color vision as a way of "seeing through" camouflage. Biologists have suggested that the variety in human color vision is adaptive, giving our hunting ancestors' teams an improved chance of spotting spotting prey against various backgrounds, and the addition of dogs (with their very different color vision from ours) improved this teamwork. This is all hypothetical, though, since (as far as I know) it hasn't actually been tested scientifically.

Back in high school (in the 60s), I had a science teacher who did a good illustration of it all. He made the usual demo of a spectrum using a prism, on a sheet of white paper. Then he had students come up and mark the visible ends of the spectrum, covering up each student's marks with another sheet of paper before the next student made their marks. The result was two columns of dots that didn't line up at all; their variants was around 10% of the width of the spectrum. I'd made marks that I could identify, and saw that my UV mark was right at the average point, while my IR mark was one of the farthest out. This explained some things I'd already noticed about the ways that different people saw colors.

This has been known to the photography industry since color film was first produced. Different varieties of film (and now CCDs) have different sensitivities, and different photographers have different preferences for brands of film based on this.

One of my funny personal anecdotes on the topic was once (in Jr High, as I recall), I asked some visitors why the front-left panel of their car was a different color than the rest of the car. They gave me a funny look, then said the car was all black, which everyone else present agreed with. I objected that only that one panel was black; the rest of the car was a deep red. This got me more funny looks, and the fellow who owned the car said that the car had been in a minor accident that damaged the front-left panel, so it was replaced. After that, my family thought I had something called "black-red color blindness" (which is odd, because I was actually the only one without that defect ;-). I was taken to an optometrist, who verified the "condition", but assured my parents that it wasn't a significant problem, and didn't need treating. Actually, there was a simple treatment: glasses that block near-IR light, and I've accidentally got several sunglasses that do just that, making for oddly muted reds.

As I got more into photography, I eventually noticed that my eyes have slightly different color vision, with things looking slightly bluer in the left eye and slightly redder in the right eye. This seems to be extremely common, actually, though most people don't notice it until it's mentioned and they start trying to spot it in different lighting condition. (Hint: It's often easier to spot in lower-light conditions, and difficult in full sunlight.)

Comment: Re:News for herpetologists (Score 2) 45

by jc42 (#49308301) Attached to: Meet the Carolina Butcher, a 9-Foot Crocodile That Walked On Two Legs

Stuff that matters to nobody else.

Oh, I dunno; a number of fiction writers are probably going to use it as a model for some characters, and then having fun pointing out that they're a realistic interpretation of something that has in fact lived on Earth. A conventional alternate-universe plot would put their intelligent descendants in contact with us weird primates, who never developed on their world because their ancestors ate all the primates.

Comment: Re:Boxen? WTF? (Score 2) 296

by jc42 (#49295795) Attached to: To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses

We might as well start with Lewis Carrol

Or with this well-known one about the absurdities of English spelling:

A plan for the improvement of spelling in the English language
By Mark Twain

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Generally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeiniing voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x"— bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez —tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivili.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Comment: Re:Depends on Know-how (Score 1) 385

by jc42 (#49295677) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

.. As a postdoc and starting faculty member I used to have a Dell and it was blazingly fast ...

Yeah; I once worked in a lab that had a bunch of those. The blazes did a lot of damage to the lab. Myself, I'd prefer a machine that runs cool, especially one that's in my hand or lap, or is left running unattended on a shelf. Sometimes those marketing slogans backfire ... ;-)

Comment: Re:Depends on Know-how (Score 1) 385

by jc42 (#49295517) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

Ultimately it depends on the user. Those with less knowledge of how to configure linux or with less time to do it should probably look at a mac. However if you have the time and know-how Linux on a Dell will be cheaper and possibly faster performance-wise.

Well, I've been using both linux and Mac for 15 years or so, and I'd found that Macs are often even more frustrating than linux (or other unixoid systems). Thus, when my earlier Macbook Pro was dying, I got a new one with the fancy new "Retina" display. It supposedly had twice the resolution (4x the pixels) as my older Macbook, but it was configured to mimic a tiny screen (or one with giant pixels ;-). It took me several months of googling, tweaking, swearing, etc. to stumble across useful info for reconfiguring it so I can now get 6 usable Terminal windows on the screen, though with slightly fewer rows and columns than the old one gave. I'm sure it can do better, but I've become resigned to the idea that this is probably the best it can do with its marvelous hi-res display. Much of the frustration, of course, is that questions on Mac forums tend to get oh-so-friendly answers that might be summarized as "Don't worry your pretty little head about it; It Just Works." You do get a bit of this from the linux crowd, but there are also folks who like to show off their knowledge to noobs, so if you act like a noob, they give you useful information, and further details if you don't understand something.

The main frustration with linux systems is that it has been difficult to get them with hi-res displays. I've read a number of explanations of why this is. My pocket "smart phone" has as many pixels as the big screen on my home linux box; we should be able to get laptops with about the same resolution and thus many more pixels. OTOH, the linux laptops I've used have come out of the box with the software using the the screen's full resolution, so if you have good eyes, you don't waste time hunting down instructions on how to turn off the "accessibility" stuff.

YMMV, of course; different people have different kinds of knowledge and interests. Marketing aside, there never has been any such thing as a "general purpose computer".

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson