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Comment: One reason they are extinct (Score 5, Interesting) 108

by joneil (#47799773) Attached to: The Passenger Pigeon: A Century of Extinction

One thing almost always missing whenever the Passenger Pidgeon is talked about is how our pioneer ancestors considered them a major pest and threat.

    Old wood cuts and descriptions from a couple of centuries ago describe how a large flock of these birds would decend on a farm and inside a few hours completely eat all the food (grain), leaving a family to face certian starvation. Remember , back then, there are no food stamps, no food banks, no state welfare, etc. Starvation was very real and people did die of it.

    I am NOT excusing or apologizing or in any way, shape or form trying to justify what happened, but I am trying to point out that events in history, both good and bad, usually happens for a reason. Rightly or wrongly, our pioneer ancestors often looked upon the passenger pidgeon in almost the same way we look at the cockroach today. That is the major reason they were wiped out. The problem, as I see it, is history today portrays the extinction of the passenger pidgeon as the result of a bunch of people just killing for fun or no reason at all. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Along the same lines, wolves were wiped out because they were seen as a threat to livestock in many areas. Groundhogs and gophers killed because thier holes were dangerous for horses who stepped into them and broke legs. Buffalo where killed because they were a major food source for native americans during the Indian Wars. The list goes on and on. Again, not saying it was a good or just reason, it might of been a terrrible reason, a horrible reason, but there was still a reason these things happened.

Comment: this all goes back to WW II (Score 1) 177

by joneil (#45649917) Attached to: Snowden Document Shows Canada Set Up Spy Posts For NSA

The collusion & co-operation between Canadian and American intelligence agencies can be traced back to "Camp X" during World War II. Google it yourself to see, but Sir William Stephenson, who was I think head of British intelligence at the time, was a Canadian who was friends of both Churchill and Roosevelt, and head of Camp X.

  Just go get yourself a copy of the book A Man Called Intrepid, which was publish 4 or 5 years ago, and if you read it, none of this should come as any surprise to anyone at all. Canada does "fly under the radar" as far as world view is concerned, which sometimes makes us a perfect place or partner for intelligence for the big guys, but I can tell you, this country has very sharp teeth of it's own. You just never hear about it, which is exactly the way they want it.

Comment: a cure for aids will not matter (Score 1) 232

by joneil (#42624661) Attached to: Australian Scientists Discover Potential Aids Cure

A cure for aids will not matter in the near or far future if Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea continues to spread. The attitude in the public still seems to be that gonorrhea was something easily cured, but not always, not anymore.

      If there was one "silver lining" about the whole HIV-AIDS issue was it forced people to take all STDs seriously. I think even the public attention on the the HPV vaccine has been helped directly or indirectly by attention to HIV. My personal fear is the day we "cure AIDS" we will all be set back to square one in the fight to stop any and all STDs. I hope I am wrong.

Comment: A double standard? (Score 1) 211

by joneil (#41730277) Attached to: iPad Mini Could Retail For $250, Delete iPad 2

When the RIM Blackberry tablet first came out up here in Canada, I distinctly remember the first reviews on the news and in print. One of the big "complaints" about the RIM tablet was that it was smaller - only 7.6 inches wide. Strangely enough, the article here states the new mini iPad is 7.85 inches wide.

      I remember too it wasn't so much what the reviewers on TV said, it was how they said it, their "tone of voice", the inflection in the words, not the words themselves. Now that Apple is doing a small tablet, it's the next "exciting product". *sigh*

      Anyhow, the basic 8 gig RIM tablet occasionally goes on sale here in Canada for around the $100 mark and they are usually sold out instantly long before you can drive to the store or even think of ordering one online. Leads me to think the number one use of tablets is e-mail, surf the web, read books and/or business documents. I don't use my iPad for music or movies or TV shows, etc, just business. Over the past year I've taken most the apps off that I had on my "old" original iPad one, because I simply don't use it for very much more than those items above.

    True you can do a million and one things with an iPad - or most tablets nowadays, but in real world use I find I still need a full featured laptop. I love my iPad for what it is, I make great use of it, but I see zero need for me to upgrade to an iPad 3 or a mini-iPad or any other new tablet. Somedays i think the real reason for the latest and greatest iPad is so you can look cool at Starbucks. for me, I will wait until my current iPad dies out or becomes hopelessly obsolete, and then, with all the choices out there, my next tablet will be whatever gets the job done.

Comment: I'd be one of the first to go (Score 5, Insightful) 840

by joneil (#41035311) Attached to: Genetically Engineering Babies a Moral Obligation, Says Ethicist

We have five different genetic conditions in our family, some are considered diseases, others are considered disabilities. I am quite sure under these new "ethics", myself and my whole family would be on the top of the list for instant abortion. Yet despite all medical conditions, many of my family have lived very long and productive lives. In same cases, I consider my relatives and ancestors choice and will to fight and overcome the odds stacked against them something to inspire me to never feel sorry for myself. Would we ever see such a thing in a future where all babies were born "perfect"? I think the sense of entitlement we see in our society is already overwhelming as it is, and i find it's people who overcome their disabilites that throw cold water, figuratively speaking, in the fact of self indulgence and entitlement. Would we see that this 'ethical" future?

      My other point, this whole issue reminds of of that famous line from near the end of the movie "The Third Man", where the character Harry Lime says:

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

    In a world full of "perfect babies", well, just saying.

Comment: the lack of a "standard" (Score 1) 427

by joneil (#40750827) Attached to: Reports Say Apple Is Shrinking Its Docking Connector With iPhone 5

A few years ago a man I was talking to a man who's house along with the rest of his town was flooded. He said in his case he thought got off lucky because the water only came 2 to 2.5 feet above floor level

  But it turned out to be a huge issue because while the water wasn't high enough to destroy his small TV, his router, his printer, etc, etc, the water did destroy all the small adapters, transformers, etc, etc, he had plugged in. He told me it was a nightmare to try and replace individual transformer, usb connectors, etc, etc, because everybody was not only a bit different, but because inside the same company if your device was over 2 years old, standards had change or maybe they didn't even make or have for sale an older transformer with the old voltage & amperage specs.

      Or sometimes he would run into the "problem" of where "sure we can get it, but it will take two months, and you can just buy a whole new thing-ama-jig for just $10 more." This in turn led to arguements with the insurance company, and so forth. He told me a new charger for his cell phone was the worst "offender" He just ended up with a new cell phone.

      I remember him very clearing saying "why not just a universal standard for everything? One cable from your computer for everything and one transformer for everything?" He figured if there was ever a floor like that again, "everything is going to fall into the water by accident".

      This whole idea of so many different proprietary connectors strikes me as nothing more than a fancy, expanded take on those old Depression era make work projects where men would dig ditches one day and then fill them in the next day. In the short term it makes some people money, but in a long term, on a planet with limited resources, overall a terrible waste.

Comment: More than airports already recorded (Score 2) 211

by joneil (#40351191) Attached to: At Canadian Airports, Your Conversation May Be Remotely Recorded

I found out some time ago that all conversations at my local bank (and therefore all banks, eh?) are recorded when you are banking at/with a human teller. The public is not made aware of this, but I can confirm it. My understanding is due to bank robberies, this system along with video recording was put into place, but how much more can it be used or is it used for?

        This makes me wonder then if the same thing is not happening at all other "public" spot where you interact with a human being behind a desk. For example, we know that all 911 calls are recorded, and all calls to "customer service" of large corporations are recorded "to ensure quality" (yeah, right). So why not every information desk in a mall or a hotel, every cash register at every major department store, and more?

        Another thing I noticed is if you look real close at video cameras in some retail stores, gas stations and restaurants you will see that the camera is not always pointed at the customer, but at the cash register. I first noticed this after a story about "inside" or employee theft at a local fast food restaurant made the newspaper, and the new cameras at the time were pointed at the cash station. I imagine in all these cases, there must be audio in addition to video recording.

          I think the only reasonable assumption, if there is such a thing, is to treat every public encounter you have - be it ordering coffee, paying a utility bill or paying for gas, to be recorded when you are dealing with a human face to face. Don't worry if you pay all your bills online, I am sure your IP address is locked and loaded into some database somewhere too every time you pay a bill too. I guess 1984 really did come and go quite some time ago. :(

   

Comment: why are critical systems on the net to begin with? (Score 5, Insightful) 79

by joneil (#39312645) Attached to: Measuring China's Cyberwar Threat

Mod me double plus idiot if you will, but in our small company, our "critical computer" - the one hat has files I don't want to loose (yes, i do back ups), and the one I don't ever want hacked, it is NEVER connected to the internet. No wifi, no bluetooth, no cable, nada, zilcho. I even have independent power supply aside from plugging it into the wall.

  Anything I need to introduce into the computer id done by a freshly formatted USB, and double checked and scanned first on a different machine running linux. When not in use, I physically turn it off and disconnect the power supply, and if the hackers can get into a machine with no power, well, I;ll just go back to pen and ink at that point. :)

        Now seriously, I know you cannot turn off a computer that is running a nuke plant or a NORAD radar system, but why are so many critical systems connected to the internet? Or have online access of any kind? Back in the good old days of BBSes when I was a sysop and upgrading form a 9600 baud modem to a 28,800 like like a miracle (you know, this was back way when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, or so my kids see it as such :) ), the quickest way sometimes to block a hacker attack as to physically disconnect the phone line from the modem.

        Again, mod me super simplistic idiot, but if I were operations manager for a nuke plant, and a major cyber attack was underway, to prevent a meltdown, wouldn't you be tempted to just take a pair of wire cutters and snip the physical connection to the internet?

Comment: "Normal" vision is very subjective (Score 4, Interesting) 311

by joneil (#39034593) Attached to: Followup: Ultraviolet Vision After Cataract Surgery

As somebody who is colour blind and undergone some extensive testing for it, I've been told by several people that the "normal" range of human vision between 400nm to 700nm is more or less an average. Everyone is different, and just as some people can naturally run a mile in 6-7 minutes with little training while others would have trouble walking a mile in 20 minutes, it is the same with our vision. IMO, a more true statement would be that the "weighted average" of human vision is 400 to 700nm, but the extreme ranges *might* go anywhere from say 350, 360nm to perhaps 720 or 730 nm.

      For example, even without a yellowed cornea, some people may not see into the UV at all. There are also suggestions - would not go so far as to say a sound theory - that some well known artists from days past had, perhaps without ever knowing it, natural extended vision into either the UV or IR, or perhaps even both. Just as it is claimed that some famous musicians from the past had a naturally extended range of hearing.

      Another thing to be aware of is that, at least IMO, the medical profession as a whole really seems to have little interest in this area. Specific example, I am colour blind, but it is very poorly understood. Also, since childhood, I have been extremely sensitive to bright light, but my night vision is superb, and apparently above that of the average person. I cannot tell you how many specialists I have either called or visited over the years, but the response is generally "I don't know" or "well, just live it it". It almost seems to me that if you cannot treat it or fix it right away, and you aren't going to die from it, why bother with it. so I have a small fortune invested in prescription eyeglasses, and I wear them even on cloudy days. You get some weird looks, but you get used to it.

      As for "proof", I can understand dealing with skeptical people. In terms of my own night vision, I had trouble even convincing my wife when we were first married. I solved that one real quick one night camping. Walking from our campsite to the washrooms, I left the flashlight behind. I was able to find my way no problem, but my wife keep tripping over rocks or branches in the dark. Even holding her hand she keep tripping or bumping into things. She sure wasn't impressed, but she has never doubted me since. :)

Comment: Re:Nuke power (Score 1) 483

by joneil (#36133878) Attached to: Japan Widens Evacuation Zone Around Fukushima

Canada had TWO major nuclear incidents at Chalk River with the NRX reactors, in 1952 and 58. Most the the information has been removed off the web over the past few years, but you can still read about the 1952 partial meltdown here at:
http://media.cns-snc.ca/history/nrx.html

    My son had to do a high school project a few years about about the 1952 incident, and modern history books have virtually nothing on the accident. An old early 1960's history book from the stacks at the public library and that report on the web were about the only sources of information he could find.

      As a fellow Canadian, I am not so sure we can be that arrogant in our attitudes. Also, if Canada, supposedly one of the more open and free democracies in the world (whatever that is supposed to mean anymore) can downplay and/or suppress information about it's major nuclear accidents, how many other "incidents" do you think might have happened around the world and we've never heard about?

      Sad thing is, compared to fossil fuels, what real choice do we have? Realistically, conservation, wind and solar (green power) sources just aren't cutting it. I'm not talking about home use, trying running a major manufacturing plant or oil refinery on wind or solar power.
   

Image

Genetic Disorder Removes Racial Bias and Social Fear 319

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-you-need-is-love-and-different-genes dept.
People who suffer from a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome have a complete lack of social fear. They experience no anxiety or concerns about meeting new people or being put into any social situation, and a new study by Andreia Santos suggests that they also don't have any racial bias. From the article: "Typically, children start overtly gravitating towards their own ethnic groups from the tender age of three. Groups of people from all over the globe and all sorts of cultures show these biases. Even autistic children, who can have severe difficulties with social relationships, show signs of racial stereotypes. But Santos says that the Williams syndrome kids are the first group of humans devoid of such racial bias, although, as we’ll see, not everyone agrees."
Handhelds

Apple Removes Wi-Fi Finders From App Store 461

Posted by timothy
from the you've-been-very-very-naughty dept.
jasonbrown writes "Apple on Thursday began removing another category of apps from its iPhone App Store. This time, it's not porn, it's Wi-Fi. Apple removed several Wi-Fi apps commonly referred to as stumblers, or apps that seek out available Wi-Fi networks near your location. According to a story on Cult of Mac, apps removed by Apple include WiFi-Where, WiFiFoFum, and yFy Network Finder."

Comment: What about pacemakers? (Score 1) 821

by joneil (#30993820) Attached to: "No Scan, No Fly" At Heathrow and Manchester

A member of my family has and needs a pacemaker to stay alive. I have read several articles on the topic, and so far, there is no definitive answer on the possible effects, if any, on a person with a pacemaker. Let's say for sake of arguement there is a 1 in a 100 or a 1 in 10,000 chance of adversely affecting a pacemaker when walking through one of these scanners - would you take that chance?

Comment: Cheques have real value (Score 1) 796

by joneil (#30472364) Attached to: UK Wants To Phase Out Checks By 2018

For business purposes I use cheques all the time. I don't know if any of you have ever had a tax audit, but when dealing with governments, papers ALWAYS wins over any "e-statment" or any other electronic form of information keeping, or at least, that has been my direct, first hand experience. Last time the government looked me over for anything, they never took a penny form me for two reasons : 1) I knew the law like the back of my hand; 2) I had PAPER to back up every single statement I made, including canceled cheques.

      You see, at least what I was told, when you have a cheque in your hand, you have physical evidence, fingerprints, personal handwriting, etc. Heck, maybe even some left over DNA somewhere. You cannot fake that, but some people can very easily fake electronic financial statements.

        I also find that at least once a year, somebody, somewhere, individual, business or even a government agency claims I didn't pay a bill, and then I go pull out my canceled cheque, wave it in front of them, and watch the dumbfounded look on their faces. Now here's the thing that scares me. If I find an error at least once a year, how many errors are there out there every year, how may people are NOT looking closely at their accounts and keeping close track of them? In find electronic statements are often wrought with error, and most people trust a computer before they trust themselves.

      Another thing about cheques is that you - believe it or not - have very few bad payments or even fraud or ripoffs. Seriously. My business take no credit card or debit card, and my bad debts/losses are almost non existent. I am not saying you can do this with every business, not by any means, but it is easier for people to commit fraud with electronic means and credit cards than with cheques.

      Something else many of you seem unaware of, but credit cards and debit cards are very expensive for any business or merchant to use. Easily 5% of any purchase you make at most small and medium sized businesses with a credit card goes not to the store or business, but to the credit card company. Don't ever shurg it off and say "oh, that's the cost of doing business", because IMO, that phrase is one of the most foolish things you can ever say. People who says things like that are the ones who in the past created the Enrons of this world, or who created some of the major financial messes we are in today. so if you think the ease and use of a credit card is worth an unofficial 5% "bank tax" on every purchase you make, go ahead, knock yourself out.

      One last thing - book keeping and accounting of any kind is a major PITA, no two ways about it, but grow up and get a life before you start tossing 'attitude" at people like me who use cheques. If I can financaily keep my head above water by using cheques, and that helps me keep my finances on an even keel, what's wrong with with that? For what it is worth, I have zero personal debt. I may not own much, but everything I own is paid for 100%. So maybe some of us cheque writers aren't that stupid after all.

      All I am saying is, if some of use stone age idiots like myself want to use cheques, and you don't, fine. I'm not saying all of you should, and I don't think I have the right to tell any of you what to do, but I am asking for the same right & respect back.

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