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Comment: Children should wear reading glasses (Score 1) 143

by lfp98 (#49310093) Attached to: Excess Time Indoors May Explain Rising Myopia Rates
Or at least not wear their "normal" prescription when reading. I know for sure what happened to me. I spent plenty of time outside but I read a lot of books too. I acquired nearsightedness by about 5th grade, so of course they gave me corrective lenses to restore 20/20 vision, i.e., perfect focus at something 20 feet away. That meant that for reading, my eyes had to focus even closer than they would otherwise, in order to compensate for the glasses trying to focus farther away, so I got even more nearsighted, got stronger corrective lenses, and it just snowballed. By the time I finished college, I had corrective lenses of roughly -5.0 left and -4.0 right. Now, with no glasses, my natural, relaxed focal distance is about 4 inches in front of my face, anything farther I need glasses. I realize now what I should have done is at least take off my corrective glasses for reading and any close work.

Comment: Osteoporosis (Score 1) 304

by lfp98 (#49156017) Attached to: I ride a bike ...
In my younger years it never occurred to me that I would some day be too old to bicycle, and certainly not in my 60's, but now I realize it is simply too dangerous. Given my bone density, typical of an 80-year-old, a fall, even a minor one, would likely be catastrophic. My case is unusual, but the majority of 60+ seniors have some degree of osteoporosis and most of them probably shouldn't be biking. My father-in-law biked well into his 70s, but had a fall - on a bike path - and was never quite the same after that. I'm just kind of surprised no one talks about this much.

Comment: What is the goal? (Score 1) 273

by lfp98 (#48805969) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Quest To Extend Life 'Well Beyond 120'
So far, efforts to increase longevity and slow the aging process have indeed extended the number of years over which people can still be productive, healthy and independent, but they have extended by almost as much the subsequent period of decline during which people are still alive but largely unable to care for themselves. Proportionally, we are spending a larger fraction of our lives in disability than ever before, thanks to modern medicine. One can make a pretty good argument that we have already gone too far in increasing human lifespan.

Comment: Make your own prescription (Score 1) 464

by lfp98 (#48727627) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users?
Progressive lenses take the prize for most useless invention (apologies to Mr. Franklin). To use the reading portion of the lens, you have to cock back your head uncomfortably or put the reading matter down on our chest. It's far easier to just switch glasses when you need to. For computer viewing, they're completely useless. For distance vision, I need very strong corrective lenses (approx. -5.0 left and -4.0 right). Progressive lenses are made by simply adding approximately +2.0 to the reading portion of the lens. So I just added +2.0 to my prescription ordered full lenses with -3.0 left and -2.0 right, resulting in a focal length of about 2 feet, perfect for computer viewing, which is what I got them for, but I'm finding that they are fine for almost everything I do in life, which generally involves focusing on things at roughly arms length. I have a pair with the original prescription specifically for distance vision, but the only time I use them is for driving, and occasionally for watching seminars.

Comment: Were they really helped? (Score 1) 739

by lfp98 (#48280785) Attached to: Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare
I'm not saying they're right, but a lot of people who bought policies or even were enrolled in expanded Medicaid don't necessarily feel that they were "helped". They rather liked the old system where you get along with no insurance and minimal healthcare for much of your life, wait till you get a catastrophic illness in middle age, and then throw yourself on the mercy of the system, which is forced by law and tradition to provide care regardless of ability to pay. Then you just muddle along for a few years until Medicare kicks in. It was a chaotic, unfair, inefficient, expensive, and convoluted system that we all paid dearly for. But was it really that much worse than the Rube Goldberg contraption set up by ACA? Many people don't think so. And only the most deluded liberals ever thought there would be any political payoff from grateful enrollees.

Comment: Re:They should be getting jobs at univeristies (Score 1) 283

by lfp98 (#48090239) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science
It's not a generational thing. Rather, universities are only hiring people who already have at least one grant, and these days most such people are already middle-aged. Hiring a new Assistant Prof straight out of a postdoc, no matter how prestigious their publications, is just too risky, given the miniscule probability that they will get funded. The new paradigm is for so-called Assistant Profs to get a grant while they are still in their mentor's lab, then start looking for jobs. Nothing sets the creative juices flowing like being set loose in your own lab with nothing but some good ideas, and that experience is being lost. But I'll admit, a big part of the problem is the large number of baby boomer scientists with $150,000 salaries, who could retire comfortably but just don't know when to quit, and keep getting funded mainly because of their political connections.

+ - President of UT Austin declines chancellor's request to resign-> 2

Submitted by lfp98
lfp98 (740073) writes "President Bill Powers has long been in conflict with Governor Rick Perry over the direction and goals of the University of Texas' flagship Austin campus. This week, news leaked that the Chancellor requested Powers' resignation before this Thursday's meeting of the Regents (who are all Perry appointees), under threat of being fired at that meeting if he did not resign. So far Powers has refused, while expressing an openness to leaving after the end of the current academic year [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/06/bill-powers-ut-resign_n_5562317.html]. Powers is highly regarded by UT students, faculty, alumni [http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/college-sports/texas-longhorns/20140706-alumni-letter-calls-university-of-texas-president-s-forced-resignation-a-travesty.ece] and the larger academic community, but has been criticized by Perry and other conservatives for not being sufficiently focused on providing educational services at the lowest possible cost. Powers' supporters view the forced dismissal as brazen political interference with University governance, primarily for the purpose of allowing Perry to influence the choice of a new president before he leaves office in December [http://chronicle.com/article/As-Fight-Over-U-of-Texas/147535/?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en]."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Nothing new under the sun. (Score 1) 140

by lfp98 (#47120061) Attached to: Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks
A real eye-opener, and almost an exact replay of the Credit Mobilier railroad scheme of the 1860s: A government-regulated corporation receives a monopoly franchise as well as generous subsidies from the government, yet still manages to rack up huge losses because so much of the money is siphoned off to other ventures, while a few of the principals accumulate astronomical wealth.

Comment: Odd Duck (Score 1) 659

by lfp98 (#47002391) Attached to: Future of Cars: Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Or Electric?
Even though a handful of owners of the original NiMH RAV4 EVs still rave about them, the vehicle has always struck me as rather an odd duck. Until and unless the price comes way, way down, the market for battery EVs consists of the environmentally conscious, and what environmentalist would want to drive an SUV, the quintessential symbol of profligate waste, self-importance and environmental degradation?.

Comment: Can't have it both ways (Score 2) 81

by lfp98 (#46997299) Attached to: New Battery Tech From Japan Could Supercharge EVs
Seems to me their claims are contradictory. If the cell doesn't heat up at all during charge/discharge, then it must have very low internal resistance and consequently if there is a short, it will release its energy almost instantaneously and be more, not less, susceptible to thermal runaway and fires (it's carbon after all). No matter how low the internal resistance, the energy when has to go somewhere. Relatively high internal resistance is what makes LiFePO4 cells safe for EV hobbyists - short out a cell and it will heat up and destroy itself, but slowly enough that it won't explode or catch fire. Proprietary lithium chemistries used in commercial EVs have lower resistance and better performance but are much more volatile.

Comment: IF (X/Y*Z) 100,300,50 (Score 1) 634

by lfp98 (#46964535) Attached to: Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014
When I was in college (1968-72) the big contest was between FORTRAN and ALGOL. ALGOL was supposed to be more logical, readable and humane, but it certainly was more verbose, and FORTRAN won out with its brutal efficiency, telling the machine what to do, in the minimum possible number of characters. I remember being particularly fond of the Arithmetic IF (a legacy feature even then): IF (X/Y*Z) 100,300,50, which would go to statements 100, 300 or 50, depending on whether (X/Y*Z) was negative, zero or positive. I haven't written a FORTRAN program in decades, but I'm still saddened to hear that feature is now obsolete. (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10758935/fortran-compiler-warning-obsolete-arithmetic-if-statement)

+ - NIH Reverses Course, Allows Resubmission of Rejected Grants

Submitted by lfp98
lfp98 (740073) writes "One of the most Draconian of the recent “enhancements” to peer review at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was a provision that any proposal not funded on the first try could only be revised and resubmitted once. (http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov) Since 2010, NIH staff have been screening incoming proposals and eliminating any judged to be merely a further revision of a previous proposal. After vociferous protests from scientists, NIH appears to have relented and scrapped the rule. Henceforth, any proposal not funded on the second try can simply be resubmitted as a new proposal. (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-074.html#sthash.RQBDcWCn.dpuf) For scientists, this is a huge deal, but whether for good or ill is hard to say. Allowing unlimited resubmissions won't increase the number of funded grants, but will surely increase the total number of applications, so that overloaded NIH grant review panels will become even more so, and already abysmal single-digit funding rates are likely to drop even lower."

Comment: Perverse Incentives (Score 1) 135

by lfp98 (#46756229) Attached to: U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn
Most of the authors' analysis rings true, but Dr. Harold Varmus, in particular, contributed enormously to the perverse incentives he now complains about when, as NIH Director, he mandated "modular grants", in which scientists simply request grant support in multiples of $25,000 without the traditional detailed budget and without any salary data. Indeed, scientists were (and still are) expressly forbidden from including in their application any information on exactly how they proposed to spend the requested grant money or what they were paying themselves. The predictable response of the universities (and I speak here from first-hand experience) was to strongly encourage faculty to put larger portions of their salaries onto grants, and be rewarded with higher base salaries. Such policies were enthusiastically sold by department chairmen to upper-level administrators as a way of incentivizing faculty to acquire more grant support, while at the same time raising faculty salaries, all at zero net cost to the University. The fact that all this occurred at the same time as the doubling of the NIH budget only encouraged the process. Now the hard times are here again, money is tight, and support personnel are being let go, but faculty are not giving up their higher salaries and the universities aren't going back to paying faculty from university funds to do research, at least not without a fight.

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.

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