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Comment: Re:Because capitalism, idiots. (Score 1) 245

by nbauman (#49184561) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

The culture in those days among scientists was not to make a lot of money or bother with the business details. They were scientists first. Alexander Flemming didn't patent penicillin. Jonas Salk didn't patent the polio virus. That's the way they did things back then. Guthrie and his hospital were naive about business, and they trusted Ames to do the right thing.

The NEJM article says that Guthrie produced 500 tests, at a cost of $6 each. That means the $6 covered the costs, including the house and everything else. He presumably hired workers to assemble the kits. It's hard to imagine a principal investigator assembling 500 test kits himself. When the U.S. Children's Bureau found out, they decided that the $262 was too high, and they revoked the deal.

There were congressional hearings, so if you want the details, you can look up the hearings, which might be online.

As Elisabeth Rosenthal said in her New York Times stories about the health industry, drug companies charge the highest prices the market will bear, not because they need the money for R&D or manufacturing costgs, but because they can. And that's what they say in their SEC filings and reports to their investors. You can buy asthma inhalers in the U.S. for $160 and the same inhalers in Europe for $5. This happens all the time. The FDA gave the rights to colchicine, a drug that has been used since the pyramids, to a private company, and they raised the price from 5 cents a pill to a dollar. You could still get it in Canada for 5 cents.

There are very competent people working in government labs, and if they want to, they can manufacture anything. Look at the Manhattan Project and the Apollo space program. The Centers for Disease Control provides testing services that aren't available commercially for rare infections.

Comment: Re:Why can't they fairly negotiate? (Score 1) 49

by hey! (#49184405) Attached to: SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails To Take Off

There was a period in the early 00's when one of the my company's manager would periodically walk through my office door and the first words out of his mouth was "I just read about this patent..." and I'd stop him right there.

"This is going to be one of those things where the extent of the filer's 'invention' was to take something people were doing with LORAN fifty years ago, cross out 'LORAN' and write in 'GPS', isn't it?"

"Well," he'd begin.

"I don't want to hear about it. It's guaranteed to be invalid on the basis of obviousness, but if they get lucky in court and I've actually read or even heard about that specific patent they'll be able to take us to the cleaners."

You'd be amazed at some of the technology patents the patent office grants. Stuff anyone who'd been a practicing engineer for more than a few months would laugh his ass off at if he were patent examiner.

Comment: Re:One of my all time favourite reads (Score 1) 250

by Impy the Impiuos Imp (#49184105) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

There's a much better version of Starship Troopers anyway. It's called "Aliens".

Space marines, "bug hunt", fast drops onto planets, even female combat pilots, then a predicted thing, as them being smaller could take slightly more Gs.

Don't they credit him now?

Comment: Remembering Nimoy this way is illogical. (Score 5, Informative) 161

by hey! (#49183661) Attached to: <em>Star Trek</em> Fans Told To Stop "Spocking" Canadian $5 Bill

His family has requested that donations be made in his memory to one of the following charities

Everychild Foundation http://everychildfoundation.or...
P.O. Box 1808
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Foundation http://www.copdfoundation.org/
20 F Street NW, Suite 200-A
Washington, D.C. 20001

Beit T’Shuvah Treatment Center http://www.beittshuvah.org/tre...
8831 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Bay-Nimoy Early Childhood Center at Temple Israel of Hollywood http://www.tiohnurseryschool.o...
7300 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Source: http://www.startrek.com/articl...

Comment: Re:The obvious solution (Score 1) 55

by hey! (#49183073) Attached to: US Air Traffic Control System Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities

How it was initially deployed is known only to its makers, but Stuxnet was designed to enter an isolated facility on a USB drive. Once on the LAN it would propagate to other computers, and potentially to other networks via an infected laptop, which is how it ended upon the Internet.

You can use your imagination as to how they got the USB into the target facility. It might have been as simple as dropping the USB stick in the parking lot of a vendor, but given the resources needed to create the worm itself you can't rule out some kind of black bag job or human asset.

Comment: Re:The obvious solution (Score 1) 55

by hey! (#49182649) Attached to: US Air Traffic Control System Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities

I really don't see that as a the most vulnerable point. Not by a long shot. Tapping a digital fiber link wouldn't be like US submarines tapping Soviet analog telephone cables. The data on the link can be encrypted and authenticated at either end such that it's not really practical to modify or impersonate without the kind of assets in the organization that would make an inside job a lot simpler.

The real problem is human factors. Air-gapping sensitive systems is a sound idea in principle but in practice it often fails because it's too cumbersome for users who then undermine the system. And Stuxnet showed that it's possible for a sufficiently advanced opponent to target systems of the far side of an air gap.

So the problem is with the notion that separate parallel systems separated from the outside world are a "simple" solution. They're a potential solution, but if you want to have confidence in that solution there's a lot of work analyzing and policing the behavior of the people who use, maintain, and produce the equipment.

Comment: Re:There is science here (Score 2) 20

by hey! (#49178195) Attached to: Rosetta Photographs Its Own Shadow On Comet 67P/C-G

Hmmm. While your explanation is unquestionably true, I don't think you quite understood what the poster was asking. His question is, I think, about the sharp shadows behind ridges on the surface, not the shadow of the vehicle itself.

I think his problem is an implicit assumption that if you drew a line from the center of the sun through the spacecraft, it would intersect the surface at a right angle. In that case you wouldn't expect cracks on the surface to display in such relief. However I believe that assumption is faulty, and that the rays of the sun intersect the surface at a considerable angle.

This is not unlike seeing the shadow of a plane you are riding in on the surface of the Earth. Unless you are in the tropics, that shadow won't be directly beneath you. It will be off to one side. It will also be distorted as it is spread out across the non-perpendicular surface, but you won't necessarily notice that because of foreshortening.

Comment: Re:Easier to Analyze or Change == More Maintainabl (Score 2) 239

by hey! (#49177955) Attached to: Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality

I once took over 30,000 lines of code that had been written by a subcontractor and trimmed it to around 4000 LOC. And you better believe it ran faster! Not because refactoring is magic, but because once all the mind-numbing almost-repetition was mucked out you could actually see what the code was doing and notice that a lot of it wasn't really necessary. Ever since then I have always maintained that coders should never ever copy and paste code. I've had people disagree, saying that a little bit of copying and pasting won't hurt, but I say if it's really such a little bit then you shouldn't mind re-typing it. Of course if you do that very soon you start putting more effort into devising ways to stop repeating yourself, which is exactly the point. Repeating yourself should be painful.

That's I think a reliable litmus test for whether you should refactor a piece of software. If it's an area of code that's been receiving a lot of maintenance, and you think you can reduce the size significantly (say by 1/3 or more) without loss of features or generality you should do it. If it's an area of code that's not taking up any maintenance time, or if you're adding speculative features nobody is asked for and the code will get larger or remain the same size, then you should leave it alone. It's almost common sense.

I don't see why anyone would think that refactoring for its own sake would necessarily improve anything. If an automotive engineer on a lark decided to redesign a transmission you wouldn't expect it to get magically better just because he fiddled with it. But if he had a specific and reasonable objective in the redesign that's a different situation. If you have a specific and sensible objective for reorganizing a piece of code, then it's reasonable to consider doing it.

Comment: Re:Bad idea (Score 1) 641

by hey! (#49175719) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

Well, this is the thing about civil disobedience. The classic formula is to keep up awareness of your issue by forcing the government to go through the embarrassing and drawn-out process of prosecuting and punishing you. I'll bet they had to drag Thoreau kicking and screaming out of that Concord jail cell when some joker finally came along and paid his poll tax for him. Holding court for his admirers in the town pokey no doubt suited his purposes nicely.

In that spirit, this announcement is very effective. When was the last headline you read about Edward Snowden? If he comes back for a long and drawn out trial that'll show he's pretty hard core about this civil disobedience thing -- if leaving a cushy, high paying job in Hawaii with his pole-dancing girlfriend to go to fricken' Russia wasn't enough.

It occurs to me, though, that this situation is a lot like what I always say about data management systems: the good ones are easier to replace than the bad ones. Likewise the better governments, the ones with at least some commitment to things like due process, are much easier to face down with civil disobedience than ones where being a political threat gets you a bullet in the head, like Ninoy Aquino or Boris Nemtzov. If Snowden *does* come back, and if he ends up "detained" in limbo somewhere, then it'll be time for everyone to go into the streets and bring the government down.

Comment: Re:Full blooded American here (Score 2, Insightful) 641

by NeutronCowboy (#49175569) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

Yes, because writing an opinion that differs from yours is clearly only possible by being paid to do so. *eyeroll*

Making public a lot of things that people suspected but didn't quite know did indeed damage relationships. Had he not released the documents, the relationships would have continued as before.

Whether or not the secret actions should have been authorized in the first place is an entirely different issue. From my perspective, having to stamp "secret" on an authorization to do things that you know would piss off your friends is a sign that you probably should not be doing these things, or make you re-evaluate who your friends are.

Comment: Re:Brain drain (Score 1) 167

by hey! (#49175549) Attached to: Marissa Mayer On Turning Around Yahoo

Everyone likes getting paid. And all things being equal, everyone likes getting paid *more*.

But one thing I've noticed is that the people who are most dissatisfied with their current pay also happen to be the most dissatisfied with their working conditions overall, particularly how they feel treated. The feeling seems to be that if they ought to get more pay to put up with this shit.

Now I wouldn't suggest to any employer, particularly in tech, to economize by offering low salaries. You want to attract and retain the best people you can. But this suggests to me that many employers would do themselves a favor by paying a little more attention to worker happiness. If you're paying people approaching (or even more than) $100,000, there's bound to be a lot more cost effective ways to goose worker morale than handing out raises they'll perceive as significant.

But oddly many employers seem to think paying someone's salary is a license for handing out indignities. This doesn't even qualify as penny wise pound foolish.

Comment: Re:What is Parody? (Score 1) 251

by hey! (#49175113) Attached to: Gritty 'Power Rangers' Short Is Not Fair Use

What is gasoline if not a liquid? And what is liquid but a fluid? Therefore I should be able to run my car on hot air. So not all fair use is parody, nor is everything an author has to put up with fair use.

Fan fiction falls into that last category. Some authors encourage it, which is gracious; others are paranoid about it, which is understandable. But ultimately no matter how they feel about fan fiction they're going to have to put up with it. A successful work of fiction fires peoples' imaginations, and in the Internet era that means they're going to share their imaginings with like-minded people. Trying to police fan-fiction in a world where anyone can set up a blog or social media account to share it is like spitting into a hurricane force wind.

But even though a successful author pretty much has to put up with fan fiction whether he likes it or not, it's ridiculous to think that any author is somehow obligated to promote it. That just a fan-fiction author's fantasy. Authors have lives too, and there is not enough hours in the day for an author to police the stuff, much less to negotiate business deals for the people who write it. It's considered bad manners to even ask an author for the name of his literary agent, because an agent is supposed to work for an author, which he won't be able to do if he's swamped with requests from wannabes.

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