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Comment Re:Vegas wasn't built on winners (Score 1) 129

LV taxi always try to trick you into taking the highway to the airport which is significantly more expensive than the normal way from the strip.

That's cute. Going to Las Vegas to be thrifty? What exactly is the point of that? You are aware that those huge casinos weren't built by people being smart with their money, right?

Personally I just rent a car when I go to Vegas. Costs about $30-40 a day and I can go wherever I want and parking is plentiful and mostly free. The monorail can get you to much of the strip and you'll be walking plenty anyway. Cabs can be useful but if you are going to take more than 2 cab rides a day you might as well rent a car.

Depends on what you do in Vegas. For some, renting a car in Vegas would be a guaranteed DUI.
Also parking near any strip hotel is basically the same as walking from hotel to hotel (given the distance to the "free" parking lot from the casinos).

Have you ever tried to drive on the LV strip on Saturday night (after all the people from SoCal get there)?
Or returning your rental car to the airport during peak times?
Visiting during CES?

On the other hand, if you are going to take a side trips to the Red Rock or Grand Canyon or Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, or visiting off-strip restaurants, and don't plan on drinking too much, and not driving during peak times, a car is a very convenient thing to have in Vegas.

Comment Re: Why don't taxis just provide good service?! (Score 1) 129

Oh, and when I get in a cab at a hotel and pay cash, there's no effective record of where I go and when. No stupid phone apps tracking me and modeling my behavior for future marketing purposes. The less data that exists about anyone the better.

Actually, the cabs in Vegas keep a log of every trip they make including time, starting and ending location. No joke. Now if you pay cash they don't have your name, per se, so it'll take a little more work to figure out who you are, but with cab IDs being highly visible and hotel security cameras everywhere, it won't be that difficult.

Wow, you must think those cab marketing departments really want to know exactly who some random person that takes a cab and pays cash.

A cab company would probably have better luck deploying their own stingray network and tracking your cell phone than getting casino to part with their security footage for marketing purposes of another company. Perhaps the OP should say the cab company has no *practically traceable* record of where you go...

And yes you might as well remove your tin foil hat in a casino as it is impossible to hide from their marketing department. It goes without saying if they can pump oxygen in to their casinos, who knows what else they can do ;^) ;^p

Comment Re:Of course, this is natural. (Score 2) 164

Other than the road signs, lumber sizes (2x4s, etc.) and gun calibers, I don't know any real measurements in the US that have not moved to metric. My vehicle's engine is measured in liters, the torque I use to tighten down bolts is newton-meters, Pressure inflating air bag suspension is in PSI and kPa, and so on. Even the bottle of meth-mouth soda-pop is a 2 liter bottle, not a half gallon size.

The US is going metric... only thing left are just road signs and eventually those will go into both miles and kilometers... hopefully dropping miles for good eventually.

FWIW, the UK has something to say about those pesky road signs...

We already tried once before ~1975, maybe we in the US should wait to see how it turns out in the UK before trying again...

Oh yeah, gasoline just dropped under $3/gallon and it's about 65 degrees F here as I type this, so it's a bit too cold to go to the beach. Maybe I should use some frequent flier miles** I got on my last Luftansa fight to go to a real beach in Greece. Yesterday, I threw back a few pints while watching my football team pile on the yards on their opponent. To celebrate the win, we went to a steakhouse and ordered a 16oz steak, sure beats the taste of that quarter-pound burger I had yesterday. I guess it's good to know it was all a dream. Maybe I should borrow a cup of sugar and a few teaspoons of vanilla from my neighbor to make a couple dozen cookies (or even a baker's dozen) so I can sleep better tonight... Maybe I can dream about how they measure bra cup sizes in metric countries? ;^)

** or is that knots?

Comment Re:Shop elsewhere if you need this drug (Score 5, Informative) 372

AFAIK, the situation is like this. As part of the 2007 update to the Food and Drug Administration Act added the authority for the FDA to require drug manufacturers to implement a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) to ensure that the benefits of a drug or biological product outweigh its risks. The theory was that some drugs might have serious enough side effects or complicated treatment plans that the FDA should require drug manufactures to make sure patients weren't harmed needlessly by taking these drugs in a way not supported by safety trials (aka elements to assure safe use or ETASU).

As an example, they could restrict wholesalers to sell the drug only to physicians or patients who attended training seminars, or only allow use for certain purposes and time-limit quantities to prevent certain side effects, make sure medicine is stored correctly and destroyed when expired, and they could require patients to be monitored for certain specific serious side effects, not allow the drug to be administer to otherwise healthy people etc... Seemed like a good idea at the time....

The unintended side effect of this is that Pharma companies have been crafting REMS to make it nearly impossible for generic manufacturers to obtain sufficient quantities of approved drugs for the required safety and equivalence trials. For example, a part of the ETASU might be that all patients must attend a company training seminar, or not allow the drug to be used on healthy people, but if you are doing a blind trial, that won't work.

To make the situation worse, even if the FDA didn't require REMS for a particular drug, the Pharma companies decided to "voluntarily" implement similar restrictions for their drugs on the wholesalers.

Wholesalers that don't comply with the Pharma's ETASUs would be violating both FDA rules and probably licensing restrictions and subject them to direct liability and thus will generally not sell product directly to these generic manufacturers. The only option remaining for generic manufacturers would be to purchase the product directly from the brand-name manufacturer. Under current law they are not required to sell drugs directly to their competitors and under strict interpretation of the FDA act, if a drug has a specific REMS, it is likely not technically legal.

Also even if the generic manufacturer decided to buy some of the drug on the "grey-market", they won't satisfy the requirements of the ANDA (abbreviated new drug application) which would require the same version available in the US market for demonstrating bio-equivalence.

FWIW, in 2012 there was an effort to amend the FDA act to allow the medical trials to bulk purchase of brand-name drugs at market prices and exempt REMS requirements, but it failed due to heavy lobbying...

Comment Re:And.. (Score 1) 449

that class would have given her unlimited potential dating opportunities...

Are you being sarcastic?

...she's either a bitter male hating feminist already, or a lesbian.

That would depending on whom a person might consider *dateable*... Or perhaps, throw in that false dichotomy to soothe a rejected soul...

Of course, if a goal of a person is to have dating opportunities, joining a hiking club might be a better choice if you want to actually interact with people...


Robots' Next Big Job: Trash Pickup 112

Nerval's Lobster writes: You've heard of self-driving cars, fast-moving robots, and automated homes. Now a research group led by Volvo, a waste-recycling company, and a trio of universities in the United States and Sweden want to bring much of the same technology to bear on a new problem: trash disposal. Specifically, the consortium wants to build a robot that will collect trash-bins from in front of peoples' homes, carry those bins to the nearest waste-disposal truck, and empty them. While that's a pretty simple (although smelly) task for a human being, it's an incredibly complex task for a robot, which will need to evaluate and respond to a wide range of environmental variables while carrying a heavy load. An uneven curb, or an overloaded bin, could spell disaster. Hopefully Volvo's experiment can succeed in a way that some of its other self-driving projects have failed. It's struck me, too, how the trash collection vehicles that come by my house are mostly piloted robots already; the humans are there to deal with problems and control the joysticks, but hydraulic arms lift and empty the garbage containers themselves.

Comment Re:The CFTC is United States only (Score 1) 59

would there be a way to backdoor/engineer a means to actually restrict/kill BTC by this route, or at least (eventually) corral it under official governmental control?

The CFTC probably won't be able to restrict BTC mining or usage anymore than they can keep you from drilling for oil in your backyard or using oil to run the generator in your fallout shelter (although other parts of the government would probably have issue with you drilling for oil in your backyard or digging a fall-out shelter).

However, if you were wanting to buy or sell a delivery contract for BTC you will be potentially mining (or buying from someone else for delivery if it's cheaper) in the future, the CFTC would be able to regulate it just like it regulates futures contracts for stuff like oil pork bellies, (or frozen concentrated orange juice).

Futures contracts are generally used as hedges or insurance against price volatility, but like all financial instruments, people speculate on them all the time and this make it rife for manipulation. This is why they *attempt* to regulate it so it can still be used for its primary purpose (hedging and insurance) and not collapse into a black hole of speculation.

Comment Re:It's all code (Score 1) 127

Of course context is everything...

When burning a flag into oxidized carbon ash in a national forest where it is tinder is dry because of a drought with high winds and a high fire danger, you aren't going to be charged with any crime regarding the flag, and the mere fact it was a flag you are burning isn't gonna matter much. FWIW, it'll also be a crime even if you don't start a forest fire with your flag-like object burning ACT...

Similarly, the government may be able to prohibit most practices of genetic engineering even if don't unleash the next zombie apocalypse because the act you are performing may be deemed to be inherently too dangerous to public welfare to practice w/o certain restrictions. Unfortunately, for those practitioners, the restrictions might be enough to prevent actual "research", even if they didn't prohibit certain well understood "practices".

Then again, you can always chase all the research money away by making people liable for the damage they cause and forcing them to get appropriate insurance against creating a zombie apocalypse...

Comment Re:238Pu? (Score 1) 93

Does India actually have a stockpile of 238Pu?

They'll run to Costco for some when they need it. J/K; they've got zero access to the stuff, which is why they're designing an RTG that requires it. ;)

Don't be silly, they should just promise to build a bomb for some Libyans and take their plutonium and, in turn, give them a shoddy bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts.

Comment Re:Gotta love neural networks! (Score 3, Informative) 95

Well, yes, that kind of is the issue. The computation chess masters make, the actual thoughts, could be handled on a 1950 computer no problem.

The question is how. It isn't brute force, though they do delve into plies as desired. The real trick is knowing which handful to explore mentally. And if it were just pattern matching against known games, it would be done by computer already that way, too.


FTFY... (although perhaps a few players I know might be thinking about it the original way it was written)

Comment Re:wow (Score 4, Informative) 209

Why do universities have an exemption for these rules at all?

There are two H1B rules that people are generally not aware of...

The first rule is the so-called "cap-exempt" employers. Although most companies have to compete for the limited number of H1b visa granted every year, some institutions are exempt from this cap (e.g., are allowed to hire H1b even if the limit is reached). Most research institutions have been granted cap-exempt status by the government, so H1b applications that go this route have more competition with other H1b's to get those positions. However, typically, these institutions still have to pay prevailing wages to such H1b employees, which brings us to the second little known rule...

The second rule is known as the "safe-harbor" rule. During the H1b application process a prevaling wage determination must be made. Either the employer can request the Department of Labor to do one, or it can do a self-determined prevailing wage. However, if the DOL does the wage determination, it cannot be latter challenged (aka "safe-harbor"). Competitive companies often can't wait the 6-8 weeks it takes to get a number from the DOL so they often are margin up pay to make sure they can survive a challenge. Research institutions generally go the DOL certification route (because they are under less competitive pressure), and also often game the system to get a low prevailing wage (e.g., university staff can be paid similar to post-docs and would be comparable in this system even though that's generally on the low-side of prevailing wage). Also once a prevailing wage determination is made by the DOL, it can be applied to any number of applicants that have the same job description w/o resubmitting to the DOL with every applicant.

That being said, it isn't just universities that exempt, but they are in a unique position to take advantage of both rules. They tend to be cap-exempt and they are hiring entry level folks with a reusable safe-harbor low-balled prevailing wage determination.

Comment Re:This is great! (Score 2) 367

It's interesting that you call Uber a steady job. Is there anything preventing them from locking your account on a whim and preventing you from driving? By anything, I mean do you have any legal recourse if it happens and you are the driver. In a steady job, the employer is prevented from doing that.

It saddens me that you think the right to create your own hours is an adequate tradeoff for all other legal protections.

Actually, in most states in the US employment is at-will so, in any so-called steady job, your employer can give you your last paycheck, walk you out the door immediately for no reason and allow you to collect unemployment insurance. The fact that they usually don't do that doesn't mean that they can't and won't (given the right circumstances).

There are only a few thing that prevents this from happening...
1. Employer wants to avoid discrimination lawsuits (and their associated costs)
2. Employer doesn't want to piss off other current employees that they want to keep.
3. Employer is large enough to meet terms of the *WARN-Act* or other similar legal requirements for large companies.
4. Employer needs to fulfill the terms of an non implied employment contract (e.g., an individual, or collective bargained contract).

Sometimes employers attempt to mitigate #1, #2, with some sort of severance payment (even thought they aren't legally required), and can generally avoid #3 by just paying their employees for 60 days (known as "pay in lieu of notice").

So unless you are saying only jobs with contracts are "steady" jobs, you may have a point, but that doesn't cover the majority of jobs out there today, so by that definition, an average job by most of the workforce is not a "steady" jobs even though many feel that way.

Brain off-line, please wait.