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Comment Re:Seriously, some people are so ideologically (Score 1) 548

I also have first-hand knowledge of both Canadian and US systems, and I am much, much happier with the US system. Of all my relatives living in Canada, the only ones who haven't been screwed or put on a long waiting list are the ones who haven't been really sick.

Ever since moving to the US, I've had great health care. I have great health insurance, and aside from the occasional hassle with having to re-submit a claim, I've had no problems with the system. I get treatment quickly, and I get to choose my own doctor. My primary care facility has electronic medical records, and is very organized and efficient.

The US system isn't perfect: it's expensive, and it's tough if you don't have good coverage through your job. There's always the worry of what to do if you lose your job. That said, I still prefer it strongly.

Health care reform is actually really two largely separate issues:

1) How do we keep the per-person cost of healthcare under control (e.g., improved efficiency, rationing...)?
2) What do we do about the large number of uninsured people?

Current health care reform efforts in Congress have largely failed to solve (1) through efficiency gains, and are focusing more (2) by expanding coverage. What this means (as the CBO has said) is that total health care costs will rise even faster, as the number of covered people goes up.

We need to make healthcare more efficient before we expand it. If we don't, we'll either end up with massive rationing, or with healthcare consuming an even larger (and faster-growing) chunk of our GDP.

Comment Re:Actually its a normal occurence (Score 4, Insightful) 474

The AC is right. In grad school, my wife studied population genetics of coast live oak (quercus agrifolia), and she saw the same boom-and-bust cycles of acorn production. The boom years are known as "mast" years--not sure what the bust years are called.

This is just a normal cycle, and, as usual, the media's reporting of science is atrocious.


Submission How far should screening go?

SlashSquatch writes: My sister is getting screened for a programming position with a financial firm. I was alarmed to hear she'll be getting fingerprinted at the sheriff's office as part of the screening process. Instantly I conjure up scenes of frame-ups and corporate scandals. I want to know, should this raise a flag? Would you submit to fingerprinting, blood tests and who knows what else (genetic code screening etc), for a programming position?
Operating Systems

Submission Are .tmp files necessary or just bad programming?

planckscale writes: After spending another hour deleting .tmp files from a bloated XP machine I started to wonder, is the .tmp file necessary when coding an application on the MS platform? Why do so many apps produce .tmp files and is it just because of bad coding or does the use of them dramatically speed up an app? Don't coders use dev/null to reduce them in linux? I can understand the use of them in case an app crashes for recovery purposes, but why don't more apps have the capacity to delete their own .tmp files once they are done with them? Is it too much to ask to at least have the option when closing an app to delete your temp files?

Billions Face Risks From Climate Change 659

gollum123 writes with a link to a kind of grim BBC story. According to a report drawn up by 'hundreds of international environmental experts', billions of people face drought and famine, as well as an increase in natural disasters, as a result of climate change. Individuals in the poorest countries face the most danger, due to a lack of infrastructure and geographic location. "The scientific work reviewed by IPCC scientists includes more than 29,000 pieces of data on observed changes in physical and biological aspects of the natural world. Eighty-nine percent of these, it believes, are consistent with a warming world. Several delegations, including the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India, had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft."

Submission High schooler is awarded $100,000 for research

wired_LAIN writes: A teenager from Oklahoma was awarded $100,000 in the Intel Science Talent Search competition for building an inexpensive and accurate spectrograph that can identify the specific characteristics of different kinds of molecules. While normal spectrographs can cost between $20,000 and 100,000 to build, her spectrograph cost less than $500 dollars. The 40 finalists' projects were judged by a panel of 12 scientists, all well established in their respective fields. Among the judges were Vera Rubin , who proved Dark Matter, and Andrew Yeager, one of the pioneers of stem cell research. My only question is: why aren't these kids given more media coverage?

Submission Dealing with long-term security requirements?

tbo writes: I'm an academic researcher in the field of quantum computing. I'm interested in learning what the IT community is doing to prepare for future developments in quantum computing and the resulting security implications — in particular, the compromise of most or all known public key cryptosystems.

Although large-scale quantum computers may be a decade or more away, this still has immediate implications for those with long-term forward security requirements (i.e., data that must stay secret for a long time). Does your organization have data with substantial forward security requirements? How do you deal with protecting that data against future advances in cryptanalysis? Has your organization considered quantum key distribution or other new cryptography technologies?

Another concern is replacing the present-day public key cryptography infrastructure with something immune to quantum computers. A malicious person with access to a single large-scale quantum computer could use it to crack the root certificate authorities' private keys, thus enabling him or her to fake certificates for anything they want and perform undetectable man-in-the-middle attacks against banks and e-commerce sites. Since it's very hard to revoke and re-issue root certificates, this would only have to happen once to do serious damage. What are people planning to do about this?

Submission 15 Minute SEO

Amit Bhawnani writes: "15 Minute SEO is a checklist of the factors that affect your rankings with Google, MSN, Yahoo! and the other search engines. The list contains positive, negative and neutral factors because all of them exist. Most of the factors in the checklist apply mainly to Google and partially to MSN, Yahoo! and all the other search engines of lesser importance."

How Retailers Watch You 257

garzpacho writes, "With $30 billion lost to shoplifting and employee theft last year, retailers are turning to increasingly sophisticated electronic surveillance systems to fight theft. Some systems, like RFID tags, have been well-publicized by privacy advocates. Others are less well known: video surveillance systems are being tied to software that can recognize specific types of activity and identify individuals; and data-mining software is being used to analyze everything from shoppers' habits to irregular register activity." From the article: "Despite this revolution in retail tech, you won't find many stores bragging about their new security tools. No one wants to tip off shoplifters or advertise that they suspect their customers. That's why so much of the technology is hidden in the first place. But another reason stores don't talk much about surveillance is that they know it sparks concerns about privacy. Consumer groups and legislators have opposed the spread of RFID and video surveillance for just that reason."

Nonsense. Space is blue and birds fly through it. -- Heisenberg