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Comment Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"? (Score 1) 71

Instead, the utility of financial advice was the overall state of a person's financial "health" in general, and how to get things organized. Stuff like assessing whether you have an adequate liquid "emergency fund," whether you have enough insurance (and of what types), whether you are saving enough for retirement, for kids' education, etc., how to approach making major financial decisions/investments, how to diversify types of assets and accounts to maximize tax advantages, etc.

This is among the most insightful statements in this thread. There are no secrets to financial success - at least in the sense of getting through your life with enough money to retire. Everyone knows: spend less than you earn; invest; diversify; patience. It's like maintaining a healthy body weight: eat less than you exercise; moderate the sweets.

We all know these things, but sometimes it helps to have a coach. An impartial voice to let you know whether you're fooling yourself about your savings rate or your gym membership. Those guys who offer 'no cost to you' advice are getting paid by what they're selling - insurance or Nutribullet.

Comment Re:And who trusts Financial "Advisors"? (Score 1) 71

Well, financial advisors have often (not usually, but often) been out performed by random number generators. So it shouldn't be hard to do better than they do.

He then compare these financial advisors to a random number generator and concluded it is not hard to do better.

And you set a handful of billionaires as the standard for outperforming a financial advisor. Over the past 90 years, the stock market has returned about 9.5%/year. Mutual funds over that period return about 7.5%. Some of that difference is because fund managers salaries come out of your gains. Some of it is because they are not actually any better at picking winners and losers. That extra 2%/year isn't going to turn Joe the Plumber into Warren Buffett, but it's good for an extra 50% total return over 30 years.

Comment Re: This is why (Score 4, Interesting) 227

I don't think this would be too hard to implement. If they compress the images before storing, they can just reject any "image" that fails to compress beyond some threshold. They wouldn't even necessarily need to do any screening: use a slightly lossy compression algorithm, images wouldn't look any different, but data would be useless.

Comment Re:Azure (Score 2) 104

Prefab means they can be deployed relatively quickly. You can prefab on land, but you still need to lay foundations... and these wouldn't be permanent; when you wanted them gone, they'd pack it up and remove it, leaving no trace.

Maybe not permanent, but designed for 20-year residence, with 5-year hardware rotations. It's enormously more expensive to build a watertight submarine than a waterproof house, so you're going to want substantial lifetime to recover that extra margin. Water-tight seals, corrosion resistance, pressure proof to say 3-4 atmospheres. The actual chamber isn't flooded, so there's still a big air space and a thick steel plate between your hot processor and the cool water.

I can see where the real estate to plant these things might be cheaper than downtown San Francisco. They're still going to need some kind of shore facility to house routers and power.. Nor do I think there are that many real-world installations that regularly go 5 years without any hardware maintenance.

Seems like a neat toy. Or a publicity stunt. I'm glad someone has so much cash lying around that they can investigate wholly impractical applications, but no one who knows anything about water is likely to go anywhere near this. If you need fast and impermanent, put a shipping container in a parking lot. If you want passive cooling, find a parking lot in Anchorage or Edmonton.

Comment Re:who here can fix that? (Score 2) 256

I also use Adobe Reader / Windows to fill out the SF424 forms because, well, if it screws up because you've got your panties in a twist about not using one company's software versus another's, and you don't get the grant because the form was unreadable or inconsistent, you have no one to blame but yourself.

This is true: if you want the grant, you must comply with whatever rule the funding agency requires. If they ask for a photograph of the PI with a herring on his head, then you better fish-up.

The question is whether those bureaucratic rules are necessary or appropriate. Is your DARPA grant allowed to include a windows computer for the sole purpose of filing grants? Is there some technical superiority to Acrobat forms over html or javascript forms?

I'm always pleased when the US government allows me to use my Linux box (and I do that preferentially), but as a realist, I also have a dedicated Windows box on my desk for exactly the times when the assumption has been made that Windows is the computational substrate.

Seems pretty wasteful if you, and dozens (? hundreds?) of other people, have to go buy a second computer, OS, and other software from a specific vendor just for communicating with the government. I don't think anyone's asking you to pick up the banner and fight the power, but don't denigrate the people who are trying to push the government to move to better systems.

The form progression has, so far, followed a minimum-change model. First the paper: typewritten onto pre-printed forms. Then Word template documents to print and mail. Then the dedicated program where you load pdfs generated from the old Word templates into fixed fields (I think I still have a copy of that monstrosity, which was definitely worse for the applicant). Now the Acrobat fillable-forms with pdf-attachments. It gets a little better every time, so let's not stop improving it.

Comment Re: Is this the 21st Century? (Score 1) 509

It also smacks of the current trend of downplaying scientific discoveries as mere 'theories' that are 'equally as valid' as Christian doctrine.

This seems like a great opportunity to explain exactly how the Theory of Evolution differs from creationism. In a Science class, I would say a comparsion would go like:

Foundational observations: Evolution: isolated species differentiate over time to fill diverse ecological niches. Creation: 2000 year old stories

Theory Evolution: limited resources and variations in individual physiology encourage the exaggeration of beneficial traits. Creation: God did it.

Testable predictions Evolution: introducing a new threat will result in a net change in population characteristics and better survival. Creation: ...

Comment Re:And shootings on airplanes are... (Score 2, Interesting) 500

It's just the TSA issuing press releases trying to make it sound like they're doing a good job despite the fact that they fail 95% of the their own tests of their system.

Exactly. A 20% increase in gun detections seems more likely that the TSA's miss rate has dropped to 94%, than that there are actually 20% more guns.

That won't stop people from spinning it as though there's been a massive rise in attempted terrorist hijackings, while the brave officers of the TSA continue to thwart each and every one. Those men and women are doing a hard job, and we should probably invest in more technology to help them do it. Is it budget season?

Comment Re:What a load of garbage (Score 1) 54

If you attacker is waiting only on the type of system you have installed to attack you then you are absolutely screwed.

I don't think anyone's suggesting that. They're saying that finding out what SCADA gear is installed at a particular location is one barrier to attack. Sure, you can go listen to a bunch of Schneider, Siemens, Rockwell, and Eaton trade show presentations or hope that their marketing literature mentions the big contract with Ginna Nuclear, but if their safety engineer posts a selfie from the control center, an attacker saves a lot of boring research.

It's like that ATM company a few years ago, so proud of their high-security locks that they included a photograph of the master key in their marketing literature. Sure, you could pick or drill the lock, but it's easier to manufacture a service master key from the glossy picture.

Comment Re: Now... (Score 1) 412

So if you build the sphere with a mass of about 1 kg / meter squared, you could do it with just a little over one Mars sized planet.

You describe a paper globe about 4mm thick, or maybe more practically (since much of a rocky planet is silicates), a glass sphere 400 um thick. I can't imagine what one could do with that structure. (of course, I can't imagine how one would construct a Dyson sphere, so perhaps criticizing the structural integrity of that sphere is irrelevant.)

Comment Re:This was _outlawed_ in the USA? (Score 2) 545

Hopefully somebody is going to tell me that this Federal Law was just designed to stop one or two particular states/counties from implementing nutty policies.

This part of the law is just designed to prevent isolated municipalities from nutty interpretations of existing law.

There have been a few recent examples of private citizens reporting unaccompanied children to the police. Generally, the kids are walking short distances (~1 mile). Once the police get involved, they often feel the need to charge someone, and generally find a way to fit "leaving your 8 year old child unattended for 20 minutes" into some form of neglect or endangerment. I'm not sure if any of these have resulted in actual conviction, but they have certainly resulted in handcuffings, arrests, and (perhaps most importantly) court fees.

Comment I think you're forgetting how people use mess (Score 2) 174

aging systems with multiple text-entry fields. You know, like they'll start a message wherever the cursor goes, then tab to the next field when they run out of space. Or they'll fill the first 140 characters with salutations and declarations of importance. People suck at titles, headings, and summaries. The (questionable) beauty of twitter is to force people to write only short, complete messages, easily read at a glance.

De-twittering twitter makes it email, and a twitter feed with 50 headlines saying "Important: read this" is pretty useless.

Comment Re:Analysis of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Score 4, Informative) 179

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was basically a demake of the original Star Wars. It's not a shot-for-shot remake, obviously, and it's not a reboot. But it is basically the same fucking story and it's got tons of scenes and settings that are found almost identically in the original.

Hardly surprising. If you look closely enough, most stories are the same. They used to teach the basic plots in grade school English, because the formulas for "good" stories have not really changed since Euripides.

Comment Re:Fucking Spare Me (Score 1) 179

On Jan 25th, 2016 "the world will reach a point of no return".

Of course, the world did not just continue on its pre-2006 path, but has been making changes. In the US and Europe, GHG emissions are down by 5-10%. Even globally, CO2 emissions seem to be leveling off and that before the recent global agreement. Nevermind that the "point of no return" was about conditions likely to produce a couple of degrees temperature rise in 2100, not the date when New York City would be taken back into the sea.

Sure, the activists tend to use worse-case predictions (in exactly the same way that the "deniers" use better-case predictions). But it's disingenuous to pick out some 10-year old predictions, ignore the corrective actions taken to prevent disaster, and claim that the predictors were idiots. Remember the Y2K problem and how it turned out to be no-big-deal? That's not an argument to ignore the Epoch bug.

Comment Re:Hope is good (Score 3, Informative) 48

The practical application of this form of treatment will (as all three papers do) use systemic, viral delivery, meaning all cells will be affected. You can modulate the probability a little by selecting a virus with affinity for particular tissues, but there will still be germline modifications. If you're really worried about that, you make vasectomy a required co-treatment.

It's still a long way from useful. All three papers report similar results: 2-5% changes in the DNA pool; 40-60% changes in the mRNA pool; 20-30% reduction in functional deficits. In a mouse model with a homogeneous genetic defect and without severe pathology

The results are pretty comparable to targeted exon skipping treatments, which started around 15 years ago and have made small human trials without serious adverse results. It's exciting to see research starting to make progress on fixing diseases where the root cause has been known for 40+ years, but the science (nevermind the FDA) is still 10+ years away.

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