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Comment: Re:Tricky proposition (Score 1) 64

by tloh (#47914305) Attached to: Funding Tech For Government, Instead of Tech For Industry

I don't think we're talking about the same things. Post-9/11, plenty of cool things have been done by talented IT professionals for the government in the name of national security. If it was desired badly enough, it was made to happen. I don't think cultural differences was much of an impediment that got us to the point we are today.

Comment: Tricky proposition (Score 4, Insightful) 64

by tloh (#47913673) Attached to: Funding Tech For Government, Instead of Tech For Industry

Having skimmed through the article, it seems to me the elephant in the room is being ignored. A much more compelling case can be made for the fact that too *much* information technology already at the disposal of the government is making it way too easy to abuse the American public. It isn't a question of funding, it is a question of priorities.

Comment: Re: finds little... (Score 1) 269

by Samantha Wright (#47894289) Attached to: Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

The genes they identified were all proteins.

I'm not that much of an expert on microarrays, but I'm pretty sure most or all of the arrays they used predate the Encode project's results that made people re-evaluate the question of how much of the genome is really important. Here is a list of the arrays they used:

Illumina: HumanHap550, 318K, 350K, 610K, 660W Quad, HumanOmniExpressExome-8 v1.0, Human610 Quadv1, 370, 317, HumanOmniExpress-12v1 A

Affymetrix: GeneChip 6.0, 250K

This study was the keystone project of a consortium founded in early 2011. I think, given the size, it simply took this long to get the results. That, too, was a time before Encode publications had really started impacting the world. Whatever RNA genes they would have had at the time would be pathetic and paltry by comparison to what we consider worth studying now.

Comment: Re: finds little... (Score 1) 269

by Samantha Wright (#47882365) Attached to: Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little
We know that the most important distinctions between humans and other animals are in RNA genes, that most of the genome is transcribed as RNA genes and that the brain modifies itself using them and that malfunctions in them cause disease. This study ignored RNA genes entirely, AFAICT. Its mindset is about ten years out of date and simply reaffirms what everyone already assumed: proteins aren't everything. Intelligence probably still has a significant genetic component, this study just looks in the wrong place. (Psst: SNP studies are snake oil in almost all unsolved diseases.)

Comment: Re: First (Score 1) 211

by Samantha Wright (#47872999) Attached to: Information Theory Places New Limits On Origin of Life
And then he created the arXiv, to guarantee that crackpots and armchair-surfing physicists would have a safe bunker from which to lob garbage at other scientific disciplines without ever having to step out from under the shade of their brethren. Until it's peer-reviewed, it's not newsworthy. For shame, Medium.

Comment: misleading (Score 4, Informative) 70

by tloh (#47795583) Attached to: Feynman Lectures Released Free Online

The videos of Feynman speaking at Cornell that Gates acquired and released are NOT the more popularly known "Feynman Lectures on Physics". It was part of the Messanger Lectures series where Feynman was a guest at his alma mater. Entitled "The Character of Physical Law", they are lesser known, but more accessible to someone who isn't intent upon a complete college lecture course.

Comment: Re:Could have fooled me (Score 3, Interesting) 221

by Samantha Wright (#47782351) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

More fun statistics, from Wikipedia:

  • - Canada has 67% Christians and the United States has 73%
  • - 24% of Canadians and 20% of Americans declare no religious affiliation.
  • - Only 7% of Canadians are Evangelicals compared to the US's 30-35%.

...I was going somewhere with the Evangelicals stat, since they're generally the most fervent, but then I realised that there are plenty of insufferably stolid palaeoconservative Anglicans in the UK and it wasn't really a point worth making.

It really comes down to the fundamental collectivist-vs-individualist difference between the Canadian and American cultures, I think; despite Stephen Harper's best efforts to destroy the country, our charter of rights and freedoms was still a missive about how we were free from harassment by peers (thus sending the message "we are all siblings"), as contrasted with the American declaration of independence's emphasis on being free from harassment by authority (thus sending the message "you are free to do as you please"). Interestingly, a hundred years ago you would not really find this; Canada was just as much of a racist hellhole as the US at the time, although as there were practically no black people we could only complain about other European ethnicities. It was only as our population and economy fell behind, and we started accepting in huge numbers of immigrants following World War II, that this really started to take shape.

I'm sure the relatively weak levels of religious conviction help too (only 25% of Christians attend church regularly in Canada; above the rates of Northern Europe but far below the rate in the US) and that is doubtlessly a function of what flavour (can we call them 'distros' yet?) of Christianity is in question, too, since many Anglican ministers now preach actual biblical scholarship (my favourite quote, heavily paraphrased, is "Hell (as a threat) was invented in the Middle Ages") rather than what most think of as the typical naive system of "swallow-and-enjoy-your-life-textbook-with-no-critical-thinking" morality. Whatever the exact impact of each component is, it doesn't really jive with the idea of excluding us poor little minority atheists.

...except maybe in profoundly Catholic areas. I bet they care more in Newfoundland and Quebec. British Columbia is barely half Christian (54.9%) so you can bet they sure don't.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.

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