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Comment Re:The debate is long from over. (Score 1) 590

If you're that concerned about this, you should do a little more research on the topic. There are two different kinds of mercury: ethyl mercury and methyl mercury. Thimerosol includes ethyl mercury which is in fact perfectly safe to inject into the muscle tissue. The kidneys are constantly filtering out bad things from the bloodstream, so the miniscule amount of ethyl mercury in an intramuscular innoculation of MMR vaccine containing thimerosol is flushed out of the body (even a tiny child's body) within a matter of hours.

The really bad stuff is methyl mercury, which can seriously damage the central nervous system, particularly when ingested into the digestive tract by, say, eating contaminated seafood. This is slowly aborbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and intestines, where it lingers for a long time. And the more bad fish you eat, the higher the levels of methyl mercury accumulate in the body, and the longer it takes to get rid of, increasing the potential damage to the nervous system.

But neither of these has anything at all to do with autism, which is an ill-defined syndrome, a medical mystery commonly referred to as a "diagnosis of exlusion." This means that when a physician observes certain behaviors and symptoms in a patient that cannot be explained by any other diagnosis, they use the umbrella term "Autism spectrum disorder" which means they don't know what the hell causes it. Over the past few decades, the number of symptoms categorized as characteristic of "autism" has grown enormously, which is why the number of autistic patients appears to have risen. The medical establishment keeps moving the goalposts so that many conditions previously called something else (e.g. "restless leg syndrome") are now lumped under the many hundreds of symptoms called "Autism spectrum disorder."

This doesn't necessarily mean that there are more autistic people in the population now than there have ever been in the past, it just means that doctors are now classifying the sypmtoms differently, which makes the numbers appear to be going up.

Full disclosure: I am not a doctor, but I am married to a nurse, who knows a helluva lot about this kind of stuff because it is her job and she is damned good at it. Ask her about the health care system, ask me to fix your goddamned computer or network.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 1324

I totally agree. My father was a skilled auto mechanic, and was always able to support his family because he was very good at the job. My brother followed in his footsteps and is a partner on a NASCAR team. He does pretty well for himself. The father of one of my best friends growing up was a plumber, and he made a lot more money than my dad. Electricians are always in demand and can charge a great deal for their skill.

Trade skills are just as important as professional skills because not everyone is capable of doing those kinds of jobs. A healthy free market economy needs all kinds of workers to prosper. Oh, that's right. Our economy is not particularly healthy right now.

You'll have to forgive me. I'm re-reading Atlas Shrugged right now, and it is seriously affecting my worldview in relation to what's going on in the U.S. today. Odd how a book published in 1957 is more relevant today than when it was first on the NYT best seller list.

Comment Re:Bigotry toward homeschooling (Score 1) 1324

How do you fix a public school system that you cannot control? Join the PTA? Run for election to the school board? Those really are the only two options (besides homeschooling your children). One is a frustrating exercise in mostly just fundraising, and the other is an expensive launchpad for resume padders and political hacks who just aspire to higher political office, and "fixing" public schools isn't really on their agenda.

My children went to public schools and my wife and I were officers in the Dad's Club and High School United Parent's Group. Both of them are smart and did okay academically, but the public school bureaucracy was a nightmare. My oldest son graduated from college in 2009 and is now working toward earning his teaching credential, but he is even more cynical about the system than I am because he is seeing it from the inside, and he says it does not work.

We did our best to augment the failures of the public school system by working hard with both boys to make sure they had more resources than the school provided, and encouraged them to read everything they could and expand their education beyond the classroom.

Contrary to your other assertion, I disagree that "many homeschooled children have virtually no exposure to the outside world..." I have some friends in another city who pulled their 15 year old daughter out of a horrible public school about eight years ago and home schooled her themselves. They purchased homeschool curriculum materials targeted to her age group from a private company (non-religious, since the parents were atheists) that guaranteed compliance with California's mandatory educational testing laws. It turned out she was far ahead of grade level in most categories. Their daughter was a bright, sociable young lady who passed all the state's tests with ease. In California, homeschooled students must pass all the same proficiency tests required of public school students. In most cases, they score far better than their public school counterparts. Linnea scored well on her SAT tests and recently graduated from Ohio State University and hopes to compete in the Olympics (she is also a skilled sharpshooter).

Is she exceptional? Certainly, but I think my children are also exceptional, and so are the many spelling bee champions who are homeschooled. Ultimately, we cannot fix a system that is broken beyond repair, so it is up to the parents to take responsibility for their own children's education, either taking over completely (homeschooling), or supplementing/correcting the public school's failures by providing an academically challenging home environment and encouraging intellectual growth and achievement.

Comment Re:Johnny Mnemonic (not the film) and Sandkings (Score 1) 131

If you never got a chance to read Gibson's writing in Canadian sf fanzines in the late 1970s and 1980s, "Johnny Mnemonic" would have been everyone's first exposure to him, since that was his first professionally published short story. Omni's fiction editor, Ellen Datlow, launched the careers of several sf writers back in those days. George R.R. Martin had stories published much earlier in magazines like F&SF, Analog and Isaac Asimov's SF Magazine, but Omni paid higher rates for fiction than the other magazines, so attracted submissions from some of the top names in the field (Silverberg, Sturgeon, Pohl, etc.).

Comment Re:Dons mirrored shades 'n' jacks into Wintermute (Score 1) 131

Yes, you can thank OMNI's fiction editor Ellen Datlow for publishing William Gibson's first short story, "Johnny Mnemonic" way back when and launching his stellar career. And I thank OMNI's features editor Pamela Weintraub for buying my first article in the last days of the magazine's life as a dead tree publication.

Comment Re:Those are not mainstream (Score 3, Informative) 802

Look, it took almost a hundred years for the courts in Ireland to finally investigate the Catholic Church, and specifically the Christian Brothers organization, which just last week admitted to having known for decades about well-documented cases of child molestation, flogging, child slavery and horrible physical abuse at the hands of priests in their midst all through the 20th century (and probably earlier, but those victims are long dead). The church leaders knew about it and covered it up. It took some brave people to sue them and shame them in public to bring this out into the open. Now, the Christian Brothers have agreed to pay over $240,000,000 in damages to the surviving plaintiffs (some of which are now in their seventies and retired) to compensate them for the abuse they suffered as children.

Go to Netflix and rent "The Magdalene Sisters" for an eye-opening expose of what the church has done to children for many, many years. The film is fictitious, but based upon actual accounts of what went on in the Magdalene Asylums, as admitted by a number of nuns who left the order and wrote confessions about them.

The Church of Scientology is an evil organization, but they take inspiration from cults that are much older, and far more skillful at hiding their evil and masquerading themselves as "divinely ordained to save mankind." Too many people in this sick world are as stupid as cattle, and willing to believe any nonsense someone in authority spouts into their ears, especially when they are impressionable children. The fact that they continue to believe this garbage into their adulthood is a scathing indictment of our broken educational system.

Comment Enterprise Backup at SMB costs (Score 1) 272

I haven't seen anyone in this thread mention SymForm http://www.symform.com/, which may well be an ideal solution for your situation. This is a fairly new startup operation founded by former Microsoft and Amazon engineers that manages a cooperative cloud backup platform. You'll need to do some reading of the whitepapers on their website to wrap your brain around the concept, but the gist of the idea is that you configure your spare storage device (like your Drobo box) to form a node that connects to the cooperative cloud, which is comprised of free disk space on the spare storage devices (SAN, NAS, external SATA drives, etc.) of the other members of the cloud. With 5,000-10,000 other nodes sharing exabytes of free disk space, there is plenty of capacity for all the members of the cooperative, and as the cloud is distributed worldwide, there is no single point of failure to worry about. The data is fragmented in such a way that it is distributed randomly across multiple nodes (in a system they call RAID-96) so that no single node in the network contains a complete copy of your data. You pay a flat monthly fee to join the cloud, and your data is encrypted by your node and backed up incrementally over your network connection. It may take a while to get your first full backup transmitted, but after that, the bandwidth is used only for deltas. It's kind of a brilliant idea that blew me away the first time I heard about it.

Comment Re:This is crazy! (Score 1) 189

Did you even read that security policy? It covers both personal account passwords AND system passwords (e.g. Page 32, Paragraph 4.1 "root" "enable" "NT Admin" "Application Administrator Accounts" ..."user-level passwords" AND "system-level passwords"). It is in many ways quite similar to the security policy I have to follow (and enforce) as a LAN admin across the Bay from San Francisco.

But I agree with you, Terry Childs is the victim here, and the whole case is crazy.

Comment Re:Overzealous prosecutors (Score 1) 189

It is the public employee unions that keep the incompetent civil service managers--such as the ones who started this whole fiasco--in power. Terry Childs is a contractor, and thus is not represented by a union, and from what I observe of unions and their tactics, they are far more likely to commit criminal acts than he would ever be.

Public employee unions are driving cities, counties and states into bankruptcy with benefits packages and retirement plans that are so wildly out of proportion to anything offered in the private sector that it is not sustainable in our current economic crisis. Indeed, there are economists who claim labor unions are the primary cause of these problems. Before it filed for bankruptcy, General Motors was paying more money to their retired workforce than they paid to their active employees on the assembly lines. The City of Vallejo, California filed for bankruptcy in 2008 when a dozen of its senior police officers and fire chiefs all retired at once, and their benefits packages were so lucrative that the city treasurer regretfully informed the mayor that they could not pay the benefits and the salaries of current staff at the same time they paid their obligations to the retirees. The County of San Diego is in a similar predicament, and is trying to re-negotiate all their union contracts to avoid the same fate. For an even more egregious example, see what's happening with the newly-retired fire chief in Contra Costa County http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_13030932.

Unions are not the answer, they are a huge part of the problem.

Comment Re:Excelent way to link to that interview. (Score 1) 189

I'm not big fan of InfoWorld's webpage design, but I've been following this story since it broke (because it resonates with my own experience).

The easiest way is to just subscribe to the RSS feed of Paul Venizia's blog here: http://www.infoworld.com/blogs/paul-venezia. Click on the subscribe link and you'll get the whole story from a guy who has followed it more closely than anyone else, and with far greater detail than any other journalist. Paul knows his stuff, which is why he is probably the only one who's met with Childs who can speak with him as a peer (so of course, he'd be disqualified from any jury called for this case). Fortunately, all charges will probably be dropped before it ever gets that far.

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"Being against torture ought to be sort of a multipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer, as amended by Jeff Daiell, a Libertarian