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Comment In other news: (Score 5, Insightful) 291

Highly advanced cyber-thieves discover method to steal cars with a coat hanger and a screw driver! Everyone cower in terror!

Not that this isn't dumb security on BMW's part, but the thing keeping people from stealing your car is their conscience and the police, not your hyper-powerful super-locks. They might keep some dumb teenagers out of your car, but not car thieves who buy blank keys on the black market and learn to reprogram them.

Comment Re:Vaccines should be mandatory. (Score 1) 1025

So if hitler did it that means we can't do it? Goodbye highways, you'll be missed. I guess we'll just kiss interstate trade goodbye until we build a bazillion railroads (what's that hitler? You used railroads too!? Oh Crap.)

You don't want to get vaccinated? Fine, go live in the mountains and never make contact with everyone. For the same reason we don't let people walk around strapped with unstable explosives (it's dangerous), we don't let people not get vaccinated (it's dangerous).

But but but! Almost no one gets that disease anyways, and my little johnny has a one in a billion chance of a bad reaction to the vaccine! NO ONE GETS THAT DISEASE BECAUSE THEY ALL GOT VACCINATED.

Japan

"Severe Abnormalities" Found In Fukushima Butterflies 189

Dupple writes "The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a massive release of radioactive materials to the environment. A prompt and reliable system for evaluating the biological impacts of this accident on animals has not been available. This study suggests the accident caused physiological and genetic damage to the pale grass blue Zizeeria maha, a common lycaenid butterfly in Japan. We collected the first-voltine adults in the Fukushima area in May 2011, some of which showed relatively mild abnormalities. The F1 offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F2 generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species."

Comment Meh (Score 1) 117

Facebook has all kinds of data analysis capabilities - I'm sure they didn't just pull this price out of their butt, but if they did, or if they are being pressured into these prices by investors, they need to nut up and let their data lead the way. What's a couple hundred bucks to a company selling a gigantic multi-million-$-revenue product - especially if facebook can use their data to target it and verify it?

Problems with bot clicks? Whatever, build that into the price. Also, I've never once clicked on a tv or newspaper ad, and yet advertisers seem to have no problem selling those.

Comment Tools! (Score 3, Informative) 85

I vote tools.
1) Really nice electronics-oriented multimeter. I'm sure he has one already, but it might be cheap/lacking in function/etc
2) O-scope. Super handy and fun too. Old analog ones can be had for cheap. Check craigslist and ebay.
3) Logic analyzer/Bus Pirate. I realize these are two pretty different things, but they fill a similar place in the "debugging digital stuff" category.

Other than tools, I think some kind of audio kit/project would be cool. IMO nothing helps you learn more about how electronics really work than analog audio, synthesizers, amps, etc. It really helps connect the concepts of how voltage/current/power/etc are connected since it all ends up in a very tangible (audible) medium.

Plus: Boom Boxes are sweet. It's a scientific fact.

Comment Less evil, more science (Score 4, Interesting) 233

While certainly there are those who will publish findings they know to be false, that's not really the big issue I see here. Good science demands that studies be replicated so they can be upheld or refuted. Sure, there's confirmation bias in science all over the place - the bigger problem I see is that there's very little incentive to publish a paper that simply refutes another. Busting existing studies should be a glorious field, but it's not. If big-name scientist A publishes a result in nature, and no-name scientist B publishes a paper in the journal-of-no-one-reads-it, everyone just assumes scientist B is just a bad scientist (assuming he even managed to actually get published at all).

Another major issue is that the null hypothesis is a very un-enticing story. No one wants to publish the paper: "New Drug does nothing to cure cancer". If you spent a year and a ton of money researching New Drug, you're damn sure going to try and make it work. It's unfortunate, because often the null hypothesis is very informative, but it doesn't get you paid or published. Or how about the psychology paper: "Brain does not respond to stimulus A in any meaningful way", don't remember that paper? That's because it never got published.

I think this is less about malicious behavior, and more about a lack of interest (which can somewhat be blamed on the way universities/journals/grants handle funding, notoriety, etc) in replicating and refuting studies.

Do you want to be the guy who cured cancer, or the guy who disproved a bunch of studies?

Comment New idea! (Score 0) 49

What if we could some how extract the protiens from snake oil and make strings with that? snakes are long and tough, and some of them make cool noises. Maybe we could rub snake oil into the wood as well.

Whenever you hear something about violin sound, your BS meter should be going off the scale. Many tests have shown that professional musicians have a really hard time distinguishing between new and old instruments, strativaris or modern copies, etc. Almost all violins are made with the same materials and are copies of the same designs. So long as they meet some baseline of quality in construction and materials, it becomes largely a matter of personal preference for the performer in terms of what sound they like and what instrument they want to play.

Also everytime I hear 'audiophiles' talk about the qualities of a particular sound (i.e. 'soft and profound timbre') it makes me want to gag. What a load of BS. If you can't be specific in the differences in sound quality (better sustain, flatter frequency response) it's probably because there _aren't_ any differences. If it can't be measured with a 'scope, it's probably just not there. Go take some homeopathic medicine for your magic ears.

Comment Loose the videogames (Score 1) 276

Every time I hear about teaching kids to program, it's all about the videogames. Kids like videogames right? So they should like programming them right? Wrong. How many young girls make their own makeup out of egg whites and whale barf (It's none)? How many boys are just chomping at the bit to build an injection molding machine so they can make a super soaker (none again)?

Why not use programming to let kids solve problems they hate, do work they don't want to do. Just like in the real world, I hate correcting spelling errors in a million documents, but my computer doesn't mind.

I bet johnny would be thrilled to discover that he could write a computer program to do his math homework, and I bet he'd be a lot better at the math as well, since he would have to exactly encode every step of the solution in an algorithm (as opposed to a mix of wrote memorization and guessing that often goes on in math classes).

Statistics too, is the perfect place for programming in schools. No one in the world performs any meaningful statistics without using computer programs, so why should students? It's way more important that they understand what a t-test is for and where to use it than that they know exactly how to compute it by hand and the proof for why it's valid.

Comment Listen to publishers? (Score 2) 418

Who cares what publishers (or many authors for that matter) think about what's good for reading? Publishers have shown time and time again that the little they know about e-publishing terrifies them. They just want to stick their head in the sand and go back to paper, they latch on to any tidbit of evidence that people might not like e-books or e-reading. They do all they can to minimize e-book sales to protect their paper business.

If publishers were smart, they could get way more people reading way more books, and make a lot more money off it. They need to get over their fears about e-publishing and move fast before piracy becomes the norm in the book world, just like it did in the music and video world.

Comment Seems silly to me. (Score 1) 309

What's the purpose of a movie? Makin' Monay. Plain and simple.

If making money is the purpose of movies (which it is, investors don't pump millions into movies to NOT make money), then it seems clear that the best movie is the one that makes the most money.

You can argue it any which-a-way, and I'm not saying movie's aren't works of art, but much of the great art that's ever been made was done so the artist could get paid.

Who cares about character development and a great plot? Sometimes those things fill seats, sometimes it's awesome explosions. Saying things like "without the special effects that would have been a bad movie" is like saying "Without the dead jesus, the Pietà is just some lady sitting there, pretty boring." I think even the marketing and promos for a movie should be considered part of the movie. It's all part of the performance and experience for the audience.

Comment Who's surprised? (Score 2) 109

OF COURSE they track you to provide targeted ads, how else do you think they stay in business? Do you think they have a gigantic infrastructure just for your personal pleasure? While I fully support forcing facebook to divulge all the info they store on you (i.e. that gigantic PDF they'll send you on request), I also have no problem with them doing just about anything they want with data they collected. If you find that so incredibly repugnant, don't use facebook at all.

This story to me is about the same as the headline "Pfizer dodges questions from senator that it 'sells drugs' to what they call 'patients'"

Or perhaps "INTEL refuses to deny that it makes computer processors!"

Comment They need to get their business in order (Score 1) 383

Obviously there's a price discrimination problem here. I you look at those millions of pirate downloads and don't think: "If only we could somehow sell the game to some of those people at a lower price, we'd make a ton more money". It's like a grocery store not stocking off-brands and getting mad when people shop elsewhere. If you cut the price in half and three times as many people buy the game, it's a big win.

With some in-game product placement you could even make money off the pirates "Dear Pepsico, if you buy ads in EA EXTRAVAGANZA 2012, your placement will be viewed by all 10 million purchasers, as well as millions more pirate downloads."

It seems like you'd have to be pretty dumb not to view millions of pirate downloads as a money making opportunity, it's not only free for the pirates, it's free for you, no bandwidth to serve the game to them, no support costs at all, and they're running your software on their machine.

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