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Comment Re:there is proof (Score 1) 160

The question isn't whether antibacterial agents like tricolosan *cause* antibiotic resistance. Clearly that's poppycock. But that *doesn't* mean anti-bacterial soap can't contribute to the spread of pathogenic bacteria in general.

By altering the user's microbiome, an antibacterial agent could potentially open an ecological niche for a pathogen. If the particular strain of pathogen happens to be antibiotic resistant, then the antibacterial has contributed to the the spread of antibiotic resistance without actually causing resistance itself.

As for normal soap and water, that does not in any way shape or form kill bacteria. It washes away stray bacteria that haven't established colonies on your skin. It does nothing for bacteria protected in the pores or by biofilms. Therefore normal handwashing helps prevent the spread of stray pathogens you may have picked up without creating an opportunity for them to colonize your skin.

So the bottom line:

Hand washing with ordinary soap -- definitely good.
Hand washing with antibacterial soap -- in most cases unnecessary, and possibly harmful.

Comment Re:Cables are dangerous (Score 1) 504

Well, a cable would be a good place to put a monitoring device. You can certainly get inconspicuous USB keyloggers that could easily be molded into a keyboard cable.

If the NSA is removing UTP, I wouldn't take that as evidence that the NSA doesn't know what they're doing. I'd take that as evidence that the NSA has packet monitoring hardware that fits into a cable.

Comment Re: Rule #1 (Score 1) 894

The real question here is "how likely is it for each gun owner to kill someone with a gun eventually".

The rate at which gun owners kill people is in any case very, very low as AC suggests; but it's not really what you want to know. What you want to know is your chance of getting killed by a gun owner.

Suppose you identify some group that (a) has a lower rate of firearm ownership than the general population and (b) is less likely to commit crimes than the current gun owning population. You could decrease the *percentage* of dangerous gun owners by giving everyone in that group a gun.... BUT since *some* of that group will turn out to be criminals, you've increased the TOTAL number of criminals with guns.

What you really want to know is what the marginal effect of increased gun ownership would have on public safety, taking into account, of course, the possible deterrent effect of a more highly armed populace.

The problem with the hope for an *increased* deterrent effect is that the US already has the highest rate of firearm ownership in the world *by far*. Nearly half of all households have a gun, and about 1/3 of adults own a gun. It's hard to imagine getting much more deterrence benefit by increasing those already astonishing numbers.

Furthermore, if you look for deterrent effect by comparing states by firearm ownership, there is no evidence. States with higher rates of firearm ownership have higher rates of gun violence. This is correlation rather than causation, of course; it is quite possible that people in violent states buy more guns to protect themselves. BUT -- if there were a dramatic deterrent effect you'd expect to see it in the data eventually.

Comment Re: Rule #1 (Score 3, Insightful) 894

I was hiking just the other day in the woods, and came across a pair of young men plinking with a handgun -- not legal in this park, by the way, but I'm not uptight about stuff like that. They were standing on on side of the path and shooting across the path at some soda cans they'd set up on a log. I excused myself as I crossed their improved shooting range, and they resumed firing.

It was then I noticed that even though they were standing only eight feet from their target they couldn't hit it. And this was with all the time in the world to draw a bead on their target.

Now in the hypothetical scenario where the good guy is called upon to draw his weapon to defend people from a shooter, the good guy is always a crack shot, but if it were one of these bozos shooting to save his life, the safest place to be when they were shooting is between them and whatever they were shooting at.

I'm fairly relaxed about guns. They're not my thing, but I don't get vapors if someone else has one. But it's been my observation that gun owners are like drivers in their skill self-assessment. Nearly all of them think they're better than average and it's quite common for them to think they're pretty darn amazing.

A school shooting that ends with only one critically injured student is a pretty good outcome. Expecting a *better* outcome with some randomly chosen gun enthusiast trying to shoot to save his life strikes me as unrealistically optimistic.

Comment Re:No thank you to CFLs (Score 1) 1146

I keep hearing reports like this but it doesn't jibe with my experience. After the first couple of years where things were dicey, I've had no trouble at all with them. I recently replaced some CFLs that were ten years old, not because they failed, but because their output and color temperature dropped.

So I think it's very possible there's something wrong with your power. It's also possible you purchased a bad brand or from a bad batch.

I should warn you about LED bulbs: at present the quality varies tremendously. I have some I'm pleased with, and some which looked identical but clearly have lower build quality and which never worked acceptably (flicker and color temperature in the 7000k range which is too blue even for me). I think it's kind of wild west market, with Chinese factories turning out quality product under contract and then cheap knockoffs under the table. LEDs are subject to thermal runaway too, and the same bulb may last for a long time in one installation but a short time in another. Yet a different model LED bulb might last a long time in a demanding installation because it has better circuitry. It's tough because a lot of what matters in the long term is stuff you can't see.

I have a motley mix of bulb types and models; in general my house has converged to all robust bulbs as I simply swap out bad bulbs for something else.

Comment Re:red v blue (Score 3, Interesting) 285

Having done business with local governments around the country, I can tell you that the stereotypes about southerners or northeasterners are inaccurate. It's not like everyone from Georgia is a conservative and everyone from Massachusetts is a liberal. You find the same *kinds* of people everywhere, but in slightly different mixes.

Control of most states happens at the margins. If you have slightly more conservatives in a state, you get consistent conservative victories and if you have slightly more liberals you get consistent liberal victories. Incumbents tend to get re-elected too; that gives the ascendant fringe leverage over the low-information middle voters, and puts the weaker side in an up-hill battle for success. Lack of success for a minority party powerfully weakens that party, and it may have difficulty fielding strong candidates. Things tend to *look* hopeless after several decades of dominance by one party, but I think that's an illusion. A strong centrist candidate can win anywhere against a weak majority party candidate, as with Scott Brown who won the Ted Kennedy Senate seat in Massachusetts 2010.

Red states tend to have a history of hard luck and social upheaval, and this produces marginally more skepticism about government. By contrast Massachusetts, indisputably the bluest state in the nation, has enjoyed remarkable good fortune since the founding of the nation, and that produces *marginally* less skepticism about government here. But it's still there. In Massachusetts you still hear *exactly* the same range of opinions as you would in a red state. It's just that minority parties are structurally disadvantaged in states where one party has had a long record of success.

We just had a special election here to fill Ed Markey's congressional seat. The Democratic winner walked away with 65.9% to the Republican's 31.7%. That may seem like a landslide, but consider this. Almost a third of the voters came out for a totally unknown Republican, a political neophyte who nobody thought had a chance of winning against a well-known and popular politician. That strikes me as a remarkable showing, and I think it shows that even the bluest state is more purple than we imagine.

Comment Re:First (Score 2) 250

May have been. The Russians have always had a lot of great mathematicians, and they certainly understood the concepts. They had a significant computer industry, often copying western systems to be sure, but they were certainly could and did make their own designs going all the way back to the 50s.

Anyhow, they wouldn't have needed to Turing complete machines. In many ways back in the 60s specialized circuits might have been simpler and more robust. By the mind 60s they had ballistic missiles with multiple, independently targeted reentry vehicles, so they clearly had a lot of capability when it came to guidance systems. In some ways a lunar landing controller would have been simpler than MIRV guidance.

Comment Re:Feminist Programming Language (Score 4, Interesting) 575

What makes you think this 'research' isn't a prank?

This Arielle Schlesinger person doesn't appear to have any social media or web presence prior to a few months ago. There is no link to published articles on or related to the actual "research", either in peer-reviewed journals or on-line forums. There's only a couple of brief blog posts in what looks like a deliberate parody of critical studies jargon ("reifies normative subject-object theory" and "non-normative paradigm").

It sounds like a parody to me. Granted, it's often hard to tell the difference, but one thing that strikes me that the example is rather puny. Yes, it is dense and incomprehensible, but real examples academic writing in the critical theory style go on at great length and detail. The Frankfurt School of neomarxism is very influential in this kind of academic writing, so what you're aiming for is a kind of faux teutonic grandeur.

There's no evidence that the purported research has taken place; nor is there evidence that this person is actually preparing to do research. The very first thing you'd do in this kind of academic research is to assemble a bibliography, yet the post doesn't even bother to drop names (e.g. Michel Foucault, Andrea Dworkin). It strikes me that the post displays little actual knowledge of the field it is supposedly discussing, other than a superficial familiarity with the jargon.

So -- yes. The entire thing appears to be hoax.

Comment Re:"Dark Market"? (Score 2) 184

A black market is a market in which transactions can be presumed to be illegitimate. For example a market in stolen organs is a "black market".

A gray market is one which transactions can be presumed to be legal, but are considered undesirable by the original sources of the products. In a "gray market" transaction, the seller has valid title to the goods but is undercutting the manufacturer's attempts to establish different retail prices in different countries.

So, I should think a "dark market" would be one which ostensibly exists for supporting legal transactions, but in which it is also commonplace to trade in stolen goods. That might better be called a "gray market", but that term is already taken.

Comment Massively overblown issue? (Score 4, Insightful) 135

Encrypting the data certainly isn't a bad idea, but unless I'm missing something here, encrypting the data is nothing more than a lame case of security through obscurity. If the browser stores the data encrypted, then the browser also needs to store the KEY to re-open the file. If someone can get a hold of the file, then they can also get a hold of the key to decrypt that file.

If there's a security problem here, it's the Restore Session functionality itself. Perhaps secure sessions shouldn't be restorable?

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Comment Re:intelligence (Score 1) 370

But those who behave like humans should be treated like humans.

This is where I disagree with you. Human beings should be treated like human beings, regardless of their actions. Anyhow "treated like humans" is too broad for our purposes.

>

You may be the second person today to read that into what I am saying and I must think you do not know any mentally handicapped people, because in my experience that paints them with far too broad a brush.

Here you are doubly wrong. My late brother had fragile X syndrome. When died in his 60s, he was intellectually about five years old. He could not have participated in the discussion we are now having. He did not have *less* rights because of his handicap; his handicap imposed a greater duty of care among those around him. We had to defend his rights because he could not do so himself.

I am not saying you believe that mentally handicapped people don't have human rights; I'm saying your formulation of the basis of ethics towards animals is faulty.

Torturing an animal, in particular, is a horribly dehumanizing thing to do - to yourself.

Here is the problem with your formulation; the transactional basis you have posited for ethics doesn't work for you in this case, so you are patching your model with a totally different ethical basis: aretaic ethics. I actually think you'd have better success using *that* as a basis for ethics than some kind of social contract theory.

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