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Comment Re:Um... "suspect" (Score 5, Interesting) 773

Actually I share your concern with Supermax prisons. I think for some prisoners they're necessary for the protection of the public and the people who guard them, but I get the nagging feeling that some places use detention in Supermax as a kind of unconstitutionally enhanced punishment.

If Tsarnaev's sent to the kind of facility you're talking about, it'll be the federal facility in Florence Colorado -- which is an antiseptic hell-hole.

I didn't think Massachusetts had its own facility that meets Supermax security standards, but it turns out I was wrong. There's Souza-Baranowski in Shirley Mass, which some have called the most technologically advanced prison in the world. I kid you not, it runs entirely on renewable energy sources. Go ahead and laugh at liberal Massachusetts, because it *is* funny that our version of Devil's Island is solar powered.

According to the Mass DOC, Souza-Baranowski "offers a full range of educational, vocational and substance abuse programming," which sets it apart from the kind of Supermax prisons you're talking about, where prisoners rot away in solitary confinement.

Comment Re:Um... "suspect" (Score 4, Insightful) 773

The only chance he has of a not guilty verdict is if someone like me is on the jury, someone who truly believes that the burden of proof is on the prosecutor and that the burden should be pretty high and that is pretty damn unlikely.

Well, I've been on two Massachusetts juries, one of which found "guilty" the other of which found "not guilty". The "not guilty" verdict was in a case that involved a fairly heinous crime. Given the seriousness of the crime it took us a long time to come to the "not guilty" conclusion -- I was the last juror to make up his mind in fact. While I believe all of us thought the preponderance of evidence was that the guy did it, we took the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard seriously. We worked, very, very hard to come up with the right verdict, especially because in this case it ran counter to our feelings about the man.

That doesn't mean it'll be easy to get a jury like that in this case. I have a niece who is on social media right now calling for this guy to be tortured and left to bleed to death. I don't think she'd get on the jury, and if she did, I'd speak up. I think *I* could give this guy a fair hearing, and I'm not really that unusual in understanding the importance of a juror's duty to be open-minded.

I happen think there's a very good chance, given the prominence of this case, that some big time lawyers and law professors will take up this guy's defense.

Comment Re:Um... "suspect" (Score 2) 773

Be shown the bills, promptly die from shock, and his family forced to declare bankruptcy while Walmart collects the life insurance payout.

Nope. We have Romneycare, the model for Obamacare nationwide (although to give credit where credit is due it should probably be called BobDoleCare). Massachusetts hasthe lowest rate of uninsured in the country, so he's probably covered.

Comment Re:Um... "suspect" (Score 5, Interesting) 773

Not here in Massachusetts. He will be taken to a world-class hospital and his wounds treated. Once he is well, he will await trial in a comfortable jail, with access to his lawyer so he can prepare his defense. If he can't afford a lawyer we'll hire one for him. In such a high profile case, he may even get a top drawer lawyer working pro-bono to ensure his defense doesn't get steamrollered by public opinion. If he chooses to plead not guilty he will have the fairest trial we can possibly contrive, and the burden of proof will be on the prosecutor. If the prosecutor proves he is guilty, and he escapes the Federal death penalty (we don't have a state death penalty), he will be housed for the rest of his life in a correctional facility that is humanely operated to the maximum extent consistent with ensuring public safety.

And I'm proud that's we do things. It's civilized. Some people may kill, maim or hurt people because they're feeling angry, but we as a people don't do things like that. That's what makes us better than they are.

We got the job done, there's no reason to spike the ball. In fact there's plenty reason *not* to. We give the state power to kill people, to inflict pain, to deprive them of their freedom, but those powers ought to be limited to their proper application by strict rules. They should not be used at the whim of an individual government official or group of officials.

Had Tsarnaev continued resisting arrest and got himself shot, I'd shake the hand of the officer who shot him. But now that he's given up, I'd call for the prosecution of any official who uses excessive force on him.

Comment Re:And... no big loss (Score 1) 863

I think the way they are forking their UI to Metro or whatever it is, may be taking the usability angle a little too far.

Well ... I don't know if what's driving it is *usability*; I think it's more that they've decided that touch interfaces are the way things will go.

The whole dual interface thing in Windows 8 reminds me of Windows 3; you had a new interface (a GUI), with only a few apps written for it, and you had your DOS shell which could run your important apps Like Lotus 1-2-3 and Wordperfect.

Comment Re:tell me again (Score 1) 1105

Tell me again how gun legislation would have prevented this???

Well, maybe you're onto something. Gun legislation would force somebody to switch from using a powerful, highly lethal, high capacity firearm to some kind of hare-brained improved explosive -- as was used here.

The result is that only two people are killed and a couple of dozen injured, instead of the carnage that would have been inflicted if the persons responsible had pulled out an AR-15 with a couple of 30 round clips taped together "jungle style". If we're lucky, a lot of the people responsible for this sort of thing will save us the trouble of hunting them down by blowing themselves up.

Comment Re:Pythons (Score 1) 245

Not to mention pesticides people put down to control them. This is a problem with a lot of wild foods. A plant that is perfectly safe when harvested from a remote mountainside is something you'd want to give a pass if it came from the side of a highway.

Even where a pesticide is safe for use on human crops, if a specific product is not formulated for that use it may contain impurities (e.g. dioxins) that make *that formulation* unsafe for use on anything a human would eat.

Comment Re:DDT? (Score 4, Informative) 114

I worked for many years in vector borne disease surveillance. Most of what you have said is wrong or misleading.

DDT based mosquito "eradication" programs never eradicated any mosquito populations, because a single surviving gravid Anopheles mosquito can lay over two hundred eggs at a time. But malaria has a weakness that mosquito borne encephalitis does not have: most strains of Plasmodium have no significant enzootic reservoirs -- that is to say most strains that infect humans, infect humans exclusively. This means if you can eradicate human-to-human transmission, you eradicate the underlying infectious agent.

In the late 40s DDT *was* instrumental in eradicating endemic malaria in the US, but that was through over four million "domestic" treatments -- applications. These are treatments of the *interiors* of homes. In domestic applications, the DDT does not enter the food chain and does not bio-accumulate.

DDT is not magic pixie dust. It's not the only pesticide that works, and it is neither necessary nor sufficient for malaria eradication. It is, however, valuable. It is cheap, effective, and relatively long-lasting, which is a huge boon in domestic applications because it reduces the number of re-treatments you have to do. That same property of longevity makes it a very poor choice for agricultural use.

I attended a number of meetings where the prospect of using DDT for malaria eradication in the third world was discussed. The key problem is that many places where it is needed are desperately poor, and theft is rife. I knew plenty of researchers who had their field equipment stolen; some of them took to putting their computers and backups in a backpack and slept with it to keep from losing their data. There is a high risk of DDT being stolen and diverted to agricultural use, where its drawbacks come into play: under certain conditions it can persist in the soil for years, and it has a high potential to bio-accumulate, so even small concentrations can have effects on predatory animals. Furthermore runoff into water sources in sub-lethal concentrations has a high potential to create DDT resistance in target species including Anopheles, the vector of malaria. That could undermine attempts to eradicate a number of mosquito borne diseases other than malaria. This could have significant effects on attempts to control many mosquito borne diseases, malaria included.

Chemists who create chemicals to save people's lives are not mad scientists and these anti-DDT activists are not all knowing supermen come to save the planet

Well, this is kind of a strawman argument. I've worked with people in the pesticide industry, in public health, and with environmental groups, and as far as I can see the images you mention here are entirely a figment of your own imagination. Everybody who studied this problem understand there are risks and benefits to using DDT, mainly they differ on how they weigh the risks.

In any case, if we knew that domestic DDT applications could eradicate malaria in an area back in 1950, why wasn't it eradicated worldwide? Because there's never been the political will to do that. There has never been a worldwide ban on DDT (which is why they're seeing way up in Tibet), so why hasn't it been eradicated in more places? Because there was never the political will to do it. If the will existed, we could do it, with or without DDT, just with somewhat less initial cash outlay for DDT.

Let me reiterate: DDT is not magic pixie dust. It *does* have potential to reduce the initial *cost* of eradicating malaria (except in SE Asia, where zoonotic forms of Plasmodium exist). But wherever malaria could be eradicated *with* DDT, it could also be eradicated with something else, say with synthetic pyrethrins. Pyrethrins have a very short half-life outdoors, reducing problems of pesticide resistance and bio-accumulation. The main drawback is that they also have a somewhat shorter half-life indoors, requiring more repeat treatments in the eradication phase. That'd still be a bargain in terms of human life.

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