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Comment Re:Some tips (Score 1) 229

If you don't have a strong internal model of "leadership," try to learn one. Leadership in the sense of how you get people to happily do things that they may not want to, and how you get people below you to trust your judgment. I learned a lot of that in volunteer organizations - think Habitat for Humanity, not Toys for Tots - volunteers come in with varied skill levels and varied motivations, but you have to get them all working together, as a team, doing sometimes unpleasant work with people who may not get along. Watch how the leaders get that to happen, especially if you can find a group where the volunteers don't all leave after six weeks.

You have to trust your people. If they fail that trust, you have to be tough: rewards for success, penalties for failure. Small, but frequent.

Comment Re:Observation vs experimentation (Score 2) 119

The director's comments, and the findings of the advisory panel, make clear that NIH will continue to support work that can only be done in chimpanzees: monoclonal antibody therapies, research on comparative genomics, and non-invasive studies of social and behavioral factors that affect the development, prevention, or treatment of disease. Generally all non- or minimally-invasive work. The moratorium on all chimpanzee grants is only to give NIH time to develop processes for making sure grants comply with those restrictions.

Comment Re:Freedom of Press (Score 1) 52

In the US, free speech and free press are essentially identical. The 1st amendment says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;..." Presumably to reinforce that by "speech" they don't literally mean the spoken word only. The difference is mostly in connotation: free speech implies the right of any wacko to spout crazy, unfounded theories; free press implies the right of responsible journalists to bring light to evil behaviors.

Comment Re:RTFA - really, it's interesting! (Score 4, Informative) 845

That is why I have an engineering degree from a world class university and this guy is a Teacher.

This guy is not a teacher. He was a teacher, but he is a school board member. He's an elected politician, and has been for 15 years. He's the guy who sets policy for the principals and teachers.

Worthy caveat: the test he failed was for 10th graders. The "test" linked in the summary was for 4th and 8th graders. The blog makes the point that kids do very well on their 4th adn 8th grade tests, but miraculously become "stupid" and fail their 10th grade tests.

Comment Re:Repressive? (Score 1) 132

Repressive technology also includes surveillance technology. In fact, it's mostly surveillance technology.

This is an extremely hypocritical move, implying that only a few enlightened countries are capable of using CCTV, face recognition software, network and cell phone monitors "properly." If they want to make a statement about repressive technology, the first step they should take is at home, removing or sharply limiting their own police forces' access to such repressive, undemocratic technologies.

Lead by example. Make your country the place everyone wants to go. Make your country the model for developing nations. The "do as I say, not as I do" crap stopped being credible when I turned 14.

Comment Re:Don't Yank our Funding (Score 1) 146

TFA indicates that the heptane fuel continues to combust after the flames are extinguished. That seems pretty inconsistent with at least my understanding of "combustion" and a pretty good start for some basic research with potential application. eg: if you can burn a lump of coal without a flame - convert the carbons to carbon dioxide without mucking with the sulfur, thorium, and other elements in the coal, coal would be a much more attractive fuel.

Comment Re:Up to them (Score 1) 1319

"It requires faith on my part to believe that the 1001st time I drop the rock it will also drop to the ground" - no it doesn't, scientific fact tells you it will drop. "Belief" is defined as certainty where "faith" is not based on proof

Here's how science works: you can make two kinds of "scientific" statements, those that describe a particular event and those that describe universal or generic events. The former are often called data and they are true or false by observation. The latter are called theories and can not be proven by observation, but only disproven by observation. (you can not drop all possible rocks to verify that they fall) Data: this rock falls when I drop it. Theory: all rocks fall when dropped. Theory: all objects fall when dropped. Theory: all objects more dense than local atmosphere fall when dropped. Accepting the theory amounts to belief, but is subject to revision pending future observations. You might describe scientific belief as having a statistical confidence, where religious belief has an absolute certainty.

There's a whole other set of statements which are not scientific. Some rocks fall. (Tautology.) There are rocks that float when dropped. (Can not be falsified) These statements are completely outside the realm of empirical science.

Comment Re:Ain't that a surprise (Score 1) 954

That's just it, though: the politicians have stopped even pretending to run the country. Their only job is to get re-elected. They may dabble a little in policy on the weekends, and phone in a couple of votes when there's a pressing deadline (eg: debt ceiling), but otherwise the plan is to provide some cute PR and prevent the other guys from looking even a little effective.

Comment Re:Damn straight! (Score 1) 451

With government, it would be shitty service AND costly.

Down here in Atlanta, property taxes average ~$2000/year, $170/month, and about a third of that, call it $60/month, goes to public schools. Now, considering that I'd pay a baby sitter half that while I go to dinner and a movie, I'd have to say that government-provided education, no matter how poorly it compares to Exeter, is Cheap, Cheap, Cheap.

Comment Re:Police Ssurveillance (Score 1) 761

If you were in front of the US Supreme Court and they asked you how this is fundamentally different than tracking your car through traditional police surveillance, how would you answer?

One of the principal defenses of personal privacy is the effort required to breach that privacy. Traditional police surveillance requires one or more officers to put their full attention on the person being surveiled. It's expensive and self limiting. It encourages the law enforcement agency to be very certain that the target is actually worthy of following. If you reduce the cost of vehicle tracking to nearly nothing, or to the one-time cost of equipment, then you eliminate the main inducement for law enforcement to limit itself and encourage misuse.

Comment Re:48 hours (Score 2) 99

I'm not sure of the benefit of making it such a small timeframe, as that generally restricts the quality of the games to Flash based, or built upon pre-existing code they brought with them (IE, you bring along several man-weeks of labour from a previous game and build on that). It certainly doesn't lend itself to promoting innovation, although it would probably reign in some of the crazier, harder to work ideas that alot of indie devs try, and fail, to implement properly.

I don't think good games require a completely new engine or completely new paradigm. That might make them interesting programs, but it doesn't have anything to do with them being interesting games.

I grew up with Infocom games. Those guys built a 10 year kingdom on their engine and it never changed substantially. I played at least half of their titles, and most of them were very good. There were a few dogs, but their strength (or weakness), and the strength of most of the good games I've played since then, has been about story, balance, and interaction. An engine can help you accomplish the things that make a good game, but a new engine doesn't make a good game, any more than using a new word processor will make you write the Great American Novel.

Comment Re:Government Space is the reason we are stuck (Score 1) 376

That said, the problem here is that we have been depending on "the government" to get us into space on Manhattan Project type "big science" expeditions, where those programs could be cut and abused because of political whims, graft, and corruption. All of that has happened and more with NASA.

That is not what government science does these days. It's been a long time since the government actually had a major scientific vision capable of inspiring children and motivating engineers and scientists. Government science today is about incremental progress so NASA/NSF/NIH can tell each congressman what specific advances were made (in his district) during his term. This give the congressman progress to put in his re-election materials and motivation to continue science funding for one more year.

Scientific goals like "build an atom bomb" or "land a man on the moon" are clear, specific, and hard. They can be broken down into smaller parts, farmed out across appropriate talent, then re-integrated into an achievement. The closest things we've had in my generation are "War on Cancer" and "Sequence the Human Genome."

As a scientific program, "War on Cancer" is just stupid - we may not have known back in the day that cancer is a vast network of diseases, some genetic defects, some viral, some still unknown, but it was pretty clear from the beginning that they're at least different. "War on Cancer" had no timeline, no deadline pressure, and most importantly, no intermediate milestones. It's the scientific equivalent of the War on Terror - a neverending state of heightened effort towards reducing cancer.

"Sequence the Human Genome" had a clear outcome and a clear path to that outcome. Specific technological challenges that would facilitate its completion. There's no question that it's benefited biomedical science, but it really lacked any tangible demonstration to the general public. My grandmother got to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I'm supposed to be inspired watching Kary Mullis stand in front of a Roche 454 sequencer?

Science policy, planet-wide, lacks public appeal. We need someone to come in and say: "This would be really cool, and we should do it. It will cost a lot. A LOT. Some scientists will think its a bad idea, and we'll have to cut back in many areas of research to get it done, but it will be really cool." But that's not going to happen anytime soon - there's no pressure on the human race, there's no money to pay for anything more than keeping baby-boomers alive in their retirement, and we've denigrated science for so long that we can't even talk to the general public about the wonderful possibilities. Government projects are supposed to be massive, uneconomical, projects that inspire wonder and give the market the technology with which to do cool new products (like personal gene sequencing). Government has degenerated into micromanagement of the status quo.

Comment Re:Why have any racial indicators? (Score 2) 464

My understanding, from the various articles read, is that the only thing removed from the grant proposal is the person's explicitly-given ethnicity and gender. The name, institute, and all the other information on the individual, is left in.

Exactly right. The investigator's identity, historical success, and laboratory capabilities are a huge factor in awarding the grant. More importantly, the review panel is pulled from the small community of people doing similar research. It's very likely that the reviewer knows the reviewee by face and has even heard him/her speak.

The NIH (for example) reviews tens of thousands of grants, but those are broken down into relatively narrow study sections. Within the study section may be 20 reviewers, each of whom only reviews grants on topics close to their own specialty. Grants from maybe 40 different labs during a year. A reviewer has to be pretty close to the reviewee in order to be competent to judge the science. It's basically impossible to get a good review from someone who's never heard of you, but it's difficult to get a fair review from someone who knows all the applicants. There are strict rule against personal conflicts of interest, but the reviewers know who everyone is.

Comment Re:Hmmm... (Score 1) 523

Not all input requires precision nor speed. I'm thinking of applications that stress portability like in medicine where, for example, a nurse has to carry the input device around with her all day but the actual input is a few letters or numbers at a time. That's real work and can be done quite well with a tablet.

Ironically, one of the major values the medical people imagine for tablets is to get the nurses & physicians directly involved in entering Medicare/Insurance company codes and to establish homogeneity of care. This generally amounts to checking off boxes on a list which are then either tabulated into a code or used to confirm that all aspects of a recommended diagnostic or treatment were performed.

From a UI perspective, this is great for a tablet: scan the patient's barcode, couple of quick clicks to get to the right form, then click a whole series of check boxes. From a productivity perspective, this is awful. The "old" system had docs dictate to a microphone or portable tape what their diagnosis, treatment, etc were; the tapes went to data-entry staff who were trained on the Medicare codes and basically translated the docs' English into Insurance bureau-speak. Dictation might take the doc 20 seconds, and a handful of transcriptionists could keep up with a whole hospital. Under the new system, the $100/hour physician is now doing both his job and the job of the $20/hour transcriptionist, and, while the check box interface is easy, it's also a lot slower than an expert just knowing the code translation.

Keep that in mind the next time you wonder why medical care costs so much: technology and bureaucracy are slowly replacing a small army of $20 secretaries with $100 physicians.

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