Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:it tells you one thing, at least (Score 5, Insightful) 1719

The problem has two parts: mental illness and guns. In China, with no guns, a mentally ill guy assaults 20 people and none of them are dead. In the US, with prolific guns, a mentally ill guy assaults 28 people, and 26 are dead.

The knee-jerk suggestions for dealing with mental illness amount to preemptive jailing of a large number of people, the vast majority of whom will never assault anyone. The knee-jerk suggestions for dealing with guns amount to taking away tools, the vast majority of which will never be used in anger. Neither of those is right, but the best answer should include aspects of both. Hopefully, some reasonable people can work through the politics and come up with a reasonable solution that addresses not just extremely infrequent mass-violence, but individual shootings which have become so mundane we only hear about them when someone "interesting" is the victim.

Comment Re:Got news for you (Score 1) 209

We already give away emergency care.

You mean "People who buy insurance already pay for everyone else's emergency care." That turns out to be a horrible system: very few people actually need significant healthcare at any time, so it is in almost everyone's personal interest not to buy insurance (on which they will generally see negative return), and to wait until any problems become an emergency to seek care. Let the flu turn into pneumonia. Let the cut turn into gangrene.

Meanwhile, from a society perspective, it's vastly cheaper to treat emerging conditions before they become emergencies. From a society perspective, all care gets paid for by someone, and we ought to try to make that care as effective and inexpensive as possible. So, make everybody pay and make service available to everyone, and both the total societal cost of care and the individual cost of care will be lower.

Comment Re:WTF is this? (Score 1) 209

"Measuring" them means figuring out what's important to them, which side of arguments they come out on, and what really pisses them off. It means figuring out how the "youth" segment is divided, and which subgroups are 1) fully committed to your party; 2) fully committed to opposing party; 3) subject to manipulation. It lets you tailor your message to emphasize things group 3 likes about your candidate and dislikes about opposing candidate. Get a few extra people interested enough in your candidate to actually go out and vote, and you win.

The people who are paying enough attention to notice things like "47%" and "You didn't build that" are already entrenched in groups 1 & 2. Those people don't matter.

Comment Re:three words, one hyphen: (Score 5, Insightful) 549

If it were individual, it would be like a car salesman... attempting to charge the highest price, ask you to take out a loan and pay it.

Yes, but if you don't like the car salesman's deal, you have to take the bus. If you don't like the hearing aid salesman's price, you're deaf. If you don't like the surgeon's price, you're dead.

You can't negotiate healthcare on a level playing field, regardless of who writes the check.

Comment Re:Some People Enjoy Their Jobs (Score 1) 454

Let's say you are hired at a great rate of pay (I'll just use 100k for this example). That's your pay when you work 40 hours. If you are working 80 hours without overtime, you are effectively cutting your rate in half.

Academia, especially academic research, is one of those places where people love what they do. Many of them would do their 'job' for free, and, in fact, many of them keep showing up at the office even after they retire, "emeritus." In a labor market, if you're competing with people who would pay the University for the privilege of working there, and you're not one of the people who loves what you're doing enough to be surprised by the sunrise every once in a while, you might be at a competitive disadvantage.

Who cares what your hourly wage is, unless you're being paid to sit in a specific place for a specific number of hours?

Comment Re:So what does it make people that didn't vote? (Score 1) 1113

The population of the 10th district, which Broun represents is only 700,000. It encompasses the University of Georgia, Augusta, and a slate of rural counties. About 65:35 Republican.

Not that much different from the rest of Georgia, but please don't imagine that anywhere close to 3 million people actually voted for him. Closer to 132,000

Comment Re:What a clusterfuck of documentation (Score 2) 151

Sorry, it's this kind of bullshit contentless drivel that drives me nuts, that equally drove Feynman nuts BTW, and for a good reason. RJF hated elaborate abstract frameworks built up around trivial ideas, used for nothing else but aggrandizing the trivial ideas.

Maybe we should just return to the good old days when people used to put their ideas in Latin to make them sound important. I mean, how much smarter does "e pluribus, unum" sound than "we're all together?" Now imagine a whole spec written out in Latin, with dative on every line. Gregorian monks could chant the windows API for years.

Comment Re:I want to live on your planet [Re:cool!] (Score 1) 74

Negative results are the fruit of good science just as much as positive results are. Screwing up the measurements in an experiment is simply bad science, or not science at all.

What planet are you from? I want to move to your planet, where science is so easy, and stuff always works unless it's "bad science," which apparently comes with a label so anybody can tell which is which.

Good science is designed so that even 'negative' results are reportable and interesting. Within many fields (eg, biology) few experiments are really designed that way. Many experimental designs are simple, two-factor designs such as [normal-population disease-population] X [placebo real-drug]. The outcome of this is: "Yes, the drug does something" or "We couldn't measure a significant effect." Failure to measure a significant effect is different from a negative result. Failure to measure a significant effect could be because the drug doesn't do anything, or it could be because there was more variability than expected, or the effect is smaller than you expected. It's generally harder to convince people of your failure-to-find, because ordinary designs are set up for a 5% chance of being wrong when you find an effect (p-value), but a 20% chance of being wrong when you fail-to-find (power). That's when anyone bothers to do an statistical design to determine sample size at all.

Good science is hard. It seems to be especially hard in the biological sciences, where technical inability to control things like transgene dose or knockdown efficiency lead to two-factor, two-level designs that only offer binary interpretation of outcomes. Or ethical concerns limit the number of samples you can collect. It turns out a lot of scientists are just sort of muddling through: every 3 years or so, a high-profile journal publishes a statistical or validation retrospective, and they always turn up about the same result: more than half of published papers turn out to be wrong.

Comment Re:So what's the purpose of this story again? (Score 2) 172

[Curt Schilling] is vehemently opposed to government financial bailouts and stimulus funds, yet didn't bother to eschew a tax-payer backed state loan, let alone managed his company, from afar, in the same impetuous manner as those that required government aid in the first place.


Schilling apparently regrets the decision to bet the company on an MMO game, but otherwise seems to accept little blame for the demise.

So, it seems, like many executives, Schilling is acutely aware that success of a business depends on the whole team's effort. Blame is distributed and diluted. While the company operated, Schilling (and all the employees) drew salaries off the government teat under a program specifically designed to foster entrepreneurship by reducing individual risk. Schilling's successes, though, are down to his personal leadership, ability to inspire his team members, and his own personal skills.

It's a very different story than the guy who mortgages his house to buy a Subway franchise, or to open his own small business. It emphasizes the difference in risk between "small businesses" with $10M payrolls, and small businesses in the individual entrepreneur sense. The former - call then $100M businesses - need some help getting started. Venture capital seems not to be willing to jump in early in the process, so government (either state or federal) loan programs really can foster startups. Those programs are practically only available to people who are already successful and at least moderately wealthy, because no one ever prepared a credible $100M business plan while living in his car. We should recognize that small business loan programs are a public support network for 'job creators' in exactly the same way that unemployment and food stamps are a support network for employees.

Small business success depends on taxpayer largesse and acceptance of occasional failure

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 2) 541

I tend to hear things like "the customer service rep at ____ was an idiot! I'm never shopping there again!"

Interesting. I'm much more likely to hear "The customer service rep at Comcast was an idiot, but they're the only provider in my neighborhood." Or Verizon. Or ATT.

Comment Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (Score 1) 160

Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate.
Sound extreme? It's really not. Some of these species have killed millions of people and even amongst the ones that haven't you're dealing with a whole branch of life that isn't our friend.

Parasites and other forms of competition kill off millions of weaker, less fit individuals, making it easier for the stronger, more fit individuals to survive and thrive. Take away the mosquitos, and we might still be stuck in the stone age. Or the Pleiocene. Evolution requires lots of death.

I hate mosquitos just as much as the next guy, but our competition with them makes us better

Comment Re:So from here on out ... (Score 1) 2416

For what I have needed, I have negotiated a lower cash price with the provider, because it saves them time and money to not deal with insurance. Often, the price I pay is less than a co-pay would be if I HAD insurance! For example, the plan I was offered has a co-pay of $50 for a chiropractic adjustment. That's what I pay directly in cash. So what's the fucking point of it?

So, I'm not costing anyone else anything.

So far. So far, you've been fortunate not to have any serious medical conditions or emergencies. So far, paying your own way has been to your benefit. Turns out, that's the way it works for most people: it really is only the rare individual who has multiple sclerosis (or even diabetes), so 9 times out of 10, you're better off not having insurance.

Same could be said for homeowner's insurance: your house will probably never burn down nor be swept away by a hurricane. If you don't have homeowner's insurance and your house burns down, you lose everything. The bank that owns your mortgage will still expect you to make mortgage payments. If you don't have health insurance and you have a stroke, you will get a ride in an ambulance, treatment in the emergency room, and a stay in intensive care. Dozens of highly skilled professionals will spend hours, if not days, making sure you survive, and few of them will listen if you say "no, don't treat me, I can't afford it." If you don't have insurance, you will be billed several tens of thousands of dollars, but the hospital will not seriously expect you to pay.

If you don't have homeowners insurance and something bad happens to your house, you bear the cost. It's roulette with your own money. If you don't have health insurance and something bad happens to you, a hospital bears the cost. It's roulette with other people's money.

Slashdot Top Deals

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly