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Comment Re:Never fail (Score 1) 361

I've never had an optical mouse fail yet (and I have one I bought when they first came out)

Same here, and the last time I can recall a mechanical ball mouse failing was in the early 90s. I only replace mice because I've replaced the computer it was attached to. Sometimes not even then.

Comment Triclosan vs. isoniazid & ciprofloxacin (Score 5, Informative) 160

the "anti-bacterial" ingredients are chlorinated organics, they just poison bacteria. they are not in any way related to antibiotics and thus do not in any way conribute to resistance to antibiotics any more than your chlorinated kitchen cleanser does.

All antibiotics poison bacteria in some way, and several are chlorinated hydrocarbons, e.g. vancomycin, clindamycin, clofazimine, chloramphenicol, thiamphenicol, etc. Antibiotics are widely varied category of chemicals, and while triclosan isn't directly related to any families I'm aware of, that doesn't mean that resistance to it would be useless against antibiotics that operate on the same system.

A mutation capable of resisting the effects of one class of chemicals can often be useful for resisting very different chemicals that have the same effect. Triclosan works at higher, lethal concentrations by disrupting bacterial cell membranes. At lower concentrations it also suppresses fatty acid formation necessary for cell membrane creation by binding up two enzymes necessary for the process: ENR and NAD+. (This prevents reproduction but doesn't kill.)

Isoniazid is one of our first-line treatments for tuberculosis. Interestingly, it also works by binding to NADH and then binding to ENR and blocking fatty acid synthesis. Studies have shown that some strains of isoniazid-resistant mycobacteria are also pretty resistant to triclosan as a result. Others aren't, because they developed mutations that affected other parts of the process of the drug's interaction. These are unrelated compounds, but a mutation that affects an enzyme they both act on can promote resistance to both.

There is also evidence that evolution of triclosan resistance can increase resistance to ciprofloxacin. In that case, the mutation was to increase the expression of certain efflux pumps, used to pump toxic chemicals out of the cell. Turns out in that case that the same pump was used as part of the processes to eliminate both toxins.

So, in summary, while there isn't any evidence that triclosan is responsible for anywhere near the damage that usage in livestock has done, it's probably not a good idea to keep using a chemical that has risks in a situation where it has little benefit because it can aid in the development of resistance for some antibiotics.

Comment Re:what? (Score 1) 513

Well... up until now, airplanes have been reasonably peaceful and quiet. It's been that way for so long that I think it is reasonable to expect it.

As for earplugs... they're not really all that effective. They're good for dampening certain kinds of noise, but it's far from silent. Even with earplugs in you're going to have no trouble making out the conversation of the person next to you, and that's going to remain distracting.

I really don't believe that legislation is the answer here. I think there are a lot of alternatives to try first. But this is going to make some people happy at the expense of making a lot of other people very unhappy, and in considering where we go from here I'd ask the people in the former category to not put all of the burden on the latter.

Comment Re:Nothing very new, and nothing about our univers (Score 1) 433

However, AdS/CFT tells us nothing about our universe, since we know that the type of string theories it talks about can't describe our universe.

Is that because AdS corresponds to a negative cosmological constant, and as far as we can tell the cosmological constant is positive?

This has always confused me. Why are they working in AdS at all? I figured it was because the math was easier, and they were hoping to reach a point where they understood it well enough to flip around the sign of the constant and get the "real universe" back. Or... maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about, so I apologize if what I just said was gibberish.

Comment Re:Oh, it's a lot older than that. (Score 1) 433

Actually, I was given bloodletting for a while as a treatment for a rare blood condition (hemochromatosis). It came in the form of blood donations. Obviously this is completely different from the "bleed them until they faint and figure it's progress because they've stopped screaming" kind of bloodletting, but I found it deeply ironic.

Comment Re:Only $0.0005? Great! (Score 1) 75

Five bucks a week, for All of the Internet... still a price a lot of people would pay to be truly free of ads and the tracking that goes with it. (At least, until they started finding ways to scam it; I'd be reluctant to let sites have direct access my money, even if only a limited pool of it. And of course it's a whole new way to track you, since there's some kind of line from the web site to the account to the way you fill that account.)

Comment Re:Quick... (Score 1) 252

That's not what the NSA did, and US legal code applies to US citizens, not foreign ones. Also, if the NSA is operating within boundaries set by other laws like the PATRIOT Act, which they were, then they're in the clear.

Blame the law and the politicians for poor oversight, the NSA is just a bureaucracy told to go do something without sufficient guidelines and oversight.

Several problems with this.

First, the NSA has swept up plenty of information about US citizens, e.g. in requesting phone records in bulk, and we only have their word that they're only interested in foreigners. Not that that legally justifies sweeping up people you're not allowed to look at without a warrant.

Second, James Sensenbrenner, the Republican main sponsor of the PATRIOT Act, has said that the NSA is far overreaching its authorization under the Act. It's very possible that the agency's interpretation of the Act is far out of bounds with its congressional intent (or possibly even its language).

Third, even if they did not go beyond the bounds of the law, the question of whether the law itself is constitutional isn't a settled one. Many of the provisions have been untested due to difficulty in claiming standing due to government secrecy about what they do with the information they've collected.

Fourth, the question of legality isn't the only one. There's also the question of morality, of hypocrisy, and of the dangers inherent to information asymmetry between the government and the people.

Fifth, absolving the actions of an agency (or any individual) who uses a lack of clear guidelines as an excuse to go as far into bad behavior as they think they can get away with is a terrible idea. It's the same sort of mentality that says, "Well, it wasn't illegal back then to rape your wife, so how could it have been wrong?" You wouldn't raise kids that way, and you shouldn't expect your government to behave responsibly if they know they can get away with anything as long as it hasn't been written down that they shouldn't.

Comment Re:So... (Score 2) 252

He was arrested because of it, but not for it.

The title is "California Man Arrested for Running 'Revenge Porn' Website." What is the meaningful semantic distinction that makes the use of "for it" improper here? He was arrested for activities core to the running of the site: privacy violations (the images hosted on the site) and blackmail (a major revenue source for the site). Just because he wasn't arrested for using the site doesn't mean that we wasn't arrested for running the site.

Comment Re:I'm an atheist. (Score 1) 674

What's to fear? I cheerily inform folks that I do not believe in their particular sky faery. Should I expect violence? Condemnation? Whatever.

Well, to be honest, if you regularly phrase it that way, yes. No one likes having their beliefs in just about anything dismissively insulted, especially when it's something rather central to their life. That's less about religion and more about just not being a jerk to people you disagree with.

Try treating someone's home country or favorite sports team that way and see if you don't get a lot of anger directed your way too.

Comment Re:Better you look the road (Score 1) 180

Thing is, it doesn't take an enormous amount of intelligence to drive.

Well, that explains the abysmally low accident rate...

Oh, wait.

Driver distraction is the number one cause of accidents. In your experience, would you positively or negatively correlate intelligence and distractability?

Flippant, joking question aside, it turns out that IQ actually does correlate with lower accident rates at a national level. It seems that the social conditions that promote greater intelligence in the populace (higher standard of living, income equality, a more polite society, greater individual liberty) are good for better driving.

On an individual level, it's more of a wash. Individual income and academic education level do not correlate to accident rates, and both are good proxies for IQ. The study found that it's more "emotional intelligence" (aka conscientiousness) and level of driver training that mattered.

Comment Re:Court order (Score 1) 228

Have you recently read of anything done by anyone WITH a court order? I wonder if the courts still remember how to write one.

Of course they do. Much like how the navy trains our sailors in rigging a traditional sailboat, it's a rich reminder of tradition and where they came from as well as a skill that many will practice as a hobby for the rest of their lives, despite the total lack of use in the modern day.

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