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Comment I am officially not a Republican anymore (Score 3, Insightful) 760

This makes me want to throw-up.

Having "the people" review NSF grants, the same people of whom half believe that antibiotics kill viruses (imperiling all of us when they strong arm their spineless doctors into prescribing antibiotics for colds) and think that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, is a freaking ridiculous idea. Furthermore, the idea that targeting grants individually in NSF, whose budget, at $7 billion is 0.2% of the total budget is an effective way of cutting the deficit is asinine. And to top it all off, that measly $7 billion is one of the major reasons the United States is still a power in science and technology at all, especially as private R&D collapses in the face of the recession (in the short term) and Wall Street's fetish for quarterly results.

Fuck you, Eric Cantor. Fuck you, ignorant Republican douche-bags. I am D-O-N-E done. We are going to Hell in a handbasket, and instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic (which would be bad enough), you are stealing life jackets from children and setting them ablaze because the water is cold and we need to keep warm.


The Placebo Effect Not Just On Drugs 824

dvdme writes "It seems the placebo effect isn't just valid on drugs. It's also a fact on elevators, offices and traffic lights. An article by Greg Ross says: 'In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the 'close door' button has no effect. Otis Elevator engineers confirmed the fact to the Wall Street Journal in 2003. Similarly, many office thermostats are dummies, designed to give workers the illusion of control. "You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat," said Illinois HVAC specialist Richard Dawson. "Guess what? They quit calling you." In 2004 the New York Times reported that more than 2,500 of the 3,250 "walk" buttons in New York intersections do nothing. "The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on."'"

Comment Re:Fear & Ignorance (Score 1) 1530

If you are going to link to a graph, you might actually want to look at it in detail first. Notice how almost every year it starts low in January, jumps up in the summer, and then in January it drops back to roughly the same spot it was the previous January? Notice how in 2009 that didn't happen? The summer gain was very, very small, and then the winter drop is way lower than the previous january? Now for 2010 we see that the summer gain was much bigger, pretty much on par what it has been almost every other year (other than 2001 and 2009). So that's a positive indication right there that at least things have stabilized. Yes, employment is dropping, but that's the normal cyclical adjustment. We won't be able to tell for a few more months (probably closer to 6 month) whether things overall are better, worse, or about the same.

Huh? According to the graph, employment was 64% in January 1999. In January 2010 it was 58%. There is a cycle in there, yes, but the over alltrend is down.


Man Repairs Crumbling Walls With Legos 106

Lanxon writes "German-born artist Jan Vormann, 27, has spent the past three years traveling the world repairing crumbling walls and monuments with Lego, reports Wired. His "Dispatchwork" began in 2007 in the small village of Bocchignano, Italy, as part of the contemporary art festival 20 Eventi. Developing the work in situ, he became intrigued by the makeshift repairs that had been made to the crumbling walls. The approach favored function over appearance, reminding Vormann of the haphazard Lego designs created by children."

Comment Re:tufte has it easy (Score 1) 186

just take one of the most famous graphs from his book, and reproduce it:'s_Invasion_of_Russia

relabel the advancing french soldiers "good intentions for accountable government"

relabel the retreating french soldiers "obfuscation by entrenched special interests"

job done


Comment Re:Why Excel? (Score 1) 154

Yes. There are lots of examples out there of analyzing titrations and such with Solver. Check JChemEd for starters.

A cool pedagodical aspect is that if you graph your system and step through the Solver iterations students can watch the model function approach the data on the graph.


The Struggle For Private Game Servers 125

A story at the BBC takes a look at the use of private game servers for games that tend not to allow them. While most gamers are happy to let companies like Blizzard and NCSoft administer the servers that host their MMORPGs, others want different rules, a cheaper way to play, or the technical challenge of setting up their own. A South African player called Hendrick put up his own WoW server because the game "wasn't available in the country at the time." A 21-year-old Swede created a server called Epilogue, which "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game." The game companies make an effort to quash these servers when they can, though it's frequently more trouble that it's worth. An NCSoft representative referenced the "growing menace" of IP theft, and a Blizzard spokesperson said,"We also have a responsibility to our players to ensure the integrity and reliability of their World of Warcraft gaming experience and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights."
Open Source

Linux Kernel 2.6.32 Released 195

diegocg writes "Linus Torvalds has officially released the version 2.6.32 of the Linux kernel. New features include virtualization memory de-duplication, a rewrite of the writeback code faster and more scalable, many important Btrfs improvements and speedups, ATI R600/R700 3D and KMS support and other graphic improvements, a CFQ low latency mode, tracing improvements including a 'perf timechart' tool that tries to be a better bootchart, soft limits in the memory controller, support for the S+Core architecture, support for Intel Moorestown and its new firmware interface, run-time power management support, and many other improvements and new drivers. See the full changelog for more details."
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force Buying Another 2,200 PS3s 144

bleedingpegasus sends word that the US Air Force will be grabbing up 2,200 new PlayStation 3 consoles for research into supercomputing. They already have a cluster made from 336 of the old-style (non-Slim) consoles, which they've used for a variety of purposes, including "processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and 'neuromorphic computing.'" According to the Justification Review Document (DOC), "Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software."

Should Computer Games Adapt To the Way You Play? 404

jtogel writes "Many games use 'rubberbanding' to adapt to your skill level, making the game harder if you're a better player and easier if you're not. Just think of Mario Kart and the obvious ways it punishes you for driving too well by giving the people who are hopelessly behind you super-weapons to smack you with. It's also very common to just increase the skill of the NPCs as you get better — see Oblivion. In my research group, we are working on slightly more sophisticated ways to adapt the game to you, including generating new level elements (PDF) based on your playing style (PDF). Now, the question becomes: is this a good thing at all? Some people would claim that adapting the game to you just rewards mediocrity (i.e. you don't get rewarded for playing well). Others would say that it restricts the freedom of expression for the game designer. But still, game players have very different skill levels and skill sets when they come to a game, and we would like to cater to them all. And if you don't see playing skill as one-dimensional, maybe it's possible to do meaningful adaptation. What sort of game adaptation would you like to see?"

Getting Through the FOSS License Minefield 96

dotancohen writes "Here's an exercise: Write a GPLed server for solving Freecell that the graphical game would communicate with using TCP/IP or a different IPC mechanism. Easy, right? Except for that pesky licensing bit. Our own Shlomi Fish gives an overview of the various options in picking up a licence for one's FOSS project, and tries to give some guidelines choosing one."

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