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Comment Re:really? (Score 4, Informative) 429

Why do Canadians often come to the States for treatment?

The number of Canadians who receive any health care in the United States for care is vanishingly small. In a country of 30 million people, it is relatively easy to find a few who do so, and who can offer a sound bite for a newscast or an anecdote for a blogger. The fraction of Canadians who receive medical care in U.S. hospitals and clinics appears to be around the 0.5% mark.--of whom roughly 4 out of 5 do so because they happened to fall ill while visiting the United States, and not because they travelled there to receive medical services.

For certain urgent care services, communities close to the Canada-U.S. border can and do make arrangements to share facilities. (If someone has an urgent need for specialized cardiac or neurological care, you want to go to the nearest major hospital, not just the nearest one on your side of the border. Patients flow in both directions under these agreements; there are regular transfers from northern Washington state to Vancouver hospitals.)

Why does the Elderly death rate in Britain start climbing, late in the summer, and start going down again after the new Fiscal Year starts ??

Because high temperatures combined with substantial swings in temperature - typical late-summer weather, and likely exacerbated by climate change - are physically stressful. The same pattern is observed in the United States.

For that matter, why are so many doctors from Single-payer countries practicing in the States, instead ???

I don't have all the data at my fingertips, but in every year since 2004, there has been a small net migration of doctors out of the United States and in to Canada. Further, doctors practicing in Canada (and in the UK) report being significantly more satisfied in their jobs that their colleagues in the United States.

Comment Re:Latex (Score 1) 204

I don't understand why some (most) people are scared of Latex.

As a regular latex user for the last 8 years, I have to say that I am not scared of latex.

I hate latex.

I could rant forever about how latex turns writing mathematics from a joy into a constant chore, or how errors and typos can take long to fix than it took to type the document, or how pages never, ever come out satisfactorally.

But I'll just note that the biggest issue with Latex is that it has its own idea of how your document should look, and if you disagree or ever dare attempt to override its page and space wasting decisions, you are in for a world of pain.

I(and the rest fo the world) need a handwriting recognition system for written mathematics. Something I can use to prepare "typed" documents by hand, writing my mathematics whereever I will on the page. Preferably, I need this before Latex ends up giving me another ulcer.

Comment Re:Film Industry (Score 4, Interesting) 272

This is actually wierdly ontopic. There is a powerful analogy between modern touchscreen development and modern games. Touchscreens and games have bother become ever flashier, commiditised, and mass marketed, and yet when I use either, I find I get less done, and ultimately less enjoyment out of the whole process than I did with traditional computers and old school games.#

Comment Re:No Value from this (Score 1) 321

If they didn't offer better prices, why would anyone trade with them?

Now you're outright misleading everyone.

Firstly: No-one chooses whom they trade with on an exchange. The exchange computers match up buyers to sellers. No-one asks for the HFT traders to come in, but has to live with the consequences of their entry as long as they continue to trade.

Secondly: While it is true that at most given instants HFT firms will currently provide the "best" price, this is not true over longer time periods. If there were enforced time delays in the exchange, sellers could wait a second or so to receive a better price, and buyers would pay the same or less without a HFT middleman jumping into the trade between milliseconds.

HFT is turning modern commodity and stock markets into a farce. Sooner or later, buyers and sellers are going to take their balls and go home.

Comment Re:Easy solution for all their technical problems. (Score 2) 321

... and transactions costs go up for everyone.

You keep repeating this, but the statement is directly at odds with the reality of a growing and profitable HFT industry. If transaction costs are going down, then how are HFT companies making so much money?

The actual reality is:
a) Millisecond HFTs have no effect on transaction costs vs 1 sec transaction speeds, and
b) HFTs make money by reducing value for the slower buyers and sellers at the stock exchange. Buyers pay more, and sellers get less for the same stock than they would if HFT trading did not exist.

You can jaw on about liquidity and transaction costs all you want. But the money that HFT is making has to come from somewhere. These companies do not add value, or provide services. As such the profits they make come from companies which do.

Comment The Ryanair Effect (Score 2) 466

It's the Ryanair, low cost airline effect. It's all about the price, squeeze every penny, charge for baggage, (pretend to) charge for toilet usage, just get them from A to B for the minimum advertised price and them make them pay for it in discomfort, inconvenience, or extra charges later.

And there's something to be said for this model. It has brought affordable, regular, international, air travel to the masses -- for the prices mentioned above.

But, look, let me put it this way: I will pay the extra â100 or even â200 euros per flight to fly with Aer Lingus or BA, in some modicum of comfort, without the mental overhead of restrictions, and to be dropped off in an actual city instead of an airport 80km from where I want to go. There are limits to how low people will go for the right price and I think the airline industry has already hit that mark.

Comment Re:Well (Score 1) 143

And it will be your fault.

While the general contempt being spat in the above post is rather direction-less, I feel that this statement at least is accurate. It is "our" (collective computerdom's) fault that the internet is being turned into a giant walled garden surrounded by watch towers.

The web needed technologies that put decentralisation, anonymity, and encryption into the hands of every single user by default. That never happened. It never happened because hackers did not
a) Write such software, or write such addons to existing software, and
b) Never pushed for such software to be written or included.

Where's the button on Firefox that turns on -- no, turns off from default -- encrypted browsing? Where's the auto-configured PGP setting in _all_ email clients, ready to send and receive encrypted mail by default? Where are the default sever settings in programs like Apache which support all of this across the web?

These things are no longer optional extras. In the face of the rumbling, Kafka-esque behemoth that the NSA is becoming, they are essential features which everyone on the web needs right now.

The first task: Get Firefox to accept self-signed certs without complaining.

Comment Because It's Too Huge (Score 1) 610

People don't seem that outraged because of the enormity of what they have been faced with.

The size, scale, scope, and capability of the NSA domestic survellance programs literally surpass the wildest dreams of secret police organisations like the Stazi. Snowden's revelations have dropped an undeniable bombshell on the US public, which despite its best efforts to ignore, not even the mainstream media can completely hush up. American's now know that they are under 24/7/365 complete and total government survellance each and every time they go online. Everything they do is monitored, recorded, and kept on file for the rest of their lives.

It takes time for a human being to fully come to terms with something like this.

For American's, it will taken even longer. The idea of a free America is still a very powerful one. The idea that certain things don't happen in America is a founding principle of the nation, and the reason why so many millions chose to build a new life there. The idea that a secret police -- the most quintessential aspect of an oppressive state -- now exists in the US on a scale never before seen in human history is an idea in fundamental conflict with American's own national self-image. It would be easier to accept that the individual states never actually existed than to accept this.

But facts are stubborn things. Despite all efforts to smother it, this story is not going away, and American's are not going to be able to ignore it. This is too huge. The NSA and it's programs are a sledgehammer, slowly pounding at the very foundations of the US itself. No matter how asleep, how apathetic, how cynical, or how uniformed you are, eventually the punding is going to wake you up too.

Comment What do they need it for? (Score 1) 188

What the hell is the NSA being paid to do? Right now they're spending money, manpower and resources on trolling the internet for people's buddy lists and address books. For what? Because some terrorist might spill the beans on his super plans over AIM?

This is getting ridiculous. The NSA has clearly become a giant black hole of money which can and will hire an office full of people, a warehouse of computer equipment, and a 20 year maintenance plan just to keep tabs on who is sending instant messages to who -- foreign or domestic.

This isn't 1984 anymore. It's Brazil. I'm sure the NSA would like to think of themselves as Information Retrieval, but in reality they more resemble the Department of Records, no doubt complete with busy-seeming employees goofing off for most of the day.

Comment Re:Shitty article (Score 1) 103

You have no idea what you're talking about. Ape escape used the right stick to control the items, and the left stick for movement. It worked like the twin stick "asteroids" style games out now.

Twin stick control was an entirely new concept for console players at the time. Forget about 4 way buttons -- this took getting used to. After a few years, game developers then seemed to hit upon the idea of using the stick for the camera.

By now, we're all accustomed to this convention. But in 1998-1999, using a stick for a camera was a largely unheard of concept. Camera control was via shoulder buttons on 4 way buttons, and was a genuine nightmare. Third person 3D games never really became smoothly playable until the genuine innovation of the camera control stick.

And no, neither Ape escape nor Mario 64 did not employed this convention.

Comment Re:14c/kWh (Score 1) 377

...the primary cost is up-front installation, and maintenance costs are virtually zero thereafter.

This is more true of photovoltaic panel ("solar cell") systems, where the panels themselves are the largest cost, the only moving parts in the system are slow-motion, low-load sun-tracking motors, and where maintenance consists of washing dust off the panels from time to time. Sunlight is converted directly to electricity in a single solid-state device.

Solar thermal power plants are more complicated beasties, with a lot more moving parts. In the facility described by this article, moving reflectors focus sunlight on a network of light-absorbing pipe containing some sort of heat transfer fluid; this array of pipes carries hot fluid to a central location where it is used to boil water, which in turn drives conventional steam turbines to generate electricity. The whole thing has miles of pipe through which substantial volumes of very hot liquid must be pumped, and will be subjected to frequent swings in temperature due to passing clouds and unavoidable day/night cycles. It's a nontrivial bit of engineering that will be subjected to some very real wear and tear.

Sure, your heat source is free sunlight, but one shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that maintaining the plant will only have a negligible cost.

Comment Re: And the pilot? (Score 1) 249

Surely that would be reportable?

In the interest of complete and balanced coverage, The Sun would like to acknowledge that our reporter was described by assorted bystanders and family members as "a bloodsucking parasite", "a borderline-illiterate carrion-feeder", and a "worthless asshole".

Amusing, but probably not really helpful.

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