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Comment Re:totally government spin (Score 1) 668

the story was leaked by a government minister that there was a lot of welsh people getting measles when in reality there was no epidemic at all. its all scare tactics by the newspapers and the government who in reality want you to be scared of breathing so that you do what they want you to do.

In related news, polls find 7% believe the moon landing was a hoax.

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Comment Re:You .... (Score 1) 668

Modern society counteracts evolution by protecting the weak and stupid.

Ironically, this is also exactly what vaccinations do.

Actually no. What vaccinations does is modify selections pressures for us to survive in an environment which includes vaccinations. Specifically it has two effects. (1) It lowers the selection pressure for an immune system which can inherently avoid/survive infection by these particular diseases, and (2) it adding a selection pressure for immune systems which strongly respond to vaccinations. In our modern society an immune system with a strong and generalized response to vaccinations has HUGE evolutionary value. It means an immune systems which is powerfully equipped to leverage external technology (vaccine development) to defeat novel deadly threats in the future. The evolutionary value of fighting off a specific disease is peanuts compared to the evolutionary value of strong mehcnisms to defeat generalized future threats.

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Comment Re:You .... (Score 1) 668

Modern society counteracts evolution by protecting the weak and stupid.

No, it doesn't. And this is a meme that needs to be killed off.

Modern Society certainly alters the Natural Selection criteria, but altering what is selected does not diminish the process of evolution. Scientists have identified recent and current positive evolutionary selection in humans in a wide range of genes. This includes genes for metabolism, sensory perception, immune system, reproduction, neural development, and more.

For example multiple different genes for lactose tolerance arose in various parts of the world, they have been spreading for a few thousand years, and they continue to experiencing positive selection today. Another notable example is that scientists have detected that genes for bipolar disorder and related mental illnesses are currently experiencing positive selection. People with bipolar or similar disorders are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, to leave the resulting child to be raised by the other person or by family members, and go on to repeat the process with multiple partners. And I deliberately raise this particular example to make a point - if you fall out a 4th floor window the laws of physics don't care whether you think broken bones are a good thing or a bad thing. Just like Evolution and other laws of nature don't care whether you think bipolar disorder is a good thing or a bad thing. Human evolution has not stopped. Humans are evolving to better survive and reproduce with our modern milk-grain-highfructose-highfat-highsodium based diets. Humans are evolving to better survive and reproduce with our high-technology highly-complex highly-diverse high-mobility society. And yes, that includes evolutionary exploration of mental illness as a means of increasing reproductive rates. A strategy which is working at least in the short term, and with an unknown long term outcome. The human species has achieved the success it has due in large part to the strategy of parents placing a huge investment in producing a small number of highly successful children. And regardless of our opinion on things, evolution is still going to blindly explore the high-risk-high-payoff strategy of trading quality-of-offspring and care-of-offspring in exchange for quantity-of-offspring. Because humans are still actively undergoing evolution. Any and all genetically-influenced traits expressed by humans are subject to positive or negative evolutionary selections if those traits have any direct or indirect impact on the number of long term descendants we leave behind.

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Comment Re:General implications (Score 4, Interesting) 46

Um, how? Using Dark Matter detectors? Look, neutrinos couple to existing, known particles -- leptons, although via other more complex processes e.g. inverse beta decay they can couple to protons in nuclei as well. The response we can detect is in proportion to the density of those particles in a medium that can function as a detector, which in turn is proportional to straight up mass density. The interaction probability is phenomenally low for all of the known particles, so one requires large volumes of material to make ANY kind of detector. There are strict limits on the density of ordinary matter, and even more stringent limits on the density of matter that can conceivably used as a detector

So I'm curious -- given that the ratio between the mass density of water and the mass density of e.g. Tungsten, Uranium, Plutonium is only a single order of magnitude, and a reaction cross section that AFAIK depends solely on the mass density, where exactly are the other two orders of magnitude going to come from from any possible variation in materials?

"Systems", well, perhaps. If we use underground cavities filled with water to look for Cerenkov radiation, or chlorine detectors to look for outgassing Argon, we can always make them 10x bigger and hence increase the detector volume 1000 fold. But this is morally equivalent to building 1000 detectors like we have today and combining the data, and it still leaves us with the same issues if one wishes to determine flavor information and not just raw e.g. neutral current flux. Indeed, to get flavor information we will very likely be limited to building 1000 detectors to get 1000 fold increase in data simply because there are size constraints on detectors that are going to detect and resolve e.g. a muon produced in a charged current interaction.

So sure, we can always scale up our existing technology or minor improvements of it to improve detection rates. But I don't think that materials or systems that improve the scaling of the detection technologies we already have are particularly plausible, based on what I now know. So what did you have in mind (as in, do you know something I don't)? Are there other materials that are likely to have orders of magnitude higher cross section for inverse beta decay, or are you just thinking of building bigger/more detectors?

Not flames, BTW -- an honest question.

rgb

Comment Re:A practical algorithm for manuscript quality. (Score 1) 128

The average quality hovers somewhere between execrable and toe-curlingly awful, and they get dismissed after a glance through the first page.

And yet 99.999% of the remainder still gets rejected.

Why don't all publishers move to purely electronic submissions with simple algorithms to spell and grammar check each incoming MS? There are even well-researched, validated reading-score algorithms that might also be used for further filtering.

This would instantly reduce the role of human readers to almost nothing, according to the definitive statement of virtually every publisher or editor who has ever written anything about submission quality.

That is, if slush is so obviously, screamingly, overwhelming bad, why aren't publishers streamlining their filtering of it, and in the best case rejecting everything being caught by the filter instantly, thereby reducing their turn-around time on everything else?

One suspects that either the quality of slush isn't so bad, or the publishers are just massively incompetent.

Comment Embarcadero XE4? (Score 1) 543

I'm just throwing it out there, but I had a chance to play with Embarcadero XE3, and am going through the trial of XE4, and if you are looking to write native C++ windows apps, its hands down better than Visual Studio could dream of. It's faster, I prefer Firemonkey to WPF, and its also a bit more portable...can hit Mac desktops as well and there's an IOS version I guess in the works. Plus, if you want to write a standard Windows forms app, I think VCL and all the rich VCL controls is way better than using old resource editor and some hokey MFC.

Just saying. Everyone is talking Eclipse vs Visual Studio, but honestly, Embarcadero is really worth a serious look.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 294

Sounds like a great idea, let's find the biomarker (a.k.a. genes) which identify violent behavior. Then what? Lobotomies? Indefinite internment? Put them on an island where they fight to the death on pay-per-view? Deny them the full rights accorded to them as citizens of the United States?

I think these suggestions speak far more directly to the sick, demented, punishment-obsessed society you live in (I'm assuming you're an American...) than any probable response from the civilized world to this knowledge.

Maybe I'm naive, but outside of the US I can't see those kinds of responses getting any play. I can, however, see funding being directed toward ensuring that people who carry a genetic propensity to violence (assuming such a thing exists, which is not completely insane) get counseling and nurturing to ensure that they are less likely to find themselves in the grip of their genetics.

Comment Re:AC Post (Score 1) 294

They are trying to "find all motherfuckers who resemble the motherfucker who killed our child".

I admit to not having RTFM'd, but there seems to me a perfectly ethical, non-vengeful way of motivating this work. I personally would love to know if one of my children was genetically predisposed to violence, so I could help them deal with it early and stay out of trouble.

Only an idiot who believes in genetic determinism (but I repeat myself) would think that anyone ought to be punished or singled out for anything other than special nurturing based on their genes.

Comment Re:AC Post (Score 1) 294

So what do we have here? If you carry that gene you are more sensitive than others to violence against you. You run higher risk than others to become violent yourself if exposed to abuse. Such individuals then would require a tad more consideration rather than being already stigmatized as "potential troublemaker". See how this research will do the opposite of what they supposedly intent?

No, I don't see that at all. What I see is people with a primitive, stone-age view of morality applying the results of this research in a completely inappropriate way.

The research does not force anyone to do anything. Idiots who build their moral codes around the stories their ancestors told them will use it as faux justification for their primitive, anti-Bayesian, gibberish ideas. Bayesian humanists will use it to identify individuals who could benefit from special protection from certain environments, or who might need particular care during their formative years.

Lots of parents would want to know if their offspring was prone to violence, as it would give them the opportunity to support them and teach them to deal with their genetic heritage before the fact, rather than dealing with the punitive "justice system" after the fact.

Comment Is a monolithic Linux Kernel reaching its limits? (Score 1) 1501

both socially and technically? By me: http://www.mail-archive.com/fonc@vpri.org/msg03714.html
"After citing Alan Kay's OOPSLA 1997 "The Computer Revolution Has Not Happened Yet" speech, the key point I made there is: "Yet, I can't help but feel that the reason Linus is angry, and fearful, and shouting when people try to help maintain the kernel and fix it and change it and grow it is ultimately because Alan Kay is right. As Alan Kay said, you never have to take a baby down for maintenance -- so why do you have to take a Linux system down for maintenance?" ... So, perhaps now we finally twenty-years see the shouting begin as the monolithic Linux kernel reaches its limits as a community process? :-) Still, even if true, it was a good run."

That was about this slashdot post of mine, which included:
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3346421&cid=42430475
"Again, whether using a 2X4 to get someone's attention was appropriate or not in this case, the deeper issue may also be that the strong emotions expressed by Linus may reflect a fundamental problematical issue in the Linux kernel architecture and development processes. Why does Linus have to be so afraid of so many continually needed patches breaking the system in a hard-to-understand and test way? At some point, it may be reasonable to say that what *most* users need is not a 20% or whatever performance improvement by a monolithic kernel but instead maybe what they would be better off with is a microkernel that supports easier upgrades, improved reliability, easier portability, and thus helps software developers to do new things with less effort and higher quality. And as QNX demonstrated in the 1980s, being able to do easy parallel processing across a network of thousands or millions of processors exchanging messages may be ultimately a much bigger performance boost than, say, a few percent greater performance on one processor. That is the promise of "message passing" whether implemented in a microkernel or not."

Comment Re:Mod me down, but I believe it serves a purpose. (Score 1) 1501

Being verbally abusive like this basically helps you to tell more objectively how much people does actually care about something, and it works very well with people who just likes to argue for the sake of being right.

Piffle. You are a bad project manager if you can't tell who is arguing for the sake of argument (or "being right" or whatever.)

I'm all for being blunt and direct (see above). That is distinct from being abusive (which can be fun on /., but is bad management practice.)

Comment Re:From the laundromat (Score 0) 88

A friend took his new underwater camera case to the area, and it is full of small sharks, perhaps there is warm water attracting them.

The waters all over southern California are full of small sharks. I've seen them zooming along the breaking waves in La Jolla, far from any nuclear plant. So thanks for the baseless speculation! [Hint: if you want an issue to actually matter, provide a baseline comparison. Don't just say something ridiculous and meaningless like "You can light the water from their tap on fire!!!!" as if that was somehow interesting without any baseline or comparison to contrast it with.]

San Onofre has always had an excellent environmental record, as have most nuclear plants. Their economic record, now...

The problem with nuclear power comes in two forms:

1) relatively simple repairs are really expensive because they are heavily regulated

2) relatively small errors in operation result in (at best) the total destruction of the plant (i.e. Three Mile Island) and (at worst) the release of pretty significant amounts of radiation into the environment (i.e. Chernobyl, equal to perhaps a few months of American gun violence in terms of total deaths, unless you believe hysterics of nutjobs like the anti-scientific clowns at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which doesn't actually represent a significant fraction of the nuclear physics community.)

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