Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:The slippery slope argument (Score 1) 668

Does this extend to all behavior that can be shown to be statistically more likely to result in injury, illness, or death?

Ahh, the slippery slope argument. The answer is of course we don't extend it to everything.

So, we apply it to things like vaccinations, but not throwing rocks. Excellent. Except I imagine more kids die each year from reckless behaviour than are killed by chicken pox (the ad promoting the chicken pox vaccine listed between 200 and 300 kids a year dying in the U.S. from chicken pox). That's right, it's less than 1% as risky as the flu, and people blow that vaccination off on a yearly basis. I'm not sure what your risk of negative outcomes is for the chicken pox vaccination, but it can only be slightly lower than the risk of not getting it before the risk is nil. So do we still shut out the kids who didn't get the chicken pox vaccination?

As usual, broad, sweeping statements are usually wrong. Do try to learn something from the bad behaviour of politicians.

Comment Re:The boring truth (Score 1) 668

Time for some basic science, buddy. NaCl is an ionic compound, and slightly dissociates in solution, into Na+ Cl-. Cl- is much less harmful than Cl2, chlorine gas (but still rather reactive). When you introduce electricity into a saline solution, science happens! And can kill you. Moreover, our bodies aren't designed to handle Cl2, and none of the biochemical reactions in our bodies produce it, yet routinely handle Cl- from a variety of sources, table salt being the most common.

Now, this doesn't have anything to do with how dangerous Thimerosal is or isn't, just in how bad your analogy is (or may be, I'm pretty Thimerosal isn't an ionic compound), and in how much of an uninformed idiot you are.

Comment Re:Something must go (Score 1) 180

Well, our lifespans are averaging somewhere in the 70's but it's been increasing over the years. If you eliminate cooking, candles, vacuum cleaners, fossil fuels (the list goes on)... who knows? Our lifespans could be in the thousands. Bottom line is, what we don't know CAN hurt us.

This is incorrect, in meaning if not in fact. Life expectancy at birth has increased dramatically. Life expectancy at 5 years old has increased markedly. Life expectancy at adulthood has increased very little.

Yes, average lifespans have been increasing a lot in the last century or so, but that will happen when previously a quarter or more of the population was dying before 5 years old.

A couple references.

Comment Re:I tests like this were required I would be scre (Score 1) 199

Well I am not so sure that the test linked at in the summary is that effective. I personally am pretty good at spatial stuff, and on my first pass of the test it took me a good 15 minutes, scoring 8/9. I thought I did well. But then about 15mn later I showed it to my father in law and went through it again. It took me all of 3 minutes tops, not because I'd done it before but because I'd gotten much better at it. I didn't even need to visualize the cubes any more, I just looked at the flat patterns. I scored 9/9. I think it would be very difficult to create such spatial tests unless you get into 3D geometry, where you try to visualize the cross section of a cylinder skewering a cone.

I'm not sure you're entirely correct. As with most things, doing them repeatedly makes you better. Wayne Gretzky couldn't do everything he did due to native talent alone - it took practice! This doesn't mean I could practice any amount and ever be as good as he was. Likewise, something that you (or I) could pick up in reasonably short order may be very difficult or impossible for others. Some, like the GPP, may be almost completely lacking in this area, and compensate with other techniques. Some of those techniques may lead to very elegant solutions that spatial reasoning simply wouldn't point to.

I won't say that my completing the test in 20 minutes with some effort means it would be a reasonable test for anyone else. Likewise, it would be interesting to see if more complex levels of testing could be achieved, and so be able to categorize those who are above average, if this even passes that mark.

On a related note, you may be interested in this: Arrowsmith School. The whole premise behind the school is using mental exercises to train up the weaker cognitive capacities of people with cognitive disabilities until they reach normal levels of function. 30 years of practice seems to indicate that it works. It makes me think there could be more possibility for improvement than we think.

Comment Re:Heightened Risk != Cancer Victim (Score 1) 124

The earthquake and the tsunami were neither exceptional nor unanticipated. Low-frequency, yes. But also completely expected. Parts of the coastline not far from the power plant show clear signs of having been hit by a tsunami 10 meters higher than this one, within the last 1000 years.

Ah, so not likely in a given person's lifetime, and also not often in 40 or 50 generations. Exactly how many other buildings are designed for that level of destruction? Whether these ones should be is a slightly different question, I'll grant you, but we're talking very rare events - some few times in 1/10 of humanity's recorded history.

Comment Re:The truth is (Score 1) 707

The best way to approach nutrition is to look into the research on the digestive system (which consist of more than just epidemiological studies) and understand what is going on and going to go on in your body when you consume things (it is beneficial to eat sugar when your blood sugar levels are low, I repeat: beneficial). It's not easy (but doable), but it sure beats running around blurting out appeals to nature or evangelizing the Word of some food guru you like, which 99% of the people seem to do.

Yes, it's expected that when you're body is in an abnormal or unhealthy state, that things that would otherwise not be recommended might be beneficial. Don't continue your marathon runs with a broken leg. Use antiseptics on a dirty wound. Have maggots clean dead tissue from a gangrenous wound. Eat simple sugars when your blood sugar is very low (bonking in athletic terms). In a typical healthy state, an expert generally wouldn't recommend any of these.

Comment Re:never happen in the states (Score 1) 269

And so I searched united states broadband subsidy in DDG, and this is the second link. My casual review notes somewhere between $7.2B and $11.7B in stimulus funding, paid since 2006, mentioned in the first three paragraphs, $4.5B of that announced in Nov. 2011. That would be one budget ago. Exactly how much more recently are you looking for? I'm sure if I look, I could find some slated for distribution in 2013, but I think the point is made. That particular trough is still open.

Comment Re:never happen in the states (Score 1) 269

The companies claim they can't compete against the government entity.

This is an issue if the municipal system is subsidized with taxes, or funded through tax-backed municipal bonds, or receives special access to municipal right-of-ways, or any number of other things normal companies don't have access to. The municipality can easily undercut the competition because they don't have to pay for right-of-ways and, if all else fails, they can force people to pay for their service whether they want it or not. It's the same reason you don't see many private roads; given two otherwise equal roads, one private (toll) and the other public (tax-funded), no one is going to choose the toll road when they have to pay the taxes for the public one anyway, even if the tolls are ultimately less expensive.

Note that I'm not arguing against community-provided Internet access, just the government aspects. If the service was provided by a local co-op with no special ties to the municipal government, competing on equal terms, the company would have no cause for complaint.

As the anonymous poster said below, but I'll expand upon. The U.S government paid billions in subsidies to get broadband up and running, and then when they don't do it and a town or city decides to roll their own (after the broadband companies say they have no plan to roll it out soon, nor do they have a timeline for when it will be done) the company sues for unfair competition. Personally, I'd ask them how they plan to compete in a market they don't service, nor have even tentative plans of servicing.

This is beside all the tax breaks, sweetheart contracts, forgivable loans, and bailouts (yep, being rewarded for screwing up!) which these companies get while cities literally go bankrupt with no word of any help from the federal government.

In short, the competing with government on equal terms sailed decades ago. Maybe it's time to either cut off the gravy or laugh in their faces when they whine about having to compete with the government.

Comment Re:Who? (Score 2) 159

You're an idiot.

Did you notice the much of the government is also up in arms about what the NSA did?


Convenient that you forget about the breaking and entering and then illegal access to the computer system.

You idiots needs to realize it is not about the docs, it was about the crimes he committed to gain access to the docs.

Wow, did somebody just learn a new word? Good for you!

I can only assume you're still pretty young, or haven't watched politics very much. Politicians spend a lot of time being very dismayed, concerned, disappointed, and outraged when their opponents do certain things, and then justify those same acts when they're the ones who get caught. When they do something they shouldn't have, they create a law saying they can do that now. If they propose a law and everyone gets upset, they drop it and then propose a slightly watered down version in 6 months or so. If they make a significant promise to get elected, they discover it's just too difficult to keep it once they get elected. If they actually repeal a bad law (or don't renew it), they often find a way to get at least a watered down version in at some later date, or let their opponent re-enact it when they're back in power.

Given all the antics politicians regularly engage in, why should I give any credit to them because they've formed yet another committee? Let's see what the results are. I'll put my money that the TSA will still be around in three years, and will be doing more ground traffic checks.

Comment Re:Conversion to foot (Score 4, Informative) 125

Having thought about it, guessing he was talking about 5,200 meters with the thinking that in certain places in the world, they use a comma rather than a decimal point to represent the division between partial units. In that case, 5,200 metres = 5.200 meters = 17.0604 feet = 17,0604 feet in that particular case.

But Everest Base camp (either south or north, both on a fairly broad area) are most certainly not a handful of meters above sea level.

Comment Re:Irrelevant (Score 1) 280

Gun free zones are free killing zones. Every mass shooting I can recall, except one, happened in a gun free zone. [...] When armed good people are present someone might still get killed but it's also quite certain the murderer will be among the people shot.

The problem with non-uniformed civilians carrying guns is that they cameoflage the bad guys. If you see a person carrying a gun in a place where nobody routinely carries a gun, you call the police because something is wrong. But if lots of people carry guns all the time, you end up either raising a lot of false alarms, or risk allowing a shooter to get to his victims and start shooting before anyone knows to stop him.

IMO if we're going to have people around carrying guns to keep the public safe, those people should be professionally trained and in uniform. That minimizes the "is that armed guy a good guy or a bad guy?" problem.

Lucky for us, the bad guys are happy to follow the requirement that they walk around brandishing their gun so that we know they're one of the bad guys.

Really, there are two problems here. First, an unequal balance of power. Bad guys can and will get guns. "Good guys without guns" sounds a lot like "victims". Second, lack of police coverage. If police were everywhere, I would be more inclined to say that civilians have no need for guns (except to protect against the police, but that's a philosophical issue), but I'm not interested in paying the taxes to support that.

Also, it's not like there couldn't be a training requirement to have a permit to carry a weapon, as opposed to owning one. Given your sig, you're from Canada. We already have possession permits. Do you really think it's so difficult to have a higher standard for a concealed carry permit? Many places in the states (perhaps all that allow concealed carry) have a licensing requirement, which appears to have a training component.

Comment Re:of course... (Score 1) 280

You can not, but for an entirely different reason that has nothing to do with technicalities of airport-side implementation. In Israel, this kind of thing exists because it had to evolve because of a real existential threat. If you replicate this methodology to an environment that does NOT have such a threat - that is, to any country that isn't Israel - it will not work. How are you going to train airport security personnel if there's no century of experience with specific tactics, and no national security mechanism? Americans seem to think they've got it rough because NSA may have been reading their emails. In Israel, there is a national identity database, which includes references to relative, and every person has a number. Let me give you an example. I went to a bank for a bank-signed deposit for my landlord. The teller asked for the landlord's ID number to be put on the writ. I called him on the cellphone and asked, repeating the number aloud. Then I asked him to repeat it once again to be sure. By the time he finished, the teller had, read this, a printout with his phone number, address, face, and situation in the debt registrar. Remember the assassination of Hamas chief in Dubai? It was blamed on Israel, but nobody in the world paid attention to the fact that the copy of national identity database HAS BEEN LEAKED TO TORRENT SITES EVERY YEAR FOR A DECADE, and it occured to nobody that the stolen identities of Israeli citizens that the assassins used could've easily come from there. And now they are adding a biometric component to the national identity database that so far has failed basic security requirements ("biometric database" here being Excel files over plaintext HTTP).

In Israel, we can tolerate this invasion of privacy, and ethnic/racial profiling, because it would be suicide not to resort to it. But nobody else should marvel at it, and nobody else should try to replicate it. It is something we have by necessity, not because we were sitting around on our collective zionist assess contemplating what to do and somebody was all like "Hey! I know! Let's make the most awesome, invisible and efficient racial profiling system in the world."

I beg you all to not advocate it.

TL;DR The US doesn't need to do what Israel has done because the threat isn't significant.

Comment Re:the problem with OpenOffice (Score 1) 211

Poor backward and forwards compatibility? Really?

I recently opened a few documents with Word 2011 on my Mac that were authored with whatever version of Word that was available on Windows 3.1/3.11. After a quick conversion, they loaded perfectly. I regularly send and receive documents with a friend who is still running Office 2003 on XP, again, no problems at all.

Without an idea of what is in the files, it's hard to say how relevant this is. You can effectively use Word as Notepad with a nicer interface. You can also use Word with piles of macros, multi-level formatting, custom styles, and that weird font you downloaded 8 years ago. One will be likelier to convert from one version to another than the other will.

I'm not saying that you're presenting a specious argument, but one of the tricky things in this discussion is determining which feature MS decided to update between one version of Word and another, and whether that will cause a conversion to break. But if I was going to make a work-alike of Word, I'd take special note of the features that tend to fail on conversion, and pay extra attention to them when I make my conversion routines. After all, if the producer of both versions of Word has trouble with conversions between them, I should take that as an indicator that it requires special effort. And it looks good for me.

Slashdot Top Deals

You will be successful in your work.