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Comment His question was important and legitimate (Score 3, Insightful) 396

I don't understand the hatred towards Snowden for asking an important question regarding surveillance. From the linked article his question:

"So I'd like to ask you, does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"

It is a perfectly valid question which needs to be asked to all world leaders. While Putin's answer can certainly be seen as pure political spin, the question itself is a legitimate and forceful question to be posed. And by asking it, it forced Putin to provide an answer through which he can be measured against. He has basically said in nationwide tv that if they did have a mass surveillance system, the state would be breaking the law. This public statement can now be used to hold him accountable should evidence surface proving him as lying.

I would also argue that the question is a far more direct one regarding surveillance than any that has been posed to Obama. And unlike Putin, Obama insists such a surveillance program is legal and necessary. One cannot reform the system without admitting the problem first. Were Obama to give the same answer as Putin to that question, the repercussions would be enormous, as it places a moral and legal standard on the role of surveillance in our society from the chief executive of the nation itself.

Comment This is great and all but... (Score 1) 98

They've gotten themselves into autonomous cars, fiber optic internet, robotics, and Wi-Fi balloons.

That's all great, but if I was shareholder I'd be worried about what their long-term vision for the company is. Sure, their R&D projects are a geek's wet dream, but they are unfocused. They appear to try and cover any and all emerging technologies, from wide variety of disparate sectors. Apple tries to focus on the consumer electronics sector. Google? I'm not quite sure what they are trying to be, and as an investor I'd be wary in investing in a company with such a schizophrenic view of its future.

Comment Re:Not going to work... (Score 4, Informative) 408

A while back I was prescribed an anti-depressant. The doctor said he didn't know if it would work for me. He said it wasn't even well understood *how* it worked.

You had a bad and uninformed doctor. A good doctor should have at least a general idea of how the medication works, and he certainly shouldn't be prescribing drugs without knowing if they'd work or how!

That confused me because presumably whatever was in the pill was added for a reason, but clearly there's a lot of trial and error. And clearly there are extremely nasty side effects from many drugs.

So many pharmaceuticals' effectiveness may be overrated, as may be their safety. I'm not sure some medicinal plants are necessarily less effective or less safe.

Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work? For example, willow bark has salicin (from whence aspirin came), and has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates.

There may be side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, but they are well understood as a result of the extensive testing they are required to go through, and a lot of effort is made to minimize those side effects. Medicinal plants have the same range of side effects. The difference is herbal medicine doesn't go through scientific testing, it's side effects are not required to be labeled and are not as well understood. Drugs that are isolated from medicinal herbs will typically try to isolate the active ingredient, reducing the chances of side effects from other plant ingredients that may have unwanted pharmacological properties and refining the dosage to the minimum necessary.

The idea of treating the whole person instead of just the symptom is a growing concern in western medicine. This has always been the defining characteristic of homeopathy's holistic approach.

So many homeopathic treatments are almost certainly bunk, but throwing out all homeopathy may be short sighted, just as throwing out all of western medicine would be.

The defining characteristic of homeopathy is the "like cures like" approach, with medicine prepared from repeated dilution. This has been repeatedly proven to be bunk and without merit. If the core fundamentals of their medical approach is false, having been consistently disproven, why shouldn't the whole field be throw out as discredited and without merit?

Comment Re:Tracking` (Score 2) 233

I assume the live-streaming solution you're talking about is the one proposed by FLYHT. Their proposed solution, however, would only send essential data at the moment an event is detected, and it wouldn't supersed a standard flight data recorder. It wouldn't carry cockpit voice recording, for example, which was essential in determining what happened in the case of AF447. With the Air France case as an example, the search for the black box would still have to be carried out to close the investigation. And while it may have narrowed the search area, we already had an idea of where it went down based on transponder and ACARS data. And the ACARS transmissions also provided a good idea of what the precipitating event was in that case. It is therefore unclear what the FLYHT system would have added in value to that event.

As to the MH370 case, as I mentioned it is quite likely that whatever took down ACARS and the transponder systems in the aircraft would have also affected live-streaming by any black box recorder. And even with some data streamed, you would still need to find the cockpit voice and flight data recorder to get a complete picture.

Comment Re:Tracking` (Score 2) 233

Without understanding what went wrong with the plane, we can't know whether the proposed enhanced black box would be effective. There were systems in the aircraft to report its position and status remotely - namely ACARS and its transponders. These failed or were disabled early on. It is quite possible that whatever took those systems out would have also disabled communications from an enhanced black box.

Until we know the cause of the crash, proposing a solution is premature.

Comment Bennett Haselton = Sheldon Cooper (Score 1) 273

All of Bennett Haselton's post suffer from the same flaw: they're long winded, technical solutions for problems that are at their core are a social problem. Trying to impose a convoluted mathematical solution to a human/social problem is always doomed to fail. It's almost like I hear Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory" speaking through him when he posts: a complete lack of understanding of social interaction in the real world, and an obstinate belief that you can fix the real world if only people would use your methodically thought algorithms to plan their lives.

Comment Antarctica (Score 3, Insightful) 150

How is this different from winter over expeditions in the South Pole, where you have a small group of people, isolated in a dome from the rest of the globe, and only able to leave their dome through puffy bulky suits.

And in fact. winter time expeditions at South Pole station are a better representation of Mars would be: they are effectively isolated, with the potential of any minor equipment malfunction turning into a life-or-death issue in the harsh Antarctic winter, dependent only on their own supplies. I doubt these NASA volunteers staying in a balmy hawaiian island will have to worry much if a medical problem or equipment malfunction occurs.

Comment Re:I dont get it (Score 1) 551

This is like asking why a battered wife doesn't defend herself against her abusive husband.

The Russian military is much larger than the Ukrainian military, and the Ukrainians knew they didn't stand a chance in any conflict. Additionally, having a tumultuous change of government at the same time which paralyzed decision making didn't help. The Russians, on the other hand, had been preparing for this for weeks, moving additional troops into the Crimea before the opportunity presented itself. It didn't help that Ukrainian military equipment is antiquate soviet holdovers, with very little equipment upgrades in the last 25 years.

On top of it, the majority of the Ukrainian navy was in the Crimea, which enabled the Russians to easily bottle it up. Ukrainian policy allowed servicemen to be based near their hometowns - which would have made the army more pliable to local pressures. Finally, the Ukrainians also have to worry about the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country separating at the moment.

There was very little the Ukrainians could do, and shooting back would have been a pointless loss of lives and only provided an excuse for Putin for even further aggression.


Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft 704

mrspoonsi writes "Joining MtGox, Flexcoin today announced they have had their vault wiped out, to the tune of some 896 BTC (about $615,000) by hackers. 'On March 2nd 2014 Flexcoin was attacked and robbed of all coins in the hot wallet. The attacker made off with 896 BTC, dividing them into these two addresses: 1NDkevapt4SWYFEmquCDBSf7DLMTNVggdu [and] 1QFcC5JitGwpFKqRDd9QNH3eGN56dCNgy6. As Flexcoin does not have the resources, assets, or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately.'"

MtGox Files For Bankruptcy Protection 465

Sockatume writes "The beleaguered MtGox bitcoin exchange has officially filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bitcoin held an impromptu press conference that addressed recent rumors. They state that they have over $60m in liabilities against just $30m in assets, and confirm the loss of over $500m worth of Bitcoins, split between customers' balances (750,000 BTC) and company assets (100,000 BTC). Owner Mark Karpeles said, 'There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble.'"

Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration 664

New submitter robertchin writes "Michael Barr recently testified in the Bookout v. Toyota Motor Corp lawsuit that the likely cause of unintentional acceleration in the Toyota Camry may have been caused by a stack overflow. Due to recursion overwriting critical data past the end of the stack and into the real time operating system memory area, the throttle was left in an open state and the process that controlled the throttle was terminated. How can users protect themselves from sometimes life endangering software bugs?"

Comment Technical solution for a social problem (Score 4, Insightful) 478

You're asking for a technical solution to a social/political problem. The only feasible solution is to make sure your policy is clearly explained and understood to all who board the limo-bus, and then strictly enforcing it by expelling anyone caught with a camera. Sure, you won't be able to monitor people 100% of the time, but if you're strict with enforcement people won't risk taking snapshots. It will probably be more effective than any technical solution which would be expensive and easily circumvented.

And if the owners of the limo-bus are really that worried about photos onboard, the simplest solution would be for everyone to deposit their electronic devices into a bag, and they can then recover their devices after leaving the limo-bus.

My guess though is that your policy is likely to lose your limo-bus company customers, so the owners better make sure whether enforcing it is worth the cost.

Comment Re:Really good question (Score 1) 326

I imagine most just don't know what "Astrology" means off the tops of their head, and they probably think it's some scientific term for astronomy

All pseudo-science tries to utilize scientific sounding jargon in an attempt to sound more credible.

Therefore, if we are to to better educate Americans to prevent them from falling prey to pseudo-science mambo-jumbo, it is equally important to sharpen their vocabulary skills. Those who push astrology deliberate try to capitalize on it's perceived confusion with astronomy. Astrologers would probably look at the fact that the majority of people confuse it with astronomy as a positive. We shouldn't take any consolation that this may be an explanation for the survey findings, and instead look at how to better educate young Americans.

Comment Either conclusion is troubling (Score 2) 326

So you're saying that it's not that Americans are prone to believe in pseudo-science, but that they lack basic English comprehension skills? Even if I were to believe that this unscientific internet study with a small sample size somehow trumps the observations of the National Science Foundation's wide ranging academic study, the conclusions derived are equally troubling. It's not that they're scientific illiterate - they're simply illiterate! Either conclusion indicates a serious deficit in US education standards, and rather than trying to justify the survey results away, we should be looking at ways to improving American education standards. If they can't distinguish between astronomy and astrology I'd be worried about their English vocabulary.

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