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Comment Re:From Mall of America visitor rules: (Score 3, Informative) 241

Somehow I doubt having overconfident civilians in a chaotic situation with guns will help anything. Surprise is a key element of terrorism, and well-intentioned people with guns may not have the opportunity to respond when something bad does happen. You're more likely to get injured civilians shot in the crossfire from friendly fire or just poor aim. Heck, it's hard enough getting police to use/refrain-from-using firearms appropriately in crowded areas.

Comment Re:This is clearly futile... (Score 1) 193

The Internet is full of half-truths and outright lies. Search engines do not deliver results based on the truth value of sites, but on popularity, page ranking and such. If, 10 years ago, you were arrested for child porn, with headlines in the newspapers. Three months later, charges were dropped, everyone apologized profoundly to you for the mistake, the government paid a ton of money for your troubles and the prosecutor who go your arrested lost his job.

That sounds nice in theory, but your stance makes a few assumptions: 1) there is a perfect objective view of what the truth is and 2) the internet is not a dynamic, adaptive source of information. For point 1, people may have two different perspectives on what should and should not be public knowledge. For example, if a politician is caught for embezzling money, they may want to be forgotten to avoid further persecution and move on with their life. Voters in other regions may want to know and remember that factoid to avoid putting a historically dishonest person in power. I think both sides have some merit here.

For the second point, the internet is a highly adaptive and dynamic source of information. If you attempt to take information down, someone else may put it up anonymously somewhere else. How does one filter the good information from the bad? Or should we just remove any mention of the person by brute force? What if the person in question has a similar name to yours? This approach may censor potentially damaging information and it may also censor potentially useful information, like your resume or personal website. The-right-to-be-forgotten takes a naive and sometimes despotic approach to controlling information. And, it fails because it ignores the technical constraints to implementing such an idea.

Finally, you didn't need to invoke a variant of Godwin's law to discuss this topic. It's rich and complicated enough without bringing child pornography into it.

Comment Link to the study. (Score 5, Informative) 422

Here's a link to the study: study. They performed a cross-sectional study across some 5000 adults, looking at the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), non-carbonated SSBs, diet soda, and fruit juices. They adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, and found that SSBs are correlated with shorter telomeres (b=–0.010; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.020, 0.001; P=.04); fruit juice with longer telomeres (b=0.016; 95% CI=0.000, 0.033; P=.05), and no difference for diet sodas and non-carbonated SSBs.

I'm not sure how to interpret the results, as the study does not explain what the effect size is, or how impactful it is to general health. If there are any biologists in the crowd who can explain this, that would be super helpful.

Comment Re:Victory..? (Score 4, Insightful) 149

I have mixed feelings about that. While I do feel that having 'fast lanes' would be appropriate for certain civil services, those considerations would be used as a trojan horse for corporations to shove legal policy through the system. The need for sufficiently fast internet should actually strengthen the argument for net neutrality. The internet has become such a critical part of the societal infrastructure, that it should be maintained like one. If all traffic is equal, and we're worried about some critical health service needing bandwidth, then we should upgrade the hardware instead of creating an artificially scarce resource.

Comment Because student loans are easy to get (Score 1) 538

Colleges are able to charge more for perhaps two reasons. The first is that student loans are fairly easy to get. This makes it easier for colleges to bill students for around that amount, plus or minus whatever the parents and a temp job can dish out.If you look at prices before student loans, they are dramatically lower. A second factor is that colleges, and even some post-graduate training, have become mandatory to achieve a decent wage (where decent is somewhere between livable and capable of raising a family). This compels students to risk being crippled by debt in order to avoid being crippled by poverty sometime in the future. Some posters mention that "nobody forces you to take a loan", but economic and societal pressures make it pretty damn hard not to.

This naturally brings us to a bunch of controversial solutions: apprenticeships, subsidized colleges, increased minimum wage, loan forgiveness programs, etc. I'm personally in favor of any option that enables citizens to get better paying jobs regardless of whether if debt is payed back or not. Most of the time, the government will easily make back its money through increased taxes on higher paying jobs and society benefits from having more people available to take on the advanced jobs.

Comment Re:Information paradox? (Score 3, Interesting) 193

I think information is used in it's most abstract sense. Any particle or wave signals that that approach the black hole get consumed. I.e. when we look at it, we see nothing because light is absorbed. I'm probably wrong, though, and someone who studies the topic might be more apt at providing an explanation. Personally, I wonder what this means in terms of the second law of thermodynamics. When a black hole consumes energy and releases a Planck star, do either events reduce the entropy of the system?

Comment Re:There's no need for a new bill ... (Score 1) 535

True, but passing a token bill probably isn't the most appropriate solution. The current situation at least makes the inequity visible, i.e. that the FCC has abdicated their authority and that ISPs have unlimited freedom to shape their traffic. At least this opens the door for more activism.

Comment Re:It would be nicer if... (Score 1) 52

There are a few issues with the output of pdftoxml that make it difficult to parse (mostly adobe's fault). For 2-column articles, the columns are interleaved. That means you'll get a little bit of text from column A followed by a little bit of text from column B. The xml tags contain the x/y coordinates, so you can develop some heuristics to cleave out segments of text for one journal. This is not particularly suitable when you want to analyze text across different journal formats, as you'll have to develop a one-off solution for each journal.

It would also be useful to have clearly demarcated sections for the abstract, results, references, etc. Again, you could set BIO (Begin-In-Out) tags based on the section title and formatting style, but you may run into a few false positives if those words are used elsewhere in the text, and the two-column issue mentioned earlier may dump in text from other sections. Finally, there's little distinction between the body of the manuscript and the header/footer information.

Overall, the text is a bit messy. If you're just looking for keywords, then it's not a big deal. If you are trying to extract more complicated syntactic structures within the document, then it becomes a problem.

Comment It would be nicer if... (Score 3) 52

... publishers removed the paywall to publicly funded literature, or at least made the prices more sane.

Also, while we're on the topic of text mining, would it be possible to get text-only or xml-based articles, with figures attached and cross-references as needed? It's quite annoying to manually convert a pdf when trying to setup an automated analysis over several documents. I know one could setup a shell script to dump it out using the pdftoxml converter, but the output is a bit messy to parse.

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