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Comment Re:Why would you refuse a breathalyzer? (Score 1) 1219

The breathalyzers measure voltage changes from a sensor which detects light transmitted through chemicals which change color in the presence of oxidizers, one of which is ethyl alcohol. If such device is properly maintained and the underlying assumptions are correct, the concentration of alcohol in the air can be accurately determined. From that they can calculate the Blood Alcohol Content as the concentration of alcohol in a person's breath is simply assumed to directly correlate with blood concentrations. (As other has be pointed out, that is not always the case.)

It's a very indirect, error-prone way of measuring a variable with multiple points of failure and potentially faulty assumptions. Yet law enforcement and the courts treat breathalyzers as if they are fool-proof.


Comment Re:Surprise move? (Score 1) 1505

The penalty for non-compliance with the individual mandate is phased in over time:

  • Beginning in 2014, the annual penalty is $95 or one percent of the person's taxable income, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, the penalty increases to $325 or two percent of taxable income, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016, the penalty is $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income, whichever is higher.
  • After 2016, the penalty is indexed to the consumer price index.


Comment Re:Double standards much? (Score 1) 703

It's not a double standard. Amazon is choosing not to do business with Wikileaks by blocking what they control. It's like a restaurant not choosing to serve someone not wearing pants.

No, Amazon unilaterally ceasing their business with Wikileaks is like a restaurant refusing to serve Martin Luther King Jr. during a tumultuous period in the civil rights movement... Maybe they think he's breaking the law. Maybe the government requested this or intimidated them. Maybe they just don't want the trouble. We'll probably never know. (Unless the information gets leaked. lol) Nevertheless, they're on the wrong side of history.

Amazon can cite all the reasons it wants to defend this decision. Their sycophantic and fascist supporters can laud the decision as a brilliant display of high-minded libertarian autonomy. The truth remains. Wikileaks has not been found guilty of any crime. None of its members have even been charged with any crime relevant to the leaks. Period.

Yet, despite this: Wikileaks accounts are being frozen. Their infrastructure is under attack. Their spokesperson/leader arrested on trumped-up salacious charges, denied bail, and publicly threatened with government-sponsored assassination. All because they are "information terrorists"--whatever that means...

In all likelihood, Amazon and the other U.S. corporations who have simultaneously all made similar decisions are assisting in an organized campaign to destroy and make an examples out of Wikileaks and Assange, in particular. The spectacle of it all, even at this point, is far more damaging to the image of the United States than anything leaked thus far. Rather than a "City upon A Hill," the U.S. is proving itself to be more like a corrupt, Banana Republic.


Comment Re:Ummm, because it is different information? (Score 1) 464

Similarly, peaceful diplomatic relationships are highly dependent upon trust and confidentiality, and they are "nonlinearly hit" by the release of the cables. That's Hillary Clinton's argument and here Assange's own writings back her up 100%. The release of the cables doesn't just expose wrongdoing, it attacks American diplomacy at its most fundamental level by attacking the trust between the people who make up the system. And I don't think that's collateral damage: it's the entire point. The fact that Wikileaks aims to release the entire quarter-million cables is clear evidence that they're not after the abuses of the system: they're trying to attack the system itself. Sure, there are some bad apples in there. But Assange isn't after the few bad apples, he's trying to burn down the whole damn orchard.

The U.S. government has a very big credibility problem with not only the world but its own people as well. The distance between the US's Realpolitik and it's rhetoric has become so great that they now polar opposites. Official U.S. positions have devolved into literal doublespeak. It is an unstable situation all-around. There are no WMDs in Iraq. The Afghan War is lost. The War on Drugs is a failure. The U.S. economy is a hollow, paper-tiger. The U.S. leadership ineffectual and functions primarily to divert largess to the powerful and corrupt. Most of all, there is no American Way: the U.S. does not give a shit about freedom, democracy, justice, environmentalism, capitalism, or any other ideals... And everybody knows it.

Wikileaks and the social movement it represents is the inevitable response to decades of corruption, deceit, and duplicity out of Washington. Is is it strictly fair? Certainly not. Will it likely interfere with legitimate operations of the government? Of course. But that's not why the establishment is angry, and it's certainly no reason for Wikileaks to stop.

In my opinion, Wikileaks represents a safety valve. It is blowing off the dangerous pressure that has built up in a relatively safe and controlled fashion. The worst thing that could happen at this point, is for their work to be stopped or for them to be removed from the equation. If that happens, the next release of pressure will be far more damaging and less controlled.

For instance, imagine in the future you are an activist in possession of a large amount of government information which you feel should be made public. If the establishment gets its wish and makes an examples out of Assange and wikileaks, what incentive would you have to even attempt analyzing and redacting legitimately classified information? As just one person or a small group (because large groups such as wikileaks and cryptome have been disbanded), you might not even have the resources and know-how to do so if you tried. So what do you do? If you seek assistance, you risk exposing yourself. The only logical response is to not bother censoring anything at all, as this is logistically simpler and personally safer.

Just as disabling a safety valve does nothing to fix the underlying problem and creates the conditions for catastrophic failure, pretending that wikileaks is the cause our woes instead of a natural, healthy response to what actually ails us would be a disastrous mistake. The potential for far graver consequences than a few disgraced diplomats looms. -Grym

Comment Use the Cloud (Score 2, Informative) 366

I've found that I only use organization solutions which I can have access to at any time. For example, a todo list is of little use to me if it can only be found on a single desktop computer. Because of this, I've found that solutions which allow access via my smartphone work best for me. That being said, it sucks entering information in via a tiny touchscreen or keypad. The obvious compromise, it seems, is to use web-based services that can sync with smartphone apps; cloud computing in other words. There are a lot of services that offer this, but I've only found a few that fit my last criteria that the apps be functional during times with no or limited internet access. These are as follows:

  • For todo lists and reminders, I use Toodledo, an online service which stores and syncs your lists across platforms/devices. To access this on my iPhone I use Appigo Todo ($5.00).
  • For scheduling and e-mail, I use Google Calendar and Gmail.
  • For file storage and access, I use Syncplicity, Personal Edition, which is free. Although, I have considered changing to Dropbox lately.
  • For Notes and personal reference, I've found Notespark (free service; $5.00 app) to be more than enough.
  • Because this type of setup is very public, I put any potentially sensitive data in Truecrypt archives on a USB stick attached to my carkeys.

Total cost is $10.00, not including the USB stick. And it seems to cover all the various forms of personal data.


Comment Re:Jury also hung on one count (Score 1) 291

Palin's foreign policy experience remark regarding the proximity of Russia was a humorous rebuttal and counterattack on Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. Neither of them had any. Palin was saying, humorously, that she has slightly more foreign policy experience than Obama because Russia is right next door to Alaska. This remark was twisted by the liberal mainstream media, as usual, to make a Republican candidate look bad. If you have seen the video of that rally, it is abundantly clear she was poking fun at the opposition, _not_ making a serious statement about her foreign affairs experienc

If you really thought it were a joke, why did you feel the need to first validate her claim that Russia and Alaska are within visual distance? If it was just a joke, such a detail wouldn't matter... right?

Here's a video of Palin explaining her remark. She seems serious to me. Interestingly, she even expressed disappointment that her comment was "mocked" by the press. Was she just joking then too?

Regardless, how do you explain the rest of the interview or the rest of the campaign? Was she just role-playing an idiot that whole time?


Comment Re:Be warned, the community is noxious (Score 1) 118

Echo this. I was lucky enough to get into the closed beta a few weeks ago, when one of my friends sent me an invite key. There was no tutorial when I started (though there's one now), so I just went into a no stats game. The people there, and in most HoN games, seem to be just generally mean, elitist people who votekick at a moment's notice when another player doesn't exhibit some tidbit of knowledge that they're supposed to have acquired. This is really bad in HoN, since those votekicks affect your ability to play legitimate games. So, if you know a lot about DoTA, good game. Otherwise, stay away from it unless you know other people in meatspace that can help you out.

I want you to imagine yourself going down to a bustling inner-city basketball court, joining a competitive 5 vs.5 pick-up game, and then asking your teammates how to dribble. What do you think would happen? How do you think they would react? Now, imagine weeks/months later that you've gotten better. What is the appropriate response when other players start poking fun at you, talk trash, get fired-up, or act generally immature / politically-incorrect? If your answer is to never play basketball again, then you're really missing out...

Culture shock. The DOTA community is severely misunderstood. Though it may not be apparent to newcomers, Heroes of Newerth / DOTA is a very complex, dynamic game that heavily rewards quick reflexes, individual skill/knowledge, and teamwork. Matches are routinely won or lost by a split-second mistake of even a single skilled player. Conversely, a well-coordinated team will steamroll disorganized groups of individually superior players. In short, it is a game that demands a lot from players. The resulting community reflects this. They expect a lot from each other, and can be quite a prickly bunch. I liken the atmosphere to that of a sports locker room. As mean and fired-up as people can get, it's all in good fun. The best way to get someone off your back is to dish it back at them. Toughen up. (Yes, we know it's just a game. No... Nobody actually thinks that you have Downs Syndrome...)

What I often see leading to conflict and the aspect of the game that I see new players struggle with the most is that everything a player does--and DOESN'T do--matters. To be more concrete, take team communication for example. In most games, it is sufficient to just tell your teammates what you're doing--kudos if you tell them what you see the enemy doing as well. That doesn't work in DOTA; the map is too large and the battles too furious and quick for that. In other words, even exemplary communication skills for other games will get teammates killed, strengthen (i.e. "feed") the opposition, and potentially ruin the game. The only solution is for players to take their communications one step further by also letting their teammates know (within seconds) what the enemy ISN'T doing, most notably by "calling missing."

Once you understand the above, it becomes obvious why the DOTA community has the bad reputation that it does. Maybe some of that reputation is well-deserved, I don't know. What I can say for sure, though, is that once you get into it, it is a blast. No other game has captured my imagination, driven me further, and consistently offered something new like DOTA has. And I've been playing for years...

My advice: If you are considering playing HON or have just gotten started, don't let the first impressions of the community stop you.


P.S. If any of you noobs do decide to play HON, just don't feed and not call missing if you're on my team. K? ... =)

Comment Political Stunt (Score 1, Insightful) 312

It seems too convenient that the one moment where Obama was openly critical of Chinese leadership occurred during the only public venue which was not broadcast on live television. Those admonishments of Chinese censorship were intended more for us back home than the repressed Chinese people; a political stunt to appear as if he cared about human rights abuses without paying the associated political price of taking such a stand. If you doubt this, ask yourself this: why didn't he make such statements during his two earlier live broadcasts just days earlier?

So continues the Obama Administration's strategy of trying to have its cake and eat it too. It's almost as if a PR firm was elected President instead of a leader. ("Now with more Change(TM)!") On every major policy issue he has tried to split the difference until what remains is an unrecognizable mess, like cooperating with the Chinese to censor his criticism of their... censorship...

He is fast becoming a joke, a self-parodying symbol of a broken political system. Some examples:

  • The war in Iraq. Barack Obama made a name for himself by condemning the invasion of Iraq. As a primary candidate, he soon became THE "anti-war" candidate. He promised a complete withdrawal from Iraq within 18 months after election. His solution after becoming president? A "residual force" of more than 50,000 troops which will remain indefinitely. Well, so much for that...
  • Financial Regulation. Publicly, the Obama Administration has been very critical of the banking industry and its fraudulent practices which led to the financial collapse of 2008. At the center of the industry's dysfunction is the clear conflict of interest between Savings Banks operating as Investment Banks, which basically allowed these institutions to make bets with other people's money. This was made possible through the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. The very first step to preventing future bubbles would be to the modest and completely logical reinstatement the Glass Steagall Act. That option, however, is completely off the table, because it would be too disruptive of valued democratic campaign contributors like Goldman Sachs. So, instead, the Obama Administration has artificially supported the flawed banking industry by throwing an approximate 23.7 Trillion dollars, or 170% of annual GDP at it without requiring ANY substantial reforms. Of course, the administration claims reforms are coming, but what leverage is there now? Now invigorated with an infusion of public money, these firms have dramatically increased their lobbying and campaign contributions to prevent any reforms from taking hold.
  • Cap and Trade. Publicly touted as a beginning step to limiting carbon emissions, the Obama Administration's Cap and Trade legislation is nothing more than a massive government handout to polluting industries. So watered down with loopholes and handouts, there are serious questions as to if it will even accomplish its stated purpose of decreasing carbon emissions at all, let alone in the next few years.

The list could go on and on including: comprehensive Healthcare Reform (i.e. Medicare for All with Prescription drug price negotiations), limiting lobbyist influence (in his own administration, even!), repealing Don't ask, Don't tell, etc.

All of this, of course, is textbook post-Clintonian Democratic political strategy. The only problem is: this isn't the 90's. The public winds have changed. The information sources have changed. The problems are too big to be swept under the rug. I don't think even Barack Obama understood just how much his talk of transformative change and real progress resonated through the hearts of a disillusioned country. His advisers don't seem to realize how the rules of the game have changed. Progressives and liberals are more empowered and organized in the past. They will not overlook stunts like this forever. Their votes should not be taken for granted. If he thinks this waffling serves his re-election efforts, I believe he is sorely mistaken. Instead of leaders like FDR or Kennedy, he might very well find his place in history next to Herbert Hoover...


Comment Re:Sick of the Double Standard (Score 5, Insightful) 1172

It's not exactly unreasonable to call a program for the government to have the means to produce a thing (good or service) a socialist program.

That's entirely unreasonable. Socialism != Government-run. You don't think the U.S. military is socialist do you? Policemen and Firefighters aren't socialist are they?

The real problem is that too many Americans have no idea what Socialism is. The term has been shrewdly twisted by people who profit from Laissez-faire policies to effectively mean any and every service the government provides. But that is not socialism. The "means of production" is not defined as the ability to produce any product or any service like you seem to think.

It could just be that people are ignorant in general, and because they resent and distrust intellectuals, they end up getting their history lessons from buffoons like Glen Beck. The result is that a disturbing number of people end up truly believing that Nazism, Communism, Socialism, and Fascism are all the same. How can America hope to remain an innovative, dominant competitor in a global economy with such widespread ignorance?


Comment Re:The problem is not an efficient algorithm (Score 2, Insightful) 421

Fundamentally, Malthus was right. Exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely. At some point, resources will become limiting and exponential growth of human populations (and economies) will not be possible. The most extreme example of a limiting resource could be the number of atoms in the universe, but in practice, a realistic limit could very well end up being something as simple as oil.

Perhaps it is true that the assumption of constant exponential growth is a safe for the next one or few generations, but is it really prudent to base our entire civilization and way or life on such a demonstrably flawed assumption? What exactly will happen when the music stops?


Comment Re:Surprised? (Score 1) 292

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I'm absolutely certain that the geeks or slashdot would be very interested to learn of your John Grisham-esque tale of corruption, intrigue, and political scandal... if there were proof.

If you have proof that H1N1 was bio-engineered, show us. If you have proof that this was done by politicians or vaccine companies, show us that too.

If anything, a more logical explanation is that H1N1 came up naturally and now all the players in power are positioning themselves to personally benefit. You're giving our political/business leaders too much credit to suggest that such a scam would occur to them and that they could successfully pull it off. These people are opportunists, not evil geniuses.

But for the sake of the argument, let's say you're right. They made this happen, and now H1N1 is out there and the conspirators the only ones with the vaccine and stand to greatly profit... What can we do about it now? Not taking the vaccine out of spite seems like a rather stupid thing to do.


Comment Re:BUSTED! (Score 1) 292

Three things:

  1. Your conclusions vary greatly from that of the authors of the study you referenced. Your posts claim that the evidence of bias undermines the idea that vaccines are useful in potentially immunocompromised populations but the authors specifically refute that conclusion.

    "Our finding [of bias] does not mean that there is no effect of vaccination against serious complications of influenza infection. Our results do suggest, however, that other methods for evaluations of influenza vaccine effectiveness should be explored."

    They just want different studies--that's all. They didn't question the wisdom of influenza vaccination protocols and said nothing about H1N1, which is different from the seasonal flu. It seems like articles by public health professionals for public health professionals are being taken out of their context and distorted to support conclusions which are unwarranted and something public health officials are generally against.

  2. H1N1, unlike the seasonal flu, seems to be most fatal among the young and healthy. In this regard, H1N1 is like SARS where the most fatal complication is a secondary angioedemic pneumonia brought on by a cytokine storm; basically an over-active immune response.
  3. The vast majority of active healthcare workers are not immunocompromised.

In light of this, your argument makes little sense. Your premise is that data regarding seasonal influenza vaccination effectiveness among the immunocompromised is biased, but that says nothing the effectiveness of vaccines among non-immunosuppressed healthcare workers for H1N1. And you don't even seem to be considering the broader (arguably more important) questions regarding the limitation of the spread of disease during times of pandemic.

I really think the implications of all this are broader than just H1N1 and vaccines. The hysteria over vaccines really does underscore how silly and myopic the American public has become. Or maybe just ignorant about risk and statistics--I don't know. The chance of having a complication to modern vaccines is far less than most elective surgeries, less than being involved in a serious motor vehicle collision, less than being seriously injured while playing contact sports. Yet, the same people who obsess about vaccine complications likely practice or encourage all of those things and then have the gall to accuse well-meaning public health officials of ill-intentions, malfeasance, and--most ironically--ignorance...

We can't keep this up. Sooner or later, the public is going to have to playing wikipedia-doctor, praying to the "invisible hand" of deregulation, resenting intellectuals, pretending the U.S. military can solve all its problems, and mindlessly consuming beyond its means. One way or another it's going to come to an end. The only question seems to be how. Looks like we're opting for "Blaze of glory" or House-of-Cards approach... awesome...


Comment Re:Bodies Exhibit, anyone? (Score 1) 309

Likelynesses, tell-tales, non-proven statements "absolutely no trauma". Yeah, right, because you personally checked and have the competence to do so.

Actually, I am qualified to speak on this subject. What about yourself?

I have examined approximately 120 human cadavers so far in my career, and none of them were as well-preserved and anatomically trauma/disease free as those I saw when I went to the "Bodies..." exhibit in Las Vegas. Of the specimens on display, there was not a single broken bone or laceration. The only hematoma to speak of was a specimen of a brain after a hemorrhagic stroke. The few neoplastic lesions on display were all limited to single organs, small, and well-circumscribed; more resembling pathology specimens and surgically excised organs than dissections. And, again, there was no decay, suggesting the preservation was done soon after death.

The age and condition of the bodies that I personally saw at the "Bodies..." exhibit is, in my opinion, more consistent with the accusations of planned, Chinese executions rather than the company's claim (at the time) that the specimens were "unclaimed bodies" from morgues in South Korea.

...I would even like to agree with you, if you had some data in there...

I posted three separate links to back up the claims within my post. Even those links were unnecessary because much of what I said consisted of easily verified, well-established facts. There have been so many formal investigations and inquires into this topic that if an educated person can't find data on this subject, then only explanation is that of willful ignorance on their part.


Comment Re:Bodies Exhibit, anyone? (Score 4, Informative) 309

The tell-tale sign is how young most of the bodies are with absolutely no trauma or anatomic evidence of disease or decay. Most of the bodies appear to be in their early to late twenties. The likelihood that all of these people died in hospital (if not laboratory) conditions of natural causes like cardiac arrhythmias is ridiculously unlikely to say the least.

But, the real evidence comes from direct investigations into the company itself. 20/20 did an investigation into the company, Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and found the actual warehouse where the bodies are preserved. Needless to say, it is NOT where the company claimed it to be, and the interview with the company's founder at the end is priceless. Further investigations by the government pretty much confirmed everyone's suspicions.

I'm surprised that all of this is news to many people. In 2006, Chinese authorities were bragging to the international media about how successful their "death vans" have been. These death vans are ambulances turned mobile execution chambers expressly designed for the preservation of organs. So proud was the company's spokesman in one of the subsequent articles that he insisted any interested overseas buyers reading the article should contact him directly for sales.


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