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Comment Re:Rep. Giffords got shot after being threatened. (Score 1) 973

I'm sorry, did you take the time to read my post? I quote myself:

Giffords was also the target of tasteless rhetoric a few months before she was shot.

Perhaps that wasn't stated strongly enough for you, and that you automatically assume that since I don't buy into the hysteria that I somehow approve of "assassination metaphors"? So here I'll try again:

I think that Sarah Palin represents the worst of conservative America, along with those who use make similar comments. I dislike most things about her, not the least of which is her rhetoric about Assange and the talk about "targeting" political opponents.

That being said, I think it is also totally irresponsible to automatically jump to the conclusion that this Gifford's attacker was politically motivated in any reasonable sense and furthermore that he was incited to violence by Palin et. al. and lets al try to shame the right into submission. Particularly when initial evidence refutes the point of view that the attack had any such motivations. Making assumptions and pseudo-causal arguments like that is the stuff that conspiracy theories and political diatribes are made of. This line of reasoning was essentially tipped off by a sheriff in Arizona talking about all of the political "vitriol" surrounding the last election cycle.

It is my position that politics in America will not improve until BOTH sides stop being hysterical about every little thing that politicians say, inflammatory or not. Ad hominem attacks are the status quo in politics, and only serve to distort the true facts. How many enlightening or useful discussions have you had where either party was just looking to "one-up" the other person? Here's a hint, if you're focusing on the particular wording someone uses as opposed to understanding their meaning, you're doing it wrong. I've had many very insightful conversations with liberals (I identify myself as a moderate conservative) that have changed my views on certain issues. For example, by looking at the facts and overlooking the rhetoric, I've come to the opinion that Bill Clinton, in spite of his many personal failings, was in many very important ways more conservative and more in line with my views than George Bush Jr.

My original post was simply an expression of my disdain for hysteria in politics which these lawyers are continuing.

Comment Re:Rep. Giffords got shot after being threatened. (Score 1) 973

Correlation != Causation.
Read the news stories more carefully -- not the analysis ones, just the plain news. Giffords was shot by a reportedly deranged man with no ties to any discernible political philosophy.
It just so happens that Giffords was also the target of tasteless rhetoric a few months before she was shot. The media needs to cool down on the hype until we know more.

Comment Alarmist rhetoric (Score 1) 973

Look, I know the US hasn't had a stellar record of late, but come on. We're not to the point of ruthless dictatorship yet. If anything, I think extradition to the US would generate more much needed light on the fundamental concepts of freedom of speech in this country. "prominent figures have implied... that he should be executed" Uh huh... Since when did Palin start making policy decisions again?

Comment No biological reason for this (Score 4, Interesting) 258

This is most likely a case of media hype driving public policy.
I heard a segment on NPR on this. Basically, it's just one study still in the very preliminary stages as studies go. Moreover, thee experts they interviewed said that there was no known biological reason why this would happen.
Given the amount of research into influenza, how to vaccinate against it, and how the bodies immune system responds to these vaccines, I think it's pretty safe to say that there won't be any medical surprises regarding the interaction between two such vaccines.

Until this is vigorously peer reviewed and at least another supporting study by other researchers is done, I call this a definite correlation (which we ALL know does not equal causation....right?).

Comment Re:And the solution...? (Score 2, Insightful) 812

This also ignores the tax compliance costs built into our current system. The deductions are not automatic, they have to be carefully planned for in most cases. How much time is spent each year by corporations considering the tax implications of a particular business move? And then how much overhead is there to doing the necessary paperwork to prove tax compliance in the event of an audit? It is an astounding amount of waste, and leads to companies wanting to do business where taxes are lower and simpler to pay than in the U.S.

Also, while deductions do bring the tax rate down, there is also the state and local taxes that business are hit with, and those associated compliance costs.

We have a horrible, horrible tax system. These issues also affect individuals as well as businesses, I'm just focusing on corporate taxes because of the silliness of the thinking that corporations pay any tax whatsoever. Their taxes and compliance costs are built into the price of goods that we buy and that they export to other countries.

Comment Re:And the solution...? (Score 4, Insightful) 812

Ummm.... what about the second highest corporate tax rate in the world ? It sits at about 39%. I think that just might have something to do with wanting to leave.

Corporate taxes are a joke. They just get passed on to the consumer anyway, and they make businesses less competitive internationally. But it is politically rewarding to go after the big evil corporations and for them to pay their way.

Really, and end to corporate taxes is a big reason why I strongly support the FairTax . It would no longer hide the taxes we pay, and special interests would not be able to carve out exceptions for themselves life they do all the time now.

Comment Take research with a grain of salt (Score 1) 253

Scientists are humans, just like anyone else. Frankly, I think 1.97% is pretty low considering it is the combined total of all "fabricated, falsified or modified data or results". Notice that all of those aren't quite equal either. "Tweaking" results to tease out the answer you want (while still unethical and damaging to scholarship) is not as bad as outright falsification. Especially since it is not always clear where the line is between "modifying data", and doing valid statistical analysis like throwing away outliers. Yes, there are standards for outliers, but they are not universal, and confounding factors can occur during the experiment that make ethical decisions more difficult (i.e. the tester didn't read part of the script right, test subject's cell phone went off during test, survey answer was ambiguous and hard to read, the list goes on.)

The reality is that no one study should be taken as fact in isolation. It should either be corroborated by existing evidence (i.e. - it shines a new light on existing theories without contradiction), or by similar studies validating the results, or both.

Nutrition is a perfect example. How many studies have come out in the past 20 years that directly contradict (or seem to) prior studies done in that area? If someone followed each new "discovery" intently, they'd be so screwed up in their eating habits they'd probably end up being malnourished. However, looking back over a series of seemingly contradictory studies, we can see patterns which we've been able to make more sense of. We now have a greater understanding of "good" vs. "bad" cholesterol and the idea that fats aren't necessarily the root of all evil, and many similar findings. We still don't know all the answers, but we know lots more than any one study told us. This is how research works. It is also why graduate students writing dissertations are required to include a large section on "related work" so that they can get the full appreciation for where their research fits into the big picture, rather than basing their entire hypothesis on just one study or finding which might be contradicted in the next conference.

Comment Re:Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (Score 2, Insightful) 71

We can safely conclude:

4. There are no terrorists. 5. The government is lying.

I seriously hope that was an attempt to be funny rather than revealing some "obvious" conspiracy theory.

It is just as easy to conclude (and far more likely to be true) that:

1. There are terrorists, but they either feel they have made their point and achieved their goal of causing terror and its associated overreactions or they are incapable of mounting a significant overseas attack, or unwilling to mount one that would not cause similar damage to 9/11.

2. The government is not outright lying about the terrorist threats, but is doing what it does best: protect itself.

If Bush had done nothing after 9/11 to increase security, he would have been crucified much sooner and in a worse way than he was. Even as it stands, very few people are embittered towards him for domestic defensive security policies, but for foreign offensive security policies. Politicians (and therefore government) have set up a system whereby they can remain blameless in the face of society crumbling around them. They could spend trillions more on homeland security and no one would be held personally responsible for any sort of public outcry except perhaps the president, who would still do his best to sidestep any blame. This is how the game works. Big, fat, bloated, wasteful, and expensive defensive strategies that allow lawmakers to hide behind the guise of being over-cautious will always win over strategies that involve personal risk through bold, decisive action that will likely be criticized by someone, somewhere.

So no, those are not "safe" conclusions, and expose some pretty hefty biases on your part.

Comment Re:Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (Score 2, Informative) 71

they'll do both no matter how wasteful.

Sadly I think you're correct. Ideally I'd say to cut the budget from the TSA and put it towards the national debt -- or at this point just towards putting our national budget in the black again. I figured that putting it towards another anti-terror project would be at least a bit politically viable. But, sadly, it is easy for the government to begin funding something and awfully hard to stop funding it.

Comment Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (Score 5, Insightful) 71

Things like this get me irked that we are spending billions upon billions each year on equipment, employees, and wasted time for all the added airport security since 9/11.
The fact is, is I were a terrorist I'd simply walk onto a bus or subway during rush hour with a bomb, like has been done in England and Spain. Effective, cheap, and little can be done to stop it. Not the same impact as collapsing two skyscrapers, but I seriously doubt any future plane hijackings will be successful since the rules have changed.

The overreaction to airplane hijackings is disturbing to me. The high school in my home town had a similar reaction to the Columbine shootings. They installed metal detectors at every entrance and hired extra security even though there had been little more than small knives confiscated at school, and never any real violence. Of course, there wasn't time to check people's bags properly, so it would have been trivial to smuggle something in anyway.
After two years at a cost of about 1.5 million per year, the metal detectors were taken out and the extra security measures scrapped. By then the public outcry for action had calmed, and no one wanted to be flushing 1.5 million down the drain every year.

I wish they'd do the same with the airport security. Lower it to a roughly pre-9/11 level, and spend the money elsewhere, like to keep nukes and dirty bombs out of the country.

Gates Foundation Funds "Altruistic Vaccine" 259

QuantumG writes "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Queensland, Australia to develop a vaccine against dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes. Unlike other vaccines, the 'altruistic vaccine' doesn't specifically protect the individual being bitten, but instead protects the community by stopping the transmission of the pathogen from one susceptible individual to another. The hope is to do this by effectively making their blood poisonous to mosquitoes, either killing them or at least preventing them from feeding on other individuals. Professor Paul Young explained how his work fell outside current scientific traditions and might lead to significant advances in global health — he said he could envision the vaccine being used around the world within 10 years, and it would be designed to be cheap and easy to implement."

Comment Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (Score 1) 36

I agree that this tag is a bad one. It implies that everyone in Utah was on board with this, but Huntsman alone stepped forward to kill it. As someone who is living in Utah at the moment, I can tell you that this got no press coverage here, except through (conservative) political commentators who agreed it was a BAD idea. I'm not sure how it got enough of a coalition to make it through the legislature, but it certainly wasn't by popular demand.

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