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Comment Re:I've got this (Score 1) 400

OK, let's not be ridiculous. Everyone agrees that free speech is good. But it must have limits.

Let's do a crazy example just to demonstrate: Should NBC be able to air detailed plans to create a nuclear weapon? If you answer 'yes' to this, then I have to write you off as a crazy ideologue. If you answer 'no', then you have to admit that there are limits to freedom of expression and it is just a matter of finding a consensus position.

Comment Re:Headlines (Score 1) 185

2 years ago my wife was involved in a clinical stage 3 melanoma drug trial using Yervoy (Ipilimumab). So far so good, but of course with cancer you never know if there is a single errant cell floating around the body like a time bomb. There were serious side effects - brain swelling that nearly killed her and had to be counteracted with mega doses of intravenous steroids that caused additional medical problems - but they seem more manageable than the current drug of choice for treatment of metastatic melanoma (interferon) which makes patients extremely sick for up to a year. (Note: all drugs used to treat melanoma are immunotherapy agents that flip biological switches that send the body's immune system into overdrive - then hopefully the body attacks cancer at a faster rate than it attacks non-threats and itself. It's different from chemo but I think the jury is out on which one is less fun to deal with. Cancer sucks all around.)

Anyway, the point of my post is that we are doing a good job developing new treatments for cancer, though I doubt they will ever be painless. I figured I would add my two cents since you mentioned Yervoy.

Comment Re:454 / 16 (Score 2) 116

I'd bet it gets pretty close to meeting the demand of the community. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is heavy on staples (wheat, corn, potatoes, rice) & meats while being light on fresh vegetables (what this farm seeks to provide). You could probably supply 454 families with more artichokes than they could use with just an acre....

Comment Re:Excuse me... Excuse me?!!! (Score 1) 202

This is not an issue at all for 2 reasons:

1) Lasers have a focal length. This is where all the light converges to a point and becomes powerful enough to cut steel in industrial applications or do damage in military applications. Go much beyond the focal length and the laser beam becomes practically useless.

2) The Earth has an atmosphere, not a vacuum. At any significant range, there will be energy losses.

If anything, a missed laser shot would cause far less collateral damage than conventional armaments. If you are 100 feet behind the target and take a hit, you *might* have to worry about a sunburn or some minor retinal damage (similar to looking at a welding torch or directly at the sun). Might.

Source: I worked at the world's largest producer of laser optics

Comment Use spaced repetition software (Score 1) 384

I recommend using anki: http://ankisrs.net/

The basic idea is you make electronic flashcards based on the material you need to memorize. Then the program quizzes you. If you get a question wrong, you will see that question again in a few minutes. If you get it right, the program doesn't show it to you for a few days.

People use systems like this to memorize vast amounts of information b/c human memory periodically runs garbage collection on unused data. If you recall the desired info at the right intervals, you get around that problem and can shove all sorts of facts into your long term memory. I use it for studying languages, but it can apply to anything. The Jeopardy super champion used anki to memorize trivia in preparation for the show, so I think it should work nicely for college classes.

Comment Important but over-hyped (Score 3, Interesting) 175

My wife was part of a stage 3 melanoma study for the drug Ipilimumab (brand name Yervoy), an immunotherapy drug that inhibits the signal mechanism used by the immune system to turn off an attack. So any metastatic cells floating around her body would not be able to masquerade as normal cells by flying the right protein flag. Unfortunately, halfway through the trial she had a major reaction that caused brain swelling, requiring her to be hospitalized twice. Fortunately, she survived the side effects and the oncologist believes she had enough of the juice to get most of the benefit. Without the drug, we were looking at 50% survival rate for 5 years. The study is still in progress, so no idea how Ipilimumab will improve the odds.

There is research out there claiming green tea, spices like tumeric, and just eating better can have dramatic results. I would like to see some serious research by respected oncologists into the efficacy of simple life changes like that, instead of study after study pushing big pharma's insanely expensive drugs (thankfully covered by the trial in our case) that cause side effects potentially more dangerous than the disease they are intended to treat.

I don't know if reprogramming T-Cells like in TFA is more or less dangerous than conventional immunotherapy. Cancer makes people desperate enough to take some pretty big treatment risks. I certainly appreciate the fact that oncologists are aggressive in their mission to save lives, but I wish we had more non-fringe research into potentially good treatments that were also cheap and safe.

Comment Science Fiction for an 8-yr old (Score 2) 726

8 is a little young for most kids to appreciate hard science fiction, so I would stick to the softer stuff. Here are a few softer stories I enjoyed at that age:

The Pern books by Anne McCaffrey
The Zero Stone by Andre Norton
Startide Rising by David Brin (I think I was 10 when I read this one, but the concept of dolphins piloting starships blew my mind...some sexual content, though)

Comment Re:Be Sure to Clarify to Him/Her... (Score 1) 254

You are 100% right, aztracker1. Copyright is no longer an incentive for artists to produce content. Bands make money off of concerts, the labels take all the money from music sales. I think we are eventually going to see a switch from centralized music production to distributed patronage. http://www.pledgemusic.com/ allows content creators to get interested people to pledge their support for an album. If (and only if) the goal is reached, credit cards are charged and the artist begins creating their album. When its done, everyone who pledged gets a copy of the album. If we can keep crap legislation from doing too much harm, the industry will adapt and the idea of copyright will go the way of the horse drawn carriage.

Comment Re:Brought to you by: (Score 1) 412

Well said, dgatwood. It's a shame our elected politicians are more willing to fund wars than take care of the poor and elderly.

Unfortunately, social security and medicare are headed for bankruptcy. Our politicians have promised things that can't be delivered to future retirees. An economist has a short power point on US Government Debt at this location: http://www.antolin-davies.com/conventionalwisdom/governmentdebt.pdf

The Congressional Budget Office has been using misleading accounting practices to justify partisan legislation. Surplus social security funds have gone to wars and bailouts. When social security can no longer meet current obligations with current income, the US will be in the same boat as Greece and Italy.

Comment Re:They're NOT opposed to SOPA (Score 1) 231

McGrew, believe it or not, I do know about the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. During the time they have existed, the areas under their purview have improved greatly in America. But assuming these agencies are the direct cause of the improvements is a logical fallacy (the fallacy of false cause).

These regulatory agencies came about because of popular opinion. The people cared about these issues enough to do something. Had regulatory agencies not been created, the courts would have created a solution. Common law systems are slow to react to changes, so it wouldn't have happened overnight. But the end result would have been companies self-regulating and more power resting with the people.

You claim that the existence of the EPA proves that courts were not sufficient to prevent pollution. I don't believe it. You accuse me of being illogical, but your arguments are based on emotion and construe temporal nearness as proof of causality. Society is constantly evolving. When enough people care about an issue, change will happen with or without heavy-handed Government intervention.

I'm sorry your grandfather was killed by his employer's negligence. The courts failed your grandmother if they didn't nail the company for having an unsafe workplace. But I don't believe their failure means that courts can't do the job. Look at the ACLU and its use of the court system to champion free speech. A non-profit organization could have done the work of OSHA just as effectively. Someone just needs to have a landmark case to set the precedent that employers are responsible for safety.

As a final note, I trust rich businessmen more than I trust Government bureaucrats. You think corporations are powerful? Only so long as their customers are satisfied. Henry Royce (co-founded of Rolls-Royce) built cars for the rich and died a man of modest means. Henry Ford built cars for the people and died a wealthy man. Free markets are democracy in action. You get to vote every time you buy something. Businessmen are rewarded or punished by the will of the people every day. What keeps bureaucrats in line? If their boss's boss's boss is appointed by someone who is elected by popular vote, what does that mean to them? I don't like that the people Congress delegated its power of regulation are immune to the consequences of their action. If you distrust businessmen (who are motivated by profits), then why do you trust bureaucrats (who are motivated by power)?

Comment Re:They're NOT opposed to SOPA (Score 1) 231

The Government does not protect people from rich corporations. Politicians trade their votes for favors from large companies. I work at a company that receives large earmarks from senators on a regular basis, so I am always surprised when people get up on a soapbox and preach how the government is the only thing preventing corporations from taking over everything.

Regulatory agencies serve the interests of those they regulate, not the general public. Did you know that hair stylists are licensed? They have to go to an approved "school" such as Philip Pelusi. And who lobbied for these regulations? Philip Pelusi. Wait a minute....

The reason people want limited government is because the institution is too easy to corrupt. Keep the Govt weak and people with money can't buy the votes they need. As for the environment, we don't need heavy regulation. All we need is a court system that recognizes property rights. If the plant down the street puts toxic waste into the environment, let everyone within a hundred miles sue the pants off of them. They will stop polluting.

Don't assume proponents of limited government are ignorant just because you disagree with their position. There are more tools to fix society's problems than just more regulation . . . when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Comment Re:US is the problem (Score 2) 314

Maximizing profit is what every business should be doing. In a competitive market, individual companies seeking profit maximization increases consumer power. The problem faced by consumers of media is copyright law - a Government regulation that originated with good intentions before being captured by the music and film industries. Capitalism looks nothing like these two industries. If you disagree with that statement, I suggest you read some of Milton Friedman's work (or watch his Donohue interview on YouTube if you just want a quick overview). The reason that copyright holders are not selling their product through as many channels as possible is that the opportunity cost is too high - every dollar spent providing a consumer with product is a dollar less than can spend lobbying for more regulations.

Comment Re:Credit card fees (Score 1) 187

Visa & Mastercard have no risk whatsoever when you swipe your card. They process credit card transactions, but they do not provide the money. That comes from the bank or financial institute that provided your card (Chase / BofA / Capital One / etc).

Cards like Discover & American Express do have the risk that a cardholder won't pay their debt, but they get plenty of money from bad cardholders in terms of fees, penalties, and high interest rates.

Actually, the biggest risk to credit cads is lawsuits by vendors, cardholders, & lending institutions. That's why Visa had to do an IPO a few years back (symbol V).

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