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Comment Re:Take that with a grain of salt (Score 1) 152

Are you serious? Have you ever been to China? You can walk into an internet cafe and get high speed internet for a few yuan an hour. The younger generation (high school to around 35ish) are all on the internet, or did you fail to notice the news stories about how almost everyone in Chinese cities uses the internet now?

Also, raising the exemption to $5000 a year wouldn't matter a bit to the rich or the intellectuals, or are you saying that earning $30,000 a year in China makes someone rich?

Even assuming that only the rich and the intellectuals form policy decision in China, isn't that better than what we have in the USA where only the rich and/or the loud affect policy?

Comment Clearing up a myth and a misinterpretation (Score 5, Interesting) 189

The only novel contribution the article has to scientific understanding seems to be this gem:

"We found that people differed greatly in terms of how cost-efficient the functioning of their brain networks were, and that over half of these differences could be explained by genes,” said Dr. Fornito.

Please note that the study "compared the brain scans of 38 identical and 26 non-identical twins from the Australian Twin Registry." That is to say, each twin is compared against the other, but not against unrelated people. These individuals had highly similar genetic makeups and likely very similar backgrounds/family environments.

The statement that half of these differences could be explained by genes is EXTREMELY misleading. It implies to the casual reader that half of the brain's efficiency is linked to genes. IT IS NOT THE CASE.

Lets use a real life example.
Couple A goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 half the time, but nothing at other times.
Couple B goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 every time.

Average cost of couple A: $1005. Average cost of couple B: $1010

The difference is $5, and all of it is driven by the behavior of the woman in couple A. However, it's blatantly obvious that the women in the couples don't account for anything close to a significant portion of the cost. It's just like how if 90% of the variance in height is explained by genes, it doesn't mean that genes control 90% of your height.

TLDR VERSION: Just because half the difference can be explained by genes doesn't mean that genes account for 50% of the brain efficiency. There is no substitute for raw talent nurtured by a stimulating and engaging environment.

Comment Very generous stipend (Score 5, Interesting) 102

It's really amazing how a drop in the bucket (for Google) can encourage so much innovation and foster so much enthusiasm in the next generation of programmers.

The stipend averages out to $5376 per student, which will surely go a long way to paying for rent between semesters and then some.

I'm fully aware that programming has lower fixed costs than say, recombinant organism research or semiconductor development, but I can't help but wonder how many STEM students we could encourage by redirecting just 1% of the U.S. national defense budget. The gains of such projects really isn't in the end result (though they're nice), but rather in the skills, connections, and confidence that the work inspires.

Comment Save the horse whip makers! (Score 4, Insightful) 628

If the odd case that anyone thinks Jesse Jackson Jr. has anything close to a valid point:

1) Though jobs for some brick and mortar retailers are lost, the loss is due to a structural change in the market induced by increasing digitization rather than through any one product. Horse buggy makers went out of business when automobiles came out, and much the same rhetoric was spewed to attack the manufacturers of cars.

2) China makes the iPads. True, but manufacturing is no longer a $40+benefits job with enough seniority. Gone for the foreseeable future are high paying manufacturing jobs that we as a nation want to focus on. The success of the IPad has spurred other technology companies to push their own tablets onto market. What does that mean? The tech companies hire more mechanical/electrical/computer/systems engineers, computer/materials scientists, programmers, designers, and production line developers. Those workers produce far more "value" to an economy than a factory worker in a mass production line. Ask a Foxxcomm worker (the guys who make iPads and iPods) if they'd rather be working in a Chinese factory or at the Apple headquarters, and guess what? They'd rather be an engineer.

3) Librarians aren't useful because the buildings they're in have information. They're highly useful because they can advise us where to find the relevant information. The librarians at my university aren't there to restock books or charge late fees. They're hired because they can help students track down critical papers, research vital bits of information, and educate them about how to find the right kind of sources. Brick and mortar stores are useful because they offer a tactile shopping experience that online systems can't seem to replicate yet. Same idea: physical locations and people offer have value added characteristics.

4) There are many things to blame for the job market pains in the United States. I don't think anyone is educated enough to really understand the "true" driving factors, but you know what? I sincerely doubt that stiffing innovation, creativity, and technological development is the way to go.

Actually sorry, I'm wrong. On behalf of the *IAA cabal and the Chinese Council for American Advisement, I suggest that we focus all of our governmental energy on stopping piracy of songs and movies instead of nurturing markets and funding basic science. If we can stop all illegal firesharing, we can save up to $13 trillion a year in damages!! That's several times more than the technology market makes in a year!

Comment On a more serious note... (Score 4, Insightful) 246

This is a seriously amazing time to live in, as multidisciplinary medical research teams are finding ways to give patients second chances at a relatively normal life. I can't imagine not being able to speak again for the rest of my life, (seriously, try taking a vow of silence for a single day) but I'm glad that the pool of "horribly life changing events without a cure" is getting whittled down bit by bit. Kudos to the research and operations team, and best of luck to the patient.

Comment Re:As for the Starcraft AI... (Score 1) 227

Starcraft micro is nearly useless without solid or good macro. Most people notice the flashy micro in the gameplay without really understanding the macrolevel strategy of what builds to use against a certain player, where and how to move the army, and so forth. The zerg aoe unit and the valkyries are almost never used, as they're bad.

The AI proved good versus other AIs, but it would get slaughtered versus human top level players due to the strategic inflexibility. (humans won't let you sit and build units for 15 minutes before harassing)

Comment Re:As for the Starcraft AI... (Score 1) 227

Actually, mass mutalisk use in competitive starcraft became popular only after clumping techniques were created. Without clumping, it was far too easy to pick apart mutalisks as they flew in one by one to start attacking. With a clump and the nearly continuous movement, a stack of mutalisks can dance in and out of range of enemy units and snipe targets at the edge of defenses.

Comment Misleading title? Say it ain't so! (Score 5, Insightful) 347

From the freaking paper: "Some bacterial and viral DNA sequences have been found to induce low frequency electromagnetic waves in high aqueous dilutions. This phenomenon appears to be triggered by the ambient electromagnetic background of very low frequency. We discuss this phenomenon in the framework of quantum field theory."

In other words, scientists observed something that makes them say "hmm... that's strange," which leads them to say "hmm... I wonder what could be causing this?" These researchers tried to explain the phenomenon using the best tools that they thought that had: quantum mechanics. (classical EM theory is pretty useless for fields this weak) The linked article is behind a wall, but the title seems to start with "Scorn over claim of teleported DNA"

Again from the paper: "In this paper we have described the experiments showing a new property of DNA and the induction of electromagnetic waves in water dilutions. We have briefly depicted the theoretical scheme which can explain qualitatively the features observed in these experiments." Crazy observed phenomenon explained by theories that aren't fully accurate? No way!

The current scientific media seems to increasingly favor sensationalist titles that enable their readers to go "hah, those stupid eggheads, I know better than them that X/Y/Z is impossible! I are smarts!" and this seems to be no different. There is not, has not, and likely will not, be any claims that DNA teleports. However, there has been, is, and likely will be, evidence that DNA interacts with factors beyond easy and simple comprehension. These interactions seem to resemble "phase-locking regime[s]" observed in "two superconducting samples or in the arrays of Josephson junctions," which is pretty far from quack science. /rantover

Comment Re:A major "con" of cloning falls apart (Score 4, Interesting) 233

The article says that: "Animal welfare campaigners say that cloned animals and their surrogate mothers still suffer immensely."

The immune system argument is indeed the primary flaw of mass cloning, but our understanding of the role of genetics in forming an immune system is weak at best. However, we do know that immune systems aren't deterministic; genetic makeup X + environment Y doesn't always yield protection Z. As you said, the unsanitary conditions in factory farms induce tremendous suffering in the animals, but it also leads to a serious suppression of natural immune function. They are pretty much saturated in antibiotics from birth to slaughter to suppress infections; their natural immune system are essentially useless in those conditions. I'm purely speculating here, but what if a particular animal or animal line had an immune system that retained most of its function under terrible conditions? What if a particular animal displayed tremendous variability in initial antibody seeding?

It's tempting to think of animals as computer systems, where a single computer virus can easy take over identical systems with nearly identical ease. However, the immune system just doesn't work like that. To use a crude and somewhat misleading example, factory farms are like networks of computers running Windows XP with no service patch, no firewall, and no built in antivirus. However, every 4 hours, a godlike remote antivirus scan is run, and purges each system. If a virus or a bacterial strain is powerful enough to kill a line of Dollies, it's most likely strong enough to kill a line of sheep on the constant verge of death. Throw in antibiotic overuse, and it seems unlikely that there's a statistically significant risk increase between a factory full of Dollies and a factory full of randoms.

Comment A major "con" of cloning falls apart (Score 5, Interesting) 233

From the article, the original Dolly was put down after about 6 years due to all kinds of medical conditions (infections, arthritis, etc). However, these four sheep are 3.5 years old, and are apparently in perfect health. A major argument against the use of cloned animals in animal husbandry (either cloning particularly tasty animals or using clones to breed) is that cloned animals end up in constant agony due to their origin.

Since these cloned animals appear just as comfortable and pain free as your "run of the mill" farm animal, it seems as if cloned animals can be just as humane to farm as normal animals. In fact, since the meat yield from each animal is much higher (by definition of selective cloning as the pinnacle of selective breeding), I would argue that using more cloned animals would reduce the ecological impact of the meat industry.

Ye average American Joe might not want to eat cloned meat, but clones are already breeding like mad to produce more productive offspring. Perhaps this new longitudinal study will give more insights on the ethics and health impacts of cloned meat.

Comment Re:Anyone in the US can sue a foreign company (Score 1) 89

Fortunately, given the recent success of a movie-series-that-shall-not-be-named, there is now an abundant supply of natural predators: werewolves and vampires.

Once the werewolves and vampires have taken care of the lawyers, we can send in gorillas with silver stakes to take care of them. After that, we can wait until winter, and the gorillas will all freeze!

Comment Re:We in the West are so much more... oh wait (Score 1) 273

My point is that this is hardly front page news, as events like this happen all the time in China. They have a much different threshold for punishment than we have in the US or in the EU.

However, making jokes about threats of ANY kind is a bad idea. It doesn't matter if it is a tweet, a retweet, a blog post, a text message, a letter, etc. In this day an age, it doesn't matter where you are. Threats against the government or against entities the government cares about is a Bad Idea(tm).

Of course, many prefer to interpret my point as equating the two incidents, or otherwise as justifying either punishment.

Comment We in the West are so much more... oh wait (Score 2, Informative) 273

What would happen if someone tweeted a "joke" about a bomb threat in the EU or the USA?

Oh that's right, they get a visit by their friendly neighborhood police officers.

This is probably front page news because we clearly all hate China, and Twitter is involved. In full seriousness, relying on the humor of law enforcement/secret police to keep you out of trouble is a bad bet. Relying on that sense of humor when seemingly inciting violence against a nation with whom ties are already strained is an even worse bet. Is this seriously anything new or surprising?

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