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Comment Re:The cold is already cured (Score 1) 193

False.

From a study dated 2015 Feb 25:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/

"Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever."

"Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24hours, for a time period of less than two weeks."

Comment Re:The cold is already cured (Score 1) 193

From the most recent study from that Wikipedia page, dated 2015 Feb 25:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/

"Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever."

"Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24hours, for a time period of less than two weeks."

The Wikipedia summary of this study is horribly worded and one could easily read it as the zinc lozenge having no effect, which is exactly the opposite of the study's conclusion (that zinc does has a positive effect on cold symptoms). The study's purpose was to determine if zinc lozenges only affect/improve symptoms in the pharyngeal region (the throat) since a lozenge is dissolved in the mouth and throat, or if the zinc has an improvement effect in the nasal region as well where it is not directly dissolved. The study showed that zinc *does* improve symptoms in the nasal region. The conclusion that the Wikipedia article is summarizing was that there was no difference in the effect of the zinc treatment depending on anatomical region - the zinc lozenge improved symptoms in both the throat and the nasal region.

Power

'Radioactive Boy Scout' Reportedly Passes Away At Age 39 (harpers.org) 182

A funeral notice quietly appeared on Tributes.com recently, announcing the death of David Charles Hahn. Though no cause of death was provided, when he was 17 Hahn "achieved some notoriety as a teenage Boy Scout with his attempt to build a nuclear reactor in his garden shed," remembers Slashdot reader braindrainbahrain: His "reactor" ended when the EPA declared his backyard as a Superfund cleanup site due to hazardous levels of radiation. His story was captured in a Harper's magazine article, and later the book "The Radioactive Boy Scout" by Ken Silverstein. It was also a Slashdot topic...
Hahn had used materials from household products like lithium batteries, smoke detectors, and old radium clocks, according to Wikipedia, which adds that shortly after Hahn's lab was dismantled, he became an Eagle Scout.
Facebook

Facebook Says Humans Won't Write Its Trending Topic Descriptions Anymore (recode.net) 76

Following a former Facebook journalist's report that the company's workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's Trending Topics section, the company has been in damage control mode. First, the company announced it would tweak its Trending Topics section and revamp how editors find trending stories. Specifically, they will train the human editors who work on Facebook's trending section and abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Most recently, Facebook added political scenarios to its orientation training following the concerns. Now, it appears that Facebook will "end its practice of writing editorial descriptions for topics, replacing them with snippets of text pulled from news stories." Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode: It's been more than three months since Gizmodo first published a story claiming Facebook's human editors were suppressing conservative news content on the site's Trending Topics section. Facebook vehemently denied the report, but has been dealing with the story's aftermath ever since. On Friday, Facebook announced another small but notable change to Trending Topics: Human editors will no longer write the short story descriptions that accompany a trending topic on the site. Instead, Facebook is going to use algorithms to "pull excerpts directly from stories." It is not, however, cutting out humans entirely. In fact, Facebook employees will still select which stories ultimately make it into the trending section. An algorithm will surface popular stories, but Facebook editors will weed out the inappropriate or fake ones. "There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality," the company's blog reads.

Comment Re:The end justifies the means (Score 0) 306

It's probably not that meaningful, anyway. Somewhere around 20-40% of the info in these documents will turn out to be wrong or misleading in some critical way. Mostly, it'll just be a case of "name files", with info about different people with the same (or similar) names entered in the wrong place. People will learn pretty quickly to deny anything they don't like. Of course, others will believe whatever they want about you, especially if it was in some "secret" document. But they too will learn that the info about them is also full of errors. More importantly, your friends and relatives will learn the same thing.

I've yet to see any official document about me (including medical records) that didn't have some bizarre thing with unknown origin. The people who keep the records just respond with a grin and a comment starting with "Yeah ....".

Actually, my favorite example, which my wife loves telling other people, is one of those "not even wrong" things that a nurse wrote down after a routine exam, saying that I was 5'13" tall and weighted 135 pounds. I am in fact about six feet one inch, but 135 pounds would make me one of the scrawniest six-footers on the planet. She'd used one of those old-fashioned scales with sliding weights, and had forgotten that she'd slid over a third 50-pound weight. But I've since then seen several personal histories that include that 135-pound weight back then. Once such things get into the database, they're almost impossible to correct. This is especially true of medical records. This can be really annoying to those that've had a "false positive" diagnosis somewhere along the line. But such things are pretty good at teaching you how much you can trust the "official" data about other people.

(I sometimes wonder if official records in other "advanced" countries are as screwed up as they are here in the US. I'd guess that they probably are.)

Comment Re:DONT LET THE FBI RE-WRITE HISTORY FOR YOUTHS (Score 1) 70

people do have their names :)

Not really; according to the US Census Bureau, there are about 1800 Americans with my (first+last) name. And probably a whole bunch of them have the same middle name, which is also one of the top 10 men's names in the US. My parents didn't have much imagination when it came to baby names.

OTOH, my wife continues to use her birth name for most purposes (which is fine by me). She likes the fact that, as far as she can determine, she's the only living human with that name. (And it's not even some unpronounceable "foreign" sounding name. She also likes to point out to people that her name is a syntactically correct English sentence. She has even found archived newspaper images that have her name at the top of a story. ;-)

But anyway, most of us don't "have" our names in any meaningful sense. We're just one of many who are using the name for a few decades, until we drop out of the crowd that are using it.

In college, I had a friend who was a member of the Bill Smith Club, whose only membership criterion is that you be named (or married to someone named) Bill Smith (or William Smythe or Wilhelm Schmidt or anything else that maps onto the name).

Comment Re: interstellar mission (Score 1) 347

I doubt you millennials will get us to Mars let alone out of the solar system. Science is hard and you are soft.

Actually, the same could be said about every generation/cohort. Most of the population are usually the anti-thinking sort who contribute nothing much to our knowledge. The advances have always come from a tiny minority who are typically not much respected by their cohorts. There's a tiny minority of "millennials" who are involved in making the advances that most of us won't live to appreciate. They're not hard to find if you hang out with the right crowds, but most people (including the /. crowd) would never bother with that.

Comment Re:This isn't a big deal, it's fucking huge. (Score 3, Interesting) 86

Have you seen what AMD is putting into its next server processors? http://amd-dev.wpengine.netdna... Tldr: It encrypts a guest's memory with a key that the hypervisor does not have. In theory, it should make a guest VM inaccessible to the hypervisor.

Comment Re:Wow, they really are stuck in the past (Score 2, Informative) 486

Coffee and sugar used to come in one or five pound bags. Now it is all sub-16 ounces.

Huh? Just this morning, I bought a 7-pound bag of sugar. Granted, that's about a year's supply for the two of us. (And it's mostly an artifact of my local reputation as a maker of good margaritas. ;-) It isn't at all hard to find sugar packaged in 2- or 5-pound bags hereabouts; most of the food stores that I frequent sell it that way. Coffee I've always bought in sub-pound packages, mostly because the taste tends to decay slowly, and it's more noticeable the larger the package is. The advent of home and in-store coffee grinding machines was the main cause of the switch to smaller packages, rather than the price. (The real coffee connoisseurs buy the beans green, and roast and grind it themselves, but their numbers are too small to seriously affect prices. ;-)

Comment Re:that's an easy one! (Score 1) 177

Yup, and I've used the same explanation for why I'd prefer coffee to plain water. Water is just boring; adding a bit of flavor (with or without the mild stimulation of the caffeine) makes it more palatable. Any tasty plant material will work. I've also run across the same explanation for why soups of various kinds are so common in most of the world. They have fewer nutrients than their ingredient, so why not just heat up and eat the meats and veggies? Well, you need a good amount of water in your diet, and you want it boiled to make it safe to drink, so why not take some of the tougher cuts of meat , mix in assorted other tough and/or tasty ingredients, simmer them for a while, and consume the result? It adds variety to your diet, and is a good way to use up the odds and ends from other meals in a way that's a lot more palatable than just drinking water.

Comment Re:The invention of the iceless refridgerator (Score 1) 177

... the one thing I can't figure out how to do without in case of the fall of civilization, are toenail clippers. I don't think people used knives to clip them.

Actually, if you have a good whetstone (and know how to use it), you'll find that a small knife works just fine for trimming nails, both finger and toe. I've used my Swiss Army knife's small blade for just that purpose a few times while on vacation without a nail clipper. The small knife blade actually works better than the small scissors that are part of the package. You do need to be a bit careful, of course.

Comment Re:that's an easy one! (Score 5, Interesting) 177

3500 BC was the greatest era of invention. Why 3500 BC, you ask? The (approximate, of course) invention of beer. Go ahead, tell me of a greater one. Can't, can ya?

People will no doubt laugh at this, but it's actually a good observation (though we should include wine in the list). The reason is simple: We humans need to ingest a fair amount of water each day to stay healthy. But historically, water itself has been rather dangerous stuff. Consider all the other people and animals upstream who have been using it for both bathing and disposing of waste of various sorts. Do you want to drink that water? Not if you want a long, healthy life.

Part of the year, our ancestors could get some of the needed water by consuming fruits, which are high in water. But they mostly don't keep very well, and they spoil. Fermented juices have their sugars partly converted to ethanol, which is toxic to most of the spoilage micro-organisms, so the resulting wine or beer is much less likely to spoil. (If it does, the result is often vinegar, which is another way of preserving the juice in a way that's safe for humans to consume).

It's pretty well understood among historians, anthropologists, etc., that fermentation processes were a significant part of our ancestors' development into a long-lived species that eventually dominated much of the planet. Yes, it's fun to get drunk, and to joke about getting drunk. And some other animals can get drunk, since ripe fruits often contain around 1% ethanol. (I've read some funny stories about groups of elephants getting a bit tipsy from the consumption of ripe fruit. Imagine a crowd of drunk elephants partying in your neighborhood. ;-) But the fact is that ethanol-laced liquids are historically an important part of our history, because ethanol provided a way to make those liquids safe to drink.

There was a fun study some time back, in which some researchers traveled around the world, stopping in various eateries, ordering food, and taking it back to their hotel room to feed to the lab equipment they'd brought along. They were testing it for safety (and ate the food that passed their tests ;-). Their main summary of their results was that, if you want a simple rule for ordering something safe to drink, no matter where you are, order beer. They didn't always like the beer everywhere, but their tests never found beer that was unsafe for human consumption. Wine was in second place, but they did find contaminated wine in a few places.

The explanation seems to be that, as anyone who has tried brewing beer knows, you have to be really careful about cleanliness during the brewing, or you get an awful-smelling glop that nobody will drink. With wine, the process seems easy, and you can get good-smelling wine by just letting the fruit juice (with perhaps added yeast) ferment, but sometimes the result has contaminants that aren't obvious. But with beer, this doesn't work; you have to boil it all to sterilize it, add a yeast culture, make sure that stuff floating in the air can't get into the containers, or everyone will know that you've failed the instant they sniff it. So beer probably is the most significant brewing achievement in human history.

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