Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:CIA (Score 1) 106

One thing in reality that reinforces conspiracy theories like that is many people such as the ex-CIA Republican candidate Evan McMullin who spent their career embedded in Medical NGOs.
I'm not blaming him, he was doing a job, just the idiots in his management that thought up that counterproductive shit that makes utter loonies like the CIA-AIDS conspiracy nuts look like they have a point.

Comment Re: Hmm (Score 1) 880

I wasn't aware Hillary Clinton had been accused of sex crimes, do tell. And apparently some of the women Trump thought loved him grabbing their genitals weren't quite so impressed.

As to the Bush-Gore issues, there were actual physical problems with the Florida ballots, in other words, there was reason for Gore to seek clarification. It wasn't simply because Gore lost.

And this whole "MSM are part of the lizard conspiracy" is getting tiring. The only reason Trump is even where he is is because the press has given him so much oxygen, and he's risen to the challenge at every occasion. Every single time something appears that might damage Clinton, Trump, who seems neurologically incapable of not having the headline, says something idiotic or outrageous.

Nobody ever thought he had a chance. That he's doing as well as he is is quite phenomenal, and does suggest that if Republicans had picked a real candidate, instead of a reality TV star, they'd probably be sailing to victory right now, and wouldn't be facing not just another four years outside the Oval Office, but the potential of losing the Senate (and possibly a weakened position in the House). Quit blaming Clinton, quit blaming the press, start blaming everyone who picked a man so unsuitable for this job (or, from what I can tell, for any job).

Comment Re: great (Score 1) 106

The current research I've read seems to suggest that the first HIV infections probably happened 70 or 80 years ago. One would also imagine that the virus, not really evolved fine tuning for humans, might have exhibited more muted symptoms (or conversely, it might have been much more lethal, like some other viruses are, and burn themselves out by killing hosts too quickly). In developing countries a lot of things can kill a person before they die of an HIV infection, so it probably simply wasn't noticed until it had found its way to a country where life expectancy and general health was much higher.

Comment Re:We can date the jump into the U.S. in about 197 (Score 3, Interesting) 106

It's not suddenly, in 1979, tens of millions of gay men suddenly started showing signs of immunological deficiency. Because HIV infections take some time to develop into full blown AIDS (and that can be highly dependent on the individual), it would have taken a long time before there would be confirmation that there was something infecting gay men. And once you've established that there is some sort of sexually transmitted disease that leads to AIDS, you now have to literally pour through all sorts of tissue samples, blood samples, lymphatic samples, and so on and so on looking for the needle in the haystack. You'll probably end up going down a few false roads because many of these individuals probably had other STD infections, so you have to also be thinking "could this be some sort of mutated syphilis or hepatitis infection?"

It is largely because of diseases like AIDS and the technology developed to isolate infectious agents that we are so much better today than we were thirty or forty years ago. To judge the medical community of the early 1980s by the standards of the 21st century is absurd.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 2) 106

Lots of people have had unprotected sex through the ages. HIV infections certainly are one of the nastier STDs around, but diseases like hepatitis, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea have been infecting humans for thousands of years. The problem for any sexually active group in the 1960 and 1970s was that most bacterial STD infections were readily treated with penicillin, so if you got the clap, you got a prescription, cleaned yourself up and away you went. The only thing that singled gay men out more than other populations at the time were the greater risks from anal intercourse.

While there had been rumors floating around about the "gay disease" in the 1970s, it took some for doctors to isolate a probable infectious agent, so without at least some strong hint as to whether it was an STD or some other illness, what exactly could anyone told any sexually active person in the heterosexual or homosexual communities? Patient 0 and his partners would have had no idea that they were carrying an incurable viral infection, so assigning blame seems utterly idiotic. Yes, once there was strong evidence that there was a virus that was causing AIDS, the medical community was able to inform homosexual men, intravenous drug users and other vulnerable groups that they were at high risk, and could provide information on how to prevent the spread of the disease. But the "Patient 0" generation sadly did not even really know they could be infected, and in turn, infect their sexual partners.

Comment Re:Conspiracy Theories (Score 3, Interesting) 106

According to this article, the family of viruses HIV belongs to have been infecting primates for millions of years. As to HIV-1 and HIV-2, it has this to say about probable origins:

The HIV-2 strain is widely accepted to have been passed from sooty mangabeys in west Africa to humans, probably bushmeat hunters or those keeping the primates as pets, or both. Scientists believe HIV-1 was passed from chimpanzees to humans.

So what we likely have is a couple of events, unlikely in and of themselves, but where there is enough interspecies contact, as keeping infected pets or eating infected bushmeat, that the these two related viruses managed to cross-infect. After that, the viruses would have quickly have evolved to their new hosts (which really are pretty damned closely related to the old hosts).

Comment Re:Something's fishy (Score 1) 214

I don't know how you can possibly read anything about EU subsidies into anything I've written here, but if it makes you feel any better, my businesses have never taken any form of EU subsidy. In fact, from the point of view of my own businesses, the EU probably does more harm than good as things stand today, and in isolation we'd be a bit better off without it. But of course we're not operating in isolation, so the interesting questions are really about whether the EU is a net win or net loss in the big picture, and those are much harder to answer (despite the number of people who seem to think it's an easy question and if you voted the other way from them you're obviously some sort of clueless idiot).

Comment Re:Something's fishy (Score 1) 214

It's not quite that simple, unfortunately.

The EU operates what is termed a "single market" or "internal market", which actually includes the EU member states plus a few others via separate international agreements. This is a region in which the "four freedoms" apply: goods, services, labour and capital may be moved freely between the participating states as if within their own country.

This relatively close relationship is generally seen as good for trade between members of that single market. It means there are no government-imposed tariffs on imports/exports, there are common standards and regulations for what you're allowed to sell throughout the market, and so on. This is why some people in the UK are currently arguing that on leaving the EU as a whole, we should seek an agreement to remain within the single market (a form of "soft Brexit").

However, membership of that single market isn't necessarily a win in all respects.

One issue is that the freedom of movement of labour means member states can't limit immigration from other member states. This has been controversial recently for a number of reasons. In the UK specifically, some people argue that immigration is putting an unsustainable burden on our national infrastructure. Others argue that immigrants are both helpful and in some cases necessary to keep our economy running and support that very infrastructure. Some point out that while we receive many immigrants from elsewhere in the single market, many of our own citizens also choose to work or retire abroad, and that travelling within the EU without visas is beneficial. Across the EU more widely, there is an issue at the moment with the number of refugees from elsewhere in the world who are entering member states close to troubled areas but then able to move around within the EU relatively freely. And on top of all of this, there are all the "free movement, but with strings attached" arrangements where the politicians and diplomats have been trying to dance around the problems without giving up the benefits.

There has probably been more objectively wrong nonsense said about immigration than any other issue around Brexit, but unfortunately it's long been a difficult subject and a certain part of the population in most EU states, including the UK, isn't very nice when it comes to foreigners. And just to throw one more ingredient into the mix, of course the UK also has people moving to and from non-EU states, but our visa and immigration system is overcomplicated, dysfunctional and a huge burden on those people and businesses involved. The natural assumption is that the same currently awful system would apply to those coming from the EU in the event of a "hard Brexit" where we cut ties like single market membership as part of leaving the EU, which some people see as too high a price to pay pragmatically, even if they don't in principle mind immigration from the EU being subject to the same rules as from anywhere else.

Another issue with the single market is that it is also what is called a "customs union". That means that while trade within the market is free, any member state importing from outside the market is required to impose a certain level of tariffs, regulations, and so on. That is usually seen as bad for trade with partners outside the EU single market, for much the same reasons that trade within the market is good. For the UK specifically, although it does a lot of trade with the EU, it actually does a bit more now with other partners outside the EU, and the external trade is also growing a bit faster. And of course a lot of goods and services are both provided and consumed internally within the UK. As long as the UK is within the scope of the EU arrangements, it therefore has to apply the EU rules even to internal matters and to trade with non-EU partners. Depending on who you ask and what line of business they're in, this is either no big deal or a crippling burden on trade and our national economy.

Crucially, the UK is also not free to negotiate its own trade deals for more favourable terms with non-EU partners, because the rules say that only the EU itself can negotiate trade deals on behalf of the bloc as a whole. This goes along with the whole single market/customs union deal, but if you're looking at increasing trade with, say, North America or Asia, it's a big barrier. And as we've seen recently with proposed trade deals like TTIP and CETA, being in the EU is no guarantee that your diplomats will actually close good trade deals on behalf of the member states. Apparently negotiating on behalf of the whole EU bloc, when in the real world those member states naturally have different priorities and goals and when they also have varying levels of veto powers, isn't always easy!

In the end, a lot of the controversy around Brexit is whether the known, established benefits of being an EU member state outweigh (and would continue to outweigh) the potential benefits of being free to negotiate independently with non-EU partners and to set our own rules for our home market. It's not really about "losing access to the single market" or "preventing immigration". Trade between the UK and EU member states would still happen even if the UK left the single market, just as obviously the UK trades with many other nations around the world. Likewise, people would still come and go. But there would potentially be significant extra barriers to trade and movement within the EU, and potentially lower barriers to trade and movement elsewhere, and the long term pros and cons of those arrangements are hard to predict.

Slashdot Top Deals

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham