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Comment Re:Not really (Score 3, Insightful) 737

Your implication is the his lack of experience led to the adoption of policies that you don't agree with. That's hardly a condemnation of his ability to be president. Overall, his approval ratings are far better the GWB's at the end of his second term - a guy who at that point had plenty of executive experience.

Obama also had no military experience and little foreign policy experience, yet even most conservatives think that he is doing well on the "war on terror."

I agree with your last point, but experience is overrated in a presidential candidate. They bring a team with them and their ability to succeed in a primary and federal election is a reasonable proof of basic competence. Now, if a candidate has experience running a large organization and seriously screwed it up, that's another issue.

Comment Re:Inflation (Score 5, Insightful) 696

Unless you never circulate the coin and melt it down once the debt level falls below that of the debt ceiling.

The point is that the debt ceiling is a made up limit. Most countries don't have one.

Increasing this arbitrary limit does not let us spend more money - it allows us to BORROW more money in order to pay for those things that we already bought!

In other words, the fight we're having over the debt ceiling now should have taken place over the BUDGET. That's were the spending decisions take place. By not raising the debt ceiling now, all we are saying is that we won't pay back the money we HAVE ALREADY SPENT. That sends a bad message to those that might lend us money in the future - raising our rates - and actually makes us SPEND MORE MONEY in the future to service our debt.

If you want to reduce the deficit, fix the budget (more revenues, less spending). Don't shoot yourself in the foot as a punishment for already having spent more money that you have in the hopes that it will force you to budget better next time.

Comment I get it, but it ain't there yet... (Score 3, Funny) 49

Sure you have to do a complicated dance routine to flip through channels and change the volume, but maybe, one day soon, we'll be able to operate basic television controls from across the room using only a single thumb!

Wake when my TV can figure out what I want to watch and puts it on before my ass hits the couch.

Comment Imperfect Analogy (Score 5, Informative) 119

It doesn't quite work that way, but the answer to your question is that the database is stored in the DNA of immune cells.

Essentially, the newborn cells of the adaptive immune system (B and T-cells) undergo rearrangements of their DNA to produce a incredibly wide variety of receptors.

Then, they go through a selection process - if they react strongly with self, they die (negative selection). After a few more maturation and selection steps, the surviving immune cells are sent throughout the body.

If one of them later binds strongly to something (which is presumably foreign) in the right context, they activate. They trigger an immune response and proliferate. A subset of these daughter cells become essentially immortal - outlasting the immune response they fought in, but ready to quickly mobilize should that foreign substance be encountered again.

So, the memory cells are the hardware, but the rearranged antigen receptor gene they harbor is the information they need to work.

Comment Re:Medical ritual, or just loneliness? (Score 3, Insightful) 430


But that's a huge point to prove. As obvious as it may sound, it's evidence that validating patients and their concerns may be among the best things we can do as physicians. It's absolutely not billable, so many docs don't do it - instead focusing on seeing the next person quickly or doing another billable procedure.

Maybe with more studies aimed at understanding the effect of doctor-patient interactions, we'll start reimbursing MD's for what works and patients find valuable.

Comment Re:Homeopathic Medicine (Score 4, Interesting) 430

But he has a point. Several psychiatric drugs have been shown to be no better or worse than placebo. We didn't hear about it because these negative trials were suppressed by the drug companies. They only published the positive ones - do enough studies and one will work!

Even the open placebo used in this study appeared as good as the leading therapy for IBS (although they weren't compared head-to-head).

Comment Why medicine is still an art... (Score 1) 430

This is fascinating to me.It proves how much we don't know about how people work.

As a physician I have on several occasions wanted to prescribe a placebo, knowing that time would be the best remedy and that simply feeling like the patient is doing something might improve their outlook immediately. Of course, I consider that misleading and unethical. To know that it might work even if you are up front about it is amazing. I'm not sure that it would work outside of a clinical trial though. I'd love to know how/if it really works.

Several possibilities -

1) Just a statistical fluke - it won't be born out in repeat studies.
2) Specific only to disorders like IBS which has a highly variable course, subjective symptoms, and is hard to diagnose. This isn't going to work with leukemia.
3) An example of "active" intervention where a person feels like they are being helped to help themselves even if they cognitively don't believe it. It's what underlies the "healing touch" in medicine and maybe even the power of meditation/prayer (praying for yourself that is, not being in a coma and having others pray for you).

I also don't know how they got the study past the scientific review board, which I thought, would laugh them out of the room.

Lizard Previously Unknown To Science Found On Vietnam Menu 133

eldavojohn writes "A lizard long served on the menu in the Mekong Delta has recently caught the attention of scientists when it was noted that all animals in the species appeared identical as well as female. The species appears to be a hybrid of two other species (like a mule or liger). But the curious thing is that this hybrid isn't sterile — it reproduces asexually. The species, known for some time in Vietnam, has now officially been named Leiolepis ngovantrii."

Comment Higher learning or higher pandering? (Score 1) 380

What if we ran universities like Wikipedia?

Then education would work like the media does today. The loudest or hottest or most in-line with what you already think "professors" would dominate those that actually know more about their field. You wouldn't be learning as much as concreting your world view - exactly the opposite of what higher education should do.

In fact, why not skip the university concept and meld education into the media entirely? Sign me up for the Daily Show Community College.

Submission + - The Sun speaks to radioactive elements (stanford.edu)

Scubaraf writes: It's a mystery that presented itself unexpectedly: The radioactive decay of some elements sitting quietly in laboratories on Earth seemed to be influenced by activities inside the sun, 93 million miles away... On Dec 13, 2006, the sun itself provided a crucial clue, when a solar flare sent a stream of particles and radiation toward Earth. Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate of manganese-54, a short-lived isotope used in medical diagnostics, noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare, a decrease that started about a day and a half before the flare.

Comment Re:Yeah, but where does this get ME? (Score 4, Insightful) 973

Daddy - why didn't our ancestors start working on a way to colonize the solar system before the Sun started expanding?

Because your great-great-great-great-google-grandpa was really into NASCAR and porn and couldn't spare the dough to fund our species-saving research.

Oh - I see. I'm glad he had his priorities straight. The entire sum of human existence shouldn't be forgotten for nothing, you know?

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