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Comment We U.S. Citizens Are All Criminals! (Score 5, Insightful) 347

Found a little comment in the Austin,TX paper that is very appropriate to the NSA actions: "If we are to accept that the executive branch of the U.S. government is operating within the bounds of the Constitution in its implementation of the recently disclosed domestic spy program. i.e., having approval through the FISA court and tacit congressional consent, then per the 4th amendment, “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,” the only valid probable cause to surveil the entire domestic population is to declare them likely criminals. The question to answer then becomes, what do the citizens of this land do when their government has wholesale declared them all criminals?" So I put it to you, what is the correct course of action when we citizens of these United States of America are now all criminals in the eyes of the government?

Comment Rural? Be afraid, be very afraid (Score 1) 520

As a sibling of a couple of physicians, I get to hear a lot about the quality of personnel in small and rural hospitals. In general, the advice I have been given is that unless I am about to expire, I am to head for the nearest large city and a hospital therein. Why? The spectrum of support staff at smaller, more isolated hospitals tends to the lower end in skill. It is unfortunate intersection of cost (cannot pay as well in small cities/hospitals) and availability of better trained staff. As an outsider, I see this as partly due to the increase of turning many formally well trained support positions into ones held by what the human resources want to term as 'technicians'. Nothing wrong with being a tech, but the push is for the lowest training and therefore lowest cost. After all, the machine cannot make a mistake and anyone can hook up the tube/insert the sample/draw the blood/distribute the medicine, etc. However, complete ignorance of the meaning of test results/medical weights an measures/meaning of standards, etc. leads to some funny results (deadly, not ha ha). In essence, if you or an advocate (family or friends) are not on duty 24/7, you can be at the mercy of mistakes through ignorance, negligence or simply chance. YMMV.

Comment Do you have new senses tied to technology? (Score 1) 319

I have heard the "technology" argument since I was a kid in the 60's and 70's. Ever heard of "Tach-X" or "Controlled Reader"? They were the teaching technology of the day and abysmal failures. Why? Humans are visual and tactile sensors at heart, so seeing, hearing and touching stimulates our brains and allows us to learn. It does not matter the source of the aural or visual stimulation and cognitive processes that in turn get started. Learning requires repetition, so either you had it gone over in detail in class, or you read the material (or perhaps listened to it) many times before it can be actually learned. We also had a thing called the "overhead projector" that allowed material to be slapped up quickly; where do you think PowerPoint and its friends came from? Nothing new under the sun folks. Sure you can present better images, faster and simulations of processes or experiments, but do you really think you will better understand Spencer's "The Faerie Queen" by getting to vote on how you liked its presentation with a little clicker? Nope, only way is through reading/discussing and thinking inside your own brain. That is where learning takes place, not outside you on a screen. And a simple tidbit can show this. The reading level of high school students had been going down for decades. Ever pick up a history book from the 1950's meant for middle school students? The mere complexity of language makes modern textbooks read as if they were written by high school students. In summation, as others stated, technology is a tool and can be used well or ill, but it is no substitute for good planning, good reading lists (which can be on paper or screen) and good presentations + your own efforts.

Comment Needed: A blood allergic mosquito (Score 1) 261

As someone who grew up in a fairly mosquito-rich area, I would be happier to see them develop a mosquito with severe blood allergies. Still need them to reproduce, but spread them around and watch the suckers blow up if they grab the wrong type of bloodpop! Or how about a wing frequency that is not so annoying? Or make them afraid of the dark?

Comment Re:Neglect the benefits & tablets win... (Score 1) 255

I will keep saying this until I get tired of not seeing a reader that fits my needs: large, letter format that can show entire pages of scientific papers in PDF format. Preferably with a method for note taking. Not a laptop, lightweight and bullet proof, or at least lasagne proof. None of these fit (no, iPad is too small to show entire pages that can be read) as I don't want to spend my time zooming in and out; this makes reading a chore. In the meanwhile, I can buy a hell of a lot of toner for my printer for $499 and print all my PDF papers, sit in a comfortable chair and not give a d*mn if I get my dinner all over them. Match that and I will be first in line with my Ben Franklin's in hand! On the other hand, a very inexpensive, small form reader for novels is appealing. Don't forget manufacturers, your users will age too and need larger typefaces to read as they march toward their rendezvous with the worms.

Submission + - Forget Google's Pacman, How much bandwidth for BP?

Ultimate Heretic writes: Now that BP has relented to keep the live feed from its robotic tenders available to the public during the 'top kill' procedure, how much bandwidth is being chewed up by those watching the process, now projected to take about 2 days? And how many man-hours of productivity lost? Any takers on estimates?

Comment Re:i could be wrong (Score 5, Informative) 357

You are correct. One of the highest radiation dose jobs in the world is pilot, followed by co-pilot and flight attendant. This is drilled into those taking radiation safety courses. Of course, one must be aware of the different affects the specific energy particles/rays have on DNA to give a complete picture of the long term hazards. Interestingly enough, the NPR piece, which had an expert stating that they were not worried about excessive x-ray dosages from equipment malfunction, was immediately followed by one on the accidental excessive x-ray doses from medical scanners. Whoops!

Comment How do scientific PDF documents appear on iPad? (Score 5, Interesting) 617

Lacking in the early iPad reviews has been any screen shots or actual information on how a two-column small text PDF appears, typical in my scientific arena's journal articles. My use for an iPad would be to provide a convenient means to carry around and read at home (not parked in front of my computer!) my current list of journal articles. As an older person with ever increasily bad eyesight, I can really use the larger screen. So have any slashdot user + iPad adopters had a chance to use it in this context? Another contender is the Skiff reader, but it is stil vaporware and their latest press release seems to suggest they are moving to provide an OS and marketing scheme and moving away from the hardware reader. Pity, as it is just the right size for my needs. I know that one can "Kindle-ize" PDF's, but a) I am lazy and b) I bet they don't come out quite right, so that is not a solution I would want to use. Also, I see that Papers has been released for iPad just today, so maybe it is worth a trip to the Apple Store to have a look myself.

Comment Re:insanity (Score 1) 314

And since my hat makes my head warm and my pillow selectively warms one side of my head, they must be cancer causing agents as well. If you hold a cell phone that is OFF against your head for 1/2 hour, bet you it and your ear feels warm too. Better ban those ear muffs. I guess the only cure is to go nude and live under a pavillion so the excess body heat can be carried out by the wind.

Comment Re:"Papers Please" (Score 1) 537

Always follow the money, it explains all corporate actions.

Blaaat. Nope, the money only leads back to the players in the field. The corporate actions are all explained by "they are idiots". For instance, the subprime mortgage mess. Not just a lesson in greed, but a lesson in stupid greed. Keep the golden goose laying, don't butcher it up for dinner.


Submission + - Incandescent bulbs not outlawed

Ultimate Heretic writes: "Incandescents not outlawed Despite the inflammatory headline in an article in USA Today,incandescent bulbs are not to be "outlawed" by 2012. In fact the required efficiency (the correct term is efficacy, measured in lumens/watt) increases are rather modest. Pulling a package of Philips 60 Watt soft white bulbs off my shelf, only a 20% increase is required to meet the target. This version of the senate bill, S.2017, Energy Efficient Lighting for a Brighter Tomorrow Act of 2007, which can be viewed at the library of congress site, gives the details. The article does detail some expected improvements in incandescent lighting in conflict with its own headline. The Department of Energy even plans to fund research into incandescent bulb improvements. The article also fails to mention that the increased use of compact fluorescents (CFL) presents a localized small, but real increase in mercury vapor exposure due to accidental breakage or damage when disposing into waste containers. Puzzling in its absence is a complete cradle-to-grave energy use assessment. Manufacturing CFLs is much more energy intensive (bulb + circuitry) than that of incandescent bulbs. How much does this offset the purported efficiency mandates?"

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