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Comment Re:Zike immunity (Score 1) 106

One difference may be that people native to the Americas have a far more limited number of human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) which are involved in innate immunity. In 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles Mann goes over this issue in some detail. HLA diversity is an important aspect to innate immunity - each antigen is capable of "seeing" a specific type of foreign protein and generating an immune response for it. The more kinds of HLAs an individual has, the more diseases he or she can fight off quickly, and the more kinds of HLAs a population has the more likely that a disease outbreak will be limited.

Native Americans have problems on both ends - typical "Old World" humans have 35 different HLAs they can inherit while typical "New World" humans only have 17. Old World humans also tend to have a few more HLAs per individual and their populations are very diverse - perhaps as few as 1 in 200 will share the same set of HLAs. New World humans, on the other hand, are far more clustered - as many as 1/3 of all native South Americans have identical HLA profiles.

New World humans may therefore be uniquely susceptible to Zika and its spread may become more widespread - there may not be any innate herd immunity to the virus. If Zika falls into a HLA pattern that simply doesn't exist in South America, native peoples will be in grave danger.

Comment Re:Good ... (Score 1) 220

You routinely buy insurance that protects you from mechanical defect or wear-and-tear. If the defect is egregious enough, lawsuits will be filed (presumably by the insurance companies or as class actions) and you will get some sort of recompense (if only in lower insurance bills than you would otherwise have gotten). You are still making the decision to use an autonomous car, so you are in some sense responsible for that choice. ("Yeah, I know Android Car is a better driver than Microsoft Car, but I got a great deal on it...") This doesn't even get into issues that may arise if the software has a problem dealing with a condition caused by the owner - e.g., your tires are bald or you forced it to drive in conditions it's not rated as capable of handling.

Google will also have counterbalancing claims if you (or the car company using Google's software) don't keep the software updated - there can be no "I preferred to stay on Jellybean" for Android Cars.

Comment Re: Queue the haters (Score 1) 84

Out of the box, a browser just doesn't have that much of a UI. Tabs, back/forward button, URL, search box. A handful of buttons/drop downs. Some sort of menu.

The only change that took any getting used to was the Awesomebar, which I disliked at first but came to prefer.

The out of the box UI experience has mostly just shuffled some things around and collapsed the menu bar (which still exists if you want it) into the hamburger menu. Slowly getting rid of the dialog boxes and replacing them with tabbed pages is a plus from my perspective but I guess you could whine about that if you really liked the old cramped dialogs.

Generally there are a handful of GUI tweaks every year or so, takes me 5 minutes to learn how to navigate the changes and then, once again, I ignore the GUI. Because the whole point of a browser is to be focused on the content, not the chrome.

Comment Re:Queue the haters (Score 1) 84

I've never understood the Australis hate - a browser's chrome has to be the least important thing I can think of. As long as it's not actively hostile, why does anyone care? I simply don't interact with the chrome all that much.

People generally seem to like the Chrome GUI, which is largely what Australis goes for. If the biggest browser user base is happy with it, it can't be that awful.

If browser chrome is a problem for you - you're using it wrong.

I use about a dozen extensions and except for ForecastFox (which hasn't been developed in years), I've yet to have an extension broken by a Firefox upgrade. I know it happens, but it's just as much lazy extension developers as Firefox devs.

And if you hate the rapid release cycle, move to an ESR channel. Once a year releases, with bugfixes.

Comment Queue the haters (Score 5, Insightful) 84

Every time a Mozilla article is posted on Slashdot, the entire conversation just becomes a huge slag-fest. You would have thought Asa Dotzler shot their dog.

Mozilla is a fairly large company. It has resources to do more than a single thing at a time. As long as those things generally fall into their "Free, Open Web" philosophy and don't completely sap their ability to pump out Firefox releases, who cares?

In the same post, you will have people complaining about the feverish release cycle of Firefox and also complaining about how they've "abandoned" the project. Or complaining about issues (like memory usage or speed) that haven't been true for years. Firefox is certainly within the ballpark of every other browser when it comes to speed, memory use, standards compliance, promptness of exploit fixes, etc. There are a few areas (multiprocess and 64 bit being primary) where they lag.

All the freaking whinging about the Australis GUI (when you can get extensions that will drag you right back to 1999) or frequent release cycles is ridiculous. Mozilla always tried to be competitive with other browsers. Four years ago, people complained about slow release cycles vis-a-vis Chrome or talked about how clean the Chrome GUI was - Mozilla listened to those complainers and got a new set of complainers.

There will also be a bunch of people recommending Pale Moon or Iceweasel or whatever. Those browsers wouldn't exist without Firefox - if Mozilla goes dark, those projects will run out of steam very quickly. It's healthier to look at them as distributions rather than alternatives - tweaked to a specific user base.

I like Firefox because the extension ecosystem is still miles better than Chrome after Chrome has had 50+ releases to become competitive. I like Mozilla because they at least give one crap for the concept of a free, open web that isn't incessantly spying on you.

This isn't to say Mozilla is perfect - they've certainly screwed up their share of times. But we should want a healthy Mozilla out there - your alternatives are Google or Microsoft monetizing your every click.

Comment Re:Government should enforce more standards (Score 1) 401

I don't know who those "too many" are, but libertarians are usually tarred by that brush and would disagree completely. Libertarians are generally anti-Big Government and anti-Big Business. Look up regulatory capture and rent seeking - terms that mostly originate from libertarian critiques of modern markets.

Comment Re:Government should enforce more standards (Score 1) 401

If a government does not protect the institution of slavery, including the market for slaves themselves, slaves can revolt more easily - it was the government's monopoly of violence in the antebellum South that allowed slavery to even exist, considering that the number of slaves generally vastly outnumbered the number of slave owners.

Even the existence of a anti-slave portion of the country (the North) caused enormous problems. Slaves could simply run away and if they could make it to the North without being recaptured by agents of the Southern pro-slavery government, they could live free. It was such a problem that they introduced the Fugitive Slave Act precisely to "fix" the problem of free movement of people (which is related to free markets). Once again, a government stepped in to enforce slavery - had the government not been involved, slavery would have died out long before then.

Slavery is the ultimate government regulation.

Comment Re:Breakthrough saving humanity! (Score 1) 66

I read your comment about congress-critters having "wet dreams over a draft" and assumed you'd be talking about Democrats, but, oddly, you seem to think Republicans want a draft. The only bills introduced in the last decade-plus to reinstate the draft were sponsored by Democrats (Charlie Rangel seem to bring one up every once in a while). Left leaning policy wonks have brought up the idea, and Dana Milbank famously wrote an op-ed promoting a new draft.

Now, some of this is basically an attempt to highlight alleged hypocrisy or to "spread the pain" outside of the perceived "only poor folk join the military" viewpoint of many on the left. Leaving aside that volunteering for the military isn't particularly clustered around poverty (it is clustered around a history of family members in the military), this is pretty cynical fear-mongering that's not much better than what the Republicans do. And to the extent that it's sincerely held belief (e.g., Jim McDermott, (D) WA, who honestly believes in a draft), it's a pretty daft one that generally revolves around social engineering (forming a "more engaged" populace through compulsory service).

Honestly, neither party is all that coherent when it comes to foreign relations and the military. Both sides are happy to bomb brown people all over the world and both want to do it on the cheap. It's a choice between feckless and reckless.

Comment Re:The reward tiers are problematic for the longte (Score 1) 104

He keeps adding to the existing rewards, though. The $35 dollar level, for instance, now comes with 6 episodes of the original show (which retail at $10 / episode) as well as the first episode of the new series. Every level above $35 basically includes every level below them, so by the time you get to the $100 level, you get 6 episodes of the old series, all the episodes of the new series, a T-shirt, a coffee mug, your name in the credits and various other tchotchke. He's also added some other non-KS items that will be rolled into the final budget (e.g., you can buy all 87 available episodes of the original series for $150 today and the $150 counts toward the total). He hasn't figured out how to add the non-KS revenue to the KS page, but has been letting people know the totals as the project progresses.

$100 is obviously overpriced if you are only interested in viewing whatever number of new episodes (6, 9 or 12) finally get produced - Vimeo will stream them for $3/episode probably - but for fans that want new content produced and own the episodes and the other swag, it's not bad for KS.

Comment Re: And there's still a year to go. (Score 1) 309

It is a little ridiculous, but as I was telling my kids a few hours ago, parliamentary elections are inherently easier and quicker than a Presidential election would ever be. Party slates and party voting is just a lot easier than publicly selecting your party's standard bearer. In most parliamentary elections, the party has already decided its leadership internally (via party conferences) and generally puts forth it's slate fairly easily. The actual election season is thus just the race between the various parties. That's sort of equivalent to the US race after the big party conventions - which take place in late August for an early November election, which works out to around 60-70 day campaigns. That's roughly in line with your elections.

Back before we made the nominating process so open, American campaigns were shorter. If we went back to the days of the party picking the candidate, we'd be pretty close.

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