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Comment Re:This MUST be fake news (Score 1) 131

Why in gawd's name would anyone mass produce such a device? This must be one of those fake news stories we've been hearing so much about.

I can't imagine any legitimate use for such a device, so I assume it would be made illegal as soon as the politicians can get off their duffs.

I'm sure certain companies and government agencies working with very sensitive information or critical infrastructure would find some value in it. You can disable USB in software or fill the ports with hot glue gun glue, but both can be undone/worked around. There may be other, better methods to secure the USB ports, but there are definitely some legitimate uses for such a device.

Comment Re:Shrooms, too. (Score 1) 145

From what I understood, it was indeed promising but it never went beyond that. The problem with psychedelics is that while we did have some very good results, it was too unpredictable. You talk about non-scientists but there is nothing scientists hate more than unpredictability. When a psychiatrist gives a drug to a patient, he wants to know the effects beforehand, he wants to know how things can go wrong, what to do next, etc.. You can't have it with LSD. I don't think we went passed the point of throwing it at a patient and see how it sticks.

One of the last potential use of psychedelics is for treating cluster headaches. A benign but extremely painful condition. Interestingly, the most effective treatments are all hit-or-miss repurposed drugs, psychedelics are of these.

Every drug has potential side effects and some level of unpredictability. If you were to measure the negative side effects and the benefits of commercial prescription antidepressants and mood disorder drugs, the net gain is very small or even negative in some cases. Some antidepressants on the market actually perform worse than a placebo. That's not a particularly high bar for these drugs to clear.

The only reason these drugs weren't fully researched is because they were made very difficult to study, both by regulation and by the social stigma / loss of reputation that anyone trying to study them would have to endure.

Comment Re:Why would this concern Trump? (Score 2) 182

He campaigned on a platform of isolationism. Why would he care if two countries on the other side of the world are hacking each other?

Not just that, unlike previous Republican administrations, he takes a dim view of all of Islam: he doesn't view Sunnis as better than Shias or vice versa or any of that. His whole stance of allying w/ the Russians in Syria is based on that: that militias that are financed by the Saudis, Turks or Qatar are just not reliable at best, and Jihadists at worst. That's why he's taken a position that's completely heterodox to the Republicans, if not downright heretical.

On Iran, what he has to do is pull the plug on that deal, and make it clear to Iran's trading partners that they can choose to trade either w/ the US or Iran, but not both. If European countries are so enamored w/ trading w/ Iran, that's fine: just don't expect to do any business w/ the US.

But as far as the Saudis go, we have no dog in the fight b/w Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both are our enemies, and the 2 of them fighting each other is an alien vs predator situation, to paraphrase Debbie Schlussel. Or like the 2 cats of Kilkinney. If they can fight each other and wipe each other out, then praise be to allah - nothing like it!

Wars have a habit of spilling their effects across borders. For a time, I was reading every day's front page of the Canberra Times starting in October 1938. The problem of international refugees appeared again and again, and I had to stop in February 1939 because I got busy with work. The war had only just begun at that point.

65 million people were displaced at the end of 2015. This problem is not just Saudi Arabia and Iran's problem. A lot of the costs of their "not so cold" war are externalized onto other nations.

Comment Re:Shrooms, too. (Score 1) 145

Research into cannabis, MDMA, LSD, etc was the most promising area of psychiatric research in the 1950s. A mental health revolution was on the horizon until a bunch of non-scientists got involved and shut the whole thing down.

Comment Re:"Willing to"??? (Score 1) 130

I don't even keep location services turned on except when I need to use my phone as a GPS, never mind allow any apps to access it. Why the hell would I want to share my location with Uber? Oh, right - "Location data could also be used to provide new channels of revenue for the digital platform. This could include serving ads of local businesses". Yeah, kindly fuck right off, Uber.

Uber may be playing shenanigans but other companies can potentially do useful things with that data. As an example, Pandora seems to play certain songs depending on my location or time of day. I have noticed that John O`Callaghan's "Big Sky" seems to play much more frequently around sunset. Driving home from the airport after a business trip almost guarantees a play of Gareth Emery's "Long Way Home". I have no evidence that Pandora is actually changing the songs played based on location or time of day, but it would not surprise me.

The ads on Pandora don't seem to change much, if at all, based on my location.

Comment Re: eating less (Score 2) 253

Yeah, it is not simple thermodynamics. The complexity of the interactions in the body is overwhelmingly mind-boggling.

Interestingly enough, more and more researchers are buying into the lower-carb side of the diet controversy. And it seems that if you lower the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you probably have to increase your fat intake to get enough energy to prevent starvation responses. And a gut that is adapted to burning fat for energy is significantly different from a gut that burns sugars. And so on....

However, the report of a single study doesn't provide a prescription for health. Some time ago there was good discussion about creating a comprehensive science database to compare outcomes of different research. This database would report on both successful and unsuccessful experiments and research, which could possibly cut down on instances of "fads" by identifying what works, what doesn't work, and what hasn't been tested yet.

Recent research into gut biology certainly is fascinating and exciting. It seems clear that different types of guy bacteria break down food at different rates and into different components. A lot of research has gone into fecal transplants, but that is the "cheap and roundabout way" of researching this issue, in my opinion. Some questions I have are-

1. Do different species of gut bacteria break down different types of food (vegatables, fruits, proteins, etc) differently?
2. Where are the 'ideal' (most healthy) bacteria commonly found? Are they a byproduct of food decomposition? There does seem to be some benefits of consuming fermented foods. It wouldn't be too surprising to find that bacteria good at decomposing food on the countertop are also good at decomposing food in the gut (as long as they can handle the acidity). This could imply that the super clean food practices commonly used in western countries (refrigeration, washing, etc) could actually be harmful since they restrict bacteria from proliferating.

Comment Re:A pity, but not a surprise (Score 2) 95

It only makes sense that you should only be allowed to review something you've actually bought through the site, but man will I miss the comedy reviews. The reviews for the Trump Christmas tree ornament hat are GOLD, as were the reviews for uranium in a can and all the others.

You can still write 5 reviews per week for items that you haven't bought. That should be plenty for legitimate purposes.

The real issue with Amazon is that the actual seller's feedback score is not clearly shown on the product page. If you want feedback for the actual seller, it is buried at least 1 click away. Other websites with 'marketplaces' make this a lot more transparent on the product page. Putting their feedback score front and center would fix several issues. Not every problem, but Amazon's reluctance to do even that shows to me that they don't take the problems of chinese sellers seriously.

Comment Re:the problem is in the market. (Score 1) 88

Minecraft is slowly rearing its head as one of microsofts worst decisions. Yes it had a lot of users, but not a lot of new users. sure, you can create logic engines in it, but the average 11 year old on minecraft isnt doing that. Notch walked away with the bulk of minecrafts real profit, leaving microsoft to shepherd servers and find new ways to milk a cow he gave up on years ago after the food mechanic. the MS deal alienated a lot of hackers/coders who enjoyed writing mods for the platform and saw it as just another thing gobbled up by redmond to be slowly bled dry through incompetent mismanagement.

Sometimes a fad product is just a fad. Minecraft was a great game, but only because it had a novel idea at the right time. It's not a particularly clever idea or even a patentable one. Seeing Microsoft invest so much is analogous to Target purchasing Ty (beanie baby company).

Comment Re:Demonstrating something we already knew. (Score 5, Insightful) 158

I think its good that a few individuals have found a way to cleary demonstrate what many people already knew... That the 'news' media is a joke, and only exists to serve the corporations which own the media outlet.

Good that it is being exposed to the people who read the corrections / false story reports. Not good for anyone who didn't and still thinks the original story is real.

I was taught in elementary school to check sources and not rely on a single source. Even (especially) wikipedia was to be questioned. That seems to have all gone out the window. You don't need any qualifications to write news, and nobody would check anyway. The internet was supposed to level the playing field for everything and everybody. It did that, but it turns out that most players are terrible.

Comment Re:Step 1: Ignore the mouth (Score 1) 559

There's a fact about Trump that's growing ever more apparent: his mouth is nearly useless. Only his actions matter (and they've yet to unfold).

Forrest Trump is like a box of chocolates: you don't know what you are getting until you bite into one ... or one bites into you.

You could say the same thing of any politician. Or any salesperson for that matter. I find it is helpful to have a book on negotiation handy and to categorize the tactics of such people into negotiation strategies. It doesn't take much practice to recognize the strategies that Trump is most prolific with- making strong opening offers, setting the terms of negotiation, carefully choosing the medium, the time, and the location (often at his own properties), showing signs of disappointment, avoiding weak language, etc. Other politicians do this too, of course, but Trump takes it to another level entirely.

I would not want to negotiate with such a person. I can definitely understand that world leaders would be wary of negotiating with such a person.Trump is one of the most successful timeshare salesman in the country, after all.

Comment Re:You Trump voters have been played (Score 1) 559

He's a fast learner at becoming a typical lying establishment politician, after having been briefed on the actual facts of the nation and the world.

If that was actually the case he'd be an ignorant politician that's been enlightened, it's not a lie to realize the basis of your position was lacking and the past conclusion wrong. Though I think you're closer on this one:

He just said whatever he thought would win him the election.

He did. But not in the "I'll tell you half a truth and go full crazy once I'm elected" way, pretty much every move after he was elected has been reconciliatory and moderating past extremes. We know Trump is far from the traditional, life long Republican. At the same time, in practice you have to be a Democrat or Republican to become president. He's a businessman, clearly he's got some economic theories that he really means but the rest or has he just been pandering?

This might be hilariously wrong in retrospect but just throwing it out there, what if Trump has been playing the long con like you see in reality shows and now that he's maneuvered his way into office he'll actually be a far more moderate, responsible and socially progressive president than anyone expected him to be? Because it's one thing that he flip-flops, but I can't see that all of these are necessary. In many cases he could probably stick to his guns and have the party back him up, but he does it anyway. Most peculiar.

There has been some speculation that the GOP didn't plan to support Trump, since enacting his campaign promises were thought to hurt the GOP in the 2018 elections. The 2018 election is important because of the 2020 census and the redistricting that will take place soon after. Without GOP support, Trump wouldn't accomplish much in the next 4 years, making it easier for the party to distance themselves. By roping in the GOP and including them, Trump ties his fate to the GOP. They have to support him, and won't be able to dump him easily in 2020 if he wants to run for re-election. Whether that is a good or bad thing is left as an exercise for the reader.

Comment Re:k.i.s.s. (Score 5, Informative) 143

I was in the Nuclear Propulsion Program in the Navy. By necessity, quality control and training were at near-religious levels. But the systems themselves were designed above all for reliability. One aspect of that was simplicity.

The Zumwalt isn't a nuke, just an over-priced gas turbo-electric. The tech surrounding this project is an engineer's wet dream.However, they have built the flimsiest of paper tigers. It's supposed to be a combatant warship, not a science fair demonstration project, and not a contractor piggy-bank for taxpayer dollars.

The idea of propulsion plant automation as a labor-saving measure is laudable, but the concept is scalar, not linear. There is a tradeoff to be made here, and prudence seems to have gone overboard the garbage. More points of failure with fewer resources to respond to failures does not make for a reliable combat system. Automation gone wild might be OK commercial ships where the price of failure is less, but this is supposed to be a fighting ship, not a bulk freighter.

We have seen the same folly in the littoral combatants and the ridiculously moribund Ford-class carrier.

Who the hell is driving this reliability-be-damned design regime? Certainly not the war fighters.

I studied marine engineering and have several friends from university who work at the shipyard (General Dynamic Bath Iron Works) where the Zumwalt was designed and built. They are among the most patriotic people I know. Individually, they are also smart. But collectively, they are the dumbest bunch of government contract exploiters I have ever seen. From the ship specification (solution in search of a problem) to the expensive and idiotic design choices, the Zumwalt is a complete disaster. We had BIW representatives on our college campus 10 years ago telling us all about the wonderful things the DDX program (which eventually became the single-ship Zumwalt class) could do. It sounded like a car salesman pitch then, and I am not surprised at all how it turned out. There are very good reasons they only built one and then ordered more Arleigh Burke destroyers instead. There is something very, very wrong when the 15,000 ton Zumwalt destroyer costs $3.96B/unit (excluding R&D costs). For comparison, a much more capable 9000 Ton Arleigh Burke destroyer costs $1.84B and you can get a 100,000 ton Ford-class aircraft carrier for $10.44B.

Comment Re:New Trump fan here! (Score 1) 600

* I'm personally up about $50k in various investment accounts since election day * DJIA has broken 19,000 * He's going to greatly scale back or end the H1B program * It's starting like they're going to have a decent replacement for Obamacare * Going to ditch these globalist trade agreements that have destroyed American jobs and pay He wasn't my first choice, but I'm starting to see past the arrogance and attitude and am learning that this guy actually produces results. What a strange concept. I hate to underestimate him anymore at this point, starting to wonder if he could wind up being one of the Great Presidents. It was just hard to get past the asshole factor watching him campaign everyday.

The economic shifts since November 8 would arguable have happened regardless of who was elected. Markets hate uncertainty, and a large amount of uncertainty on the direction of the new president has been resolved.

Another point is the exchange rates. The USD has strengthened significantly since the election. This may make US investments more valuable, which would explain why US investments have shot upwards. However, the exchange rate shift is very bad for anyone trying to export American goods. Increasing exports is another one of Trump's economic promises and will be more difficult if the dollar stays strong or continues to strengthen. Consider the recent dramatic exchange rate shift as a ~4% tax on anyone importing American goods that wasn't there before.

Comment Re:Coal in Canada? (Score 1) 146

Yeah, it's called Hydro because in BC, Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador most of the electricity is Hydroelectric. Alberta and Saskatchewan use primarily coal. Ontario is the only province that uses primarily Nuclear, Hydroelectic and Natural Gas, but their power distribution network is called Hydro One.

There are only 14 coal plants in Canada. 7 of them are in Alberta. 3 in Saskatchewan, 2 in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick has one of everything.

So shutting down the coal plants mostly impacts Alberta, and the fun fact is that Alberta can pretty much "mooch" off BC while it transitions to something else.

I am most familiar with the plants in Nova Scotia, so I will comment on those. Nova Scotia is essentially an island by both geography and the current grid. There is a HV line to New Brunswick, but capacity is only around 350MW. Nova Scotia does also have a line to Newfoundland but this is an underwater line of limited capacity also. Wind is not a reliable option, and utility-scale solar has issues due to the high latitude and punishing winters.

The power station at Lingan is ancient in terms of design, but the 4 units there have a capacity of 600MW (150MW ea). The outlook for this station has been bleak for many years and 2 of the units are already on a retirement schedule. The station at Point Aconi is much newer but capacity is only around 200MW if I recall correctly. The major issue for both is that the economy of Sydney (ex-mining town) is already very poor. Closing either, or both of these stations would be very detrimental to an area that already has serious economic and drug abuse problems. Conversion to natural gas firing is unlikely, the infrastructure isn't there like it is in the Halifax/Dartmouth area.

These two stations are economically questionable as-is, since coal is imported by barge. However, they have continued to endure since they are needed to supply power if the lines to other provinces are down for some reason. Keep in mind that the overland lines can and do experience failures during severe winter weather, and a large portion of the population relies on electricity to stay warm during the winter. Resistance heating is uncommon, but most heating systems rely on forced air or pumped hot water which requires electricity to operate. To fill the supply eliminated by taking Nova Scotia's coal plants offline, you would need either additional HV connections to other provinces, or you would need more natural gas power in the Halifax area. Either option would cost at least $1B. Add to that the economic issues of Sydney, and shutting down all the coal power in Nova Scotia becomes a much more difficult problem than most people realize.

Comment Re:Obama's bullshit answer (Score 1) 534

5. With guarantees for fairness, he would have faced a court. Couldn't get those guarantees.

Nobody in the US government can make such a deal because the official position of the government must be that all trials are fair. A fairness guarantee would imply that some trials may not be fair. Although that may be the case, making such a guarantee does not really ensure that a trial would be fair either.

What form would those "guarantees" have taken? A wink and a promise from an elected official? A letter from an official representative? How high a level would the official have to be for it to be a sufficient "guarantee"? And who defines what is "fair"? There is not a good basis in US law for any of this.

It was a meaningless request, the US government can't make such a guarantee, and even if they did, such a statement would not be a meaningful promise anyway. I suspect that it was requested by Snowden either because he is looking for any way out of his situation, or he has no intention of returning and simply wants to paint the US government as being unreasonable. While the US government in this case is being a little unreasonable, that doesn't change the fact that Snowden's request for a fairness guarantee is also unreasonable.

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