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Comment Re: Louisiana is one big sinkhole (Score 1) 307

Government doesn't actually have to set the price. They just cap the availability and an auction process sets the price. Cap and trade ends up being more flexible and responsive to market conditions than a flat rate pollution tax.

The government can manipulate the auction results via supply or reserve tranches of credits, (effectively at cheaper prices) for some nationally important industries or exempt small emitters (like you and your car) while requiring large emitters like an airline or rail conglomerate or a electrical utility to purchase the credits each year.

Comment Re:Read my post again (Score 1) 311

This is the kind of circular argument that's impossible to refute. "Show me the numbers!" "Here are the numbers!" "No, those don't support my predetermined conclusion, so they must be fake." It's exactly like the Trump administration's attitude towards climate science, to pick one recent example. But whatever, the same strategy worked out so well for the fossil fuel interests that I guess I shouldn't be surprised that other ideologues have latched onto it.

Comment Re:No it won't (Score 1) 311

This is common knowledge to anyone who has worked in the field - it's like asking for a citation for the claim that eating too much junk food leads to obesity. But here are two data points:

So that's less than 20% of approved drugs that are discovered in academia to begin with. Academic labs aren't large-scale operations - a single-investigator R01 grant from the NIH might be $5 million over 5 years, and most investigators won't have more than a handful of these. For the really big superstar labs, let's assume a very generous upper bounds of $10 million per year (not all of which is necessarily from the government). If it's a big multi-investigator project, maybe double that. Except for a handful of big centers (like the NIH itself, or genome sequencing centers), academia just doesn't operate at a large scale - a typical university research department is just an aggregation of many smaller units that are largely autonomous. The hidden advantage to these organizational limitations is that failed projects usually fail before anyone spends too much money on them. So let's hypothesize at the extreme, academics spent no more than $50 million per drug candidate. Compare to the numbers in the Wikipedia article.

Now, you could of course argue that because drug development is informed by the public-domain knowledge generated by taxpayer-funded researchers, drug companies are leaching off the public in that way too. I guess that's technically true (albeit difficult-to-impossible to quantify), but you might as well argue that because the government invented digital computers, companies like IBM and Intel should have been nationalized. (Note that the difference in salary between academia and big pharma is relatively large - to shift more drug development to academia, you'll need to raise salaries, or find a lot of scientists willing to work for academic salary while doing grunt work on massive projects that will mostly likely fail.)

To pick a more specific example, the NIH spends approximately $1.2 billion per year on aging-related research (including but not limited to Alzheimer's):

Most of that will be single-investigator grants, and as anyone who has worked in basic research can tell you, the majority of the grants that are funded won't lead to any immediate treatments, although they may provide useful information in the long term. In contrast, here is an estimate of the total cost per Alzheimer's drug being $5.7 billion (including failures, and keep in mind the overwhelming bulk of that is spent by drug companies):


This isn't to argue that taxpayer funding of basic research isn't valuable - it's absolutely essential IMHO. But most of what it produces isn't going to lead directly to new drugs or treatments.

Obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for a drug company, but I did receive funding from them as a government scientist, and receive a small bonus from IP licensing fees every year. Frankly it was far more trouble than it was worth; drug companies are kind of a pain in the ass to deal with, even if you only talk to the scientists.

Comment Re:No it won't (Score 1) 311

They do a few clinical trials after the government has done the really expensive stuff (what's called "Basic Research", IIRC).

This is simply wrong. The development process (which includes a lot more than just clinical trials) is far more expensive than the basic research component - and that's without even counting how many projects simply fail without anything to show for it.

Submission + - Microsoft releases Visual Studio 2017

Anon E. Muss writes: Microsoft released Visual Studio 2017 today. The latest version of the venerable Integrated Development Environment supports a variety of languages (C/C++, C#,, F#, Javascript/Typescript, Python, etc.) and targets (classic "Win32" desktop, Universal Windows Platform (UWP, also known as "Metro"), .NET, ASP, node.js, etc.). A "Community Edition" is available at no cost for individual developers and those working on open source software. "Professional" and "Enterprise" editions are available for corporate developers, at prices sure to shock whoever has to sign the check (even hardened purchasing agents have been known to cry when they see the yearly cost for Visual Studio Enterprise).

Comment Are two hashes better than one? (Score 4, Interesting) 143

... however it's worth noting that there are currently no ways of finding a collision for both MD5 and SHA-1 hashes simultaneously

Any crypto geeks want to weigh in on the truth of this statement? I've often wondered about this. Wouldn't using two hash algorithms be easier and more effective over the long term than getting the whole world to upgrade to the Latest And Greatest Hash every ~10 years?

Comment Re:Two different things (Score 1) 70

It's also worth noting that Zhang was hardly the only person to be working on this - Church's group published a very similar article in the same issue of Science in 2013, and about a half-dozen groups were reaching similar conclusions at the same time, but they weren't as aggressive about filing patents.

Comment Is providing a link too much to ask? (Score 1) 24

Neither of TFA's or the /. summary provide a link to Clear Linux. WTF?!?!

Here it is:

I get why sites like Network World and BetaNews avoid linking to the subject of their articles. Heaven forbid a reader click the link and leave their site, possibly never to return! Won't somebody please think about the advertisers! Reasonable financial motives for bad behavior doesn't change the fact that it's bad behavior.

Comment Re:BASIC (Score 1) 339

I'm old enough to remember the days of 8-bit computing and the ubiquity of BASIC. Those were good times, but the world has moved on. The problem isn't the language -- GUI's simply changed the rules of the game.

Text (command line) programs can naturally be written a linear procedural fashion. Cause and effect are clear. Display something, wait for input, act on input, rinse, and repeat. Classic BASIC fit this model well, and people could easily learn it. You could go from zero to useful in a relatively short time.

At a technical level, GUI programming is inherently event driven. Originally this took the form of event loops dispatching messages, with more object oriented approaches evolving over time. Classic BASIC does not fit this model, but can be extended to do so (e.g. Visual BASIC). The problem is that the learning curve is steeper. Event driven programming is hard for non-programmers to wrap their minds around.

Another problem is that modern computers come with lots of beautiful GUI-based software, and creating similar software takes considerable knowledge and effort. It's MUCH harder for a newbie to create software that looks and feels like "professional" programs. I imagine this could be very discouraging. I clearly remember the feeling of pride and accomplishment I felt back in the 8-bit days, when my own programs met, and then exceeded the standards of the day. I was able to go from zero to that place in a reasonable amount of time; now it might take years.

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