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Comment Re: Liability... (Score 1) 293

Haha. Well, in my experience, motorcycles and cigarettes have much the same issues. While I think that cars are very over-used, there is no denying that they are *much* safer than motorcycles. Realistically, in the western world, riding a motorcycle is a lifestyle choice that reflects an acceptance of significant risk in exchange for a desirable experience. In fact, this almost exactly the (superficial) reason for smoking. No one can credibly claim that smoking is not harmful, yet people do it all the time. Why is this so? I don't know the answer, but I am sure the basic reasons are very much the same as riding a motorcycle - "because I want to."
Asking or expecting someone to quit smoking when they are in hospital for smoking related disease is basically the same as advising a motorcycle rider with a shattered leg to stop riding. "It's a bit late for that advice Doc."

And I absolutely would re-attach the fingers of someone who intentionally cut them off - and if they tell me they are going to do it again, then I will re-attach them again (if possible, the second time it's doubtful to be successful). That person would also see mental health professionals prior to going home. And I would not consider it a waste of time or effort. For one, how am I supposed to know who is really going to cut off their fingers again, and who is going to 'get their life back on track'. Or even never get their life back on track, but create some kind of artistic or engineering masterpiece? Would you want your doctor to make that decision for you? What if you were bereaved/drunk/depressed?

Virtually all doctors (and indeed almost all people) take a rather more nuanced view of so-called self-destructive behaviours. I believe that if we were not having this conversation on a forum that you would also have a more 'holistic' view of the factors that cause people to make the choices they do.

Sometimes it's important to help people just because they need it - it's a safer choice than trying to judge who is worthy.

Comment Re: Liability... (Score 1) 293

It depends on your definition of 'waste of time and money'

In total there is less money spent, and similar outcomes. Part of the savings is having less bureaucracy (simpler insurance dealings, no 'debt recovery' hospital employees, that type of thing). Part of the savings comes from rigorous oversight regarding what will and won't be paid for (e.g. not all new, expensive, unproven treatments are paid for by the gov.) - some criticize the people performing this oversight, but the system does generally work well.

If patients are violent or abusive, they can absolutely be turned away and referred to the police. If they then return in extremis they will be treated. The thing to remember about most healthcare professionals is that they really do want to help people. Most are also very understanding of the complex factors that result in 'socially unacceptable' circumstances and diseases.

If a persons lifestyle choices affect their risks than that too can be a reason to refuse a type of treatment. If you are still a smoker you don't qualify for home oxygen (too dangerous!), if you are very overweight you may not get a hip or knee replacement (risks also increase).

There are many issues around 'lifestyle diseases' that require a great deal of thought and compassion to untangle. While it's easy to say "Fatties should have to pay for their diabetes medication!" or "Smokers should have to pay for their emphysema admission!", the reality is that in a free medical system, the philosophy is that by helping all people, regardless of choices, intellect, poor judgement or any factor, the total contribution to society outweighs the 'tough love' of forcing people to change their ways (which we all know almost never happens anyway).

To put it another way, when I piece together a femur from a motorcycle accident, and the patient asks "When can I ride again?" I don't lecture her on the dangers of her lifestyle, I think to myself "It is so nice to meet someone passionate about their interest, who doesn't give up at the first hurdle and who isn't afraid to get hurt on her path to happiness." I hope this person passes their attitude of accepting risk and taking reward when it's available to her children and the rest of society, so we all don't end up in a culturally desolate nanny state with all risks removed.

As long as suicide kills ten times as many people as motor car accidents, I will never judge someone for doing something risky that makes them happy - who knows what contribution they may make to my life in the future.

Comment Re:"I USED TO BE PAID TO PRODUCE RESULTS..." (Score 1) 769

Heh. Killed for discovering irrational numbers. Imagine that obituary...

But the beans thing does have some science - its due to a condition called 'favism' (G6PD deficiency in modern parlance), where eating fava beans can cause haemolytic anaemia, which can have some significant negative consequences. The condition does protect against malaria somewhat, so it has an interesting population distribution, being more common in regions where malaria has been endemic for a long time.

Comment Cheap 40W personal 'engraver' cutters - thoughts? (Score 1) 83

eBay search for 'laser cutter' or 'laser engraver' always seems to turn up the cheap ~$700 ones in the list. Just wondering if anyone has ever tried one.

Just thinking out loud, for some of us it might not be such a bad investment - if you aren't sure you will really get the $5k use out of a nice second hand one. Like getting a cheap battery drill to try the tech before splashing $500 on a 'tradesman quality' tool.

I'm sure everyone will say the more expensive ones are 'better', but what I want to know is if the cheap ones are 'useable'.

Any thoughts?

Comment Re:Difference between Germany and the US (Score 1) 414

I read /. at least twice a week, for the last ten years or so. And congratulations, you + parent are the first one I can remember who has summed up the 'science vs. religion' subject in a relatively objective fashion. At least, that is how you started. I have long thought this was true:

"The problem isn't with the proof, the problem is with the AXIOMS. Very good and convincing proofs of the existence of God are there, if you take a particular set of axioms as the basis for your outlook. That's the faith part.

So does that, ultimately, amount to "you will be convinced of the existence of God if you make assumptions about the world that require the existence of God"? Unless there's a non-faith-based reason to make those assumptions, the proof isn't going to be convincing to people who don't make those assumptions, making it just an entertaining exercise for those who happen to make those assumptions, not something to take seriously as a reason to believe."

But few consider the implications of this. IMHO, faith by *definition* is axiomatic. One doesn't prove the existence of God/Supreme Being, one *assumes* it. But the converse is also true. One does not 'disprove' or 'disbelieve', rather one assumes 'lack of existence'. The two statements are mutually exclusive, and both based on faith.

I think the thing that ends up tripping both sides is that, starting with *either* axiom (does exist/doesn't exist) you can produce our world. That is, there is nothing that requires a 'Supreme Being', but also nothing that precludes it. This is why some scientists believe and others don't - because it doesn't affect the outcomes of your experiment or how you reason about it. Its a philosophical axiom, and therefore unprovable in any sense.

Just had to add my $0.02 - you guys made my day!

Comment Re:thinkpad iPad. (Score 1) 425

Yeah, the LE1700 is still pretty awesome. Still a higher resolution than most tablets around.

I find the weight and battery aren't the best for taking into lectures - for that I prefer the Asus EEE Note. But at home, correcting proofs, drawing, and general laptop work, its fantastic.

Don't know what I will replace it with...

Comment Re:thinkpad iPad. (Score 1) 425

+1 to this

I have owned an EEE Note for a couple months now, and it's pretty decent. Being a wacom based system, it is accurate with a stylus and you get pressure sensitivity (not that anything seems to use it - yet). I originally wanted something to take notes and sketch on, and its not great for sketching (the default programs anyway), but it works pretty well for taking notes.

I should mention that it takes a little while to get used to - I have been using tablet PCs for around ten years now, and its a little bit different to those. Its much better for taking notes than any tablet PC i have owned (and I have extensively used the Motion Computing LE1700, which is the best tech until very recently IMHO). There isn't any lag, but there is a bit of parallax error that you need to get used to. Once you grab the idea of just writing on it and not looking where the text appears, you will quickly get used to it, and will get the text exactly where you want without thinking about it.

It's pretty cheap too ~USD250, reckon you could get it cheaper if you got a 2nd hand one or drive a hard bargain.

(oh yeah, and it *does* run linux)

Comment Re:wrong question (Score 1) 123

Trying not to appear ignorant, but isn't this issue what patents are meant to solve? I thought the whole issue surrounding software patents was that some people consider software to be a type of 'thing' while others an expression of an idea. But hardware is clearly a 'thing'.

Doesn't intel patent chip designs, etc?

Actually this is recalling the cruchpad/joojoo debacle. If the designs were open sourced (as was originally planned/claimed) then anyone could just build the damn thing, or tool up a factory and use the R&D that Techcruch/FusionGarage paid for. So in this situation why bother designing stuff when you can just make someone elses design and not have to pay R&D?

Perhaps I have an internal inconsistency in my reasoning, but I tend to consider open source software as promoting innovation, but open source hardware as killing it. I wonder why that is?

United States

Submission + - Geek tour of the US - Where to go? (google.com) 3

fr!th writes: I'm leaving sunny Australia for a grand tour of the Land of the Free (USA), so my question is: What are the "can't miss" places for the discerning Nerd?
I'm bringing the wife (or, more accurately, she is bringing me), so ideally we would like to go to places that are of historical/anthropological significance to geek culture, so she can get some idea why her husband thinks a fun afternoon is writing a python script to comb our photo collection for duplicates.
(On a side note, should we bring the laptop?)

Comment Re:Audio books are worth more than e-books (Score 1) 539

My opinion in this matter can probably be summed up in a single word: Context.

Clearly you are not arguing that the TTS service is as good as the human-read book, so in a rather strange way, you are agreeing with me :)

The TTS system is capable of 'copying' only a single word at a time. I guess in your photo-at-art-gallery analogy, it would be like saying the individual pixels are infringing. Its not the pixels, its the context. The relation of one to another.

And this is something that the TTS system simply cannot compete with - the words are given no contextual weighting, the sentence is simply a string of word sounds.

I would expect that authors especially would find it particularly offensive to insinuate that their craft simply involves stringing words together. Its how the words *relate* to each other that is important, and this essential element is not reproduced by the TTS software.

But publishers should be paying authors more, so we can have more quality books. I definitely agree with that.

Comment Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (Score 1) 366

Strangely, using your numbers, I think its still worthwhile. (FYI: I live in a country with national health care, at the moment anyway) I suppose when you put it that way (10k a year) it seems expensive, but I would expect that $500k would be pretty close to what my healthcare will cost in my life, and that is without having anything really bad happen.

Ideologically, I'm sure there is some level I want to agree with you (I consider myself libertarian), but my personal view is that healthcare is one of the three things that should be nationalised (health, education and law).

The problem with paying for your own healthcare is that the costs of something that may or may not be your fault can be ruinously huge. 10k a year (in tax, so its means tested too) will not bankrupt me. A $50k health bill (plus interest if you don't pay now) for a severe case of pneumonia would cause me some pretty life-altering financial issues.

Just my $0.02, YMMV.

(P.S. Doesn't private health insurance in the US run to about 10k a year anyway? Wouldn't it be nicer if you got *all* your healthcare for that 10k, rather than the 'this hospital is not part of that network' problems you might encounter?)

Comment Re:One way to get more registered voters (Score 1) 1088

If you run the numbers, there are certain pathological situations where it is better to vote your candidate number 2. This is largely to do with the way parties are eliminated in each 'round', which is what the parent was talking about. Sure, all the important stuff happens on a single ballot on one day, but the counting process does consist of several rounds, as the lowest party is progressively removed.

I consider myself a bit of a tactical voter, and it would be a pretty rare set of circumstances for me to suggest that someone put their candidate second, more important is putting your hated candidates last. But the case can arise, and its just something to be aware of.

Just FYI: 'Instant' runoff voting, by definition is performed on a single ballot (you can't change prefs between rounds). This is the Australian System. Contrast say France which has runoff voting, but each round it voted separately on several different occasions. Hence its not 'instant'...

Comment Re:You know... (Score 1) 339

hear hear. I would also like to add that while some groups may have 'Christian' in their title, or in their party, its a bit much to call them Christian groups. This is not the only case I have seen, and it makes Christians seem like a bunch of fanatical luddites. While this may be true for some, its certainly by no means a requirement. And there are a bunch of other well-meaning stupid people who have nothing to do with Christianity who are behind this in the name of 'the children'.

I'm just really looking forward to the day when the people who were born before the invention of the transistor (1947: Bell Labs prototype) to either a) get the hell out of my government, or b) shuffle off this mortal coil. Whichever comes first.

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