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Comment Security theatre (Score 1) 127

If someone (generally meaning someone I don't or shouldn't trust) has my phone, I consider it compromised. Finger smudges are the easiest way to get into a pattern-locked device; this demonstrates that there are others. As JWZ says,

And if the screen locker is not secure, then it's better to not lock the screen at all: giving the impression of security when there is no actual security is far worse than having no security at all. It's a matter of expectations: if people don't expect to be able to lock their screens, they'll log out. But if they expect to be able to lock their screens and it doesn't actually work, then they're screwed.


I use pattern lock to stop my phone auto-dialling Aunt Sarah when its in my pocket, not to keep other people out. If I had a flip phone, I wouldn't have a lock screen at all.

Comment Re:some level of minimum wage is still needed or l (Score 1) 426

The point of the UBI is that no one should need to work if they don't want to. It is equivalent to giving all people a minimum wage job that involves doing nothing useful.

If companies want to hire volunteers to work for free, that's fine. If they want to pay a small amount per hour, that's fine too, because the people are already being paid sufficiently for that work through the UBI.

Comment Harvard Medical School (Score 1) 192

The answer, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, is "not quite."

Oh, well, that's okay then. Everyone, pack up your computers and smartphones; they're completely useless. Let the medical school researchers diagnose your conditions in the future, because this is the best it's ever going to be.

Comment Yet Another Study in Mental Acrobatics (Score 4, Insightful) 312

Research reports like this on e-cigarettes annoy me. Ordinarily I might suggest that the press releases are making things appear more shocking than the paper, but it seems like the paper writers have also overemphasised the results of this study. This research appears to be a presence/absence experiment, rather than an actual harm experiment. The thought process seems to follow something like the following:

  1. E-cigarettes contain some nasty toxic chemicals in detectable quantities
  2. These toxic chemicals are nasty and toxic, and cause damage in high concentrations
  3. Therefore, E-cigarettes are bad and shouldn't be used

The problem is that studies of this sort aren't actually demonstrating harm. It's like saying that air contains carbon monoxide, so we shouldn't breathe it. In the paper, there are a few weasel words used that encourage thoughts like this:

Chemical analysis of e-liquids and vapors emitted by e-cigarettes led to the identification of several compounds of concern due to their potentially harmful effects on users and passively exposed nonusers... compounds are considered possible or probable carcinogens

The researchers say that they'll do the actual harm testing as an additional step:

The researchers are working on a follow-up study focusing on the health and environmental impacts of e-cigarettes.

Or, in the paper:

These chemical emissions are associated with both cancer and noncancer health impacts that will be quantitatively evaluated in an ensuing paper.

But until that's done (and has meaningful results) it's difficult to make a good case that E-cigarettes are doing the wrong thing and should be avoided.

Comment Unproven (Score 3, Interesting) 75

The hygiene hypothesis is still unproven and controversial

That's not quite correct; "unproven" is a confusing word here. It's more of an "it depends" situation, rather than a "true/false" situation.

The hygiene hypothesis can be sort-of demonstrated in some situations (e.g. reduced allergic response to peanuts in mice via oral sensitisation with very low amounts of CpG-coated peanut extract), and rejected in others (e.g. the parasitic worm H. polygyrus suppresses the adaptive immune response).

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Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson