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Comment Re:Overpriced fad gadgets turn out to be crap (Score 1) 146

"Then later in the article, they talk about an error of "20 or 30" beats per minute."

It's a bit weaselier than that. The article never suggests that the device is off by 20-30 bpm, but actually reads:
"Calculating a heart rate that's off by 20 or 30 beats per minute can be dangerous - especially for people at high risk of heart disease."

So they first make a meaningless claim (that the device can be off by "up to 20" bpm) and follow it up with a non-sequitur about the danger of errors between 20 and 30 bpm.

I use one regularly to track my training, but certainly would not consider it to be a true medical device and would never rely on it for non-recreational uses. It also says I fall asleep every night after 0 minutes. I may be a good sleeper, but still, ... 0? OTOH, it seems fairly accurate about recording footsteps. What a relief to stop counting them manually!

Comment Arrogance (Score 2, Interesting) 659

I'm an attorney, so I know a little bit about arrogance, but we're patzers compared with doctors. Many truly have, if not God, then Emperor complexes, with their wisdom received without question by their subjects.

But that's probably not the real reason they don't want patients to have access to their complete medical records. It's all about avoiding medical malpractice claims (and annoying phone calls from patients asking questions).

So blame the lawyers.

Comment The Beginning of the End (Score 3, Funny) 281

Wednesday, October 31, 2012. RIP USA. In hindsight, it all should have been obvious three days earlier. That would have been early enough to have prevented it - the shockingly abrupt and utter destruction of the Unites States of America.

On Sunday (that innocent Sunday just before the end of our world), the events on opposite sides of the country seemed natural, coincidental. The Frankenstorm that Sandy was about to become was just another prediction made by a bunch of self-anointed experts. No biggie, New Jersey could use a good scrubbing. A couple. And the earthquake off Alaska was only about as big as the one we had here in New England last week. Meh. The tsunami that hit Hawaii was measured at nearly half an inch. Not even worth a âoemeh.â

Most people watching the northeast were anticipating a couple days of storm, a week of cleanup, a bunch of bitching about damage, but employment would have went up in a hurry with all the rebuilding and repairs. One of the Presidential canditates would have made it a central theme of his last campaign week â" The Reconstruction of America. The country would come together, mostly, in a national unity of rebuilding. Spirits and the economy would have soared, the elections turning into a catastrophe for one of the major political parties. But none of that happened, it's just the ravings of a lunatic refugee. A refugee with a goatee. Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!!! Sorry, I've had a rough three days.

The Chinese have been doing large-scale meteorological experiments for many years. They were open about their efforts to control the weather for the 2012 Olympics in the Beijing area. There have been articles published in legal and even mass-market periodicals about the scientific, legal and ethical implications of such research have been debated. It wasn't something unknown to the general public. On the other hand, nobody except a few graduate professors and pharmaceutical chemists noticed the paper in the April issue of Chem. Phys. Acta. entitled âoeRacemization of Novel Isotopes of Mercaptothionitrite.â

The Alaska earthquake (5.5 Richters) on Sunday caused a mass evacuation of Waikiki and other populated regions of the islands. An overabundance of caution maybe, or maybe a proper abundance of caution. Who knows? It's a statistical thing, so I'll get back to you every Sigma, just like with bosons. How many you want? Three? Four? Five? How much time you got? I got lotsa Sigmas.

The Vancouver quake on Monday, however, took people by surprise. It was huge, over 9 R, one of the largest quakes ever recorded. Plus, it was a diagonal slip-shear transfer fault. Fortunately, these are extremely rare, and nearly always found in the deep ocean. A series of tsunamis emanating from the quake bounced around the Puget Sound, creating dozens of transitory superharmonic tsunamis over 100 feet high that pretty much created a brand new coastline, mostly devoid of structure or vegetation underneath all the wreckage. But that's getting ahead.

Nobody paid much attention either to a page 6 story from a supermarket tabloid about a school in India that mysteriously disappeared. The magazine had actually come out in June and was really only a paragraph without many details beyond name of the local region. But somebody did pay attention, and using Google Maps found that in every recent satellite photo of the named region, there was a nearly circular region that was blurred out. In archived photos, however, there was a small town (~75,000 folks) at the location. Somebody pointed this out on Slashdot, and several experts quickly came on to say that they didn't think the photos had been edited. The pictures showed what was actually there. Well, that did it, suddenly a thousand geeks, shut-ins, hackers and conspiracy theorists had a race/joint project/contest, and the story was quickly put together.

A former pharmaceutical chemist from Bangalore had retired inland, and was running an informal school for recent college graduates to obtain practical commercial laboratory experience. One of his standard student projects was to reproduce a novel chemical synthesis from a recent journal article. One of the students, apparently taken by the phrase âoethermal nitrate,â chose the above-referenced Mercaptothionitrite article. Maybe I should just call it the Racemization article. You know, I think I'll go with âoeThermal Nitrateâ also. Anyway, the actual synthesis seemed fairly basic. A lot of steps, some tedious and time-consuming, but that's one of the goals of chemistry, to fine tune the efficiency of each individual step. Especially if the process has 23 steps. The journal article described the reaction in fairly standard small scale research quantities. Reagents generally measured in single digits of grams, or less, with a final yield, hopefully, of a gram or so. The student was thinking large scale, factory level production. He couldn't do anything truly industrial, but he could scale up by a factor of 10, certainly, maybe 100. That's what we know from his digital notes. Nobody knows how much he ultimately scaled it up by, though, except that it was enough to reduce to rubble an oval area about 10 miles wide by 12 miles long. Later, more meticulous and cautious chemists were successful with the synthesis. The name thermal nitrite is apt. Contact with small quantities of water releases enormous amounts of amorphous energy. A large quantity of water releases proportionally more energy, up to a calculated maximum. I can get you the numbers, if you want. The unfortunate student probably produced between 5 and 50 grams of thermal nitrite. Some are now calling for it to be nicknamed "blue matter," but I think that would be a cheap shot.

We don't know how they did it, but the enemy who shall remain nameless filled hundreds of dropsondes with blue nitrate. As Hurricane Sandy approached the east coast as a Category 1 storm, more and more dropsondes were dropped in to monitor the cyclone's development. Hundreds of dropsondes, as it turns out. Enough blue matter to catalyze the storm's explosion, from Sunday night to Monday afternoon, into a 1200 mile wide Category 5+ Godzilla. Just in time to slam into Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut with a 25 foot storm surge accompanied by 140 mph winds. More than half of Long Island was completely inundated. Nobody had power. Every road was closed. 19 of every 20 rescue/repair vehicles were out of commission. Millions dead. Tens of millions missing. The country watched in stunned horror, while rescue and assistance forces across the country mobilized to aid rescues and repairs. The media rented, bought and stole every helicopter within 5000 miles and descended like seagulls, but with less comic value. Too quickly for everyone, as it turns out. The Mercaptothionitrite releases a particularly toxic and persistent cyanate, in a naturally weaponized molecular form. Highly dispersive and capable of transdermal absorption. By Tuesday night, over 99% of the population in the storm area was dead. Anyone making contact with water from the storm was done for. I was in the 1%, deep in the mountains, and have been on the run ever since.

Turns out the Alaska quake wasn't a natural quake. The Russian deep water submersible Khruschev was in the area just prior to the quake, tasked for seismic research. Evidently they found what they were looking for, for they dropped in a few old nukes that were just taking up space in the garage anyway. Who would've guessed Russians would be so good at seismology? The chain reaction proceeded in 4 steps from Vancouver to San Diego, pretty much tearing up the entire coast. What few rescue teams remained were rendered irrelevant when the tectonic upheaval unleashed the Yellowstone supervolcano. Good-bye mountain region and plains up to including all (thank the creator) of Missouri.

Suddenly the Western half of the country was overrun. Chinese from San Diego to Oregon, Russians from Alaska to Washington. The Canadians were allowed to keep much of their land, but were required to pay substantial reparations to both Russia and China, said reparations to be paid in oil, natural gas and salmon. Canada also had to be China's bitch, with Russia having conjugal rights once a month. Nobody bothered Mexico, which grabbed Texas while nobody was watching. Texas reluctantly acceded to the Senorita's advances, but swore in its bitter heart to someday take over and destroy from within the country to which it now belonged. Some older Texans felt a subtle twinge of deja vu, but it passed quickly.

Meanwhile, the northeast of the former United States was beginning the process of transforming into a million square miles of pure death. Every plant, insect, bird and animal died. The virulent cyanate would only become inactive within about 48 hours after complete drying (or by being exposed to direct sunlight for 6 hours). With Washington D.C. in ashes (wait 'til you hear what happened there â" it strains credulity), the U.N. Security Council replaces the U.S. with India, then proceeds to declare a Palestinian homeland in the area destroyed by the poisonous hurricane. Really, India? We thought you were cool! New Palestine is rapidly turning into a toxic, rubble-strewn desert surrounded by hostile neighbors, but hey, it's still a big trade-up.

And Florida? Well, suffice it to say that it's now a whole lot easier to get a great Cuban cigar. It's amazing how much can happen in three days. As I've said, it should have all been obvious the moment that stupid Alaskan earthquake went off.

Comment Eric Bland off his meds? (Score 1) 277

TFA reads like it was written by a crackhead in need of a fix.

1) Only one dimension is given for the sail, its "width." Should we assume it has a square profile, or is its length greater/less than the width, or is it even rectangular? Who the hell knows.

2) No direct mention is made regarding where this "satellite" is located. The cryptic comment "over the millions of miles between the satellite and Earth" doesn't help much. Certainly too far to be geosynchronous. Perhaps a heliosynchronous orbit? Who knows.

I picked a bad day to let my subscription to the International Journal of Astrobiology lapse.

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