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Submission + - How Your Digital Helper May Undermine Your Welfare, and Our Democracy (ssrn.com)

schwit1 writes: “All you need to do is say,” a recent article proclaimed, “’I want a beer’ and Alexa will oblige. The future is now.” Advances in technology have seemingly increased our choices and opened markets to competition. As we migrate from brick-and-mortar shops to online commerce, we seemingly are getting more of what we desire at better prices and quality. And yet, behind the competitive façade, a more complex reality exists. We explore in our book "Virtual Competition" several emerging threats, namely algorithmic collusion, behavioural discrimination and abuses by dominant super-platforms. But the harm is not just economic. The potential anticompetitive consequences go beyond our pocketbooks. The toll will likely be on our privacy, well-being and democracy.

Submission + - Popular belief that saturated fat clogs up arteries is a myth, experts say (independent.ie)

schwit1 writes: The authors, led by Dr Aseem Malhotra, from Lister Hospital, Stevenage, wrote: “Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”

Dr Malhotra and colleagues Professor Rita Redberg, from the University of California at San Francisco, and Pascal Meier from University Hospital Geneva in Switzerland and University College London, cited a “landmark” review of evidence that appeared to exonerate saturated fat.
They said relative levels of “good” cholesterol, or high density lipoprotein (HDL), were a better predictor of heart disease risk than levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol.

High consumption of foods rich in saturated fat such as butter, cakes and fatty meat has been shown to increase blood levels of LDL.
The experts wrote: “It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids (blood fats) and reducing dietary saturated fat.

“Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food.”

Comment Re:That's going to be tought to prosecute (Score 1) 369

Not only that, our political philosophy, and arguably the only correct one, is to presume the rights exist inherent in your being a human being, preceding any government and independent of it (indeed, often opposed to it), and the government is created by those people, who grant it limited, listed powers over those rights, and no others.

For a high US official to not understand this and claim non-US citizens don't have these rights, these rights we presume pre-exist government in our core political philosophy, is utterly shameful.

Submission + - How 'Settled Science' Helped Create A Massive Public Health Crisis (investors.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Anyone who thinks it's enough to rest an argument on "settled science" or a "scientific consensus" ought to read about John Yudkin.

Yudkin was a British professor of nutrition who, in 1972, sounded the alarm about sugar in diets, saying that if sugar were treated like any other food additive "that material would be promptly banned." He said sugar, not fat, was the more likely cause of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

For his efforts, Yudkin was branded a shill for the meat and dairy industries. His work was dismissed as "emotional assertions," "science fiction" and "a mountain of nonsense." Journals refused to publish his papers. He was uninvited from nutrition conferences and was ridiculed by the scientific community.

"Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered," writes Ian Leslie in a lengthy piece titled "The Sugar Conspiracy" that was published recently in The Guardian.

Nutritionists, Leslie explains, had decided that dietary fat was the enemy of good health, based in large part on a huge Seven Countries Study, published in 1970, which looked at 12,770 middle-aged men in countries ranging from the U.S. to Yugoslavia.

"The Seven Countries study had become canonical, and the fat hypothesis was enshrined in official advice," Leslie writes. By 1980, the U.S. government issued its first Dietary Guidelines telling the country to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol, and Americans dutifully complied.

That's precisely when the nation's obesity rate started to skyrocket. While the obesity rate barely changed from 1960 to 1980 — going from 13% to 15% — over the following two decades – 1980-2000 – the rate jumped to 35%.

"At best, we can conclude that the official guidelines did not achieve their objective; at worse, they led to a decades-long health catastrophe," Leslie writes.

Comment Re:Glad (Score 3, Informative) 199

If I worked there, I'd, as their computer guy, would be like, let's build an incorruptible and un-bypassable logging system of all access to all data, and exactly what was accessed, along with a physical process whereby the elected officials in Congress on the security committees would review it all. In this way, there could be no G. Gordon Liddy type "special" agents who misuse the data to advantage this or that political faction...

And I'd be quickly shown the door.

Comment Do not do this, please. (Score 1) 277

Science is advancing so rapidly, none of this matters. You should not ameliorate the global warming because if you overdo it, you will induce an ice age, which can start in as little as a year or two (all you need is a summer where the snow doesn't quite melt) and then you will kill billions in less than a year.

We can less predict the tech in 100 years than the people in 1900 could predict today's. We are the people in 1900 trying to fix the problem using their info and their tech. Decimating their own industry would just have slowed getting to today's tech level, benefiting nobody and killing probably a few hundred million due to delayed innovation.

So, even amelioration can be bad, and the downside is magnitudes worse than warming.

Submission + - How Russia's next ISS module got contaminated (russianspaceweb.com)

schwit1 writes: Russia's next module for ISS, MLM or Nauka, has been delayed years because of the discovery of sawdust sized metal particles throughout the module's propulsion system. This article describes how this happened, showing the incredibly incompetence and bad quality control that caused it.

At the time, workers at Khrunichev were cutting pipelines and removing other components of the module's propulsion system, in order to reconfigure it from its original role as a backup to the Zarya FGB module into the MLM. For example, a set of six tanks, which would be used for refueling of the ISS during the FGB mission, were removed from the exterior of the spacecraft in order to make room for scientific instruments and for the attachment of the European Robotic Arm, ERA.

The official conclusion of the probe said that the contamination had stemmed from the "lack of methodological and technological support for the operations of cutting pipeline connections in the pneumatic and hydraulic system, PGS, which was needed to guarantee the meeting of requirements for ensuring the sterility of the internal cavities in the pipelines and system hardware." It is essentially bureaucratic speak for letting metallic dust formed during sawing off the lines pour into the interior of the remaining components.

According to one legend circulating at GKNPTs Khrunichev, the workers who were sawing off pipelines from the module thought they were dismantling the entire spacecraft for scrap. That story would sound completely unbelievable if not for other almost as incredible incidents of carelessness, poor quality control and incompetence within the industry in recent years, such as the installing navigation sensors on a Proton rocket in the upside down position or loading a Block DM-03 space tug on another Proton with too much propellant.

It is most revealing of the overall systemic problems within Russia's aerospace industry.

Submission + - Yesterday's Broad Power Outage Likely Caused By Geomagnetic Storm (stockboardasset.com)

schwit1 writes: Yesterday, a massive US power grid failure was seen across the entire United States in one simultaneous fashion. San Fransisco, New York, and Los Angeles were the three main areas that were hit the hardest. Each of the areas experienced challenges or shut downs in business commerce. Also, basic infrastructure such as communication networks, mass transportation, and supply chains experienced challenges. To many this seemed apocalyptic with anaylst citing possible cyber attacks amid mounting geopolitical turmoil across the globe. We're shocked that mainstream media didn't revive the failing Russian narrative for another round of fake news to confuse the masses. Personally, I don't think it was a cyber attack or the Russians, but more of a Space Weather Event.

Space weather refers to the environmental conditions in Earth's magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere due to the Sun and the solar wind that can influence the functioning and reliability of spaceborne and ground-based systems and services or endanger property or human health.

Comment But I have a routine . . . (Score 1) 388

Everyone gets used to doing things a certain way, and gets irritated when things are improved.

An example among data-entry types is being able to use keyboard shortcuts vs having to use a mouse, It slows them down to have to use a mouse.

Another is the Microsoft Ribbon, where people had the old menu system totally memorized, and suddenly couldn't find anything because it had been "improved" and "re-arranged for you convenience". Instead of making it an option that you could toggle, it was a mandatory upgrade.

This is totally irritating, especially when the new version has improvements that are geared to the enterprise, or software profit margins. I have talked to too many people who would routinely tell me this. This is a minor point of contention.

I still have an old computer that works just fine thank you, and run an old word-processor without a lot of this extra fluff. Heck, George R. Martin uses an old dos word processor because it is more convenient for him.

In this context, I am reminded of the old video about choices in spaghetti sauce. turns out, that in the world of spaghetti sauce, there is no one perfect spaghetti sauce, despite decades of advertising to the contrary. The truth is that there are many perfect spaghetti sauces (chunky, vegetable, extra spicy, etc) and you get more sales by catering to the individual tastes of people. Which is why we now have multiple varieties of sauces, etc on the shelves these days.

You can watch the full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Large companies like MIcrosoft are still in pursuit of "the perfect software" or "the perfect user interface" when they should give users options and choices when it comes to user interfaces and performance behavior. There is no one best interface, etc. just like there is not one best spaghetti sauce. While there should be an update for security reasons, etc. what does that have to do with the sort of an interface a person likes?

Similarly, there can be genuine product improvements when you do things a certain way, but also it is merely the pursuit of the cool and novel vs actual improvement. I upgrade systems because I need a certain functionality, and sometimes it is a royal pain when I cannot

I am a constant crank about software as a service. Especially if I can do what I need and keep a system running well for many many years, so that it is cheaper than paying a yearly fee.

Submission + - EFF Says Google Chromebooks Are Still Spying on Students (softpedia.com)

schwit1 writes: In the past two years since a formal complaint was made against Google, not much has changed in the way they handle this.

Google still hasn't shed its "bad guy" clothes when it comes to the data it collects on underage students. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the company continues to massively collect and store information on children without their consent or their parents'. Not even school administrators fully understand the extent of this operation, the EFF says.

According to the latest status report from the EFF, Google is still up to no good, trying to eliminate students privacy without their parents notice or consent and "without a real choice to opt out." This, they say, is done via the Chromebooks Google is selling to schools across the United States.

Comment Re:That's going to be tought to prosecute (Score 4, Insightful) 369

The Supreme Court has overturned pretty much everything except, maybe, temporarily holding someone quiet to prevent revealing an imminent D-Day style invasion, and even theoretical at that.

If he paid or aided, then he becomes a spy. If he just received and published, he is safe. The statement he has no First Amendment right because he is not a US citizen is an embarrassing statement by a US official. A law is a law and Congress shall make no law. The idea of making something illegal outside the jurisdiction of the US which cannot even be made illegal inside the US is contradictory seven ways from Sunday.

Submission + - Operation Gotham Shield: U.S. Gov't To "Simulate Nuke Blast Over Manhattan" (infowars.com)

schwit1 writes: It is a tabletop, joint agency exercise during April 24-26th, involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies. WMD, chemical and biological units will all be on hand as a response is tested for a “simulated” nuclear detonation over the United States’ foremost urban center, in the iconic and densely populated island of Manhattan and nearby shores of New Jersey.

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