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Comment Does it predict cancer? (Score 1) 134

It seems to me that this test predicts mortality primarily because heart disease is currently the #1 cause of death in America. So if you measure cardiovascular health, statistically you're also going to be successful in predicting mortality. But my excellent heart health doesn't seem likely to stop me from dying of cancer or ALS or any of those other things. All it says is that heart disease won't kill me early. And maybe that, since the others develop more slowly, I'll live a few years longer before dying in some other way.

Comment What a crock. (Score 1) 779

"Boys don't count?" What a crock. Of course boys count. So do African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, women, autism-spectrum people, and pretty much every other identifiable subgroup you can think of. Here's a clue: no subgroup has more innate ability for CS than any other. Unless your chosen subgroup is "people who have innate ability for CS."

Every time the gender imbalance in CS comes up on Slashdot, we see the same phenomenon: a huge phalanx of men jumps out and tries to defend their ignorant biases. Actually, it's kind of generous of you folks: by loudly proclaiming your prejudices, you make it easy for savvy employers to avoid you. Because frankly, one hugely skilled guy who pisses off ten talented women just isn't worth having around.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm one of the two people (both men, BTW) who taught the first Harvey Mudd course for students with experience. (See TFA if that isn't meaningful to you.) We weren't the first to figure it out (that credit goes to CMU) but we were the first to do it in a compelling intro course (I don't get credit for that either--write me privately if you're dying for details of how I fell into it). But I'm currently the only one who teaches that course to experienced students. The whole idea was originally developed by two amazing men (not me) and one brilliant woman (not Maria Klawe, BTW; she'll tell you that herself because she wasn't even at Mudd at the time). So let's not pretend that anti-male bias was a factor.

But what has been found based on *science* (oh, that) is that some groups of people, women included, are easily intimidated by show-offs. Which, if you haven't caught on, includes most of the noisiest Slashdot crowd. By and large, these are people who are fascinated with computers and don't have the social skills to see that some of their questions and opinions are irrelevant to whatever discussion is going at the moment. So they blurt out their questions, and the intimidated ones think (this really happens) "Maybe if I don't know the multiply cycle times of the latest Intel chip then I can't do CS." And then we lose those people even though they're incredibly gifted. (BTW, this example was taken from a class this week--and the person who announced multiply cycle times was wrong. Which is often the case in these situations, but they still intimidate others because they make their statements with such confidence. But I politely pointed out that the information was irrelevant, giving the rest of the students a chance to concentrate on the material that actually matters. I can only hope that the message gets across.)

The data is incontrovertible. Gently shutting down the show-offs (most of whom aren't even trying to show off; they're just eager and socially inept) doesn't discourage them in the least. But it keeps them from discouraging others. The result is more total people majoring in CS, and a far wider variety of ideas. All benefit, no loss.

If you feel threatened by that, I suggest that maybe *you're* the intimidated one. And I encourage you to try to develop your self-confidence by taking pride in your own strengths, rather than dissing complete strangers.

Comment Hire models (Score 1) 533

Back in the 70's when Sony introduced the Walkman in Japan, it flopped because nobody wanted to be seen with a cassette player on their belt and dorky headphones on their ears. So Sony hired a bunch of professional models to parade around the Tokyo business district wearing Walkmans. ("Walkmen"?) Pretty soon the public associated headphones with sexy people, and the rest is history.

Google should do the same. Manipulating popular taste is possible.

Comment Useful for distributing scientific data (Score 1) 302

I use BT to distribute large files from the SNIA IOTTA Trace Repository ( Although there are typically no swarms, BT is still useful for a number of reasons, including in particular the ability to manage large collections of related files and the ability to deal with intermittent connections.

Unfortunately, many of my users work at sites that block BT, forcing them to revert to a horrible HTTP option.

And no, rsync isn't a solution for our situation.

As to what is needed, the primary thing is better tracker and seeder daemons. I use opentracker, which is OK but hardly perfect. I seed with deluge because it's one of the few seeders that can be run as a daemon (almost all BT clients expect you to dedicate a GUI window to them or they stop running--imagine what running a Web service would be like if you had to have a GUI for every instance of Apache).

Comment Re:Not really censored (Score 1) 229

> Rather, they are saying, "I don't want my taxes to pay for other people to read this trash."

Not quite. In fact, not at all. What they are saying (and you seem to be supporting) is "Even though my tax money has already been spent, and even though other people contributed THEIR tax money to help buy this book, and even though those people might think the money was well-spent, I want to remove this book from the shelves so that it will be more difficult--or better, impossible--for anyone to read this book that I personally dislike, despite the fact that there is no financial benefit to doing so." It's all about suppressing ideas, and the people who make the complaints make that position quite clear.

There are mechanisms (e.g., elections) for changing future spending priorities. After-the-fact censorship isn't one of them.

Comment Re:Not really censored (Score 1) 229

Your ignorance of the issues is glaring and appalling.
If the people were really objecting to the choices made by librarians, they would be clamoring for particular purchases as well as objecting to the books that were currently on the shelves. That's not the case. Nor are the citizens asking for the librarian to be replaced or instructed in their tastes. They are quite simply saying, "I don't think anybody in my school/town should be allowed to read this particular book." That's a hugely different question.

Comment Re:Not really censored (Score 1) 229

You seriously misunderstand. Most of these libraries are government-operated, either public libraries or schools. While it's true that SOME of the libraries rightfully resisted, the ALA's primary point is to illustrate the pressure that is being put on these libraries. And in many cases, the books were actually removed (note that the second-most-frequent challengers were administrators). Sometimes, lawsuits got them back, sometimes not. So yes, it's censorship.

Nor is your claim that "All these materials are easily available elsewhere" supported by the facts. In many cases, the library facing the challenge is the only library in a small town that doesn't have a bookstore, and often the readers can't afford to buy their own books. So your argument really boils down to "If you're poor, you don't get to read what you want."

At least your dig at Twilight gets humor points.


Submission + - Netflix apolgizes...not! Instead, it's worse. (

one-egg writes: "Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has just announced, in an e-mail to subscribers that is duplicated in a blog post, that he isn't sorry for the recent disastrous decision to raise prices under the guise of charging separately for streaming. Though he begins with "I messed up. I owe you an explanation", there is no actual admission of error. Instead, he compounds the original mistake by announcing that the well-regarded DVD-by-mail service will be split off from Netflix and renamed "Qwikster". He writes, "A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated. So if you subscribe to both services, and if you need to change your credit card or email address, you would need to do it in two places. Similarly, if you rate or review a movie on Qwikster, it doesn't show up on Netflix, and vice-versa. "

Can they get any more clueless than this? Are they TRYING to drive their company into bankruptcy?"

Comment They missed a couple (Score 1) 453

Obviously, the TSA is slipping, because there are several threats they missed in the current warning. For example, I heard that the bad guys are planning to kidnap the President, replace him with a robot, and hide a nuke inside. If that doesn't work, they're going to hijack a rocket, land on an asteroid, and divert it to crash into New York City. Expect porno scanners for astronauts to be announced in the next few days.

Comment Re:mob (Score 4, Insightful) 48

The reason terrorism is relevant is because it is regularly used as justification for loosening wiretap restrictions. If the wiretaps aren't actually being used for terrorism, the justification is bogus. Your claim about the rise in wiretaps being due to the rise in electronic communication is completely wrong; in case you haven't noticed the telephone is over 100 years old and has been the normal mode of communication for many decades. If mobiles were the cause of the increase, you'd expect a very high number of "roving" wiretaps, but the report lists only a tiny number. Likewise, online accounts are a poor explanation since wiretap orders can cover multiple technologies. But your worst "reasoning" is in your postscript, where you try to imply that two year-to-year decreases prove there is no upward trend. A glance at the graphe is sufficient to nuke that allegation; it's obvious that there is noise in the data but the trend is upward (and although it's too early to be sure, there seems to be an explosion going on since Obama took office).

Comment Re:How carefully do their customers read the TOS? (Score 1) 34

It's even worse than you think. It's midnight right now in California, and the number of calls on the map is tiny. And since you can use Google Maps to zoom in, I had no trouble learning that there was an onSIP customer at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department. Just think of the fun: you can zoom in on somebody's house and tell that they're awake...

Comment Red Pocket (Score 1) 200

I had this same issue (different only in minor details) a few months ago. The best I found was Red Pocket ( They operate on AT&T's network, so coverage is good. They sell prepaid service at a reasonable price. Cons: you have to get the SIM card ahead of time, and overseas shipping is slow, so if you're leaving soon that's a problem. When I got to the US, only voice worked, and it was impossible to activate data using Firefox & NoScript. IIRC, I eventually had to bring up a VM with Internet Explorer to get data to go. But once I had leapt through the hoops, it was fine.

Comment It'll be thrown out instantly (Score 1) 350

Has anybody actually read the complaint? IANAL by a long shot, but I would have no trouble whatsoever writing a better complaint. And this guy seems to have a law degree!

The suit starts with a rambling recitation of accusations, none of which is even properly stated as an allegation, none of which is supported, and many of which are completely irrelevant to the alleged harm. Then it makes two complaints: assault and negligence. The assault charge is unsupported on its face, since it alleges damage without specifying what damage occurred. The negligence is apparently based on the same unsupported claim of damage.

So the suit will be thrown out instantly for failure to state an actionable claim. But I doubt that it'll make the news at that point.

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