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Comment Time to restart using antisera. (Score 1) 52

Before antibiotics one could get an antiserum against each of many nasty infections. The rise of antibiotics displaced these drugs - even for some things (such as some forms of meningitis) where an antiserum against the particular organism, did a better job.

This actually made some sense. Antibiotics were broader spectrum, so (even after drug resistant bugs became common) you were likely to find one that worked in time to save the patient. Antisera, on the other hand, were very bug-specific.

If multiple drug resistance makes antibiotics nearly useless, perhaps it's time to revive antiserum use.

We now have the technology to rapidly identify the target organism(s) in a disease process, so we can rapidly select the correct magic bullets. And we also have the technology to make specific antisera by the bucketful.

And without the side-effects of making it by exposing an animal (like a "serum horse") to a pathogen and then (once it's developed an immunity) extracting the (horse-type) antibodies to this - and to everything else its immune system doesn't like - to make the drug. Instead we can make human monoclonal antibodies to just one target.

We can also engineer an immunization by chopping out the DNA for some conserved region snippet of some pathogen's accessible surface markers, splicing it with neighboring coding that will make the immune system take note and building it into an otherwise (and still) harmless bug - either to make an active ingredient for an immunization cocktail or a variola/polio style live-virus challenge. The bug has a very hard time evolving resistance because a conserved region of some component of its molecular machinery is usually conserved because has to be the way it is for it to work.

This is already being done to some extent. Seems to me it's time to stop crying about the end of antibiotics and focus on this set of approaches - which should be very lasting.

Comment But iodine is restricted due to the drug war. (Score 1) 52

It is common knowledge that [iodine] was used widely in hospitals for decades, and supposedly(?) resistance is not built up to it.

But iodine, and most iodine-containing medical preparations, are heavily restricted, due to the drug war.

Seems they're used in one step of turning pseudephedrine into meth. So, though they're not actually BANNED, the drug warriors put so much red tape on them that most chain-store drug stores just dropped them as unprofitable.

(I found this out when the fallout from Fukishima was approaching the US west coast, and I tried to find some iodine supplements for my family to dose up on, to reduce the risk from radioiodine, before it got here. Surprise! None to be had.)

If anybody knows of a chain store in California or Nevada where I can buy potassium iodide supplements or tincture of iodine, over the counter, please let me know.

Comment Wrong agency! FTC, not FCC (Score 3, Insightful) 52

The FCC is not the right agency to review mergers for anticompetitive issues. FCC is about tech, not competition.

The relevant agency is the F *T* C (Federal Trade Commission).

Now maybe they need some legislation to give them a budget bump and/or a juristictional tweak/clarification if they're to (once again) take on the telecom giants over antitrust issues. But if so it's high time that was done.

Comment Re:Heat (Score 1) 202

I would be more interested in this if it worked the other way, warming my house.

There are lots of designs for doing that. Look at any renewable energy bulletin board (such as fieldlines.com).

Common thread is:
  - Black (or otherwise visible light absorbing) target.
  - In an insulated box.
  - With a glass window (that does NOT have an infrared reflective coating)
  - And some way of transferring the heat from the black target to the house air.

Glass is opaque to infrared and passes visible light. Sunlight goes through, is absorbed by the black material, and heats it (to the tune of about a kilowatt per square meter at noon). The material re-radiates, but it is far too cool to re-radiate in the visible spectrum. So it re-radiates in the infrared, which doesn't escape through the glass and is thus re-absorbed.

It's called "The Greenhouse Effect". B-)

In one of my favorite designs the black target is a series of tubes consisting of used aluminum drink cans with the tops and bottoms removed, painted black. They're very good at absorbing light, because it takes multiple bounces down the valley between the tubes, giving the paint many chances to absorb it. A 4" computer fan pumps air through the box to extract the heat.

But there are LOTS of other designs. Including houses with large south or south-east facing windows and overhanging roofs that shade them in the summer but not in the winter (to rough-tune the absorption). The floor, walls, furniture, etc. serve as the visible light absorber.

My ranch house works like that - a little too well. In the afternoon it will git to 90+ degrees when it's single-digit temperatures outside.

Comment Re:Too good to be true. (Score 1) 202

It's a neat idea, but what happens in the winter?

Put a cover over it.

Glass is good. It is pretty much opaque to far infrared. Instead of seeing the cosmic background temperature of a few degrees kelvin, it will see the temperature of the glass - which is about the same as its own temperature. So the radiative heat flow will be just about zero.

But ANYTHING opaque to infrared will do the same.

Another approach: Instead of coating the house, coat a radiative cooler to make chill water, and pump that through a heat exchanger in your forced air heating/air conditioning system. Don't want cooling? Don't pump the water. (Adjust how much you pump it to regulate your temperature.)

That's not "no power", but pumping chill water is very little power, and you need to circulate the air anyhow. Most of the energy cost of air conditioning is refrigeration, and you still get that for free.

Comment RTFA. They DID try it on people. (Score 1) 164

RTFA. Then follow the link to the paper. They DID try it on humans. Worked reasonably well (though the sample was small so it was more "does this maybe work on people, too? Is it worth a big study to check?" rather than "do all the results reproduce in people just like mice or are they quantitatively different in THIS way?").

Interestingly, they used a proprietary commercial boxed Fasting Mimicing Diet - L-Nutra's ProLon (Developed by a team including a USC Davis professor specializing in gerontology and life-extension) - on the human experimental subjects.

Medicine

Studies Show Testosterone Offers Little Benefits To Aging Men (arstechnica.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In decades of research, scientists have found only one medical condition that's clearly and effectively treated with testosterone supplements: pathological hypogonadism -- that's low testosterone levels due to disease of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testes. In a series of placebo-controlled, randomized trials, researchers tracked the effect of testosterone on the cognition, bone health, anemia, and cardiovascular health of 788 men for a year. All the men were aged 65 or older and had low testosterone levels that couldn't be explained by anything other than age. The results, reported Tuesday in JAMA and JAMA Internal Medicine, offer mixed results. Among the 493 in the trial who also had age-related memory declines, testosterone didn't have any effect on memory or cognitive abilities. In the study, 247 got testosterone and 246 got a placebo. But for cardiovascular health, there was an effect -- a bad one. Over the year, plaque buildup in the coronary artery -- which is a risk factor for heart disease -- increased in 73 men on testosterone compared with 65 on placebo. However, other studies have found mixed results on this. Longer, bigger trials will be needed to sort out the risks. In the anemia study, testosterone did seem to improve iron levels in men with mild anemia. The bone health study also showed that testosterone could improve bone density. However, it's unclear if those benefits outweigh the possible cardiovascular risks. And other drugs may be more effective at treating anemia and improving bone mass than testosterone.

Comment Re:Let's go even further! (Score 1) 181

No upper management. And no board. Now that is a scary thought. How would companies run without people in charge? We need someone there don't we?

Well, the Swedish approach was to look at the individual job responsibilities of the CEO, and determine if all of those functions could readily be absorbed by other people or bodies within the company (where they weren't already overlapping - and sometimes conflicting - anyway). So if you want to go ahead and do the systematic hard work, there's nothing that prevents you from figuring out which positions could (or should) be eliminated, with their responsibilities reallocated to other staff.

Of course, it's waaaaay easier to just go the observational humor route and declare "Hey, everything is so much better in the office when the boss is away, amiright? Let's get rid of 'em all!" So, kudos for that contribution.

More seriously, I see a couple of obvious gaps that you would need to fill, right off the top. For one, you need to develop some mechanism for larger-scale strategic direction. In the Swedish company discussed, that role was filled by the company's board of directors. For another, you need to have some sort of framework for handling civil and criminal liability issues when someone eventually screws up. Where does the buck stop, ethically and legally?

Comment Re:Techie Republicans why (Score 1, Insightful) 113

Al Gore led the way in the funding initiative that created the Internet.

Politicians are only as attentive as the people who lobby them.

It boggles me how people seem to think their politicians are mind readers and need to magically understand their priorities. You do realize they aren't monitoring your Facebook feed or paying any attention to the retarded petitions you fill out? If you want your politicians to represent your priorities, call them. Complaining that they don't represent your interests when you don't do jack squat to get their attention is the epitome of ignorance.

Comment Market distortions. (Score 1) 491

Thanks to rent control, I'm paying $300 per month less than market rate.

Market distortions can make it financially disastrous to move, as compared to staying in the same place.

Rent control is one.

Another is, for homeowners, is Proposition 13 in California (and similar laws in some other states). Think of it as "rent control on taxes", designed to keep the skyrocketing housing prices from driving people out of their homes:
  - Stay at the old place - get taxed on the price of the house when it was bought (or Prop 13 went into effect) plus a small inflation adjustment.
  - Sell it and buy a new house in CA (or the same state etc.) - get taxed on the new house's CURRENT price, plus a small inflation adjustment - forever forward. Then there's being taxed on the hyperinflated price of the house you sold as if it were a lump sum of income, unless you take the once-in-a-lifetime exemption or one of the other income tax rules for switching houses without being bankrupted. And the new mortgage is at the current rates, too, and on a much pricier home.

Moving used to be much less of a financial hit than it is now.

Comment I'd like to see a Third Amendment defense, too. (Score 5, Informative) 118

Spying on the population was a big driver behind the THIRD amendment:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While forcing the colonists to provide housing and upkeep for the soldiers sent to oppress them was an economic issue, there was more to it than that.

A soldier "quartered" in a colonist's house also served as a spy for the crown and its army. He eavesdropped on the conversations of the family and visiting friends. He had the opportunity to view their records when they weren't home (or even if they were). He reported anything suspicious to his unit. His presence inhibited getting together with others to hold private discussions, especially about opposing (by protest or otherwise) anything the government was doing. He was a continuous walking search, fed and housed by the people he was investigating.

It seems to me that law-enforcement and intelligence agency spyware, such as keyloggers and various data exfiltration tools, is EXACTLY the digital equivalent: It is a digital agent that "lives" in the home or office of the target. It consums the target's resources (disk space, CPU cycles network bandwidth) to support itself. It spies spying on the activities and "papers" of the target, reporting anything suspicious (or anything, actually) back to its commander, to be used as evidence and/or to trigger an arrest or other attack. It is ready, at a moment's notice, to forcefully interfere with, destroy, or corrupt the target's facilities or send forged messages from him.

Spyware is EXACTLY one of the most egregious acts (one of the "Intolerable Acts") that sparked the American Revolution. I'd love to see the Third brought back out of the doldrums and used against these "digital soldiers" the government is "quartering" inside our personal and private computing devices.

Comment Enjoy your trip. (Score 1) 136

Last year I spent close on $3,000 in the USA. This year, I'm going to Sri Lanka.

Enjoy your trip.

Meanwhile, Trump will just have ICE deport three more illegal immigrant households, more than making up for the money you might have spent (even if you'd been giving it straight to the US taxpayers, rather than mostly to the megacorps that exploit them.)

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