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Comment Re:Cost effectiveness (Score 1) 273

Or maybe the gov't genuinely believes these programs are necessary and the parties profiting from these programs are good snakes oil salesmen. After all, the gov't spends tens of billions each year, so you can bet whoever is at the receiving end of that will do whatever they can to keep the cash flowing. Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity.

Submission + - First Hard Evidence for the Process of Cat Domestication (

sciencehabit writes: Cats have been part of human society for nearly 10,000 years, but they weren’t always string-chasers and lap-sitters. Ancient felines hunted crop-destroying rats and mice for early farmers, and in return we provided food and protection. At least that’s what scientists have long speculated. Now, they can back it up. Cat bones unearthed in a 5000-year-old Chinese farming village indicate that the animals consumed rodents and that some may have been cared for by humans. The findings provide the earliest hard evidence of this mutually beneficial relationship between man and cat.

Submission + - Fully autonomous flapping-wing MAV is as light as 4 sheets of A4 paper ( 1

Hallie Siegel writes: According to it's developers, the DelFly Explorer is the first flapping wing Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that is able to fly with complete autonomy in unknown environments. Weighing just 20 grams and with a wingspan of 28cm, it is equipped with an onboard stereo vision system. The DelFly Explorer can perform an autonomous take-off, keep its height, and avoid obstacles for as long as its battery lasts (~9 minutes). All sensing and processing is performed on board, so no human or offboard computer is in the loop.

Submission + - FDA Not Convinced Antibacterial Soaps Stop the Spread of Germs ( 5

barlevg writes: It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterials soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant "superbugs," but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether.

The Washington Post cites concerns that triclosan interferes with hormone production, but it should be noted that is is based on animal studies, and that at least one human study has shown no effect on hormone levels in adults using toothpaste containing triclosan.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: The Geekiest Game Ever Made? (

KentuckyFC writes: Spin glasses may be esoteric but they are also one of the more fascinating phenomena in physics. They are disordered magnets in which the atoms interact with each other to create conflicting configurations that compete for stability. That makes spin glasses metastable. They can seem firm and constant but a small change to the configuration in one part of the lattice can ripple through the magnet like wildfire. Now a German physicist has created “Spin Glasses: The Game”, a two person board game that reproduces all the complexity and excitement of...err... spin glasses. The players compete to configure their atoms in a way that dominates the lattice when the game ends. The board game is available in German or as a free downloadable cut out version in English. Is this the geekiest game ever made?

Submission + - Gas Prices Stable as Largest US Oil Refinery Partially Closes After Fires

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Joao Peixe reports in the Christian Science Monitor that since undergoing a $10 billion expansion, the the 600,000 barrel a day Royal Dutch Shell's Motiva oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, has experienced a long line of incidents, the latest being a fire which has forced it to reduce production output by a half, for at least two weeks. One week ago the facility suffered from a fire in the sulphur recovery unit, forcing a closure and reducing production. The sulphur unit will undergo repairs, and is expected to go back into operation in two or three weeks. But a second fire, which began on Saturday, broke out in a hydrocracker unit next to the refinery`s largest crude distillation unit (CDU), known as the VPS-5. "Maybe it was cursed," says a veteran Gulf Coast products trader about Motiva's struggles. "I think people are not surprised by problems there." A source with knowledge of the incident told Reuters that the fire damaged communication lines and instrumentation needed to run the 75,000 bpd hydrocracker, but its production sections were unharmed. Refinery managers admitted that “it was a bad weekend for us. We're all feeling snake-bit. It just seems like we get up and going and then something else goes wrong." The good news is that the US Gulf Coast is so well supplied with motor fuels that wholesale gasoline and diesel prices in the region moved only modestly on Motiva's latest woes. Inventories are close to their highest levels in two decades in the region, which has close to half of all U.S. refining capacity, as other refiners run nearly full bore to reap profits from exports that make up for softer US demand.

Submission + - German Government Warns Windows 8 is an Unacceptable Security Risk (

An anonymous reader writes: Die Zeit has access to leaked documents from the German government warning that Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for sensitive workloads. The story is written in German here: but automatic translators (such as Google Translate) do a readable job. Particularly of concern is the inability to opt out of TPM 2.0 usage.

Submission + - Germany Produces Record-Breaking 5.1 Terawatt Hours of Solar Energy in One Month 2

oritonic1 writes: Germany is rapidly developing a tradition of shattering its own renewable energy goals and leaving the rest of the world in the dust. This past July was no exception, as the nation produced 5.1 TWh of solar power, beating not only its own solar production record, but also eclipsing the record 5TWh of wind power produced by German turbines in January. Renewables are doing so well, in fact, that one of Germany's biggest utilities is threatening to migrate to Turkey.

Submission + - Two US Representatives Mouth Identical DMCA Talking Points at Same Hearing (

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: Comedy gold, as US House members sellout to the copyright industry. Watch two Congressional Representatives ask identical leading questions, framed for them by entertainment industry lobbyists, word-for-word. No pause, one right after the other. Ultimately, its the voter/taxpayer/consumer who is both paying for this directly and subsidizing it, while subject to the restraints that are being demanded.

Submission + - Are Young Adults Getting Over Weed? (

Daniel_Stuckey writes: For the first time in four decades of polling, a national survey showed that a 52 percent of Americans want to legalize the sticky stuff. With 20 states already having approved medical marijuana, another sixteen states decriminalizing possession, and two states, Colorado and Washington, legalizing bud outright for recreational use, the US is going greener and greener country as we roll out of first decade of the new millennium. But another national poll conducted this summer hints at a cultural trend seemingly at odds with this mass population shift towards drug love. A Gallup report published at the beginning of August says that while general support of cannabis has been increasing, experimentation and use among 18- to 29-year-olds is actually decreasing.

Comment Re:Meanwhile, back at the bean counting dept. (Score 1) 139

There was a time, believe it or not, when profitable companies would generally not layoff people because the company was, uh, profitable. If a company did layoff people the stock market usually took it as an indication that something was wrong (which it generally was).

Ah yes, I can remember those times as if they were a few hours ago - maybe because they were: Cisco to cut 4,000 jobs; stock falls 10%

Comment Re:Debt-backed economies.... (Score 1) 159

It already is happening. The amount of interest we pay as a % of total tax revenue collected has been steadily rising and is at a a 10 year high even though the interest rate on treasury bonds is at relatively low levels. In other words the money we're borrowing is really cheap, yet we're borrowing so much of it that we're still paying more in interest relative to total revenues collected than we have in the past decade and there's no reason to believe that we will be able to continue to borrow money cheaply especially if we increase our public debt too much.

Submission + - Study: Facebook usage causes users' life satisfaction levels to decline (

McGruber writes: According to the Research Article, "Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults", the more people used Facebook, the worse they feel and the more their life satisfaction levels decline over time.

On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may actually undermine it.

The research was led by the University of Michigan and is published in PLOS ONE, an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science.

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