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Comment Re:This story sponsored by (Score 1) 73

Actually evidence from the 1950s was mixed -- as it still is -- but in fact most of it stands up pretty well. What's a problem is the interpretation of that evidence and its limited nature (e.g. not knowing about different types of cholesterol).

For example it was established in the 50s that high blood cholesterol was a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is still believed as true, but what they didn't know at the time is what factors affected blood cholesterol. It was (plausibly although not conclusively) suspected by many that fat consumption would increase it; nobody suspected sugar... why should they?

In complex systems like the body there is usually conflicting evidence early on, which is resolved by further study.

Comment Re:Potential military applications are really scar (Score 5, Interesting) 65

I'd think from a military standpoint what you want is soldiers who make better battlefield decisions, not ones that engage in a stereotypical behavior regardless of circumstance.

The human brain is both massively adaptable and subject to modification by information inputs. Which means you can indoctrinate men into becoming mindless killing machines. The problem is that historically that approach doesn't seem to be effective either tactically or strategically. US Marines faced waves of suicide attackers in the Pacific theater of WW2, which must have been terrifying, but in the end worked to the US advantage.

On the other hand George Washington's great talent as a general was retreating. He could attack a much larger and better equipped army and then make his army disappear before they could react. That was terrifying in its own way, and much more miltarily effective.

Given a fight between men fighting to kill and men fighting to survive, all other things being equal I'd put my money on the men trying to survive.

Comment Re:This story sponsored by (Score 5, Informative) 73

You know, this kind of shallow cynicism actually makes you easier to dupe, because it's not evidence-based; it's what-sounds-truthy-based.

This article was published in Nature, which requires a complete disclosure of institutional affiliations and financial conflicts. That doesn't mean the system is perfect, but it's about as good as it gets, especially given that Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world. Nature Medicine has an eye-popping 30.357 impact factor, making it the fourth most highly cited medical journal in the world after the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Journal of the American Medical Association.

Does it mean you should immediately believe anything that's published in Nature Medicine? No. You should wait until it is cited in a literature review article in one of those top journals before making any health decisions based on it. However as individual papers go, this is as credible as they get.

Researchers have been trying to take caffeine down for decades. Nobody can quite believe that something so enjoyable as coffee isn't bad for you. In fact doctors used to routinely warn their patients off coffee because of all the bad things it would do to them, but in fact when researchers tried to confirm all the things doctors knew about why coffee was bad for you, none of them turned out to be true, with narrow exceptions for certain populations (e.g., coffee doesn't cause ulcers as we used to be told, but if you have an ulcer coffee will make the symptoms worse).

What researchers found were surprising benefits, including what appears to be evidence of reduction in risks for multiple forms of cancer and even a reduction in suicide risk.

Coffee is well on its way to becoming the first evidence-backed superfood.

Comment Re:Just what the world needed most urgently... (Score 1) 186

Compare programming a 6502 in assembly back in 1980 to programming in Java nowadays.

I see your 1978 and raise you a 1970.

'''Prolog''' is a general-purpose logic programming language associated with artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.

Prolog has its roots in first-order logic, a formal logic, and unlike many other programming languages, Prolog is declarative: the program logic is expressed in terms of relations, represented as facts and rules. A computation is initiated by running a query over these relations.

The language was first conceived by a group around Alain Colmerauer in Marseille, France, in the early 1970s and the first Prolog system was developed in 1972 by Colmerauer with Philippe Roussel.

Prolog was one of the first logic programming languages, and remains the most popular among such languages today, with several free and commercial implementations available.

The language has been used for theorem proving, expert systems, as well as its original intended field of use, natural language processing.

Modern Prolog environments support creating graphical user interfaces, as well as administrative and networked applications.

Prolog is well-suited for specific tasks that benefit from rule-based logical queries such as searching databases, voice control systems, and filling templates.

Prolog did not fail because it was lacking in declarative concision. It failed because there's an annoying layer in between formal description in the problem domain and viable execution strategies in the solution domain.

This layer, too, requires code. Of course, we can just write a formal description of the "annoying layer" as a Prolog program and then let Prolog do all the real work.

Uh, wait a minute, recursion has somehow failed us here. How could that even be? Does not compute. Proceeding to Halt and Catch Fire.

Comment Re:All your jobs are...belong to us! (Score 1) 126

As of yet, there is nothing inherently special about a human being that cannot be reproduced by machines.

What on earth are you smoking?

The present gap, on best available technology, is so staggeringly mind-rending it could serve as the third ring in Dante's Total Enlightenment Vortex.

(Midway through the fifth ring—still reeling in shock from the fourth ring's ascendancy of green slime as fully revealed—the Pilgrim of Total Enlightenment receives a surprising and painful transcranial injection of quantum nanodots, so that the true horrors of rings six—spoiler alert: Chaitin's omega because blindingly intuitive and compulsive to calculate—and seven—HAL hasn't blinked since—can be savoured and swallowed in immense and total abjection.)

Comment Re:Remember kids! (Score 1) 386

I love the politicians who stump for "no invisible tax" and write legislation to ensure that gasoline pumps break out every tax category on the paper receipt (we still have these in Canada, I can't speak for anywhere else).

Everybody knows the deal going in.

I sure wish we'd apply the "no invisible tax" standard to casinos, as well. In this world, every patron is entitled to a printed receipt on the way out (just stick your card into the receipt printer near the main exit) of total $$$ in bets placed and total $ in winnings returned.

Even better if those same receipts enumerate the proportion of your losses that wind up in the government's pocket.

7 Facts about Gambling Winnings in the US

Riddle me this, Batman: how does an activity with a guaranteed amortized loss end up pay tax to Uncle Sam on aggregate negative proceeds?

John, a German national, travels to Las Vegas on holiday. He wins a single $10,000 jackpot on the slot machines while playing at Caesar's Palace, triggering the creation of form W2-G by the casino, a copy of which is given to the player. He also wins $1000 more in various slot machine wins, none of which trigger the creation of form W2-G. When John wins the $10,000 jackpot, he hands the slot attendant his German passport along with Form W8-BEN. The slot attendant processes the form and no withholding is taken from the $10,000 jackpot. At the end of the calendar year, John will need to file Form 1040NR with the IRS and report the $11,000 of gambling winnings. He will attach Form 8833, reporting his use of the treaty position to make the gambling winnings non-taxable in the US, along with a copy of the Form W2-G he received from the casino. John will only need to file Form 1040NR in the years that he has US sourced income.

I understand taxing proceeds in a game of skill like poker, but freaking slot machines? Ludicrous. Beyond insane. Conceptually criminal.

Comment Failing upwards (Score 5, Insightful) 81

Jimmy Iovine was one of the most powerful record executives during the period when record labels were all sleeping on the digital revolution that was about to overtake them.

Why would anyone, especially Apple, give a job to someone who was so clueless about technology and popular culture?

Comment Re:Can only be played on Apple products (Score 2) 81

Everyone wants to own both the distribution channel and the content being sold over that channel. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu...

They all want their own programming so that going to a different store means losing access to content. If Apple's content does appear on Netflix, you can be sure of two things: (1) it'll be old episodes and (2) their programs will include melodramatic, never-ending story arcs.

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