Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Thanks To the Private Space Industry, Things Are Looking Up For Space City USA

Immerman Re:And yet... (47 comments)

Why not continue operating the catastrophic insurance exactly the way we are now? Don't touch the existing system *AT ALL*, except to remove the "trivial" cases to a medical triage organization whose incentives have been crafted to promote efficiency and efficacy.

Yes, that will mean that second-tier care will be more expensive without the ability to subsidize itself with inflated first-tier profits. On the other hand the resulting much cheaper first-tier care will almost certainly mean that far fewer people allow a problem to develop to the point where expensive second-tier treatments are needed before seeking help. There's also the fact that insurance is all about distributed risk - first and second tier actual expenses are already worked into your monthly insurance premium. Nothing fundamentally changes if 80% of the payouts now go directly to the second-tier treatments instead of being shuffled around in the hospital's books to get there anyway - except that the insurance provider has a better idea of the actual relative expenses.

Yes, it does throw into stark relief some very difficult questions about exactly how much "second tier" medicine you should have access to if you refuse to pay for insurance, but those questions are already *very* much a fact of life: Unless you're a member of the 1% you already don't have access to anywhere near the sorts of medical miracles that make this nation a medical destination for billionaires around the world. Why not at least separate out the easy answers - such as affordable "good maintenance and basic repair" medical care for everyone, so that they don't get sacrificed as leverage by the ugly realities of end-of-life medicine? Even in the worst case, if second-tier (or third, etc) care was refused, that doesn't have to mean yo get *nothing*, just only the best care available with first-tier resources. ...and as I read that back I think I see a major problem - that kind of "at least they get..." sentiment seems ripe for exploitation. Hmm, may have to think on this one some more.

5 days ago
top

Low Cost Ground Robot Chassis That Can Traverse Challenging Obstacles

Immerman Re:We've been selling these since 2010 (38 comments)

I'd say that makes it *very* versatile, wouldn't you? Suppose that might merit it's own point though.

5 days ago
top

Low Cost Ground Robot Chassis That Can Traverse Challenging Obstacles

Immerman Re:They're called legs (38 comments)

With modern cars increasingly be drive-by-wire, with no actual mechanical linkages between the cockpit and control systems,why not just install an "R2-D2 control port"? Then your robot chauffeur can be nothing more than a sensor-box you mount on the dashboard with an interface cable coming out of it. Cheaper, far more compact, and it bypasses any potential problems with the mechanical input devices, not to mention the immense lag introduced by having mechanical inertia in the communication pipeline.

about a week ago
top

Low Cost Ground Robot Chassis That Can Traverse Challenging Obstacles

Immerman Re:We've been selling these since 2010 (38 comments)

Milled parts will typically be far stronger than a 3D printed version of the same basic material (or cast for that matter). Not to mention much cheaper to produce. Moreover, lots of the cost-optimizing design decisions you make for milling-based manufacture will tend to be far more compatible with mass-production techniques - should you have loftier long-term ambitions for your design.

For now 3D printing only seems to have two real advantages: versatility (especially important if you only have the space/budget for a few manufacturing tools), and the ability to create geometry that is essentially impossible with any other manufacturing process.

about a week ago
top

Education Chief Should Know About PLATO and the History of Online CS Education

Immerman Re:Slashdot classic sucks! (134 comments)

Gooey Char? That's a little extreme don't you think? Certainly effective though.

about a week ago
top

Thanks To the Private Space Industry, Things Are Looking Up For Space City USA

Immerman So "are" is now the future injunctive tense? (47 comments)

I can certainly see why they might *hope* for such things, but "things are looking up" would suggest that they're *already* starting to take form, and I saw no evidence of that when skimming the article.

And personally, if I were preparing to go to space I'd rather not have my last days planet-side be spent grounded by bad weather, feeding voracious mosquito swarms, and trying to find some way to shed heat in the oppressive humidity.

about two weeks ago
top

Thanks To the Private Space Industry, Things Are Looking Up For Space City USA

Immerman Re:And yet... (47 comments)

If money is no object the US has the best medical facilities in the world. For everyone else you'd probably be better off going to Cuba - they have a truly awesome healthcare system that revolves around delivering the best possible care for as little money as possible, and they deliver impressively. For most common conditions their outcomes compare favorably with any wealthy nation, and at a tiny fraction of the expense.

I'd love to see the US adopt a two-tiered medical system: Cuban-style healthcare as the first tier, handling the 90+% of common injuries and ailments that can be cheaply and reliably treated without expensive high technology, along with all the regular house calls, follow-ups, lifestyle advice, etc,etc,etc. that doctors of old delivered. Remove the profit from the maintenance of basic health - *everyone* benefits from having a healthy, productive populace, and there's no reason that the healthcare system should be milking people for tens of thousands of dollars for outcomes which that can delivered at double-digit expense. Let's bring back doctors who are respected by their community and don't fleece their patients at every opportunity

Only if you are diagnosed with something that needs high-tech intervention do you get referred (without kickbacks) to the second tier, where specialists thrive in well-equipped hospitals - but you'd you'd better have insurance if you want to be able to afford their services.

I think such a system would be at least a wonderful "first draft" way to make sure no American ever has to suffer from a condition that could be treated for a few dollars at any decent 3rd-world clinic, while also maintaining the incentive structure that has led us to develop the cutting-edge treatments that made our medical services the preferred choice for the wealthiest people in the world.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:ssh / scp / https maybe? (147 comments)

Well, if you're going to pull up taxes as a form of theft then we'd better go back a little further and point out a much, much bigger one: private property rights. The law of the jungle is you can only accumulate as much wealth as they can personally defend - anything that someone can take from you by force or trickery becomes theirs by right of possession. It's only in the presence of "civilized" private property rights that you can get the current situation where a tiny minority can accumulate many orders of magnitude more wealth than the majority.

about two weeks ago
top

How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

Immerman Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

> It is possible through the sheer randomness of life for this same genetic change to occur

I think you're misunderstanding the nature of mutation - pretty much *every* individual will possess some mutations. But the typical mutation (the kind that occurs with 10^-5 probability in most multicellular species) affects only a single base pair, and corn DNA has 2.3 billion base pairs which might be mutated, and a single gene (in humans at least) will typically contain ~27,000 base pairs, with some containing as many as two million.

So let's run some numbers shall we? Assuming you want to transform a single typical-sized gene into some specific same-sized alternative you're going to need to generate 27,000 mutations in one single section of DNA (let's just call it 10^4, maybe 2/3 of the base pairs are already correct for the replacement gene), with a probability of 10^-5 per mutation, giving each individual a 10^-20 chance of having the gene spontaneously appear in one generation (the vast majority of most major gene mutations are debilitating if not fatal, which complicates the calculations dramatically, so we'll assume we have to do it in one generation). Assuming 50 million kernels of corn per acre (10^7) that means you're going to need 10^13 acres of corn to get decent odds. But that's going to be a problem because there's only 10^10 acres of land area on Earth. So we're still going to need 10^3 generations to get good odds. So, cover the entire planet with corn for thousands of years and your single desired gene has a decent chance of appearing spontaneously.

Granted, some incomplete mutations changes won't be fatal, so we can probably lob a few orders of magnitude off the problem, through multi-generational mutations but at least now we have a sense of just how unlikely it would be for natural mutation to replace just one single gene with something specific.

In the case of Roundup resistant weeds you're getting something very different: a relatively minor mutation to one or more existing genes which makes the plant more resistant, (probably via a different bio-chemical mechanism). And that's important because the more dramatic the change the greater the chance of unintended side effects. If we actually understood genetics I'd have far fewer objections to GMOs, but right now we're still at the finger-painting page - we've only just come to realize that the non-protein-coding "junk DNA" that comprises the majority of most organisms DNA is in fact functional, and we still haven't the slightest clue what most of it does. Even the simplistic repeating bits that we believed to be genetic "parasites" appear to have their role to play. To say nothing of the fact that we are still only just beginning to develop the crudest predictive understanding of biochemistry and the subtleties of cellular biology.

We're playing with fire here, and we don't have the slightest idea how to build a firetruck. We've already discovered that some of the GMOs we've created are unexpectedly toxic. And GMOs are routinely found interbreeding with their normal cousins - once the gene gets into the wild there's no stuffing the genie back in the bottle.

Personally I think Monsanto had the right idea early on: build in a genetic "kill switch" so the GMOs can't reproduce. They did it for all the wrong reasons, but the basic idea is sound: if we're going to be releasing potentially dangerous organisms into the world, especially ones which will inevitably interbreed with crops our civilization depends on, let's take at least a few decades to assess their unexpected consequences. Then if we discover it's wiping out bees or vital soil microbes or whatever we just stop producing new seed and let it go extinct. If on the other hand it proves safe after extensive real-world testing we can remove the kill switch and begin to treat it as a normal crop. It may still become an invasive organism, or interbreed with other sub-species in unexpectedly dangerous ways, but at least we won't have just released a complete unknown into the biosphere.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:ssh / scp / https maybe? (147 comments)

I believe the problem is that the US has a long history of organized interference in the acquisition of voting-specific ID. I've heard far fewer complaints against the usage of a state-issued photo-ID (aka drivers license, assuming you drive) Even those though can often cost upwards of $50 or so, and have limited usage outside of driving and banking, thus imposing a substantial financial burden on the poorest members of society who still wish to vote.

Keep in mind - the social safety net in the US is mostly restricted to critical medical care and food-specific financial assistance of less than $6/day. And there are substantial gaps that are easy to fall through even for the meager assistance available. For example to receive food assistance you need to have an income of at least 50% of the poverty line or provide documented evidence of at least 20 attempts per month to find a qualifying job, and benefits are suspended for a minimum of 3 months if you fail to provide your monthly evidence in a timely fashion. Not always an easy thing for someone struggling to survive to comply with. And since the Republicans can be pretty much counted on to try to reduce the safety net even further, those who can least afford to comply with voter identification laws are also disproportionately likely to vote Democrat.

about two weeks ago
top

Data Center Study Reveals Top 5 SMART Stats That Correlate To Drive Failures

Immerman Re:The measurements in question: (138 comments)

I don't know. I believe though that, unlike hard drives, SSDs are designed on the presumption that cells will gradually fail as part of normal operations, and hence any such statistics would mean something very different than they would for a hard drive.

about two weeks ago
top

How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

Immerman Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

You are presuming that you will *ever* find a plant that has exactly the mutation you want - which given the extraordinarily low rate of mutations is extremely unlikely. You are also ignoring the fact that in the time it takes for a new gene to be bred into a large portion of a species the biosphere is able to begin to adapt to any environmental impacts that may be associated with it - that adaption period is removed when the first exposeure is a mass-deployment of modified seed.

As for hybridization - generally speaking that's only possible between different cultivars of the same basic species - you can't create a natural hybrid between individuals who can't interbreed. Contrast that with the ability to, say, insert bacterial genes into corn - something only possible through genetic modification, and which is becoming increasingly common.

about two weeks ago
top

Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

Immerman Re:second picture (188 comments)

Yes, you can compensate for an accelerating reference frame, but it will never be a "first class" frame from the perspective of special relativity. I would be interested to see that rotating universe proof, but it doesn't change the fact that such a transformation violates the fundamental assertion of special relativity that all non-accelerating reference frames are equally valid. As soon as you set all of spacetime spinning around a point that point becomes "special" and uniquely valid.

about two weeks ago
top

Ask Slashdot: Getting Around Terrible Geolocation?

Immerman Re:Geolocation is being abused (100 comments)

I'll admit I'm a few seasons behind, but garbage or not I'd have to say it's still one of the better shows out there. And yes, that probably says a hell of a lot more about the vast sewage pit of modern programming than it does about the quality of Doctor Who.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:Paper? (147 comments)

You forgot:
    Non-Agent D coerces you into giving him your private key so that he can vote in your stead. And if it's illegal for you to do so then you have even more incentive to keep quiet about it.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:easyer to just a list of dead people and vote u (147 comments)

Only if the election commission failes to purge the dead from the voting roster. And if they fail on such a basic task I can only assume they've already been compromised by the people who want to steal the election.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:PDF (147 comments)

Becasue wherever there's a clusterfuck, there's an opportunity for massive fraud in your favor?

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:ssh / scp / https maybe? (147 comments)

Ah yes, a meritocracy is definitely superior. And I can only assume you'll be wanting a place on the committee that decides the standards by which such merit is measured?

It doesn't matter how incompetent the populace is, if you deprive them of a voice in government then you are consigning them to be slaves to that government in short order. And to quote C.S. Lewis: "Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters."

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:ssh / scp / https maybe? (147 comments)

Every place I've ever voted required a valid state ID matched against the voter roster in order to gain access to the polling booth. Proof of identity. The problem is when additional proof such as a voter ID card is required - as the process of acquiring said proof is typically compromised in short order.

about two weeks ago
top

Internet Voting Hack Alters PDF Ballots In Transmission

Immerman Re:ssh / scp / https maybe? (147 comments)

>It is extremely hard to provide PROOF to someone you voted a certain way in a physical voting situation

Back when a video camera was the size of a loaf of bread that may have been true, but I've never even been asked to leave my phone outside the voting both - which means I could easily have filmed the final ballot sheet and my submission of it. The only way to avoid making such proof possible is to strip-search incoming voters. Which I don't see going over well, nor being terribly effective as miniaturization makes it ever easier to hide a camera.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

Immerman hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

Immerman has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?