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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:Not Surprising (464 comments)

On the flip side you'd expect rich people to be really lazy, but that's not the case. Upper class/rich people have power and status dreams which drive them that middle class people don't have. Middle class people would like those things, but they often see them as fantasies, not really attainable.

That would be because, for most people in the "middle class" as it currently exists in the US, those "dreams" really are fantasies. When those people are something like a major injury or a cancer diagnosis away from being in that "poor" bracket, there are bigger things to worry about than vacationing in Dubai (to pull a "status and power dream" example). Employment certainly isn't secure these days.

At least, not for the "middle class." When you've inherited millions or billions (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars, a lot of those problems are a lot less problematic, and there's time to cultivate those "power and status dreams."

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:A triumph for her... (464 comments)

...How? Her family lost their home. They were supported (by that abysmally failing society...) for a short time until they found another.

Pretty much working exactly as it should.

Maybe keeping people in their homes would be a good way to start. Homeless shelters are a failsafe, a safety net. What you're saying would be the same as telling the tightrope walker not to worry about the performance, but just to dive off the the cable as soon as they got on it.

Nice proximate, quarantinable safety net, but solving the ultimate problems (like, say, medically induced bankruptcies and eventual foreclosures) might be a more effective role for the society.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:I hope Intel avoids the obvious feel-good choic (464 comments)

She's a semifinalist. I hope Intel's judgement of her research isn't affect by the press coverage. It would suck for someone else's superior research to get shafted because he wasn't lucky enough to be appealing as a human-interest story.

Not coincidentally, that line gets spoken by people whose research really, truly does suck. Even if it doesn't, semifinalists don't exactly drop off the planet. The kid can grow his heart a few sizes that day.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:How is this even... (464 comments)

How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".

Wait, you're complaining because we gave homeless people a place to live? What do you want, for them to live in Trump Tower and be fed caviar? Come on, what people need is enough to get back on their own two feet when life knocks them down. They don't need to have the world given to them.

I like how you have two settings on this -- no place to live vs. Trump Tower. Bullshit. No one's asking for these people to have the world given to them -- not the GP, anyway -- but that's how it's been framed all these years, because if it became more mainstream exactly how those people are getting blocked from getting enough to get on their own two feet, Occupy would've happened decades ago, to say the very least.

It is, indeed, very expensive to be poor.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:How is this even... (464 comments)

America (I'm addressing you as a whole).

How is it that you allow young people, let alone whole families, to be homeless, to live in "shelters".

Capitalism is an economic equivalent to Darwin's survival of the fittest. There are merits to this, despite the corruption.

Darwin actually never said anything about "survival of the fittest." That language was applied in interpretation later on. (Erroneously, actually. It tends to miss the point.)

Since you're likening inherited wealth to reproduction, let's call the family inheritance what it would be -- inbreeding. The long-term consequences of inbreeding have certainly been documented.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:How is this even... (464 comments)

Uh, you realize that even in communist Russia, where it was a crime to be homeless, and housing was provided for free, there were still homeless people? Ending homelessness is not as easy as you think at first.

Which might be a fine point of discussion, up until the point where people use the notion of not absolutely ending homelessness as an excuse not to dedicate time and effort (not necessarily money) to reducing homelessness.

You might not be able to save everybody, but are you saving everyone that you reasonably could? By and large, we aren't.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:Not according to the OECD (464 comments)

Sure, I could use more money sometimes, especially when something unexpected comes up like having to get my brakes fixed, but we get by just fine. This is all on 10k per person. I would practically be swimming in money at 30k/year per person. What do people possibly spend all of their money on?

Question of the age, I'd say.

more than 2 years ago
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Homeless Student Is Intel Talent Search Semifinalist

PSandusky Re:Ok then let's hear it (464 comments)

I call it "Home Security". Just as Social Security is "earned" as a means for the elderly to be guaranteed a means to live when they are old, "Home Security" provides a means to guarantee that everyone who has worked sufficiently will have a home to live in, be it an apartment, house, or whatever. Okay, that idea isn't really perfect. The only reason Social Security works is because people have been brainwashed into believing that people earn it and they only believe that because it takes decades of work for any benefit to arrive; and even then, people still want to cut Social Security.

That would be because the "brainwashed" people have literally been paying into Social Security directly -- as an itemized paycheck deduction -- for as long as they've been employed. The date that it starts paying out doesn't have anything to do with it, at least not in the terms you're describing.

more than 2 years ago
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USPS Ending Overnight First-Class Letter Service

PSandusky Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (713 comments)

Amtrak has been at least as expensive as air flight for a sometime, and it hadn't provided much of a benefit to general public, much less the poor population, for a while now.

Citation needed. I'm guessing you haven't travelled by Amtrak over this span of time. I was traveling to western PA from FL last December for the holidays, and the round trip cost me $250. Flights would've easily cost me considerably more, because connections end up being cheaper through Amtrak than through United Airlines, which is the sole carrier at my hometown's airport. (This is even before we get into baggage fees!)

Last December's Snowpocalypse sent a considerable number of travelers to Amtrak -- I can attest to this, because the train south was packed to the gills with people who were stranded in New York and Philadelphia. This influx was in addition to that which already crowded trains -- often people who can't afford round trips by air, or for whom the length of the trip (maybe across the state) would make air travel impractical. I can remember making the trip across PA to NYC several times... and never, over all the trips I made over the years, did I travel on a train that didn't have a fairly significant number of people in each car. Amtrak gets a lot more use than most people give it credit for, which I imagine is part of the reason it doesn't do as well as it can, and its national route system is terribly sparse when you get beyond the NE corridor. Still, with what it has, it does fairly well.

more than 2 years ago
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Gene Therapy Approach 'Completely' Protects Mice From HIV Infection

PSandusky Re:Turning off Gene Therapy? (190 comments)

Someone who is more into biotech could probably do better than I could with this, but here goes...

1) You could. The problem is that the person wouldn't necessarily have been previously exposed to the antibody that would cause the reaction. Sensitization is a lot more likely once your body's been in contact with the stuff for a while. If someone had some sensitivity to the antibodies[1] before gene therapy even began, it's entirely possible that they've got bigger problems in front of them than getting vaccinated against HIV, and I have to ask why they're in this trial/program. (The sensitivity also could've cropped up a lot earlier than this procedure in such a case, to boot.)

2) Not necessarily a good idea at this stage of research and understanding. If gene therapy consists of pasting a gene somewhere into a chromosome, you've got to define (as best you can) where you're going to do the pasting, just so you can get your material (of variable length, depending on what you're trying to do) incorporated. Wherever it ends up and however you can narrow that down, you hope it works. Going in and messing with all of that to get rid of or change what you did in the first place is a little bit like blindfolding someone, spinning them three times, then holding them over a patient to make a surgical incision, leaving them blindfolded, spinning them three times again, and expecting them to both find and suture the original incision. Granted, there are markers and other means of identifying where genes are, but I don't think we're near the point that "turn off the original gene therapy" is considered any better than something way, way easier said than done.

[1] Antibodies are generally like screwdrivers with interchangeable bits. The handle and shaft don't change much, so a sensitivity to them seems very unlikely. As for the bits themselves? Hard to say. I don't know enough immunology to say one way or the other, but I'd think that the antibody itself wouldn't tend to be treated like an antigen. Of course, it probably depends quite a bit on the antibody in question.

about 2 years ago
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Stanford's Open Source Human Motion Software

PSandusky Old news (15 comments)

OpenSim's been around for years. Slow news day, Slashdot?

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Successful Software From Academia?

PSandusky Depends on who you ask... (314 comments)

Frequently the software doesn't start in a given academic lab, so much as it starts somewhere in a given research community and propagates to the academic labs as research needs dictate. ImageJ, for example, started at NIH, but now it's available to all and in use all over the place (including my lab).

Other software is developed cooperatively, and then academic contributions are added as they're needed to enable someone's research. If you run R (the statistical program) and start looking through all the extensions available in CRAN, you'll see tons of additions that have been generated in academic labs and released for use by the wider research community.

I work in biomechanics, and I've seen a few programs come out in that field through largely academic development. AnimatLab began (I think) at Georgia Tech, and I think Cofer et al. are still developing it within the university. OpenSim started at Stanford as an open source musculoskeletal simulation program, and is vastly preferable to the godawfully expensive SIMM, which does pretty much the same kinds of things. OpenSim is still alive and well at Stanford, although the developer network spans multiple institutions, academic and otherwise.

Much as I might wish that I could spend more of my time developing programs and playing with software within the academic sandbox, more often it's simply more practical to cast the nets for software from someone, somewhere doing somehow similar research, and then using the software you find if it's useful to your work, rather than reinventing the wheel in favor of advancing academic software development.

more than 2 years ago
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Rite Aid Drug Stores Offer Virtual Doc Visits

PSandusky Re:Cash before health (138 comments)

I wouldn't call PA school "graduate-school education." I'd call it a post-bac program, but let's not call it graduate school. I hear that from enough starry-eyed undergrads that think all programs (PA, MD, MS, PhD) programs are the same, so they should be able to bide their time in one (MS, PhD) while they wait for an acceptance from another (MD, PA).

more than 2 years ago
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Rite Aid Drug Stores Offer Virtual Doc Visits

PSandusky Re:healthcare's a rip-off (138 comments)

>

Health care is cheap; health care regulation is expensive crony capitalism.

Um... no. At least, not necessarily.

I worked for a blood bank for several years, and because blood banks by definition supply both pharmacologics (plasma fractions, IIRC) and biologics (practically everything else), they are subject to FDA regulation as defined in the CFR for those types of agents. My particular blood bank was under a consent decree with FDA for failing to follow those regulations in whole and/or in part, and that failure to follow can have real consequences for the patient -- accidental infections with things like CMV become a whole lot easier when your controls over CMV status labeling are lax, for example. In that case, an otherwise healthy adult might just get flu symptoms. In someone who is ill (or someone who is not yet an adult, or even an adolescent), which a recipient would generally be, the consequences can be significantly more dire.

Why does that matter?

It's truly amazing just how many corners blood banks like mine were willing to cut in the name of building product numbers, because ultimately, they're really just manufacturers pushing a product for maximum profit -- sure, any time we'd send letters to anyone we'd play up the non-profit jag and ask them to use their own stamps on the SAE we'd send them for their reply, but all management really ever cared about was pumping up profits. If the regulations weren't in place to cover things like labeling, it's a fair bet the manufacturers wouldn't bother to enact those policies on their own. If they're not held to a given standard, they won't expend the money to maintain that standard. Labelers, training, equipment, testing supplies, testing contracts, and other related recurring expenses are exactly the type of expenses management doesn't want to incur. Patient health really only matters if it could bring legal ramifications, and if there's no law being violated or regulatory standard in place, it's actually fairly easy for the manufacturers to get off scot-free -- even in a civil trial. Regulatory infractions come up in civil trials all the time.

Blood banks in particular demonstrated this fairly clearly in the early 1980's, when HIV started to show up on the scene. HIV itself wasn't immediately apparent, but a tremendous uptick in Hepatitis B cases was -- and at the time, the technology did indeed exist to test for that virus. Blood banks advised that testing for Hepatitis B was not acceptable... because of cost. Bayesian false positives didn't come into it. Faults with the general theory of testing didn't come into it. Fears of HIV infection didn't come into it (at least, at the testing phase). The reason blood banks didn't want to test for HepB was the cost to institute a testing program, and it was FDA's mandate that ultimately got them to start testing and getting the bad blood out of the supply. (It was also FDA's regulation that pegged Abbott Laboratories, I think, with bad HepB testing supplies... here again, without regulation, nothing would've been done, because nothing would've been illegal.)

The expense of regulation isn't a 100% honest deal, because there are always going to be corrupt regulators. At the same time, I would much rather have legitimate regulators working from a pool that includes a few corrupt ones, and dealing with that, than to have the corporate health care industries strictly regulate themselves, because as has been proven numerous times (blood banks, contaminated food cases, contaminated drug cases, improperly tested drug cases, I could go on...), they will do no such thing with that inherent conflict of interest.

more than 2 years ago
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"Wi-Fi Refugees" Shelter in West Virginia Mountains

PSandusky Re:Just what WVa needs, a new variety of crazy (627 comments)

You'd expect a few studies to come out with that result due to chance.

Sure, and particularly on the chance that the experimenter didn't know anything about effect sizes. A study will be considerably better received if the experiment is designed to include enough subjects (and therefore data points) to substantiate the claims in its conclusion. "Chance" resulting from a too low n doesn't cut it.

more than 2 years ago
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School Super Asks Governor To Make His School District a Prison

PSandusky Re:Winston Churchill (505 comments)

Try, "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something which I will not tolerate."

I'm fairly certain ol' Winnie's waiting on your insight with bated breath.

Literally, in fact.

more than 2 years ago
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RIAA Lobbyist Becomes Federal Judge, Rules On File-Sharing Cases

PSandusky Re:Stop shopping with companies that employ the RI (333 comments)

Why sue everyone with an internet connection when you could just surcharge the connection? There are surcharges on blank discs and burners in various places on this planet, so why not start nickeling and diming at the source here?

Eeurgh. I'm not so sure if it's more revolting that it's plausible or that there have been approximations of this already done successfully.

more than 3 years ago
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RIAA Lobbyist Becomes Federal Judge, Rules On File-Sharing Cases

PSandusky Re:the alternative to the revolving door, of cours (333 comments)

That's a false duality. There is no reason that regulators can't listen to the industries they regulate as long as the industries aren't buying them trips, cars, vacations, etc...

In terms of avoiding legal messes of the bribery kind, sure. In terms of objectively judging whether or not an industrial operation should or should not be doing something? Um... no. Industry does not tend to be more ethical with its information than it is with its money.

more than 3 years ago
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Medical Researcher Rediscovers Integration

PSandusky Re:This is actually more impressive than it sounds (473 comments)

Why on earth would you want a doctor to do that, instead of a materials engineer who's actually going to design the implant? The engineer does this every day. The doctor does not.

I want them both to have that knowledge -- the engineer, who's designing to specs based on the literature and on what's feasible for use in the OR, and the doctor, who's going to be installing it and following up to make sure it's working as it should.

At the absolute least, if they're not talking at all to begin with, I don't want that implant.

more than 3 years ago
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Medical Researcher Rediscovers Integration

PSandusky Re:This is actually more impressive than it sounds (473 comments)

The students aren't interested in the derivation anyway, I suppose; why bother giving it to them? For that matter, why bother teaching physics to med students?

I could work up quite a list here, but instead I'll send you to Steve Vogel. Read Prime Mover: a Natural History of Muscle and Vital Circuits. Vogel wrote the latter to describe circulatory systems largely in terms of physics, and he cites his (then) recent heart surgery as a guiding animus.

The truth is, physics counts. Yes, there are idiot doctors out there who got by with memorizing all kinds of stuff and who, by extension, can handle the overwhelming majority of "simple" complaints. For my money, I want a doctor who has had some education to let him think beyond Gray's Anatomy and the PDR if and when I present with something outside of that overwhelming majority. If it's a biomechanical problem, that doc had damn well better have had physics.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Lower Marion Report: IT Did It, but Didn't Inhale

PSandusky PSandusky writes  |  more than 4 years ago

PSandusky writes "A report issued by the Lower Marion School District's chosen law firm blames the district's IT department for the laptop webcam spying scandal. In particular, the report mentions lax IT policies and recordkeeping as major problems that enabled the spying. Despite thousands of e-mails and images to the contrary, the report also maintains that no proof exists that anyone in IT viewed images captured by the webcams."
Link to Original Source
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NASA space habitat research goes undersea

PSandusky PSandusky writes  |  more than 4 years ago

PSandusky writes "NASA is preparing to make use of Aquarius, the underwater laboratory off Key Largo, for an extended period of time to research the effects of isolation in habitats situated in extreme environments. Planned areas of research include extravehicular activity logistics and crew health and performance. According to NASA's factsheet, the mission will include some communication with schools and social media sites. (Found via Ars Technica's Twitter feed.)"
Link to Original Source

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