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"Advanced Life Support" Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths

SoftwareArtist Re:Training? (111 comments)

I remember a doctor telling me the same thing years ago. He said that EMTs are trained to do a fixed list of things, but aren't sufficiently trained to determine which ones will be beneficial for a given patient. Therefore, they always do all of them, whether they're needed or not. This is good for the ambulance companies, since they can charge the maximum amount for every call. It's bad for patients, because it then takes much longer to get to a hospital. In a minority of patients, one of those things on that fixed list of interventions will happen to be helpful... though not necessarily helpful enough to make up for the delay in getting to the hospital. In the majority of patients, they have no benefit and just cause delay.

2 days ago
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Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors

SoftwareArtist Not in America! (55 comments)

Every year the works of thousands of authors enter the public domain

No copyright has expired in the US since 1998, and none will expire until at least 2019. I say "at least", because you can be sure there will be lots of lobbying to extend them even further. I hope the rest of the world is enjoying their public domain... while they still have it.

about two weeks ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

SoftwareArtist Re: I'm sick of this thread and sick of all of yo (330 comments)

No. You just said several things that are simply false. Please let me clarify them.

First, you seem to have the idea that experiments like this are expensive to perform. They aren't. I used to work in an MRI research lab. The cost of doing a scan is close to zero. Buying the machine in the first place is expensive, but since my lab was in a hospital, they already had that. The hospital used it for patients during the day, and then left it idle most of the night. That's when the graduate students ran their experiments. The cost of doing this study is whatever you have to pay some undergraduates to come in the middle of the night and get their brains scanned: not very much.

Second, this study was not a fishing expedition. It's the latest in a growing body of literature on the subject. They included various types of "disgusting" images because previous studies had shown (based on skin response and the like) that conservatives have a stronger response to them than liberals do. They included threat images for the same reason: previous studies have shown that conservatives have a stronger startle reflex than liberals. They were a bit surprised when they didn't find anything for those images, and they include commentary speculating on why they didn't. There is no previous evidence that conservatives and liberals respond differently to pleasant images, so they would have been surprised if anything had shown up there. And it would have been very surprising if they'd found any difference for neutral images, making those a good negative control.

Third, as a neuroscientist you're well aware that we know more about the brain than just the sensory and motor parts. That doesn't mean we have detailed circuits, but we do know, for example, that particular regions are involved in emotion, memory, higher cognitive tasks, etc. Maybe those parts aren't what you are personally interested in, but that doesn't make them invalid subjects to study.

about three weeks ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

SoftwareArtist Re: I'm sick of this thread and sick of all of yo (330 comments)

How about you? What were you going to add?

I was going to add (and did add) the suggestion that you read the paper so you could post informed opinions rather than uninformed ones. (It amazes me how often my signature quote turns out to be exactly relevant.) And that led you to do it, so I totally count it as a positive contribution to the discussion!

I do, however, think you're being overly harsh toward this paper. They crossvalidated their results, and also included negative controls in the study. If their statistics were really as badly done as you claim, they would have found just as strong predictors based on the pleasant and neutral images. But they didn't.

about three weeks ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

SoftwareArtist Re:Conservatives don't accept that Humans are anim (330 comments)

My take on this as a US liberal, is that this might be indicative of a conservative having an aversion to being reminded of how humans are little more than animals.

I'm not at all surprised that, as a liberal, you would interpret it that way. Even though there's nothing in the study that actually supports that interpretation. A conservative, of course, would almost certainly not interpret it that way. The liberal and the conservative are both being equally emotional and non-rational in their reasoning.

Think carefully about what you just did. You first decided (based primarily on emotion) what conclusion you wanted to reach, then interpreted the data as supporting that conclusion. You did that (as everyone does, many times a day) despite the fact that it required wild extrapolations, and there are tons of other interpretations equally consistent with the data. This is exactly the sort of thing this article is talking about. Humans are not rational. We make decisions based on emotion, then rationalize them to convince ourselves they were actually based on logic. If you are human, then you are not rational. If you believe you are, that's just an example of one of your irrational beliefs.

about three weeks ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

SoftwareArtist Re: I'm sick of this thread and sick of all of you (330 comments)

Unfortunately this is most likely sensationalist BS, not interesting science. I haven't read the paper.

So maybe you should read the paper? Then you'll know. Instead you just posted lots of totally uninformed speculation about what they "probably did" while presenting this as some sort of authoritative view. In just a few minutes you could have skimmed the paper (it's not very long and quite clearly written), then posted a useful commentary that would actually add to the conversation.

about three weeks ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

SoftwareArtist Apple designs for yesterday (370 comments)

Example: a few releases ago they made scrollbars thinner (making them harder to click), and also made them disappear by default. All this to "free up the space" that was being "wasted" by scrollbars. Now in Yosemite they're getting rid of window title bars in many apps, making it harder to move windows around. This is for the same reason: to free up space being used by title bars.

My computer has a 24" screen. The space taken up by scrollbars and window titles is completely insignificant. The inconvenience caused by not having them is very significant. This is a design decision that might have been justifiable 15 years ago when a 17" monitor was considered large, but today is completely absurd.

about a month ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

SoftwareArtist What did they actually do? (571 comments)

From the article: "In a statement, the company, the Pentagon's largest supplier, said it would build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year, and build a prototype in five years." So if they haven't even built a reactor yet, much less tested it to see if it really works, what exactly is the amazing breakthrough they're claiming?

about a month and a half ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

SoftwareArtist Re:Energy != standard of living (652 comments)

Alaska is much colder, but it's one of the states with lowest energy use. So is Maine. Conversely the second worst state by energy use is Kentucky, which has very mild winters. The list of states with the highest energy use includes both North Dakota (bitterly cold) and Louisiana (nearly tropical). But the one state that is truly tropical--Hawaii--has the second lowest energy use.

Energy use has far more to do with public policy than weather.

about a month and a half ago
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Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

SoftwareArtist Energy != standard of living (652 comments)

This is a standard fallacy, that there's a direct correspondence between energy use and standard of living. Take a look at the actual numbers for what a "circa-2010 American standard of living" actually means for energy:

http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/el...

The average person in Wyoming used more than four times as much energy as the average person in California. Do you think that means their standard of living was four times as high? And no, it's not just that Wyoming is a large rural state. California has huge rural areas too. And Washington DC consists entirely of one city, but its per-capita energy use was nearly three times higher than California's.

What this actually means is that California has taken energy conservation seriously for decades, and has had government policies designed to promote energy efficiency. And those policies have worked, really really well. An "American standard of living" does not require ridiculously high energy use.

about 2 months ago
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Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

SoftwareArtist The general issue is decentralization & resile (549 comments)

Exactly. Building any kind of colony in space will probably be easier and less expensive than building it on Mars. If nothing else, it will be a lot easier to send the initial manufacturing equipment there, since it will be a lot closer to Earth. And once it's built it will have lots of advantages: closer to Earth, no gravity well making it hard to come and go, closer to the sun (hence much greater supply of solar energy), and you get to live in normal Earth gravity (from rotating the colony to create artificial gravity) rather than the 38% Earth gravity you get on Mars. We don't even know if humans *can* be healthy living long term in such low gravity.

Way back in 1975, NASA estimated the total cost of building a space colony large enough to permanently house 10,000 people at $190 billion. And that was relying entirely on 1975 technology. This is totally something we could do, if we really wanted to.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps?

SoftwareArtist Re:Audible (167 comments)

Agreed. The key is to find good readers, and then listen to their solo projects. The best readers are just as good as most professional recordings.

about 3 months ago
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Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

SoftwareArtist Re:Public cynicism about fusion (147 comments)

There's enough deuterium to last 100,000 years, but we'll go through it all in 1000 years anyway. Never underestimate the ability of humans to be wasteful when they don't have an incentive to be efficient.

Fortunately, solar doesn't have that problem. It gets delivered to us at a nice steady rate, and that isn't going to change much for many millions of years.

about 3 months ago
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Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

SoftwareArtist Re:Public cynicism about fusion (147 comments)

It took somewhere between 1500 and 1700 years from the time the first steam engine (aeolipile) showed up until it was practically applied.

That's not what I mean. That was the time between when someone came up with a cute toy and when someone starting trying to do something useful with it. I'm talking about how long we've had an active fusion energy program spending large amounts of money every year to try to create something practical. When they started out, they thought they could have something in ten years. Ten years after that, they thought they could have something working in ten years. Ten years after that, they STILL thought it was about ten years away. Sixty some years and billions of dollars later, even the optimists are saying it's 20 years away.

Besides, you demonstrated my point exactly. Centuries before anyone tried to develop a steam engine into a useful device, they already had a working proof of concept.

One other thing to keep in mind is that fusion, if we can find a way to make it work, could potentially outshine every other technological achievement in human history up to this point because of the possible applications.

Why do you think that? What's so amazing about fusion that makes it so much better than every other technological achievement in history? Sure, it would solve all our energy problems for about a thousand years, at which point we would have burned through most of the available fuel because, having no incentive for efficiency, we would have wasted most of it. (Yes, I'm cynical about humanity.) But solar energy is equally capable of solving all our energy problems. And unlike fusion, it's a real technology that actually works today.

about 3 months ago
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Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

SoftwareArtist Re:Public cynicism about fusion (147 comments)

Isn't that true of pretty much every technology that's still in the development stage?

No, I don't think it is. Pretty much every technology that has gone on to be successful has started from a simple, working proof of concept and then scaled up from there. That covers everything from the steam engine to the telephone to nuclear energy to the microprocessor. Contrast that with fusion energy: 60-odd years of work, many billions of dollars spent, and we still don't have a minimal working proof of concept.* That's pretty depressing. Can you name any other technology that started out as badly yet went on to become successful? I can't think of one.

Given the history, I think extreme skepticism is the only rational response.

* By a "minimal working proof of concept", I mean a controlled fusion reactor (not a bomb) that produces more energy than it takes to run the reactor (and hence actually functions as a power source).

about 3 months ago
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FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

SoftwareArtist Bad summary but cool project (133 comments)

Don't be put off by the clueless submitter. This is actually a really cool project that goes way beyond existing types of automation. This quote, for example, gives a sense of the kinds of things they're trying to enable:

The tremendous potential that FarmBot creates, allows for many new methods of farming, including the ability to create “polycrops” which mix and match different crops, unlike methods seen on typical farms.... Traditionally this has been impossible, as each different plant species requires different care techniques. For example, some crops require more water than others, while some crops require water at their stalk, rather than at their base. Some plants require more or different types of fertilizers than others. FarmBot’s software makes this process extremely simple, as each plant can virtually be programmed for their individual needs.

about 3 months ago
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T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P

SoftwareArtist Re:Uh? (147 comments)

On a similar note, I don't know that T-Mobile's music streaming policy is terribly unfair, since they're whitelisting all the major streaming music providers. If they made Pandora free while Slacker had to pay, that's not 'net neutral'. Since everyone who streams audio is included, it's a blurry area for net neutrality.

Here's one they don't include: totallyweirdsounds.com (all Tuvan throat singing, all the time!) Never heard of it? Of course not, I just made it up. But suppose I wanted to start that site. Millions of T-Mobile users would say, "If I use your service, it'll eat through my data cap, but if I get my Tuvan throat singing from Spotify it doesn't." I'd be at a huge disadvantage.

Net neutrality is about providing a level playing field. Not just for established companies, but for everyone. Maybe T-Mobile is doing this with good intentions, but they're creating a barrier to any new music streaming service that comes along. Besides, if they want to raise their customers' data caps (which is effectively what they're doing), why not let customers use that data however they want?

And it's not like they even have all the major services. Google Play Music? Nope. TuneIn? Nope. SoundCloud? Nope. Those, perhaps by coincidence, are precisely the services I stream music from most often.

about 3 months ago
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Auralux Release For Browsers Shows Emscripten Is Reaching Indie Devs

SoftwareArtist Just because you can do something (44 comments)

Congratulations, you're being a troll. They managed to take their existing app written for a completely different platform, and port it to the web in a way that runs flawlessly on my four year old laptop. Without having to rewrite the whole thing by hand in Javascript. I'd call that a big win, and a really cool achievement.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

SoftwareArtist Re:Computer Science (637 comments)

Exactly! Computer Science != Software Engineering. Yes, a software engineer needs a solid knowledge of computer science, just as an electrical engineer needs a solid knowledge of physics. But a degree in CS doesn't prepare you to be a software engineer any more than a degree in physics prepares you to be an electrical engineer.

In my experience, people who get to college and decide, "Computer science seems like a good career, so I guess I'll major in that," tend to become bad programmers. People who major in CS because they love computers and have been programming for fun since they were 12 tend to become good programmers. They're motivated to learn on their own all the things their CS classes don't cover, and likely have already learned a lot of them before they even get to college.

There are some schools that actually offer degrees in Software Engineering. But I don't think I've ever known someone with one of those degrees, so I don't know whether they do a better job of training good programmers.

about 4 months ago
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The Social Laboratory

SoftwareArtist Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (79 comments)

Everyone I've known from Singapore has been very clear about this: they did not "consciously choose" to surrender civil liberties. They were never given any choice in the matter. They were very unhappy about the lack of civil liberties there and wanted it to change.

Perhaps the people I've known were not representative of Singapore in general. But even so, it's manifestly absurd to claim they consciously chose something they have never been given any choice about and have no power to change.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Petition to Reduce the Term of Copyrights

SoftwareArtist SoftwareArtist writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SoftwareArtist (1472499) writes "There's a petition up at whitehouse.gov to restore the term of copyrights back to what they were in 1976: a max of 58 years. We all love to complain about copyright law, so let's do something about it and complain to the people with power to change it. It needs 25,000 signatures by Feb. 20 to be guaranteed a response. For the Slashdot community, that should be easy! One petition won't change the law, but if we don't tell our elected representatives what we think, it will never change."

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