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9/11 Made Us Safer, Says Bruce Schneier

Wilson_6500 One step further (280 comments)

I'm not aware of any successful major terrorist attack after 9/11

I don't know if I'm even aware of a major (publicized) terrorist attack attempt post 9-11 that COULD have been successful. We had a guy with a binary explosive in his shoes, the Christmas fellow, that group of fellows on the east coast (I want to say) a few years back that the media tried to play up as a threat, and then the Times Square fellow who didn't know what he was doing at all despite being trained.

more than 4 years ago
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Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens's Impact On IP Law

Wilson_6500 Re:One man's game (106 comments)

The senate is not likely to vote against such a judge based on those criteria at all. Let's face it: a nominee's ideas on IP law are going to be the last worries during confirmation proceedings. It's "degree of judicial activism" on the right. I don't know what it is on the left. Haven't heard the buzzwords from that side just yet.

more than 4 years ago
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Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome

Wilson_6500 No one appreciates what happened here. (558 comments)

Does nobody else realize that the clerk attempted to scan the poor child? Didn't you people see the movie? I know that I would probably be scarred for life if someone tried to explode my head.

Wait. A BARCODE scanner?

more than 4 years ago
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"Phone In One Hand, Ticket In the Other"

Wilson_6500 Re:Hasn't worked in the UK (419 comments)

That shouldn't be a surprise, despite what people think about police being everywhere. The average cop has a service per person of somewhere between 400:1 to 2200:1, you don't get solid enforcement like that. But anytime there's economic problems the first areas to get cuts are Fire/EMS/Police.

From my experience, the last thing that gets cut is rescue services, right after schools. The first thing that gets cut is the local library, citizen's programs, parks & recreation, etc. Perhaps this is different elsewhere.

more than 4 years ago
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RIAA Confusion In Tenenbaum & Thomas Cases?

Wilson_6500 Re:Settlement (229 comments)

You'd better put that paragraph back when you're done, and hope nobody notices that you stole it.

more than 4 years ago
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Russian Whistleblower Cop Arrested

Wilson_6500 Re:Do not just type. Do something to help him! (199 comments)

Generally, in cases such as these, people are really mean to badmouth the government, and they accidentally sound like they're badmouthing everyday [insert nationality here] citizens.

This is the exact same reason that, in articles about the Chinese and their government, indignant natives post nearly the same kind of posts. We really aren't talking about you, personally. We know the average Chinese, Russian, American, Brit, whatever probably isn't the problem. We are nearly always talking about your government.

more than 4 years ago
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2-D Avatar To Be Pulled From Theaters In China

Wilson_6500 Re:even if Avatar is out of the theaters... (344 comments)

Perhaps the IMAX version is more expensive, thus limiting the movie's message to the people presumably less receptive to it?

more than 4 years ago
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Star Trek Online Open Beta Starts Today

Wilson_6500 Re:No thanks. (309 comments)

Maybe the real problem with modern MMOs is that they either encourage or cultivate a player culture obsessed with maximum statistical performance?

more than 4 years ago
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CT Scan "Reset Error" Gives 206 Patients Radiation Overdose

Wilson_6500 Re:Pretty narrow margin (383 comments)

A factor of 8 is almost a factor of ten, and that's a whole order of magnitude.

There's a pretty big difference between a dose of 1 Sv and 0.1 Sv. Even ten doses of 0.1 Sv and one 1 Sv dose aren't the same thing, depending on how long you wait between the split doses.

Still, even 100 mSv is a lot of radiation for one CT scan. This wasn't really a typical CT. Typical head CT should give more like 1 mSv, I think.

more than 5 years ago
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CT Scan "Reset Error" Gives 206 Patients Radiation Overdose

Wilson_6500 Silver lining (383 comments)

Doctors are woefully unaware or unwilling to admit that CT scans do involve some risk because they very well can give appreciable radiation dose, often far more than that of standard radiography. They are largely viewed as harmless given the excellent volume of anatomical information they provide, and while they do offer immense benefit, it is vital that the radiation hazard be comprehended. I hope that doctors and technologists will take away from this the lesson that they do need to be aware of radiation safety and radiation risk (and some basic medical physics) even if radiation is not their primary specialty. It's not just the health or medical physicist's problem.

more than 5 years ago
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Marge Simpson Poses For Playboy

Wilson_6500 what (413 comments)

what

more than 5 years ago
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Cure For Radiation Sickness Found?

Wilson_6500 Medicine: probably OK; commercial uses, though... (385 comments)

If you already have cancer, then developing another type of it one or two decades down the road is the least of your worries.

However, if the cancer is well controlled by current treatments, this could give someone the idea that they can control it even better. For young patients, this could lead to irresponsible treatments as oncologists try to balance out remission and recurrence/radiologically-induced cancers.

Thankfully, medical doctors are notoriously conservative. I worry about radiation workers (e.g. power plant operators) who might be administered this drug to allow more routine high doses; health physicists do not have a thorough understanding of quantitative risks of inducing cancer. Physics and medicine lack robust models for predicting cancer risk for low and moderate radiation doses--political and commercial pressure to throw a "miracle drug" like this one into this poorly-understood mix could well result in a health disaster.

more than 5 years ago
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Huge Unidentified Organic Blob Floating Around Alaska

Wilson_6500 Re:Grey Goo? (424 comments)

If it's the end of the world, then it's really more of a Grey Goose scenario.

more than 5 years ago
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Why Video Games Are Having a Harder Time With Humor

Wilson_6500 Re:Maybe TF2 for inspiration? (202 comments)

TF2 is a strange case. There's a lot of voice material in the game that you rarely or never hear. If you open the .gcf container files, you can see that--even in the early days of the game--there were a number of taunts recorded that, even now, you never seem to hear. One example off the top of my head is the Sniper's line about "fruit-shop owners". There are some that you hear only very rarely.

The "problem" (if you call it a problem) has gotten worse in recent days since Valve adds more situational jokes--but you only hear them rarely, if ever. For instance, if a spy dominates a scout, he has a few lines that he can say. Problem is, that doesn't happen every day, and the randomness of which line is chosen means that most people may not even hear his "well, time to visit your mother!" jab--which is really very funny if you've watched Meet The Spy. But you might never hear it in-game.

This seems to kinda be an endemic problem with the game at the moment. If the payload cart starts to reverse course, it always seems to be a heavy or sniper or scout that says something about it. Maybe only those classes have those lines recorded, but it seems like the kind of thing that would be an improvement, if they were to record those lines for each class. Then again, voice acting costs money--and Valve is wasting quite a bit of that acting by locking it up behind rare game conditions.

I understand that Valve is trying to keep the humor from wearing thin, and think that it is a worthwhile goal. However, I think they haven't reached a proper balance yet: you get really sick of the Heavy whining about the cart going backwards, and you hardly ever hear the domination lines.

more than 5 years ago
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Best kind of engineering:

Wilson_6500 I'll say optical (491 comments)

Optical devices show up in all kinds of places (bridges, cars, spectrometers, printers, linear accelerators, computer monitors, bombs, storage tanks, communications lines, and so on), and light does all kinds of strange things if you know how to use it. Besides electrical engineers, optics is probably the field with the most stuff-that-you-look-at-it-and-have-absolutely-no-idea-what-it-does. Your average interferometer might look like pieces of glass screwed into a box. Most engineers know what a capacitor or integrated circuit looks like and does, but very few know what a beamsplitter or electro-optic modulator looks like or does.

more than 5 years ago
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Best kind of engineering:

Wilson_6500 Last one (491 comments)

If it doesn't work, it only has a B.S. in Physics

more than 5 years ago
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Windows 7 Users Warned Over Filename Security Risk

Wilson_6500 Always confused by this (613 comments)

I've never understood what was supposed to be more "user friendly" about looking several inches over on the screen to figure out what kind of file you're looking at. It's possible, I suppose, that most people are either still not accustomed to the standard file types--and therefore need the long descriptions over in that column--or just don't mind the clunky design. Then again, I think the default display type for Windows is still "Large Icons," isn't it? With that view, I really don't even know how people keep their unrecognized-type files apart, other than perhaps memorizing their icons and re-learning them whenever they install a new program.

The way a person interacts with a computer (that they'll use for any length of time) is very much an individual preference, possibly as much as the seat and mirror positions in a car. Maybe even more so. One of the first things any of us does when we set up a new system for our own use is to go in and set up the preferences we are used to using, making up the aliases we're accustomed to use, and so on. And then we largely forget about it.

more than 5 years ago
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FDA Could Delay Adult Stem Cell Breakthroughs

Wilson_6500 Fear? (261 comments)

Perhaps scientists are also trying to avoid the negative connotations of the words "animal experimentation" out of fear for having their labs destroyed, houses firebombed, or so on. I don't know if that alone would stop the sort of people who commit those kinds of crimes, but it might just garner public sympathy (or at least stop propagating the negative images of researchers who use animals).

more than 5 years ago
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FDA Could Delay Adult Stem Cell Breakthroughs

Wilson_6500 Laetrile and health care choices (261 comments)

I'd suggest that a more appropriate example would be laetrile, if we're talking about people exporting their health care. People went to Mexico for that one, despite that it is apparently ineffective for treating cancer. Those people paid plenty of money and put their health at (further) risk for something unlikely to provide any benefit. Even undergoing currently accepted chemotherapy regimens is placing one's health at risk--but there is generally expected to be a benefit that outweighs that risk, since we have confidence that our chemotherapy regimens can actually provide that benefit.

Laypeople are not and really can't be expected to be health care experts, in general, and so it's somewhat unreasonable to expect that the average person is sufficiently knowledgeable to solely determine what kind of treatment will be effective for his major illnesses. That is one of the reasons we have medical doctors and researchers, after all. Health and health care have a connection that is so nebulous that it's very difficult to make informed choices without well-organized bodies, ones which do, compile, and disseminate the kind of intensive research necessary to provide the information that enables people to make sound medical choices.

Simply because there is a market for fake cancer cures, for instance, does it then become ethical to let people exploit that market and make money off of the completely natural ignorance of the lay public? However, it'd be hard to stop people from going to Mexico to get these "cures," so I guess perhaps we have to ask ourselves--assuming that we can't dissuade people from wanting these fake cures--if we would rather have them getting them in the States or in Mexico. Honestly, that's a dimension of the problem I hadn't really thought of until I was writing this comment today.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Congress Rebukes NRC for Excessive Secrecy

Wilson_6500 Wilson_6500 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Wilson_6500 (896824) writes "The New York Times reports (registration required) on the NRC's possibly overzealous secrecy regarding an incident at a Nuclear Fuel Services fuel processing facility — a very serious potential criticality incident that resulted in the plant being closed for months. That the incident occurred is one thing; that the public would never have been informed of the incident or the NRC's actions regarding the matter is quite another. The NRC, it is reported, had an agreement with NFS to label all correspondence "Official Use Only." This identifier limits public access to the document so labeled even though this identifier falls below the level of "secret." The period of public comment following the resulting NRC investigation was therefore pointless; only the actions of Congress brought the incident and the NRC's response to public light. The NRC has an unenviable position considering the delicate nature of nuclear security and low public opinion of nuclear power in general, but even Congress seems to think that these measures were somewhat excessive: a letter sent to the NRC by the House Energy and Commerce Committee calls the agency's measures excessive, asserting that many documents were classified needlessly."
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Wilson_6500 Wilson_6500 writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Wilson_6500 (896824) writes "CNN is reporting on a find of radioactive materials at a fairground in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Cesium" and cobalt-57 were apparently among the isotopes found. One sad facet of this story is how disappointing the reporting is regarding the materials. The 57Co is identified as a "radioactive poison," which is fearmongering at best; the cesium isotope isn't identified at all. The 57Co was apparently decayed "in a condition well past its effective radioactive life," which means that it's mostly not 57Co any more. They also make the statement "A Geiger counter registered the presence of radiation..." which is something a GMT will do nearly anywhere because of radioactive background. It's a sad bit of science reporting."

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