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Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

alvinrod Re:The WHO (377 comments)

I think the problem comes from medical professionals only or almost always dealing with the people who are having terrible health problems. If the only time you see older people is when they're in pain or suffering from horrible illness, you wouldn't want to be old either. I suspect that as many of them actually age they find that they still enjoy life and that when they retire they're able to spend time with their families and grandkids and that being old isn't a constant state of suffering or misery. However, medical professionals are only exposed to the worst of old age, so it's hardly surprising that they have such a negative outlook.

It's easy to sit back from my position and say that, but I would imagine that my opinions would change if the vast majority of my day were spent being confronted with what happens to people who don't take care of their bodies or experiencing other illnesses that aren't currently preventable. If nothing else, one would think that this would motivate medical professionals to take good care of their health, so they can avoid finding themselves in that position.

8 hours ago

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

alvinrod Re:Science is... (626 comments)

Supply me definitions for what it means for something to be a rock band, by what criteria one might rate a rock band, and how much of history you'd like to cover and an answer can be given.

You can still apply the scientific method to such a problem, it's just that at some point a particular critic might die or someone else might disagree with the rating system, etc. which can make the result difficult to reproduce.

If you went with something as simple as album sales and whether or not Wikipedia listed a band as being a "rock band", then you could get an answer. However, you or anyone else might well say that record sales are a terrible metric to evaluate who is the best and find the answer to be nonsense. However if your method is equally reproducible it's still scientific in that someone else can apply your criteria and arrive at the same result.

Even asking random people on the street is still a form of observation, though not one that is exactly repeatable. Not every piece of knowledge requires the same amount of rigor to obtain. As long as people are aware of the methodology, they will be able to take it into consideration when commenting on that particular bit of knowledge.

So if you were to posit the question to me, I would answer Led Zeppelin, but that's based on my own subjective methodology and not some form of objective measurement that is precisely defined. However, if you asked me again tomorrow, you'd still get the same response so if you were to claim that your basis for determining who was the best rock band in history was to ask me, anyone else could repeat your experiment and get the same result.

There's also some debate as to whether that counts as knowledge at all or if it's merely a fact, opinion, or something else entirely outside of that realm.

12 hours ago

Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

alvinrod Re:iPad 3 (484 comments)

Glad to hear. I've been holding off on updating to see if there were any serious performance issues. However, I wish someone would release a comprehensive benchmark list for some of the older devices just so I can have a better idea of how much of an impact it will have on performance. Ideally I'd like to think it might improve a little, only if because iOS 7 felt rather rushed and they've likely been able to tune some of the code.


An Open Source Pitfall? Mozilla Labs Closed, Quietly

alvinrod Re:what is this even talking about? (111 comments)

By contrast, if you wanted to resurrect, say, WinCE? Well, good luck with that.

Which just goes to show that sometimes closed-source is truly for the best.

4 days ago

Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

alvinrod Re:What good is aid going to do (221 comments)

Worse is that it makes the rational move from the perspective of the non-ignorant to either quarantine the entire country and let the disease run its course or to take other measures to cauterize it if the risk of it spilling outside of a quarantined area seems highly probable.

It might come down to putting the entire region on lock-down and shooting anyone who tries to leave.

5 days ago

Obama Presses Leaders To Speed Ebola Response

alvinrod Re:What good is aid going to do (221 comments)

Actually there is an airborne strain of ebola. Fortunately it's not one that is infectious in humans, but given enough time some strain of ebola could mutate to be both airborne and capable of infecting humans.

More likely is that we'll get something that's less deadly, but more easily spread as one of the major containment factors for ebola is that it kills too many of the infected. Something that's only 30% fatal, but spreads more easily would probably kill off as many people percentage-wise as the Black Death or Spanish Flu.

5 days ago

Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

alvinrod Re:I realize Tim Cook is now the face of Apple (191 comments)

If you wouldn't believe Tim Cook, why would you believe anyone else from Apple? They might be able to provide a better technical description of precisely why Apple can't access your information, but does that really matter as to whether or not what they're claiming is true?

about a week ago

Schizophrenia Is Not a Single Disease

alvinrod Re:DNA? (222 comments)

That's one way to look at it. Another is that we'll strive to develop the techniques and technology that can be used to correct this problem through medical intervention. That ability would go a long way towards being able to cure several other hereditary diseases as well. Perhaps being able to meddle with our own genetics will end even more poorly, but we'll likely learn something along the way.

about a week ago

Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

alvinrod Re:That almost smells like... (85 comments)

You would think that with all the noise they made about their fingerprint reader that they would have an optional two-factor authentication method that uses in in addition to a password. Sure, someone could still get around that too more likely than not, but it makes it hell of a lot more difficult than just attacking a password or being able to guess it.

about two weeks ago

Moto 360 Reviews Arrive

alvinrod Re:Battery life seems to be a killer (87 comments)

That's not a problem if you're at home every night but if you're on vacation or travel a lot, having to lug the charging station around with you is just one more damned thing to carry around. That creates enough inconvenience for some that they won't want to bother, because if you forget just once, you have a useless hunk of metal strapped to your wrist or have to leave it somewhere to charge when it should be with you.

about two weeks ago

SpaceX Challenges Blue Origin Patents Over Sea-Landing Rocket Tech

alvinrod Re:Would it really be worse without patents? (75 comments)

Probably not, but the typical counter argument is that if there's no protections at all the little guys can be immediately squashed by the existing industry titans who can use their existing infrastructure advantages to crush any new-comers who lack any legal protection for their inventions.

Of course the counter-counter argument is that the patent laws are so bad that this is happening anyway because trolls can threaten anyone with millions of dollars in legal expenses over a patent that's not terribly good (or possibly even relevant to the case at all) which ends up crushing the new-comers anyways.

There's probably a happy middle-ground, but most people are too firmly in one camp or another to ever try to compromise and the government in general cares so little about the issue that they won't bother to develop a fix, and even if there's a perfectly good system that someone conceives and then proves (by some rigorous method) to be an ideal solution, there will still be someone who complains because the current system suits them better and they can probably buy a Congress critter or three, so good luck there.

However, the unwritten rule seems to be that the litigation will drag on for so long, that you may as well just knowingly infringe, even if it's a perfectly good and reasonable patent, simply because the opportunity to gain industry position and reach the point where you can throw your own weight around is worth far more than the actual costs your company will actually incur once the legal dust settles. For example, Apple and Samsung are still fighting over phones that have in some cases been off the market for years at this point and it could be several years before each side has exhausted all of their appeals, countersuits, motions to complain (or whatever the actual legal term might be), etc.

about three weeks ago

No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

alvinrod Thanks (122 comments)

Thanks for actually looking into this. Reporting in general seems (or perhaps it's always been this way, but I just wasn't as aware of it.) to have gotten a lot more lazy recently, especially with the explosion of news blogs and other internet only news sources. There's such a rush to be the first to break a story and get the massive number of clicks and associated ad revenue that reporters have lost focus on digging deep and getting to the bottom of a story. After that everyone just links to the original without bothering to verify the information and the facts gets buried under a combination of half-truths and/or agenda-driven opinion.

about three weeks ago

Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

alvinrod Re:What? (708 comments)

That's to be expected, but it doesn't account for the fact that we're digging up or tapping into massive reserves of scrubbers from millions of years ago and burning them as fuel. The reason we can support an increase in plant growth is that we've added a lot of food for them into the atmosphere. Even though we have more plants, and therefore are capable of absorbing more CO2, it's not compensating for the amount that we're releasing. If we took some amount of the plants we were growing and buried them underground to prevent the carbon from being recycled into the atmosphere at some point, it would eventually balance out, but we're not doing that, so we'll still have a growing amount of CO2.

about a month ago

Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

alvinrod Re:How long until every stream links to Amazon? (61 comments)

That's one angle, but rather unlikely considering how a lot of the games are set up. The most popular games are typically free to play with micro-transactions, which cuts Amazon out of the loop.

One of the controversies surrounding the YouTube acquisition was that recordings that contained copyright music would be muted, which pissed off everyone since most of the people who stream do so while playing music. If Amazon were smart they would find some way to identify the music and display links to purchase it from their online music store.

The other big angle is that Amazon now has a platform to sell ads on and compete against the likes of Google and Facebook. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the ads start containing links to buy the product off of Amazon. Amazon can also look to tie in the data that they have about you to serve more targeted ads.

There are probably plenty of other business opportunities for them to explore, but focusing on game sales seems to pale in comparison to the other opportunities that they have.

about a month ago

The Evolution of Diet

alvinrod Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

It's also really good cardio as well. It's basically like weight lifting for your heart.

You might be interested in this /. article posted a while ago that lends a lot of credence to what you're saying. Don't just work out hard. Work out smart.

about a month ago

The Evolution of Diet

alvinrod Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

While that's definitely important, it's not important when you have someone who's eating close to 5,000 calories per day while being largely sedentary. The sheer amount of consumption minimizes the effects of what they're eating. For a lot of people who are seriously obese, an extra ~150 calories will barely put a dent in their intake.

about a month ago

New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

alvinrod Re:The world we live in. (595 comments)

Perhaps they could develop a type that goes on clear and only changes color if it reacts to a substance.

about a month ago

ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

alvinrod Re:why can the world (329 comments)

We don't have to care, but much like any other observable phenomenon it piques our curiosity. Perhaps knowing the reasoning behind the result will not be something that we can change, but at least we'll know. It's probably not as important as knowing how to cure cancer or solving a myriad of other problems facing the world, but it's still something to learn and more likely than not an interesting question for someone who's willing to search for an answer.

about a month ago

It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

alvinrod Re:They always told me I was so smart... (243 comments)

To some degree there's a difference between ability and capability. If you absolutely needed to learn how to be an excellent cook, would you have the capacity to do so? Being a good cook takes work, much like anything else, and I believe it extends beyond simply being able to follow a recipe that perhaps only a genuine passion for cooking can engender. However there are a lot of people who struggle to program and often it goes beyond coding ability and has more to do with fundamental problem solving skills.

Another aspect of your feelings may be related to knowing enough to know your limitations. At least for me personally, the more I've learned, the more I've realized that there's so much more to learn and that all of it comes with an opportunity cost. Sure, I could learn how to repair my own car and fix any of the problems it might have, but I'd much rather just know enough to take care of the basics and leave the rest to someone else who's more interested in that line of work while I stick to computers. Meanwhile both my mechanic and I are enabling someone else who's really interested in curing cancer to devout more of their time to those pursuits.

In the modern world it doesn't really matter if you're terrible at 99% of things if that 1% of things that your good at is valuable to everyone else. Most people are smart in some regard and likely choose to specialize in it. Sure there might be people who are more capable than others in terms of acquiring degrees of proficiency in arbitrary areas, but more than likely they'll end up specializing in a particular field and have a few hobbies on the side. If you can add value, does it really matter what percentiles you fall into?

about a month ago

Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

alvinrod Re:What is it good for? (36 comments)

I think it might help. There are a lot of people who end up with a broken screen, the battery going bad, or some other single-component issue that invariably end up getting a new phone simply because they can get a new phone with a contract extension. Being able to easily replace any of those single components easily, and I mean easily for the kind of people who are afraid to use a screwdriver and follow a simple guide online, is a big deal. Even when something doesn't break, a lot of times over half of the components in the phone are still perfectly fine for a user. Perhaps they're satisfied with the screen and CPU, but want a better camera and more storage.

I don't think this is going to be a popular platform with the carriers, simply because it does allow the option of continual incremental upgrades based on what the user needs rather than buying a subsidized device attached to an expensive contract.

It also evokes the idea of the ship of Theseus. If it takes 5 years for a person to replace every module or component of their phone that they originally started with at what point did they get a a new phone? If the cost of doing that is less than the typical 24-month subsidized upgrade cycle that the major carriers offer, I can see this finding at least a market niche where it will thrive.

about a month ago


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