Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question
'..Why did you..."
because he's an idiot. And one of the most overrated, over-hyped idiots of the last 20+ years. It's hard to think of anyone who comes to mind even comparable.
Gladwell has a gift to take something that *easily* can be explained in a few pages, and turn it into an entire book, full of the same repetitive idea, chapter after chapter.
How he has become so popular is beyond me. The only thing I can guess is that he deludes people into thinking they are smarter for reading his stuff. I read a couple of his books and immediately saw him for what he was.
And really, why is this even a Slashdot interview?
$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops
" settled Thursday in a move that the woman's attorney speculated would deter future police "retaliation." ... "
But then this:
"...that she was "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."
Seems to imply that if the police had ordered her to stop filming or leave the area, then she could have been arrested had she continued.
So really, doesn't this just mean that Police will now simply order people to stop filming or leave the area in order to end the filming?
With NCLB Waiver, Virginia Sorts Kids' Scores By Race
let me fix this for you:
[edited for clarity]
"Passing should be the same for everyone. How long did we have racial profiling laws that made it impossible for equality to exist? Now, in one move, Virginia wants to completely defeat that. If they are going to profile kids based off their race, do they also seat kids based off their skin color; black kids at the back, Asians at the front so they can answer the question more easily, whites in the middle to be forgotten, with Hispanic students seated where ever? This is the same idea, just a different spin. This entire concept is offensive and unethical."
Good thing you are a black, disabled student. Otherwise you would not pass your writing test in Virginia. Feel free to graduate and move on.
Hackers Steal Keyless BMW In Under 3 Minutes
But those numbers do not appear to be adjusted for inflation, which you have to take into account when making comparisons like you are. In 1990, the median income was around $49,000, in inflation adjusted dollars. In 2010, it was also just a tad under $49,000.
Hackers Steal Keyless BMW In Under 3 Minutes
"Interesting how median household income has increased by about 70% in 20 years..."
Care to share where you read the median household income has increased 70% in the last 20 years? That's so far from correct I have to assume you were simply exaggerating to make a point...
Wil Wheaton's New Show: Tabletop
Have you been here:
Might give you some other ideas for good games that are out there if you're looking to do more of this.
Best of luck,
Kevin Mitnick Answers
While i agree he likely didn't cause "some of the most ammoral and harmful acts in modern computing history", when you say this, "he didn't really damage much of anything" who then is he aplogizing to?
"However, I do regret the effects that my activities had on my family and the companies that were damaged by my actions."
Can a Playground Be Too Safe?
Came across this TED presentation last year:
Definitely an interesting take on this whole issue of child safety regulations. The book (written by the presenter in the video above, Gever Tully) entitled "50 Dangerous Things (You should let your kids do)" is a really nice read.
Man Wants to Donate His Heart Before He Dies
While I certainly understand the sentiment, the issue here is that this person cannot end their own life. They require, are requesting in fact, that someone end their life for them.
So, one could make the argument that someone should be free to do what they want with their body, provided what they do doesn't impinge on the lives of others. On the other hand, no one is obligated to honor this individual's request, simply because this individual wants to exercise control over his own body.
R In a Nutshell
Not having read the O' Reilly book,
I can't draw a comparison between the two, but I have been extremely pleased with "R In Action" by Robert Kabacoff
and it can be found here:
It's a work in progress, in that some 90% of the book is written. Pre-ordering the electronic version gives you the ability to download chapters as they are written, plus a final e-copy (or hard copy if you pay more) when it's completed.
I have a high degree of familiarity with SPSS and SAS, and am learning R to get around the crazy licensing issues of the aforementioned programs. I have been very pleased with Kabacoff's book, as I had *no* familiarity with R before grabbing "R in Action." The publisher/author support a forum where purchasers can identify errors and/or make suggestions for improvements before the book goes to final press.
Not sure if it is competition for "R in a Nutshell" or simply an additional reference, but worth checking out if you want to learn R. It's been very helpful for me.
Anti-Speed Camera Activist Buys Police Department's Web Domain
Having been to Bluff City and the Bristol race for many years now,
I can assure you that during race weekend a car goes anything but fast. The traffic in and out of the track is brutal, starting Friday and going well into Monday. 6+ hours before the race, traffic is already backed up for several miles, in both directions. After the race, it can take several hours to get out of Bluff City and be on your way. There are about 500 police officers (local, county and state) and a squad car about every 500 feet for a good mile in each direction because the pedestrian traffic is so heavy. I've arrived at the track 6 hours prior to the green flag and have parked 2+ miles away and walked, just because the traffic so obnoxious.
These camera's in Bluff City have very little to do with Nascar, and I would imagine speeding tickets on race weekend generate but a tiny fraction of the revenue these cameras otherwise generate.
Wikipedia Offers a Book Creator
I'm not necessarily condoning their business model,
But in two of the first four links from what you posted, there is a direct mention in the "Editorial Reviews" specifically stating that the content is from Wikipedia articles. Of course, the value of this "disclaimer" is predicated on the purchaser seeing that and still making a choice to purchase one of these titles, which may or may not be happening. And it doesn't appear to be there for all titles. But it is there for some.
What Objects To Focus On For School Astronomy?
I totally disagree with this comment,
and +4 informative is way out of whack, even for the slashdot moderation. I live about 10 miles outside of Chicago, just north of the airport. The light pollution is awful. With an 80mm lens (just under 4 inches), I can easily make out the cloud bands of Jupiter, including the red spot. The moons of Jupiter are clearly visible, and are easily distinguishable from background stars (first and foremost, they don't twinkle). The rings of Saturn are clearly visible (even with small binoculars), and will look like a little UFO in the lens. Andromeda and the Pleides are visible to the naked eye as light smudges, but through a 4 inch lens are easily broken down into the major elements making up these DSO's. The whispy structure of the orion nebula is clearly discernible. Again, this is from extremely light polluted skies. In reasonably dark skies, a 4" scope is plenty for amateur observing.
The parent post is hardly informative.
just my .02,
What Objects To Focus On For School Astronomy?
As someone previously mentioned,
"Turn Left at Orion" would be a good resource, because everything in TLaO is viewable through a 4" telescope. Further, there are pencil drawings of what one should see through the scope, which is a much more accurate depiction than what a person sees in magazines such as "Sky and Telescope" and "Astronomy".
I would certainly plan ahead. There are really four categories of targets easily accesible with a 4" scope: (a) moon, (b) planets (really, just Saturn and Jupiter) (c) *some* deep sky objects and (d) the sun. Looking for binary stars, comets, variable stars, and such is just not going to be very fruitful, except in the very best of conditions with a very good instrument. Using general resources on the Web or the Sky and Telescope web site specifically (or the magazine for that matter) can tell you what is even available for your planned evenings and times. It's been awhile since I looked at TLaO, but I think it's broken down by late evening viewing for each season. In other words, what the Eastern sky looks like at 11:00p in winter is very different from what it looks like in summer.
Weather can be your best friend or worst enemy, for obvious reasons. But picking a night of full moon to look at deep sky objects is equally bad. This is why planning ahead of time is so important. You can also set expectations ahead of time of what will be observable, and what it might look like through the lens. Again, the beautiful pictures from Hubble are a far cry from what someone sees in a telescope. So, it can be very easy for a new observer to feel let down if their expectations aren't addressed early.
If you go for some deep sky objects (See the Messier Catalog), make sure you spend a night before hand figuring out how to find these objects on your own and what they look like. You don't want to be fumbling at the telescope trying to the find Orion Nebula while everyone just stares at you, and then not know if you have even found what you're looking for. Same could be true of Saturn and Jupiter, but it's much easier to tell if you've found the right target. The moons of Jupiter, albeit tiny points of light, are always interesting, especially if you observe on consecutive nights. The moon goes without saying. Moon observation is a hobby unto itself.
Observing the sun is really dependent on sun spot activity. If there are sunspots to observe, that's at least something to see. Otherwise, through a plain 4" scope, the sun isn't particularly interesting aside from a bright orb that looks like a balloon (look up Coronado telescopes if you really want to see how amazing the sun can look through a telescope. The pictures you see is what it looks like at the lens).
good luck. hth,
Doctors Baffled, Intrigued By Girl Who Doesn't Age
"Before the movie "50 First Dates", there was a sci-fi short story that posited this, with horrifying consequences."
before the movie and sci-fi story there were (and of course still are) plenty of *real* people with severe anterograde amnesia. One of the more famous cases just died
I worked with a patient who attempted suicide by asphyxiation. They survived with a profound case of anterograde amnesia. You could leave the patient room and return 30 seconds later, and the patient would have no knowledge of you or your meeting 30 secs prior. It took literally 100's of repetitions of exact sameness before any noticeable learning occured. For example, taking them from point A to point B required tracing the exact same route, multiple times per day, for months on end before this person had any sense that they were actually going to destination B and back (though they were never able to go alone).
It *may be* frustrating to the individual, if they have any sense or insight as to their condition. They may get frustrated by the frustrations of those around them. Generally speaking (*very generally speaking*) severely dementing illnesses are as hard, if not harder, on those individuals who are around the demented indivdual.
Side story: My grandmother had a pretty wicked case of Alzheimer's disease. She would call our house 10+ a morning asking is she had a doctor's appointment that day. She knew she had future appointments, just didn't know when and had no ability to remember she had just called and asked us the same question 5 minutes prior :-). So we get the brilliant idea to write down the dates and times of all appointments and post them to her refrigerator. So, then we get the calls every day, "Is it Monday?" LOL. See "Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter":
For a very thoughtful and thoughtprovoking piece on Dementia. Was nominated for an academy award when it came out.
IT and Health Care
it can be done. The VA's system is integrated nationwide. So when a Vet moves from one hospital to another, from one state to another, his electronic medical record travels with him. So technically, it's certainly feasible. I was unaware of the Regenstrief insitute. Thx for the link. For me, the operative paragraph is:
"The Institute receives $2.8 million per year in core support from the Regenstrief Foundation and has an annual budget of approximately $19.5 million generated by Institute investigators, largely derived from federal grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, national philanthropies, Indianapolis healthcare institutions, and other sources."
They have a 20 million dollar operating budget, I suspect largely funded by soft money. Unfortunately, I can't tell what what the "subscription" costs are to the participating hospitals. But i'll bet it's minimal. Now, this is Indianapolis. Imagine the costs/complexities associated with a similar system in Chicago, LA, New York City, etc... The costs and complexities increase geometrically, I can assure you.
I'm not at all disagreeing that it can't be done, because it surely can. But the direct and indirect costs are so high that, until there are financial incentives to do so, you're just not going to see this kind of thing in very many places. Not unless some goverment entity steps in and provides considerable funding to drive an institute like the one you identified.
IT and Health Care
"4. They don't inter-operate. (When I request old records from other physicians with electronic charts, I enter the pertinent data into my electronic chart by typing it in.)
If any skilled group of software engineers were to write a decent, usable EMR that was extensible, and didn't cost an arm and a leg, with an eye to being excellent first and profitable as a consequence, they could be up for a Nobel prize. "
Whenever this topic comes up, the same answer always eventually comes out to address "4", which is of course VA's VISTA/CPRS. Not only is it customizable and extensible, but the program and code are free to anyone who wants it. And I don't see the programmers from the VA winning any Nobels any time soon ;-). Read "The Best Care Anywhere." Even if you disagree with the premise, Longman presents an interesting section on how VISTA, and later CPRS came into being. It's his position that an important (if not primary) reason there is not adoption of electronic medical records in the private sector is because it can actually create a competitive disadvantage.
Massing huge amounts of electronic, easily accessibly medical information on an individual is really only advantageous to the patient, provider and system if the patient remains with the same providers and same health care system, which of course is true for the Veterans treated by VA. Long term, detailed information on a patient is advantageous on the patient level because you can monitor more easily preventive health measures and track health status over time; for the provider it means decision making can be more informed which should improve outcomes; for the system it means better outcomes and presumably more competitive advantage. But here's the rub: patients don't stay with the same providers or same systems. Health care has become so complicated that person's change their care plan, and hence their providers and health care system often. If I'm Blue Cross, I can guarantee you I know exactly what the rollover of the person's in my panel are from year to year. If I'm a hospital administrator, I know exactly how many person's come and go through the plans I have contracts with and how many are seeking care at my facility. As you point out, unless a facility takes a stab at VISTA/CPRS, EMR's can be insanely expensive to develop. And deployment, penetration and compliance within a facility/system is a herculean task requiring a major change in culture to ensure adoption. So, as some sort of health care system administrator, for every patient that moves to another plan and hence gets care from other providers in other hospitals, I have just given my competitors an enormous advantage in their care of this patient. The patient is able to bring them their complete, beautifully printed out and organized medical record to aid their providers in the care of this person.
Now, of course, it also says I would have the same benefit when patients come to my system. The problem is who is going to budge first? And if someone else budges, and I can attract those patients to my system, then maybe I don't have a good incentive to develop an EMR for my facility in the first place. Maybe I should spend more money on a finely landscaped, aesthetically beautiful, modern bed tower? Because, really, the patient is going to leave and go elsewhere eventually. When they change jobs, their health care plans change. When life circumstances change (e.g. they now need a family plan), their health care plan changes. There's a ton reasons person's change health care plans, and very few of them have to do with actually wanting to see a certain person or get care at a specific facility. Without these lifelong relationships between patient, provider and system, it's hard to convince a facility of any size, be it a small practice of primary care providers to large health care systems buying up hospitals, to invest the time and energy in an EMR. And it will remain this way until there are clear financial incentives to do so; or the health care system is totally revamped such that lifelong relationships between patients and providers is again feasible.
Outliers, The Story Of Success
Couldn't it also be the case that there are an infinite number of fortuitous events, and that a person's ability to recognize and capitalize on that event is related to (amongst other things I suppose):
having natural talent
developing that talent through hard work and education
- and/or -
As someone pointed out above, it's not about luck per se, but about maximizing one's chances of being in the right place at the right time. If you operate on the assumption that there are an infinite number of fortuitous events and you have the aforementioned traits, perhaps the chances of encountering a life changing circumstance or event and capitalizing on that circumstance or event is in fact greater than it would be if you lacked the aforementioned traits.
Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star
Howard was part of the sirius standard package,
so there was no additional fee. It does appear now that he is not part of this a-la-carte packaging their doing, and if you want Howard, you have to pay for the whole package. As far as how many subscribers can be attributed to Howard, of course that's hard to say. What is true is that Sirius had some 600,000 subscribers when they signed Howard, with very negligible growth in new subscribers. Also, their deal with Howard pre-dated their deal with car manufacturers, so the rise in new subscribers after having essentially flatlined for 2 some years is basically attributed to Howard, at least for a couple years after signing that deal. The subscription count doubled, if i recall correctly from about 600,000 before they inked howard, to about 1.2 million when he actually went live. And that number doubled again a year after Stern went live. So, they essentially quadrupled their paid subscribers from the day they announced the Stern deal to approximately one year after he went on the air. Again, I understand that you can't necessarily attribute all that growth to Stern, but it's certainly more than coincidence. Finally, the estimates from '05 were that 20% of dedicated listeners would migrate to Sirius to hear Stern. Again, how many listeners he had in '04 is hard to say. But google around and you'll see estimates ranging from around 12 million to 20 million. Taking a very conservative figure of 10 million listeners, and only 20% of those listeners moving to Sirius, that's still 2 million listeners attributed to him alone.
My conerns with the deal were (a) that Stern's fan base has essentially flattened. And whatever percentage of his followers that were going to follow him to Sirius have already done so. Therefore, Sirius/XM can't expect any more growth from him. That ship has sailed. And the second was (b) when Stern cashed in an early set of options and took close to half that contract up front, rather than wait and watch the stock rise in price. That told me right there he had perhaps less confidence in the product than he could talk about on the air.
Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star
Stern easily brought somewhere between 1,000,000+ to upwards of 6,000,000+ listeners over to Sirius depending on who you read and listen to. I think the 1,000,000 is an extremely conservative estimate, but even a million subscribers at $12.95 per month (for one radio mind you. Many folks, myself included, have multiple subscriptions) works out to over 150 million a year, which certainly covers the cost of his contract. And that's assuming only 1 million new subscribers. Sirius accumulated over 1,000,000 new subscribers from the time they announced the Stern deal to the time he went on the air (or very close to it). And this was before they were sticking free radios/subscriptions in cars. There was an article in Fortune or Forbes not long after the agreement was made public that spelled out the same kind of math.
I'm not saying it wasn't an absurd contract or absurd amount of money. Of course it was. But Sirius was in the outhouse before they hired Stern. They were getting absolutely slaughtered by XM (some 10x the amount of subscribers as compared to Sirius). Now Sirius owns XM. Stern's listeners paid for his contract, and then some. However, it was such an absurd amount to offer that Sirius didn't quite reach the financial reward they could have had they not given Stern so much.
Two years ago, Sirius would have just refinanced the debt and continued to build its revenue stream. However, there is no money to borrow now, and they are in a world of hurt as a result.