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Comments

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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

gadget junkie Re:diminished placebo effect (408 comments)

But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect? What would maximize the placebo effect? Is using the placebo effect always bad practice?

My father was a village MD, and we talked at lenght about this, so here goes:

1. yes, and that's why the Placebo effect is largely ineffective on the medical professionals;
2.Sadly, increasing price is one of the things that correlates with placebo effects;
3. Emphatically no, but there is not a real need for specific "placebo"medicaments: lots of active principles help lower the symptoms, all the while not doing anything much, and they are mostly cheaper than "alternative" medicine.

P.S.: as to point 2, there is a solution: putting a reasonably big price tag on the box and telling the patient that 90% of it is borne by the insurance, since it's so effective.

about two weeks ago
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Paris Bans Half of All Cars On the Road

gadget junkie Re:Solution: two license plates (405 comments)

Actually, this has been tried in Italy, and it works at 50%

The 50% not working: reducing pollution. statistics in the city where I live showed that the reduction was way below targets. people organized, and most of the people commuting had already organized before, using trains, metro and the like (they were pissed at the limitation nonetheless)

The 50% working: the powers that be decided that it was a huge success, and that it was a matter of scale (i.e., too few days of alternate plates), and anyway it was a symbolic gesture. Even this way, the measure was scrapped here for good two years ago.

about a month ago
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Hubble Witnesses Mysterious Breakup of Asteroid

gadget junkie Re:Aliens (69 comments)

Simple industrial ( mining ) accident. I wonder of they have their own version of OSHA.

Nah, the actual event would be obscured by an insane amount of paperwork.

about a month and a half ago
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Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete?

gadget junkie Re:Not Obsolete At All (365 comments)

Hypersonic missiles are mostly different from conventional, high mach number missiles for their operating height. they are the ultimate bombers or recon planes , not the ultimate missiles, since things like the SSN 22 sunburn are operational now, and can go mach3+ at low altitudes.
remember that in the last phases of the operational life of the SR 71 Blackbird, their payload was a high mach number drone.

about 2 months ago
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France's 'Culture Tax' Could Hit YouTube and Facebook

gadget junkie It's not a tax to promote french content (314 comments)

This is not a tax to promote French content. If anything, over the world youtube has done more to promote local content than any government institution, simply by being there.
BUT, it is a convenient tax to promote government institutions, stuffed with well paid bureaucrats, that as an hobby and with no prospect of return on capital, spend money on politically approved content.
One convenient riposte could be "sure, we'll pay this tax. But let's do it this way. first year, you get the money you want. The year after, promoted content should gross on the open market at least the institution funding. if it does not reach the objective, all salaries will be capped at the median wage. if that's not enough to reach parity with gross sales,wages at the institution would be proportionally cut."

Italy has both government approved TV channels, and a similar institution promoting Italian film productions. This content gets rave reviews, especially by involved parties, and it never produced anything that any foreigner (or Italian, for that matter) would remember. BUT, If I whistle some Sergio Leone soundtrack in Tibet, anyone would recall the film.

about 4 months ago
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Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead

gadget junkie Re:taxed as asset? (245 comments)

Real-estate is already taxed in most places in America. Most European countries also tax cars based on their engine's size.

Same as before:tax authorities do NOT tax the car. they tax the buyer on the transaction, and there's some form of "possession tax". that's not a tax on assets. If it were a tax on the car, a car owned for example by a deceased penniless owner would still pay tax, and above all, it would be economically capable of paying such tax. but it does not: even taxes related on car possession tax the owner, not a car.

Bear in mind that these kind of stamp duties bear no relation of the use of public resources that using a car entails: If I want to tax for that, I'd tax the fuels, and that's exactly what governments do. when they do anything else, like "taxing cars based on engine size", they are simply meddling in people choices unrelated to use of resources and so on. I think that it's "politically convenient" to set up a labor intensive organization to collect and check a taxation which could and is more efficiently collected in another way, and above all it is unrelated to usage, income of the owner, efficiency gains and so on.

about 4 months ago
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Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead

gadget junkie taxed as asset? (245 comments)

It's a common error in European fiscal policy that assets can be taxed. In reality only financial savings and income are taxed, and the final percentage applied is variously disguised as "capital gains tax", or other quibbles.
to clarify further: for an asset to be taxed, in my small world of financial analyst, it must either produce a taxable financial income, which is then taxed, or it must be an acceptable mean of exchange with no or negligible frictional costs. Houses are only an indexation parameter in taxes, since no tax authority whatsoever accepts a lien on 10 square feet as payment: they want hard cash. If the owner-occupier of a house had the opportunity or willingness to put the house in a separate company, it would be clearer still: the company would never make one cent, and it would be taxed on a fictional rent, which by itself is part of the owner's income. Therefore, the owner's income is taxed twice.
So, on bitcoins, the problem is magnified: if it is a mean of exchange, like banknotes, by itself it should not be taxed. the relevant transactions could be taxable, but not the means of exchange: after all, if I buy a car by bank draft or money transfer I do not pay either X or Y depending on how I paid. the effort of the authorities is to preserve the monopoly on fiat currency, that's it.

about 4 months ago
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Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad

gadget junkie Re:Should be legal, with caveat (961 comments)

went through that with my mother. she went through a bout of being insane, but not enough not to ask me to kill her. And I had to say I could not, while both she and I knew it was not the case. Thankfully, she passed away relatively quickly, but I do not think there are crimes bad enough to warrant this as a penalty.

about 5 months ago
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Alfred Poor Says HDTV Manufacturers are Hurting (Video)

gadget junkie Ultimate buyer of HDTV? (307 comments)

Here in Italy, the only form of broadcast HDTV content is via pay channels. I see them stealing a page out of the mobile phone companies, and include the TV in their contract, so that the early exit penalty would be paying off the TV. they get more consistent revenues, and the HDTV producers "Eat" the retailing margin, or they split.
Only problem, as a consumer, would be if they get the producers to include the ability "brick" the TV remotely (for non payment, for instance) and/or include some proprietary encryption.

about 5 months ago
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Italy Investigates Apple For Alleged Tax Fraud

gadget junkie Re:If they're based in Ireland, why are they in It (175 comments)

Well in this case, apparently not.

I think that's precisely why Apple is being investigated here, what's mere avoidance in other countries sounds like it may well be evasion in Italy.

that's exactly the case. the judiciary in Italy have given an enormously lax interpretation of abuse of law, to the extent that it is in the sole and retrospective interpretation of the tax authorities to say what the law actually intended years ago. Mind you, that leads to byzantine tax laws, since the legislator has no interest whatsoever to do it right the first time.

about 5 months ago
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Italy Investigates Apple For Alleged Tax Fraud

gadget junkie Re:italians (175 comments)

I am italian, I am not a tax expert but have been involved in these things for professional purposes, and I think that this is the usual govvie blackmail.
Apple does not produce anything in Italy; the local subsidiary is involved in marketing, and own and operates a relatively small number of own brand stores. By "own brand", read:
1. the company selling the goods is really Apple;
2. it always will have its European headquarters in the most favourable tax place, and no, it will not be Italy. deal with it.

so, what is Apple really doing in Italy? practically nothing that it could not do on line: delivering standardized goods to customers. No personalizations, no customer service. So, in a pinch, Apple could leave Italy altogether, tell my daughter to buy the new Iphone on their internet site, free delivery to the home by UPS, and show Italian tax authorities the finger. Results? LESS tax revenues in Italy. Smart, uh?

For those not aware, the real swindle is in Ireland: profits of the Irish subsidiary, which would normally be taxed at an outrageous 12,5% Irish tax rate, are trasferred tax free to Bahamas. So the Irish would have two grounds to do something, because that's the de facto legal residence of the subsidiary, and because Apple would not probably get a better deal elsewhere.

about 5 months ago
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EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal

gadget junkie Re: Good (1143 comments)

As a Washington State resident, there are many counties that are wood only heating. Pierce and Tacoma have large suburbs and are not exactly off the grid living. They are bigger and can force the smaller population to upgrade. The counties like Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan are mostly wood heated homes. I have no real numbers but out of the 39 counties in Washington, I'd say at least 1/2 have majority of wood only heated homes, we still are a big wild state.

My mothers county has many people that are wood only, and if they went around giving $1000 dollar fines for people burning, they would tar and feather and hold a recall election. Those urban counties are gray haired monsters who know each other and would put pressure to any elected official.

Those poor gray haired women are the Majority of voters, tell them they cant heat their homes. Most of these people live in urban areas that dont have fire departments, police or or trash pick up. Tacoma I'd say is much different, its urban sprawl.

I think that in some parts, the stoves would smoke cloudier for some days, and then they would not be seen again.

about 5 months ago
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Cornell Team Says It's Unified the Structure of Scientific Theories

gadget junkie Re:Short answer (115 comments)

42

... Great, now I have to build yet another Earth to get the question!

about 6 months ago
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Red Cross Wants Consequences For Video-Game Mayhem

gadget junkie Re:Man i hate this game (288 comments)

in assassin's creed if you kill 3 civilians then the level ends. i think this is a fair approach. of course in GTA if you kill a civilian then you get his money and his car, although that's not a war crime so much as a regular crime. I don't play the CoD type games so I don't know how they address the issue.

in these games, you can dress up as a petty tyrant or rogue state and get to ignore any UN sponsored regulation, unless you have an hand in designing it.

about 6 months ago
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Sick of Your Local Police Force? Crowdfund Your Own

gadget junkie Re:unnamed? Won't that be hard? (330 comments)

Where do you find unamed people? I doubt very small babies would make good security folks.

How can they be unnamed?

They are all named Johnson !!

about 6 months ago
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EU Committee Votes To Make All Smartphone Vendors Utilize a Standard Charger

gadget junkie waste? LOL !!! (415 comments)

"[...]but as far as the EU is concerned, this is all about a reduction of waste"

I wonder how many times they shuffled between Strasbourg and Bruxelles while they decided that I do not need three 15 EUR chargers.

about 7 months ago
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New Solar Cell Sets Record For Energy Efficiency

gadget junkie Re:The 44.7% efficiency requires 297 suns (165 comments)

Isn't it better to stop looking for excuses why not to upgrade the energy (re)distribution infrastructure? Over a large area, there's sun or wind somewhere most of the time, definitely more often than over a small area. Perhaps it's time to stop thinking locally.

Even thinking locally, with an efficient enough panel you'll still get meaningful energy output during a rain storm. It's not total darkness during these conditions, and supplemented with battery backup to even out the load during lean times you should be fine.

That being said, I still prefer ideas like the liquid salt plant outside of Seville. Focus the sun's light with mirrors to a giant thermal battery and use that to power turbines.

want an economic proof that the molten salt storage is a Rube Goldberg ? there are lots of situation, predating the solar craze, where an economic way of storing and releasing energy in bulk would come in handy, and molten salt technologies date back to the late 1950ies. But no one used them, even when "Global warming" was not in the vocabulary and baseload generators were way more efficient at producing low cost energy than peak generators.
in most situation, it's better to use a generator at peak capacity 24/7, make it smaller and use storage, than have a bigger one and hover between 90% and 100%. I surmise that the Seville plant gets most of its efficiency from not using solar cells with all the attendant efficiency losses at the panel and trasmission level and use electrical energy to raise temperature in the salt, which I gather is perfectly possible technically. But that's a non sequitur: it's still a problem of energy availability.

about 7 months ago
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New Solar Cell Sets Record For Energy Efficiency

gadget junkie Re:The 44.7% efficiency requires 297 suns (165 comments)

Reflectors aren't weightless, and neither are the extensive heat removal systems that will be required to cool a concentrated solar cell in space. I've never seen a representation of a satellite with anything but unconcentrated cells. Pssst - Although not guaranteed, if they get 44.7% efficiency at 300x normal sunlight... They probably do similarly under 1x sunlight. Claims like the one made don't describe a requirement for that efficiency, they describe an extreme under which the cells can still perform. As in "oooh, we only need one $1000 panel and 297 $10 mirrors, rather than 297 $150 panels"

......And, 297 times the surface, plus the added wiring etc. Only way to measure in a meaningful way is fixed cell, no concentrators, 10+ days during the equinox. Ah, do not forget diesel generators or batteries to guarantee continuous output, will ya?

about 7 months ago
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Somebody Stole 7 Milliseconds From the Federal Reserve

gadget junkie Re:Uh... (740 comments)

Can someone explain this to me in idiot? I don't see what the problem is, nor why I should care.

problem:someone made mony using insider information, which is AFAIK a federal crime of felony;

solution: go old school and suspend trading in securities, including bonds and government bonds, from 15 minutes before a potentially market moving news dissemination, to half an hour afterwards.

this was widely used in equity markets before the socalled "liberalizations" came about. Oh, while we're at it, go back to force trading on official markets, of any securities liable to go exchanged in private hands and/or end up in instruments which end up in private hands. No dark pools, no proprietary trading , or other comparable things.
Problem solved.

about 7 months ago
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Its Nuclear Plant Closed, Maine Town Is Full of Regret

gadget junkie Re:Uh oh! (380 comments)

It is my taxpayer money, and I will gladly pay for that compared to other things. Instead of paying $10,000 to the federal government, I got a bigger refund and only had to pay $7,000 last year because I put some solar panels on my roof and reduced the amount of coal and fracking natural gas I use.

I'll let your money go towards those things like big oil subsidies, corporate bank bailouts, and militarized police.

It's the taxpayers' money. and no one tells them the whole truth. Maybe they can afford it, maybe not. we're not talking about Holliwood actors buying a Tesla to do something for the environment, even if in my fit of rage i'd like to go there wearing a T shirt saying "you just made everything costlier for the rest of us". we're talking about "let them eat cakes"

about 7 months ago

Submissions

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Am I late for the earthquake?

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 2 years ago

gadget junkie writes "Geological fault lines are well known, and Italy has a long story of big and small earthquakes, so predicting where an earthquake il likely to happen is not hard. But here, as elsewhere, predicting "when" has proven impossible....or has it? not accoording to the worthy Italian magistrates who have indicted the whole Big Risks Commission, which is a mixed scientific and administrative board, for wrongful death and injury in relation with the april 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, for not having predicted it."
Link to Original Source
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win7 runs better than XP.....just barely

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 4 years ago

gadget junkie writes "An interesting Article by Extremetech does a quick and dirty comparison between Windows 7, Vista, and good ole Windows XP. none of the tests are real life tests, and the hardware was dated, but "[...]For the most part, these tests don't show Windows 7 soundly trouncing XP. But for an operating system that's far richer in features and more advanced in interface, Windows 7 is quite close to the older OS and tops it in several tests. Most impressive among Windows 7's wins were its JavaScript and shutdown time results."
One phrase was rather defensive, tough:"For gamers, the results are pretty much a wash between XP and Windows 7. In any case, power gamers are far more likely to be buying for a new high-end machines and not upgrading an old XP system."
Now, I am not a big geek, but I DO play games .My quad core intel runs on XP, and you'll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers; and many other people I know choose hardware sellers on one big service they offer: they do the downgrade from Vista or Win 7 to XP.
I do not have the time and resources to buy a win7 machine for inhouse testing, expecially the user experience: what's the score for slashdotters on this one?"

Link to Original Source
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is Virtual Desktop going mainstream?

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 4 years ago

gadget junkie writes "Thin clients have waxing and waning for almost a decade now. I've worked for a number of companies in Italy, and seen others, and no meaningful example has come across my path. Now the Wall Street Journal runs a story about the increasing use of virtual desktops in corporations and educational environments. Since the WSJ is not a specialist publications, there are what I reckon some oddities in the article, for example there's a vague suggestion of a link between the debut of Win7 and the increase in use of thin desktop. Is it the start of a glorious revolution, or the PC will remain the mainstay for years to come?"
Link to Original Source
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Aircraft simulation and MS windows

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 4 years ago

gadget junkie writes "I live in Turin, and this year the World Air Games will be held here. In advance of the games proper, I went to a small event where there were the usual scale models, some industry presentation and air simulators; the most interesting was one by Alenia Aereonautica featuring the Typhoon fighter aircraft, with two 16:9 big screens, one with the outside view, and the other a touchscreen simulating the cockpit layout. At one point, the operator had to restart the program from scratch, and imagine my amazement when the screen flashed the operating system: FEDORA!!!There is hope for games on linux then!!!!

The person operating the system told me that this demo simulator had been shown at the Farnborough air show as well. Do any of you know other instances of simulation/games up to the standard of the windows world?"
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Tomtom patent dispute with Microsoft ends

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  about 5 years ago

gadget junkie writes "According to a Wall Street Journal article, Microsoft and Tomtom have settled their patent dispute. The article states that Tomtom will pay an "undisclosed amount" for Microsoft patents, while Microsoft will receive "coverage" for four Tomtom patents free of charge.
While this might seem unbalanced, I personally am more disturbed by the lack of details of the agreement, but since both companies are listed, eventually [...] we will know more.
warning: possible subscription required for the WSJ article."
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Invisibility cloak: the klingons are amongst us!!!

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 5 years ago

gadget junkie writes "Cloaking technology has been around for some time, but today's article in the Wall Street journal makes it mainstream: cloaking, be it in the visual or in the RF spectrum, is not only possible but under advanced research and development. For a Sci-fi buff like me, this opens lots of interesting speculations. For many a decade, past war practices and technologies were "ported" into science fiction: uncountable sci-fi classic books draw on naval wars. This time, it could be the other way around.
Shall the Pentagon hire sci-fi buffs as strategists as a consequence?"

Link to Original Source
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News from Space: Isaac Asimov was (almost) right!

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 6 years ago

gadget junkie writes "Isaac Asimov, in his "Foundation" book series, postulated that Earth was unique in having a satellite one quarter as big as itself. According to this press release from the Spitzer Space Telescope site, he was reasonably close....big moons are hard to find. At least the ones born out of collisions between big objects, like the nascent Earth and something the size of Mars....But be of good cheer, 5% of Billions of planets is still a lot!!!"

Journals

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The Energy debate

gadget junkie gadget junkie writes  |  more than 9 years ago I have been involved in some of the discussions about renewable sources and nuclear reactors , and I have been impressed by one difference from the average IT debate on slashdot: the "average" comment is much more similar to the man-on-the-street average than it happens in more tech oriented areas.

One possible reason is that this is further from the expertise area, and so some reversion to the mean should be at work; on the other hand, I suspect that even an open-minded audience like Slashdot is entrapped in the pitfalls described by prospect theory: the way choices are "framed" changes the preferences.

So, while sending a man on Mars gets all us junkies standing on tiptoe, getting cheap energy through nuclear technology advances is not as sexy, and the first generation IV nuclear reactor will be built in a developing country (south Africa), giving "developing" a whole new meaning.

My personal impression is that Joe sixpack will eventually get it right, i.e. if and when the oil price will hurt him too much, he will go for the cheapest alternative. But what does it makes of the so called "experts" and "scientists", if we have to wait for the great unwashed to convince us that New technology is good for us?

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