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California Whooping Cough Cases "an Epidemic"

jellie Re:3,458? (387 comments)

It depends on how many cases you expect. Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide, so a single case is considered an epidemic. Ebola is so rare and deadly that a small number is needed for it to be called an outbreak or an epidemic. Whooping cough is more common, but this recent outbreak is at a much higher rate than normal.

about a month and a half ago

Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

jellie I try to be civilized... (2219 comments)

But the beta site sucks. Fuck beta.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

jellie Re:Why the Paywall Hate? (361 comments)

That's a good point. But I don't think people would be paying for single articles because they're too lazy to pull out their credit card. But yes, most subscriptions wouldn't be useful unless you subscribe to a newspaper that you read every day.

It seems that many people nowadays consider their Facebook News Feed and Twitter to be "news." And that's just sad.

about 6 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

jellie Why the Paywall Hate? (361 comments)

I pay for the NYT, Ars, and The Economist, although the last 2 really aren't newspapers. Why does everyone here hate "paywalls"? Running a newsroom is extremely expensive. From the beat reporters and copy editors all the way up to the editorial board, plus all the foreign bureaus with their own reporters, a "real" newspaper needs to support a ton of people. I'm also a huge fan of investigative reporting, which you rarely ever see outside of major newspapers because the paper and the reporters must invest a huge amount of time and money.

Aggregation sites are nothing like a real newspaper. But at least Ars Technica has a large amount of original content (including their great feature articles), instead of resorting to Huffington Post-style click generation with "articles" that summarize someone else's hard work.

about 6 months ago

Finally, a Bill To End Patent Trolling

jellie Re:Good Start, But a Long Way to Go (162 comments)

This could easily backfire, especially when patent trolls have an army of high-paid lawyers. Just the threat of having to pay millions of dollars for the plaintiff's legal fees means that you had better have some really good representation as well. And if you lose, you end up paying all of your own legal fees as well as the army of lawyers working for the patent troll. In most cases, it would just be cheaper to settle which actually strengthens the capabilities of patent troll racketeering.

Isn't it cheaper to settle in most cases anyway? Currently, the ones willing to fight a patent suit must have huge amounts of cash. Smaller companies don't have the resources to pay millions to defend a patent lawsuit to begin with. When beat that online "shopping cart" patent, did they win any money? Most of the other online retailers had settled earlier, and Avon and Victoria's Secret had lost even larger verdicts in court.

about 9 months ago

Jail Time For Price-Fixing Car Parts

jellie Re:Banksters (116 comments)

Here's a recent example: Blythe Masters, an executive at JP Morgan Chase, may escape prosecution after having manipulated energy prices in California and Michigan. Officials have accused her of rigging prices, and they also accuse JP Morgan Chase of trying to cover up the evidence. Strangely, the recommendation was for a civil case, not a criminal case, against Ms. Masters.

1 year,8 days

Ask Slashdot: Scientific Research Positions For Programmers?

jellie Re:Universities or @home projects (237 comments)

I agree. I would start out looking at university job postings first. My own field is genomics and bioinformatics, and there really is a huge need for programmers and data analysts. Actually, my first research assistant position was as a programmer in a lab in which I did MATLAB programming. MPI and GPGP programming is very useful too.

As someone else mentioned, you can also work for the large national labs or supercomputing centers as well. A lot of the supercomputers are publicly owned, and there's a fairly large staff of people who maintain the systems or develop for them.

1 year,12 days

Supreme Court: No Patents For Natural DNA Sequences

jellie Re:The bigger news here... (214 comments)

Judges also ask questions during oral arguments specifically to direct the subject or issues in a certain direction. For example, during the debate over Obama's health plan (PPACA), Scalia asked questions about the government forcing people to eat broccoli, while other justices asked questions about requiring car insurance payments.

Thomas is unusual because he almost never speaks, yet he clearly has a political bias. Back in January, he finally asked a question (or made a comment, no one is quite sure) for the first time in seven years. It was surprising enough that it was noteworthy.

about a year ago

Boston Police Chief: Facial Recognition Tech Didn't Help Find Bombing Suspects

jellie Re:Wasn't It As Much Individual Photog & ID? (235 comments)

Wasn't it a combination of all of the above? The FBI collected video recordings and photos from all available sources, and identified two suspects. The FBI had one of the suspects putting the backpack on the ground right before one of the explosions, and also saw the two of them walk away from the scene afterward. That information was enough to pick those two and, for example, rule out the people identified by the NY Post and Reddit. But the images weren't clear enough, so they asked for the public's help for clearer images and for the suspect's names.

about a year ago

Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement

jellie Re:This wasn't about privacy. Not entirely. (412 comments)

That's the thing about the case that bothers me the most. I'm not religious so I'm a little biased, but what exactly does the ID card have to do with the so-called "mark of the beast"? The school has a right (and well, responsibility) to know where students are during school hours, and takes attendance because it only receives money when students show up. The school even offered to disable the RFID, which should have dealt with the "mark" issue. And like the situation involving the nurse fired for refusing the flu shot, the policy is applied to everyone and isn't narrowly targeted at a small group. I fail to see how this is even a religious issue, other than some random defense against a rule that the girl and her father dislike. Or even another chance to claim "religious freedom!"

If the Antichrist were so evil, I think there would be more serious ways for he (it?) to make his presence known than as RFID. Business people and lawyers, for example.

about a year and a half ago

Newly Developed RNA-Based Vaccine Could Offer Lifelong Protection From the Flu

jellie Re:...what's the point? (156 comments)

Influenza is and has always been lethal. There are different types of influenzavirus A, and they are named based on the two main proteins that allow it to infect cells: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). A new strain can result from mutation after an influenza virus is transmitted from an animal species to humans. My understanding is that (small) viral mutations occur all the time; thus, we create a flu vaccine based on the three strains that we believe are going to be most common in the next year. These are the seasonal epidemics, and are caused by antigenic drift. The "old" strains will either have died out or many people will still have immunity to them. However, if a gene reassortment occurs involving strains from different animal species (antigenic shift), then a global pandemic can result. The pandemic ends after people begin developing immunity to the new strain, and new infections begin to drop, and this phase is called the post-pandemic phase.

(In response to your other post...) incidentally, I have narcolepsy, although it wasn't caused by the vaccine. I wonder how the vaccine may have lead to these cases, though.

about a year and a half ago

Germany's Former First Lady Sues Google

jellie Google is Sometimes Hypocritical (164 comments)

I'm not so sure I would agree with Google's typical defense on this issue, which is that they have an algorithm that automatically ranks all the search results and they can't change that. Except they manually change the results. When companies break their rules, they can punish them. For example, when BMW's German website was found to influence results, Google banned them from their index. An eyeglass company, DecorMyEyes, verbally abused its customers to generate bad reviews ... and more publicity. After being published in The Times, they dropped the company from the index. Even in the Santorum case, they eventually made some results less prominent. Google has also been accused of pushing up the rankings of its own products. So it's kinda hypocritical to say that Google doesn't adjust individual results.

about 2 years ago

The FDA Spied On Its Own Scientists

jellie Re:This is understandable (95 comments)

The irony is that the FDA, through the investigation of its own scientists, released companies' trade secrets. An FDA contractor had compiled a report, and one of the fired scientists came across it by doing a search online.

Also, spying on members of Congress and making an "enemies" list of them is certainly a great way to piss off some powerful people...

about 2 years ago

Apple Tells Retailers To Stop Selling Certain Samsung Devices

jellie Whiny (308 comments)

Why does Apple need to complain and whine about all these stupid patents? It's already the largest and most profitable technology company, and its cash reserves are insane. Everything it's doing is just like the Microsoft of the 1990's. And Steve Jobs was possibly a bigger asshole than Gates and Ballmer. Except, for some reason, people actually liked Jobs.

about 2 years ago

Melinda Gates Pledges $560 Million For Contraception

jellie Re:Buying Windows does some good in the world! (451 comments)

Sure, I agree with your points. But they don't have much to do with government control and regulation. What's your solution to these problems? Having a single-payer healthcare system and schools run by the federal government? Half the country would start to scream "socialism," even though it's much more like the systems in other developed countries. The problem isn't the tax deductions that employers get from offering health insurance, it's from the healthcare system and health insurance itself. Do you know what else isn't sometimes covered by insurance? Anesthesiologists. Because when you're going into surgery, nobody asks whether the anesthesiologist is in-network or out-of-network.

about 2 years ago

Melinda Gates Pledges $560 Million For Contraception

jellie Re:Buying Windows does some good in the world! (451 comments)

The free market has produced some quite amazing advances in medical technology. If the government would stop its practice of mandates, price controls, cost shifting and barriers to competition, medical services would once again be affordable. Education? Plenty of excellent private schools. If you want the service, pay for it. The free market has been superb with communications. Look at the evolution of cell phone technology. Steadily smaller, faster, cheaper and more capable. Thank $deity government isn't in the cell phone business. Housing? Another government clusterf***. We have an over-abundance of cheap food and I'm confident that we could ensure that people don't die of thirst without having men with guns confiscating our wealth and throwing us in prison.

What? The free market has produced very few advances in medical technology. Many of the advances in the basic sciences (including biochemistry and physics) are sponsored by the government. The same goes for drugs and medical equipment. The free market has actually not developed many items on its own, without piggy-backing on projects that were originally or partially government funded. Interestingly, the government also pays a large portion of the costs of training medical residents.

Price controls? There aren't any. I used to work at a very large biotech that sold good but absurdly expensive drugs, because there aren't any price controls that prevented it from doing so. And I actually argue for greater barriers to entry in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. There are too many drugs and devices on the market that don't work, and may do more harm than good. One of the first things we learned about in my CS courses was the Therac-25. Additionally, things like metal-on-metal hip replacements should not have been approved, given their high failure rates and higher tendency of causing metal toxicity.

about 2 years ago

GOP Blocks Senate Debate On Dem Student Loan Bill

jellie Re:Obama knows how to play politics if anything. (834 comments)

As the sibling posters have pointed out, you're falsely equating two things. Although the Republicans essentially block any Democratic bill, that doesn't mean the Democrats knew they would oppose it. When it was revealed in 2004 that John Edwards was exploiting the tax loophole, Republicans everywhere assailed the loophole. According to that article/blog post, the Wall St. Journal's editorial page, which is just as conservative as Fox News, criticized Edwards. As did Robert Novak and Sean Hannity. So no, you're wrong. Only the Senate Republicans' proposal was made because they knew the Democrats would vote against it.

more than 2 years ago



Finally, a Bill to End Patent Trolling

jellie jellie writes  |  about 9 months ago

jellie (949898) writes "According to Ars Technica, a new bill introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has received bipartisan support and has a real chance of passing. In a press call, lawyers from the CCIA, EFF, and Public Knowledge had universal praise for the bill, which is called the Innovation Act of 2013. The EFF has a short summary of the good and bad parts of an earlier draft of the bill. The bill will require patent holders who are filing a suit to identify the specific products and claims to are being infringed, require the loser in a suit to pay attorney's fees and costs, and force trolls to reveal anyone who has a "financial interest" in the case, making them possibly liable for damages."
Link to Original Source

US Appeals Court Judges May Be Invalid

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jellie writes "John F. Duffy, a professor of law at George Washington University Law School, has "discovered a constitutional flaw in the appointment process over the last eight years for judges who decide patent appeals and disputes, and his short paper documenting the problem seems poised to undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars." The issue involves 46 of the 74 administrative judges in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which "hears appeals from people and companies whose patent applications were turned down by patent examiners, and it decides disputes over who invented something first." The 46 judges were appointed since 2000, when a new law, almost certainly unconstitutional, went into effect. According to the article, the Justice Department "has already all but conceded that Professor Duffy is right.""

Computers Help Man Write 200,000 Books

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jellie writes "A NY Times article talks about Philip M. Parker, who uses computer algorithms to generate books. According to the article: "Mr. Parker has generated more than 200,000 books, as an advanced search on under his publishing company shows, making him, in his own words, "the most published author in the history of the planet." And he makes money doing it." Using 60-70 computers and a team of programmers, he collects publicly available information on a subject and combines them into a book. The books are printed by POD and are often purchased by medical libraries."

"Patent Troll Tracker" Sued for Defamation

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jellie writes "Richard Frenkel, who outed himself recently as the Patent Troll Tracker (invitation only), is now being sued for defamation over content in his blog relating to a case in which his employer is involved, ESN V. Cisco, filed in the Eastern District of Texas. Cisco is also named as a defendent in the lawsuit. In the original post, PTT alleged

that the filing date for ESN v. Cisco was changed from Oct. 15, 2007, to Oct. 16, 2007, after ESN's local counsel "called the EDTX court clerk, and convinced him/her to change the docket to reflect an October 16 filing date, rather than the October 15 filing date." The filing date is significant, Frenkel alleged in the blog, because the ESN patent that is the basis of the suit was not issued until Oct. 16.
Interestingly, one of the plaintiff's lawyers is John Ward, Jr., who is the son of U.S. District Judge T. John Ward of the Eastern District."

The Myth, the Math, the Sex

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jellie writes "Numerous studies, and conventional wisdom, suggest that men tend to have more sexual partners than women do. For example, a recent federal study concluded that, in their lifetimes, men had a median of seven partners and women four. But simple logic indicates this is impossible. This article addresses some of the mathematical considerations and cites a math professor's proof:

"By way of dramatization, we change the context slightly and will prove what will be called the High School Prom Theorem. We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.
Theorem: G=B
Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. Q.E.D."
The article also tries to explain some possible reasons for the discrepancy."

CIA Papers from 1970's Released

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jellie writes "The Associated Press reports that the CIA has released 693 pages of internal documents, nicknamed the "Family Jewels", about events that led to a scandal in the 1970's. From the article:

The documents detail assassination plots against foreign leaders like Fidel Castro, the testing of mind- and behavior-altering drugs like LSD on unwitting citizens, wiretapping of U.S. journalists, spying on civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protesters, opening mail between the United States and the Soviet Union and China, break-ins at the homes of ex-CIA employees and others.

Link to Original Source

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jellie writes "The New York Times Magazine has a story about real-money trading in massively multiplayer online games titled "The Life of a Chinese Gold Farmer". The author provides some background of the practice and interviews several players. To describe the scale of the virtual-money industry, the author mentions a 2001 paper by an economist from the University of Indiana: "Updated and more broadly applied, Castronova's results [based on his paper from 2001] suggest an aggregate gross domestic product for today's virtual economies of anywhere from $7 billion to $12 billion, a range that puts the economic output of the online gamer population in the company of Bolivia's, Albania's and Nepal's.""

jellie jellie writes  |  more than 7 years ago

jellie writes "An advisory judicial committee, the Dutch Posthumus II Committee, will be reviewing the case of Lucia de Berk, a.k.a the "Dutch 'Killer' Nurse". In 2003, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of seven patients and the attempted murder of three more, based on the probability of "1 in 342 million" that all those deaths would coincide with a nurse's shifts. However, as detailed in a page by a Dutch mathematician Richard D. Gill, many of been questioning the statistics used in the case. From the article: "Curious that a mass murderer could kill so many people and simultaneously take care that the total number of deaths on the ward is actually lower than in a similar period before she worked at this hospital: this data is not incorporated in the analysis or even made available!" and "[The expert for the prosecution] apparently does not know the meaning of p-value. He multiplies three independent p-values... and appears to present the product as a p-value." Statistics are often used in courts to convince the judge or jury, but what happens when unreliable or inaccurate methods have been used in generating those numbers?

Other commentary can be found on Bad Science and on Mark Buchanan's blog (NYT TimesSelect req'd)."


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