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Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

madro Re:Faith in God (299 comments)

Wisdom, if you can handle it. Cognitive dissonance, if you can't.

about 2 months ago
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The 69 Words GM Employees Can Never Say

madro Re:Could be worse. (373 comments)

There are no fires. Only thermal events.

about 4 months ago
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TSA Missed Boston Bomber Because His Name Was Misspelled In a Database

madro Re:Helpful links for intelligence community devs (275 comments)

Health care applications typically don't have access to a master list of names. They use multiple criteria in addition to names to do master patient indexing. Similar names are an important component (Jaro-Winkler is a nice metric to consider), but are given less weight when the last name or first name is common. But if you include birth date, government identifiers (ssn, driver's license, medicaid/medicare), current/past addresses (allowing again for transposition or similar errors), your accuracy gets much better.

No idea if government intelligence apps do this, but I would expect they do (or at least there are staff members who know what to do, if they could only convince higher-ups).

about 6 months ago
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California Regulator Seeks To Shut Down 'Learn To Code' Bootcamps

madro Re:If they charge $15,000 for a ten week course... (374 comments)

There are price levels where the risk of fraud and abuse may outweigh the costs of enforcement and compliance. People who travel to other countries cannot carry more than $10000 in cash without reporting it. The risk is money laundering and drug running.

Regulating everything or regulating nothing always leads to huge Type I/Type II errors. Reasonable people can disagree on the appropriate level of compromise.

about 7 months ago
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Programmer Privilege

madro Re:More garbage (353 comments)

The article was adapted from a longer blog post. In the adaptation, they linked to Psychology Today (ugh) to discuss "micro-inequities" as the initial term for phenomena that were later covered under the term unconscious bias or implicit bias. Having it doesn't make you racist or sexist; it's as human as risk aversion and loss aversion, both well studied. But like risk aversion or loss aversion, implicit bias can dissuade humans from making an optimal, economically rational decision. It takes self-awareness and practice to overcome these tendencies (and then only sometimes).

If you can't explain it, and you can't define it, and you can't trace it back, perhaps it's not real.

These have been studied for decades in psychology, social psychology, and sociology. Do you really expect a full lit review in an article in the popular press, adapted from a blog post by an academic who is speaking from personal experience about topics not in his core field?

We are scientists.

We are humans. With quirky, bug-prone wetware.

about 8 months ago
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Digital Textbook Startup Kno Was Sold For $15 Million

madro Re:paper, re-sold (39 comments)

In the 80's, I learned calculus in a US public high school with a textbook from the 1960's. Well, that, *and* a great math teacher. Making an e-book that presents the material is easy ... making an e-book that actually helps students gain understanding is pretty darn hard.

about 10 months ago
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Robotic Surgery Complications Going Underreported

madro Da Vinci was great for me, maybe not for others (99 comments)

I needed mitral valve repair surgery, and I was a good candidate for robotic surgery: relatively young, good health (other than the valve), not obese (fat gets in the way). Instead of sawing my sternum and spreading my chest open, the surgeon (who has a lot of experience in both robotic and open heart surgery) was able to go in through my right side and leave a 3-inch scar and three puncture wounds. I was in the hospital Tuesday morning, and out Friday afternoon. I'm grateful to have had access to this technology. The benefits of robotic surgery compared to open heart surgery are clear (at least in my case).

But when a hospital has a large fixed cost to acquire technology, it is all too tempting to spread that cost out over a greater number of surgeries. The benefits are not nearly so clear in surgeries that don't require bone-breaking or bone-sawing. If someday I need gall bladder surgery, or if my spouse needs a hysterectomy, I would have a strong preference to avoid robotic surgery unless a skilled surgeon can make a compelling argument that the specifics of our case are a good fit for robotic assistance. (And believe me, I read as much of the medical literature as I could in making the decision: when one of the surgical steps is, basically, "shut down the heart," you want to know as much as you can. Open heart surgery for valve repair is a well-understood, well-practiced technique, but for me the decision to use the robot was about the reduced shock to the body, shorter recovery time, and reduced scarring.)

about 10 months ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

madro Re:Americans doing the right thing (999 comments)

Part of the credit for the deficit decline under Clinton goes to George HW Bush, who broke his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge for the good of the country. I remember being really concerned about the revenue increases that Clinton signed early in his first term because I was familiar with Republican talking points about taxes being automatically bad for the economy. Then I saw that the world didn't end, I took some basic econ courses (micro/macro) and learned to take macro theories (left or right) with huge handfuls of salt when considering the real world.

about a year ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

madro Re:Wow. (999 comments)

A common fallacy is that governments should run their finances like a family. A family does not (1) live forever, (2) print its own currency, (3) collect revenue as a matter of law, or (4) have a duty to provide public goods like a national defense. Maintaining debt in perpetuity makes sense as long as the economy grows over the long term and as long as that debt doesn't get "too big" (with pretty fierce debate over what that means -- 100% of GDP is not necessarily too big by historical standards, but reputable minds can disagree).

But in terms of the maturity level of *this* particular Congress, this is pretty spot on.

about a year ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

madro Re:Thank goodness (999 comments)

Better example: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

about a year ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

madro Re:Thank goodness (999 comments)

Just like 'No Child Left Behind' and 'Mission Accomplished'

about a year ago
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Can Internet Pseudonymity Be Saved?

madro Re:All? (491 comments)

There are exceptions to first amendment protections. Speech that incites imminent lawless action, or "fighting words" (speech that leads to immediate physical retaliation) are not protected, at least in the US.

The purpose of letting people speak freely is to allow venting of grievances as an alternative to violent confrontation. But when those words in fact degrade civility to the point that violence increases, then we've reached diminishing returns for the first amendment. When individuals or groups can bully with impunity and induce violence against a person (sometimes by suicide), then I can start to see the problems with unfettered free speech rights.

It's not enough to justify the banning of anonymity, but civilization needs at least a little civility.

about a year ago
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Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley?

madro Re:Why so few women sanitation engineers? (608 comments)

For cognitively demanding jobs and careers, we need to attract the best and brightest regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. So if a career path is not pulling from the full population, it is a fair question to examine why. We are faced with a long-term shortage in the supply of nurses. Why don't more men pursue that career?

To compare with a slightly different field: my spouse works in a manufacturing environment, and she's the best engineer there (IMHO). They would like to continue improving the department by hiring new staff, but they can't find qualified people. Maybe if women and men were pursuing mechanical engineering in equal numbers, there'd be a better pool of candidates to draw from?

(Also: Garbage trucks are becoming more automated. Pretty soon, we won't need women *or* men hanging off the back of a truck.)

1 year,20 days
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Opus Dei To Hunt Down Vatican Whistle-Blowers

madro Re:Typical Vatican thinking (286 comments)

I'm a lifelong Catholic (with mod points I'm burning, but oh well), and I agree with the majority of the parent post, and your original post. But there are two items I need to respond to.

concepts such as papal infallibility

Infallibility only applies when the pope speaks ex cathedra. It is reserved for doctrinal issues, not policy. The anti-contraception encyclical Humane Vitae is not an infallible teaching but a matter of individual conscience, and the Catholics who follow H.V. are rare indeed.

If that's what your spirit tells you, then maybe you should consider the possibility that you're being held spiritually hostage by these people as a way to further their power, and the reality is that if you truly want to be closer to God, there are far better ways to do that than through these morally bankrupt charlatans.

I think many liberal American Catholics have been forced to consider this. Among those who stay in spite of the hostility from the hierarchy, there is a general feeling that we have to work to change the church, over a long period of time. The priest shortage will only grow worse over time, and the church will perhaps be forced to change. I know someone who is gay and Catholic who stays because he believes he is called to change the church, even though many members of his family have left.

"Why bother staying?" is a very valid question. Financial and moral corruption should be rooted out, and Catholics and non-Catholics alike can work toward those goals both in the church and in other large instutitions. But as for why I stay, the most Slashdot-relevant quote that comes to mind is, "Because, there is good in him. I've felt it. ... I can save him."

more than 2 years ago
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Sony Projects Record Losses of $6.4 Billion

madro Re:Some hints: (290 comments)

Steve Jobs admired Sony (before they went bad) and built Apple with a similar focus on the consumer. It's not a foregone conclusion that Apple will follow Sony's fate -- how well has the current Apple leadership learned from Jobs? will the next generation of innovators see Apple as a place to build cool things? (versus Google, or Amazon, or -urk- Facebook?)

But the usual trajectory is: founder leaves, the immediate replacement does pretty well, but after that leadership is only able to see what worked in the past and not what needs to change to be successful in the future.

20 years ago, I was an Apple guy seeing Windows 3.1 and thinking "Not as good as my Mac, but ..." I'm having similar thoughts about the Kindle Fire and Android now. In between, Apple nearly died out (when Jobs was gone). I think the near-death experience will keep Apple from getting too fat and happy over the next decade, but in the long term, who knows?

more than 2 years ago
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Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn Resigns After $1.7 Billion Loss

madro Re:Haven't had bad luck lately... (513 comments)

Apple stores have been around for 10 years. When they started, iPhones and iPads did not exist. Past performance does not guarantee future results, but as a retail experience Apple has done very well.

more than 2 years ago
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Using Graph Theory To Predict NCAA Tournament Outcomes

madro A plug for Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight (91 comments)

His statistical reasoning is always well described, so that if you disagree with his results, at least you understand why you disagree. He's got "picks" and a description of the system used to generate them.

The original article is an interesting network analysis exercise, but it is really limited by its assumption of no a priori quality data. (Any time you beat Kentucky or North Carolina or other perennial powerhouses, that's almost always a quality win.) Sagarin and LRMC follow similar logic, but without an explicit network piece.

more than 2 years ago
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X-Prize Founder Wants Ideas For Fixing Education

madro Re:Unions (479 comments)

Not all private schools. Catholic schools, for example. Part of tuition from those who can afford to pay goes to those who want a private school education but cannot afford it. The reason they work is that in a private school, all the students are there because the parents are willing to sacrifice to put their students there.

All private schools are less appealing in districts with quality public schools. So in theory, when public schools outcompete the private options, vouchers are not a threat. But the larger point against vouchers is that many public districts want to do better but can't, and making it easier for motivated parents to move their kids will leave public schools even worse off. (And the response then becomes, "so only the richest can have private school?" ... and around in circles we go ...)

more than 2 years ago

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