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WSJ Reports Boeing To Beat SpaceX For Manned Taxi To ISS

sjbe Got proof? (63 comments)

SpaceX is a young and aggressive company with clear drive and motivation to succeed.

Dive and motivation are necessary but not sufficient. Having those attributes doesn't mean they have a good product or the product with the best price/performance ratio. I have no idea of the relative merits of either company regarding this project but just because SpaceX is the new hotness doesn't mean anything. While I have no affiliation I've actually done some work at Boeing (many years ago) so I have at least a basic understanding of how that company works and what their culture is like. (FYI the part of Boeing I dealt with has a combative work culture I didn't enjoy at all) I'm confident they could offer a technologically competitive product. (economically competitive is less certain) Boeing has been sending up rockets for a long time so they are hardly new to the game.

While they might have been a risky bet because they were new, they would have backed their development record.

Boeing has a much much longer development record. Of course that might also work against Boeing but SpaceX does not have a long track record to go on. I'm as impressed with SpaceX as many others here but if they want to play with the big boys it isn't going to be easy and yes they are high(er) risk in certain ways. This means they need to be clearly better (economically and/or technologically) or they stand a good chance of losing to the "safe bet".

We need competition between these companies and giving SpaceX a chance to shine will make Boeing stop screwing over the U.S.

Umm, this IS the competition between these companies. This one bidding competition isn't the end-all-be-all regardless of which firm wins this contract. Plus you haven't exactly proven the assertion that Boeing is actually engaging in corrupt practices here. While I certainly wouldn't be shocked to hear that they were, that isn't anything close to proof. Absent evidence saying that SpaceX should get the contract because you suspect Boeing (without proof) of corruption is not a strong argument in favor of SpaceX.

about an hour ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

sjbe You are the vendor, not the product (287 comments)

You're not the customer. You're the product.

That's not correct either logically or from an accounting perspective. The opposite of customer is not product. The opposite of customer is vendor. Every transaction has two and only two parties. If you aren't the customer then you are the vendor for that transaction. Unless you plan to go into slavery the product isn't you. The product is data about you. What that makes you is the vendor of the product. Google "buys" this data in exchange for IT services and they then sell the data to advertising customers. In that transaction chain Google buys from you and that is how you appear on Google's financial statements - as a supplier, not a customer.

4 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

sjbe Vendor not Customer (287 comments)

The user's relationship with Gmail does involve payment in the form of consideration, and they are customers.

That doesn't make them necessarily a customer for that transaction. As far as Google is concerned they are vendors because Google "pays" users via an in-kind exchange of services for data which they then sell to their customers for cash. In that transaction chain the user is properly considered a vendor to Google and that is how they would show up on Google's financial statements. In that transaction Google would be your customer rather than the other way around.

4 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

sjbe You are a vendor in that transaction (287 comments)

Sure they are customers. They are paying with their personal data, which Google hords and then sells to third parties.

That makes you a vendor/supplier rather than a customer. Google "buys" your data with an in-kind exchange for IT services and then they sell it to advertisers. You aren't a customer, you are a vendor in that transaction chain.

4 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

sjbe You are a vendor to slashdot (287 comments)

Of course I'm one of slashdot's customers. Slashdot would be out of business if we (the customers) stopped coming to their website.

I'm an accountant.

Unless you are sending cash to slashdot, your relationship to them is most accurately described as that of a vendor or a supplier if you prefer that term. You provide data to slashdot in exchange for entertainment which is a form of in-kind exchange. Slashdot then uses that data to sell advertising to their paying customers. From an accounting perspective by providing this forum to you, you would be on slashdot's books as either Cost of Goods Sold or more likely some kind of Operating Expense. This effectively makes you a vendor to them, not a customer because they don't sell you anything.

It can get a little murkier if you have a paid subscription but they still advertise to you because then you become both a customer and a vendor. Which you are depends on the transaction in question. Logically it would make sense to have the subscription be treated as a contra-expense because then you don't have to have this dual relationship. But it's more likely that they would book it as income and have the user on the books as both a customer and (indirectly) as a vendor.

4 days ago
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

sjbe Users are generally vendors not customers (287 comments)

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

That doesn't make you a customer. That makes you a charity recipient.

In any case the general relationship between Google users (as opposed to paying advertising clients) is that the user is properly thought of as a vendor or supplier. We supply data to Google in exchange for in-kind services (email, search etc) which Google then turns into a product which they sell to their paying customers. Customers are people who pay you and vendors are people you pay. Google "pays" users for their data with online services which is a sort of barter really. They then process that data into a product they can sell to their customers which generally are advertisers.

What sometimes confuses people is that Google also sells IT services (like data storage or corporate email) but what that simply means is that someone can be both a vendor and a customer depending on the specific transaction. This is perfectly normal. It's not at all uncommon for companies to sell stuff to each other and have both a vendor relationship and a customer relationship but they can be only one or the other for a given transaction. The key distinction to determine whether they are the vendor or customer is (generally) the direction of the cash flow for the particular transaction in question. In cases in-kind exchanges its a little fuzzier so you have to look at what they do with the item received.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe Comparing eras (290 comments)

All we need are dissection records or dissection of well-preserved corpses from the era, so as to examine the state of organs.

The few remaining corpses of people 100+ years dead will most likely not give you the information you seek. There simply is not enough material remaining even among that which is well preserved to make authoritative claims regarding entire populations. At best we might get some hints and get some limited insight but there will be pretty sharp limits on making serious comparisons. Furthermore, I don't know how much time you've spend working with medical records but I've spent a lot of time with them in my professional life. Even modern medical records can be pretty bad. Medical records from 100+ years ago are very difficult to glean useful information from in a lot of cases. Not saying it can't be done but our understanding of medicine has advanced rather a lot since then.

Finding the source material is difficult.

That's putting it mildly. It's an interesting project you propose but you seem to be making it sound much easier than it is. That is a very challenging study.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe That is why we test hypothesis (290 comments)

But it does help with water retention, right? And you would imagine that as the body retained more water it would become generally more pressurised?

That doesn't automatically mean that it affects mortality or patient outcomes. The human body is complicated. Just because it seems logical doesn't mean it actually is a problem.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe Misinterpreted correlations and fads (290 comments)

That has given us margarine (plastic for your body), high carbohydrate diets loaded with wheat gluten, and the result is massive obesity - and all the concomitant health issues.

There is no causal link known between gluten and the obesity epidemic. Gluten sensitivity appear to be merely the latest in a long string of fads jumped on by people who are hypochondriacs as the demand for gluten free products has hugely exceeded known affected population. While there are a relatively small number of people with coeliac disease and other sensitivities, there is no (credible) published evidence that avoiding gluten has any benefit for most people or that it is a primary driver in the current obesity epidemic.

You NEED a good amount of cholesterol for a healthy nervous system, and avoiding eggs and cholesterol containing foods in general is thought to be responsible for the increase in Alzheimer's disease, among other issues.

That is little more than a hypothesis. We do not know with any certainty what causes Alzheimer's disease. Anyone who claims we do is selling something or confused. We are learning lots about it but we do not fully understand the disease process. There may be a correlation regarding eggs and cholesterol but the studies simply haven't been done to establish any sort of causal link in the disease process.

Furthermore you might consider linking to the source material you cite rather than an editorial in a random non-peer reviewed website that refers negatively to statin drugs as "mainstream medicine". That is not what I would consider an unbiased or credible source and it casts your argument in a worse light than it probably deserves.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe A+B != C (290 comments)

You would think sometime in the last few centuries someone would of bothered to get a few people together, control their food intake, adjust salt intake, and see what happened. If we are studying water retention, and its effect it could be a short-term study of around a week.

We know what happens to blood pressure in the short term. Salt affects blood pressure = known fact. We've understood that for a very long time. That is completely different from proving that salt affects heart disease or salt affects mortality in patients with heart conditions. Those things are MUCH harder to test because they require large, long term population studies. They're expensive and difficult studies to do. The problem is that people took the fact that salt affects blood pressure and applied it (without evidence) to treatment of heart disease when there was no known causal link between the two.

This is the logic that was used:
    A) We know salt affects blood pressure.
+ B) We know high blood pressure can cause negative patient outcomes in patients with heart problems.
= C) Therefore controlling salt should reduce negative patient outcomes

The problem is that A + B does not equal C. We just assumed that it did because it sounded right. You have two bits of data that seem to add up to a logical result but it turns out that the equation is more complicated and thus our simple "answer" is wrong.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe Action sometimes before evidence (290 comments)

This is one of the many examples of why I don't care about consensus opinion. Show us evidence, or go away.

Fair enough. Do you have sufficient expertise that you are able to interpret the evidence? Is the evidence clear? Is the evidence properly gathered and analyzed? Do we have enough evidence to draw firm conclusions or merely enough to nudge the direction of inquiry? Will the patient die before you can get conclusive evidence?

Fact is that the human body is complicated and sometimes a good sounding theory is the best we have to go on. A lot of diagnosis are basically well informed probabilistic guesses because we don't completely understand the underlying disease process. Sometimes you have to act before you can be certain of your case. For instance if you have a bacterial infection it can take days to culture the infectious organism and the patient can die before you get a definitive answer. So the doctor has to take an educated guess before he has the evidence. Sometimes a consensus opinion is the best we can do.

What people miss about consensus opinions is why they matter. What a consensus is NOT useful for is as evidence proving or disproving a theory about physical phenomena. A consensus IS useful for as evidence against the (political) argument that there are substantially conflicting opinions when there in fact are not. A consensus is useful for establishing standard of care. A consensus is (sometimes) useful for protection against legal liability.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe Theory versus tested facts (290 comments)

But it does help with water retention, right? And you would imagine that as the body retained more water it would become generally more pressurised?

As I understand it, that is a big part of the basis of the theory behind controlling sodium in heart patients. Osmotic gradient controlled through reduced sodium. Good sounding theory. However just because that sounds sensible doesn't mean it actually matters in medical outcomes. The human body is complicated and sometimes good sounding theories turn out to be completely incorrect. This appears to be one of those good sounding but false theories.

4 days ago
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Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

sjbe They ran with a hypothesis (290 comments)

This is not actually news though it's one more study on the pile. My wife is a physician and her instructors in med school pointed out that the relationship between salt and high blood pressure was based on correlations, not a causal chain. Basically it was a logical hypothesis that people started acting upon before it was ever established as fact. A lot of patients with high blood pressure problems (apparently - I'm not a doctor) have issues relating to osmotic gradients and other biological functions where salt is involved. So the theory went that by controlling sodium you could help control these problems. A good theory. But a good theory isn't a necessarily fact and it sounds like a lot of medical effort went into controlling sodium before anyone actually could test to see if it really mattered. Apparently the answer is turning out to be that it doesn't matter nearly as much as we thought.

Oblig XKCD

4 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re:Life is complicated (363 comments)

The problem is, his second chance came at the cost of endangering innocent people.

And you've never done anything that endangered others? (If you say "never" I'm going to call you a liar)

We're talking about someone who endangers everyone else on the road should he "screw up" again.

And he has served time in prison for that. You think he doesn't understand the consequences? I know the guy and his situation and you do not. I know what he's been through and I know how he has comported himself for the last several years. Don't be so eager to dole out "justice" for people you've never met. He had his license pulled for 10 years. He had to prove to a judge that he had straightened out. He had to have an interlock on his car even when granted a provisional license for 2 years. He had to get drug tested regularly. He had to show up to work every day for several years. Honestly I trust this guy more than I would trust you if we just met on the street.

It isn't right that your life is ruined because of a single screwup, but it also isn't right that someone else has to risk their life being ruined to avoid that.

We do that every day. I trust thousands of drivers I pass daily to stay in their lane. We depend on each other to not screw up all the time.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re:Texting 911 (363 comments)

Depends. What if you send a tweet? Now what if the tweet is sent via data over TCP/IP instead of SMS?

Same thing. Shouldn't be legal. It's basically the same activity so should be covered under the same rules.

Same end result, but difference in transmission medium defeats the whole "SMS isn't reliable" argument stone cold.

No it does not because those other services you mentioned are not least common denominator services. Pretty much every phone has SMS - not all phones are smart phones. Plenty of people do not have twitter or other similar messaging services and even when they do they don't all have the same ones.

Or why we need specific rules banning it, versus simply applying existing distracted-driving laws?

Distracted driving laws are A) inconsistent, B) only enforceable after the fact and C) are widely and demonstrably ignored. Disabling all texting while in a vehicle in motion would proactively prevent a lot of accidents and is much easier to enforce.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re:Texting 911 (363 comments)

You're forgetting though that a text message is far more likely to be transmitted than a phone call when there is minimal signal.

It might be transmitted but it still doesn't guarantee delivery or notify you if the message was not received. With a phone call you know for certain if the other party received the message. Kind of an important detail.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re:Maybe driver vs passenger doesn't matter (363 comments)

Every GPS I've laid my hands on in the past two years has had a motion-lockout enabled on it.

Yep. For product liability reasons. People can't help themselves and there is no way to determine if the driver or the passenger is the one working on it.

I wonder how that'll get along with the "any cell phone must be able to dial 911 even if it has no service and is locked" law?

I don't have ANY problem with allowing any sort of communication to 911 at any time. If there is a reason to contact 911 that probably is ok even if driving.

I can see other issues, like not being able to use it while in a cab or bus

I really don't see that as a problem. Very few text messages are so urgent they cannot wait a little while.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re: Maybe driver vs passenger doesn't matter (363 comments)

Ok, then how does the app know that you're on a bus and not driving?

It wouldn't. It means you just wait until you stop and then you can text to your heart's desire. The point is that we may be worrying too much about making sure passengers aren't inconvenienced and forgetting the big picture problem that people are dying because they can't resist texting while driving. Since determining who is driving and who isn't is too hard, maybe the least-worst answer is simply to not allow it at all for anyone while in motion. If you've got a better idea I'm all ears but everyone so far is throwing up their hands and saying we can't solve the problem. I respectfully disagree with that stance.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe Re:Maybe driver vs passenger doesn't matter (363 comments)

Disabling based on motion would disable it for passengers as well.

Yes it would. The point is that it doesn't really matter.

A passenger should be able to use his phone.

Why? Seriously. "Because" isn't an answer. We can allow any phone to text or call 911 at any time if there is an emergency.

5 days ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

sjbe General purpose texting while moving (363 comments)

During a home invasion, when you don't want to expose your hiding place by speaking.

Not relevant to the whether to allow texting while in a passenger vehicle. I actually don't have a problem with allowing text messages to a 911 operator at any time just like we require phones to always be able to dial 911. (I question their utility but that's a separate issue) There probably is a good reason to allow any sort of communications to 911 even while driving. But generally speaking I cannot think of any reason why we need to allow general purpose texting while in a motor vehicle that is in motion.

5 days ago

Submissions

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Creationists Editing Darwin's Origin of Species

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "Proponents of intelligent design have been distributing an edited version of Darwin's "Origin of Species". The edited version reportedly contains a 50 page introduction written by Ray Comfort favoring creationism. The full original text of the book is included with the new version. Over 1000 copies were allegedly handed out near Washington University in Saint Louis without any notice to or approval from the university. The author reportedly draw connections between Hitler and Darwin so Godwin's Law may need to be invoked."
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XM Sirius Merger approved by DOJ

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "A year after announcing the merger the Justice Department has given the thumbs up to the proposed merger between satellite radio companies XM and Sirius. The FCC still has to give their approval but historically the two organizations rarely contradict each other on proposed mergers. It will be interested to watch if the merger can stop all the red ink from these two money losing companies."
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Ziff Davis Files For Bankruptcy

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "Ziff Davis Media Inc., publisher of PC Magazine has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing is reportedly to reorganize the company's capital structure, particularly with regard to subordinated debt. Papers were filed in the US Bankruptcy court in Manhattan. The company's parent Ziff Davis Holdings Inc. also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Full details are available from Bloomberg."
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Lax TSA Website Exposes Traveller's Information

sjbe sjbe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

sjbe (173966) writes "According to a January 2008 report from the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, from October 2006 through February 2007 traveller's who utilized the TSA website to attempt to remove their name from the No-Fly list risked having sensitive data, including social security numbers, exposed due to poor security practices. The contractor responsible, Desyne Web Services was awarded a no-bid contract to design the website. The TSA's technical lead on the project reportedly had a conflict of interest having been a former employee of Desyne. The security vulnerabilities were pointed out by Chris Soghoian, a Ph.D. student at the University of Indiana's School of Informatics. The TSA has since taken action to remedy the vulnerabilities but no action was taken to sanction the responsible parties for the vulnerabilities."
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