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Feds Plan For 35 Agencies To Collect, Share, Use Health Records of Americans

xanthines-R-yummy Re:FUD and kneejerk reactions (209 comments)

Yes, the National Institutes of Health already has an anonymized database of the health records from patients in their clinical trials and a company called Explorys (no, I don't work for them, either), is doing something similar on a larger scale across multiple hospital systems. Having CMS and HHS involved to add more data is definitely a good thing, if done correctly. Links below.

http://btris.nih.gov/
https://www.explorys.com/
https://www.explorys.com/about...

about two weeks ago
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How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything

xanthines-R-yummy Re:Who cares (216 comments)

Completely agree. However, if the bandwidth is so dramatically improved, can't the caps be also dramatically increased? Kind of like how when 4G first came out, that was unlimited, while 3G was capped or something like that? I might have that situation reversed but still, you get the idea.

about three weeks ago
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How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything

xanthines-R-yummy 5G2? (216 comments)

Aren't carrieres already calling LTE and 4G+, etc 5G? Since it seems like 5G is such a dramatic improvement, should it have an entirely new name? A la Intel's move away from the x86 lines of processors?

about three weeks ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

xanthines-R-yummy Re:Don't really care (1007 comments)

"The only winning move is not to play"

about 2 months ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

xanthines-R-yummy Re:So they got their reservation using deception? (1007 comments)

You obviously aren't aware of a tool called rhetoric. Using facts, logic, and argument are useful for rhetoric but not necessary. These people are using rhetoric (shockingly well, in some cases) and not interested in using facts, logic, and argument at all.

about 2 months ago
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Cisco Fixes Three-Year-Old Telnet Flaw In Security Appliances

xanthines-R-yummy Better late than never? (60 comments)

Yes, sooner would have been better but at least they got around to fixing it, right?

about 2 months ago
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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

xanthines-R-yummy Re:What? (786 comments)

Correct, you aren't a feminist. News flash: women have brains and they do what they want. They don't want to code, because they are passively (mostly) discouraged from pursuing that hobby/career. Deal with it.

There, FTFY.

about a month ago
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Favorite clickbait hook?

xanthines-R-yummy Re:Click Here (238 comments)

This, a thousand times this. I am a doctor in real life and so is my wife. It's amazing how many of her HIV/AIDS patients just do not take their medicines. There's no reason HIV/AIDS should be as prevalent in the US as it is. Then there are the idiots that don't take their antibiotics. You have a genetic mutation that makes you immunocompromised... Why aren't you taking your antibiotics? Argh!

And before you ask, no, it's neither cost-related nor side effects that prevent them from taking their meds. In these cases, at least. The people I'm talking about are just... frustrating.

about 2 months ago
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Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

xanthines-R-yummy Cue slippery slope arguments now... (366 comments)

Is 15 IQ points really a meaningful difference "in the real world'?

Now we can get back to to the slippery slope. What about killing off girl embryos or blacks or obese, etc etc.

about 2 months ago
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Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

xanthines-R-yummy Re: Yeah, but.... (1198 comments)

Women are human beings. And YOU are an ass. There, fixed that for you.

about 7 months ago
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Orca Identified As 103 Years Old

xanthines-R-yummy Somewhat related (194 comments)

As someone who used to work with research mice A LOT, I can tell you that captive mice (yes, the normal "wild-type" mice) are considered very old after 18 months, but in the wild they live around 4 years. My theory is that the real wild-type mice, ie the ones out in the field, get lots of excercise and have reduced caloric intake. The captive research mice have all the food and water they could ever want 24/7 and live in tiny boxes with no exercise wheel. Yes, the captive mice don't get diabetes or atherosclerosis, but they're still not living as long...

Either that, or they're so inbred it makes GoT seem tame!

about 7 months ago
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Women Increasingly Freezing Their Eggs To Pursue Their Careers

xanthines-R-yummy Re:Making a Safer World... (342 comments)

Not sure if joking or trolling, but you're an asshole either way. Attending to career so they can provide well for the child doesn't seem like procrastinating to me. It sounds like good and reasonable planning.

about 7 months ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

xanthines-R-yummy One of many... (423 comments)

That, and their customer support is really awful (the actual software is mediocre). It doesn't handle moving states to change jobs very well. It kept trying to slap me with an entire year's worth of taxes for one state. Customer support was non-existent (see numerous Intuit fora).

about 8 months ago
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If I could revisit / re-run a chunk of my schooling:

xanthines-R-yummy Re:Youth Wasted on the Young Me (309 comments)

I think answers like this border on asinine. We're in a recession with double-digit unemployment. How easy would it be for him to find another job? If the curreny job really is malignant, then how likely is it a positive letter of recommendation will come from them? Relocation costs money. Uprooting the family is a drain on happiness. In all likelihood, the wife/mom is probably employed too. You'd need to find two jobs in the same locale.

It's easy to just say "go get another job" but it's another thing entirely to pull off.

more than 3 years ago
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One-Way Sound Walls Proven Possible

xanthines-R-yummy Uses (177 comments)

Sounds like a good use for interrogation rooms...

more than 3 years ago
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Does China's Cyber Offense Obscure Woeful Defense?

xanthines-R-yummy Retaliation? (132 comments)

I wonder why China never thought of securing their systems more tightly. Surely they must have realized that retaliation would come their way at some point, no? I mean, aside from the fact secure systems are usually preferably to ones that are not...

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

xanthines-R-yummy hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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People are still idiots

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 5 years ago Sorry for the journal hiatus, but I've been busy. I'll make it up to all zero of you reading this one day....

I wrote in my journal a while ago that I thought people were generally idiots. I think this is becoming truer every day. It must be the residual effects of the substandard education system here accumulating. The current hub-bub about the current healthcare/healthplan crisis makes this painfully evident. You have people showing up in town halls spouting off about things they know nothing about. You have people showing up with pictures of Obama made up to look like Hitler (Godwin's Law in real life!). You have people showing up with assault rifles for Pete's sake! Some of the more level-headed idiots start their comments off with things like "Well, I'm not an expert but..." or "I'm not a doctor but I think that..." and then they proceed to tell about how granny is going to be executed by death squads or that they won't be able to see their own doctors anymore. Sheer madness! Doesn't anyone think critically anymore?

I also recently read an article about a primary care physician explaining why he hates his job. It basically amounted to getting paid peanuts for trying to save the healthcare system tens of thousands of dollars... and this is just one guy. Hmmm.... more work for less money, but more frustration? No wonder there's a primary care shortage! Someone in the comments section of that article posted something to the effect of "Quit yer bitchin'! There's people out there that's makin' just minimum wage or worse, unemployed." Point taken, good sir. However, do you really think that a doctor, who excelled in high school, college, paid hundreds of thousands of dollar to be in medical school, and then went on to make $6-7 an hour as a resident for the next 3-7 years (doing and important job, no less) doesn't deserve a good living? I mean, sure there are people in minimum wage jobs, but are you really equating a burger flipper to a doctor? I like my burgers, don't get me wrong, but I still think a doctor is a bit more important to society than the guy manning the fryolater. Don't forget, that these doctors have student loan payments upwards of $2000 per month. Don't forget they have to pay malpractice insurance premiums on top of that. You can go head and subtract a good $40-50k from a doctor's salary already. Oh yeah, did I mention that doctor's get bumped up to a higher tax bracket so a lot of the tax breaks disappear? Did I mention they don't make enough money to commit what is essentially tax evasion like the uber-rich? Frankly, people that are criticizing doctors need to drink a great big mug of STFU.

Penultimately, I've heard talk about replacing doctors with nurse practitioners or something to that effect, since then you'll need to just pay a nurse's salary not a doctor's. Remember that expensive malpractice insurance premium? Guess who's going to have to cover that when you put the nurses in charge? You think they're going to settle for a paycut to work more hours? At best they may make a little more, but they'll still be working their butts off. Nevermind they receive less medical training and run the risk being sued into oblivion. You think healthcare costs are going to go down then? Better lay off the whippets, duuuuude.

Lastly, I've heard that doctors can spend up to the 50% of their time dealing with insurance companies. Wouldn't you like your 10-15 minute visit to be 20-30 minutes? Maybe we should line up the insurance execs against the wall. They recently testified in congress they would still continue denying people's claims based on past medical history, no matter how absurd. A recent "This American Life" podcast had a nurse with a nasty, invasive breast cancer. A day or two before the surgery, the insurance company said they wouldn't pay because a dermatology report had something in it. Pre-existing medical condition = no surgery for you. Nevermind that dermatologist report contained a case of acne. Nevermind the fact that the dermatologist himself begged the company not to deny her the surgery based on acne. Nevermind the fact that acne has nothing to do with breast cancer.

What's so bad about "socialized" medicine again? P.S. Check out single-payer healthcare.

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Save NPR!

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 9 years ago An indicator of fucking stupid this country has gotten is how many people complain about the bias of NPR. Apparently enough people have complained that NPR may lose funding. This would be a tragedy to country and a disservice to its citizens. NPR broadcasts stories that informative and important. Not only that, they are uniquely in-depth and insightful since they don't have to answer to advertisers and don't care about losing listeners that have short attention spans. Because of this, NPR news as well as its other programs are superior in quality. I don't mean to sound elitist or anything, but NPR represents intellectualism and integrity in the world of media. Sure they're not as popular as morning DJ chatterboxes like Imus, Howard Stern, or whoever, but then those guys are the radio equivalents of picture books while NPR is more like Hemingway. Anyone that listens to NPR regularly knows that equal time and consideration to both political parties. Neither one is favored over the other and neither one is disparaged more than the other. If a streak of stupidity runs through the Republican Party, you'll hear it on NPR; that's a certainty. However, it will be presented in the most un-partisan light. Don't worry though, whenever the Democrats do something stupid, NPR is there as well. This is what makes NPR great. Instead sensationalizing anything, they just report on it. Those idiots in Washington want to throw away one of the best outlets of information in the country. Write your senators and congressman and tell them to stop worrying about NPR and start worrying about healthcare, unemployment, crime rates, foreign policy, etc etc.

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Cultural Engineering?

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 9 years ago So I was reading about this essay by some some Harvard sociologists. It's basically a proposal from the 80's to promote the acceptance of homosexuality in America. A lot of relgious conservatives call it a conspiracy. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to, eh? Anyway, the plan was to use a bunch of propaganda tactics to influence public opinion about homosexuality. It seems to be working, as gay marriages and civil unions are springing up (despite efforts of conservatives and the passage of constitutional ammendments to ban gay marriages). The most telling result is that an entire show about gay people (Will and Grace) has become quite popular. Given the hurdles homosexuals faced (and still face!) during this "campaign", you will, I'd say they've done pretty well. So this got me thinking... could these tactics be used to design a new culture?

We now know that just by living together in a society, we've altered human culture. You used to go directly from childhood to adulthood; there was no such thing as adolscence back in the caveman days. Now that we live in cities and such, you develop into a biologically mature adult, but culturally/socially you are not. This is probably contributes to the rebelliousness of teenagers. If we created a whole set of people/culture on accident, can it be done on purpose?

My personal crackpot theory is that television causes ADD/ADHD. All those commercials interrupting programs every few minutes, all those video games with their zany graphics and flashing colors have destroyed our ability to handle any thoughts for an arbitrarily long amount of time. In addition to the attention-span problem, television probably hinders our ability to think at all! This isn't supposed to be a diatribe against television, but is there some way we could use television, video games, radio shows, music, etc to engineer a culture? Maybe we should use these "tools" to eradicate racism. At the very least, we could subdue it a little.

Despite the best efforts of activists, racism still exists and doesn't seem to be getting any better after hitting a plateau. On the other hand, homosexual acceptance seems to be making headway. Let's learn something from that. We could also extend these tactics to generate a more sympathetic culture, in general. Wouldn't that be nice? Despite the Orwellian-esque auroa, it still seems better than putting Prozac into the water supply, which gets my vote personally.

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Theory of Conservative Idiocy

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 9 years ago No, it's not a physics theory. I have a theory concerning conservatives, idiots, and goverment policy. Here is my proposal:

So I was reading this article and I started thinking about how some people have proposed that political affiliation and intelligence are related (that chart is bogus by the way). What leaped out at me was the woman who said something to the effect of I'm used to being underrepreseted as a conservative. My reaction was: Are you fucking kidding me? Are you so dumb and dense that you don't realize that Republicans have captured the Presidency, the Senate, and the House? Dumbass! The article claims she is 27 years old and from Florida (maybe that's why she's dumber than a sack of hammers? Just kidding!). So in the past 30 years we've had 20 years of republican presidents: Ford, Reagan, GH Bush, and GW Bush. Of course, in 2008 that will be 25 years of republican presidents in 35 years. How can you call that being underrepresented? That's what really got me thinking about intelligence and politics. I'd always thought of Republicans as the "old" party and the Democrats as the "younger crowd." This woman was a 27 year old Republican. How bizarre. Anyway, if age isn't a function of political affiliation then maybe it is intelligence. I haven't been able to find any statistics, but there seems to be no end to anecdotal evidence that America's students are doing more poorly every year when compared to other countries. If it wasn't, then why'd GW make such a big deal out of "No Chlid Left Behind?" So is the sudden surge of conservatism due to the drop in education/intelligence of the American voter? There was record turnout for the 2004 elections and the conservatives clearly won (despite the protest of some particularly loud liberals, re: voter fraud, etc):

Bush won again despite record deficit spending and Iraq (by this time, the thrill of victory had pretty much been replaced by the terror of daily attack on US soldiers and Iraqi civilians).
Voters all across America voted on legislation to define marriage as between only a man and a woman.
Republicans ended up with 51 senators (out of 100).
They also got 227 Congressman (out of 435).
There are also 28 Republican governors (out of 50).

Not too shabby, eh?

So did the Republicans win because most Americans are now idiots? Well, the punk/rock band Green Day did release an album titled "American Idiot." More and more kids are entering college without basic skills. Bill Gates even said so in this speech. Perhaps kids and adults that lack critical thinking skills gravitate towards the conservative end. I'm not saying that all Republicans are stupid. I'm saying that their voting base is. Is that why Republicans really don't give a crap about education? The teachers don't think that they do. As the Republicans keep getting stronger, expect education and social services to drop. If my little crackpot theory is true, then it really IS in the best interests of Republican politicians to keep the population dumb and clueless. Of course, at a certain point some backlash will hopefully set things right.

I'm such an optimist!

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Cheapskates?

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 9 years ago I haven't been too flattering to the USA in my writings, but this kind of irritated me: That UN guy calling the US "stingy" regarding monetary aid for the tsunami disaster relief. OK, so he didn't specifically mention the US, but we all know who he was talking about. What gets me, is that all these countries (multi-national organizations included, of course!) criticize American policy all the time and still expect the U.S. to give a damn about the rest of the world. I realize that being at the top makes you an easy target, but give us a break!

I was reading an older article listing the amounts of aid pledged by various countries and organizations. Even though the U.S. had only pledged a stingy $35(USD), it was still the greatest amount by quite a bit. The freaking UN and World Bank were both giving less! Even as of this writing, the U.S. is still pledging the third highest amount behind Japan and Germany. This, on top of a recession and major military operations in two foriegn countries. regardless of whether or not you agree with the policy or morality of these little wars, you still have to admit that they're pretty costly. Never mind official U.S. government expenditures. U.S. citizens have raised over $300M(USD)!!! I don't have any numbers to back this up, but I feel pretty confident in claiming that's the most. Remember: that's over $300M of actual money. None of this pledging nonsense.

Another thing about which I would like to rant, are the idiots who criticize the NOAA for not warning countries of the impending tsunami. It's a Pacific Ocean warning system, you asswipes! They have a system to warn Pacific countries, which means they can't warn Indian Ocean countries. What are they supposed to do? Phone a bunch of people? Who are they going to phone? Would anyone on the other end believe them? NOAA notified Australia in the hopes they could do something, but what else could they do? To the countried who say they're too poor to have an early warning system installed: So is it cheaper to just repair the damage after tsunamis? Before you call ME an insensitive asshole, I would just like to remind you that this is not the first tsunami to hit the Indian Ocean. It may be the most deadly, but it is not the first. What really floors me, is the U.S. has a Pacific system, but not one for the Atlantic! As if these things don't happen in the Atlantic!

--- I wouldn't be xanthines if I didn't have some criticism of the U.S. so here goes! ---
I think America needs to actually help build areas devastated by the tsunami. I say build and not rebuild because most of these places were pretty impoverished already. More children die every year in this region from dehydration because of the lack of irrigation, modern plumbing, and water treatment facilities. Of course, this is spread out over a year so it isn't nearly as dramatic as a tsunami. However, they are just as dead and their suffering was spread out over an extended period of time. If you split the math up, it's still a kid every 15 seconds or as one commentator put it: try imagining 20 jumbojets full of kids crashing into the ground every day. Instead of just giving temporary aid, the U.S. should invest in the infrastructure necessary to support the local populace. If done correctly, this could greatly curtail the spread of anti-Americanism in muslim countries (FYI, a lot people in the region are muslim). The right propaganda could do waaay more to combat extremist terrorism than the current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq could ever hope to achieve.

So in summary:

1. Fuck off, Jan Egeland.

2. Hey you fucktards in Washington, DC: Use my taxes to actually stop international terrorism, instead of making it worse.

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Age of Enlightenment, The Second

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 9 years ago So I was reading an article in the newspaper (here's an online version with practically the same content), it started to make me think about history and the times in which we live. Long ago (roughly 400AD-1500) people lived in a time called the Dark Ages. During this time, achievements in art, literature, science, and knowledge became stagnant as reigion was the dominating force. In fact the Dark Ages was also known as the Age of Faith, as opposed to the Age of Reason/Enlightenment (which gave us calculus, Shakespeare, and political/phiolosophical ideas on which modern democracies are based) which followed it. So what's my point? In the mentioned article above, women considering abortions are provided a brochure "informing" them of a link between abortions and a higher risk of cancer. This sounds reasonable until you read the rest of the article where it says the Nation Cancer Institute soundly rejects that claim and backs it up with clinical studies. Now why is a local governmental system exposing its citizens to progaganda in direct opposition to scientifically-derived information? It doesn't take a very active imagination or actual investigation to guess. States where this FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) is being distributed are known for religious influences. As I wrote in my previous entry, evolution is still an issue in education. We live in a world where religion is exerting an undue influence over intellectual development. Here in American anyway, the spectre of terrorism inflicted by muslim fundamentalists has created an oppressive atmosphere where patriotism is synonomous anti-Islam-ism. It really is a new modern Crusade.

So we now live in a world where religion is trumping science, the Christians are back to cleansing the Middle of East of Muslims, and anyone voicing opposition are denounced and sometimes jailed (perhaps indefinitely!!!). This really sounds like we're back in in the Dark Ages. In the grand scheme of things, the intellectuals have generally had it tough. Well, it's time to fight back! We have become too complacent, always believing that reason will always triumph over stupidity because it's logical. Not true! We live in a relatively civil society so you don't have to bash in anyone's brains, but for Logic's sake! -- fight stupidity whenever it raises its ugly head. You don't have to be snotty or mean, but don't just sit back and do nothing. Write to your congressman. Write to your newspaper. Speak out to your friends and enemies. Logical reasoning won't triumph over religion by being academic. It's war for the development of civilization. So do your part and fight for logic and reason and knowledge, otherwise you're nothing more than a draft-dodger. It's time to start another Age of Enlightenment!

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Backward Hicks

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I heard about it but here's the CNN article. At the risk of losing a little bit of anonymity, I will say this: Yes, I am from GA and yes, I am embarassed to admit it. I can't believe that we are STILL fighting about this issue after the Scopes Monkey Trial that was EIGHTY years ago. How fucking stupid are people in GA? The answer is very fucking stupid. I guess it's no surprise that GA ranks either 48th, 49th, or 50th every year in any measure of public education. I'm not a liberal hippie or anything, but I really want to get the hell out of here. All those whiny hippies that say "I'm moving to Canada" are idiots. Any other state is a fucking intellectual paradise compared to GA (with the obvious exception of MS and AR, who rotate with GA in the bottom three rungs of education). You'd think I was stark-raving intellectual, elitist, democrat, but I'm really not. I was born in GA and have spent my entire life here so I know better than anyone else what kind of morons dwell in this state. I'm not even from Atlanta, the center of modern civilization in GA, for God's sake and even I can tell this whole situation is completely asinine. The state is in a fucking BUDGET CRISIS and evolution and gay marriage bans are the primary concern! What about the tragic state of education? What about the all the scams people get away with in GA? What about the lack of healthcare in here? Why can't we invest in some infrastructure to draw some business here? Maybe AFTER the state becomes financially viable, maybe then we can waste money the state actually has on debating evolution. Goddamned fucktards.

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago In the Declaration of Independence (which isn't an actual legal document as far as know; no, I'm not a lawyer) Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This may sound overly cynnical or pessimistic so brace yourself...

I don't think rights exist at all. They are figments of our imagination. Well, that's a bit pejorative. Maybe they're more like dreams or wishes. Wishes sounds best. To me, rights are implicitly guaranteed. Nothing I've ever read in the US Constiution, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (or whatever its proper title is), or anything else has declared a right that is guaranteed. Life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness (formerly property, but TJ thought that was too uncouthe) can all be taken away fairly easily. Very easily in the case of life (think about how efficient humanity has become at extinguishing life!).

Instead, rights just seems to be a word that is used to denote laws or rules that we consider a little more important. If you break the law you go to jail; repress some rights and you're a monster. Why are life and liberty considered rights? There are laws governing homicide/bodily harm and slavery. We say that laws protect these rights, but why do we say that? Shouldn't laws be protecting people? You might say that even though rights are suppressed, that because they ARE rights all efforts must be directed towards reversing such a transgression. It seems that is usually the case anyway with heinous crimes. I guess rights are considered to be "above the law" in the sense they can't be erased or altered. In that case, how is something in a un-ammend-able constitution any different? Nothing is guaranteed, although some things SHOULD be. I think most reasonable people would agree.

So are there any "real" rights? The only one that's close is to think. According to Descartes "We thinks therefore we's is." There isn't anything anyone can do to really prevent me from thinking. If one should club me upside the head and I lose conciousness (whether by concussion or death) I would cease to exist. How can someone have rights if they don't exist? Of course, you could counter that a baby brought up not to think could be possible. I would counter that the baby never really lived at all. Instead it would be just a lump of biological goo. But then we start to think "What IS life?" which is a whole other topic of discussion.!

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I was reading the New York Times on Sunday and I was reading this article about same-sex marriage. What I found fascinating was the polls they quoted about people's opinions on the matter. When asked if they were in favor of passing an ammendment to the consitution defining marriage as soley between a man and a woman, 59% of Americans said yes. When asked if defining marriage as between only a man and a woman was important to change the constitution, an overwhelming majority of Americans said no.

Idiots.

In case you hadn't caught that, passing ammendments IS changing the constitution.

I used to think elitists were full of themselves, but everyday I'm agreeing with them more and more. It's really hard when people do and say stupid things like that.

Venting Complete.

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I know this is a techno/scicence/sci-fi/geek website, but I thought I'd write about Antonio Vivaldi. If you click on the link, you'll see he was a "classical" composer. That's in quotes because most people call anything played by an orchestra "classical." For musical scholars "classical" refers to a specific time period, while Vivaldi was part of the Baroque period.

I think part of my fondness for Vivaldi lies in his efforts for the underdog. He appeared to be particularly passionate, even for a priest. He taught music at an all-girls orphanage which was pretty cool, since girls weren't allowed to do very much. In fact, they had to perform behind screens to keep their identities hidden. I think that's great because music is a wonderful thing, and he was able to give that to girls who had practically nothing.

Another underdog that Vivaldi served was the bassoon. It's a big wooden instrument that is fairly difficult to play. It's kind of featured instrument playing when the broomsticks come alive during Disney's Fantasia. It's Italian name is fagotti which, of course draws snickers and giggles from the junior high band members. Although Vivaldi wasn't the first person to write music for the bassoon, he probably wrote the first great pieces of music for it. Most people think the basson sounds weird, but I think it's pretty neat. Definitely unique.

So Happy Birthday, Vivaldi. It's too bad you never lived to see your creations played in the greatest concert halls in the world (regrettably, he was an example of the proto-typical musician dying before knowing how great he was).

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago So I read this story on slashdot (this site) and posted a comment in a purely theoretical sense. A lot of people think that professors and philosophers and slackers like me don't really do anything practical. A fellow co-worker likes to spout some statistic she heard somewhere fairly often: "Only 3% of [Biomedical]research translates into practical methods and therapies." When you put it like that, it seems like we're wasting a lot of money researching seemingly random things.

I feel I must retort.

Sure, only 3% of research has turned into useful stuff, but how long of a time frame are talking about? I mean, Kepler came up with his laws of planetary motion 400 years ago. Now what possible use could a law like that be waaay back then. Of course, now that we can send things to other planets, we know that laws governing planetary are immensley useful. So even though researchers may be doing useless thing now like sequencing the mosquito genome or learning about M&M's shaking in barrels, we should keep in mind that the results from these efforts might one day save our lives.

A lot of times, people say that an argument is purely academic or only works in theory. Well, maybe not for long.

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I was listening to NPR on the way home from work today and I heard that John Ashcroft was going to restart the "War on Porn", I guess. Apparently, they only managed to garner 5 convictions based on federal laws regarding decency. This obviously disappointed conservatives and Ashcroft is going to try and do better this year.

Man, do we live in a nation of sexually repressed prudes! Out of all the things to try and prosecute, they want to prevent porn. In my opinion there are a bunch of other criminals I'd like to see prosecuted first: drug dealers, mobsters, and of course, the insidious Martha Stewart. But no, we have to prevent teenagers and lonely men from masturbating all day.

It seems like America is particularly concerned with porn than most other countries (Janet Jackson/CBS anyone?). I think this may be because of our Puritanical roots. Who do think was on the Mayflower! We started a country based on a culture that has very conservative/strict rules regarding sexuality. Of course, over time we have managed to cast off the goody-goody shackles, but there still those lingering bits of institution lying about stirring up trouble. Take this year's SuperBowl "incident" involving Janet Jackson. Jackson's boob in all its glory was shown on broadcast television for everyone to see. This was apparently only on for a very very short time, but many people managed a peek. And of course, EVERYONE got to see it during the endless replays that assaulted you everywhere you turned. Not long after, a woman sued Jackson and CBS for billions of dollars for injury or something like that. Now how did her boob actually injure anyone? It's not like her nipple poked out anyone's eye.

I really think that if porn were just let loose, we would of course have a deulge of boobies and pee-pees everywhere, but in the following weeks I'm sure it would die down. As a consequence the mystique and taboo of sex will disappear. I mean, it's not like trying to legalize drugs which are addictive. It's sex/sexuality. It's somewhat natural (I'm not sure if the world's biggest gangbang is natural) so what's the big deal? If anything, our vulgar language will lose its shock value (it's interesting to note that the majority of our curse words involve sex: fuck, motherfucker, dickhead, cuntface, etc etc). We'll release a collective sexual tension and most people will probably be a lot happier.

Of course the uberconservative won't be, but then again they had their chance to run the country 200 years ago.

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I had an awkward moment today at work. I happen to see my boss in the hall and managed to shoot off an opportunistic question. As it turns out, the answer to my question ended up causing come concerns unbeknownst to me. So a meeting was called by my bosses requiring my presence and a coworker. Well, I sat there for about an hour while my coworker was basically berated for not being responsible/motivated/competent - all because of my innocent little question! I wasn't really complaining; I was just curious if something was subpar, acceptable, or excellent. Really, I mean it! My boss interpreted that to be a complaint and said something to the effect of "When people like [ME!] come by and complain about this, I expect you to be able to handle this." That was pretty damned awkward, so I just sat there and said nothing.

Now before you get all huffy about piping up to defend my coworker, he's been in hot water for months because of his cluelessness. He's a nice guy and has the potential to be a good worker, but he can't prioritize or focus so ends up getting nothing significant done.

So don't feel too bad for him!

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xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 10 years ago I was watching TV tonight and I saw a commercial for anxiety drugs... well, anti-anxiety drugs, I mean. My first thought was, "What a bunch of sissies!" That got me to thinking about the increasingly commonplace use of pharmaceuticals to solve problems that were once considered to be outside the realm of medicine.

As time goes on, we seem to be creating problems as well as solutions (adolescent issues, privacy issues, etc). I'm wondering if anxiety disorders are a figment of society.

These days people have phones, TV, internet, faxes, instant messenger and whatnot so it's really no wonder that people can't interact with each other in real life. In fact, the problem might just worsen as these things start penentrating younger populations, with the endorsement of the parents no less! So are drugs the answer? I'm pretty sure that some people have a biochemical imbalance that puts them at a disadvantage or something else like stuttering, but anxiety?

But that can't be the entire problem. The countries with the highest technology pervasiveness (ie Japan, Korea) don't appear to have problems. Of course, I don't live in those countries and can't speak antything but English... So is it the combination of the American citizen's solitary trends with technology? I mean, we Americans just hate it when those foreigners stand so close to use while they're talking, right? It's just creepy. We also have the most skewed perspective on privacy (every American thinks privacy is an absolute right, despite the absence of such a clause in The Constitution).

Since psychiatrists must prescribe such drugs as Paxil and whatever, they are the gatekeepers. So let's look at them for a moment. How do they decide who gets these drugs, in a general way. I'm sure there all kinds of technical criteria, but let's keep it understandable for now. There seem to be two main situations that justify prescribing psychiatric drugs: 1. Someone is a danger to themselves and/or society OR 2. They are deviant from the social norm somehow that prevents them from leading productive lives. It is this second situation that seems generate demand for anti-anxiety drugs. If enough people start to have anxiety problems, then do the smooth-talkers become people that need drugs? The obvious answer is that just because a majority is exhibiting symptoms doesn't mean it it desirable by definition (ie If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?). So what's the deal?

I think that pills or drugs or whatever have become a sort of magic solution to problems ever since the discovery of antibiotics. The next big thing was probably Prozac for clinically depressed. It seemed that pills could cure us of microbial maurauders or the blues. So now we have drugs for impotence (arguably a real medical problem, I conceed, but come on!), anxiety, depression, and all kinds of things once considered non-medical. Again, some people have real biochemical issues that can be corrected by drugs, but I fear that people with social problems as opposed to "biochemical problems manifested by social awkwardness" will get these drugs unnecessarily. Don't forget; all these drugs have side effects on their intended populations. What happens when you start giving them to the normals?

It seems to me that society needs to reevaluate its criteria for acceptable behavior. If people think that bumbling conversations are so terrible they need drugs, then something is wrong here. I forsee one of two things happening: 1. Backlash!- Another dark age in the coming! OR 2. Real-life interactions will be significantly diminished.

Of course with all the jerks in the world today, who actually wants to talk to people!

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Happy Homemaking

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago It's November now and the holidays are fast approaching. My girlfriend is in full happy homemaking mode. She made greenbean casserole two days ago, stuffing yesterday, and is currently making a fruit crisp as I type. It's kind of weird becuase she's not usually this way and is very "I am woman, hear me roar" type. You know, she went to Haaaarvard. It's not that she's pushy or bitchy or anything. Far from it. She's just very anti-traditional-woman, refusing to be the subservient wimp.

Anyway, it's interesting to think about women in the 21st century. More women than men are going to school nowadays and some are talking about now encouraging boys more than girls because the past efforts embolden the girls has resulted in a defecit of educated men. There was an article in the NY Times about women choosing to quit their jobs and be stay-at-home moms over advancing their careers. I wonder why that is.

Could it be that extra X chromosome? I usually hate pointing to genetics for answers to social behaviors. Is it society/media? All those movies and TV shows exemplifying the perfect woman as being happily subservient, nurturing, and... whatever. That's probably a stronger explanation. Perhaps it has something to do with that biological clock. Beats me, I'm neither a woman nor a sociologist(sp?).

Who cares!? I love stuffing!

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Denial

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago Do we live in a world of denial? Is it possible for us to live without it? I was watching "Law and Order:SVU" tonight and it was about this rich weirdo that kidnapped women and acted out ofrced marriages. Their initial suspect was this photophobic, homeless guy who was totally creepy and vampirish. My girlfriend said, "Ewww!" more than a couple of times. That's what got my thinking about denial.

In the movie "American Beauty", one of the character says something about neverunderestimating the power of denial, while referring to his parents willingness to deny his drug business. Without denial, his parents probably couldn't function in the most minimal way. Maybe we will all do the same thing in a smaller way.

In an intellectual sense, I know that bad things happen to good people and that bad people do bad things. Murders, tortures, and rapes probably happen on an hourly basis if not more frequently. On one hand, it sounds inhuman to pretend those things don't exist. On the other, I'd probably lose my mind. Foreigners accuse Americans of being close-minded, uncultured, and insensitive, but I think that we (yes, I'm American) don't live the type of lives that prepare us for the inhumanity. Lots of articles talk about how violent America is, but I think most of us live pretty sedate and protected lives. I know I did.

Should we live in a world of denial? I think most psychiatrists would say no, but a little denial is probably healthy. It helps us function and get through the day. It protects us from the inundation of cruelness from the world. Without denial, we'd probably slit our wrists.

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Coffee

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago My UserID is xanthines-R-yummy. On another geeky website I'm known simply as xanthines. xanthines are family of molecules of which caffeine is a member. This leads me todays topic: Cofee.

I love coffee. Plain and simple. It's weird because I used to not like it. During my junior year in college, my roomate wanted to get some coffee. Since I was the one with car, I volunteered to drive him to Dunkin Donuts; I figured I'd have a donut or two. Well, I had a small coffee and I was pleasantly surprised! My parents make coffee that is too weak, and my work-study boss made coffee way too strong (she's European). Since then, I've been hooked. It's interesting how we drink things that actually taste kind of bad. Beer and coffee both taste pretty bad, yet continue to drink. I wonder why that is. Although I liked the DD coffee, it had tons of sugar and creamer in it. As for beer, I just kept drinking it to be cool. Eventually I liked it too. Mmmmmmmmm.... Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeer....

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Thoughts on Television

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago I watch waaaaay too much TV on any given day. I watch an hour of "The Simpsons" plus an hour of "Law and Order" (some variant of the show is running at most hours of the day) or "CSI." The thing is, except for "The Simpsons" I don't really enjoy television too much (and sometimes "The Simpsons" aren't too satisfying either, truth be told!).

The weird thing, is that I go into some sort of trance that is hard to break. It's very hard to pry myself away from from the darn thing. This is why I think television rots your brain. It's totally a one-way flow of information. You'd think this wouldn't be problem, right? Just watch PBS or the Discovery Channel. The weird thing is that I don't remember very much from those either, unless I actively try to remember things. Of course, then I end up missing stuff while trying to remember the 1st thing.

I think the areas of my brain that are active when I watch TV are useful for nothing else! There's that saying that you only use 10% of your brain or something like that. Maybe they never did those MRI studies while people watched television... Your brain is almost totally inactive when you watch TV. It's weird. You recieve so much information (an hour-long show in DIVX format would be pretty long, I think; I shudder to think of what it would be in AVI!), yet the brain is so idle and you retain so little. I mean, I have trouble sometimes remembering what I just saw!

I think reading is much better. I rememeber a lot more from books than from TV, even though a book has probably 20x more information. MY theory is that when you read a book, you have to think of the pictures in your mind, so in addition to receiving information your mind is actively creating pictures in there.

Unfortunately, we have now come to a conundrum of sorts. I'm pretty sure most people watch just as much, if not more TV than me. The problem arises when your friends/co-workers/bosses/whatever start talking X dating Y on the Z show. It's hard to engage in those conversations. I know this firsthand because I don't see very many movies. In fact, one year I had yet to see any of the nominees for Best Pictures (Moulin Rouge, Lord of the Rings, whatever year that was). Television shows have become a sort of cultural currency or something. It's definitely part of being culturally literate in the U.S. The way I make it sound, you're seriously lacking a person if you don't know how many times Ross has been married from the show "Friends."

The TV is "The Matrix" of our day. We all plug in and escape reality, just sitting in our living rooms "calm as hindu cows." One day, we'll probably plug into our TV's. How creepy will that be?

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Ebay

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago I bought a gigantic laptop a few months ago and I ahve enjoyed using it. However, I've become a lot more mobile than I had previously anticipated. I would have bought a Dell X300/300m if they were available at the time, but alas! they were not.

I was looking on eBay for a Sony U101 and found several for sale. To make a long story shorter, this particular seller was obviously a fraud. I alereted eBay and had the satisfaction of bringing down (temporarily, anyway) a fraud!

I have to admit, I got a cheap thrill of actually affecting something gloablly (the seller was either in the UK or Andorra, maybe somewhere else, though). My life is normally pretty boring to the external observer. Not that this combats that, but I thought it was cool. I wanted to buy it for $1.00, but as soon as I tried, they pulled the item off the auction block and tried to get me to buy it sans eBay.

Anyway, my girlfriend was kind of impressed, which surprised me actually!

That's it for today!

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Commence Brain Dump

xanthines-R-yummy xanthines-R-yummy writes  |  more than 11 years ago Hello, I've been on /. for awhile now, but I only just saw the journal option. For some reason, the journal bug has bitten me and I've decided to use this site because of its fortitude.

I'm basically going to use this as a brain dump and just type whatever comes to mind. I don't always think the way I type, so it may be difficult, annoying, or boring to read. Just a warning.

I'll try to write often, but no promises!

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