A little pondering of How To Manage Communicable Diseases (which is what we've been paying the Top Professionals the big bucks for, lo these many years) leads to an idea whose time seemed long gone... but which seems really appropriate for managing outbreaks of dread diseases while the afflicted population is small.
See the post title for a hint.
Yes, designated isolation colonies were used for leprosy back in the day, despite its being not terribly contagious (and most of the population not even being susceptible).
If it's, say, the 1990s, and you have a fair-sized budget for preparing for contagion control, and you've heard of Ebola, and Marburg, and suchlike things... what's an obvious measure to take, in preparation for the day one of those diseases, or something else that's nasty, contagious, and incurable at the moment, breaks out?
Right. Take an unpopulated island, or some other controlled-access area. Build a low-budget resort, designed to be mothballed for extended periods, and partitioned into several zones, each with hospital facilities. Now mothball it, and post a nominal guard against inquisitive kids. Maybe have official tours on occasion.
When you have a few, or a few hundred, cases of a new disease to take care of, take the facility out of mothballs and send the patients and medical staff there. Have good electronic communication for all... but no outgoing physical mail, and no one leaves without a clean bill of health and sufficient time in the outgoing-quarantine zone.
Yeah, it would only handle a limited number of patients, and, as with any other measure short of a cure or vaccine, it buys us a limited amount of time. But sometimes that's enough... and it's better than turning the plague loose among the population at large.
Yeah, the latest Doctor Who. The one with all the trees.
Every attempt to inject sciencey content was completely wrong from beginning to end.
Monster CME is big enough to blow the whole planet away! But, adding some oxygen to the atmosphere will make everything fine. WTF?
Trees control the supply of oxygen, ergo, you can't set fire to one without its consent. WTF?
There were several more, which have mercifully faded from my memory overnight.
Oh, and that CME was in remarkably tight focus when it arrived. A tiny fraction of a degree off in either axis, a tiny fraction of a second off in arrival time, and it would have missed the planet completely. Had to be carefully planned and guided. Only the Ringworld meteor defense is so precise*.
Oh, yes. There was a tyger. It wasn't burning, though there was a certain amount of brightness involved. Pity the brightness wasn't among the writers.
* Actually, it's nowhere near that precise, but I couldn't resist the temptation to rephrase my original sentence there.
A more-or-less-serious mailing list brought a link to this.
Wack-job tin-foil-hattery, plus:
The nighttime launch will be visible along much of the eastern seaboard. At some point during its flight, the rocket will likely suffer a so-called “cyber-attack”, resulting in a massive EMP-like explosion, knocking out electricity on the East Coast of America for good.
What is this I don't even...?
How does a cyber-attack turn a chemical-fueled launch vehicle into a megaton-range nuke?
Or does the cyber-attack involve physically replacing the payload with a bloody huge warhead?
And by the time she's said 'Hoolima Kittiluca Cheecheechee' It is usually too late!
Now I can't remember what train of thought led me to "The Philological Waltz" this morning, but the affirmative-consent connection came later.
Might have been something to do with a bit of world-building that had me distracted during morning walkies, trying to come up with a plausible human-inhabited world of the distant future in which one could have adventures among the wild tribes. (It calls for some oddly specific geography, but the history isn't too farfetched.)
It's a two-bodied cat! The shaggy body is Top Hat; the one that matches the head is Huckleberry.
A bit over a week ago:
Everyone out under the avocado tree while the house is flea-bombed. The youngsters are in a big dog cage. That blue thing behind it is a foldable dog crate. If memory serves, it's meant to be a medium-sized dog crate.
A few days before that:
When she's not dreaming of being a mountain lion or perhaps a Siberian tiger, Southmoon sometimes contemplates a career as a seat cushion.
This flurry of incoherent posts brought to you by A Trip To The Dentist. 'Twas a planned day of non-productivity, on account of I had three teeth laminated in the middle of a Monday, and I'm still groggy*.
I haven't actually seen the bill yet, but as I understand it the procedure is priced per tooth. Which makes sense from the perspective of having defined billing codes for insurance, but:
The actual cost involves a substantial amount of fixed overhead in time and materials, plus a few minutes and a tiny amount of material per tooth.
So, if it's structured for the convenience of accountants, having three teeth done in one session is billed at three times the price of a single tooth, while the actual cost is perhaps (total WAG) 20% more than a single tooth.
That's what happens when you let bureaucrats define the billing system.
* Yeah, yeah, it doesn't work that way. Technically, only the right side of my lower lip is still groggy. But having my mouth poked at is stressful, and I need unwinding time before I can start making sense again.
With recent revelations about the application of civil asset forfeiture - the IRS seizing bank accounts without the bother of filing any sort of charges, and various "law enforcement" agencies engaging in outright highway robbery - the question is finally being asked in public:
Has civil asset forfeiture gone too far?
Why, yes. Yes, it has.
It had gone too far back in the 1980s, when Ed Meese was promoting it.
And it's gone even beyond the dreadful Meese Doctrine (paraphrased from memory*):
From the moment a crime is committed on a property, that property belongs to the government.
The logical implication being that, if you're the victim of a burglary - a crime being committed on your property - the government is thereby entitled to take anything the burglars left, including your home and land.
And the business about the Fifth Amendment not applying, because it's the property and not the owner that stands accused? Nonsense:
nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
The effect is to take the property away from its owner, thereby depriving the owner of it. The fiction that the thing is somehow guilty alters this not in the least.
If the property has an owner, or at least someone who'll say "Hey! That's mine! Where ya goin' with it?" as opposed to "Duuuuh, I got no idear how that got there! I never seen it before!", then due process most assuredly must apply.
Zehaf-Bibeau carried a 30-30 Winchester shotgun and a knife during Wednesday's attack. Investigators believe he took the knife from his aunt's property in Mont Tremblant, where he lived years ago, Paulson said. The gun, which police described as "old and uncommon," also may have been hidden on the property, Paulson said.
Yeah, shotguns in .30-30 are pretty uncommon. As in, Do Not Exist.
I believe the word you're looking for there is "rifle."
Seems Elon Musk thinks AI is the greatest menace to humanity.
This leads to:
So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. There should be some regulatory oversight maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish."
Which, on a moment's contemplation, makes no sense.
See, if I create a rogue AI, what can it do? Send spam e-mails? Start a blog? Surf the net for robot porn? Dream of electric sheep?
You really think some unregulated hacker is going to doom mankind?
But... if the government creates an AI... and puts it to use... that's an entirely different kettle of fish.
So perhaps the correct solution is to prevent any government involvement in AI?
The classic "let's put it in charge of the nuclear arsenal" scenario isn't the only plausible big-government use for an infallible computer intelligence, to eliminate all possibility of human error. What else could be delegated to the Central Computer? Well, there's air traffic control. And economicplanning. And Justice. Scared yet?
Meanwhile, consider what private industry might do. Self-driving cars! Wow! A rogue self-driving car could do as much damage as... as... as a rogue human with a regular car. Which is right up there with a rogue (minimally-trained) human with all the smallarms he can carry.
Now, if a whole bunch of self-driving cars went rogue all at once, that'd be more troublesome. Like, a really big deal. But, unless there's a shared, calendar-based bug, or the cars are networked and conspiring against us...?
On the economic front: suppose we put an AI in charge of monetary policy? Think it could screw up any worse than the clowns we've got now? But, to inspire confidence, how about a well-defined, non-intelligent algorithm? It'd have to be a little more complex than "adjust the money supply such that the price of gold remains at $35 per troy ounce", but not necessarily a lot more. Ideally, it'd be simple enough for everyone to understand what drove the money supply. Perhaps elegance and transparency would prove more important, in the real world, than conceptual optimality?
How far our society has fallen! In these wicked days, word is making the rounds that police departments are warning of razor blades hidden in Halloween candy and/or apples!
Er, wait. Haven't those warnings been making the rounds since, like, the 1950s? Every year? And it always happened in Some Other City?
Why, yes! SnowPeas only traces it back to the mid-1960s (which is consistent with "as far back as I can remember"), though I'm pretty sure I read of it in some 1950s-vintage work of fiction.
And, indeed, as far as evil people actually distributing tampered goodies to the neighborhood kids: mostly mythical; the reported incidents seem to have been mainly hoaxes. And mainly inspired by the very warnings that were being tossed about.
The title of the post has nothing to do with Japanese-style fried eels.
I think I've mentioned a time or two that sometimes I'll have An Idea Whose Time Has Come, not have the time and resources to do anything with it, and then a couple of years later learn that someone at, e.g., IBM had the same idea at the same time.
(The cordless keyboard for the PCjr was one of these, though I was kinda-sorta ripping off Arthur C. Clarke if memory serves - taking a gimmick from a sci-fi novel and tweaking it just enough to be practical. Someone at IBM either read my mind or read the same novel, or maybe it was just an idea whose time had come.)
Anyway: there's a Thing that I've had on the drawing board for a couple of years now, even going through a couple of iterations of circuit design, but it's never quite seemed useful enough, nor producty-enough, for me to gets boards fabbed, install parts on them, and get busy with firmware development. (This could change soon, as there's potentially an impending need for such a Thing.)
Well, at RTECC this morning, I had a chat with one of the exhibitors, and their new-real-soon product is, from a hardware perspective, a Thing very much like mine. Difference is, they've got a team of firmware developers, and a business plan that involves selling the hardware with a baseline firmware load, and then selling firmware upgrades for special additional capabilities.
During the chat, though, I did come up with a potentially interesting business model, that basically involves changing an arm and a leg for the hardware and standard firmware (keeping everything closed-source), and then running a for-money on-line service whereby clients and their customers to sign in securely and enter function definitions to be compiled for the Thing (which is a sort of special-purpose test instrument, for a niche market, and typically used in acceptance testing).
Sorry, no specifics. Tinfoil time. Besides, I just came up with a further way of making the Thing look like it's an expensive piece of lab equipment, the better for Test Engineering to get it past Purchasing.
From an article about the Orion launch abort system*:
Should they need to abort, they'll be subjected to extreme forces. The launch abort motor provides 400,000 pounds of thrust, enough to accelerate the capsule from zero to 800 kilometers per hour in three seconds—and that's on top of whatever speed the launch vehicle is already going. The published numbers on how many Gs this produces varies, but it's somewhere north of 11.
Let's see, now.
Assuming constant acceleration, that's 800000 m/hour, divided by 3600 s/hour, equals 222.22 m/s added by the LAS (once it disconnects from the booster, the booster no longer contributes any acceleration and can safely left out of this particular calculation**). Divide by the 3 seconds it takes to reach that added speed: 74.07 m/s/s. Divide by 9.8 m/s/s: 7.56 G.
So where does the "somewhere north of 11" come from? Is the thrust wildly nonuniform? Is the "three seconds" actually much shorter? If the mass of the capsule were handily provided, dividing the thrust thereby ought to give a proper number for acceleration, but it's not mentioned in the article and I'm too lazy to go digging.
(Oh, if they're heading straight up during this process, add 1G, for a total of 8.56, obviously. Still well south of 11.)
* Which does not involve setting off a string of little nukes.
Ran into a young chap at the gas station who said he was in financial distress...
Brought to mind this post by Bayou Renaissance Man, and:
When I'd offer to buy the food/gas/clothes for them, and give them the merchandise rather than the money, in more than nine cases out of ten the offer was declined - in fact, more than a few of them actually insulted me, demanding cash instead. (Needless to say, they didn't get it.)
Well, this lad gave me the no-money-for-gas story... but (a) he was at a gas station, and (b) he was looking for someone to give money to the cashier so he could feed his car.
So I figured it really was gas he needed, and maybe he really was looking for work (he did come across as potentially employable). So I handed the cashier a few bucks for his pump, as well as the usual twenty for mine.
(And the car wasn't new and shiny. Looked like the sort of well-used vehicle a young job-seeker might be getting around in.)