Ben Goldacre: Battling Bad Science

Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they’re right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry.

This is an excellent presentation on what is wrong with science today. While the data itself may not lie, the interpretations can be made to say nearly anything the researcher wants it to.

EDIT: Due to format restrictions, the video is partially cut off. Here’s the link to the video on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng//id/1234

Kevin Slavin: How Algorithms Shape Our World

Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can’t understand, with implications we can’t control.


IBM’s Watson enters medicine

IBM’s first TV commercial advertising Watson’s capabilities in medicine. I find this system incredibly fascinating. Medicine has evolved to the point where it is no longer possible to know every aspect of every disease. Watson promises to help doctors improve diagnosis and better tailor treatments to individual patients.

Watson’s technical specifications:

  • 90 IBM Power 750 servers enclosed in 10 racks
  • 16 Terabytes of memory
  • A 2,880 processor core
  • Linux system
  • While not officially disclosed by IBM, Watson is estimated to have cost $1-$2 billion
  • Uses “DeepQA”: a technology that enables computer systems to directly and precisely answer natural language questions over an open and broad range of knowledge

9/11 Remembered

We will never forgive, and we will will never forget. Our enemies thought they could instill in us fear. We showed them strength and unity. Our enemies thought we would withdraw and retreat. We amplified our presence and came for them. Our enemies looked at America and thought they saw weakness. We brought to their doorstep retribution and defeat. Our enemies merely succeeded in awaking a sleeping giant, and they filled him with a terrible resolve.

Who are our enemies?

Our enemies are those who oppose freedom and liberty. Those who would bring destruction rather than progress. Those would would bring cruelty rather than kindness. Those who would pervert the ideals of peace to deliver the realities of war. It is those people who become the enemies of all who love freedom, not just in America but around the world. America may take a leading role in the struggle, but it does not struggle alone. And in the struggle for freedom, America will not falter, and it will not fail.

An Approach to Entitlement Spending and Unemployment

The United States currently owes $14.7 trillion. The estimated population of the United States is 311,264,255, so each citizen’s share of this debt is $47,235.03. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $3.96 billion per day since September 2007. I ask you to support corporate and income tax reform, cuts to wasteful spending and entitlement programs and a balanced approach to our runaway spending.

However, how do we get there? How do we handle runaway entitlement spending and record unemployment?

We must advocate a different allocation of our funding. We should cancel entitlement programs and replace them with works programs.

I know this may sound shocking. I consider myself a moderate Democrat, but a Democrat nonetheless. The idea of dramatic changes to entitlements sounds scary, but hear me out.

I would propose that entitlements should continue only for the means-tested retired and the disabled. As proposed, the changes would work as follows:

  • If you are retired, a criteria will be setup so that if you’re making under $250,000 per year or have a net worth of less than $2 million dollars, you will quality for entitlement funding, including Social Security and Medicare.
  • If you are disabled and also meet the previous criteria, you will receive entitlement funding.
  • If you are healthy and of working age, you will not qualify for welfare and other entitlement spending. Rather, you will be guaranteed a job through a government works program that provides a salary and health benefits.

It’s a simple and commonsense approach. If you don’t want money or insurance, you don’t have to work. If you do and can’t otherwise find a job, the government will provide one via public works. We have miles of roads, bridges and other structures that need repair and/or replacement. Our infrastructure has long been neglected. Our unemployment rate is above 9%. Now is the chance to fix both problems at the same time.

Under my plan, the person benefits and America benefits.

And to me, this makes a lot more sense than simply sending out welfare checks.

iPhone Top Jailbreak Apps Roundup – September 2011

Well, it’s a new month and it’s time for a new roundup of great apps for the jailbroken iPhone. The jailbreak scene continues to grow and talented developers continue to find ways to make the iPhone better and better. The apps below are just a few of the reasons why the iPhone remains the #1 smartphone and why any iPhone owner should strongly consider jailbreaking their device. Continue reading

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