Search Results: "nickb"

1 September 2020

Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities August 2020

Focus This month I didn't have any particular focus. I just worked on issues in my info bubble.




  • Debian: restarted RAM eating service
  • Debian wiki: unblock IP addresses, approve accounts

Sponsors The cython-blis/preshed/thinc/theano bugs and smart-open/python-importlib-metadata/python-pyfakefs/python-zipp/python-threadpoolctl backports were sponsored by my employer. All other work was done on a volunteer basis.

10 February 2014

Mario Lang: Neurofunkcasts

I have always loved Drum and Bass. In 2013 I rediscovered my love for Darkstep and Neurofunk, and found that these genres have developed quite a lot in the recent years. Some labels like Black Sun Empire and Evol Intent produce mixes/sets on a regular basis as podcasts these days. This article aggregates some neurofunk podcasts I like a lot, most recent first. Enjoy 33 hours and 57 minutes of fun with dark and energizing beats. Thanks to BSE Contrax and Evol Intent for providing such high quality sets. You can also see the Python source for the program that was used to generate this page.

8 May 2009

Alastair McKinstry: Funding Public Health care : the bigger picture

Adrian von Bidder raises an interesting discussion on why public health care is difficult. Basically, it comes back to the challenge:
How much money should be spent on this person's illness? which is a very, very bad question. We try to sidestep it by only taking about statistics etc., but no matter how you look at it, you either do 20'000  per week medications for 80 year old patients who will die soon anyway and get a system society can't pay, or you don't and you get a system where the rich are better off than the poor.
The problem is, the majority of health costs are in the last few years of a persons life: when the body is breaking down. If viewed from the problem of health-care funding vs. eg. education, you have an ethical dilemma: is it worth it ? Here there are no easy answers. Nick Bostrom wrote a very interesting and persuasive essay a while back, The fable of the Dragon Tyrant. In short, we are getting somewhere with regenerative medicine While cures are hard to come by at this stage, there is a growing realization in medicine that senesence, what we used to call "old age", is curable. But we have a lot of psychological defensive mechanisms to help us cope with the carnage of old age that make us deny the problem: if we look afresh at "old age" knowing it to be curable, any delay in doing so is abhorrent. From a public, societal perspective, we spend a fortune every year on health. But we do so in a very disjointed way: we pay colossal amounts for health care, but also for basic health science: in the US, for example, the budget for the National Institutes of Health is about 30 billion dollars. Nearly twice that of NASA. Similar figures are spent in Europe, but there is this strange gap in the middle: the drug companies and medical industry. We start the development of new drugs with public money, and we buy the drugs with public money, but the choice of what drugs and treatments are developed are left to private industry, that is, a profit motive. This results in many cases in expensive treatments to treat symptoms rather than necessarily cure the problem. Faced with the huge costs of geriatric medicine and senesence, the response should be co-ordinated: funding a cure will be expensive, but save a fortune (Think, instead of a pensioner slowly dying and 'being a drain on resources', of 'experienced citizen in the prime of their productive, tax-paying years'). Instead of funding the basic science alone, we should be funding the complete drug and treatment development publically, only farming out the actual manufacture to private industry. It is silly to spend a fortune to keep merely keep someone alive at the age of eighty or so, when we know for a larger investment (bigger than a private company can do), we can cure them properly. The solution to the dilemma, then, is to stop thinking of the elderly being a drain, but actually applying our public efforts in a co-ordinated manner to solving the carnage of old age. Tags ,

30 May 2008

Russell Coker: Links May 2008

The Daily WTF has published an interesting essay on why retaining staff is not always a good thing [1]. The main point is that good people get bored and want to move on while mediocre people want to stay, but there are other points and it’s worth reading. Following the links from that article led me to an article comparing managing IT departments to managing professional sports teams [2]. They chose US football (a sport I know little about and have no interest in) so I probably missed some of the content. But they have some good points. John Goerzen gave a good presentation to the idea of increasing petrol taxes and decreasing other taxes to have a revenue neutral result while also discouraging petrol use [3]. I credit him with presenting the idea not inventing it because I have heard similar ideas several times before (but not nearly as well written and not written from a right-wing perspective). Hopefully some people who read his presentation will be more receptive than they were to the other versions of the same idea. Craig Venter spoke at TED about his work in creating artificial life [4]. He spent some time talking about the possibilities of creating artificial organisms to produce fuels directly from CO2 and sunlight. Nick Bostrom published a paper explaining why he hopes that the SETI projects find nothing [5]. His theory is that the fact that our solar system has not been colonised and that we have seen no immediate evidence of extra-terrestrial life indicates that there is a “Great Filter” which is a stage of evolution for which it is most unlikely that any species will pass. If the Great Filter is in our past (he cites the evolution of multi-celled life as one of the possibilities, and the evolution of prokaryotes into eukaryotes as another) then it means that our future might be more successful than if the Great Filter was something that tended to happen to advanced societies. Jared Diamond (the author of Collapse), has written an interesting article about vengeance [6]. He focuses on an example in New Guinea and uses it to explain why personal vendettas tend to run wildly out of control and how society is best served by having the state punish criminals.