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Roger Moore
Pasadena, CA
I'm a scientist working at City of Hope
Interests: Photography, hiking, sourdough baking
Recent Activity
I would object to the use of "decision" to describe what happened here. The Supreme Court didn't decide anything; they just went along with the so far unanimous decisions of the Circuit Courts. The absolute most anyone can claim they did is to put off making a decision until the Circuit Courts have actually split on the issue.
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2014 on Fish or cut bait at Obsidian Wings
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@wj: My understanding is that the US decided quite early on that the Philipines would be granted independence rather than kept as an American possession. This wasn't a selfless act by any means, though; the US just saw the Philipines as too far away and too unprofitable to be worth keeping. That was very different from Hawaii or Guam, which were seen as strategically vital sites for Pacific naval bases.
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I personally like jpeg images as part of my standard workflow. I look through the in-camera jpgs to decide which pictures deserve further attention. I suppose I could change my workflow, but it seems very convenient to me. I assume there is also a demand for in-camera jpeg processing among professionals who want something they can send out quickly. This must be especially true of news photographers, where anything more than the in-camera jpeg raises questions of photographic manipulation. Since news photography is an important market for high-end cameras, that makes a good in-camera jpeg pipeline commercially vital.
Southern Baptists deny we are Protestant. We teach that as a body, we were never part of the Roman Catholic Church: we proudly trace our spiritual and theological heritage in a straight undeviating line directly back to Christ; Wow, that's just completely untethered to reality. If the Southern Baptists trace their theology back directly to Christ, then where were they in, say, the 13th Century? This strikes me as being more of a foam finger "We're Number 1" kind of a claim than a serious theological statement. Getting back to the original question, the easiest way of looking at a lot of the bigger Protestant denominations is to remember that they started as national churches of countries that rejected Catholicism for one reason or another. Lutheranism was the national church in Sweden and a lot of the non-Catholic German states. Presbyterianism was the national church of Scotland, and Anglicanism was the national church of England. That status as national established church was probably more significant in practice than the theological distinctions that supposedly justified the separation.
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As long as top quality prints took real time and effort by a master printer, there was an inherent limit in how many copies of a photograph there were likely to be. Now that you can get an unlimited number just by pushing a button, there's no real limit on how many copies of a given photograph a photographer can print. That eliminates the scarcity that tends to drive up prices on so much art.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2014 on Big Mystery at The Online Photographer
@thompson: Yeah, I'm familiar with the concept :) Let's just say that for this particular coworker, we did not hold a good bye lunch before they left. Instead, we held a good riddance lunch after they left, which was among the best attended lunches we've held in the nearly 20 years I've been at my job.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2014 on What we do for science open thread at Obsidian Wings
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Yeah, it depends on context. As long as there is some sort of IRB approval, it'll pass ethical muster. This was definitely on the unethical side. It was not a beautiful, IRB approved, informed consent form kind of donation. I certainly don't remember anything like a consent form. It was more of an ad hoc thing where they'd hit up likely looking coworkers for blood when they needed it. I didn't feel as if I would be fired for saying no, but there was certainly some social pressure to agree. The one other situation where I gave blood to help a coworker was for a grad student who needed to run one more experiment to graduate. Most of the people who donated did so out of a selfish desire to get rid of a disliked coworker rather than an ordinary desire to help, but that was sufficient motivation to get enough volunteers.
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@wj: My vein is also easy to find, mostly because of all the scars. I stopped giving at all once my veins started collapsing, but started giving again for patients rather than research a few years later. Now I have a nice scar where the needle always goes. I think it's going to get worse now that I've switched to platelets and can give every 2 weeks instead of every 8. I'll need to lose some weight before my veins are otherwise easy to find.
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Oh, it still is. I'm called upon all the time. Easy veins to find. I've been told that it's unethical to ask coworkers for blood because there's an implied pressure to comply. Fortunately, I work in a place with a large blood donor center, so there's generally enough discard blood available for researchers that they don't need to hit people up for donations anymore. The can also get a lot of the specialized cell types they're after by starting with marrow cells and maturing them with specific maturation factors, and those in vitro cells are more desirable for a lot of experiments anyway.
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I assume stings in the nose are especially bad because bee venom contains potent allergens, and the nose has a very high concentration of the immune cells involved in allergic response.
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The main thing I've done for science (other than ordinary lab work) is donating body fluids. When I was just getting started, there was another group in the lab who needed neutrophils. Since neutrophils have a lifespan of only about a day, they needed fresh blood every time they wanted to do an experiment. Today they would ask for discard blood (i.e. the blood left in transfer lines and the like) from our blood donor center, but back then it was acceptable to hit up coworkers for blood. They coincidentally got their first good results the first time they used my blood and kept going back for it until I literally couldn't donate anymore because my veins would collapse the moment the phlebotomist attached a vacutainer to the line. My most recent donations have been saliva. A different researcher is interested in looking for disease markers in saliva, and I'm a convenient donor to use while developing the techniques. I know which one I prefer to donate.
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Weegee would use a fully kitted out 1Dx or D4s, and would take most of his pictures with the matching 24-70. Ansel Adams would be a brand hopper, and would make most of his money teaching Photoshop classes rather than selling photographs.
You don't want to know how the photographer is lost now that the Empire State Building is blocking access to TOP?
Toggle Commented Mar 23, 2014 on Links I Refuse to Click at The Online Photographer
I suspect that torture was more about anger than fear. Yes, Americans were afraid of another attack, and our leaders were more afraid than most since they knew they'd take the blame. But we and they were also angry about the death and destruction from the 9/11 attacks and wanted revenge. I don't think it's a coincidence that the biggest supporters of torture were also big believers in capital punishment. They're both about applying the most extreme punishments we can think of as a way of expressing how much we detest the crimes they're meant to punish.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2014 on Who made torture respectable? at Obsidian Wings
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I wonder if it's really as unreasonable as you suggest to tear down houses and rebuild. Most of the homeowners I know (including myself) have a long list of major renovations they've either carried out or are planning on. We remodel our kitchens and bathrooms, upgrade our plumbing and wiring, repair and replace the outside, etc. That work tends to be expensive because it has to take place without damaging the structure of the house or unduly disrupting the occupants' lives. Until it's done, we live with a house that we're dissatisfied with. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that rebuilding from scratch is not much more expensive than a thorough renovation, and it gives a house that's completely new and built to the owner's specifications. Anyway, I don't believe in the whole idea of a house as a way of building wealth, at least on a society-wide scale. A house is not a productive asset, and it does not become more valuable just from sitting there. Far from it; a house requires regular maintenance to avoid falling into disrepair and eventual ruin. The apparent appreciation in a house's value is either from the land it sits on gaining value or an illusion of inflation. The delusion that houses are a great investment that's sure to pay handsome returns is what gave use real estate bubbles, the S&L mess, and the subprime mortgage crisis. The sooner people treat houses primarily as living places the better.
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There's a reason big business was willing to accept a 40 hour week; they discovered you got about as much work out of someone in a 40 hour week as in a 60 hour week, but the capital intensive equipment they used was available for more shifts. Long hours can be productive in the short term and can be essential in an emergency, but shorter, regular hours are a better long term plan.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2014 on My greatest predictive failure at Obsidian Wings
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I think cooking is a good example of why I prefer a skill system to a level system in role playing games. Cooking skill is very multi-dimensional, as your example of being great at baking cakes but completely inexperienced at making roux shows. I consider myself an accomplished bread baker- I've been sourdough baking with self-made starter for a decade- but I know next to nothing about baking cakes. Does that make me a low level or a high level baker? Neither. It means I've put all my baking skill points into bread rather than other baked goods.
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2013 on Leveling up in cooking at Obsidian Wings
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@Brett Bellmore: It's not even obvious that it's a lot less efficient for the charity. They have to spend some money on putting on an event, but there are very few charities that can raise money without some kind of advertising budget, so it's not clear how big a difference that makes in practice. In exchange, they get people like Bozo to act as volunteer fundraisers and bundlers. It's basically a three way trade where everyone can come out ahead: A) the charity gets free assistance from volunteer fundraisers. The obvious volunteer status of the fund raisers may even give them added credibility and the ability to reach people who wouldn't otherwise donate. B) the Bozos get to help a charity they feel strongly about. They also get social status, both among their peers as a somebody who's visibly helping charity and among the charity's beneficiaries as somebody who helps to raise a lot of money. c) the donors get the normal benefits of donating to charity (helping a worthy cause, tax write-off, feeling good about themselves) and also get the entertainment value of whatever it is that Bozo has done and the pleasure of participating vicariously. I honestly don't think this kind of fundraising would continue as vigorously as it has unless all three participants thought they were getting something they weren't getting from ordinary fund drives.
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@David Dyer-Bennet: "Bokeh" was itself a significant advance in this, and I think it's quite useful -- even though it's much less specific than any of the others. There is actually quite a bit more terminology for people who really care about bokeh. People will often talk about smooth or harsh bokeh, usually referring to whether out of focus points are rendered with bright centers and dim edges (smooth) or dim centers and bright edges (harsh). Neutral bokeh is intermediate, with blur circles more or less evenly illuminated. It's very common for lenses to have different effects on out of focus points in front of and behind the plane of focus, so people will talk about front and back bokeh. And there are other terms used to describe specific effects, e.g. "nisen" bokeh refers to the way some lenses double out of focus lines (frequently an effect of "harsh" bokeh) and "cat's eye" bokeh refers to the way some bright points are rendered as pointy oblongs toward the corners of the picture (common in fast lenses that vignette strongly at wide apertures).
Following up on Hartmut, I'd say that the King James Bible* has probably had an effect on English at least as big as Shakespeare's. It has been much more widely and thoroughly read than Shakespeare, and it's full of both great language and instructive stories, so language from the KJV litters our language. I don't know if it counts in quite the same way that Shakespeare does, if only because it's the work of a committee rather than a single person, but it's enormously important.
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Re: cold blooded dinosaurs: I get the impression that this was more of an unquestioned assumption than settled science. The early paleontologists who encountered dinosaurs saw them as similar to existing reptiles, knew that all living reptiles were cold blooded, and logically assumed that dinosaurs were, too. That assumption went mostly unchallenged for a long time because people didn't really think of it as an assumption, more of something they just knew. That kind of unquestioned assumption is often one of the hardest things to root out because it isn't taught as being an inherent part of the theory. People can be so blinded by their assumptions that they don't notice, discount, or deliberately ignore contrary evidence, letting those assumptions persist unchallenged. It's also a place where all kinds of cultural biases can creep into the operation of science, which can produce some stunningly bad science.
@Mike Johnston: I'd like to bring up one more relevant point, which is that controversies commonly surround subjects that laypeople believe they can understand intuitively. What's probably more important is that they tend to crop up when there are intrenched interests with a strong desire to dispute the theory. That could be religious leaders who think the theory conflicts with their understanding of the Bible (e.g. the Catholic Church vs. Galileo) or when there's some kind of moneyed interest that is worried about loss of business (e.g. Tobacco companies disputing cancer research). That kind of concerted lobbying by an entrenched group is a giant flashing sign for bad science.
@Dave Sailer: "Science is not a collection of answers, it is a way of asking questions," I like to say that it isn't about what we know, it's about how we know it. It's one thing that I really wish our schools taught better. You'll learn far more about real science by digging deeply into the development of a single theory- what was the old theory and the evidence that supported it, what was the new theory and the new evidence that supported it, etc.- than you will by memorizing reams of facts.
There's a very important secondary point to the one about trend lines: never take anything seriously based on one paper or one research group. It's very easy to make mistakes when you're carrying out an experiment and get erroneous results. It's somewhat harder, but still easier than people think, to keep making the same basic mistake and reproduce your own flawed results. It's only when somebody in a separate research group is able to get similar results that laypeople should start paying attention. Comparing cold fusion, which outside researchers couldn't reproduce when they tried, with high temperature superconductors, which were widely replicated and even improved on within weeks of publication, is a good example. Another related rule is to compare the size of the effect or recommendation with the size of the experiment. If somebody makes a bold policy recommendation based on a handful of data, they're usually talking through their hat. It's only when there's mounds of data pointing in the same direction that it's worth changing your life over it. I see this a lot with nutrition studies, which recommend dietary changes based on a single paper that studied mice. That kind of thing is almost always nonsense.
@wj: The Census department definition- which I believe is the one that shows most people in Vermont and Maine as living in urban areas- is fairly loose. They start with an urban core that must meet some fairly basic criteria- an agglomeration of census tracts and/or census blocks each with population density of 1000/square mile or more- and then graft onto it additional areas with population density of at least 500/square mile. The grafted on blocks can be separated from the core, provided the separation is short and there's a road connecting them. This seems a lot closer to the "village and some stores" criterion than the "city, especially big city" definition, and it even allows outlying hamlets or low density developments of less than 1 person/acre to count as part of the urban area.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2013 on A Sunday map open thread at Obsidian Wings
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