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Category: Technology

The Trouble with Comments (on alternative media)

If you are short of time, just skip to the Six Battle-tested Rules to Help Publishers Nurture an Intelligent Comments Section.

I’ve been participating very actively in political conversations on various alternative sites for the last six months and recently over at MoonOfAlabama.org. I’ve also been involved in a very involved internal comments-or-not debate for a high profile and widely read international political site recently. Professionally at Foliovision, we develop what is the most powerful freestanding (software, not a service) comment moderation software, Thoughtful Comments1. Commenting has been on my mind would be an understatement.

MoonOfAlabama is not the only anti-Empire alternative media site who suffers from comment issues. Here’s a short list of some sites with whose comment sections I’m very familiar.

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Letter to a friend about the environment, leadership

The funny thing about those people favouring fracking and who don’t care about the plastic pollution in the oceans or the disappearing potable water is that the environment affects us all. More and more people die from cancer from our toxic environment and food. If we don’t wake up as a species, we will literally destroy our own habitat. There will be very little worth fighting over.

And none of it has to be this way if we were to reshape capitalism to make preservation and improvement of the environment our highest goal. Nothing to prevent us making health care and education a secondary priority. Particularly the second is very environmentally friendly. Young people reading books and improving their minds has very little carbon effect.

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NiceHash $64 million hack: inside job or not?

A Bitcoin investor friend of mine asked me if I thought the guys from NiceHash, Marko Kobal and co-founder Sasa Coh, were involved in the recent $64 million hack of their own bitcoin mining co-operative.

I didn’t watch the screencast but the guys don’t look particularly evil or guilty to me. They looked like guys who’d just been burned. Guys who thought they were smarter than they are. Sure, they could protect themselves (or you and I) from the kind of hackers who are interested in a $2 million heist but not those accustomed to a $50 million score. There’s a difference between high school ball and the NFL.

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(Published) cell phone research indicates no radiation

dr ben goldacre bad pharma
dr ben goldacre bad pharma

Bad Pharma, a new book by Ben Goldacre, looks into the research practices of big pharmacy. Apparently any negative information about new drugs is systematically suppressed even in the academic environment:

In 2010, researchers from Harvard and Toronto found all the trials looking at five major classes of drug…: were they positive, and were they funded by industry? They found more than 500 trials in total: 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were. In 2007, researchers looked at every published trial that set out to explore the benefits of a statin….This study found 192 trials in total, either comparing one statin against another, or comparing a statin against a different kind of treatment. They found that industry-funded trials were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug.

…In 2003, two [systematic reviews] were published. They took all the studies ever published that looked at whether industry funding is associated with pro-industry results, and both found that industry-funded trials were, overall, about four times more likely to report positive results….

In general, the results section of an academic paper is extensive: the raw numbers are given for each outcome, and for each possible causal factor, but not just as raw figures….In Fries and Krishnan (2004), this level of detail was unnecessary. The results section is a single, simple and – I like to imagine – fairly passive-aggressive sentence:

“The results from every randomised controlled trial (45 out of 45) favoured the drug of the sponsor.”

How does this happen? How do industry-sponsored trials almost always manage to get a positive result? Sometimes trials are flawed by design. You can compare your new drug with something you know to be rubbish – an existing drug at an inadequate dose, perhaps, or a placebo sugar pill that does almost nothing. You can choose your patients very carefully, so they are more likely to get better on your treatment. You can peek at the results halfway through, and stop your trial early if they look good. But after all these methodological quirks comes one very simple insult to the integrity of the data. Sometimes, drug companies conduct lots of trials, and when they see that the results are unflattering, they simply fail to publish them.

Still feeling confident about your industry sponsored cell phone radiation tests?

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YouTube Censorship

While working on some WordPress plugins, I found some unbelievable news about abuse of copyright over on YouTube. From the world’s biggest pirate, YouTube has become an unbearable censor of personal expression and free communication. Chris Pederson’s private videos of motor racing were taken down – and he got some nasty legal notifications. However, in the last year I have had three videos removed by YouTube for copyright infringement under the DMCA. Videos The three videos are all of outdoor sporting events filmed as a spectator: two of motor racing at Brands Hatch in England and one of the Red…

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Google Profiling Technology | Threadwatch.org

Google Profiling Technology | Threadwatch.org: And no I wouldn’t want to be giving my profile out to Google or any other corporation…. * what we search for * what sites we own/manage (AdWords, Analytics) * at least part of our financial records (AdWords/AdSense) * our weblogs (for those using blogger) * what videos we watch (YouTube) Add personality profiling to this – and you’ve just entered the Matrix.

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Mobile phone base antenna radiation and Bees

The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states…. And last week John Chapple, one of London’s biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: “There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK.”The implications of the spread are alarming.

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