Greedy Goblin

Friday, September 30, 2016

Theranos

Theranos is (or soon: was) a blood testing startup. It was founded by then 19 years old Elizabeth Holmes in 2003 for a groundbreaking advancement: portable blood testing device capable of analyzing hundreds of variables from a drop of blood taken from the fingertip. Money poured in and the company was valued at $9B, making her the richest self-made woman ever.

Except its technology didn't work. After inspection, they had to void their former results, since they had FDA clearance for only one test out of the 200 they did, many of their results were found inaccurate, others were done on equipment purchased from third parties instead of on their own creation. Their chief scientist, Ian Gibbons committed suicide.

In November 2015 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) inspected their laboratory and concluded "the deficient practices of the laboratory pose immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety". In July 2016, the CMS banned Holmes from owning, operating or directing a blood testing service for a period of two years, practically ending the story.

The obvious question: was it a scam? I'm sure she wasn't a scam artist. She didn't even attempt to get money out. She will leave this story with nothing but a horrible record. She only had the millennial disease: She saw good practices and industrial standards as mere obstacles and forced her way through it by money and by corrupting people (her board of directors were full of former Washington hotshots like Henry Kissinger). They tried to continue this process with the scientific community by creating a scientific communication board which doesn't communicate.

She didn't work in the lab, she marketed and got investment money, so had no first-hand experience. She believed that if she gets enough money and enough time, the results will come. They didn't and couldn't. Anyone with formal training could tell her (and her former university professor literally did) that her goal was unreachable: fingertip blood is different from vein blood because intercellular fluid contaminates it. Also there is a fundamental problem with current technology: many of the testing methods damage the sample, so different samples are needed for different tests, that's why many big vials of blood are collected from your veins when you have a blood test. Sure, one can (and eventually will) make a non-destructive test for every disease and condition and find a way to account for the intercellular fluid contamination but that will need hundreds of different validated research projects.

Many young people look at the old ones and say "they achieved nothing, why should I listen to them"? Because they at least know why they achieved nothing: for the same reason Holmes failed, ignoring the same standards in their youth they preach now. Had she followed the accepted norm of using only technology published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, it would become clear to her that it's not working and then all these years and money weren't wasted. If someone was scammed, it was her: the scientific staff, knowing full well that it doesn't work kept feeding her with hopes because she paid them well. Enforcing good practices were her own interest, to protect her from fraudulent or simply overly excited employees. She marketed her method because she believed too. But at the end, there was no usable product and her house of cards came down. The employees will find new jobs, keeping what they earned while "working" for Theranos, the investors will lose their investment, she'll lose everything.

Let this be a cautionary tale for everyone who think that good marketing and community relations will carry a company over objectively existing problems. Only open examination of problems can lead to technological breakthrough. Let this also be an advice to everyone: if you are in a place where good practices are ignored or worse belittled in the name of "advancement" or "user friendliness" or "passion", run! This will go down and you don't need to be around when it happens.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lies, mistakes, niceties and jokes

The political analysts stand in disbelief due to Donald Trump not losing votes on lies. No, it won't be a pro-Trump political post, I've done that already. It's an analysis on social thinking using the Trump phenomenon as example. The problem of the analysts is that they think rationally: "Trump tells not true things = Trump is lying or ignorant". However the voters are socials who tell non-true things all the time and merely see Trump as one of them. There are two versions of non-true things common among socials: jokes/hyperboles and niceties.

Niceties are non-true things that are told to make someone feel better without hurting anyone. When you tell your partner "I'd bring down the Moon for you", you don't actually plan to deliver a 7.342×1019 tons object. When you tell everyone you meet "Nice to see you!", you don't really mean you like everyone on the planet. When you show gratitude on Christmas for the annual ugly sweater from your aunt, you don't actually plan to wear it. You just want someone to feel better. Now Trump indeed has a twist: most of his niceties are aimed to make himself feel better, which is funny/sad, but irrelevant.

Jokes/hyperboles are non-truth statements that couldn't be believed by a non-insane person. They are either made to exxagerate an opinion or simply generate laughter by the bizarre unreality they'd literally mean.

Let's see a list of examples:
  • "my opponent has no child care plan. She never will and if it ever evolves into a plan it’ll never get done anyway. All talk. No action." It's a hyperbole: while Clinton has a detailed plan, most platform plans of politicians are usually not delivered. Trump is entitled to believe that Clinton will not implement them.
  • “I finished it [the birther movement]. I finished it. You know what I mean.” He jumped on a hunch that his 2012 opponent (he considered running) could be disqualified but Obama delivered evidence. Anyone in his place would have done the same. Clinton in 2008 did too, just was smart enough to not under her name. Instead of saying "hey, it is worth a shot" he says "it was an important issue and getting a negative answer is a victory." Nicety to himself as his statement - if believed by everyone would serve no other purpose than him feeling better.
  • "Household incomes are over $4,000 less today than they were in the year 2000.” Hyperbole. Everyone can see his own income so there is no hope to make anyone factually believe he is worse off than before. He is merely stating the obvious: under the Democrat Presidency the economy didn't particularly shine.
  • “That means rebuilding our badly depleted military.” see also "generals reduced to rubble". Hyperbole: while the US armed forces are very far from being depleted and we can doubt that the quality of the flag officers decreased, it is without doubt that the US forces failed to achieve any major war objective in the last 2 decades. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya were total disasters. While we can argue over the reasons, the basic statement "something is very wrong with our military policies" is true.
  • "I lost hundreds of friends on 9/11": nicety. No one has hundreds of friends, it's over the Dumbar number. It's merely a nicer way to say "lots of good people were lost that day"
  • "I opposed the Iraq war": nicety. The Bush Government lied to the public, so common people - like Trump was - were unable to make an informed decision. And even if they did, it didn't matter as they were not in the position to act against it. Claiming that he was right all along serves no other purpose than him feeling better.
  • Clinton fought the ISIS all her life: hyperbole. The ISIS is less than 5 years old while Clinton is an adult for 50 years, so no sane person can take this literally. It means that Clinton failed to stop ISIS despite best efforts, which is true.
I can go on and on, but you get the point. While Trump says awful lot of un-truths, he barely ever lies by the classification of social people. Therefore he is seen more trustworthy than Clinton by the voters. While Clinton said very few un-true statements, virtually all of them were lies: attempts to manipulate others to do what she wants against their interests and attempts to cover up her harmful actions.

I'd like to stress that I do not support using jokes and spending valuable political on air time for ego-boosting, but I'm not the electorate. Analysts, journalists and opponents have to live with the fact that these things are OK in politics in the Facebook age.


PS: I put the advises on League of Legends to good use:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

why no help ffs reported

I'm struggling with League of Legends. Not because of personal "skill", I already have positive kill/death rate (at least until the enemy starts to mop up the map due to team having half as much kills as deaths), which would mean victory if my teammates would be similar. But they are very much not. Let me share this wonderful game result:

As you can see, Jax at top and Xerath at mid and me in jungle did well and killed the enemies in top/bottom. Miss Fortune and Morgana on the other hand fed like crazy. However this wasn't the reason of our utter defeat. Nor that Morgana was played one of the most toxic players I've ever seen, starting whining over spell selection pre-game and continuing ever after. The target was mostly Miss Fortune, despite that player wasn't that bad as the one behind Morgana. Their feed pattern was: Morgana pushing forward, Miss Fortune closely followed without even being told and soon they were at the enemy tower. Where they died when the enemy jungler or middle shown up or simply because they walked into the tower range. Then they (mostly Morgana) whined for the other one sucking and the rest of us not helping.

Before continuing, let me explain how "ganking" at the bottom lane works in League of Legends:
By pushing forward, the green team opened up for being encircled by the red jungler. In the meantime the green jungler can't get near the red bottom champions without being shot by the tower. This is an intentional "catchup" mechanism. If you are strong and attack, you are vulnerable to ganks, if you are pushed back to your tower, you are not. So - despite their constant whining - I couldn't help them. Sure, the tower is not all-mighty and can be attacked, typically when the enemy is outnumbering or seriously outleveling the defenders. Our moron specimen were neither so died and died and died, despite everyone spammed them to stay on their own tower.

However the reason of our defeat wasn't simply their feeding (dying repeatedly, giving lot of XP and gold to the killers). The enemy top fed just as hard and their jungler was also "unlucky". So - assuming this pattern continued - the team would continue to have even amount of kills and more NPC kills (that's the main source of gold and XP). But - despite being personally skilled - our top and mid were social people who wanted to help the "teammates in need". Which mean going to the bottom lane, idling in the forest to catch the jungler or circling hopelessly outside of the tower range. By doing so, they abandoned their own lanes, sealing our fate. When their mid and top, fed by minions came down, it wasn't much of a battle.

While usually not in so black-and-white fashion, this is what I always see: one or two morons feed like hell, refuse to play defensively and soon the rest of the team abandons his own job to help them. But wait, unless I claim some conspiracy to place feeders to my team, I must assume that the enemy team also has feeders, so I should win assuming I'm better than the enemy jungler (I usually am). Instead, I'm losing a lot.

The reason of my chain-defeats aren't the morons feeding, but the socials helping and me not. By letting the two idiots and the two socials face 5 enemies, I sealed the game. If I'd join them, we would have an early teamfight phase with coinflip result instead of a sure defeat. This is pretty common, often providing me the title phrase. Morons being morons, running into trouble and social teammates are compelled to help. At this point the optimal choice is to join them and hope that we overcome them instead of playing smart and getting lot of gold killing minions while the morons and socials wipe.

This can mean a very nasty Nash-equilibrium, where the optimal move is to act like the socials and advance only by personal combat skill instead of brain. This is something I don't want to do. I see two strategic options:
  1. Keep jungling (which I like a lot) and make a copy-paste text "don't help the moron feeders, feed harder in your own lane". If it works, than the team will be overall better than the enemy in late-game.
  2. If the socials don't listen (go figure), I have to abandon jungling and queue as ADC/top. If I'm ADC, I can guarantee that 2 players won't feed (myself and my support) by sitting under our tower. If I'm top, I can guarantee that 1 player won't feed (myself). The jungler position is the least feeding one, so it's the best to leave to a random.

PS: sometimes nothing helps. I was top, the enemy top was also in his lane, the rest were playing 4v4:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's because EVE is dying sillies

The Goon propaganda site is still very bad in market analysis. If you can even call that one as they offer no explanation for the "analyzed" issue. Which is that PLEX farming alts are constantly losing profitability and very soon they stop being useful. At the same time, PLEX price (in ISK) grows fast.

Since r/eve is also puzzled, let me explain: both ISK and skill points are consumed by casual players and produced by "very dedicated players" and bots. The casuals buy PLEX for $ and trade it for farmed ISK and injectors coming from SP farms. The traded volume graph shrinks visibly so either the demand or the supply must have decreased. If the price went down, it was the demand. Simply since casuals are gone, there is no one to buy the injectors and sell the PLEX-es to hardcore players so injector price goes down, PLEX price goes up.

The long catering to the "content creators", neglecting or openly attacking those who wasn't in these game-monetizing cartel finally paid off: everyone else left. Now we just have to watch as they try to monetize each other. Hint: they aren't going to buy injectors or sell PLEX. Before you'd comment, yes, I'm aware that I was also a content creator and was allowed to play for free. No, it wasn't a good idea to let me. And no, I shouldn't have done it, since I knew for long that


Monday, September 26, 2016

Vegans, the conspirators for the worst animal genocide

Vegans are refusing to eat or use animal products since they believe animals have moral values and must not be used as commodity, just like humans are not used. They want a society where animal ownership is abolished like slavery was. They wish for a society where "animal companions" can live in peace and safety.

The question is what will happen to the whole specieses of farm animals. If no one would eat pork, voluntarily or because it's forbidden, there would be no pig farms. In muslim countries where eating pork is forbidden there are only a handful of pigs living in zoos. Assuming zoos wouldn't be banned by vegans as form of animal slavery, there would be a couple dozen or hundred pigs, chicken, sheep, goats, cattle, gooses in a country. What would happen to the rest of them?

If you just "liberate" the farm animals from their "captivity" and let them roam free, they'll die in weeks or at best in the next winter. Nature can't support bred farm animals, domestic pigs don't stand a chance against wild boars, not to mention that the natural habitat of the boars decreased badly in the past centuries. Would they force people to care for them, effectively turning the animals into welfare leeches? That would help the currently "enslaved" animals, but what about their offspring? Animals breed very fast (hen lay a fertile egg a day), meaning it would be impossible to support their exponentially growing population. Castrating them would be "obviously immoral", just like it is for human welfare leeches.

My point is that farm animals exist only because we created a niche for them. Sure, it serves our interest, but it also serve theirs. If humans were always vegans, the large land animal population would be much smaller, practically limited to the fauna of the few forests and plains. Remember, humans must have agriculture to exist (even vegans eat plant products) and farmlands were all taken from forests and plains. Getting rid of "exploitative farming" would mean a genocide against animals, several, currently huge species would go near-extinct.

In a broader sense: "exploitation" is a socialist codeword for cooperation where one party is less fortunate than other. They just forget that the "exploited" is still better off this way than without cooperation. The child workers making shoes aren't making shoes because someone captured and enslaved them, but because their families are starving and have to send them to work. If you close the dangerous and unhealthy shoe factories to save them, they will starve and die like cattle "liberated" from a farm.

Friday, September 23, 2016

I wish I could /remake M&S

Playing EVE distanced me from the ordinary player. I mean I never actually played with someone in the client. Playing BDO was playing alone. Playing League of Legends in the beginner tier (silver 5, I still struggle clicking the right target in a messy teamfight) forced me to once again get first hand experience with the morons and slackers. While the results may be boring for longtime readers, new ones will probably learn more from these than from philosophy posts.

The LoL devs created the /remake command. It is available if a player is AFK/DC from the start to prevent a 20 mins long hopeless games. Activating it needs 2 out of 4 remaining players pressing yes. No winner reward or loser penalty is applied to the active players, while the AFK-er gets a leaver penalty. It's a no-brainer that you should use the feature.

I got a game where one of the members was AFK from the very start. We got the option to use this feature. I was the only one trying to use it. All 3 other teammates choose to try to win 4v5 in a ranked game. We lost of course.

This has two explanation: the simpler is that they were unaware of this feature and when they saw the popup, they assumed that it's a normal surrender giving a defeat. Slackers typically don't read any materials, not even if they see it popping up on their screen. Maybe I should have typed "Accepting a remake will NOT give you a loss!" before initiating.

The more interesting is if they knew it and didn't care. Why would they pick a very likely defeat? Since I didn't see an "i play 4 fun" in chat like ever, I assumed that ranked LoL players want to win. Maybe I was wrong. After all most useless morons in World of Warcraft battlegrounds were not AFK-ers or obvious bots, but bridge fighters. Fighting on the bridge or another road crossing is a waste of time in battlegrounds, but lot of players do it, because of the instant PvP. Their purpose isn't to win a battle but to defeat another player in PvP. Maybe the morons of LoL don't play to win the battle, but to get good Kill:Death ratio. To "pwn". It's usually invisible, since killing enemy champions have a positive correlation with winning in LoL. However with the case of /remake it was directly opposite. By accepting it, they'd return to the queue and match preparation phase, which is 5-10 minutes waiting. If they play, they can "pwn" in the laning phase, since the missing player wouldn't be around anyway. Only in the later game, where teams are formed will mean a 4v5 fight and obvious loss.

On the one hand, after analyzing killboards of EVE and revealing the true characteristics of whole alliances, fighting simple M&S is a huge setback. On the other hand the reason I started blogging is to show people how they can better their play and their life by handling the M&S around them. So my blog will serve better purpose by posts like this. But I admit, I was annoyed that I had to deal with the lowly crap again.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The core problem with refugees

You probably heard how the US president candidate Trump campaign see refugees:

You probably know that Sweden - not long ago the feminist utopia - gained the highest rape rate in Europe, with majority of rapist being from the Middle East. You probably know that several violent terrorist attacks happened in Europe in the last year and a some in the US. You might even know that Angela Merkel, the self-proclaimed savior of refugees is losing elections after elections. You most likely don't know that there will be a public vote in Hungary about settling refugees here and polls predict 90% "no".

What you are probably puzzled about is how could we get into this bizarre situation. However answer isn't the program of Trump and his European buddies (spearheaded by Hungarian PM Victor Orbán who already built a barrier on the border getting "you are nazi" from other presidents who soon were voted out by their people). Anyone can become a refugee. There is nothing a single person can do about the whole country turning upside down or a war erupting. Even the most individualist person can see that it's impossible for him to fix a whole country. Telling refugees that "it's your problem" will come back to some of us in this life. It's guaranteed that several safe and fine countries will go hell in the following decades.

The answer comes from realizing that immigration and refugee protection got mixed up despite they are completely different issues. Immigration is about letting people in who are needed and will fit in the country. Refugee protection is about ... protecting refugees from the dangers they ran from. Currently refugees are protected by letting them immigrate without vetting. If one can prove that he is in grave danger at home (and it's not hard if he is from Syria), he can enter the country and live among us, even if he is totally unfit for it, for example don't speak the language, don't have any profession to work and consider women to be mere property of men. Which is true for 80% of the swarm entering Europe.

The proper solution is keeping refugee protection completely separated from immigration. Refugees should be placed to closed camps where they are safe from whatever danger they were running from, get shelter, food and health care. From there they can leave only two ways: if their home becomes safe again and they are going/sent home or if they successfully immigrate to a third country. In the camp they should get the the help for the immigration process, but still have to go through all checks that ordinary immigrants have to. If they learn the language, get a profession and adopted to our culture then they can leave the camp and live in our countries. If they don't, they stay in the camp until their country is fixed.

It's our duty to save those who are in danger for not their own fault. It is absolutely not to tolerate them and their antics in our cities.