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Comment: Re:But is it reaslistic? (Score 1) 235

Actually bubonic has been cycling in rodents in the US Southwest since 1900, when Chinese laborers shipped into San Francisco brought the disease in. A human outbreak was quickly contained, but bubonic in animals has been a part of Western life ever since. Roughly every year, someone in northern Arizona gets it from handling a dead animal.

For terrorist usage, a disease like this is weaponized by developing a public dispersal plan. "Not infecting your co-workers" hinders use of deadly diseases by conventional bad guys like drug cartelistas, but ISIS warriors are willing self-sacrificers. This allows them to develop tactics that nobody else would contemplate.

Comment: Re:Time to travel 11 light years (Score 1) 84

by Applehu Akbar (#47787315) Attached to: Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

You're talking speed, while Parent was talking acceleration. A ship to LEO takes about ten minutes to achieve orbital velocity, then no thrust after that. A ship to Leo (any star therein) could actually get there in a reasonable amount of time if 1G of acceleration could be maintained all the way to the midpoint of the journey and then kept up as deceleration the rest of the way. The big catch is the number of stars worth of fuel you would have to bring with you.

Comment: The world's most protectionist economy (Score 2) 106

by Applehu Akbar (#47787227) Attached to: Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

Japan is a heavily business-oriented society, but not in the free market way that we tend to assume. Most consumer markets are locked up by an oligopoly of the largest players. Competition is considered less important than tradition, and the everyday consumer considers it his patriotic duty to pay more for everything he buys so that the Japanese economy can be promoted. The only way for Americans to imagine what this system is like is to think of the US prescription drug model, extended to every market you shop in. Imagine paying pharmacy prices for computers and cabbages.

When you go there to live, you will be besieged by friends and relatives asking you to buy cameras and electronics "at Tokyo prices" for them. You need to tell them at the outset that a Nikon or a Sony product is a lot cheaper ordered through Amazon right at home than it would be in Japan. THIS is what those Japanese publishers fear from Amazon operating on their own soil.

Comment: Re:It'd be nice... (Score 3, Informative) 234

They might with luck, but they're not required to give you a refund, because legally being on the no-fly list falls into the same category as showing up at the cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale without valid visas for all the places you're going. When that happens, the cruise line just turns you away and keeps your money with a big old Screw You.

Then there are the other non-refundable arrangements you made at the destination. Good luck using the no-fly list as an excuse for your resort stay and river cruise.

Comment: Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (Score 1) 121

by Applehu Akbar (#47784237) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

It's certainly commendable that Slate is taking as strong a stand as it is on vaccination. The problem is overall pandering: the well-meaning science columnists there like Phil Plait would probably like to take a similar stand against the wall of anti-science, anti-engineering prejudice that has dominated the left since the Seventies, but are afraid of pissing off what the site sees as an important segment of the readership. It almost seems as though they're hoping that taking a strong stand on that one issue will gently remind readers that perhaps they need to rethink other topics in science.

A prime example of 'Slateism': on climate change, Slate's columnists not only demand that we accept the most apocalyptic interpretation of the data as gospel (scientists are not used to using terms like 'believe' and 'denier', but okay, the Maoists take taken over the issue), but that we automatically reject every proposed solution. We're all going to die, because that's the just fate Gaia intends for us as punishment for being fat and eating meat. We can't go nuclear to eliminate carbon! We can't bioengineer better crops! We can't geoengineer for carbon control, even by doing something as mild and self-limiting as seeding deep ocean waters with iron sulfide to promote algal blooms. Even the new California solar plant attracted its own firestorm of opposition.

I have no interest in political conversion here. Left and right are different cultures, each with its own set of values evolved over generations. What I would really like to see is a leftist site that reclaims the spirit of Roosevelt. If we have problems like climate change, energy shortage, war and poverty, let's attack them by building the giant public infrastructure projects that Steinbeck waxed so lyrical about. An energy independence Apollo would address all of these problems at once.

Comment: Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (Score 0) 121

by Applehu Akbar (#47781089) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

I'm talking about the readership, not the columnists. Yes, Slate readers are the multicelled version of Salon.com readers and yes, Slate's columnists seem to have sensed that the anti-vaxers have crossed a line in their Luddism. But whenever Slate runs an article questioning the anti-vaxers, there is always a healthy (in numbers) contingent of readers flaming the writer as being a pawn of Big Pharma.

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