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Comment Re:The most fundamental problem is not the cost.. (Score 1) 307

That is why the British government discovered that it couldn't build nuclear power stations on the land previously used for coal-fired power stations. It was (far) too radioactive, due to the coal ash that had accumulated. A graphic illustration of the different standards applied to nuclear power, because it's scary. Coal has killed many, many more people but who could be afraid of a lump of plain old black coal? Dirty, yes. Scary, no.

Comment Re:So... (Score 1) 138

I think SharpFang has a very good point about the corruption that ensues when big corporations and rich people get too much power. Another factor that counts against the USA is just that it is so big: over 300 million people in one of the largest countries in the world. That means there is hardly anything in common between people's interests in, say, Alabama, Alaska, and Montana. That, together with the strong "business" slant of the national culture, leads to Congress being less a forum for reasoning and exchange of facts and opinions than a mere commodities exchange. Senator X tells Senator Y, "If you vote for my bill I'll make sure your constituency gets a nice juicy government contract". And so it goes.

Comment Re:Data data everywhere and not a drop to think (Score 1) 366

In view of the alternative (worst case, tail hits the ground hard enough to cause serious structural damage, tail falls off, everyone dies) it would be worth spending a little time and money on.

Thing of it is, people don't foresee that kind of contingency when they design a system as complicated as a jet airliner. No one says, "OK, what if the pilot is totting up the total takeoff weight in his head and makes an arithmetic error?" Nevertheless, it is certainly the kind of operation that deserves to be automated - perhaps, as someone has already suggested, just as a backup or safety check.

I'm reminded of a time many years ago when I went into a department store to buy a cheap alarm clock. The young sales assistant was obviously unfamiliar with his pocket calculator, and solemnly told me that the price of 25 pounds sterling, less 25 percent discount, was 33 pounds or something like that. I tried for some time to make him see that 25 pounds, with a discount, must be less than 25 pounds - but he could not see beyond the number displayed on his (incorrectly operated) calculator. Eventually I had to get a manager to sort it out.

That kind of simple arithmetic error should not be able to damage a huge airliner and (potentially) crash it.

Comment Re:So... (Score 3, Insightful) 138

Although, to be strictly fair, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen weren't so much "stolen" as destroyed. Of course, that's not nearly so bad.

As for Germany, if the German people could get rid of political leaders who (for some inexplicable reason) seem to be more loyal to the USA than to their own nation... It couldn't have anything to do with money, do you think?

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 77

Give it a rest. Moan about the SNP having 58 seats compared to the UKIP's 2 despite a similar number of votes.

UKIP actually got one seat, not two, out of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.

"UKIP had 3,881,129 votes (12.6%) and was the third largest party on vote share, yet it won only one seat". (Wikipedia)

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 77

Look at how much had to happen to piss off people for Khadaffi (or however we're spelling it today) to be ousted.

Yes, all the free education and health care and social security eventually got too much to bear. But actually it wasn't any meeting in Libya that ended Qadafi's (I personally like that spelling) career. It was the thousands of bombing missions that destroyed civilian infrastructure and rendered Libya effectively ungovernable and chaotic - which it still is.

Bloody man - how dare he turn Libya from one of the poorest countries in Africa into the richest? (Especially since we wanted to suck all the wealth out for ourselves).

Comment Re:Good. (Score 0) 77

Good. I'm delighted to hear about this. It's high time that the cost of outrageous government snooping programs are made to fall directly on the public who ultimately vote to support this nonsense.

Oh? You're ambivalent about mass GCHQ/NSA surveillance? OK. Well it'll cost you an extra £11 a month on your telephone bill. Oh you have a problem now?.

Most people will not care about an issue until they see it hit their pocket. Therefore, I say let it.

Unfortunately, many British taxpayers will not think this through so clearly. But the increased ISP bills will discourage Internet use; that would suit the government very much indeed. Just imagine how much frustration and anger there is in Western political circles at the growing tendency to seek news and opinion on the Web. All that money and effort channelled into controlling the mainstream media, bribing editors and journalists, and spoonfeeding them the party line - and what happens? Their circulation figures are shrinking faster and faster, and citizens are increasingly turning to the Web. Worse still, the Web allows them not only to obtain a variety of news reports and shades of opinion; it even lets them comment and discuss the issues among themselves. Good grief, at this rate we'll have the people choosing and setting policies! We can't have that - it would be democracy!

So we should all be on the lookout for the inevitable counter-offensive: attempts, by any and all means, to stop citizens communicating through the Web. It may be, as in the measure being discussed in this thread, through ways of increasing the cost. Or through attempts to outlaw the hyperlink itself - http://yro.slashdot.org/story/...

The Web is our common heritage, thanks to TBL and his colleagues, and we must do everything in our power to keep it free, affordable, fully functional, and worldwide. This should be very near the top of everyone's list of priorities.

Comment Re: From one Lion's Den into another (Corrected) (Score 1) 173

My last comment was wrongly formatted. This is how it should read.

There was never any doubt about who shot down that aircraft. The US never admitted responsibility, but formally regretted the loss of life and handed over tens of millions of dollars. The crew received combat zone medals for operating in a combat zone, which they had. There were no decorations for shooting down a civilian airliner.

And what about the criminal prosecution, which is being so enthusiastically pursued in the case of MH17? Where was the world-wide condemnation? Why did the prime minister of Australia never declare that he would confront the president of the USA and demand an explanation?

Comment Re:From one Lion's Den into another (Score 1) 173

My IQ testing scores indicate that I'd, almost certainly, qualify for Mensa. The amusing thing is, I'm really not all that smart.

But you seem to be quite modest. What interests me is why you say "I'm really not all that smart". Do you really believe that, and if so on what evidence?

Or do you just believe - reasonably, given some of the replies to my comments - that on Slashdot it is better to keep a low profile and not seem as if you are claiming to be better than others?

Comment Re:From one Lion's Den into another (Score 1) 173

I'm not proud of being a member of Mensa, nor would I be silly enough to expect that to gain me any special respect on Slashdot, where many of the contributors are intelligent and creative. I mentioned it merely to confirm that I have a reasonable level of analytic intelligence.

Comment Re:From one Lion's Den into another (Score 1) 173

Crimea is part of Russia now because

(1) It has been part of Russia, with a short break from 1991 until 2014. In other words Crimea became part of Russia before the USA existed.

(2) The citizens of Crimea voted, not just by a majority, but by an overwhelming majority, to become part of Russia again. (Incidentally, no one ever asked them in 1990-1 whether they wanted to leave Russia and become part of Ukraine).

(3) The great majority of Crimean people speak Russian, and consider themselves Russian.

(4) Over the centuries, huge quantities of Russian blood has been spilled to make and keep Crimea part of Russia. The number of Russian soldiers who died to conquer Crimea from the Tatars, to defend it from the British and French, and to defend it and then recapture it from the Nazis, is at least comparable with the total US casualties in both world wars.

If you don't believe that the plebiscite was run fairly, that is your problem. It was monitored by international observers who did not raise any objections.

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department