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Comment: Re:Developing (Score 2) 45

It's not a few that are really developing and a lot that aren't, but the contrary. For example, if you look at how well Nigeria has dealt with the current Ebola crisis, you pretty much have to acknowledge that they have improved a lot since the 1960's. In the same way, Uganda today is not sliding downhill from some Idi Amin glory days, quite the contrary. We could fairly describe a few states as failed - that's not a racist term per say, it's a rational assessment if used correctly, but when people talk about developing nations like 9 of 10 are never going to develop instead of the contrary, that's an abuse of terms like 'developing' and 'failed state'. There's also this meme that foreign aid is just pumping money into corrupt regimes that will never actually improve the lot of their populaces, and again, that's more the exception than the rule.
      There's also a difference in comparing a failed state with a successfully developing one in 21st century terms and comparing it to its colonial past or some general colonial era. You can take the real numbers for famine deaths caused by the British raj in India and Irish potato famine deaths of about the same time, and with fair statistics, nobody should ever complain about anything Stalin did to the USSR again,unless they are prepared to compare Queen Victoria with Hitler and Stalin, to her disfavor. That's your colonial era, without even knowing the figures for Africa and how much they would make the totals worse. Somalia today probably has it about as bad as they did in the colonial era, but not worse. That's bad, a drastically failed state - there's no need to claim that somehow it's even worse than what Belgum did to its colonies or other cases which were unimaginable hells - by the time things get any worse than that, everyone is dead.

Comment: Re:Well if two google engineers say so (Score 2) 620

by Artifakt (#48461043) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Cheaper than coal isn't enough, until it's so much cheaper people shut down existing coal plants early. As cheap or slightly cheaper just means people will stop planning new coal plants and start building new wind farms to cover new demand - that is, it only impacts the increase in desired power generation, not all the power already being generated that already contributes to CO2 rise.

Comment: Re:Is Nuclear going to be acknowledged? (Score 2) 620

by Artifakt (#48460951) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Why do people keep mentioning the (presumably left wing) enviro-weenies, when the US stopped running breeder programs and reprocessing spent fuel based on the arguement that we couldn't stop the isotopes from falling into the hands of terrorists - various parts of the shutdown were started back in both the Carter and Reagan administrations, by people who were Homeland Security type policy wonks, who went to work for Oil companies after leaving the public sector. In other words, - generally right wing, even under a Democrat president. Movements to develop Thorium power have been opposed, in large part, because Thorium designs can't produce Plutonium for nuclear weapons use, again, something the right wing cares about much more than the left, which mostly wants to stop making more bombs at all. Yes, there are plenty of people in the environmental (green party) left who don't like nuclear power or nuclear deterance, but by singleing just them out for all the blame and ignoring the ones on the other side of the political spectrum, you have accomplished two things - you've helped kill the thing you desire, and you've taught the ones on the right that they can count on what Stalin called useful idiots. Making nuclear power all about right v. left is being played for a fool.

Comment: Re:Let's do the math (Score 1) 301

by Artifakt (#48453437) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

Even though he's probably right, it's unimportant - let's assume you're right, there really is some way to move at at least a high fraction of c, and even that it can open the stars themselves to humans. - WE certainly won't be looking for life in other galaxies before we have even looked around our own. We won't be looking for life closer to our own galactic core before we have looked at the immediate neighborhood in our own spiral arm. We won't even be looking as close as Tau Ceti until after we have checked our own solar system in such places as Titan and Europa, if we even get that far. Most probably, we won't be looking at Europa at all until we have proven the technology to tell absolutely and for sure if Mars has life. This whole discussion is like a young person speculating about what they would do after they have more money than Warren Buffett, before they have actually made their first million. The time to start speculating is after you've made a few hundred million or even a full billion or so.

Comment: Re: I thought the distinction was arbitrary alread (Score 1) 59

by Artifakt (#48413921) Attached to: Laser Creates Quantum Whirlpool

Then the mod system was abused by somebody who either doesn't understand what simple English means or deliberately chose to misuse their tiny, trivial amount of power, probably because they have such a lack of a real life that they actually get an ego boost from it. Why are you sticking up for that?

Comment: Re:Ehhh Meh (Score 2) 127

by Artifakt (#48395313) Attached to: US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Well, you could just actually test old and unrefurbished nukes to see just what all those decay products accumulating beneath their shells do, or you could just simulate it. No wait, the politicians have sworn off all actual testing, you can only simulate. Back in the 2000's Supercomputers were all we had to tell us what was in the decomissioned former Soviet nukes they were asking us to open up and get the Plutonium out of - some were seven to ten years behind scheduled maintenance and nobody was sure just what had built up in it, but the Russians still had Chernobyl in their minds and would love to comply with the treaty by destroying it, it was just their technicians were getting readings as soon as they opened up the outer casings that convinced them they would have died if they had gone any further.
          It's no accident that most of the US title holders for fastest supercomputer have been built at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The whole US supercomuting program to date has cost much less than one decay induced explosion releasing the sort of stew of Polonium, Americium, and other incredibly virulently radioactive glop that builds up in old nukes, simply because all the possible scenarios are so ultimately nasty, as in covering the area of 100 Chernobyl's nasty.

Comment: Re:ATTlas... (Score 1) 308

Atlas Shrugged is actually a mixed bag on that point. You have scenes where crooked businessmen like Orren Boyle or James Taggert act to manipulate the National Legislature, but then you have remarks in the authorial voice, or from the mouths of the heroes such as Galt and d'Anconia, where she claims it's always people in the government creating laws that encourage bribery and corruption of basically honest businessmen, not the other way around. It's incredibly easy to quote A.S. as support for the whole "Government isn't the solution, government is the problem." school of thought. Perhaps if you actually described what happens as businessmen and government agencies interact in various parts of the book, you might get a more nuanced version of Rand's views on that subject.
              But that makes the book at least a technical failure. Because a work where some priveleged character gets what they say rubber stamped by the author is a form of Mary-Sueism. Having scenes where a valid or complex theme is developed, but having all the good lines become soundbites for a much more simplified version of that theme, is a case of an author not having the skill to do their theme justice. That's really why it's a shame that A. S. is often the first long, complex work that a lot of 14 to 17 year olds read. I could criticise Catcher in the Rye for being somewhat of a Mary Sue book in the same way - it's not enough to make a book terrible, but it, too, is not a good book for a young person to pick up too early, before they've done some other serious reading.

Comment: Re:second picture (Score 1) 188

by Artifakt (#48372839) Attached to: Philae Lands Successfully On Comet

Based on numerous examples, it's acceptable on /. to whoosh at the very presence of idocy, funny or not. Predeclared cases invoking this rule are also the only cases where a first party follow-up whoosh (FPFW, pronounced Fip-Fwu) is acceptable, but I'm going to be socially responsible and wait to see who's dumb enough to set themselves up for one and not just hand them out like candy. Don't even ask about Meta-Whooshes - The Foo-Whoosh, Bar-Whoosh and their ilk are for situations which cannot happen unless /. fixes their text encoding.

Comment: Re: It's a scam (Score 2) 246

by Artifakt (#48357005) Attached to: The Strangeness of the Mars One Project

I'm a big fan of every single one of these things you mention, from more leisure, to equitable resource distribution, to political and social sanity in general. I'd add some things like educating many more people much closer to their true potential, moving away from a permanent wartime economy, curing the vast bulk of unaddressed diseases and finding the answers to a great number of fundamental mysteries of science. However, all these things make a good case for a counter-argument.
            This is, all of the economic models we widely use seem to run counter to achieving every single one of those things. Dismissing the "space-nutters" on any grounds relating to economy means we are using the same tools that seem to prove we can't have a more leisure focused society (or even to count a 30 hr .week as fulltime for any benefits). It's using the same tools that are moving us constantly away from equitable resource distribution, to 'prove' that what the 'space nutters' want doesn't make sense. It's letting failed ideas such as gave us trickle-down economics and perpetual austerity tell us what, if anything, we can do in space.
              That's one reason I'm putting 'nutters' in single quotes. We should preserve some respect for them, because it is quite possible that if we came up with computer algorythms for food distribution that were a tremendous step towards making sure everyone got enough to eat, the same sort of math might show that the cost benefit ratios of something like a Mars colony made a lot more sense than we thought. I keep remembering the economic arguments against high speed trains in the USA, that 'show' high speed rail doesn't work in any of those other countries that ARE making it work either., or all the puffery about why the USA can't have nice internet because it only works for densely populated nations such as Canada, or ones that don't have cold weather like Japan and Korea, or whatever BS it is this week. Until we start moving solidly toward at least some of these planet-side goals we are discussing, we may never be able to realistically judge just how nutty a given goal in space really is, or isn't.

Comment: Re:Does the rock run Linux? (Score 1) 61

by Artifakt (#48339479) Attached to: The Largest Kuiper Belt Object Isn't Pluto Or Eris, But Triton

Eris and its moon were provisionally Zena and Gabrielle for working names. Sometimes I wish the IAU wasn't so formal. I'm also old enough to remember 70's era suggestions that if successors to Pluto were found, they should be Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and so on. I understand people feeling this is serious, formal, black tie dinner stuff and wanting to keep the humor out, but I keep thinking of how The Culture's starships feel about accusations they need to cultivate more gravitas.
            It used to be we were respecting Classical Greek and Roman culture with Astronomical naming, even though very few people actually beleived in those names as gods anymore. Then we got less dismissive of various Esquimaux, Nordic, Polynesian and other cultures, but it's still all about religions most people don't believe in anymore, just more inclusive of all the different ones. Being culturally inclusive of all the religions that can't field a modern army but none of the ones that can seems like the least justifiable cultureall sensitivity of all.
            Meanwhile, the special rituals of my people involve combining large amounts of H2 and O2, compressing Plutonium spheres, and wiggling electrons more and more quickly. Most of the other cultures alive seem to have even odder rituals, like bashing any persons standing too near crude oil sources and taking it, pretending all our wiggling electrons are their real money, or country-western music. If we're going to be absolutley dripping with gravitas, how is it that naming a new object after some other cultures old god or goddess show cultural sensitivity, but naming it after a historic person of their culture doesn't?

Comment: Re:No thank you (Score 1) 267

by Artifakt (#48331479) Attached to: 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name

It's hard to blame anybody else for screwing up Star Trek with Time Travel, given the original series had time travel by Slingshot maneuver around a stellar mass, the Guardian of Forever, visiting a planet that looks just like Roaring 20's Chicago or Alternate History Rome, and something involving roling in the snow with a fur clad Mariette Hartley. There's at least 5 different ways to get displaced in time in TOS, It's the series biggest weak spot. Some of these were very good episodes - City on the Edge of Forever is certainly one of the top ten SF videos of the decade, even if video includes full feature length films. But, taken as a group, they leave the viewer thinking any plot problems can be fixed by the end of the episode, by using one of the many forms of time travel available.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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