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Comment Re:Authoritarians will always rule. (Score 1) 451

You have as much right to kill a fetus as your appendix.

Your appendix consists of your cells, while a fetus doesn't consist of your cells. Hence, the proper comparison would be "You have as much right to kill a fetus as you have to kill an appendix that isn't yours." (Hey, an appendix is just a batch of cells that will never become a human being.)

If a fetus dying is an abortion, God is the greatest abortionist.

If you subscribe to this whole creator thing, then you should realize that every living thing is mortal - it's just a matter of time - and hence someone who claims to have created everything is also responsible for everything dying at some point.

Comment Re:Authoritarians will always rule. (Score 1) 451

*Laws against abortions have historically been pretty ineffective in stopping them.

So have laws against murder. Even countries that impose the death penalty on murder and/or solve 98% of all murder cases still have murders!

However, without at least some laws restricting abortions, you will see abortions because the pregnancy interferes with vacation plans and similar reasons. Having an abortion will be seen as about as objectionable as abandoning a pet, probably even less than that. Just ask doctors who have worked under such legal conditions.

Comment Re:Authoritarians will always rule. (Score 1) 451

I don't know that a few cells fertilized is a "life",

If something is not "life", then it's dead. If something is dead at one point and alive at a later point, you're looking at a miracle, magic, an astoundingly rare case of spontaneous abiogenesis, an error in one of your observations, or a freaky lab experiment in artificial biology.

Otherwise, even a single cell that has metabolism, maintains homeostasis, responds to stimuli and grows/reproduces, counts as life.

Comment Re:Two opposed postions on abortion, both libertar (Score 1) 451

> P.S. I read an essay by Carl Sagan where he suggested that > before brain activity starts up, a fetus is not a person, but after > the brain is functioning it should be considered an unborn person. I'm more partial to the medical definition of brain death, which must include a negative prognosis, but does not take into account the past - the brain of the patient in question is currently not functioning and there is no realistic chance of it functioning at any point in the future.

With this definition, even a zygote is clearly not brain-dead. The prognosis is very positive - it will grow an immature, but fully functional brain within a few months.

Comment Re:APorsche Self-Drive? (Score 1) 212

Why would any poor benighted fool pay money for a Porsche that didn't need to be driven?

Because that means he could more easily show that he has ten Porsches and therefore is clearly superior to the guy with only one.

Also, the computer could take over some of the less enjoyable parts of driving, like parking.

Comment Re:Ah yes, Fischer Technik (Score 1) 38

A light sensor was barely astonishing for 1880, what the hell are you babbling about?

He's talking about a sensor, a lamp and some electronics that allowed someone who's just starting with electronics and who doesn't use a soldering iron to set up a working light barrier and begin experimenting with it in a few minutes.

Comment Long-time Fischertechnik fan here ... (Score 2) 38

... long enough to still know the "old" electronics kit (which had a relay instead of transistor-based amplifiers), but sadly not old enough to know the logic blocks.

However, I managed to get my kids to like Fischertechnik. Unfortunately, the new kits are are somewhat casualized (pneumatics, for example, lacks mechanical valves, but at least they're shipping it with a small compressor now), but they're still far more technical than any of the tool-free alternatives. However, I'd really love to see a return of things like FT magnets, the notoriously fragile reed contact, the electromagnet (what better way to show kids the relationship betwen electricity and magnetism than a magnet that you can switch on and off), etc.

Comment Not letting the source code out of the building .. (Score 1) 233

... does that mean that the contractors have no chance of survival once the project is over?

If someone looks at the source code and then leaves the building, the source code is technically outside the building. If a halfway competent person looks at the source code, they'll know what parts are interesting and which ones are not, and only memorize the juicy interesting stuff.

Comment Re:As a fan of hard sci-fi... (Score 1) 267

This means, for example, that space ships do not make looping turns like aircraft.

It's all just a matter of available thrust, fuel/reaction mass costs, and flight control algorithms. If fuel is cheap, and flying-like-an-aircraft feels more comfortable to the pilot, you can make the spacecraft handle like a plane.

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