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Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 688 688

I distinctly remember it being promised that the F-35 would beat anything but an F-22 in air-to-air combat, at a fraction of the price. It was not part of the original concept for the system but it was definitely sold politically as being capable of acting as a poor man's F22.

I wonder about the helmet mounted display, whether that's something you'd consider absolutely necessary in an aircraft whose job is to hit surface targets in contested airspace.

Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 688 688

As a supposed air-superiority platform, this is an utter failure.

To be fair, that was not the original justification for the thing. That was mission creep.

I think the original impetus was to have something stealthy that could do ground strikes in enemy territory. And it makes sense to do a naval version of the same thing. If they'd just focused on that they'd have been done a long time ago with a solid design, which of course in engineering nearly always turns out to be more versatile than you planned for. Adding STOVL and the whizbang helmet (cool as that may be) as necessary elements of the system turned this into an "everything for everyone" project, which almost always turns out less versatile than you hoped.

Comment: Re:Dogfights?! What year is it?! (Score 1) 688 688

Sure you can identify scenarios where the A-10 is useless. But in the last twenty years it's been extremely useful in a number scenarios we've actually faced.

The idea that a system ought to play every role in every conceivable situation is why the F35 performs none of them very well. In hindsight the idea of accommodating the Marines' need for a STOVL aircraft in the same basic design probably dictated too many compromises in the plane's other roles.

Comment: Re:Ascent, not ascension (Score 1) 307 307

You are confusing "ascension" with "right ascension". Just plain "ascension" (not capitalized) is pretty much a synonym for "ascent".

A few dictionaries define "ascension" as an astronomical term referring to the rising of the star above the horizon -- in other words the increasing of altitude in the alt/azimuth coordinate system -- but this definition doesn't appear in lists of astronomical terms so either this usage is uncommon or obsolete.

Comment: Re:Do not react AT ALL (Score 2) 369 369

First of all, Sir Tim is British, and second of all the First Amendment refers to government regulation of speech. It does not compel a private organization to employ or associate with an individual whose speech it feels reflects poorly on them.

This is not a legal issue, it's a moral issue. It's morally wrong to empower a social media lynch mob without performing a reasonable inquiry into the facts.

Comment: Re:It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 301 301

I don't claim to know anything beyond what I've read in the news, which of course doesn't qualify me as an expert. But I'm fairly confident the fact that you find the accommodations made to Hawaiian religious beliefs annoying has no bearing on whether those beliefs are sincere.

I agree that there's no way to satisfy some of these people. That doesn't make them liars or bad, it just means their interests in this situation cannot be reconciled with yours. It happens sometimes. As much as I believe in looking for win-win solutions, there are occasionally situations where one side or the other has to lose.

And you won't ever get everyone on the other side to agree because that never happens. There are even Catholics who think the Pope isn't as Catholic as they are. So as soon as there were any questions raised about the religious dimension of this project it became inevitable that if they ever built this thing it would be in the face of protests. And as long as the project's leaders think what they're doing is right they should do it and take their PR lumps on the chin. But imputing, without any evidence, false and hypocritical motivations to the protesters actually undoes the work done to make this project possible. That actually *is* disrespecting native religious beliefs.

Comment: It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 301 301

There is nobody for whom the summit of Mauna Kea is their "backyard", so this isn't NIMBY. There are sincere religious and political reasons for opposing this.

Imagine yourself in their position. If a conspicuous structure on the summit of Mauna Kea offended your religious sensibilities when the first one went up, then you're not going to feel less strongly about the thirteenth or fourteenth to go up. Likewise spreading the development to a second, pristine sacred site wouldn't placate you.

The position that nobody's religious views should ever matter is one most people wouldn't agree with, but at least it's a principled position. Claiming (without proof) that views that stand in the way of something you want are insincere and should be disregarded strikes me as dishonest.

Comment: Re:These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

From the abstract:
Surely you can understand that much without getting your panties in a twist.

Please re-read the first sentence of my post.

Even so a single paper still isn't enough for a layman to conclude anything from. That's why laymen are so misinformed on science. Even when a news account accurately describes a study or experiment, it's still misleading. Just because an experiment produces a result doesn't mean that result represents the bulk of evidence, or that that the conclusions won't be shot full of holes in a few months.

Comment: Re:A small part of me (Score 1) 591 591

In terms of corporate handouts, how could you possibly surpass making every living American an obligate consumer of a for-profit industry?

In that case what you're talking about is more of an industry handout than a corporate handout. Anybody with enough capital to run an insurance company is free to compete for the "obligate consumer's" business.

Contrast this to various weapons systems of dubious usefulness that are funded for political reasons. As American taxpayers we're all "obligate consumers" of those things, but we don't have any say whatsoever in whose pockets our dollars land.

Comment: These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

You need the full article -- the abstract at the very least -- to make any sense of a study. Press releases are written by PR flacks who dumb down the science to the point where it is meaningless, as in this case. What you need to make sense of an experiment are details and context, neither of which the PR release in question provide. This is the problem with PR -- it's not a discipline that's meant to help you grasp complexity; it's about coming away with a simple, carefully chosen message.

Even if you have a whole article you have to proceed with caution. Interesting science tends to be about open questions; cutting edge topics tend to produce a diversity of opinion and contradictory evidence. What you need to read if you want to go to the horse's mouth in science is to read some literature review papers, like this one, which summarize the current state of research and the open questions at the time of writing. In fact you should probably read a recent review paper before you try to make sense of any individual paper. Having skimmed the review paper, it looks like the experiment we're discussing is attempting to explain a long-known experimental effect in terms of gut biota, which is a hot research field right now.

If all you had to make dietary decisions was the press release, you'd probably think, "Well, I'd better cut down on fat and sugar in my diet." The problem I have with that is that "fat" is a vast category of chemicals with wildly different physiological effects. Avoiding all fat because of this study would be like avoiding all acids because of a study of aspirin poisoning -- acids including all proteins and most vitamins.

What makes more sense is to consider all the proposed mechanisms, namely: chronic oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, and now disturbed gut flora. It's feasible to devise a lifestyle and diet which reduces *all* these things, which in turn would also improve our chances against other things like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease. But so far as I know nobody's really put all that together yet. Science deals mainly in diseases, leaving health to the quacks.

Comment: Re:"Clean Energy Candidate" (Score 1) 308 308

Human progress since the Industrial Revolution has been based on cheap energy.

Well, then doesn't that mean we ought to start looking past fossil fuels then? After all oil won't stay cheap forever. And as long as we're looking, why not put "clean" on the punch list?

"Cheap", by the way, is not an unambiguous term, because the market doesn't count externalities like pollution. In China air pollution from "cheap" energy contributes to as many as 1.2 million premature deaths a year (source).

Comment: Re:"Clean Energy Candidate" (Score 1) 308 308

Of course China is going to go along with this hair-brained idea, right?

China, as you may know, has immense and shockingly bad pollution problems. That's not a result of the Chinese leadership's shrewd thinking, it's the result of government and industry collusion and corruption. In China industry sets industrial and energy policy. The most powerful companies are state or military affiliated, but they act no differently than any other company that has succeeded at regulatory capture.

And we in the West have been down this dirty road too, but if you're under 50 "smog" is just word to you unless you live in LA. Here's what smog looked like in Manhattan in 1973. Note that this is in May, not in the summer when smog is at it's worst; nor is this an unusually bad example. Compare this to a recent shot of the same area taken in July. It shows a pretty bad pollution bad by modern standards but a very good day by 1970s standards.

Or you may have heard of London's famous "fog", but London is NOT a foggy place. The "fog" was pollution. In 1952 they had the "Great Smog", a four day event that, it is now estimated, killed twelve thousand people. Here is a picture of the Great Smog; note carefully: this is a daytime photo.

So, by all means lets talk China. The problem with China's air isn't economic progress; the problem with China's air is that China isn't a democracy. If it were then the people would force the government to do what governments in advanced democracies everywhere have been forced to do: regulate sources of pollution.

Work smarter, not harder, and be careful of your speling.