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Comment The level of ignorance is just sad (Score 3, Interesting) 956

This would have been me in 1976. Obviously, it wasn't quite that easy to make a clock back then. But, I was building things all of the time. The knowledge I gained has served me well my entire life. This is the kind of thing we should be encouraging. Tinkerers have helped to make this country what it is. To profile a kid like this into the criminal category is just beyond sad. I hope it doesn't discourage him from exploring his interests down the road. He needs to find a local Maker group. The school and police need to get a clue.

Comment Re:Just starting now? (Score 1) 373

This acceptable region where the balance point must fall also changes with weight. So, the more the airplane weighs, the smaller the difference between the forward and aft limit of the center of gravity.

The cg is also important on the ground as well depending on the airplane. The KC-135 tankers I flew on had a tail stand and had it for a reason. Even CGs that allowed flight might not keep the nose wheel on the ground. We didn't shut down engines until the tail stand was in place as the thrust help keep the nose wheel down. There are stories of crew members stepping off the ladder and the nose wheel coming off the ground. Hence the procedure with the tail stand.

We always kept fuel in the forward body tank (beneath the front of the aircraft) to keep this balance point foward. There were times that a fuel gauge malfunctioned and the end result was the CG was not where it was thought to be. We took off one time with more fuel in the foward body tank than we thought. It was pretty scary. Things like this can kill people.

Comment Marketing and Push Polls - poisoning the well? (Score 2) 292

I have to wonder how much of this has to do with 'push polling'. I have a zero tolerance for this practice and I will shut down a survey call in a heartbeat if it appears to be headed in that direction. I have probably ended some legitimate calls because of this.

Add to that the following:

  • There is very little that goes on in politics today that isn't marketing of some sort.
  • Almost no-one in or running for public office appears to be truly interested in representing the common citizen.

I certainly don't have to wonder why people are so skeptical of surveys.

Comment Re:The Dark Age returns (Score 4, Insightful) 479

First of all, most people don't know what the big bang theory really says. It says the universe is expanding and cooling. It says nothing about how it was created.

It is not "untestable speculation". Science is about making observations. Then proposing an explanation for those observations (hypotheses). Then testing those hypotheses. These can often be tested by other observations. It happens all of the time. In 1927 an expanding universe theory was proposed based on observed red shift of certain objects in the sky. In 1929 Hubble was able to verify the red shift and show that the further away objects were from earth the larger the amount of shift. Again, this fits with an expanding universe. In 1948 physicists speculated there would be cosmic microwave background noise signature of this expansion. In 1964 Penzias and Wilson happened across this cosmic microwave background noise (which they weren't even looking for). Well, the case for the big bang theory got a little stronger. No test tubes were harmed in the making of this observation.

What has not been found yet is anything that makes the big bang theory incompatible with what we observe.

Can we go back in time and observe the beginning of the big bang? Of course not. Can we duplicate it? No. Can we make observations? Yes Do those observations show that the observable universe is expanding over time? Yes. Do you have a better theory than the big bang theory (one that can be tested)? No.

People act like scientists just get together in a big room and make up theories and present them as fact. No, scientists make observations, create hypotheses to explain their observations and then come up with ways to test those hypotheses. And sometimes those tests simply involve other observations.

Science has it's struggles. Yes there are those who have their pet theories and are willing to fund research that is favorable to their cause. But, in the long run, scientific method takes care of that. In the end, what can be observed will trump what can be bought. The all powerful Roman Catholic Church lost the 'Earth is the center of the universe' argument because of what could be observed. Of course, we later learned that the Sun isn't the center of the universe either. But that did not change the fact that the Earth was not.

Anyone who thinks science is just another religion, doesn't understand science (or religion).

Comment Re:So, when has this not been true? (Score 1) 609

It's easier to be liberal when you're young and have little to conserve.

Of course, it is also easy to be conservative when the only thing you have to conserve is critical thinking and empathy.

And also of course, people refuse to understand that when it comes to running the country, the two major parties do not really differ that much. What is different is how they keep everyone distracted from their primary agenda. They are after all being fed by the same hand. Neither will bite the hand that feeds them.

Conservative and Liberal are meaningless labels.

Comment Re:Not for animals or locations (Score 1) 186

I'm wondering what the pharmaceutical marketing firms are going to do now.
All of the good made up names are going to be taken by diseases.
If this had happened a few years ago "I'm down with Crestor" could have had an entirely different meaning.

To me this all seems a bit too much. Some day we'll hear:
"We were going to name our child "Henry" but we didn't want everyone thinking of Henry the Eighth. So we named him "Frienworthy" instead. "Familient" and "Intellus" were others we considered.

"Moon Unit" would sound quaint by comparison.

Submission + - U.S. appeals court says NSA phone surveillance is not authorized by Congress

IronOxen writes: A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling. The court has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency. “We hold that the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,” concluded their judgement.

Comment Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

Trusted garages are around and they are great. We have a spectacular one in Charlotte, NC that works on Hondas only unfortunately.

Otherwise, I've seen it both ways.

I was getting my car serviced by a small shop and was told I had a headlight out. So, I told him to go ahead and change it out. He could not figure out how to pull off the rubber seal on the back of the assembly. So, he just cut it off. I found out later when I saw moisture getting into my headlight. I've never seen boneheaded stuff like this from my dealer.

I own 3 Toyotas now. Dealer service has been spectacular. Plus the cars are so darn reliable, that they don't need much in the way of repairs. A friend was complaining about how expensive it was to change the oil on her Prius. A small shop was changing her oil every 5K. The dealer only changes it every 10K. So, just that alone would save her money. (Plus, the small shop was charging way too much).

I ended up buying my tires at the dealer as well. When they have their buy 3 get 1 sales the prices are reasonable. Now, it is not unusual for me to pick up the car and there is no charge for service. In those cases, the only real labor involved was rotating the tires and they rotate them for free if you bought them at the dealership.

You do have to watch them though. On a Honda minivan I recently had, the AC broke. They were going to have me replace a $500 computer and I figured out that the problem was a $29 part.

It is clear that people who don't understand car maintenance are at a huge disadvantage.