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Comment: Re: Good for greece (Score 1) 662 662

Oh, and as for leaving the EU: you may end up unpleasantly surprised. There's only one treaty that governed Greece's accession to the EU and Eurozone, not too. You can't be "half in violation" of a treaty and kicked out of "half of it". If you start printing your own parallel currency, you're in violation of the treaty, and you're out of both the EU and the Eurozone.

Now, of course, Brussels could legislate a new mutually agreed upon exception for you. But do you really think they want to?

Comment: Re: Good for greece (Score 4, Informative) 662 662

I'm not from Macedonia, although I know people there. Both of your sides need to read up on your history. Macedon was located between the traditional Greek city-states and the Thracian tribes (and others like the Illyrians), and had a culture and language closer to that of the Greeks but with strong Thracian and Illyrian influence (for example, they used both Greek, Thracian, and Illyrian names). The ancient Macedonians sought recognition as "Greek" from their southern neighbors, as Greece was the heart of wealth and culture; by contrast, the ancient Greeks debated heavily among themselves whether Macedonians were actually Greeks or not and many were not willing to accept them. The issue was only settled they were conquered by Philip (obviously not wanting to say that they had been conquered by barbarians ;) ) The Macedonian leaders' habits of adopting the cultures of the countries that they conquered made it a relatively moot point anyway. Macedon was near present day Thessalonica. The country of Macedonia's claim to the history of Philip and Alexander is pretty weak; they did not extend their empire particularly far up the Vardar / Axios (at the time, Illyria), and where they did they stayed near the river. However, future rulers of Macedonia did. By the time of the Roman conquest, what was Macedonia had become modern Macedonia plus modern Albania and the northern half of Greece. This become the Roman province of Macedonia, which existed for hundreds of years. Classical Greece remained its own separate entity under Roman control, Achaia.

Let's repeat: Modern Macedonia was the center of the Roman province of Macedonia for hundreds of years. Yes, they have a right to the name.

During the Byzantine times, a series of waves of Slavic invaders (the most powerful being a later wave, the Bulgars) moved into the area, overrunning not just today's Macedonia, but the entire interior of Greece. Their control of these areas lasted hundreds of years and they interbred with the local populations. Greek speakers retained control of the coasts, and eventually re-expanded back into the interior; the populations there were subsequently re-Helenized.

The area that is modern day Macedonia was subsequently traded off between one empire and the next all the way up to the modern period. Greece, after gaining its independence from the Ottomans (again, initially only in the southern portion of of what is modern Greece - the part that was traditional, pre-Macedonian-era Greece), progressively took over Ottoman lands to the north and northeast in the 1800s, expanding into the area formerly occupied by the city-state of Macedon, and even the areas once occupied by the Thracians. These areas were steadily Helenized, especially in the 1920s with the influx of large numbers of Anatolian Greek refugees - 270 thousand in Thessaloniki alone.

The basic summary of it is: there are no ancient Macedonians anymore, and nobody has a "pure" claim on the name. But both sides have ancient Macedonian "breeding". Neither speak the ancient Macedonian language (even the ancient Macedonians stopped speaking their language by the 3th century BC), although Greek is certainly closer. Both Greek Macedonia and the Republic of Macedonia are located in the heart of areas called Macedonia for centuries - Greek Macedonia being the heart of the original Macedonian empire, and the Republic of Macedonia being the heart of the later kingdom and the Roman province of Macedonia. So yes, you have every right to criticize the Republic of Macedonia's cooption of Alexander and Philip. But you're in the wrong when you try to act like they have no claim to the name.

Comment: Re:I hope for an agreement (Score 1) 662 662

Should each state in the US have its own currency? Yes, less (fewer) currencies often are a good thing. A powerful shared currency provides all sorts of benefits versus a bunch of little weak currencies. But the devil is in the implementation details. 49 of 50 US states (Vermont is the exception) have laws banning the running of deficits, and states can't issue debt in the same manner as the federal government. This exposes state budgets to a lot more risk to flucuations in their economies, but this is partly compensated for by federal spending on services that states don't have to pay for. Europe did not set up anything like this, and it's paying the price for it.

Hopefully this will provide the impetus for the sort of fiscal integration system necessary to avoid these problems in the future. No, they're not going to agree to just pass off most national services to Brussels. But they could create an equivalent, such as an EU-wide "insurance system" to countries that provides temporary payouts to countries experiencing downturns, so that they don't have to suffer great pain during brief recessions due to an inability to run a short-term deficit. Longer term fundamental issues of changing economic strength would however have to be dealt with as the aid slowly tapers off.

(The EU could also really use an insurance system against the economic consequences of major trade decisions, such as embargos, so that countries like Russia can't play them against each other by retaliating hard against certain states more than others)

Comment: Re:Good for greece (Score 4, Interesting) 662 662

Europe appears to be prepared to maintain the current minimal level of bank support going until the 20th (yep, these bank runs are happening even with the banks still receiving some support, just not as much as they were before). On the 20th Greece will miss a payment that will give then the grounds to withdraw the remainder of the support propping up the banks - any banks still around then will probably collapse immediately (assumedly being nationalized). If Greece doesn't resort to printing currency (whether they call it an "IOU" or not) before then, they will have to at that point.

Greece has a press in Athens to print 20 euro notes and has recently started talking about using it to make up their Euro shortfall. They're seriously playing with fire here, as that would be counterfeiting if they're not authorized to do so. There's talk about launching lawsuits to try to get the courts to grant them the right to print more euros. But how far they're willing to play that risky game if they don't get any sort of authorization... well, only time will tell. If Greece prints counterfeit euros, there's really no limit to how extreme this thing could escalate - Europe would be forced to wall off trade with Greece and even potentially travel restrictions to avoid them getting into circulation. The calm, measured response on Greece's part would just be to introduce a parallel drachma currency rather than printing euros, but Syriza isn't exactly famous for calm, measured responses. And nobody has a drachma press - it takes longer to set up a press for mass production of a new currency than one might think. Really, where this all could lead is hard to speculate....

Comment: Re:Good for greece (Score 5, Insightful) 662 662

Finally you can stop robbing the eurozone with "loans" that you never planned to repay. (And let's stop this "The loans are impossible to repay" nonsense - Greece's loans are less than the total value of its state assets. Now obviously nobody in Greece wants to sell off their assets - just to pick one category, a military without any hardware isn't much of a military. But the concept that Greece can't pay back its loans is a lie.)

Now, Greece "can't" without selling off extensive assets that nobody would realistically expect them to ever consent to selling... but the only reason for that is because Greece's worker productivity is so terrible and tax collection so pathetically low. Mind you, it's not the fault of Greek workers that productivity levels are low - you work more hours per week than most of Europe (including Germany). But you make a lot less with those hours. You have a highly inefficient economy, and the extensive tax fraud just makes it worse - businesses have disincentive to grow (and thus gain better economies of scale) because it makes it harder to avoid paying taxes. And your military is a financial black hole. Even if everyone just wrote off 100% your debt tomorrow, if you kept trying to live like the rest of Europe (let alone better, like you try to do in a number of respects), you'd be back in the hole in short order.

Anyway, enjoy having your money (both in the banks, and your salaries) devalued to a small fraction of its former value while the cost of all of your imports shoots up, without a corresponding export boost because you hardly export anything compared to the size of your economy - also, a non-Eurozone economy in chaos isn't exactly a good recipe for a healthy European tourism sector, so don't expect the tourism boost from a devalued currency that you may be envisioning. Just don't think that people are sad to see you go - they're just mad for having dumped so much money into your economy when it was obvious that you planned to weasel your way out of ever paying it back.

(Note: the Troika isn't faultless either. In exchange for loans, rather than focusing on trying to improve the raw numbers with austerity, they should have been focused 100% on trying to force you to fix your structural problems so you can be competitive enough to stay in Europe. They tried to tackle the root problem in a totally counterproductive way and ended up earning a lot of hate for that.

Comment: Re:Memory problem perhaps? (Score 4, Funny) 96 96

Since this is slashdot, how about pseudocode?

function handle_fault_on_approach()
{
    if (NOTHING_PARTICULARLY_SPECIAL_GOING_ON)
    {
        tell_nasa about_error();
        go_into_safe_mode();
        wait_for_instructions_from_nasa();
    }
    else if (FLYING_BY_PLUTO_RIGHT_NOW)
    {
          tell_nasa about_error();
          wait_to_hear_back_from_nasa = FALSE;
          handle_error_in_a_reasonable_manner_on_your_own();
          get_back_to_gathering_before_you_miss_the_flyby_goddammit();
    }
    else if (FLYING_BY_EARTH)
    {
        dammit_steve();
    }
}

Comment: Re: Wrong (Score 1) 96 96

A letter that opens with:

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly this afternoon that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Also, it's a poorly worded letter - they wrote "the team is now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan", which of course is going to make people think it's going to drift off course or something. Obviously, physics does not work that way. Even if New Horizons exploded today, it's remains would drift right past where it was targeted to be - there's no more burns to make this late in the game. Better wording would have been original science plan. And the science plan doesn't call for any particularly critical science in the next few days.

These sorts of faults happen in spacecraft (often due to cosmic rays), and they're designed to handle them. New Horizons seems to have handled it perfectly, taking every action that it was supposed to.

Comment: Re:From Unmannedspaceflight.com (Score 3, Interesting) 96 96

Oh and for the record: Stern calls Pluto a planet, and makes some very good arguments.

And I'll add more that he doesn't make (though his are best!): it's ridiculous to call something a "dwarf X" and then say that that doesn't count as an "X". In any other field of science, if you had an "adjective-noun", it would also be classified as a "noun". If you have a dwarf shrew, it's also a shrew. If you have a dwarf fern, it's also a fern. Heck, even in the same field, astronomy, the same rule applies - a dwarf star is also a star.

Under the IAU definition, extrasolar planets aren't planets either. They don't even have a name - they're not anything at all. Not like we'd be able to classify them under the definition without dispatching a spacecraft all the way to each different star system even if they weren't excluded. The IAU definition also claims that they will create a system to establish more dwarf planets - something that clearly has not been done. There hasn't been a new dwarf planet accepted in nearly a decade, despite the fact that we know the sizes of many of them better than already-accepted candidates were known at the time. Quaoar is much bigger than Ceres, and we know it's size down to a mere 5 kilometers margin of error, yet it's not a dwarf planet. The IAU not only made up their ridiculous definition, but they're not even upholding it.

As with pretty much every categorization of object in pretty much every field of science, you need heirarchies and multiple groupings to describe the world. Among planets, we already know of significant diversity, and should only expect it to grow - hence we have terrestrial planets, gas giants, ice giants, hot jupiters, super earths, etc, and yes, dwarf planets - which should be just another category among the significant diversity already out there. Everyone knows a planet when they see it - you don't have to scan its orbit to see if it's "cleared" it, with some still-not-yet-agreed-upon definition of "cleared". If it's large enough to relax into a hydrostatic equilibrium, that's both meaningful, intuitive, and what people expect when they hear the word "planet". By any reasonable definition, our solar system has at least dozens, potentially hundreds of planets. And that should be seen as something to celebrate, not to be appalled about.

Comment: From Unmannedspaceflight.com (Score 5, Informative) 96 96

Link

Steve5304: Rumors that Contact with new horizons has been lost again or was never regained. Unconfirmed

Alan Stern: Such rumors are untrue. The bird is communicating nominally.

Alan Stern is the director of the New Horizons mission. So no worries. :) You can see that two way communication is in progress here at the Canberra dish.

This was a really minor glitch and will have no impact on the mission as a whole. There weren't even any significant observations planned for today.

(As a side note, the closer we get to Pluto and the more we see of it (dark band at the bottom is around the equator), the more it's starting to remind me of an airless Titan :) )

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