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Comment: Re:Environmentalists will cause the next nuclear a (Score 2) 80 80

Every time nuclear power comes up someone blames environmentalists for the industry's problems -- in this case before the problems have manifested. It's an article of faith.

So far as I can see there's only ever been one plant in the US that's ever been cancelled for environmental concerns is the proposed plant at Bodega Harbor, which as you can see on the map would have been right on top of the San Andreas fault. In every other case projects have been shut down after serious miscalculations in the industry's economic forecasting (e.g. lower energy prices in the 80s than anticipated in the 70s), often exacerbated by poor project management performance. In those cases environmentalists were just a convenient scapegoat for management screw-ups.

You can see that because after the very largest anti-nuclear protests in history -- against Seabrook in NH and Diablo Canyon -- the plants were built and put into operation anyway. If a company had a plant under construction that it could make money operating, that plant would get built, even if thirty thousand people turned out to protest.

Comment: Re:Iran is not trying to save money (Score 1) 290 290

Well, you have to factor in the Iranian cultural mania for disagreeing with each other. The Shah couldn't keep them under his thumb, neither can the mullahs, who have their hands full disagreeing with each other.

From a tyrant's perspective Iran is ungovernable, which doesn't mean elements in the government don't give tyranny a go on a regular basis. It's an ideal setup for producing martyrs. The futility of cracking down means you have a little space to rake some muck before official anger overcomes reason.

Comment: Re:Big giant scam ... (Score 1) 765 765

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) 765 765

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) 765 765

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) 312 312

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) 303 303

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) 303 303

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.

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.

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