Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:In fascism syndicates not corporations control (Score 1) 299

by HiThere (#49190597) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

Militarism wasn't central to Mussolini's beliefs, it was derived...though I admit that the Roman model he used was strongly focused on militarism. The essentials was the binding together of the various interests of the state, as symbolized by the Roman fasces. Militarism was one tool to achieve this, and to allow that combined force to project its power. (Symbolized by the axe within the rods that were bound together.)

That part about syndicates sounds right though. I've got to admit that I don't understand the difference between syndicates and trade unions...unless they are intended to be company specific unions, which have a *very* bad history, and did even then, so I can't believe that he was pushing THAT.

About Mussolini's "moderate racism"... Just about everyone was racist to that extent at that time (with some major exceptions). Read some of the stuff that was being pushed on the public in the US. Hell, read Heinlein's "Fifth Column" or John W. Campbell's "Mightiest Machine". Or look into the history of IQ tests. And at that time there wasn't much hard evidence that race actually was unimportant. (There is now...but it's not totally solid, just essentially solid.)

OTOH, I guess I, also, tend to oversimplify Fascism, and think of it as the corporate state. I doubt that it would have been any better than the corporate state, but it sounds more like a traditional monarchy...without the "divine right of kings", or at least with that strongly backgrounded. Mussolini was a charismatic leader, but it's not clear what the follow on would have been, had that happened. (I wonder what Mao Tse Tung would think of modern China.)

Comment: STILL smells like a duck... (Score 1) 153

by fyngyrz (#49186083) Attached to: Astronomers Find an Old-Looking Galaxy In the Early Universe

Except that science collectively doesn't claim to know what happened at the points when the universe was dense enough and at high enough energy scales that it is speculated current laws of physics break down

Yes, that's my point exactly. They don't. Because they can't. Because the theory is based on assuming something happened that our physics can't describe. BB theory is therefore incomplete in a way that makes it unable to stand in the face of what at this time appear to be some very simple and reasonable questions. Questions physics force us to ask.

To stick with your analogy, the Big Bang theory isn't saying the baseball materialized spontaneously from the ground, but that it appeared at some point on that path, with some evidence that the trajectory goes back some where near the ground for loose definition of "near." In which case, there being a pitcher and it being spontaneously generated on that path both being consistent with current theories and observations

No. Quite wrong. The specific reason I use this analogy is that BB theory goes right to the ground -- fractions of fractions of fractions of a micrometer above -- such that the option of there being a pitcher or a ball launcher, or a firecracker under the ball, or a really strong dwarf cricket or even microbe, etc., has completely gone away. You cannot explain BB any further using our physics because they state that the theory covers it right back until it cannot. Consequently it either has to be some other physics, or else it's massively wrong. Theories that are rigorous but then, still within the context of their own propositions, devolve into "and then we don't know" or "because we have no idea"

BB theory may, as I said above, be quite correct, and we may need new physics to understand it. if that's the case, on that day, it becomes a complete and compelling theory to me. Until then, it's not.

As of right now, spotting a galaxy that shows what we understand to be evidence of being older than would be possible if BB theory is correct does not particularly surprise me, any more than finding evidence that "Thor" was just some dude with a really big hammer would surprise me in the context of the ideas that present the Æsir and Vanir as "gods." Because just as, at present, there are no physics that would actually make the idea of a god or gods credible in the face of objective, reality-based inquiry, there are no physics that actually make the idea of the BB credible in the face of same.

Comment: Re:Lots of weird crap coming out of Congress latel (Score 2) 390

by HiThere (#49185171) Attached to: White House Threatens Veto Over EPA "Secret Science" Bills

From this you get the Republicans are the good guys? If this were my only measure I'd count the Dems as the good guys. This bill is a weird combination of stupid and evil.

There are other convincing reasons to *not* count the Dems as good guys, but this isn't one of them. This is just more evidence that we've got two sets of bad guys with slightly different goals. Generally I find the Dems a hair less evil, but I consider them sufficiently evil that I rarely vote for them. I vote for some third party or other. There's usually one that's less evil in it's promises than the Dems and Repubs are in their actions.

Comment: Re:If it smells like a duck... (Score 1) 153

by fyngyrz (#49185093) Attached to: Astronomers Find an Old-Looking Galaxy In the Early Universe

"Monoblock" or "the primordial monoblock" is a term for the presumed state of the presumed material comprising the presumed universe just before it presumably exploded. Everything, no exceptions, including space itself, all in one tiny... something, (tiny with respect to... something), that did.... something, and then [waves hands] Big Bang! Try this google search.

Science can trace the expansion of the universe backwards quite a ways, within the bounds of our understanding of physics as it stands and it makes sense, albeit some very strange and difficult to swallow sense. But go back far enough, and a point is reached where our physics simply do not serve to describe the previous state. At all.

I liken it to tracing a pitched ball backwards, not having been around to witness the pitch, but analyzing the arc of its trajectory and theorizing that the ball erupted spontaneously from the ground in order to arrive where it is. We can't account for such a spontaneous emission, but after all, hey, there's the ball, right? The immediate and obvious objection is that "but physics tells us that can't happen"... well, physics tells us the exact same thing about the big bang. That's why I consider the comparison apt.

I'm not saying the big bang theory is wrong; I'm just saying it is definitely unproven, and that there are severe and fundamental problems with attempts to prove it at this time. Tomorrow, we have new physics, and that may resolve everything very nicely. But until or unless that happens -- until someone shows how the "ball could erupt from the dirt, spontaneously or otherwise" -- personally, I'm reserving BB theory acceptance.

Comment: Re:There might be hope for a decent adaptation (Score 1) 299

by HiThere (#49185091) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

There might well be a way to do that, though I'm not quite certain what it would be. However, IIRC, Heinlein didn't discuss the ways that would be used to prevent corruption, so it's unfair to presume that they didn't exist as well as to presume that they did.

OTOH, our current system doesn't prevent the powerful from manuvering their progeny into positions of power, so it's reasonable to guess that another system wouldn't either, without strong built in protections. And I can't recall a historical civilization that both tried to do that and was successful. So perhaps that happening wouldn't prevent a culture from lasting, say a couple of hundred years.

Comment: Re:Fascism largely a creation of director Verhoeve (Score 1) 299

by HiThere (#49185057) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

I'm going to be picky, but that's not fascism. Fascism is the corporate state, i.e. the corporations and the state working hand in glove. In Mussolini's case he took a bit of time picking sides in WWII, and finally picked what he thought was the winning side BECAUSE he thought it was the winning side, not because he agreed with it. His fascism became militarist because of the environment that it developed in, it wasn't a part of his central ideas, merely a tool in making Italy strong. And though he was anti-intellectual, he wasn't racist, he was nationalist. There really *is* a big difference. His central goal was to make Italy strong, and his choice of how to do it was the corporate state. Everything else was derivative from that, if you include mistakes as being derivative.

Comment: Re:There might be hope for a decent adaptation (Score 1) 299

by HiThere (#49185001) Attached to: 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen

Perhaps the movie was fascist propaganda. I never saw it and don't intend to. The book wasn't, though it was militarist. And the viewpoint character spent almost all his time in a military environment. (Fascist has more to do with the corporations and the government working hand in glove. Read Mussolini. You can properly call the US government fascist. And it's quite distinct from Nazi (which, frankly, is bug-fuck crazy rascism, with a few other loony twists).

Comment: Re:1.2 what? (Score 1) 199

Budget cutbacks.

In careful consideration of this, and in light of the seriousness of the problem, I have determined that the appropriate reaction is to seize Canada. I'm pretty sure that congress will determine the commerce clause covers it, anyway. I'm writing my crook^w legislator this evening.

Comment: Re:Storage (Score 1) 187

by HiThere (#49166863) Attached to: World's First Lagoon Power Plants Unveiled In UK

Well, I don't know what they're planning, but ISTM that if they divide the storage area they can greatly extend the time at which they're generating energy in exchange for nearly halving the peak generation capability...and without much pumping (which adds an additional inefficiency or three).

OTOH, the amount of energy that can be generated by water stored at a particular height depends on the fall distance. So the potential generation capability will vary a lot as the tide changes. Maybe some of the inflow could be used to drive a hydralic ram to lift some of the water higher than max high tide level. But that *does* introduce additional inefficiencies.

All in all, I don't know, but it looks pretty iffy.

Comment: Re:Armegeddon for indigenous marine life. (Score 1) 187

by HiThere (#49166805) Attached to: World's First Lagoon Power Plants Unveiled In UK

You don't need a huge tide, that just makes it more efficient, and cheaper to build, and requiring less land and construction. So perhaps it's only feasible in a few places, but any country with a coast on the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Indian Oceans should be able to make it work with enough effort and expense. Most of them just wouldnt' find it practical.

Comment: Re:And dams aren't really worth it either (Score 1) 187

by HiThere (#49166753) Attached to: World's First Lagoon Power Plants Unveiled In UK

Tidal power would seem to have a lot going for it, but there's probably a good reason that it hasn't taken off before now. Of course, that reason may have been solved...

For that matter, cost overruns are also likely on large nuclear plant projects. (Every one I've heard about has had a significant cost overrun, of course there's a huge selection bias...)

Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.