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Comment: Re: Transphobic assholes (Score 1) 124

by Rei (#49607621) Attached to: Statues of Assange, Snowden and Manning Go Up In Berlin

And how exactly do you know what her DNA is? There are XX men and XY women.

And seriously, of all of the stupid measures of who someone is, DNA has to take the cake. "Okay, okay, this Stephen Hawking guy seems to be smart, but that doesn't matter, what does his DNA say? Does his DNA say he's smart? If not then I don't care what he has to say."

Comment: Barren Landscapes. Related. Depressing. (Score 2, Insightful) 71

by bmo (#49607477) Attached to: Empty Landscape Looms, If Large Herbivores Continue to Die Out

Copypasta from FARK. Slightly cleaned up for formatting.

Rik01 4 hours ago
Folks have heard me biatch about changes in my own city in the State of Florida -- and changes in the State itself. Basically the response has been (1) progress old man, (2) change the onion on your belt, (3) yelling at clouds, (4) who cares -- it's Floraduh!

However, these changes have been going on in other states.

I've watched politicians promise Eco-improvements with one hand and sell the voters down the river with the other. [For example] We had a massive oyster bed in the Indian River placed off limits to the public for preservation and ecological reasons for close to 20 years. That thing had huge oysters in it and the water in its cove was nearly crystal clear. The local police arrested scores of people sneaking down there to poach oysters and the shores were dotted with piles of empty shells. The cove was absolutely packed with the things, no river bottom exposed. Then, during the Housing Boom, an upscale development went it around it. Since the cove was too shallow for wealthy owners to park their boats at the planned docks behind the cove-side homes, it was dredged. No warning to anyone who wanted to get these delicious oysters. Dredges came in, ripped thousands of them out and disposed of them. The cove is now full of dark water and few oysters, making a lot of folks like myself wonder why we preserved them.

Water use in the state has quadrupled. Florida used to be very swampy, but the water table was shallow. Now, after sucking so much out and changing the lay of the land, plus paving over every square inch they could, we're the capitol of the US when it comes to sink holes. Water shortages began to pop up years ago, where before, we never had any.

Millions of acres of wild woods have been developed, endangering a host of native species of animals we used to have and the amount of fish in the rivers has diminished to the point that you need a license and a fishing season for Mullet -- once so plentiful that it was considered 'garbage fish' and caught mainly for bait. Within the last 40 years, the Indian River has to be closed to shellfish harvesting and fishing periodically during the summer because of massive human fecal bacteria contamination.

The previously crystal clear air of my seaside town now shows signs of grey pollution. They stopped dump burning ages ago, along with burning huge piles of used tires. Land clearing agencies have to use these massive air blowers that surround burn pits to burn stumps and brush with, creating a hotter, less smoke making fires. However, the local traffic, even with more eco-friendly cars, has quadrupled and quadrupled again. Their lesser pollution has, by the sheer weight of volume, has surpassed that which was present in times of less pollution control, when you used to have 'smokers' rolling down the roads.

Major advertising campaigns have convinced the public that instead of one or two cars per family, everyone except the dog needs one, plus a couple of ATVs, a boat and a couple of those fast, small watercraft good for nothing except going fast on the water and making a lot of noise. Prior to that, dirt bikes were the thing, tearing up thousands of acres of wild woods and chasing out local animals for fun. To round things out for the macho man, we have air boats, running on aircraft engines, no mufflers, tearing up the diminishing acres of wild swamps and annoying the crap out of neighbors when the owners 'test' them in their yards.

We have fewer forest fires than when I was a kid, thanks to sophisticated fire equipment -- but then again, the acres of undeveloped woods has fallen by 3/4, so there's less to burn. Where lightening would hit decades old pine trees and forest floors thick with dry pine needles, it hits houses, paved streets, power poles and grassy lawns.

My yard has an 'old growth' pine in it. Around 60 feet tall and nearly three feet around. It was 6 feet tall when we moved in around 1958. Across the street used to be a forest of even older trees, around two miles square. Some reached 100 feet tall. That area is now made up of a couple of housing developments. 98% of the trees are gone.

The main drainage ditch in front of my home, which was shaded by Oaks along the banks, was more like a shallow creek, brimming with clear water, frogs, colorful minnows, several types of turtles -- including the irritable snapper -- gar fish and other freshwater versions. Us kids played in it, sheltered from the hot summer sun. Now it's a deep, sluggish stream of dark water, covered by algae, few minnows and most of the Oaks were removed when the housing developments went in. Their 'salvage ponds' drain into it. Even if I was a kid, I wouldn't want to play in that mess.

Yet according to statistics, we need more homes because rents are too high because people can't buy homes whose prices nearly doubled due to the Housing Boom.

We had a landmark here made by a great old man called Ralph Waldo Sexton, who did much for the community with his wealth and eccentric ideas. The land was deeded to the city with the restriction that it never be town down. The city agreed -- until explosive development hit and a business needed the tiny patch of land to add to it's parking lot. The city had let the landmark deteriorate anyhow (known as Sexton's Mountain) and as the value of the Oceanside land soared, that plot became worth much more than the hand built land mark.

They sold it and it was plowed under and paved over. Adding to the destruction of the beach itself from over development. Even the Great Red Land-crab Migration, that used to cover blocks in hundreds of thousands of the small crustations, covering the land for blocks in nearly a solid wave has stopped.

Their nests on a swampy salt marsh have been plowed under as houses went up and covered every square foot, which means a lot of cranes and other animals who fed on them are gone also. Plus their holes helped the ground absorb rain water, which filtered into the aquifer -- those hundreds of thousands of gallons of which now roll off the paved streets and manicured lawns and harder fill into the salt marsh waters and out into the sea.

Each time a politician enacts an eco-friendly program, he quietly passes two which undermine the efforts of the first and benefits development companies or other businessmen. When we had a good city manager who was not thrilled with explosive development, he didn't last long. Appointed by the Mayor, he was removed and his replacement arrived, all hyper about explosive development.
So, now you all can see the nationwide results -- and it ain't gonna stop anytime soon. We protected the birds -- and they tore down the forests. Gopher turtle nests could stop a development -- until no one noticed them until after the bulldozers had plowed them under. We built a huge, new eco-friendly dump, closing all of the others -- and then they had to sink huge pipes into it to vent the not-so-eco-friendly methane gas, making no attempt to even capture, compress it and use it. (You can smell our dump long before you see it.) Around the 4th of july, dump managers are secretly terrified some kids with fireworks might manage to ignite some of those vapor spilling pipes.

Crime, illness, irritability and cost have soared within my city. We went from a small Mayberry-type jail to a fortress-like prison, plus built a sprawling juvenile facility. Where you could walk the streets at late night with no fear, you need to go in groups now. Home burglaries have just soared. (I even got hit, for the first time in over 50 years.) We had 4 good schools. Now we have about 10 mediocre ones and they have chain link fences around them. Kids are no longer allowed to play on the exercise fields during summer vacation. Shootings are on the rise.

The cost of living keeps climbing. More and more funds are needed to keep the infrastructure going to maintain the city and county, while they keep reducing benefits for the workers who do the actual work. We now spend millions a year on keeping our beaches nice -- something they did for just a few thousand 30 years ago when thousands of folks didn't tear them up and build right up against them.

BTW, rents here are just obnoxious, unless you want to live in a place made up of termites and roaches holding hands. We were also a major citrus provider -- but the majority of the old, labor intensive groves which produced magnificent fruit have been sold and housing developments put in their place. (It takes 4 years of work to prepare the ground for citrus saplings then another 4 years to harvest good fruit. Working in a grove for the summer was almost every high school kids rite of passage. Old, established groves were gold mines.)

I once reported a new Sea Turtle Nest I found on a beach, not wanting the heavy, tractor-like sand groomers (yeah, we have to have those now) to roll over it and crush the eggs. The response I got from the Federal and State agency I contacted was 'what do you want us to do about it?' Yet had I dug up the eggs to move them, cops would have popped out of the weeds to arrest and fine me.

I think the beach groomers crushed the nest.

Comment: Re: Hahah (Score 1) 183

And you're telling me you and your friends never did anything stupid? When you were 15 you were as sober as a 30 year-old?

Or maybe treating kids like nothing they do has consequences,

This is what is called a false dichotomy. You don't treat kids like adults who have misbehaved; you treat kids like kids who have misbehaved. Or do you think that a 12 year-old who starts a fire playing with matches should be treated like a 40 year who starts a fire playing with matches, because in the end they did the same thing?

What I'm saying is take the age of the offender into account in how you punish them. This isn't some kind of radical new liberal idea. It's how this country operated until the end of the 20th C.

Comment: Re:AT&T Autopay - Ha! (Score 1) 223

So, there was no billing error here. The guy actually had his modem making long-distance calls for inordinate amounts of time. Doesn't seem like an AT&T error. Though it definitely sucks for the old man/woman!

No billing error? The entire billing system sucks balls at the largest possible frame.

There should be a legislative directive that all such usage-based billing plans provide an option for the end user to set hard spending caps, which are automatically enforced by the service provider.

Show me a corporation that doesn't—at least attempt—to enact hard spending caps enforced by automatic systems wherever and whenever possible. Heads roll in the gutters when a corporation loses $100 million because some trading desk manages to go rogue with respect to set trading limits. (By the Finnish system of traffic fines, a $100 million loss for AT&T is about on par with some old geezer tabbed for $25,000.)

End users are, of course, purposefully disadvantaged to have to police their own usage by manual vigilance, because everyone knows this is a lucrative fail mode for AT&T's revenue piracy service.

That this whole thing sucks balls right down to the bag root is the least possible diagnosis.

Comment: Re: Hahah (Score 1) 183

Yours apparently has some way to go. Or maybe it's too far gone.

The brain isn't one big ball of mush. It has different parts that perform different functions. You get injured in your Broca's area and you won't be able speak or write. I've seen it in stroke patients; it doesn't matter that the rest of their brains is just good as new, they don't have any expressive language. Likewise if your orbital frontal cortex is damaged or not fully developed yet, you're going to act like an ass. Doesn't matter how smart or well-meaning you are.

Teenaged brains can be misleading, because in some ways they're at their lifetime peak. But at the same time they suck at certain things. A smart fifteen year-old can explain the difference between right and wrong, between a smart and stupid action. But he can't be trusted to act in accordance to that kind of knowledge, because among other things the OFC isn't finished yet. This is why parents get fooled into thinking their wonderful children won't do dumb things. You simply cannot expect a teenager to act intelligently because he has knowledge. The knowledge helps, but it does't determine behavior in a fifteen year-old as it does in a thirty year-old.

Comment: Re:Hahah (Score 1) 183

He did the crime (actually several), he must do the time.

If he wants to play big boy games then he must accept big boy penalties. Fuck your PC "Oh but he's a kid with his whole life ahead of him!" bullshit, he's chosen his path, let him reap the consequences.

That's just a straw man argument. The actual problem with treating him as an adult is that that is contrary to fact. He is not an adult.

In the state of Georgia a fifteen year-old cannot vote; he cannot purchase liquor; cannot obtain a driver's license, cannot hold a full-time job. The rules we have for minors assume they're incapable of making adult choices. It's logically inconsistent to believe minors are not competent to make responsible decisions, but then claim we should treat them as if they can decide responsibly because they've failed to do so. When have you ever used reasoning like that for anything else? I had a housemate once who decided to become her own herbalist. She went to the herb store and bought a lot of herbal shit and promptly made herself sick. By your logic I should go to her for medical treatment because (a) I previously had reason to believe she was not competent to practice medicine and (b) her subsequent actions proved my suspicions correct.

You don't need some namby-pamby PC mumbo jumbo to know that most teenagers have a penchant for doing spectacularly stupid things, but that *most* of them grow out it. That's common sense, and the law should take that into account. And science actually backs up common sense here. Most people's brains go through a development spurt in their "executive functions" (acting according to long term plans, inhibiting impulsive actions, directing attention) when they're around fifteen. That means there's roughly a 50/50 chance someone under sixteen is neurologically incapable of not acting like a jackass.

So both science and common sense tell us that treating children as if they were adults is irrational and serves no useful purpose. That doesn't mean you do nothing when kids commit crimes. That's a false dichotomy. It means you do something different.

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 1) 166

by Rei (#49604743) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

I don't think NASA needs to make the fictional heroes; I think every piece of sci-fi that comes out helps inspire the next generation. I guarantee you that there's tons kids and young teens who saw, say, Gravity and think that's what it is to work at NASA and have set that as their aspiration. "Astronaut" is usually in the top 10 of what kids want to be when they grow up.

More than anything else, I see the main point of having astronauts is just to inspire kids. Just knowing that there's people going up there is enough - they don't need ot be doing big stunts that cost hundreds of billions of dollars to put a footprint on a distant body; they simply need to be twirling around in zero G in LEO.

Comment: Re:Popular support (Score 2) 166

by Rei (#49604707) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

How many current astronauts can you name?
How many current astronauts can anyone here name off the top of their head?

The time of astronauts as heroes has passed. Far, far more people today do care about MESSENGER and New Horizons than they do about what astronauts are doing in space. They get more coverage in the popular press too. MESSENGER hasn't been a big public eye-catcher (except briefly when it crashed) but there was lots of attention about Rosetta, MERs, MSL, Cassini periodically (for example, the geysers of Enceladus, the Huygens landing, etc), and you better believe New Horizons is going to get a lot of coverage when it does its Pluto flyby (the public has a lot of interest in Pluto, more than in a long time due to the "demotion" controversy)

Yes, the percentage of Americans who read about these sort of things when they come up in the news (let alone follow them in depth) is probably in the 10-20% range. But so? How many specific sub-programs in the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service can you name? NASA still captures the public imagination in a way that no other part of the federal government does. It doesn't take a moon landing to do that.

Comment: Re:Did a paid shill write this summary? (Score 1) 166

by Rei (#49604651) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

It's about time someone defunded this utterly ridiculous and transparent scam.

Indeed, it's about time they defund SLS/Orion!

Don't get me wrong, NASA should be in the launch systems business. In the revolutionary launch systems business. Government programs are supposed to exist to do the important thing that private industry is unwilling or unable to do - in the science field this means things like such as science without immediate commercial applications, very expensive basic research, etc. There is no shortage of private companies now competing over the launch market, and indeed even for the heavy launch market. It's no longer some sort of monopolistic scenario.

NASA needs to be working on rocketry techs that are seen as too much cost / too much of a long shot for private industry to try - that is, until someone else (such as NASA) can prove them. Metstable fuels, nuclear-steam rockets, liquid airbreathing rockets, scramjets, solar sails, magnetic sails, fission sails, advanced ion propulsion technologies, fission fragment rockets, ballistic launch, launch loops, antimatter-initiated microfission / microfusion rockets, nuclear saltwater rockets, nuclear pulse propulsion, and on and on, plus advanced non-propulsion techs for landing, transit, sustaining a base/colony, new communications technologies, advanced robotic systems, etc - with all exact schematics, production instructions, consultations with the developers to serious parties, etc made available at no charge. I'm also of the opinion that NASA should produce and make available at low cost to private space companies and researchers the sort of large-scale analysis and test facilities whose capital costs would break a startup.

Basically, they need to be filling in the gaps in advancing space technology, not trying to do everything, even those things that other parties are more than happy to do on their own with their own money.

Comment: Re:usually the complaints are for too much politic (Score 3, Informative) 166

by Rei (#49604579) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

That might be true if this was some sort of dispassionate commentary on the bill. But it's not, it's a ringing endorsement of a highly partisan bill. Surely you see the difference.

For those who are serious, here's the Planetary Society's commentary, with a link to an indepth but nonpartisan analysis at SpacePolicyOnline. The Planetary Society is very happy with the planetary science numbers, not happy with the earth science numbers, and couldn't seem to care less about the funding for SLS/Orion.

Comment: Went to Smithsonian Air/Space Museum for research (Score 1) 160

by billstewart (#49604361) Attached to: US Switches Air Traffic Control To New Computer System

Back in the late 80s, when I was working on that decade's failed project to replace the 360/90-based systems, my coworker and I were in DC for a meeting on some phase of the project (or one of the related projects), and we had half a day spare, so we went to the Smithsonian Air&Space Museum to do "research". They didn't have examples of the system we were working on, but they did have some other air traffic control systems (Tracon, I think), and other cool stuff like astronaut ice cream. After that we went to the National Gallery, because Van Gogh.

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