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Comment Re:False dichotomy of the guilty conscience (Score 1) 332

See my other post on this topic about Wikipedia's omissions. I have actually read pretty extensively on this point, although not recently. Even if everything I remember (about the multiple offers of surrender) is completely wrong, the undisputed fact remains Japan wanted to surrender, in some fashion, immediately following the first bomb.

Vaporizing 40,000+ civilians is not a morally acceptable way to pressure someone re: terms of surrender. If you believe that nuking a highly populated area three days later was the only choice we had... you are not thinking very hard.

Comment But the false dichotomy is still there (Score 4, Interesting) 332

I'm pretty skeptical of those numbers (I'm also skeptical that the Japanese disengagement happened as fast as you imply), but I'll concede all of that for the moment--this is still a false dichotomy. You're still begin from the conclusion "the second bombing was justified, because otherwise X" and working your way backwards. It's simply not intellectually honest.

Think about it for five seconds and see if you can come up with an alternative that doesn't vaporize 40,000 civilians. Here's one: let's say we drop the second bomb on top of Mount Fuji. Just to bluff and say "hey look, we've got so many of these damn things we can waste 'em, just to give you a show." I do believe that would have made our point pretty clear. Nuking another major civilian population 3 days later is simply not necessary by any stretch of the imagination, even if we concede all kinds of stuff up front.

(I hope I don't have to reiterate disclaimers into every post: yes, I understand it was a different time with different rules and a far different enemy than anything we've faced recently. The point isn't to beat ourselves up about it; the point is simply to have the moral and mental clarity to call a spade a spade.)

Comment wikipedia seems incomplete on this point (Score 1) 332

I am not ignorant, although it appears that Wikipedia may be incomplete on this point.

I don't have the sources in front of me, but there were multiple Japanese attempts at surrender negotiations before the second bomb was dropped. As I recall, the later ones dropped all of the other conditions--they only wanted their emperor preserved.

But I don't have the primary sources handy so--for the sake of argument--let me just concede that as well. Let's say Japan wanted territorial integrity and a bunch of other stuff as well. Do you still think that bombing them again three days later was the only way? Backed-into-a-corner, the American war machine literally had no other options whatsoever? I would suggest that, at minimum, one option would have been to give the Japanese government a little more time to investigate the bombing and educate their leaders and advisers about it. Three days is an incredibly short amount of time, especially pre-satellite, pre-internet and with fog of war chaos everywhere.

Comment Re:False dichotomy of the guilty conscience (Score 1) 332

This is a reasonable first step towards a reasonable argument. However, there's immediately and there's "immediately". Are you trying to say that 50,000+ civilians would have died if we waited more than three days between the nukes?

And were the Japanese actively subjugating and butchering Chinese at that point in time, or were they more focused on fighting the Russians and/or retreating back to Japan? (This is a genuine question; it's not an area of WWII history I'm familiar with.)

Comment Re:False dichotomy of the guilty conscience (Score 0) 332

Ah, the magic of lazy patriotism. You have Wikipedia at your fingertips--why don't you go educate yourself?

I repeat, Japan DID surrender after the first one, but they wanted to keep their emperor (there may have been a few other details, I forget.) Instead of hashing out the terms of surrender or simply giving them a little more time to assess the damage, we bombed three days after Hiroshima. Let me say that again, the second bomb came just seventy-two hours later. In the age before satellites or the internet. Do you think the Japanese government had any idea what the casualty count was? At that point in time, do you think that the majority of officers in their military and advisers to the emperor even fully appreciated what an atomic bomb was?

Comment Re:False dichotomy of the guilty conscience (Score 0) 332

1. The fact that we were planning for an invasion does not affect that "either immediate invasion OR we nuke them twice" is a false dichotomy.

2. The poster I was replying to was clearly relying on that dichotomy to unreservedly justify the bombings.

You want to argue that Hiroshima was justified that's fine, but you cannot begin by pretending that the USA was forced into a corner and had only two options in front of us. (And I'm still not sure how anyone can justify Nagasaki without falling back on blatant lies.)

Comment False dichotomy of the guilty conscience (Score 4, Insightful) 332

Every time, every time this knee-jerk excuse comes out. As if we had exactly two options in the entire universe. Because if we didn't nuke them or immediately invade them then... what? They were poised to invade California?

Give me a fucking break. There more than two options on the table. For example, they considered an option to invite Axis observers to watch as little boy was harmlessly detonated in the desert, but they turned it down because they were eager to see what kind of damage the thing would do in the real world. I'm not out to vilify the USA here--the rules of war were different back then and no one hands were clean (certainly not the Japanese.) The atomic bombs weren't the worse thing that happened in the war, and on the whole I think we behaved better than the Axis powers. And our ultimate aims were obviously much more noble.

But this brainlessly patriotic excuse is just so fucking pathetic. I could grant all of the premises, including the false dichotomy. So, for the sake of argument, I concede Hiroshima. And now... what of Nagasaki? Three fucking days later? Because their initial response to Hiroshima was almost an unconditional surrender but there was some question marks about the dispensation of their emperor, that justified another nuke?

It was wrong. Get over it. Jefferson was a great president even if he fucked up on slavery. And WWII was a good war even if we were clearly, at times, more ruthless than we had to be. But 70+ years later, this intellectual dishonesty is pointless and downright embarrassing--no different than the stubborn Japanese refusals to fully acknowledge their atrocities in China.

Comment Why does this reply keep coming up? (Score 1) 410

It never ceases to amaze me how often this comes up, on slashdot and everywhere else, and it's immediately modded way up despite the fact that no one is arguing Reddit is legally bound to allow people to say whatever they want. Pointing out that the first amendment doesn't apply to private corporations would be a fine and extremely salient point... in some other debate. But it is irrelevant here.

If I own a restaurant or some other type of public establishment and people come in and have a discussion that is upsetting other customers I have a right to ask them to leave, correct? That is not censorship

Yes it is. It is fundamentally different from governmental censorship, but... jesus I don't know, let's just do a thought experiment here: Forum A removes posts that they deem offensive. Forum B allows pretty much all posts to remain (perhaps with user tagging and filtering or whatever.) If you really object to the word "censorship" to describe what Forum A is doing, then please provide us with an acceptable synonym. It doesn't matter where you fall in this debate; the thing we are debating *is*, in fact, a thing.

For my own anti-censorship $0.02 here, I would say that if we must live in a web dominated by walled gardens, it would be nice if we had at least one social network that had an absolutist free speech policy. But I understand that any advertiser-supported site is going to have an extremely hard time pulling this off.

Comment Wait a sec, even Mohammed? (Score 2) 121

You can insult any single historical figure that you like on Facebook except one: Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal 'Ataturk'

I would think that Turkey has something to say about Mohammed as well, considering they seized copies of Charlie Hebdo's survival issue due to the horribly, horribly offensive image of a crying prophet holding up a sign saying "All is Forgiven". (Aside: This really goes to show how deluded a lot of people are on these issues. If your scale is calibrated such that Turkey is deemed "secular" then a place like Texas is going to come out as "ultra-secular / atheistic")

Also, is this censorship happening on only Turkey's localized Facebook or is it on English Facebook as well? TFS doesn't make this clear, and although it's impossible to say it without coming off as a little smug ("I don't own a TV!"), I don't actually have a Facebook account so I can't read TFA.

Comment Re:Landmines for peace (Score 1) 262

I was implicitly pointing out that landmines have certain inherent qualities that makes them worth considering despite past instances of civilian causalities--causalities that could easily be minimized given a different context (strategic placement in a first-world nation instead of scattershot tactical placement in a third world nation.)

Automated weapons, it should be noted, generally lack this capability. I suppose that stationary turrets (of the sort that couldn't be trivially moved) could be useful but they are not at all militarily decisive or game-changing given how expensive and vulnerable they are (relative to mines.)

Again, landmines were brought up as a comparison. I was pointing out that this comparison was flawed and landmines in fact had a number of redeeming qualities that (I thought it unnecessary to highlight) automated weapons simply do not match.

Comment Re:Landmines for peace (Score 1) 262

Militaries do not clear modern minefields in minutes. That's complete nonsense. At best with hours or days of intense effort you might clear a narrow pathway, but that still puts you at a significant disadvantage as the defender can simply direct all of their air power and artillery at the pathway.

You furthermore are shifting the hypothetical into an all-out war including the potential use of nukes, when I was clearly talking about Ukraine-type situations, where force is limited and Russian deniablity (however laughable) was heavily utilized.

Also, I didn't cover this but tactical nuclear landmines are a very interesting (although politically very tricky to sell) strategy, which could even serve the dual purpose getting rid of some of the world's ICBMs.

Comment Landmines for peace (Score 4, Interesting) 262

Out of all of the weapon-specific hysteria (and there has been a lot of it--white phosphorus, thermobaric bombs, depleted uranium, etc.), the anti-landmine one might be the most dangerous.

Obviously, they do have a good point, what with the disasters in Indochina and elsewhere. However, those were cases of non-self destructing anti-personnel landmines placed in third world nations. The situation is / would be quite a bit different with anti-tank mines, self-deactivating or remote-deactivating mines, and/or mines placed in developed nations that have the resources to keep people out and clear the minefields later on as needed.

Why is this all worth mentioning? One word: Ukraine. In a situation where one side in a conflict desperately wants to fortify their defenses but doesn't want to risk alarming the other side (or giving them a plausible pretext to feign alarm), landmines are one of the few stationary weapons available that can thwart or at least seriously slow down an invasion. Instead of all this deeply worrying Cold War-type bravado of military exercises and NATO rapid response plans in Eastern Europe, just mine the fuck out of their borders. Putin could act huffy and offended if he wants, but people will realize it is a clearly not an aggressive action.

Comment "Some folks" ? (Score 1) 904

Errr, what else would it be? Electric engines are already fantastic: they offer great performance, don't have to deal with nearly as much heat stress, and there's no need to screw around with a delicate transmission.

OTOH, batteries are currently very expensive, bulky, can't recharge quickly (nor do we yet have the infrastructure to allow swapping at gas stations) and have a limited lifespan. The cheap, energy dense, durable, fast-charging battery has always been the holy grail here.

Comment Cheap hydrogen (Score 1) 904

No. The most efficient source of hydrogen is thermal electrolysis powered by a breeder nuclear reactor, or (if the local geology permits) perhaps geothermal power. No CO2 required.

We'd have to get over the initial tech investment first though, and (in the case of nuclear) convince the general public not to go apeshit.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly