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Comment: Re: What an opportunity! (Score 1) 358 358

Somehow you've managed to miss the austere in austerity. The trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures). Not only that, you've manage to ignore the role of income.

Income is a hard problem to control. Spending is an easy problem to control. If spending were the most important part of income, then Greece would have never gotten into trouble in the first place.

And "austerity" is not being used in the meaning above. It's painfully obvious that Greece isn't embracing any sort of self-denial, but is rather being subject to fiscal discipline by external pressure.

Comment: Re:Renewable versus fossil - where is nuclear? (Score 1) 276 276

The Three Gorges dam uses up a bit more than 1000 sq km of land due to its reservoir. That's about the area exclusion zone from Fukushima (which I gather is a bit smaller, maybe 600-800 sq km), but considerably smaller than the current exclusion zone around Chernobyl which is around 2600 sq km. In other words, one of the larger dams (by reservoir size) uses up more than a quarter of the land set aside after the only two significant nuclear power accidents (in terms of radiation released to the outside world).

And dam failures kill more people than radiation poisoning from nuclear accidents does.

Comment: Re:Those outside of Greece will have an impact (Score 1) 358 358

Now, let's look at public debt as percentage of GDP:

USA: 72.5%
UK: 90.0%
France: 89.9%
Greece: 161.3%
Netherlands: 68.7%
Canada: 84.1%
Switzerland: 52.4%
Germany: 79.9%

One of these is not like the others. One can warble on about "neoconservative economic pseudo-science", but Greece fucked up badly and now it's paying for it. Meanwhile, Scandinavian countries did not, and they don't have to undergo such things.

Comment: Re: What an opportunity! (Score 1) 358 358

So what? Expecting idiots to agree with me would be like expecting it to rain only on Tuesdays. I see, for example, that the author completely ignores the most important factor in why these countries are able to keep their social programs intact. Namely, their governments don't have extremely high levels of public debt.

The difference between Finland and Greece, for example, is that Finland owes a factor of four less as a fraction of its GDP. The other Scandinavian countries do even better.

Bottom line is that if you want pretty social programs or anything else on the public dollar, you need to control spending and borrowing. That's austerity in a nutshell. I find it bizarre that the countries which best exemplify this maxim are the ones being presented as a demonstration of why austerity supposedly doesn't work.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 708 708

I honestly don't think a real "organized" war of that kind is likely to ever happen again. We have long since passed the point where the major actors are just too big and powerful to risk war with eachother, so they engage in little more than proxy wars against eachother's minor interests.

I would love for that to be true. But I'm reminded of a maxim of Napoleon, "To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war." Substantial military advantage will accrue to countries which fight on a regular basis. And if that advantage becomes great enough, then we may well see the real "organized" war of which you speak.

Comment: Re:How do we know we've only discovered 1% of NEAs (Score 2) 51 51

The distribution of asteroids that we can detect follow a power law: for a given cross-sectional area, the number is crudely inversely proportional. This not only holds for the biggest ones which we can observe in telescopes, but also meteorite impacts with the Earth and Moon. So we have estimates of asteroid populations by size from the largest to well below the minimum size which can cause harm to us on Earth.

Comment: Re:Renewable versus fossil - where is nuclear? (Score 1) 276 276

Regulation means not only having the rules on paper, but having the executive framework to make sure they are implemented in practice. If they aren't then the industry is unregulated.

And it's worth noting by this weak standard, both accidents you mention were regulated. I find it interesting how canned this response is. It reminds me of the blowhards stating within a few days of Fukushima that the accident was due to the incompetence of the operators rather than the obvious magnitude 9 earthquake and its consequences without knowing anything about the situation.

Regulation doesn't magically provide perfect protection against nuclear accidents especially when as in today's world you don't have a lot of experience with nuclear accidents because they don't happen that often. A fundamental lesson of these accidents is that you often have to learn by failure what works and what doesn't work.

Comment: Re:Renewable versus fossil - where is nuclear? (Score 1) 276 276

Neither which was a failure of regulation, let us note.

Actually both were, unless you're imagining 'regulation' to be only some rules written on a piece of paper, in which case you're just another slashdot fool. Which would also explain your ignorant comment above nicely.

I merely made a correct observation. Though I do have to agree that if it can't be written down on paper, it's probably not regulation.

A commune is where people join together to share their lack of wealth. -- R. Stallman