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Comment Re:Well, that was quick (Score 1) 181

I didn't say anything about there not being a trade-off. All I said that these claims surfacing right now (of all possible times) is a pure tit-for-tat in a nice little trade war that has been going on for quite some time. With regard to the technical merit of the whole thing, you are spot in, IMHO.

Comment Re:Oh no no no! (Score 1) 103

Not quite. There is also the added problem with Monsanto et al. that due to their technological prowess, they might be capable of introducing entirely artificial genetic modifications that prove to be disastrous in the wild, but would not really have been possible via natural means like the one observed with the wasps and caterpillars.

A good analogy would be that nuclear fission is fairly harmless under normal circumstances: there are plenty of radioactive isotopes around in nature in trace amounts, and in some select locations the background radiation actually turns out to be quite high, due to entirely natural causes. But none of this is really an issue in practice. Add human intervention to assemble enough of the stuff to get to critical mass, though, and you can easily ruin everyone's day with some artificial sunshine.

Comment Re:The iPhone officially becomes a spyware (Score 1) 508

And besides, do you know how much POWER it would take in Standby to send that voice data CONTINUOUSLY over WiFi? You'd go through the battery in less than a day.

Think about it.

Good point. But then, if you read my posting carefully, I never said that I actually believed the new phone would be continuously listening. All I said was that in this day and age of boundless NSA spying and tracking, Apple should have gone out of their way to state exactly what you just said, in bold capitals, when they announced the feature in the first place. Because it does sound mighty creepy - and not everyone is a techie, and has a solid understanding that the creepy reading of the new feature would involve impractical device usage.

Comment Re:Probably By Design (Score 5, Insightful) 732

While what you say is technically correct, you should also put this into perspective by adding that since Vietnam, the USAF has never had to fight a sustained air war against an even marginally organised adversary. So there were no real chances of getting gun kills in the first place, because all air wars fought since then were against opponents whose air defence capabilities got all but vaporised in the first 24h of conflict.

But the kicker is that there are other kinds of adversaries out there as well. Think Iran: if the U.S. had gone to war with those guys, it would most definitely not have been over in 24h (which is arguably why neither they nor the Israelis have bothered recently). In such a conflict, it is all but certain that dogfighting situations would have developed: situations in which fighters without guns on board would have looked just a silly as they did back in Vietnam.

Comment Re:This will be a historic mission. (Score 1) 190

KAUST might be world famous, but for what exactly? For the most money spent on what amounts to, given the resources available to them, at best mediocre science output?

I can tell you that in my discipline (computer graphics), KAUST only has a reputation of an elephant graveyard for greedy elderly not-really-at-the-top-of-the-A-list academics who want to roll in some hard petrodollars before retirement. Science? Yeah, some is bound to happen if you lock up lots of people with long publication lists in a luxury ghetto in the desert. But a role model university? Hardly. More an elaborate joke of sorts.

Locals are forbidden to attend, or to enter the campus. Undergrads (all foreigners, of course) have to be paid hefty salaries to even show up.

Sound like Harvard? Sure does, right? Just vacuum up all that sand which tends to accumulate everywhere, and you will hardly be able to tell the difference...

Comment Re:Cancer vs common cold (Score 1) 52

Close, but no cigar. Big Pharma actually has a very good reason to sell you a cure for cancer (as opposed to a chronic disease treatment): namely, that once cured, you go on living as a once again healthy human being. So you can once again be fully functional, earn money, and hopefully grow a lot older than you would have with chronic cancer.

By itself, this increased wellbeing of yours is of course of no concern to the bean counters in said companies. But chances are high that you'll eventually develop some *other* sort of cancer, sooner or later. Or some other $complicated_disease, for which you will need the services of Big Pharma.

The difference is really between slowly killing your customers with a not 100% efficient "cure", or actually curing them - so they can become repeat customers at some later point in time. Which makes the whole thing a no brainer, really: *especially* from an accounting viewpoint.

Comment Re:One thing for sure (Score 1) 531

The problem here is that at least from our human viewpoint, we cannot have it both ways.

Truly free will in all matters (including the freedom to royally screw up - how free are you if that is not an option?), *and* a provable, hands-on experience of an omnipresent God for everyone. Both at the same time are not on the cards. That concept is not convoluted at all.

Think about it: sure, you'd be making an informed decision about being good or evil if you had a good view of the pits of hell on a clear day. A very informed decision at that. But assuming an even marginally sane person making the decisions, how *free* would you be in that decision? Evil would simply not be an option, unless you fancy an eternity of 50 Shades of Grey on steroids. And in this scenario, you happen to know for a fact that this would happen, and that it would not be much fun at all. Because you (and everyone else) gets a free preview on a clear day.

If you will, by hiding himself from really obvious view, God gave us the ultimate freedom. Which is no mean feat: He created a world with creatures modelled in His image - and then give them the ability to even reject Him, if they are so inclined. Sure, he could have created us as obedient little things who praise Him all day long, and who never think about leaving paradise for one second. But would that have been *us* - humanity, with all its quirks, beasts in human form, saints, normal people, geniuses, losers? All mixed together? Only by being *this* extremely free we are truly human.

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.