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Comment: Re:Jail them for contempt (Score 1) 130

It's long past time that federal judges start jailing these bureaucrats for contempt for not answering simple questions about the no-fly list.

Your mistake is assuming that the judges are interested in rule of law and justice, rather than perpetuation of the power of the State, and by extension their cushy jobs, pensions, and really nice cars and houses. When the first excuses the latter, you'll find synchronicity, but not by the converse. Otherwise a simple constitutional challenge would not be thrown out in deference to statute in 99.3% of cases.

You're probably thinking of Jedi, not Federal Judges. *Big* difference (and this is why we can't have nice things).

Comment: Re:No-Fly List, TSA, nudeo scanners. it's all thea (Score 1) 130

Billions spent, law abiding people treated like criminals without due process

And where exactly do you think it's spelled out plainly that the government may not deprive you of liberty without due process of law?

Is there something relevant in 2014 that says this? And by relevant, I mean something that the People are willing to fight to protect?

Comment: Re:Crowding Out Effect (Score 1) 42

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785319) Attached to: How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

The truth is that infrastructure just isn't that conducive to competition.

Heh, just ten years ago I heard people saying that - shortly before Comcast offered phone service and before Verizon offered TV service. Both cable TV and telephone were "natural monopolies" before they weren't. To offer that Verizon had to replace their entire cable plant and Comcast had to replace much of it. What they didn't have to do was go through an extremely expensive political and regulatory process to get access to pole space (in the "public right of way").

Who'd want 3 different water/sewer systems connected to their house?

When the first two are charging $1000/mo for water and the third offers it for $50 a month, then the cost of laying the new piping can be amortized over a short enough time period that either customers or investors are willing to put up the money for the time-value return of the subscribers' rates.

It's exactly the same calculation for anything anybody calls a 'natural monopoly'. Absent an interfering government, the money flows to the best service provider.

Comment: Re:OK Another one (Score 1) 26

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785249) Attached to: Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

It might even have a thin enough atmosphere to not completely crush a human.

If the gravity isn't too high, we can engineer around all the rest. Ought to be just fine for bots if the solder doesn't flow at its temps. A giant pot of natural resources at 11LY is very exciting for colonials!

Comment: Re:Could have fooled me (Score 3, Interesting) 169

by Samantha Wright (#47782351) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

More fun statistics, from Wikipedia:

  • - Canada has 67% Christians and the United States has 73%
  • - 24% of Canadians and 20% of Americans declare no religious affiliation.
  • - Only 7% of Canadians are Evangelicals compared to the US's 30-35%.

...I was going somewhere with the Evangelicals stat, since they're generally the most fervent, but then I realised that there are plenty of insufferably stolid palaeoconservative Anglicans in the UK and it wasn't really a point worth making.

It really comes down to the fundamental collectivist-vs-individualist difference between the Canadian and American cultures, I think; despite Stephen Harper's best efforts to destroy the country, our charter of rights and freedoms was still a missive about how we were free from harassment by peers (thus sending the message "we are all siblings"), as contrasted with the American declaration of independence's emphasis on being free from harassment by authority (thus sending the message "you are free to do as you please"). Interestingly, a hundred years ago you would not really find this; Canada was just as much of a racist hellhole as the US at the time, although as there were practically no black people we could only complain about other European ethnicities. It was only as our population and economy fell behind, and we started accepting in huge numbers of immigrants following World War II, that this really started to take shape.

I'm sure the relatively weak levels of religious conviction help too (only 25% of Christians attend church regularly in Canada; above the rates of Northern Europe but far below the rate in the US) and that is doubtlessly a function of what flavour (can we call them 'distros' yet?) of Christianity is in question, too, since many Anglican ministers now preach actual biblical scholarship (my favourite quote, heavily paraphrased, is "Hell (as a threat) was invented in the Middle Ages") rather than what most think of as the typical naive system of "swallow-and-enjoy-your-life-textbook-with-no-critical-thinking" morality. Whatever the exact impact of each component is, it doesn't really jive with the idea of excluding us poor little minority atheists.

...except maybe in profoundly Catholic areas. I bet they care more in Newfoundland and Quebec. British Columbia is barely half Christian (54.9%) so you can bet they sure don't.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 738

by bill_mcgonigle (#47776163) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Im not 100% clear why we wouldnt want to get involved here, if ever there were a time to get involved.

Because of natural gas interests to benefit Europe, naturally. European countries are spending themselves into the ground so they lean on the US to be World Police. Oligarchs protecting oligarchs, that is all.

And see, we can discredit everybody who claims this will be yet another "war for oil". "War for hydrocarbons" just doesn't have the same ring to it. There's no appetite for a "war for energy" because then people would point out that we have many safe ways of producing all the energy we need already (but the corporate arms dealers don't much care for those).

Comment: Re:1960s??!! You are so funny (Score 1) 140

by mbone (#47774113) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

Good god man, Hans Bethe worked out the fusion processes in the Sun in the late 1930s.

Yes, but there was no direct observational evidence of it until the Homestake neutrino experiment in the 1960's. Theory is nice, but in physics the experiment's the thing. (And, when the Homestake experiment came up 66% short, there was no shortage of people claiming that Bethe was wrong in one way or another.)

Comment: Re:That's not how science works (Score 1) 140

by mbone (#47774079) Attached to: Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun

It is in my experience rare to meet a physicist who cares much about mathematical rigor, or who uses proofs in their work. Occasionally it is important (e.g., in some "no-go" theorems), but I feel certain that most physicists would object to saying that "Mathematical proof is central to much of physics." It is in fact notorious that much of existing physics was done and completed before anything like mathematical rigor (and, thus, proof) was brought to the subject at hand, nor did the achievement of rigor actually change anything much in the physics.

An excellent, and familiar, example, is the Dirac delta function, where it took years before the mathematicians were convinced that such a thing could possibly make sense. Even today, vastly more physics students are taught about Brownian motion than the Ito statistical calculus...