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Comment: Huh? (Score 1) 231

by Black Parrot (#48920405) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

GRBs clearly haven't prevented life in *our* galaxy, so the Fermi Paradox still stands.

The caluculations probably rule out life in the core of our galaxy, but systems further out would be exposed even less often than ours is. And even though GRBs can periodically sterilize a planet, their directionality means that one burst would not likely sterilize all the planets in an intercellar civilization simultaneously.

So, to modify what someone said above, we can add another term to the Drake equation, but this doesn't do much to answer Fermi.

Comment: Re:Greece's problem is lack of ecumenic freedom (Score 2) 321

by sl3xd (#48918879) Attached to: Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

Japan can also print its own money, which gives it the ability (at least in theory) to wipe out all public debt with the stroke of a pen. There are consequences to that action, but when your debt is counted in your own currency, you can largely ignore the public debt, as long as inflation is kept in check. Most non-eurozone countries (including the US) do the same thing. In fact, inflation has long been used by most nations to decrease the impact of public debt, as the fixed-dollar debt can be reduced to a smaller %age of the GDP. It's how Great Britian and the US 'paid' for World War II, for example. As another example, recall the talk about a "trillion dollar platinum coin" during the most recent US government shutdown, which would have paid off a trillion dollars of debt as well as instantly and drastically inflated the dollar (among other things).

Greece doesn't have a national currency. Their debt is in Euros, and must be repaid in Euros. Greece can't unilaterally inflate the Euro to reduce their debt load. The situation is closer to the economy of California, which is also heavily in debt. California doesn't get to print its own money, and it doesn't have the option of creating inflation to reduce its debt load.

Greece and California have two choices: Make their payments, and hope inflation happens on its own, or default and accept they won't be able to borrow money for a substantial amount of time. Growing their economies makes both options more palatable, but doesn't solve the problem by itself.

Comment: Re:Communicating probabilities (Score 1) 393

by sl3xd (#48918261) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

+ This

Anybody who lives around snow knows it comes in pretty much every density and consistency water can possibly have: from "wet" heavy snow and huge flakes that stick to everything and entombs cars and houses, to "dry" powder that doesn't stick to anything, and blows around like a dune in a sandstorm.

Sometimes you get both kinds within an hour.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 1) 152

by Black Parrot (#48910827) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Sorry... I was going for the joke and didn't pitch it very well. My actual views are more like yours.

As for the reality of the subject matter, I would borrow the concept of "probably approximately correct" from machine learning, and give it a 90-95% chance of being ~80% correct. (The 80% is lower to allow room for some more big discoveries like inflation.)

Unfortunately, people will be (hopefully) studying this for thousands of years on top of the <100 we have so far, and none of us will live to see how it turns out in the long term.

Comment: Re:I have an idea.. (Score 1) 461

It's like the old Texan saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, can't get fooled again."

I always heard it as: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

And of course, the word of choice usually wasn't "fool".

(Is this really a regional saying?)

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl