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Comment: Re:This actually makes perfect sense. (Score 3, Informative) 116

by hey! (#47708377) Attached to: Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

Except water vapor is the gaseous form of water; the plankton would have to be transported on individual molecules of water to reach the ionosphere.

If plankton were transportable in microscopic *droplets* in the troposphere as you suggest, a more plausible explanation is that the equipment was contaminated -- both the station itself and the gear used to test it.

Comment: Re:Trust, but verify (Score 1) 170

I disagree. It means trust but don't rely entirely on trust when you have other means at your disposal.

Consider a business deal. You take the contract to your lawyer and he puts all kinds of CYA stuff that supposedly protects you against bad faith. But let me tell you: if the other guy is dealing in bad faith you're going to regret getting mixed up with him, even if you've got the best lawyer in the world working on the contract. So you should only do critical deals with parties you trust.

But if the deal is critical, you should still bring the lawyer in. Why? Because situtations change. Ownership and management change. Stuff can look different when stuff doesn't go the way everyone hoped. People can act differently under pressure. Other people working at the other company might not be as trustworthy as the folks sitting across the table from you. All kinds of reasons.

So you trust, but verify that the other party can't stab you in the back, because neither method is 100% effective. It's common sense in business, and people usually don't take it personally. When they *do*, then that's kind of fishy in my opinion.

Comment: Re:Omission (Score 1) 264

I think you're mixing up programs. The mobile command center is probably not military surplus, it was likely purchased and customized under a homeland security grant.

These things aren't unreasonable purchases for a medium-sized city like Milford. They aren't military vehicles, the're basically mobile office space.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 264

Irrelevant. Cops are SUPPOSED to shoot people because that's what they are paid for.

No they are not supposed to, nor is that what they are paid for. Sometimes they *have* to shoot people, but that is and should be regarded as a failure, albeit sometimes an avoidable one.

Modern policing is governed by the "Peelian Principles" (for Sir Robert Peel). The very first principle: "To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to repression by military force and severity of legal punishment." Furthermore, the principles state that policing is only effective if it can secure the respect and cooperation of the public and "the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives." (principle 4)

So the idea that it's part of a cop's job description to shoot people is rubbish. It's a cop's job to keep the peace, and if a good cop shoots someone it's because it's the lesser of two failures.

Comment: Re:increased mutation rates = survival code kicked (Score 1) 116

by hey! (#47686389) Attached to: Fukushima's Biological Legacy

On the other hand, an idea that can explain anything isn't really scientific. There's no question that evolution by natural selection is a scientific idea, but somehow it gets garbled in translation into an "organism trying to find a variation". In other cases (visible in this discussion) it's seen as benign intelligent force that will compensate for our mistakes. You can purge the white-bearded sky god from your iconography, but it's harder to get him out of your thinking.

Comment: Re:begs FFS (Score 5, Interesting) 186

by hey! (#47668613) Attached to: Entire South Korean Space Programme Shuts Down As Sole Astronaut Quits

Sometimes the loss of an awkward construction is a gain for language.

"Begging the question" was never a very good choice of terminology -- a half-baked translation from the Latin petitio principii. You might as well use the Latin because you have to know what the term means to have an chance of decoding its meaning; the words give no clue. "Asking ill-founded questions" or "asking premature questions" would have been better.

"Begging the question" has *always* misled most readers and hearers, and we're better off with the new meaning, which *everybody* understands (although many dislike).

Comment: Re:NGO? (Score 3, Insightful) 25

by hey! (#47663701) Attached to: A Look At Advanced Targeted Attacks Through the Lens of a Human-Rights NGO

Because "NGOs" operate in spheres like humanitarian relief and social justice which require them to rub elbows with governments and government sponsored entities. In some cases the kinds of work they do may even overlap, as might happen when FEMA and the Red Cross deploy after a major disaster like a hurricane.

In those cases it's useful to differentiate between government organizations like FEMA or the Coast Guard and non-Governmental organizations like Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

Comment: Re:Then they preach to the world about capitalism (Score 5, Interesting) 306

One definition of free enterprise that the US government conveniently chooses to ignore:

Business governed by the laws of supply and demand, not restrained by government interference, regulation or subsidy, also called free market.

This is a definition of a free market that even Adam Smith would not have recognized. It was not regulation per se that he was opposed to, but mercantilism and state granted monopolies. He looked favorably regulations which protected workmen (citation Wealth of Nations I.10.121). He was also in favor of regulating banks where their actions endanger society, even at the expense of curtailing natural liberties (citation: Wealth fo Nations II.2.94

The free market is free of price or supplier choice regulations. It's not necessarily free of regulation per se, such as regulations of weights and measures, of worker or consumer safety, or even of public morality (e.g. drugs and prostitution).

In any case you can't use the actions of states to indict the federal government for hypocrisy, although there is plenty of other material for that.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis