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Comment Re: Lovely summary. (Score 1) 1034

Sorry, just left me at the bakery. The only thing I know about this squabble is what I just read, (and I have no intention of reading megabytes of angry argument-posts from dozens or hundreds of people I don't know) and it seems everybody agrees (1) the 2015 nominees were basically picked by these "puppy" groups; and
(2) that in a wide-open election, their preferences were rejected.

The latter doesn't prove a "clique" because it was the wide-open election, and the former doesn't prove a clique, it proves a group banded together under the belief that there was a clique. To prove that point, they would have to show somehow that the nominees for previous awards were not representative or fair, that an attempt to nominate their preferences was gamed into failure.

Just re-reading your note to be sure this critique is fair. Your "and thus" seems to be saying that a current effort to change voting procedures is what proves the existence of this clique. I can't see what's wrong (or tendentious) about the prevention of small numbers of voters from effectively controlling the nominations - surely it could also be used by another fan-group to nominate only 5-nominee blocks of gay liberals or whatever - and that too should be prevented.

Comment Re:Based in parts on "Mars Direct" (Score 1) 60

Thanks for the link. I've been telling people that was my favourite scene in Apollo 13 this whole time.

Frankly, the people posting hate on this book (I'm on the last chapter and have been reading it almost bouncing in my chair the whole time, all week) fill me with laughter and pity.

Guys, you are very, very literally-minded people with dull imaginations and badly need to get laid or otherwise loosen up. Novels are not instruction manuals on how to set up your BBQ. Novels are mostly metaphors. Not just the "moon was a ghostly galleon" kind of direct metaphors you find in a sentence, the whole problem and setting and plot are a larger metaphor. It's like you're critiquing a "Tale of Two Cities" as unbelievable because no two unrelated guys were ever that much of a pair of twins that close associates would be fooled.

The author has created a pulse-pounding drama by having it be One Man Against Nature, a really classic trope, read your Jack London. Yes, he cut a bunch of corners to make it possible for one guy to do just way, way more than the equipment and energy and available potatoes could really do, so that the story could be one man, forseeable tech, near future. The reality is that we'll have all those kinds of difficulties, need all that ingenuity, have all those close shaves, exploring space and Mars...but it'll be spread over many people and many missions and the specific problems will be different (and they'll totally obey every law of nature). The novel distills all that future adventure into one guy in one year, like distilling beer down into Scotch.

No one real-life action hero has 22 life-threatening adventures in one year; no one detective catches dozens of wily, smart, prepared serial killers in one career, (hell, no one town has that many). But by concentrating the adventures of a zillion cops and lawyers into one cast, stories are created that *people will watch* whereas real-life stories may be found on obscure cable channels Sunday afternoons.

The best story about making of Interstellar was the director telling Kip Thorne he needed the black hole to warp time by many years to the hour...long walk on the beach or whatever, and Thorne comes back with "well, barely possible, if it was spinning at an insane rate", and, well, that became the kind of black hole it had to be. [ And of course, that's after the magic FTL wormhole was already sucked up by the scientists. ]

The point of Interstellar was not to compete with Cosmos, it was to wake up the audience to just how amazing and complex space-time really can be in extreme locations; people got to marvel at the human meaning that time-rate-compression would have, what a black hole would look like, how a wormhole entrance would be a sphere, a 3D portal through 4D. All that was AWESOME and if you let your literal-mindedness close these stories off from your enjoyment of it, your other hobbies must include throwing cold water on your pants while clicking through Chive hotbodies, because "in reality" you are never going to meet those hot people.

Comment Re:Open source is not always the best option (Score 3, Interesting) 316

Since I was just posting about how Libre's higher-end stuff is poor compared to Excel, I should be joining you on this. But "PowerPivot" is high-end even for me. Only introduced for Excel2010 (my office doesn't have it yet), and restricted to certain versions of 2013, I have to wonder how big the user base is.

I wrote my own VBA utility that lets me type an SQL statement and that sucks the results straight out of Oracle into a pivot table, plus has a bunch of buttons for doing stuff to the pivot table that take multiple menu moves without my add-in. (You can do this with menus, my addin just saves several steps - steps that most engineers around me would never learn in the first place).

Fooling around on menus, I couldn't find any way in LibreOffice to bring the result of an SQL query directly into a pivot table; that's pretty bad right there. Once you're spending time on workarounds, you quickly overcome any cost advantage of the free software. For me. Now if only 1% of users need these differences between Excel and Calc to save dozens of hours per year, we could easily be outvoted by the folks who just need to manage a few tables of numbers and formulas.

Comment Re:It should have been sooner... (Score 2) 316

On the one hand, I have to agree: I use Libre at home and love my Excel VBA at work, and when it comes to interaction with databases, charting, the programming environment, I'd have to pick Excel for my job if they gave me the option, so I'd have to pick it for the corporation (8000 seats) too.

On the other: this wasn't the complaint. They were complaining about simple document tweaks like pagination. That makes it a bullshit complaint they just made up. My "corp" is a large city, but a city with 500 employees grand total isn't doing a lot of its engineering like we do, they're just cutting contracts to hire it out...and repaginating Word documents the contractors send them.

It's exactly with the "small office environments" that aren't slinging 30,000 rows of database into an excel spreadsheet with a touch of a button calling VBA that can do fine with Libre. It's the big places that are bound to be doing a number of complicated things that are out on the edge of what Office apps can do at all.

Comment They lost me at... (Score 3, Interesting) 316

...300 people @ 15 minutes a day, after it was 500 employees total in the organization. It's utter bullshit that 60% of the staff are involved in document production every day, much less so much that just the tweaking was 15 minutes.
It's the exact smell of the bullshit I've seen for 25 years every time an IT department had already made a decision and made up numbers to justify it. Generally, they come up with the money number by working backwards and hope that nobody knows the internal workflows well enough to critique it. But this one fails when we only have one other number to work with, it's so over-the-top.
Then I remembered that Italy is the place that proves Donald Trump really could win: Berlusconi is Trump mixed with Rupert Murdoch and won election. It's the second most corrupt country in western Europe after Greece.
This switch was probably just bought and paid for.

Comment It's perfectly simple (Score 2) 112

If you provide actual money - a generic value source that can be converted into anything, not just TV ads - to a politician, THAT is "free speech".
But if you pass along information provided by those designated by the executive alone (other two branches not req'd) as a "terrorist", and the information transmission involves any effort or the smallest sum of money changing hands somewhere, then THAT is "material support".
There was this guy in Brooklyn selling cable packages, mostly ethnically-based, TV from other-language nations. One channel in the package is partially-owned by Hamas, who undoubtedly got nearly a dollar per month from every package purchase. Cable guy convicted of "material support", now in jail.

So: Passing along info from bad people = material,
            Passing $100M to "good people" = speech.

Just keep clear on that, and you'll be fine.

Comment Re:Glad I got to see FF4 for free (Score 1) 168

About the only place I can mention my one affection for that movie. There's this scene where Berry has just made the spooky change to Catwoman and isn't clearly aware of it yet, and she's describing her "symptoms" to a friend on the phone while walking around the room...except the "walk" is very catlike leaps and pounces onto various pieces of furniture as she goes. They all look unconscious and none break the rhythm of her speech. It was a great physical performance, and, as you say, especially mesmerizing to men.

Comment Re:Detroitland (Score 2) 337

You have to love the " even higher taxes " as if the USA were a high-tax regime already and Australia barely manages to top it. For the "Rich people" at issue, the USA has some of the lowest taxes anywhere. Jamaica has lower top-tier taxes than the USA does (or anybody): only 15%. Why not move there? English spoken, close to the USA, sunny beaches.

No, seriously, libertarian types: why not Jamaica? There is no "Galt's Gulch" in the real world (we're sorry) but you could move to Jamaica. I can't figure out why they don't.

Comment Re:Not blue eyed ... (Score 5, Interesting) 234

Actually, the cool parallel you forgot is that melange was essential to the Guild Navigators, they couldn't navigate ships between stars without constant heavy use of melange to make them future-seeing. The rest of melange properties were merely valuable; this one kept universal trade going, essential to the economy. In short, it was the absolutely necessary strategic resource that kept transportation working.

Now that's a parallel.

The nicest thing about the Alto is that it doesn't run faster at night.

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