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Comment: Re:Ascent, not ascension (Score 1) 297 297

by hey! (#50007201) Attached to: A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension

You are confusing "ascension" with "right ascension". Just plain "ascension" (not capitalized) is pretty much a synonym for "ascent".

A few dictionaries define "ascension" as an astronomical term referring to the rising of the star above the horizon -- in other words the increasing of altitude in the alt/azimuth coordinate system -- but this definition doesn't appear in lists of astronomical terms so either this usage is uncommon or obsolete.

Comment: Re:Do not react AT ALL (Score 2) 365 365

by hey! (#50004039) Attached to: Are We Too Quick To Act On Social Media Outrage?

First of all, Sir Tim is British, and second of all the First Amendment refers to government regulation of speech. It does not compel a private organization to employ or associate with an individual whose speech it feels reflects poorly on them.

This is not a legal issue, it's a moral issue. It's morally wrong to empower a social media lynch mob without performing a reasonable inquiry into the facts.

Comment: Re:It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 296 296

I don't claim to know anything beyond what I've read in the news, which of course doesn't qualify me as an expert. But I'm fairly confident the fact that you find the accommodations made to Hawaiian religious beliefs annoying has no bearing on whether those beliefs are sincere.

I agree that there's no way to satisfy some of these people. That doesn't make them liars or bad, it just means their interests in this situation cannot be reconciled with yours. It happens sometimes. As much as I believe in looking for win-win solutions, there are occasionally situations where one side or the other has to lose.

And you won't ever get everyone on the other side to agree because that never happens. There are even Catholics who think the Pope isn't as Catholic as they are. So as soon as there were any questions raised about the religious dimension of this project it became inevitable that if they ever built this thing it would be in the face of protests. And as long as the project's leaders think what they're doing is right they should do it and take their PR lumps on the chin. But imputing, without any evidence, false and hypocritical motivations to the protesters actually undoes the work done to make this project possible. That actually *is* disrespecting native religious beliefs.

Comment: It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 296 296

There is nobody for whom the summit of Mauna Kea is their "backyard", so this isn't NIMBY. There are sincere religious and political reasons for opposing this.

Imagine yourself in their position. If a conspicuous structure on the summit of Mauna Kea offended your religious sensibilities when the first one went up, then you're not going to feel less strongly about the thirteenth or fourteenth to go up. Likewise spreading the development to a second, pristine sacred site wouldn't placate you.

The position that nobody's religious views should ever matter is one most people wouldn't agree with, but at least it's a principled position. Claiming (without proof) that views that stand in the way of something you want are insincere and should be disregarded strikes me as dishonest.

Comment: Re:These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

by hey! (#49991211) Attached to: High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline

From the abstract:
Surely you can understand that much without getting your panties in a twist.

Please re-read the first sentence of my post.

Even so a single paper still isn't enough for a layman to conclude anything from. That's why laymen are so misinformed on science. Even when a news account accurately describes a study or experiment, it's still misleading. Just because an experiment produces a result doesn't mean that result represents the bulk of evidence, or that that the conclusions won't be shot full of holes in a few months.

Comment: Re:A small part of me (Score 1) 588 588

by hey! (#49989831) Attached to: Supreme Court Upholds Key Obamacare Subsidies

In terms of corporate handouts, how could you possibly surpass making every living American an obligate consumer of a for-profit industry?

In that case what you're talking about is more of an industry handout than a corporate handout. Anybody with enough capital to run an insurance company is free to compete for the "obligate consumer's" business.

Contrast this to various weapons systems of dubious usefulness that are funded for political reasons. As American taxpayers we're all "obligate consumers" of those things, but we don't have any say whatsoever in whose pockets our dollars land.

Comment: These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

by hey! (#49985399) Attached to: High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline

You need the full article -- the abstract at the very least -- to make any sense of a study. Press releases are written by PR flacks who dumb down the science to the point where it is meaningless, as in this case. What you need to make sense of an experiment are details and context, neither of which the PR release in question provide. This is the problem with PR -- it's not a discipline that's meant to help you grasp complexity; it's about coming away with a simple, carefully chosen message.

Even if you have a whole article you have to proceed with caution. Interesting science tends to be about open questions; cutting edge topics tend to produce a diversity of opinion and contradictory evidence. What you need to read if you want to go to the horse's mouth in science is to read some literature review papers, like this one, which summarize the current state of research and the open questions at the time of writing. In fact you should probably read a recent review paper before you try to make sense of any individual paper. Having skimmed the review paper, it looks like the experiment we're discussing is attempting to explain a long-known experimental effect in terms of gut biota, which is a hot research field right now.

If all you had to make dietary decisions was the press release, you'd probably think, "Well, I'd better cut down on fat and sugar in my diet." The problem I have with that is that "fat" is a vast category of chemicals with wildly different physiological effects. Avoiding all fat because of this study would be like avoiding all acids because of a study of aspirin poisoning -- acids including all proteins and most vitamins.

What makes more sense is to consider all the proposed mechanisms, namely: chronic oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, and now disturbed gut flora. It's feasible to devise a lifestyle and diet which reduces *all* these things, which in turn would also improve our chances against other things like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease. But so far as I know nobody's really put all that together yet. Science deals mainly in diseases, leaving health to the quacks.

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.

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