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Comment: Nothing's going to happen in any case (Score 1) 233

by rpbird (#43383649) Attached to: NASA's Bolden: No American-Led Return To the Moon 'In My Lifetime'

We're not going to an asteroid, we're not going to Mars, and we're probably never going to the Moon, either. NASA is a toy of the executive branch. Every prez comes up with a hot new "plan" and it never gets past the the planning stage. Bolden will be out on his ass looking for work in less than four years, maybe sooner, and NASA will be back to square one - again.

Comment: Re:Hey, guess what! (Score 1) 370

by rpbird (#38171172) Attached to: Senator Wants 'Terrorist' Label On Blogs

Yeah, they did. The American navy carried on a widespread campaign of commerce raiding and even landed raiders along the coast of England. John the Painter carried out what would now be called terrorist strikes on English shipyards. Our irregular militia forces targeted British officers, which at the time was contrary to the rules of war. The terrorist brush the government now wields is so broad, it would definitely include these activities. If script kiddies can be threatened with terrorism charges for defacing government web sites, then anything anyone does can be construed by our government as "terrorism."

Comment: Re:In-Vitro Muscle Cells, It's What Human's Crave (Score 1) 619

by rpbird (#38045858) Attached to: In-Vitro Muscle Cells, It's What's For Dinner

Taste. I don't eat beef much anymore, because of the taste. I grew up in a small town in western Kansas ranch country, where we got our beef from a small local slaughterhouse/butcher shop. The cattle were mostly from small ranches, pasture-fed....burgers from such animals tasted like they were made in heaven. The grass the cattle grew up eating gave the meat a great, unique taste that grain-fed stockyard beef can't equal. I've never had "range chicken" but I imagine it must taste similarly flavorful. I'm all in favor of tissue-culture beef, but if they don't work on the taste, I'll go veggie. Either that, or buy steak-sauce by the pallet-load.

Comment: Re:As a former TA I'm not surprised (Score 1) 333

by rpbird (#37981198) Attached to: Survey Finds Cheating Among Students At All GPA Levels

I caught lots of cheaters, but I never formally charged them with cheating. Most of them were copying stuff off the internet to put in their term papers. They didn't realize that my insistence on essay and short answer exams meant that I had a ready sampling of their writing ability at hand. I confronted them, told them I'd flunk their asses if they didn't give me an honestly written paper. Worked every time. They redid the work, this time writing it themselves, and I dodged the hassle of formal charges, meetings about the charges, and meetings about the meetings about the plagiarism charges. Later, I eliminated the main cause of the cheating, beating a change the curriculum out of the college, making a large final essay exam an option. It's those stupid term papers, you see. I can design essay exams to test most of the writing and analytical abilities supposedly on display in term papers. It's similar to locking your car door or hiding your laptop in the trunk. Take away the opportunity to cheat. I realize this isn't possible everywhere or for every course, but a serious dent in this issue can be attained just through the judicial alteration of student assignments.

Comment: What was this debate about in the first place? (Score 1) 943

by rpbird (#37917714) Attached to: Theologian Attempts Censorship After Losing Public Debate

Coyne's site states that the subject was: “Are science and religion compatible?” Coyne, I'm guessing, would say they aren't. According to the quotation at the Wikipedia page for Haught, he would agree with Coyne: "Science and religion cannot logically stand in a competitive relationship with each other." What little I understand about evolutionary creationism seems to imply a level to reality above that of the universe, in which god acts, and which, because it cannot be perceived, cannot be either proved or disproved. So what's to argue about? Haught claims that "materialism" dwells in the heart of science educators, which he views as a religion. So I guess this is an argument about one man's notions that we worship "materialism," and that religion should be given equal time, even though he doesn't dispute the findings of modern science. So the argument isn't about the structure of the universe or the findings of modern science, but giving equal time to "religion" because science is a worship of "materialism"? Pretty thin gruel for a debate, since "materialism" exists as a religion only in the mind of Haught. Funny, the science magazines I read have no mention of this "materialism" he speaks of.

As to religion, for me, part of human freedom is getting to believe what you want. It's your mind, use it as you see fit, so long as you don't harm anyone else. Besides, I know an atheist who rejects climate change and a Catholic who accepts it. I know a former protestant minister, very religious, who accepts the findings of geology about the age of the Earth. I know a non-religious person who believes in alien visitations. This is subjective, but I find no correlation between rational thinking and personal belief systems. It seems to be based on the individual, not the religion.

Comment: Re:Wow, (Score 2, Interesting) 1079

by rpbird (#30417200) Attached to: Sci-Fi Author Peter Watts Beaten, Charged During Border Crossing

In defense of the Brits, the structure of their navy during and right after the Cold War was in large part because of a division of labor and resources determined by NATO (and the US military). The British Navy was designed, during this period, to work as a part of a larger NATO/US Navy force tasked with dominating the North Atlantic.

And can I add - OMG how off-topic is that? We're talking about the SF writer Peter Watts getting the crap kicked out of him by some thug border guard. A lot of cops are nice guys, a lot aren't. If this is the driving element in this case, I suspect the charges against him will be quietly dropped in a couple months. The DA offices in the USA are notorious for their attempts to avoid embarrassment by any means necessary. First they'll try to get him to plead out, offering him probation or some such. If he refuses, they'll threaten him for a few months, then, very quietly, so quietly in fact no one will hear about it, they'll drop the charges. I've seen this very scenario play out in a friend's life. I even experienced a trivial version of this little dance, when I was once charged with reckless driving and decided to contest the charge.

Comment: Re:As someone from "Tornado Alley" (Score 1) 275

by rpbird (#28847147) Attached to: DHS Pathogen Lab To Be Built In "Tornado Alley"

The center of tornado activity in general (EF0-EF5) is in Oklahoma and Northern Texas.....BUT if only EF2+ tornadoes are counted, one of the most dangerous areas is Northeast Kansas, including Manhattan. However, powerful tornadoes only make up a tiny percentage of all tornadoes. Manhattan has been hit twice by EF2+ tornadoes in the last 40 years, last year and back in the 1960s. The risk is there, the risk is real, but not on a per year basis. I'd say there is a large risk to the facility if you consider the entire lifetime of the facility. One last thing: Kansas is cattle country. If you want to destroy the American livestock industry, a massive release of animal pathogens in Kansas would do it.

My thanks to the NWS web site for all the scary tornado facts.

Comment: Re:Seems ridiculous, but... (Score 1) 215

by rpbird (#27792155) Attached to: Cameron's <em>Avatar</em> a 3D Drug Trip?

Everything rewires our neurons. Read a book, neurons rewired. Play a video game, neurons rewired. Play catch, neurons rewired. Do anything repetitively, neurons rewired.

The first time I went to an IMAX theater, I was deeply impressed. I raved about it for days. Yet I never went back. To this day, I've only ever seen ONE IMAX movie.

It's another gimmick. I'll be impressed if he's managed to create the holodeck.

Comment: Re:On one hand... (Score 1) 483

by rpbird (#27246023) Attached to: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode

You are correct sir! I forgot about Roddenberry rewriting the script. He even talked about it at conventions and wrote up an account of it somewhere. Roddenberry and Ellison were friends at the time, and according to one version of the story, Roddenberry would go over to Ellison's house and pester him about the screenplay. Ellison would prevaricate, and Roddenberry would then "borrow" some of the records from Ellison's music collection. Ellison had to turn in the script to get his records back. Only trouble was, Ellison didn't quite get the idea of writing for a budgeted TV show, he had all sorts of crowd scenes in it, huge FX shots, etc. It was also MUCH longer, almost too long even for a two-hour movie. So Roddenberry had to rewrite it, taking all the impossible or over-budget stuff out. The result is essentially a collaborative effort between two writers, Ellison and Roddenberry. And I forgot all this. OMG, am I getting old? I blame it on the rock music and all them violent video games I play.

Comment: I thought there was a time limit (Score 1) 483

by rpbird (#27245605) Attached to: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode

on writers' shares of secondary rights in contracts before the 1990s. I'd love to look at the 1960 and 1966 contracts to see, but I sincerely doubt they are anywhere to be found outside the WGA-W archives or the LA public library. So I don't have the faintest clue as to whether Ellison has a leg to stand on. If he does, go for it, though he'll only get just enough to pay half his lawyer's bill. Unless the writer of this spin-off trilogy is a big name, he'll be getting around $40,000 per book (maybe a little more, maybe MUCH LESS). The books themselves have limited earning potential, hard to tell for a TOS novel, could be high six or low seven figure sales. Remember, the ST franchise is fractured and competes against itself. Lots of TNG ppl don't like TOS, lots of Voyager ppl don't like TNG, etc. Most of the earnings for the trilogy go to the outlets and the publisher. The license to publish it might have brought only $100,000. Hey, maybe Ellison's lucky and its $250,000 (I doubt it, but I'm always wrong about these things). If he doesn't have a leg to stand on, this is about his anger at his work being spun off without his permission. But all Hollywood writing is work-for-hire, so you're boned if you think you'll ever have a say in how your work is used.

Comment: SOP for Hollywood (Score 1) 483

by rpbird (#27244959) Attached to: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode

All of them rip off the writers. It's part of the culture. That's why many writers now wear "producer" labels. They get to write and the new label gets them more respect.

What's so special about now? Besides, contractually, I think writers are only eligible for residuals for the first 17 years after the series was on. I could be wrong, "Always in motion, Hollywood writing contracts are."

"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw

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