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Comment: Re:Not a surprise (Score 1, Troll) 99 99

Though I agree with you in spirit, I don't know why almost all the posts decrying the spying nowadays imply that there was a better time in the past, like we have lost some benevolent government we used to have. Check out what J Edgar Hoover was doing with the FBI through most of the 20th century. At least we don't have FBI directors for life now. And in the 60's we had the sitting president's brother as the federal attorney general, put there under instructions of the president's father (who bought an election or two to get his son in power). And that president (JFK) has been beloved since his death. I can't see a credible claim that things are any worse now than they were in the "good old days".

Comment: Re:See with what equipment (Score 4, Informative) 54 54

There is one asteroid, Vesta, which can be seen every couple of years or so by people with decent (not exceptional) naked eye eyesight. I've seen it a few times, you just need to know exactly where to look and a have a bit of stargazing experience at picking out faint objects. Its last opposition was in April 2014. Without looking it up I'd guess the next is in late 2015 or early 2016.

Comment: Re:When can we end the corporate experiment? (Score 3, Interesting) 314 314

"NASA" hasn't built a launch vehicle since the Saturn 1 in the early '60s. Everything since then has been built by private contractors, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, North American, etc. And only the first eight Saturn I's were built by government personnel (von Braun's group in Hunstville). The last two were built by Chrysler -- it was a big deal to pass the assembly to them (I think it may have been only the first stage at that time). As far as schedules are concerned there is no schedule pressure now for anyone like there was for NASA with Apollo in the '60s.

Comment: Re:Because titan has ice, pluto isn't even a plane (Score 1) 98 98

Oops, you are right and I jumped in too soon. Guess I'm just tired of the "Pluto is a planet" contorted arguments which I really shouldn't care about. In reality does the nomenclature really matter that much? Pluto and Charon are what they are, Kuiper belt objects if they must be classified; more similar to a bunch of others out there than to any other solar system objects. The term "planet" seems to be too broad and undefinable to be useful; it's often pointed out that the newish IAU definition has problems. And whether they are a "dwarf planet and moon" or "double planet", an accurate description requires more detail about their system than a couple of words can convey. I'm staying out of it going forward.

Comment: Re:Because titan has ice, pluto isn't even a plane (Score 4, Informative) 98 98

Technically the Pluto-Charon system is not a primary with a satellite, but a double system. The center of mass of the system is not within either body, but in the space between them. Anyway, several asteroids have been found to have tiny satellites, so owning a satellite doesn't count for much anyway.

Comment: Re: Corrected headline (Score 1) 304 304

Maybe you consider it unfortunate, but throughout human existence (longer than recorded history) the people with the bigger guns got to decide events and the outcome of disagreements. That is why the mid-20th century cultures of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany no longer have any say in world affairs. It is still true now and will remain so that the cultures with the smaller guns (or none) continue to exist only at the forbearance of the stronger cultures. You don't have to like it, but that is the way it is, it's practically a natural law. Now what gave the European societies of the 15th through 20th centuries their bigger guns? That would be their continuous development of technology during that time, all kinds of technology, including bigger guns. Their pursuit of knowledge about the natural world and its forces (science) is what enabled the technology. Technology and those who wield it will have the final say in how things come out -- you can't rail against that any more than you can rail against gravity. And for "stewards of the land" -- the Land couldn't care less, it was here before the Native Americans and European Americans were here and will be here long after people are gone. It was here during the Cretaceous and saw the dinosaurs and their entire ecosystem wiped out -- the Land doesn't care.

Comment: Re: In other words (Score 1) 304 304

Native Southerner here -- born in Texas, also raised in Louisiana and Alabama. I don't know if you are trolling or not, but we just went through all this a couple of days ago. Here is what Southern culture was in 1860 -- in South Carolina there were more slaves than free people. So that's it, for the MAJORITY of S. Carolina's residents their culture consisted of being enslaved. SOME of the people who weren't slaves had a pretty good life, being rich and owning other people. That is what the Confederacy seceded to preserve and if you dig down to the root of it that is what the Southerners flying the Confederate Battle Flag now are celebrating, that plus their resentment from the 1950's and 60's when they were forced to dismantle much of the segregation and legalized oppression which they managed to maintain for 90 years after losing the war. So, other than a bunch of 1% ers even worse than today there is nothing to celebrate about Southern culture if you look at the reality of it rather than the lies and bullshit.

Comment: Re:I hate and despise - but they should still be s (Score 1) 815 815

"Its meaning has evolved in complex ways after the war" -- actually that is the more salient point here. It doesn't (much) matter what the Confederate Battle Flag meant in the 19th century, but in the 20th century it was adopted by the southern states and private groups to represent resistance to the civil rights laws and movement and as symbol of determination to preserve the oppression of their African-American citizens. Slavery and the Civil War are dead history, but Jim Crow is living memory -- that is the shame of the Confederate Battle Flag.

Comment: Re:Those evil enemy oppressors (Score 1) 815 815

OK, suppose the states of the Confederacy had taken a popular vote on whether to secede or whether to stay in the Union knowing that the days of slavery were numbered. Do the slaves get to vote? In 1860, Mississippi and South Carolina had more more slaves than free persons. Alabama, Florida, Georgia were over 40% enslaved. When the Southern states which vote to go do get to leave the Union do the slaves of those states get to emigrate out of the Confederacy? The situation in the USA in 1860 was considerably different than that of Spain and the UK now.

Comment: Re:Bank of England and insight on investments (Score 0) 83 83

So what I get from your post is that through some sort of intelligence/espionage the US and UK investors avoided getting pulled into some money losing scam involving corrupt Petrobras and Brazilian officials. Sounds like due diligence to me, not economic espionage.

Comment: Re:Does it matter? (Score 4, Insightful) 294 294

"Overrun" can mean more than just someone having a house covering a spot. In that 3/4 of the world that is ocean, look at how several of the commercially important fisheries have collapsed. And the big whales? They had all those oceans to live in and it didn't do them any good once technological humans decided they had useful oil and parts. Just because an area is big and no one has a house there doesn't mean it hasn't been effectively "overrun". As it is now, we need a lot of open land, water, and air to provide the resources we want and to take back the trash we create. Those areas are "overrun".

Comment: Re:I do not consent (Score 2) 851 851

Did what she paid for it cover the cost of what she got? Those SS and Medicare tax rates were mighty low back in the 60's. SS (with its early too low taxes) didn't start until 1935 and Medicare didn't even start until 1965. Those first generation SS and Medicare retirees made out like bandits. Nope, Ayn Rand almost certainly leached more out of them than she put in.

Comment: Re:If it was political, that is sad (Score 2) 419 419

I already posted, but I would bet that they just couldn't get any Pu-238 if they had wanted it. The stuff is in really short supply now. The New Horizons mission to Pluto launched with a less than the desired amount because it wasn't available. The Juno spacecraft enroute to Jupiter doesn't have any and was designed for solar power.

Comment: Re:what if the rocket blew up in our atmosphere? (Score 2) 419 419

Apollo 13's radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) with a load of Plutonium 238 entered the atmosphere at earth escape speed (greater than orbital speeds) and didn't cause any atmospheric problems. These things are designed to survive launch vehicle explosions. I suspect the main reason that Philae didn't have nuclear power is that the preferred fuel, Pu 238, is in very short supply. No one who has any is willing to share. Spacecraft designers are doing all they can to avoid it just because it is too hard to get right now.

A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming is not worth knowing.