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Comment Re:Done right, fracking is harmless (Score 1) 208

Oil drilling is not gas drilling. Modern fracking for gas in particular uses much higher pressures than oil drilling and even older gas drilling operations. It's not the slantwise drilling itself that is the issue; it's the high-pressure fracking in that kind of well structure (and also possibly in the kind of geological formations that are gas-bearing) that is new and unstudied.

Comment Re:Done right, fracking is harmless (Score 2) 208

Fracking with modern techniques is what is of concern here, in addition to the fact that it's being done on the east coast, an area more densely populated than where fracking has traditionally been done.

The modern techniques are not a safer, more efficient version of older techniques. Modern techniques involve drilling down and then snaking sideways to get at the gas. This has only been going on in populated areas since 2006, which isn't a whole lot of time to study effects. And since it's being done around a lot more people, we've seen a large amount of complaints about air quality, water quality, and increased levels of sickness. Some of that is bound to be the equivalent of headaches from an unpowered cell tower, but some of that is also bound to be genuine.

There is significantly more than "a shred of hard evidence" that fracking poses dangers to people living near wells. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being deceptive:

[P]roponents of hydraulic fracturing have erroneously reported in the press and other media that the recent University of Texas Study ("Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development") found that hydraulic fracturing caused no environmental contamination,[17][18] when in fact the study found that all steps in the process except the actual injection of the fluid (which proponents artificially separated from the rest of the process and designated "hydraulic fracturing") have resulted in environmental contamination.

That text is from this Wikipedia article all about the environmental impact of fracking in the US. Much of the data from that article comes from the UT study, and is most damning since the industry (and its shills) looked at the one positive bit and said, "See?! That piece there is really what fracking is! That's harmless! Ignore all of the setup and finishing steps...that's not fracking, so fracking is harmless!" If the evidence in that paper for the fluid injection stage is deemed reliable by the industry, so too should be the evidence against the other stages; if it were not so, we'd have heard them specifically attacking that evidence instead of remaining silent about it and relying on misdirection to keep it out of the spotlight.

As for fracking being "our golden chance for energy independence": it is an entirely stupid notion. What better way to not have to rely on fuels from other countries than to...dig up and use all of our reserves?

Comment Re:Why is the Obama administration objecting ? (Score 1) 308

This man is extremely dangerous not only for America, but for the entire world. Obama might not be any good, but Romney will destroy the American dream, and several other countries along with it.

This is why American politics is in such a sorry state.

I watched the Stewart / O'Reilly debate yesterday, and, surprisingly, came out of it with a bit more respect for BillO than I had before. They both made some bullshit claims, and some good things to say, though Stewart was by far the more compelling of the two despite being frequently childish (as I expected, just as I expected BillO to be frequently churlish). In Stewart's closing remarks, he said that the biggest problem in American politics is that the people backing both teams are so caught up in this idea that if The Other Guy gets in, it's going to be the end of the world. It's not.

Personally, I don't go in for either of the major parties, and I think both of them are going to foster the slow decline of America. I don't know if that can in practice be helped any, but this incredible polarization, the idea that the opposition is not only to be disagreed with but reviled as the worst possible humans who will destroy everything, is extremely unhelpful and flat-out wrong. Until we can return to a civilized discourse, where policy can be expressed as better and worse instead of better and Oh My God What Are These So-Called People Thinking, there is no way to really hash out anything that is going to work as best it can.

I'm not absolving myself from guilt in the matter, either--as a person who is dissatisfied with the whole system I've definitely fallen prey to the urge to claim that we're on a brink of some kind, and more than that I've fallen prey to believing it. Yet I can't help but wonder if airing those concerns is at all helpful: in essence, you are not only preaching to the choir but alienating every thinking individual who might respond better to a more reasoned analysis of the situation.

I don't have all or any of the answers, but demonizing the opposition isn't going to do anything except for strengthening their belief that you are also to be demonized instead of engaged with.

Comment Re:Make it illegal (Score 1) 1199

From the BBC:

They said that during the study period, adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone's daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13%, of fatal cardiovascular disease by 18% and of cancer mortality by 10%. The figures for processed meat were higher, 20% for overall mortality, 21% for death from heart problems and 16% for cancer mortality.

Still, even if the harm from smoking was orders of magnitude worse than all other pleasures combined, it doesn't change the fact that it is every individual's choice to weigh how much they are concerned with health when it comes to their pleasure. It doesn't matter if it's dietary choices, smoking, skateboarding, sexual practices, video gaming...

Health may not rank high on your list of priorities, so "what is bad for you" and "what is bad for your health" are not necessarily the same thing. The post I replied to implied that they are.

Comment Re:Make it illegal (Score 1) 1199

No. It has been proven that smoking is bad for your health. The same has been shown for a diet with an excess of red meat, and countless other examples. The subjectivity enters in when someone says, "Yes, I understand that this much red meat is unhealthy for me, but I enjoy it and will continue to eat it." They are essentially balancing how good the pleasure of the food is for them with their desire to be healthy. That is absolutely a personal, subjective choice applicable to any decision that has an impact on health--which is most of them.

Comment The Rapture - Hottest Natural Sauce in the World (Score 1) 348

Torchbearer Sauces of sprawling Mechanicsburg, PA makes several very hot natural sauces, the hottest of which is called The Rapture. It's 30% Trinidad Scorpion pepper and 30% Bhut Jolokia pepper. They use habaneros...for flavor. And it has lots of that, too--it's a very smoky flavor that pairs well with sweeter dishes.

It's $20 for a 5oz bottle, which is a bit pricey but worth trying once for any fans of really, really hot sauces. It will last longer than you think, too--I bought a bottle and took it into work where half of it was quickly consumed by curious coworkers. That was a few months ago and despite using it once a week or so I still have around two fifths left.

Their other sauces are reportedly good as well, and cheaper, so make the shipping worthwhile if you're getting The Rapture. I like their spicy mustard myself; it's not the spiciest I've had by far but it has a good flavor profile.

Comment Re:Article (including Stringer) is misleading (Score 1) 169

Evidence suggests that today's modern humans did in fact evolve from a relatively small group of people (I've seen estimates in the 5-20,000 range)

Oh, sure, put the minimum at five! That handily dismisses the claims of those radical creationists who pose only two at the beginning! You see the bias, here, Slashdot?! Do you!?!? ;)

Comment Re:Sounds like a true scientist (Score 1) 169

The fact that you can communicate in whole sentences with other people means you're probably not a racist, as they are all extremely stupid people.

This isn't true at all. Some of the brightest minds of the 19th century were avowed racists, and I'm talking about discerning races among people whose skin colors vary less than the shades of a Saltine cracker. There was a lot of discussion in Europe about classifying the different European races; the Franks, the Gauls, and the Celts; and about which ones were really the Aryans. Funny thing, authors of each race would ascribe all the same positive traits to themselves, and all the negative traits to the other races. They all had evidence to back themselves up--though upon close examination none of it really stood up even at the time. Racial kinship shifted with the winds of European politics: the belligerent, beer-guzzling Germans of a decade ago were now the industrious, philosophical Germans of today, all because of a new alliance. For an in-depth, mostly dry but still kind of interesting read on this, see Race: A Study in Superstition, by Jacques Barzun, first published in 1937.

It is foolish to believe that things are any different today. Stupid people are not the only people who are capable of being wrong, or of being convinced by fallacious arguments.

Comment Re:Jammie's Really In A Jam Now (Score 1) 285

If she is truly out of appeals, it's time to start a donation site. I'd chip in $10 or so, as I'm sure thousands of others would. It'd be fun to keep a running count of the total donated in the unit of lost CD sales for the RIAA--show them that not only will their overly punitive tactics fail to stop people from filesharing, but they will continue to erode any goodwill the RIAA had in the first place.

Hell, have the FSF or someone run it and make it a charity for anyone who is being forced into bankruptcy by the big five--a respectable organization could easily handle the vetting process. Maybe the RIAA will pay attention when the lost sale counter hits 20,000 discs.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 239

I'm not sure the rising effectiveness of placebo indicates a general increase of suggestiveness. To me it would seem to indicate that people have more faith in modern medicine. We do have wonder drugs nowadays, and I suspect that for a lot of people their attitude going into a study is no longer, "this might work," but "this is a potent drug." If they are in the control group, that same belief means that they will experience more of the listed side effects as well.

Comment Re:Doesn't make sense (Score 1) 757

Not this libertarian. The Ryan Plan still results in an annual deficit increase, and doesn't touch the bloated military or defense budgets at all. It may result in a balanced 30 years. Tea Partiers shouldn't like this guy either, but the Tea Party movement stopped being about taxes and monetary policy shortly after it was born.

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