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Comment Re:AOL (Score 1) 293

There was an option at one point to convert your AOL account to a free "bring your own access" option. When it was first introduced it was just a lower monthly fee, but once broadband had become ubiquitous in the US, you could nix the monthly fee altogether as long as you never dialed up. You had to seek out that particular billing plan, of course; they didn't just quit charging you because you stopped hitting their modem pool.

I did this conversion some years back (my account was already comped at the time, but I was future-proofing against their credit card shenanigans) and I haven't paid a penny to AOL since 1995 or so. My old AOL screen names are still valid email addresses that I can use through their webmail interface, and it occasionally freaks people out to see "Member since: 1994" on my AIM profile. Last time I checked, I could even log on to whatever's left of the proprietary AOL service with their client software. That thing hasn't touched my own machines in years so I can't tell whether or not that still works.

I would imagine there's still some manner for paying users to convert their accounts this way, but they have to know about it in order to do it. If you know any AOL users, have them try the keyword "BILLING" and see what options come up.

Comment Re:Can someone who knows about astronomy fill me i (Score 2) 129

And what exactly do we know about planet formation? If anything, we have a hunch how our system formed, but it's neither certain nor do we have any clue whether it's the norm. We already know that our system is in some ways "special", from the rather high amount of trans-HE material to its position in the galactic disc to the mere fact that it's not a multi-star system.

Comment Re:The problem: (Score 4, Insightful) 377

Well, what reasons are there to invent Gods?

The main reason I could come up with is explaining what cannot be explained and thus control what cannot be controlled.

If you don't know how something works, you might try to find out, but if you can't find out, it scares you. Mostly for the reason that you have no way to control it. You can't say "if I do this, $bad_thing will not happen and/or $good_thing will". There is no "if I don't touch the hot stove I won't get burned" with whether lightning hits your hut or whether the weather finally gets better so your crops will grow enough to feed you the next Winter. And of course our fear of dying. Not only do we not want to die, but we want to have that nice, fuzzy feeling that there's something better coming for us afterwards. Or at least that there is something and that we're important enough that we don't simply cease to exist.

But the main thing is trying to control what can't be controlled. Because with a God, you can. You can pray. You pray and then God will make the lightning not hit your hut and your crops will grow well. You will not die in that next war and the plague will not kill your family. There is no "worldly" way to do that. And humans are scared of things that are beyond their control. They need something to comfort them. And even if their loved ones die, at least they need to be comforted that they're in some "better place" now.

That's where gods come in.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 1) 173

Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
that's not my department says Wernher von Braun.

--Tom Lehrer

But seriously. Of course, unlimited funds can move mountains. Or people onto the moon. And maybe even back, too. Von Braun sure had unlimited funds in the 60s.

Too bad the US leaned back on the "we're #1, why try harder" position. Just think where we could be by now.

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