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Comment Re:Of course (Score 2) 107

There's a probe called New Horizons on the way to Pluto right now, largely because we can't get decent pictures from here. Even with Hubble, the best we get is a fuzzy blob a few pixels in size.

Then there's the Cassini mission that provided information about Titan that could not have been obtained without dropping a probe into its atmosphere.

There was Galileo, which provided a wealth of knowledge about the Jovian moons that we could not have gotten by taking pictures from here.

Magellan provided radar mapping of the surface of Venus that is completely obscured from view in visible light due to permanent clouds.

And, of course, there is the science being done on Mars that requires a physical presence.

Comment Re:Endorse James Webb. Do NOT even mention Sptizer (Score 3, Interesting) 107

Are you aware that federal income taxes were collected long before the case (Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust) that basically triggered the adoption of the 16th Amendment? They go back to 1861. The issue in Pollock was not that the income tax was unconstitutional (the income tax on wages was decided unanimously to be constitutional in 1880 and held to be an excise tax in Pollock), but that taxes on income derived from property (rental income, stock dividends, etc.) were direct taxes (as opposed to indirect taxes on wages) and so had to be apportioned by state populations. It then spent the next decade doing contortions trying to fit various taxes challenged after the Pollock ruling as excise taxes so as to not deprive the federal government of revenue from many other sources.

The 16th Amendment merely allows taxes collected on all income, whatever the source, to not be apportioned by state populations, taking the issue out of the courts' hands completely. Repealing the amendment wouldn't end the income tax or the IRS, but instead justify a larger bureaucracy to ensure that income from direct taxes was apportioned properly, or else a rush to the courts to challenge pretty much every tax and a resumption of the judicial contortions to keep them in place.

And you really should get up to date on your recent history. While I'm not sad to see Saddam Hussein gone, there were no unconventional weapons found, save for a few old artillery shells buried more than a decade before. He really had dismantled his programs, but tried to make it look like maybe he didn't in case Iran got the bright idea of starting a new fight.

Comment Re:Budget Perspective (Score 2) 107

The B-1 was used in Iraq first during Operation Desert Fox and later during the 2003 invasion, and was also used in Kosovo and Afghanistan. The B-52, while still a very good bomber, is showing its age. While the Air Force still has it in the plans for another 30 years or so, it's not what you want to use should you have to go up against any serious air defenses, as they have to be neutralized first. Boeing has proposed several modernization ideas including new engines that would improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance requirements, but the cost of that is more than the Air Force wants to pay. They're planning for a new bomber to replace all three existing bombers starting around 2030-2035.

And the B-1 never really scared the Soviets. Before the final one was delivered, the Air Force realized that it couldn't compete with Soviet air defenses.

Comment Re:This, I am unsurprised about (Score 1) 241

It's strung out to keep it in the news, lest it be forgotten about in a few months. There is a strategy to it that goes well beyond awards.

Assange, on the other hand, does it for his own benefit, primarily to his ego. A recent post on Twitter mentioned delaying "the identity of NSA 'SOMALGET' country X to another date for media cycle reasons." Less than two hours later, after several replies had said it was Afghanistan, Assange made another post announcing that Afghanistan was the other country. (I follow the Wikileaks feed in part because there's occasionally something interesting but mostly because the slow burn of Assange and his declining support base kind of intrigue me.)

Comment Re:This, I am unsurprised about (Score 1) 241

You're right that there was little (not no) pretense of protecting the Afghan peoples. However, the government in Kabul (such as it was) refused to hand over bin Laden, claiming that bin Laden was their guest, and they could neither kick him out nor turn him over to others who would do him harm. After airstrikes began, they offered to discuss turning him over to a neutral country that would not extradite him to the US, but only if proof of bin Laden's complicity in the 9/11 attacks was presented and they accepted it. The US, of course, refused the deal.

As to the others, the vote in Crimea that was allegedly 97% in favor of annexation with an 85% turnout rate was a sham: the Russian Council on Civil Society and Human Rights (accidentally?) posted the true results briefly: 30% turnout and only half voted in favor of annexation. The deposing of Morsi was condemned by the United States several times, though it admittedly didn't do much more. And Thailand has had 18 attempted coups, 11 of which were successful. It is, for better or for worse, an almost natural state of affairs there.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 310

There's nothing illegal about it. Most states have alternate regulations for certain jobs. For example, if you're the one and only person working a shift, and someone must be there all the time, an exception can be made requiring you to remain at your work location even through your meal breaks, though both you and the employer must agree to this and you have to be paid for the time. They also generally allow for alternate schedules for union members provided a majority of the union members vote in favor of that schedule.

Comment I used WordStar 4.0 for MANY years (Score 1, Interesting) 522

I was working for a computer mail order place (Logicsoft) when WS 4.0 came out. The salespeople all got promotional lucite paperweights; I might still have one!

I used WS 3 and WS 4 to crank out role playing game manuscripts. For most of this time I only had a floppy-only PC-DOS system. This required juggling floppy disks when running spell check. It was great upgrading to a hard disk drive, but I maintained one-or-two-floppy running copies of WordStar that I could bring with me. Kind of like putting applications on a thumb drive.

I used WordStar X.X on an Osborne PC. The "OzBox," which lived in the campus SF library where I spent a lot of my time, had a program that could copy files to single-sided DOS floppies.

I was what you might call a Journeyman user of WS. I used "dot commands" and spell check and maybe even Mail Merge. There was still a lot more I didn't need and didn't bother learning.

I remember buying WordStar 5.0, but regretted it. It couldn't be whittled down to a few floppies.

I still had copies of WordStar (and various versions of DOS) until, um, late last decade, when I got rid of all my floppy disks. If Memory Serves, a fairly complete WordStar 4.0 install took up two 720K floppies. As part of the great reduction I converted all of my old RPG manuscripts to ASCII, so I didn't need a working WS copy.

I sometimes regret the loss of the "keyboard diamond" method of navigation. I could probably set up Word to use it, but it isn't worth the trouble.

Comment And don't forget . . . (Score 2) 784

Virtually all of the people who have visited "Antarctica" are SCIENTISTS. And the rest are GOVERNMENT WORKERS.

Can we really believe people who have a vested interest in grant money to accurately report on this place?

Pretty soon now we'll find the set in Alaska where "South pole research station" news segments are filmed.

Comment Forgot some steps (Score 1) 661

Missing steps:

4.5 No One Could Have Foreseen This Problem. Let us not point fingers and play the blame game.

5.5 Fine, we're in a fix. It is time for the ideologues to step aside and the Level Heads and Professionals and People Who Have a Stake in the Game to take over and provide reality-based solutions. We'll start by proposing tax credits for owners of shore front vacation homes to move their properties, because summer recreation is a vital part of our economy. And cancel Social Security to incentivize Honored Citizens to get healthy exercise filling sandbags to protect oil industry facilities in the Gulf. And annex Canada to provide homes for citizens displaced by the Texas Hell-Cyclone. After all, Canadians sold us a lot of that oil . . . remember the XL pipeline they forced us to build?

Comment Re:"Still in use by the US military" (Score 1) 128

Meanwhile, Spain managed not to lose any in accidents, primarily by using them in the interceptor role for which they were originally designed and not as the fighter-bombers that Lockheed tried to turn them into.

Besides, by the time the F-104G came around, Johnson was working on the U-2 and the SR-71.

Comment not likely (Score 1) 865

"Eventually, drivers will be expected to download and install car software patches themselves."

I can hardly see that happening. You'll need a valid support and maintenance contract and the patches will be downloaded automatically or you'll have to visit an authorized service center if the downloads fail for some reason.

Comment Re:"Still in use by the US military" (Score 1) 128

When? The U-2 was designed by Kelly Johnson, a man who enforced simplicity wherever possible and valued the lives of everyone around his planes. Having anyone run up to it or chase it in a truck to install pogos while it was moving would risk a collision or injury, or both. Besides, the entire aircraft is only 16 feet tall, and the wings are maybe a third of that off the ground.

As far as I know, the plane has always landed like that, and Kelly Johnson knew it would. That kind of practice doesn't start showing up decades or even years later.

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