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Comment Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (Score 1) 156

Even the $70k price for an average-performance car here is subsidized - Toyota has admitted that they're selling it at a loss. It's hard to make an electric car look cheap, but fuel cells do a great job at it. And they have shorter lives than batteries, are more complicated with more breakable parts, operate at 1/3rd the net system efficiency well to wheel, have a larger environmental footprint for manufacture, and FCVs still have to have a hybrid-size battery pack in order to average out consumption demands so you don't have to have a 3x larger fuel cell to meet peak demand. Just ignoring the issues with the fuel itself.

Comment Re:Silly orthography (Score 1) 52

They make this sound new, but I read about this something like a decade ago. Not with CRISPR, but with "selfish genes" in general. It was proposed, as an example, to wipe out mosquitoes - or at least, one mosquito species that causes a large chunk of malaria cases but is not a major food or pollination source anywhere that it exists in the wild. They would simultaneously introduce into many parts of the population (trying to leave no breeding-isolated islands) mosquitoes bearing a selfish, recessive, lethal allele. They would spread throughout the population thanks to their gaming the laws of natural selection, without having any practial harm until it's spread throughout almost the whole population. Suddenly the population can no longer produce viable offspring, and after several generations, the species dies off.

One example of such a gene in nature was given - if I remember right, it was spotted in weevils. It causes the mothers to produce a chemical in the eggs that kills any young that don't also have the gene (aka, it codes for both a poison and its antidote). So if one parent has the gene, the only viable eggs that they get will also have the gene. It's clearly harmful - it kills off half the eggs if one of the parents has it and the other doesn't, and was detrimental in general - but like a parasite, the gene is only "concerned" with its own survival.

Comment Re:Who benefits (Score 1) 503

I work with air traffic control systems and I think it's ridiculous people are trying to fault the ATC here. There's a *lot* of pressure from companies to fly the most direct, fuel-efficient route - they really don't like to divert. And controllers don't like diversions either. When Eyjafjallajökull erupted it diverted a large chunk of the traffic from the North Atlantic through our airspace, which made for some *very* busy, very overworked controllers. And unhappy sysadmins as well. Unless you think you have to, you don't close airspace. The costs for doing so are massive.

Comment Re:Who benefits (Score 1) 503

Yes, it is. According to the transcripts, they thought it was an AN-26 military transport plane.

It's not really hard to put two and two together.

* For the past week, Ukraine has been bombing - without success - the rebel stronghold of Snizhne, trying to break a key link between the two rebel bases of Donetsk and Luhansk.
* For the past couple days, Ukranian military planes have suddenly started falling out of the sky at high altitude, something that had never happened before. Ukraine seemed confused and blamed Russia for shooting them down, either a surface missile or a jet; the rebels had previously only had MANPADs.
* On Thursday, an AP reporter reports seeing a BUK launcher in Snizhne
* On Thursday, several hours before the shootdown, Strelkov (the top rebel commander) posted a message on multiple social media sites which he regularly posts from saying not to mess with "our skies".
* The plane is shot down and crashes in a field just northwest of Snizhne
* Strelkov posts again cheerful posts claiming that his forces have downed a military plane, literally minutes after the plane gets shot down, and brags about how they brought it down in fields near a mine in the area that the plane crashed in.
* A video gets posted showing rebels in Snizhne cheering about their shootdown
* The two later-released Ukranian phone intercepts are dated from this time period - first of Strelkov and a commander discussing the shootdown of what they think is a military plane, then confused commanders coming to the realization that it's a civilian jet.
* Strelkov deletes his previous posts from social media
* A large number of eyewitnesses interviewed say that they saw a rocket come up from Snizhne and hit the plane
* Another video gets posted showing a BUK driving on the road from Snizhne toward the Russian border.

Even if you doubt the Ukranian phone releases, even if you doubt every witness and video, I really don't know how much more damning you could get than that.

Comment Re:Wrong priority! (Score 2) 503

Not much for the US to do? So you presume, for example, that punitive sanctions aren't an option? This could finally be the impetus to lay on some "more than just a slap on the wrist" sanctions. I mean, they haven't even banned the export and import of luxury goods yet. There's a long way to go down that road. The big effects come in creating a business environment in which any company that has any operations in the US or Europe is afraid to touch Russia out of fear of massive fines, causing them to over-self-sanction as a precaution (this usually has the greatest effect on sanctioned countries).

There's really no way to ever *totally* stop travel between the borders, and even very strict measures well beyond what we could reasonably expect here would leak like a sieve. But the key is to ruin the ratios in Russia - to devalue their exports, hike the cost of their imports, and raise the interest rate on their borrowing. Which in turn would render most of their business activity except that with a very high profit margin uneconomical, as well as smashing their per-capita buying power.

Yeah, Russia's energy weapon can be used, and that's a big weapon, although it'd aim even more back at Russia (that's the foundation of their economy). Europe has the operational LNG terminals to import enough (even without usage displacement, which would happen en masse - welcome back, coal!) to replace Russian gas, for example, and there's more than enough exporters (Qatar alone could offset it). But Europe would pay out the nose for it - LNG is expensive to begin with and they'd be competing against other buyers all over the world. Again with oil, Saudi Arabia alone has nearly enough reserve capacity to offset Russian oil. But you better bet OPEC will let the price float up a several dozen dollars a barrel in the process. (OPEC really has to be thrilled about the prospect - Russia's been a pain in their side for ages).

So yeah, the EU, and to a lesser extent the US, would really hurt from such a full-out trade war - probably a 5+% loss of GDP in Europe, a brand new recession. I could even picture on the order of a 10% hit in some parts of Europe. But Russia would literally become a third world nation without that income.

A more interesting - and realistic scenario - would be if they can render new investment in the Russian oil and gas industry uneconomical, but not take sanctions too far otherwise. In that case, Russia would continue selling oil and gas from their existing fields - which are largely only set up to export to Europe - and Europe would continue to buy. But Russia's production - and economy - would keep slowly tapering away as the fields aged without replacement. The rest of the world would at the same time have ample time to develop alternative production and Europe would have ample time to adjust.

Whatever happens, I doubt we'd see the necessary support to lift any sanctions on Russia unless they give up Crimea. That is to say, I don't think we'll see anything lifted from Russia for a long, long time. Whatever hits Russia today is probably going to become the status quo for decades.

Comment Re:To me it's pretty clear. (Score 1) 503

You mean those poor innocent 42 people who were part of a mob that was clearly only minding its own business, having done nothing more provocative than having just shot to death four people and injured a dozen at a football march, having converged with guns on the unarmed crowd - which I'm sure was in no way a pre-planned action (they were all just taking their guns to the cleaners, right?) Yeah, my pity cup runneth over for them, just like it does for the people who shoot down civilian airliners.

Comment Re:If only... (Score 5, Interesting) 503

Oh come on now, how could anyone mistake this guy for being gay?

Seriously, though, some of his publicity stunts are almost Kim Jong-* level. While the "flying with geese to lead them home" one was funny, and the saving his camera crew from a savage tiger one was conveniently off camera, my favorite has to be the "finding ancient Greek pottery while diving in two meters of clear water on a popular beach" one. ;) Of course that one was so over the top even for him that they had to backtrack:

But his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview shown Tuesday on the Dozhd TV channel that the jugs had been found earlier by archaeologists and placed there for Mr Putin. ... 'Of course, they were left there or placed there. It's completely normal. There's no reason to gloat about this and everything else.'

Mr Putin is noted for his habit of appearing in vigorous and adventurous settings, including fishing and hunting while stripped to the waist and riding with leather-clad bikers.

Again, though, let me stress - not gay! ;)

Comment Re:To me it's pretty clear. (Score 2) 503

The militias controlling Donbas have repeatedly complained about how little material support they've gotten from the locals and how few people have enrolled (although it supposedly varies a great deal from place to place). They get more than enough cheers and pats on the back (pre-conflict polling suggested about a quarter to a third would rather be a part of Russia than Ukraine and a majority are unhappy with Kiev - and I'm sure the remainder know well enough to keep their mouths shut), but the percent willing to put their lives on the line for Russia is apparently quite low. The local Ukranians involved are often reported a lot "softer" - the Russian commanders are more of the "shoot you if you don't obey orders" type.

Comment Re:Propaganda won't help this time (Score 1) 503

I really don't think that the other major players will be impressed by Russian propaganda. The Ukraine certainly won't.

But what about the Crimea - will they listen to the America or the Russia? I mean, I'm writing here in the Iceland and we're not exactly a big player, but I imagine Americans of all stripes, from those in the California to those in the Florida, want to be sure that all of the relevant players in the Europe and the Asia don't fall victim to Russian propaganda.

Comment Re:Some people are jerks (Score 2) 362

When it comes to rape, confidential studies usually reveal the most disturbing information

Believe it or not, most people aren't comfortable talking bout rape and sexual harassment with authority figures. Neither A) talking about sex with an authority figure you hardly know in a society where that's the most private matter of all, nor B) talking about something that traumatized you at all (let alone talking with someone you hardly know about it), are easy matters. The combination of the two is far worse. And the fact that as a general rule nothing good will come of it, and to the contrary a lot of bad will come back to you if you speak up, is just even more encouragement to keep your mouth shut. As a consequence, most rapes remain personal affairs with no consequences to the perpetrator. Disturbingly common personal affairs.

Comment Re: I am Woman! (Score 2) 590

True, they could at least go with Thorunn or Thora, femine forms of the name Thor. Thor is a masculine name. Though I understand that they're trying to stress that she is the superhero now, not him.

Not a big fan of the new Thor costume. Too stereotypical female superhero "let's-remove-metal-from-all-sorts-of-critical-body-parts" "form-fitting steel boobs" style. You'd think if they're wanting to be progressive with the plot they'd be willing to face that old cliche. It doesn't mean you have to make them ugly or non-feminine, it just means that they're not dressed like they're going to some S&M hookup afterhours at Comic-Con. Wonder if they'll fall victim to this as well...

Comment Re:The GISS adjusted^^^ dataset (Score 5, Informative) 552

The raw data shows the same warming trend. And the adjustments are there for a good reason - otherwise the deniers would be complaining even more about the heat island effect and siting / instrumentation problems than they even are today (oh, and to head people off, the warming trend gets even stronger when you outright remove the "bad", "artificially hot" meteorological stations the deniers complain about). And all of the adjustments are cross-checked by a variety of peer-reviewed verification methods. For example, the heat island effect on stations is (among other methods) cross-checked by comparing windy days with still days, as wind greatly reduces the heat island effect.

In short, to anyone who thinks they've got some killer reason why the adjustments are wrong, simply write a paper, go through peer-review like everyone else has to do, and viola, you're part of the actual scientific debate and I'll take you seriously. Until then...

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