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Comment But are small arms that critical (Score 1) 450

It doesn't seem like citizen ownership of small arms has been all that much of a factor in helping insurgencies to resist soldiers with body armor and military-grade weapons. IEDs and captured/smuggled military-grade weaponry like RPGs and Stinger missiles seem to have been far more of a problem for the military than citizens taking pot shots will small arms.

Comment Are consoles dying? (Score 1) 403

It may be that the problem is not with the Wii U but with consoles in general. The availability of smartphone and tablet games may have changed the gaming landscape permanently. Game enthusiasts may turn up their noses and point out that mobile device games lack the diversity of controls and graphics quality, and most of them are simplistic compared to mobile games--which is true--but it is unclear just how much that means in terms of the market for consoles in the $ 200+ price range running games in the $50+ price range.

For many casual gamers, mobile games are good enough, considering that they run on a device that you already own, so you don't have to buy dedicated hardware, and the games are about the price of a candy bar. Each game may not have the depth of a console game, but if you get tired of one, there are plenty more. And at the other end, the true gaming fanatics play on computers, not consoles.

It may be that consoles will end up being neither here nor there, appealing to a diminishing market of moderately enthusiastic gamers that is too small to yield the profits required to justify the sort of massive development effort needed to create games with the graphics and play sophistication that console gamers expect.

Of course, Nintendo's systems have never been hard core--they've always been more oriented toward families, so perhaps Nintendo is more vulnerable to competition from mobile device gaming. On the other hand, so far there doesn't seem to be a huge degree of anticipation of new gaming systems from Sony and Microsoft, and both companies seem to be having difficulty articulating just what their new-generation systems will offer to convince consumers to shell out hundreds of dollars in up-front costs for new consoles.

Comment The soul of science? Gimme a break! (Score 1) 235

I skimmed over the original paper. It presents an interesting hypothesis, but the evidence is correlational, the analysis is complicated and indirect, and the relationship they found is not simple (not that bell-shaped curves can't occur, but they offer a lot more freedom in fitting data than monotonic relationships). If anybody actually is basing policy recommendations on it, I'd question their motives. But the attack on it seems a bit over the top, and I get the impression that the authors of the attack don't even want these sorts of ideas discussed, so I'm suspicious of their motives as well.

In any case, it seems like a very minor tempest in a teapot over a very tentative hypothesis based on weak evidence. I don't see what it has to do with the "soul of science."

Comment Re:Democrat proposes more spending, what a surpriz (Score 1) 583

The graph you link to shows the same thing as Krugman's (a flat line on a semilog plot is still flat on a linear plot): a jump in 2009 due to the impact of the depression on automatic safety net programs such as unemployment and food stamps (which continues, since employment has not recovered), and then nearly flat thereafter. Here's another one of Krugman's FRED plots (on a linear scale, if it makes you happier) showing federal spending as a fraction of potential GDP.

Comment The myth of the global cooling consensus (Score 2) 583

Are you seriously rolling out the much-debunked myth that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s that we were heading into an ice age? I was reading the scientific literature back then, and I can tell you that that is simply nonsense. This notion seems to date mostly from a sensationalistic article in Time magazine based on the views of a fringe scientist. All of that literature can be found in any major university library, and much of it is available online, so you can check for yourself. Even in the 1970s, scientists knew that there was the potential for CO2 from fossil fuels to cause warming. If you aren't industrious enough to read the literature for yourself, others have done it for you

The notion that climate is "complete chaos" is also wrong. Weather is chaotic over the short term, but over the long term there are indeed rules--climate is determined by the overall solar energy balance of the globe, in which CO2 plays a major role--in fact it is impossible to explain why the earth (or Mars, or Venus) is as warm as it is unless you accept the warming effect of CO2--and once you do that, global warming in response to fossil fuel releases of CO2 follows inexorably.

Comment Re:Old Stories (Score 1) 583

It doesn't prove anything except that on an increasing trend line the highest values are the more recent ones....

Yes, but many Republican politicians have denied the the reality of that trend. The year to year increasing trend in average temperature is small compared to the random fluctuations of weather, so it is possible to convince people who are unfamiliar with the actual science that it is some kind of "liberal scientist" fabrication. But people do notice extreme weather events. So while the strongest evidence of the upward trend is in the measurements of day-to-day temperatures, the increase in weather disasters is something that the average person can perceive and relate to.

Comment Re:Democrat proposes more spending, what a surpriz (Score 2) 583

Much of the deficit increase in 2009 was due to existing "safety net" programs such as food stamps and unemployment insurance that kicked in in response to the depression, which was already underway when Obama took office. The rest was due to the financial bailout, in which Obama followed through on the bailout devised under the Bush administration. Obama brought an end to the growth in Federal spending

Comment So? (Score 2) 245

The anonymous ship sailed a long time ago for pretty much anybody who has ever done anything public under their own name. I could be easily googled well before FB came along. That doesn't particularly bother me; I don't have any mortal enemies that I'm hiding from, and I'd like any old friends to be able to find me if they want to do so. The rules haven't changed: if you really want to be private for some reason, don't do anything public (and anything on the internet is public) under your real name--for that matter, you might want to consider changing your name to something generic with 100,000 Google hits that aren't you.

Comment Most biomedical research required open access (Score 1) 172

Most researchers like open-access, but they are more concerned about publishing in a widely-read journal with a long-standing reputation for rigorous peer-review, because that looks better on their CVs

Fortunately, in the area of biomedical research, virtually all publication is effectively ope-access, because most biomedical researchers receive at least some support from NIH, and NIH requires that all publications supported by NIH funds be available to the public within a year of publication

Comment Re:Stupid anecdotes are a waste of time (Score 1) 1862

For every real number of somebody whose life or the life of a loved one was saved because a gun was in the house, there is another real number of somebody who died in an accidental shooting or shot a loved one by mistake.

Yes, it wouldn't surprise me if overall it turned out to be pretty much a wash. And I think that a person could make a rational choice that even if there is no net advantage, they would rather take the risk of accident if it enabled them to be more prepared to defend themselves or their family. Moreover, if the numbers are close to a wash overall, it is certain that there are some people--people who are meticulous, not inherently overexcitable, who do not have anger management problems, who take careful measures to keep the guns out of the hands of children, and who have invested the training time to learn how to handle a gun responsibly--for whom the risks work out in favor of keeping a gun in the house. This would certainly include the vast majority of police officers, and probably many combat-trained military veterans and quite a few private citizens.

Comment Re:Almost no one is killed by "assault weapons" (Score 1) 1862

I used to find this a more persuasive argument than I do today. Whereas when this amendment was written, civilian weapons were comparable to those carried by the military, this has long not been the case. Even under existing laws, civilians cannot possess fully automatic weapons or rocket-propelled grenades, not to mention high-caliber vehicle-mounted weapons, tanks, drones, etc., etc. So I don't think the legality of assault weapons with large clips would have much impact on the ability of the resistance to mount an armed insurrection against the government in the event of a military coup in the USA. Moreover, experience in the Middle East has shown that insurrections can pose a substantial challenge to heavily armed military using improvised weapons such as IEDs. And of course, there are weapons held by local police, at least some of whom would presumably fight on the side of the resistance in such a scenario. Moreover, while this worry may have had some validity in the early days of the union, I think that we now have enough history to fairly judge that a military takeover of the USA is not a rational fear. The kind of people who are crazy enough to believe that this is a real concern are not the sort that I care to have heavily armed.

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