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Comment Re:Change department name (Score 1) 196

The US is a net exporter of oil. Granted we weren't when we started pounding sand, but that choice has always be a strategic and environmental one.

>but from the opposite perspective what sort of man slaughters people without even giving them a chance to fight back?
I'm not speaking of the active terrorists, I'm talking about all the civilians getting slaughtered by our machines. Or more to the point, their surviving friends and families whose impotent rage makes them prime candidates for recruitment into the terrorist ranks. Remember, Al Qaeda was a mostly-irrelevant organization in the final stages of collapse before our entirely disproportionate response to their last gasp on 9/11 supplied them with a massive influx of new recruits.

As for the terrorists, I imagine they feel much the same way about our cowardice - they may hide as much as possible, but they still put their lives on the line with almost every attack.

> ...If China's soldiers cost 1/5 what we pay, then we may be outspending them but not necessarily getting more for it...
The days when men won wars are mostly over - in a conflict between Major Powers it'll be all about who has the best and most hardware. And those costs aren't dramatically different around the world.

As for the difference in expenditure, Wikipedia if anything lists the least extreme numbers I've seen

for reference/ tldr : 2013 expenditures as estimated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
US: $682 billion usd
China: $166 billion usd
next 13 nations combined: $585 billion USD

Comment Terrorism vs. Acts of War (Score 1) 324

Pirates are driven by profit, and as a rule they do not attack military vessels, nor do they attempt to destroy their target except in self defense. There's very rarely any profit in such actions unless they have been commissioned by a government, in which case they are acting as privateers, not pirates. Attacks against military targets are pretty self-evidently military attacks intended to damage military capability, regardless of whether they are carried out by soldiers or privateers. Attacks against civilians are acts of terror intended to cow the populace. The difference in target and intent is what distinguishes an act of terrorism from an act of war, not the uniform worn by the attacker.

Come to think of it, that paints a lot of our soldiers actions in the middle east and elsewhere in a *really* bad light. I can see why some interests would be *very* motivated to define terrorists by the uniform they (don't) wear.

Comment Re:What can one do? (Score 2) 83

I recently had a thought that might help - organize election-day festivals near polling places, something interesting to do to tempt the politically disillusioned and apathetic to come out and enjoy some good music and food. And since they're right next door anyway, encourage them to go vote for *any* third party candidates. Over half the country doesn't vote in most elections, if we can get them organized to "Vote Out the Sock Puppets" we could sweep the election, and maybe, just maybe, start things moving in a more populist direction. If nothing else some notable victories could empower a more dramatic showing in the next election. Maybe even inspire some honest well-meaning people to try their hand at politics.

Comment Re:the one flaw in that (Score 2) 860

Do you replace a perfectly working toaster, microwave, TV, car, etc. just because it's old? Most people don't - the new thing has to be enough of an improvement to justify the expense. Why would you expect them to replace a PC that lets them browse the 'net and check their email just fine? Especially with something that may well not run their favorite old software? Where's the upgrade for these people? I'm certainly not seeing anything worth them paying a month's rent for.

Comment Re:lack of attractive upgrade prices (Score 1) 860

Yeah, but that's a months rent right there for most people, or a major fraction of the cost of a used car. Spent in order to replace a computer that's perfectly serviceable.

My advice to anyone still running XP is generally to upgrade to Linux + WINE. It's free, faster on the same ancient hardware (with the right distro), more secure, is available with interfaces almost identical to what they're used to, and has better compatibility with a lot of old Windows software than Windows 8. And personally I leave XP as a multiboot option so I can still run the handful of games, etc that just don't want to play nice with WINE. Even if that necessitates a hard drive upgrade it's *still* cheaper than a Windows 8 upgrade, and they get a massive increase in drive space to boot.

Comment Re:I have your conversion right here... (Score 2) 860

Have you tried WINE? I've been pleasantly surprised by it's support for a lot of old software that won't run on newer versions of Windows. And it manages to do so in a nice little sandbox inside an OS that's at least as secure and reliable as Windows 8, and can be configured to be almost identical to XP (or OS X, or plenty of other OSes most people have never heard of)

Comment Re:Hello, Barack? This is kettle (Score 1) 196

The reason everyone is still waiting is that funding keeps getting cut. Way back when they estimated that workable fusion was 20 years away, at then-current funding levels. Now, 60 or 80 or whatever years later they *still* haven't received cumulative funding equivalent to 20 years at the initial funding level. But progress-per-dollar has proceeded more-or-less as estimated, and at current funding levels we should have fusion in 20 years or so.

A sad statement on political priorities.

Comment Re:Change department name (Score 2) 196

The point, I believe, is what does having a military that big actually do for us? Let us beat soundly upon a bunch of cobbled together resistance in a desert country nobody cares about except for their oil, giving the local terrorist groups a massive shot in the arm with our abuses and cowardly combat tactics? (Yeah, sure, drones and airstrikes may be more efficient in terms of friendly lives spent and the corresponding social backlash back home, but from the opposite perspective what sort of man slaughters people without even giving them a chance to fight back?)

Cut the military 20% and you wouldn't change our strategic position notably, while freeing up tons of funds that could be spent on things that may actually help the country. We'd still be spending more on the military than the next many, many countries combined, most of whom are allies.

Comment Re:It's not free (Score 1) 212

I suppose it's sad in the sense that the big production houses mostly just want to stick to rehashes of last years blockbusters, but I think that's the unavoidable price to be paid for gaming going mainstream - I give you Hollywood as another example. Personally I find it rather uplifting that a bunch of enthusiastic developers can actually fund the creation of a semi-niche game with high production values. The days when a sophisticated game could be made by two guys in a garage seems to have mostly passed - producing contemporary art assets alone have completely dwarfed the cost of whole games of old.

Comment Free games have always been the norm (Score 3, Insightful) 212

The question is not how many freemium games there are, it's whether their existence is impacting the market for purchased games. In ages past shareware and freeware had the lions share of the PC gaming market (at least among every gamer I knew in middle and high school, and most of my older friends as well), for the simple reason that nobody had $30 to throw away on a game that *might* be good. Consoles were the only place that purchased games dominated, for the simple reason that there were no free games available - but everyone I knew who had a console also had a huge library of free PC games.

And frankly these days the odds of a given pay-up-front game actually being good seems to have fallen dramatically. High production value != a game worth playing, to say nothing of the vast oceans of shovelware. Of course freemium games are also far more expensive and annoying than shareware ever was, but at least you get to see if the game is any good before you pay anything.

Comment Re:the last thing Americans need... (Score 1) 166

Nope. 200W = 48 calories/second = 173,000 calories per hour, or 173 food calories. That's straight out of an engineering calculator. *If* that actually translates to burning 1000 food calories the only explanation it that our bodies are only about 17% efficient, which honestly sounds pretty impressive - as a rule biology is actually horribly inefficient (The single biggest argument I can think of against intelligent design is that *I* can think of several obvious improvements. Which would suggest that the designer was pretty incompetent.)

It's not the exertion of exercise that dissuades me, it's the tedium. Why the ^%$#@! would I want to waste that much of my life doing something so utterly pointless and monotonous? Nothing I actually care about doing requires that level of physical fitness - I don't need to earn my living by the sweat of my brow, and I can hike all day with 30lbs on my back without much strain, which covers all the equipment and supplies I need for a comfy week in the woods, plus extra cargo space for any cool rocks I find. My only reason for exercising beyond the few minutes a day needed for the strength and basic body sculpting to enhance more... domestic recreation, would be to burn calories. And it's far easier and less wasteful of both time and food to simply not consume them in the first place. It's not like the pleasure of eating is tied to the quantity consumed - a half-teaspoon bite of ice cream takes no less time to savor and swallow than a heaping tablespoon, and tastes exactly the same.

Comment Re:Mischaracterization of problem (Score 1) 231

I would think the context was sufficient to clarify which of the several meaning of hard was being used.

By your own example doing 100 problems requires 10x as much time and mental energy doing 10. What word would you use to describe the increase in labor? Clearly digging a swimming pool with a spoon is qualitatively different than digging a seed-hole.

I had a horrible time with math in grade school, especially multiplication - my brain just doesn't store trivia well: 7*6 = ....? Couldn't tell you offhand. On the other hand I'm quite good at understanding and interrelating the underlying concepts - so I can say okay 6*7 = 6 + 6*6 (one that I do happen to remember) = 42, but that really increases the workload when doing it dozens or hundreds of times. Once I got to algebra, where it was understanding and application of concepts and patterns rather than memorization of trivia I excelled, and now one of my degrees is actually in mathematics.

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