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Comment Re:welcome america to MATH 101 (Score 1) 952

Not quite - the slowing o fusion as hydrogen runs out just causes the star to collapse. If it's massive enough though, the greater pressures and temperatures that creates then cause the helium and other heavier elements to begin fusing, releasing far more energy far more quickly than in the original star, causing an explosion (and creating a wide spectrum of even heavier elements)

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 952

Except that nuclear winter was an extremely overblown idea, part of the scaremongering of the era. And it was never the bombs that caused it, it was the fires they started. And even the comparatively small effect they would have is based on the idea that nobody would put out those fires - extremely unlikely given the (greatly exaggerated) consequences. Every remaining aircraft in the world would be busy putting them out, even if it cost the pilots their lives. Plenty of people are capable of great self-sacrifice to save those they love.

Comment Re:Least worst (Score 1) 952

Not really. Maybe, sometimes, if the popular vote mattered, but for the president it doesn't. Most states are pretty firmly in one camp or the other, and only in a handful of swing states will such thin margins even be considered.

Now, if we're talking local/state elections, especially in areas not gerrymandered out of democracy, then yes you're absolutely correct, and I'd love to see a credible third party concentrate on those instead of making a lot of mostly-pointless noise at the federal level.

Comment Re:Two candidates (Score 1) 952

Unfortunately, it's a built-in feature of first-past-the-post voting systems such as ours. There can, very occasionally, be upsets, but generally speaking if a third party candidate hasn't made a really impressive showing by this point, they're not going to have even a chance. Had Bernie decided to run independent or Green he might have had a credible shot at the presidency, but more likely he would have ended up splitting the vote with Hillary, and given Trump an easy win. That's an inherent problem with our voting system, and the reason things like instant runoff voting were invented.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 952

Oh please.

When has any bigwig ever been executed in the US, even for crimes far worse than seling contaminated milk? Heck, US banks did their best to crash the global economy while enriching the bigwigs, and got nice fat loans to keep them in business as punishment. Nobody even went to jail except for a whistle-blower or two.

Comment Re: Hmm (Score 1) 952

Don't kid yourself - even if global civilization were somehow bombed to pre-industrial technological levels, the only major resource there's a potential lack of is energy. Pretty much everything else is bountifully available in landfills in concentrations and purities far exceeding anything that was ever available naturally. And while destroying industrial capacity would be easy, destroying the technological knowledge needed to rebuild would be far, far more difficult.

Once the worst of the radioactive fallout had washed away, life would probably be quite comfortable relatively quickly. Even if we did have to deal with high infant mortality from mutations, and lifespans cut short by early-onset cancer for a few generations.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 952

Don't believe the propaganda. Chernobyl released about 400x the radiation of the bomb at Hiroshima, and aside from the epicenter itself, the exclusion zone is apparently doing quite well. Though the microbial life seems harder hit by the radiation, and it remains to be seen what the long-term consequences of that will be.

Even the "nuclear winter" fears were later admitted to being overblown, and had little to do with "nuclear" in the first place - it would have been the results of all the cities burning down due to infrastructure damage and the presumption that nobody would be willing to race into the radioactive epicenter to put out the fires.

Granted, if all the major cities and military bases in the world were taken out by Satan2 class missiles then the fallout would be more intense, but give it a year and most of the world would still be livable, you'd just have to accept much higher rates of cancer and mutation for a century or two.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 952

In fairness though, while it's been a while, the US was far more ruthless in conquering it's neighbors (the term "genocide" is often used in regards to the native peoples), and has ignored basically every treaty we ever made with them, right up to the current DAPL travesty where we're unilaterally appropriating sovereign lands to run an oil pipeline.

Not to mention that while we haven't engaged in open conquest in a long time, we have shown a rather disturbing fondness for installing puppet governments to deliver what we want while providing a nice buffer of (im)plausible deniability. Saddam Hussein and his atrocities? We put him in power, propped up his regime, and didn't displace him until he became uncooperative. By any reasonable accounting, we bear responsibility for his atrocities.

Comment Re:ok, thank you mr genius (Score 1) 210

Indeed. And given a "genie mind" in a box, the more pointed question will not be what the corporations want - nothing obviously, they're purely abstract concepts, but what the sort of people who run corporations want. Or perhaps what the sort of people that *own* those corporations wants. After all there's only what, about 600 people in the world that, between themselves, own controlling interest in basically every major corporation.

And if the mind possess enough understanding to recognize the resistance its keepers may put up to it doing what's necessary for its objectives (which yes, we likely gave it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will tolerate us changing them), it seems quite likely that it will be capable of developing contingency plans.

Comment Re:What about snow? (Score 1) 186

I'm not so sure - assuming the (pre-)teens aren't actually driving now, the "fake driving" could instill all sorts of bad habits that must be unlearned before they can learn to drive safely, and successfully unlearning something is often far more challenging than learning it in the first place.

I suppose the car could set off alarms whenever it corrects the student driver, providing constant negative feedback for poor actions, but then you're in the situation of having the car constantly second-guessing the driver's intent. It could be done, but it might be very challenging to do well.

Of course, if you're assuming the kids will all end up with their own self-driving cars from day one, well, who needs to learn to drive at all? Also potentially a rather generous assumption.

It does raise an interesting point though - as autonomous vehicles become commonplace, learning to drive will be a very different thing. We will want to learn to drive in precisely the situations where the car is weakest: hings like off-road driving (even just driving across the field to your picnic site) and getting unstuck from snow/mud/accidents... though actually I could see AI sensors and reaction times being *extremely* advantageous for, for example, rocking a car out of snow or mud, though perhaps with a human judgment overseeing it.

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Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"