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Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 378

Yeah, seems everyone took out their camera that night to film either the rising fireball or the celebrations about it ;) The rebels have tried several times to assault it in the past but always been beaten back. Reports on why it exploded are conflicting; one early report suggested that a helicopter full of explosives crashed on a warehouse in the complex. Firefighters from Assad-controlled areas all over Aleppo were called in because the al-Safirah fire department was overwhelmed, but they couldn't get close due to the intensity of the flames and risk of further explosions. A number of people living in the vicinity of the factories were admitted to the hospital on poisoning symptoms from the fumes.

It's now an open question as to how much they're going to be able to salvage and get back in operation; no question that's going to be top priority for them at this point.

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 378

Oh, and I don't want to sound like the coalition hasn't done anything bad. They've actually had their worst incident in quite some time (perhaps the worst during this entire conflict) during the SDF siege of Manbij, after misidentifying a crowd as fleeing Daesh fighters; they killed dozens of civilians (including a number of children), with some reports over 80. That was about a week ago. Much of the Syrian opposition issued a unified demand that they stop the bombing (even though they're also fighting Daesh). They've long been very uncomfortable with how close the coalition is working with the SDF (Kurds, primarily) - they accuse the Kurds of ethnic cleansing arab villages in order to build "Rojava" (their Kurdish state in Syria)

I'm trying to think of the last time they specifically hit a hospital however. They recently captured the hospital in Manbij, but it wasn't bombed in the process.

(Honestly, if you asked the opposition the worst thing they'd done, the NySA would probably argue that it was abandoning them right as the assault on Al-Bukamal began, in order to pursue the Daesh convoy fleeing from Fallujah... they and their sleeper cells really got slaughtered because of that one)

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 5, Informative) 378

I follow the Syrian conflict very closely and there's a new hospital or clinic hit by airstrikes about once a week on average... sometimes more, sometimes less. It's not always clear which airforce (Syrian or Russian) is doing it, but more often than not when the distinction can be determined it's Russian. There was a multiple clinic hit in Idlib about a week ago, while an ambulance was hit in Aleppo 4 days ago.

It's really a meat grinder over there :(

A lot of the time the hits on civilian targets are accidental. Sometimes they're on purpose. Most of what Russia uses, and virtually all of what the Syrian air force uses, are "dumb bombs". For the past month the vast majority of Russia's air power has been directed at north Aleppo (Handaraat / al-Mallah, primarily), so there's been a great amount of white phosphorus and cluster bombs, but in denser-populated areas near Castello Road they use a lot more high explosives. So there's a lot of potential for accidental hits. On the other hand, in many cases it's hard to interpret the attacks as anything but deliberate attacks, particularly on hospitals that are treating wounded rebels - multiple hits on the same target, targets with no conflict in the immediate area, with no obvious targets of value nearby, etc. They do a lot of "double tap" hits on them as well.

Just in case anyone isn't aware... this isn't "ISIS" that they're focusing on. Daesh (ISIS) doesn't exist in Aleppo, let alone Idlib (further), let alone Latakia (even further), let alone the freaking Jordanian border which they've been bombing recently much to the anger of the Pentagon (whose "New Syrian Army" is there trying to take Al-Bukamal from Daesh and cut off Daesh traffic to and from Iraq). When they do bomb Daesh, it''s overwhelmingly in two areas: Palmyra and Deir ez Zour. The latter is a Syrian government pocket in the middle of Daesh territory that they've been struggling to hang onto for a long time, against constant assault. The former is well known. One exception: the government forces, with some Russian air support, tried an assault from Ithyria toward the Daesh city of al-Taqbah, but they were basically baited into a trap and suffered massive losses. They retreated back to Ithriya and haven't retried since then.

Oh, and while we're talking about Syria, two things of mention:

1) The massive "factory of death" southwest of al-Safira exploded last week, with a huge earthquake that rattled houses 50km away, was visible 75km away and audible 100km away. Hopefully that'll reduce the barrel bomb and elephant rocket attacks... at least somewhat...

2) There's a lot of chatter that Nusra is imminently going to break with al-Qaeda. This would be huge if it happens, but I'll trust it when I see it.

Comment Re:Here's more credible evidence of Trump-Russia t (Score 2) 378

A more assertive US? From the guy who wants the US to leave Ukraine to Russia, and overrode the Republican party on the platform issue? Stating that he wants to give Putin a free hand in Syria? Insists that there's no evidence that he kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries? The guy who's exchanged repeated back-and-forth praise with Putin on the campaign trail, with fawning language like "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond" and "a very bright and strong leader"... so much of a bromance that people in Eastern Europe have started painting murals? Are you talking about the same Donald Trump here?

Comment Re:XKCD Predicted this (Score 1) 60

The sad thing is that Spirit could still be with us today too if things had played out differently. When Spirit got stuck a lot of their early attempts to get out so that they could get to a good wintering grounds were in vain. However, right near the end they came up with a clever way to "swim" the wheels through the sand and were nearly out when winter hit and they had to leave it in a poor location... where it failed to wake up the next spring, most likely due to excessively low internal temperatures.

Curiosity is great, but the cost of Curiosity-style rovers is just so high. When I think of all that could be done with the Mars 2020 budget (Curiosity-style clone).... ugh. I would have rathered they make incremental improvements to a Spirit / Opportunity style design than a Curiosity one. Maybe more / larger radiothermal heaters so that they're not as cold-sensitive and improved wheels and flash storage, for example. Get their price down to ~$350M USD per mission (from $410M/rover for Spirit & Opportunity) rather than 2,1 billion USD per mission (aka Mars 2020, down from $2,5M for Curiosity). Send a new pair for $700M with new sets of instruments to new areas, save $1,4 billion, and put, say, $800M toward a new Titan mission and $600M to a new Venus mission.

I just don't like how Mars keeps becoming more and more of a money pit that sucks the funds from exploration of every other part of the solar system.

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 5, Informative) 467

So what's the objection to everyone using BT headsets? People hate wires today.

In no particular order:

  • Hitting pause on NetFlix, then hitting play again, and having no sound for the first two seconds, thus missing half a line of dialog
  • Relatively poor sound quality
  • Having a radio transmitter basically in my ear
  • Having another device to charge every day, and possibly more than once per day

That first one by itself is a showstopper for me. The rest just add more reasons to question the sanity of Apple's upper management. Not that I needed more reasons to question their sanity given that they're still trying to make the d**n things thinner even after they were forced to reengineer parts of the iPhone 6 Plus to fix bending problems....

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 4, Insightful) 467

This has been my experience as well. Not every jack fails - but it still happens more often than for any other jack type that I commonly use.

If that is true, then it is true because it is the jack that you use far more often than any other type of jack. I treat headphones like crap, and headphone jacks even more horribly. The last time I had one actually break was on a PowerBook 145 (where I broke at least two or three headphone jacks). Even with massive abuse, I haven't broken one in any hardware built in the past twenty years.

On my first iPhone, I did have one instance where the jack thought headphones were plugged in when they weren't. That took a little bit of jiggling with a pair of headphones to resolve. But at no point have I ever seen a modern jack break. Not in my gear, not in gear belonging to anyone I know.

I have, however, seen Lightning plugs break off in the jacks. Not only will you lose your headphones when that happens, but also the ability to charge your phone. On the plus side, Apple is going to sell a LOT more AppleCare plans after people break their third or fourth Lightning jack. So my stock loves the idea....

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 5, Insightful) 467

Indeed, I've never had a modern 3,5mm headphone port wear out. I've had a lot of micro-USB ports wear out. : And it's only logical that would be the case, the electrodes on the headphone port are far more robust than those on a micro-USB port.

I know that the standard response to "3,5mm port removal is the feature that nobody requested" is "it'll be painless and we'll be able to use the extra space to more useful internal hardware without having to make the phone bigger". But just ignoring the "painless" thing... how much more "capability" can you add in such a little space? That's enough for what, maybe 5% more battery time?

Maybe I'm wierd, but I couldn't give a rat's arse how thick a phone is... I just want it to be robost and not a big headache.

Comment Re: Read some Engels (Score 1, Insightful) 464

Marx and Engels big mistake was in not realizing that despite the abuse heaped upon them, the powers that be at that time recognized at the very least that the notion of class struggle as a driver of history had at least some merits. Marx fully expected a series of revolutions in the latter half of the 19th century, and in some cases it almost came true, but then suddenly you see several nations, even the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for goodness sake, enacting liberal constitutions. In Britain, in particular, within 20 years of the Communist Manifesto's release, the Reform Act of 1867 greatly expanded the voting franchise, enfranchising a large number of working class members. This inoculated a good deal of Europe against any kind of Socialist Revolution.

What went really wrong for Marx's economic and political theories was that first Communist states were fundamentally agrarian states; Russia and China. These, even by Marx's own theories, were not yet at a point of economic evolution that they should become Communist, and in fact, the Communist rulers of these states, to keep with Marxist ideas of evolution, had to introduce vast industrial programs, almost trying to create a Bourgeois middle class just so they could fulfill the checkboxes on Communist revolution. The industrialized states that became Communist were pretty much the states that the Soviet Union forced into its sphere after the Second World War, and who had initially gained their industrial capacity through fundamentally capitalist means.

No one has ever actually seen a Communist revolution the way Marx foresaw such a revolution happening, mainly because, as I say above, the Western nations, whether intentionally or by accident, liberalized sufficiently that the working classes could join political parties, or form new ones (like the Labour Party in Britain). I like to imagine that Disraeli, crafty fox that he was, was at least partially cognizant of the potential for a revolution if Westminster didn't let at least some of the lower classes in, and it wasn't all about just taking the piss out of Gladstone.

Comment Re:Read some Engels (Score 3, Insightful) 464

You are aware that the last three or so generations, at least in the West, are overall the richest human beings that have ever lived. Yes, some are a lot richer than others, but the mean still is so much greater than the past that it's pretty stunning. Only the most impoverished go without food, and even the relatively poor have what can only be described as luxuries.

That's not to say any of it is perfect, or that there aren't people with boatloads of money that really should have that money. There are issues surrounding tax shelters (legal or illegal), corporate influence on politics, and many other issues, but to imagine those just go away because you produce some new economic system is absurd. The one thing Communism did teach the world is that there is always a way for people to get rich and use their wealth to influence the system. Changing the rules just means the greedy and powerful find some new way to game the system, or, if you get rid of the wealthy, some new group rises to the challenge and supplants them.

So I'm all for a fairer society, but we've seen enough "utopian" systems to realize that there is no such thing as Utopia, and trying to bring up the lower classes by bringing down the upper classes never ends up the way you thought it would.

As The Who so aptly put it, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

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