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Comment Re:He's missing the point. (Score 1) 84

It would be nice if people could learn to think in terms of threats that fell somewhere between "safe to ignore" and "extinction level event". Or could distinguish between "extreme and expensive" responses and "effective" ones.

9/11 could have been prevented by simple, conservative and inexpensive countermeasures. After 9/11 politicians droned on about how "9/11 changed everything," but the cold sober fact was that it in fact changed nothing. It just showed that some of the things sensible people had already been telling us to do (like reinforcing cockpit doors or getting agencies to work together despite institutional rivalries) really did need to be done. Instead "9/11 changed everything" became the rallying cry for every pet scheme that had heretofore been correctly dismissed as too expensive, hare-brained, or just plain dumb.

Which doesn't change the fact that something needed to be done. Here's the lesson I think we should take into this infrastructure debate: we should take sensible and conservative steps to secure infrastructure against terrorism now, before events put foolish ones on the table.

Comment Re:Good but... (Score 1) 92

Or... what if anytime anyone called a residential number, a nickel was transferred from the caller's account to the callee's account.

That wouldn't stop anyone from making a call where an actual person is likely to be involved; the labor costs for a three minute conversation would swamp that. But it would discourage people from robocalling a hundred thousand people in order to turn up a handful of suckers.

And the public wouldn't have to pay a regulator to try to track down these boiler room operations.

Comment Re:Agrument in favor of modularity (Score 1) 85

I don't have to do anything. Even stored under ideal circumstances li-ion batteries lose capacity.

What matter is capacity relative to demand. In a phone like the Droid Maxx from a few years ago with plenty of surplus battery the phone will still be usable four years later. But something like a Samsung Galaxy S6 barely has enough battery to make it through the day when brand new and is pretty much unusable two years later even under ideal conditions.

Comment Re:There's a lot more iron much closer... (Score 3, Informative) 233

And there's some twenty million tons of gold dissolved in the Earth's oceans. Jules Verne made it the source of Captain Nemo's incredible wealth.

To put twenty million tons of gold in perspective, all the gold that has ever been mined by humans totals up to about 180 thousand tons. To put in another perspective: sure, it's gold, but at a concentration of thirteen billionths of a gram per liter of seawater it's worthless unless you have unlimited time and energy to extract it.

That's the problem with asteroid mining in general. Until the cost of changing an object's momentum goes down drastically it's not worth doing. If Pysche were a 1000 kg block of pure, refined platinum (market price: $34 million) you'd be hard-pressed to retrieve it and return it to Earth at a profit. Which is not to say asteroid mining is a bad idea; but first things first: you've got to reduce the price of interplanetary propulsion by a couple orders of magnitudes. One thing that never happens in a sci-fi asteroid mining scenario is the hero worrying about running out of gas. Propulsion in stories is always practically limitless and free of charge. Real propulsion will never be that good, but it could get good enough.

Comment Re:May I suggest ... (Score 1) 63

That's pretty expensive. There may be some prepaid plans that are worse ($30 for 1Gb+unlimited V&T is probably hard to beat), but once you get to the regular subscriptions from the big four, especially family plans, it's really poor value.

I was always surprised Google structured Fi that way, it struck me that building a phone service around a price schedule is doomed to failure. Sooner or later everyone else changes their prices (or what you get for those prices) and suddenly your innovative pricing doesn't look so great any more.

Comment I still say... (Score 1) 81

If you want to know what will happen, at the 6 month mark you have to tell them that the trajectory for mars orbit insertion is too dangerous, and they will need to take the free-return trip which is 18 months back, and the rationing of supplies and provisions has to start immediately. After they eat the second person, you tell the reaming crew that the Mars gravity assist was not completely successful and, while we're doing what we can to create a rendezvous rescue mission, there'a a 75% chance that they will miss Earth gravity capture on the return leg by more than the allowable and their trajectory following the miss will take them just beyond Venus' orbit, but that they will have to ensure excessive heat and will die slowly as they cook in the capsule.

Comment Re:I think civility is going to go out the window (Score 2) 1401

3) The right to abortion. First off, this is a legal right, which Republicans have been trying to whittle away in a very sneaky manner for decades. For a party that is supposedly all about "law and order", and a party who considers itself pious, religious and morally upright (I know, I know), this is hardly honourable. At least attempts to outright repeal Roe v. Wade via Constitutional amendment are honest and forthright.

You guys complain when we try to whittle away gun rights; you really can't complain if you do the same thing with abortion.

But I digress.

Let's say you're a "good person" who is "pro-life". You believe human life is sacred. So you believe abortion should be illegal.

Sounds great, right?

Except if you try to actually apply science to this, it all falls apart. First off, a human fetus is no more sentient to pain than, say, a baby monkey, and certainly less aware of pain than the adult cows and pigs you kill to eat your food. If you claim abortion should not be allowed because it causes pain to a fetus, you should be a vegetarian, if not a vegan. But you probably aren't.

And then there's that whole pesky "self-determination" thing. Again. What you're saying is "I believe that OTHER PEOPLE should not have the right to make their own choices about their own lives" (or, rather, their own fetuses' lives.) See, us liberals aren't stupid. We know that a fetus is alive. We just recognise that it's a living FETUS, not a living PERSON. We have the basic understanding of scientific principles to recognise that a fetus is not a baby, and we believe that, up until a point (or if the life of the mother is in danger, at ANY point) the person bearing a fetus should have the right to choose whether or not to continue to bear said fetus.

It isn't murder, because a fetus isn't a baby. It's a fetus. We recognise this, because we aren't blinded by religious dogma. But you... well... ARE.

And as a result, you attempt to force every woman who gets pregnant-- with or even without her consent-- to carry any resulting child[ren] to term, regardless of her OWN WISHES for her OWN BODY. Some of you even go so far as to say there should be no exception for the life of the mother, which is basically saying "I'd rather a sapient woman die for the slight chance of a nonsapient fetus surviving". And yet, most of the conservative people I've talked to are pro-death-penalty (and it's been proven that plenty of innocent people get executed), so... again. Good people? No, not really. You really aren't.

Let's look at the OTHER end of life, shall we? Most "pro-life" people are against assisted suicide. You claim that you are against abortion because it causes pain and suffering to the (again, non-sapient, not-yet-a-baby) fetus, yet you are completely okay with, say, cancer patients being forced against their will to suffer in endless pain rather than being allowed to kill themselves.

Because you're... good... people? No... no, you really aren't, and yes, us liberals are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT to see your hypocrisy as hateful.

Let's go on.

4) Universal healthcare! Oh, but this is a good one. I know the "conservative" argument backwards and forwards. "You're entitled to buy your own healthcare; you're not entitled to force me to pay for anyone else's healthcare." Which is just a fancy way of saying "if you can't afford healthcare, then I am okay with you dying." You brush this under the rug by saying things like "if you can't afford healthcare, you should appeal to charities" or "if you can't afford healthcare, you can get a loan", but this is, again, contrary to reality. THE REALITY IS THAT THERE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT AFFORD HEALTHCARE, AND UNLESS HEALTHCARE IS UNIVERSAL, SOME PEOPLE -WILL- FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS.

But you can't be arsed to care, because "muh money!" You'd literally rather let some people suffer, die, or go without healthcare than be forced to... have a bit higher of a tax bill.

So... not quite "seething wraith" material, but you're definitely a hateful asshole, yes.

I could go on and on, but my point is, basically, that nowadays the definition of "conservative" in the US is basically "the party of selfishness." You regularly ignore the findings of science in favour of religious dogma; you preach selfishness as a virtue (thanks a bundle, Ayn Rand); you are all for self-determination when it's YOUR self-determination and those of people who believe JUST LIKE YOU. But for the rest of us... well. You really don't care.

Comment Re:I think civility is going to go out the window (Score 2) 1401

Hi. You said: "I would love to have polite, civil discussions, but the left is going to need to stop shouting down, deplatforming, and physically attacking everyone who disagrees with them, and understand that it's possible to disagree with leftist politics without being a seething wraith of pure hatred wrapped in human skin. I don't see this happening any time soon though."

Let's look at the bulk of the left's platform from recent years, and let's see how possible it is to be a "good person" who opposes it.

1) Equal marriage rights for gay couples. If you're against this, then you believe that certain civil contracts should not be allowed to people who love the "wrong" gender[s] of person. Literally the best (and most common) defence of "straight only marriage" is "it's necessary for reproduction." Except the overwhelming majority of anti-gay-marriage people believe that celibate, sterile, or post-menopausal straight couples should be allowed to marry, so that puts the lie to that. Leaving... only bigotry. "Pure hatred"? Maybe not, but definitely bigotry. (To say nothing of how primitive the "marriage is about reproduction and only reproduction" notion is, but that's more of an opinion, so hey.)

2) The right of transgender people (like myself) to use the restroom they feel comfortable with, and not the restroom OTHER PEOPLE would feel more comfortable with them urinating/defecating in. If you disagree with this, then you disagree with a small and often-maligned minority's right to self-determination. The only valid reason to do this is to claim that it puts cis ("non-trans") people at risk-- so this is precisely what "conservatives" (bigots) do.

Except that's bullshit. Trans people use the restrooms of our choice every day, every week, every year, and we don't make a habit of victimising cis people in the restroom. IF WE DID, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SPLASHED ACROSS EVERY HEADLINE IN THE NATION.

At this point in the "debate", the "conservative" will usually say "well, if we let 'legitimate' trans women into ladies' rooms, then plain old ordinary men will go too, just to harass women!" Except harassment, voyeuristic acts, rape, etc. are ALREADY illegal, and-- to use the "conservative's" favourite argument about gun laws, "criminals aren't known for following laws", so if men wanted to do illegal things, they'd ALREADY BE DOING IT.

Leaving, again... you guessed it! Bigotry. Maybe you're not "a seething wraith", but you're not exactly bastion of respect for other peoples' self-determination.

Shall I go on? Oh, but I will.

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...though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"