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Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 434

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 Huh? (Score 3, Interesting) 92

"A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you'd never even hear about it."

Huh? Maybe in the remote parts of Africa or some other place that was still stuck in the stone age. Maybe. In the parts of the worlds actually living in the (early) 20th century not so much.

""We're only crowded because we've crowded ourselves into cities. Try taking a train trip across the United States, or Europe or Asia or anywhere in the world. Ninety-nine percent of the land is not used... we don't want to use it because you don't want to be out in the boondocks if you don't have people to work and play with. That's already changing now that we have some level of virtual communication..."

Not in the US, or most of Europe, or a good chunk of Asia. Not used for housing or urban sprawl isn't the same as not used. And no, it's actually changing much - communication isn't the only issue, access to stuff (physical goods) is also important, as is access to experiences. And neither have markedly changed if you live in the actual boondocks. (I find most people who live in big cities have little idea what conditions are like outside of the metro area.)

When will computer geeks grasp that most of the human race actually enjoys the company of others and that there are actual economic reasons why people cluster?

Comment Re: They'll say anything (Score 1) 434

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) 434

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) 434

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) 61

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.

Submission + - WikiLeaks takes down DNC Chair after damaging release (cnn.com) 1

SonicSpike writes: Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday.

The Florida congresswoman's resignation — under pressure from top Democrats — comes amid the release of leaked emails showing DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary contest.

Submission + - How Some ISPs Could Subvert Your Local Network Security (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: You can see the problem. If your local net has typically lax security, and you don’t have your own firewall downstream of that ISP modem, the modem Wi-Fi security could be disabled remotely, your local network sucked dry late one night, and security restored by the morning. You might not even have a clue that any of this occurred.

Comment Star Trek BEER?!?! (Score 1) 91

WTF? Who are the marketing geniuses behind this? "Drink Star Trek Beer, just like the kind you DON'T see on the show."

The whole point of Star Trek is to determine how humanity can be the best it can be, and instead, the Federation of Beer (Canada, go figure), wants to sell beer to Star Trek fans. "Ha! Take that you know-it-all nit-picking trekkies! Have a beer and kill those brain cells. Star Wars Rulez, eh!

Comment Charging is a big issue (Score 2) 471

Bluetooth can work fine if you don't use something a lot, but headphones are the kind of thing you may wish to use for extended periods. I've never seen a BT device that isn't massive that has any staying power. Like I have a Plantronics Voyager Legend. This is a new, high end, and fairly large ear piece. It curves over your ear and has a unit that sits behind with electronics and a sizable battery in it. For all that, it is lucky to get maybe 6 hours of talk time fully charged (which will only get worse as the battery ages). Less if you use the high quality audio mode.

That's not great, and that is for a bigass part. You take something small, like the Earin phones one of our students has, and it is a bit over an hour if you are lucky. On the other hand my little Shure earbuds will work as long as the device feeding them will. Despite the cord, they are actually no larger to carry than the Plantronics earpeice as well. Oh, and they work with my computer, my phone, my receiver, and so on with no fiddling, just plug and go.

I don't hate BT audio devices, but earbuds have good reasons to exist.

Comment Re:Headphone Jack is Pretty Crappy (Score 1) 471

Ya unless Apple makes really shitty connectors on their products, I'm failing to see how this isn't a case of user error (or someone making shit up). I can't think of the last time I've seen a 3.5mm TRS plug fail. I make a lot of use of them between my personal devices for listening to music and connecting computers to capture/presentation setups at work. I really honestly can't remember when I last experienced one fail on me. I'm not saying it never happens, but it is rare enough that it isn't even a problem I consider. They are quite reliable, in no small part because they are dead fucking simple.

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