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Comment I have doubts....many doubts (Score 1) 275

This strikes me as a well-intentioned, but utterly impractical concept. I suspect the originators haven't paid much attention to actual world politics. There are *numerous* places on Earth, with actual resident populations that struggle to gain acceptance and recognition in the community of nations. This isn't even as plausible an attempt at nation building as Northern Cyprus, Transnistria or Somaliland. This is more akin to the Principality of Sealand. Namely, a place intended from its very inception to base its existence on a loophole of international law. And; as with Sealand, if this orbital micronation in any way steps on the toes of a real nation, it will quickly cease to exist.

On of the biggest challenges to public acceptance isn't having a large enough population of people who claim citizenship. Rather; it is the universal assumption that a nation must have a set physical location not already claimed by a bigger/more powerful pre-existing nation and have people already living on it who wish to be sovereign. I don't know of any cases where a ship or aircraft was declared to be sovereign, which would be the closest example. (There is the case of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands who was born in an Ottawa hospital, but in that case, it was Canada, an existing recognized sovereign nation, temporarily declaring a small portion of its territory to be extra-territorial. And was only done because she was a) effectively a temporary refugee of WWII and b) In the line of succession of another sovereign and allied state)

All in all, this seems similar to a RPG player who has found what he or she thinks is a loophole in a rarely referred to rulebook or rule supplement and thinks that this obscure reference should trump how the game is normally played or how the current quest is playing out. With a good GM, such rules-lawyers get hammered pretty quick. Hell, in a good group, quite often the other players will cooperate in squelching the rules-lawyer. In real world politics, I can't see gaming the system to be a viable strategy...

Comment Re:Genesis 6:3 NIV (Score 1) 290

For what it's worth, I seem to remember recent accounts of analysis of the Dead Sea scrolls and older analysis of the Bible that indicate that, if anything, the sacred texts changed remarkably little over the centuries. Live Science has a short article on the "virtual unwrapping" of the En-Gedi scroll which includes a big chunk of what the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Bible call Leviticus.

My take on this is that, being considered sacred texts by Jews and Christians, great care was taken in accurately copying the actual words over the years. The changes come from two sources: First is when the existing text is translated to another language. (e.g. Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew into Latin and then Latin into English.) It's my understanding that the Jewish texts have undergone much fewer translations over the centuries than the Christian ones. The second cause of misunderstandings or changes in the ext isn't in the words themselves, but in the changing use of words in living languages over that time. (e.g "Suffer not the witch to live" was actually an injunction against poisoners. I forget if it was in the original Aramaic in in the early Latin, but one of those languages used the equivalent term to describe anyone who used potions and herbs in harmful ways. European pagan practitioners of what is today called Wicca was NOT what they original writers were talking about)

Comment Re:Hard enough? (Score 3, Informative) 111

Keys aren't commonly made of steel and haven't been made of iron since the abandonment of skeleton keys for general use. Most keys are brass or aluminium with both being ~ a 3 on the Mohs scale. ( I use Mohs here because we're talking about contact with alleged sapphire and gemstones are usually rated on the Mohs scale, not Brinnell, Rockwell or Vickers) Thus a key should just skate across a smoothly polished screen surface if it indeed sapphire. In fact, if there are existing scratches on the screen glass, those scratches should mark the key!

There are two caveats though:

1) This only accounts for the keys themselves, not the spring steel keyring that is almost universally used to organize keys nor any keychains, fobs or charms.

2) There are several aspects lumped together under the term "hardness", scratch resistance, rebound hardness and resistance to deformation under a static load. A materials rating under the Mohs scale doesn't cover all of that, so only gives you one part of the picture. And as far as I know, no general purpose hardness test covers glancing/gouging impacts where the velocity of impact is as an equally important component of the tests. A straw can embed itself in wood if it's going fast enough after all. (velocity of the impacting object IS quite important in armour testing, so those tests are careful to take speed and angle of impact into consideration.

Comment Re:OH fucking whaaaaa (Score 3, Informative) 226

Once again I am seeing a prejudicial and negative opinion in a member of the public based on incomplete and/or outdated information. It is true that Asperger Syndrome as a separate diagnosis was removed from the DSM-V in 2013. However, what happened wasn't removing the condition completely as being invalid. Rather; it got lumped in with the autistic spectrum. Current thinking is that Asperger's is a form of high functioning autism distinguished from other forms by the child having normal or above average language skills. At one time, the condition wasn't even heard of. It was only after many years of study by mental health professionals around the world that Dr Hans Asperger's observations and classification was accepted and added to the DSM. Merging it with autism just represents the current level of refinement in classification and understanding of the disorder. Since we know nothing of the root causes of autistic spectrum symptoms, it is quite possible that the category will get split up into new labels as we learn more. (maybe, as an example, one type of autism is found to be caused by a neurochemical imbalance while another is caused by functional changes in the neuron structures in the cognitive centres and yet another caused by changes in structure of the hindbrain.)

Your post also reflects a common misunderstanding of the importance and proper use of the DSM. The DSM is first a method of classifying mental disorders. In this it resembles taxonomy. And as with taxonomy, having a species move from one genus or family to another doesn't mean that species doesn't exist, having a described animal move from being a distinct species to being considered a sub-species of another, better understood species doesn't invalidate the observations of the people who first described that sub-species. From there; it then acts kind of like a field guide for mental disorders for the mental health professional working in the field. The DSM is not meant to be exhaustive and it can only be as definitive as current understanding allows. This common misunderstanding tends to create a lot of hardship for people dealing with mental disorders or learning disabilities because it is often assumed by teachers, insurance companies, friends and family that if it isn't in the DSM, it isn't real.

Finally; for what it's worth, the DSM isn't the only guide for professionals in defining a patients mental health issues. There is also the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. (the ICD) And Asperger Syndrome is still listed separately there.

Comment Re:Spectrum... (Score 3, Informative) 226

There is a wealth of information out there to be had. It doesn't take much in the way of Google-fu to come up with the Autism Society of America or the National Autism Association Both of those are good places to start.

For your specific situation; I have a few things to consider, bits of advice:

1) It's called a spectrum for a reason. A child with autism may be only mildly affected or severely affected. Also; it's quite common for a child to have some traits or measured levels that qualify as autistic, while they may be normal or even above normal in other ways. Each kid is different. Thus, they may be considered severely affected on one axis, moderately so on another and totally fine on one or more others. This may explain why your sons teachers think he is fine. The attributes they see are within the normal range, whereas you see the bigger picture.

2) Proper testing and diagnosis starts with your family physician or pediatrician. You need to set up a 1/2 hr appt with him or her and explain why you think your child has an issue. Your doctor will then hopefully refer you and your child to a specialist in developmental disorders

2) Ultimately, autism is a diagnosis of exclusion. An average child goes through a year or two of testing before a diagnosis of autism is reached, because there are a large number of other learning disabilities or developmental disorders that share similar symptoms with autism. You need to prepare yourself to be patient during this phase.

3) There is no medication, no regime of diet or therapy is that is a "cure" for autism. (indeed, a large segment of the autistic community argues there is no *need* for a cure, they are fine the way they are...) What exists are teaching and coaching programs to help the child consciously master the soft skills the neurotypical majority take for granted. There are medications which can help buffer the secondary symptoms (anxiety, depression, co-morbid sleep disorders etc) but for the most part it is the patient teaching that creates the change, not the meds.

4) The teaching and coaching isn't just for the kids. Where I live, there is an excellent program (under the auspices of local community mental health groups) to teach the parents, and in some cases, the siblings how to understand and interact with the affected child. If such a program exists in your area, I highly recommend looking into it for your whole family.

5) You will constantly encounter people who have formed opinions about autistic kids based on incomplete or outdated information. The withdrawn rocking child is the archetypical face of autism, but one that only describes the most severely affected. (and, as described elsewhere in this thread, a symptom of an autistic kid who is overwhelmed, hasn't been given the mental tools to cope with excessive stimuli.) It is possible that your child's teacher has the assumption that all autistic kids are that withdrawn and unsocial archetype. And let us not forget what the other gentleman (ourlovecanlastforeve 795111) above blasted. There are many many people who think the misbehaviours, weird obsessions and compulsions are the product of bad parenting and they are quick to judge you accordingly.

Comment Re:Spectrum... (Score 5, Informative) 226

You have no idea what you're talking about. Worse yet, you aren't even aware of just how poor your knowledge of the subject really is.

Let me establish my credentials before I attempt to educate you.*

I am on the autistic spectrum myself (Asperger's), I worked for several years as a Big Brother, Personal support Worker and in-class Educational Assistant specializing in autistic and behavioural modification programs. I have two sons both on the spectrum and one foster son with a learning disability that isn't autistic, but shares many symptoms of spectrum disorders. As a result, I have literally decades of experience working with autism, as well as the medical and educational systems doing what can be done for children and youths on the spectrum.

1) ALL kids pick their nose at some point and virtually all adults do as well. All we really teach kids is to a) do it privately if possible and b) not to eat what they extract. Parents of autistic kids face the challenge that the child won't stop doing it whenever they feel the need unless you can give them a sensible reason why. Telling them it's rude, disgusting or whatever won't work. Nor will "because I said so" But explanations about how mucus contains a lot of bacteria and that nose picking spreads germs, risking making other people sick does work. (with one exception: If nose picking happens to be one of their "stimming" behaviours then you can't teach them to stop doing it. Instead you have to focus on managing the stress, boredom or external sensory input that is causing them to stim in reaction.)

2) Autistic kids often love video games even more than the neurotypical kids because it allows them to focus on one thing. The rules are very clear and consistent. It also provides a constantly varying but still predictable level of stimulation. Forcing them to just go outside and seek out playmates the same way the other kids do is like tossing a non-swimmer into a pool and telling them to swim the way everyone else is doing. Autistic children just don't have the skill-set to do that. Most people have an inherent or latent ability to socialize. Autistic people don't. They have to learn social skills on a conscious level. Many autistic kids can learn to play with the other children, but it takes an adult to properly frame and explain the rules to the child and much practice before they are comfortable with it. There is usually a lengthy period of adult supervision and coaching required. In the same way, attending school or holding a job presents enormous challenges to the autistic. School can be a source of huge stress to an autistic child. The structure of set class times and seeing the same teacher(s) every day at the same times is good for the autistic. But being proactive at answering questions, working on joint projects, even simply navigating the more chaotic environment of the hallways and playground can be difficult, even overwhelming. Let's not forget that children are very very good at picking up on who is different in some way and can be very insensitive, even cruel when it comes to dealing with kids outside the norm. Autistic kids get picked on a LOT because they are different. Forcing them to go play unsupervised in the playground is setting them up to be the victim. And since autistic kids are not good at expressing themselves, they often bottle up their frustrations and anger at being bullied until they explode and go postal on a kid. And all too often, teachers don't see the bullying, but they DO see the inappropriate explosion of violence, so autistic kids get into trouble more often and tend to get more severe punishments if the staff are not properly trained on the challenges of teaching autistic kids. 3) You are correct that if one can play minecraft, one can work a cash register. But that is a very simplistic statement. It totally ignores all of the other soft skills a person needs in order to be a cashier. Soft skills which go far beyond making eye contact and saying "have a nice day" I might add. If one is autistic, how do you even land that job in the first place? Autistic people suck at eye contact, explaining themselves, putting the best spin on their skill-set and fielding the sort of "there is no 'right' answer" tricky questions interviewers like to throw out there. Unless properly coached during their school years, they won't understand the need to dress well for the interview either. If they get the job, they would require that the store manager spend more one on one time teaching them how to operate the machine, with more one on one time every time the process gets changed. A good cashier develops a sense for when to cut a customer a break and when to get a manager to make that decision instead. (expired coupons, 10 cents short of the total, price matching a competitor etc) This sort of subtle judgement is a major challenge for many autistic people, particularly the more severely affected.

Comment but pretty cold from what I've read (Score 1) 218

I've read elsewhere that Proxima b that it has been calculated that the average temperature there is -40C. (which wikipedia seems to confirm) And yet the same article I'd read said that liquid water was possible, and hence, life was possible as well. By comparison; I think the average surface temperature of Earth is 16C. So, if there is liquid water on Proxima b, then it must be in a pretty slender equatorial zone.

Comment On a more serious note... (Score 1) 162

All gay jokes aside, I kind of think there might be an opportunity there for some high quality hackivism. I'm thinking that a skilled individual or group, who has access to some good North Korean translation could use this as an opportunity to post videos that give at least a few North Koreans a glimpse of what the rest of the world is like. The ideal video(s) would be subtle, things like going a wee bit over the top with praise for Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un or referring to the higher standard of living enjoyed by South Korea only to denounce its perceived "decadence" and claim that the suffering caused by Juche only makes the North Korean people stronger and morally "pure".

Given some of the insanity we've seen out of official North Korean media, a sophisticated satire could easily pass for an official press release. The better the hoax video is crafted, the longer it will take the authorities to figure out that it isn't an official release by some other department in the government and take it down.

I figure, as long as the culture in North Korea seems bent on slow self destruction, we might as well see if we can give it a bit of help. The sooner the North Korean regime collapses, the better it will be for the North and South Korean people.

One question remains though: It's well known that North Korea maintains its own national Intranet and only approved people are allowed to use it. Does anyone know just how well connected that Intranet is to the world at large?

Comment Re:How durable? (Score 1) 160

As an interim fix, I'd suggest you install some roof de-icing cables. Yes, it will use a fair bit of electrical power, but in my opinion, being able to handle ice dams automatically are easily worth the expenditure. Raking the roof does accelerate the wear and tear on the roof after all, because of the way it knocks the embedded gravel off traditional asphalt shingles. Plus, dealing with ice dams manually requires that you be home to do it.

Comment Re:How durable? (Score 2) 160

Since most photovoltaic cells have a glass or polycarbonate top layer, I would think that you wouldn't have to rake snow any more. Depending on the slope of your roof of course. Like people with metal or slate roofs, especially steep ones, you'd be more worried about installing snow guards to keep the snow up there, and not avalanching on top of people. (I once saw a homeless man get clobbered by a mass of ice and snow that fell off the steep slate roof of the church he was standing beside. The unfortunate gentleman did not survive the experience)

Come to think of it, because of UV considerations, I would assume that any roof top application of photovoltaic panels would use glass instead of some plastic. You have to assume similar life expectancies as with other roofing materials after all (10 yrs min, usually 25 to 50 IIRC) and even UV resistant plastics discolour and even become brittle over those sorts of time frames.

Speaking as a former roofer, my recommendation for most residential applications would be to install this new roofing and place snow guards, artificial dormers or roof crickets over every entrance way. I would go with dormers or crickets over entrances because that would still let the snow shed from the glass surfaces naturally. Thus; you would minimize how often you had to go out and clean the roof. Light dustings or ice could still accumulate, and with that the problem would be cutting down on PV output. My ideal PV roof solution would include embedded wires that heat the surface to just above freezing temps, either automatically, or manually. Anyone who drives in snowy regions knows what a big difference those wires in the back glass of their vehicle make when it comes time to clean the car before heading to work...

Comment Re: True (Score 2) 120

I think you may misunderstand the entire point of a "service" like Facebook. Facebook doesn't exist to provide friends and family a way to communicate, share media, or to play casual games. There are many many other places where those functions can be provided, in a decentralized way. Facebooks raison d'etre is the harvesting, collating, analyzing and then selling the vast amounts of personal marketing data people can be so easily persuaded to provide.

Playing Farmville, private messaging, tagging photos, all of that is just bait in the trap, with your personal data being the "fur" Facebook gathers for profit.

I hold the concept of Privacy in high regard. On the other hand, I recognize that any free thing needs to be paid for by somebody That's why, despite the occasional annoyance factor, I avoid using ad-blocking software for most of my browsing. When the marketing efforts get too annoying, I block them as best I can. But when it gets as egregiously, offensively, frightenly bad as Facebook, I drop out altogether and urge everyone I can influence to drop out as well. (one of the reasons I loathe Facebook as I do is because I don't have to have a profile there, I don't have to have accepted the terms of service, for the company to accumulate an awful lot of personal information about me. My less clued-in friends and family will happily, and more or less obliviously, tag me in photos, provide my email address to Facebook partners so they can send invites and so on.

Comment Re:Now With Advertising! (Score 1) 164

I'd like to add two additional criteria on an and/or basis:

*Enough wide spread adoption that I don't have to coax all my existing contacts to migrate to the new system.


*Also be a multi-protocol application like Pidgin or Trillian. That way I can still keep in touch with those who haven't yet, will not or can not migrate.

One reason I stuck with MSN messenger so long is that I had several friend who had locked down desktops at work and so could only use Windows Messenger that came built into XP. These days I am using Pidgin for the most part. I only use Skype for Linux because the Skype video call function in Pidgin doesn't work very well. The only thing I miss these days using a multi-protocol client instead of the dedicated ones is the ability to easily share files in the chat. But these days, with Dropbox, big email inbox sizes and so on, that just isn't really a big problem.

Comment Re:Now With Advertising! (Score 1) 164

Not allowing Skype for Linux 4.3.37 to make calls is going to be a huge deal for me. I'd happily upgrade to a newer version if one existed. Thing is, an alpha release doesn't count as a newer version to me. Especially since TFA has this little gem smack in the middle of it:

As you may have guessed by the name, Skype for Linux Alpha is not a fully functioning Skype client as of yet.

Further down, there is a link to a help page with the available features. Looks like everything I use, common things, are taken away in the alpha and only one new thing is being added.... Skype for Linux feature list

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