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Comment Re:More US warmongering (Score 2, Interesting) 755

Right. But since when was "we could not get approval to do it our way" a valid reason to do away with international law?

Mind you, this is not to say that under certain circumstances, it isn't permissible to say "fuck it", and just do what you have to do. But to me, it would not seem that all possible options had been exhausted before the use of deadly force.

Also, if the images that are emerging from the airbase are anything to go by, the airstrikes seem to have fallen well short of the alleged goal of totally disabling the base. Which, interestingly, might or might not have been the purpose all along, Trump-style. Do something to be able to say you tried, and intentionally fuck up so you don't hurt your friends too much.

Comment Re:More US warmongering (Score 1, Interesting) 755

The devil is in the details, though. For instance, their point about all the Sarin stockpile of the Syrian government being in the form of binary weapons. Which would not yield active Sarin when accidentally hit during an airstrike.

Sure, that makes sense. Iff it was Sarin that was originally from Syrian government stocks that was hit. Could be, could perfectly well be.

But what if someone was storing non-binary Sarin (from whatever source) in a building there. Properly made non-binary Sarin has a shelf life of around 5 years, or so they say. Now anyone reasonably sane would prefer binary C-weapons for safety reasons - but they are harder to make than plain Sarin. Would it be inconceivable for rebels (who do have chemical engineers in their ranks) to make some, to provoke precisely the reaction we are seeing now?

Not sure - maybe the whole thing was a Syrian govt. airstrike after all. But there is a reason that military action normally requires international agreement. Say, a UN resolution, or something. Unilaterally striking under such unclear circumstances hardly helps pacifying the region.

Comment Re:More US warmongering (Score 2) 755

The thing is, if this was a false flag operation (which I'm not saying it was, btw), it would not have been a really complicated one. Release some Sarin in an area that is currently being subjected to Syrian government airstrikes. Done.

All you need for this are one, two operatives who can move in rebel territory. And some Sarin, of course - but obtaining some is hardly an obstacle for any serious state-level actor who would like to influence things in Syria to move in a direction they fancy. Such an operation is hardly worthy of more than one, two paragraphs in a Tom Clancy novel.

Again: not saying this is what happened. Just that it would have been a no-brainer to pull off, for a large number of state-level actors in this war.

Comment Correct me if I'm wrong... (Score 3, Interesting) 86

...but would it not also have been an option to slingshot Cassini out of the local system of Saturn altogether? (say, via a close fly-by of Titan, or something) To set it on some really long-shot trajectory across the solar system, from which it could conceivably be collected in a few decades once we get the hang of proper space propulsion?

That way, a truly historic artefact could have been preserved, without risking contamination of Saturn's moons?

Comment What about hidden cost? (Score 5, Insightful) 267

Does this survey properly factor in things like healthcare and retirement costs?

Because sure, in Western Europe you earn half as much as in the US - but with that salary, you usually already have health insurance, retirement and free education for your kids covered (minus university, which is not free in a number of countries).

These little details could conceivably tilt the balance in favour of the lower salary.

Comment Re:What if the "bullshit" is actually true? (Score 2, Informative) 444

Well, the thing is, if you were either working in the telecom industry back then, or for the military, you already got more than a passing inkling that said pervasive monitoring claims were at least not total bullshit. But corporate and military secrecy made sure that hardly anyone at the time was able to walk out of the building they worked in, and had anything actionable to show to anybody. Besides, in the era before the internet, it was much harder to actually spread information so quickly that the genie could not be put back in the lamp.

Or simply put: even back then, a lot of people had fairly solid indications that these crazy theories were, well, not all that crazy. But without the internet, knowledge about this usually stayed compartmentalised, and no one cared.

For instance, I had spent some time in the military in the late 80ies/early 90ies. And then went on to study computer science. Even back then, I knew that a lot of this was going on. You know who was absolutely and totally apathetic to all this, in spite of me saying more than I probably should have? Everyone at the CS department where I got my master's degree. Literally no one cared. And these were the people who had the technical background to see that what I was saying made some sense, and was not taken from thin air. But no one cared.

Same thing now, actually - except that the internet lets the few who do care gather and connect.

Comment Re:Ingenuity ftw (Score 1) 118

For at least some of them: by the magnetisation they have?

Before you moderate this as stupid circular reasoning - consider that you could, at least conceivably, pull a tree-ring like stunt here. For some layers, you might be able to determine the date, via these pottery artefacts. And you might be able to interpolate the others from these data points.

"Might" is of course a very important qualifier here.

Comment Re:One more data point... (Score 1) 77

Well, sure, no such station currently exists. But there is science fiction of the "we could do it if someone just ponied up enough $$$" variety, and then there is the other sort ("we just need to invent anti-gravity, and we are all set").

And to me, a rotation space station would seem to squarely fall into the first camp - unless there are some fundamental engineering issues I am not aware of. But my assumption is that all that is keeping us from building something like that, and putting it in orbit, is the combination of the staggering price tag, and the questionable utility of a low orbit space habitat. As in: it would cost astronomical sums of money to build - but for what do we need this sort of thing, exactly?

Comment One more data point... (Score 1) 77

...to confirm that long term space travel will require artificial gravity of some sort. Fair enough, it should hardly come as a surprise that if you send a bunch of premium monkeys evolved for life deep down in a gravity well into long term zero G, Trouble Will Ensue.

But we have at least one seemingly workable idea of how to do this, so this is not a deal breaker to interplanetary travel. Rotating spaceships of some sort (cylinders, wheel-type habitats) don't require much in terms of science fiction to pull off, and should cover this problem nicely.

It does seem, though, that no one has any even medium term plans to pull anything of the sort off. At least I haven't seen any concrete plans to build any rotating space stations - all I ever came across were hypothetical studies of some sort. But my guess is that this is only because the ISS was already gigantically expensive, and is not used all that intensively. So successor space stations are a long way out anyway. And the non-rotating design of the ISS allowed for incremental construction. There do not seem to be any big drawbacks to a rotating station in principle, right?

Comment Re:Any idea how it works? (Score 0) 477

It's not undeserved hubris: it's trillions of independent experiments, billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of man-years working on the theory by lots of very smart people. The theory, quantum field theory (QFT), is simple, consistent and universal. It describes everything we can see around us, with the exception of gravity.

Trillions of experiments. Yeah, right.

Also, if your theory explains everything except for a pretty substantial fundamental force that is all around us, you might yet be in for a surprise or two regarding the accuracy and validity of your theory. Just saying, you know. Reality meets formulas, and all that.

Comment Re:We can date the jump into the U.S. in about 197 (Score 1) 380

Not all "deniers" were crackpots, at least back then.

And in all fairness, some of the science that led to the discovery of HIV was a bit dodgy, in terms of how it was executed and reported (not, in hindsight, with regard to its contents). Also, the proposed mechanisms of how HIV works were rather novel for the time, so it is not hard to see why some more conservative members of the science community might have been on the fence for a while about whether this was indeed the cause of AIDS. Add to this that even someone like Kary Mullis, who got his Nobel Prize for PCR, a fairly pivotal molecular biology technology, were skeptical, at least for a time.

Of course, nowadays, we know enormously more about the molecular mechanics of HIV and AIDS than we did back then. So by contemporary standards, even the "deniers" from back then who tried to be skeptical on actual scientific grounds look like idiots. And some of them likely were - but not all of them. Not judging from the perspective of the time they were living in.

Comment Re:So it appears . . . (Score 2) 185

Well, unlike Mars, there is no reason to set up a permanent colony in Antarctica.

Oh, wait... maybe a permanent settlement on Mars is pointless as well? :) Apart from the whole "backup location for humanity, in case Earth gets creamed by an asteroid no one saw coming" thing. That has some far-fetched merit of sorts. However, due to the extremely hostile environment there, chances are that a Martian colony has a much higher probability of failing than civilisation on Earth in the first place, at least for centuries to come. So even in the most optimistic scenarios, it will be the thought that counts w/r to Martian settlement.

Comment Re: None of this matters, it has no headphone jac (Score 1) 324

I was not objecting to people complaining about the connector being removed: as you say, commenting on such matters is more than fair enough. What I am objecting to is the seemingly widespread notion that *all* customers are unhappy about this. No, some are, probably rightfully so. But actually, a sizeable number of customers also do not care much either way. That was all I am trying to say here: there is less drama than some observers are making this out to be.

All other things being equal, I am actually not even convinced that removing the port was a smart decision on Apple's part: quite a number of their customers do care, and the removed connector is not *that* big to begin with. OTOH, I can also see more and more headphones going wireless in the foreseeable future anyway - it is bloody convenient to not have cables dangling around, after all.

And with regard to the problem of not being able listen to music, resp. talk on the phone with headphones, at the same time as charging the phone: making power cables that allow you to plug in Lightning earphones *atop* the charger cable is a total no-brainer from an engineering perspective. I'm actually surprised they are not in the line-up yet.

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