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Comment Re:Agent Smith (Score 1) 85

"Equilibrium" connotes steady state. Smith's rant argues that an ecosystem can reach a steady state, where the reality is they are oscillatory and often unstable. The reality is that mammalian (and other) species go extinct all the time, even without human influence.

The utopian dream where the apex predator kills off old herbivores just as fast as new ones are born is a mathematician's view of ecosystems, and it's based on the assumption of massless, frictionless, spherical predators.

Comment Re: Long range space probes? (Score 1) 156

C14 is rare and hard to extract in nature. On the other hand, if you bombard cheap C12 with neutrons for a few decades, you create a a block with a high concentration of (more) easily extracted C14. Much the same as it's easier to wash the gold contacts off an old DIMM than it is to extract gold from raw ore. The difference is that the commercial market for C14 is too small to consider recycling. C14-doped diamond as a power source has at least the potential to provide such a market. A pretty niche market, where you want a few thousand years of electricity (presumably to power electronics that will fail after a few decades), but it's a cool use of otherwise dangerous waste material.

Comment Re:Long range space probes? (Score 3, Informative) 156

I wonder how it's output/mass compares to that of a radioactive thermal generator.

TFA claims it can do 0.2 mW/g (vs 8 for alkaline battery). It looks like Pu-238 decay heat is around 540 mW/g, with half life of 90 years, but 90-95% of that will be lost in conversion to electricity, and it will require substantial mass for that conversion and shielding.

Comment Re:This story is fake (Score 2) 158

All of this fake news is destroying our country. Good thing we just elected a President committed to rooting out vicious lies told by the media and to holding them accountable.

Honestly, this all sounds like the opening volleys of an astroturf campaign to restrict freedom of speech and freedom of press.

Comment Re:I think he just got scammed . (Score 2) 236

You might to keep up on whether they have your SSN. I refused. five years later, I get a new job and new insurance. The insurance company got my SSN from my employer and they in turn gave it to my eye doctor. I have tried to get them to get rid of my SSN, but every time they submit a payment, the SSN comes back to them.

This is to make sure you're not cheating your government out of medicare, medicaid, insurance supplements, or tax benefits. It may only be a legal requirement for medicare recipients, but they are a large enough fraction of health care customers that they dictate process for all the rest of us.

Comment Re:To answer the question. (Score 2) 624

Fake news is much more interesting than real news.

Most of us like a good story, and it hardly matters whether the story is true. "Fantastic Beasts" is a great story that people are willing to pay good money for: it's got a more-or-less coherent plot, the motivations of all parties are clearly laid out, and it resolves to a recognizable end. Hillary's emails? Donald's cabinet? Not so much. Fake stories involving real people, like Kardashian nude tweets, is the best of both worlds.

Comment Re:This is excellent, excellent, excellent news (Score 1) 114

I'm pretty sure China will have no issues ignoring all moral quandries about experimenting on prisoners and will press on regardless

If they do, they won't be able to publish in any Western peer-reviewed journal, all of which contain some version 'studies must conform to the declaration of Helsinki' and all of which ask reviewers whether there are any ethical concerns regarding human or animal experiments.

Comment Re:And the hits keep on coming ... (Score 1) 1066

Pretty much every economists (the lefties and the righties) agree that we would be better off taxing things that we want less of (e.g. pollution) rather than things we want more of (e.g. work). If the tax money has to come from somewhere, changing behavior makes the most sense.

Which is why the founding fathers ran the country essentially off excise taxes. We could do this today: just slap a 1400% tax on alcohol and cigarette sales, and we can do away with all of the income-tested taxes. Sure, there might be some complaints over $20 beers ($70 at your local bar), but wouldn't it be good to return to the economic vision the country was built on?

Comment Re:And the hits keep on coming ... (Score 3, Informative) 1066

I'm sincerely interested in knowing what your point is.

His point is that between 100,000 years ago (last ice age) and 100 years ago, the planet warmed by about 3 degrees. In the last 100 years, the planet has warmed by another 3 degrees. So, when Mr Ebell claims that 3 degrees is well within historical ranges, he's looking only at the delta and not the velocity.

Waffle Iron is exaggerating a bit, though - it really only took 10,000 years of warming to end the ice age, and the temperature division between pre- and post-industrial revolution is probably more like 4:2 than 3:3. Still 4 degrees in 10,000 years is two orders of magnitude faster than 2 degrees in 100. You can get downtown by walking at 1 m/s or by 100 m/s bullet train. Same trip, same distance. One takes 5 minutes, the other takes 8 hours. Also, it hurts a lot more if the bullet train hits you that if the walker hits you.

Comment Re:One party rule (Score 1) 2837

And what makes you think the current Republican establishment will still be in power a year from now?

The facts that Republicans won up and down the ticket yesterday and the next election is not until 2018. There are very few ways to interpret the 2016 election as anything other than a ringing popular endorsement of Republican policies. Seriously: look at the map for US House. The people have spoken, and they love the America in Decline narrative. They said the same thing in 2014.

Comment Re:One party rule (Score 1) 2837

Oh, yes, the Republican establishment has had such roaring success in making Donald dance to their tune so far.

Have you actually seen any of Trump's policy proposals, or have you just been watching the "who's a bigger liar" show? Trump's policy proposals, except trade, are pretty generic GOP boilerplate: repeal Obamacare, massive tax cuts, massive military expansion, secure the borders.

The only things GOP doesn't like about Trump are his language and his trade-protectionism (and they're not all that angry about the latter)

Comment Re:Cost of the target. (Score 3, Informative) 303

And that only half of them would land within 50 meters of the target. That's WWI accuracy from GPS-guided bullets that cost nearly $1 million each.

To be fair, the biggest WWII guns only had a range of 24 miles and a pattern size of 200 m. So half the accuracy at a quarter of the range. No argument over the cost, though: these "guns" are basically high rate of fire cruise missile launchers.

The US military isn't so much about winning wars as it is a jobs program. In the 1930s, we had the Works Project Administration, handing out menial jobs building pointless roads. Today, we have DoD, handing out engineering jobs building impractical weapon systems. You can win certain kinds of wars with impractical and expensive weapons: short wars against wildly mismatched powers, and the profits keep a lot of other engineering projects alive.

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