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Comment Re:Filter theory might be correct (Score 1) 858

The Reagan administration had one scare moment with the war game 'Proud Prophet' which got out of hand. And later they found that their NATO exercise 'Able Archer 83' would have triggered nuclear retaliation if rules had been followed . The US is a lot more confident now.

Comment Re:Filter theory might be correct (Score 1) 858

There are several ways escalation can happen without intention to start a global war. There are false positives during tense periods. There is asymmetric escalation.
The US is very dominant with conventional weapons and the Russian doctrine allows for asymmetric nuclear response if their conventional weapons are insufficient.
We've come close several times, and in realistic war games , all following doctrine, things have escalated out of hand.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 2) 858

I think the idea of Russia dreaming of old glory is misleading and it ignores the driving factor. In that respect I think this article by John Mearsheimer has it right :
The russians have been warning us all along, but we didn't consider them worth paying attention to. The problem is that we still feel safe so we can threaten the Russians all we want. Military they don't amount to much outside their own territory but they have nukes, they don't have much conventional power they can use before switching to nukes, and they're nervous. Meanwhile we're all casual and confident and careless. That's like the Cuba crisis but with one side still not realizing there's a problem.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 4, Insightful) 858

Because having Russia dominate the world would be horrific?

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response. You may think they're wrong but you should at least listen to what they're thinking. Apparently that is not happening at all, while the wartalk on this side is increasing, by politicians because it makes them popular,and by the military because of budgetary reasons. And that makes for very dangerous times.

Comment Re:'squatch (Score 2) 88

That could be it. The whole idea of electric planes seems silly, hauling along that load of batteries with much lower energy density than fuel.
It would be even worse for an electric helicopter. What autonomy do they hope to get?

  On the other hand, suppose you have a normal plane which just uses an electric boost for landing vertically? Maybe that doesn't make sense either but I can't dismiss that right out of hand.

Comment Re:You would think science could help (Score 1) 275

As reasons go, that's not enough reason. It is true that the 'green' approach to climate warming is what you can call the lowmetabolic approach: slow everything down. But that tends to weaken your ability to respond to the changes. If the economies are good, you can build dikes and adapt to climate. If economies are slow you don't adapt well. so to some extent humanity may be better off by increasing their metabolism. Especially the poor countries. Nature doesn't have that option though.
My main point was that the speed of the change matters, there's a difference between warming up slowly or quickly, and the easy fatalism of doing nothing likes to ignore that,

Comment Re:You would think science could help (Score 2) 275

There may be value in the idea that the planet doesn't have to be worse off for being warmer, in a stable long term situation, but if you change things quickly that's going to have dramatic consequences which you're completely disregarding.
To take the simplest example, there's 80m of water stocked in ice. How fast it melts makes a very large difference. Or biotopes. If they change very slowly, species adapt. If they change too fast all you've got is extinction.

Comment Re:I don't think so (Score 1) 174

The authors are utterly naive if they think that the CIA's primary role is intelligence gathering, or that they even care overly much about quelling "societal upheavals".

AFAIK the part the CIA has been blurring the boundaries of is the distinction between foreign and domestic, not so much foreign action/foreign intelligence gathering.

Comment Re:Fear is a good thing for business (Score 1) 332

While many wealthy people worked hard or smart for their wealth. And many poor are there due to slacking off and bad life decisions. It isn't always so cut and dry as the old moral argument for being wealthy. There are degrees of luck especially for the super rich...

There are also circumstances when you wonder to what extent it even applies. The US used to have a 'useful myth' of social mobility, there was still a good chance you could go from poor to rich with the right skills. But you can measure social mobility and you can measure distribution of wealth and people who believe everyone got roughly what they deserved should make up their minds how distorted the measured values have to become before they conclude that the mobility that existed is now mostly gone?
To quote an economist(forgot who)Gordon Gekko was still a selfmade man but now we're a generation later and dealing with his heirs.

Comment Re:Ties to Government? (Score 1) 109

Alright, but speaking strictly is also not very useful, while being able to designate/identify the main players has a value even if it is a huge simplification. It's a skill and if your model is weak you will draw weak conclusions. In that respect I recall an interesting comment from turkish negotiators in the Iran-US conflict. They said with many countries you have a person you can talk to and which you can try to make an agreement with. But Iran and the US are the kind of countries with multiple power players where you have to talk to all of them. Knowing who to talk to is a realworld necessity. Knowing whose concerns you have to take really seriously and whose concerns are merely optional is very important too.

So with Russia, we have big players which prefer to treat Russia as an enemy and the weapons industry and the pentagon are major players in that. To put it in old language, the Military Industrial Complex has won.

Comment Re:Cognitive Load (Score 1) 210

I agree. Maintaining many passwords and changing them regularly is demanding . It's no use to exhort people to try harder(it only shows the person doing the exhorting does not understand the situation). Some people devise clever strategies but in general it's better to ask people to use a password manager so they don't even have to memorize the password.

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