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Harvard Scientists Say It's Time To Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

benjfowler Get the basics right first (361 comments)

If we can't even manage to do the easy things, like limiting human population growth, re-wilding, going after polluters and corporate liability-dumpers, switching away from fossil fuels, etc etc etc, what chance are we gonna have to to do **HARD** stuff, like modifying the weather??

Geoengineering, like CCS, is bullshit trotted out by pro-business 'conservatives' to claim that even if climate change *IS* humanity's fault, then we have an excuse to do nothing, because our grandkids will take care of the problem.

I wouldn't expect anything less from greedy, clueless, Me-generation conservatives, to be honest.

4 days ago
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Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

benjfowler Better idea (235 comments)

If the Russians want to ditch their share of the Station, why not invite the Chinese to come and take over the Russian segment, hand them all the technology, give them manned spaceflight experience, and then build an ISS2, partnering with the Chinese. Putin+cronies will be cured of their delusions soon enough...

The future belongs to rising countries like China, not with decaying has-beens like Putin's Russia.

5 days ago
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How To End Online Harassment

benjfowler SJWs (834 comments)

The Tumblr SJWs **DEMAND** that any self-appointed victim group not be offended, and that all transgressors be shamed or thrown in jail.

Too bad for them, that there isn't actually a right to not be offended.

about two weeks ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

benjfowler Re:Bizarre (334 comments)

There is short game, and there is long game.

Relying on our rivals or enemies for a strategic resource they have huge pricing power over, is not a good long-term strategy.

about two weeks ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

benjfowler Re:Bizarre (334 comments)

Sounds like a nuclear-armed Iran would be good news for us then. The harder they hate and want to fight each other, the less they'll bother us.

about two weeks ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

benjfowler Bizarre (334 comments)

So much for the idea of "making hay while the sun shines" /s

Perhaps all the morons buying hummers and F-150s need reminding that the people selling us all this cheap oil are NOT our friends, and are sure as hell not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. The Saudis are bottoming-out the price of oil to punish marginal north American oil producers, and the Russians, not because they want to give Joe Sixpack a break.

I'd like to see us putting in punishingly-high tariffs in place against Muslim and Russian oil. More tax revenue to tackle deficits, pressure people to switch to alternatives, help shale oil producers, AND punish our enemies. Win-win-win-win situation.

about two weeks ago
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New GCHQ Chief Says Social Media Aids Terrorists

benjfowler Yikes (228 comments)

As an anti-libertarian, I'll have a bob each way by saying that while we must accept that after September 11, "business as usual" isn't going to fly (if you'll pardon the pun), this is a pretty poor start from a man who ought to know better.

Absolute privacy ain't gonna happen in this day and age, but Mr Hannigan needs to make it clear they will be held thoroughly accountable by the people they're meant to be serving. To do otherwise would shred any remaining legitimacy they have.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

benjfowler Re:Dupes (739 comments)

Redistribution makes sense, up to a point. Most countries in the OECD do better than the US on most important measures on quality of life, and do it far more efficiently. Probably because there is a pragmatic understanding around the world that there are times where open markets make most sense, and there are times when markets don't make sense -- and some kind of redistribution is required. For instance, the British healthcare system shits all over the American system in every conceivable way (except for really, really high-end, experimental stuff -- and I'm sure I could get it in Harley Street anyway).

I blame the American tendency towards a blinkered belief that markets can never, ever fail, and that government, as a manifestation of the collective will of the people, can never do anything right -- an extremist POV everywhere else.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler Re: No big issue (146 comments)

Sadly, they only get their shit together in times of crisis.

In the meantime, they end up with people like Brezhnev, Yeltsin or Putin -- and they're massively the worse for it.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler Re:No big issue (146 comments)

The R7 was a straightforward extrapolation of the V-2. They had to change the fuel to synthetic kero, because the drunkard operators kept getting blind drunk on the rocket fuel.

Von Braun's team built mostly brand-new stuff.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler Re:No big issue (146 comments)

Like the Soviet moon landings? Or the Soviet equivalent of the Viking or Pioneers probes?

Must've missed those. My bad.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler Re:No big issue (146 comments)

Concur. The notion that the US always loses wars is bullshit. Typically they achieve their military objectives in days, if not hours. And the casulties they take while doing so, are unbelievably low by historical standards. There is simply no comparison. If the Americans want to smash you, you're toast, no matter who you are.

Where these things are lost, is where politics gets involved: the utter catastrophe of the occupation in Iraq was brought to us by the utterly useless, moron American Right (mostly followers of Leo Strauss, who are criminally stupid, yet fancy themselves as philosopher-kings) and its lackeys, namely, Paul Bremer (who should be stabbed in the head because of his sheer stupidity -- EVERYTHING that right-wingers touched in Iraq turned to shit.)

Given the terrible leadership we see in the West these days, it's nothing compared to the joke the Russians must endure now. Everyone thinks that Putin is some kind of insane strategic genius and that he's playing chess while us stupid imperialists are playing checkers. See the state of their economy to decide for yourself whether or not this is actually true. At least when our moron leaders screw up, we can blame ourselves for electing them. The Russians, with their laughable Potemkin democracy, don't even get that.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler Re:No big issue (146 comments)

The entire point of the X-37b, is that it's incredible value for money for what it does.

about three weeks ago
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A Mysterious Piece of Russian Space Junk Does Maneuvers

benjfowler No big issue (146 comments)

It's just that Russia are eating Western dust, and have been doing so for ages. They've probably cobbled together a total POS and launched it, just to show the world they can 'compete' in high-tech with the likes of the (extraordinarily capable) X-37b.

Putin is just being a dickhead, and in this case, wasting money showboating. Just a high-tech analog of the usual publicity stunt of getting topless and blasting small furry animals. Nothing new there.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

benjfowler Dupes (739 comments)

I'm absolutely gobsmacked at how incredibly stupid right-wingers are, and how they can be so easily convinced to vote against their own pecuniary interests.

Methinks that the white trash who do so ARE poor -- and deserve to be.

about a month ago
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Researcher Finds Tor Exit Node Adding Malware To Downloads

benjfowler Evil (126 comments)

... but amazed it hasn't happened sooner.

about a month ago
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Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

benjfowler Re:Sounds like a discussion from yesterday (720 comments)

You have totally nailed it.

What the nerds (mostly of libertarian leanings, I notice) who frequent this site forget, is that there are lots of people out there are simply not that bright and haven't had access to the opportunities that they have; and that by structuring everything in society such that thick people can't make an honest living, then we are storing up massive trouble for ourselves. It's an arrogant and naive point of view to just assume that thick people are morally defective for being unemployed or on minimum wage, IMHO.

In the face of automation and cheap competition, we have a huge problem. On one hand, human civilization won't survive billions of people living in absolute squalor; we need economic development and productivity increases to get those societies up and beyond the demographic transition; OTOH, we don't want our own societies to turn into a dystopian hell, because the bottom 70% of society has become -- quite literally -- economically useless.

Closing the borders won't help; if you're not competing with an immigrant here, you're competing with them elsewhere (factor price equalization). And it's politically nearly impossible to consider radical options like a basic income when you see the absolute fucking travesty that America is so inept, that it can't even manage to give everyone a decent health plan, despite being the richest and most powerful nation on Earth.

I suppose we can conclude that productivity increases are required for the human race to survive the next 100 years; but niceties like meaningful employment are simply going to have to disappear. That in itself is a form of "poverty", albeit, not a material one.

about a month ago
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

benjfowler Re:Bad Russians... baaaaad (152 comments)

Actually, probably not. The Americans are too slick to charge in with heavy weapons or poison gas like the Russians would.

And if we get unlucky, we may yet see how.

about a month ago
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

benjfowler Re:Fentanyl (152 comments)

It was a tough call. They had to use a high enough dose to make sure the women wired to the claymores would be knocked out sufficiently fast that they didn't time to set off their explosives.

Incredibly gutsy call to make. I'd hate to face the families of the innocents who died from gas poisoning.

about a month ago
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Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement?

benjfowler Re:die by taser or gas? (152 comments)

Libertarian basement-dweller crap.

Barely anybody apart from violent radical Muslims are getting explicitly labelled as terrorists, and you know it. It's dishonest and frankly stupid to attempt to claim otherwise.

But never mind me. I shouldn't interrupt the clueless internet-libertarian circlejerk here.

about a month ago

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