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Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs

breech1 Re:Is it just me... (496 comments)

Also, explain to this Canadian why NASA is researching climate. Isn't NOAA supposed to be the agency for that? Isn't it National Aeronautics and Space Administration, responsible for air and space flight, not everything under the sun?

NASA's mission includes increasing our understanding of stuff in space. That includes studying the sun, the planets, moons and anything else in the solar system and beyond it. Not only is NASA responsible for everything under the sun, but everything beyond it as well. This doesn't change just because we happen to live on one planet. Through the EOS program, NASA funds quite a bit of research for better understanding the Earth and the processes occurring here. Climate change would fall under that category and is one of the more high profile areas.

about two weeks ago

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere

breech1 Re:Motivating Joe Shmoe to fight pork (364 comments)

A local magazine surveyed dentists, asking "who, besides yourself, is the best dentist in our city?" By not allowing dentists to vote for themselves, the survey produced a much truer guide to where to get quality dental care. Similarly, a constitutional amendment that bars congresscritters from seeking to have money spent in their own districts would boost the overall effectiveness of government. Lockheed would finally be pressured to source its F-35 components from the most efficient suppliers, rather than from the most pork-ified network of suppliers.

I have my doubts that such an amendment would help. Over time, Congress critters would simply enter into quid pro quo relationships with each other. Critter A proposes to spend $$$ in Critter's B district while B proposes to spend $$$ in A's. The net effect would be the same.

about 7 months ago

Geothermal Heat Contributing To West Antarctic Ice Sheet Melting

breech1 Re:Queue the deniers (387 comments)

Furthermore, even if that were true, pre-20th century, there was nearly universal agreement on the validity of classical physics, but then QM and GR came along, so consensus doesn't tell you about truth.

I agree that consensus doesn't necessarily imply truth, but I disagree that there were was near "universal agreement" of the validity of classical physics. By the start of the 20th century, physicists knew there were lots of issues in classical physics. Classical physics could not explain the blackbody spectrum, the precession of Mercury's orbit, the propagation of an E&M wave (at the time waves were only found within a medium that could support it), radiation, and so on. Evidence kept mounting that classical physics could solve a wide array of problems, but there were phenomena that classical physics could not handle. That, in turn, led to new physics being discovered.

about 8 months ago

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

breech1 Re:Dear Stevens (1633 comments)

Enact this, and as a former serviceman who swore an oath, I am obligated to stop you at all costs.

An oath that you obviously do not understand. The oath (and I took a similar one) declares that you will support and defend the Constitution, which includes all the articles *and* amendments. If this were to be enacted, it would be done as an amendment, thereby becoming part of the Constitution. Your oath would obligate you to support and defend that amendment as any other. You don't get to pick and choose based on your personal ideologies because doing so makes the oath meaningless. If you like the idea, then fine; work to make it happen. If you don't like the idea, then fine; work to stop it. But leave the solemn oath out of it.

about 9 months ago

Amherst Researchers Create Magnetic Monopoles

breech1 Re:Contradicts current theory? (156 comments)

No it doesn't contradict previous theory. The existence of a magnetic monopole would require adding some extra terms in Maxwell's equations: one for magnetic "charge" (the monopole) and one for magnetic "current" (moving monopole) analogous to electric charge and current. (Adjusting Maxwell's equations this way is a popular exercise in advanced undergrad / grad level E&M courses). If your system happened to have a magnetic monopole in it, then you would need to use the equations with the extra terms. You would see some extra effects due to the monopoles, but they would be accounted for. The extra terms would give a nice symmetry to Maxwell's equations, helping to demonstrate that the electric and magnetic field are manifestations of the same phenomena (which isn't clear until you get to special relativity).

about a year ago

Bradley Manning Offers Partial Guilty Plea To Military Court

breech1 Re:Fascist bloodlust (380 comments)

My feeling is that the US government by consistently refusing to ask for the death penalty in spying cases [...] has encouraged people to continue to try to get away with this.

The US gov't could seek the death penalty for spying cases, but chooses not to. The reason is that a caught spy will eventually talk about why they did it, and who they were working with, if the death penalty isn't an option. That information is far more valuable than naively "trying to send a message". (Whether or not the death penalty is a deterrent is a separate argument. The intelligence officers only care about determining why the spying occurred and who the handlers were.)

more than 2 years ago

Barack Obama Retains US Presidency

breech1 Re:Now what for the Republicans? (1576 comments)

They go further to the right (unfortunately). I think there's a good chance the Republicans repeat what happened after 2008: savage their nominee by complaining he wasn't conservative enough. Their solution will be to move further to the right to address that rather than realize they likely lost because their candidate moved too far to the right to appease the extreme wings of the party for the primaries.

more than 2 years ago

Barack Obama Retains US Presidency

breech1 Re:Kill the Electoral College please... (1576 comments)

The electoral college is necessary to balance power between large and small states.

No it's not. That was never the purpose. The electoral college was needed for southern states to get some credit for slaves that they wouldn't get if there was a direct election of president. (See, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States).) Besides that, the effect of the electoral college is to put the focus on a few swing states. No one cares about CA and TX and numerous other states because those states will reliably go for a particular side.

more than 2 years ago

Scientists Want To Keep Their Research Work Out of Court

breech1 Re:Helping to Keep it Secret... (288 comments)

Or it could be a work in progress. During research, there's lots of communication about the interpretation of data, what other values should be recorded, is this true data or a bug in the simulation, and so on. If you had a political axe to grind, you could easily cherry pick that communication to feed the stupid conspiracy theories. You could hope that the general public would be smart enough to understand that, but intelligence is the first casualty of politics.

more than 2 years ago

Cameras To Watch Cameras In Maryland

breech1 Re:Good. (297 comments)

In some construction zones, it's 12 mph. So you wouldn't get a ticket in a 55 until you did more than 67 mph. I have no idea if there's an MD law requiring the 12mph pad, or if it's set zone by zone.

more than 2 years ago

Growth of Pseudoscience Harming Australian Universities

breech1 Re:Fundamentalists (566 comments)

Seconded. Wish I had mod points.

more than 2 years ago


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