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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

flyingsquid Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

To flip things around for a moment, what about all those female-dominated careers? Why is it that we aren't up in arms about the fact that yoga studios, elementary schools, secretarial staff, birthing services, and hospital nursing staffs are overwhelmingly dominated by women? Nobody seems to be losing sleep over the idea that there is some kind of pervasive gender discrimination that discourages men from these careers. Is that because these careers are seen as somehow less worthwhile- and if so, why? Because women do them?

Modern feminism seems consumed with the idea that career success for a woman can only come by pursuing a traditionally male career path. But this seems like an incredibly sexist viewpoint, because it's assuming that the only kind of job that's worthwhile or important for a woman to aspire to is one that a man traditionally has done. If you're not a CEO, a surgeon, a professor, then you're somehow less worthwhile. But taking care of other people- which is something a lot of female-dominated careers have in common- is incredibly important, and probably contributes as much or more to society than coming up with a better way for Amazon to flood my inbox with special offers.

The other issue is that feminism seems obsessed with the idea that women will be happy if they can pursue these career paths. But here's a thought. Maybe women opt out of certain career paths in favor of other career paths because those career paths better fit what they want out of life. Maybe many women- not all of them, but a lot of them- find working with kindergartners or being a midwife more rewarding than firing employees, shooting at insurgents, or writing computer code.

about two weeks ago
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The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say

flyingsquid Re:Academic wankery at its finest (154 comments)

It's a bit like the iridium spike at the K-T boundary in that the use of nuclear weapons is an event that will have a worldwide signal, in fact it wouldn't surprise me if they got the idea from the asteroid impact. This would be a bit ironic because Alvarez, the guy who discovered the impact, was a Manhattan project alum who actually worked on the explosive lenses and triggers used in the Trinity implosion bomb. The issue with using Trinity is that from a biological/evolutionary standpoint its not that meaningful an event. The Chicxulub impact is a huge deal, it's the driver of the biggest mass extinction in 250 million years. The Trinity test has the advantage of being easy to measure but nuclear weapons have had pretty much zero effect on the biosphere. In fact, primitive hunter-gatherers running around with fire and spears have a vastly larger effect than nuclear bombs. After Homo sapiens moves out of Africa into Australia, Europe, and the Americas, we see massive dieoffs of the megafauna which, combined with the use of fire to alter the landscape, dramatically alter the fauna and vegetation on a continental scale. From an evolutionary standpoint, these migrations are important; they mark the first time the species began to alter the world on the level of entire ecosystems. So I'd argue that the migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa would be the defining event, but obviously that's kind of hard to date.

about two weeks ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:RAH had this in the 50's (235 comments)

More importantly, you don't build large-scale infrastructure like China's new Silk Road bullet freight operation out of thin air. Large-scale infrastructure of this kind will require large amounts of pure metals. Having large new sources of supply in turn encourages bigger projects. How much copper is it going to take for the Silk Road to go maglev?

These kinds of shortages have a way of sorting themselves out. If the price of a commodity goes up, then people start exploring new sources of the commodity, new modes of production, alternatives to the commodity, and ways to be more efficient with the commodity. This is exactly what happened with oil prices back when people started panicking about "peak oil". New resources and modes of production (deep water oil, tar sands, shale oil) were developed and alternative sources of energy (solar, wind, natural gas, etc.) were pursued, and more efficient cars were developed. The result is that oil prices have fallen dramatically in recent years from around $100 a barrel to around $60 a barrel and the U.S. is set to become a net oil exporter. The same dynamic is likely to play out with copper- as soon as we start seeing shortages of copper, increased prices will increasingly drive people to find more of it, replace it with other materials, and be more efficient in its use.

about a month ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:Do I buy it? (235 comments)

I remember seeing starving Ethiopian kids on TV when I was a kid, and it left me deeply shaken up. But over the years, I realized that you saw all kinds of things on TV- GI Joe and Transformers and the Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon and exploding coyotes, and the little Ethiopian kid with the distended belly sort of entered that realm. One more image on TV and you can just change the channel.

And then travelling in Africa I saw a starving kid, face to face. Me looking at him, and him looking back. And I realized, that's not fake. That's not TV. I can't just change the channel and make him go away. And he can't just change the channel and make all this stuff go away. This is his reality, and it fucking sucks, and this is the reality of millions and millions of people.

One of the tropes in science fiction is the Bubble City. The residents of the Bubble City live in their cozy, clean, climate controlled little domed city and have wealth and peace and long happy lives. And meanwhile, outside live the savages, with their poor, dirty, and violent little lives, and the people in the Bubble City don't think much about them or worry about them. What I saw for the first time is that this isn't science fiction. This describes the world we live in. The developed world is a bubble, but until you step foot outside, you don't even know it.

about a month ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:Do I buy it? (235 comments)

On other the other hand, if it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all the world's rich people truly care about lifting poor people out of poverty then poverty could be eradicated from the world in a single generation.

I think that this is probably a bit overly optimistic. The difference between the U.S. and some failed state isn't merely a difference in the level of wealth. It's a whole series of things- an effective security apparatus, infrastructure, a court system, trustworthy, responsive, and effective government administration, education and literacy, a free press, a fair market system with companies and finance, a national identity, tolerance of different people and ideas, and a culture that buys into and believes in these things as realistic and important goals. The wealth and prosperity of the United States are built on a culture, ideals, markets and governments that go back hundreds of years, to the Colonies, to England, to Renaissance Italy, to Rome, to Jesus, to the Greeks.

Wealth isn't just the condition of not being poor, it's about creating a productive and fair society. Like they say, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him the rest of his life. The issue is that being a good fisherman is *hard*. It takes a work ethic and discipline, piloting, engineering, and navigational skills, management skills, and learning how to actually catch fish. It takes years.

Poverty has a lot of causes. If you cut your potential labor force in half by keeping women unemployed, if government officials steal from the people with bribes, if there's a lack of education so you can't hire skilled workers, if business can't operate because of a corrupt judiciary, if you can't move goods to market because there are no roads, if you're sick with malaria and can't work, if the army is weak and violence flourishes, if you can't get a small business loan... these are problems that make going to the moon look pretty straightforward. I'm not saying we shouldn't try. As Kennedy said about the moon, we're not going there because it's easy, but because it's hard. But we need to be realistic about how hard it's going to be.

about a month ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:RAH had this in the 50's (235 comments)

Look at the title of the story you are replying in: It is billionaires that are funding it. Nothing about public funds being discussed here.

Yes, Elon Musk's rockets will be funded by all those privately funded space stations, privately funded spy satellites, and privately funded missions to Mars.

about a month ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:RAH had this in the 50's (235 comments)

There are seven billion people on the earth. I think we can work on more than one endeavour at once.

The cost of the International Space Station was $150 billion, and a crewed Mars mission- sending a crew to Mars, landing them, bringing them back- is an order of magnitude more complicated. I'm guessing it would cost on the order of 500 billion or a trillion dollars. The issue is, that money has to come from somewhere. That's a trillion dollars that's can't be spent on other things. Economic development, medical treatments, flood and famine relief, scientific and medical research, etc. So we have a choice. We can spend hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars on the possibility that the human race will face some crisis in the far future. Or we can spend that money on solving the very real problems that people are facing today, right now, as we discuss this. Unemployment, poverty, starvation, disease, lack of education, lack of opportunities for women. I'm not saying that we cannot do anything else until we solve all those problems. But for all the talk about The Good of the Species and Preserving the Species, space nutters seem remarkably unconcerned by the idea that there are people right here on Earth who could use some help, and last time I checked the species was composed of these people. And if you space nutters are really so goddamn concerned about saving the species, maybe you'd be more interested in helping them out. If half the planet wasn't uneducated and living in poverty, maybe we'd have a lot more economic and intellectual resources at building that Space Ark or Warp Gate or Hyperdrive or whatever it will take to get into space. I'm skeptical about the possibility of setting up space colonies, but if it does happen, I think Bill Gates' work on malaria in Africa will probably end up doing a lot more to help get us there than Elon Musk's rockets.

about a month ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

flyingsquid Re:RAH had this in the 50's (235 comments)

Hopeless or not, we have to do it. Right now all of humanity is in a single interconnected biosphere, that is one rich crazy dickhead away from becoming uninhabitable. How many people are out there right now claiming that we can do anything we want to the Earth and humanity can never become extinct, because God? We need to get sustainable populations off of this planet and somewhere they can survive for when the inevitable happens and one of those mouth-breathing morons hits the wrong button somewhere and releases super-Ebola into the atmosphere or something.

The "we've got to get off of this rock!!!" argument is nonsensical when you consider that the Earth is currently the most habitable place within several light-years and it's been that way for at least the past 3.5 *billion* years. Just over the past 550 million years we've seen severe ice ages, runaway greenhouse warming, an asteroid impact, several massive volcanic eruptions... these events were severe enough to devastate the biosphere and wipe out most of the species on the planet, but in each case some of them survived (otherwise we wouldn't be here). It's been able to sustain complex life for at least half a billion years. Even after the Chicxulub asteroid impact, it's still got a breathable atmosphere, radiation shielding, normal gravity, liquid water, etc., none of which are the case on Mars (all you'd need to survive would be stocks of food, warm clothes, and fuel to last out the impact winter). And even before 550 million years ago, when there's too little oxygen for complex life, it's still a better option than Mars (you'd need supplemental oxygen like on Everest but otherwise it'd be habitable). You would have to do a lot to the Earth to make it less habitable than space or Mars; even with a full-out nuclear war, you've got the Strangelove option.

Looking backwards, Earth has been habitable for a very long time, it's likely to remain so for tens of millions of years more- far longer than our species can be expected to last. Looking forwards, there's no realistic scenario in which space colonies make sense:

Let's assume that we do develop the technology to live on hostile environments such as Mars, asteroids, etc. Wouldn't this exact same technology also allow us to cope with whatever hostile environmental conditions might develop on Earth?

Let's assume that we develop the ability to terraform Mars to make it habitable. Wouldn't this exact same technology allow us to terraform Earth to correct whatever hostile conditions might emerge here?

Let's assume that nuclear war or other environmental issues threaten us as a species. Wouldn't it be a lot easier and more realistic to prevent these things from happening in the first place than build some fleet of Space Arks to escape them once they've already happened?

Let's assume again we're so suicidal that we're in danger of wiping ourselves out due to nuclear war or environmental damage. Doesn't this undermine the whole All Your Eggs in One Basket argument? I mean, the idea is that some freak event might wipe out one of your baskets, but not ALL of them. But that assumes these are independent events. If people on Earth are stupid and suicidal enough to wipe themselves out, that's not a problem with the Earth, it's a problem with the *species*. EVERY human population will have those same suicidal tendencies. It's false redundancy because all your backup systems share the exact same fatal flaw.

about a month ago
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5,200 Days Aboard ISS, and the Surprising Reason the Mission Is Still Worthwhile

flyingsquid Re:Shut it down (219 comments)

Exceptions that prove the rule. Out of thousands of cultures, the number of premodern societies that attempted any serious, sustained exploration can be counted on one hand. And really, its doubtful that premodern migrations to the Americas were any kind of deliberate exploration effort. It was probably just nomads following the herds.

Look at this way, modern humans have been around for about a quarter of a million years. The first migrations out of Africa were only about 30,000 years ago. If exploration were really some fundamental human constant, it seems odd that we spent 90% of our time in a relatively small portion of one continent.

Actually, proto-humans migrated repeatedly out of Africa. Homo erectus, Homo antecessor, Homo neanderthalensis, and finally two waves of Homo sapiens moved out of Africa and into Eurasia. North America was colonized repeatedly by Homo sapiens, by the Amerindian, Navajo-Dene, and Inuit peoples. Migration probably is in the genes. Lineages that become widespread are harder to wipe out as a result of drought, famine, climate change, etc. so lineages with some innate tendency to disperse probably tend to survive. But it's kind of a moot point. The places they went to already had atmospheres, normal gravity, ambient temperatures, radiation shielding, abundant game and edible plants. Mars has none of that. It was simple enough to move out of Africa that a cave-man could do it, literally. It doesn't follow that because humans could and did repeatedly move from continent to continent that it's a good idea to try to colonize a cold, barren, airless wasteland millions of miles away.

about a month ago
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5,200 Days Aboard ISS, and the Surprising Reason the Mission Is Still Worthwhile

flyingsquid Re:Shut it down (219 comments)

Yes we can create robots that go out there and study very specific things. They are planned well in advance, do only very limited things, and frequently fail because they're not totally autonomous and adapt poorly to the unexpected.... case and point: Rosetta's Philae lander....or any number of probes that have malfunctioned or been lost. If you put a single human out there, they can fix the problem. A person can conduct hundreds of experiments where a machine is limited to a few. A person can analyze and interpret results onsite, even design new experiments. A person can build things, onsite.

It's a bullshit argument. The problem is that a robotic mission is going to cost on the order of 1% of a human mission to do the same thing. If there's a risk of the lander failing, the cheapest and easiest solution is to create two or three separate robotic probes which minimizes the chance of failure. Obviously a 100 billion dollar manned mission will be more capable than a 1 billion dollar robotic mission. But a 100 billion dollar robotic mission would be vastly more capable than a comparably expensive manned mission.

about a month ago
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5,200 Days Aboard ISS, and the Surprising Reason the Mission Is Still Worthwhile

flyingsquid Re:Shut it down (219 comments)

The value of NASA has never been commercial. It is a pure research area. WE are learning how to live and work in space, which is an environment so alien to us that our bodies don't even function properly. That knowledge flows into the private commerce section of our economy and slowly brings benefits that we have yet to imagine.

I keep hearing this argument, in fact I've been hearing it for around 20 years. And during that time, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars on NASA. So it's about time to ask... where is all this spin-off technology we've been promised for the past 20 years? Most of the major innovations we've seen are either military (GPS, internet) or commercial (cellular networks, smartphones). It's hard to point to a single transformative innovation to come out of NASA recently, and historically the military has done far more to spur technological innovation than NASA. I'm not arguing that building more F-35s is the best way to spur technological innovation, but it's worth taking a hard look at where our research dollars make the biggest difference, and I think it would be hard to show that NASA is the best way to do that.

about a month ago
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5,200 Days Aboard ISS, and the Surprising Reason the Mission Is Still Worthwhile

flyingsquid Re: Shut it down (219 comments)

Meanwhile, the defense budget is only 1/6th of the federal budget and falling. The left got their way: America's military dominance is fading.

The defense budget is 20% of the federal budget, which is around 1/5th. America's defense budget exceeds that of the next 10 largest defense budgets *combined*. The U.S. still has unquestioned air superiority in every conflict it enters, a fleet of aircraft carriers to project that air power, ballistic missile submarines that can rain down nuclear death at a moment's notice, a rapidly growing drone army to silently hunt our enemies from the skies, electronic intelligence and cyberwarfare capabilities to spy on the whole world, and critically, the network of ships, bases, and air transport to rapidly move troops and supplies to conflict points anywhere on the globe and project that military force... America is the only remaining global military power. No one else- not China, not Russia- has that ability to project power beyond their regional sphere of influence. It's not limitless power, as shown by Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Viet Nam, but it still makes the U.S. the only remaining superpower. And if anyone's hurting the U.S. military preparedness, it's not the left, it's the generals who push for expensive toys like the F-35 instead of focusing on problems like counterinsurgency warfare.

about a month ago
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North Korean Internet Is Down

flyingsquid Re:Who will get (360 comments)

and very effective at preventing them from engaging in further cyberattacks.

Probably not so much. It's long been suspected that much of North Korea's cyberwarfare activity is actually based out of China, which is why the U.S. asked China for help shutting them down. I'm going to guess that this is because it's hard to get sufficient bandwidth to operate a cyberwarfare division in North Korea, and because North Korea's limited connectivity makes it too easy to shut down and isolate a team based in North Korea in precisely the scenario we are seeing here.

And North Korea can't be doing this without China's cooperation. China has one of the world's most advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, up there with other cyber-superpowers like U.S., Russia, and Israel, and they closely monitor their internet. If North Korean agents are using China as a staging ground to attack South Korea and the United States, China knows about it and is turning a blind eye.

about a month ago
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Curiosity's Mars Crater Was Once a Vast Lake

flyingsquid Re:Great (42 comments)

It's not as if you're going to be able to crack open one of those rocks and find the Martian equivalent of a trilobite. For most of Earth's history, the dominant forms of life were microbes, and only in the last 600 million years or so when oxygen levels increase do large multicellular forms appear. Mars, assuming it ever had life, probably never got that far. So fossil evidence will consist of fossilized microbes- which will require cracking open rocks, thin-sectioning them, and inspecting them under a microscope. The other possibility is doing chemical analyses of the rocks and looking for geochemical evidence of life- isotopic ratios or organic compounds that could only be explained by the presence of life. Either way, it will require a fairly sophisticated laboratory. Either we have to conduct a sample-return mission, or we need to develop miniature laboratories that can be sent to Mars.

Although it now seems as if there is a third option. Recently, a meteorite was discovered which appears to represent a sedimentary rock from Mars. It's spendy stuff- $10,000 a gram- but that's vastly cheaper than a sample-return mission. A multimillion-dollar program to prospect for Martian meteorites on Earth is another way to look for Martian sedimentary rocks.

about a month and a half ago
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North Korea Denies Involvement In "Righteous" Sony Hack

flyingsquid Re:I'd be curious about the consequences. (85 comments)

There was an initial round of finger-pointing towards North Korea, and now a bunch of people saying, hold up, this doesn't really make sense for North Korea to be behind the attacks. OK, it's not logical, but as as the previous poster argues, 1) North Korea isn't logical (or rather, they are logical but employ something rather different than the logic found outside of North Korea) and 2) what's the alternative?

Internet security experts are of the opinion that this was launched by a large and well-organized group. That suggests we aren't dealing with a disgruntled employee, but with either a large criminal organization or a nation-state. This narrows things down considerably.

Next, let's look at motives. If the organization is a criminal organization, they're going to be out for one thing: money. As far as we know, there weren't any financial demands. The hackers said "if you don't obey us, then we'll release data shown below to the world", but they never mention money. The group's name- Guardians of Peace- is also telling, and there's the bizarrely moral tone of the hackers. "You, the criminals including Michael Lynton will surely go to hell. Nobody can help you". They are doing this for ideological reasons. Of course organizations like Anonymous also engage in politically motivated hacking, but they're usually upfront about the cause and the fact that it's Anonymous, which suggests it's not them.

Which brings us to North Korea. Again, it doesn't make sense... but this is a nation that reveres its dictators as gods and lives in a bizarre bubble of disinformation, lies, and communist mythology. Things that seem insane to us make sense in this communist Bizarro-world. Hacking Sony is bizarre, but this is a nation that starves, impoverishes and executes its citizens to maintain their grip on power... if they did it, hacking Sony was probably not even the craziest thing that happened that week in the country. And as for not wanting to provoke a war... these guys torpedoed and sank a South Korean naval ship killing 46 people. If that's not going to create a war, no way hacking Sony will. And the thing is, they actually *want* to go to the brink of war, but not quite over the edge into a war. If they can keep the tension ratcheted up they gain in negotiations with the outside world and can convince their citizens that the State is necessary to protect them all. It's like they're using 1984 as a manual: a state of perpetual warfare (or at least military readiness) provides a convenient pretext for anything the state does to exploit and oppress people.

Last, the attacks bear striking similarities to recent attacks against South Korea, down to the skeleton-themed graphics that look like they're from some mid-1990s video game console, the tacky red-and-green text, the poor English ("Warninig" instead of "Warning"), and the approach of taking user data hostage. It's pretty clearly North Korea.

about a month and a half ago
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Celebrated Russian Hacker Now In Exile

flyingsquid Re:Snowden revenge? (130 comments)

When all is said and done, the US is still a helluva lot freer than Russia.

Not to be that guy who says we're living in a police state and quotes Orwell while knowing damn well the government isn't going to bust him in his mother's basement... but in at least one way, I would be willing to bet that we are far less free than Russia. And that would be freedom from surveillance. Between the various NSA programs to log our emails, track our calls, and monitor our online activity, I would be willing to bet that the average U.S. citizen sees far more surveillance than the average Russian citizen. It's not that Russia is morally superior here, it's that the NSA is probably a lot better at monitoring communications than its Russian counterpart. That being said, I suspect Russia has the ability to target dissidents, is more willing to use it, and is far more likely to act on intercepted data than the NSA. The NSA is probably a better spy, but not nearly as dangerous a spy.

about 2 months ago
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Celebrated Russian Hacker Now In Exile

flyingsquid Re:Snowden revenge? (130 comments)

Or maybe both of them can go into exile together in a third country. And Julian Assange can go there too. And they'll share an apartment together. It'd make a great sitcom. "Three hacker dissidents exiled from their native countries... now they're all living in one house! See what kind of wacky adventures they get into!"

about 2 months ago
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Stars Traveling Close To Light Speed Could Spread Life Through the Universe

flyingsquid Re:I don't understand this ... (184 comments)

OK, first of all, let's assume that the collision of two giant galactic black holes can fling stars out of the galactic center in a way that doesn't completely destroy any planetary systems within those star systems. How on earth does life get off of such a planet onto another? If a collision in the solar system were to launch a microbe-laden rock out of the star system, it's still traveling at a third of lightspeed. How do those microbes make a safe landing? For that matter, what about the planet that those microbes land on? Chicxulub is estimated to have released 100 million megatons of explosive energy, which is equivalent to giving every man woman and child on the planet a Hiroshima nuke and detonating them all at once. Now, the Chicxulub asteroid is estimated to have traveled around 20,000 km/sec. And .3 lightspeed is 100,000,000 m/sec, or about 5,000 times the speed of the Chicxulub asteroid. Since kinetic energy scales as velocity squared, we're dealing with an impact that is 25,000 Chicxulub asteroids. So imagine wiping the dinosaurs out. And then doing it again, 24,999 times. That's 2,500,000,000,000 megatons - 2.5 trillion megatons- of explosives. Even a much smaller asteroid- say, 1 km in diameter instead of 10 km- is still going to pack far more wallop than Chicxulub did, and create an extinction event. Even a single kilogram is going to come in with as much energy as a large H-bomb. My guess is that if these stars have any effect whatsoever on the evolution of life in the universe, it's probably not a terribly constructive one...

about 2 months ago
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First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

flyingsquid Re:Had a realization (390 comments)

My take on Abrams is that he isn't the right guy to do Star Wars. Based on what I've seen from his Star Trek movies, his approach to storytelling is too intellectual- he's interested in complex storylines and clever plot twists. That's not what Star Wars is about. Star Wars is a modern fairy tail/myth/epic with lots of action and character-driven drama, but not much in the way of clever plot twists. Okay, I will give you the Luke I am Your Father bit, and the Now Witness the Power of this Fully Armed and Operational Death Star bit. But mostly, it's about plucky heroes and the odd scoundrel fighting black-clad villains and rescuing princesses, swordfighting and magic and spaceships and aliens. It's not about the head, it's about the heart, it's about feelings, and none of Abrams work has ever struck me as having the kind of soul needed to tell this sort of story. I guess I could sum it up by saying... I've got a bad feeling about this.

about a month ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

flyingsquid Re:It was an almost impossible case to prosecute (1128 comments)

We the public don't yet know all the facts. Nonetheless, it was an immensely difficult case to build for the prosecutor as the only person alive who knew what happened was the one who pulled the trigger.

Two words: gun camera.

They started using gun cameras in WWII to look at the effectiveness of the aircraft, but you could use them on police firearms to hold police accountable when they draw their weapons. Here the main problem is the he-said they-said nature of the event. We don't know what happened because there is no recorded account of it. Using off-the-shelf technology, you could install a small iPhone style camera and microphone that activates whenever the safety of the weapon is taken off and enough storage for 10-15 minutes of footage and audio. The recorded footage would then be available to establish whether the officer was justified in drawing their weapon and, if fired, whether the firing of the weapon was justified. If the officer committed murder, we'd know. If it was justifiable, we'd know. Either way, we wouldn't have rioting in the streets right now.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated in Tehran

flyingsquid flyingsquid writes  |  about 3 years ago

flyingsquid (813711) writes "Wednesday morning, Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed during his morning commute, after an attacker on a motorcycle placed a magnetic sticky bomb on his car, reports the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/world/middleeast/iran-reports-killing-of-nuclear-scientist.html?ref=world&cid=nlc-dailybrief-daily_news_brief-link4-20120111. Roshan, a supervisor at the Natanz uranium enrichment site, is the fourth Iranian nuclear scientist to be killed in two years. The assassinations appear to be part of a covert effort to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, which has involved an attack using the Stuxnet computer worm, and the use of American spy drones over Iran. Iran's nuclear program and missile program have also been plagued by suspicious accidents. The U.S. has condemned the assassination, but an Israeli spokesman said he was "definitely not shedding a tear." Bombing enemy weapons facilities is one thing, but what about targeting scientists? Is assassination unethical, or does developing weapons of mass destruction make you a legitimate target?"
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Western Companies Helping Repressive Regimes Spy o

flyingsquid flyingsquid writes  |  more than 3 years ago

flyingsquid (813711) writes "New technologies such as email, the internet, and texting have proven a powerful tool for protesters trying to organize against corrupt and repressive regimes in the Middle East. But regimes are fighting back with sophisticated surveillance technology that allows them to spy on their citizens, according to an NPR interviewhttp://www.npr.org/2011/12/14/143639670/the-technology-helping-repressive-regimes-spy with journalist Ben Elgin, who has been reporting on this development for Bloomburghttp://topics.bloomberg.com/wired-for-repression/. "Brandishing transcripts of personal communications and records of whereabouts, officials now routinely use such information to confront, arrest and torture dissidents," reports Elgin. Where does this technology come from? From western companies. The Syrian regime's electronic surveillance infrastructure, for instance, is put together by the Italian company Area SpA, using technology from Paris-based Qosmos SA, German company Utimaco Safeware and California-based (NTAP) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-03/syria-crackdown-gets-italy-firm-s-aid-with-u-s-europe-spy-gear.html. The companies claim they have no idea how brutal regimes have ended up using their technology to spy on and interrogate people."
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