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Comments

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South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards

phyzz Re:States Rights (665 comments)

Wow ! This is quite a polarized view. Seen from the other side of the Atlantic, such attitude seem as extremist as the extremist you want to be expelled from 'your' society. I am not an history wonk, but I believe that at some point in time all nations and all religions were welcome in the USA ("Bring me those poor, tired, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free..."). I am sure, not to be too cynic, that it was a ploy to grow the 'european' population faster and 'occupy' the western and northern territories taken from the natives and in order to expand demographically and militarily the young nation ; but nevertheless many immigrants must have held that belief and transmitted that to their descendants.
Well after Waco, TX and 9/11, I am sure the dialogue between religious and atheists must have been a little soured, and I would not think to have reacted differently. But take example on our European mass shooter: Anders Breivik was not acting upon religious imperatives but over cultural purity.
Try to always keep in mind that the mainstream media only shows the extreme opinions, the rarely occuring events, the peculiar trends, the single narrow point-of-view, and that politicians (from either side) only react to those because they want to be in those media for their name to be remembered comes the election. If only people would pay attention to what politicians DO instead of what politicians SAY, well first of all we would put in jail the majority of the politicians who occupy the front page, then we would let the politicians who DO things be heard instead, and eventually we would elect the politicians who would defend your values based on past actions instead of having to decide blind folded between the least crooked of them all. Then we would have a political discourse able to address social issues, which of course the media would put on the front page under misleading or blatantly erroneous titles (why am I thinking of Slashdot right now ?) and which would try to play on misunderstandings and rejections from the people who would not have the time to read the piece or discard the whole thing ; the former (i.e. sensationalist journalists) would have to be fired or only be allowed to do obituaries, the latter (i.e. over-stressed people or shallow people) would have to get trained to put into perspective, to challenge any point-of-view, to question any certainty, to test any axioms, or to accept the impact the beliefs of others (corporations, political or religious groups) has upon ourselves ; my point is: you either think by yourself or you accept that others do the thinking for you, no knowledge is free.

about 7 months ago
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Almost 1 In 3 US Warplanes Is a Drone

phyzz Re:Is this a legitimate comparison? (328 comments)

The latest carrier based drones have airborne refueling capabilities just like the manned jets.

If you're talking about Northrop Grumman's X-47 UCAV, it is only developmental and has not yet flown off a carrier... But yes, drones having refueling capability, buddy refueling even more so, are going to set a new standard on mission duration.

But manned jets have to contend with pilot fatigue.

UCAV too in a sense : they are constantly monitored by one or two operators (sometimes even flight-rated pilots), who DO have to manage fatigue; the good thing is they are in a facility where crews can rotate without the aircraft having to provide accommodations for all those people. These aircrafts are unmanned in the sense that there is no man ON BOARD, but there is of course a man (or woman, one or more) in the loop. This is why they are sometimes called "remotely" piloted aircraft.

One of the latest tests off a carrier was a 55 hour non-stop single drone mission. There is not a pilot in the world capable of handling missions of that length. Even the existing manned B-2 bombers that launch missions from the mid-west to targets in the middle east are pushing the limits a pilot can handle.

Wikipedia states that a B-2 mission has lasted 50 hours with round-trip flight from Barksdale AFB to the Middle-East, but I cannot find any reference of it in the official U.S. Air Force website, which states that B-52s during Operation Desert Storm used to undertake missions of 35 hours. In both cases, these are bomber aircrafts which are designed for long duration missions : the B-2 has two pilots, is thoroughly automated, and of course has a toilet. Lockheed's U-2 Dragonlady pilots are not so lucky on their 9 hours mission (see http://www.blackbirds.net/u2/u-2mission.html) at 70k feet in their astronaut-like full pressure suit.

more than 2 years ago
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Book Review: Head First HTML5 Programming

phyzz Re:"HTML5 Programming"? (90 comments)

Parent said:

"Get off my lawn!"

I am afraid you have not kept up with XMLHttpRequest and the whole scripting activities currently involved in developing a modern website. It is even said that website development is so complex nowadays[citation needed] that separate professional functions have to divide up the work: designers, programmers, testers, moderators and, of course, trolls.

I too long for the good ol' days of websites being displayed equally "beautifully" in NCSA's Mosaic or ISC's Lynx. STOP vomiting flashing text, animated gifs, flash ads and floating DIVs, DAMMIT!

more than 2 years ago
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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant

phyzz Re:-Sigh- (561 comments)

They have a point, we should shut down the sun to protect us from all that harmful radiation. As a bonus Global Warming will no longer be an issue.

Mod this UP! We should also shut down the universe which emits so much of these damn radiations, and eventually 'live' in an absolute zero absolute maximum entropy state.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_body

more than 2 years ago
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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant

phyzz Re:Actually, I think that this was BRILLIANT (561 comments)

Still this is good news for Algerian separatists, foreign spies etc

I think Algeria is independent and separated from France since 1962, July 3rd.

more than 2 years ago
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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant

phyzz Re:I'd like to enjoy my tea and poetry.... (561 comments)

We have the "Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire" (Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute) and the "Autorité de sûreté nucléaire" (Nuclear Safety Authority) which are the official organizations for the safety of the nuclear installations in France. They are supposedly independent from the industry and the government. Their credibility suffers from a precedent during the Chernobyl catastrophe when the Health ministry's central bureau of protection against ionizing radiation director, Pierre Pellerin, consistently and continuously said the radioactive cloud would not have any impact and no safety precautions should be taken, while all neighbor countries (even Spain and Great Britain which were further down the route of the cloud) had measured elevated radiation on produce.
The CRIIRAD "Commission de recherche et d'information indépendantes sur la radioactivité" (Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity) is the most independant organization since it is not official and uses publicly available data and measures made by independently owned detectors.

About the intrusion by Greenpeace, I find their action disingenuous: the Genarmerie Nationale has now dedicated special groups to the protection of all nuclear plants since this summer, but this takes time to be put in place; other Greenpeace activists have tried to break into several other facilities but were arrested by the local law enforcement (or possibly the said special Gendearmerie groups); furthermore elected officials and experts conducted a live and surprise safety exercise not weeks ago to assess the measures put in place against floods and earthquakes (operation Opera during the night of December 1st).

more than 2 years ago
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Greenpeace Breaks Into French Nuclear Plant

phyzz Re:What if it turned out the other way? (561 comments)

The problem the Fukushima events showed evidently is that you do not have to make the nuclear reactor go critical and explode to cause a major radiological catastrophe: you just have to cut the power to the control room and safety system that prevents the reactor to sustain and limit its heating-cooling cycle.

Therefore protection against any intrusion or incident is paramount to the safety of the plant, therefore security should be airtight.

Parent post has it right: the Gendarmerie Nationale is in charge of the protection from intrusion into nuclear plants and other facilities and even NBC protection.

http://www.gendarmerie.interieur.gouv.fr/index.php/fre/sites/Gendarmerie/Presentation/securite/The-BRNC-facet

Nuclear plants are also surrounded by restricted air zone enforced by SAM and fast jet interception. See this (french) animation:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2011/12/05/01016-20111205ARTFIG00591-comment-sont-protegees-les-centrales-nucleaires.php

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good, Relevant Usability Book?

phyzz Re:Starting-point (173 comments)

Too bad their website is such a cluttered mess built on what appears to be a default CMS template.

I fail to see how this would be detrimental to usability : I am completely comfortable with the layout of the website, if not a little overwhelmed by text and ads...

Not all websites must be Web 3.14 with CSS and AJAX spewing all over the place and a completely separate navigation and history paradigm from you web browser (I hate when I cannot see precisely each "page" I visited on the web, unless of course it is a "news" site inc. Slashdot or Facebook).

Keep it Simple, people ! I want to be able to disable Javascript and every other plugins in my browser and still be allowed to consume the web content, otherwise I won't bother and pick up a good book (THAT's good old nice usability)

more than 2 years ago
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Severe Arctic Ozone Loss

phyzz Re:Where have I seen this before (259 comments)

The stratosphere is the layer of the atmosphere where temperature goes hotter the higher you go since the ozone gas releases heat when broken into monoatomic oxygen and diatomic oxygen by the ultraviolet rays of the Sun.

I suppose the parent estimated that some heat was also absorbed from the troposphere (the layer directly below the stratosphere, and the lowest of the layers, where all meteorological events take place). Since the greenhouse gases are in the troposphere, they shield the stratosphere from the heat radiating from the Earth back to space.

more than 2 years ago
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NASA Designs All-Electric Personal Flight Vehicle

phyzz Stealth vs. rotors; rotary-wing vs. fixed-wing (276 comments)

I fail to see how this aircraft would be stealthy, even being built with composite material. The huge propellers would shine like hell on a Doppler radar's scope.

Furthermore several two-place fully electric aircraft exists already, they are certified as Light Sports Aircraft, and so have by nature VSTOL capacity by nature...

People tend to forget that the only advantage of the helicopter (or any powered rotary-wing aircraft, excluding autogyros) is the capacity to hover. In all other cases, fixed-wing aircraft are superior in speed, endurance, range, safety, etc. (trade-offs being made to allow either low stall speeds or high dash speeds or high operational altitude or heavy cargo capacity or oversized cargo capacity or CowboyNeal transportation...) You could land some VSTOL aircraft in half a football field, and take off with some restrictions.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Using memory-erasing drug before sleep could help cure PTSD

phyzz phyzz writes  |  about 2 years ago

phyzz writes "Using a memory-erasing drug on mice on which traumatic fear was provoked by mild electric shocks associated with a particular odor, researchers from Stanford University have had better results curing the fear than by repeatedly exposing the mice to the odor alone, i.e. therapy sessions. Unfortunately the drug in question is not safe for humans, but antidepressants might be used instead."
Link to Original Source
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The F-35 story

phyzz phyzz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

phyzz writes "After 10 years in development and numerous cost and schedule overruns, the JSF program aimed at replacing several aircrafts from three major military services and partner nations with a fifth generation aircraft capable of STOVL as sustained supersonic flight in an affordable package finally gets some test points validated, yet faces an uphill fight against budget reductions. Bloomberg has this interesting story about the program's troubled past."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Companies and their stockholders

phyzz phyzz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

In my opinion a stockholder should not have so much control over the company.

The company should have to report to regulators when applicable, the clients, the staff and then the creditors, in that order. That way a company looks first to its customers, where to find them and how to please them (in the limits fixed by the regulator), then to its workforce to optimize their work and be competitive (in the limits fixed by the regulator), and only then to people who have only money in the business.

But nowadays it seems it is:
(1) investors
(2) top management
(3) politics
(4) public relations
(5) ...
(6) ...
(7) staff
(8) customers
(9) regulators

Disclaimer: I do understand that cash is as precious for a company as air for an individual (corporations are NOT people) and that in some situations bond emissions are preferable to bank lending.

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In Time (2011) by A. Niccol

phyzz phyzz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Interesting idea: what if "time is money" was put to the test? What would the rich do with their time and what would it mean for the poor to have so little?
At first I was a little distressed at the idea that time would run against you since the day you were born but fortunately the film shows at some point that babies (even those born in poor districts) have a clock showing "0": the clock starts ticking at 25. What do people do until they are 25? Well poor people, even poor children as shown in the film, have to "beg for time" or I suppose work in some form to "earn their living" even if they do not die from their time-clock running out, nothing tells us they could not die from starvation or homelessness. As for rich people, it was clearly shown that nothing changes much from before their birthday: party, party and party some more. I was wondering how the people are rich in this imaginary future but I guess the rules are the same as today: capital allows them to get large dividends from their investments thus allowing them to "spend little time" (which they own in such large amounts) actually working, whereas poor people work as everybody does today as proletarians who earn their living by spending their life in factories and shops. The mother of Will Salas did say, if I am not mistaken, that she worked in the garment district.
But apart from the predators like the "Minute Men" who haunts the poor districts for a "survival of the fittest" paranoid nightmare, I noticed there was no depiction of social services and police forces: if the timekeepers' primary task is indeed to "follow the time" and ensure that no imbalance disrupts the system, why would a police force would be unnecessary to keep surely numerous disgruntled people from throwing civil unrest? Well if demonstrators today can manage to not earn any money while they protest, any demonstration in the conditions depicted would be literally short lived if not for a mechanism or provision to stop their clock in case of demonstration. This does in effect precludes any rights to demonstrate to people living day by day and only the middle-class with time spared would have the means to waste it like that as it is often the case in slightly to brutally unfair economic systems where a middle class effectively prevents the poorest from uprising against the richest for fear of their meager savings.
What about the media? Poor people seemed to have little access or interest in any media at all (no televisions or newspapers were present and as ubiquitous as today) and rich people did not appear to have interest in anything at all but their partying. It seemed that the media were controlled by the rich (surprising would you not say?) since the only depiction of the actions of the protagonists were reported in negative terms. The "big brother is watching you" theme was touched on several occasions with the use of street cameras and billboards showing the face of the criminals in the districts but was otherwise not pushed very far: the Timekeepers did not seem to have any sure way of locating somebody and relied instead on files and records and human intelligence (as did the Minute Men). The apparent fear that seemingly constrained rich or poor people could have referred more to the abilities of the agents in regard to one's clock: sequestration of time, interrogation, capacity to investigate on the premises and foremost the authorization to bear firearms and to discharge in the face of danger.
I have trouble characterizing the actions of the protagonists: a poor boy with high abilities to get by in a poker game or in a "time clock arm wrestling" against all odds and a father he barely knew yet holds in high esteem and who apparently was also known by the Timekeeper Leon for its rebellion against the system, and a rich spoiled girl who smothered in her uneventful and constrained life and became sick of her father's greed and subjugation to the system. To me a Stockholm syndrome was clearly at play ("capture-bonding" in the face of grave danger). Their actions of robbing banks clearly evokes to me a Bonnie and Clyde type of desperate adventure of love and rebellion against the system. Yet their clear intentions to not only profit from the system but totally disrupt it by giving their loot to the poor was pictured in explicit terms several times, adding an element of Robin Hood's revolt against an unfair system set as a standard. What surprised me was that their actions were completely isolated from any propaganda or networking for the establishment of a resistance and the build up of the general population's support: it seemed that they gave to whoever was on the premises of their crime and did not intend to distribute it in any fair way at first. When they hit the jackpot in terms of robbery treasure, they did arrange to donate it to the only social organization depicted in the whole film: the Mission. They did it in a strange way by holding the missionary at gun point whereas it would have been clear to anybody who would have performed such a donation and the missionary would have certainly not worked for the Timekeepers or prevented them in any way to the pursuit of their goal.
The absence of any clear cut way they would have found to totally and globally disrupt the system bothered me a little. Another thing was that the Timekeepers' relentlessness and persistence was very limited to the agent named Leon whereas the other agents seemed mere underlings and not tenacious at all, a fact that was proved during a pursuit on foot where the heroes found themselves nearly caught off guard. The pursuit tuned into a face-off and a shoot-out against the dominant action figures.
All in all the film was great food for thought and more than a mere string of action scenes. Photography was masterfully executed and music was performed in perfect rhythm with the pictures. And alternative ending on the theme of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" would not have been unwelcomed.

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