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Canada Will Ship 800 Doses of Experimental Ebola Drug to WHO

the gnat Re:WHO owns the property rights? (102 comments)

Just shows what big pharma actually does for the money they get. Not much it seems.

Why would Big Pharma waste time trying to cure Ebola? It's a disease that affects a relatively tiny number of people in (mostly, until the past month) Third World nations. It is only notable due to the terrifyingly (and unusual) high mortality rate, but there is absolutely no financial incentive to go after it right now.

5 days ago
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How English Beat German As the Language of Science

the gnat Re:German illegal? (323 comments)

everyone bowing down before Obama

Uh, who is bowing before Obama? A large fraction of the Democratic legislators running for re-election this year are actively avoiding mentioning his name.

about two weeks ago
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How English Beat German As the Language of Science

the gnat Re:German illegal? (323 comments)

I remember in 2012 when there was a Congressional hearing to decide if Muslims should be illegal.

The links you provided do not support this description. Moreover, the way our system of government works, any moron congressman with an agenda can hold hearings to discuss his bedwetting problems. That doesn't necessarily make it representative of popular sentiment, and it certainly doesn't make it official government policy.

about two weeks ago
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Pro-Democracy Websites In Hong Kong Targeted With and Serving Malware

the gnat Re:Clearly Western Interference (44 comments)

please give me citation of a country where Democracy brought freedom to the masses.

I think most of the citizens of former Warsaw Pact nations would agree that they're freer now that they can elect their own leaders instead of being de-facto provinces of Greater Russia.

about two weeks ago
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2014 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay

the gnat Re: Because she had a big impact on peace on earth (144 comments)

few lately meet the original criteria of fostering peace and reducing war,

I think it's been very broad for the last 50 years, and what they also now recognize is nonviolent resistance to tyranny. That's why MLK and Lech Walesa won the prize (among others), and I have a hard time thinking of anyone more deserving.

about two weeks ago
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Co-Founder of PayPal Peter Thiel: Society Is Hostile To Science and Technology

the gnat Re:A bit of a straw-man (238 comments)

On the other hand, implementation of technology has become a corporate thing.

Unlike 100 years ago, when anyone with a trowel and some perseverance could grow iPhones in their home garden, and communications satellites were built by village artisans.

Or we could go back in time to, say, the 1940s, when the development of computers and rockets was being driven by one of the ugliest wars in history. Not to say that it wasn't necessary, but do you really think that would be an improvement over Apple and SpaceX?

about two weeks ago
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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

the gnat Re:Patents? (315 comments)

You realize all power utilities are already monopolies regulated as utilities, don't you? They are guaranteed exclusive access to their captive markets.

What applies to the US does not necessarily apply to the other 95% of the world's population.

Until they have a working prototype to show the patent office they should be put in the same pile with patent applications for perpetual motion machines.

That would make it impossible to patent until someone has invested the $2.8 billion estimated to build such a machine, and why would they do that without a guarantee of exclusivity?

Patent applications for perpetual motion machines are fed into the shredder because they violate the known laws of physics. But there's nothing that says this reactor isn't possible. I suspect that the engineering challenges involved are much more difficult than expected or admitted (they always are), but that's a separate problem, and very difficult to predict in advance.

about two weeks ago
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Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

the gnat Re:Patents? (315 comments)

This has been legal for at least 34 years. As someone who has to deal with the consequences of Bayh-Dole on a regular basis, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it causes universities to lock up a lot of basic research as restricted IP, which holds back progress and actually makes it more difficult for the results to reach the market. Or, even worse, the inventors (or eventual IP holders) treat it as a money-making machine and are basically using using the federal funding to do product development. (As opposed to using federal funding to come up with the initial concept, then private funding to develop the product.)

On the other hand, for something that's extremely capital-intensive to develop, where commercialization requires orders of magnitude more funding than the government initially provided, no one is going to invest the money required unless they're guaranteed exclusivity. This is certainly one of those cases. The alternative is for the DOE, or the UW, to invest $2.8 billion of its own money (which, ultimately, is other people's money) developing a commercial-scale reactor - and that still doesn't really get it to "market".

about two weeks ago
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Nobel Prize In Chemistry Awarded To Trio For Microscope Advancement

the gnat Re:What the Hell (pun intended) (29 comments)

Also, it's odd: Nobel prizes used to be given to things which hae proven their worth. Super-res microscopy while cool and wile showing a *lot* of promise has not yet reached the stage where it looks more than "very very promising".

Eh, I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes the prize is for research done decades ago that turned out to be really fundamental, and sometimes it's for huge breakthroughs that fundamentally and immediately change what we're capable of doing. This certainly looks like the latter to me.

about two weeks ago
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How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

the gnat Re:Yeah, he also sabotaged the Vietnam peacetalks (125 comments)

Then he couldn't have made any deal in violation of any law at that time. How can a presidential candidate sell US weapons without being president?

The claim was that the deal happened when he was a candidate, the actual weapons transfers happened later. The latter is not in doubt, the former is more of a conspiracy theory.

Which is likely why the US never sold weapons to Iran. Israel did and the US replenished Israel's. Splitting hairs I know, but if someone can argue the meaning of the word "is" in order to escape blame for wrong doing, certainly an actual step to isolate yourself would do the same.

So, you're saying providing arms to a state sponsor of terrorism in violation of an embargo is equivalent to receiving oral sex from a White House intern?

about three weeks ago
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How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

the gnat Re:He did some decent things as president. (125 comments)

Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, were probably the only two presidents going back to Eisenhower who were actually pretty decent human beings

I'm reading "The Invisible Bridge" right now, and Ford does come across as relatively decent - hopelessly out of his depth, but also a victim of unfortunate circumstances.

Every president and vice president after Carter have been more or less sociopaths

I didn't think Bush Sr. was a sociopath - his foreign policy was a stunning triumph compared to everyone who followed, and he managed not to do anything else drastically stupid, which is really the most I expect out of our leaders at this point. I don't think it's irrelevant to his legacy that the Clinton years coasted by relatively smoothly with a strong economy and uncontested superpower status. His one unforgivable sin was appointing Thomas to SCOTUS.

I don't really think Obama or Biden are sociopaths either; like most politicians, they're career opportunists, but occasionally one of them does something that suggests there's an actual human being underneath, and I'm reminded of what a disappointment the last six years have been. But even Bush Jr had his occasional moments of decency and thoughtfulness, which made everything else about his presidency even more infuriating.

about three weeks ago
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How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

the gnat Re:Yeah, he also sabotaged the Vietnam peacetalks (125 comments)

He couldn't have been traitorous as president, the president himself decides who our enemies are and are not.

Except:

1) Reagan wasn't president at the time of the supposed deal that GP mentioned
2) Iran was subject to an arms embargo at the time the administration sold it arms
3) The profits from arms sales to Iran were then funneled to the Nicaraguan Contras, further violating the law

In defense of Reagan - a phrase I never thought I'd write - there's no proof that he actually knew about (3), at least. So, a dupe, but not necessarily a traitor.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:Paging Arthur C. Clarke... (534 comments)

the tough part on this particular subject is likely that the language didn't provide for distinctions between "Earth" and "other planets' since no other planets were known to exist by the people who spoke the language that was first used for writing down Genesis.

Right, which is why it's silly to insist on a literal interpretation of the text (or to assume that everyone else necessarily adheres to a literal interpretation), since it's using a very limited vocabulary incapable of making these kind of decisions.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:Aliens = God? (534 comments)

why are we so different from all other animals on Earth

In what way? Certainly on the molecular level we are completely unremarkable - obviously very complex, but no more so than the average cow.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:Are scientists ready? (534 comments)

Nearly everything I read on the subject carries a stated or more often unstated assumption that evolved alien life will have the same carbon-and-water basis that we do.

No, the assumption is that we won't be able to detect vastly different forms of life at a distance unless they have advanced technology. We know that an oxygen-rich atmosphere is extremely unlikely without photosynthesis, which means that we have a simple chemical signature that we can look for to detect probable life, even if it's only single-celled. We have no idea what kind of chemical signature to expect from other forms of pre-technological life.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:Paging Arthur C. Clarke... (534 comments)

what happened to giving Man dominion over all he surveys (Genesis 26, Psalm 8)

When that was first written down, "all he surveys" was almost certainly intended to mean "all that he surveys on Earth", with everything above being "the heavens", which was definitely not part of the dominion. And that's assuming that the English translation is actually 100% faithful to the original meaning, which I doubt.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:ET would disprove God (534 comments)

You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet - Psalms 8:6
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

There's so much lost in translation that I'm reluctant to go with the literal interpretation here (especially as an atheist), but this seems pretty limited in scope to me. Unless you're a strict Biblical literalist - which is not a majority of Christians - there are any number of ways these statements can be bent to be compatible with the idea of life on other planets. Sects like the Catholic church have already managed to adapt to the fact of evolution and the age of the Earth without much effort; they stopped taking the early books of the Old Testament literally a long time ago. (It's the New Testament that's really important for most Christians.) I don't doubt that some adherents would freak out (not necessarily for purely doctrinal reasons!), but I'm pretty certain that Pope Francis would simply invite the aliens to mass.

I also have infinite confidence in the ability of diehard literalists to come up with contorted explanations for anything that contradicts the Genesis narrative. People who believe that the speed of light must have drastically changed over the course of several thousand years are capable of pretty much any type of cognitive dissonance.

about three weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

the gnat Re:Why post this here? (534 comments)

I fully expect to be modded down

I expect so too, but that's because whiny, condescending statements like this are almost guaranteed to get your post moderated down.

about three weeks ago
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China Eager To Send Its Own Mission To Mars In the Wake of Mangalyaan

the gnat Re:they can do it for lesd (84 comments)

The country has not been communist for a long time and there are strong arguments supporting idea that they truly were never communist in the first place

I don't know, I think the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution are quintessential examples of communism in action, and had nearly nothing in common with capitalist systems.

about a month ago
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China Eager To Send Its Own Mission To Mars In the Wake of Mangalyaan

the gnat Re:Good (84 comments)

Isn't it phantastic when science and engineering can profit from stupidity and narrow-minded nationalism? If only that were always the case!

Sadly, it's the case very often - just about anything that can be classified as a "dual-use" technology gets a great deal of funding when perceived to be strategically important. In addition to the obvious example of the space race, the development of radar and digital computers was heavily driven by WWII, and we've also made some major advances in medical care thanks to a number of wars that almost no one is proud of.

about a month ago

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