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Manslaughter Conviction Overturned For Scientists Who Didn't Predict Earthquake

the gnat Re:What about 'mainstream economists'? (139 comments)

So, basically, we should criminally prosecute anyone whose views disagree with your political biases?

about two weeks ago
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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long

the gnat Re:Not exactly (161 comments)

Yes, that is actually before the US entered WWII and long before the invention of the cyclotron.

Huh? The cyclotron was invented in 1932. Obviously a relatively primitive instrument (it would easily fit on my kitchen table), but the underlying design is still in use.

about three weeks ago
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Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:How long will it take slashdot to spin this? (106 comments)

All he does is pushing corporate interests

What corporate interests are involved in curing malaria? The entire reason that Bill Gates is subsidizing these efforts is that there isn't much financial incentive for Big Pharma to develop drugs for diseases that primarily afflict people in Third World nations.

about three weeks ago
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Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:The World is Overcrowded (106 comments)

this is natures way of making sure the world doesn't get overcrowded. It's a sad fact but people NEED to die.

Then how do you explain the fact that some of the countries with the highest life expectancies, and almost no severe endemic diseases, are also the ones with the slowest-growing (or even shrinking) populations?

about three weeks ago
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Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases

the gnat Re:How long will it take slashdot to spin this? (106 comments)

Reduce the rate of people, and especially children, dying and there will just be a lot more dying a generation down the road when they exceed what they can feed/house/employ/etc. again.

Actually, this has it almost exactly backwards: reducing infant mortality has been a major cause of stabilizing population growth. Increasing prosperity also helps a great deal, and there's a strong argument that malaria is a huge economic drain.

If you are messing with a complex system and do not understand its inner workings, you are on the road to hell. Or maybe he just does not care.

Or maybe he doesn't share your misanthropic view of humanity, and your insistence that "those people" need to stop breeding before they can enjoy the comforts of Western civilization?

about three weeks ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

the gnat Re:So What? (669 comments)

But isn't this the same reason that evangelicals have traditionally distrusted Catholicism, and one of the main selling points of fundamentalist Christianity? Catholicism is pretty much the exemplar of organized religion: doctrine is determined by the church hierarchy rather than the text of the Bible, which of course has been prone to all kinds of abuse, and the dependency on church membership for salvation gives the institution immense secular power. With fundamentalism, on the other hand, all that matters is accepting Jesus as lord and savior, and following the text of the Bible, which has been static for many centuries (ignoring the translation issue for now) and isn't prone to tampering by present-day authorities. (My understanding was that this is one of the same attractions of Islamic law elsewhere in the world.) Given the history of the Catholic church in medieval Europe, I can see why this would be attractive to the spiritually-minded (which I am definitely not).

about a month ago
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Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

the gnat Re:Send them to China or India for training (443 comments)

The Chinese launch failure was especially disastrous because it crashed in a populated (civilian) area. At least most of the launch failures haven't been fatal (Challenger being the obvious exception).

about a month ago
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Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

the gnat Re: That's the part that "counts" (groan) (443 comments)

The whole "commercial" launch thing is a misnomer. It's business as usual, except that this time NASA does less micromanagement, and there are some new faces at the table. That's all.

And the contracts won't be cost-plus, meaning the contractors don't have a blank check and projects will actually have to stay on budget. There may be legitimate arguments why this is a bad idea for a national space program (personally, I disagree), but it does represent a rather large change from the way launches were done in the past.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

the gnat Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

What is the case in which you would -not- call a biological change "evolution", and how is that different from the mere criteria for "reproduction"?

To start with, any time the change was brought about by deliberate, external intervention. For example, Bt-expressing corn, or glyphosphate-resistant crops, are obvious examples of "intelligent design" in the literal, non-pseudoscientific sense. We know this because "we" (i.e. humans) made these modifications ourselves, by a known and reproducible mechanism. I would argue that conventional breeding isn't really "evolution" either, although it relies on more natural phenomena rather than direct genome manipulation.

The fact that these biological changes are genuinely intelligent design does not prove the general case, however, because we've only had the technology for direct genetic manipulation for a few decades, and only know about selective breeding for a few millennia. For other biological changes, we assume evolution, because the directly observed mechanisms by which evolution operates rely on processes that we know have been possible for hundreds of millions of years (if not billions). If you want us to start considering intelligent design, you need to demonstrate a mechanism that predates human civilization.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

the gnat Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

we have not actually observed it happening

Um, wrong.

about a month ago
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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.

about a month 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 a month 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 a month 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half ago

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