Mike Stone's Comments

Thought of a better comparison:

"Half Price Drinks For Anyone Wearing a Jersey From the Bar Owner's Favorite Team During the Playoffs: Cheap Booze or Team Affiliation Discrimination?"

How DARE they...
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One price for Christians, another price for non-Christians.


One price for those who say a combination of words, a different price for those who don't. If you can present any documentation to support a claim that he requires 'proof of religious belief', fire away.

If you want to claim that atheists have some kind of religious prohibition against speaking Christian scripture, again, fire away.. I'd love to see the documentation to support *that*.

How can that be seen as anything other than discrimination?

By knowing the difference between religion and speech.

There's no structural difference between this and a radio contest where they give cash to the Nth person to call in and recites the station's slogan. If you want to argue that religious speech deserves *less* legal protection than a radio station slogan, once again.. fire away.
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The prison is demonstrating its security by eliminating a potential risk as early as possible.. while the lookalike is still miles away.

Security is about finding a solution that has the smallest chance of failure with the smallest reasonable cost in terms of resources and effort.. not taking unnecessary chances to show how good your security is. It takes compelling reasons to do anything that increases the chance of failure or raises the cost.

The current baseline for security is that the lookalike is nowhere near the prison. Bringing the lookalike onto prison grounds would create additional risk and impose additional cost. There's no compelling reason to do either, especially when saying "no" to the visit is cheap, easy, and preserves the baseline.
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Context matters, and Batman's context is Gotham City.

Gotham is a dystopia.. the name was deliberately chosen to reflect that fact. It's a place where the traditional social order and values are inverted.

Crime, corruption, and violence aren't disruptions of the status quo in Gotham. They *are* the status quo.

The psychopaths (Joker), anarchists (Catwoman), mob bosses (various), mentally ill (Two Face), and environmentalists (Poison Ivy) are the cream of the dystopian aristocracy. They're powerful beyond the need for wealth. They just take whatever they want, and the only force that opposes them is Batman.

The bottom layer in Gotham is made of people who aren't rich or powerful enough to protect themselves, their families, or their homes and businesses. They're the everyday people who keep their heads down and "didn't see anything" because reporting a criminal won't do anything but make them the next victim.

The social dynamic in Gotham is that you participate in corruption, or get shoved into the victim class. Only the corrupt are safe, because even the ultra-wealthy can be targets.

In the context of Gotham, Batman is the Nelson Mandela who can't be silenced, starved, imprisoned, broken, or killed. OTOH, the victim class in Gotham will never rise to support him, or themselves, so the fight never ends.
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The typographical notion of using one space between sentences has its roots in physical printing, and is based on issues that aren't relevant online.

Offset printing presses like to print a 'grey' page.. if you divide the page into 1cm strips vertically, each strip should contain about the same amount of ink. That makes it easy to regulate the ink feed to the platen. It's hard to print pages where one strip gets a lot more ink than another. Either the dark one will get starved for ink or the light one will get smudged.

Therefore printers prefer 'justified' layouts (both the right and left edges of the text line up) over 'ragged right' layouts. The random spaces on the right edge of a ragged right layout make regulating the inkflow a bitch.

There's no fixed size for linear whitespace in a justified layout, so putting two spaces-of-undetermined-size between any two words is redundant. The layout man will just make one of them whatever size it needs to be, and will throw away the other one. That's a nuisance, so the layout men would tell the writers not to do it.

None of that is relevant to text on a computer screen. There's no ink to regulate, so it doesn't matter if your page is adequately grey. Most computer text runs ragged-right, but if you do want to justify it, the software can handle a redundant space without any trouble.

It's especially irrelevant on the web, because the standard is to treat all whitespace between two printing characters as 'one space'.

So type whatever the heck you want. If it gets formatted as HTML, it will be compressed to one space automatically. If it ends up being displayed in monospace type or ragged-right, it will be a little easier to read.

My touchstone for typographical issues in the computer age is to apply them to the following sentence:

Does the typograpical errors in this sentence mak it harder to understand than the spelling punctuation, and logical one's?
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Whoops.. just reread the OP on the point that the theoretical focal image would be 40 miles in diameter.. not that the proposed mirror was that size.

Even taking a 40-mile scale out of the equation, most of the problems remain: The focus has to be much smaller than the mirror in order to generate heat. Any mirror even a few hundred feet in diameter would still be fragile, and would still move slowly. Having a smaller focus means your aim has to be that much better in order to hit anything at all. And you're still trying to hit something moving 1000 miles per hour from a platform moving 13,000 miles per hour.
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Somebody needed to study physics a little harder.

It's true that a *spherical* lens or mirror can only reproduce an image of the source, but a parabolic mirror will easily focus light to a single point.

Well, technically a parabola only focuses /parallel/ incoming rays to a single point, but given that the sun is about 92 million miles away, all light hitting the surface of a 40-mile mirror would be close enough to parallel that it doesn't matter.

There are a bazillion reasons why a giant killer space mirror would be an extremely difficult technical challenge.

- The orbital velocity at 3100 miles up (roughly 5 million meters) is about 13,000 miles per hour. The orbital period (the time it takes to go all the way around the Earth) is about 3-1/2 hours. The Earth, meanwhile, spins at about 1000 miles per hour, probably not in the plane of the mirror's orbit.

- A circle 40 miles in diameter has an area of roughly 1250 square miles. Lifting 1250 square miles of *anything* to that kind of orbit would take a huge number of lifts, and would be hideously expensive.

- A structure 40 miles in diameter would be floppy as hell if it were made of 10' steel beams, and there's no way you could begin to lift that much mass into orbit. It's far more likely that you'd have a bubble of mylar that would make 'fragile as a soap bubble' look downright rigid by comparison.

- Even a stiff, light mirror 40 miles in diameter would turn very slowly. Anything flexible would have to move even slower to keep from A) ripping itself apart, and B) twisting out of a useful shape.

- At a distance of 3100 miles, getting within a mile of the target means you have to be accurate to about 1/50th of a degree.

For something that big and that hard to move, trying to hit something that far away, at those speeds, would be a bitch to say the least. And that says nothing of the whole 'turning it off so it doesn't roast your own country on the way past' issue.

Focal limits aren't even a theoretical problem though.
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Erock: Try the New English Bible, the NIV, or any interlinear translation. *Lots* of people have done translations since the KJV, which is admittedly flawed by scribe's notes, and biased according to the worldview of its day.

WRT to the idea that the bible loves segregation of things, I'd make a couple of points: the first is that the words 'sacred' and 'sin' both have their origins in the word for 'separation'. That which is holy is that which is set aside as having special value. The root of 'sin' goes back to the concept of unnecessary separation. The second is that the kosher law regarding separation of meat and dairy is stated as 'don't cook the calf in the milk of its mother.'

These observances are symbolic, and a lot of them don't make sense unless you actually know the historical context. One of the best illustrations I can think of is in Kyle Baker's _King David_, where Saul is telling his son about the point where he lost God's favor. He says something to the effect that he staged a raid on a neighboring village/country and killed everything down to the last woman and child.. the only things he left alive were the cattle. His son says something to the effect of "Oh wow," and Saul says, "I should've killed the cattle."

Baker does a great job of explaining why that makes sense, and I heartily recommend _King David_ to anyone who can find it. Otherwise, ask a rabbi.

Face it, most people in the US can't even give a decent explanation of the sociopolitical forces behind the Revolution or the Civil War. Hell, most can't even explain the net of political alliances that led to WWI, or how the humiliation of Germany made WWII more or less inevitable. Don't presume to expect immediate and transparent understanding of events from two or three millennia ago, in a culture whose mindset was decidedly different from our own.

Do *not* go up against people who've spent the past few thousand years arguing over exactly what all the laws of Judiaism mean om the strength of thirty seconds of not knowing Jack about it. It's a gross discourtesy if nothing else. Do something more constructive, like joining in the YouTube commentary over the authenticity of the moon landing videos.
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Farm subsidies are a common target of 'red state handout' rhetoric, but few people actually know the economics of agriculture.

It takes roughly one acre of arable land to feed one person for one year. There are 640 acres per square mile. That translates to about 1500 square miles of cropland per million people. The population of New York City is roughly 8 million, which means NYC's non-local agricultural footprint is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 square miles.

It's in the public interest for US food production to be in the hands of a large number of independent, competing farmers. We don't want to be at the mercy of a handful of mega-corporations for our food, the way we are for our petroleum products.

Farming is the kind of capital-intensive, high-risk business that tends to breed monopolies. A corporation with farms all over the country can survive a 5-year drought in the midwest better than an equivalent acreage of independent family farms. That means the corporation would also be well situated to buy said family farms at a greatly reduced price when the independent operators go bankrupt.

Generally speaking, we don't want the bulk of our domestic food production to fall under the control of a handful of large corporations. Having a large number of independent famers keeps commodity prices competitive, and makes it very hard for anyone to artificially limit the production of any particular commodity. That would not be true if our food supply was like our oil supply.

We've already seen that governments can only push so hard on large, extremely wealthy corporations. Governments have even less clout against corporations that have the power to decide who gets to eat what, and at what price.

Complain about farm subsidies all you want, but just watch what happens to your food bills if they ever go away.
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A lot of production printing processes use heavy metal drying agents in the ink. It's necessary when the drying time between putting the ink on the paper and folding the sheets into flitches is measured in seconds.

Plants grown between pages coated in ink that contains heavy metals would almost certainly pick up some of the metal themselves.

At very least, I'd want to check it out before eating anything grown that way.
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The idea that aliens would strip-mine the Earth is pretty much rubbish, and Hawking should know it.

Physicists should know physics. Hawking (famous for calculating the physics of black holes) should know about the energy costs of pulling resources out of a gravity well.

The current cost for a space shuttle mission is roughly $400M. Its lifting capacity is 20,400kg to low earth orbit, 3,810kg to geostationary orbit. In other words, it costs about $16,000/kg to lift something to LEO, and about $105,000/kg to reach GTO.

For comparison, gold currently sells at about $37,000/kg. In other words, the effort of lifting something into LEO is worth roughly half the item's weight in gold. Lifting it to GTO is worth roughly three times its weight in gold.

Meanwhile, every element you can find on earth is floating around in the asteroid belt, with essentially no gravity well to overcome, and surrounded by vastly less crap that needs to be mined out of the way.

Besides, the military assessment of an interstellar invasion is ridiculous:

- Your initial intelligence is probably decades or centuries out of date.

- You can't get more complete or recent intelligence without going there.

- Your production base and reinforcements will be decades or centuries away by the time your invasion force hits the target star system, so you'd better bring everything you need to build your equipment from the raw materials up.

- You don't know what kind of defenses your target will be able to field by the time you get there, so you may be facing anything from nukes to nanotech to things you don't even know exist.

- Your invasion force will have to devote considerable resources to defending its supply and production base from god-knows-what kinds of attack.

- Any of your supply or production technology that falls into the hands of the locals will give them just that much more capacity to wipe you out.

- And it's only a matter of luck whether the locals will have their own population outside the planetary gravity well by the time you arrive.

Seriously, it's like saying, "here's a pile of newspapers from 1930. Go design and outfit a fleet of ships to invade China. You only get one chance, and we'll check back with you in another 80 years."
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It's called 'denaturing' and it's still being done today. Face it.. it doesn't make much sense to try and regulate potable ethanol when you're shipping 180-proof stuff around in rail cars, 10,000 gallons at a shot.

There's a whole range of chemicals that are added to industrial ethanol to make it toxic. Methanol is one, but there are several others. Most of them have an unpleasant odor or flavor, and are only toxic in relatively large quantities.
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I happen to live in a rural area (the nearest town has a population of 300), where we see a fair number of immigrants from other parts of the country.. usually Chicago and LA.

I can tell you in two minutes whether an 'outlander' will merge into the community or not.

The ones who don't make it are all about urban pride. They seem to think that people who live in large cities automatically know how to run the world better than people in small towns, and rarely miss an opportunity to tell anyone listening how to make [wherever they are] more like [wherever they came from]. It happens often enough to be a cliche, and our usual response (once they've gone to spread the light of civilization somewhere else) is, "if where they came from is so great, why did they come here (and why don't they go back)?"

Let's face it.. nobody likes being told how their home is inferior to somewhere else. Those of you who live in large cities would probably dislike someone who moved in from, say, Paris, and could be counted on to tell you how American food is crap at every meal.

That goes double for the local conditions. If you can't handle gravel roads, bad cellphone reception, two channels of TV on a good day, and the nearest shopping mall being 50 miles away, *don't* *move* *here*. It isn't like we keep any of it a secret. There's a direct correlation between poorly maintained roads and $300/yr property taxes. If moving to the area was an informed decision, you knew and accepted the tradeoffs before you came, so please don't bitch about them now. If you didn't know about the tradeoffs, and therefore didn't make an informed decision when moving here, we have no interest in hearing you whine about your own stupid mistake.

Another thing people from large cities tend not to understand is the loss of anonymity. If you live in Chicago or LA, you don't know 99.9% of the people around you at any given time, and they don't know you. If you act like an asshole to the clerk at the gas station, the clerk at McDonald's will probably never know.

In a small town, you're never more than about two degrees of separation away from anyone. I got a black eye in a rather silly way a couple weeks ago, and by the end of a week the voice through the intercom at the drive-through was saying, "so what's this I hear about your eye?"

People who recognize that lack of anonymity tend to be a bit more guarded and private.. it isn't so much unfriendliness as trying to control what gets posted on this week's billboard.

There's also a sort of standoffish politeness that comes from knowing you'll see someone on a regular basis for the next fifteen (or fifty) years. Have you ever stopped going to a restaurant because one of the waiters was a little too aggressively friendly? Now imagine that there are only three restaurants within 50 miles. You tend to move slowly and carefully when running away from your mistakes is expensive.

Yeah, when I moved to this area I spent about three years nodding when nodded to, and not pushing the conversation. Those are the manners appropriate to this kind of place. After a couple years of not seriously pissing anyone off, and sharing the occasional friendly comment, the community decided it could be friendly to me without risking major trouble. Now everyone is teasing me because a little girl tagged me a good one by accident.

Events like that crop up over time, so the question is whether you have the patience to give them time.

If you aren't willing to settle into a small community gradually, you're basically demanding that a few hundred people adapt themselves to you, on your timetable. That comes across as arrogant and rude.. not the kind of person I want to be around for the next fifteen to twenty years.
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It's a theatrical wind/storm machine. Looks like it does wind (upper roller and canvas sheet), rain (lower roller, probably a rotating rain stick), and thunder (the wooden slats).
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Profile for Mike Stone

  • Member Since 2012/08/07



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