Comments Posted By sota
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The narrative is lacking for Mars. People need a story not a science puzzle.

From my read, the Mars "story" blows away Gilligan's. And I don't see Gilligan catching up quickly. People were captivated for weeks when the rovers first sent back pictures. And for the first few months, the story of the rovers was water cooler talk all over the world (and discoveries over the years have at times piqued people's interests again). I'm not sure something that can't actually be "seen", will do much to get people excited (at least people beyond the space geeks).

The super-Earths themselves are too distant to be seen. Instead, astronomers infer their presence from subtle distortions in starlight, caused when photons travel through the super-Earths’ gravitational fields. Depending on the degree of distortion, astronomers can even calculate a planet’s mass.

No contest between public interest in Mars vs. Gilligan. But I think ultimately the Big Question of intelligent life elsewhere will be answered by the search and discovery of Gilligans.

The probes they plan on sending to Mars in the future are pretty sophisticated. The one that's going in 2011 will be a "smart lander" with a nuclear powered rover that might wander around for a decade. Sample return missions scheduled for I think 2014. These will be interesting but do not hold out the promise for the kind of spectacular discoveries that can be made by the NGST or even the earth based observations that are getting more and more detailed.


Comment Posted By sota On 19.12.2009 @ 20:48


Yes we are big tent.

Frankly, I think a Venn diagram of the population's beliefs and values would heavily overlap. Both sides are a much bigger tent than the other side cares to admin. What is it then that leads someone to register Democrat and someone else to register Republican? Tradition within the family? Peer pressure within the local environment? Would a northeastern Republican register Democrat if they lived in Texas? Perhaps it's subconsciously determined by which extremists you want to be associated with the least?

Harry Reid is pro-life. Any number of Democrats are pro-gun, Tester and Webb come to mind. Obama favors “traditional marriage.” Many voted for Bush’s tax cuts, go back and look up the roll call. And quite obviously a number oppose a public option.

Can a single Democrat be a combination of those? How many? Where is the tipping point before they themselves realize they're no longer a Democrat? How many of those before Democrats realize they're not one of their own?

So they can favor gun control? Can they be pro-choice? Can they be for gay marriage? Can they favor some higher taxes? Can they support a public option?

Similarly, how many of those can a Republican admit to before realizing they're no longer a Republican?

Or maybe they never admit it? How often to people's beliefs change in such a way that the "other" party fits them better but don't change their political registration?

While the RNC's purity test was/is ridiculous, both parties have a purity test (unwritten or otherwise). How many questions on the purity test can Democrats get "wrong" before they're not welcome? Or will you take the vote no matter the beliefs?

The RNC says it's 80%? What about the Democrats?

Comment Posted By sota On 4.12.2009 @ 06:33


Why on earth would somebody want to hear what they already believe? I already believe 2+2 equals 4 — I don’t need to hear somebody else try to convince me of that.

If only the issues being debated were that clear cut. I believe much of the unwillingness to hear out the other side (or the eagerness for affirmation from one's own side) has little to do with hearing "2+2=4" from one's own side and more to do with hearing "2+2=5" from the other side.

Basic truths that people hold dear and use as a foundation for the rest of their belief system getting questioned doesn't usually sit well. People are willing to hear out the other side when it comes to whether "1/3=0.3" or "1/3=0.33". Neither is accurate, but one is "more accurate". People don't mind fighting around the edges or being swayed gently toward a position 5 degrees off center from their own, but telling someone "black is white" is a non-starter for most people. Therefore it's easier to sit and digest daily doses of "2+2=4".

Many people are scared to have their belief system questioned and take it very personally. If the foundation they've developed is shaky or the knowledge on a particular topic is questionable, they'd much rather sit in the warm arms of agreeable screechers than wander into the wilderness. A second grader who knows 2+2 equals 4 may still not feel comfortable arguing that point or at least arguing the "why" behind it.

Internet forum environments do little to quell this fear. Many "n00bs" shutter at the thought of wandering into the lion's den of the opposing side and debating an issue. Nature pushes those people to the friendly environments they're comfortable in. As they gain more confidence in their "positions" they gradually drift out of the nest. And typically, rather than argue the finer points, we just hear "2+2=5"...oh, and you're an idiot if you don't think so.

I have a sort of half-thought-out theory that it’s because we Americans won the ideological war so convincingly. Regulated free markets, elections, peaceful transfers of power, basic human rights. No one in the developed world is even arguing the basic premises anymore. There’s no voice in the developed world for monarchy or communism or fascism.

I rarely agree with you, but your comment makes a lot of sense. Without an ideologically common enemy, America has turned inward and begun debating the nuances. That's likely why America as a unit pulls together so quickly when a common enemy does rear its ugly head. We're fine arguing amongst ourselves and dismissing our own as ignorant buffoons, but if an outsider comes and tries to start a fight, we'll put aside our own differences to kick their ass into next week (ideologically or otherwise).

Comment Posted By sota On 17.11.2009 @ 17:35


In the short time that Obama has been in office the US has zoomed something like 30 places in order to once again be the world’s most admired nation.

That's totally awesome! Maybe we'll be voted Most Likely To Succeed this year! BFF!

Dude, Exodus:

Having and atheist quote scripture and use it to argue a point is about as meaningful to me as steakhouse recommendations from a vegetarian.

I read the story to mean that we’d kindly like that when Republicans run the government they stop trying to make troops “Praise Jesus” and treat their frakking illnesses instead.

And you think none of the ineptitude, preaching, corruption, and other "bad things" won't infect the federal government's handling of health care? Good luck.

Comment Posted By sota On 15.11.2009 @ 18:32

Try being outraged about this for a few days please.

I'm outraged that we want to turn more of a health care in America over to an institution that proves itself, over and over again, as incapable of managing something on that scale. Passing health care reform doesn't mean the Democrats get to run the mandate. It means the federal government gets to run the mandate. If your VA example tells me anything, it tells me to be ever more skeptical about having my health care options run by any wing of the federal government, Republican or Democrat.

As for the bow...meh...much ado about nothing in my opinion. I don't think any President could be expected to know the various protocols for greeting every leader they meet with. If an aide or handler schooled him beforehand and he still gave the ol' bow, then I'd blame him. As it is, I don't read into it that he's being subservient or anything of the sort. Chalk it up to ignorance or naïveté.

Comment Posted By sota On 15.11.2009 @ 16:39


1) Is it okay with you that working people, people who put in their 40 hours plus every week, can end up living in a box under a freeway when one of their kids get sick. Is that okay, yes or no?

2) Is it okay with you that Americans have to choose between feeding their kids and getting their kids inoculated, or choose between one of their kids getting insulin and another getting asthma medication? Is that okay with you, yes or no?

You must know that there aren't just two options to move forward given our current situation, right? We don't have to select between your questions above and the reform being discussed. I know you have more nuance than that.

To answer your questions directly, no, neither of those situations are "okay" with me personally. But that is largely irrelevant to the topic at hand. Whether or not a situation is "okay" with someone is nearly meaningless when it comes to what the federal government can (or should) do.

Is it "okay" with you that Saddam had men and women raped, mutilated and tortured? If it isn't, then clearly going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do? You see, there are usually many, many options to solve a particular problem. Boiling the situation down to Option A: "letting kids die in the street", or Option B: "passing health care reform" is just silly.

If we have a right to something (life, healthcare, etc.), someone/something must presumably be responsible to see to it that we get that something we have a right to. Who/what has that responsibility?

Does the right to something imply that the federal government should provide it for you? Or does the right to something only imply that the federal government cannot prevent you from pursuing it?

If people have the right to health care, then certainly they have the right to a method of transportation to the nearest health care facility in non-emergency situations. After all, how can one pursue the right to life without the right to health care? And how can one pursue the right to health care without the right to access it?

Comment Posted By sota On 13.11.2009 @ 19:35


Their apparent objective is to move this country into a leftist totalitarian regime.

But your party is psychotic. The failure is yours, the lies are yours, the contempt for the needs and wishes of the American people is yours. We tried, but you’re the party of no, the party of spittle-flecked rage, the party of race-baiting and conspiracy theories and tin-foil hat nuts.

The Internet: Where Hyperbole Becomes Truth

Obama isn't a tyrant trying to turn America into a totalitarian state. And the Republican party is none of the word vomit regurgitated here.

Wrong. The people are getting exactly the behavior that they vote for.

It’s sad, but that’s the way it is.

What is sad is that we don't get to vote for "behavior" directly. We get to vote for a person. I'd check the box next to:

[] Whoever can behave like an adult

Unfortunately, if internet forums are any indication, if "good behavior" was on the ballot, it'd lose handily to:

[] Whoever can hold blindly to their position while degrading the opposing party

Comment Posted By sota On 10.11.2009 @ 05:52


Why doesn’t the NFL recruit sumo wrestlers for offensive lines? I would think that somebody who has trained their entire lives to do nothing but push 400+ pound monstrosities back 8 feet would shred defenseive lines.

My first guess would be the lack of lateral agility/speed. My second guess would be the overall lack of endurance and stamina.

It’s hard to be credible, as a party, to claim that you’re against government run health care, then refuse to call for the dismantling of the VA and Medicare, the two largest examples of government run health care.

This argument is silly. It's as logical as saying, "Since democrats opposed the Bush tax cuts, they're required to call for the repeal of all tax cuts." The federal government has already made a commitment that it should follow through on, but it does not then necessarily follow that all activities under the same umbrella are a foregone conclusion.

Want to know why Democrats are running the government?

Is that what they're doing?

Can you guess why Obama is still polling in the mid-50’s...

Don't fall into the trap that the ideologues on the right did in defending Bush to the last drop. "He's still polling in the upper 40's...he's still polling in the 40's...he's still polling higher than the Democrats in Congress..." It's a losing strategy. Personal approval does not a President make.

Comment Posted By sota On 8.11.2009 @ 20:29


Sorry, that was me above...

Comment Posted By sota On 31.10.2009 @ 08:20

We are mopping as fast as we can but you guys left one hell of a mess and it takes some time to clean up after you.

How much time are you willing to give Obama? Will the 2012 election be a referendum (for you) on how well he's cleaned things up or will it be a referendum on how well he's not behaving like Bush? Or is four years just not enough time for you to measure his capacity as President?

Comment Posted By sota On 30.10.2009 @ 16:32

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