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Real Name SMA   
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Nickname Scottish Martial Arts
Email Concealed by request
ICQ None given.
Homepage http://
Signed On Jun 16, 2002, 23:16
Total Comments 3169 (Veteran)
User ID 13410
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
11. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 16, 2016, 12:09 Scottish Martial Arts
RedEye9 wrote on Oct 16, 2016, 10:38:
Mr. Tact wrote on Oct 16, 2016, 00:40:
Scottish Martial Arts wrote on Oct 15, 2016, 23:22:
... if humans are going to set foot on another planet in our lifetimes, that planet is Mars.
If I want to win the lottery, I have to buy a ticket. My winning the lottery and us getting someone to Mars in our lifetimes have about the same chance. Not impossible, but not very damn likely.
Humans will continue to buy lottery tickets and just maybe your great (or great great) grand children will see a manned launch headed towards mars. But if they buy a lottery ticket, odds are they won't win.

I'm not that familiar with the technical challenges involved, aside from the long duration of the mission and somehow carrying the fuel that would allow you to get back into orbit of Mars on mission completion. Are the technical challenges really so vast as to be a 100 year project? The nonexpert impression I had gotten was that this would be doable in a generation, i.e. within our lifetimes, as opposed to three or four generations down the line.

edit: Looked it up, sounds like the main challenge is how to transport enough fuel, food, and other supplies to sustain the mission both there and back. The timescale NASA was talking about, at least prior to budget cuts, was the mid 2030s for a manned orbital mission, and perhaps the 2040s for a manned landing mission.

I'm curious, why are we ascribing lottery like odds to actually pulling this off? Because of the likelihood of sustained funding in our current political environment? Or is there some huge technical hurdle that I'm not seeing?

This comment was edited on Oct 16, 2016, 12:16.
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News Comments > Heroes of the Storm "Systemic Level" Changes Coming
3. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 16, 2016, 02:25 Scottish Martial Arts
Grokk wrote on Oct 15, 2016, 21:36:
I don't play the game, I just wanted to comment on Blizzards need to constantly "balance" every little thing, and how they tend to screw everything else just to fix a small balance issue.

Two things happen to software: either no one uses it and it dies, or people use it and it evolves in accordance with user needs. Blizzard games get played. A lot. That means that user needs unaddressed by the current version come up, and consequently Blizzard has a financial stake in addressing them. That Blizzard doesn't always get it right is just a reflection of the fact that software is a human artifact produced for human use and not a pure mathematical perfection that can be achieved and never touched again. At least when they royally fuck up, they tend to recognize it and fix it.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
8. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 15, 2016, 23:22 Scottish Martial Arts
DangerDog wrote on Oct 15, 2016, 18:30:
Why does anyone want to go to mars? It's a rock. No indigenous life...

except for that gateway to hell thing, I don't get it.

There's huge potential for scientific research for one. More broadly, actually pulling off a manned mission to Mars would imply a focused engineering effort which would yield numerous technical advancements. And more broadly still, there's the aesthetic value of human beings walking on another planet, a purely terrestrial species using its knowledge and skill, acquired over millennia, to engage in interplanetary exploration. Realistically, if human's are going to set foot on another planet in our lifetimes, that planet is Mars. A culture has to find some use for its time and resources, and I'd a lot rather it be spent on space exploration than upper bracket tax cuts. I say go for it; it'd probably be less expensive than the F-35.
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News Comments > New WoW Game Director
20. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 14, 2016, 14:34 Scottish Martial Arts
Wallshadows wrote on Oct 14, 2016, 14:22:
I can understand and support preserving old content which is no longer accessible but you can't really preserve an event such as The Gates of AQ. It'll open, eventually, and that's a can of worms you simply can't close once the ball is rolling. It'll be nice to do the War of the Shifting Sands even long after the gates open but the actual collecting and subsequent invasion event will come and go which will ultimately ensure that there will always be new players who have not experienced it.

Here's an idea: rather than having a separate legacy server, introduce a portal in the Caverns of Time that leads to the pre-cata old-world zones. The old content that is no longer accessible would be accessible once again, as a kind of museum piece, but without attempting to try to recreate something that can never be recreated. The nature of an MMO is that it's going to change and evolve, and you're just fighting against the tide trying to recreate the game at a specific moment in time. Instead, just preserve what would otherwise be cut from the game, so that interested players, if they want, can go see the old content.
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News Comments > New WoW Game Director
17. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 14, 2016, 14:05 Scottish Martial Arts
Kxmode wrote on Oct 14, 2016, 13:49:
Scottish Martial Arts wrote on Oct 14, 2016, 13:24:
I think one of the bigger challenges is answering the question "What's the Canonical vanilla WoW?" Because the game was never static.

The canonical version of vanilla WoW is 1.12.1. That was the last major patch before TBC's release. The ideal would be to use that as the base version, and over time roll out the content in sequential order. That's what Nostalrius was doing. The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj event was the next scheduled event before Blizzard shut down the servers.

Is it? My strongest memories of Vanilla WoW were in November and December of 2004. If I wanted to relive those memories, then 1.12.1 would be a bad choice. Why aren't you catering to my needs as a nostalgic gamer? /forthesakeofargument
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News Comments > New WoW Game Director
15. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 14, 2016, 13:24 Scottish Martial Arts
The Half Elf wrote on Oct 14, 2016, 11:27:
But look at Blizzard. If their name is on it then it has to have a certain level of polish, and if they are going to do a legacy server it can't be a half-assed attempt (no offense) like player run servers.
Also the question still remains.... if they do even ONE legacy server will people re-sub to play WoW, and will the income be enough to justify the cost of the server. This is a huge unknown. Yes Nostalrius have quite a few players, but they were playing for free.

I think one of the bigger challenges is answering the question "What's the Canonical vanilla WoW?" Because the game was never static. Even in the first few months, major changes were being rolled out that changed how the game played, reworked balance, added new mechanics and content, etc. WoW of January 2007 (a few weeks before TBC's launch) was not WoW of November 2004*. So which version does Blizzard pick? And once it decides on a version how does it A) deal with the fanboys who declare it picked the wrong version and B) deal with those who've forgotten how badly balanced the game was in the early going, where entire classes, let along talent trees, were worthless and entire zones were empty wastelands?

I think those problems are solvable but given that the demand for a legacy server is coming from people who think Blizzard has made the wrong design decisions in recent years, why should they suddenly be happy with Blizzard's decisions about which Vanilla version -- with how many essential changes patched in -- to release? Don't get me wrong, there's a part of me that would love to see Vanilla pre-cata old-world WoW again, but there's another part of me that recognizes that the only way to experience a moment in time in a constantly evolving and changing MMO is to have been there at that moment to begin with. TBC is still in the game virtually unchanged, but when I took a character to Hellfire Peninsula recently after the Legion launch, it sure wasn't the same as it was in January 2007 even if the content was unchanged.

*I initially wrote that 2014 because holy shit 12 years is a long time ago.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
27. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 14, 2016, 10:26 Scottish Martial Arts
DangerDog wrote on Oct 14, 2016, 01:30:
I usually stick with named vendors like newegg when buying computer parts off of ebay, got lucky but lesson learned.

I used to go with newegg but lately I've been finding that Amazon -- regular Amazon, not the Marketplace sellers -- has better prices. Toss in prime shipping and it nearly always works out to be a better deal on computer hardware. Pretty much the only time I go with newegg is if there is an immediate need for the component, i.e. something is dead, because I live within driving distance of the newegg warehouse and can pick it up sameday. Ironically though, I'll probably be selling PC, with all of its Amazon bought components, through ebay in a few months when I move to New York (can't imagine I'll have room for a desk and desktop in the size apartment I'll have in Manhattan).
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
20. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 13, 2016, 18:47 Scottish Martial Arts
nin wrote on Oct 13, 2016, 11:38:
MajorD wrote on Oct 13, 2016, 11:27:
Yeah, my wife and I watch Jeopardy on a regular basis, and every once in a while Alex comes across as kind of a Dick.

BTW: He doesn't directly call her a loser.

I can't remember, was it Will Ferrell or someone else that used to play him as a total dick on SNL?

He always seemed like a bit of a horses ass, but I also wondered if that was him personally, or just his show persona/act of "I have all the answers and you don't.". I guess I'd like to think that's just his act for the show.

I watch the show semi-regularly and the sense I have gotten is that when he comes off as a dick it's just a social mistiming on his part. The vast majority of the time he comes off as amiable and affable, and when it's the opposite, it always feels like he fumbled his tone as opposed to trying to be outright malicious. This however is all just my 100% subjective impression.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
36. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 12, 2016, 00:00 Scottish Martial Arts
jdreyer wrote on Oct 11, 2016, 21:52:
God I don't want to vote for her, but Trump is a fucking lunatic and Gary Johnson is a moron who is unfit for office as well. The next 4-8 years are pretty much fucked from all angles at this point.
Jill Stein?

One of my basic criteria for presidential candidates is that they not be an anti-vaxxer. Sadly, that leaves exactly one candidate this year, and amazingly it's not the candidate who is a medical doctor by profession.
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
19. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 8, 2016, 16:10 Scottish Martial Arts
VaranDragon wrote on Oct 8, 2016, 08:02:

Look at history. When has meaningful change ever occured without a revolution? The United States of America was born in a revolution, and there is no way that corporate interests are going to relinquish power and control without a fight.

From the US 20th Century: the Labor Movement and establishment of the right to organize, the 40 hour work week, etc.; the Civil Rights Movement leading to the 24th Amendment, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act; the Suffragettes and the expansion of the franchise to Women; the Vietnam War Protest movement leading to the 26th amendment and an end to the draft (I'm not convinced the latter was a good idea, but it's meaningful change nonetheless).

Should I keep going with examples from that era and country, or should I shift to a different place and time in history? Or is it clear that meaningful change can happen without resorting to violent overthrow of an existing governmental system? The American Revolution is a notable success story, but it is an exception to the rule, not the rule itself. Don't forget that by December of 1776, the revolution had effectively been crushed at Brooklyn Heights in August and the remnants of Washington's army were literally a week away from going home in defeat (those who hadn't already deserted were set to have their enlistments expire with the new year) before crossing the Delaware and reigniting the revolution. In other words, it was legitimate miracle that the revolution survived its first year.

As I've said in other threads, no matter how big the problems facing the US -- and with a bit of historical perspective it becomes clear they aren't that bad comparatively -- the truth is that the period from the end of WWII to present is very likely the greatest golden age in which humanity has ever lived. Never before have more people lived in more prosperity, more peace, and more freedom. That doesn't mean things are perfect, that their haven't been recessions, wars, or oppression in that time -- far from it -- but to borrow an anecdote from The Iliad, the fates of men can come from a jar that is all bad, or a jar that is the bad mixed with the good; the jar that has good fates alone is only for the gods. We would be fools to burn down a system that has arguably worked better than any other in world history. Present day Syria is a good example of the immediate aftermaths of most revolutions throughout history: a society tearing itself apart, literally if you count barrel bombs.

Revolution sounds all well in good, but it assumes that A) the revolutionaries have a plan to rebuild something better after they've burned everything down, B) don't turn on each other in their revolutionary zeal over minor differences, and C) the existing powers that be don't decide to entrench and fight the revolution vigorously.

This comment was edited on Oct 8, 2016, 16:26.
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
16. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 7, 2016, 23:27 Scottish Martial Arts
Creston wrote on Oct 7, 2016, 20:59:

Just an FYI, I wasn't so much responding to your comment per se, as I was using your comment as a jumping off point for a rant.

At any rate, I agree that campaign contributions and the money in politics are a major distorting influence, although I wouldn't even rate it as the most distorting. For that, I'd go with geographic polarization amplified by gerrymandering, and secondarily the fact that we're expecting too much out of partisan identities. By the latter, I mean that each party is no longer a party, but a distinct tribe. By inserting tribal identity into partisan politics, we create a world in which nearly compromise is capitulation, the opposition passing a bill is an apocalyptic calamity, and an opposition leader is an illegitimate villain, all because politics is no longer a matter of deliberation and sharing, but a matter of core identity. You can't compromise, or even communicate, with someone who believes you're a threat to their way of life and sense of self.

Getting back to money in politics, this is something which political science has studied quite a bit and the dominant consensus is that money doesn't buy direct influence, instead it buys access. That seems like a distinction without a difference but it's significant: while there are famous exceptions, true quid pro quo vote buying is extremely rare. In contrast, what campaign contributions do is cause the donor class, and their political issues, to occupy a disproportionate amount of a politician's face time with his or her constituency. To be clear that's deeply corrosive -- if you mostly just hang out with rich people, you tend not to understand the problems faced by middle class and poor people as well -- but knowing the wealthy's issues de jour better, and perhaps being more sympathetic to them as a result, is a lot different than cashing your check and switching your vote.

Likewise, I'd say that Tammany Hall style-corruption is at least an order of magnitude worse than campaign contributions, if note more. In the former case, you had power brokers directly lining their pockets by skimming off public works, extorting contractors, etc. Stuff like burning down a new building on the eve of its completion so a new one, with all of the opportunities for skimming, used to be very common in American politics, particularly at the local level.

Finally, if the current system is irredeemable, how exactly do we go about transitioning to another? That's a hard problem that humans are very bad at solving. As I alluded in the previous post, it usually involves a war or two (or a century of war if you're ancient Rome) and decades of a system that's much worse before it gets any better, if it gets better at all. See the aforementioned ancient Rome, see revolutionary France, see 20th century China, see present day Syria. If tearing down the system were to occur in the next year or two, essentially the remainder of our lives would be spent struggling through the consequences. I don't particularly want that, and I doubt anyone else does either. Better to work within the system we have and fix its problems.
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
11. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 7, 2016, 18:00 Scottish Martial Arts
Creston wrote on Oct 7, 2016, 11:43:
The United States government has been working to end the Constitution because it has been bought by corporations

Well, they're not wrong...

Not wrong that US politics at the national level is deeply dysfunctional, but their diagnosis of both the symptoms and the causes of that dysfunction is idiotic, and proposing revolution as a solution imbecilic. Tearing down the system is the easy part -- humans are pretty good at that -- replacing it with something better is the hard part, a part which frequently ends in guillotines and Caesars.

Our government has been presented with a series of distorting incentives, in which rational elected officials will rationally choose to act in ways which serve short term interests (not all of which are self-serving) but which over the long term drive the federal government towards dysfunction. If we remove those distorting incentives, then overtime we gradually restore functionality at the federal level (the state and local level is doing just fine in most jurisdictions).

The absurdity of claiming "corruption" as motivation for revolution is that by measurable standards, the government is orders of magnitude less corrupt than it was a century ago. Think Tammany Hall as compared with Freedom of Information Requests. We face problems, but they are fixable, so long as public cynicism hasn't grown so large that no one wants to fix them anymore. And the fact that Trump has done as well as he has, even if he is more likely than not to lose, makes me worry that we're less interested in fixing our problems and more interested in lashing out in self-destructive ways.

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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
2. Re: Morning Metaverse Oct 3, 2016, 13:00 Scottish Martial Arts
Cutter wrote on Oct 3, 2016, 11:53:
I'll never understand why people use Craigslist or how it got as big as it did, it's such a shitty service.

It seems like there are a lot of modern conveniences you don't understand or see a use for.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
10. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 1, 2016, 20:24 Scottish Martial Arts
MacLeod wrote on Oct 1, 2016, 19:15:
Meh. Place is an overpriced tourist trap.

True. But I have memories of deliciousness which will now never be replicated.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
8. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 1, 2016, 18:32 Scottish Martial Arts
I was really bummed to hear that the Carnegie Deli is closing. I'm moving to NYC for a new job in March of next year, by which time the deli will be closed, and that means I'll have only ever been able to go once. Oh well.  
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
12. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 29, 2016, 21:23 Scottish Martial Arts
Here's a drinking game for you guys: go to a mainstream news site, then go to the comments section for any story they're running on the ICANN transition this weekend. Drink every time you facepalm.  
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
48. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 15:33 Scottish Martial Arts
Verno wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 14:49:
Perhaps choosing a third party is the lesser of "two" evils for some voters, I don't make assumptions about peoples reasons.

Fair enough. Certainly, my argument makes some implicit assumptions about what people want from the present election. That said, I do suspect that many voters are not realistic about what they can reasonably hope to achieve through democratic politics and consequently make voting decisions that ensure they get even less than they're already getting.
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
44. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 14:10 Scottish Martial Arts
Verno wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 13:23:
Most of the time when I hear that argument it seems to be from people who just want you to lean towards their candidate of choice.

Perhaps, but I would argue that most 3rd-party supporters don't understand that democracy is a process -- not an outcome -- that is geared towards producing the watered-down stability of compromise over the dramatic change of decisive action. In a system where everyone has a (relatively) equal say, no one can get everything they want, all of the time, unless by some miracle the overwhelming majority of the voting public agrees on something and is organized in support of it. Instead, democracy provides a process to mediate political disagreements, so that everyone, ideally, gets a small piece of what they want and can at least put up with the rest. The question everyone has to ask themselves when in the voting booth is not "Does this candidate support everything I've ever wanted?" but "Does this candidate have a realistic shot of making some degree of progress on a few of the issues I care about most without dragging me too far back on others?" Note the qualifications and warrants in the latter question: democracy is a process that creates complex compromise, not decisive simplicity.

Choosing between the lesser of two evils is not indicative of a broken system: it's indicative of the democratic system in a big, diverse country working (mostly) as intended. A candidate that gave you everything you wanted, would offer too little to everyone else, and everyone else matters just as much as you. If that compromised choice between far less than ideal candidates is too unappealing, by all means vote your conscious, but don't be surprised that by walking away from an offer to get some of what you want, you end up getting nothing.
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
30. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 00:01 Scottish Martial Arts
Zanthar wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 21:14:
I hope Hillary has a seizure on stage. Foaming at the mouth, shitting and pissing her pants suit, eyes going all wacky. Now that would be entertainment.

Well in the pursuit of even-handedness, I suppose that would balance out the walking national embarrassment across the stage from her.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
140. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 25, 2016, 15:15 Scottish Martial Arts
Quboid wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 09:58:
I hate seeing people refer to the UN/EU/NATO as people pointlessly sitting in a room arguing when that has replaced people pointlessly dying on a field.

Yup. The same goes for international trade. Globalization and world trade have created real losers, in our own country and in many others, and has hardly been equitable in its economic benefits. BUT they have also led to a world order in which major powers do not go to war with each other: they have too much to gain from being at peace and trading with one another, and too much to lose by going to war. That doesn't mean the world has been conflict free, but the kinds of wars which major powers used to fight near continuously no longer exist. As you note, major power conflict is rapidly receding from living memory, which unfortunately makes it all the more likely for people to forget how easily and often war used to occur, and how quickly it could come about again if we abandon the institutions which have given us so many decades of peace and prosperity.
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3169 Comments. 159 pages. Viewing page 13.
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