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DShomshak last won the day on October 11 2018

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  1. Aaand I was right. Dean Shomshak
  2. Hey, I can post again! (No idea why this comes and goes.) I thought of another reason the SCOTUS conservatives might back Alabama: To support the death penalty. I get the impression that opposition to the death penalty mostly comes from the left (though I haven't seen any statistics on this) -- notably on the grounds that it is applied preferentially to minorities and the poor, and even when there is strong evidence of bungled defense or active malfeasance by the prosecution and the state. So, enabling an execution in a deep red state, in the face of state misconduct, might just be a way of sticking a finger in the eye of liberals. It's not so much to privilege Christianity as to privilege states that still hold executions. But this is speculation on my part. And even if I'm right, it's possible the justices are not consciously aware of their motivations. Dean Shomshak
  3. Oh, it's an excellent look from the POV of Evangelical conservatives. Dean Shomshak
  4. The Feb. 2, 2019 issue of The Economist has three space-related articles: * A proposal that x-rays might be better than radio for interstellar communications. They spread out more slowly, don't scatter as much, and there's a whole lot less natural x-ray sources to mask messages. * A bit of rock brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts may originally have been a bit of the Earth. The two-gram grain from the Fra Mauro highlands is a bit of the slashed debris from the Late Heavy Bombardment impact that created the Mare Crisium. The zircon and quartz grains in the rock, however, are of a sort unlikely to have formed in Lunar conditions; they more plausibly formed on Earth. (The brief article doesn't say what features lead to this conclusion.) So, one LHB impact could have splashed the rock from Earth to the Moon (which at the time was only a third its current distance); then another impact put it on the Fra Mauro highlands; and now it's back to its planet of origin. This interests geologists, because the Earth has very little rock that is relatively unchanged from that long ago. (You can judge the rarity by geologists considering being through two massive impacts still "relatively unchanged.") * And an article on Pentagon proposals for laser-armed satellites to shoot down missiles, in the latest iteration of "Star Wars" missile defense. The article notes the vast expense of existing missile defense, the likelihood that it would fail against relatively small numbers of missiles, and a "detailed and scathing" analysis of boost-phase interception that the National Research Council produced in 2012. I simply remember a Scientific American article from the 1980s that concluded the laws of physics make any space-based missile defense system, well, considerably harder than advocates make it sound. Dean Shomshak
  5. Oh, I think you're doing pretty well. Dean Shomshak
  6. Mea culpa; I tossed off a factoid I'd heard or read (and might have misunderstood at that) and did not check the numbers. I apologize for passing along... <gasp> Fake News! I don't say that it's right that Pugetopolis can so completely dominate state politics, but it's a fact that will not change any time soon. Washington state initiatives are a whole other rant. Suffice to say they've given me a fervent belief that the Founders were right in avoiding direct democracy. But they do sometimes give clues where voters' minds are at. In this case, even Pugetopolis won't back a carbon tax enough to ram it through. @Pattern Ghost: Yes, reasonably competent and intelligent, in that he seems able to speak in coherent sentences. Sometimes. And he seems to have some notion how government works. Sometimes. It's a low bar.🙄 Dean Shomshak
  7. Well, actually that's true. But King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties hold enough population that they now overbalance the rest of the state. Dems hold every statewide office but one, IIRC, and both legislative houses. So if Washington can't pass a carbon tax, the odds don't look great for anywhere else. Oddly, the state's latest gun control initiative passed in every county, even in conservative Eastern Washington. So it's easier to pass gun control than a carbon tax. Dean Shomshak
  8. So, considering villain teams instead of solo villains... Some super-teams work for larger organizations. If the sponsor is villainous, so is the team. The classic form is the team of super-soldiers working for an evil government (or one of those shadowy, malign government agencies that were de rigeur in Iron Age comics). Evil corporations are another classic, such as the Serpent Squad teams assembled by Marvel's favorite corporate nasty, Roxxon. Or in the CU, VIPER sponsors a number of villain teams as super-powered backup for its regular agents. Your campaign's international criminal/subversive/terrorist agency can do the same. You can also make a villain team distinctive based on why its members stick together. This usually connects to their goals, but not always. For instance, a team of villains might stay together because they were all part of the same origin event. For a further variation, the villains might be related. I recently heard of a study that a very small percentage of American families account for a surprisingly large percentage of American crime. And no, this isn't Mafia-style organized crime: just families where everybody is a criminal -- mostly petty crime, from shoplifting to burglary or the convenience-store level of armed robbery. Some of these criminal families go back generations. Let them be mutants, or all be exposed to the same radiation accident, and you've got a supervillain team. Dean Shomshak
  9. Many years ago, the radio program A Prairie Home Companion did a "Red Scare" spoof about Creeping International Canadianism! "A Canadian takeover of the United States: Could it happen? What would it look like?" Dean Shomshak
  10. Washington State governor Jay Inslee is still playing it coy (or maybe dithering). As a Washingtonian, it would be nice to see our governor in the White House. But Inslee can't possibly win. See, he's earnest, experienced, reasonalby competent and intelligent... but not charismatic. A Democrat in the mold of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and other election-losers. The old saying is that Republicans fall in line, but Democrats need to fall in love. And the party apparatus keeps producing dull policy wonks. (It doesn't help that Inslee's signature issue is climate change, on which he has consistently failed to achieve anything even in a deep blue state. Two of his carbon tax proposals have now failed at the ballot box. And polls establish pretty clearly that while a majority of Americans say climate change is a problem, they will not tolerate even the slightest possibility of economic hardship in order to do anything about it.) Dean Shomshak
  11. Okay, one wacko. But if I'm not letting conservatives screech about "violence pervading the Left" because of that one guy who shot at the Republican congressmen, I'm not willing to accuse the Party of Trump of systematic, Fascist-level political violence because of that guy either. I try to be better than that. (Don't always succeed, but I try.) (The far right does seem to attract a lot more such wackos, though. Link to study available on request.) Dean Shomshak
  12. In revising the home dimension of Tyrannon the Conqueror, for the CU, I built it around toroidal stars and planets within a smoke-ring galaxy. Of course the artist completely screwed up the illustration. DEean Shomshak
  13. My PBS station has been airing a series called "The Dictator's Playbook," comparing the careers of 20th-century dictators and showing their methods for gaining power, keeping power and leading their countries to ruin. A useful reminder that while Trump may have the 'tude, he is nowhere near the depths attained by the likes of Mussolini or Saddam. (Yet.) Like, Trumpists aren't bombing Democratic party offices or kidnapping and murdering Democratic politicians. So, perspective. In view of yesterday's events, I found special interest in the account of Mussolini's rise to become Prime Minister of Italy. His Fascist Party had only a few seats in the Italian parliament when he made his bid for the job. When he sent thousands of Fascist thugs marching on Rome, threatening mass violence, King Victor Emmanuel II still had control of the military and police: They could have crushed the few thousand Fascists, though not without cost. But the king and his government blinked, giving Mussolini the job in hopes of buying civil peace. Wow, did that turn out to be a mistake. Never give in to a bully. Democracies can resist takeover by dictators, if the institutions and the people who lead them hold firm. Dean Shomshak
  14. Yesterday, All Things Considered interviewed two groups of prison guards who aren't getting paid due to the shutdown. Some highlights: * Mockery from the inmates came as no surprise to them. * Noted that inmates working sub-minimum wage prison jobs are still getting paid. * Many bribe attempts from inmates, promising that money can be given in return for smuggling in cigarettes... drugs,,, cell phones... guns. * Even in this small number, they knew a fellow guard who attempted suicide over this. (He survived.) * They are all extremely angry at being used as political pawns. Or hostages. Some to the point of tears, and I don't see prison guards as delicate flowers. It's horrible to say so, but if the guards at a prison quit en masse and walked out -- leaving all the doors unlocked behind them -- I could not find it in my heart to condemn them. Dean Shomshak
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