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  1.  (10678.101)
    @Kosmopolit: Don't worry, chances are they'll die long before they get the chance to contaminate anything.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    Isn't the success rate for unmmaned probes to Mars something like only 1in 3 even hits the planet at all?
    • CommentAuthorWood
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
  2.  (10678.104)

    "I like this kids gumption, I say we send 'im."
    "But sir, s/he has no knowledge of anything useful to the survival of the mission and -"
    "I said...GUMPTION."

    [For the record, if I was Paul Stamets, I'd be on this thing quicker than you can say 'Google Mars.' He's the man who could terraform Mars. As it is, I have nothing to add other than manual labour and farmhand labour experience...and an MA in Modern & Contemporary Literature. If they need a labourer who can teach on the importance of poetry and they're willing to pay for my launch/flight/long-haul flight, SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.]
  3.  (10678.105)
    Just send me up when they build the space jail.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    There should be a tax on press releases.

    @flabyo - there have been some pretty shocking cock-ups, but I don't know what the actual percentages are. Hang on while I run the numbers...
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012 edited
    Right, this should be a complete list in roughly chronological order:
    Mars 1960A (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    Mars 1960B (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    Mars 1962A (USSR) - failed before achieving Mars trajectory
    Mars 1962B (USSR) - failed before achieving Mars trajectory
    Mars 1 (USSR) - failed en route to Mars
    Zond 1964A (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    Zond 2 (USSR) - failed en route to Mars
    M-69A (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    M69B (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    Cosmos 419 (USSR) - failed before reaching orbit
    Mars 2 (USSR) - success
    Mars 3 (USSR) - success
    Mars 4 (USSR) - success
    Mars 5 (USSR) - success
    Mars 6 (USSR) - success

    Mars 7 (USSR) - failed on arrival at Mars (missed planet)
    Mariner 3 (NASA) - failed before achieving Mars trajectory
    Mariner 4 (NASA) - success
    Mariner 6 (NASA) - success
    Mariner 7 (NASA) - success

    Mariner 8 (NASA) - failed before reaching orbit
    Mariner 9 (NASA) - success
    Viking 1 (NASA) - success
    Viking 2 (NASA) - success

    Fobos 1 (IKI) - failed en route to Mars
    Fobos 2 (IKI) - failed on arrival at Mars
    Mars Pathfinder / Sojourner (NASA) - success
    Mars Observer (NASA) - failed en route to Mars
    Mars Global Surveyor (NASA) - success
    Mars 96 (RSF) - failed before reaching orbit
    Mars Climate Orbiter (NASA) - failed on arrival at Mars (the infamous "metric-imperial" incident)
    Mars Polar Lander (NASA) - failed on arrival at Mars (crashed)
    Nozomi (JAXA) - failed to achieve (correct) Mars trajectory
    Yinghuo-1/Fobos-Grunt - failed to achieve Mars trajectory
    2001 Mars Odyssey (NASA) - success
    Opportunity (NASA) - success
    Spirit (NASA) - success
    Mars Express (ESA) - success

    Beagle 2 (ESA) - failed on arrival at Mars (crashed)
    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (NASA) - success

    I make that to be 40 missions, of which 18 have been successful (45%). So better than 1/3, but not better than 50-50. On the other hand, NASA have launched 18 missions and 13 have been successful, a handsome 72% success rate.

    [Note: there's sort of an issue whether you consider an orbiter/lander package to be 1 mission or 2, particularly in the case that one fails and the other doesn't. Open to corrections.]
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    And also, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't having actual human bodies on-board who are able to pilot and perform maintenance increase the chances even further?
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    @DJ - It would, but it also carries with it all the risks and concerns of keeping the crew alive. I don't have access to the math, but I'd bet the complications would even out with the benefits.

    Which is not at all me saying that a crewed mission shouldn't be attempted.
  4.  (10678.110)

    As someone who has struggled with mental illness his whole life and who has probably buried more close friends than most people currently have, I will make mordant jokes about zombies and superdrugs in response to the episodic tidal waves of media reportage on these sorts of gruesome crimes. I do that. I'm going to keep doing it. I am more than aware of the social issues because I and many of my friends, living and dead, have faced them head-on in our daily lives and most of the time have fucking well lost. The options are laugh or fucking hang myself so I'll be laughing. Considering that doing so is pretty much the oeuvre of this forum's illustrious founder I figure it'll be OK. I assume that if my views are actually inappropriate I'll get cock-maggoted by the mods, and so be it.

    Regarding the "bath salts" thing - well, PCP is not available in Australia at all AFAIK and Meow or Bath Salts or whatever you call it is, and is pretty common. Whatever my friend took actually, drastically altered his personality until it wore off, and was given to him as being "LSD". Media beat-up in the Eugene-Poppo case or no, the incident that I described actually happened. I do not regard cathinone as remotely safe, and even if I am wrong in my guess as to what he was given, the facts remain that he took SOMETHING and that it had the effects that I have described; so there IS a drug other than PCP that is distributed as a recreational hallucinogen and that can make otherwise placid people become violent.

    If it ever becomes relevant, maybe I'll talk about the social justice work I've done at the various times when I've been well enough, and about some of the terrible things I've seen in the course of it. I will not be staying post-traumatic about it and hiding from the media to keep from being exposed to this sort of material but I cannot remain unaffected by it so I will make the jokes. I'm neither a delusional believer in the supernatural nor an overprivileged douche canoe who denies the increasing social inequality throughout the developed world and its attendant effects on the marginalised such as the mentally ill (me, for instance) and racial minorities (about half my friends).

    I'm sorry if this post comes over as more strident than entirely necessary, but there have been a couple of incidents in the last few days where non-mod folk have tried to impose their own rules on the modes of other peoples expression, and if it keeps up this place will lose its egalitarian appeal so I feel it is necessary to raise my objections. I have tried to do so firmly but reasonably. I hope it has worked out.
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012 edited
  5.  (10678.112)
    We should know soon if Scott Walker has been defeated in the Wisconsin recall election.

    My guess is he will most likely lose.
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012 edited
    @ Kosmopolit

    Nate Silver of the 538 blog has Walker up by six points going into tomorrow's election. Also, honestly, I don't think the universe is just enough to let that happen right now.

    My best guess is I'll come home tomorrow, flip on the TV and find a bunch of FOX assholes all but masturbating over their glorious victory.
  6.  (10678.114)
    OK maybe I was a bit too angry in my post but the use of the term "Bath Salts" really pisses me off.
    Bath Salts means nothing, it's what some vendors, 3 years ago, put on their packaging to get over certain laws on selling chemicals untested by the goverment. It's the same as Plant Feeders or Room Odourisers or Not For Human Consumption, it means nothing. Half the articles I looked at (i.e. the ones that even bothered to mention a chemical) put K2, Spice (Synthetic Cannabis) and MXE (has similar effects to Ketamine) along with the cathinones and MPDV under the term "Bath Salts."
    Research chemicals would be a more useful, succinct way of saying: "Things you can buy, primarily online, that have been designed by chemists to circumnaviagte various drug laws and alters normal bodily function."
    MPDV while chemically related to the cathinones, Mephedrone being the most popular/widely available is about as different from Mephedrone as acid is to ecstasy (there are some similarities but generally it's a whole different thing)

    I say the cathinones (and, as they gradually get banned around the world their replacements, 6-APB, 5-APB, 5-IT, MPA, 4-MEC, MDAI, AMT, Ethylphenidate etc that are all aiming for that sweet spot of euphoric, stimulation that's somewhere between cociane and MDMA while minimising the neurotoxicity, residual stimulation, hangover, and moreishness) are generally harmless in the way that any euphoric stimulant is harmless i.e. take too much, too often and it will ruin your life, and there's probably a very small ammount of the population who due to some condition or whatever will take it once and may have something akin to psychosis.
    Mephedrone, butylone, methylone, do not make people violent. MPDV can, it's probable this is what your friend took.

    I remember when in the UK Benzylpiperazine, a perfectly safe Ecstasy harm-reduction alternative was made illegal, a few months later Mephedrone (which is more dangerous than BZP purely because of it's high re-dose factor) became widely available. The first death attributed to Mephedrone which started the "Meow Meow" media scare, turned out to be two guys taking METHADONE, the heroin replacement. All other deaths attributed to Mephedrone are similary dodgy, complicated or entirely fabricated, though you can get addicted to it, I'd rate it's addiction potential lower than most street drugs (mainly because it has no potential to be smoked or injected).

    So the cathinones got banned and now they're doing the whole chemical switch-up again in order to find something with the desired affects that you can buy pure without going to a drug dealer. Now the time between creating a chemical and getting it on the market (most of these are made in China and India solely for sale in western europe first and then the rest of the world) has been shortened and the risk of having something as toxic as MPDV released on the research chemical taking public is greatly increased. So you can see why I'm pissed off.

    A lot of vendors have now stopped selling products under the chemical name and now use Brands like B2 and Madcat, the contents of these change from batch to batch and can contain mixtures of drugs, like something trippy or euphoric with something stimmy to fake the effects of ecstasy, this can sometimes cause neural toxicitiy.

    This zombie guy may have been on MPDV, I can see someone who orreneously bought a bunch of MPDV and not being able to unload it on anyone who has ever googled a drug online before taking it, sold it as LSD or Crystal Meth or whatever to this guy. Even if he was on MPDV, that, and even to some extent the eating of some poor guys face off, isn't the real story, it's about how people in Florida are driven to violent insanity because of a lack of social care.

    Blanket use of the term Bath Salts is only going to lead to more draconian drug laws, more blind experimentation and more avoidable mental illness and death.

    Sorry, I tend to talk too much when it comes to this subject.
  7.  (10678.115)
    Latest polls have walker ahead 50:47 which is a statistical dead heat.

    Walker won in large part because of the low turn-out in the last election. This time around turn-out is reported to be pretty high.

    Silver normally knows his stuff though so I'm probably wrong.
    • CommentAuthorflecky
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    @Kay: I'll try not to go into too much detail, but I've shared with you before about my ongoing battle with mental illness. And like you, I've buried so many close friends. Like Oz, PCP is not, to the best of my knowledge, freely available in the U.K. Meow, or whatever, is seemingly becoming more abundant. I've not tried it, and hopefully never will. A DJ mate of mine was given some a few months ago, and he ended-up in a terrible state; shaking in bed, drenched in sweat, having to be cared for by a girlfriend.

    Dexedrine (speed) has been pretty much arbitrarily prescribed to addicts on private prescriptions in London for decades, by doctors mostly only interested in making quick money. I used to be get them. I've seen people, who were relatively calm before, end up totally psychotic from using them.

    I've been in rooms with people from all walks of life (friends I can't mention), and after we'd all injected ketamine, our behavior could only be described as zombie-like; stumbling around, talking to ourselves, walking into walls etc. I too have to employ gallows-humor to deal with some of the shit I've seen and done.

    I'll end by saying, and I know a lot of folk won't agree or like it, but I've seen more long-term, serious mental-damage, done to people from Cannabis than Heroin. Especially all these new, genetically modified, strains of Skunk etc. Just ask the people in NA London.

    Anyway, these are just my experiences and opinions.
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012
    That sentence near the end, the one about mental damage from Cannabis vs. Heroin, I find really interesting. I completely understand if you don't want to talk about it, but part of me wants to ask you to expound on that. I've heard so much about how weed is good for people's systems/the ground it grows on/everything else. The only times I've heard negative things really, it's been from programs in grade school telling us drugs are bad and telling what seemed like over the top sorts of stories about different drugs' effects on people. I'm interested in understanding what effect it honestly has on people. I haven't ever and don't plan on ever smoking cannabis, but so far the only arguments I've heard about the stuff with logic have been for it.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2012 edited
    Cannabis in excessive quantities over an extended period (we're talking years) can lead to paranoia and even violent psychosis.

    However, the risks of such reactions are lower than for alcohol.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJun 5th 2012
    @Dj and Alan -

    A human crew can perhaps deal with emergency situations and work novel solutions to problems, but the main difference between a manned Mars mission compared to the moon landings is time delay.

    Mars is, if I remember correctly, 7 light minutes away. So there won't be any real chance for mission control to jump in and help with any emergencies during the landing phase. 7 Minutes to be heard, 7 more to get a reply. The most extreme things that happened during Apollo were solved only with near realtime support from mission control.
  8.  (10678.120)

    Two of my friends in high school smoked a lot of pot.

    The first smoked massive quantities of the stuff every weekend from about the age of 15 - he never had any problems and now, years later is a responsible home and business owner with a kid in primary school and several millions in assets. He still occasionally indulges.

    The second started smoking at about 17, and immediately turned into the cliched stoner - dull, confused, not interested in anything other than getting high. At the age of 19 he had a complete psychotic breakdown, almost drove his parents' car into the river (he stopped just short and then threw the keys in instead) and was picked up a day later by the cops wandering the streets in a dissociative state. He spent two months in the city's mental hospital, has been on various medications ever since and has never been able to get his life together (he'll do fine for a few months, then end up back at home living with his parents after it all falls apart). He oscillates between giving up pot because "it's bad for me", and taking it up again because "it's a harmless natural plant".

    So that - for what it's worth - is my experience with cannabis. It seems to me that it's harmless to some (probably most) people, but can completely fuck others over.