1583: "NASA Press Conference"

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1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby RCT Bob » Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:52 am UTC

Image

Title text: "Why are we spending billions to ruin Mars with swarms of robots when Elon Musk has promised to ruin Mars for a FRACTION of the cost?"

Reminds me of http://www.xkcd.com/1253 and http://www.xkcd.com/1555, the public not really having a clue on space
Last edited by RCT Bob on Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:08 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Kozmo » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:00 am UTC

If there's water it might be fine, but should we also find bacteria then consider it ruined.

P.S. You should give the title text.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby RCT Bob » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:06 am UTC

Kozmo wrote:If there's water it might be fine, but should we also find bacteria then consider it ruined.

P.S. You should give the title text.

Oh yeah, forgot about the title text, I'll add it in.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby keithl » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:08 am UTC

You can make fire by rubbing two dry sticks together, but not if they are wet. You can also make fire by rubbing two planets together - maybe wet planets get soggy and are hard to light. We should try that first with our own planet, before trying to set fire to a planet that does not belong to us.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby rhomboidal » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:15 am UTC

NASA will be as wary of people wearing berets as the NSA is of people wearing turbans.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby The Moomin » Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:28 am UTC

The tests undertaken on the soils of Mars show they have a lower infiltration rate than the Doncaster Rovers defence.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby origimbo » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:32 am UTC

keithl wrote:You can make fire by rubbing two dry sticks together, but not if they are wet. You can also make fire by rubbing two planets together - maybe wet planets get soggy and are hard to light. We should try that first with our own planet, before trying to set fire to a planet that does not belong to us.


People sometimes get rather perturbed when the Earth rubs itself together.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:07 am UTC

I thought it was pretty clear that the guys in the Cantina were just picking a fight...

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:48 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:I thought it was pretty clear that the guys in the Cantina were just picking a fight...


Which leads me to ask -- how did the verb "to pick" ever come to mean "instigate" ? It seems rather a long distance from crop collection. Or is it just a stretch from "to pick [out] a person" ?

And ya know, on this particular 3rd Rock, you very rarely see two separate species antagonize each other. Kill and eat, yes, but fighting seems almost exclusively limited to members of a single species competing for sexual conquest.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Mahnarch » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:07 pm UTC

My dog routinely picks fights with neighborhood raccoons.

Killing and eating aren't always a guarantee.

He's a small dog.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Echo244 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:22 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I thought it was pretty clear that the guys in the Cantina were just picking a fight...


Which leads me to ask -- how did the verb "to pick" ever come to mean "instigate" ? It seems rather a long distance from crop collection. Or is it just a stretch from "to pick [out] a person" ?


Probably more related to "picking a quarrel", when said quarrel refers either to a disagreement or to a straight bit of wood with a pointy bit of metal on the front that you shoot out of a crossbow. The latter being something to pick before you pick the former...
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Apeiron » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:51 pm UTC

Yes, you, from... it just says "the news"?

That's a statement, not a question.

Question marks mark questions.

Bad: "This is a question?"
It's a statement with the wrong punctuation.

Good: "Is this a question?"
It's a question because IT ASKS SOMETHING.

Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Keyman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:15 pm UTC

Mark Watney is alive!!!!
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Moose Anus » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:16 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....
It should be: Yes, you, from... it just says, "The news?"

Quotes should include the punctuation in dialogue.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby HES » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:47 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....

Your petty rules don't apply to speech.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Keyman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:51 pm UTC

Moose Anus wrote:
Apeiron wrote:Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....
It should be: Yes, you, from... it just says, "The news?"

Quotes should include the punctuation in dialogue.

Not in a comic, where it's all dialogue. These quotation marks are around the title "The News".
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:01 pm UTC

People are very capable of asking a question by making a statement and then just going up at the end. It happens all the time. It may not be grammatically correct, but it is commonly done in speech. The question mark here is obviously merely to indicate the confusion of the speaker.

What's the inverse of this?

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Quey » Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:10 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:Yes, you, from... it just says "the news"?

That's a statement, not a question.

Question marks mark questions.

Bad: "This is a question?"
It's a statement with the wrong punctuation.

Good: "Is this a question?"
It's a question because IT ASKS SOMETHING.

Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....


It's called a declarative question. If your formal education has not taught you about this, I suggest you look it up. If it has also taught you to make idiotic claims then preemptively declare anyone else a "derpling", I suggest you piss off, troll.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Zylon » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:24 pm UTC

Every time White Beret Guy appears, it's Randall reminding his readers that he hates them.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby orthogon » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:36 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I thought it was pretty clear that the guys in the Cantina were just picking a fight...


Which leads me to ask -- how did the verb "to pick" ever come to mean "instigate" ? It seems rather a long distance from crop collection. Or is it just a stretch from "to pick [out] a person" ?

And ya know, on this particular 3rd Rock, you very rarely see two separate species antagonize each other. Kill and eat, yes, but fighting seems almost exclusively limited to members of a single species competing for sexual conquest.

The word take is highly polysemous. The OED puts "pick a fight" in the "take, gather, acquire" group of meanings. I'd have guessed it would be the "select" meaning, particularly since there is the almost parallel phrase "to choose one's battles". If male aggression is indeed primarily about sexual competition, then it makes sense to select your adversary so as to advance in the social order but without taking on too formidable a foe. However some violence is probably related to competition for scarce resources other than females, such as beer. Anyway, it seems that it's closer in fact to your "crop collection" meaning than I thought.

ETA: uh-oh, I hear gmalivuk approaching. I wouldn't like to be in Apeiron's shoes...
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby NerdNumber1 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 4:34 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure the Cantina guys were aggressive and intoxicated and not thinking too far ahead. I think they probably expected him to show more of a reaction to saying that they were murderous criminals. Maybe if Luke had shown fear and left the Cantina with his tail between his legs, then they might have gone back to drinking laughing at how the country boy probably pissed himself at the "dangerous criminals" they were. He just said "I'll be careful", a reasonable response but one that caused them escalate to violence. They might have wanted to kill him (not unlikely since the other patrons were completely unphased by dismemberment), but it was equally likely that they only planned to rough him up to satisfy their egos.

Violent, likely intoxicated, inhabitants of a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" who hang out in bars don't necessarily have clear goals for every social interaction.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:16 pm UTC

The Moomin wrote:The tests undertaken on the soils of Mars show they have a lower infiltration rate than the Doncaster Rovers defence.

Excellent.

Quey wrote:It's called a declarative question. If your formal education has not taught you about this, I suggest you look it up. If it has also taught you to make idiotic claims then preemptively declare anyone else a "derpling", I suggest you piss off, troll.

Indeed. I should be rather impressed to see a better way for Randall to punctuate that to indicate what words the speaker said and how he said them. Unless we're actually talking about not critiquing the comic, but critiquing the grammar in speech (where writing rules don't apply) of the fictional character within the comic, in which case, wow.

Edit: Next time we'll have to be sure to point out that the thing WBG said missed the point and the thing BHG said was mean and they really shouldn't have done so.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby CZeke » Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:41 pm UTC

How seriously do you think we're supposed to take this talk of "ruining"? Obviously I don't mean from beret guy, but the alt-text seems to be half serious about it.

(It's also kind of a funny coincidence with today's chainsawsuit comic.)
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Znirk » Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:14 am UTC

CZeke wrote:How seriously do you think we're supposed to take this talk of "ruining"?

I took that as a reference to the nutcase community finding "ruins", decaying remains showing evidence of civilization, all over Mars. But these days we (as a species; I'm not personally involved) are sending probes to Mars, all of which eventually stop working. Today a hypothetical third-party observer looking at Mars could find actual decaying remains showing evidence of a fairly highly developed civilization. Said civilization happens to live on the planet next door, but still a small number of their artefacts are right there on Mars. We're ruining the planet by littering it with ruins.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:22 am UTC

I took it as a tongue in cheek reference to the idea of contaminating Mars, made humorous by presenting it as someone advocating it, but still calling it "ruining," and suggesting what they believe to be a better way of doing it besides.

The joke still works if you substitute "contaminate" for "ruin," but doesn't connect to the language of the comic anymore. Still an obnoxious question to ask at a NASA press conference, naturally.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Coyoty » Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:49 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:And ya know, on this particular 3rd Rock, you very rarely see two separate species antagonize each other. Kill and eat, yes, but fighting seems almost exclusively limited to members of a single species competing for sexual conquest.


You apparently have not lived with a cat.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:56 am UTC

Coyoty wrote:
cellocgw wrote:And ya know, on this particular 3rd Rock, you very rarely see two separate species antagonize each other. Kill and eat, yes, but fighting seems almost exclusively limited to members of a single species competing for sexual conquest.
You apparently have not lived with a cat.

Yup. "Fighting" is pretty much the whole purpose of a male lion.

Boars and hippos and bull cattle (and males of a lot of herding species) are known to be surly with just about anything in line of sight.

Birds fight. Songbirds will harass bigger birds in mid-air. Roosters will attack lots of critters. The stupid "city geese" around my office will stand their ground... against my car. (And win, since I don't want a dented fender.)

There are plenty of rules for aquarium owners about which fish "get along" and which will fight. (I used to know about this, having an aquarium when I was a kid. About all I recall now is "angelfish are mean.")

(I have a feeling this argument could be No-True-Scotsmanned until "fighting" excludes all behaviors that don't require human-level sentience... defending territory isn't "fighting", protecting your young isn't "fighting"...)

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Ocker3 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:46 pm UTC

Quey wrote:
Apeiron wrote:Yes, you, from... it just says "the news"?

That's a statement, not a question.

Question marks mark questions.

Bad: "This is a question?"
It's a statement with the wrong punctuation.

Good: "Is this a question?"
It's a question because IT ASKS SOMETHING.

Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....


It's called a declarative question. If your formal education has not taught you about this, I suggest you look it up. If it has also taught you to make idiotic claims then preemptively declare anyone else a "derpling", I suggest you piss off, troll.


Also, it's a press conference, the speaker is picking people to ask questions, he's deciding which person gets to go first. So he's not asking Them a question, he's offering them the chance to Ask a question. The question mark is included because he's unsure as to what "The News" means.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby orthogon » Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:58 pm UTC

Ocker3 wrote:Also, it's a press conference, the speaker is picking people to ask questions, he's deciding which person gets to go first. So he's not asking Them a question, he's offering them the chance to Ask a question. The question mark is included because he's unsure as to what "The News" means.

I thought he was saying 'Yes, you, from ... it just says "The News": what's your question?', it's just that the entirety of 'what's your question?' is elliptical. The question mark might represent an upward intonation as suggested earlier, but it could even represent something entirely non-verbal - perhaps he raised his eyebrows or nodded at Beret Guy.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:08 pm UTC

I thought the elided utterance was, "does it really say that, because I think it's not supposed to and I'm pretty sure you're not actually a reporter?"
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:47 pm UTC

What always throws me is when cartoonists end "I wonder" sentences with a question mark. Like, "I wonder why cartoonists do that?" I'm pretty sure it's wrong. I've never heard anyone pronounce it with that upward intonation, and grammatically it is definitely a statement, not a question.

(Another bad habit I see is writing "Uh-oh" as "Oh, oh!")
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby orthogon » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:48 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:What always throws me is when cartoonists end "I wonder" sentences with a question mark. Like, "I wonder why cartoonists do that?" I'm pretty sure it's wrong. I've never heard anyone pronounce it with that upward intonation, and grammatically it is definitely a statement, not a question.

(Another bad habit I see is writing "Uh-oh" as "Oh, oh!")

IMHO the upward intonation is kind of a red herring. The intonation profile of "I wonder why cartoonists do that" is almost identical to that of "Why do cartoonists do that?". The highest pitch occurs on "do", if it's stressed. If you stress "why" instead, then the whole utterance heads downward in pitch from there. In fact, stress itself seems more about intonation than volume, such that the difference between the two words spelled "contract" could be considered one of tone profile (though there are also differences in the vowel sounds with the first syllable becoming a schwa when unstressed). I suspect the similarity in intonation of the two cartoonist sentences is to do with the "deep structure" being similar, but I haven't fully got my head around deep structure.

I also have the feeling that asking declarative questions in English is quite tricky: they're often misunderstood as statements, hence the common refrain "no, I'm asking!". This is presumably why we use tag questions so much, innit?
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:55 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:Yes, you, from... it just says "the news"?

That's a statement, not a question.

Question marks mark questions.

Bad: "This is a question?"
It's a statement with the wrong punctuation.

Good: "Is this a question?"
It's a question because IT ASKS SOMETHING.

Derpling excusing bad punctuation in 3... 2... 1....
You are almost the only person here defending bad punctuation. (Along with anyone who advocates putting the question mark inside the quotes even when it's not part of WBG's own sign.)

"This is a question?" - an interrogative request for yes/no confirmation of a statement
"This is a stament." - a declarative assertion of a statement

Both are punctuated correctly. As is the comic, where I personally take the question mark to be doing the same duty it would have in, "Yes, you from the Times?" Though I suppose it could also indicate rising-intonation confusion at WBG's claimed affiliation.

orthogon wrote:
Steve the Pocket wrote:What always throws me is when cartoonists end "I wonder" sentences with a question mark. Like, "I wonder why cartoonists do that?" I'm pretty sure it's wrong. I've never heard anyone pronounce it with that upward intonation, and grammatically it is definitely a statement, not a question.

(Another bad habit I see is writing "Uh-oh" as "Oh, oh!")

IMHO the upward intonation is kind of a red herring. The intonation profile of "I wonder why cartoonists do that" is almost identical to that of "Why do cartoonists do that?". The highest pitch occurs on "do", if it's stressed. If you stress "why" instead, then the whole utterance heads downward in pitch from there. In fact, stress itself seems more about intonation than volume, such that the difference between the two words spelled "contract" could be considered one of tone profile (though there are also differences in the vowel sounds with the first syllable becoming a schwa when unstressed).
Stress in English usually includes all three of tone, volume, and length, plus often vowel reductions in unstressed syllables.

Yes, it's possible to understand the contrast between "contrast" and "contrast" with only one or two of those differences, but the most natural way for me to say it definitely has all of them.

(The exception that comes to mind is the pronunciation of compound nouns, which may be exclusively tone and which can sound strange with length and vowel reduction in the second noun.)
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby orthogon » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:10 pm UTC

Ah, I hadn't thought of length. And as for declarative questions going up at the end, I could be persuaded that the intonation at the end of the question version is higher than it would have been in the statement, even though in absolute terms it may be falling. Intonation is a sort of additive thing, as I understand it.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:46 pm UTC

I don't know what you're thinking of as declarative questions, but when I say, "This is a question?", the end is absolutely a higher tone than any other part of the phrase.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:12 pm UTC

I think orthogon's right that it sounds exactly the same as "Is this a question?", though. Down to the relative stress in the first two words staying in place when you swap the words themselves. I'm too thrown by stress to hear pitch in isolation, though - that "quest-" is stressed so hard that I can only barely convince myself the pitch of "-ion" is higher.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby orthogon » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:13 pm UTC

I have to agree that "This is a question?" goes up at the end, but when delivered that way I'm not sure it's a genuine question eliciting an answer. It sounds more like a rhetorical question or an expression of incredulity. It's a bit like "And this is why we pay our taxes?", or the fake review on the back of Juggling for the complete klutz, purportedly by the author's mother: "and for this we sent him to college?". On the other hand, if somebody phones up and rambles for ages then finally gets to the point, you might say "and that's your question?" In that case the last syllable would be falling, the way I say it. I may well be wrong, but I suspect that the idea of declarative questions* "going up at the end" is something that applies to Romance languages, which make far more use of them ("C'est une question?" "Es una pregunta?") and is assumed to apply directly to English because actually attending to one's own language is quite hard. Again, I'm not saying that declarative questions aren't indicated by intonation - I'm sure they are - just that it's not as simple as going up at the end.

* if that's the right word; I picked it up from Quey
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:10 pm UTC

I've never studied intonation in any Romance languages, but I have repeatedly taught English pronunciation to people learning the language. It's not just my anecdotal intuition that rising intonation indicates incompleteness or uncertainty (with questions being a subset of that), it's what is described in every book about pronunciation for English leaners that I've ever seen.

Consider the two ways to intone tag questions. "He already left, didn't he?" can rise or fall at the end. If it rises, I genuinely want someone to confirm what I expect. If it falls, it's more of a rhetorical question. I know he's not here any more and I'm commenting on it. (This is also the intonation in, "He's right behind me, isn't he?" when everyone has just stopped laughing at your hilarious impression of your boss.) (It may feel wrong to even write the question mark in this case, but it is undeniably question word order and I'm talking about intonation in any case.)

Similarly, there are two ways to pronounce, "He already left." If it falls, I am informing other people of an event that definitely happened. If it rises, and is more likely punctuated as, "He already left?", it probably means I'm requesting confirmation for something that is apparently true.
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby jewish_scientist » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:12 pm UTC

Maybe the microphone is labeled It Just Says "The News"?
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Jackpot777
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Re: 1583: "NASA Press Conference"

Postby Jackpot777 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:32 pm UTC

keithl wrote:You can make fire by rubbing two dry sticks together, but not if they are wet. You can also make fire by rubbing two planets together - maybe wet planets get soggy and are hard to light. We should try that first with our own planet, before trying to set fire to a planet that does not belong to us.


Eddie Izzard rules apply. We put the flag on it first, it's ours now. Do they have a flag?


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