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Comment: Re:speed of light (Score 1) 374

by Behrooz (#46352425) Attached to: Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible

Technically, 29.9792458N Latitude constitutes a ~1cm band around the northern hemisphere. The Grand Gallery is oriented roughly north-south, and at 46m long in itself occludes 0.00043 latitude-- so you'll miss almost all of it.

Fortunately, there is a much more useful application for random decimal numbers associated with SI constants. If you happen to be flying over Africa and become lost, follow your GPS to the scientific notation of the Planck constant degrees east, then fly north, and you'll eventually reach Mohamed Boudiaf International Airport in Algeria.


NASA Now Accepting Applications From Companies That Want To Mine the Moon 251

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-some-cheese dept.
cold fjord writes "The Verge reports, "NASA is now working with private companies to take the first steps in exploring the moon for valuable resources like helium 3 and rare earth metals. Initial proposals are due tomorrow for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST). One or more private companies will win a contract to build prospecting robots, the first step toward mining the moon. Final proposals are due on March 17th, 2014. NASA has not said when it will announce the winner."

Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon 202

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ready-main-phaser-array dept.
Zothecula writes "In another step forward for laser weapons that brings to mind the Death Star's superlaser, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a 30-kilowatt fiber laser produced by combining many lasers into a single beam of light. According to the company, this is the highest power laser yet that was still able to maintain beam quality and electrical efficiency, paving the way for a laser weapon system suitable, if not for a Death Star, for a wide range of air, land, and sea military platforms."

Comment: Fuck the 'rule of law.' (Score 1) 822

by Behrooz (#46086757) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

I think you have a misunderstanding. In our society, the 'rule of law' is based more on color, wealth, politics, connections, and whether the justice system 'likes' you than on innocence or guilt.

*fuck* the rule of law. Laws have no judgement, rationality, and are subject to incredibly selective enforcement by cops, prosecutors, and the coercive apparatus of the government as a whole, entirely at the whim of officials who have no accountability or responsibility.

You really want a system where innocence or guilt is decided based on social class and race? Because that's where we're at right now.

If you'd like to talk about the rule of law, we can talk about our broken court system, where innocent until presumed guilty is a legal fiction, and better than 90% of crimes are resolved with a plea-bargain rather than a trial.

It's all a sham, and 'justice' is entirely illusory unless you're wealthy, educated, and connected enough to game the system. This is one of the (relatively few) places where the tea party and libertarians really have a solid point.


Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve? 822

Posted by samzenpus
from the naughty-or-nice dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made government whistleblower Edward Snowden a very peculiar offer last week: plead guilty, and the U.S. government would consider how to handle his criminal case. That seems an inverted way of doing things—in the United States, the discussions (if not the trial) usually come before the guilty plea—but Holder's statement hints yet again at the conundrum facing the government when it comes to Snowden, a former subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked secrets about that group's intelligence operations to a number of newspapers, most notably The Guardian. It's unlikely that the U.S. government would ever consider giving full clemency to Snowden, but now it seems that various officials are willing to offer something other than locking him in a deep, dark cell and throwing away the key. If Snowden ever risked coming back to the United States (or if he was forced to return, thanks to the Russians kicking him out and no other country willing to give him asylum), and you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"

Tesla Model S Has Bizarre 'Vampire-Like' Thirst For Electricity At Night 424

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bug-in-acpi-specification dept.
cartechboy writes "The Tesla Model S, for all its technical and design wizardry, has a dirty little secret: Its a vampire. The car has an odd and substantial appetite for kilowatt-hours even when turned off and parked. This phenomenon has been dubbed the 'vampire' draw, and Tesla promised long ago to fix this issue with a software update. Well, a few software updates have come and gone since then, and the Model S is still a vampire sucking down energy when it's shut down. While this is a concern for many Model S owners and would be owners, the larger question becomes: After nine months, and multiple software updates,why can't Tesla fix this known issue? Tesla has recognized the issue and said a fix would come, yet the latest fix is only a tiny improvement — and the problem remains unsolved. Is Tesla stumped? Can the issue be fixed?"

Comment: Re:Arrested . . . but will he be charged? (Score 1) 670

by Behrooz (#45522783) Attached to: Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing

Unless there is dope residue in the car, there is no way that any prosecutor would ever charge this because there is no way they could prove the intent element.

Because the opportunity cost for the prosecutor to file charges is so high, and innocent people never plea-bargain to avoid the threat of trumped-up charges that could put them in jail for the rest of their life if the trial goes badly because their overworked public defender is unable to mount a successful defense.

Prosecutors will happily charge anything that they think will work as leverage for a plea-bargain. That's their job, that's how the system works, and that's how all of the incentives are set up.

Comment: No, legal fees are not 'taken care of if you win'. (Score 4, Insightful) 670

by Behrooz (#45522757) Attached to: Driver Arrested In Ohio For Secret Car Compartment Full of Nothing


No, legal fees are not 'taken care of if you win'. The system doesn't care if you are innocent, the system cares about the system, and obviously anyone who ends up in court has to be a scumbag, right?

  For criminal defense cases, you may choose to be represented without charge by an overworked, underfunded public defender who has every interest in resolving your case as quickly as possible via plea-bargaining... regardless of guilt or innocence.

Or you may hire an attorney who is actually being paid to represent your interests, where the cheapest option available is typically in excess of a thousand dollars, substantially more for serious charges or if the case actually goes to a jury trial.

The vast majority of defendants in the American legal system do not have the financial resources to hire an attorney, which is why the vast majority of all criminal charges are settled by plea bargain. Prosecutors have every incentive to pile on the threat of every imaginable charge and use the uncertainty of the outcome of a trial as leverage to coerce a plea bargain, guilty or not, because it works, and because they are almost never held responsible for their unethical conduct even when they commit egregious acts like concealing evidence that would exonerate the accused.

Add in unconscionable levels of police malfeasance and corruption on nearly every level, and the result is a criminal justice system that is anything but just. Unless you've got plenty of money. Which is kind of the point.

Comment: Re:Hey California, I have a solution for you (Score 1) 752

by Behrooz (#45408047) Attached to: Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners

The per-capita homicide rate in NYC is actually lower than in any other major city in the USA, barely above the national average.

Chicago roughly comparable to Atlanta... and even Detroit is still safer than New Orleans. You can argue the reasons, but you can't argue that the deep south has more than its share of social problems.

Comment: Re:At what speed? (Score 1) 722

by Behrooz (#45246687) Attached to: Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than You

Human drivers are bad at following safely because their reaction times are:

- Subjectively difficult to estimate accurately.
- Wildly variant from moment to moment dependent on the situation.

People are bad at realizing how fast they can respond. People are easily distracted, and are not capable of continuous full attention to more than a small fraction of their visual field even under ideal conditions. If you're looking at the radio to change the station, you are not physically capable of perceiving many changes in the peripheral view you have of the road, no matter how your brain fools you into thinking "Oh, I can still see everything", when your actual reaction time has just jumped by an order of magnitude.

Robotic reaction times are easy to measure objectively, and are situationally invariant. The the only relevant factors in following distance are the expected stopping distance at speed in the current conditions, and avoiding situations where the vehicle could potentially be unable to avoid a collision if whatever it is following stopped at maximum decelleration. This is EASY compared to most of the problems involved in navigating an unpredictable and changeable landscape.

I'd be much happier with a robot car following me than any human driver, the Stig included. It doesn't take a lot of distance to be safe with 50ms reaction time and rangefinders that are capable of discerning relative acceleration on a millisecond basis to form decisions with.

Comment: Re:Just comply with the court order (Score 1) 255

Which one actually leads to a safer world?

That would depend on the legitimacy, fairness, and effectiveness of the court system.

A reasonable argument can be made that all of the above are currently on the decline in America. How you choose to apportion the blame between wealth inequality, the systematic dismantling of public services, the prison-industrial complex, decline of the family, a crisis of faith, or other causes... is up to you.

I certainly don't trust our justice system to operate within acceptable standards. Do you?


Soda Makes Five-Year-Olds Break Your Stuff, Science Finds 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-like-alcohol-and-teenagers dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Shakira F. Suglia and co-authors surveyed 2,929 mothers of five-year-olds (PDF) and found that 43 percent of the kids consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day. About four percent of those children (or 110 of them), drank more than four soft drinks per day, and became 'more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights, and physically attack people.' In the past, soda and its various strains have been related to depression, irritability, aggression, suicidal thoughts, and delusions of sweepstake-winning grandeur. Of course, this study didn't find out what types of soda the children had consumed."

Bradley Manning Says He's Sorry 496

Posted by timothy
from the may-I-have-another dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that Pfc. Bradley Manning told a military judge during his sentencing hearing that he is sorry he hurt the United States by leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks and he asked for leniency as he spoke for less than five minutes, often in a quavering voice "I'm sorry I hurt people. I'm sorry that I hurt the United States," said Manning, who was convicted last month of multiple crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, for turning over the classified material. "I'm apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people." Speaking publicly for only the third time since he was arrested in Iraq in June 2010, Manning said he had been naive. "I look back at my decisions and wonder, 'How on earth could I, a junior analyst, possibly believe I could change the world for the better over the decisions of those with the proper authority?'""

"Can you program?" "Well, I'm literate, if that's what you mean!"