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Comment: Re:"float down on Europa's atmosphere" (Score 1) 79

It's possible that the Draper plan could work, but there are lots of risks and uncertainties. Getting individual chipsats onto Europa's surface successfully and functioning is a big uncertainty. That they would have enough power to do some bit of science, and then transmit a result back to orbit successfully, is another. How are the chipsats going to be powered? Your average commercial 9-volt battery is not going to work on the surface of Europa.

The environment on Europa IS very cold and the radiation levels are high. When Juno was sent to Jupiter, all (or most) of the electronics was put inside a giant vault to provide it with some rad shielding. Naked or minimally-shielded chipsats aren't going to fare well. Europa Clipper is not going to orbit Europa at all, but rather Jupiter itself, to avoid the worst of the rad effects.

NASA encourages lots of planning and mission development but often doesn't commit to actually building or executing the missions that seem most innovative because the ratio of risk to expense is too high (look, for instance, at the Titan Mare Explorer.)

Comment: Re:Camera gun (Score 1) 765

by Darth Snowshoe (#46983265) Attached to: A Look at Smart Gun Technology

But Monroe and Madison did not and could not envision our twenty-first century military. What Madison is stipulating in Federalist 46, explicitly, is a federal army that would be limited in size (e.g. head count) to the degree that, when adding up the number of privately held firearms, the private citizens, constituted together as a militia, would outweigh it. He goes so far as to do the math.

Compare that to the firebombing of Tokyo or Dresden, say. The number of personal firearms is not in any way indicative of superior force. You could have armed every man, woman and child in Dresden with N firearms, and the outcome would have been the same. At this point, Curtis Lemay is already long dead, and military technology has far exceeded his contributions. The US military is developing and testing beam weaponry, autonomous killing drones, all manner of new technologies that private citizens have no access to or knowledge of.

So citizenry bearing personal arms is no longer an effective deterrent to a US or foreign assault. That's my argument and you're free to dispute it, but the intention in the Federalist Papers is clear.

Comment: Out of your minds (Score 1) 139

Let me just say, I'm certain that I don't want to have to choose every component of my phone, at any level of granularity less than "the whole phone", and then assemble it, do maintenance on it, troubleshoot why some piece of third-party software isn't working with my particular mix of phone parts.

You're imagining a system where everything 'just works' for a gigantic ecosystem that somehow increases your choices and simultaneously decreases the cost to get exactly the options YOU want. It's not going to happen.

Comment: Re:Why are we giving people like Cody any attentio (Score 0) 207

There is a clear difference between being "anti-gun control" and distributing plans and the ability to make guns to every corner of the internet. Maybe he should spend a night in the Winchester House before he gets too blase (too late for that!) about all the people who will be killed with the designs he's propagated.

Comment: My perception - (Score 1) 405

by Darth Snowshoe (#46510033) Attached to: Paris Bans Half of All Cars On the Road

My perception in having visited Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Grenoble, Firenze is that a fair amount of the road pollution comes not from cars but from Vespas and similar scooters and small-engine motorcycles. Lots of people living within these cities rely on such vehicles, and just judging from my nose, they are big contributors to smog. I realize that it's often the most economical means of getting around for students and other younger people. Also for cities that were laid out before the internal combustion engine was invented, the convenience of a Vespa is hard to overstate. But there seems to be not much interest in engineering them to be very clean.

Comment: I'm thinking of a word - (Score 5, Funny) 263

I'm thinking of a word for a kind of system where, I don't know, someone makes rules for how large chunks of assets are managed, traded, stored. This word would mean that some PEOPLE, some kind of official-sounding types of PEOPLE, would "check up" on these places, these places that handle and store and manage other people's money, or assets, stuff. They would be checking up to make sure that the people who run those places, those people, wouldn't be, knowingly or unknowingly, doing things with other people's money that they shouldn't be doing. Maybe there could be a kind of system, say, where those people doing those things, are encouraged or made to do some things, to prove, that they have the money and things that they are supposed to have, and doing the things, those things that they are supposed to do, and not doing those things that they are not supposed to be doing, to those other people's money, and assets and stuff. And that they're honest, about what they say that they're doing, and that they're not doing. Who would be doing all that checking, and what would that process be, and who would be subject to it. If only there were one simple word for all of that.

Comment: Re:Just start the war already! (Score 5, Insightful) 498

We should all be thankful that people in the relevant positions in Ukraine have shown much restraint so far and trusted or hoped that diplomatic and economic means would be brought to bear. Once a shooting war starts in the Ukraine, the casualties will quickly accumulate. There's a large civilian population there, several large cities. The population is very polarized. Oh and Russia is pushing more soldiers, armor, mines, etc into the Crimea by the hour.

"Just start the war already?" Because you are bored? What a horrendous sentiment.

Comment: Re:Reality Check (Score 1) 303

Are you siting the continued existence of potholes in America as your only evidence of corruption in the government, or do you have some references you are not showing? As someone who works indirectly for the government, I take offense that there is constant presumption of corruption in the public sector. I've worked several weekends and late nights recently to make deadlines, with no extra compensation, and no one has showed up to line my pockets with bribes or kickbacks. No one ever has. I'll let you know though - I swear I'll post to Slashdot the first time it happens.

It's easy to villify federal workers if you don't go to the trouble to actually ever know any. Most of them are just pluggers trying to do their job and get through their day, just like everyone else. Conspiracy theories that it's all some big scam are just that - conspiracy theories, fun to blow off steam with, but entirely unmoored from any actual knowledge (or maybe with a couple of anecdotes garnered from your own echo chamber.) Jeez I heard potties on the space shuttle cost a million dollars each!

Comment: Re:Baby steps - (Score 1) 674

Well do you then think that we shouldn't try to reverse the trend? I think it's clearly preferable to have a middle class, rather than to have an upper class, a lower class, and few conduits between. The existence of a middle class is what brought a lot of talented and driven people to the shores of the USA over the last fifty years. Those kinds of aspiring immigrants are a boost to our economy and a renewable resource.

I don't think my definition of middle class requires a white collar. My dad was a machinist who did quite well for himself and put three kids through college (though it was never easy). I do think it's becoming harder to be middle class without a higher education now.

Comment: Re:Not a Luddite, but... (Score 1) 674

Ugh I can't not respond to this.

"The big failures are in areas where government interferes: housing, automobiles, and health care are not getting cheaper and better, precisely because they are highly regulated." Do you truly believe that a housing market or a health care market with no regulation would be fairer to the consumer? That you would want to work or live in a building that met no safety standards? Or use meds that hadn't been tested? If housing were to follow some Moore's Law in the absence of regulation, shouldn't houses be several orders of magnitude cheaper, bigger, better, somewhere where those conditions exist?

This kind of thinking, blaming US regulation for anything you think inefficient or expensive, is magical thinking that dissappears with any kind of knowledge or curiosity about other parts of the world.

"If you leave it up to market mechanisms, things will automatically adjust accordingly: products will get so cheap that people, with very little work, will be able to afford them. We're already seeing that, with everything from phones to TVs costing less and less and doing more and more." This ignores the effects on displaced workers. The post is not about how great your TV will be in ten years; its about what happens to workers that get displaced by automation. Unemployed workers aren't going to be buying many TVs.

After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.

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