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Comment: Not zero cost. (digression on my sig line) (Score 1) 29

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48465363) Attached to: NASA To Deploy Four Spacecraft To Study Magnetic Reconnection

Make a basic income available to everyone (funded by the Fed, not the taxpayer, at zero cost).

The point is that it's not zero cost. Every penny of money "funded by the Fed" comes from your and my pockets - sometimes with a big multiplier - by paths that are not as obvious, but just as costly, as a tax bill.

The biggest one is inflation: If the Fed just prints money, it dilutes the rest of the money. Your wages go down (though the numbers don't change.) Got retirement savings? They go down, too. Your investments go down - but the numbers make it look like they wen't up, and the government taxes the fake "gain". Everything you buy gets more expensive.

Comment: Fusion power applications? (Score 1) 29

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48462139) Attached to: NASA To Deploy Four Spacecraft To Study Magnetic Reconnection

It will be interesting to see whether this research on the phenomenon in the large scale produces insights useful at the smaller scale of fusion plasma confinement.

In case it's not clear, magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon of magnetic field/plasma interaction. (Without the plasma and its currents (or extreme accelerations like those around black holes) the magnetic field wouldn't be simultaneously twisted up and bent around so it can reconnect differently.

I see two ways this might apply to plasma confinement in fusion systems:
  * It may give insight into the details of plasma instabilities and lead to ways to suppress them - enough for a practical reactor.
  * It might lead to a way to use the phenomenon deliberately, to produce a (probably pulsed) past-breakeven plasma confinement, along the lines of Dense Plasma Focus.

Comment: More than half were minority owned, too. (Score 1) 1083

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48461993) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

The hit is taken by the store owners and their landlords. [Insurance usually has escape clauses for riots.]

Just heard on the news that more than half of the stores destroyed last night in Fergusun were minority owned, too. (I think it was actually "black owned" but I'm not sure.)

IMHO the main point of the burning is so that, once the stores have been looted, the evidence of who did it is largely destroyed. Video survelience tapes, fingerprints, serial number records, ...

Comment: Re:I just don't understand (Score 1) 1083

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456227) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

To heck with the local charges - why the hell hasn't Holder's Justice Department filed federal civil rights charges against the officer?

They're working on it.

They generally hold off on those until the state's criminal justice aparatus has had a chance to product the verdict they want. They'll file once the state system has "failed". Like maybe this week or next.

Comment: No. The store owners take the hit. (Score 1) 1083

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456185) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Black Friday starts tonight. Insurance companies to take the hit.

No. The hit is taken by the store owners and their landlords. Insurance policies generally exclude damage during riots, along with other civil insurrections and wars.

The net result of rioting that involves looting and/or store trashing is stores that move out or go out of business. Lots of little family businesses are bankrupted, while the big box store chains look at all the red ink and don't reopen. (That's why the Koreans were on the roofs of their stores with guns during the Rodney King post-verdict activities in Los Angeles.)

Think there's a shortage of decent-paying (or paying at all) jobs in Ferguson? Just wait... (This is what happened to Oakland, California, which is mopping up the last holdouts tonight "in sympathy with Ferguson".)

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 1) 1083

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456149) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Lenovo's stupid touchpad destroys the posting, just as it's being posted, once again:

They're not interested in any kind of justice. They're only interested in revenge.

And loot.

Christmas is coming up, after all. Time to do a little shopping. You can afford a lot more stuff when you apply the five-finger discount.

Assuming you don't get captured or shot, of course. But so far the cops are just standing back and letting the looters go at it. The hundred forty plus shots reported (at last count) are all attributed to the "protestors". (No word on whether any are from those defending themselves their families, or their property from looters and vandals.)

Comment: Re:The "Protesters" (Score 1) 1083

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48456131) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

They're not interested in any kind of justice. They're only interested in revenge.

And loot.

Christmas is coming up, after all. Time to do a little shopping. You can afford a lot more stuff when you apply the five-finger discount.
attributed to the "protestors". (No word on whether any are from those defending themselves their families, or their property from looters and vandals.)

Comment: My take is tech makes radios sound like noise. (Score 5, Insightful) 303

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48453589) Attached to: Complex Life May Be Possible In Only 10% of All Galaxies

I also subscribe to the "great filter" theory. About 25 years after the radio was invented, we were busy gassing each other in trenches, followed closely by a global pandemic, then mass genocide, then teetering on the edge of nuclear war. That's not a very wide window for aliens to notice our presence, if they rely on artificial radio waves to detect intelligent life.

My take is that technological improvements make radio sound like noise after a few decades. Early radios systems are very simple things which have signals (CW, AM, FM, ...) that are very distinct from electrical and thermal noise. Their signals were both drastically different from, and drastically stronger than, the background, enabling simple detectors to separate a signal's information from all that chaff.

Modern radios (such as spread spectrum systems, especially OFDM) squeeze nearly the Shannon Limit out of precious bandwidth (and also be frugal with transmit power) by using nearly all of it to carry information. This makes them virtually indistinguishable from a celestial object with a little extra heat (buried among things like stars, which have a LOT of heat).

It was only about 120 years from when Hertz and Tesla started making easily detectable radio waves to the Analog Television Shutdown, a significant milepost in the decommissioning of easily detectable radio signatures. I expect that, within anther few decades, the Earth will be emitting very little that might be recognizable as a radio signature of intelligent life, unless we expend a bunch of energy sending such a signature deliberately.

So my solution to the mystery expressed in the Drake Equation is that L (the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space) is short, not due to the falls of civilizations, but to economic incentives to use the aether only in ways that are no longer noticeable at a distance.

Comment: Oh, for a successor to Open Moko (Score 3, Interesting) 54

I'm still waiting for a truly open-source, unlocked, user-controllable phone. Like a successor to Open Moko. (Building a closed platform on a base of open software doesn't cut it.)

Is anything out there or in the works?

(It's particularly acute for me just now: My decade-old feature phone started to flake out last week.)

Comment: I installed ubuntu 14.04 on my BBBs (Score 1) 574

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48421087) Attached to: Debian Votes Against Mandating Non-systemd Compatibility

I don't see why your BeagleBone black example is systemd's fault. It has a convoluted way of managing network interfaces because it uses connman, a network-management daemon from Intel that is not part of systemd.

I installed ubuntu 14.04 on my BBBs. (Had to upgrade the kernel a little later because the 3.13.0 kernel wasn't ported to arm-on-bone in time to go out with the original 14.04 distribution and the 2.whatever they shipped didn't handle a class of USB device I needed, but it's fine now at 3.13.6-bone8.)

Changing to a specified, fixed, IP address was just a matter of editing /etc/network/interfaces, which was commented well enough (in combination with the man page on my ubuntu laptop) to make it easy.

(Main problem was that DeviceTree overlays weren't supported by 3.13.0-6, so I had to hack the boot-time base device tree to reconfigure for the onboard device functionality I wanted, rather than just overlaying the deltas during or just after the boot procerss.)

Comment: Re:Cocoa futures (Score 1) 323

by Pharmboy (#48397525) Attached to: MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

That was my thinking. Maybe we have giant silos of cacao, and those are dwindling, although I lack the imagination to think this is literally true. The whole premise looks like a reason to raise prices and profits.

If the world is eating more chocolate, it means the world is getting richer. Not many in China would be eating chocolate regularly 20 years ago, Same could be said of other areas.

Regardless, the math doesn't add up, particularly the future estimations of us consuming a million tons more than we make. The only place you see that kind of math is typically in the Ministry of Truth.

Comment: I do it a bit. (Score 1) 136

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48375187) Attached to: Study Shows How Humans Can Echolocate

You mean everyone hasn't learned how to do that to some extent?

I do it a bit.

I get a sensation of presence of something nearby when there IS something close and I am making sounds I know I'm making (mouth clicks, footsteps, etc.) in an otherwise reasonably quiet environment, or when well-locatable sounds with bursty high-frequency components are present in the environment to provide a sonic "light source" of suitable form and predictability.

It's usually enough to keep from bumping into things. (Even soft, sound-absorbing things like plush furniture, are "visible" as a "quiet lump" - especially if there are hard things around to create acoustic contrast.)

It's not usually consciously apparent that sound is involved, rather than some "extra sense", unless there are really loud echos, like one's footsteps while walking in a concrete or tiled tunnel. (Haven't you had a sense of ambiance in such situations?)

The sensations are so well tuned as an input for moving, dodging, grabbing, and the like, that I've been assuming it's an evolved mechanism (that might have needed exercise in youth to develop properly), like vision, rather than something purely learned.

Comment: Re:Aren't those just called FLAPS? (Score 5, Informative) 55

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48353567) Attached to: NASA Tests Aircraft With Shape Shifting Wings

According to TFA, they're replacements for flaps or slats that are a panel, continuous with the wing surface, that flexes, rather than pivoting or sliding.

This eliminates the gap, which starts vortices (causing noise and other issues).

So wing shape changing via pivoting panels has been stock for a while, while (comparably sized) profile changes done by flexing wing sections with skins continuous with the rest of the wing are what is new.

(Note that adjusting a wing by flexing it - slightly, over its full surface - has been around for a VERY long time. The Wright Brothers used it for yaw control, though they augmented (not replaced) it with a vertical rudder, starting with the glider that immediately preceded the "first powered flight" craft.)

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