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Comment: Re:Sweden's case won't really matter (Score 1) 104 104

There is one thing where the UK would have had a role even if he hadn't fled bail, in that the UK would have been the EAW "sending state". Under an EAW surrender, the sending state has certain rights and responsibilities - for example, if a request comes for extradition to a third party, it has to not only go through the receiving state's judiciary system, but also the sending state's judiciary system; the receiving state can't just hand off someone that they received under an EAW at will. Which is one of the things that makes the whole thing even more ridiculous - Assange had so much faith in Sweden's independence against the UK (such as their ban on extradition for intelligence crimes and 2006 Swedish special forces raids to shut down the US's rendition flights secretly moving through their territory) that he called it his "shield" and was applying for a residence permit there. But suddenly, practically overnight, Sweden transformed into Evil US Lackeys(TM) when he was accused of rape. So then he went to the UK where he talked about his great respect for their independence and impartiality and promised to abide by whatever rulings their judicial system made. Until he ran out of appeals, wherein the UK also turned into Evil US Lackeys(TM). Funny how he felt just fine walking around freely in both of these countries all this time, having only one of the two countries as barriers against US extradition, but adamantly fought the situation that would make them both be barriers to extradition.

Comment: Re:Competent Authorities (Score 2) 104 104

Which is, of course, false. AA has accused Assange of lesser sexual crimes, and SW has accused him of rape. There are no counts of rape against Assange concerning AA on the EAW, only three lesser counts (2x molestation and 1x unlawful sexual coersion). There is one count of rape on the EAW (count #4) concerning SW, in line with what the women have accused him of and also in line with what the Svea Court of Appeals has found probable cause for. Both women sought and retained legal representatives who have pushed the case forward for them (initially, both of them retained Claes Borgström, who was the one whose appeal got the closed portion of the investigation re-opened. More recently AA fired Claes because she thought he wasn't doing a good enough of a job with the case and was more focused on self aggrandizement; her new legal representative since started a new push to get Assange handed over to Sweden).

There's a lot more detail on these topics and more here.

The Assange-echo-chamber meme "Neither of the women involved have ever accused Assange of rape" is based on a simple distortion of a key element. SW (the one who the rape charge is concerned) didn't want to have to file charges - she only wanted to force Assange to take a STD test. She didn't want the thing to turn into a giant media circus that basically ruined her life and forced her into hiding from angry Assange fans. But there's a difference between not wanting to file charges and not accusing Assange of rape. She did accuse Assange of rape - first in conversations with her friends while coming to grips with what happened, and then went to the police station, where they told the officer on duty that they wanted advice on how to report a rape (see the statement by Linda Wassgren, the on-duty officer on the 20th). They were then interviewed separately where she described being raped, and after the interview she took a rape kit and sought a legal advocate (getting, ultimately, Claes). Since the leak of the Memoria file (a scummy act on Assange's side, I should add, as it's full of identifying personal details about his accusers and their families that have been used to harrass them - and we know it came from Assange's side because the cover page has a note to Assange's attorney telling him that it's confidential and must not be released), there have been a number of other followup interviews and investigations, and at no point have any objections from AA or SW been recorded. There is absolutely nothing in the record supporting a claim "Neither of the women involved have ever accused Assange of rape". SW has pretty much had to disappear after the event; AA went into hiding for a while but has since resumed taking part in some of the old forums that she used to; last fall she mentioned the case for the first time since the one brief statement she had given to the press after going to the police, mentioning offhand in an unrelated thread that a couple years ago she was the victim of a sex crime and that the perpetrator still hasn't been brought to justice, but rather she's still attacked by his fans for daring to report it. She didn't mention Assange by name, but it's obvious who she was referring to.

Most people who are raped don't want to file charges. They don't want the viscious attacks that come with it and want to shove the event in the past and not have to keep reliving it. A hundred times over when the accused is someone famous who has a lot of loyal fans. But claiming "not wanting to file charges" means "wasn't raped" is a massive distortion.

Comment: Re:Competent Authorities (Score 4, Insightful) 104 104

It's not an "IF" as to whether Assange cherry picks things for political reasons. He does. There are lots of things he's deliberately kept back with threats to release if certain things happen that he doesn't want (unredacted cables, files against NewsCorp, etc). The most famous was his "insurance file" which was to be released "should anything happen to him", which was left vague enough that it wasn't clear whether he was talking about "being killed" or simply "being sent to Sweden" (the statement being made during his fight to avoid surrender to Sweden). The scummiest blackmail on his part, IMHO, was his threatening to release unredacted documents that could get various aid/human rights organizations' employees killed if said organizations didn't provide him money (most famously his $700k shakedown of Amnesty International).

He refers to the leaks in Wikileaks' possession as his "property", and made all Wikileaks staffers sign an onerous NDA imposing ridiculous fines if they do anything to reduce the monetary value of said property, such as by leaking it.

Comment: Re:The Apollo Engine (Score 4, Interesting) 47 47

Not to mention that each piece of hardware is built with the assumption of there being extant suppliers for its component parts. For Apollo hardware, this is rarely true, so you'd have to retool and test for each part. The sad thing is it'd actually be cheaper to build a brand new Saturn-V equivalent than to make an exact duplicate.

This is actually one of the sorts of cases where 3d printing (no, generally not things like plastic filament extruders... meaningful printing, like laser sintering, laser spraying, etc, as well as CNC milling, hybrid manufacture techniques and lost wax casting on a 3d-printed moulds) has the potential to really come into its own: all of these sort of parts that you only ever need half a dozen of them made but might some day suddenly want some more a couple decades down the road. Another interesting advantage on this front is also that of incremental testing - I know of one small rocketry startup that has set themselves up to sinter out aerospikes in an evolutionary fashion - they print one out, connect it straight to test, measure its performance, scrap it and feed that performance data back into the generation of the next printout, in a constant model-refining process. Combustion simulations can be tricky to get right, but real-world testing data doesn't lie ;)

Comment: Re:Americans setting off fireworks... snicker (Score 1) 37 37

Whoops, I was wrong - it's nearly 2 kilograms per person here, not 1. But you've still got us beat :) (Also, it looks like America is up to 207 million pounds of fireworks per year, a big increase... so 285 grams per capita per year).

I just think it's really weird how Americans see themselves as a major-fireworks nation when they set off so few.

Comment: Re:Americans setting off fireworks... snicker (Score 2) 37 37

Oh come on, what's New Years without an ER visit? ;) But yeah, I know some of your places have fireworks bans due to drought and the like.

In case you're curious, here's what New Years looks like here. It goes on at that intensity for at least half an hour, half intensity for maybe an additional hour or so, quarter intensity for another hour, etc. All this comes after the "brennur", which is about a dozen house-sized bonfires scattered all over town.

Basically, if one can make it burn or explode and there's nobody who objects, we'll set it on fire. Often while drinking heavily ;)

Comment: Americans setting off fireworks... snicker (Score 2) 37 37

New York City for example usually sets off 20-25 tonnes of fireworks on the 4th of July. Meanwhile, little Reykjavík sets off about 300 tonnes on New Years' Eve. Americans average shooting off about 200 grams of Fireworks each over the course of the entire year, combining fireworks shows, personal usage, etc. Icelanders average about a kilogram per person just on New Years'.

And I know it's not just Iceland. I had a friend from Peru who moved to America and was terribly disappointed by what passed for a fireworks display there versus in her home country. Seriously, aren't you guys supposed to be the ones who enjoy blowing everything up? ;) Or do you get it out of your systems in the Middle East? ;)

(Note: not meant as an insult :) )

Comment: Re:Inspire kids to be the next Woz, not Jobs (Score 1) 246 246

The irony is that it could be seen as "karma" that Jobs basically committed "suicide by woo", refusing to treat his cancer with any recognized scientific technique for most of a year and instead trying pretty much every technique in the book popular among the sort of person who typically believes in karma.

So perhaps all of the woo stuff actually works, but it plays in with the laws of karma ;)

Comment: Re:no we can't (Score 2) 76 76

I find this an interesting statement. Running the numbers, I find that you'd have to be using a rocket burning something rather better than H2/O2 (we're talking Isp >500 just to reach escape speed, much less to reach the target rock) to allow two launches of a delta-IV heavy.

Huh?

The fact that a Delta-IV Heavy has a LEO payload of over 27 tonnes is a fact. You don't need to "run the numbers". As for the kick stage, I didn't specify a propulsion system - for all we care (since we haven't established a timeframe), it could be an ion drive and not even take a rocket so large as a Delta IV-Heavy.

Meanwhile, the Falcon Heavy is to make its first launch this year, with double the payload of a Delta IV-Heavy. And as was mentioned, the Tsar Bomba was not optimized to be as lightweight as possible.

And this entirely ignores that noone actually has a Tsar Bomba sized nuke available to be detonated.

Oh, and you didn't allow for a backup

It's almost as if I didn't add "with enough advance warning" for that scenario and leave what "enough advance warning" is unspecified. But if there's another rock the size of the Chicxulub impactor out there and we don't see it until the last second, we deserve to get hit - we're no longer talking about a 50 meter spec (Tunguska-sized), rather a rock with a cross section 30% bigger than the island of Manhattan. We're talking about an impact of a scale that happens once every hundred million years or so.

Comment: OMG - matti makkonen .fi sms pioneer dead (Score 0) 31 31

A more appopriate version of the BBC's article:

---------------
OMG - matti makkonen .fi sms pioneer dead!!!
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WTF - mm just died @63! #txtpioneerdeath was father of sms & dvlped idea of txt msg with phones. @2012 msged BBC that txt would be here "4EVR".
--------------
shoutout 2 Nokia for spreading sms w/Nokia 2010. thought txt good 4 language. was btw mng. director of Finnet ltd and "grand old man" & rly obsessed with tech.
--------------
OMFG people!

Comment: Re:no we can't (Score 2) 76 76

It is not only possible, but the easiest option, to "blow them up Armageddon style" (minus the drilling and the like). There's a lot of simulation work going on right now and the results have been consistently encouraging that even a small nuclear weapon could obliterate quite a large asteroid into little fragments that won't re-coalesce, while simultaneously kicking them out of their current orbit. A few years ago they were just doing 2d calcs, now they've gotten full 3d runs.

Think for a second about what nuclear weapons can do on Earth. Here's the crater of a 100kt nuclear weapon test. It's 100 meters deep and 320 meters wide. You could nearly fit a sizeable asteroid like Itokawa inside the hole. And that thing had Earth's intense gravity field working against it and was only 1/10th the size of weapons being considered here. In space you don't need to "blast out" debris with great force like on Earth, you merely need to give it a fractional meter-per-second kick and it's no longer gravitationally bound. And the ability of a nuclear shockwave to shatter rock is almost unthinkably powerful - just ignoring that many if not most asteroids are rubble piles and thus come already pre-shattered. Look at the "rubble chimneys" kicked up by even small nuclear blasts several kilometers underground (in rock compressed by Earth's gravity). Or the size of the underground cavity created by the wimpy 3kT Gnome blast - 28000 cubic meters. Just ignoring that it had to do that, again, working against Earth's compression deep underground, if you scale that up to a 1MT warhead the cavity would be the size of Itokawa itself.

You of course don't have to destroy an asteroid if you don't want to - nuclear weapons can also gently kick them off their path. Again, you're depositing energy in the form of X-rays into the surface of the asteroid on one side. If it's a tremendous amount of energy, you create a powerful shattering shockwave moving throughout the body of the asteroid. If it's lesser, however, you're simply creating a broad planar gas/plasma/dust jet across the asteroid, turning that whole side into one gigantic thruster that will keep pushing and kicking off matter until it cools down.

The last detail is that nuclear weapons are just so simple of a solution. There's no elaborate spacecraft design and testing program needed - you have an already extant, already-built device which is designed to endure launch G-forces / vibrations and tolerate the vacuum of space, and you simply need to get it "near" your target - the sort of navigation that pretty much every space mission we've launched in the past several decades has managed. In terms of mission design simplicity, pretty much nothing except kinetic impactors (which are far less powerful) comes close, and even then it's a tossup. Assuming roughly linear scaling with the simulations done thusfar, with enough advance warning, even a Chicxulub-scale impactor could be deflected / destroyed with a Tsar Bomba-sized device with a uranium tamper. Even though it was not designed to be light for space operations, its 27-tonne weight could be launched to LEO by a single Delta-IV Heavy and hauled off to intercept by a second launch vehicle.

Comment: Re:Not surprised (Score 5, Insightful) 327 327

Uber drivers are subsidized by everybody else. Taxi drivers have to pay high insurance rates because the act of driving a long distance every day for a ton of strangers is a job that inherently leads to a much higher statistical rate of payouts. If they're driving as a taxi on regular car insurance, it's you that's paying the bill for their swindle of the insurance system.

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