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Comment: Re:Crooked politicians. (Score 1) 36 36

Nice to see that American politicians are not the only crooks with too much power. Now what do we do about it?

When US politicians try to ban online gambling, it's not to drive business to government gambling sites, but rather to drive business to Sheldon Adelson. I guess they figure if you're going to be corrupt, you might as well be corrupt for someone who pays better than the government.

Comment: Re:Taxi licenses are crazy expensive (Score 1) 300 300

It seems to me that it's a waste of resources to keep cabs in low-demand areas on the off-chance that someone's grandmother wants to use one.

It might be a "waste of resources" to give your grandmother medical care too, but as a society, we're uncomfortable with people being left out.

When the libertarian caliphate comes to power, then we can let grandma go dangle. Until then, it's probably to our benefit to look out for her.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 0) 533 533

Drone piolots have no doubt done somethings history won't look kindly on but so has basically every fighting man using whatever technology and tactics. Sure maybe some just do it for the pay check or lack of other options but most of the people that enlist in our volunteer armed services have some conviction about defending the nation.

I will challenge, "most". How would we know if their motivation was the defense of the nation or if they just needed a job and their best option was to enlist? And defense of the nation from what? The US hasn't fought a war in defense of the nation since the 19th century.

Let's stop romanticizing the military. This isn't GI Joe who was drafted off his daddy's farm to go fight the Fuhrer. This is a "professional military", remember? And there's a word for professional military. Mercenary. Just look at how eager these guys are to go work for Blackwater, or "Xe" or "Academi" or whatever the private contractor army is calling itself today.

I'm kind of surprised that the same people who look sideways with suspicion at anything Big Government does also romanticize the enforcement arm of that Big Government by becoming military groupies or police buffs. Every member of the military and every member of every police force in the United States fits the dictionary definition of "bureaucrat", plus they get to use deadly force. Remember that the next time you hear someone talking about those damn "government bureaucrats".

Comment: Re:Courage (Score 1) 131 131

Dogs can get this way around fireworks, thunderstorms, etc, by people thinking they're comforting the dog when it looks worried. Instead, the dog takes this as confirmation there's something to be worried about and it becomes an increasing cycle. The secret is to pay no attention to the dog's worrying behavior instead of petting and telling it everything is OK.

You may be right. My dog will try to climb into me or my wife's lap when the fireworks start, and if thunder happens at night, she'll try to climb into bed with us. We've always tried to comfort her. I'll take a different approach next time, but it might be too late for this one to adjust.

Comment: Re:no we can't (Score 2) 73 73

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.


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) 30 30

A more appopriate version of the BBC's article:

OMG - matti makkonen .fi sms pioneer dead!!!
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) 73 73

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:Taxi licenses are crazy expensive (Score 1) 300 300

There has been an effort pushed by cabdrivers in Chicago to do exactly what you describe. It has been resisted by the city's Taxi Authority, which despite what people here might think, are definitely not in bed with the drivers. In fact, the city government HATES cab drivers. They make their lives miserable in ways you can't imagine. Minor parking violations can go $800-1500. The city treats cabbies like dirt.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil