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Comment: No. (Score 1, Insightful) 700

by NReitzel (#49477849) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

First off, whether or not anyone thinks they are whacky or not, they are in fact a Religion, by all the criteria that count.

Second, elminating their tax exempt status will set loose unbridled lobbying efforts. Look at the history of what happened when the NRA was denied tax exempt status. An otherwise annoying bunch of gun nuts suddenly became a major political player.

Don't play with fire.

Comment: How about the Thorium (Score 1) 215

by NReitzel (#49399249) Attached to: The Dystopian Lake Filled By the World's Tech Sludge

Since the rare earth processing plants are there, and since they dump into the lake, the question is, is that where they put the thorium?

Rare earths (not rare at all) always come complete with thorium. The problem with producing rare earths in the USA isn't the rareness, it's the waste disposal of the thorium residues. Nobody in the US will buy or store thorium. Thus it must be branded as a waste product, and disposing of a radioactive waste product is insanely expensive if it is possible at all.

So is the sludge lake also a glow-in-the-dark lake?

Comment: Re:Manufacturers Restrict their Products (Score 4, Insightful) 168

by NReitzel (#49037349) Attached to: NoFlyZone.org Aims To Keep the Airspace Above Your Home Drone-Free

So, what is being suggested is that every drone carry with it every person's address that doesn't want a drone above it?

Doesn't that sound a whole lot like a list of addresses the police would love to have? And if you sign up for this list, then somebody who uses a drone for nefarious purposes will respect this address, as opposed to (say) disabling the GPS receiver?

This is a great idea, because we know that you never get unsolicited cell phone calls from Credit Card Services or "Hi, Seniors..."

This is without a doubt the most ridiculous solution to a problem that doesn't exist that I have ever come across.

So, let me state the obvious, just in case someone has missed it: That genie is out of the bottle, and there's no putting her back in.

Comment: Nothing like Biological (Score 2) 33

To say that "artificial neural networks are nothing like what the biological brain does" is no more correct than to say "artificial neural networks are just like the brain."

Machine learning neural networks do the same flavor of thing that a real organic brain does, but at a complexity that is -many- orders of magnitude smaller. They also tend to be directed at a single skill, and don't have to cohabit the network with, well, everything.

They're not the same, but they're not totally different, either. Truth is not well served by hyperbole.

Comment: New and Modern, Baah Humbug... (Score 1) 263

Axis webcams permit loading a single jpeg, using one of several tools, none of which include their super fancy "look at the webcam" web app.

For example, using the *nix command "curl" gives you a jpeg of what's currently being watched, presto, no grief, no complications.

What you -do- with the jpeg is very much up to you.

I run multiple cameras looking out of my residence, and stuff them into motion jpeg files on a terabyte disk. I use a cron file to change files on an hourly basis, and with the number of cameras I have, I have on hand about four weeks of video coverage. I'm using an atom processor, and the whole affair was cheap and very easy to maintain.

Comment: Don't confuse power production and nuclear weapons (Score 4, Informative) 166

by NReitzel (#48788867) Attached to: Nuclear Waste Accident Costs Los Alamos Contractor $57 Million

The huge (and they _are_ huge) cost of cleanup from places like Hanford has to be understood in the context under which it was created.

The people at Hanford were tasked with creating weapons to kill people, a million at a time. Given that criterion, is it any wonder that they weren't worried about a few salmon, or clean groundwater. They believed at the time that "Nuculer war, toe to toe with the Rooskies" was right around the corner, and they were dealing with the possibility of hundreds of millions of dead. All other reasons just didn't matter.

That turned out not to be the case, but hindsight is always so excellent.

Now, the pendulum has swung so far the other way, we want to clean up Hanford (as an example) well enough that we could build a school on the location. That doesn't seem like a realistic goal. As for a plutonium contaminated waste facility, I should point out that Los Alamos had quite the plutonium problem. They solved it by painting the walls coral - bright bleedin' orange - and then painting over with white paint. The rule was simple - if you see orange, call the safety people. It was (and is) not a perfect solution, but it was (and is) a workable one.

Comment: Maybe repurpose it a little... (Score 1) 236

by NReitzel (#48433987) Attached to: Russia May Be Planning National Space Station To Replace ISS

NASA keeps looking for long duration spacecraft. They have a -dandy- one already in orbit.

What it needs is a large ion thruster module. The ISS would make a really great long duration space probe. We already know that people can live on it for months at a time, and it's got many of the instruments one would want to explore deeper space than LEO. Flying supplies off Earth would take a whole lot less energy than launching an entire space probe.

Plus, it can be done incrementally. Attach an ion engine, fly ISS up to geosynchronous orbit, then fly it back down.

Seems like a much better idea than "Hey, let's burn this up in the atmosphere and count on the Government(s) to buy us a new shiny one."

It was thinking like that that led us to the Superconducting Supercollider -- oh, wait, we don't have one of those. But CERN has LHC, and they have studiously repurposed and refurbished their old accelerators since 1959.

C'mon, NASA. Think outside the box. For once.

Comment: It won't happen that way (Score 1) 320

by NReitzel (#48242229) Attached to: What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

The oncoming of fully automated vehicles won't happen the way that being discussed in geekish circles. Governments tend to move with all the speed of a glacier, and insurance companies will go out of business if the number of traffic accidents plummet. (Yes, they will. Water conservation sounded great until a lot of people started actually conserving water, now the water companies are having to jack up rates to stay solvent.)

What will happen is that "safety features" will be added to top end vehicles and work their way down. This is already happening with rear-watch, lane obstacle detection, and others. Insurance companies will like safer cars, as long as they aren't so safe that they are no longer needed. Public safety groups will lobby for these safer cars.

The myriad of state legislatures in the US will be very reluctant to authorize fully automated vehicles. Instead, manufacturers will just keep introducing "features" that reduce traffic accidents, things like lane following and collision detection and braking. Then, as the number of features mounts, the distance between a fully featured safety car and one that will drive itself will become smaller and smaller until it doesn't seem like such a giant leap. In addition, we may find automated vehicles licensed only for certain pieces of highway. It takes a lot of CPU to automate a car, adding GPS is a detail.

Look around, the changes have already started.

Comment: The end of the Smelly... (Score 1) 334

by NReitzel (#48180923) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

The short-magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) isn't called the "Smelly" for no reason. It's got an eight-ton trigger pull, stock forearm bands that will drill a hole in your shoulder while you carry it, a steel butt plate that will make an attempt to dislocate your shoulder when fired...

But it is reliable. In fact, think of it as the bolt action flavor of an AK-47.

I hope what they end up with serves as well.

Comment: Stay in perspectve... (Score 1) 193

by NReitzel (#48105557) Attached to: A Critical Look At Walter "Scorpion" O'Brien

Yeah, the show is mediocre, but it starts off with an end tag so what do you expect. I saw the end of the show first and wound back to see if they had started with a matching open tag, but no. Nobody there has a clue what they are, just "web stuff."

Look, compared to network tv shows, it's in the top third. Would you rather have another reality show about an ugly woman and her abusive husband who both have an IQ of 98?

See if you can maintain a perspective on all this.

A good supervisor can step on your toes without messing up your shine.