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Comment: Re:Renewable versus fossil - where is nuclear? (Score 1) 287 287

The biggest hurdle holding back nuclear power is the enormous upfront costs required to actually bring a plant online. They require a staggering amount of concrete and other materials to construct and it's extremely difficult to get all the cash together to do it. These are very high-risk investments with very long payback periods and a relatively small shift in commodity prices between the drawing board stage and actual construction can scuttle the whole deal.

Comment: Re:I do not consent (Score 1) 851 851

What if I want to consume it despite there not being a consensus that it is safe to consume

Technically, you could make your own and keep consuming it to your heart's content, you're just not allowed to sell it to others.

Although there's the small issue that hydrogenating oil is an industrial process using pressure, high temperatures, and hydrogen gas. It's not out of reach to an adventurous home cook, but it sounds like a lot of work and a non-zero chance of accidental self-immolation for original recipe Crisco.

I'd just use lard.

Comment: Re:Meritocracy (Score 1) 1032 1032

Take away the student loan subsidies & redirect that money to merit-based scholarships. If we stop papering over the real price a university charges with "anybody can qualify" student loans, the universities will be forced to compete on costs ultimately lowering prices and reducing the scholarship dollars needed.

Comment: Re:Heavy vs. light? (Score 1) 278 278

In a vacuum, yes, but Mars's atmosphere is too thick to ignore, but too thin to be really useful for landing large objects with chutes and aerobreaking. The smaller rovers got away with chutes and impacting with big bouncy airbags, but Curiosity would've hit too hard to survive, which is why it went with the propulsive "sky crane" scheme.

Anything larger, and there's little choice but using rockets to touch down in one piece. Lighting an engine in an atmosphere while the craft is supersonic introduces all sorts of tricky engineering challenges. It's not unsolveable (SpaceX thinks they can do it), but it's not easy.

Comment: Re:Print some bucks (Score 1) 335 335

If there's consumer cash sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be invested, where is it hiding? I'm not sure it's really there, having evaporated on gone to debt payments. There was a massive wealth transfer from the "consumer" class to the "investor" class during the last crash and the upcoming consumer generation has record levels of student debt. Wage growth has also been flat to negative.

Comment: Re:Trolling Douchebags (Score 4, Insightful) 211 211

I can imagine a situation where I call 911 with my phone (with current paid-for service) and help can't get to me because they're too busy checking out 100 prank phone calls from unregistered phones

This isn't about cost-effectiveness, it's about keeping our finite number emergency responders going after real emergencies.

Comment: Re:Fast track (Score 4, Interesting) 355 355

Just because you paid for the class doesn't mean that anybody owes you a passing grade.

No, but it should at least be possible to earn a passing grade and learn something in the class, if a student is willing to work for it. Failing the entire class robs them of that chance, regardless of how they actually behaved.

Comment: Re:It is a cycle. (Score 1) 83 83

Some kind of client-server architecture has pretty much always been around, and it always will (barring societal collapse). It's just been a matter of how widespread it was.

Today's computing model is continuing to shift towards mobile devices with finite power supplies, thermal envelopes and limited/fragile storage. The batteries, storage density and mobile processors will continue to improve,but it's always going to be attractive to offload storage & compute to a datacenter with ample power, cooling & storage headroom. Datacenters are also considerably more difficult to drop in the toilet or misplace.

Comment: Actually, I think that's a great idea (Score 4, Interesting) 312 312

And I'm pretty far left, and have heard the same idea from other "lefties." Go ahead and cut the corporate tax to zero. The largest and most powerful corporations will bribe governments and set up special loopholes that work for them (but not smaller competitors) anyway. Level the playing field, as you say.

...and do away with special tax treatment of dividends and capital gains. Tax the owners of the corporations rather than the corporations themselves. This has a side benefit of no longer taxing investment income at a lower rate than actual earned income from working.

Comment: Re:Risk Management (Score 1) 737 737

A common practice is for a flight attendant to trade places when a pilot needs to leave the cockpit, ensuring at least 2 people in the cockpit at all times.

Granted, a co-pilot determined to crash the plane and kill everyone aboard is probably perfectly willing to kill or incapacitate a flight attendant watching them, but there's at least some chance of the flight attendant winning the fight or managing to unlock the door and better odds of the co-pilot deciding not trying to crash the plane in the first place.

Comment: Re:meanwhile (Score 5, Insightful) 342 342

A consumption tax is inherently regressive. Those with smaller incomes must use a larger proportion of it on consumption. The wealthy will spend a comparatively tiny fraction of their income on tax and continue to amass vast piles of money.

I'd prefer to see an approach where the corporate income tax is abolished and replaced by higher capital-gains and dividend taxes on the owners

Comment: Re:Film's the best bet. (Score 1) 169 169

Oh, I don't doubt we can still read them, I'm only saying it's a fairly tedious effort and some care needs to be taken in storing the cards so they last long enough. With punch cards, a camera or a scanner can be a makeshift "punch card reader."

How will someone 50-100 years in the future read one of today's optical discs without a working compatible drive? Microscopes and a lot of time?

Comment: Film's the best bet. (Score 1) 169 169

50 years ago digital information was typically stored on punch cards and paper tape. Those might still be readable with great care and tedious effort but would almost certainly be in no condition to be fed into vintage equipment. Someone would probably need to transcribe them optically and run them into some sort of interpreter.

100 years ago there were no computers as we know them today.

Original film from those eras still exists and is readable. While somebody might be able to dig up an ancient optical drive, USB interface and common codec specs in 50-100 years, the film is still film and can be read with good eyes or a magnifying glass. Pressed CDs & DVDs might last that long and probably stand the best chance of working equipment still existing that far into the future, but I wouldn't count on hard drives, flash memory or burnable CDs & DVDs lasting.

In practice, failures in system development, like unemployment in Russia, happens a lot despite official propaganda to the contrary. -- Paul Licker

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