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Comment Why does it have to be liquid? (Score 1) 139

Even as far back as the original Cosmos series, scientists were saying that the lack of a liquid iron core to generate the magnetic field was the cause of the atmosphere leaking off into space. Okay, sounds plausible but it has me wondering why it has to be liquid when lodestone has a magnetic field and it's solid.
And why isn't gravity enough to hold the atmosphere in? Or is the gravitational field too weak?

Comment Re:Setting a dangerous precedent (Score 1) 228

Actually, I am a pilot and I remember when the airspace was shaped like an upside-down wedding cake. Made a lot more sense. Now it's devolved into a case of "Screw it, we don't want to have to think about it so we're taking all the space." I believe a better compromise exists. For example: at smaller regional airfields, the traffic is very light and usually small therefore they don't need as much space. Ultimately, you can't ever legislate against somebody deciding to do something stupid. However, there are a lot of people in government who believe that a piece of paper will act as this magic shield to prevent stupid.

Comment Setting a dangerous precedent (Score 2, Interesting) 228

Here's the problem: If you allow the FAA to get away with this crap, then you have lost the war and have given up power to yet another byzantine bureaucracy. This five-mile rule is ridiculous for several reasons: 1) Airports generally don't have 360-degree approach patterns (heliports notwithstanding and even they have approach and departure rules), 2) No airport pattern is lower than 800 feet except on final and departure legs which are clearly defined and those don't need 5 miles, 3) Where did they come up with that figure for the fine and who gets the money?

Comment They haven't figured out how to bork them (Score 1) 184

IMHO, it's pretty simple. The FAA hasn't figured out how to completely bork the use of the technology to the point of always having to ask them for permission to fly in the form of regulatory fees. Thus far, most of the existing regulations are stupid. The 5-mile rule is dumb because the ILS approaches and patterns don't need that much space. The commercial rules are dumb because what makes anyone think that because you're getting paid to fly means that you're automatically going to do something stupid? Spying on your neighbors? Seriously? People are far more likely to have their identity stolen. Noise? Pfft. Wake me when you require motorcycles to have mufflers and spank those law-breakers hard. What's worse is that there is a gaping hole in the identified uses for these things, that being search & rescue operations. By definition, you don't have the luxury of time to ask for permission to fly nor do you have the luxury of only flying in approved areas. I would really enjoy introducing some dumbass FAA inspector to the grieving family of the 2-year-old who died of exposure because said dumbass wouldn't let searchers fly.

Comment So stupid (Score 1) 257

Problem: kids won't eat veggies.
Solution: make the other food so gross that they have no choice but to eat the veggies or go hungry.
Yeah, that's effing brilliant. And people got research funding to come up with the obvious. Where do I go to get that kind of funding?
IMHO, we need to start an award like the Razzies. Something like the No sh*t, Sherlock Prize.

Comment Which entity is really cheating? (Score 4, Insightful) 166

I'm just going to throw this out there knowing that a certain type of reader will scoff.
First, the EPA sets two competing requirements: lower emissions and higher mileage. Do they have any engineering expertise that proves this is even possible? My guess is not just no but hell no. It's also possible that the EPA can get away with this by playing the evil, greedy corporation card saying, "The car companies don't want to do this because they are greedy," and a certain type of person will believe it. So, if you're a manufacturer trying to sell a product, which of these two requirements is going to sell better? I can pretty much guarantee that the consumer doesn't give a rat's ass about emissions when they could be saving money on gas which may also be artificially expensive.
Second, it's entirely possible that the EPA has created unrealistic if not unattainable requirements for auto manufacturers not because they have any real scientific or engineering expertise that it's possible but in a thinly-veiled long-con attempt to drive these companies out of business. Kafka would say, "Damn, wish I had thought of this." The consumer is never going to pay more money for less product unless they are forced to. Brow-beating them into "saving the planet" doesn't work when it's costing the individual a lot more money.

Comment Now if we could do this for enclosures (Score 1) 196

IMHO, one big missing piece to ultra-short-run production of electronic products is the ability for a DIYer to make production-quality enclosures in small quantities that aren't stupid expensive. I had (and still have) high hopes for 3D printing to solve this but current technology is slow and prone to mid-print failures. Plus, the results are lacking in appearance of a finished product.

Comment The effect of Toyota on the American market (Score 1) 535

Last summer, I had dinner with a guy who was a VP at GM way back in the late 60s/early 70s. Being the new guy in upper management, the board of directors sent him to Australia to asses the potential threat of Toyota on their market share. Back then, Toyota barely registered on the American consumer's radar. After spending two weeks down under he learned the following: before Toyota showed up on their shores, the dominant car manufacturer had an 87% market share. After Toyota arrived, that same company wound up with a 3% market share. So, he went back and reported his findings to the GM board. Their collective response was, "That'll never happen here."

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.