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Comment: Re:Car Dealers should ask why they're being bypass (Score 1) 92

by Teancum (#47914161) Attached to: Court: Car Dealers Can't Stop Tesla From Selling In Massachusetts

Some of the issue with automobile manufactures is that the vehicles are so complex and need so much capital that almost everybody who tries to build a new manufacturing company in this industry usually goes bankrupt. Tucker and DeLorean are really good examples of this, in spite of conspiracy theories that suggest ulterior motives of existing manufacturers.

The other issue is simply complying with government regulations in the industry. Some of those regulations certainly have been established because of major screw-ups in the past, but many of them (in spite of the manufacturers complaining about them) are enacted explicitly to discourage new entrants into the industry. At the very least the existing manufacturers only offer token resistances to things like seat belt and safety laws that add complexity as long as it hits everybody in the industry equally... and keeps new companies busy trying to catch up if they tried. If somebody built an exact replica of the Ford Model T, it couldn't be driven today except as a historical re-creation for off-road usage and certainly not something for mass production.

Comment: Re:Car Dealers should ask why they're being bypass (Score 2) 92

by Teancum (#47914107) Attached to: Court: Car Dealers Can't Stop Tesla From Selling In Massachusetts

The point of the dealership is to have a local representative who can help with compliance with local regulations. A hundred years ago, selling stuff was a whole lot more complicated in terms of trying to keep track of things each state wanted or didn't want, not to mention often even different laws for each city even in the same state. Communication was also a bit slower as well... and more importantly the system simply worked for almost everybody.

The problem is that once you have the franchisee in place, getting rid of them is nearly impossible, even if the situation has changed. This is why several historic systems still stick around years, decades, or even centuries after they are obsolete. Some places in Europe still use Roman aqueducts for their water supply... because they still work. There may be more efficient ways to get the same thing to happen now, but why change if it still sort of works?

Comment: Re:Car Dealers should ask why they're being bypass (Score 1) 92

by Teancum (#47914055) Attached to: Court: Car Dealers Can't Stop Tesla From Selling In Massachusetts

You are the one who made the first mistake.

If you do that kind of research by looking stuff up on-line, reading Consumer Reports, and digging up information about the automobiles before you show up to the dealer.... what is the point of the dealer in the first place?

I agree with you so far as that is the best way to avoid getting screwed over by incompetent salesmen, but you can intelligently use sales reps to get more information about their products. This is not strictly about the automobile industry either, and I've done that with electronics, software, and even groceries.

Comment: Re:Car Dealers should ask why they're being bypass (Score 2) 92

by Teancum (#47914017) Attached to: Court: Car Dealers Can't Stop Tesla From Selling In Massachusetts

Tesla doesn't have dealerships, which is part of the problem though. They have stores... like stores which sell soap or drugs like aspirin. That is also the point of the ruling as they are trying to tell these mega-dealerships who own the rights to every automobile brand that they simply can't add Tesla to their list.

The reason why Tesla doesn't want these dealers to have their cars is primarily because they are afraid that these dealers will throw a couple of Tesla cars in the corner of their showroom and be pushing the other brands instead. Elon Musk has explicitly stated this as his primary objection, and why he felt it was necessary to go outside of the dealership model.

Comment: Re:Possession is nine-tenths of the law... (Score 1) 211

by Teancum (#47896237) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

I haven't forgotten the multiplicitive nature of human reproduction or how life will spread. Millions of years from now mankind is likely going to be spreading to other Galaxies and doing things you would not even comprehend at the moment. Human populations also seem to somehow stabilize when constrained with resources (sometimes in ugly ways, but it does happen). Space is huge and there will be many other places to worry about than a mined out Moon.

Who knows, there may even be a lunar restoration group wanting to make it look as pristine as when Neil Armstrong first walked on it.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 211

by Teancum (#47896225) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

Everybody thought the era of pirates was over.... until they started to show up again in the 21st Century here on the Earth. If the opportunity presents itself, there will always be people who will take advantage of a power vacuum and try to take that which is undefended.

No, it won't be like Star Trek or Firefly..... those are too slick and clean cut. It will be far more ugly and different still. This isn't chest thumping, it is facing reality instead of burying your head in the sand and thinking none of this is going to happen. I'll also say that a couple hundred years is nothing in terms of human history too. If you don't make longer-term plans, your civilization is simply doomed to extinction.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1, Interesting) 211

by Teancum (#47895221) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

The reason you can make a claim in North America and have it stick is due to the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. They are the guys that make it possible to make a mining claim and not have to worry about having some 2-bit thug come along and take your mine from you. That is what makes civilization possible. As much as Canada wants to assert their independence, they are dependent upon the U.S. military to make sure Russia doesn't go and sack the northern part of their country (or the whole country for that matter). Ditto for Mexico (in spite of the gangs in northern Mexico.... proving my point and the GP poster above).

The problem with the assumptions about those hoping for peace and tranquility in space is that you don't have sovereignty claims, thus no military of any kind except for pirates and thugs who don't give a damn about treaties or the United Nations. This also includes opportunistic nations that may want to take any space-based assets. That is not an environment you want to be investing billions or perhaps even trillions of dollars worth of money to develop space-based mineral assets.

Yes, space is big, far bigger than you can imagine. None the less, once you start sinking resources into developing a location in space, it becomes a target for aggression. That becomes a fixed point that can be occupied and stolen. Thugs will beat you up simply to steal ten bucks out of your wallet.... what will they do for assets worth billions? That is why you need to have available some friends who are far bigger and badder than any potential thug to allow civilized behavior to flourish.

Comment: Re:Barriers will fall once the money comes rolling (Score 1) 211

by Teancum (#47894707) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

I wonder what the lobbying budget of Planetary Resources is at the moment? There are other space mining enterprises, but they are the ones that are furthest along with actual hardware capable of doing something with the idea. Their short-term goal is to simply map the Solar System, and not even trying to pretend that it is for purely scientific purposes.

Comment: Re:Congress can repeal treaty (Score 1) 211

by Teancum (#47894689) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

Unless the treaty has an "escape clause", which the Outer Space Treaty has. Basically Congress can force a renegotiation of this particular treaty or simply set it aside by legislation. There is a one year notification period where the USA will need to abide by the restrictions of this particular treaty, but once that year is up.... it is as if the treaty never existed in the first place.

Not everybody is happy with that clause, and many people talking about this in the past have argued that this clause will never be invoked without another treaty with all of the current signers agreeing to a new treaty, but it still there.

Also, Congress can pass legislation requiring the President of the USA to engage in various actions. This is even fairly common place where legislation is written like "The Secretary shall..." or "The President shall..." Such legislation could certainly be drafted that in effect makes it an impeachable offense for the President to refuse to denounce a treaty (and very likely the President would simply do what Congress has asked in this case too). While technically it would still have to pass through the hands of the President, the policy decision itself can be decided simply by Congress.... much like how in the UK Parliament passes legislation that gets the Queen's assent but the Queen really didn't get to decide what was in that legislation.

Comment: Re:As a private citizen (Score 2) 211

by Teancum (#47894633) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

The Outer Space Treaty doesn't even make it illegal. It only prevents sovereign claims upon the territory. It can be debated as to if a U.S. citizen claiming extra-terrestrial real estate might constitute a sovereignty claim as well, and certainly a group of citizens forming a town out of their privately held land and applying for U.S. territorial status will constitute a sovereignty claim, but that is still up in the air.

Besides, the USA can also simply state openly to all of the signatory parties "I don't want to be in this treaty anymore", wait a year, and that treaty will have zero impact of any kind. Basically, all Congress needs to do is take a private territorial claim and wait a year before it can be formally recognized or even granted statehood. It took longer than that for California to become a state.

Comment: Re:As a private citizen (Score 1) 211

by Teancum (#47894605) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

The problem is that the treaty obligations of the USA are silent on the matter of private ownership of extra-terrestrial real estate and minerals. In other words, there are no obligations to get in the way. On the other hand, the major spacefaring nations of Mexico and Australia do have treaty obligations that prohibit their citizens from engaging in this kind of mining operation.

I wonder how long it will take for Mexico and Australia to back out of those treaties and get into the gold rush in the Solar System?

Comment: Re:Possession is nine-tenths of the law... (Score 3, Interesting) 211

by Teancum (#47894583) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

The Moon has more surface area that North America. Even if all of the nations of the Earth conspired and made a deliberate effort to explode the Moon, it can't be done. Mining operations that would produce minerals in quantities equal to the entire mining production of humanity from before the Sumerian empires until now and doing that on an annual basis would take billions of years to mine out enough of the Moon for you to even notice something was happening.

Relax, the Moon is going to be just fine even with extensive strip mining, and arguably it is better to have it happen up there than down here on the Earth while killing habitat for many animals and destroying whole ecosystems.

Only the smallest of asteroids will ever be completely mined out before mankind will have settled and occupied the rest of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Comment: Re:Is it just me... (Score 1, Interesting) 211

by Teancum (#47894543) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

There is current application of space law in terms of being an extension of international law though. Commercial enterprises working in a space environment or having a significant part or feature of their business (speaking about just space-related assets) is now a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Much of that is of course in the telecommunications industry (where it gets tricky to distinguish what is an Earth-based asset and what is space-based), but it also includes some emerging industries including mining operations.

It is a real academic discipline, and surprisingly the University of Mississippi is one of the major centers. Giggle all you want, this guy is cited in professional journals and taken seriously by executives at companies who conduct business activities in space. The guys that have the bucks matter, not some casual poster on Slashdot.

Comment: Re: Send in the drones! (Score 1) 848

by Teancum (#47780849) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Neville Chamberlain was in a tough position as the United Kingdom had pretty much disposed of their military in the aftermath of World War I. Their navy was certainly world-class, but the army and anything which could be used to stop Germany was basically non-existent. Ditto for the U.S. Army (which even had serious legislation going before Congress to completely disband the U.S. Army altogether and rely strictly on the state militias for national defense). The rest of the world was disarming at the time Germany was moving into the Rhineland and elsewhere.

Military intelligence was also miserable at the time, where Germany purposely inflated the numbers of their soldiers by marching the same units across prominent bridges (easily seen by observers)... only to ship them by train back to Germany to have them march again over the same bridge several times. Basically the UK & France thought Germany had many more soldiers involved in those early occupations than really was the case and something that might have been stopped simply by calling Germany's bluff.

I don't know if it is too late to do that with Putin's Russia or not... which I suppose is the question some are asking right now.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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