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Comment Going to Mars.... (Score 4, Insightful) 684

Is not complicated. Nor is it difficult bringing several orders magnitude greater "stuff" than the article contemplates.

But this will not happen without nuclear propulsion. With Project Orion powered space craft, we could send 100,000 ton vessels to Mars, single stage, capable of landing, with a trip time of weeks, not months.

This is the difference between trying to explore the new world, from Europe, with 5 people, paddles and a canoe; or a fleet of diesel powered amphibious vessels holding thousands of tons of cargo, and hundreds/thousands of expeditionary personnel.

Exploring Mars (or pretending to settle it) with chemical rockets is really just playing with toys, the science equivalent of masturbation, and we really shouldn't bother with the cost. If mankind wants to expand beyond the earth, it will take nuclear propulsion.

Comment Re:Voting with wallet (Score 3, Informative) 307

876.581277 kilowatt hours for your debian router.
150 kilowatt hours for your consumer router

726 kilowatt hours times $0.11 dollars per kwh = $80 per year as your cost delta.

If you go with a standard intel atom platform, you can get that unit down to 50 watts, or $48 per year as your total operating cost.

At slightly hardware cost, you can buy a fanless nano-itx Atom pc that runs at about 13 watts. That's about $12 per YEAR. Make sure you use a USB flash drive as your storage media, for optimal energy usage.

Comment Re:I know this won't be a popular sentiment, but.. (Score 2) 198

The poverty in the third world is manufactured, not in the sense that it wasn't there before and someone created it, but in the sense that it would have naturally faded away by now if powerful rich nations weren't working their asses of to perpetuate it. Cuba is a nice example, they got the sanctions for having strong welfare, education and medical policies designed to bring them up to first world status.


Poverty in the third world is manufactured by the corrupt, miserable leadership of the third world.

To name some examples of countries that *rapidly* transitioned (or are on an incredible upswing) from the third world to the first world in the 20th century: Japan, China, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Chile, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and Brazil.

That's just off the top of my head.

Comment Big, Bigger, Biggest (Score 1) 892


The only "realistic" interstellar space vessels that make sense would be captured asteroids utilizing Orion-like propulsion. I haven't looked at the maximum possible mass of an Orion-type spacecraft, but I believe it is substantially above billions of tons if you only have to consider the pusher plate system. Advances in material sciences, and the possibility of "super" systems strengthened utilizing magnetic/electrical charges could dramatically increase this number further, to the point where even the largest of asteroids could potentially be utilized as space craft.

These asteroids would be wired and covered with a variety of useful mounts, including lasers on turrets, a variety of sensors and cameras, railgun-style mass drivers, and a variety of openings protected by plasma windows. On sufficiently large asteroids, these openings could include hangars for auxiliary craft, such as surface to space launchers, and versatile, high-speed drones. Drones could be utilized as scouts, remote sensors, maintenance devices, or perhaps, weapons platforms (suicide or otherwise).

If you needed to militarize such a craft, you wouldn't have to do much. Many of the "tools" on this craft would be versatile enough to be utilized as weapons. A railgun, or sufficiently strong utility laser would be obvious. By virtue of utilizing an asteroid as your "hull", a significant amount of armor is "built in". Turrets/Windows etc. . . could be protected by a variety of means. The above-linked Plasma Window, as well as a variety of Plasma Bubble research suggests to me that the possibilities of creating mixed-phase materials that can be oriented into coherent structures using charges and magnetic fields-- by this I am suggesting a "metal" that retains it shape based on charge passing through, and whose tensile strength is determined by a combination of material properties and energy usage. One can envision clouds of plasma, or even clouds of metals/solids/liquids which could be strengthened utilizing such tools. I would think that these "shield" would not be utilized to protect the entire asteroid, and rather be deployed to protect sensitive portions of the asteroid.

Active countermeasures would be important, as well; railguns/lasers could be utilized to divert the course of incoming projectiles, while electronic countermeasures and radios would be utilized to disrupt/confuse enemy sensors. Boarding "combat" drones could be utilized to attack the propulsion, weapon, and control systems of enemy asteroid-ships; these would probably be launched in swarms, and by railgun.

The "vast" nature of space suggests that there could be two different form of battlegrounds. Interstellar distances are too large to be considered battlegrounds; it only really makes sense to consider solar distances. Inside solar systems, combat between, say, Mars and Earth would be a slow affair; I picture rail guns hurtling projectiles at a significant fraction of light, while defense systems utilizing lasers and smaller projectiles fire back to alter the course of incoming projectiles. At closer scales, combat becomes a more conventional affair, and probably looks like a cross between modern carrier combat and drone warfare.

Comment Re:Why can't people be reasonable? (Score 1) 566

In a twisted way I see how they could have an argument.

I disagree. I've seen some ridiculous communist/fascist loving stuff at University. I've seen people who "admire" Kim Jong-Il, and who "admire" Hitler, and who "admired" Mao.

These "leaders" killed millions of people in the name of truly evil ideologies, and they are typically tolerated at academic institutions.

For example, UW Madison had its local paper run an ad by a Holocaust denier, because, "“no opinions or assertions can be so offensive that we cannot bring ourselves to hear them.”'

Also, UW Madison has *at least* one professor (Erik Olin Wright) who studies the "scientific" ideas of Stalin. A mass murderer by *any* standard. Probably the most prolific mass murderer in history.

Scary to me that a Firefly poster would be considered the "worrying" document.

Comment Re:Rent-a-cop oversteps his bounds in shock horror (Score 2) 566

What is *truly* offensive to me:

We're talking about a quote from a mainstream sci-fi series. A quote. . . posted on the door of a theater professor's door.

Yet, no one would blink twice about Mao Tse Tung quotes/posters (which I've seen, not to mention occasionally repeated by Government officials), Che posters (which are common place in academia), or Holocaust deniers (Google it, these roaches are present at several American academic institutes). There are also a fair number of "academic" North Korea lovers, a locale with ongoing state-sponsored mass murdering.

Yeah, that Firefly poster is totally something to panic about. But ululation of mass murdering communist/fascist goons? Totally fine in the name of free speech.

I'd think that Holocaust deniers, or Che-lovers, or Kim Jong-Il lovers are *far* more likely to cause psychological harm and terror.

Comment Re:Come on, Jake, it's Wisconsin (Score 1) 566

Hilariously rated as Flamebait, even though this is a normal experience for any conservative or libertarian on a college campus.

I've never been treated so poorly, nor dismissed with such regularity, as on a college campus, for my libertarian leaning views. People are *far* more open minded in urban slums, poor rural farmland, or on union shop floors; places that one would not expect to be staffed with libertarians or conservatives.

Comment Re:any signal can be found and killed (Score 2) 417

Yeah, because North Korea doesn't ever start anything.

Not like North Korea has a history of starting violent border incidents.

I think there is no serious dispute that if the North Koreas experience significant disruptions during a leadership transition when "Dear Leader" dies, there will be a fairly serious war.

Comment Purely Stupid (Score 4, Interesting) 475

This is dumb, dumb, dumb.

There is only one reason this is described as a "one-way" mission; Mankind's incredibly stupid reliance on chemical rockets. Chemical rockets *will not* allow us to explore any of outer space in a meaningful way, with the possible (and expensive) exception of near earth orbit.

We already have the technology to jet where-ever we want around the solar system. Project Orion.

There was a BBC show on it.

The short story: It was a design to use small nuclear explosives to push up against an abalative impact plate with shock absorbs. One pulse every 120 seconds. Significant levels of acceleration, and a mass to energy ratio that would make any rocket scientist blush. We could *easily* send a million ton spacecraft to Mars, with more than sufficient fuel to return several massive (10s of thousands of tons) spacecraft back to earth.

We could do round trips every 6 months without blinking an eye, with the added side effect of using much of the world's weapons grade nuclear fuel. Enhancements to the design switched from Fission to Fusion; at which point Orion spacecraft would be able to start to move around interstellar space. Early designs using current materials could achieve 0.05-0.1c . Designs using future materials (or possible relying upon non-solid ablative surfaces (this includes a plate that is sprayed with an oil solution before each blast)) could theoretically achieve .8c . This would make round-trips to Alpha Centauri possible.

How do you get around the nuclear radiation issues? Simple. First, there's no serious issue with radiation in space; build it in orbit, and there's not much to worry about. Second, the fallout/radiation from direct planetary launches would be dwarfed by weapons tests that occurred in the past, and probably by fossil fuel plant emissions, as well. The total fallout released from a planetary launch of a 6,000 ton vehicle would be equal to a 10-megaton nuclear blast (roughly one worldwide instance of cancer per launch), even using thermonuclear blasts. Further refinements to the technology could significantly reduce that; and mankind has pursued far less interesting pursuits that have caused a great deal more fallout (and heighted rates of cancer) than a real, "nuclear" space program.

In an ideal world, we'd build a few *huge* orion stations, and launch them into orbit. I'm talk multi-million ton hulks. The fallout from these launches would be significant, but would still be smaller in magnitude than the fallout from the various nuclear weapons tests that occurred during the cold war. These stations would contain the industrial complex needed to build additional ships, and smaller vessels capable of mining the needed materials from the moon. Hopefully, there are sufficient levels of fissionable and fusible materials on the moon. At that point, man kind could return to using chemical rockets as ferries to get into space; to deliver small cargos and personnel to the constructions stations.

How would you pay for this venture? That begs the question: Whats the best way to profit of a massive nuclear pulse drive in space? To move asteroids! Mining of the asteroid belt would be a serious proposition, and the low gravity (and lack of atmosphere) makes the usage of our Orion drives even more palpable. It would be necessary to figure out a cheap way to return these metals to earth; however, initial studies have suggested that even very small asteroids (1 mile diameter) can contain tens of trillions of dollars of metals.

The loss rate would be terrific, but one could imagine breaking asteroids into 500 m chunks, surrounding them with layers of ceramic heat shield, and them aiming them for the middle of the ocean, Siberia, or other wasteland type area. I have a feeling we can devise a more elegant solution over time.

This could happen in our lifetime. We could already be living this if NASA hadn't given up on Orion in the 1960s because of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This is the future of space travel, not tiny chemical rockets which cost tens of thousands of dollars to move a kilogram.

Comment Re:History repeats itself (Score 1) 550

One, it isn't clear that there is all that much gold in "getting the software on as many units as possible"(at least if you have to compromise as much as Google has to do so.

See my other posts in this topic.

I agree with you that Android was started defensively. At this point, however, as a company which primarily sells Ads and Commercial Information, I cannot imagine that Google sees anything as more important that collecting data from "smart" devices in individual pockets.

Android revenue, Google Market Revenue, NFC revenue; all that is small potatoes to the information that can be gleaned from location aware Android devices.

Comment Re:History repeats itself (Score 1) 550

I think that for Google the primary driver for Android is not device/app revenue, but device/app data collection.

Google wants to know *everything* about you. With an Android device, they have expanded the realm of knowledge from:

Everything you do on the computer


Everything you do on a Smart Phone.

This may include:
What time you get up in the morning (alarms)
What time you leave your home.
When you usually return to your home.
How often you go to bars.
How often you work (and for how many hours)
The length of time you commute.
How you commute.
The ratio of how much you walk/drive/take the subway.
Who you talk to.
How long you talk on the phone.
How long you spend in a given store!
How long you spend at a given mall; or restaurant; or gym.
What you comparison shop for via Smartphone while at a given store.
What you text your friends.
The content of your voicemails.
What you like to take pictures of!
How much you spend, and on what.
When you check your e-mail. When you check your text messages. What hours are you willing to take business calls. What hours are you unwilling to take any calls. Which hours are you most responsive to e-mails/texts/calls/voicemails/ads.
What books you read. What websites you frequent.

Android devices are lifestyle devices, as are Google TV devices. Google can use this information to build a file on you as sophisticated as the Nielsen company can build a database on a given demographic.

All that being said, I'm relatively okay with it. We are inundated with advertising in modern life. Google's secret is to make it slightly more subtle, and a great deal more tailored to a given individual.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I have *NO* problem with a salesman selling a good product, at a reasonable price, to fit my needs. Particularly if he is a salesman who is easy for me to get along with. The more Google can work on making the ads I see less offensive to me, the happier I will be. Especially if Google continues to make a clear delineation between "Featured (paid)" listings and "Normal Search Data".

Comment Re:History repeats itself (Score 5, Insightful) 550


i'm puzzled why people think Google's ultimate aim was or should have been to make money on Android.

Maybe because they are a business????

Looks, it's really simple.

Apple makes iPhones, so that people buy iPhones, buy cell service from ATT (and soon Verizon), so that ATT (and soon Verizon) pay kick backs to Apple. Apple also generates revenue off Apps and Media sales.

Google built Android; so that Google can collect data, which is then used to better improve Google's searches. Improving Google's searches, and Google's ability to manipulate knowledge, enables Google to sell ads and other "in-the-cloud" services better.

For Apple, the iPhone is the platform. For Google, the Cloud is the platform. That's why iPhones are expensive, droid devices tend to be cheaper, and Google's network services are better.

Oh, and that's why Google builds services for other platforms; its not about selling Android phones, its about collecting data! Android phones collect data better than iPhones, but why limit the market?

And the mirror image of that is why the Apple App store is not available on other platforms; selling Applications is a secondary goal; selling iPhones (and the monolithic iOS ecosystem) is the primary goal, and the primary revenue driver.

People are going to have to understand that both companies are working for the betterment of mankind, but both companies seek to maximize revenue while they are at it. Google's profit drivers push Google toward being and omniscient, if usually benevolent big-brother in the cloud. Apple's profit drivers push Apple toward a monolithic ecosystem with Jobs firmly in control. But it is a *very* well designed ecosystem in which 3rd parties who are willing to play by the rules can prosper.

Shades of gray. Capitalism at work. The invisible hand. An exhibit in how pursuing the amoral in a competitive landscape can achieve the greater good.


basically. Google didn't monetize the hell out of it. that's a selling point. i'm tired of people / corporations thinking they can control me through their product just because they invented it. stop using your services as a launching platform for your personal holy crusades and simply provide people with what they want.

If that's what you are looking for, you should give up. Google's very clearly "giving away" services so that they can learn everything about you, and then tell Kraft exactly how many boxes of Mac and Cheese you might buy next month. For me, that's a reasonable trade-off; hell, you can argue that its a reasonable thing to make advertising "more relevant" and "more targeted".

Comment Re:Save it instead (Score 1) 396

The economy still is in serious recovery mode. You should be saving and investing right now.

That's an awfully large generalization. Saving only makes sense if you believe that the various factors that determine the savings rate you will get paid shall continue to exceed inflation (this is probably, but not necessarily, true in the short term). Investing only makes sense if you believe the market is going to rise, or you like to short stocks (IMHO, both of these things are currently risky; I think the market will continue to be volatile).

IMHO, make sure you have sufficient liquid cash to survive employment stocks. If your life plan includes a retirement nest egg, insure that it is sufficiently funded. Perhaps save 5-10% of your monthly income. Once you've reached those goals, you are better off "investing" in yourself. Fix up your house (and invest lots of sweat!). Work out. Eat healthier. Diet. Learn to cook, and cook healthier foods. Perhaps start a business?

But dumping a ton of money into Cisco/Apple/Boeing because you are "nervous"? Or buying a crap-load of TIPS or CDs? A poor decision. If you really feel the need to work on your life plan, read on book on retirement planning, or talk to a financial adviser.

It's a pretty silly decision to assume that the Great Depression II is coming; and to start saving as a result. Why? Because moderate strategies are an inappropriate response to economic calamity. Everyone should *always* have their economic house in order. The goals necessary to achieve that are relatively minor (cancel your cable; and put that $100 a month in a savings account. Go out to dinner a few less times. Stop dry-cleaning your white shirts, and learn to starch them yourself!). Once you hit a 5-10% savings rate, and are "on track" for retirement, you should stop pitching money into investment instruments; unless you have a long term plan to spend on something (car/house/business).

If you really think serious economic calamity is coming, its time to start buying guns, iodine pills, solar panels, and MRE rations. Maybe learn to grow your own food, and have a well installed (if you live in an area where ground water wells are legal). Perhaps have a windmill/panels put on your home.

But socking away every extra dollar? That will put you firmly into the camps of those who will be *screwed* first by the economic tidal wave.

Obviously, all of what I'm saying assumes you haven't blown every penny you have on strippers and coke (or diapers and college), and that you are currently both employed and on sound economic footing. If you are drowing in debt; or have no retirement plan; or are in imminent danger of job loss; well, yes, savings is probably a good idea.

But this is true whether or not the economic is in serious recovery mode. Forget the greater economic picture. All economic decisions are better made on a microeconomic level, and most of the macroeconomic diseases that appear tend to be panics that bias microeconomic decisions, or overspending related to bubbles of exuberance.

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Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?