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Comment Re:I thought the secondary payload (Score 1) 51

And of course, no one is inspired by the idea of building autonomous robots to explore an alien world. That stuff is just mundane.

Once the robot is built, your job is done.

You don't build autonomous robots in order that you may explore an alien world, you build autonomous robots in order that the autonomous robots may explore an alien world.

Once you launch the things into space, you might as well be watching "Duck Dynasty" or some other form of reality television.

Comment I really wonder how other employers/employees... (Score 1) 60

I really wonder how other employers/employees are going to take this.

The Seattle areas top ten employers all make heavy use of contractors:

1. Boeing
2. Microsoft
3. University of Washington
4. Amazon
5. Weyerhaueser
6. Group Health Cooperative
7. Fred Meyer
8. Bank of America
9. Qwest Communications
10. Nordstrom

Good luck with the lawsuits guys! You're going to be getting it from both side, if this passes!

Side A: The employers who provide all your jobs, and don't want to have to give up contract workers
Side B: The contract workers for those employers, who wonder why Uber contractors deserve your intervention, but they don't

Comment You *do* realize, right... (Score 1) 60

And Workman's compensation suffers an economic loss when employees are falsely called independent contractors.

You *do* realize, right... Workman's Comp is not supposed to be a profit center for the state, and that because contractors who do not pay into it can not make claims against it, you're only counting a lack of revenue from taxes as them suffering a loss, and they aren't suffering an actual loss in terms of having to pay out funds that they did not collect in the first place?

I know that many states treat it as a slush fund they can borrow against, and (effectively) never pay back what they;ve borrowed out of it, in the same way the federal government borrows from the social security trust fund. But it's not actually *supposed* to work that way.

Comment Re:I thought the secondary payload (Score 1) 51

What inspired engineers before space?

Science fiction for some of it. The rest was patriotism and the existence of the Cold War with Russia fueling a need for better tech than the Russians had, so that we could kill them before they killed us.

You probably do not remember Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the U.N. in 1960, shouting "We will bury you!".


Comment There's a similar problem... (Score 1) 320

No, they can't. Production of some things (especially steel) is best done at constant rates and temperatures. Starting back up invokes a huge cost.

There's a similar problem for industrial/solar grade silicon, such as that used in solar panels. If you shut the power off during production, you get this huge lump of useless, impure glass, and it's typically easier just to build a new furnace next to the old one, because if you shut off the power, that furnace is basically dead: buy a new one.

There are a lot of electricity dependent industrial processes which are continuous flow, and they've been designed that way to eke out another 10% efficiency, with the downside being 100% risk if you lose power during processing.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 2, Insightful) 72

Those things aren't armed, so short of someone using one of those drones for a kamikaze strike (which i'd imagine would be p. hard given that the thing is flying relatively high and there are armed soldiers in the room), there isn't much one can do.
You can get shot down, but that's about it.

The MQ-9 typically carries an ordnance load-out of some kind, even when operating in an observer role; it's just that when it's operating in an observer role, it carries less ordnance, not zero.

Typically, if the analysts get alerted, and while watching the feed, decide that they need to go "weapons hot", there is a military pilot or two in the room with the civilian pilots to handle laser-painting the targets, or the dropping of ordnance on them.

Comment Re:Extension cable Return - did not reach my toile (Score 1) 101

Personally, I don't put much weight on the return rates at all; a humongous amount of people don't really understand what they're buying, then when they receive the package they realize it's not what they actually intended and then return it -- none of that says anything about the product itself. Warranty repairs, on the other hand, tell a whole lot more about the products themselves.

Comment Re:Hydro = from the sun (Score 1) 178

Direct solar may sound nice and work fine in small scale, but collectors would have to cover great areas to be effective

The total world energy consumption is somewhere around 100PWh/year. That's around 274TWh/day. The sunlight hitting the Earth is around 1kW/m^2, so 8kWh/m^2 assuming 8 hours of sunlight. If you assume 100% efficiency in conversion (totally impossible, but we'll start there and refine later), then that means that you need about 3.45E10 m^2 of land devoted to solar power. That's a square about 185km on each side. If you assume 10% efficiency (mass produced photovoltaics are 12-25% these days), then you need an area about 342000km^2, or about the area of Germany, to power the entire world. Now, given the efficiency of power distribution, you probably wouldn't want to put it all in one place, but you could easily fit solar panels enough that, even with transmission losses, you could power all of North America in Utah or Texas without anyone noticing. The difficulty is not the generation, it's the storage.

Comment Re:Easy solution (Score 1) 471

Dealers need to step aside and get out of the fucking way of the sale. It's a stupid business model. There is no value in having a middleman in this process anymore.

No value for ANYBODY. If this is really true:

A salesperson "can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a Leaf," Deutsch says. "It's a lot of work for a little pay."

Then the commission on a $50,000 vehicle is way too low, and it's time the dealerships were seriously shaken up and kicked in the ass.

Somebody is making a ton of dough, and if it's not the salesmen, then it's the bosses in the backroom. I.e., the "overhead".

Comment Re:Cost of access is key. (Score 1) 345

So to cut to the chase. Government opened up new territories, protected them and the trade routes and private business just ruthlessly and very destructively exploited what Government had provided.

Except that's mostly nonsense. Few ships were really "private". East India Company was profitable mainly because it had a Royal charter and was subsidized and protected by the crown. Even most pirates, up to about 200 years ago, were government-sponsored.

Some private enterprise did enter the sail-shipping business in the later years, but the earlier days were almost all government-driven, in one form or another.

Having said all that, I'm not sure I buy that space exploration will follow the same pattern. Government funding is fickle... corporations with smarts are in it for the long haul.

Comment Re:Yeah, I've worked with a few of those (Score 1) 491

Many of the engineers I've worked with stayed on the verge of a nervous breakdown most of the time and were prone to extreme misanthropy. So I'm not surprised they would be attracted to a line of work where they get to blow people up.

OP doesn't explain why in the '60s and '70s US, domestic terrorists were almost exclusively Leftists, who exploded more bombs in 1968 in D.C. alone than all U.S. conservative domestic terrorists, in all parts of the country, in modern history.

Although I do admit that conservative US domestic terrorists as a rule have done rather better at it; tending to blow up real targets rather than toilets.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.