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Comment: Obamacare can still deny you (Score 1) 671

by amitofu (#45004259) Attached to: Obamacare Could Help Fuel a Tech Start-Up Boom

My Mother-in-law was diagnosed with esophageal cancer 10 months ago. She had recently lost her job, and with it her insurance. We immediately applied for FMIP–put in place by the ACA as a stop-gap before the exchanges become available. She was denied on the grounds that the government "could not verify her citizenship through publicly available records". They had copies of her birth certificate, passport, and Oregon Driver's License. When we pressed FMIP on the denial, they replied that the problem wasn't with her application, or that her citizenship wasn't _verifiable_, but merely that they hadn't gotten around to verifying it.

Her cancer treatment was 100% covered by a local hospital charity. Donations to that charity have dried up in the wake of Obamacare, because who needs charity when you can count on the government to care of everybody?

Comment: Re:Make NASA run like a business... (Score 1) 188

by amitofu (#40986325) Attached to: House Representatives Working On NASA Reform Bill

Robert Goddard developed liquid fueled rocket engines with private capital. And all but two of the great telescopes of the 19th and early 20th centuries were built with private money. SpaceX, of course, was seeded with private money. Though I think we'd agree that Elon Musk couldn't have raised enough capital to get SpaceX to where it is now without NASA's help, we might disagree as to why such capital is so hard to come by.

I also agree with you that NASA (the agency) effectively lacks the will to explore. And I would argue, as Robert Zubrin does, that it's because they prioritize safety above mission success. Safety is critically important. But if safety is your primary goal, it's always safer not to fly the mission.

But back to why I think private companies can't raise enough capital for risky endeavors. Feel free to label me a Paul-bot, but in my opinion the root problem is that the federal reserve fixes the price of money, depreciates the currency, and allows a small group of banker cronies to skim the difference between the market rate for money and the artificial fed rate. It's hardly a market economy if the market for money is rigged by the government. The banks have now siphoned a majority share of our economy's free capital. And since they didn't earn it anyway, they gamble with it. But if you look historically at the U.S. when private citizens controlled most of the capital, they did in fact make risky investments and achieve great things. I don't think capitalism is our problem, I think it's the solution to our corporate welfare-ism. But we can't have effective capitalism until we have sound money.

This video contains some interesting history about commercial space development:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLAg5Y0kZVc

Comment: What about methanol? (Score 1) 200

by amitofu (#37081120) Attached to: US Pumps $175M Into Advanced Auto Fuel Research

Methanol is the obvious solution (which is why everyone ignores it). We need to destroy the oil cartel that is looting our country--we can't do that when we only control a few percent of the fuel market.

But we have lots of coal and natural gas from which we can easily produce lots of methanol. Adapting new cars to run on any combination of gasoline and methanol is trivial, you just have to reprogram the ECU and make sure the fuel lines are up to snuff. And to be clear, a flex-fuel car can run on BOTH methanol and gasoline, you have a choice.

Methanol can also be made from any source of biomass, so it can be renewable and global-warming neutral too. Unfortunately, the car companies are owned by people who have even larger stakes in the oil industry, so they will never voluntarily make all their cars flex-fueled. Congress needs to mandate that all new cars sold in the U.S. be flex-fueled. It's as simple as that to get out of this mess. No "alternative fuel research" required.

Comment: Re:That is nice (Score 1) 339

by amitofu (#24421387) Attached to: Ogg Theora In Firefox, With Wikimedia Support

How would Mozilla developers fix a crash in closed-source Adobe code?

They may not be able to fix the problem, but at the very least they should be able to prevent Flash from crashing Firefox.

The problem of preventing Flash from crashing Firefox and fixing the closed-source Adobe code are one in the same. If, for example, the Flash plugin dereferences an invalid pointer, there is nothing Firefox can do to prevent itself segfaulting short of running the Flash plugin in a separate process--which would cause all sorts of other problems.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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