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Comment: Re:Ok, several aspects to this. (Score 1) 497

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48044453) Attached to: The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

First, guns don't protect, never have, never will.

The first eight of your 457 word wall of text shows you're so out of touch with reality that there's no point in reading the rest.

The primary function of guns in private hands is to protect those who carry them. They do that exceptionally well. In criminal attacks, resistance with gun is the most effective way to avoid injury or death. It's substantially more effective than the second best - knuckling under completely - and beats the pants off everything else, from running away, to trying to talk your way out, to resisting with bare hands or other tools. (Resisting with knife is about the worst.)

Research on self-defense is hard, because faiures leave tracks in crime stats while successes usually don't (and often leave the self-defended victim with an incentive to keep quiet about it). Nevertheless, even the first well-run projects were able to put a lower bound of guns preventing or aborting more than six times as many crimes as they aid in committing.

In private hands they're safer than police, too. A defense-with-gun is usually effected by no more than brandishing or occasionally getting off a round in the general direction of the perp. But of those instances where a victim or a policeman shoots someone believed to be a perpetrator, the cop is over 5 1/2 times as likely to erroneously shoot an innocent than an armed private citizen.

My family has substantial personal experience with armed self defense. For just a few examples on my wife's side: In college she was accosted by the rapist in the window, who was dressed in just running shoes and a dirty knife. Fortunately there was a hunting rifle behind the bed: She actually had to go as far as cocking it before he stopped trying to get her to drop it and jumped back out the window - apparently to take it out on another girl a few blocks away, with over 130 cuts while raping her. Her mother defended self and family against a Klan attack with a pistol. (Her granddad was caught away from his gun, though, and had to do his anti-Klan defense with a hammer.) Then there was the aunt, the uncle, ...

At the larger scale it's hard to argue with the fact that the US, founded in a revolution (by religious nut with guns) against their self-admitted "legitimate government" and with over half the adult civilian population armed, has now gone over two centuries without a substantial attack from abroad and only one major internal war, while Europe continues to suffer from genocidal wars, often with multi-million body counts. (With the exception of Switzerland, of course: Every adult citizen there is armed and has had military training. Even World Wars go around them.)

It's also hard to argue with the fact that the US is multi-ethnic, and the common denominator of each of its ethnic groups is that their members' murder victimization rate is substantially less than that of contemporary members of the same ethnic group still residing in their land of origin.

As for resisting an oppressive regime if push comes to shove: We have experiences like "The Battle of Athens" just after WWII, and the documented question from Nixon to a thnk-tank about what would happen if he suspended the presidential election. (Answer: That would precipitate an armed rebellion, and the population was well enough armed that it would succeed.) Uprisings aren't always successful and small or UNarmed uprisings are often put down, sometimes with lots of deaths. (Witness the Bonus Marchers' Massacre.) But recent decades of world politics have shown how effective a popular uprising can be, against even a coalition of world powers and superpowers.

If it came to that in the US, you can expect a substantial amount of the military (especially retirees) to be on the side of the people, along with lots of military equipment raided from armories. (You can see that now in the Middle East. The big difference between Al Queda and ISIS/ISIL is that the latter has bunch of colonels and other line officers, force-retired and blocked from normal politics in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the Ba'athists - along with a lot of seized military arms. The former is a bunch of terrorists, the latter has a substantial army.

Comment: Define airborne (Score 1) 450

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48036813) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

However, the Ebola Reston strain is airborne though only dangerous to monkeys.

I have oftten wondered whether the Reston virus had mutated to be spread by things like sneezes, or if it might be another matter entirely.

A number of monkey species throw feces (and/or other bodily secretions) when under stress and perceived attack. (I don't know if this is one of them, but assume for the moment it is.) Might being confined to cages along with others provoke such behavior? Wouldn't a sick monkey's feces, and tiny particles separated by airflow during the flight, carry an ebola-family virus just fine, without any mutation to make it, say, shed into nasal mucus and be carried by a sneeze?

(Granted this might fit the literal definition of "airborne transmission". B-) )

Comment: Re:Time for a new date (Score 1) 199

Ok. You are obviously much better informed than I am, and I guess you are quite pessimistic about the total amount of oil that would ever be found. But as prices rise, things which are hopelessly uneconomic become more plausible.

Mind you, I consider this totally the wrong way to go. But when prices rise enough there will be a lot more oil available. But there are lots of reasons that that it only becomes available when the prices rise dramatically. Small fields, difficult access, expensive construction, dangerous conditions, etc. Not to mention continuing CO2 pollution.

We *need* to develop renewable energy resources. I'm not really sure that we should be moving into full scale deployment now...except for cases where there isn't much downside, or whether the technology is already mature. (Hydro comes to mind.) But we need significant investment in developing renewable technologies to the "demonstration project" stage. (I.e., one step past the pilot project.) Some of the investment should continue to be in basic research, but more needs to be invested in moving from research result to useful plant. (Don't take that too literally. Rooftop solar isn't exactly a plant, but it falls within the pervue of what I mean.)

Comment: What's Truly Frightening (Score 0) 450

by Baldrson (#48031587) Attached to: Ebola Has Made It To the United States

Early symptoms of Ebola are "flu-like" and it is contagious during these "flu-like" symptoms. Now ... consider the fact that flu season is upon us. But you know what's _really_ frightening about this? Not one of the goddamn idiot "authorities" has even mentioned, let alone assessed, this confounding situation's impact on public health containment measures.

Now THAT'S frightening!

Read the CDC's guidelines on monitoring and movement of persons with "exposure" and tell me their guidelines work for a country in the throes of massive incidence of "flu-like symptoms".

While reading this wisdom from on high, imagine there is, in this multi-"culture"al heaven that is the US nowadays, a "community" somewhere with strong identity, Hollywood-fired resentment of the US's white-supremacist history of slavery and colonial exploitation with corresponding suspicion of its public health measures (just look at the murders of public health workers in West Africa -- and many of those health workers weren't even "white-devils"), strong relations in West Africa and -- to top it all off -- a flu season that has a good percentage of its community exhibiting the early stage symptoms of Ebola...

Comment: Re:net metering != solar and 10% needs new physics (Score 2) 475

by mcrbids (#48024285) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Nice to see *informed* input!

I would argue that the problem is the flat rate pricing of $/KWH. A KWH produced at 1 AM has far less value than one produced at 7:00 PM. Why are we charging them the same? Much of the issue you mention would largely vanish if electricity prices were negotiated more frequently. EG: hourly or 15 minute increments. If there really is a surplus of power between 10:00-2:00, as you state, then the price during that time of day would be low to accommodate. This would create an incentive to input power when there's matching demand, and let the utility company profit off the difference.

Yes, it's a significant cost to upgrade the power grid and contracts to work this way, but when has it been bad to connect buyers to sellers in a way that reflects an accurate use of resources?

For example, I read a study a while back that pointing solar panels West of due South resulted in a much better match between electricity use and demand

Comment: Re:Time for a new date (Score 3, Interesting) 199

Have you noticed at all that these new finds are in areas where it is more expensive to extract the oil? Underwater is a lot more expensive than on land. Under the Arctic Ocean? Well, waiting 5 years will probably make it cheaper, as ice heaves are terrible to construct around. Of course, 5 years may not be long enough to clear the ice.

FWIW, I'd bet that there are lots of undiscovered oil fields under deep ocean, or perhaps that you need to access by drilling sideways into the continental shelf. But that's expensive even compared to working in the Arctic Ocean.

Additionally, of course, every gallon of oil we burn increases our CO2 level. That's not just greenhouse, that's also ocean acidification. But you can't measure the damage that is done in any one you don't need to worry about that, right?

Comment: You see that with thermoacoustics. (Score 1) 69

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48010589) Attached to: How 3D Printers Went Mainstream After Decades In Obscurity

3D printing was the result of a lot of researchers working on a lot of parts, and when the dust settled, none of them could build a really practical printer without paying off all the other patent holders, most of whom were playing dog-in-the-manger with their patents while trying to elbow out the competition.

You see that with a lot of inventions. They may go through several cycles of invention / related invention / non-conbination / wait / patent expiration until enough necessary parts of the technology are patent-expired that the remaining necessary inventions can be assembled in a single company's product and the technology finally deployed.

Thermoacoustics, for instance, just had its second round of patent expiration and is in its third round of innovation. The basic idea is to make a reasonably efficient heat-engine and/or refrigerator (or a machine that combines, for instance, one of each) with no moving parts except a gas. Mechanical power in the form of high-energy sound inside a pipe is extracted from, or used to create, temperature differences.

There are some really nice gadgets coming out of it, built mainly out of plumbing comparable to automotive exhaust systems and tuned manifolds, maybe with some industrial-grade loudspeakers built in, or their miniaturized or micro-minaturized equivalent. (Example: A hunk of pluming with a gas burner, about 12 feet high and maybe eight feet on a side. Oil fields often produce LOTS natural gas in regions, like big deserts, where it's uneconomic to ship it to market. It gets burned off and vented. (CO2 is weaker greenhouse gas than CH4, by a factor of several). Pipe the gas into the plumbing, light the burner, and it burns part of it to get the power to cool and liquify the rest. As a liquid it's economic to ship and sell it. Then you get to use much of the otherwise wasted energy, displacing other fuel supples and reducing overall carbon emssion.

I hope this is the cycle where things hit the market.

Comment: They can matter if you sell what you make on it. (Score 1) 69

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48010509) Attached to: How 3D Printers Went Mainstream After Decades In Obscurity

Patents don't matter for making a printer for your own use.

They can matter if you build a business on them, like by selling objects built using them.

Especially if they improve make your process cheaper, easier, more convenient, flat-out possible, or produce a better part. (And if there ARE cheaper, etc. ways to do it, why are you using the patented tech anyhow? B-) )

Patents in the US were about increasing innovation by making first mover advantage truump second mover advantage: Giving the little guy with the bright idea time to set up manufacturing, make back his costs, reap some benefits, and get established enough to compete with existing large companies once they expire. Without them, it was thought, the existing big guys with the infrastructure in place could quickly clone the little guy's new invention and out-compete him in the market, but they wouldn't bother until the little guy had proved it was worth the effort. This would suck the incentive out of the little guys, the big guys would have little incentive to improve, and progress would be slow-to-stalled. The short-term inhibition on others deploying the invention was seen as less of an impediment to progress than having most inventions not be deployed, or even made, at all.

The idea was to set the time limit to maximize progress to the benefit of all/the country, and make manufacturing and technology grow like yeast (ala silicon valley B-) ). Part of the intent was to bias it toward innovators and make established processes free to use, because when the country was getting started the established players were owned by foreign interests. The founders wanted the country to develop its own industry, rather than being dependent on, and sending most of the profit to, big businesses in Europe.

But the time was set for heavy manufacturing at the pace of the period. It's a horrible mismatch for, say, software: With the availability of general purpose computing platforms, able to make distributable copies at electronic speed and copyright to prevent verbatim cloning, a person or company with a new software product can go from steath-mode program development to market establishment, profitibility, and even market dominance in a matter of months, before competitors can engineer their own version. So patents aren't necessary to promote innovation, leaving just their retarding effect holding down the blaze of creativity. (Then there's open source, with its alternitive monitization and/or reward strategies. But that's a "new invention". B-) )

It seems to me that:
  - The expiration of patents on stereolithography did help produce the initial explosion of new, and often inexpensive, devices and the improvements in what can be made, how accurately, and how inespensively.
  - The availability of machines suitable for practical industrial prototyping - even before the cheap machine explosion - pretty much forced the high-end CAD software producers to include some form of stereolithography output format, while an open output format made the choice obvious. That's a big benefit to the toolmaker for a small effort. The availability in the high-grade commercial tools is a great synergy and helps a lot. But the hobby machines needed CAD tools and open source was already up to the task: Had the big players not gone along it still would have been done, and those big players not "with the program" would be experiencing major competitive pressure from open source tools and competitors that did provide such output.

And here's the key:
  - The availabitiy of these rapid general-purpose maufacturing tools will bring (is already bringing!) software's high-speed innovation and entrepenurial models to the manufacture of physical objects. Patents could be shortened in term or reduced to "design patents" - the manufacturing equivalent of copyright - and produce a physical-product explosion comparable to the computer revolution. (Or patents, like "content" copyright, could become the tool of obsoleted established players in the suppression of the competing business models.)

Brace yourself for either the physical-manufacture ramp-up to science-fiction's "singularity" or an ongoing RIAA / MPAA / conglomerate - style legal battle.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.