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Comment: Re:Enforcing pot laws is big business (Score 1) 449

by smellsofbikes (#48636723) Attached to: Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

"Colorado already proved that with the tax revenue they brought in from legalized marijuana"

Colorado probably got significantly increased business from being the first, surrounded by neighbours where it is still illegal. They probably even have increased secondary trade from people travelling in to get marijuana and then buying other stuff. Also, there's probably the effect of the novelty. I'm not saying there isn't a permanent increase, but it will be less if Nebraska and Oklahoma also legalise it.

"Probably even have increased secondary trade" doesn't even begin to cover it. My wife works in ophthalmology and she has four patients who have moved to colorado just because of pot. That's likewise cited as a primary reason that housing prices have increased recently. I find it hard to believe that people would uproot their lives just for weed, but it appears to be happening.
Colorado is making an estimated $1M/day in taxes on pot and that's probably significantly lower than the actual revenue, since because there are virtually no banks (one credit union) that'll deal with marijuana dispensaries, it's a cash-only business so the businesses could in theory only report as much business as they wish, and pocket the rest. If/when more financial institutions start dealing with them, and people feel they can use credit cards to pay for pot, the tax revenues are likely to increase.
It's also not clear that the novelty is outweighed by the convenience. There are a lot of people who didn't use pot previously because it was just a hassle to get and there was a bit of risk involved. The people I know who are long-term smokers have stayed with their black-market dealers because they know it's safe and it's cheaper. But people who want to use it occasionally, or don't know/want to deal with black-market stuff, is apparently a huge market. They may overwhelm the local novelty effect.

Comment: samsung galaxy gear, maybe? (Score 3, Interesting) 219

by smellsofbikes (#48629651) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

My wife has one because she can't fit any modern cellphone in her pockets, and her Veer finally died, so the phone lives in her handbag and she uses her watch. She can answer calls, talk, and hang up without (I believe) even having to touch it, and can send texts ("galaxy, send text. next patient has piece of steel stuck in eyeball, will need more lidocane.") which she then previews visually and tells it verbally to send, again without having to touch it. She's pretty thrilled with it. And it tells time. I'm not sure what else I'd want/need in a watch.
(I haven't gotten one because I destroy everything I touch so it'd be a waste. But I'm quite envious.)

Comment: Are You Joking? (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by eldavojohn (#48625017) Attached to: US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking

> It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit

Of course it's known. The same way they established that Iraq had chemical weapons. The method is known as "because we say so".

Are you joking? I thought it was well established that there were chemical weapons in Iraq we just only found weapons designed by us, built by Europeans in factories in Iraq. And therefore the US didn't trumpet their achievements. In the case of Iraqi chemical weapons, the US established that Iraq had chemical weapons not because they said so but because Western countries had all the receipts.

Comment: Re:About Fucking Time (Score 1) 424

by smellsofbikes (#48620179) Attached to: In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

He is not losing that many votes. These Cuban Americans are captive to GOP. High time Democrats stop pursuing the vote they are never going to get.

There are two parts to making big moves: you may lose swing voters (which in this case is pretty unlikely) but just as important you may motivate fringe voters to go vote in greater numbers (which in this case is pretty likely.) If you don't gain voters, but manage to get more people to vote against you, that's a big deal in political calculus. Of course, the opposite also happens -- by doing something big you may motivate fringe voters on your side to come out and vote for you (which is arguably how Obama got elected in the first place, along with running against terrible opponents) but the number of people who feel very positive about restoring relations with Cuba is extremely small compared to the number of people who will be infuriated by this, I suspect. It's a single issue voter thing.

Comment: Re:Wildly premature question (Score 1) 81

by Bruce Perens (#48620117) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

If we look at jet aircraft, wear depends on the airframe and the engines, and the airframe seems to be the number of pressurize/depressurize cycles as well as the running hours. Engines get swapped out routinely but when the airframe has enough stress it's time to retire the aircraft lest it suffer catastrophic failure. Rockets are different in scale (much greater stresses) but we can expect the failure points due to age to be those two, with the addition of one main rocket-specific failure point: cryogenic tanks.

How long each will be reliable can be established using ground-based environmental testing. Nobody has the numbers for Falcon 9R yet.

Weight vs. reusable life will become a design decision in rocket design.

Comment: Re:Duh. (Score 1, Troll) 190

by smellsofbikes (#48602971) Attached to: Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

I'm (in a more civil way) with the GP: the distaste for Bennett and the vitriol in the comments feels like people driving across town to picket a porn store, when they could just stay home and not buy porn.
But your post -- "I usually don't notice it is a Bennett piece until I am halfway through reading it and say "Oh man, this is terrible"" -- makes me realize a lot of people read Slashdot differently than I do. I see Bennett's name before anything else, like this big BLINK hashtag, and know what I'm going into when I choose to click on that 'read more' link.
I'd love moderation on articles, but in the same way that groupthink buries unpopular comments with no basis on their actual merit, we might lose some good material.
I'm not saying Bennett's articles are chock-full of merit. He definitely has a higher word-to-concept ratio than I'd use. But I can't help feeling like at least some of the hatred for his stuff is because those of us who are both socially aware individuals and geeks cringe when we hear someone monopolizing a conversation by holding forth on his/her own pet subject of interest.
Maybe Bennett should set up an amazon turk survey for figuring out just how much text on a given subject is too much, and how much is just right.
But in the meantime, the internet is a dynamic array and I'd much prefer someone spend his time vastly expanding one small chunk of it, behind a link, than a lot of other things he could be doing.

Comment: Re:There is no vaccine for the worst diseases (Score 5, Insightful) 1048

I know people in their thirties who are willing to believe that obama is going to declare martial law. Jumping to wild conclusions has no age restrictions.
I may be reading you wrong, but one thing I think about every time I hear discussion of vaccination is how I've never met a single person who was 10 or older in 1952, who is even slightly anti-vaccine, because they all remember the terror of the polio epidemics in the early 1950's. They all knew people who died, or people who walked into hospitals and then spent the rest of their lives in iron lungs, and they all remember how the introduction of polio vaccines managed to turn 60K cases/year into ten cases/year in two years. It's people who don't remember a world full of crippled people in wheelchairs who think they can do just fine without vaccines. So in that sense, I think the anti-vax hysteria is almost entirely a stupidity of younger people.

Comment: Re:There is no vaccine for the worst diseases (Score 2) 1048

Well by your logic then we should not use aspirin or penicillin because there is a small minority of people who are allergic to them.

This logic was used to ban Vioxx, which was an enormous help to a lot of arthritic people, because its side effects were awful for a very few people. It's not just vaccines, and sometimes the ban-everything-that-isn't-100%-safe-no-matter-the-consequences mentality wins.

Comment: Re:There is no vaccine for the worst diseases (Score 2) 1048

With political things, yes, that's definitely true. However with scientific things it's not; there's real science (which is falsifiable and evidence-based), and there's bullshit and pseudoscience and religion. Of course, it's possible to BS people with "science" by presenting false evidence, covering up key evidence, etc., but if you teach people the scientific method (instead of teaching them to believe in BS like homeopathy for instance, or in Creationism which isn't science) eventually the truth will come out and people will believe the correct things once the evidence is presented and understood.

I'd love to think you're right. However, there's a lot of evidence that once people believe something, you can show them factual proof that they're wrong... and they'll end up believing whatever it was they believed in the beginning, even harder. Here's a discussion of this specifically about people's beliefs in vaccination and here's one that's more general, about beliefs across a wide variety of topics on which people, if shown facts that contradict their beliefs, merely believe them even more.
This is in fact precisely why Creationists try to peddle their ignorant junk in schools: they know very well that if they can get their beliefs in kids before the kids are able to recognize them as junk, they most likely have the kids for life, but if they don't get them then, they're very unlikely to get them as adults who can actually think well and question what they're being told.

Comment: Re:Calibration (Score 2) 194

by smellsofbikes (#48535409) Attached to: Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers

Ablation can in theory remove single atomic layers with thermal damage only a few atoms deep to the underlying surface.

So the damage to the surface is only a few times larger than what was removed?

The damage is only a few atomic layers deep, more or less independent of how much material is removed.
A large limitation to how much you can remove is that you build this huge largely opaque cloud of debris blasting off the surface of the material so you can't get new photons into the surface anymore, but you can peel stuff off a few atoms in a burst or a few dozens of micrometers in a burst, with the same very thin heat affected zone at the surface. (Another is that all the stuff you just blasted off immediately sticks to the front of your objective lens, but they don't last long anyway when you have this many photons going through them: objective mirrors last longer but still get covered in junk. Some interesting stuff being done using liquid waveguides through which the laser moves and which wash off the debris, but then you have to not vaporize/ablate your liquid waveguide. And at least with the UV stuff we were doing, even the atmosphere absorbed giant amounts of the energy, so we had to do it in a vacuum and that made the crap-sticking-to-the-lens problem even worse.) My recollection is that people were trying to use laser ablation to do extremely thin heat-treatment, like surfacing treatment, but couldn't actually get it thick enough to make a measurable difference in wear characteristics, but A: I may misremember and B: people may be better at this now, so that bit could be complete hooey. I got out of high-energy lasers like fifteen years ago, when I realized that fully half my coworkers had pie blindness: they'd managed to damage some part of their eyes so they were missing some of their visual area, and stuff may have progressed a lot since then.

Comment: Re:Calibration (Score 5, Informative) 194

by smellsofbikes (#48534245) Attached to: Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers

Sorry to reply to myself but since Wikipedia doesn't actually bother to talk about mechanisms, I will. You can remove a surface with a laser through heating, which applies enough photons to the surface atoms that they vibrate loose, which is a slow process that transmits piles of heat downwards. Or you can use a laser whose wavelength is shorter than the strength of the sigma electron bonds in the material, in which case the electrons absorb the photons, get popped into a higher orbital, and the bond that held the two atoms together simply isn't there anymore and the now free atoms can just drift away. There is in theory no heat generated at all. In practice there are so many photons coming in all at once that there's a metric buttload of photons being absorbed by everything, so what actually happens is the wavefront hits and turns the first couple of atomic layers into a plasma, that erupts away from the surface and leaves the underlying surface close to untouched. So that's the mechanistic difference between burning and ablation: photon flux and wavelength.

Comment: Re:Calibration (Score 1) 194

by smellsofbikes (#48534173) Attached to: Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers

Seems like it would take some careful calibration to make a laser that would burn off wet leaves plastered to the rail and yet not soften the hardened steel of the rail that's going to have a multi-ton train passing over it in seconds.

If I were doing this -- and I'm not claiming it's feasible, but let's call this a gedankenexperiment -- I'd use a system set up to ablate the material, which Wikipedia says so I don't have to: "Very short laser pulses remove material so quickly that the surrounding material absorbs very little heat, so laser drilling can be done on delicate or heat-sensitive materials," and " laser energy can be selectively absorbed by coatings, particularly on metal, so CO2 or Nd:YAG pulsed lasers can be used to clean surfaces, remove paint or coating, or prepare surfaces for painting without damaging the underlying surface. High power lasers clean a large spot with a single pulse."
When I was working with deep UV lasers (and got to learn what fluorine gas smells like -- elmer's glue, in case you were wondering, at least when it's dilute -- we were able to strip physical vapor deposition copper and nickel off polyimide film without damaging the polyimide. (We needed geometries too fine for chemical etching.) Removing organic material off steel should be much easier. Ablation can in theory remove single atomic layers with thermal damage only a few atoms deep to the underlying surface.

Comment: Re:Too lazy to protect themselves (Score 1) 528

by smellsofbikes (#48531715) Attached to: The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

I mean even shutting down the gym (who knows why, terminals?

My company, which isn't quite as bit as Sony, but close, has badge access to every door in the building besides personal offices, with badge access control handled by servers located at corporate HQ. If you don't keep up with your ESD training, you're automatically barred from the labs, for instance. If Sony has something similar and they start taking stuff offline to stop leaks, there will be lot of side-effects.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie