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Comment Which scholars really believe it's divine source? (Score 1) 484

Some scholars believe, however, that Muhammad did not receive the Quran from heaven, as he claimed during his lifetime

So are there actual scholars, I mean people who put facts before belief, who DO believe the divine inspiration story?

Are are those "scholars" merely religious functionaries whose "scholarship" is really just a form of theology?

Comment Re:I wish Netflix stayed true to its loyal custome (Score 1) 273

HBO has all the usual HBO TV shows, most of which are on another plane above everything else. The movie selection isn't ultra deep, maybe a couple hundred titles, but they do change over time and most all of them are well-known titles.

The advantage with prime is for little stuff that often requires a speciality trip to a specific store, or worse, a time and gas guzzling trip to several. I recently needed a mini-DP to VGA adapter. There's one store I could have bought it from locally, a 15 mile round trip where it would have cost me $25. I got it from Amazon for $12 and they delivered it on Sunday.

I like to support the local economy, too, but buying something made in China for double the price isn't supporting the local economy, it's subsidizing a local retailer. I buy all my beer locally and avoid chain restaurants and try to buy local grocery products.

Comment Re:I wish Netflix stayed true to its loyal custome (Score 1) 273

If my son wasn't so enthralled with Netflix for TV series I would have cancelled it when I realized HBO Now included movies, too. Good movies for the most part, too, not just 3 movies and a bunch of crap shot on an iPhone by the college kids down the block.

I can get most of that crap from Amazon Instant which is part of Prime anyway and prime is worth it for the shopping alone.

Comment It depends on the definition of wealthy (Score 1) 770

..and how good you are investment and taxes.

I think unless you have an after-tax one-time amount in excess of $10 million dollars or more, you're unlikely to live better than a basic upper-middle class lifestyle.

I did a spreadsheet based on investing all of it into tax-free munis (because they're safe, and I can eliminate tax questions) and only have to make rough guestimates on investment yields and inflation.

It isn't hard to outspend your capital and dividends over time, especially if you dump a bunch of money on property.

I put in $200 million in principal, less $25 million invested in real estate and I run out of money in about 30 years, but it does require spending about $5 million a year in cash, which wouldn't be hard to do if a person liked to travel -- a private jet to Europe from NYC could be close to $100k to charter. You could throw out a million per year easily flying private aviation.

Want to own a yacht? Very easy to blow $3 million on a pretty basic motor yacht (Hinckley T55, you can drive it yourself, no crew or certification required) and not hard to see spending $50-70k per year on fuel and maybe another $100k on services for it.

And $25 million doesn't buy you fantasy real estate, either. NYC condos go way past that all the time, and if you factor $25 million buying you more than one property you're getting into pretty ordinary luxury if you divide that by 2-3 unique properties and they would all need maintenance and caretaking.

Comment Re:Spontaneous combustion (Score 1) 129

I just read this, which could be total horseshit, but it looks reasonable:


Lithium only accounts for 3% of the cost of a battery. Recycled lithium is 5 times more expensive than 'new' lithium.

I think they said that recycling's biggest economic benefit is stabilizing the price fluctuation in lithium if demand for 'new' lithium exceeds resource output. I don't know if there's a point at which you don't need much new lithium for batteries because basically you will have built all the lithium batteries you will ever need and as you need new batteries you will just be using recycled lithium already mined.

I could see where battery storage gets good and cheap enough that, when coupled with solar, reaches the point where you get close enough to practical off-grid that the promise of free solar (minus capital investment) causes people to get more energy efficient.

If I could have 500kWh of lithium in my house and my daily solar production average was 5kw over my all day consumption, then having deep battery reserves would more than cover a run of bad weather. You could drop 10kWh negative for a couple of months and just draw down your battery to make up the difference and then slowly recharge back up in better weather.

Even with best case solar, I'd be under water by 10kWh now. My summer power bill tells me I'd need nearly 60kWh per day and I would bet that's a lot of periods of over 5kW when the central AC runs.

Comment What's the leading reason for jailbreaking at all? (Score 1) 196

There's lots of possible reasons, like sideloading or pirating apps, exposing features or customization hidden in the stock settings or apps, curiosity/technical/tinkering, or ideological reaons/free software advocacy.

Which is most common? I figure pirating might be kind of popular, but a lot of useful software is pretty inexpensive to begin with and how many people want a hacked candy crush that has free powerups?

I could see where customization/hidden features could be a big reason. Apple are kind of design fascists (I say that having owned all iPhones since 3G and 3 iPads) and there are some irritating hardware and software limitations imposed that rankle.

Like why can't you even pair a bluetooth mouse? Apple wouldn't even have to support it in the home screen or any of their applications or even UI as a touch source, just allow third party apps to utilize it. I could seriously see being able to do meaningful work via RDP with a HDMI display, BT keyboard and moue using just my iPhone as a computer and it would nearly replace a lot of my laptop use with my iPad.

It's hard to see "because it was there" tinkerers being that huge of a group and I'd bet a significant number just kind of go oh well and go back to stock out of sheer convenience.

I bet the philosophical/ideologicals don't add to too many, why would they buy an iPhone to begin with when they can get much further down the free road with Andoid.

Comment Re:A silly test (Score 1) 463

Was the primary mission of the A-10 general close air support of ground troops or more specifically anti-armor close air support against the waves of T-72s supposed to be flooding the Fulda Gap?

It's 30mm gun is impressive, but is that the end-all-be-all of close air support? It would seem like similar results could be had from attack helicopters or AC-135 gunships. A lot of Viet Nam close air support came from F4s.

Comment I want a font that looks like a VT102 looked (Score 1) 207

...on a real DEC VT102 display. A friend's dad had one and there were a few in some of the CompSci labs and I remember them being very readable, even in 132 column mode.

I don't think it would be a question of just making a font with the same dots in the same places in a matrix. It was like the character set was designed for the way the video display would render it, providing just the right amount of phosphor blur to create good looking text. Which is probably exactly how it worked.

Reproducing it for a modern computer would probably take having a real VT102 with a nearly new stock display and doing a lot of side by side comparisons to get it to look the same.

I've largely given up on a custom "programmer" font and just learned to be satisfied with Lucida Console, since it works more or less on every Windows system as well as in putty sessions to non-Windows systems.

Comment Re:Christie is ideal (Score 1) 559

Immigration right now is a classic example of the bootlegger and the baptist.

The bootlegger wants booze illegal because he makes a bigger profit. The baptist wants booze illegal becaue it keeps the pews full on Sunday morning. It's a reciprocal relationship that makes everyone worse off.

Immigration works the same way. The Republicans like porous borders and weak enforcement because it provides a cheap and compliant labor force as well as suppresing wages generally. The Democrats like porous borders and weak enforcement because they believe a larger non-white population will give them a demographic advantage in elections.

The irony for the Republicans is that bulk importing poor people from the third world only drives up government expenditures and ultimately taxes. Democrats assume that the generally devout Catholics of Latin America will somehow embrace a political agenda of secular liberalism, as if the history of Latin America wasn't littered with wreckage of right wing authoritarianism.

Comment Re:Christie is ideal (Score 4, Insightful) 559

Trump's immigration "policies" get a lot of support because they basically mirror the same kind of simplistic truth people believe: Illegal immigrants have broken the law and should be deported, walling off the border between the US and Mexico will keep them out, lack of rigorous immigration enforcement enables illegal immigrant criminals to commit crime.

It seems easy to me to understand why people so easily believe in these ideas, they have a kind of uncomplicated truth to them. If you are not residing or working in the US legally, why shouldn't you be deported? Certainly a large wall on the border would greatly hinder illegal imimgrants from infilitrating the border. We certainly don't want people with violent criminal histories entering the US, bypassing immigration allows these people to enter the US and potentially commit crime and deporting illegal immigrants before they commit crimes seems to have a certain preventative logic to it.

Of course, none of these "positions" or "ideas" is more than surface deep. The basic logisticts of deporting all illegal immigrants is pretty crazy and lacks a certain humanity in many cases. It's debatable how effective some giant wall would be and who the hell would pay for it?

None of it seems to address deeper questions of the problems of the current immigration system or why both political parties seem willfully unable to address it, or the value their constituences see in the current system, from cheap, wage-suppressed labor or for political pandering to immigrant groups to expansion of presumably political friendly constituencies.

And all of them avoid the kind of hard debates on well, who should be allowed to assume residency and work in the US? Is someone going to actually step up to the plate and argue for an open borders policy in an honest an direct manner (it would appear that Trump is the advocate for the opposite policy)? If it's not open borders, then how, exactly will we regulate and enforce an immigration policy in a way that's consistent and achieves desirable goals?

What's always surprised me is the lack of African American voices in the immigration debate. They have the highest unemployment rates and illegals take the kind of low-skill, entry-level jobs one would assume that would be the easiest for the many African Americans with poor educations to take. This leads to the questions of racial discrimination, although that seems complicated by the idea that Latinos can get these jobs. Then there's arguments about jobs "we won't do" but this begs the quesiton as to why those jobs don't pay more (I guess they don't have to with a supply of illegals) or whether people have some moral right to not work for jobs they don't want, yet be able to demand subsidies for not working.

Comment Re:Just look at the stats of prison inmates? (Score 4, Interesting) 74

You might make an argument that a significant difference exists between inmates in a prison and highly tested, analyzed and trained astronauts with regard to their psychological makeup not to mention willingness and motivation to be confined.

I do think that long term encapsulation is probably psychologically burdensome at best and perhaps damaging to even the best possible astronauts.

Which makes me wonder how much NASA has thought about the psychopharmacology of space travel. There might be some benefit to some kind of sedating anti-depressant for stages of a long voyage that required just routine status checks and basic routine maintenance duties.

Comment Even if practical technology was 10-20 years out (Score 2) 394

Even if you could say with certainty that in 10-20 years the practical technology could be established, wouldn't you be looking at another 30+ years before it was actually a meaningful force in power generation, making fusion more like 50+ years out?

Say they solve the technology hurdles in 10 years. They will then need to build a test plant that operates at a scale large enough to generate meaningful power (a few megawatts). That would probably take 10 years. That plant would need to run for, what, 5 years, to demonstrate that everything works like its supposed to and you can actually make the thing work.

At that point you're out another 10-15 years to plan and build a large, utility scale plant comparable to the ones that exist now -- 1.5GW. This plant would then have to run for 5 years to demonstrate (at least to investors, regulators, politicians, etc) that it works.

So worst case, 45 years later you have a single fusion plant producing electricity at utility scale.

Assuming it all works perfectly and everyone loves it in the next 20 years you might add another 3 plants. 65 years out, you now have 4 plants producing 6 TW, a drop in the bucket.

And all of this is assuming the economics make sense relative to other trends, like residential solar, improved battery storage and so on. After all this, fusion as a source of power seems closer to a 100 years out.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly