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Comment: sigh (Score 1) 159

by argStyopa (#49510531) Attached to: ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk

This is supposed to be a technically-minded site, not FARK.

"Blasting" with lasers? Really?

- first, nothing gets "blasted" with a laser; a laser is - optimally - a point extreme heat source. The "shooting crap down" thing going on in the military today really is about DISABLING the guidance, control, or propulsive systems on whatever aerial platform they're shooting at, or at least disrupting (for missiles) their aerodynamics enough that their own velocity tears them apart. The laser "blasts" nothing. Disabling the guidance, control, or propulsive systems on what is already "space junk" is logically, pointless.

- even assuming a laser did "blast" something, it's pretty much the last thing you want to do in orbit. Unless you're pulverizing it to flecks so tiny that a) they simply don't carry enough kinetic energy to harm something (ie dust) or b) a signficant fraction of them will be deorbited by air-friction in low orbit, you're simply trading one character of threat with another. The Chinese "blasted" a satellite, so now instead of one piece of dangerous junk we need to track and avoid, there's 12000+.

Comment: Re:Socialism! (Score 1) 479

by argStyopa (#49487843) Attached to: Seattle CEO Cuts $1 Million Salary To $70K, Raises Employee Salaries

No, you really don't.

Rather than looking at the boutique massive firms highlighted in INC. or Forbes, maybe point your socialist eyes at the small business owner - you know, the engine that really drives the economy? The folks with personally that:
- took a cut in pay, or a cut in benefits, or both to keep their businesses afloat in the last 6-8 years.
- have raised employee salaries instead of their own
- took NO salary for several years while paying employees to keep the business running.

In the real world, most small business owners are often the FIRST to suffer when business goes bad because they're already paying as few people as they can to get by. They don't have the luxury of laying off staff to temporarily improve budgets. They're the ones working 70-80-90+ hour weeks while most of everyone else goes home at 5.

It's certainly not all, but yeah, if you believe "capitalism" is just the starched-shirt business-set or the studiously-casual megacorps, well, then you really don't understand the first thing about capitalism.

Comment: FWIW (Score 4, Insightful) 699

by argStyopa (#49477885) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

I'm a Christian, and I would prefer that there is no such thing as a 'religious' exemption from taxation. To me, that's contrary to the constitutional separation of church and state and is an example of the state's recognition of religion (if not the establishment of an official religion, of course).

No, simply churches should have to file as non-profits, and hew to the rules (including auditing, etc) therefor. If they do, great. If they don't, too bad.

Comment: A new problem? Not at all. (Score 1) 137

by argStyopa (#49477871) Attached to: Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem

You know, humans have operated in isolation on long, dangerous trips in very small groups regularly throughout history: for example, the voyages of exploration throughout the 16th-18th centuries.

I suspect that those only are remarkable in the level of documentation, and that primitive peoples did it a lot - a small group of hunters (or simply explorers) would depart and come back weeks or even months later. The fact is that the earth was a large, hostile, and relatively empty place for much of human history.

This really isn't a terribly new problem; likely the answer in how we deal with it successfully lies somewhere in those examples.

Comment: Classic postmodern stupid (Score 4, Insightful) 362

by argStyopa (#49469773) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

Stupid article, written by stupid elite intellectual postmoderns sitting in an airconditioned office whose familiarity with living in such conditions stretches perhaps so far as reading about it in the doctor's waiting lounge or "camping" modern 21st century American style, ala hundred-dollar footwear, thousands of dollars of advanced fabrics, aluminum everything, carefully crafted nutritional freeze-dried meals, all used to camp at prepared campsites where the major concern of the campers is "how do I keep my 'sport' beverages cold?" or "how do I make sure I my organic shampoo doesn't run into the pristine nearby lake?"

It's hard to even know where to start tearing this thing apart.

His initial sentence is ludicrous: "It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they're almost gone." What? We have thousands of years of coal at current consumption rates, setting aside the fact that such an apocalyptic scenario he's talking about would mean that likely 75-90% of humanity is dead and our consumption rate would obviously drop. While coal today may be hard to retrieve IN BRITAIN, it's not hard to find in other places.

Secondly, even the use of oil (that he keeps referring to) presupposes an extant level of technology that is unlikely to survive such a situation. If we've fallen so low that we can't retrieve coal from the ground, do you really think we would be able to build engines that could even use oil? People seem to forget that there's a crapton of accumulated skills and techniques - mostly forgotten to the bulk of civilization - involved in building things like steam engines. Hell, he goes off on building a society based on alternative generation of electricity, failing to note that even making WIRE involves a rather high level of technological development.

Thirdly,"How could an industrialising society produce crucial building materials such as iron and steel, brick, mortar, cement and glass without resorting to deposits of coal?" Well, there are ample examples of civilizations that were quite 'civilized' that didn't use coal or oil - Rome, etc used WOOD, and they were able to reach rather comfortable levels of advancement without fossil fuels. Last time I checked, the Romans were pretty damn good at engineering and cement - in some ways better with cement than we are today.

He then maunders off mulling the ability of such a rebuilding society focusing on using solar power or wood gasification, setting aside the final reality: if one is in an apocalyptic situation, desperate for food, shelter, clean water, and simply working hard trying to live, "giving a shit" about the environment, CO2 loading, and pollution outside your immediate circumstances falls far below one's level of concern because it's ultimately a LUXURY to worry about impacts on future generations when you're trying to survive tonight or to the end of the week.

Seriously ridiculous article, starting from ridiculous premises and reaching ridiculous conclusions.

Comment: the view from Europe (Score 1) 676

by argStyopa (#49459679) Attached to: Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid

The Economist speaks of her candidacy very much in terms of inevitability.

I don't believe they understand how deeply this woman is disliked in the U.S. I'm not taking about policy or history, I'm talking about on a personal level. Her first act as a political climber was working on the Watergate case, from which she was dismissed without a recommendation letter...the fellow later said she wasn't so bad, coincidentally with her husband's presidency of course...

Comment: Here's a suggestion (Score 4, Insightful) 332

by argStyopa (#49457905) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water

Maybe the entire country could stop massive subsidies for farmers to grow crops in what amounts to coastal steppe/desert? Oh, and the massive subsidies allowing millions and millions of people to live in deserts (and yes, I'm not just looking at California).

It was a stupid policy in the early 20th century, but at least then there was the incentive to populate the (south) west coast for geopolitical/security reasons. Now, simply start charging people (farmers, corporations, individuals) the ACTUAL costs of the water they use and let the market cull the system. /solved.

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