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Comment: Re:Excellent. Maybe future candidates for presiden (Score 1) 184

by blackanvil (#49337829) Attached to: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act
True, but remember they're talking real mail letters, not email. In general: it takes 10 emails to have the same impact as one letter, ten letters to have as much impact as one phone call, ten phone calls to have the impact of 1 in-person talk, and 10 in-person-talks to have as much impact as a $10 donation. From there it just scales up with the donation amount.

Comment: Re:Learning trumps instincts (Score 1) 77

by blackanvil (#49286977) Attached to: NVIDIA To Install Computers In Cars To Teach Them How To Drive
This is one of the reasons I sometimes turn off ABS and other "traction" systems when driving on snow or ice. My sedan's sensors and algorithms clearly expect wet pavement, or at least some traction, or they don't let the tires turn, which means the car doesn't go if the snow/ice is too slick. Since I grew up driving in New England, I don't have a problem reverting to full manual drive, but I understand why some of the locals here in Virginia just abandon their cars when they stop moving, probably too afraid to turn off the supposed safety features and drive that way. If you've never driven in slippery conditions with the controls off, you probably won't understand how much more control you have in that situation with them off than on.

Comment: Re:Seawater? (Score 3, Informative) 214

by blackanvil (#49235833) Attached to: Billionaire Teams Up With NASA To Mine the Moon
Actually, no. It works just fine, you can hot-forge it much like iron (really, I've done it, when its glowing it moves under a hammer much like iron does), machining it requires tungsten carbide tooling but most people use that anyway, and you don't have to worry about heat-treatment, the stuff will be just as hard as mild steel (RC52ish) no matter what you do to it. The real cost is creation: converting titianium dioxide to metallic titanium on a commercial basis is complex, takes a lot of energy, and results in a material that doesn't melt until it gets over 3000F, but must be alloyed (melted and mixed with other elements) to be usable. The cost of the raw material is almost irrelevant -- TiO2 is used in virtually every modern paint (to the extent that it's a standard test for forgery detection on art, unless you're compounding your own paint from linseed oil and powdered minerals, it's probably got titanium dioxide in it).

Comment: Re:Good grief... (Score 1) 681

by blackanvil (#49120805) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
Oh, it's far worse than that. I wore an xkcd tshirt the other day, one with the "Stand Back, I'm going to try Science" cartoon on it, and was accosted by three different individuals who felt it necessary to make anti-science comments. This was at the Smithsonian air-and-space museum (Udvar-Hazy), so it's not like they were in a science-free zone. Not only do people not know science, a good percentage actively hate it and think it's evil.

Comment: It will take the blood of patriots . . . (Score 1) 239

by blackanvil (#49029359) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Will It Take To End Mass Surveillance?
It will take the blood of patriots, and a well watered tree of freedom, before this goes away, if ever. No law will deter the unlawful, and our spies ignore laws with impunity, no mirror will every shed light on the truly powerful individuals perverting the system to their favor. And, honestly, unless people's televisions and Internet get shut off, and food becomes scarce enough for hunger to be a concern of the common man, people will just go along with universal surveillance.

Comment: Re:Majority leaders home district (Score 3, Informative) 176

Well, if you assume we never reprocess old reactor fuel rods, never exploit breeder reactors, never explore thorium reactors, and never do any more prospecting, he's more or less right. Sadly for him, none of this is true, so we have thousands of years on naturally occurring uranium just from the ocean (contains about 3mg per cubic meter of uranium), a huge number of on-land prospecting claims that have never been investigated, an unknown number of classified resources still undisclosed after the Cold War, and research ongoing into breeders, thorium, and other higher-efficiency nuclear reactors ongoing. has a good analysis of current beliefs about uranium reserves and extraction.

Comment: Re:Sucks to be law enforcement in a Republic (Score 1) 431

Unfortunately, because unenumerated rights are unbounded, the assumption is that if Congress passes a law against something, the President ratifies it, and the Supreme Court doesn't strike it down, then that wasn't actually a right, even if the knot of pretzel-logic required to pass Constitutional muster is nigh Gordian.

Comment: Wait until drones are stealthy for some real fun (Score 1) 236

by blackanvil (#48918513) Attached to: White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap
For real fun, wait until the drones start coming in stealth models. Imagine how destabilizing it will be when nobody knows, for sure, if there’s an assassin drone, or when the big boys get upset, a nuclear-enabled stealth drone overhead. Imagine how the White House would react if they though a stealthed drone was over DC. Imagine Moscow reacting to even a non-nuclear stealthed drone falling onto Red Square.

Comment: Re:Whats the point? (Score 1) 703

by blackanvil (#48777405) Attached to: Obama Proposes 2 Years of Free Community College
Because while burger flipping, they guy with an associates degree can apply to more, better jobs and have a higher chance of landing it than without. Because community college isn't and will not be mandatory, unlike elementary and high school, and shows initiative and, assuming he got the degree, dedication and a certain amount of ability. Because with an associates degree, and a decent GPA, most state college systems will ignore bad high school grades and accept the burger flipper when he decides to move on. Because, when all's said and done, if even our burger flippers are getting associates degrees, there will be a wider pool of talent available when jobs do, inevitably, open up, which is better for us, the burger flippers, and our society.

Comment: Re:Doesn't matter (Score 1) 341

by blackanvil (#48747439) Attached to: Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming
Yep, you need some sort of carbon source to reduce iron ore down to iron, specifically something that will produce carbon monoxide, and it has to be at an elevated temperature or the iron won't reduce. There's no reason, however, why you have to use coal. Charcoal works, and I've done short-stack refining using just magnetite sand, charcoal, and a bit of glass as flux. Substantial amounts iron in India is reduced from ore via natural gas if Wikipedia is to be believed on this subject. On the more exotic and theoretical side, my research on possible refining methods that might work on Mars shows that even carbon dioxide can be cracked down to carbon monoxide using standard catalysts and sunlight, no burning of anything required, and just heat to reduce the iron in the presence of CO.

Comment: Re:The actual mortality rate numbers (Score 1) 119

by blackanvil (#47984723) Attached to: Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects

The direcly linked fukushima article is very low on numbers (do journalists think people are allergic to them or something?), but it links to the actual scientific article.

Sadly, yes, studies have shown that every time you include an equation, mathematics, or scary looking numbers in an article, you loose a percentage of the readers. Editors for popular articles (which Nature, desipte it's prestige as a science journal, is at heart) know this, and edit accordingly.

Comment: Replacement for TCP/IP? (Score 1) 254

by blackanvil (#47834601) Attached to: UCLA, CIsco & More Launch Consortium To Replace TCP/IP
So, having read the links, it sounds like they want to replace a layer 3 protocol with a layer 4 protocol. This won't work -- you'll still need unique identifiers for source and destination that's machine-translatable for routing, that's aggregatable to avoid routing table bloat, and which interfaces nicely with both layer 2 for transport and layers 4-7 for functionality. Sure, this sounds like a good replacement for the rather awkward DNS lookup and non-intuitive URL syntax, but as a replacement for TCP/IP v4/v6 it is lacking in the necessary functionality.

Comment: Kessler Syndrome (Score 1) 118

by blackanvil (#47485777) Attached to: Preparing For Satellite Defense
So, how long do you think it will be before Kessler syndrome finishes the job all these anti-satellite weapons and tests start? As one professor back in college (the class was 'War in the Nuclear Age') pointed out, you could take out all of geosync orbit with a large bag of sand if you got it going in the opposite direction from Earth's spin. LEO and MEO are both crowded enough that we could get a spontaneous Kessler syndrome even if we don't keep blowing the satellites up there into shrapnel. I suppose we can start replacing the critical satellites in inch-thick titanium, but when every launch requires a heavy lift launch vehicle we're going to lose a lot of satellite functionality.

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all." -- Nathaniel Branden