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Comment I wonder if this is getting more common (Score 1) 145

I wonder if this sort of thing is getting more common. We've been seeing a lot of fiber breaks, attributed variously to "rodent chew," "car striking utility pole," and "wind damage," but all in a relatively small area for one set of connections, and I've heard of similar coincidental clusters of breaks in other areas. Nobody wants the bad press of admitting to sabotage, and unless its something obvious like a cut armored cable, its easy to attribute it to some random accident. Or I could just be paranoid, but that is what they pay me for.

Comment Re:2x Pointless = Pointless (Score 2) 54

Well, the ISS is actually doing science, which is normally quite boring. Hundreds of science projects are being done all the time. Effects of microgravity on humans, plants, insects, small mammals, bacteria. How do make mundane gizmos work in microgravity and vacuum. How to build and maintain things in orbit. Growing crystals in microgravity. Nothing earth shaking, but this is the foundation work on which we will build the future "headline worthy results." We got to the moon using technology now nearly 50 years old, but we couldn't stay. The same technology launched the first space station, but again we couldn't stay. Some day, despite the nay-sayers and budget-obliterators, we'll get to space, if not via government funding, then through private funding -- with over 1,500 billionaires and the number growing every yesr, sooner or later one of them will fund a headline worthy result. But they can't until the basics of how to survive and prosper in space are known, so now we're in the boring part where we figure it all out.

Comment Re:Best solution: (Score 1) 451

We haven't: if you drive around Amish/Mennonite areas, you have to share the road with horse driven buggies and carts on a regular basis. Most big cities also have horse-driven buggies for the tourists and romantics; New York, Philly, Chicago I've seen myself; I'm pretty sure most major cities do nowadays. So we didn't get them off the road, we just relegated them to an ever-decreasing role in transportation.

Comment Donate it all except for enough to live on (Score 1) 842

Should it happen, I'd donate all but what I need to live off the interest with a life of luxury (say ~$10million, probably less) -- in exchange for the usual board positions if that's what I'm interested in at the time. It's what several billionaires have promised to do upon their deaths -- instead of passing the massive wealth and all its negatives to their heirs, donate it except for a few million for them to live off of if needed. If you don't want the hassle, get it over to someone who needs it; if you want to maintain control, insist on a board position as part of the deal.

Comment Not there, but impacted (Score 3, Interesting) 159

I was on the East coast at the time, but I was still impacted -- I was managing a NOC for an ISP, and had the dubious pleasure of watching parts of our network go dark, then dispatch technicians out to repair the damage as the areas were declared safe, all while keeping an ear on open line with impacted customers on it so I could keep them up to date on progress. At one point, I had a team of repairmen in an oil-polluted swamp next to a damaged refinery trying to locate a cable that had been cut -- it was a team of three, one to look for the line, one to hold a light, and a third with a gun to shoot the crocodiles that were trying to eat the first two. All the markers had been blown away, so it took quite a while, and the customers were impressed with the occasional 'There's one! *BANG*" as they worked.

Comment Re:Probably not useful (Score 1) 92

Crucible 422 steel is a high alloy steel, which while expensive, looks like it should sell for about the same as some of the high-end knife steels, which go for about $.06/gm retail. Even if the price didn't go up with demand, which is practically an axiom of economics, that's a pretty significant difference. We'd probably switch to titanium or zirconium alloys first, or even tungsten, they all have very high melting points, plus have known reserves and stockpiles, and are relatively common, and while more expensive than stainless would be much less so than a hafnium based one.

Comment But what about nitrogen? (Score 3, Informative) 136

As I understand it, while there's oxygen aplenty bound up in the soil, and some carbon dioxide just lying there frozen on the ground, and even water if you look under the surface, there's a serious nitrogen deficiency. 78% of our atmosphere is nitrogen, and it's one of the building blocks of life, not to mention it's what makes it thick enough to breathe, but Mars's atmosphere only has about 2% nitrogen, and that's pretty much a vacuum by earth standards anyway. There's some fossilized fixed nitrogen in the soil, but most of it blew away in the solar wind long ago, and its not coming back unless someone finds a comet of frozen N2 and crashes it into the red planet. WIthout it, you're just not getting a viable biosphere.

Comment Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 1) 371

Mine's free, and cleaner, but if you're trying to recycle, get there early in the morning on Tuesday. After that, the recycling containers are overflowing. According to at least one dump worker I talked to when I had a load of cardboard to recycle, everything but the metals and ewaste, which they can sell, just gets put in the landfill anyway, nobody is buying unsorted glass, unsorted and contaminated paper, or unsorted plastic.

Make it right before you make it faster.